I’m trying something new with regards to book reviews. As you know, I shared part 1 of the books I’ve read this month and plan to share the rest of them after the month ends, but since I still have a lot to share, I thought I’d add a new feature of my favorite books each month. The one issue is that the month isn’t over yet and I am likely to finish more books this weekend! So, these are my January Book Favorites as of now, and I will make a note if anything changes when I write part 2 of my January book review next week. The Amazon links to the books I’ve read are affiliate links and if you use them and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission.
Favorite Middle Grade:
I don’t actually read Middle Grade books every month, but this month I did and I absolutely loved it! Although it’s Middle Grade because it’s about a 12 year old, it may be scary for some younger readers, and definitely appealed to me as an adult.
Author: Megan E Freeman
Genre: Middle Grade in Verse
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Aladdin, 1/12/21
Source: Books Forward Friends
Why I Read It: Sent for my review
My Rating: 5 Stars
I loved this book so much. I practically stayed up all night reading it! Maddie is 12 when she plans to meet her friends at her grandparents’ empty apartment for a sleepover. She tells her mom she is with her dad and her dad she is with her mom. When her friends can’t meet her, she spends the night alone. But when she wakes up, she finds out that her town has been evacuated, leaving her behind. She can’t reach anyone, the electricity goes out, and she doesn’t know what imminent threat caused the evacuation. Should she try to find her family? Or should she stay put and wait for them to come back for her? And how will she survive?
“When twelve-year-old Maddie hatches a scheme for a secret sleepover with her two best friends, she ends up waking up to a nightmare. She’s alone—left behind in a town that has been mysteriously evacuated and abandoned. With no one to rely on, no power, and no working phone lines or internet access, Maddie slowly learns to survive on her own. Her only companions are a Rottweiler named George and all the books she can read. After a rough start, Maddie learns to trust her own ingenuity and invents clever ways to survive in a place that has been deserted and forgotten. As months pass, she escapes natural disasters, looters, and wild animals. But Maddie’s most formidable enemy is the crushing loneliness she faces every day. Can Maddie’s stubborn will to survive carry her through the most frightening experience of her life?”
With just the supplies left behind, her neighbor’s dog, the library, and her own strength, resourcefulness, and resilience, Maddie deals with extreme weather, injury, and most of all, loneliness. Maddie discovers the poem The Summer Day by Mary Oliver which asks “what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life.” This becomes her mantra. Maddie is such an inspiring character and this book is so moving. I definitely don’t think I could survive what she did!
I do read a good amount of YA, and I love the diversity and messages that can be found in these books. I already reviewed the first of my YA favorites this month – When You Look Like Us – so I won’t repeat that review year, but you can find it in my What I Read in January Part 1 post. My other YA favorite this month was one I had on my Net Galley shelf, but listened to the audio and was very impressed.
Author: Paola Mendoza and Abby Sher
Genre: YA Contemporary
Publisher: Listening Library, 9/1/20
Source: Library Audio App / Publisher Via Net Galley
Why I Read It: Working on reviewing Net Galley books
My Rating: 5 Stars
If you read American Dirt, this book is similar in some ways, but different in many, as it is written by an Own Voices author. Paola Mendoza imagined the worst she could think of for America, and crafted a near dystopian future in which undocumented people have to run from Deportation Forces, as well as citizens who have learned to fear non-Americans.
“It’s 2032, and in this near-future America, all citizens are chipped and everyone is tracked–from buses to grocery stores. It’s almost impossible to survive as an undocumented immigrant, but that’s exactly what sixteen-year-old Vali is doing. She and her family have carved out a stable, happy life in small-town Vermont, but when Vali’s mother’s counterfeit chip starts malfunctioning and the Deportation Forces raid their town, they are forced to flee. Now on the run, Vali and her family are desperately trying to make it to her tía Luna’s in California, a sanctuary state that is currently being walled off from the rest of the country. But when Vali’s mother is detained before their journey even really begins, Vali must carry on with her younger brother across the country to make it to safety before it’s too late.”
I must say I’m glad I didn’t read this until after Biden became president because the past administration made me feel that what is described here could actually happen. Paola Mendoza narrated the audio book herself, and she did an excellent job giving Vali a voice in which you could feel her desperation and fear. I am so thankful that this book won’t become reality! It does include depictions of loss, grief, deaths of children, and violence.
Favorite Adult Contemporary / Rom Com:
This book doesn’t come out until April, but I read it way ahead because I love this author and knew I would love her newest book as well. It actually may have become my favorite of hers overall!
Title: Life’s Too Short
Author: Abby Jimenez
Genre: Contemporary / Rom Com
Publisher: Forever, 4/6/21
Source: Publisher Via Net Galley
Why I Read It: Love the author
My Rating: 5 Stars
While this book is considered the third book in the Friend Zone series, it’s not as connected to the first two as the first two are connected to each other. Adrian, the main male character, is cousins with Josh from The Friend Zone, and the couples from the previous two books do make a brief appearance in this one. Life’s Too Short is a sweet story about Vanessa, who lives with the fear of getting ALS, which runs in her family. She chooses to live her life as if it will end soon, until her sister leaves her baby for Vanessa to care for. Adrian, her workaholic lawyer neighbor, comes over when he hears the baby screaming, helps Vanessa, and the two become friends.
“When Vanessa Price quit her job to pursue her dream of traveling the globe, she wasn’t expecting to gain millions of YouTube followers who shared her joy of seizing every moment. For her, living each day to its fullest isn’t just a motto. Her mother and sister never saw the age of 30, and Vanessa doesn’t want to take anything for granted. But after her half sister suddenly leaves Vanessa in custody of her baby daughter, life goes from ‘daily adventure’ to ‘next-level bad’ (now with bonus baby vomit in hair). The last person Vanessa expects to show up offering help is the hot lawyer next door, Adrian Copeland. After all, she barely knows him. No one warned her that he was the Secret Baby Tamer or that she’d be spending a whole lot of time with him and his geriatric Chihuahua. Now she’s feeling things she’s vowed not to feel. Because the only thing worse than falling for Adrian is finding a little hope for a future she may never see.”
I loved so much about this book, including that a lot of it is from Adrian’s viewpoint (although Vanessa has chapters as well), the chapters being titled with “click bait” type titles since Vanessa is a YouTuber, the fun Adrian and Vanessa have together, and this quote: “You should always have an adventure lined up. Having something to look forward to is tantamount to happiness.” Of course, there is a really sweet love story, a conflict, and your typical rom com hallmarks, all of which I enjoyed. I would say the love story is a slow burn, but it’s well done. I highly recommend this one, especially if you enjoyed Abby Jimenez’s previous books!
So, those are my top three January Book Favorites, as of now. What do you think of me continuing this feature? It makes sense to share it after I finished all of my monthly reading, which won’t always work out, but will some of the time. The other question is if I think I have a favorite in the first half of the month (like with When You Look Like Us), should I include it in part 1 of my monthly book review, or should I save it? I guess with time, I will figure out how I want to do this!
Do you have a favorite book you read in January?