A Review of My January 2021 Reads

Hey all,

As you know if you saw my Book Jar post from a couple of weeks ago, I’m setting out to read at least 40 books in 2021.

I’ve already gotten off to a good start this first month, and I wanted to share a little bit about each of the books I read.

January was definitely a good month book-wise! I’m happy to say I didn’t have any “duds” or books that I chose to stop reading out of boredom.

Untamed by Glennon Doyle
My rating: 5/5 stars

I think this book will forever have a special place in my heart. I started it at the tail end of 2020 and it was such a perfect way to enter this new year!

Glennon talks about her own personal journey, but she does it in a way that’s so universally relatable. She’s also incredibly funny and smart, and I loved the glimpses of how she parents her children and talks to them about important issues.

The book is all about going after what you want, being true to yourself, and not letting the opinions of others or social “norms” stop you from finding true happiness. It’s a life-changer.

While reading, I’ll often write down my favorite quotes (or take pictures of the pages if I’m too lazy/don’t want to stop reading).

There are about 25 quotes from this book that spoke to me so much I had to copy them down. I’ll narrow it down to one, though:

“You are here to decide if your life, relationships and world are true and beautiful enough for you. And if they are not and you dare to admit they are not, you must decide if you have the guts, the right – perhaps even the duty – to burn to the ground that which is not true and beautiful enough and get started building what is.”

Ok, and one more, because it’s just so hard to narrow them down:

“Being human is not hard because you’re doing it wrong, it’s hard because you’re doing it right. You will never change the fact that being human is hard, so you must change your idea that it was ever supposed to be easy.”

Ready Player Two by Ernest Cline
My rating: 3.5/5 stars

I was so excited to get my hands on this book because I absolutely loved the first one. For anyone who isn’t familiar, Ready Player One is a sci-fi novel from 2011 that gained a lot of popularity in 2017-2018.

There is definitely a different feel to Ready Player Two, but there’s still plenty of that same fun from the first book: 80’s trivia, easter eggs, and plot twists.

This book starts off with our main character in a very different place than when we first met him, but he’s on another quest of a lifetime…and that’s all I’ll say to avoid spoilers.

One of my good friends texted me when he was about a quarter of the way through the book, saying that he really wasn’t enjoying it and didn’t like how different it was from the first one.

This is something about sequels that seems to bother a lot of people, but actually makes sense to me. I don’t want to read the same book again in sequel form. I want something different, even if it’s just an extension of the first story line we saw.

That being said, I’m not sure if I really feel that this sequel was necessary. I did enjoy the book and it kept me engaged, but I didn’t have that same excitement and eagerness to find out what would happen as I did the first time.

I think I would have been happier to just have the story end after book one, but if you’re a fan of this series or of the 80’s, definitely give it a shot! Here’s a quote that I liked from the book:

“…life is like an extremely difficult, horribly unbalanced videogame. When you’re born, you’re given a randomly generated character, with a randomly determined name, race, face, and social class. Your body is your avatar, and you spawn in a random geographic location, at a random moment in human history, surrounded by a random group of people, and then you have to try to survive for as long as you can.”

I Would Leave Me if I Could by Halsey
My rating: 3.5/5 stars

Haley’s lyrics are my absolute. favorite part of her music. She’s such a talented writer and so, of course, I had to get her first poetry book when it came out.

There’s definitely a wide range here; most of the poems are good, with cool imagery and smart language.

Those writing skills that are evident in Halsey’s songs come through in her prose, and the poems where she gets a nice rhyme scheme going are the best, in my opinion.

There are a few that really stuck out to me and that I went back to read again, sometimes with my mouth agape and my eyebrows raised. This girl can really spin a metaphor and carry it through.

Her poetry has similar themes to her music – self-reflection (and, often times, self-criticism), family issues, damaging relationships, substance abuse, and battles with mental health.

There’s something to like in every one of these poems, but they didn’t all feel like true, good poetry to me. I enjoyed this collection overall, but definitely prefer Halsey’s music to her written prose.

Here are a couple of good lines from poems in the book:

“I’m half of everything I hate, and half of everything I create.”

“A  beautiful woman is a car crash. Shiny asphalt and smoking rubber. Melted plastic and metal edges. Glimmering glass shrapnel iridescence scattered across the road. Haphazard beauty. Dignified and slightly terrifying.”

The Wrong Family by Tarryn Fisher
My rating: 5/5 stars

The first thing I want to say about this book is…wow. If you’re a fan of psychological thrillers and characters who are just plain messed up, you’ll definitely enjoy this one.

It’s rare that an author can surprise me so many times in just a few hundred pages, but I truly did not see the twists in this book coming!

On its surface, and without giving much away, this story follows an older woman who is living with a middle-aged couple and their son. As things unfold, the story changes and what you thought was happening actually turns out to be so far off.

The characters are as real as the suspense; each with his or her own backstory and secrets to uncover. This book also has a braided narrative, switching perspectives and letting us hear each of the narrators tell their side of things.

I love the writing style of this author and will definitely be checking out some of her other work. This is my favorite book that I’ve read in 2021 so far and I can’t recommend it enough.

The story, rather than a stopping quote, really made this book for me. But here are two great quotes from its pages:

“Didn’t he know that once words were out, they stuck in people’s minds like barbs?”

“She was back to her old ways. Sweeping pieces of crazy under the rug.”




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