February: Books I’ve Read Recently

"Books I've Read Recently" is a series where I, Penelope Gomez, will do a monthly wrap up of the books I've read throughout the past month. In this series I will give a brief synopsis of the story and then give the book a rating out of 5 stars. 5 stars being the best and 1 star being the worst!

I will then give a brief description of why I chose to rate a book a certain way.

So without further delay lets get into the "Books I've Read Recently," and as always leave a comment down below and tell me which of these books you've also read, or plan on reading next.

Books I've Read Recently

Nobody Knows but You, book cover

Nobody Knows but You by Anica Mrose Rissi

Maybe a killer only looks like a killer in the moment just before, during, or after.

Maybe a liar, a good one, never shows it.

Kayla is still holding on to Lainie’s secrets.

After all, Lainie is Kayla’s best friend. And despite Lainie’s painful obsession with her on-again, off-again boyfriend, and the ways he has tried to come between them, friends don’t spill each other’s secrets. They don’t betray each other’s trust.

The murder at the end of the summer doesn’t change all that.

Besides—Kayla knows that the truth is not the whole story.

My Rating: 5 Out of 5 Stars

OMG this book was immaculate! First off was this book predictable? Yes, but it was excellently executed! I don't think I've enjoyed a book this much in a long time. Anica Mrose Rissi weaved an intricate web of lies so perfectly I think a lot of readers won't see that ending coming! First off this book is written from a girl named Kayla's point of view. Every day she writes a letter to her best friend Lainie. Lainie and Kayla met at summer camp and quickly became best friends. In this novel Lainie is dating a jerk of a boy named Jackson. They are constantly breaking up and making up and basically ruining everybody's summer. Kayla is always there to pick up the pieces for Lainie. Unfortunately, Jackson gets killed the last day of summer camp and Lainie gets arrested for his murder! Kayla is devastated, I mean how can her best friend be a murderer?! To cope with her feelings of grief Kayla begins writing letters to Lainie rehashing the summer and trying to understand how things went so wrong? I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. I could not put this book down once I started it. Also I finished this book a few weeks ago and I still can't stop thinking about it! This book is 1000% making it on to my list of best books read in 2021. See if you can spot the lies amongst Kayla's letters, all the clues you need to solve this murder mystery are there. If you like this book then make sure to also read "I Know You Remember" by Jennifer Donaldson, they both have similar plot twists and are both A+ mystery books in my opinion.

They Wish They Were Us, book cover

They Wish They Were Us by Jessica Goodman

A murder mystery set against the backdrop of an exclusive prep school on Long Island.

In Gold Coast, Long Island, everything from the expensive downtown shops to the manicured beaches, to the pressed uniforms of Jill Newman and her friends, looks perfect. But as Jill found out three years ago, nothing is as it seems.

Freshman year Jill's best friend, the brilliant, dazzling Shaila Arnold, was killed by her boyfriend. After that dark night on the beach, Graham confessed, the case was closed, and Jill tried to move on.

Now, it's Jill's senior year and she's determined to make it her best yet. After all, she's a senior and a Player--a member of Gold Coast Prep's exclusive, not-so-secret secret society. Senior Players have the best parties, highest grades and the admiration of the entire school. This is going to be Jill's year. She's sure of it.

But when Jill starts getting texts proclaiming Graham's innocence, her dreams of the perfect senior year start to crumble. If Graham didn't kill Shaila, who did? Jill is vows to find out, but digging deeper could mean putting her friendships, and her future, in jeopardy. 

My Rating: 5 Out of 5 Stars

Ok, first off the setting for this story is immaculate! This story is set in a RICH, beach town, think Carmel but like on the east coast. There were all these amazing descriptions of the Fisherman's Wharf and beach parties and views of the ocean. Views from SOMEONE'S BACKYARD! Stunning, breathtaking, wish I had written it. I think this was just such an amazing and descriptive setting. I swear I could hear waves crashing in the background the entire time I was reading this novel. Then there were the "PLAYERS," a group of Private school, rich kids, who are part of a super exclusive secret society. Everyone knows them, everyone wants to be them, they are the richest, prettiest, smartest and most popular kids at school. When they enter a room everyone turns to look, they are the trendsetters. Honestly this book took me straight back to high school, I don't know how Jessica Goodman captured that feeling of wanting to be popular, but she DID IT! Such an amazing author, she even perfectly captures and describes that like anxious feeling of talking to your secret crush for the first time! Like how do you even capture emotions well enough to describe them perfectly on paper! This book literally gave me second-hand anxiety, that's how amazing her descriptions were. 5 Stars for that alone! This book was a Murder Mystery and I have say that the Murderer is fairly obvious from the very beginning, because there aren't a lot of reasonable suspects. I just had a gut feeling the entire book, like "who would I be most devastated to find out is a murderer?" There's really only one answer to that question. Was it a plot twist that everyone will be able to see coming, YES?! But this book is so eloquently written It really didn't matter to me who the murderer was, I just really enjoyed the ride. Come for the Mystery but stay for the scenery. This was another A+ Mystery.

The Lost Coast, book cover

The Lost Coast by Amy Rose Capetta

The spellbinding tale of six queer witches forging their own paths, shrouded in the mist, magic, and secrets of the ancient California redwoods.

Danny didn't know what she was looking for when she and her mother spread out a map of the United States and Danny put her finger down on Tempest, California. What she finds are the Grays: a group of friends who throw around terms like queer and witch like they're ordinary and everyday, though they feel like an earthquake to Danny. But Danny didn't just find the Grays. They cast a spell that calls her halfway across the country, because she has something they need: she can bring back Imogen, the most powerful of the Grays, missing since the summer night she wandered into the woods alone. But before Danny can find Imogen, she finds a dead boy with a redwood branch through his heart. Something is very wrong amid the trees and fog of the Lost Coast, and whatever it is, it can kill. Lush, eerie, and imaginative, Amy Rose Capetta's tale overflows with the perils and power of discovery — and what it means to find your home, yourself, and your way forward.

My Rating: 2 Out of 5 Stars

So I don't know if it was the book's problem, or like a personal problem, but I COULD NOT PAY ATTENTION TO THIS BOOK! There were so many instances where I found my mind completely wandering, and I couldn't remember anything I'd read. I had to keep stopping and restarting multiple chapters! This book could just not hold my attention and because I had to keep rereading chapters this book took me an absurd amount of time to finish. I don't think this was a bad book, I just don't think it was for me. I think the plot line was superb and completely imaginative, but something about it just wasn't clicking for me. Basically in this book there is a young group of witches who have been secretly practicing witchcraft deep in the woods. They begin leaving offerings to a deity aka a wood nymph/ trickster. Who ends up being really shady. Without giving too much away something ends up going mysteriously wrong and one witch, Imogen ends up going completely catatonic. Imogen is stuck in a deep trance and their coven is left weak and incomplete. They decide to summon another witch and that's when Danny ends up moving to town. Only she has no idea she even is a witch. The coven must quickly catch her up to speed in order to break Imogen's curse and protect the coven. Like I said, really interesting/creative plot line, but I just don't think it was excellently executed. The tone of the book could have been a little more consistent in my opinion. I found that the author kept switching from a light and whimsical tone to a 'oh we just found a dead body in the woods, let’s get serious!' This switch was just so drastic in tone that I had to keep rereading things, thinking that I had missed something. This drastic switch in tone kept happening throughout the entire novel, and quite honestly just left me feeling confused. I have never had to stop and reread a book so much in my life! I didn't even want to finish this book, I had to force myself to. It didn't end up ending in any thought provoking way either, so it just wasn't interesting to me. I'm sure another reader could keep up with the many, many tone shifts and find this book rather interesting. I just wasn't one of those readers.

Beauty Mark, book cover

Beauty Mark by Carole Boston Weatherford

In a novel in verse, an award-winning author offers an eye-opening look at the life of Marilyn Monroe.

From the day she was born into a troubled home to her reigning days as a Hollywood icon, Marilyn Monroe (née Norma Jeane Mortenson) lived a life that was often defined by others. Revisiting Marilyn's often traumatic early life--foster homes, loneliness, sexual abuse, teen marriage--through a hard-won, meteoric rise to stardom that brought with it exploitation, pill dependency, and depression, the narrative continues through Marilyn's famous performance at JFK's birthday party, three months before her death.

My Rating: 5 Out Of 5 Stars

I personally love Marilyn Monroe, but if I'm being honest I would NEVER read a Biography. This "fiction" novel based on her real life events is the closest that I'll ever get to reading a Non-Fiction book. I know terrible, but I just don't have the attention span for Non-Fiction. Anyway I don't think I've ever read such a tragic story of a star's upbringing. Marilyn Monroe, born Norma Jeane had the worst childhood. Her mother was diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic. She wasn't able to care for Marilyn and ended up in a mental institution in San Jose. Marilyn spent her entire childhood bouncing from foster parent to foster parent and in and out of orphanages her entire life. When she turned 15 Marilyn chose to become a child bride in order to stay out of an orphanage for good. This novel written in short verse delves deep into Marilyn's tragic upbringing and her launch into stardom. I felt like this book went more into her early life details and not so much into her marriages and scandalous love affairs, but I still feel that I learned a lot about her life from this novel. It was an interesting read if you are interested in old films and the iconic Marilyn Monroe. It was a very quick and heart felt read, and nothing like reading a boring biography book. If more history books were written like this, then I would have paid more attention in class. I loved the writing style and it was written in short verse, so I was able to knock this book out within a few hours.

I Wish You All the Best, book cover

I Wish You All the Best by Mason Deaver

When Ben De Backer comes out to their parents as nonbinary, they're thrown out of their house and forced to move in with their estranged older sister, Hannah, and her husband, Thomas, whom Ben has never even met. Struggling with an anxiety disorder compounded by their parents' rejection, they come out only to Hannah, Thomas, and their therapist and try to keep a low profile in a new school.

But Ben's attempts to survive the last half of senior year unnoticed are thwarted when Nathan Allan, a funny and charismatic student, decides to take Ben under his wing. As Ben and Nathan's friendship grows, their feelings for each other begin to change, and what started as a disastrous turn of events looks like it might just be a chance to start a happier new life.

At turns heartbreaking and joyous, I Wish You All the Best is both a celebration of life, friendship, and love, and a shining example of hope in the face of adversity.

My Rating: 5 Out Of 5 Stars

This was such a cute and heartwarming read, but at the same time it was a very real and much more relatable read. Basically in this book the main character named Ben comes out as gender nonbinary. The reason that I liked this book compared to other LGBT+ books is because it is unique in the sense that Ben's parents were not happy when Ben comes out. His parents reacted so badly that they ended up kicking Ben out on the spot. I feel like most Young Adult books when a character comes out, it always goes very smoothly and everyone is always very excepting, but in real life unfortunately that isn't always the case. I loved this book because it gives people a chance to relate to someone, who's coming out story wasn't easy. I could see this book being much more relatable for some teens who had a harder experience when they came out. Don't get me wrong, this is still a very happy and heartwarming read, it wasn't all sad! Ben fortunately had a very great support system in his sister, and his friends etc. Ben also falls in love with a boy named Nathan in this book, and it was just the cutest, most heartwarming romance I think I've read this year. I really enjoyed their budding relationship throughout this novel and I think that was the highlight of this story for me, aside from its realness.