January: 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

What Light, book cover

What Light by Jay Asher

Sierra's family runs a Christmas tree farm in Oregon—it's a bucolic setting for a girl to grow up in, except that every year, they pack up and move to California to set up their Christmas tree lot for the season. So Sierra lives two lives: her life in Oregon and her life at Christmas. And leaving one always means missing the other.

Until this particular Christmas, when Sierra meets Caleb, and one life eclipses the other.

By reputation, Caleb is not your perfect guy: years ago, he made an enormous mistake and has been paying for it ever since. But Sierra sees beyond Caleb's past and becomes determined to help him find forgiveness and, maybe, redemption. As disapproval, misconceptions, and suspicions swirl around them, Caleb and Sierra discover the one thing that transcends all else: true love.

What Light is a love story that's moving and life-affirming and completely unforgettable.

My Rating: 2 out of 5 Stars

I'm going to be lenient and give this book 2 stars. Considering that this is a Christmas time read would I be a total "Grinch" if I said this book was just a little to "easy" or "happy-go-lucky" for me? In this story, Sierra moves to California every year to sell Christmas tree's in her family owned Christmas tree lot. In this book she meets a guy Caleb and the two INSTANTLY go goo-goo-ga-ga over each other. In this story Sierra's BEST FRIEND warns her to stay away from Caleb! That he is a town pariah because he previously "assaulted" his OWN sister with a knife! (Not a spoiler because this gets revealed very early on in the book) Which is like a HUGE RED FLAG. Anyway Sierra gets over it EXTREMELY quickly and moves forward with her crush right away! The whole romance thing just felt super forced in my opinion? Any girl in her right mind would have questioned being with this STRANGER just a little more, especially when hearing something this extreme from a best friend (A VALID SOURCE). Like assault charges were on the table, and the main character acted like her crush just wore mismatched socks for a day. It just felt too easy to get over and then this couple only knows each other for a matter of days and the girl started fighting with her parent's about how she and Caleb could be potentially married one day! Honestly the more I think about this book the more I cringe. It wasn't badly written, but it was very much a holiday read, everything in this story gets wrapped up in a nice little Christmas bow and there was no real conflict, everything was just really easy breezy. If you like really fluffy happy reads, then maybe you'll like this book, but I personally just couldn't take this "romance" seriously.

Snow In Love, book cover

Snow In Love by Melissa De La Cruz, Nic Stone, Aimee Friedman & Kasie West

What's better than one deliciously cozy, swoon-worthy holiday story? Four of them, from some of today's bestselling authors:
From KASIE WEST, a snowy road trip takes an unexpected detour when secrets and crushes are revealed.
From AIMEE FRIEDMAN, a Hanukkah miracle may just happen when a Jewish girl working as a department store elf finds love.
From MELISSA DE LA CRUZ, Christmas Eve gets a plot twist when a high school couple exchange surprising presents.
From NIC STONE, a scavenger hunt amid the holiday crowds at an airport turns totally romantic.
So grab a mug of hot cocoa, snuggle up, and get ready to fall in love...

My Rating: 4 out 5 Stars

In this book there are 4 short stories. I'm going to break down what I would rate each story, but as a whole I would give this book a 4 out of 5 stars.

The first story from Kasie West "Snow and Mistletoe" was genuinely one of the CUTEST romances I've ever read. I'm giving this short story a 5 out of 5 stars. I really wish this story could have been expanded and been made into an actual full length novel, because I was fully invested in these characters romance working out!

The second story "Working In A Winter Wonderland" by Aimee Friedman was kind of a let down. I'm going to give it a 2 out of 5 stars. I was really hyped to read a story about a mall elf finding true love, but the way that she finds it was kind of out of no where in my opinion. There was no build up in friendship with the characters or anything to even insinuate there was a spark of romance there. It just happened... The ending felt very forced.

The third Story "The Magi's Gift" by Melissa De La Cruz wasn't very unique in my opinion, so I am also giving this a 2 out 5 stars. This was a retelling of an old Christmas story that we've heard a million times before, so the ending was very predictable. Melissa De La Cruz is one of my favorite authors, so even though this story was predictable I love the way she flourishes her sentences with descriptive adjectives. She always paints a very pretty picture in my head when I read her stories. She has a really unique writing style.

The fourth story "Grounded" by Nic Stone was so cute, I'm giving it a 5 out of 5 stars. It had a diverse cast of characters and a really unique dialogue from somebody questioning their sexuality. I was really impressed with this stories dynamic, for such a short story.

Spellcaster, book cover

Spellcaster by Claudia Gray

When Nadia’s family moves to Captive’s Sound, she instantly realizes there’s more to it than meets the eye. Descended from witches, Nadia senses a dark and powerful magic at work in her new town. Mateo has lived in Captive’s Sound his entire life, trying to dodge the local legend that his family is cursed - and that curse will cause him to believe he’s seeing the future … until it drives him mad. When the strange dreams Mateo has been having of rescuing a beautiful girl—Nadia—from a car accident come true, he knows he’s doomed.

Despite the forces pulling them apart, Nadia and Mateo must work together to break the chains of his family’s terrible curse, and to prevent a disaster that threatens the lives of everyone around them.

My Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars

I'm giving this book a 3 out 5 stars. This book had a lot of YA Tropes mixed into one novel, for example, "love at first sight, " it has the typical "brooding male love interest," that is in love with the female main character but "tries" to stay away from her for her "safety." There is also a "Supernatural" element to this novel. This book had a lot of the classic YA tropes mixed into one story. We've all read YA books really similar to this, but I'm going to say this novel has a minuscule twist! In most YA novels with this similar plot point it's usually up to the guy to save the day, while the girl hangs around all useless (example: Bella in "Twilight," Elena in "The Vampire Diaries") but in this novel, Mateo the "brooding love interest" is the one that's kind of useless and its up to Nadia to save the day! I feel like that alone made this novel stand out a little bit from that particular genre of YA. Plus it's not your typical YA book full of vampires and werewolves, this book centers around witches and demons, so it was a tiny little bit different. I honestly really enjoyed the plot line of this story, I really loved the witchy element and how Claudia Gray described spells and the way they are cast. It was just really different and interesting. The characters were also really likeable. This book is a series, ...this wasn't my favorite YA novel, but it was good enough to get me hooked, and I will definitely be finishing this series.

A Luxe Novel: Envy, book cover

A Luxe Novel: Envy by Anna Godbersen

In the thrilling third installment of Anna Godbersen’s bestselling Luxe series, Manhattan’s most envied residents appear to have everything they desire: Wealth. Beauty. Happiness. But sometimes the most practiced smiles hide the most scandalous secrets.

Jealous whispers. Old rivalries. New betrayals. This is Manhattan, 1899.

Two months after Elizabeth Holland’s dramatic homecoming, Manhattan eagerly awaits her return to the pinnacle of society. When Elizabeth refuses to rejoin her sister Diana’s side, however, those watching New York’s favorite family begin to suspect that all is not as it seems behind the stately doors of No. 17 Gramercy Park South.

Farther uptown, Henry and Penelope Schoonmaker are the city’s most celebrated couple. But despite the glittering diamond ring on Penelope’s finger, the newlyweds share little more than scorn for each other. And while the newspapers call Penelope’s social-climbing best friend, Carolina Broad, an heiress, her fortune—and her fame—is anything but secure.

My Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

This series will forever be a 5 out of 5 stars for me. I just loved the way clothing is described in this book and the way "ladies rules of etiquette" are described throughout the novel. Anna Godbersen did an amazing job of fully emerging her readers in the time period of 1899. I love her writing style and her plot points are just so scandalous, there was never a dull moment. I will say that this book, book 3 in the series was not as scandalous, but I will say there was still some pretty BIG shocking reveals! If your a fan of things like "Gossip Girl" or books that read like more of a soap opera, then this is the book series for you. I was completely sucked in after book 1. There is only one book left in this series after this and I have to say that I wish there were more! This is one book series I wish would never end. I also just automatically love books written from multiple characters perspectives, usually with books like that, there is always one character I find boring, but with Anna Godbersen all her characters are just always involved in something mischievous that I never really get bored. I really wish this book series would get picked up for television. I would really love to see the fashion and the drama come to life.

The Babysitters Coven, book cover

The Babysitters Coven by Kate Williams

Seventeen-year-old Esme Pearl has a babysitters club. She knows it's kinda lame, but what else is she supposed to do? Get a job? Gross. Besides, Esme likes babysitting, and she's good at it.

And lately Esme needs all the cash she can get, because it seems like destruction follows her wherever she goes. Let's just say she owes some people a new tree.

Enter Cassandra Heaven. She's Instagram-model hot, dresses like she found her clothes in a dumpster, and has a rebellious streak as gnarly as the cafeteria food. So why is Cassandra willing to do anything, even take on a potty-training two-year-old, to join Esme's babysitters club?

The answer lies in a mysterious note Cassandra's mother left her: "Find the babysitters. Love, Mom."

Turns out, Esme and Cassandra have more in common than they think, and they're about to discover what being a babysitter really means: a heroic lineage of superpowers, magic rituals, and saving the innocent from seriously terrifying evil. And all before the parents get home.

My Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

As weird and wacky as this book was, I actually really liked it. Without giving too much away this book is about a teenage girl named Esme Pearl. Esme is kind of average looking, kind of a loner, and only really has one friend. Oh and an embarrassing job as a babysitter. She is basically boring and average as far as characters go. She is living her best average life in a small town in Kansas where nothing really crazy or remotely interesting EVER happens. Then as soon as her 17th birthday passes weird things start to happen around Esme and she discovers that she all of a sudden has super powers and can move things with her mind! Also around the same time weird things start to happen at her babysitting jobs. Basically this whole story spans within a few weeks leading up to and on Halloween making it a really fitting setting for all the wacky things Esme encounters. I don't know if Kate Williams intended for this book to be funny, but I found a lot of the theatrical stunts in novel to be completely hilarious!. I really enjoyed reading this book, but right when I was really starting to get into the story line and found myself really invested in this books outcome, everything abruptly gets resolved...and left me with a lot of unresolved questions. This is going to be a series and book 2 is set to be published sometime in 2020, I'm assuming sometime around Halloween again, so at least I don't have to wait too long for the Wacky Adventures of Esme Pearl to be answered.