Erica’s Q4 2020 Book Review

Erica's Q4 2020 reading list

It’s time for another book review post! I love talking about books and I’m always looking for ideas of new things to read, so I really enjoy writing these reviews. I’m trying to make these posts more useful and less of a random list of books, so this time around we’re adding ratings. I hope this is useful 🙂 I found a bunch of books I really loved last quarter, and there were also several that I was excited about but didn’t measure up to my expectations. Let’s get to it!

  • Rating-10/10: The King Maker by Kennedy Ryan. I binged this book in a weekend and loved it. It’s a romance novel, which is not a typical genre for me, but I read it for season 2 of Lit Sh*t, the podcast I cohost. The male lead in this book is an environmentalist aiming to fight climate change (HELLO!) and the female lead is a Native American woman working to give voice to indigenous people and protect their lands. They were characters I felt good about rooting for, and I actually felt like I learned something about the discrimination indigenous people face. 10/10 would recommend.
  • Rating-10/10: Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. I LOVED Big Magic. It’s actually the first thing I’ve read by Elizabeth Gilbert. I almost read Eat, Pray, Love when it was big a few years ago, but I didn’t because I heard she’s kind of whiny and entitled in that book. I decided to read Big Magic because both By the Book and A Beautiful Mess mentioned liking it on their podcasts. It’s about the creative process, and really inspired me to just sit down and make the things I want to make without worrying about if they’ll be any good, or go anywhere. It sounds dramatic, but it has really helped me find more joy in being creative.
  • Rating-10/10: How to Be An Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi. This was a great book for digging deeper into the work of becoming an antiracist. I really liked how Kendi wrote it because he used the lens of dismantling his own racist ideas as the structure for talking about antiracism. This book could have easily felt judgmental and preachy, but instead I found it earnest and inspiring. It is dense, but completely worth it.
  • Rating-9/10: China Rich Girlfriend by Kevin Kwan. This is the second book in the Crazy Rich Asians trilogy. It’s fluffy, but so fun to read. I looked forward to picking it up every evening. My mom made a good point after she read it too: the story is a little more disjointed than in the first book and you aren’t quite as invested in the characters as in the original. It was still pure fun to read, though.
  • Rating-9/10: American Royals II: Majesty by Katharine McGee. I LOVE the American Royals books. They’re basically like Gossip Girl meets The Princess Diaries. I read the first book at the beginning of the year, and loved this second one. This series is set in world where George Washington became America’s first king instead of its president, and it follows his descendants in the modern day. Pure fun.
  • Rating-8/10: Angel’s Blood by Nalini Singh. This was my first romance novel ever. Angie and Staci got me to read it for Lit Sh*t. It was fun-it’s set in a world where there are vampires and angels and which is ruled by archangels. The main character is called in to track down a rogue archangel. There were a couple points where it had a lot going on while the romance is heating up, but I binged it in a weekend so I had to give it a high rating.
  • Rating-8/10: Scandi-Rustic by Reena Simon and Rebecca Lawson. I’ve followed Reena on Instagram for several years. Her account is called Hygge for Home, and she has amazing Scandinavian-inspired style. This book was a collaboration between her and Lawson to document beautifully built and decorated Scandinavian-inspired homes. The photography is lovely and the houses they showcase are gorgeous. My only complaint is there are occasionally features in the write-ups of the houses that don’t appear in any of the photographs. If you’re a fan of Scandinavian design, you’ll love this book.
  • Rating-8/10: Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick. This was such a fun memoir. Anna Kendrick writes with all the humor you would expect her to. I realized reading celebrity memoirs gives me the insight I wish I got from reading their interviews.
  • Rating-7/10: Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia. Full disclosure: this was a Lit Sh*t read, and we had mixed opinions on it. It starts out really slow, then gets trippy really quickly and leaves you with a “what just happened?” feeling. I liked it because I couldn’t stop thinking about it afterward.
  • Rating-7/10: The Home Edit by Clea Shearer and Joanna Teplin. I liked this book, but I think I read it too soon after watching the Home Edit show on Netflix. It has some great tips on home organization, but they’re basically the same as what they say in the show.
  • Rating-7/10: Talking as Fast as I Can by Lauren Graham. This is another fun memoir. I think if I had read it before reading Anna Kendrick’s book I might have given it a higher rating. I loved the chapters about Gilmore Girls, but found myself wishing the rest of the book was a little funnier.
  • Rating-6/10: Henry V by William Shakespeare. I think Henry V is my favorite of Shakespeare’s histories. The story is clear and easy to follow, without the wannabe comedy scenes that watered down Henry IV. I read this one as a part of my ongoing resolution to read a Shakespeare play every month in 2020.
  • Rating-6/10: Monday’s Not Coming by Tiffany D. Jackson. This book was super confusing. It’s a YA thriller. The main character, a thirteen-year-old girl, is concerned her best friend is missing, but the adults in her life don’t pay attention until a year later. It’s divided into three parts: Before the Before, the Before, and the After. The three parts are interwoven, which makes it hard to keep track of what’s going on. It would help to read each part individually, but you would miss some of the impact of the big thriller reveal. That reveal, by the way, really got under my skin. It still bothers me to think about it.
  • Rating-6/10: How to be Fine by Jolenta Greenberg and Kristen Meinzer. One of my favorite podcasts is By the Book, where Kristen and Jolenta read self-help books and follow them to the letter for two weeks. This book is a fun spin-off, but I don’t think it adds that much. If you love the podcast, it covers a lot of the same things, but with slightly less depth. If you don’t listen to the podcast, it would probably be kind of random to read.
  • Rating-6/10: Women Amplified. This book is a collection of quotes from the 20 years of the Texas Conference for Women. I’ve gone to the conference a few times and it’s really inspiring. The quotes in this book are well selected and well organized. I think just reading a book of quotes is a lot to digest, though.
  • Rating-5/10: Henry VI: Part 1 by William Shakespeare. I read parts 1 and 2 of Henry VI to close out my New Year’s resolution. I didn’t like these two as much as Henry V. None of the characters are particularly likeable, and it’s mostly just a bunch of noblemen squabbling over succession.
  • Rating-5/10: Henry VI: Part 2 by William Shakespeare. My notes here are the same as Part 1 :p
  • Rating-5/10: A Song Below Water by Bethany C. Morrow. I had high hopes for this book, but it fell a little flat for me. It’s about a world where mythical creatures (sirens, sprites, etc.) move among us and are mosly human. It has some great commentary on racial discrimination as the main character works through making her voice heard. It’s also a little confusing. Even the book jacket is (spoiler alert) a bit misleading: it talks about teenage mermaids, but the book isn’t really about mermaids. I thought the world-building was a bit lacking, so I’m not giving it a higher rating.

Did you read anything you loved in the last few months? What are you reading now? I’d love to hear from you, either in the comments below or on social media. I’m always excited to talk about books! We’ve also made our other book review posts easier to find by aggregating them all on this tab.

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