It’s official! Book reviews are back! It’s been awhile but I’m excited to share first thoughts after finishing brand new books in 2022!

Last year, I read 200 books (adjusted from 135 after I hit goal in July). It’s always an adventure trying to figure out the right medium for sharing books we read with everyone. If you’re on Goodreads, follow me and you will get updates and reviews instantly.

To read reviews on the first few books of 2022, click HERE. Scroll down to read quick reviews on all other books read in January.

A Rogue of One’s Own by Evie Dunmore – ****
This book brought me back a little to some Pride & Prejudice vibes! I love Lucie and Tristian’s banter and relationship, both fighting for their causes and still trying not to fall in love.

Sweet second book in the series that I’m pretty sure has is all set up and ready to read the next book.
Origin in Death by J.D. Robb – ****
These are always a good time but I especially loved this story. It took be awhile to get into the flow but once I started trying to guess my way through the murder I was hooked. I don’t think I could have predicted this one. I love Dallas and Roarke!
Regretting You by Colleen Hoover – ****
Another win in my book. Such heartbreak and confusion that had me swiping for the next page constantly waiting to find out if we would get a happy ending. I still had a couple questions at the end but sometimes that’s how life is. Don’t regret it at all!
The Cheat Sheet by Sarah Adams – ****
Such a cute book! Bree and Nathan are a flat good time to spend with and you will cruise through this book just to see why mishap or romantic gesture might happen next. It made me laugh and smile and believe in fairy tales.
Macbeth Graphic Stories – ***
Love me some graphic novels and some Shakespeare. It’s a quick read, keeps the famous quotes, but helps tell the story in a more straight forward manner. I forgot some of the fun tricks he had up his sleeve. Includes a little history about the Bard and how the story came to be.
Animal Shelter Mystery by Gertrude Chandler Warner – ****
Reading the Boxcar Children always takes me back to my childhood. This was a new book for me and I loved the story of the kids mysteriously finding animals, putting their boxcar to good use as a temporary animal shelter, and of course solving a mystery. Always a quick read to fit in between other books.
The President is Missing by James Patterson – ***
I jumped back on the audiobook bandwagon so maybe that is why I didn’t enjoy this one as much as some of the other Patterson books. About halfway through, it almost felt like I was reading a rewrite of a Dan Brown book – talking about a virus being released to the whole world.

Toward the end it felt more like a political campaign (not shocking since Bill Clinton is a co-author). Some comments felt like they came straight out of recent presidential speeches and I think I tuned out.
Will by Will Smith – ****
I thought I knew who Will Smith was but I had no clue! I got chills when I heard how Fresh Prince came to be and I devoured his journey through record breaking stardom that I didn’t even know. And through it all he was facing demons but hiding behind a mentality that was actually harming him.

This book was poignant, insightful, inspiring, humbling, breathtaking. Each chapter is a new feeling, drawing you into stories over the years, each with its own motivating message.

We have one life. How we going to live it? Maybe get jiggy with it.
Playing for Pizza by John Grisham – ****
If you’re looking for the typical legal drama that Grisham provides, then you’ll be in for a surprise. A good one in my opinion.

I absolutely loved this quick story of a American QB going to play American football in Parma, Italy. I wanted the book to keep going when it ended.

It was even more enjoyable having recently been to Parma, knowing the locations of places mentioned, and toured the cathedrals, churches, and more. My favorite pasta is from Parma and so are some of my favorite people.

Whether you’ve been to Italy – Parma, Florence, or Venice – or you just enjoyed a feel good story, I think most will enjoy this one. And there are lawyers mentioned so I guess it still keeps a little to the Grisham script.
The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager – ****
Riley Sager is sneaky devil with his writing. I have yet to be disappointed while reading one of this thrillers. Any book that can make me gasp out loud and reach for my phone to start texting someone about a twist is worth sharing with everyone. I had my own guesses, but in the end, I just enjoyed the journey of this mystery and waited for it to unfold.

Part of me really wishes we could see what the paintings looked like.
Texas Ranger by James Patterson – ****
It’s good to have a new series that entertains and isn’t just the same old detective. I really enjoyed Texas Ranger and the character of Rory Yates. It was a great introduction and background to someone new in the Patterson sphere and even I didn’t want to believe the truth behind who the killer really was.

Easy, fun read.
Lost by James Patterson – ***
Typical James Patterson thriller. I sped through listening to this one in a single day but compared to others it wasn’t one of my faves.
The First 21 by NIkki Sixx – *****
If you love music, biographies, true stories, behind the scenes, Idaho, or just a good read, then pick up The First 21. This one hooked me for many reasons.

1) I had tickets to see Motley Crue at Sofi in LA in 2020. It was supposed to be their last tour then Covid hit. It’s been postponed twice so we’re still waiting with fingers crossed. Nikki Sixx discusses the plans for this tour which makes me hope even more that it still happens.
2) He spend part of his teenage years in Jerome & Twin Falls, Idaho where my mom and family grew up. He sat across from my aunt in Biology. Small world!
3) I watched The Dirt and wanted to know more!

The story of how Nikki Sixx became Nikki Sixx and his first 21 years has me ready to pick up his other books and read more!
unlock your storybook heart by Amanda Lovelace – *****
Unlock your storybook heart is the perfect book of poetry to read at the beginning of the year and even more so if you feel like you’re stuck in a battle – work, relationship, self, etc.

I felt like Lovelace was speaking to me with every word, telling me things I wish I had heard years ago, and will keep repeating to myself for years to come. With love and kindness, she reminds us that we can do anything we want! And she talks about cats and pixie dust. It’s a win all around for me!
Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo – ***
I have mixed feelings about this one. It took me awhile to get into the story and figure out what was going on. What happens in the beginning isn’t addressed again for so long that I actually forgot about it. There were some surprises and maybe for foreshadowing. I think I had hopes for one scenario that didn’t happen. Alex is a hard character to like – I kept going back and forth with being annoyed with her but then enjoying her banter. I have to remember she’s still young and figuring out who she is.

Undecided if I’ll continue on with the next book.
What Maisie Knew by Henry James – ****
Such a powerful story about a young girl used as a pawn between her angry divorced parents, and then as a result between her step parents. When Maisie’s parents argue over who will have custody, the courts grant her parents 50/50 split, each with a long duration (ie 6 months at a time). It devastating to read about parents, and some of the other supporting characters, talking to a 6 year old girl as if she was a grown up, pulling her into conversations and decisions that she should not have responsibility for.

Considering it was written so long ago, to get a more modern version, check out the movie. It skims off the worst of it, but the battle still ensues and a poor girl is stuck trying to please all the adults and knowing way too much.

It was a record reading month! I don’t know if I can keep that up all year long but at least I’m ahead of the game currently.

What were your favorite reads of January?
<3, Lauren