Books have always played a huge role in my life. As a child, I remember begging my mom to read just one more story in my favorite nightly reading books and as I got older and learned how to read, I always had a book in close proximity. Then there were the days that I treated The Care & Keeping of You like it was the holy bible (iykyk) and once I hit high school and discovered Nicholas Sparks books, it was game over. You couldn’t pull me out of a book if you tried. I even remember the first time I read an entire book in one day and how proud I was. Once I hit college, it was a whole other story. My pile of books collected dust in the corner of my room while class, homework, and friends took priority but once I graduated, I started reading again and it was like I never stopped.
After sharing some random book content on Instagram a few years ago, I started to connect with other people who loved reading as much as I did and it was so amazing that I gave books a permanent home on Hello, Her. Between my commute to work, reading at lunch, and downtime on the weekends, I was reading a good about amount (around 2-3 books a month!) but once covid hit and started working from home I knew that number would increase. Before I knew it, I was reading an average of 5 books a month and so wasn’t everyone else. For a while, I was loving it! So many people that hadn’t read in years, or never really enjoyed reading, were giving one of my favorite hobbies a try and they were enjoying themselves.
How AWESOME is that!?
Over the last six (or so) months, I really started seeing a shift in my reading habits. I was getting down on myself for having a slower reading month, sometimes only picking up one book throughout the month, which is absolutely ridiculous. Reading is a fun hobby, a way to relax, I shouldn’t be getting upset and competitive over how much I’m reading. So I took a break. I’ve still been reading just nit sharing as much and it was exactly what I needed.
To ease my way back in, I thought it would be fun to share what I’ve read over the last few months. Whether you’re looking for your next beach read (jealous!), something a little more educational, or a fun rom com to pass the time, here are some great options!
OONA OUT OF ORDER BY MARGARITA MONTIMORE
Just because life may be out of order, doesn’t mean it’s broken.
It’s New Year’s Eve 1982, and Oona Lockhart has her whole life before her. At the stroke of midnight she will turn nineteen, and the year ahead promises to be one of consequence. Should she go to London to study economics, or remain at home in Brooklyn to pursue her passion for music and be with her boyfriend? As the countdown to the New Year begins, Oona faints and awakens thirty-two years in the future in her fifty-one-year-old body. Greeted by a friendly stranger in a beautiful house she’s told is her own, Oona learns that with each passing year she will leap to another age at random. And so begins Oona Out of Order…
Hopping through decades, pop culture fads, and much-needed stock tips, Oona is still a young woman on the inside but ever changing on the outside. Who will she be next year? Philanthropist? Club Kid? World traveler? Wife to a man she’s never met?
My Review: The perfect mix of 13 going on 30 and The Time Traveler’s Wife, Oona Out of Order is quirky, emotional, fun, and thought-provoking. The story starts off as 19-year-old Oona is celebrating New Year’s Eve 1982, faints, and wakes up 32-years in the future. As Oona bounces around from to different points in her life, we never know when she’ll move on and what age she’ll wake up as next. I loved that each phase of Oona’s life keeps you on your toes and if you’re anything like me, you won’t be able to put this one down! My only complaint is that we don’t know exactly why this happens to Oona, other than having a difficult decision to make.
My Rating: 4/5 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
EVVIE DRAKE STARTS OVER BY LINDA HOLMES
In a sleepy seaside town in Maine, recently widowed Eveleth “Evvie” Drake rarely leaves her large, painfully empty house nearly a year after her husband’s death in a car crash. Everyone in town, even her best friend, Andy, thinks grief keeps her locked inside, and Evvie doesn’t correct them.
Meanwhile, in New York City, Dean Tenney, former Major League pitcher and Andy’s childhood best friend, is wrestling with what miserable athletes living out their worst nightmares call the “yips”: he can’t throw straight anymore, and, even worse, he can’t figure out why. As the media storm heats up, an invitation from Andy to stay in Maine seems like the perfect chance to hit the reset button on Dean’s future.
When he moves into an apartment at the back of Evvie’s house, the two make a deal: Dean won’t ask about Evvie’s late husband, and Evvie won’t ask about Dean’s baseball career. Rules, though, have a funny way of being broken—and what starts as an unexpected friendship soon turns into something more. To move forward, Evvie and Dean will have to reckon with their pasts—the friendships they’ve damaged, the secrets they’ve kept—but in life, as in baseball, there’s always a chance—up until the last out.
My Review: This charming romance was the feel-good story I didn’t know I needed! After Evvie’s husband dies unexpectedly, she barely leaves her house but things aren’t what they seem. To help her get out of her “funk,” Evvie’s friend Andy suggests that his lifelong friend (and former Major League pitcher) move into the empty apartment at the back of her house. The two have set ground rules, but we all know what happens when rules are made – they’re also broken. I absolutely loved the relationships and dynamics of the characters throughout the book and found myself rooting for each one of them. The new beginnings they each get to experience were so heart warming, I felt like I was wearing a cozy sweater!
My Rating: 4/5 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
FIELD NOTES ON LOVE BY JENNIFER E. SMITH
Having just been dumped by his girlfriend, British-born Hugo is still determined to take his last-hurrah-before-college train trip across the United States. One snag: the companion ticket is already booked under the name of his ex, Margaret Campbell. Nontransferable, no exceptions.
Enter the new Margaret C. (Mae for short), an aspiring filmmaker with big dreams. After finding Hugo’s spare ticket offer online, she’s convinced it’s the perfect opportunity to expand her horizons.
When the two meet, the attraction is undeniable, and both find more than they bargained for. As Mae pushes Hugo to explore his dreams for his future, he’ll encourage her to channel a new, vulnerable side of her art. But when life off the train threatens the bubble they’ve created for themselves, will they manage to keep their love on track?
My Review: After Hugo’s girlfriend Margaret breaks up with him, he must find another Margaret Campbell to join him on his already paid trip across the United States by train, or he won’t be able to go. What follows is a search for another Margaret C. so Hugo can take the trip of a lifetime, new friendships, adventure, and new experiences. While this story followed Mae and Hugo aboard a cross-country train, I wish the story was a little more travel-y and a little less cheese-y. And trust me, I’m all about a cheese-y romance, but this one hit the mark for me. If you’re looking for an easy beach read that’s pure and explores the emotions that come along with teenage friendships, this one is for you!
My Rating: 3/5 ⭐️⭐️⭐️
HONEY GIRL BY MORGAN ROGERS
With her newly completed PhD in astronomy in hand, twenty-eight-year-old Grace Porter goes on a girls’ trip to Vegas to celebrate. She’s a straight A, work-through-the-summer certified high achiever. She is not the kind of person who goes to Vegas and gets drunkenly married to a woman whose name she doesn’t know…until she does exactly that.
This one moment of departure from her stern ex-military father’s plans for her life has Grace wondering why she doesn’t feel more fulfilled from completing her degree. Staggering under the weight of her father’s expectations, a struggling job market and feelings of burnout, Grace flees her home in Portland for a summer in New York with the wife she barely knows.
In New York, she’s able to ignore all the annoying questions about her future plans and falls hard for her creative and beautiful wife, Yuki Yamamoto. But when reality comes crashing in, Grace must face what she’s been running from all along—the fears that make us human, the family scars that need to heal and the longing for connection, especially when navigating the messiness of adulthood.
My Review: After completing her PhD, Grace Porter meets her wife in Las Vegas and her life goes awry. As Grace works to put the pieces together of her last night in Vegas, tracking down her wife, and figuring out what she wants in life, it’s hard not to connect with the character. We’ve all experienced the weird limbo of not knowing who you are and what’s next, which is why I absolutely loved this book. Plus who can say no to a main character that is not only Black, but also a lesbian?! SIGN. ME. UP.
My Rating: 4/5 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
SEND FOR ME BY LAUREN COX
Annelise is a dreamer: imagining her future while working at her parents’ popular bakery in Feldenheim, Germany, anticipating all the delicious possibilities yet to come. There are rumors that anti-Jewish sentiment is on the rise, but Annelise and her parents can’t quite believe that it will affect them; they’re hardly religious at all. But as Annelise falls in love, marries, and gives birth to her daughter, the dangers grow closer: a brick thrown through her window; a childhood friend who cuts ties with her; customers refusing to patronize the bakery. Luckily Annelise and her husband are given the chance to leave for America, but they must go without her parents, whose future and safety are uncertain.
Two generations later, in a small Midwestern city, Annelise’s granddaughter, Clare, is a young woman newly in love. But when she stumbles upon a trove of her grandmother’s letters from Germany, she sees the history of her family’s sacrifices in a new light, and suddenly she’s faced with an impossible choice: the past, or her future. A novel of dazzling emotional richness, Send for Me is a major departure for this acclaimed author, an epic and intimate exploration of mothers and daughters, duty and obligation, hope and forgiveness.
My Review: Annelise is a dreamer, working at her parents bakery in Germany but with rumors of anti-Jewish sentiment on the rise, things are about to change even though Annelise and her family don’t think they’ll be affected. Annelise falls in love and starts her family but the dangers are growing closer. When Annelise and her husband are given the chance to leave for America, they must go without her parents. Two generations later, Annelise’s granddaughter Clare stumbles upon her letters corresponding with her parents from when she first arrived in America and learns more of her family’s history. WWII-era books are one of my favorite genres to read and while I loved the overall story and the themes of this book, I think the structure of the actual book was a little confusing. I found it very hard to differentiate the characters and with all of the bouncing around from one generation to the next and back again, I was re-reading a lot of sections so I could fully grasp what was going on.
My Rating: 3/5 ⭐️⭐️⭐️
A PROIMSED LAND BY BARACK OBAMA
In the stirring, highly anticipated first volume of his presidential memoirs, Barack Obama tells the story of his improbable odyssey from young man searching for his identity to leader of the free world, describing in strikingly personal detail both his political education and the landmark moments of the first term of his historic presidency—a time of dramatic transformation and turmoil.
Obama takes readers on a compelling journey from his earliest political aspirations to the pivotal Iowa caucus victory that demonstrated the power of grassroots activism to the watershed night of November 4, 2008, when he was elected 44th president of the United States, becoming the first African American to hold the nation’s highest office.
Reflecting on the presidency, he offers a unique and thoughtful exploration of both the awesome reach and the limits of presidential power, as well as singular insights into the dynamics of U.S. partisan politics and international diplomacy. Obama brings readers inside the Oval Office and the White House Situation Room, and to Moscow, Cairo, Beijing, and points beyond. We are privy to his thoughts as he assembles his cabinet, wrestles with a global financial crisis, takes the measure of Vladimir Putin, overcomes seemingly insurmountable odds to secure passage of the Affordable Care Act, clashes with generals about U.S. strategy in Afghanistan, tackles Wall Street reform, responds to the devastating Deepwater Horizon blowout, and authorizes Operation Neptune’s Spear, which leads to the death of Osama bin Laden.
A Promised Land is extraordinarily intimate and introspective—the story of one man’s bet with history, the faith of a community organizer tested on the world stage. Obama is candid about the balancing act of running for office as a Black American, bearing the expectations of a generation buoyed by messages of “hope and change,” and meeting the moral challenges of high-stakes decision-making. He is frank about the forces that opposed him at home and abroad, open about how living in the White House affected his wife and daughters, and unafraid to reveal self-doubt and disappointment. Yet he never wavers from his belief that inside the great, ongoing American experiment, progress is always possible.
My Review: After finding out that President Obama was publishing a book highlighting his presidency, I was so excited to start reading it, even though it was a whopping 700 pages. With the heavy nature of the book, I read it (very slowly) over three months and it was so eye opening. Starting with his decision to run for president and working through the challenges that he faced as president, it was so eye-opening to read about the struggles he faced running for office, being the first Black president, the state of the economy when he was elected, and the policies he was passionate about. I personally am not very fluent with politics (I try my best!) or policy, so some of the things he covered in A Promise Land were hard for me to understand and if they’re not your forté, you might struggle getting through it like I did. But with that being said, this is definitely a book I recommend everyone (no matter what your political party is!) to read this one.
My Rating: 4/5 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
THE MIDNIGHT LIBRARY BY MATT HAIG
Between life and death there is a library, and within that library, the shelves go on forever. Every book provides a chance to try another life you could have lived. To see how things would be if you had made other choices . . . Would you have done anything different, if you had the chance to undo your regrets?”
A dazzling novel about all the choices that go into a life well lived, from the internationally bestselling author of Reasons to Stay Alive and How To Stop Time.
Somewhere out beyond the edge of the universe there is a library that contains an infinite number of books, each one the story of another reality. One tells the story of your life as it is, along with another book for the other life you could have lived if you had made a different choice at any point in your life. While we all wonder how our lives might have been, what if you had the chance to go to the library and see for yourself? Would any of these other lives truly be better?
My Review: After finishing A Promised Land, I thought it was going to be awhile before I picked up another book but I’m so glad I jumped right back in and started with The Midnight Library! When Nora Seed believes there isn’t anything worth living for, she finds herself between life and death and ends up in The Midnight Library, where she gets to choose the books of all of the lives she could have lived. With a little help from her librarian from growing up, Mrs. Seed, she tries out her different lives and it’s hard not to think about the choices you’ve made in your own life and what could have been. This one is very triggering and do wish there was a trigger warning at the beginning! I’ll definitely be re-reading this one again in the future.
My Rating: 5/5 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
THE SURVIVORS BY JANE HARPER
Kieran Elliott’s life changed forever on the day a reckless mistake led to devastating consequences.
The guilt that still haunts him resurfaces during a visit with his young family to the small coastal community he once called home.
Kieran’s parents are struggling in a town where fortunes are forged by the sea. Between them all is his absent brother, Finn.
When a body is discovered on the beach, long-held secrets threaten to emerge. A sunken wreck, a missing girl, and questions that have never washed away…
My Review: I am such a sucker for a good murder mystery and what’s better than a book starting off with a reckless mistake with devastating consequences?! When Kieran returns back to his hometown with his young family to help out his parents, a body is discovered on the beach, forcing the secrets from that fateful night years ago to reemerge. I was sucked in to this one immediately but felt like there wasn’t that magic that I typically feel when reading a murder mystery/thriller. The character interactions felt a little off to me and some parts felt like they were more strung out than they needed to be.
My Rating: 3/5 ⭐️⭐️⭐️
COBBLE HILL BY CECIL VON ZIEGESAR
Welcome to Cobble Hill.
In this eclectic Brooklyn neighborhood, private storms brew amongst four married couples and their children. There’s ex-groupie Mandy, so underwhelmed by motherhood and her current physical state that she fakes a debilitating disease to get the attention of her skateboarding, ex-boyband member husband Stuart. There’s the unconventional new school nurse, Peaches, on whom Stuart has an unrequited crush, and her disappointing husband Greg, who wears noise-cancelling headphones—everywhere.
A few blocks away, Roy, a well-known, newly transplanted British novelist, has lost the thread of his next novel and his marriage to capable, indefatigable Wendy. Around the corner, Tupper, the nervous, introverted industrial designer with a warehouse full of prosthetic limbs struggles to pin down his elusive artist wife Elizabeth. She remains…elusive. Throw in two hormonal teenagers, a 10-year-old pyromaniac, a drug dealer pretending to be a doctor, and a lot of hidden cameras, and you’ve got a combustible mix of egos, desires, and secrets bubbling in brownstone Brooklyn.
My Review: Cobble Hill is a quirky read following four families living in Brooklyn, each with their own issues and drama and mostly in third-person point of view. Each family is seeking purpose, community, and building meaningful relationships and while each character was thoughtfully built out (ex-boyband member, school nurse, a mom faking a debilitating disease, and an author), the relationships and dynamics between them were extremely confusing. By the time I finished it I was asking myself “that’s it?” and “what the heck did I just read?”. This book was kind of a bore and was there wasn’t much of a climax to give you that “AH-HA” moment, which is super disappointing since the author did such an amazing job with the Gossip Girl series!
My Rating: 3/5 ⭐️⭐️⭐️