Books I Read – January 2021

It’s been a busy month, right? Lots going on – an attempted coup, a new president, sea shanties took over TikTok (which is a trend I’m loving, by the way). Most importantly, I got a new computer. Regardless, I read a few books this month, and despite several terrible books, I also had some wins. Check out what you need to add to your must-read list.

Books I Read - January 2021 | Poppies and Jasmine

Social Lives – Wendy Walker

Social Lives by Wendy Walker | Poppies and Jasmine

This book was really interesting. It’s so interwoven that one single incident ripples out to affect everyone. While there’s no neat, happy-ever-after ending, I actually really enjoyed it – the ending did fit the story and it leaves just a bit of room for interpretation. Expect this book to stick with you for a while.

Dirty Rush – Taylor Bell

Dirty Rush by Wendy Walker | Poppies and Jasmine

Based on the hazing practices of sororities, I hoped for a gritty, dark expose and instead I got…this. It took forever to get into the meat of the book, the actual issues were pretty superficial, and everything was neatly resolved and tied in a bow almost immediately. Just pass on this – it’s not worth the time.

The Accidental Beauty Queen – Teri Wilson

The Accidental Beauty Queen - Teri Wilson | Poppies and Jasmine

This novel was better than Dirty Rush – but not by much. While it was kind of cute, the many gaping plot holes took away from the story, and then to have everything easily resolved…just no. I get writing light, fun books – we all need them, especially during difficult times (like a pandemic), but I still want quality. Make it funny enough to have me laughing out loud, make it logical enough to feel real, make it sweet enough to make my teeth hurt! Don’t just half-ass a novel.

Posh – Lucy Jackson

Posh - Lucy Jackson | Poppies and Jasmine

This might end up winning worst book of the month. It was terrible. Just terrible. I didn’t care about a single one of the characters, I was bored out of my mind with the plot – there was just nothing redeeming about this.

The Devil Wears Prada Series – Lauren Weisberger

The Devil Wears Prada - Lauren Weisberger | Poppies and Jasmine
Revenge Wears Prada - Lauren Weisberger | Poppies and Jasmine
When Life Gives You Lululemons - Lauren Weisberger | Poppies and Jasmine

This is actually three books – The Devil Wears Prada, Revenge Wears Prada, and When Life Gives You Lululemon. I saw the movie of the first novel, starring Anne Hathaway, and I remember thinking that the movie was good but Andi’s friends were kind of selfish jerks. The book absolutely solves that problem. In the movie, while Meryl Streep’s character is certainly a b*tch, she wasn’t half as bad, half as unreasonable as in the book. I was really sympathetic to Andi, and interested enough to pick up the second book.

The second book is actually after Andi has left the job and is working for herself – and showing plenty of signs of PTSD from her time under Miranda’s “tutelage”. Even better in the first, I wanted to just give the poor girl a hug and try and protect her from her new set of problems. Emily, her coworker at Runway, is also in this, is showing signs of Stockholm syndrome, and is still just a bit delusional – you’ll alternate between wanting to hug her or smack her.

The third book focuses on Emily, and I think it was a really strong finale. While it was less emotionally-compelling, it was fun and sweet, and focused on female friendship, which I loved. All three are absolutely worth picking up.

What Pretty Girls Are Made Of – Lindsay Jill Roth

What Pretty Girls Are Made Of - Lindsay Jill Roth | Poppies and Jasmine

This book…ugh, what to say about this book? It tried to be The Devil Wears Prada but failed miserably. The editing was ridiculous, things were repeated a line or two after they were initially said, and the physical descriptions were choppy and ill placed, to the point of feeling like the stereotype of men writing about women. Logic had only the tiniest role in the story, and it was clear that the author didn’t research or understand some elements – there’s a tarot scene that had me rolling my eyes so hard I almost passed out. Skip this.

Party Girl Series– Rachel Hollis

Party Girl - Rachel Hollis | Poppies and Jasmine
Sweet Girl - Rachel Hollis | Poppies and Jasmine
Smart Girl - Rachel Hollis | Poppies and Jasmine

Considering I’m not a fan of Rachel Hollis’ self-development books, I probably wouldn’t have picked this up if I had paid any attention to the author’s name. I’m glad I didn’t now. In the first book, there were some similarities to The Devil Wears Prada, but it was well done. The characters – three friends, one in each book – were cute, mildly well-developed and interesting. The plot was light but still logical. I had a little issue with the first character, in that she continuously dreams of working with high-end clientele, but then looks down on them for being so high-end – it’s just annoying to be so self-righteous. The second book was probably my favorite of the three, following the gritty Max as she chases her dream and falls in love. The third book focuses on Miko, and while I loved her in the first novel, as the star, she was painfully quirky but Hollis never actually really followed through on the quirks. Just me nitpicking. Anyway, the books are worth pickingp, but save them for vacation reads.

Girl Gone Mad – Avery Bishop

Girl Gone Mad - Avery Bishop | Poppies and Jasmine

This book was a little dark and twisted, which I loved, but it just missed the mark by an inch. At every turn, the author could have gone one step farther to really nail the plot, but instead retreated. I really wanted to like it, but in the end, I can’t genuinely recommend it.

That Boy Series – Jillian Dodd

That Boy - Jillian Dodd | Poppies and Jasmine
That Wedding - Jillian Dodd | Poppies and Jasmine
That Baby - Jillian Dodd | Poppies and Jasmine
That Love - Jillian Dodd | Poppies and Jasmine
That Ring - Jillian Dodd | Poppies and Jasmine
That Summer - Jillian Dodd | Poppies and Jasmine

I have always liked these books – they’re light, fun, and saccharine-sweet, with a style distinct to Jillian Dodd – and I’d only read the first two! Imagine my surprise to find there were four more! I started at the beginning of the series, and really, these are the perfect contrast to the depressing month we’ve had. The first one has a few moments where I literally teared up just a bit, because you love the characters and feel for them when they suffer. The third one might be my favorite – some of the characters departed from the previous personalities but it never felt contrived. The last three books lost a bit of the spark, however. I’m not saying don’t read them, they’re still good, but they were just a bit awkward – I think because the author was switching between two viewpoints, rather than sticking with one. By the sixth book, she’s just repeating storylines. It’s nice to see history repeat itself, but…well, I already read that book when Dodd did it first and better. Regardless, definitely add these to your must-read list.

This Is How It Always Is – Laurie Frankel

This Is How It Always Is - Laurie Frankel | Poppies and Jasmine

I absolutely hate knowing that it’s only January and I’ve likely already read the best book I will open all year. This Is How It Always Is is perfect. Amazing. A beacon of novels. It was funny and sad, sweet and beautiful. I wouldn’t change a word of it. Following the story of Poppy as she discovers who she really is and faces down the obstacles in her path, I was riveted from halfway through the first chapter and I finished the book in one night – and wanted to beg for more. I cried – actually cried, tears rolling down my cheeks, which NEVER happens – and I laughed out loud. I was angry on Poppy’s behalf, I was sympathetic, and then I cried some more. I loved all of the characters, and frankly, I forgot I was just reading the book and not watching the story play out in real life. This should be the very next book you read – it’s THAT good.

January overall set a pretty high bar for books this year, so I can’t wait to see what else I can find! Any recommendations to add to my list?


  • Reads and Ramblings
    February 4, 2021 at 5:14 pm

    Fantastic reading month! And I’m loving the sea shanty trend too!😂 xx

    • jasmine
      February 4, 2021 at 5:48 pm

      I’m addicted to shanties! I liked them before the TikTok trend but I’m being exposed to so many new ones now.

  • Denise
    February 5, 2021 at 4:24 am

    Thanks for all the great book recommendations. My goal this year is to read more so this is a great list to check back on when I am about to pick my next book.

    • jasmine
      February 5, 2021 at 1:22 pm

      Check back next month for more!

  • Angela
    February 5, 2021 at 8:00 am

    I can’t believe you read that many books in a month. Way to go! That last one you listed looks really interesting. Added it to my reading list.

    • jasmine
      February 5, 2021 at 1:19 pm

      I think you’ll love it! I’ve been a huge (and fast) reader since I was a child. My mother always joked she needed a second job just for my book habit.

  • Cristina Rosano
    February 8, 2021 at 4:23 pm

    You had a great reading month! Dirty Rush and The accidental beauty queen are going straight in my TBR! Thanks for sharing x

    • jasmine
      February 9, 2021 at 6:27 pm

      Tell me what you think of them!

  • Lauren
    February 8, 2021 at 5:16 pm

    I haven’t heard of these books or authors before. Thank you for sharing your suggestions. I need to read more as I have books that I have brought that I still haven’t finished. Thank you for sharing.

    • jasmine
      February 9, 2021 at 5:47 pm

      I love reading books from new authors so I seek them out. Hope you enjoy some of these!

  • Jenny in Neverland
    February 9, 2021 at 10:23 am

    Thanks for these suggestions. I’m reading so much at the moment so always looking for new reads! 🙂 x

    • jasmine
      February 9, 2021 at 5:41 pm

      I hope you enjoy these!

  • Kelly
    February 9, 2021 at 6:20 pm

    Wow! You managed to read A LOT of books in January! Well done!

    • jasmine
      February 9, 2021 at 6:57 pm

      Yeah, I read a lot. It was a slow month for me, since I took a break for the first week after the Nora Roberts Challenge. Have you read any of these?


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