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Books I Read – February 2021

I’m a little surprised I got through so many books in February, considering it’s a short month, but my sleep schedule has been really wacky, as has the internet, which gave me more reading time I guess. Read on to find some recommendations, some rejections, and a real winner from one of my favorite authors.

Books I Read - February 2021 | Poppies and Jasmine

How To Be A Grown-Up – Emma McLaughlin

How To Be A Grown-Up - Emma McLaughlin | Poppies and Jasmine

This book was great. It was funny, the characters were sympathetic, there were some twists. It follows the story of a 40-something mom and freelance stager who finds her life facing total upheaval on multiple fronts. While in the past, issues had always worked themselves out, this is bigger and she has to navigate a world where everything is changing faster than she can keep up. It’s something we can all relate to a bit, and I loved seeing her find her feet again. Totally, totally worth a read!

24-Karat Kids – Dr. Judy Goldstein

24 Karat Kids - Dr. Judy Goldstein | Poppies and Jasmine

This book was really good for most of it, so definitely pick it up, but I felt like the ending was quite abrupt and didn’t really fit. That said, seriously, the book is definitely amusing, and it shows that Dr. Goldstein is a pediatrician in NYC, writing from what must be real-life experience. As someone without kids, I laughed, but people with kids will likely find it even funnier, because I imagine every mother has experienced parents like those in the novel.

The Family Next Door – Sally Hepworth

The Family Next Door - Sally Hepworth | Poppies and Jasmine

It’s funny – I enjoyed this book, but not for the plotline I think I was supposed to be focused on. I really enjoyed the “day in a life” aspect more than the main story, although I did appreciate that I didn’t guess where Hepworth was going with that. Wasn’t even really close. The characters are great, and relatable in a lot of ways, and it’s the perfect book to get you through a quiet winter night.

The Perfect Mother – Aimee Molloy

The Perfect Mother - Aimee Molloy | Poppies and Jasmine

This was a psychological thriller, supposedly, but really…I didn’t love it. It’s not the worst thing I’ve ever read, it just didn’t fascinate me. Too many characters in the main plot made it a little confusing, particularly with the story’s structure, and it wasn’t really ever surprising in any way. Pass on this – there’s too many good books out there.

She Regrets Nothing – Andrea Dunlop

She Regrets Nothing - Andrea Dunlop | Poppies and Jasmine

So this book started off really strong, and showed a lot of promise, but it did NOT deliver. There was only one likeable character in it, and she just couldn’t hold down the book alone. By the end, I wanted everyone else in jail or dead. Considering this month, I read a lot of books set in affluent society, like this one is, I was very disappointed that the plot failed so heavily.

Small Admissions – Amy Poeppel

Small Admissions - Amy Poeppel | Poppies and Jasmine

This book was really great. I thought it was going to be like Acceptance, and I guess there were some similarities, but it was more of a woman finding her way back to life after a brutal breakup. I liked seeing the main character rebuild herself and her world, brick by brick, at the same time she worked so closely with kids at an elite private school.

Limelight – Amy Poeppel

Limelight - Amy Poeppel | Poppies and Jasmine

This was cute, but never particularly impressive. Following on the heels of Small Admissions, it didn’t really live up to my expectations. The characters never felt as well-rounded, or like they were actually overcoming anything, and the ending was just a bit too…simplistic. I’d really hoped for more from Poeppel.

Breathe In, Cash Out – Madeleine Henry

Breathe In, Cash Out - Madeleine Henry | Poppies and Jasmine

This book was excellent. Even inspiring in some ways! The main character works in investment banking but dreams of leaving to become a yogi, and the novel chronicles her journey between the two worlds. There’s a lot of underlying messages about being careful who you trust, about people not being what they seem, but also about how following your dream is the bravest and hardest thing you can do. I honestly loved it and will be seeking out new books from this author.

Opening Belle – Maureen Sherry

Opening Belle - Maureen Sherry | Poppies and Jasmine

Opening Belle had soooo much potential! Telling the story of a woman working on Wall Street, trapped in a confining career by the all-encompassing boys’ club, humiliated, sexually harassed, she gets the chance to band together with other women for change. That’s how the story starts, that’s how the story should have gone. Instead – and yeah, there’s going to be spoilers – the novel became basically a lesson in not making waves because what happens happens. At the end, I wanted to just smack the main character. At every opportunity where she could have fought, she didn’t. No, this ended up being the story of a woman who wants to be a good person, even thinks of herself as a good person, but instead just toes the line and throws her hands up periodically in frustration.

The Honey-Don’t List – Christina Lauren

The Honey Don't List - Christina Lauren | Poppies and Jasmine

This book was cute. It’s not particularly deep and insightful, nor does it need to be. It’s a bit more of a romance novel than I really expected, but I enjoyed it. It’s kind of a beach read, so maybe consider tossing this in your bag before you go on your next vacation. The characters are fun, albeit a little flat, and the storyline keeps chugging along fast enough to keep you interested.

Witch Central Series – Debora Geary

A Modern Witch - Debora Geary | Poppies and Jasmine
A Hidden Witch - Debora Geary | Poppies and Jasmine
A Reckless Witch - Debora Geary | Poppies and Jasmine
A Nomadic Witch - Debora Geary | Poppies and Jasmine
A Different Witch - Debora Geary | Poppies and Jasmine
A Celtic Witch - Debora Geary | Poppies and Jasmine
A Lost Witch - Debora Geary | Poppies and Jasmine
To Have And To Code - Debora Geary | Poppies and Jasmine
Witches On Parole - Debora Geary | Poppies and Jasmine
Witches Under Way - Debora Geary | Poppies and Jasmine
Witches In Flight - Debora Geary | Poppies and Jasmine
An Imperfect Witch - Debora Geary | Poppies and Jasmine

An Unlikely Witch - Debora Geary | Poppies and Jasmine
A Dangerous Witch - Debora Geary | Poppies and Jasmine

I’ve read these before, and actually since I read them, the author has pulled them from Amazon and other bookstores, so if you want to read them, you may have to search a bit to find them (or contact me – I can point you in the right direction). They are absolutely worth the effort. Geary’s books about the Sullivan family are adorable, light, fun, and still feature some heartbreaking and heartwarming moments. Overall, they span 3 series, the main one which features the large witch family finding new members, the Witchlight series, featuring two witches who enter a community program to turn their lives around, and the final series, featuring an annoying crystal ball and a realtor witch who doesn’t want the messages being passed on. Really, all three series tie together so well that they read as one. I still love them and when I just want a happy book, these are always good to turn to.

Citizen Girl – Emma McLaughlin

Citizen Girl - Emma McLaughlin | Poppies and Jasmine

Wow. This book was infuriating, depressing, demeaning – and those things are exactly why it was amazing. I don’t think I know a single woman who hasn’t experienced some or even most of what Girl, the appropriately named main character, goes through. I am a feminist and really, it’s hard to continue being one when it feels like there’s just this neverending stream of crap coming at you – particularly when some small river of it is coming from the very people who should be most concerned about cleaning it up. As for the names – Girl is the main character, and I kind of love that McLaughlin let that just be her name, because first it makes it very easy to imagine being in her shoes, and two, leaving her essentially nameless, certainly undistinguished, is a constant reminder that far too many people see women as interchangeable, unimportant, and that far too many women, regardless of their names, share the same experiences as in the book. Another name that stuck out to me was Guy, her sexist, overbearing boss. Yes, Guy is at least an actual name, but it also has the benefit of turning this faceless character into any man you’ve met who displayed ridiculously bad behavior. I’ll be honest – the entire book I pictured him as this one guy I used to work with, who often displayed the same behavior. Absolutely pick up this book and move it to the top of your reading list.

Bitter Is The New Black – Jen Lancaster

Bitter Is The New Black - Jen Lancaster | Poppies and Jasmine
Bright Lights, Big Ass - Jen Lancaster | Poppies and Jasmine
Such A Pretty Fat - Jen Lancaster | Poppies and Jasmine
Pretty In Plaid - Jen Lancaster | Poppies and Jasmine
My Fair Lazy - Jen Lancaster | Poppies and Jasmine
Jeneration X - Jen Lancaster | Poppies and Jasmine
The Tao Of Martha - Jen Lancaster | Poppies and Jasmine
I Regret Nothing - Jen Lancaster | Poppies and Jasmine
Stories I'd Tell In Bars - Jen Lancaster | Poppies and Jasmine
Welcome To The United States Of Anxiety - Jen Lancaster | Poppies and Jasmine

I re-read all of Jen Lancaster’s memoirs (Bitter Is The New Black, Bright Lights Big Ass, Such A Pretty Fat, Pretty In Plaid, My Fair Lazy, Jeneration X, The Tao of Martha, I Regret Nothing, Stories I’d Tell In Bars) to lead up to her newest, Welcome To The United States Of Anxiety. Once again, these books – hilarious. Like, laugh out loud like a loon funny. I’ve actually given these in care baskets to friends who were sick or whatever because I knew the books would make them feel better. I think My Fair Lazy is probably the absolute funniest, but these books aren’t just funny – they’re inspiring. To see someone grow and challenge herself in new ways, to document her successes and failures, well, it always makes me want to be better too. In I Regret Nothing and Stories I’d Tell In Bars, she visits Italy and oh, I cringed now reading how she had trouble finding coffee and all the warnings her friends gave her. I can’t spit here without hitting 3 different cafes, and it is ridiculously rare for me to feel unsafe here. I’ve wandered Milan at night alone as a woman and had absolutely no issues – none, and I couldn’t even go to the gas station in Tiny Town, NC without feeling threatened. I was sitting there like, “Ok, yes, be careful, but it’s Italy! People are overwhelmingly nice!” Anyway. I will say her newest book has lost some of…her but I think it’s still a book we need in the middle of a pandemic when stress and anxiety is high for everyone. Regardless, definitely read all of her books.

If You Were Here – Jen Lancaster

If You Were Here - Jen Lancaster | Poppies and Jasmine

Since I was on a Jen Lancaster kick, I picked up all of her fiction books as well. This one was her first, and I feel like the term fiction was used loosely in regards to this book. It tells the story of a woman and her husband as they buy a house and deal with renovations, only to meet hilarious failures. I happen to know it was written around the time Lancaster and her husband bought a house that had monkey wallpaper and a weird gun cabinet in the kitchen, among other issues, so…besides some obvious variations, a lot of this strikes me as potentially real, which just makes it funnier.

Here I Go Again – Jen Lancaster

Here I Go Again - Jen Lancaster | Poppies and Jasmine

This book was pretty good. It’s definitely humorous, although it didn’t have quite the same charm as If You Were Here. I loved, though, how at the end, the MC, Lissy, couldn’t accomplish her primary goal – it’s a perfect example of getting what you need more than what you want, both for her and for everyone in her orbit. While most of the book was good, the last quarter of it in particular really was pretty amazing.

Twisted Sisters – Jen Lancaster

Twisted Sisters - Jen Lancaster | Poppies and Jasmine

There’s a little character overlap in this and Here I Go Again. Not in any way that particularly matters to the story, just little nods to other successes in her writing career. This book is good, although for me, it just didn’t quite hit the level of her other pieces. I guess in some ways, it was just a bit predictable. Still, it’s fun, and perfect for a light-hearted read when we’re still all stuck inside.

The Best Of Enemies – Jen Lancaster

The Best Of Enemies - Jen Lancaster | Poppies and Jasmine

Ok, this one was really cute. I enjoyed the contrast of the two main characters – even more so since the pretty, perfect society mom was the more likeable of the two, which is a switch from all the books I’ve read where they’re the character harboring the darkest secrets. Instead, the book has fun with a bit of a mystery angle but keeps her generally sardonic touch throughout.

By The Numbers – Jen Lancaster

By The Numbers - Jen Lancaster | Poppies and Jasmine

For some reason, I thought I liked Lancaster’s fiction novels, more because I love her memoirs so much, but this book really cinched for me just how much I love her fiction. Having the protagonist be an actuary set the mood from the beginning for her to be very straight-laced, but she was never boring. I LOVED seeing her find herself again and just stop everyone else from raining on her parade. Honestly, this would have been her best fiction book but…

The Gatekeepers – Jen Lancaster

The Gatekeepers - Jen Lancaster | Poppies and Jasmine

I don’t know how I’d never gotten around to reading this. Based on a series of real-life teen suicides that happened in the outskirts of Chicago, this book tackles the issue. It’s dark, there’s no way to avoid that and still do justice to what happened, but the book is beautiful. You connect with the characters, and I spent the beginning trying to figure out which character wasn’t going to make it out. I had tears in my eyes at some parts, and was relieved when the kids came together at the end. The situation makes me want to smack parents sometimes – my own mom was great, so I don’t understand parents who put so much pressure on kids to drive them to such low points – and it’s not only suicide; these teens were also struggling with eating disorders, drugs, depression, and more. It’s an epidemic in this country, and after you read this book, I really hope you pass it on to others so that they start thinking about ways they can also become gatekeepers for people around them (because we need more gatekeepers at all ages, but especially for any teenagers you might know). This is a must-read – I’d even say it’s as good or very close to as good as That’s How It Always Is.

Wow, 43 books this month in total. That’s quite a bump from last month, although the Witch Central books are fairly short. I feel like this month, books were all over the place – amazing and excellent, or pretty disappointing – no real middle ground. I already have several books on my kindle for March, so I can’t wait to see how they are!

14 Comments

  • Stephanie
    March 2, 2021 at 5:18 pm

    As someone who reads a lot, I was surprised by the fact that I only recognized one book on this list! I’ll definitely need to look into the others that you enjoyed. There are a lot of cute contemporary picks throughout and I love that genre!

    Reply
    • jasmine
      March 2, 2021 at 5:24 pm

      I’ve been loving contemporary books lately – hope you enjoy these!

      Reply
  • Katy
    March 2, 2021 at 8:18 pm

    It’s great to read that some of the books I’d probably have bought for the cover aren’t that great. I’m doing a rubbish job with reading so far this year, definitely something to work on for me!

    Reply
  • Fadima Mooneira
    March 3, 2021 at 11:34 am

    Book no. 5 & 7 sounds good. Thank you for sharing.

    Reply
    • jasmine
      March 3, 2021 at 11:36 am

      Let me know what you think of them when you get a chance to read them!

      Reply
  • Claire Lomax
    March 4, 2021 at 10:33 am

    WOW!!! That is seriously incredible how much you fit in during one short month! I haven’t actually read any of these but some of the physiological/thriller ones sound like my sort of thing x

    Reply
    • jasmine
      March 4, 2021 at 10:46 am

      I’ve been really into those lately, but I try to balance those with lighter books – otherwise, my head gets too dark!

      Reply
  • Lindsey
    March 4, 2021 at 8:46 pm

    Oh my goodness, what an amazing amount of books you’ve managed to get through!! Fantastic list – sounds like a real mix of reads in here. It’s a shame that some where disappointing, especially if you had high hopes or they started strong, but overall it looks like you did okay in Feb?

    Reply
    • jasmine
      March 5, 2021 at 7:15 am

      Yeah, I had some amazing ones that were absolutely worth it!

      Reply
  • Michelle
    March 5, 2021 at 9:15 am

    Oh my gosh! How do you read so many books?? It’s amazing! I’m working and studying at the moment so I only get to read boring textbooks – boohoo. Anyway, great work!

    All the best, Michelle (michellesclutterbox.com)

    Reply
    • jasmine
      March 5, 2021 at 8:48 pm

      I definitely read less when I was taking classes! I’m a really fast reader and a really bad sleeper, so that’s my secret. Soon enough, you’ll be done with textbooks and then you can get back to reading for fun!

      Reply
  • Cristina Rosano
    March 12, 2021 at 5:54 pm

    Wow, you had an absolute great reading month! I haven’t heard of any of them but SMall Admissions sounds right up my alley, thanks for sharing x

    Reply
    • jasmine
      March 12, 2021 at 9:27 pm

      I think you’ll really like it – it was great!

      Reply
  • Kayleigh Zara
    March 31, 2021 at 2:47 pm

    I read alot and I genuinely only recognised a handful of books on this list! They all sound like really enjoyable reads – thankyou for sharing x

    Reply

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