Check out part 2 of the book I’ve been reading in quarantine!
Quarantine has given me a lot of opportunities to listen to audio books, and it’s been kind of awesome to get to cross so many books off of my TBR list and my POPSUGAR reading challenge list. If you haven’t checked out part 1 of the books I’ve been reading in quarantine, be sure to click here!
AMERICAN ROYALS by KATHARINE MCGEE
Completed on April 7, 2020 | Published on September 3, 2019
POPSUGAR Prompt: A fiction or nonfiction book about a world leader
I heard several BookTubers discussing this book, and I’m so glad the POPSUGAR reading challenge gave me the extra push I needed to finally read it.
American Royals tells the story of an alternate history where instead of George Washington accepting the Presidency at the end of the Revolutionary War, he is offered and decides to take the crown. The book is told in multiple perspectives where we follow the descendants of the American royal family and some people closely associated with them.
First there’s Princess Beatrice, who is gearing up to become America’s first queen regent. She is stuck between doing what she knows is right to honor her family and rule her country and also following her heart. Then there’s her sister, Princess Samantha, who has always thought of herself as the “spare.” She is struggling to find her place in life and in the monarchy. Princess Samantha has a twin named Prince Jefferson, and while we don’t follow his perspective in the book, we do follow two girls that create the story’s love triangle – Nina, Samantha and Jefferson’s childhood friend, and Daphne, Jefferson’s ex-girlfriend.
With multiple perspectives, it’s tough to give a full synopsis that isn’t a million paragraphs long, but I will say that I absolutely loved this book. I loved that it was told in multiple perspectives because you got to know the characters a little more and also understand the reasoning behind their actions. It’s also fun to wonder what it would be like if America really did have a monarchy.
Book two is in the works right now, and as soon as I was done with this book, I was ready to jump into the next one. I will definitely be continuing on with the series, and I can’t wait to see how everyone is affected by their decisions.
KARAMO: MY STORY OF EMBRACING PURPOSE, HEALING, AND HOPE by KARAMO BROWN
Completed on April 9, 2020 | Published on March 5, 2019
POPSUGAR Prompt: A book with more than 20 letters in its title
Karamo’s story is one that I didn’t realize I needed in my life. After bingeing Queer Eye and reading JVN’s book, I was excited to dive into Karamo’s story. Karamo’s role on Queer Eye is one of my favorites. I love how creative he gets with really delving into the person’s life and having them open up to him. You can tell that he is literally changing people’s lives with his methods, and it’s so inspiring.
I listened to this as an audio book, and it was absolutely incredible to hear Karamo tell his story. He did not have it easy at all growing up, and this lead to some extremely toxic behaviors in all parts of his life. There are so many things that I didn’t know about him (like that he was on Real World – whoops), so it was really fascinating to see all of the things that lead him to be the inspirational person that he is today.
Even though Karamo and I are obviously very different people, there are so many parts of his life that I could relate to, such as the discrimination he faced simply by being different and also how he turned to toxic behaviors in an attempt to fill a void he didn’t realize he needed to fill. So much of this book truly resonated with me, and I was cheering for him throughout it while he battled his demons and truly changed his life around.
THE LUNAR CHRONICLES SERIES by MARISSA MEYER
Started on April 14, 2020 | Completed on May 4, 2020
Cinder: A book with a robot, cyborg, or AI character
Scarlet: A book set in a city that has hosted the Olympics
Cress: A book about or by a woman in STEM
Winter: A book with a character with a vision impairment or enhancement
The Lunar Chronicles is truly one of my favorite book series ever, and I was reminded of that when listening to the audio books for each book during quarantine. It was so fun to get to experience all of these books as audio books, and I truly found myself fully engulfed in every single book.
For those that don’t know, Lunar Chronicles is made up of four different books, and each one is a retelling of a popular fairy tale. Cinder is based on Cinderella, and she is a cyborg who lives with her step-mother and two step-sisters. Scarlet based on Little Red Riding Hood. She is a farmer, and she is searching for her missing grandmother with the help of an unexpected companion named Wolf. Cress is based on Rapunzel, and she is a computer programmer who has been locked in a satellite in space for several years. Winter is based on Snow White, and she is a princess who lives on Luna, and she is controlled by her evil step-mother.
Okay, that’s a lot to take in if you have never heard of these books, and it may sound all sorts of crazy, but trust me, these books are absolutely incredible. All of the books actually build off of one another, so you still get to follow the characters from previous books while also learning about the new characters.
I intended to only reread the first book in the series because it fulfilled cyborg prompt and other books that I looked up didn’t appeal to me nearly as much. Instead, I ended up listening to the entire audio book series, and I found that each book actually filled other prompts I needed to be filled, so that 100% worked out in my favor.
ELLA ENCHANTED by GAIL CARSON LEVINE
Completed on April 14, 2020 | Published on April 25, 1997
POPSUGAR Prompt: A book with a made-up language
This is a book that I’ve been wanting to read since I was in middle school, but I never got around to it. I watched the movie years ago, and I really loved it. I genuinely enjoy so many fairy tale retelling, and this book had such a fun and unique twist.
Ella Enchanted is about a girl who was cursed by a fairy with obedience. When she is given a direct command, she had to do it no matter what. The only two people who know about this curse are her mother and her maid, and she’s given a direct command to never tell anyone else after sharing her secret caused a friendship to go awry. Her dad, of course, gets married to an awful woman who has two step-daughters, and despite being sent away and constantly misunderstood, Ella manages to keep her wits about her as she sets off on a quest to rid herself of this curse.
While I did enjoy listening to this audio book while I was driving to Nebraska, I did feel like so many parts of the story ended up being a little boring for me. There were some points of action, a slow love story, colorful characters, bits of magic, and, of course, redemption in the end, but overall, the book was just slow. I definitely think that I would have enjoyed this book so much more if I had read it in middle school as intended, but as an adult, this definitely wasn’t one of my favorite Cinderella retellings. I didn’t love it, didn’t hate, but I do want to rewatch the movie, even though many, many elements of it were changed.
TRULY DEVIOUS by MAUREEN JOHNSON
Completed on May 1, 2020 | Published on January 16, 2018
POPSUGAR Prompt: A book with at least a 4-star rating on Goodreads
The thing I loved most about this book was the idea behind the school. In Truly Devious, Albert Ellingham created a school where people can learn what they want however they want. Learning is a game, because Albert Ellingham loved games, puzzles, and riddles. Soon after the school first opened, Mr. Ellingham’s daughter, wife, and a student at the school all went missing. None of these mysteries was ever solved, and now, decades later, Stevie Bell is attending Ellingham Academy with the intent to solve the case.
This book was put on my radar thanks to BookTuber, Hailey in Bookland. I love true crime and unsolved mysteries, so that alone intrigued me. I love that there was a bigger mystery from the past that started the intrigue, but then a mystery in the present also presents itself. There are a lot of characters and a lot of moving parts in this book, but it’s so interesting to keep up with, especially if you want to try and solve things on your own.
I will say that there’s a big “bombshell” at the end of the first book that kind of fell flat for me. The little tidbit that’s dropped at the end is definitely interesting, and I think it will add to the next book, but I don’t like that it’s the big thing that’s revealed at the end. Maybe it will make sense in the next book in the series, but it just confused me because, as of now, it doesn’t really have much to do with the mysteries. I hope that it makes sense in the next book, because right now, ya girl is less than satisfied.
Overall, I did think this was a very fun and intriguing read. I do plan to continue with the series to see if anything gets resolved.
THE SELECTION SERIES by KIERA CASS
Started on May 6, 2020 | Finished on May 17, 2020
I remember reading the Selection series and thinking, This is just a fun piece of literature, and I still think that. Again, the pandemic has altered my reading tastes a bit, so rereading books that I already know the ending to and that I already love is just the thing I need right now to help ease some of my anxiety.
The Selection series is kind of like a royal, teenage, dystopian (and better) version of The Bachelor. Thirty-six girls are chosen to participate in the selection, where Prince Maxon will choose a wife. The girls are chosen from each of castes so that the prince will marry one of the people of Ilea.
The story follows America, who is a 5, and she has been dating and has fallen in love with Aspen, who is a caste below her. When the selection comes to play, nearly every eligible girl jumps at the chance to be a part of it, but America has already laid plans out to marry the love of her life, and she doesn’t want any part of it. After some bribery and coercion from both Aspen and her family, America puts her name into the pool, and she is chosen. Between girls fighting for Maxon’s attention, being away from her family, healing a broken heart, rebel attacks, and getting caught up in the competition, the life America once pictured for herself is starting to get a little faded.
This book series was a favorite of mine when I first read it, and listening to the audio books for a second read really reminded me of why I loved this series. They’re all such quick reads, and they just flow into one another. There are some really lovable characters, like Marley, Lucy, and May, and then, of course, the villains, like Celeste. You really get caught up in the competition and pick your own favorites, and you also get frustrated with America as she’s in the middle of this constantly intertwining love triangle. It’s such a fun series, and minus a few elements, it’s an overall light read.
OONA OUT OF ORDER by MARGARITA MONTIMORE
Completed on May 12, 2020 | Published on February 25, 2020
POPSUGAR Prompt: A book with a main character in their 20s
Holy cow! I loved this book. It seriously has one of the most interesting concepts. Oona Out of Order follows Oona who, wakes up on her 19th birthday as a 51-year-old woman. Each year at midnight on her birthday, Oona wakes up in a different age. Her body looks different, but her mind is still developing in chronological order. There’s no rhyme or reason to why this is happening to her, and there’s no way to know what age she will wake up as each year. At the beginning of every year, she’s forced to try to fit the pieces of her life together to form any sort of normalcy.
Y’all, this book took me on a ride, and at the end of the book, I was not ready to get off. Honestly. I was made when this book ended, because I wasn’t done with it yet. I wanted more. It’s so crazy how much character development there was because Oona is living life in her early 20s, but on the outside, she is a completely different age. It’s such a fun concept, such a fun read, and it’s full of characters that I both love and hate. I simply wasn’t ready for this book to end, and I want a sequel. I want more Oona!
WHEN LIFE GIVES YOU LULULEMONS by LAUREN WEISBERGER
Completed on May 15, 2020 | Published on June 15, 2018
POPSUGAR Prompt: A book with a pun in the title
When Life Gives You Lululemons is actually the third book in the Devil Wears Prada series, but it could easily be read as a standalone, which is exactly what I did. I’ve never read the first two books in the series, but I have seen the Devil Wears Prada movie, so I was aware of who Emily was, even though this book follows her more than a decade in the future. This book follows three women – Emily, Karolina, and Miriam. Emily is working in Hollywood as a celebrity image consultant, but she’s been losing tons of clients to a rival. Karolina has been in a happy marriage with a New York senator for several years, but one day, she is pulled over with her step-son and his friends in the car. She is arrested, given a DUI, and eventually gets dragged through the mud, even though she wasn’t actually drunk. Then there’s Miriam who recently left her job to become a stay-at-home mom and is struggling with the transition. The three become unlikely friends as they deal with their own personal lives but also ban together to help Karolina get her image and her son back.
Even though this was my first Lauren Weisberger read, I expected lots of wit and fun, and that’s exactly what I got. I love how different these three women are and how their lives ended up coming together in such an unexpected way. Each person is dealing with different things in their own marriages, and even on the hard days, these women come out strong and on top, no matter what obstacles are thrown at them (and there are some crazy ones in here, fa sho). I love how this book focuses on the strength and resilience of women and their ability to take their circumstances and make them even better. It’s the exact girl power book I needed right now, and I’m thankful for the POPSUGAR reading challenge for bringing it into my life. Honestly, I don’t think I would have read it otherwise.
What books have you been reading in quarantine?