Recent Reads #16

I could have sworn I’d had a Recent Reads post already this year, but somehow it seems that I never ended up writing it! I had a plan to share some of the Christmas-themed books I read in December/January, but I guess it got a bit lost in the shuffle of all the end-of-year wrap-up posts and new year goals. By now, it seems a bit too late to go back and mention those books, although if anyone really wants me to, let me know and I can! Instead, I decided to focus on three of the romance books that I read in February for a loose Valentine’s Day theme. Although I am making an effort to have my reading less tethered to specific months/seasons, there are certain times of year where it feels like a theme really just makes sense. In February, I often like to read romances as well as domestic thrillers/thrillers that focus heavily on relationships or marriages, as two different sides of a Valentine’s theme. I also tend to spend the month finishing off some of my wintry books. I was very surprised to see I hadn’t made a Recent Reads post since November, but it’s a great chance to mention a few of the books I read in the past month.

The first romance book I read this month was the very popular The Love Hypothesis, which I’d actually avoided for a while because it seemed way too overhyped. I also wasn’t sure how much I’d really care about it since it’s apparently Star Wars fanfiction based on Kylo and Rey, and I know literally nothing about Star Wars or those characters. Luckily, I asked around a bit and found out you don’t need to in order to read this, so I decided to give it a chance. I am so glad I did, because it was easily one of the best contemporary romances I’ve read in a long time! This book is a fake-dating romance, and I was a bit surprised to see the relationship begin almost immediately since I had expected a bit more of a lead-in to who the characters are. I absolutely loved the relationship between Olive and Adam, and although some of the scenarios that they were put into were a little silly, the writing was strong enough to keep me very engaged and entertained! I also loved the heavy focus on academia and the pressures involved in both Olive and Adam’s careers. I also really appreciated the asexual spectrum representation, which is something that I still have not seen so often. There was one very minor scene (the flu shots) that did rub me the wrong way a bit, but other than that I absolutely loved the writing and the characters, and I’m so glad I gave this book a fair chance!

Shortly after finishing The Love Hypothesis, I finally picked up The Heart Principle by Helen Hoang. I’d originally intended to read this book last year, and was disappointed that I didn’t get to it in time! This book is the third in the Kiss Quotient series, and I’ve loved them all so far. I think of the three, this one was the most different since it the focus was less on the romance. This book is about a woman named Anna whose long-term boyfriend decides he wants an open relationship before he commits to her, and out of anger, she decides to have one-night stands too, which lead her to Quan, who had been a side character in the previous books. To be fair, I remembered very little about Quan except that I had liked him, but I ended up really enjoying his relationship with Anna and especially how they both initially bonded over octopus videos. This book was also different from the other two because there was a heavy focus on family and the pressures of becoming a caregiver. I also loved the exploration of Anna’s autism diagnosis which comes later in life, and the way it helped her understand many of her experiences and relationships with the others in her life. I especially loved the focus on masking and autistic burnout, which are topics that are not so commonly addressed. This was a great addition to the series, although very different from what I expected!

Right at the end of the month, I read the remaining three books in the Heartstopper graphic novel series. I’d read the first one all the way back in 2020, and recently learned that there was only one more coming out! I did need a small recap of what happened in the first book before diving into the rest just because it had been so long since I read it, but it didn’t take me long to get right back into it. This series follows the relationship between British high school students Nick and Charlie, and over the course of volumes 2, 3 and 4, they deal with a variety of issues including coming out, navigating their new relationship, and how to support each other through difficult times. As with the first volume, I absolutely loved the rest of the series and thought Nick and Charlie were adorable together! I loved the way the author showed both of them learning to navigate their relationship and how and when to let others know about it. I thought the fourth volume was especially strong due to the focus on Charlie’s mental health and Nick’s support. As a side note, I spent most of this series wanting Charlie’s sister Tori to get a spin-off, only to realize that she had already been the main character of Alice Oseman’s Solitaire! I think I have a copy of that somewhere but haven’t read it yet, so I’m not surprised I didn’t know. Either way, this series was so cute and fun to read, and I’m sad that there’s only one book left!

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