Today I’m chatting with you about books that have gotten me through quarantine. We’ve been living under the Stay Home order now for almost three months, which seems absolutely incredible. It went by at a snail’s pace, but it’s also flying by faster than I expected. The days are long, but the weeks are short, as they say.
Books have been holding my hand through this journey of going nowhere. Books hold my hand on a day-to-day basis anyway, I’ll admit, but I’ve been leaning on my friends especially hard during these times. And so I present… books that have gotten me through these last three months, and have held my hand especially hard.
First, I’m going to just chat about the book in general. Then, I’ll talk about how the book helped me. I get pretty introspective because while I originally snagged these books because they were my favorites, they also all had underlying messages that did subconsciously help me!
Dear Aaron by Mariana Zapata
I first read this epistolary romance the week before quarantine started, and I found myself so in love, I had to pick it back up about a month later. This all-consuming romance follows Ruby, who signs up to a military pen pal service, and Aaron, her military pen-pal. The first half of this book is the email and IM communications between the characters, starting with their initial correspondence. I loved this format so much because it offered a valuable insight into their relationship. The characters quickly became fast friends, sharing and oversharing in their year of correspondence, telling each other things they hadn’t told anyone else. It was so easy to fall in love with these characters, because those words on the page were literally the only things making the characters fall in love with each other, too. I always feel like Aaron and Ruby are my friends, too, a feeling that only intensifies as they finally meet ?
This is one of the most impactful books I read that got me through quarantine. The premise appeals, as someone who isn’t able to see my friends and/or loved ones in person right now. It also inspired me to sign up for a pen pal service that one of my friends on Instagram started up! My pen pal seems to not be replying, so I’m sending letters to my IRL friends instead. But hopefully, I’ll get reassigned to a pen pal soon! The sentiment that you don’t have to be right next to someone to love them and care for them, that’s a storyline that’s really helping me right now. (My Review)
If you want more of that, I’d recommend Rock Hard by Nalini Singh, which features a long-distance friendship as well as an incredible romance. It’s also one of my favorite comfort reads!
The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
The Scorpio Races is one of the first (of a handful of) books that I read when I first came home from
moving out of college. It was the book I read in one sitting the night before the #stayhomereadingrush, and it was the book that made me fall squarely back in lust with Maggie Stiefvater’s writing style. I adore the Raven Boys, and especially Ronan, by her, but that and Shiver are my only experiences of her. No longer. I’m actually terrified to read Linger because I think I liked The Scorpio Races more than I liked The Raven Boys! ?
The actual plot of The Scorpio Races is not one I want to take the time to explain to you, because it only makes sense in the incredibly atmospheric setting where this takes place, but it does include magical creatures that resemble (but are not) horses, a race, feminism, a town overrun by monsters once a year, a very soft romance, and it’s set on a coastline. I notice that a lot of people enjoy the Gangsey, but don’t tend to explore her backlist. This book helped me in the vaguest ways possible but was an asset nevertheless. It’s definitely going to be one of my top favorite books of the year, and it also carried a theme of possibility and unexpected magic, two things I’d love to believe in right about now. (My Review)
Psy-Changeling series by Nalini Singh
Of course, as soon as the Stay Home order was issued, I picked my Psy-Changeling reread back up. I’ve had lots of reading over the past three months, having read 63 books during that time, but I’ve managed to sneak a few rereads into the schedule :) For sanity’s sake, of course. For those who aren’t aware of my favorite series, this is an amazing urban fantasy series that follows a world with shifters, humans, and Psy (who have a kind of arsenal of mental powers, each with their own niche specialty). There’s an overall series arc storyline, so they do need to be read in order.
Nalini Singh’s writing feels like home to me, so it’s no surprise that I picked up one of my favorite comfort reads. This series is absolutely incredible! I’m currently on book nine of my reread! Nalini Singh has this way of creating such vivid characters, it honestly feels like they’re my family, too! She has this fluid, liquid writing style, that will have you understanding concepts without pages of explanation to comb through, and manages to weave a wonderful sense of community throughout the story. Her worldbuilding skills are absolutely unmatched, but her characters are arguably better; all managing to be completely different and unique across several storylines and paths. Her attention to detail is amazing, and I need you to pick up this series! Book one is on sale $2.99 on the Kindle store! (My review of book one)
Neanderthal Seeks Human by Penny Reid
Neanderthal Seeks Human is the first book in the Knitting in the City series by Penny Reid, following the romances and shenanigans of the members of a knitting club. In this book, we follow Janie Morris on the day she breaks up with her boyfriend for cheating, and she subsequently loses her job (not a coincidence, by the way). After that series of rather unfortunate events, the security guard (Quinn) offers to get her an interview for his security company as an accountant. See, you can tell with only a few moments in her presence that Janie is exceptionally intelligent, especially since when nervous, she tends to tell you all about random facts that may or may not have anything to do with present circumstances or conversation. And Quinn? He makes her nervous.
Honestly, I love this delightfully hilarious romantic comedy! It features a romance between a socially awkward woman and a sexy man who absolutely mystifies her, and sports an engaging storyline and witty dialogue that had me in stitches… even with it being a reread! I love Penny Reid and this series especially! The reason this book helped me is rather simple: because it gave me friends. Janie and her friends at Knit Night (and outside of it) are hilarious and I love reading about their antics. Janie even turns down Quinn’s first date because it fell on Knit Night, and although she wanted to go out with Quinn, that comes first. So, yes, I read it to be back with my friends at Knit Night, and for the non-stop humor with this fantastically unique heroine and a very sexy alpha hero. It’s (and they are) smart, endearing and so, so entertaining! (My Review)
The Chase by Elle Kennedy
The Chase is a new adult college romance that follows Summer, a new transfer halfway through her junior year looking for a place to stay, and Fitzy, a video game and fantasy nerd, and hockey player, who lives with two of his teammates… and has a room available. Fitzy and Summer don’t like each other, but eventually become friends after their pestering hinders their ability to live together.
This one is perhaps the most obvious, but it reminds me of home. Not my home… my hOUme away from home in Athens, Ohio, where I go to college. I never got to fully experience my freshman year, and it’s not the end of the world, nor even reach half of the emotional horror people are experiencing right now. But it was a big thing for me, since going college was such a big step, not being able to go was temporarily debilitating. The Chase is a college romance that reminds me of all the reasons I loved being on campus – I felt free, young, and progressive like I was going places and doing something for the rest of my life. It reminded me that I’m not on campus, but I can still be all of those things, just in a different way, at home. The Chase deals in expectations that other people place on you, and being stuck at home makes my family’s expectations feel like a yoke sometimes. This book helped. (My Review)
Wolfsong by TJ Klune
I read this whole trilogy during quarantine, and I can already tell that this is going to be my favorite book of the year. Wolfsong follows two neighbor boys (one a bit older, one a bit younger) who are close friends, and then close family friends and fated mates, as the younger boy is a werewolf. This book is absolutely one of the most adorable, soft books I’ve ever read… but it also went places.
There’s also a long period of time where this family is separated and apart from each other for a very long time. The emotions in this one were hard for me to swallow and incredibly raw, but they were somehow cleansing and managed to offer a sense of hope. My situation is not as bleak or as hard a barrier as theirs was. Even during separation, the characters managed to evolve and grow into stronger versions of themselves, and I love the message it sends for those of us also separated from people we want to be close to right now. Aside from me being sentimental, this really is an absolutely incredible shifter romance and one you must read. (Instagram Review)
If I Never Met You by Mhairi McFarlane
If I Never Met You follows a woman named Laurie after her boyfriend of 18 years (EIGHTEEN YEARS) breaks up with her because he doesn’t want to get married or have children. But then… he shows up at their office with news of a pregnant girlfriend. Eek! Wanting to be the object of something other than pity from their coworkers, she agrees to an arrangement with Jamie, the office playboy, to embark on a fake relationship. So she can appear to move on, and so he can impress the bosses with a steady girlfriend.
I honestly adored this one. Laurie is in a big rut and feels rejected in the worst way. I loved this book so much because it was such an emotional journey of Laurie coming out of her rut, learning to love herself again, and, after being part of a codependent *half* for so long, learning to feel like a strong, independent woman. I feel like I’m in a rut right now, and at this rate, I’m going to come out of quarantine fat and lazy, but with good intentions. I was supposed to study abroad in Ireland this summer, my first time leaving the country or going anywhere without my parents. I’d have to cook my own meals (something I haven’t had to consistently do due to college meal plans and living at home) and it was meant to be a summer of adventure, self-love, and independence, a springboard for an independent life for me finally. Now I’ve regressed in the worst way, home every single day and not even able to go to work. Laurie’s journey reminded me that current circumstances are temporary, and if she could do all that at 36, then I can sure as hell do it at 20. ✨ (My Review)
The Friend Zone by Abby Jimenez
The Friend Zone shocked me, and I know it will end up being one of my top ten reads of 2020. It follows Kristen, who begrudgingly agrees to get along with Josh, the best man at her best friend’s wedding. He ends up helping her out in a lurch when her contractor quits his job, and so Josh ends up spending lots of time in her garage building dog stairs for her business… and they become really good friends. But Kristen refuses to entertain the notion of more because she knows that Josh broke up with his last girlfriend because of her unwillingness to have kids, and, unknown to Josh, Kristen is facing a medically necessary procedure that will render her infertile.
I don’t have time to go into all the reasons I loved this one here, but oh. wow. It was emotionally poignant, often hilarious, and had me in tears on multiple occasions. Kristen is living in literally hell. Due to issues with her uterus, she is in constant pain and on a perpetual period – hence the necessary procedure. It’s hard for me to hit on just one reason this book helped me, but I think I’d have to go with the theme of hope and friendship. This book gets deep and there are some truly god-awful things that happen to the characters in this, but the theme of perseverance and hope is what carried me through it and have me still think about it now. The friendship, too, is the kind of ride-or-die relationship that you have with someone that, even when you’re not always together, you know that person will be there for you always. I can’t be with my friends right now, but they’re still there, and for right now, that’s enough ? (My Review)
The Barter System, Hudson, and Radiance by Shayne McClendon
These books are delicious. I went into the first one thinking I was going to get some fun smut, but actually ended up getting – well, yes, smut, but also – an incredible narrative on male and female sexuality. The first book follows Reya, who is doing some field study for her dissertation on male sexuality, and their psyche when it comes to relationships. So she stays with seven male – handpicked amongst the thousands that applied for her study – and stays with each of them for a week. It was so interesting, and I loved the ending ? I have a weakness for billionaire menage romances in books. I will be reviewing these in the future!
Now I’m not going on any kind of sexual adventure anytime soon. But these also reminded me that while I may be stuck at home, I’m not stagnant. Again, I don’t mean sexually, but I can still learn and grow as a person while stuck inside. It was a nice reminder that it’s never too late for a new adventure or to find things out about yourself that you never expected ✨
Fire in You by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Fire in You is a book that I’d just been wanting to reread! I read if for the first time years ago, in fact I think it was one of the first reviews on this blog, and for some reason had a hankering for it! It follows Jillian and Brock who grew up together – Jillian was very much the clingy-friends-younger-sister, but Brock always held affection for his best friend’s little sis. Eventually, they were cut from each other’s lives when tragedy struck. Flash forward six years later, and Jillian has finally recovered from that event before. Except then… Brock shows up as her new boss.
I love J Lynn (i.e., Jennifer L. Armentrout’s) new adult romance books. They’re often simple in romance, but the underlying problems and issues that the characters have to work through are so much more. This book was all about perspective for me. Jillian is a strong heroine, and she went through so ?? much ?? horrible ?? shit ?? and came out on the other side. It’s awful and morbid, but reading about tragedy does sometimes help get your own situation into perspective. (My Review)
What books have you been loving during quarantine? Is there any that really helped you? Let me know in the comments below, I’d love to hear from you!