January 2020 Books Read

Monthly Book Round-Up-3

January was a loooong month.

Circumstances being what they were this month, I didn’t get to finish as many books as I was hoping to read (as Goodreads so eloquently reminds me – I’m one book behind pace to my yearly goal). But the ones I did read were fantastic.

I’m adding a new feature to my reviews, and that is the format in which I read the book. I feel that format can make or break whether or not I will like a book. I started The Nickel Boys on audio and was not captivated by it. I happened to see it at the library and decided I would try to read it in print, and I enjoyed it so much better in this format.

I’m also going to briefly mention the books I DNF’d (did not finish) this month. I’m trying to read at a higher quality, so if I’m not enjoying a book, I will not force myself to finish. And that doesn’t necessarily mean I won’t go back to a DNF book, it just wasn’t right for me at this point in time.

Focusing on quality is really working for me, and I implore everyone to do the same. Life is too short to not be reading something you enjoy!


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The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Genre: YA

Format: Audiobook

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

What a powerful way to start off the new year. I know this book has been around for awhile, and I’m kind of late to the game, but wow. Now I know why this book was so popular when it came out in 2017. It tells the tale of Starr who sees her friend get shot to death by a cop in a traffic stop gone wrong. This book is extremely poignant for the time we’re living in. The audiobook is excellent, one of the best audiobooks I’ve ever listened to. Bahni Turpin is an awesome narrator. This truly is a YA novel, however, as it pauses here and there to remind us of that when Starr is hanging out with her friends from school. But overall, this is an important novel that everyone should read.


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Today We Go Home by Kelli Estes

Genre: Historical Fiction

Format: Paperback

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

This was the first book I received after joining the Once Upon a Book Club subscription service. You get to open gifts related to the corresponding page numbers along the way, which makes it feel like you are a part of the story. I loved the experience, and the book was great too. Told in two timelines between an Iraq veteran and a soldier in the Civil War, both of whom are women, was a delightful surprise. I haven’t read a historical fiction novel set during the Civil War, and it was a refreshing break from reading a WWII-set novel. And learning that women posing as men to fight in the war was a common occurrence made the story that much more interesting. The present day storyline wasn’t as strong, in my opinion, but it was overall an enjoyable read.


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The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead

Genre: Historical Fiction

Format: Hardcover

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5

This was my first foray into Colson Whitehead’s work, and I wasn’t disappointed. Based on a true story of a reformatory boys school in 1950s Florida, this novel tackles some heavy topics such as abuse and race, yet it’s told in a way that is readable. The writing is beautiful, but I had to switch from audio to hardcover to truly comprehend the story. The novel interweaves quotes and aspirations from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., as it was set during the Civil Rights movement, which really opened my eyes to that era and how it still resonants today. This is a great “makes you think” book.


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Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie

Genre: Classic / Adventure

Format: Ebook (Serial App)

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

I did it. I finished my first classic of the year. Yes, it was a children’s novel, and yes, it’s a story that everyone has heard of, but I’m proud that I actually stuck with it and didn’t give up 20 pages in and never return back to it like I do with most classics. That’s a win, in my book. I had decided to read Peter Pan because my daughter had recently been in our community theater’s production of it. I was surprised at how the story of the play followed so closely with the story of the book, that is to say, it’s nothing like the Disney version. I enjoyed reading it overall, but, man, Peter annoyed the ever living crap out of me. Whiny. Arrogant. Narcissistic. I now know why they had to make him more likable for the Disney movie, because he is not likable here. But it’s a fun adventure novel that can be read with your kiddos.


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Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson

Genre: Historical Fiction / Literary

Format: Hardcover

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I picked this up on a whim from the library. I had heard about it through bookish word of mouth, and I saw that it was short (only 196 pages), so I thought I’d give it a try. The jacket cover proclaimed it as very poetic, which scared me as I am not a poetry fan, but as soon as I dug in I couldn’t put it down. It’s not told in a conventional way; it goes back in forth in time from the early 2000s to the 1970s and is told from multiple characters’ perspectives. It might be confusing to some, but I thought it helped elevate the story. I love a good book about relationships, and that’s ultimately what this story is. It’s a great, super-quick read.


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Stay Sexy and Don’t Get Murdered by Karen Kilgariff & Georgia Hardstark

Genre: Memoir

Format: Audiobook

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I don’t listen to Kilgariff and Hardstark’s popular My Favorite Murder podcast, but I had heard that you don’t have to be a fan of the show to enjoy this book. While the authors mention the show and the topic of true crime occasionally, this was more like a book of essays about the women’s lives growing up. They are both gifted writers, and funny to boot. I’m still not planning on listening to their podcast, but I’m very glad I read their book. If you need a good laugh, this book is for you.


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The Stationery Shop by Marjan Kamali

Genre: Historical Fiction

Format: Hardcover

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5

I did not mean to read so many historical fiction novels this month, but every single one I read was excellent. The Stationery Shop was no different. Another Modern Mrs Darcy Book Club pick, this novel tells the story of Roya from the time she was a lovestruck teenager in 1950s Tehran to how she got to where she is in present day Boston. I loved learning about the history of the political turmoil surrounding Iran while reading a fictional account of characters during that time. While it’s a love story at its core, it also tackles topical issues such as undiagnosed mental illness, abortion, social class status, and death. That may sound like a downer, but it was beautifully written and didn’t drag at all. It was a great book to round out my month of reading.


Books I DNF’d this month:

Royal Holiday by Jasmine Guillory – I love Jasmine Guillory as a person, but I’ve come to realize I’m not a fan of her subpar writing.

The Lager Queen of Minnesota by J. Ryan Stradal – I could not stand the audio narrator’s voice on this one. I might pick it up in paper or digital format in the future.

Three Women by Lisa Taddeo – I was so excited to pick this one up, but sadly could not get into it. Maybe it will capture my interest at a later time.


What were some of your favorite books you read this month? Let me know in the comments!

January 2020 Reads

 

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