January 26, 2018

Beyond Words: January Books

Last year, I set a goal to read 52 books and was 10 books shy of that. I had a difficult year last year but I also read a lot of books that I really didn't like that put me in more than a few reading ruts. I'm hoping this year is different and so far, I think I'm off to an OK start! 

I've scaled back my goal this year to 48 books, still ambitious, but I also think reasonable. Since I still haven't unpacked my books (I don't want to talk about it), I decided to start the year by reading books on my Kindle that I've never gotten around to. I definitely prefer reading books to reading on my Kindle but there are always such great deals for e-reads, that I ended up buying a bunch of books and then never reading them.

So, with the exception of this month's book club, here's everything I've read this month:

"The Miniaturist" by Jessie Burton - The subtitle of this book should have been "And they all lived unhappily ever after." I learned while working on this post, that it may or may not be historical fiction. The book takes place in Amsterdam during the 18th century.The main character, a young bride by the name of Petronella Brandt, was, in fact, a real person who was given a dollhouse by her husband, the much older Johannes Brandt. In the novel, Petronella hires an unknown "miniaturist" to commission pieces for the house but the pieces tell a story that's too close for comfort and Petronella becomes fearful that she and her new family are being watched. I enjoyed reading this book but I found the end to be very disturbing and it kind of colored my opinion on the novel. BBC recently adapted it into a miniseries but I think I'll skip it. Three stars.

"Broken Harbor" by Tana French - What it is it about Tana Frenchs's books that get me? I can't put them down. They're quick reads and I keep finding myself turning to them realizing that I've now read almost all of the books in her Dublin Murder Squad series. Each of the books is about the detectives trying to solve the murder. This book though got to me. I couldn't stop thinking about it for days afterward and when I was home alone in this house, I jumped 25 feet at every sound. A family of four - two parents and their young children was found in their suburban Dublin home. The mother was found just barely alive but her husband and two children were all killed. What doesn't make sense though is that when the detectives arrive, there are holes all over the house with baby monitors pointing into the holes, and it doesn't look like these were created overnight. On the one hand, this book has everything a good murder mystery should have. While I often find her stories somewhat predictable, I still enjoy reading them to the end. I will say though that each of her books has a subplot - something tying the detectives to the murder, in this case, it was the neighborhood where the murder took place, and the subplot unravels slowly but by the end, never actually has anything to do with the murder and seems extraneous. Three stars.

"You Learn by Living" by Eleanor Roosevelt - I don't really want to review this book. I tend to be drawn to longer books (avg. 400 pages) and I picked this up, thinking I would fly through it because it was only about 200. It took me almost a week to finish this because I just didn't want to keep reading it. For a public figure who was so well loved and had so many brilliant ideas, her book was painful to read. I understand this book was written in 1960 and that times have changed drastically since then. Believe me, I understand how much things have changed but even for 1960, this book oozed privilege and was so patronizing. Her life motto seemed to be to never let anything bother you and that if you do, you're exhibiting some sort of weakness. I really didn't like this book. Three stars.

This was the Beyond Words Book Club book and I loved it! I read it in two days! Reading this book felt like a really good book club. "Dear Fahrenheit 451" is a librarian's love letters and breakup letters to the books in her life. Some of the books are being redistributed from the library shelves and she writes letters to them. The second half of the book is a series of lists of book recommendations for every occasion, like: "Excuses to Tell Your Friends So You Can Stay Home with Your Books," "Books about Librarians," "Books that Lead to More Books," and books that are worth reading despite their terrible covers. 

This book was full of one-liners and laugh out loud moments. And I was so happy to finally find someone else who didn't like Lord of the Rings! Favorite quotes? "When I read lighter fiction, I like it to take place in England, because it's much more enjoyable when you read it to yourself in a British accent" or this one about a book she didn't like, "We should have parted ways...but I had a weird thing about staying loyal to you until the end. And like all relationships that last longer than they should, I let my anger boil over. I still couldn't connect with your main character, and on top of that, I was pissed about the other books I could have been reading...So this is it. I'm putting you in a Little Free Library."

I hadn't read a lot of the books that Annie wrote about, but I got so many great recommendations from this book! If you're looking for a quick, easy read with a lot of book recommendations, I highly recommend this. 

What have you read this month? Any new favorites?
If you haven't joined our Book Club this month, you can still join for February!
Our next book will be "Code Name Verity" by Elizabeth Wein. 
We'll be linking up on Friday, February 23.
Happy Reading!

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