Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf: Another classic I was able to knock out early in the month. I listened to this and feel it was not the best option – I should have read it. That said, any Woolf is some good Woolf.
Winter Loon by Susan Bernhard: This was a free Kindle book and it was just OK. I flew through it and liked the Minnesota setting well enough but always struggle when white authors right non-white characters that come off as one note.
Heart Talk by Cleo Wade: This was a book club book that COVID19 stole from me! I really enjoyed this book and wish I had purchased it so I could mark it up. So many great poems and encouraging words – this is worth checking out!
The Year of Less by Cait Flanders: OK so this is read by the author and I feel like I should not hate on it but…I did not connect with it I feel like I should have with a book on minimalism. She discloses so much other stuff than just how she dealt with her belongings and as someone who also worked from home and was allowed to stew in my emotions, I wanted to get it but just didn’t connect.
The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern: OMG THIS BOOK. I listened to it, again, maybe not the best way to consume this story. I really enjoyed it but I found myself swept away with the motif and theme but found only a few times the main characters tugged on my heartstrings.
Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid: Holy cow this book! I listened to it – which is how I would recommend consuming this faux memoir. Told as interviews from the members of the 70’s most famous rock band, it is a truly inventive form of fiction. That said, I found the characters to be vapid, self-centered and not at all likable – and that is despite struggling to find the real conflict in the plot. However, there is a twist at the end that brings story telling and memory into question. I hated the characters but loved the way this journey made me think.
Inland by Tea Obreht: In the lawless, drought-ridden lands of the Arizona Territory in 1893, two extraordinary lives unfold. Nora is an unflinching frontierswoman awaiting the return of the men in her life. Meanwhile, Lurie is a former outlaw and a man haunted by ghosts [here]. I listened to this and to be quite honest, I struggled to connect to it. They are two very interesting stories but felt they were cobbled together at the end as both were too short for a full length novel.
At Water’s Edge by Sara Gruen: This was a recommendation from a good friend, whose taste I usually enjoy! However, the first third was full so much ostentatious wealth and self-centeredness, I did not immediately understand the recommendation. However, I stayed with it and as the main character finds her footing, so does the story and it begins to soar. Worth checking out if WWII fiction is your jam!
Midnight Sun (Blood on Snow #2) by Jo Nesbo: This was a follow up to a murder mystery I enjoyed years ago and my tolerance for self-centered villians is waaaaay down. Will not seek out the third in this series.
The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry: This is the traditional story and I was glad to read this quickie. I love filling in gaps in my classics reading.
Halsey Street by Naomi Coster: This debut contemporary novel was a Kindle First book and it took over 6 months for me to finish it. Addressing gentrification, art, damaged familial relationships, Coster has a intriguing view of the world and I’d be interested in what she takes on next.
Cozy Minimalist Home by Myquillyn Smith: I flew thru this and found a few good nuggets but found her taste to be very similar to the style I’m naturally drawn to.
The Stone Sky by N K Jemisin: I doled out this final in the Broken Earth trilogy, finished this on New Year’s Day. I loved this so much and really should seek out more of Jemisin’s work because I love her work.
In the Garden of the Beasts by Erik Larson: First, I did really enjoy his Devil in the White City. Second, this was a book club book but there was a slight WWII theme to my January reading! This piece of non fiction was really challenging but offered a true glimpse into what it was like for the family of the American ambassador to Berlin during the rise of the Nazi party.
The Huntress by Kate Quinn: I should begin with my gripes, huh? I found the structure of this novel to be much too much like the structure of her previous work, The Alice Network. Strong female characters narrating multiple pieces of a story that weave together more and more quickly? Yawn. That said – she totally caught me and I was in with Nina and Jordan about a third in and raced to the end.
The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris: Another book club read – and I am looking forward to the discussion in Feb. It felt a little cinematic to me; we follow Lale during this years in Auschwitz where he instantly falls in love with another prisoner. There is drama there for days! Morris had such a good story to work with, I wish it had been more fleshed out.
The Lager Queen of Minnesota by Ryan Strandal: I wanted to love this book – and I should have given the splashes of Midwestern sensibility, beer making and good hardworking folks. However, it just didn’t hit the mark for me. I wanted to connect more deeply with the characters but we did missed each other I guess.
Brave Not Perfect by Reshma Saujani: This was a work related read and I enjoyed it but also found some portions a bit trite. Being a working mom is freaking hard (being a mom is hard…we need our villages back!) and she did not recognize her immense financial privilege.
The Lair’s Girl by Catherine Ryan Howard: I stumbled across this book and oh man did I love it! It was moody, atmospheric and captivating. There is a twist I was not expecting and I was thinking about it for days! If you like things in the vein of Gone Girl, you should check out this one!
Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo: I am obsessed with Bardugo’s work – I seriously consider her on par with JK Rowling. This is not set in her Grishaverse but is just as filled with magic and wonder (plus the spooky dreary backdrop of Yale during the winter doesn’t hurt!). If you like inventive fantasy (not just white dudes and elves) you really need to check this out.