In My Library Tote: January Book Reviews and Recommendations

January has been a busy month, and along with the ridiculous winter weather, it also brought some good books. Here's what I read in January.

{Harry’s Trees by Jon Cohen} When his wife dies unexpectedly, Harry is overcome with grief and guilt. Eventually he seeks solace in the forest, where he meets a family wrapped up in their own struggles. As Harry gets to know Amanda and her daughter Oriana, his heart begins to thaw. Through story and friendship, Harry begins to heal his own heart and help heal a few others. My rating: 4/5 stars. 

{The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead} In this alternate history, the underground railroad helps slaves escape via a literal railroad. While the railroad plays a prominent role in the story, the main focus is Cora, who is enslaved on a plantation in Georgia. Her mother escaped from that very plantation but left her behind. She imagines her mother’s life as a free woman, and when she has the opportunity to travel on the underground railroad she takes it. Yet her road to freedom is far from a smooth one. I’d been wanting to read this one for a while, so I’m glad I finally did. I thought Cora was inspiring and strong, yet flawed in a way that enhanced her character and made her even more likable. My rating: 4/5 stars.

{The Cruelest Month by Louise Penny} This is the third installment of the Chief Inspector Gamache series that is beloved by many. I’ve heard that the fourth book in the series is when it really starts to pick up, but I really enjoyed this one. I liked the first two, but this is the first one that felt “un-put-downable” to me. I’ve never been a huge mystery reader, and to be honest it’s not the mystery element (in this one, someone dies mysteriously during a seance) that keeps me turning pages in these stories. The characters are so interesting and well-written, from Chief Inspector Gamache himself, to the eclectic group of citizens who make up the town of Three Pines. I can’t wait to read more in this series. My rating: 3.5/5 stars. 

{The Last Mrs. Parrish by Liv Constantine} This book got a lot of buzz, and when I saw it as a Kindle deal I wanted to see what the fuss was about. I have to say that I nearly abandoned this book a few times. I couldn’t stand Amber, who narrates for the first half, and I had to force myself to keep going. I was surprised when the narrator changed and instead of wanting to throw the book across the room, I couldn’t stop reading it. This is typically not a genre I love, but this one surprised me and I’m glad I stuck with it. My rating: 3.5/5 stars.

{Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate} I listened to this on audio, and as with a lot of fiction, I’m beginning to realize that I would have enjoyed this more as a print book. I did think it was a well-told story and the fact that it’s based on events that actually happened made it all the more fascinating. However it felt sloooow, and I feel like that had a lot to do with how I read it. Also, it is one of those stories that jumps back and forth in time, sharing parallel stories of modern day and past events. While the story of Rill and her siblings, how they were captured and taken to an orphanage, was riveting, I found the modern day story a bit trite, especially the love story component. I wanted to rush through those chapters to get back to Rill’s story. My rating: 3.5/5 stars. 

{Rock Needs River: A Memoir About a Very Open Adoption by Vanessa McGrady} The subtitle of this memoir pretty much sums up the premise of the story. The author, Vanessa, adopts a baby and her biological parents end up living with Vanessa for a short time. I appreciated learning more about the adoption process, and seeing it through the eyes of the adoptive parent. However, I had a hard time connecting to the author. Instead of feeling like I was part of her story (which is how I feel when I read a truly captivating memoir), I felt like a faraway observer. This one was interesting to me, but it didn't move me. My rating: 3/5 stars. 

Have you read anything good lately? 

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1 comment:

  1. I loooooved Harry's Trees so much!! And I have an undying love for every word Louise Penny has ever written. You still have so many good books to come in that series!!


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