The Books I Read: January 2017

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The way I’m getting more reading done this year is by leaving books wherever I tend to get pinned down, like the couch or the bed.  That way, when I’m nursing a baby or snuggling the toddler before naptime, I can read a good book instead of mindlessly cruising through my facebook feed.  Usually, I have at least two, but probably three, books going at once.  (Hint: The bathroom is prime reading real estate, too! I recommend something with short chapters for this location. 😉 )

Family Read-Alouds:

Stargirl, by Jerry Spinelli: This isn’t a long book, or hard to read, but it takes place at an Arizona high school and looks at peer pressure, the need to conform, and what happens to those who don’t. It’s actually a pretty deep and hard read thematically. Little listeners won’t be offended (though you might want to read out a few words here and there) but they won’t really get anything out of it, either. This one is more for the eleven and up set.



The Seven Wonders of Sassafrass Springs, by Betty G. Birney: A sweet story about a boy with a longing to see the world, but deep ties to a farm.  His dad tells him he’ll buy him a train ticket to Colorado, where Aunt Molly lives, if he can find seven wonders right here in his own little town, but he only has seven days to do it!  He doesn’t think he’ll find anything awe-inspiring, but he gamely takes his notebook out and visits every single one of his neighbors that week, learning things he never knew about people he took for granted, and learning, too, to see the beauty in the unlikeliest places.  Six and up.

Now for my personal reading!

The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper, by Phaedra Patrick: On the one-year anniversary of his wife’s death, Arthur decides it’s time to clean out her things. Remembering a story of a woman who found a lottery ticket in a thrift store shoe, he impulsively shoves his hand inside a boot…and pulls out a charm bracelet he’d never seen before! The story that follows is his quest to find out where the charms came from and who his wife really was. I chose this one based entirely on the great title and cute cover. It’s a fairly fogettable tale, at least for me, but it was entertaining, a light read that you don’t have to think too hard about. Three stars.

The Awakening of Miss Prim, by Natalia Sanmartin Fenollera: I have never met such an incredible cast of self-righteous, condescending, obnoxious characters in any novel ever. It’s mostly a couple hundred pages of pretentious dialogue regarding the superiority of the believer over the non-believer, the homeschooled over the public schooled. There’s supposed to be a romance in there, but there is absolutely no character development, no sign of them becoming more interested in each other, no growth in her relationship with his children. I mean, she never even uses his name!  And it’s not just a clever literary device; several of the characters refer to him as “the man you call the Man In The Wing Chair” when speaking with her, so she’s walking around town referring to him like that.  The author seems to have been so caught up in her moralizing that she couldn’t keep track of the logistics; sometimes, characters are suddenly in places they couldn’t have gotten to.  It’s just a badly written non-story that made me angry, and I wouldn’t have read past the first fifty pages, except that it’s rather popular in certain circles. This one is definitely skippable, unless you need to have your values affirmed at the expense of everyone else’s.  Two stars.

An Ember In The Ashes, by Sabaa Tahir: This is a young adult adventure novel very reminiscent of The Hunger Games, but with more likeable characters.  It’s told in the first person, switching back and forth between a subjugated girl trying to rescue her brother from prison and torture, and an elite fighter of the ruling class who wants to escape.  It’s the first of a series, but the story is complete unto itself.  As soon as I finished, though, I ordered the newly released second novel.  Can’t wait to read it!  Four stars, and due to some nasty violence, I’d recommend 14 and up.


97 Orchard: An Edible History of Five Immigrant Families in One New York Tenement, by Jane Ziegelman: Penny gave me this for Christmas, and it was excellent!  I grew up in New Jersey, so I enjoyed it for being about my home place, or pretty near, but it also had me asking questions about my own family!  A really interesting read covering German, Jewish, Lithuanian, Irish, and Italian immigrants, and their contributions to our modern American cuisine.  Five stars.

You already read my review of Dumplin’ and The List; they’re both great reads, too.

How about you?  Read any good books lately?

My book rating system:
Five Stars: Have or want to read it more than once, or can’t stop thinking about it.
Four Stars: Definitely worth adding to the library so my other people can read it.
Three Stars: Entertaining, but not of any particular value beyond that.
Two Stars: Why did I waste my time on this?
One Star: Bonfire-worthy.




3 Comment

  1. Thank you for the suggestions!

  2. Ooo I’m going to love hearing all your book reviews because I think we like similar books. I did not much care for Miss Prim when I read it 7 or 8 years ago, but I thought it was because I was missing something/not getting something. Maybe it was the story that was lacking and not me!

    I am rereading Five for Sorrow, Ten for Joy by Rumer Godden. Have you read it? Oh, I love this book so much. It alludes to a lot of really heavy stuff, so it’s for upper high school/college/adult. It has about 3 different time periods of one character’s life going on so it’s very hard to describe but very good to read. I think this is my favorite Godden.

    I just finished the first Poldark book, Ross Poldark and enjoyed it quite a bit. Have you watched that series on Masterpiece? Usually I don’t enjoy reading something after I’ve watched it but this book fills in a lot of detail. I just started number 2 in the series.

    I’m also reading snippets from In Conversation with God – but that is not a novel of course. Still worth recommending though.

  3. I love Rumer Godden, but I haven’t read that one yet! Nor Poldark, either. I suggested it to Davey as our next series – it looked pretty good – but we haven’t gotten to it yet. 🙁 It’s nice to have a book friend out there in the world that you can trust, isn’t it? I count on your recommendations, too!

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