What I Read: January 2018

Oh hey, guys. Sorry for the delay in books for January but I've been busy birthing a human. Diaper changes and full on snuggles have taken priority as we've adjusted to life with a newborn. Not to worry, during late night feedings and car rides I've been reading (ok, listening to audiobooks but it counts) When our little one is fussy and needing extra time in my arms, I read out loud, introducing her to a world of characters, adventure, and literary magic. And while the transition into motherhood has felt like failing and flying simultaneously, reading (for my own sanity and for our babe's enjoyment) has been something we've gotten right. Here are the books that kept me company in the last days of pregnancy, sent me on adventures when I was housebound, and brought joy to our home.

First Impressions - Charlie Lovett

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Last year, Charlie Lovett knocked my socks off with The Bookman's Tale. This was his second novel and it had a bit of the sophomore slump. It was an enjoyable read, filled with the same literary mystery concept that Lovett is known for but it lacked the same engaging quality as his first book. Perhaps it's because I prefer Shakespear to Jane Austen, the literary focal point of this mystery, but I wasn't as enamored with First Impressions. It follows Sophie, fresh out of the academic world, who moves to London after her uncle's mysterious death. She begins working at an antique bookstore and has two customers request an unknown work on the same day. This work calls into question if Jane Austin truly wrote her novels and drags Sophie into a wild goose chase that involves danger, decisions between two men, and the ancient art of bookbinding. Lovett still holds a special place on my bookshelf and I'm excited to read his latest novel about the Holy Grail soon.

Verdict: Library

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone - J.K. Rowling

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On the cold nights when I was sleep deprived and aching for something familiar, Harry Potter volunteered. This series is a treasure in our family. My mom, sister, and I all read the books as they came out and share a battered set of hardbacks between us. We trade them regularly, at least one of us rereads the entire series every year. Harry Potter is well known to the majority of the world, whether through the books or the movies, so I won't bore you with the plot summary. The keywords? Friendship, courage, coming of age, WIZARDS. If you haven't read the series yet, I'm not sure if we can be friends.

Verdict: BUY OR YOU ARE A TASTELESS FOOL (too harsh?)

Dinner Chez Moi - Elizabeth Bard

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I can't get enough of Elizabeth Bard. She wrote the essay-filled books Lunch in Paris and Picnic in Provance, both of which I read last year. This was her step into a lifestyle book, a mix of French dining tips and recipes. While I wouldn't reach for it as a cookbook, the short stories about her tips and the illustrations make this a perfect coffee table book. If you're a fan of cookbooks or French cuisine, grab it. If not, I'd spend your limited reading time on something else! 

Verdict: Library

On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness - Andrew Peterson

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I first heard of this book a few months ago. A podcaster mentioned this series as a great read for people who enjoyed Harry Potter. It took me a few chapters to fully commit. The book is more in the fantasy category, it immediately plunges you into a different world filled with strange creatures, a mysterious history, and unusual names. However, by the end of it, I was so hungry for the second book in the series I couldn't wait on the library. I downloaded the audiobook and finished it in three days. I think the series is more of a cross between A Series of Unfortunate Events and The Chronicles of Narnia. The first book introduces us to a set of siblings who live in a town oppressed by an army. Will it scare you away if I tell you the army is made up of lizard creatures called Fangs? The Igiby children uncover secrets about their town and history as they try to avoid run-ins with the Fangs. There is plenty of whimsy- a grandfather who is a one-legged pirate, vicious toothy cows that roam the forest, sea dragons, and songs. It may sound strange, believe me, I was very skeptical, but it is worth a read, especially if you enjoy any of the series I mentioned above or if you have kids. I'm halfway through book three and still love these books!

Verdict: Read!

Rise and Shine, Benedict Stone - Phaedra Patrick

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Phaedra Patrick's first book made my top ten list of 2017. This one may wind up on the list for 2018 as well. Benedict Stone is a middle-aged man whose life is bland, marriage is falling apart, and weight is growing. In the middle of the night, his sixteen-year-old niece, whom he has never met, shows up on his doorstep and turns his life around. She forces changes in Benedict's life, at first unwelcomed but eventually embraced, and makes a huge impression on the town. There is a fun thread of the meaning of gemstones that winds throughout the entire book, a wrestling with what family actually means, and a charm that will stay with you long after the last page. Truly, a winner.

Verdict: BUY

 

 

If you read any of these and have thoughts share them in the comments or send me an email. I'd love to hear your feedback! Or if you have books I should be adding to my upcoming stack, send the titles my way. 

Now, go get to reading. I've got some diapers to change.