Hello, and Happy February! It’s hard to believe the first month of 2018 is over already. I took a break from this blog over the past few months but I’ve been reading a ton of books and I’m back here to share some of them with you. Today’s post is a recap of all the books I read in January – and there were a lot of really great ones!
First, here’s a look at my overall reading for the month:
I am really happy with all of the reading I did this month, and I’m glad I was able to spread it out over several genres. I don’t read all that much non-fiction, but memoirs are my go-to books in that genre. I read some fun science fiction, including one that my brother has been recommending to me for a long time. My favorite books of the month are shared below, but to see every title I read in January, visit my Goodreads page, and please do friend me there; I love to see what everyone else is reading.
I read a lot of five star books this month, but the best book I read in January was (drumroll please):
Eleanor Olipant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
At first I thought this was going to be another book like The Rosie Project, the story of a socially awkward person setting out to find love. (For the record, I did really enjoy that book). However, this novel and its characters are far more complex. Eleanor Oliphant is … odd. Of course, you know there must be a reason for her socially awkward personality, and as you start to learn about her past it becomes easy to see how she ended up so alone. This book made me laugh out loud and it also made me cry – something that hardly ever happens. There were moments and revelations I did not expect at all, and Eleanor is at times, an unreliable narrator. Throughout the story you can’t help but root for Eleanor as she gets closer and closer to the happiness she deserves. This book left me smiling long after I had put it down.
My other favorite reads this month include:
In Brooklyn in 1969, four siblings go to visit a fortune teller who tells them each the date of their death. The story then follows them into adulthood, as each of them grapple with their own mortality. At first you think the central question is – would you want to know the date of your death? It soon becomes clear that the real message of the book is that no matter when your death, whether you see it coming or not, you’ve only got one chance at life, so make it a good one.
In this novel, young girls suddenly find themselves with the power to control electricity – it literally bursts from their hands. Soon almost all women have this ability, and it starts changing the way men and women interact. Once women are physically stronger than men, they are unwilling to accept an inferior status and social, economic, and political power goes from being male dominated to controlled by women. The book asks the question – would things be better if women were in charge? I won’t give any spoilers, but the answer is more complex than you might think.
This is a memoir, and I will say right upfront, a difficult book to read, content wise. There are several violent scenes of abuse as well as descriptions of accidents and neglect, so if you’re squeamish at all you might want to avoid this one, or just skim through those sections, like I did. Westover was raised by parents who believed the world was coming to an end soon, and that the government was at best incompetent and at worst, out to get them. She and her siblings were homeschooled, but in reality she didn’t get any education until she first set foot in a classroom at age 17. Ten years later, she had a phD. Westover’s story is inspiring, but I couldn’t help but wonder how many other children are out there in similar states of neglect and abuse, with parents who are either unwilling or unable to give them a safe home.
I recently saw a preview for the movie Red Sparrow, with Jennifer Lawrence and I thought, “I wonder if that’s based on a book?” Turns out it is – and this book is the first in a trilogy of thrillers involving CIA and Russion agents. I’ve read books like this that were set in the past, but this is the first one I’ve read set in present day Russia. I enjoyed this because there were several times when the plot veered off in an unexpected direction. It was not one of those formulaic thrillers where you know exactly what’s going to happen next.
I’ve been searching for another good mystery series, ever since I caught up on all of my favorites. It’s really hard to wait for the next book in a series to come out! I was introduced to Khan’s mysteries on one of the podcasts I listen to and I’m so glad I decided to give it a try. There are three books in this series, with a fourth coming out this month. The main characters in the books are Rachel Getty and Esa Khattak, police officers in Canada’s Community Policing Section, which handles minority-sensitive cases. In each of Khan’s books, the crime itself is related to an event in recent history, so as you’re reading about the characters’ present day actions to solve the crime, you also get a rich backstory about a topic that you may not be familiar with. For example, in The Unquiet Dead, the crime is connected to the 1995 Srebrenica massacre in Bosnia. As a reader of historical fiction, I love this aspect of Khan’s books, and appreciate the amount of research she must have done in order to tell this story. I’ve already started reading the second book in the series, The Language of Secrets, and I’m sure I’ll have them all read pretty soon.
This is the memoir of a man who was falsely accused and convicted of robbery and murder. He spent 28 years on death row before his conviction is overturned. Regardless of your position on the death penalty, this is a must read if you want to understand how broken our judicial and prison systems are.
I’m looking forward to reading the next books in a few of these series in February; unless of course I get sidetracked by by overflowing TBR pile! What have you been reading lately? Let me know in the comments below!