January Books

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“A mind needs books like a sword needs a whetstone, if it is to keep its edge. That is why I read so much.”― George R.R. Martin, A Game of Thrones

Great Train Robbery best books list

The Great Train Robbery ⭐️⭐️⭐️

As a novel, this book is too dry, technical and lacks luster. As a nonfiction account of a historical event, it’s very interesting and well told.

But then I learned he literally made it all up! He made up the transcripts, the dialogue and quotes, the newspapers he “quoted” from, all of it! Even some of the books he mentioned weren’t actually real. In that light, the book is genius!

I learned a lot about the time period as he would dive off into a tangential essay about some aspect of Victorian life that was germane to whatever plot trail he was next going to unveil.

I had a hard time with a lot of the period slang; some I could figure out from the context, some he did explain, but a lot of the time I felt the conversations read like The Jabberwocky. A Victorian criminal glossary would’ve been welcome. Modern dictionaries did not help with a lot of the jargon used in this book.

Other than that, it was an enjoyable read.

PopSugar Reading Challenge prompt:  A book you meant to read in 2018

“>the bird box best book list

Bird Box: A Novel ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️


I’m one of those who hadn’t heard of the book until everyone started talking about the movie. I devoured both in short order. Both are powerful. Changes are made. I honestly won’t say “the book was better.”

I loved the style of writing. Sometimes it was lyrical. Sometimes short choppy sentences. Always got my heart racing. You never knew who the narrator would be. Usually Malorie, but sometimes a housemate or the omniscient narrator. The simplest act of drinking a glass of water was terrifying. Highly recommended if you like to be scared. Watch the movie too!

PopSugar Reading Challenge prompt: A debut novel


Homebody: A Guide to Creating Spaces You Never Want to Leave⭐️⭐️ 1/2

The pictures are absolutely incredible. At the beginning of the book, it has good definitions of what your style profile is (farmhouse, modern, boho, etc) along with describing each house by what combinations of styles it’s decorated in.

There are 22 homes pictured randomly throughout the book and they are never really redefined. So if you like the style of one bedroom, you have to read through the text to see which house it is, then flip back to the front to find out what style it’s in. Total pain.

Also, the styles all seem to run together to me-they are very much “Johanna” with lots of black and white and neutrally muted colors, even the boho styles.

There aren’t a lot of ideas for people who have to store a lot of stuff. If you have lots of things you need to be able to access but want hidden, like a typical homeschool family would, you’re out of luck. Also, all the open shelving in all the kitchens is ridiculous! Who actually has the time and money to have that few things which all match and coordinate? There is a lot of impracticality.

Also, if you aren’t, or aren’t married to, someone incredibly handy and willing to exploit that skill, you’re out of luck. There are lots of custom beds and other furniture featured, which just isn’t possible for most of us.

If you’re looking for a pretty book, this is it. If you’re looking for a book with concrete design ideas which you can put to immediate use, look elsewhere.

“>warm bodies zombie book book list best books

Warm Bodies: A Novel (The Warm Bodies Series)⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I thoroughly enjoyed this tale from a zombie’s point of view. Of course it was little incongruous because- hey, they’re zombies how could they even be coherent to begin with? but if you suspend everything you thought you knew, you can really get into this book. It’s not super fast paced and rather a lot more thoughtful and even angsty than I expected.

I love the closing lines of the book and the idea that we CAN BRING ABOUT CHANGE!, even if up until this point, you’ve been a zombie.

PopSugar Reading Challenge Prompt: A book written by a musician  –Isaac Marion is also hilarious incidentally.cozy minimalist home the nester book list

Cozy Minimalist Home: More Style, Less Stuff⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

As I was reading, I thought of several to whom people I really wanted to recommend this book. She helps you step by step break down your home, rebuild your style, and design your home according to what you’ve discovered, and do it in the proper order.

She’s funny and has great ideas and understands actual people and their actual abilities and budgets. She recommends shopping your house first. She encourages you to start small. She says God was the first artist and created us in His image, therefore we’re all artists. It’s just lots of good advice and concrete how-tos. Highly recommend even if you don’t think you need home styling help.

Educated: A Memoir ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I was enthralled and deeply moved by this powerful memoir. Once I started it, I had a difficult time pulling myself away. I thought this book was going to be about homeschooling and then how, in order to be successful you have to be all “Ivy League”. This is not the case.

Tara wasn’t educated in the ways we think of education. She had never heard of many basic things until she went to college.

She knew her life didn’t feel right, but she didn’t know what it really could be like. Her grandparents both had “normal” homes but due to her brainwashing, she didn’t feel like that was how people should live.

Her childhood is affected over and over by serious injuries of family members, injuries which are not treated. Reading about the injuries that happened was terrifying for me. I couldn’t not read it but at the same time I was horrified. What saddens me the most however, was that her parents didn’t know her birthday, or how old she was at multiple points in the story. It seemed like that was what made it so real to me that she didn’t matter to them.

One older brother in particular starts tormenting her, and the tormenting rises to the level of devastating abuse. In part in response to this, she decides to go to college, and by pretty much sheer force of will, teaching herself trigonometry, after learning basic math. She does well enough on the ACT to get into Brigham Young University when she’s only 17. From there, she starts a college career that at first she fails, but with support she eventually gets a doctorate from Cambridge.

However, each time she is drawn back to her family, her brother’s abuse continues, and the family denial turns more and more severe. The memoir becomes a story of her internal struggle—to believe her own version of her life and to have the strength to break away from her past.

I can’t remember most of my childhood due to traumatic events, and hearing her struggle with not having her point of view believed, and her family trying to change her memories and gaslight her was sickening.

I hope everyone reads this book. To quote an Amazon reviewer’s completely apropos words: “It’s a powerful, amazing glimpse into a way of life that most of us will never know, and an inspiring story of one woman’s ability to change her future.”

PopSugar Reading Challenge Prompt: A book about a family

desolation mountain book lists

Desolation Mountain: A Novel (Cork O’Connor Mystery Series)⭐️⭐️⭐️

I saw this book at Barnes and Noble and was immediately attracted by the title and book jacket blurb. I didn’t realize it was the one of many starring the same main character, but it worked well as a stand alone novel. It opened well and I read half of it in about a day because it was riveting. Then…I don’t know. It just tapered off and seemed like it was just trying to add pages before the big reveal at the end. Then the end just boom! Finished up. I wasn’t a fan.

I loved the relationships. I loved that the grown daughter, her family, and the college age son lived with the dad. I wasn’t actually even sure if the dad, Cork, or the grown son Stephen were the main characters. I was a bit disappointed that the women were all peripheral characters, sort of back drops to the men. I loved learning about the Native culture in northern Minnesota. It was clean.

But all in all, it was a book that was mostly, meh.

PopSugar Reading Challenge Prompt: A book with a two word title

“>Bring Me Back: A Novel⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I loved trying to figure out the twist and am proud to say I saw it coming. My suspicions were a bit different than how it all played out. I thought Finn was pretty much a jerk who took advantage of the people in his life and he and the other characters seemed rather one dimensional. I wanted him to do the right thing so badly. By the time I got to the end, I didn’t even know what I wanted to happen. I was satisfied and left hanging at the same time. I say YES, if you like thrillers, give it a go.

PopSugar Reading Challenge Prompt: A book told from multiple character Points of View

“>stephen king outsider book lists best to readThe Outsider: A Novel⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2

I haven’t read Stephen King in a long time. This book made me remember why I used to be obsessed with him. I love how he’ll take a minor character, one you’ll never see again and tell their whole back story in a such a compelling way that you’re riveted. Some of the characters here though were the red shirted Star Trek guys.

This particular book had some plot holes and repetition in the conversation. The first part was straight up CSI and the second part was “oh-call up Sam and Dean!”. It was also a HUGE coincidence how the main characters got connected-almost so far of a reach as to be unbelievable-but I lovingly suspend a lot of disbelief when I read SK.

Over all, I liked it. I may pick up another of his more recent repertoire. Probably closer to 3 1/2 stars .

PopSugar Reading Challenge Prompt: A Book featuring an extinct or imaginary creature

This page contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting my blog by clicking through!
Thank you to the Instagrammers whose pictures I used. Their instagram names are above each photo. Go check them out!

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