Sunday, January 26, 2020

January Reads

It's the first reads post of 2020!! I read/listened to 8 books this month (well, and also at the end of December after I wrote my December Reads post). I had quite the variety this month and in a nutshell---a Hallmark movie plot, a polygamist thriller (who would have though those words would be paired together?!), a delightful holiday novel, an outrageous autobiography, a practical and excellent teaching resource, a novel that went in an unexpected and unwelcome direction, and finally, the start of one of the most popular series in the world.....a few decades late. Ha! SHEESH!

Here we go!

1 The Confession Club by Elizabeth Berg:

I really enjoyed this book. The book description and even the title don't really sum up this book. It appeared at first glance to be sort of a domestic thriller "Desperate Housewives" type situation. But this one was a bit more "The Notebook" than I thought. This is about an older divorcee who ends up falling for a guy with a tough past. I won't give away any more than that!  I read this book quickly and wanted to keep reading to find out what would happen. This one is a sweet, small town, happy ending love story. More Hallmark than Lifetime. I was a fan 

 2. The Wives by Tarryn Fisher

This was a Book of the Month club pick. This was a nice solid thriller with a twist ending (love those!). This is about a modern day polygamist family trying to live in the real world (Sister Wives, anyone?). It's told from one point of view, the first wife's, and while you do find yourself rooting for her, you wonder why she's put herself in the position she has. The ending genuinely surprised me! This one is a pretty gritty and definitely R-rated. 

 3. Seven Days Of Us by Francesca Hornak:
I read this book over Christmas break and it was really just delightful. This is about an off-beat British family who is stuck together for a week under quarantine due to the eldest daughter's return from serving a medical mission in an area with an infectious disease. There's quirkiness, heart-felt moments, secrets revealed, and relationships repaired. It's sentimental and sweet and it was such a fun holiday read. 

 4. Over the Top by Jonathan Van Ness:
I was on the library wait list for this when on of my besties sent me this signed copy for Christmas!! I adore JVN and listen to his podcast, Getting Curious, every week. This book feels like you're getting mimosas with the Queen himself and he is spilling all the tea, honey! This book is Jonathan's auto-biography and while it of course features all kind of fun deets about Queer Eye, he also goes in depth about his childhood and some pretty rough stuff he endured (think prostitution, drug use). I enjoyed this one more than Tan's book, Naturally Tan. I think it's an important book due to its brutal honesty. 

5. Teach Like Finland by Timothy D. Walker
 I LOVED this book! We've all heard about Finland and it's fantastic education system and results. My natural reaction to that has always been, yeah well they have a population smaller than many states and a much more uniform culture and identity than we do in America. We could never replicate that here. And the author recognizes this fact too. BUT, what we can do is take techniques and ideas that are successful there and try them in our own classrooms. Some things of particular note: the emphasis on classroom community, hands on learning experiences, letting kids be kids, and my most favorite---reducing teacher workload and burn out by focusing on what is most important and making the students work just as hard (if not harder!) than you the teacher. Preach, Finland!

6. The Homecoming of Samuel Lake by Jenny Wingfield:
I bought this book while on Christmas break because I liked the cover art, I love a good Southern novel, and the premise (a young preacher returns to his hometown with his young family and hijinks ensue) sounded entertaining. It took me a while to get into at the beginning, then I really enjoyed it, and I HATED the ending. I felt super misled by this book because this novel is portrayed sort of light hearted and then it gets dark. Fast. Out of nowhere. This novel struggles with multiple personality disorder---funny and warm on one hand.....abuse, neglect, rape and murder on the other. I'm not opposed to books that deal with tough topics at all, I just don't appreciate when they're dressed up to be something different. Hard pass.

 7. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling:
So my 2020 goal was to "read" (listen) to all 7 Harry Potter books. If you can believe it, I've made it 32 years without reading a single one before now. I've never been particularly interested in Potter mania and the trend sort of passed me by. I'm not one for fantasy stories really (I've never read Lord of the Rings either) so I've always been meh about it. But one of my teammates mentioned the excellent narrator to the audio books and I said, "let's do it." Overall, I enjoyed it. It was amazing to me all the Potter-isms I knew from pop culture without having ever read the books: Bernie Botts Beans, Hedwig and the other owls, Platform 3/4, Hogwarts and the "houses," "He Who Shall Not Be Named," the lightning scar, Quidditch...It's interesting to put some context to things I've heard about. I am fascinated by JK Rowling and how she created this in-depth, well thought out whole other world! Harry is such a likable character and I am looking forward to listening more and see where it all goes.

How's that for some literary variety to kick off the new year?!

Happy reading, friends!
Savor Your Sparkle,

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for your reviews,Leslie! I just finished a couple off of your December list and I kind of want to have a book clubbish talk about them with you!