January Books Recap

In 2020, I fell short of meeting my reading goal by just a handful of books – ironic considering the entire year was spent stationary in quarantine, lockdown, at home. My reading goal for 2021 is to read 52 books; I’ve met this goal before and hope to surpass it (fingers crossed), but I also want to remain realistic.

My January book count is seven. Each month I will recap the books I’ve read and my quick review of them. I use a straightforward rating system:

✰✰✰✰✰Loved it & had a profound impact on me!
✰✰✰✰Loved it!
✰✰✰Liked it!
✰✰Disliked it!
Hated it!

The Getaway
by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen

Rating: 3 out of 5.

The first book of the year! I listened to it in audio format since it’s an @audible Originals. I’ve read two previous novels by these two authors, which I’ve enjoyed. They tend to be fast-paced mysteries, and I enjoyed “reading” this in audio. 

However, it’s not a book I would recommend to a seasoned mystery/thriller reader because although there were some interesting plot connections, from the beginning, I questioned the protagonist’s every action with a “but why?”

But listening while walking or running errands was a great way to spend a Sunday morning! 

Mexican Gothic
by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Rating: 3 out of 5.

I haven’t read horror in years! And with all the hype around this book, I was excited to read it (it was our January book club pick at The Wandering Bookworms. Well-paced, well-written descriptions that bring the scenes to life in a way that makes you feel like you’re watching a movie (this would make a great movie, by the way) & a great sense of anticipation throughout the buildup of the book. 

But once the book got to the reveal, it fell short. Add to that a climax that did not feel entirely satisfying. The book, in many ways, just wasn’t “horror” enough. If you like supernatural books or creepy scenes (there were tons of that!), then this book is for you. Otherwise, skip!

Alone Time: Four Seasons, Four Cities and the Pleasures of Solitude
by Stephanie Rosenbloom

Rating: 3 out of 5.

As you can see from my page markers, I had many favorite parts of the book – quotes, tips, research facts. And the first 1/3 of the book made me want to jump on the next plane back to Paris! However, once the book moved onto the other three cities: Istanbul, Florence & NYC, it fell short. The bulk of the book is on Paris and hardly anything on Istanbul in comparison. It just didn’t feel like the book was divided into equal parts for each city, despite the same amount of time (1 week) being spent in each city. 

I liked it, but I didn’t love it, and I expected to love it. 

This was the January @spiritednavigators book club pick & I’m happy I read it because I wanted to know what the significant insights were about solo travel, and I did get some of that through the research done to write the book. 

Love Your Life
by Sophie Kinsella

Rating: 3 out of 5.

I’ve read the Shopoholic series by Sophie Kinsella years and years ago. I enjoyed them, and I expected to enjoy this book as well. Though not my usual go-to genre, every now and again, I love a feel-good read. 

Having said that, I remained annoyed at the main character for 75% of the book. Is that necessarily a bad thing? No. But I think it was the reason behind my annoyance that made me struggle with my feelings on this book. It was so so far fetched to me and so very unbelievable how the two main characters would act and make decisions. It felt forced, and when it was over, though I felt better about the last 1/4 of the book, overall, I was left wondering, “did I care?”

I will say that the book is REALLY EASY to get through, and I definitely did not hate the book. 

When I was done, I gave it a 3 star because there were aspects about the book I enjoyed even though the main plot point was a bit much for me. But now that a few days have passed since that initial rating, I am left wondering, does it even deserve a 3 star? Is it more of a 2? 

But for the moment, I’m leaving it at 3 stars because I never know if we should judge a book based on how we feel when we finish or a few days later when we feel had time to sink in?

by George Orwell

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Would you believe I had never read this book before?

I really liked the book — how it began, where it was going, how the characters and scenes were developed, and the oodles and oodles of questions it stirred up in me as I was reading – those are the best!

Then…he got captured, O’Brien was no longer an underground member but very much a party member, and well everything went to shits for lack of a better word.

I absolutely despised the ending! I would have preferred to see him physically die than watch him declare his love for Big Brother (insert eye roll). Maybe the book was far more intellectual than my brain cells could take, but I was left feeling disappointed with the ending. And a book like this — well, it REALLY deserved a good, satisfying conclusion, and I did not feel like I got one.

Distressed Signal
by Catherine Ryan Howard

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Fast-paced with so much happening but in a good way! I couldn’t stop listening! So much so that I wish I had read it as a physical book even though the audiobook narration was GREAT! 

There was a moment where my hands LITERALLY went up to my cheeks in disbelief! I listened to the book straight through because I just HAD to know what’s next! 

I don’t want to give anything away, but I loved the twists and turns – the unexpected connections. I figured out a few things, but there was so much more that I kept waiting to be revealed that this book was an excellent choice after a string of “3 stars” rated books.

Side note: if you’ve never been on a cruise, this will definitely not make you want to get on one – covid or no covid. And if you HAVE been on cruises, well…you may not be returning anytime soon, and if you do, you’ll be sure to take precautions you’ve never taken before.

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore
by Robin Sloan

Rating: 4 out of 5.

A book about bookstores, science, coding, video game, Google, history, secret society, and a very resourceful clerk. It was eccentric, weird, mysterious, dark, delightful, uplifting, funny, and heartwarming!

The book starts slow and takes you through quite the journey! I found myself wanting to look up some of the things mentioned to see if they really existed. Written so passionately, I loved the adventure it took me through. I wasn’t sure where it would end up in the rating system as I was reading it, but when I finished the last page, closed the book, I knew this was a 4 star (for me).

If you have Instagram and would like to follow my account(s), I would be delighted!

Current book count: 7

Looking forward to reading more 4 star books in February, fingers crossed!

Happy Reading!

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