09 February 2021

Show Us Your Books - January 2021

I keep meaning to post about something besides books...

But it doesn't look like that's likely to happen. LOL 

I've even had a few ideas to post about (getting StitchFix boxes again..., Yelp events...), but when the time comes to sit at my computer and put something together, I realize I'd rather be reading. And my book reviews for my blog or Books I Think You Should Read are just my accountability and excuse to keep reading. So I don't have a lot of motivation to write about something else. At least for now. It's my blog, so I could always change my mind again sometime. 

So the only posts I'm committed to continuing, besides the reviews of the books I read, are my monthly book summary posts with Jana Says and Life According to Steph. So welcome back once again to my monthly Show Us Your Books. Here's a bit about the books I read in January. My title links go to Goodreads, and my full review links lead to the review I wrote when I first finished the book. Most of my books are free from the publisher and/or Netgalley, but this does not influence my reviews. 

Finished Reading:

A Stranger at the Door by Jason Pinter - This was the second book in the Rachel Marin series, and I loved it at least as much as the first. Rachel Marin is a total bad-ass, and willing to take care of a bit of vigilante justice when necessary - my favorite! In this book, the bad guys try to involve her son to distract her from what they're doing. And if that's not enough, someone who knows a bit more about her secret past also shows up on her doorstep to discourage her from finding where the evilness is coming from. Of course Rachel is too smart and tough for all of them. Check out my complete 4/5 star review here. ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Lana's War by Anita Abriel - I'm admittedly a little tired of WWII historical fiction. This one was unique in that it took Lana, a widow who also lost her pregnancy while she watched her husband be murdered by Nazi's, and placed her in the lap of parties and fun along the French Riviera as a spy. Her spy job seems considerably less risky than others I've read, and less risky than I'd expect it to be. But sometimes a story without a lot of bad stuff is a nice break. I gave this one 3/5 stars in my full review here. ⭐⭐⭐

What Could Be Saved by Liese O'Halloran Schwarz - Definitely my favorite read so far in 2021. This was a beautiful piece of literary fiction about a family in the 1970s who spends a few years in Thailand while the father is working there. What ends their trip is the disappearance of their 8-year-old son. Most of the story is told by the boy's younger sister (now in her early 50s), and flashbacks to their time in Thailand. All of the characters have been changed by the missing boy, and by his potential return. The location details are engrossing, and the differences in perspective from all the characters are heartfelt and believeable. I gave this book possibly my first 5/5 star review on Books I Think You Should Read. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Spin by Patricia Cornwell - I was for real so excited when I got the first book in this, the Captian Chase series, a while back. But then it was aimless and I didn't like it at all. I read this one hoping it would tie things together from the first one. It didn't. I gave it 2.5 out of 5 stars in my full review. Someone who really likes scientific stuff may enjoy this one more than I did. There's lots of talk about spy and personal protection equipment. I'm not sure how much of that is real, but it was the best part of the book. ⭐⭐

At the Edge of the Haight by Katherine Seligman - This one has stayed with me since I read it. It's about a homeless girl and the community she's built on the streets. When a boy she doesn't even know is killed, she's the closest thing to a witness, and when the boy's family comes to claim him, they want to 'save' her from her life on the streets. But she's 20-years-old and doesn't consider herself to be a victim, or someone not in control of her own life. The book won an award for socially engaged fiction, and the award is certainly well-deserved. Check out my 3.5 out of 5 star review here. ⭐⭐⭐⭐

In a Holidaze by Christina Lauren - I borrowed this book from the library. While it was intended to be a holiday romance of sorts, I enjoyed it just as much in January. I think this is the first Christina Lauren book I've read, but many books by them have been recommended over the years. I really enjoyed it. It was sort of a groundhog day thing, where Mae starts her holiday family trip over a couple times. Is the universe waiting for her to do it right? It was a fun read, and you can see my full 4/5 star review here. ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Unchosen by Katharyn Blair - This one was way better than I expected. A book about zombie pirates, female empowerment, and oh, yeah - the whole thing takes place in a dystopian future caused by a virus? Somehow this author made it all happen. Charlotte will do anything to protect her sister, the Chosen One who can save the world. Usually it just means staying home while her other sister goes out to fight even and defent their community. But the day their community is invaded is when it all changes. Charlotte offers herself up and says she is the Chosen One, to leave her sisters safe while she is taken hostage to be delivered to the most evil of evil. As time goes on, Charlotte may discover she's capable of more than she ever thought possible. Read my full 4/5 star review here. ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Until it Was by Melissa Brodsky - High school friends Vanessa, Lance, and Donna are still close after more than 30 years. Now in their early 50s, they've been there for each other through marriages and divorces. Are they too close for Vanessa and Lance, now single at the same time, to make their relationship more? I enjoyed this contemporary romance and gave it 3.5 out of 5 stars in my full review here. ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Confessions on the 7:45 by Lisa Unger - This story got a lot of buzz last year, and I was finally able to borrow it from my local library last month. I found it to be a fun psychological thriller. This is good info to have in advance, because the alternating viewpoints at first are a bit confusing. It's supposed to be this way. Eventually we find out how the characters are connected to each other. Selena is the working mom who knows her husband is banging the nanny. When the nanny disappears, who really knows more than they're telling? My full 3.5/5 star review is here. ⭐⭐⭐

365 Days by Blanka Lipinska - Okay. I wasn't a fan of 50 Shades, and I was even less of a fan of this. I think they're both lousy representations of a healthy relationship, whether it's sexual or emotional. In 365 Days in particular, the woman is kidnapped. If she tries to escape, her family will be killed. She is expected to stay with her kidnapper for one year. If she does not fall in love with him within that time, he'll let her go. Her response? Oh, that silly guy! At least he's hot and rich! The sex scenes were tolerable, if repetitive. If you want to read this one, keep in mind it's more a book about rape fantasy than anything having to do with love or romance. My full 2.5/5 star review is here. ⭐⭐

The Summer Breeze by Shail Rajan - This delightful contemporary fiction focused on a great female protagonist, Callie Williams, who left her professionally successful life in New York City and moved back home to the Finger Lakes area to find happiness closer to her family. She chooses a new venture - opening her own quaint bed and breakfast - and is soon successful again, in a very different way. Read my full 3.5/5 star review here. ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Stranger in the Lake by Kimberly Belle - Charlotte is a fun, spunky main character. She comes from teh wrong side of the mountain, but now she'll never worry about being hungry again since she's married Paul Keller. Unfortunately, that means that the people she left behind resent her, and the people she could share activities with don't accept her either. None of this matters when she finds a body in the lake and accidentally begins to piece together how it got there. My 3.5/5 star review is here. ⭐⭐⭐

So my favorite read this month was What Could Be Saved. My least favorite reads are a tie between Spin and 365 Days. Have we read any of the same books this month? Did you agree or disagree with my assessment?

Currently Reading:

Getting this post together on Sunday night, so things could change here, but I'm finishing up Water Memory (Aubrey Sentro #1) by Daniel Pyne in print, and The Nature of Fragile Things by Susan Meissner. 

Reading Next:

Hoping to get The Love Proof by Madeleine Henry read and a review posted in time for Valentine's Day. Also on my short list are Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane, and Malorie (Bird Box #2) by Josh Malerman, both on loan from the library on my kindle. 

Am I right? Am I wrong? Let me know what you think in the comments!

Comments are moderated, but I'll have it approved and posted within 24 hours. Thanks!


Shooting Stars Mag said...

I liked Confessions on the 7:45 overall. Looks like you had a mixed bag of reads last month. Thanks for sharing.


Kristen @ See You In A Porridge said...

What Could Be Saved sounds very interesting!
i loved in a holidaze.
i only just realised the sequel to bird box existed, requested from the library!

SMD @ lifeaccordingtosteph said...

What a list! Lots I've never heard of on here.

The Rachel Marin series sounds up my alley. I added the first and second to my list.

I also don't feel like sitting down and writing anything most of the time.

Laura at Library of Clean Reads said...

You've got me so curious about What Could Be Saved, although I do tend to stay away from books about losing a child. How could any parent live through that? This is a great post by the way. Have a great reading week!

Joanne said...

Oh wow; What Could be Saved sounds amazing!

Jana @ Jana Says said...

Ask Again, Yes is such a great book. I hope you love it!

IzaBzh said...

I haven't read any but it doesn't mean I'm not tempted, especially by What could be saved ^^ I laughed when I saw "came from the wrong side of the mountain" because my boyfriends comes from the mountains and each side talks badly of the other ! Thanks for sharing :)

Liz Parker said...

Thanks for the link to my book blog! I thought "In a Holidaze" was fun. Huge fan of Christina Lauren books (did you know it's actually two authors? One is named Christina and one is Lauren!) and just got their newest from NetGalley, actually!

Morgan said...

365 Days sounds like a dirty adult version of Beauty and the Beast - the girl is kidnapped against her will, stays to protect her father and is expected to fall in love with her kidnapper!

Trin Carl said...

Such a diverse group of books. I like the homeless community one and I'm interested in the one you called your fav. Thanks for sharing.