Books I Read in January

Overall, January was a great month of reading.  I think, like last January, there might be a contender for best of the year...

Winter by Marissa Meyer
I'm always impressed with how Meyer incorporates fabled characters into these stories, and to end the series (you can click on the links for my reviews of: Cinder, Scarlett, Cress and Fairest) she wove another great tale.  It was, however, a little long in the tooth - clocking in at 832 pages.  I suppose she didn't want to make it seem like an easy battle for Cinder and her counterparts, but she could've edited out one or two skirmishes.  That being said, I did like that she took a few twists and turns to get to a satisfying and not cookie-cutter ending. 

Kitchens of the Great Midwest by J. Ryan Stradal
This was one of the most unique books I've ever read, and I ADORED it.  Stradal tells the engrossing story of Eva Thorvald, chef-savant with a one in a million palate, but not from her point of view.  Each chapter is about a particular dish that pertains to someone in Eva's life in one way or another, and it really is like a collection of short stories.  But one by one, they piece together the puzzle of her life in the most deft and subtle way.  I was blown away by how I felt as if I knew the main character, without ever hearing her inner dialogue.  There seemed to be a hint of magical realism, which I enjoy, and I loved that the author trusts the reader to fill in the gaps to find the story.  It is one of the very few books I would re-read to learn more, knowing how it comes together - just fantastic stuff.   

I think I checked the cover once or twice to make sure that this wasn't a Rainbow Rowell novel - which is high praise, in my opinion. Like Rowell, Albertalli, can do achingly sweet YA romance juuuust right, with characters so full of life, great relationships between friends and family, and spot on dialogue.  There are f-bombs as well as freakin' in all the right places, and simple passages with some heft.  My favorite:
But I’m tired of coming out. All I ever do is come out. I try not to change, but I keep changing, in all these tiny ways. I get a girlfriend. I have a beer. And every freaking time, I have to reintroduce myself to the universe all over again.
You can check out my answers, as well as quite a few others, to some discussion questions over at the Ladies Literary Society!

Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel (Link is to my NetGalley review.)

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
This was a nice little story, but I don't know if the crusty old man with the heart of gold is my kind of literary trope (unless that man is A.J. Fikry).  It's like the movie 'Up' but much slower paced and, unfortunately, no talking dogs.  To give us the background on Ove's grumpiness, we get glimpses into his past which begin as enlightening, albeit tragic.  And then the horrible just. keeps. coming.  As if the author was rubbing his chin and thinking 'how can I make sure that Ove was dealt the worst possible life, so as to explain the grump factor.'  One or two of those flashback situations would have sufficed to make me that grumpy.  And the stubborn interactions with his present-day neighbors felt like Groundhog Day, not as funny as the first couple times around.  However, I did enjoy the characters (yes, including Ove and especially the pregnant new neighbor) and the non-repetitive interactions between them all (especially Ove with his longest neighbor and rival).  I can definitely see why people liked it, because it goes out on a high note of lovely and bittersweet.


  1. Kitchens of the Great Midwest sounds wonderful. I'm going to have to add it to my TBR list! Looks like you and Kat have read the same book. I only got around to writing a review of one book. I need to find more time to read!

  2. You've had some good reads so far!! I agree Winter was lofty, but I read it on my Kindle and I think that helped me not to feel to daunted by it. I was glad it gave us full closure on every single couple! I can't decide whether or not I want to read Stars Above and Fairest. Part of me wants to be done with the story already and part of me feels like I should finish what I started. Will you read them?

    1. I have read Fairest, and will probably read Stars Above at some point - but I'm in no rush :)

  3. I just finished Fairest and am on hold at the library for Winter -- I'm hoping the ebook arrives before the print book, eek I didn't realize it was so long! I'm loving the series though, I flew through the first 4 books in the last 6 weeks, which is not typical for me.

    Ove is on my TBR list, thanks for your honest opinion of it!