Books I Read in January


I read five books in January. FIVE. To be fair, I had started two of them in 2017 and only finished in January, which stacked my stats a bit, but still. I forgot how much reading I can get done while I'm pumping at work twice a day. It's not a terrible way to spend 20 minutes.

I don't know if anyone even still cares about book reviews anymore, but I like reading them and (perhaps oddly) I really like writing them, so book reviews will continue for the forseeable future. 

*I am adding two elements to my book reviews, inspired by the reviews of Michelle and Chelsea.

The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics // 5 stars
Fun fact about me: I love the Olympics. I mean, I know everyone likes them, but I love them. I discovered The Boys in the Boat on Goodreads when I was reading reviews of Fire on the Track, which I reviewed hereThis book is not for everyone. There is a lot of world history, and it was at times slow reading, but for me it was completely enthralling. The ending account of the final Olympic race for gold gave me goosebumps and made me cry literal tears. It's never about the suspense of whether the boys win gold: we know they do by the time we finish the prologue. But it's all about the boys and how they ended up together in the boat and how they got to the Olympics and it was just all the emotions. I loved it. Yes, at times it was a bit heavy on rowing history and mechanics, but even that was interesting and now I want to go watch a regatta or something.

Should you read it? Yes
For fans of: the olympics, weird sports, historical nonfiction, being inspired, crying while reading a book

Love Unending: Rediscovering Your Marriage in the Midst of Motherhood by Becky Thompson // 4 stars

I thought this was a wonderful book that offers practical ways to build your marriage after having kids. The author walks through 21 days, each with one focus that builds upon the other in ways we can show love to our husbands, be patient, be thankful, be gracious, etc. There are spaces for journaling, which I didn't do because I was borrowing the book from a friend, but I think I'd like to get my own copy and go through it again at some point. I liked the simple but realistic (for the most part) application. The author is very traditional with her views on Christianity and the role of husband/wife, which is great for me, but just a note for anyone else who might not be able to relate. It was a bit cheesy in some places, but it didn't bother me. This type of book has to be a little cheesy, I think. Overall I thought it was great and would make a lovely gift for a mom friend or just for yourself.

Should you read it? Yes
For fans of: loving your husband well, motherhood, somewhat-cheesy-but-at-the-same-time-inspirational-and-practical Christian marriage advice 

Unstoppable: My Life So Far by Maria Sharapova // 3.5 stars
I didn't know Maria Sharapova (a professional Russian tennis player) had published a memoir until I was at a bookstore a few weeks ago and the cover caught my eye. I have played and follow tennis for years, but if you don't follow tennis, you won't like this one. It was not particularly well written, but it was really interesting and I enjoyed reading it nonetheless. The writing felt more authentic in author voice then other ghostwritten books I've read in the past; the choppy style felt realistic of how Maria would actually talk (because I know her so well in real life lol). I found the story of her start in tennis and moving up through the rankings fascinating, but I did get the sense that she is an unreliable narrator, and I was a little disappointed to discover that I did not find her very likable. The way she talks about herself and other players came off as pretty snobby. I suppose to be number one in the world in your sport you have to have confidence and be a little full of yourself, but it was too much in some places. But overall the book was still super interesting and I would definitely recommend this to tennis fans.

Should you read it? Yes but only if you are a tennis fan
For fans of: tennis, girl power, sporting rivalries, snobby narrators

The Trespasser by Tana French // 3.5 stars
I keep reading Tana French's novels, and I don't know why. It's like a bad habit I can't kick. This murder mystery is set in Ireland and follows the murder squad as they try to solve the death of a young woman. I have read all six of French's books now (all murder mysteries, although you don't have to read them in order). I always find them about 50-100 pages too long. However, I do think her stories and characters are extremely creative and unique. This wasn't my favorite of hers, but it certainly wasn't my least favorite. It was a pretty quick read and kept me interested. I couldn't guess who did it, but then again I never can so that isn't anything notable. I really didn't like the main character (who is also the narrator) at ALL and kind of felt like she was mostly ridiculous and whiny; but without spoiling anything, it turns out the author was intentionally making her character like that, so I suppose I can't be too grouchy about it. The characters do curse some, so be aware of that, but as far as mysteries go, this wasn't too scary for me, which I liked. My favorite Tana French books have been The Likeness and The Secret Place, so I suggest starting with either of those if you haven't read any.

Should you read it? Maybe/Sure (but I would try one of the other two books I mentioned first)
For fans of: murder mysteries, female narrators, Irish slang, books that could/should be 50 pages shorter

Last Stop in Brooklyn by Lawrence H. Levy // 2 stars
Set in 1894, Last Stop in Brooklyn is the third in a series and follows private investigator Mary Handley as she reopens an old murder case. This book is fiction but based on some real events and real people. I got it from blogging for books because the cover caught my eye and I thought the premise sounded interesting. It was a fast, easy read, but unfortunately that's about the most positive thing I can say about it. I thought there were way too many characters and not enough character development, so it was hard to keep track, and even if you did know who they were, you didn't care much about them. The writing itself was poor, with lots of telling and very little showing. There was no excitement or suspense in places where there should have been. It was just kind of blah, and I skimmed most of the second half. That said, when I got to the end and read the author's bio, I realized that he is a TV and film writer for some well-known shows. That made so much sense because the writing did feel more like a script, so that made me feel less annoyed about it. However, I still can't recommend the book.

Should you read it? No
For fans of: female detectives, poor writing, keeping track of a lot of characters, seedy goings ons, wanting everyone to die so the book will end

*I received a copy of Last Stop in Brooklyn for free from Blogging for Books. All opinions are mine.

Currently Reading
Lucky 666: The Impossible Mission by Bob Drury

Tell me what book you are reading or recently finished!
Rachel Emily said...

Love the should you read it/if you are a fan of addition! That marriage and motherhood book sounds fantastic, adding it to my list!

Meghan said...

I read A Man Called Ove, As Bright As Heaven, and The Rules of Magic this month. I HATED The Rules of Magic and Liked a Man Called Ove and As Bright As Heaven. I am hoping to find another love this month...

Robyn B said...

I like the “for fans of” section you added! Hilarious but also really helpful!

Sarah said...

I just finished Born a Crime by Trevor Noah. Highly recommend! I'm currently reading The Hideaway by Lauren Denton. Meh, so far, but I've heard it's good I'm keeping going. :)

Audrey Louise said...

It's a bummer the Brooklyn book was a bust. When I saw it in your header image I thought it looked interesting. The Boys in the Boat sounds super interesting, though. I know it sounds a little weird, but I like it when you know the ending. I'm reading Dead Wake right now and we all KNOW the Lusitania sank so it's comforting to know the end for some reason (although that particular end is rather tragic).

Carolann Chambers said...

I love murder mysteries and I've been wanting to get into Tana French! I will start with one of those!!

Rach said...

So I love the Olympics, but probably more on the normal loving-of-the-Olympics level. I watch them every two years and always go to a party for the opening ceremonies, but that's about it. We have friends who LOVE the Olympics like you love the Olympics and they are the ones hosting said parties (with a torch that gets lit during the festivities and everything). I'm going to recommend The Boys in the Boat book to them! :)

Your "should you read it" comments on the last one made me laugh!

Michelle said...

I loved Boys on the Boat!!! The world history element was my favorite part. That whole thing about them beating the Germans right in front of Hitler? Actual chills.

I need to read that marriage book. I've been a bit of a monster to live with lately, lol.

Susannah said...

"Wanting everyone to die so the book will end" Hahahahaha. Needless to say, you've convinced me NOT to read that book!

Torrie said...

I read Boys in the Boat for book club, and I really liked it too, though I took my star rating down to 4 because I felt like it got bogged down in details too much (so much talk about the weather!).

The mystery genre has never appealed to me much, for some reason. Maybe a single stand-alone mystery might, which is why I'm eventually going to give Agatha Christie a try. For now, I'm reading about a million books it seems (Wild for my book club, a food/dinner memoir, a book written by the blogger The Nester, a business/self-help book, etc. etc.). Basically, my reading is a bit all over the place at the moment, but that's kind of how I roll :)

Kate said...

I'm always, always a fan of book reviews. (No surprise there.) And I always appreciate yours! I feel like I know A LOT about the YA community, but I don't always have a chance to branch out much. I have especially loved your non-fiction reviews because I listen to so many audiobooks on my commute now, and I have discovered I really love listening to non-fiction. :)

Julie @ Just the Joy's said...

Definitely bookmarking this especially for the marriage one! Marriage is HARD after babies enter our lives. Not to mention the homeless/living separate battle we've been having forever! One of my goals for this year was to read more (blogs or books) and I've been enjoying it! :)