What I Read: January & February

I have to be honest with you. I totally meant to get a book review post out at the end of January and at the actual end of February, but life. Man, winter mom life is not for the weary. And sometimes I am weary. So it’s March 4th and I’m posting my book reviews from January and February. I hope you don’t mind. I’m sure you don’t mind.

And let me tell you, if you stick with me you’ll hear about some AWESOME books! I read 6 books throughout Jan & Feb and they were all great reads. I loved some and only liked some, but I wouldn’t call any of them duds. I will say, the first one listed is my least favorite, but still not a horrible read. But the last one listed will probably make its way into my top 5 for the whole year. I know it’s only the 3rd month of the year, but I’m that confident in its greatest! Let’s dive in!

Still Lives by Maria Hummel

I chose to read Still Lives because Reese recommended it. And I’ve really loved all the books Reese has recommended. This one wasn’t horrible, but it definitely wasn’t as thrilling as I expected, based on the description.

The book takes you inside the world of art galas. A famous artist named, Kim Lord goes missing on the day of her biggest gallery exhibition yet, not so surprisingly titled, “Still Lives.” In her exhibition she depicts famous murdered women, such as Nicole Brown Simpson and the Black Dahlia, but puts herself in their place in her paintings.

The book’s main character, Maggie Richter, would seem to have little to do with Kim Lord or her disappearance other than the fact that she works at the art gallery where Kim Lord’s exhibition is held. But in fact, Maggie’s ex, Greg Shaw Ferguson happens to be dating Kim Lord at the time of her disappearance. Suspicion mounts and Maggie doesn’t know who to believe as she decides to enter the investigation for herself.

I wouldn’t say don’t read it, but I have read much more suspenseful and keep-you-on-the-edge-of-your-seat books. One of which was…

Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell

Ok for some reason I read a lot of books about children going missing. Which would make you think I’d be the most anxious mother in the world. But for some reason I think I can compartmentalize the stories I read as fiction (although I know it does happen in real life,) with my life and the reality of something happening to my own children.

This was my first Lisa Jewell book, but I can confidently say it will not be my last! Ellie Mack is the seemingly perfect fifteen year old, top of her class, golden boyfriend and beloved by her family and friends alike. But one day she leaves the house and just doesn’t come back.

Ten years later, her mother, Laurel, is still trying to get her life back together. Her marriage is over, and her daughters case has gone cold. She decides maybe it’s time to move on and shortly after, meets a charming and handsome man named Floyd. Shortly after beginning to date Floyd, Laurel meets Floyd’s daughters, one of which reminds her a lot of Ellie. She feels the tug of unanswered questions from Ellie’s case and decides to try to find the answers herself.

This book is exactly the kind of suspenseful I love. You figure out some pretty big things early on, but it’s not until the end that you understand how all the pieces fall into place. I loved it, and like I said, will definitely be checking out more Jewell books!

Swear on This Life by Renee Carlino

Ok, this book. Whew, I really, really, REALLY loved it. It reminded me a lot of Colleen Hoover’s It Ends With Us. I’m actually pretty surprised I haven’t seen it marketed more, because I enjoyed it that much!

The book goes back and forth between the present and a bestselling debut novel from the mysterious J. Colby. When Emiline reluctantly decides to read it at the encouragement of her roommate. And from the first page, she is entranced by the story of Emerson and Jackson because she feels like she’s reading her own history. And that can only mean one thing, that the mysterious J. Colby is in fact her childhood best friend and first love, Jace.

This book was seriously so so good. If you read It Ends With Us and liked it even a little bit, then you will love this book. Read it.

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

This book has been on my TRL for YEARS, but as I’ve said before, non-fiction takes me a lot of effort to read. Luckily, memoirs such as this one tend to read more like fiction, so when I actually began reading this, it was a pretty fast read.

The Glass Castle was my Xenia book club pick for January, and it was a very interesting read. It definitely gives you a glimpse into a vastly different life than your own. That is, if you don’t have to eat butter for dinner because there’s nothing else in the house, or go to the bathroom in a big hole under your house, or can honestly say that your parents are homeless by choice.

This book reminded me a lot of Educated, but I will say that I liked Educated a bit more. I don’t know if it was the writing or the story, but Educated just drew me in more. This story was interesting because, different than Educated, the author’s father clearly does love her very much. He just doesn’t know how to show it in a paternal, provisional way. There are parts of this book that will just blow your mind, and other parts that will cause you a lot of anger. It’s hard to watch a daughter, who is the last one in her family to still believe in her dad and his grand schemes, finally loses that belief and comes to terms with the lack of realistic actions behind his words and ideas.

It definitely made me think, and look at the world a little differently, and I hope to someday read Jeannette Walls’ second book, Half Broke Horses, about her maternal grandmother.

I did watch the movie, which is available on Amazon Prime Video, and although the book is always better, it was a good complement to the book. Some of the events were switched around, but for the most part I thought it did a respectable job of depicting the book.

How to Walk Away by Katherine Center

Ah I LOVED this one too! So so good. This was my first Katherine Center book, but I look forward to reading more! (She’s actually releasing a new book this August and I’m pumped for it!)

Maggie Jacobson’s life is picture perfect, she’s been verbally offered the job of her dreams, she has a wonderful fiancé and the life she’s always wanted is just around the corner. Then one evening her fiancé encourages her to go for a plane ride with him, and the worst actually happens.

She wakes up in the hospital facing the possibility that her life will never be the same. Her fiancé becomes super flaky while wallowing in self-pity, her sister, who’s been MIA for years, shows up wanting to stay by her side, and her physical therapist majors in tough love. But what she soon realizes is that her best life may be nothing like the life she thought she wanted, but in fact a life that is so much better than she could have ever dreamed.

I really really loved this book too! It was a fun, quick, page-turner, and one that I didn’t want to end. I can’t wait to see what else Katherine Center dreams up!

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

Ok, THIS ONE. This is the one that will be in my top 5. I was a little skeptical of it at first because SOOOOO many people were praising it so highly, I just didn’t want to have high expectations and be super disappointed. But after reading it I TOTALLY get the hype. This will definitely be a book I end up buying so I can re-read it multiple times.

Where the Crawdads Sing is a coming-of-age book, mixed with a suspenseful murder mystery. It goes back and forth in time, between the present day murder trial of golden boy, Chase Andrews and coming-of-age of Kya Clark. Kya has learned how to survive on her own after every member of her family leaves her home, one at a time and never returns. She lives in a dilapidated shake near the marsh, her closest friends are the gulls, and runs a little more wild than the townspeople would like. She is known as the “marsh girl,” and due to her unknown life and uniquely different ways, the townspeople immediately suspect her in the death of their favorite young man.

This book isn’t my go-to suspenseful thriller, that I could read in a day if given a few undisturbed hours. But it was a beautiful read about a girl who makes the best with what she’s given, or more like what she’s left with, and even though she is vastly misunderstood, makes a life for herself.

I absolutely loved it, and hope to reread it even next month, as it’s our Xenia book club pick for April! Read it, and I promise you won’t be disappointed.

What are you currently reading? I’m reading our March book club pick, The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah, and loving it so far! The other books I plan on reading soon are: The Wife Between Us, Night, The Librarian of Auschwitz, The Proposal and The Tattooist of Auschwitz. If you’ve read any of those, let me know what you thought! And as usual, please share some other recs, I always love to hear what other people are reading!

Previous month’s book reviews: