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book review, of interest

Show Us Your Books – January 2019

Apparently 2019 is the year where I get my days discombobulated and totally miss the first Show Us Your Books of the year. Oops! But my post is here — better late than never — and it’s my first time participating in Quick Lit from Modern Mrs. Darcy as well. I’m definitely looking forward to sharing my mini reviews with more readers 🙂

As always, here’s a look at what I read over the last month and what I’m reading right now.

Last Month’s Edition & What My Ratings Mean

5-Star Reads ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

The One by John Marrs — I finished this book Wednesday, and I’ve already recommended it to three people. If you like Black Mirror, you may like this suspenseful science fiction that explores what life might be like if people could be matched to their one true love, their soulmate, by their DNA. I couldn’t put it down! Stop back next weekend for my full review and recipe pairing.

A Ladder to the Sky by John Boyne — I haven’t rated this on Goodreads yet and I’m still really on the fence, but it’s definitely a high 3, maybe a 4-star read. I was so excited for this novel after absolutely adoring his last novel The Heart’s Invisible Furies, I may have set my expectations too high. The storyline, which follows conniving author Maurice Swift over several years and through many characters’ eyes, was clever, amusing, and at times, completely shocking.  

3-Star Reads ⭐⭐⭐

By the Book by Julia Sonneborn — This was one of a couple retellings I read last month, this one a retelling of Jane Austen’s Persuasion (which I’ll admit I haven’t yet read). It’s about an English professor, Anne, struggling to get tenure and trying to get a book deal to secure her place on the college’s permanent staff. (Though I thought the real star was Anne’s best friend Larry.) The story was charming enough, and it was a quick easy, read.

Delicious! by Ruth Reichl — This was a wonderful food-centric read for this time of year. The story follows Billie Breslin, an assistant at food magazine Delicious, and is interspersed with WWII-era letters to James Beard, which she stumbles across. I wasn’t expecting the the historical fiction element of the story when I picked it up, but it turned out to be quite interesting. review + recipe

One Day in December by Josie Silver — People really love this rom-com novel, which is what lead me to pick it up in the first place. (And I really wanted to fit it in before December!) Rest assured, if you haven’t gotten to it yet, it’s not vital it’s read during winter as it takes place all year over many years. I thought it was okay, though I didn’t really like any of the characters honestly, and sort of hated the male love interest. It was a quick read, and for me, was 100% saved by the ending which was romantic comedy at it’s best. I may have teared up reading the last few scenes.

The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living by Louise Miller — I really love Louise Miller and her little town of Guthrie, Vermont. This time we follow Olivia Rawlings, a pastry chef, escaping Boston for small town life. The novel is filled with mouth-watering food descriptions, a touch of romance, and unforgettable characters. I didn’t always love the plot, but it was a charming read from beginning to end. review + recipe

Jell-O Girls: A Family History by Allie Rowbottom — Supposedly about the history of Jell-O and struggles of women in a patriarchal society, this nonfiction definitely focuses more heavily on Rowbottom’s family’s own history. It provides interesting feminist commentary but certainly had its flaws. review + recipe

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman — Gaiman’s Newberry Award winning book was the first book I completed for the latest Book Challenge by Erin. The story of an orphaned boy raised in a graveyard by ghosts is actually a retelling of The Jungle Book, which was not initially obvious to me but made perfect sense once I found out. Gaiman is a masterful storyteller, and this one is no exception; it was engaging from beginning to end (and, yes, a little dark).

Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen by Julie Powell — Julie’s memoir about the year she spent cooking her way through Julia Child’s cookbook (and blogging about it) was good, but I’ll admit, I liked the movie better. My full review will be posted on Tuesday — I’m making the beef bourguignon for dinner tonight! — so make sure to check back for my thoughts on the book and my cooking adventure.

1-Star Reads

The Friend by Sigrid Núñez — I was so excited to pick up the National Book Award winner, a story about a writer who reluctantly adopts a Great Dane (and crams him into her 500 square foot apartment) when his owner, one of her best friends commits suicide. I was expecting a charming dog-saves-human-from-grief story and instead got a total mess. Núñez’s writing is sort of stream-of-consciousness, with the topics ranging from extremely pretentious to repulsive to ridiculous. The dog plays only a bit part in the novel; it turns out the friend the title is referring to more often than not — despite the cover art and blurb — is her recently deceased friend, who honestly seems like a sexist jerk I’d rather not know anyway. It was a shame this book ended up being my only 1-star read of 2018, and I almost made it the entire year without one.

The Friend by Sigrid Nunez

Currently Reading

The Water Cure by Sophie Mackintosh — I honestly just picked this one up, but I’m highly anticipating it! Fingers crossed it doesn’t go the way of The Friend.

The Water Cure by Sophie Mackintosh

What books did you most enjoy from last month?

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“Show Us Your Books” Linkup Guidelines:
This linkup happens the second Tuesday of every month. The next is Tuesday, January 8, 2019.

1. Please visit and comment with both of your hosts, Jana & Steph
2. Please display the button or link back to me and the linkup hosts on your blog post
3. Please visit a few other blogs who’ve linked up and get some book talk going!

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7 Comments

  • Reply Heather Andrews (@_thelabcat_) January 12, 2019 at 9:04 pm

    Hi Megan! I’m trying to make a commitment to read more fiction in 2019. I used to read a lot, but the past couple years I haven’t read as much and it has all been non-fiction (baby books, potty training, and a randomly The Distaster Artist which was pretty entertaining).

    I’m currently reading The Handmaid’s Tale because I’ve watched the Hulu series and I know Atwood is releasing a sequel this year, but I was having trouble trying to find my next read so I thought your blog might give me ideas. I’ll be picking up The One at the library this week. I’m a huge Black Mirror fan. Thanks!

    • Reply Megan January 13, 2019 at 2:25 pm

      Heather, I love that! I’m always happy to provide recommendations if you need them – reach out anytime! That being said, if you like The Handmaid’s Tale, you may want to check out Vox (I did a review here).

      In the meantime, I hope you enjoy The One! Can’t wait to hear what you think 🙂

  • Reply Tanya January 13, 2019 at 7:47 am

    I really enjoyed The One. I think I gave it 5 stars, and loved hearing the different character voices in the audiobook. Thanks for the reviews!

    • Reply Megan January 13, 2019 at 2:26 pm

      It was so good! I was close to giving it a 5, but mainly held back because it felt too heavy-handed (though I obviously loved it). It would’ve been interesting to hear the various voices on audio. Did Christopher sound creepy, or just totally normal?

  • Reply Jackie B @ Death by Tsundoku January 22, 2019 at 10:43 pm

    I feel like most National Book Award Winners just don’t do it for me… I guess I’m not the intended audience for the award. I’m impressed you read the entirety of The Friend. What made you keep going and not DNF?

    I love reading this post because it give a quick glance at what you’re reading. And a lot of what you’ve read includes food at the fore! I really need to read more food-focused books. I’m totally jealous of this reading list. Any more food-focused books I can expect in early 2019?

    • Reply Megan January 23, 2019 at 3:22 pm

      Hmm… well, I have actually not had a lot of success with reading food-focused books so far this year (or books with food tie-ins at all!)… but I am planning to read What She Ate coming up soon, which is entirely food-focused, and nonfiction and women-focused, so I’m pumped about it. My plan is to make it a 6-part series of posts.

      • Reply Jackie B @ Death by Tsundoku January 28, 2019 at 4:10 pm

        That’s awesome! I just looked up What She Ate. I’m curious about what your 6-part series will focus on… It sounds super interesting!

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