January 2016 is coming to an end and I read a lot of good books, 16! A variety of genres and the overwhelming majority I enjoyed and even read my first 5 star book of the year (I only ranked 3 books as 5 star in 2015 so to read one in January is amazing!!). P.S. If you are looking for recipes skip this post, I promise my next post will be a recipe!
Here’s a roundup of my January 2016 reads:
5 Star Reads (MUST READS!!!!!):
My Kitchen Year by Ruth Reichl – Cookbook & Memoir
This book the perfect combination of story, amazing recipes, and gorgeous photographs!!!! The writing chronicles her journey after the demise of Gourmet magazine as she searched for herself and the next step in her life. The recipes correspond with what she was making and feeling and the seasons. The recipes sound AMAZING!!! My copy is studded with post-its marking the recipes I want to try. The photographs, of her world and her food, enhance the book.
She is wise about cooking and the journey and the importance of it but challenges you to make recipes your own. The recipes are not daunting for a home cook and celebrate the ingredients. Usually my cookbooks are divided into ones to read & enjoy the pictures and ones to cook from, this is both!!! Earlier this month I reviewed a recipe I made from the book. Excellent, beautiful, approachable, must add to your cookbook collection!!
4 Star Reads (Highly Recommended):
Who Do You Love by Jennifer Weiner – Women’s Fiction
Rachel’s heart is delicate, multiple operations from birth, when she meets Andy in a hospital emergency room at age 8 he captures a piece of it. This is their story, apart and together, as they live and learn and grow. A love story and a life story that doesn’t disappoint. It was my 1st book read in the New Year and sets the bar high for those that follow.
Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson – Young Adult, Realistic, Women’s Fiction
Emily and Sloane are best friends, inseparable friends, even though Sloane makes Emily do things that are outside her comfort zone. So when Emily comes home from a family vacation and Sloane is gone, with no warning, and isn’t answering her phone or responding to texts Emily is lost and devastated. A few days later a list arrives from Sloane of things for Emily to do, things she would never do on her own like “kiss a stranger” or “dance all night”, that Emily latches on to thinking completing the tasks might lead her to Sloane. As Emily steps outside her comfort zone and completes the tasks she makes friends, conquers some fears, and has an unexpected summer. A beautiful story of friendship, learning to face fears, and find yourself.
First Frost by Sarah Addison Allen – Women’s Fiction
The Waverly women of Bascom, NC have always been regarded as strange. They each have a gift and the town, while often enjoying the benefits of the gifts, is leery of them. This story finds each of them struggling with their gifts and place in the family. Delightful and easy to read the heart of the story is choosing a life, choosing to be yourself, choosing to embrace your uniqueness and gifts and love and family.
The Young Elites by Marie Lu – Young Adult, Fantasy
Adelina is alone after using a power she never knew she had to commit a crime. Alone until she is rescued by others with powers. They help her learn to start to use her power but do they trust her? And can she trust them? A story of fear and power and consequences of being different that grabs at you and doesn’t let go until you turn the last page.
The Stranger by Harlan Coben – Adventure, Mystery
Wow!!! Another twisty, turny, edge of your seat mystery adventure story from Harlan Coben. A stranger approaches Adam at a lacrosse draft meeting and with 1 sentence everything changes. Secrets and lies are being exposed with consequences no one expects. Meanwhile across the country another secret is being exposed by the stranger. Is there a connection? Why is he exposing the secrets? I couldn’t put it down!!!
Blueprints by Barbara Delinsky – Women’s Fiction
Life doesn’t always follow the Blueprints you have drawn. Join mother & daughter Caroline & Jamie McAfee, the team behind the renovation show GutIt!, as they face life changes they never expected. Family, love, trust, respect, loyalty, and living life. Jamie and her mother Caroline confront all of these as their very core is rocked professionally and personally. Each much find their true self to find their way to each other. And all of this takes place in the course of a few weeks. An enjoyable read that I highly recommend.
Perfect Touch by Elizabeth Lowell – Women’s Fiction, Mystery
Two strong individuals collide in this adventure romance. Sara grew up on a dairy farm and swore it will never be her life escaping and making a life for herself as an Art Expert in San Francisco. Jay left his Wyoming ranch for the military and came home to make the family ranch his own and profitable. Jay and Sara start working together during an ugly family dispute over art on the ranch by an artist that is newly hot that his stepmother wants as her own. When they are together things quickly heat up as they discover each other and are pursued by killers. How is willing to kill for a few paintings and why? Readers that like mystery and adventure with their romance will devour this.
Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy – Young Adult, Realistic, Women’s Fiction
Love, love, love this book!!! Dumplin’ is a big girl who is mostly happy with her life in Texas. But when things start changing- boys and fights with her best friend, she starts to question herself and her choices. With humor and friendship and trust and a beauty pageant she grows and learns and becomes even more herself. She says it best “the perfection we perceive in others is made up of a whole bunch of little imperfections.”
Copygirl by Anna Mitchael and Michelle Sassa – Women’s Fiction
Love, love, love!!! Everything I love in a book!! A woman finding her self with help of friends, ones she didn’t even know she had, and becoming more than she ever imagined. Kay works in an ad agency full of men and needs to be true to herself and find her creativity. Perfect for a lazy weekend, snow day, or vacation.
3+ Star Reads (Very Good):
Only In Naples by Katherine Wilson (Galley – Published April 19, 2016) – Memoir, Food
This memoir of Katherine begins in the 1990’s when she takes an unpaid internship in the United States consulate in Naples Italy to do what her family does after college. She ends up stumbling into the Avallone family and that is when her life begins. Learning the language is the easy part, it is learning the customs- how to eat and love- that is the challenge. Rafaella, the mother, takes her under her wing and helps her navigate the eating part but falling in love with Salvatore, the son, complicates and makes life simple. The customs of daily life take a bit longer for an American to adjust to and reading about them is fascinating. From dating an Italian man to holiday customs, to eating pizza everything is different in Naples.
Once you start the book keep reading, it starts slow but soon you are laughing and wondering and rooting for Katherine as she learns to live and love and eat in Naples. Your mouth will be watering to eat at the Avellone table.
3 Star Reads (Recommended):
The Rebellion of Miss Lucy Ann Lobdell by William Klaber – Historical Fiction
Lucy Lobdell wants to be free to live life as she wants. To hunt, travel, and explore and she finds this freedom by becoming Joseph. He is able to discuss books and seek adventure in Minnesota but there is a price to pay for living in in disguise. An interesting story based on newspaper reports and other records.
The Glassblower by Petra Durst-Benning – Historical Fiction
Germany in the late 1800’s is a world of men. But in the glassblowing village of Lauscha there is a house of 3 sisters who take care of their father and in some ways are in charge. When their father dies unexpectedly 3 sisters are left alone. Their world is shattered but they must find a way to survive. With strength they never knew they had they learn to live and create a world where women truly rule.
The Summer’s End by Mary Alice Monroe – Women’s Fiction
The Hours Count by Jillian Cantor – Historical Fiction
Historical fiction centering on a friend of Ethel Rosenberg. Millie lives in same building as Ethel and is desperate for a friend. Millie is seemingly oblivious to the political activity going on around her and doesn’t know who to trust as arrests and treason charges are made. Even years later Millie still questions the truth. Easy to read but just ok
If I Could Turn Back Time by Beth Harbison
In the tradition of the movies 13 Going On 30 or 17 Again 37 year old Ramie Phillips finds herself 18 and on the brink of high school graduation. She questions all the choices she made in her life and what she would do differently. The answer, be happy. A light read that’s perfect for a snow day or beach day.
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Hope you are intrigued enough to read one of these books!! I checked every book except My Kitchen Year out of my public library.