quick lit – next page, please {january 2020}

Happy Valentine’s Day.  I love and adore my Valentines, the Hubby and the Buddy Man. They both know I love books and loved them before either of them came along. LOL

So, with that in mind, here’s a recap of the nine books that I read in January.  I am well-ahead of my goal to read 40 this year. These picks also contributed my sanity last month.

Read

  • Still Life by Louise Penny. Over in ModernMrsDarcy land, people LOVE the Inspector Gamache series. I have never read any of them – and there are currently 23. For the MMD Reading Challenge this year, one of the categories is three books by a single author so I thought that now would be as good as time as any. These seem to start off a bit slow but I have been told numerous times that these take a while to get going and that the series really picks up in book 4.  Don’t know if I will make it that far but I am enjoying Penny’s writing style so, we will see.
  • Old in Art School: A Memoir of Starting Over by Nell Irvin Painter. I can’t remember who recommended this book to me but my interest in it might have had something to do with my turning 40 and wondering if there is life to be had over the hill. LOL.  It might also have started an interest in reading about creatives in memoirs and fiction.
  • A Fatal Grace by Louise Penny. This is the second book about Inspector Armand Gamache series. I am chugging along.
  • Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens. This was January’s Rocket City Mom Virtual Book Club pick for January.  I had avoided reading it until now but I am glad that I did. My full review is here.
  • The Principles of Uncertainty by Maira Kalman. Nell Painter sent me down a rabbit hole of writer/artists: artists who write or writers who draw and paint perhaps because I might want to do that one day.  Who knows.  Anyway, Maira Kalman, an artist who has illustrated for the New Yorker was in the rabbit hole so I picked a copy of this from the library to see more. It was a brief read. I liked it.*
  • Two Girls Down by Louisa Luna. This is the first book about PI Alice Vega. I read this because I’m interested in Luna’s second book about Vega, The Janes, released January 21, which Anne Bogel previewed in her Winter Preview. She said that she was hooked from the first line.  Plus, this is my fourth crime mystery (not a genre I usually read) this month and I might be a bit over it. I have placed The Janes on hold at my local library.  We will see what kind of headspace I am in when it comes in.
  • Undercover Bromance by Lyssa Kay Adams. This is the second book in the Bromance Book Series and it was AWESOME!!!! My first 5-star read of the year. It releases on March 10th so thanks to @WhatKariReads for sending the ARC my way.  Romance is a great genre for when things are dreary and bleak. The story always ends well.  This one did and I loved it.
  • The Painter by Peter Heller. Last year, the Modern Mrs. Darcy book club read Celine also by Heller which I thoroughly enjoyed. I adore Heller’s writing style. And since I have this new inclination to read about artists and creatives and the book is about a painter, it was a no-brainer to pick this up from the library. I’m glad that I did.
  • The Proposal by Jasmine Guillory. The second book in The Wedding Date series and my second romance of the month. Yep, January was that kind of month.

Currently Reading

 Abandoned Reading

My theme/word of 2020 is Savor so I really do want to relish everything that I read. I am not going to say that this has happened with everything that I have read this year but it definitely means that I am not going to be upset if I don’t finish books that I start this year. To that end, here’s what I have abandoned so far.

So, whatcha’ readin’?

Per usual, I am linking up with Modern Mrs. Darcy’s Quick Lit post.  As you can see, she is an excellent resource when you can’t figure out what to read.  And if you are here, because of her, I can’t thank her, and you, enough.

enjoy life…

*I also discovered that Maira Kalman had illustrated an edition of Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style – the quintessential book on writing with clarity.  Yeah! I bought it.

book review: “things you save in a fire” by katherine center

Releasing on August 13, Things You Save in a Fire would make a great late summer read; I read it over two nights (it was a page-turner!!!!) If you liked How to Walk Away, you will like this one. Maybe even more, as I did.

I loved Cassie, the main protagonist, who is a firefighter! Hooray for all firefighters, and specifically lady firefighters! I learned a lot about firefighting and was duly impressed – Center’s husband is a volunteer firefighter so she used him to get the details right. And Cassie was the firefighter that worked to save Mags from Walk Away. I loved that connection, however, Fire can stand on its own.

Again, this is what I consider a great summer read. I liked the pacing – the storyline drove the narrative which I love and need in my fun fiction books. It also was about 300 pages. Anne told me that I needed these two things in my fun fiction reads and I think that she was right. And while there’s a romantic element (it could be classified as chick lit), I love how Center includes a more substantive narrative of forgiveness. Fun and romance while learning lessons? I don’t think that it gets any better than that!

Beware: One character has suffered a sexual assault in the past. It is not explicitly detailed or described. And there is adult language.

4 of 5 stars

A huge thank you to Snail on the Wall books for the ARC. Preorder your copy here.

Have you guys read this one? Will you read it now? What else would you like to know about it? Let me know in the comments.

enjoy life…

 

book review: “the unlikely adventures of the shergill sisters” by balli kaur jaswal

I did it, guys! I read my pick from my episode on Anne Bogel’s podcast, What Should I Read Next, Episode 179 and I am popping in to share my thoughts.

But first, let me remind you what Anne said about the book when she recommended it to me.

“This is a story of three sisters. They’re on a mission. They’re on almost a pilgrimage their dying mother has sent them on…They’ve gotten older, they don’t get along…. But they’ve come together. They have adventures. It does not go as planned.

And I think this book has the right amount of fun and zany while still having concerns that are grounded in [the] reality that you and I can relate to as people that makes it not just empty or ridiculous.

They are dealing with serious things, but this is not as a serious book. This is fast and fun and keeps you moving. You’ll get to experience new places and new things and I think you’ll really enjoy the journey.” 

So, here’s what I thought.

First, if, as a reader, you are not reading books by people that are different than you (religion, cultures, race, etc.) you are doing it wrong.  That being said, until you are familiar with a culture, etc. you may struggle with some of the references like words, foods, and settings. I think my unfamiliarity hindered my capacity to fully enjoy Shergill Sisters.

Second, this book was serious but fun and zany, exactly what Anne promised.

Jaswal’s website describes the book as a “dark comedy” and I agree with that moniker. Rajni, the oldest sister, is the mom who’s 18 year-old son has impregnated his 36-year-old girlfriend. Jezmeen is the YouTube sensation, not in a good way, and this is where most of the hilarity lies. Shirina has the perfect marriage, or does she? And her situation is what brings the “serious” issues to the fore.  A concept that I was unfamiliar with but that Balli Kaur Jaswal is due to her roots in the Punjab region of the Indian subcontinent. That’s were the darkness lies.

Third, it is a page-turner and I read it in a day. Anne pointed out that around 300 pages is around my magic number in terms of fun fiction and she is right.  I recently picked up a copy of another novel that was about 400 pages and it took so long for it to really get going that I put it down. Pacing really is everything.

Ultimately, I enjoyed Shergill Sisters but didn’t like it as much as I did Joshilyn Jackson’s The Almost Sisters (my full review is here),  which was Anne’s reference point and the reason she selected this book. But I do think that was due, in part, to my unfamiliarity with Indian culture and not any thing else like pacing, writing style, quality of writing, etc.

So, there’s my thought on The Unlikely Adventures of the Shergill Sisters. Now, onward to Anne’s other two suggestions: The Mother-in-Law by Sally Hepworth and Calling Me Home by Julie Kibler.

3 ½ of out 5 Stars

Have you read this one? Did you enjoy it?

enjoy life…

P.S. I saw Balli Jaswal (@balli_jaswal) posted this recently on Twitter: Today in My Family Does Not Understand My Career: Both parents called in a great panic to notify me that my books were available in the library. “How are you supposed to make money? What kind of business model is this?”