February 14, 2017

January Books 2017

I thought about numbering my books this year, because I do have a goal. There's nothing like going back through and counting every single book you've read in every single monthly book post to make you question your decisions. However, that might be to my detriment; it will make me push harder to get through more books and I don't need that stress. So, no numbering.

This is my favorite cover of the recent past.

Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys A+
This is everything that YA historical fiction should be. I loved it. I can't believe more people aren't talking about it. There was a lot of buzz about Salt to the Sea by the same author in the last few book link-ups, but this book was so good and it was about history without (gasp) being about WWII. (Does such a thing exist? Yes, it does. Historical fiction does not always equal WWII.)

The first line will pull you in, and the first few pages had me reading for at least an hour when I hadn't planned to sit down and read.

Ashes by Laurie Halse Anderson B+
More YA. This is the third book in the Seeds of America trilogy. I really have been waiting for it since 2011, when I read Chains and Forge. I haven't re-read them though so I can't remember what was my favorite. I do know I devoured them. Ashes was good too. Not as good, but a satisfying ending that coincided with the end of the Revolution.
Really, I would just recommend anything written by Anderson. She's one of my very favorites.

Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo
This is a middle-grade book, so I won't rate it. I picked it up because DiCamillo has quite a few medals under her belt and I thought it might be a good read-aloud for school. I wasn't entirely impressed. I saw value in it, but I think I interpreted it as an adult would and got the nuances and hidden meanings and overall nonliteralness of it that way. A ten-year-old isn't going to get that, in my opinion...which is why kids generally don't pick up potential medal winners of their own accord. Kids pick up Captain Underpants.
Anyway, Raymie seemed to have a lot of out-of-body experiences to which I was thinking What is she on?. And there's an odd cast of characters. I'll put it on my shelf at school, but I won't push it.

Family Jewels: A Rose Gardner Mystery by Denise Grover Swank B
I'm going to start a drinking game and the rule will be that every time the text says "Fenton County criminal underworld", you take a shot.
If you haven't read these books, you won't get it. If you have read the books, you're probably thinking about how drunk you'll be soon. Also, you should read these books.
This wasn't the best of the books, but it was nice to read another installment.

The Mothers by Brit Bennett B+ for writing/ C- for story
This has come recommended from different sources. I grabbed the audio this month and I will say that the story is extremely well-crafted and put together. Like, I know Bennett is young, but she either has training as an editor or she has a fabulous one. The writing was visually and audibly pleasing. Go for it on that alone.
I will also say that I didn't like the story. It was oddly predictable and not that different than a typical love triangle or coming of age tale (for all the buzz it's gotten, I think I was expecting brilliance). It left a bad taste in my mouth. I didn't like the characters. With 56 minutes left, I almost quit and then thought it was only 56 minutes so I might as well. The whole thing was just tinged with regret and wholly depressing and maybe that's what she was going for. But I basically hated everyone and I don't think I was supposed to. You know how sometimes an author writes unlikeable characters on purpose? I don't think this was that.

What She Knew by Gilly McMacMillan B-
This was a good book. I wasn't overly impressed and I wasn't underwhelmed. It was a mystery and I didn't really find myself able to predict too much, so that was good. If you're looking for a comparison, it's like The Girl on the Train meets I Let You Go meets In the Woods.
I will say that my true concern, like with I Let You Go, was with the dog.

Linking up with Jana and Steph!


  1. We've discussed this, but I'm a Ruta Sepetys fangirl. I've read all three of her books, and Out of the Easy was my favorite (although, I'm pretty sure I gave each of them 5 stars.)

  2. I'm definitely going to read Out of the Easy soon. I loved Salt to the Sea! What she Knew sounds good too.

  3. I loved the setting of Out of the Easy too. Speak is the only thing I've ever read by Anderson, and that was such a long time ago, I definitely need to check out some of her other books!

  4. i have heard good things about Ruta Sepetys but haven't read any of her books. they are all on my list of course. hmm i am intrigued by the seeds of america series. that sucks you didn't love the mothers, it is in my library pile and i've heard good things.

  5. I liked Out of the Easy but I didn't love it. I did love The Mothers.

  6. I've read a bunch of non-WWII historical fiction. I actually, for the most part, actively avoid WWII books.

    I can't believe you didn't like The Mothers. I wonder if you had read it instead of listening, you'd have a different experience.

  7. I fell in love with Ruta Sepetys last year, so I can't wait to read Out Of The Easy! What She Knew sounds like a good thriller that I'd probably enjoy, so I'm sure that I'll pick it up!

  8. I just finished The Mothers last weekend. I agree, in the sense, I do not know what all the buzz is about. I kept looking for a hidden message/agenda from the author but I never found one. I did a little research of author interviews and I believe Bennett was just writing a contemporary fiction book with African American characters. Although, I didn't mind the characters, I did find it difficult to connect with them based on their age/life stage. The winning factor for me was the setting in Oceanside. Since I am homesick most days, reading The Mothers felt like I was home for 300 pages. I really loved that. I'm not recommending this book because I feel there are so many better books to read. I'm glad you liked Out Of The Easy...I want everyone to love Sepetys' books.

  9. I like how you gave 2 ratings for The Mother... I've read so many books that have the same sort of things - writing & story just dont mix.

  10. The Mothers has been on my list...it's tough when books are loved by so many.

  11. I loved The Mothers but not every book is going to read the same way for others. I do always feel weird when I don't like a book that get rave reviews because I wonder if I missed something. :D I'm reading Salt to Sea for Erin's 6.0 Challenge and I believe Out of the Easy is on my TBR as well. I have the first Rose Gardener book on my kindle and need to read it!

  12. Ruta Sepetys needs to get with the program and write some more books! I'm glad you liked Out of the Easy, it was one of my favorites of hers, too. I liked them all, including Salt to the Sea, but like you said - it was nice to read something different than a WWII novel for once!

  13. I've heard a few people talk about Out of the Easy! I may just have to add it to my list.

  14. I read Raymie Nightingale this past month as well and wasn't impressed. I've read Sepetys' Between Shades of Gray and loved it. Out of the Easy is on my to read list!

  15. I really need to read one of Ruta Septys books! Everyone seems to love them. I've never seen a negative review of The Mothers before, so I liked reading your perspective! :)

  16. I have Salt to the Sea and Out of the Easy on hold at the library. There are very few blogger's I trust when it comes to book recommendations (you being one) and another recommended Out of the Easy. Now to wait because the hold list is long.

  17. Thanks for sharing! I still need to read a book by Septys; my sister has enjoyed a couple of her novels, including Out of the Easy!


  18. Adding Out of the Easy straight to my to-read list! I've never read any of her books but have heard good things :) xo

  19. I read kids and young adult books all the time to keep up with the latest. I just need more time to read :)

  20. The first year I taught 6th grade, I had a student who was an avid reader, and she read a book by Ruta Sepetys and recommended it to me. (It was a the moment that I realized I LOVED 6th grade, despite the awful students I had that year.) The book was "Between Shades of Gray" and it was really good! I haven't read "Salt to the Sea," but I have it on my list because I liked the other book. I'll have to add this one, too!

  21. You're the second person I've seen who hasn't loved The Mothers. I'm definitely going to manage my expectations now.

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