What I Read: January 2015

My goal for January was to read 12 books – and I finished FIFTEEN (yes, I am proud). 10 were fiction, 5 non-fiction. 8 on the Kindle, 7 in print.

The Last Chinese Chef: A Novel by Nicole Mones (2007).
A novel about grief, romance, and Chinese food. Lots of lovely food descriptions, if that is your thing.

French Kids Eat Everything: How Our Family Moved to France, Cured Picky Eating, Banned Snacking, and Discovered 10 Simple Rules for Raising Happy, Healthy Eaters by Karen Le Billon (2012).
Part common sense, good read. Part total guilt trip. Snacks for lyfe.

Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce (1983).
This was one of my favorite books as a girl and I cannot wait to introduce Frances to it. A fantasy novel about a girl who wants to become a knight, and so she hides her gender and heads off to the capital to train. That said, it doesn’t really hold up to adult reading. Probably best left to the tweens.

Siberiak: My Cold War Adventure on the River Ob by Jenny Jaeckel (2014).
A pretty straightforward look at the author’s exchange experience in the Soviet Union in 1988. Having been an exchange student myself (in Germany in 1995), I found it really nostalgic and relatable. My one complaint is that although the book is larger than the standard size, the writing is still very small, and was sometimes hard to read. I got this book through the LibraryThing Early Reviewer’s program.

Best Food Writing 2014 by Holly Hughes (2014).
The title explains it all. I love food writing, but this was not particularly memorable (a month later I remember two of the essays – one about the creator of the Cronut, and one about prison food).

This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett (2013).
I think I would read anything Patchett writes. This is a collection of essays, published over decades in various magazines, proving that at the end of the day, Patchett is just an excellent writer. Period.

The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place by Julie Berry (2014).
When the Headmistress of a finishing school keels over at dinner, her charges decide to bury her and try to keep the school open. Sort of “Don’t Tell Mom The Babysitter’s Dead”, but in Victorian England. An entertaining YA novel.

Station Eleven: A novel by Emily St. John Mandel (2014).
A beautiful, post-apocalyptic novel about the world after a pandemic. Haunting, gripping, but not creepy. Really good, highly recommend.

The Snake Has All the Lines by Jean Kerr (1960).
I have a soft spot for books from this era written by smart, funny professional writer mothers. Or maybe I’m just in awe of a woman who had 5, not grown boys and was a playwright! Jami is also super into Jean Kerr now!

Many Conditions of Love by Farahad Zama (2009).
The second book in the “Marriage Bureau of Rich People” series. A fun book in it’s own right, and also an interesting glimpse into life in India.

W is for Wasted by Sue Grafton (2013).
I like this series, but wasn’t crazy about this entry. Just meh for me.

Ruby Redfort Catch Your Death by Lauren Child (2015).
Another fun Ruby Redfort offering – having failed her survival challenge, 13-year-old Ruby is in danger of being kicked out of the secret spy agency, Spectrum. At the same time, there is something odd in Twinford – jewels disappearing, strange animal sightings, an evil SCENT plot. Lucky that Ruby is still on the case. I got this book through LibraryThing’s Early Reviewer program.

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion (2013).
A romance novel with a male protagonist! That alone made it interesting. And then what a character – an Asperger’s having, brilliant geneticist trying to figure out love and romance. Enjoyable.

The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman (2012).
It took me 8 months to read this one. Clearly well written, but just hard as a parent to read a story of a child torn between two families.

Dear Committee Members by Julie Schumacher (2014).
A slim novel comprised of letters of recommendation by a professor of writing at a middling liberal arts college. Professor Fitger is sometimes funny, sometimes awkward, sometimes pompous, but it’s overall an amusing peak at academia.

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What I Read: January 2015