Books in Review: January

by Jenn (eating bender) on February 8, 2014

Goodreads - January copy

Since I have a fictional page goal this year, I thought it might be fun to do a monthly roundup of the books I’ve read as a way of checking in. Some books – as in anything by Rainbow Rowell – may get separate review posts, but this method will ensure I at least mention them all for memory’s sake.

Eight books and nearly 3,000 pages in January was not the plan, but I’m not complaining! I never thought I would say this – you know, since I’ve admitted in the past to actually smelling book pages – but I think my Kindle encourages me to read more. It’s incredibly convenient to be able to order books from the library and download them immediately when they come in. It’s also pretty cost-effective to download them from Amazon. I still love my hard covers and paperbacks – I’m reading a “real” copy of Cress as we speak – but am coming around to the idea that digital does have its perks. I think Bobby and our bookshelves are both pretty happy about that.

Anyway. Back to those January reads.

the diviners

The Diviners by Libba Bray

From Goodreads:

Evie O’Neill has been exiled from her boring old hometown and shipped off to the bustling streets of New York City—and she is pos-i-tute-ly ecstatic. It’s 1926, and New York is filled with speakeasies, Ziegfeld girls, and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is that she has to live with her uncle Will and his unhealthy obsession with the occult.

Evie worries he’ll discover her darkest secret: a supernatural power that has only brought her trouble so far. But when the police find a murdered girl branded with a cryptic symbol and Will is called to the scene, Evie realizes her gift could help catch a serial killer.

As Evie jumps headlong into a dance with a murderer, other stories unfold in the city that never sleeps. A young man named Memphis is caught between two worlds. A chorus girl named Theta is running from her past. A student named Jericho hides a shocking secret. And unknown to all, something dark and evil has awakened.

My thoughts:

We chose this book for our last meeting of Reading Between the Wines, and I’m looking forward to its sequel when it comes out later this year. I loved that it took place in the Roaring 20s – Libba Bray did a fantastic job of making the era come to life through the settings, the culture and the language. I really want to bring back the phrase, “it’s the berries” now (especially after hearing it again on Downton Abbey last week).

That said, this book definitely has its creepy moments – after all, it’s primarily about a murderer who is haunting New York. It also has a lot of paranormal and fantasy elements to it being that Evie and several other characters have supernatural powers. It’s not a book I would normally seek out (mainly because reading any sort of crime story before bed keeps me awake!) but it quickly reeled me in. I’ll be very curious to see where Libba Bray goes with the storyline.

One of my favorite quotes: 

“There is no greater power on this earth than story…People think boundaries and borders build nations. Nonsense – words do. Beliefs, declarations, constitutions – words.”


The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

From Goodreads:

“I wonder how the book got to Guernsey? Perhaps there is some sort of secret homing instinct in books that brings them to their perfect readers.”January 1946: London is emerging from the shadow of the Second World War, and writer Juliet Ashton is looking for her next book subject. Who could imagine that she would find it in a letter from a man she’s never met, a native of the island of Guernsey, who has come across her name written inside a book by Charles Lamb….

As Juliet and her new correspondent exchange letters, Juliet is drawn into the world of this man and his friends—and what a wonderfully eccentric world it is. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society—born as a spur-of-the-moment alibi when its members were discovered breaking curfew by the Germans occupying their island—boasts a charming, funny, deeply human cast of characters, from pig farmers to phrenologists, literature lovers all.

Juliet begins a remarkable correspondence with the society’s members, learning about their island, their taste in books, and the impact the recent German occupation has had on their lives. Captivated by their stories, she sets sail for Guernsey, and what she finds will change her forever.

Written with warmth and humor as a series of letters, this novel is a celebration of the written word in all its guises, and of finding connection in the most surprising ways.

My thoughts:

If you love historical fiction and WWII-era books in particular, you will adore everything about Guernsey. The novel is written as a series of letters between the main character, Juliet Ashton – who is witty, hilarious and lovable from page one – and the people who live on the island of Guernsey, as well as her friends and colleagues on the mainland. I was skeptical at first about how a story could possibly unfold from letters, but this book taught me not to get too attached to traditional dialogue. There can be so many thoughts and emotions conveyed in correspondence – although sometimes, it’s even more important to pick up on what isn’t said.

The plot was charming and the characters were engaging. Every single person on the island had a unique story to tell, and because Juliet develops a relationship with each of them, the reader really gets a feel for what life was like on Guernsey before, during and after the German occupation.

One of my favorite quotes:

“That’s what I love about reading: one tiny thing will interest you in a book, and that tiny thing will lead you to another book, and another bit there will lead you onto a third book. It’s geometrically progressive – all with no end in sight, and for no other reason than sheer enjoyment.”


The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

From Goodreads:

Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten.

My thoughts:

Once again, the book’s summary does not do it justice. I read this book in a day because there was just no way I was putting it down. The words are beautiful, the characters equally so and yes, you will most likely find yourself sobbing at various points throughout. At the same time, you may also find yourself laughing hysterically at some of the witty remarks and commentary from Hazel and Augustus. Their personalities come to life on the page, and there are a lot of memorable scenes that make me all the more excited for it to become a movie. I’ve watched the trailer at least a half dozen times, and it really does seem to do the book justice (at least so far).

One of my favorite quotes:

“You don’t get to choose if you get hurt in this world, old man, but you do have some say in who hurts you. I like my choices. I hope she likes hers.”


Other books I read in January:

Although I enjoyed The Last Camellia, it wasn’t my favorite from Sarah Jio. I loved Blackberry Winter and Violets of March, but this one felt a bit more predictable for me. I’d definitely still recommend picking it up if you’ve read her books before, though – it has the same past/present style with a mysterious interlocking twist that’s found in her other novels.

Next up:

As I mentioned, I’m currently reading Cress by Marissa Meyer. I’ve been waiting for this book to come out ever since I finished Scarlet last spring, and was even more excited after meeting Marissa last fall. So far, so great!

What have you been reading lately?



1 Chelsea @ Designs on Dinner February 9, 2014 at 8:52 am

I loved The Guernsey Literary Potato Peel Society! I, too, recently read The Fault in Our Stars (in two days, I think), and I can’t wait for the movie to come out. I’ve been doing a lot of re-reading the last month: the Divergent series, the Anne of Green Gables series, and the Hunger Games series. Thanks for the new recommendations!
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2 Jenn (eating bender) February 19, 2014 at 1:58 pm

I go on re-reading kicks, too! I’m tempted to do that with the Divergent series, maybe after the movie comes out!

3 Melissa @Tryingtoheal February 9, 2014 at 10:08 am

I seriously need to get on it and finish reading that last book! I’m about 30 pages in and totally hooked, but have no time! I do love the witty banter though! So genuine!
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4 Jenn (eating bender) February 19, 2014 at 1:58 pm

Can’t wait to hear what you think!

5 Cara (Twinthusiast) February 9, 2014 at 10:26 am

Loved Guernsey. Hmmm…not sure if I’m up for the The Fault in Our Stars, but perhaps it’s worth a try. I’m just starting Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch now.
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6 Jenn (eating bender) February 19, 2014 at 1:59 pm

Definitely let me know what you think of The Goldfinch – I’ve heard good things about that one.

7 Kelli H (Made in Sonoma) February 9, 2014 at 9:44 pm

I’ve been wanting to read The Fault in Our Stars. Hopefully I can read it soon!
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8 Jenn (eating bender) February 19, 2014 at 1:59 pm

You will definitely have to let me know what you think!

9 Katie February 9, 2014 at 9:45 pm

You are a reading MONSTER!! I am at 8 books (soon to be 9), but *only* 2400 pages. I’m pretty far ahead of my goal, that’s for sure and well past this time last year. I’ve just had some great books lately and it isn’t slowing down at all. I have at least 3 at the library and aother 4-5 on my Kindle and that doesn’t even touch the SHELVES of books at my house.

I have to stop talking about them now; it’s stressing me out.

I loved Fault. LOVED. I can not wait for the movie. I bought it for my grandma for Christmas and she read it twice in 3 days. How awesome is that?!?

10 Jenn (eating bender) February 19, 2014 at 2:02 pm

Hahaha – it sounds like you’ve been equally monstrous on the reading front! Seriously, your pages goal is genius. I am way above the average amount of books or pages for this time of year, and I am loving it. Thank you so much for inspiring me to do it!

How cool that your grandma read Fault in Our Stars twice in three days! That is so awesome. We’ll definitely talk once we’ve both seen the movie. :)

11 elizabeth e February 10, 2014 at 4:04 pm

i loved guersney literary potato peel society, which was a rec from my grandmother! i’ve had the fault in my stars on my list forever, but i haven’t gotten to it simply because i don’t think it can have a “happy ending.” i’ll do it before the movie though. i just started goldfinch by donna tart, and its good so far. a beast of a book, though.
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12 Jenn (eating bender) February 19, 2014 at 2:04 pm

I’ve heard good things about The Goldfinch – you’ll have to let me know your thoughts once you’ve finished! Fault in Our Stars is definitely not a “happy ending,” per se, but it isn’t necessarily what you’d expect going into it. Let me know if you decide to read!

13 elizabeth e February 24, 2014 at 3:13 pm

I finally made it through the behemoth that was Goldfinch, and while I thought it was impeccably written and the story was compelling, I didn’t really like it. I know that’s weird to say. I wanted to know what happened — Donna Tartt is wonderful at that aspect — but I wasn’t anything but relieved when I finished.
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14 Monica February 10, 2014 at 9:12 pm

Just finished Eleanor and Park! I had to read a Goodreads review to figure out what the ending meant.. hehe. So many questions still! But I like the way she ended it. Very good recommendation. Can’t wait to start Fangirl next.

Also, Guernsey and Cress are next in line!! Let’s discuss all when you’re here :)
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15 Jenn (eating bender) February 19, 2014 at 2:05 pm

Can’t wait to discuss all of these with you – yay! I’m glad you liked Eleanor & Park!

16 Leucadia Chiropractor February 19, 2014 at 6:26 am

Awesome recommendations! Would love to read one! Do you know sites where I can download or read them online?

17 Jenn (eating bender) February 19, 2014 at 2:06 pm

I am not too familiar with downloading books to read on the computer, but know that if you have a Mac, you can do it through iTunes! You might be able to do that on a PC, too. Otherwise, I think Google books allow you to read some online, as well. :)

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