What I Read: January 2021

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It’s no secret that I’m an avid reader. If you follow me on social media (like Facebook or Instagram) you know that I’m constantly posting about reading – whether it’s how to find time to read more or offering gift ideas for the book lovers in your life.

Because of this, and the fact that I’m a writer, I’m often asked for book suggestions when someone is looking for their next great read. Since I’m always happy to share what I’ve been consuming, I decided to make that a regular post here on my blog. At the end of each month I’ll share what books I dove into and include the basic information so you can snatch it up and a few thoughts about the book itself.

NOTE: Clearly this post is late, but I promise to update my blog at the end of each month moving forward!

Before we get too far, though, I want to make this admission: I am not a book reviewer. While I believe strongly in book reviews and use them to help me determine if I’ll like a book or not, that is not my goal. There are so many other great bloggers who focus their time and energy on book reviews that I couldn’t even begin to compete with them (one of my favorites is Reading Is My Superpower).

So I’m not.

My goal by sharing my book log is to simply spread the word about books you may have never heard of or knew existed. There are so many out there it’s hard to keep up! I just want to offer a space where you can easily find a few titles to help you get through a cold, rainy weekend at home or a lazy day at the beach.

So without further ado, and thanks to my handy reading log, here are the 4 books I read in the month of January:

The Dutch House

Author: Ann Patchett

# of pages: 353

Book summary:

At the end of the Second World War, Cyril Conroy combines luck and a single canny investment to begin an enormous real estate empire, propelling his family from poverty to enormous wealth. His first order of business is to buy the Dutch House, a lavish estate in the suburbs outside of Philadelphia. Meant as a surprise for his wife, the house sets in motion the undoing of everyone he loves.

The story is told by Cyril’s son Danny, as he and his older sister, the brilliantly acerbic and self-assured Maeve, are exiled from the house where they grew up by their stepmother. The two wealthy siblings are thrown back into the poverty their parents had escaped from and find that all they have to count on is one another. It is this unshakeable bond between them that both saves their lives and thwarts their futures.

Set over the course of five decades, The Dutch House is a dark fairy tale about two smart people who cannot overcome their past. Despite every outward sign of success, Danny and Maeve are only truly comfortable when they’re together. Throughout their lives they return to the well-worn story of what they’ve lost with humor and rage. But when at last they’re forced to confront the people who left them behind, the relationship between an indulged brother and his ever-protective sister is finally tested.

My thoughts: Overall, I liked the themes of the book including family bonds, forgiveness, and obsession. I just didn’t feel there was much depth to the characters.

The Nightingale

Author: Kristen Hannah

# of pages: 440

Book summary:

With courage, grace, and powerful insight, bestselling author Kristin Hannah captures the epic panorama of World War II and illuminates an intimate part of history seldom seen: the women’s war. The Nightingale tells the stories of two sisters, separated by years and experience, by ideals, passion and circumstance, each embarking on her own dangerous path toward survival, love, and freedom in German-occupied, war-torn France―a heartbreakingly beautiful novel that celebrates the resilience of the human spirit and the durability of women. It is a novel for everyone, a novel for a lifetime.

My thoughts: I really liked this book and plan on reading more books by this author. My only issue was the ending – it seemed to wrap up too quickly and left me wondering about the plot and characters (as in she didn’t fill in the gaps).

Darling Rose Gold

Author: Stephanie Wrobel

# of pages: 319

Book summary:

For the first eighteen years of her life, Rose Gold Watts believed she was seriously ill. She was allergic to everything, used a wheelchair and practically lived at the hospital. Neighbors did all they could, holding fundraisers and offering shoulders to cry on, but no matter how many doctors, tests, or surgeries, no one could figure out what was wrong with Rose Gold.

Turns out her mom, Patty Watts, was just a really good liar.

After serving five years in prison, Patty gets out with nowhere to go and begs her daughter to take her in. The entire community is shocked when Rose Gold says yes.

Patty insists all she wants is to reconcile their differences. She says she’s forgiven Rose Gold for turning her in and testifying against her. But Rose Gold knows her mother. Patty Watts always settles a score.

Unfortunately for Patty, Rose Gold is no longer her weak little darling…

And she’s waited such a long time for her mother to come home.

My thoughts:  I liked this book but had issues with the plot (feasibility of Rose’s plan) and the lack of character growth. I would recommend it to others because it was such an interesting premise.

The All Girls Filling Station’s Last Reunion

Author: Fannie Flagg

# of pages: 386

Book summary:

Mrs. Sookie Poole of Point Clear, Alabama, has just married off the last of her daughters and is looking forward to relaxing and perhaps traveling with her husband, Earle. The only thing left to contend with is her mother, the formidable Lenore Simmons Krackenberry. Lenore may be a lot of fun for other people, but is, for the most part, an overbearing presence for her daughter. Then one day, quite by accident, Sookie discovers a secret about her mother’s past that knocks her for a loop and suddenly calls into question everything she ever thought she knew about herself, her family, and her future.

Sookie begins a search for answers that takes her to California, the Midwest, and back in time, to the 1940s, when an irrepressible woman named Fritzi takes on the job of running her family’s filling station. Soon truck drivers are changing their routes to fill up at the All-Girl Filling Station. Then, Fritzi sees an opportunity for an even more groundbreaking adventure. As Sookie learns about the adventures of the girls at the All-Girl Filling Station, she finds herself with new inspiration for her own life.

Fabulous, fun-filled, spanning decades and generations, and centered on a little-known aspect of America’s twentieth-century story, The All-Girl Filling Station’s Last Reunion is another irresistible novel by the remarkable Fannie Flagg.

My thoughts: This is a fun, easy read. I thought the modern day story was a bit slow, but found the historic storyline to be more interesting.

So there you have it…my reading list for the first month of the year. Do any of these titles interest you? I hope you found something you might want to pick up on Amazon, at your local bookstore or from your library soon. If you do, drop me a note and let me know your thoughts. I always love book discussions!

Happy reading,

3 thoughts on “What I Read: January 2021”

  1. My mom’s reading The Dutch House now, and last night mentioned that she can’t figure out why it was so popular and highly reviewed. I’m sure she’ll be comforted by the fact that you thought the characters lacked depth.

    I’m looking forward to your future posts, letting us know what you’ve been reading.

    1. Thanks for checking out the post, Julie! Please feel free to share what you’re reading, too! I’m always looking for more books to add to my TBR pile 🙂

      1. In January, I started the year with The Woman’s Hour (about the end of the fight for women’s suffrage in the US). Then I finished reading Ada Calhoun’s excellent Why We Can’t Sleep, which was brilliant and depressing, and moved on to Dr. Jill Biden’s warm and authentic Where the Light Gets In. (I don’t read much fiction, but I do have to speculative fiction novels on deck. I’ll tell you about those next month!)

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