I had a great reading month in January! I wasn’t sure how it was going to go with everything we had going on, but I was able to finish a lot that I thought were going to work their way into February. I am doing well on my Goodread’s challenge, which helps since I am not sure what 2020 looks like for us. Here is what I read in January 2020!
Blue Birds by Caroline Starr Rose – It’s 1587 and twelve-year-old Alis has made the long journey with her parents from England to help settle the New World, the land christened Virginia in honor of the Queen. And Alis couldn’t be happier. While the streets of London were crowded and dirty, this new land, with its trees and birds and sky, calls to Alis. Here she feels free. But the land, the island Roanoke, is also inhabited by the Roanoke tribe and tensions between them and the English are running high, soon turning deadly.
Amid the strife, Alis meets and befriends Kimi, a Roanoke girl about her age. Though the two don’t even speak the same language, these girls form a special bond as close as sisters, willing to risk everything for the other. Finally, Alis must make an impossible choice when her family resolves to leave the island and bloodshed behind.
A beautiful, tender story of friendship and the meaning of family, Caroline Starr Rose delivers another historical gem.
Quick thought: I thought this was told really well! I liked the characters and enjoyed the story line!
Revolution is Not a Dinner Party by Ying Chang Compestine – Nine-year-old Ling has a very happy life. Her parents are both dedicated surgeons at the best hospital in Wuhan, and her father teaches her English as they listen to Voice of America every evening on the radio. But when one of Mao’s political officers moves into a room in their apartment, Ling begins to witness the gradual disintegration of her world. In an atmosphere of increasing mistrust and hatred, Ling fears for the safety of her neighbors, and soon, for herself and her family. For the next four years, Ling will suffer more horrors than many people face in a lifetime. Will she be able to grow and blossom under the oppressive rule of Chairman Mao? Or will fighting to survive destroy her spirit–and end her life?
Quick thought: This was a short read, but I enjoyed how it was done. The characters were developed nicely.
Periodic Tales by Hugh Aldersey-Williams – In the spirit of A Short History of Nearly Everything comes Periodic Tales. Award-winning science writer Hugh Andersey-Williams offers readers a captivating look at the elements—and the amazing, little-known stories behind their discoveries. Periodic Tales is an energetic and wide-ranging book of innovations and innovators, of superstition and science and the myriad ways the chemical elements are woven into our culture, history, and language. It will delight readers of Genome, Einstein’s Dreams, Longitude, and The Age of Wonder.
Quick thought:I enjoyed this more than I thought I would. I normally don’t get into science type books, but this one was pretty informative!
Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao – Eighteen-year-old Xifeng is beautiful. The stars say she is destined for greatness, that she is meant to be Empress of Feng Lu. But only if she embraces the darkness within her. Growing up as a peasant in a forgotten village on the edge of the map, Xifeng longs to fulfill the destiny promised to her by her cruel aunt, the witch Guma, who has read the cards and seen glimmers of Xifeng’s majestic future. But is the price of the throne too high?
Because in order to achieve greatness, she must spurn the young man who loves her and exploit the callous magic that runs through her veins–sorcery fueled by eating the hearts of the recently killed. For the god who has sent her on this journey will not be satisfied until his power is absolute.
Quick thought: This started out with such promise… And then it got a little weird..and then the ending was just a little meh for me. I finished it though, and I am glad that I did.
Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid – Alix Chamberlain is a woman who gets what she wants and has made a living showing other women how to do the same. A mother to two small girls, she started out as a blogger and has quickly built herself into a confidence-driven brand. So she is shocked when her babysitter, Emira Tucker, is confronted while watching the Chamberlains’ toddler one night. Seeing a young black woman out late with a white child, a security guard at their local high-end supermarket accuses Emira of kidnapping two-year-old Briar. A small crowd gathers, a bystander films everything, and Emira is furious and humiliated. Alix resolves to make it right.
But Emira herself is aimless, broke, and wary of Alix’s desire to help. At twenty-five, she is about to lose her health insurance and has no idea what to do with her life. When the video of Emira unearths someone from Alix’s past, both women find themselves on a crash course that will upend everything they think they know about themselves, and each other.
With empathy and piercing social commentary, Such a Fun Age explores the stickiness of transactional relationships, what it means to make someone “family,” the complicated reality of being a grown up, and the consequences of doing the right thing for the wrong reason.
Quick thought: I really got into this book for a while…and then it just petered out for me. I finished it, but it really was just a meh book.
Good Omens by Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman – People have been predicting the end of the world almost from its very beginning, so it’s only natural to be sceptical when a new date is set for Judgement Day. But what if, for once, the predictions are right, and the apocalypse really is due to arrive next Saturday, just after tea?
You could spend the time left drowning your sorrows, giving away all your possessions in preparation for the rapture, or laughing it off as (hopefully) just another hoax. Or you could just try to do something about it.
It’s a predicament that Aziraphale, a somewhat fussy angel, and Crowley, a fast-living demon now finds themselves in. They’ve been living amongst Earth’s mortals since The Beginning and, truth be told, have grown rather fond of the lifestyle and, in all honesty, are not actually looking forward to the coming Apocalypse.
And then there’s the small matter that someone appears to have misplaced the Antichrist…
Quick thought: I didn’t know what to think about this book before I started reading it. But it got funnier as it went and I enjoyed it! I am kind of curious about the tv series, I remember seeing something about it a while back but never watched it…
The Cartoon History of the Modern World Part 2 by Larry Gonick – “From the Bastille to Baghdad,” The Cartoon History of the World Part 2 is the conclusion (for the moment) of Larry Gonick’s award-winning and bestselling annals of humankind presented in graphic novel form. Picking up after the American Revolution, where Part 1 left off, Part 2 opens with the Enlightenment and rolls across Napoleon, the fall of the Ottoman Empire, World War I and II, and all the way to our recent imbroglios in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Cartoon History of the Modern World Part 2 is a monumental, one might say “historic” achievement, at once edifying, irreverent, and wildly entertaining. Terry Jones of Monty Python said of the first volume of this series, “Obviously one of the great books of all time.” And modern civilization’s most recent act is no less enthralling.
Quick thought: This is a good read to refresh things from history that you thought you remembered but may not have… I like the cartoon format, some of them are pretty funny… But it is a pretty easy read, and informative!
Word By Word by Kory Stamper – With wit and irreverence, lexicographer Kory Stamper cracks open the obsessive world of dictionary writing, from the agonizing decisions about what to define and how to do it to the knotty questions of ever-changing word usage.
Filled with fun facts–for example, the first documented usage of “OMG” was in a letter to Winston Churchill–and Stamper’s own stories from the linguistic front lines (including how she became America’s foremost “irregardless” apologist, despite loathing the word), Word by Word is an endlessly entertaining look at the wonderful complexities and eccentricities of the English language.
Quick thought: I found a lot of this book fascinating, but it did seem a bit repetitive and uninteresting in places. I guess if you were totally interested in words and such it would be a wonderful read. I did enjoy some of the things I learned though!
Kindred by Octavia E. Butler – The first science fiction written by a black woman, Kindred has become a cornerstone of black American literature. This combination of slave memoir, fantasy, and historical fiction is a novel of rich literary complexity. Having just celebrated her 26th birthday in 1976 California, Dana, an African-American woman, is suddenly and inexplicably wrenched through time into antebellum Maryland. After saving a drowning white boy there, she finds herself staring into the barrel of a shotgun and is transported back to the present just in time to save her life. During numerous such time-defying episodes with the same young man, she realizes the challenge she’s been given…
Quick thought: I enjoyed this book! At times I wondered where it was going to go… I found out at the end, quite suddenly. I do wish the ending was a bit longer. I did like the main character!
That is what I read in January 2020! I did get a large delivery of books lately, so I will have to go through them to see what is good to read next!