Tuesday, January 30, 2024

the books I read in January (2024)

 


Happy Tuesday, friends! It was a good month of reading for me; January usually is, though. I feel like I always get the year off to a strong start. That was the case this month! Just a reminder: each picture contains a link to the book being talked about, so when you click on it, you'll be taken straight to Amazon. Happy reading!


First up was this book by a new-to-me author. 




The tag-line for this book asks the following question: How would you live your life if you knew the date you would die? That is the case for Olivia Strauss, when she finds out that date at an eccentric wellness clinic that her best friend takes her to on her birthday. Olivia was already feeling a little down-in-the-dumps regarding her age because of her well-meaning neighbors that she gets together with each month, but after meeting with the doctor at this clinic, she is questioning everything. For the next few months after her birthday, Olivia spends a lot of time thinking and reflecting on her life, and making some much needed changes. 


I loved the reminder that we should really cherish each day that we're given. I always jokingly say things like, "Life is too short to read a book that I don't love", or "Life is too short to drink mediocre coffee that doesn't taste like I want it to", but really...I'm not joking when I say things like that. This book made me think of those statements and more about things I'm doing just because, and not for any other good reason. I also always appreciate the reminder to cherish the relationships we have in our lives. I truly believe this and try to live life that way! My family and friends are some of God's greatest blessings to me! 


That being said, this was not a Christian book, and there were a few words that I had to skim past, but other than that it was a pretty clean read. I also see spiritual pictures in things that I am watching, listening to, or reading, so that's why I felt the way I did about the themes in this book. Also, and not to keep dwelling on this, but anytime I experience the death of a loved one, I become contemplative. At the time I read this book, I'd experienced two of those in the previous nine months. 


Next up was another book by a new-to-me author.




Quincy-the-Quitter has been teased by her family members one too many times. She can't help the fact that she was born into an extremely competitive family, and that she wasn't made the same way. As she opens her Christmas gifts and she hears her family share about their annual Christmas Commitments (goals they strive for all year long), and a new competition for a coveted position within the family business, she accepts their challenge of being considered for it if she'll go back and complete the last ten years' worth of failed attempts at trying new things over the course of a year. At the top of that list was moving to NYC for three months, and living with her best friend from childhood, Brynne. As she embarks on something new and exciting, it turns into something so much more than just a silly childhood competition. 


I never want to give away too much description about a book, because I want you to decide for yourself whether or not you want to read something. I had a lot of thoughts about this book! First, I loved it and the fact that it was set in the new year. I feel like it's rare to read a book during that time frame, but you know how much I love a seasonal book! Secondly, there were so many great things/sayings in this book that I highlighted. I love how the main character transformed throughout the book and how kindness was at the center of the story. Even if this book was bit "Hallmark-y", it also felt deeper than that, which I loved. It was very clean and predictable, which I never mind, and there were scenes in the book when I laughed out lout. I also loved that there were two very endearing pets in the story that were very loveable. You should check this out for yourself! If you're a Kindle Unlimited person, you can read it there right now for free. 


Next up was an advanced copy of a book that will be released this summer, by one of my favorite authors of all time. Reading one of Pamela's books feels like coming home to a cozy and welcoming environment after a long, stressful day. I love how the theme in her books always have to do with family, friendship, and food. 




This is a book about two sisters, Hannah and Sarah. After Hannah is hospitalized because of a medical issue, when her sister invites her to come home to Chatham, Massachusetts for the summer, it's impossible for her to resist. Her only holdup is that she's afraid that the absence of their mom will make her even more sad than she already is. For that reason, she decides not to go to her belated mom's house, but to stay the summer with her aunt Maggie. As a writer, Hannah is feeling pressured to finish her book by the deadline she has agreed to; she's hoping that this retreat in Chatham will inspire her once again. Sara has her own problems with her chaotic life; she loves her husband and their four kids, but she is feeling trapped at the same time and in need of a personal change in her life. She decides to go back to work part-time, but things seem to crash in around her just as she makes that decision and is hired at the local bookstore. Their aunt has her own life troubles to deal with, so the summer together will do all of them some good. 


I loved reading about the family dynamics in this book, and as always, Pamela writes in such a way that I can see and imagine the setting that she so wonderfully depicts. All of her books feel comforting to me, and this charming book did not disappoint. 


Next up was another book by another new (to me) author.




This is a nostalgic tale of two families who own two different restaurants: the decades-old Lakeside Supper Club, and Jorby's, the chain family style diner that is well known in the Midwest. This is a story about a couple who has inherited two different restaurants; one is bleeding money by the day, and the other is run by someone who has little to no business sense. When tragedy strikes their family, all of their dreams are dashed. Can one family find a way to rebuild despite their losses? Will the Lakeside Supper Club be their salvation? Here's what Good Reads said about this book: "In this colorful, vanishing world of relish trays and brandy Old Fashioneds, J. Ryan Stradal has once again given us a story full of his signature honest, lovable yet fallible Midwestern characters as they grapple with love, loss, and marriage; what we hold onto and what we leave behind, and what our legacy will be when we are gone."


Next up was yet another author whose books I have never read. I read this one with Shay's book club that she is hosting on her blog the 22nd of every month in 2024. 




Kate is dealt a hand that no young wife and mom should ever be given: she is widowed at far too young of an age. Two years after the death of her young husband, she is grieving, parenting alone, working like crazy at a job that she loves, and she is constantly dropping the ball; somehow she does all of this while clinging to her sense of humor. With a best friend who is obsessed at finding her someone to love again and an upcoming work trip, the tone is set when she has a near panic attack next to her boss while they're on their way to a work thing. When they encounter a problem on the plane, stranding them on a beach in Australia for the weekend, she finally has the chance to grieve her late husband while she is away from their young son. Will she finally be able to let go of the love of her life and see what is right in front of her? When it becomes clear that (her boss and best friend) Hugh is hiding something, she turns to a trail of scribbled notes she once used to hold her life together.


I had #allthefeelings in this book. I laughed out loud; I cried; I cringed and I sighed in content. Somehow, the description that I mangled together myself and with the help of Good Reads does not do this book the justice that it deserves. This is one of those books that I will be thinking about long after I finished the final paragraph. I love this author, though, and I have plans to pre-order her next book that will release this year. This is the first adult fiction novel that she has written, and it was worth every penny that I spent to have it delivered to my Kindle. 


Lastly this month, I read The Book Club Hotel by Sarah Morgan.




This was a very sweet story about three friends who get away every year for a book club week long vacation. This year they all wondered why Erika chose the location she did; it was out of the normal city hotel that she normally picks. They all fell in love with the charming bed and breakfast the minute they pull up, and the innkeeper and her daughter help seal the deal. Hattie, the owner, almost immediately notices that Erika, Claudia, and Anna are checking into her inn with more than just what's in their suitcases. Each of the friends are going through something hard in their lives; Hattie is as well, and they end up forming a bond as new friends when they all come together to help her out as part of her inn's staff leaves her in a jam. 


Even though technically this book was a Christmas book, it wasn't overtly so, and just felt wintry. I loved reading about this inn and could "see" it in my mind as I read, and the library that they met for book club is the stuff my dreams are made of. On a personal note, I think one reason why I love books that have to do with the hospitality industry is because that used to be something Todd and I talked about doing when we first got married. We had young married dreams of maybe owning a bed and breakfast someday in our twilight years...I still dream of this in my heart, but I wonder if he still feels the same? This was after we stayed in our first ever bed and breakfast right after we got married, and were in Kennebunkport, Maine. 


How was your reading this month? Did you read anything you loved? I'd love to hear from you and am always looking for book recommendations, so if you have some for me, send them my way! Thanks for reading my blog today, friends. Love to all! 



12 comments:

  1. The only one I've read from this list is The Book Club Hotel which I thought was really cute. It sounds like you had a great month of reading!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Wow you read lots of good books this month! They all look great, and I’m going to see if my library has any of them.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Oh these sound like some awesome books- thanks for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
  4. I made a note of a couple of these and will see if my library carries them.
    www.chezmireillefashiontravelmom.com

    ReplyDelete
  5. I really like the sound of The Book Club Hotel. Thanks for the recomendation.

    ReplyDelete
  6. It felt that way, Joanne! I love it when that happens. I ended 2023 in a bit of a slump, so I was glad for this.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I did, Megan! I hope you can find one or two!

    ReplyDelete
  8. I always love knowing what others are reading, Holly, so I hope this inspires you!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Mireille, thanks for stopping by! I love your name, by the way. I took four years of French in high school and fell in love with the language and culture way back then. I'd love to visit there someday! I hope you can find a book or two out of these this month.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Pamela, I hope you can find it and that you love it as much as I did. Just a heads up, though; I've heard all of her books are so good, so if you can't find this one, maybe try another?

    ReplyDelete
  11. Nice reviews! They all sound like enjoyable books.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Thank you, Pat! I'm glad you stopped by to read this post!

    ReplyDelete

Thank you for taking the time to comment on my blog!

Hello, Monday 6/24/2024

  Happy Monday, friends! I'm linking up with   Holly  and  Sarah  for today's post. I hope you had a good weekend! Mine was really n...