Monday, 1 February 2021

Reading Wrap Up | January


I started the year with a fresh new book, picking up The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes. I had been wanting to read this book for some time and set it aside a good couple of months prior in order to start the new year with what I thought would be the perfect 'first book of the year' for me... Although I did start the year with it, reading the first 50 pages, it didn't end being my first book of the year completed.

On January 2nd (a Saturday) I received my preorder (placed in October I believe) for The Ghost Garden by Emma Carroll, earlier than its 7th January release date; I then finished this short children's book over the course of the day. Much like all of Emma Carroll's books, The Ghost Garden is a historical fiction story, this time set against the backdrop of WWI impending, with family & friendship at the heart.

After The Ghost Garden - accidently - ended up being my first finished book of the year, I thought I would hop back on into The Giver of Stars... But after a week of barely picking up the book, I decided it wasn't my time with this story yet. I'm interested in the characters, the historical backdrop, and the library, however I just wasn't feeling invested enough. Not DNF'ing, but setting aside The Giver of Stars for the right time. 

Feeling like something a little lighter, something I could fall deeply in to, but hopeful for some depth to the plot still, I moved on to Happiness for Beginners by Katherine Center; this book proved to be exactly what I was looking for and I flew through it in three days. 

In Happiness for Beginners we follow main character Helen, a newly divorced women who is about to head on a three week wilderness course hiking through the mountains of Wyoming. I didn't initially feel a pull to Helen, in fact she annoyed me a little bit truth be told, but over the course of the book I really did come to like her character - flaws and all. For Helen, the wilderness course is suppose to be her thing, a way to pull herself back together after a messy divorce, strengthen her as a person... So of course she doesn't expect to find love on this course, much less with the unlikely character of her younger brother's best friend! Watching the relationship between Helen and Jake unfold was full of emotions (many frustrating ones even) but wonderful at the same time. 

Katherine Center has a way with words and paces the story perfectly; Happiness for Beginners is a great book to get lost in.

Following on from this I spent the last half of the month with the Ingalls family, reading book three & four in the Little House on the Prairie series (note: my series does not include Farmer Boy, so if yours does, these titles may seem off to you). 

First up was On the Banks of Plum Creek, which for me, has to have been one of the most emotional books in the series so far. Between the grasshopper infestation and the blizzard, there was a lot to take in this book, but one thing you can sure admire in the Ingalls is their strength!

Despite the hardship and devastation in book three, I didn't want to leave Laura Ingalls Wilder's writing just yet and so moved on to book four: By the Shores of Silver Lake.

Well there was much change between book 3 & 4, with a good few years passing - Mary has now sadly lost her eyesight, there is a new child in the mix (Grace), and all the girls are clearly older. This threw me off a little at first, but I soon fell back in to the rhythm of Laura's story telling. Much like previous books, it is all change, with Pa off to work on the railroads now. This element of the story made for interesting reading, seeing how life is shifting and changing. The family have now found their forever homestead it seems, in DeSmet, and I look forward to seeing how this evolves for them over the next three books.

I didn't read The Little House on the Prairie series as a child, but am thoroughly enjoying them as an adult. 

Laura Ingalls Wilder has captured so many important parts of history within the pages of this series, and whilst the books are fictional in part, they are a great foundation to build off learning about this time in history. I would go so far as to say these are some of favourite historical fiction novels due to the detail of the time and the true beauty of Laura Ingalls Wilder's writing - she describes feelings so well and also paints a picture with her words.

With four books finished, this is where I find myself at the end of January.

I did make a start on three other books throughout the month of January, however I will be sharing separately about my 'In Progress' books in the next couple of days.

BOOKS MENTIONED

Happy reading in February!
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6 comments

  1. Jade, isn't it funny how sometimes timing is everything about when it comes to books? I loved Giver of Stars and it made my top 10 list last year (audio version). I had a DNF in January which everyone else seemed to love but, the storyline just wasn't for me.

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    1. Diane, your praise of The Giver of Stars is one of the reasons I had pinned some hopes on wholly loving it... I do definitely feel like it was the time for me though, not the book. Well, I guess we'll see if that's true when I next pick it!

      Happy reading in February!

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  2. I remember a teacher reading one of the Little House books to us when I was a kid. I loved it and always meant to finish the series, but that hasn’t happened yet.

    Aj @ Read All The Things!

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    1. There are just so many great books to encounter, it is hard to make time for them all... I think series are even harder!

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  3. I read a few of the Ingalls books as a kid, and always loved the nostalgic covers, but it's been so long! I'm interested now in revisiting them (and I wish I still had those early versions).

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    1. I feel like I'm time travelling with The Little House on the Prairie books; so transportive. I'd love to hear your thoughts if you did revisit them.

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