A few favorite reads from the month of January. As always I read a few stinkers, too!
This year began with a fabulous book that I really enjoyed and then, of course, I ran into a few that were just bad.
I even abandoned a book on page 1! Yes, the very first page. Actually, it was the very first sentence that made me cringe. Too many books, too little time for the ones that just do not work.
Have you read any of my favorites? What can you recommend that I read next?
How do I rate books?
Great question! I think 4 stars is a good score. Four-star books are the ones that kept my attention but lacked something. However, I think I can recommend 4-star books. Five-star books are perfection. These are the books I remember and would read again.
Here’s my total scoring system, in case you are wondering.
My rating system: 5 stars- perfection, the book was written well, held my attention, and I did not want it to end. 4 stars- the book was really good, but I had questions or concerns about parts of it. This might include the way it ended. 3 stars- the book was okay, but I just didn’t like it much. 2 stars- I skimmed most of it. 1 star- I could not finish it.
Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus
Elizabeth Zott is not your average woman.
She is, in fact, a chemist, and has always wanted to be.
Unfortunately, it’s the early 1960s and no one will take a woman seriously.
Except for Calvin Evans. He unexpectedly falls in love with Elizabeth due to her mind.
In the meantime, Elizabeth cannot control her use of chemistry in all ways. And then she finds herself expecting a baby and jobless.
She becomes the most unlikely star of a home cooking show stars called Supper at Six. Women love her show and so do the producers. That is until Elizabeth begins to use her platform to teach women to stand up for themselves.
The book is hilarious although maddening in the way women are treated. I listened to this book and the narrator was the perfect Elizabeth. The book does begin slowly, but it is one I am glad I stuck with! 4 stars for this one!
Tracy Flick Can’t Win by Tom Perrotta
After reading (or slogging) through a couple of yucky books I picked this one because it promised to make me laugh.
Tracy is an assistant principal at a New Jersey high school.
When she finds out the current principal is leaving, she just knows the job will finally be hers.
Tracy, in her younger years, had aspirations of being a lawyer, but life’s circumstances prevented that. She seems to have “settled” on being a school administrator, and still has more to do. Tracy is hindered in this by other people being recommended for the job.
Tracy has followed rules all her life and now must try to win over the PTA and School Board to become the principal.
One of the board members is Kyle who wants to improve the school’s image. He thinks establishing a Hall of Fame would make the school look better. Tracy agrees with the idea and she is on the selection committee for the Hall of Fame. However, her ideas of what makes a good Hall of Famer are different than Kyle’s.
The possible recipients of the Hall of Fame award include a football hero, a current school secretary, and the current student body president.
Tracy must come to grips with her past and the choices she made. The book is told from many perspectives- two students from the school, the retiring principal, and the football player.
It was light-hearted reading with a lot of social issues thrown into the mix. The book did have its funny moments, but it is about so much more than Tracy Flick. I give it 4 stars.
True Biz by Sara Novic
This book got my attention and I learned so much!
True Biz will teach you so much about the deaf community and its struggles. It is a beautiful, yet sad story showing how deaf adolescents struggle with mainstream education.
The book tells the story of a teenage girl coping in a hearing world while being deaf. The bonus is what you will learn about the history of American Sign Language and the deaf culture.
Charlie, a 15-year-old girl has a faulty cochlear implant that didn’t work for her. Charlie is placed in an inclusive classroom and taught to read lips. She does not do well in high school and wants to go to a deaf school.
A lot of the book is about Charlie’s transition into the deaf school. She does not know ASL. The headmistress of the deaf school is named February and she is a child of deaf adults. So, she can hear and is fluent in ASL. The chapters alternate between Charlie’s and February’s experiences.
This story of the world of the deaf, cochlear implants, and learning language was heart-wrenching at times and yet was uplifting. This is a must-read! 5 stars
Mad Honey by Jodi Picoult
Asher, age 18, is the son of Olivia who is a beekeeper. Olivia divorced after a very abusive marriage to a doctor. She has been a single parent to Asher for years.
Lily, a senior in high school moves to the same town as Asher, with her mom Ava.
Of course, Asher and Lily meet and fall in love. It seems idyllic…
And then Olivia gets the phone call that Lily is dead. Asher is questioned by the police. He, naturally, denies involvement and swears he would never hurt Lily. Can he be believed?
Everyone has a secret in this story – all for different reasons. And about midway into the book you will read it and, if you are like me, you will want to start over from the beginning and see what clues you could have possibly missed.
Mad Honey is heartbreaking, emotional, and thought-provoking. You may turn that last page having learned so much. I did! 5 stars!
These were my favorite books of the month! Click on the images to add these to your wishlists.
I also read these books this month:
- Vacationland by Meg Mitchell Moore 4 stars
- When We Were Bright and Beautiful by Jillian Medoff 3.5 stars
- Five Winters by KItty Johnson (Chick-lit 4 stars)
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