Book Reviews: January 2017

Music is a huge passion of mine, but anyone who knows me will tell you that I am also passionate about reading. I have decided to start a new monthly series of book reviews. I will talk about all of the books I have read during the previous month.

My yearly goal is 100 books. I exceeded this goal last year, so this year I have decided to change things up a bit. I have decided to read at least one non-fiction book each month. I am notorious for being a huge fiction fan, but I don't tend to gravitate towards non-fiction titles. Broadening my horizons seemed like a great plan for 2017. 

So sit back, relax, and get ready to hear my opinions on all of the books I finished this January. Each of my reviews will include a brief summary, a rating on a 5 star scale, and my personal thoughts on the book. Here are my book reviews for the books I read in January 2017.

1. The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey

I am in a book club through my local Barnes & Noble, and this book was actually the pick for December 2016. I, however, was a bit of a procrastinator and didn't finish it until the 2nd of January. This tends to be a trend for me :-/

The Snow Child Summary: In Alaska, 1920, Jack and Mabel decide on a change of scenery and lifestyle after a life of hardship. They seem to be drifting apart, until they make a snow-child together the night of a blizzard, only to find the next morning that the snow-child is gone. They do, however, begin to catch glimpses of a little girl, who calls herself Faina, who looks remarkably like the snow-child they created. The more they allow Faina into their lives, the more magical things seem to become. This novel has many elements of a Russian fairy tale, but it has some grit to it that gives it some depth. 

My Rating: 4 Stars

I enjoyed The Snow Child, but it took me a while to become really invested in it. Once the story got rolling, I became caught up in it. The character growth is quite beautiful, especially in the character of Mabel, who became one of my favorites. I will admit, the ending left a little to be desired for me, but I still feel that it was extremely well written and is definitely worth a read. 

2. Buffering: Unshared Tales of a Life Fully Loaded by Hannah Hart

Buffering Summary: Hannah Hart, best known for her hilarious YouTube series, My Drunk Kitchen, is well-known for her optimistic point-of-view and cheerful demeanor. This collection of essays taken from her journal entries over the years, shows the story of a girl who grew up facing all sorts of adversity. It explores the themes of poverty, mental illness, coming out of the closet, friendship, drive, love and loss. Through all of this, Hannah shows you how you too can live a life of 'reckless optimism'. 

My Rating: 5 Stars

Hannah has long been one of my favorite YouTube stars. I watch her videos to get a good laugh, but also to hear her views on living life to the fullest and looking for the good in everything and everyone. Seeing how much she had to overcome to get to this point only made me love and respect her all the more. If you are looking for an uplifting, inspiring young woman's story, this is the book for you. 

3. A Terrible Beauty by Tasha Alexander

A Terrible Beauty Summary: This is the 11th book in the Lady Emily mystery series. Set in Victorian England, Lady Emily and her husband, Colin, solve mysteries for the crown. Lady Emily is a collector of antiquities and an historian, with a special interest in ancient Greece. This installment of the series follows Lady Emily, her husband Colin, and assorted friends to her villa in Greece, where they get the surprise of their lives. An unexpected house guest shows up - Lady Emily's first husband, who died a decade earlier...

My Rating: 4 Stars

I have always been a huge fan of historical fiction. Mysteries were never my cup of tea (much to my mother and grandmother's confusion, as they adore them), but this series has been a long-time favorite of mine. You get the drama of a good mystery while also learning about history. Lady Emily is also an extremely strong and independent woman, which is unusual for a woman of this time period, and I absolutely adore her.

This installment of the series was good, but not my absolute favorite. I highly recommend starting this series from the beginning if you love historical fiction, strong female leads and a good mystery. 

4. When Stars Collide by Micalea Smeltzer

When Stars Collide Summary: Thea has always been in love with her brother's best friend, Xander. Xander has always been in love with Thea, but too afraid of losing his friendship with her brother to pursue it. When the two wake up in a hotel room in Vegas to discover that they got married the night before, it causes a bit of a stir. Thea immediately asks for a divorce, but Xander convinces her to wait until the end of the summer before she makes a decision so that he can try to convince her that they belong together. The two try to navigate their feelings for one another, all while dealing with plenty of family drama along the way. 

My Rating: 3 Stars

I will admit, I have a weakness for a good romance. This was such a sweet read, with a bit of a twist from the usual 'I'm in love with my brother's best friend' trope. Some emotional baggage and parental abuse gives this book a bit more depth than your typical romance novel. Although it didn't completely blow me away, it was a good read.

5. Talking As Fast As I Can: From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls, and Everything In Between by Lauren Graham 

Talking As Fast As I Can Summary: Lauren Graham, best known for her role as Lorelai Gilmore on Gilmore Girls, tells the story of her life in her quintessential Lauren Graham way. From hearing about her childhood on a house boat with her father, to working odd jobs in New York trying to become an actress, to making the big time with Gilmore Girls and then Parenthood, Graham tells the story of her life with humor and pizzazz. 

My Rating: 5 Stars

I have been a huge Gilmore Girls fan for years, and a Parenthood fan as well, so I was extremely excited when this book came out. I was not disappointed. I was so happy to see that Lauren Graham has just as amazing of a sense of humor as her beloved Gilmore Girls character. I learned many things about her that I was not expecting, and got to hear some tear-inducing behind-the-scenes scoop about the making of both Gilmore Girls and Gilmore Girls: A Year In the Life. If you are a Gilmore Girls, Parenthood, or just general Lauren Graham fan, you will love this fun and quirky bio!

6. The Bob's Burgers Burger Book: Real Recipes for Joke Burgers by Loren Bouchard and Cole Bowden

The Bob's Burgers Burger Book Summary: Based upon the animated show, Bob's Burgers, this cookbook is comprised of recipes from the fan-created and heavily followed blog, 'The Bob's Burger Experiment.' Each of the joke burgers is based off of a burger of the day from each episode of the show, but they are also completely edible and delicious. Funny commentary riddles each recipe, making this cookbook unique and a joy to read. 

My Rating: 3 Stars

My husband got me hooked on Bob's Burgers, so when I saw that they came out with a cookbook, I knew I had to buy it. While many of the burgers are definitely never going to be made in my kitchen (I'm a very picky eater), the cookbook itself is hilarious. For more adventurous eaters, you could make every recipe in this book and be satisfied. It is totally worth a look if you are a fan of the show, or of making out-of-the-ordinary burgers. 

7. The Bookshop On The Corner by Jenny Colgan

The Bookshop On The Corner Summary: Nina is a librarian in Birmingham, England who is about to have her world turned upside down. Due to budget cuts and a change in direction, Nina loses her job. She doesn't know what to do with her life, until she buys a van and moves to Scotland to open a mobile bookshop. She loves pairing the perfect book with each of her customers, but has much less luck trying to pair off herself. This novel is about finding yourself in real life, rather than in the pages of a book. 

My Rating: 5 Stars

I loved this book. It is a book about books and the people who love books, so it was basically a book about me. You can't help but love Nina, and it made me want to pick up all of the books she recommends to her customers. This is a light, easy read that has just the right amount of romance, and a really great, feel-good message. 

8. Hunted by Bex-chan

Hunted Summary: In this Harry Potter fan-fiction, Draco and Hermione, four years post-Hogwarts, have to work together to solve the mysterious deaths of several of their old classmates. Working through their differences is quite difficult, but then the tension in the office heats up for an entirely different reason...

My Rating: 5 Stars

I discovered the 'Dramione' fan-fiction movement on accident, but now I cannot get enough. Bex-chan is a really great writer, and fully imagines alternate storylines within the parameters of Rowling's original universe. While I actually like Bex-chan's other 'Dramione' fan-fiction, Isolation, better than this one, Hunted was still very well done. I was captivated from the very beginning, and was attempting to solve the mystery right along with Draco and Hermione. If you enjoy well done fan-fiction, this is a great one to try on for size. 

9. Just A Kiss In The Moonlight by Cindy Roland Anderson 

Just A Kiss In The Moonlight Summary: Taylin loves her work as a labor & delivery nurse in a small town in Georgia, but feels the need for more. She has a boyfriend she doesn't really love, and feels like she needs a change. Luke is new to the hospital, and he and Taylin try to deny the sparks flying between them without much success. Just when Taylin and Luke decide to give it a try, a surprise from Luke's past threatens to derail everything. 

My Rating: 4 Stars

This is a cute, clean romance with a hint of Christian ideology tossed in. The back and forth between Taylin and Luke is pretty traditional for a romance, but they seem to get in their own way a little too much for my liking. I really enjoyed the story, as well as the plot twist that comes about mid-way through the book. However, the misunderstanding between the two romantic leads seems a bit willful, which bothered me a bit. Overall, a cute story with a happy ending to satisfy your chick-lit needs. 

 

That's all of the books I read and finished in January! Anything catch your fancy? Do you have different opinions about any of these titles? What recommendations do you have for me? Let me know in the comments! 

Also, if you want to see more of the books I'm currently reading, have read in the past, or want to read in the future, follow me on Goodreads!

With love,

Whitney 

Book Review: HIStory in 30 Days by Carole O. Schryber

On top of my love for all things musical, I am also a lover of God and literature. I have been contemplating adding a new blog series of book reviews for all of you to enjoy, both brides and not. So, when my friend Natalie asked me to write a book review on this great devotional, I figured this was a great book to start off with. 

The Book

HIStory in 30 Days: Genesis to Revelation with Daily Devotionals by Carole O. Schryber

You can purchase the book here

It is set up in a daily format. Here is the general layout of the devotional:

HIStory continues… (This is the devotional text)

Devotional: Where Are We in HIStory? (A daily verse and its application)

Today I Pray (A daily prayer)

A quote from the author: “The Bible isn’t a random collection of unrelated books. Rather, it tells one story from beginning to end. There is one plot throughout. Many of us are so accustomed to moving around in the Bible that the fact it’s one linear story, threaded throughout, can get lost.” - Carole O. Schryber

Every book, from Genesis to Revelation, is mentioned. The story is seamless. It is the story of God, and His love for us, which resulted in His plan from the beginning of time, to send Jesus to die for our sins. 

My Thoughts

It took me a bit longer than 30 days to complete the study, but that is alright. It is not important how long it took, but that I finished it, and did it chronologically. Reading from the beginning to the end helps to lay out how God had plans for us from the very beginning, and He never wavered in that plan. 

There were mornings where I didn’t want to sit down and do this study. There were so many things that would call to me, like a siren song, trying to convince me to step away. Don’t you want to wash these dishes, Whitney? - Shouldn’t you check your email again…just in case? - Maybe there is something new on Pinterest you should look at? My brain came up with myriad excuses to put it off. But, I soldiered on, and I am glad I did.

This study came during an emergence from a spiritual dry spell for me. It was a really great way to get me back in the Word every day. I thrive on routine, and having a study that only took 10 minutes of my morning was perfect for my checklist-oriented personality. 

As a result of this study, which gave great snapshot views into every book of the Bible, I am now motivated to dig into the word more and more. I am also itching to read some of the books I might not have been drawn to in the past. Because the Bible is one story, His story, and it deserves to be savored. 

The Verdict

Read it!!

I 100% recommend this book for anyone who is wanting to learn more about God, Jesus, and Christianity in general. I also recommend this devotional for my fellow brothers and sisters who feel like they have been drifting and are looking for a life raft to pull them back in the right direction. 

I hope you like the book review idea! What books have inspired you? 

With love, 

Whitney