Happy Monday, friends! After what seems like a very long break between book reviews, today is my JANUARY 2022 BOOK REVIEW!
Annnnnnnd…just like every January, it’s EXTRA-BIG!!
I always share my December Book Review with you guys mid-December which means, by the time I get around to this post here, I’m reviewing not only the books I read in January, but the last few I read in December too. This month, I have SIX BOOKS to review…
…and I’m a little freaked out because…I have no idea how the rest of the books I read this year are going to top THESE!!!
Did I read my favorite book of the year already?
I really and truly loved some of these so much that I cannot imagine finding books I love more.
I’ve never felt this passionate about a January batch of books.
Needless to say, settle in, open your Amazon app and get ready to jot down some great books to add to your list. I was consumed with all of these books starting with the very first book I read this year…
…Becoming Mrs. Lewis by Patti Callahan.
So, if I’m being super transparent, I cannot imagine this not being my favorite book of 2022.
I threw down the gauntlet already.
This novel is based on the life of Joy Davidman who would go on to, eventually, marry author C.S. Lewis.
I had this novel on my Kindle for a year (because my aunt and cousin raved about it), but it sounded so boring to me that I kept putting it off. Finally, I decided “well, you paid for it Shay, you might as well try to read it”, and I was suuuuuucked in more than any book I’ve ever been sucked into before. I could not put this down. I was staying up past midnight, I was waking up at 3:30 AM…I was reading this every single second I could. I. Was. In. This. Deep.
This book is written like a biography, and you’ll swear it is, but it’s written by a present-day author who spent time with Davidman’s son, researched letters and writings of both Davidman and Lewis and put this piece of literature together. This book is for everyone. If you’re a Christian, read it. If you’re Jewish, read it. If you’re atheist, read it. If you’re in a bad marriage, read it. If you feel like a woman not living the ‘right’ life, read it. If you’re American, read it. If you’re British, read it. If you feel unsatisfied and unfulfilled, read it. If you really just want an incredible book, READ IT.
I know, I know. A book about C.S. Lewis’ wife? Snooze fest. Except it wasn’t. It drew me in, grabbed my attention and held on to it tight until the very last page. I’m telling you, read it.
Speaking of which…
…Pack Up the Moon by Kristan Higgins.
So, I love Kristan Higgins books. They’re all light and happy…easy to read chick-lit. This one though…had some meat to it. A lot of meat. This book is about a woman who is dying and one chapter will be journal entries she wrote leading up to her death (except they go in reverse, the first entry you read is right before she dies and they work backwards) and then the next chapter will be her grieving husband’s story (starting with her death and moving forward). It’s just about them.
I sat here a minute trying to think of “the point” of this book, but honestly, I think the point is just life is hard sometimes, but it can still be beautiful if we look for it. I was reading this novel like a crazy woman too. I could not put it down. I was in deep with these fictitious characters and wanted to see it through to the end. As much as I love Higgins novels (and chick-lit in particular), this one was so original, so well-written and completely on a different level. I cried reading this book (yup). It’s hard. It’s good. Even though it’s fiction, this book made me think of Manda (who died at 35) and had so much left to say and always wanted to put it down on paper. This book doesn’t align with my theology and there are some parts in it that are maybe unrealistic…but I was able to look past it all because the story was so well-written and my heart was so attached to the characters. It’s cute, it’s thoughtful, it’s sad, but it’s also very sweet.
City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert
I mean…where do I begin?
Reading this book was like a rollercoaster for me.
I was up.
I was down.
I was about to quit.
I was sucked back in.
I have all the thoughts.
My first thought is that this felt very much like two books instead of one. There’s the first half about a young woman who moves to New York City to live and work with her aunt in her aunt’s theater house back in 1940. This is a coming of age story about a young girl from the ‘burbs who is introduced to the fast and often hard life of NYC. It’s very much rated-R and, in my opinion, often the content was even too much for me (and I pretty much will read anything), but then, the real “meat” of the story would come back, and I’d be sucked back in again. The author gives a lot of backstory to a larger story…life for women leading up to WWII.
So, you learn a lot about these young women and the hard lives they had and what they needed to do to survive back in 1940 (the story is fictional, but based on historical events), and then you see how their lives drastically switch and change as the US enters the war. And then (yes, there’s more!), it unravels the story of what their lives were post-war and as they grew older. The entire book is written like one long letter (so clever!) and one of the most original stories I’ve ever written. There were moments when I didn’t love it at all and then other moments when I thought it was brilliant. It was truly an unforgettable story. Buyer beware…it’s gritty, but it’s probably very close to the reality of many young women in the 1940s. I would LOVE to know if you’ve read this one and what your thoughts are on it!
The Last Chance Library by Freya Sampson was my least favorite this month. It’s a cute little chick-lit story about a librarian in a small British town whose library is on the brink of closing…and there’s a cute boy…and some charming background things…but in a bizarre turn of events, this one didn’t speak to me this month. I *think* that perhaps (wait for it), I read too many really amazing books in a row that the light little chick-lit book didn’t capture my attention (gasp!).
This was sweet and adorable and super easy to read…but it just didn’t move that quickly, and I wasn’t nearly as drawn to it as I was the others this month. It just fell a bit flat.
Practicing Parisienne by Marissa Cox was my fifth book of the month…and it was such a great read.
We all know that I love these little books about French culture (I’ve read approximately 4 million of them) and well, this one did not disappoint. In fact, I would say that this one was actually in a league all its own. The author of this book is from London but has been living in Paris for the last eight years and her perspective was more unique than all of the other books I’ve read. She speaks about many of the same topics (living in Paris, how living there has changed her fashion/beauty/hair/diet, etc), but what she does differently is incorporate interviews with experts/friends/other people to elaborate on each topic. She also goes into great detail about how hard it is to buy or rent an apartment in France, how difficult it was for her to learn the language, make friends, etc. If you’re a Francophile like me, read this one! I always find these books encouraging and motivating. They always make me want to put on some lipstick, clean out my closet and take a walk to the farmers market. They’re just feel-good, do-good books.
The sixth and final book this month was…
…Good Company by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney.
Well, I loved this one too 🙂 .
This novel was such an unexpected find for me. Several of you recommended it and you know, the synopsis sounded nice and all, but I really just didn’t anticipate how much I would love it. This is the story of two friends in NYC and their lives as they get older…surrounding this theater company. One of them chooses motherhood, then other, a television actress. They’re best friends, they’re facing insecurities and life challenges…it was just a really ‘good’ read 🙂 . If you are looking for something that’s a cross between chick-lit and “meatier” fiction, here you go. This one was good enough to definitely be in my Top Three this year. It was original, it was entertaining, it had a few unexpected twists, a plot change and a nice ending. It’s about the choices we make and living with them. Two big thumbs up!
Whew! I READ SOME AMAZING BOOKS THIS MONTH!!!
Okay, what are your thoughts? What did you read this month? Have you checked out my TOP THREE BOOKS OF 2021 yet? What should I read in February? Talk to me, friends! I am so inspired to keep up the great reads!! I would love some fresh recommendations!! Comment, share and let’s chat books!!
To see the complete list of books I read in 2015 (all 63 of them), click here.
To see the complete list of books I read in 2016 (all 62 of them), click here.
To see the complete list of books I read in 2017 (all 62 of them), click here.
To see the complete list of books I read in 2018 (all 61 of them), click here.
To see the complete list of books I read in 2019 (all 54 of them), click here.
To see the complete list of books I read in 2020 (all 54 of them), click here.
To see the complete list of books I read in 2021 (all 59 of them), click here.
That wraps up Book Day and the last day of January!! I will see you back here next month 😉 . xx