What I Read in… January

Well, I started off January STRONG and finished the month having read eight books! I’m actually surprised the number isn’t higher I was flying through books in the beginning. 


In January I read:

What I Read in January 2019 | Perks of Being a JAP | www.perksofbeingajap.com

The Mars Room by Rachel Kushner – This Book of the Month novel was a fictional tale about Romy Hall, a woman facing two life sentences in a California jail while she worries about her young son who falls into foster care. It took a few chapters to keep me going and I almost put it down without finishing. However, the story picked up and I was very drawn to the other inmates in the prison and their relationships. I did feel that some of the side stories weren’t relevant to Romy’s plight and that the ending left much to be desired. Rating 3/5.

The Best Kind of People by Zoe Whittall – Oh man this book droned on and on. The premise was intriguing – an upstanding teacher in the community accused of sexual misconduct by students in his school and how it affects his family. It was just so rambly! There were a bunch of different perspectives and they were all interesting but I felt that the author spent too much time in the beginning focusing on them and not enough on the actual story. It was told in four parts and part one went on for the majority of the book and then parts two through four flew by. It left me feeling unsatisfied both with how the story unfolded as well as the ending. Rating 2/5. 

The Trick by Emmanuel Bergmann – This takes place in two locations and eras – 1930s to Holocaust-era Europe and current day Los Angeles. A young boy Max is convinced the only way to keep his parents together is through the magic of an old magician the Great Zabbatini, while the Great Zabbatini is working hard to forget his past and winds up helping Max first out of desparation but then out of friendship. While I enjoyed both characters Moshe’s (Zabbatini) disdain and general rudeness seemed to be a big departure from how his character was portrayed in his early years. Rating 3/5.

The Art of Hiding by Amanda Prowse – I’d previously read The Idea of You by the author and enjoyed it so I was happy when this one turned out to be much of the same for me. A dark chick-lit novel (is that a genre?) Nina suddenly loses her husband and realizes he may have been hiding… a lot! Loved seeing how her character developed and how she embraced her past while creating a future for herself and her two children. The only thing that was missing for me was the truth about her husband! Rating 4/5.

Seeking Sarah by ReShonda Tate Billingsley – This book was a friggen trainwreck. Brooke finds out that her mother, who she thought was dead, is very much alive and living nearby with a new family. She sets off to confront her and while it was very entertaining and sucked me in from the beginning, as it went on I found myself literally sneering at Brooke’s actions and her stubborn fiance, and the story because SUCH a soap opera and I felt that everything that took place was incredibly far fetched and ridiculous. Rating 2/5.

Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis – I am very surprised that I actually enjoyed this book! I honestly thought I was going to hate it from the feedback I’d seen so far but I did enjoy it and got some things out of it. Nothing earth shattering but there were definitely some things that resonated with me and that I’d go back and highlight as good quotes/reminders to myself. She has also written three fiction novels that I added to my list – they’re only $1.99 on Amazon for the Kindle version so I’ll probably snag those at some point. Rating 3.5/5. 

The Sound of Gravel by Ruth Wariner – I have a weird fascination with all things relating to what I consider cult religions like polygamist Mormonism and Scientology. A blogger wrote about this book recently and I went to look at the except and realized I had purchased it a while ago on my Kindle so I made sure it was the next book I read. And it was riveting, sickening and amazing. I think this was the first book about polygamy that didn’t have the young girl enter into plural marriage, but the horrors that Ruth endured during her childhood did enough damage – I am glad she was able to escape! I also appreciate the honesty in which she could look at her mother, who clearly was trying to do right by her children but just did not know how. Rating 5/5.

Surprise Me by Sophie Kinsella – Sophie Kinsella’s books are a great grab for an easy chick-lit read. However, this book was a struggle! The premise really bothered me at first – Sylvie and Dan go to the doctor for a check up and he tells them they could live to be married for 68 more years and they start freaking out? Why get married if not to be with your partner for life? It really got good at the end and I wish the book would have focused more on Sylvie’s father and the mystery there vs the dumb 68 years of marriage thing. Rating 3/5.

I tried to start reading Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert at the end of the month but I think having it on my kindle hindered me. It’s one of those books I’d need in physical format to highlight and anoint… so its on hold for now.

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  1. Great reading month!

  2. I totally agree with you about Surprise Me – it was not my favorite by any stretch… Thanks for sharing about The Sound of Gravel – I’ve added it to my reader list!
    Happy Week to you!

  3. Sounds like you didn’t like very many of these! I read The Trick and really liked it.

    • I did enjoy The Trick but I just couldn’t make the connection from Moshe’s personality as a young man to the grizzled old man he became. It seemed like such a departure with no real explanation!

  4. Awesome wrap up!! Happy February!

  5. 8 books is awesome! I got 7 read in January, so I’m hoping to read more this month, but we’ll see – it IS a short month after all.

    ShootingStarsMag recently posted…TBB Asks: Relationship EditionMy Profile

  6. YES to the Sound of Gravel. Those were my exact thoughts. I totally went back and forth on hating the mother and just feeling sorry for her that she really thought she was doing the best thing for her kids. It was a tough book to read, but one of my favorites. Thanks for linking up with Hello Monday!

  7. Great recommendations! I’ll follow you on Goodreads!

  8. OMG I can’t believe you liked “Girl, Wash Your Face,” haha. You KNOW my feelings there! XD I read my first Sophie Kinsella book last month & really loved it. Someone just recommended another one of hers to me, & now I thiiiiink I might end up on a kick. “The Mars Room” is on my list, & I, too, couldn’t get into “Big Magic” on my Kindle but want to try again with the real book.
    Kate recently posted…6 Small Goals for FebruaryMy Profile

    • LOL I know, I know… but I didn’t hate it! I think because I had heard so many other opinions on it that I expected it to be worse and so I was… pleasantly surprised? If you’re looking for other Sophie Kinsella books I highly suggest her pseudonym Madeleine Wickham and the books – Sushi for Beginners (one of my faves) and The Gatecrasher. And glad I wasn’t the only one who felt the same about Big Magic and needing it in print! <3

  9. I love that Diamond Dazzler. I used it on my jewelry and I ran out. Thanks for reminding me to get a new one.

  10. Ooh, I *loved* The Sound of Gravel. I read it with my book club two years ago and we STILL talk about that book. It had such a massive impact on all of us. Such a horrifying story. It’s amazing the resilience and grace that Ruth had.


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