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  • Writer's pictureMyranda

Reading Recap for January 2023

Updated: Apr 14, 2023

I want to preface this post by saying that this post may contain spoilers but the information I provide, while relevant to the story, I don't feel is a true spoiler (like I'm not gonna say who done it but things that I put together early on). I set the goal for myself to read 36 books this year (not to include audio books) and at least 15 of them I wanted to be Kindle books since I have Kindle Unlimited. I have learned this month that KU books do not count towards my Kindle books.

WHAT WAS PLANNED FOR JANUARY BOOK CLUBS

VBC: Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah, Kindle, 394 pages

CBC: The Personal Assistant by Kimberly Belle, Kindle, 352 pages

HFBC: Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver, Audiobook, 21h 3m

VBC: Winter Garden, Discussion 1.28 at 3pm on FB Rooms

*From Good Reads* Meredith and Nina Whitson are as different as sisters can be. One stayed at home to raise her children and manage the family apple orchard; the other followed a dream and traveled the world to become a famous photojournalist. But when their beloved father falls ill, Meredith and Nina find themselves together again, standing alongside their cold, disapproving mother, Anya, who even now, offers no comfort to her daughters. As children, the only connection between them was the Russian fairy tale Anya sometimes told the girls at night. One his deathbed, their father extracts a promise from the women in his life: the fairy tale will be told one last time -- and all the way to the end. Thus begins an unexpected journey into the truth of Anya's life in war-torn Leningrad, more than five decades ago. Alternating between the past and present, Meredith and Nina will finally hear the singular, harrowing story of their mother's life, and what they learn is a secret so terrible and terrifying that it will shake the very foundation of their family and change who they believe they are. This description is not the one I read when I picked it for book club. I may have still read it but maybe not for book club but I'm glad that we read it. It was a beautiful story, hard to read at times due to the situations that Anya was dealing with in war-torn Soviet Union. I had guessed early on that the fairy tale was based on a true story but I wasn't truly sure who was who in the story until we were told so. I give this book a 5 out of 5 stars. Again, the story was beautifully written and at times I was bawling like a baby while my heart was breaking! There are several story lines going on and there is never a clear cut separation between when we're focused on Meredith, Nina, or Anya (like by chapter) as it can switch between paragraphs. Even so, the story flowed seamlessly and I would highly recommend this to anyone who enjoys a little historical fiction. It is rooted close to home for me (as in Washington State) which may be another [small] reason why I liked it. 5/5 Stars

CBC: The Personal Assistant, Discussion 1.24 at 5:20pm on Zoom

*From Amazon* When Alex first began posting unscripted family moments and motivational messages online, she had no intention of becoming an influencer. Overnight it seemed she'd amassed a huge following, and her hobby became a full-time job -- on that was impossible to manage without her sharp-as-a-tack personal assistant, AC. But all the good-will of her followers turns toxic when one controversial post goes viral in the worst possible way. Alex reaches out to AC for damage control, but her assistant has gone silent. This young woman Alex trusted with all her secrets, who had access to her personal information and front row seats to the pressure points in her marriage and family life, is now missing and the police are looking to Alex and her husband for answers. As Alex digs into AC's identity -- and a woman is found murdered -- she'll find the greatest threat isn't online, but in her own living room. This book is told from 3 different perspectives, Alex (the IG influencer), Patrick (the financial guru/husband to Alex), and Anna Claire (the maid). The telling of AC's story was in the third person so early on I figured that this was being told during a different time, like some time in the past. Alex and Patrick are told in the present. I thought I was putting things together and then there were some plot twists. I kind of guessed where the story was leading but I did not see the ending coming at all! I'm only left with one question...what was that address Patrick gave???

I give this book a 5 out of 5 stars. This is the first time in a long time that a story told from multiple perspectives didn't drive me crazy. Like I said above, Alex and Patrick were told in the present and they were also told in the first person (meaning their respective chapters had them saying "I" and "me") whereas Anna Claire was told in the third person (like I said above). There were times when I thought that some things seemed too far fetched but it all started to make sense towards the end. Side note...I completely lost track of time the day of the discussion, forgot to set an alarm reminding me it was book club time, and I missed the chat. Super bummed! 5/5 Stars

HFBC: Demon Copperhead, Discussion 1.24 at 8pm on IG Live

*From Audible* Demon Copperhead is set in the mountains of southern Appalachia. It's the story of a boy born to a teenaged single mother in a single-wide trailer, with no assets beyond his dead father's good looks and copper-colored hair, a caustic wit, and a fierce talent for survival. In a plot that never pauses for breath, relayed in his own unsparing voice, he braves the modern perils of foster care, child labor, derelict schools, athletic success, addiction, disastrous loves, and crushing losses. Through all of it, he reckons with his own invisibility in a popular culture where even the superheroes have abandoned rural people in favor of cities. There was a scene when I had some serious deja vu. Without going into all the details, Demon is in a tobacco field helping with the harvest. He hasn't been using his gloves and it's so hot that he hasn't been wearing a shirt either. He falls extremely dehydrated and sick with green tobacco sickness. Something about the way the scene was written and read felt so familiar but I don't think I have ever read this book before. My rating is for the audiobook only. I give this book a 5 out of 5 stars. There were some pretty colorful scenes...spicy one may say...and I think I blushed a few times thinking a pastor's wife has this for her book club book! The narrator Charlie Thurston did a fantastic job. It wasn't cringy when he did female voices. It sounded like if a boy was just making the voice of a girl. I think because it sounded like he was reflecting on his memories instead of it being written in the third person where he needed to do different voices. The whole story played out as a movie in my head and that is a great sign in my opinion. 5/5 Stars

EXTRAS: READ/LISTENED TO

Midnight Flight (Broken Wings #2) by V.C. Andrews, physical book, 377 pages (only counting 136 pages)

*From back cover* At Dr. Foreman's School for Girls, the "students" sleep in barns, work on a farm in the blazing heat, and are subjected to ruthless guards who watch their every move. It's an institution run by the dreadful Dr. Foreman, a woman who delights in administering the worst form of punishment--the mysterious Ice Room where the girls face their darkest fears. Now Phoebe (narrator), Teal, and Robin--three girls from very different worlds--are the newcomers in this desert hell. During their stay, each girl will be tempted to commit the ultimate crime of betrayal as Dr. Foreman cleverly tries to turn them against each other--until they learn that the only way to survive is to stick together...and fight back. This book came out in 2003. I could tell by the book before I started it again back in July 2021 (yeah...it took me 1.5 years to read it this time) that I had read it before at least once. The binding looked used where it had been bent to lay flat or the curve of the cover and pages from trying to find different and comfortable ways to hold the book...however, I have no recollection of reading it. I remembered the stories of Robin, Teal, and Phoebe as I was reading Broken Wings but I had no memory of Midnight Flight so it was as if I was reading it for the first time. The things these poor girls had to endure is straight up horrific. Yes, Robin had been part of an armed robbery (she didn't know the guy had a gun). Yes, Teal attempted to steal thousands and thousands of dollars, not to mention expensive jewelry and other things, and leave the state with a guy and his underage sibling. Yes, Phoebe killed a boy who was trying to assault her...they are not innocent but the cruel punishment they receive at this "school" is wrong and the government clearly has no idea what actually happens. Oh and the "guards" are supposed to be girls that are close to graduating. They have been given special permissions to leave the compound and do whatever they feel is necessary to the girls, like issuing demerits that land a few of the girls in the Ice Room or have their mattresses, blankets, and pillows taken away. They are affectionately referred to as "buddies" and "M'Lady One, Two, and Three". These are the ultimate mean girls! I don't know if it's the nostalgia of my late teens that rates this book a 5 out of 5 or if I truly love the story. You see the girls fight, sometimes physically, mentally and emotionally and ultimately discover that if they're going to make it out alive, then they have to get over all their preconceived notions about one another and work together. 5/5 Stars

The Retreat (Detective Elin Warner #2) by Sarah Pearse, Kindle, 356 pages

*From Good Reads* From the New York Times bestselling author of The Sanatorium, a Reese's Book Club Pick, Detective Elin Warner's second outing, as she uncovers the truth behind the suspicious deaths on a stunning island getaway. Most are here to recharge and refresh. but someone's here for revenge...An eco-wellness retreat has opened on an island off the English coast, promising rest and relaxation - but the island itself, known locally as Reaper's Rock, has a dark past. Once the playground of a serial killer, it's rumored to be cursed. Detective Elin Warner is called to the retreat when a young woman's body is found on the rocks below the yoga pavilion in what seems to be a tragic fall. But the victim wasn't a guest - she wasn't meant to be on the island at all. When a guest drowns in a diving incident the following day, Elin starts to suspect that there's nothing accidental about these deaths. but why would someone target the guests, and who else is in danger? Elin must find the killer - before the island's history starts to repeat itself...

There were moments when I was thinking would this really happen but overall I enjoyed the storyline. Just like in The Sanatorium, I didn't see the ending coming at all and I enjoy that. There were some things that felt a little rushed and I was left wondering about some things, like the bag Elin found in the hole that she put back. Why would she put that back? Why didn't she tell her partner about it? Why didn't she bag and tag it? Those questions aside, I'm eager to see if Sarah Pearse continues this series and if she does, what will be the next mystery!

I give this book 5 out of 5 stars. There were a couple of times I had to read a sentence a few times because some words were swapped around or something felt like it was missing. I still wish that I would have finished it before the start of the year but that's on me! 5/5 Stars


Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo, Audible Audio, 10h 57m

*From Audible* The capital has fallen. The Darkling rules Ravka from his shadow throne. Now the nation's fate rests with a broken Sun Summoner, a disgraced tracker, and the shattered remnants of a once-great magical army. Deep in an ancient network of tunnels and caverns, a weakened Alina must submit to the dubious protection of the Apparat and the zealots who worship her as a Saint. Yet her plans lie elsewhere, with the hunt for the elusive firebird and the hope that an outlaw prince still survives. Alina will have to forge new alliances and put aside old rivalries as she and mal race to find the last of Morozova's amplifiers. But as she begins to unravel the Darkling's secrets, she reveals a past that will forever alter her understanding of the bond they share and the power she wields. The firebird is the one thing that stands between Ravka and destruction -- and claiming it would cost Alina the very future she's fighting for.

I really wanted to finish the trilogy before the second season comes out on Netflix. The first season followed loosely the first book's storyline. I want to hope that the same will go for the second season and that there will be a third season to cover the third book BUT just in case they merge the last two books into the second season I wanted to be prepared. You know how sometimes the story continues between the books? Like each Harry Potter book finishes at the end of the school year and the next book picks up right before the next school year so you miss the summer months. This one really did pick up where the last book left off which I enjoyed!

My rating is for the audiobook only. I give this book a 4.5 out of 5 stars. I love the narrator's voice. She does a great job and while her voice is different, to me, it sounds close enough to Jessie Mei Li (who plays Alina Starkov in the show). I also like that her male voices aren't cringy! That is always a huge selling point for me! 4.5/5 Stars

The Bone Farm (Jane Hawk #0.5 - prequel to The Silent Corner) by Dean Koontz, Audible Audio, 2h 1m

*From Audible* From the case files of the former FBI agent before she became the nation's most wanted fugitive -- The Bone Farm details a desperate man-hunt for a serial killer before he murders again. Katherine Haskell, a young college co-ed is on her way back to school, but she never makes it there. Instead, she becomes the latest prey of the rapist and murderer dubbed by the tabloids the "Mother Hater." He is a twisted soul who kidnaps young girls for pleasure then discards them. Katherine is missing, but she's not yet dead. FBI agents Jane Hawk and her partner Gary Burkett must descend into the hell of this killer's mind to solve the case before it's too late. the question is - will they both get out alive?

This is a novella so it is short, sweet and too the point but maybe a little too fast. It switches back and forth between the killer and the agents but was confusing at first because it would be in the past and then the present and I actually wasn't sure if we ever caught up from the past to the present in the story lines...if that makes sense.

My rating is for the audiobook only. I give this book a 3.5 out of 5. Mostly because, as I said, it went back and forth between past and present. It's a novella but it felt way too rushed. It was good enough to lead me to download the first book in the series! 3.5/5 Stars

KINDLE CHALLENGE UPDATE

Number of Badges Earned: 8

What Badges Were Earned:

Bronze Reader (for reading 15 days), Bookish (for reading 1 Kindle Book), Bookworm (for reading 2 Kindle Books), Bibliophile (for reading 3 Kindle Books), Head Start (for reading 1 day), Perfect Week Leveled Up x4 (for reading every day Sunday - Saturday), Perfect Month, and Quitter's Day (for reading 3 days between Jan 16 - Jan 21).


What Mystery Badges were Revealed: 1.4: Best of 2022; hint: a look back to 2022, challenge: read an Amazon Editor's Pick Best of 2022 by 3.31.23 (will earn in February). 1.16: Quitter's Day; hint: No quitters here; challenge: read 3 days between Jan 16 - Jan 21) EARNED ON 1.19.23

WHAT IS PLANNED FOR FEBRUARY BOOK CLUBS

VBC: The Lost Love Song by Minnie Darke, paper back, 356 pages

CBC: Just The Nicest Couple by Mary Kubica, Kindle, 324 pages

HFBC: The Lobotomist's Wife by Samantha Greene Woodruff, Kindle, 305 pages

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