My January Books – Simple and Honest Book Reviews + Reading Plans for February

Hey there!

Hope everyone is doing well and staying safe.

I cannot tell you how long I’ve been wanting to post monthly book reviews. However, I’m a lazy writer and it seems I never manage to actually get it done. Until now! Today I’m posting my January book review. I’ve read 8 books in January, 6 being fiction and 2 non-fiction, pregnancy related. I’m quite happy with this number and I’m hoping to read another 8 books in February.

Now, onto the reviews.

One

Book Title: The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

Number of pages: 289

Genre: Fiction; Fantasy;

Book Summary: (by Goodreads)

Somewhere out beyond the edge of the universe there is a library that contains an infinite number of books, each one the story of another reality. One tells the story of your life as it is, along with another book for the other life you could have lived if you had made a different choice at any point in your life. While we all wonder how our lives might have been, what if you had the chance to go to the library and see for yourself? Would any of these other lives truly be better?

In The Midnight Library, Matt Haig’s enchanting blockbuster novel, Nora Seed finds herself faced with this decision. Faced with the possibility of changing her life for a new one, following a different career, undoing old breakups, realizing her dreams of becoming a glaciologist; she must search within herself as she travels through the Midnight Library to decide what is truly fulfilling in life, and what makes it worth living in the first place.

Dates: December 30th to January 2nd

My Rating: 5 stars

My Review: Definitely an unusual choice for me as I’m not into fantasy at all. Alternative realities and parallel universes make very tired. Still, I’m SO glad I decided to read this book. Honest and relatable depiction of depression and mental illness. You can feel Nora’s pain and find yourself rooting for her and wanting her to live and to find happiness. As an avid reader I love the idea of life being a library full of books.

Two

Book Title: Pregnancy Hacks: 350+ Easy Hacks for a Happy and Healthy Pregnancy! by Amanda Shapin Michelson

Number of pages: 224

Genre: Non Fiction; Pregnancy;

Book Summary: (by Goodreads)

Make your pregnancy feel easier than ever with these 350 simple hacks to keep you comfortable and happy for nine months straight!

Congratulations—you’re pregnant! There’s no doubt you’re thrilled to meet your little bundle of joy…but you also might be feeling some stress and discomfort as you navigate your rapidly changing body. But why not make things a little easier for yourself with these simple hacks to get you through every step of the next nine months!

With Pregnancy Hacks, you’ll find tricks to simplify your daily routine so that everything seems just a bit more manageable. Feeling nauseous throughout the day? Stock up on ginger candles or make electrolyte popsicles for a quick, delicious fix. Dealing with tired, swollen feet? Try soaking them in tonic water to reduce the swelling. Or maybe you’re struggling to reach things on the floor. Kitchen tongs can help!

These are just a few of the tips and tricks that will make your pregnancy experience so much better! Pregnancy Hacks is here to help your expanding family (and belly) stay happy and healthy.

Dates: January 6th to January 6th

My Rating: 1 star

My Review: I honestly didn’t feel I was learning any useful hacks, just the same tips repeated over and over again. Hated the “I’m pregnant and a martyr so my husband has to do absolutely everything for me” vibe. Wouldn’t recommend it.

Three

Book Title: The Stewardess’s Journey: Part 3 of The Windsor Street Family Saga by VL McBeath

Number of pages: 411

Genre: Historical Fiction;

Book Summary: (By Amazon)

Liverpool 1882
In a man’s world, can a woman survive?

Nell’s dream of travelling on a transatlantic steamship is about to come true. Although not in the way she expected.

Life is hard, and with only three women working amongst a crew of eighty, there are challenges Nell had not foreseen.

While she struggles to cope with the constant attention of her colleagues, not to mention their criticisms, there are some who will do whatever they can to support her.

Will their efforts be enough to settle her into life on board? Or will her first trip be her last?

Inspired by a true story, The Stewardess’s Journey is Part 3 of The Windsor Street Family Saga.
A story of love, loss and hope set in Victorian-era Liverpool and beyond.

Dates: January 8th to January 12th

My Rating: 3 stars

My Review: A bit boring and slow-paced but still enjoyable. The difficult choices women have to make are hard to witness as is the way a woman is treated in a men’s world while she’s just trying to do her job and provide for her family.

Four

Book Title: No Ex Before Marriage by Portia Macintosh

Number of Pages: 293

Genre: Romance, Contemporary Romance

Book Summary:

While her friends join the “Wife Club” one by one, Poppy feels like that part of her life is done and dusted. Already married and divorced she’s not desperate to go through all that again.

But what if her divorce never actually went through…?

After a shock revelation Poppy not only discovers she is still married, but that Zac is about to have his second wedding!

Coming face to face with her (almost) ex-husband after six years apart is never going to be easy. And when Zac panics and tells his new wife-to-be that Poppy is family, things can’t get much worse as she is welcomed with open arms as part of the wedding party!

As the memories flood back, can Poppy really leave the past where it is? And can she watch the first love of her life walk down the aisle to say ‘I do’ once again?

Dates: January 12th to January 15th

My Rating: 4 stars

My Review: I’m a HUGE Portia Macintosh fan and have been devouring her books as soon as they come out. As a 30-year-old woman, I feel seen by Portia’s novels. They’re light, easy to read, relatable and very funny. This one was no exception so I definitely recommend it if you’re looking for something fun and enjoyable.

Five

Book Title: What to Expect the First Year by Heidi Murkoff, Sharon Mazel

Number of pages: 704

Genre: Nonfiction; Parenting;

Book Summary: (by Goodreads)

Some things about babies, happily, will never change. They still arrive warm, cuddly, soft, and smelling impossibly sweet. But how moms and dads care for their brand-new bundles of baby joy has changed—and now, so has the new-baby bible.

Announcing the completely revised third edition of What to Expect the First Year. With over 10.5 million copies in print, First Year is the world’s best-selling, best-loved guide to the instructions that babies don’t come with, but should. And now, it’s better than ever. Every parent’s must-have/go-to is completely updated.

Keeping the trademark month-by-month format that allows parents to take the potentially overwhelming first year one step at a time, First Year is easier-to-read, faster-to-flip-through, and new-family-friendlier than ever—packed with even more practical tips, realistic advice, and relatable, accessible information than before. Illustrations are new, too.

Among the changes: Baby care fundamentals—crib and sleep safety, feeding, vitamin supplements—are revised to reflect the most recent guidelines. Breastfeeding gets more coverage, too, from getting started to keeping it going. Hot-button topics and trends are tackled: attachment parenting, sleep training, early potty learning (elimination communication), baby-led weaning, and green parenting (from cloth diapers to non-toxic furniture). An all-new chapter on buying for baby helps parents navigate through today’s dizzying gamut of baby products, nursery items, and gear. Also new: tips on preparing homemade baby food, the latest recommendations on starting solids, research on the impact of screen time (TVs, tablets, apps, computers), and “For Parents” boxes that focus on mom’s and dad’s needs. Throughout, topics are organized more intuitively than ever, for the best user experience possible.

Dates: December 19th to January 16th

My Rating: 3 stars

My Review: This book is very helpful, informative and easy to read. As a mom to be, I DEFINITELY need to know what to expect the first year so I was happy to be able to find such a thorough book.

Six

Book Title: The Orphan Collector by Ellen Marie Wiseman

Number of pages: 304

Genre: Fiction; Historical Fiction;

Book Summary: (By Goodreads)

In the fall of 1918, thirteen-year-old German immigrant Pia Lange longs to be far from Philadelphia’s overcrowded slums and the anti-immigrant sentiment that compelled her father to enlist in the U.S. Army. But as her city celebrates the end of war, an even more urgent threat arrives: the Spanish flu. Funeral crepe and quarantine signs appear on doors as victims drop dead in the streets and desperate survivors wear white masks to ward off illness. When food runs out in the cramped tenement she calls home, Pia must venture alone into the quarantined city in search of supplies, leaving her baby brothers behind.

Bernice Groves has become lost in grief and bitterness since her baby died from the Spanish flu. Watching Pia leave her brothers alone, Bernice makes a shocking, life-altering decision. It becomes her sinister mission to tear families apart when they’re at their most vulnerable, planning to transform the city’s orphans and immigrant children into what she feels are “true Americans.”

Waking in a makeshift hospital days after collapsing in the street, Pia is frantic to return home. Instead, she is taken to St. Vincent’s Orphan Asylum – the first step in a long and arduous journey. As Bernice plots to keep the truth hidden at any cost in the months and years that follow, Pia must confront her own shame and fear, risking everything to see justice – and love – triumph at last. Powerful, harrowing, and ultimately exultant, The Orphan Collector is a story of love, resilience, and the lengths we will go to protect those who need us most.

Dates: January 16th to January 20th

My Rating: 5 stars

My Review: Why did I think it was a good idea to read a book about the Spanish Influenza while we’re going through an actual pandemic? It wasn’t. It hits too close to home. The masks, the not leaving the house, the fear, the unknown… I mean, it could be either set in 1918 or 2020 which is very scary. Still, I feel like it shows that we could be having it much worse. Also, why did I decide to read a book about orphans and suffering children while pregnant? Not a very clever idea either. I felt so much for the children, it was hard to get through. An eye opener though, so I definitely recommend it.

Seven

Book Title: Sold on a Monday by Kristina McMorris

Number of pages: 352

Genre: Fiction; Historical Fiction;

Book Summary:

2 CHILDREN FOR SALE

The scrawled sign, peddling young siblings on a farmhouse porch, captures the desperation sweeping the country in 1931. It’s an era of breadlines, bank runs, and impossible choices.

For struggling reporter Ellis Reed, the gut-wrenching scene evokes memories of his family’s dark past. He snaps a photograph of the children, not meant for publication. But when the image leads to his big break, the consequences are devastating in ways he never imagined.

Haunted by secrets of her own, secretary Lillian Palmer sees more in the picture than a good story and is soon drawn into the fray. Together, the two set out to right a wrongdoing and mend a fractured family, at the risk of everything they value.

Inspired by an actual newspaper photo that stunned readers across the nation, this touching novel explores the tale within the frame and behind the lens—a journey of ambition, love, and the far-reaching effects of our actions. (less)

Dates: January 20th to January 24th

My Rating: 4 stars

My Review: Heartbreaking to know that this is not just a work of fiction but inspired by an actual photograph. I cannot imagine how desperate someone would have to be to even consider selling their children. Very painful descriptions of the suffering caused by the Great Depression. Again, not the best book to read while pregnant as it deals with children.

Eight

Book Title: The Keeper of Happy Endings by Barbara Davis

Number of pages: 415

Genre: Fiction; Historical Fiction;

Book Summary: (By Goodreads)

Soline Roussel is well schooled in the business of happy endings. For generations her family has kept an exclusive bridal salon in Paris, where magic is worked with needle and thread. It’s said that the bride who wears a Roussel gown is guaranteed a lifetime of joy. But devastating losses during World War II leave Soline’s world and heart in ruins and her faith in love shaken. She boxes up her memories, stowing them away, along with her broken dreams, determined to forget.

Decades later, while coping with her own tragic loss, aspiring gallery owner Rory Grant leases Soline’s old property and discovers a box containing letters and a vintage wedding dress, never worn. When Rory returns the mementos, an unlikely friendship develops, and eerie parallels in Rory’s and Soline’s lives begin to surface. It’s clear that they were destined to meet—and that Rory may hold the key to righting a forty-year wrong and opening the door to shared healing and, perhaps, a little magic.

Dates: January 27th to January 29th

My Rating: 3 stars

My Review: Definitely enjoyable and heartwarming but a bit on the predictable side which is quite a turnoff for me. I’d say most readers were able to guess exactly how it would end. The descriptions of war time are very distressing.

Conclusions

Favorite Book of January: The Orphan Collector by Ellen Marie Wiseman

*Main Mood: Emotional

*Main Genre: Historical

*Total of Pages Read: 2.666

*Average Rating: 3.5 stars

February Reading List

The Edge of Lost by Kristina McMorris

The Little Book of Cottagecore: Traditional Skills for a Simpler Life by Emily Kent

The Plum Tree by Ellen Marie Wiseman

When Never Comes by Barbara Davis

The Jewels of Halstead Manor (Ladies of Devon Book 1) by Kasey Stockton

The Last Green Valley by Mark Sullivan

Things We Never Got Over by Lucy Score

Work-from-Home Hacks by Aja Frost

*According to my The StoryGraph App which I found through my friend Pamela.

What about you? What have you been reading?

What’s the best book you read in January?

Love,

Cheila