Thursday, February 2, 2023

Read-at-Home Mom Report: January 2023 Wrap-Up

Appropriately, in the first month of 2023, I read 23 books. These were a good mix of physical books on my shelves, ebooks from Netgalley, Edelweiss+, Kindle Unlimited and Scribd, and audiobooks from Scribd, Hoopla, and Libby. This year, I've decided to choose a few favorites to highlight each month, and then I'll just briefly list the other titles I've read. 

January Favorites


Arabella by Georgette Heyer (5 stars)
I have enjoyed some newer regency romances, but none half as much as this one published in 1949. A friend gave me this book as a gift over the summer, and I was excited to finally pick it up. From the start, I was hooked on Heyer's wit. So many lines of dialogue made me laugh and endeared me to the characters. I thought the story was clever, and the romance was very sweet.  I heard from lots of friends on Instagram that this is their favorite Georgette Heyer book, and I can completely see why. 

All the Devils Are Here by Louise Penny (5 stars)
This series continues to get better and better with each new book. This was the next one in the series I had to read, and I devoured it over two days while I was sick in bed. I loved the Paris setting, and I am always excited to read more about the family dynamics among Armand, his wife, his son-in-law, and his children, and there was a lot of that in here. I was completely invested in the story from beginning to end and I loved all the twist and turns along the way. 

Roland West, Loner by Theresa Linden (5 stars) 
This is the first novel in a Catholc YA series about three brothers. Roland is the youngest brother and he is struggling. He has entered high school after years of homeschooling and there are lots of rumors about his family, and especially his late mom. He's also being bullied by his brothers while his dad is out of town for work. His only respite comes from his new friendship with Peter, a boy in the neighborhood who Roland wants to trust if only he can get over his fears. I was totally fascinated by these characters, and I loved how the author blends the ordinary and the supernatural. 

The End of the Affair by Graham Green (5 stars)
I read this for the first time last February and re-read it for the upcoming meeting of my local book club. It was even better the second time, and I just fell in love with the language all over again. This book is right up there on the top of my all-time favorites list, vying with Brideshead Revisited for the top spot. 

The Masterpiece by Fiona Davis (4 stars)
I suddenly decided I like historical fiction, and I really enjoy this author of books set in the 20th century. This one is about Grand Central Terminal in the 1920s and 1970s, and it involves an art school that used to be housed in the train station and a lost work of art. I loved all the details about the station and how it had changed over time. It was really fun to feel like I was visiting New York City. 

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson (4 stars)
This historical novel about Pack Horse Librarians and the Blue People of Kentucky was so emotional and so beautifully written. I can still imagine scenes from the story because of how strongly they stuck with me. I've heard mixed reviews about the sequel, The Book Woman's Daughter, but I'm hoping to read it at some point. 

Dear Henry, Love Edith by Becca Kinzer (4 stars)
A Christian rom-com full of quirky characters? Yes, please! This book starts with a case of mistaken identity and evolves into a love story the whole town can get behind. I loved the setting and the characters and found myself laughing out loud at the author's tongue-in-cheek portrayal of small-town life. I also feel a little connection to the author because our stories appeared together in Spark Flash Fiction's Spring issue in 2022. 

Stand-Alone Books 

  • The Friendship Breakup by Annie Cathryn (4 stars)
    An entertaining story about drama in a group of mom friends. I did enjoy the easy-to-read writing style, but there was a lot of adultery so I wouldn't really recommend reading it, though I would try this author again. 
  • Rip Van Winkle by Washington Irving (4 stars)
    I have read this before at some point in my life and re-read it for a short story book club on Instagram. I like The Legend of Sleepy Hollow Better. 
  • The Rom-Com Agenda by Jayne Denker (3 stars)
    I loved the writing in this one, especially the way author depicted the hero's friend group. The romance plot was just okay.
  • Sometimes You Have to Lie: The Life and Times of Louise Fitzhugh, Renegade Author of Harriet the Spy by Leslie Brody (3 stars)
    This is an objective "just the facts" style biography. It does talk about Fitzhugh's relationships with women, but not in a salacious way. 
  • The Dead Ex by Jane Corry (3 stars)
    This was an interesting thriller I found at Dollar Tree. It was somewhat predictable, but it helped me pass an afternoon when I was sick. 
  • Persuasion by Jane Austen (3 stars)
    I liked this better than Pride and Prejudice, but I think it's clear I'll never be an Austen fan. 
  • Lia and Beckett's Abracadabra by Amy Noelle Parks (3 stars)
    This was a YA romance set in the world of magicians and magic shows. I appreciated the book's take on magic, and its message that magicians shouldn't take advantage of the vulnerable by pretending to read minds or speak to the dead. 
  • The Trees Kneel at Christmas by Maud Hart Lovelace (3 stars)
    This was our final Christmas read-aloud. It was a re-read for me, and I didn't like it as much the second time but my girls seemed to enjoy it. 
  • Instructions for Dancing by Nicola Yoon (3 stars)
    This YA romance with a hint of magic was well-written and very interesting to me as a writer, but it had some dubious messages about love and marriage. 
  • Talk Santa to Me by Linda Urban (2 stars)
    This book unfortunately includes a Catholic character who renounces her faith for no reason I could discern other than to be provocative and maybe to send the message that cafeteria Catholicism is fine. Very disappointing. 

Series Books

  • For Better or For Worse: The Complete Library, Vol. 2: 1983-1986 by Lynn Johnston (5 stars)
  • Dockside (Lakeshore Chronicles Book 3) by Susan Wiggs (3 stars)
  • The Twelve Holidates (Love Cliches Book 3.5)  by Emma St. Clair (4 stars)
  • Flesh and Blood (Kay Scarpetta Book 22) by Patricia Cornwell (3 stars)
  • Stork Raving Mad (Meg Lansglow Mysteries Book 12) by Donna Andrews (3 stars)
  • Roxy's Song (Love in Little River Book 1) by Ranee S. Clark (3 stars)

Did Not Finish

I had a record number of DNFs in January: 
  • Five Winters by Kitty Johnson
    The writing was good, the content was unsettling. 
  • The Sweetheart Fix by Miranda Liaason
    I was "currently reading" this for 2 months and decided it was time to admit I didn't like it.
  • A Guide to Being Just Friends by Sophie Sullivan
    I couldn't get into this one. 
  • Vinyl Resting Place by Olivia Blacke
    I had this from Netgalley but started the audiobook on Scribd and just never got invested. 
  • Reunion Beach: Stories Inspired by Dorothea Benton Frank 
    Just not my thing. 
  • Five Tuesdays in Winter by Lily King
    Too sexually explicit.
  • The Key to My Heart by Lia Louis
    I tried three times to get into this and gave up. 
  • Too Wrong to Be Right by Melonie Johnson
    The first line was so crude, I decided not to bother with the book.  

Family Reading Lists 

M. (girl, 9 years, 2 months) 

  • Snow Treasure by Marie McSwigan
  • The Chestry Oak by Kate Seredy 
  • The Little Ships by Louise Borden
  • Dolphin Crossing by Jill Paton Walsh
  • Hitler Youth: Growing up in Hitler's Shadow by Susan Campbell Bartoletti
  • Doodlebug Summer by Alison Prince 
  • Katy Parker and the House that Cried by Margaret Mulligan
  • The Exeter Blitz by David Rees 
  • Franklin Delano Roosevelt for Kids by Richard Panchyk
  • Gandhi by Leonard Everett Fisher 
  • Balto and the Great Race by Elizabeth Cody Kimmel 
  • China's Long March : 6,000 Miles of Danger by Jean Fritz

C. (girl, 7 years, 4 months)

  • Leonardo, Beautiful Dreamer by Robert Byrd 
  • Leonardo DaVinci by Diane Stanley 
  • Michelangelo by Diane Stanley
  • Joan of Arc by Louis-Maurice Boutet de Monvel 
  • Joan of Arc by Josephine Poole 
  • Mont St. Michel for Young People by Lucien Bely 
  • The Apple and the Arrow by Mary and Conrad Buff 

E. (girl, 5 years, 3 months) 

  • Henry and Beezus by Beverly Cleary 

R. (boy, 2 years, 10 months) 

  • Once Upon a Potty: Boy by Alona Frankel
  • Mrs. Wishy Washy by Joy Cowley 
  • Jasper and Joop by Olivier Dunrea 
  • Whose Nest is Best? by Heidi E.Y. Stemple
  • Gemma and Gus by Olivier Dunrea
  • Gus by Olivier Dunrea 
  • Gideon by Olivier Dunrea 

A. (girl, 2 years, 10 months)

  • Once Upon a Potty: Girl by Alona Frankel 
  • What Shall We Do with the Boo Hoo Baby? by Cressida Cowell 
  • No, David by David Shannon 

My husband 

  • The Story of Appleby Capple by Anne Parrish 
  • A Place to Hang the Moon by Kate Albus 
  • The Nightingale by Nancy Elholm Burkert 

Up Next For Me

  • The Likeness by Tana French
  • London Transports by Maeve Binchy 
  • The Netanyahus by Joshua Cohen 

I'm adding this post to the link-up for An Open Book at 

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