I am so proud to say that I tackled eight books this past month which is the most I have read in a very long time. I imagine that my reading will slow down this month between our home renovation and all that is going on with our family this month, but I am still planning to set some time aside to sneak in a few cups of vanilla chai tea, a library book, and a soak in the tub. Just be careful in the tub with the library book. It can be a very expensive combination, as I have unfortunately discovered!
Here are my top picks for the month of January! Just as an aside, I read many more books than are just featured here, but try to feature the ones that are my absolute best picks of the month here. If you want to read more, please feel free to friend me on GoodReads! My username is momadvice and I am always happy to connect with people there too!
Still Alice by Lisa Genova-
My great-grandmother suffered from Alzheimer’s so I was very familiar with the topic and the emotional toll that it can take on one’s family members when they suffer from this disease. What I did not know was that over a half million people in the United States alone suffer from early-onset Alzheimer’s and that it is possible to suffer from this disease at a much earlier stage in your life than I had ever imagined.
Alice Howland is a cognitive psychology professor at Harvard and is known for her great intellect. She is admired not only by the other faculty members, but by her students for her amazing ability to captivate an audience when speaking about what it is she is most passionate about. Her husband is a scientist, and together they have collaborated on book projects and have a mutual love for each other and the intelligent and scientific dialogue that they can have together.
When Alice starts becoming confused and begins losing her words, forgetting what she is supposed to teach on, and even forgetting where she lives when she goes for a run, she blames it on menopause and decides to contact her doctor about her memory loss.
After going through screening, it is determined that Alice, at the age of fifty, is suffering from early-onset Alzheimer’s.
Alice’s quick spiral into memory loss is heartbreaking and her story is especially poignant because she is the chosen narrator of the story. At times, as the reader, you can even become confused along with Alice as scenes are repeated and her family member’s begin to lose their names, or she believes she is talking to strangers when they are well-known characters throughout the book.
The book sheds light on a very real disease in a way that can only be told through the narration of Alice. Although Alice is slipping, she is “still Alice,” even when her family feels her mind is very far away.
This book pulled at my heartstrings in a way that I can’t describe and has made me thankful for the beautiful memories that my mind can retain. It is a wonderful reminder how essential memory is in our daily lives and how important it is to love and respect those who are suffering from Alzheimer’s.
The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson-
The book opens with a scene straight out of a movie. A prominent rich man is sitting in his office clutching another framed exotic dried flower in his hands. He receives one each birthday, a gift that had been given to him each year by his granddaughter. The problem is that his granddaughter has been dead for forty years and he is still receiving this gift. Is it a message from the killer meant to open the wounds, the wounds that he will never know what has happened to his granddaughter?
Henrik decides to take matters into his own hands and hire a down-on-his-luck investigative reporter and pay him a ridiculous sum of money to write his family’s life story and do his best to discover what happened to Harriet, his granddaughter, so that he can finally know the truth.
Mikael, the reporter hired, goes into the investigation with low expectations of solving the case. What could he possibly find that had not been analyzed over and over by the police and by Henrik himself?
When teamed with a genius hacker, Lisbeth Slander, though they quickly close in on the case and discover twisted and dark family secrets that will leave you on the edge of your seat. It all unfolds with the gripping conclusion of forty years of lies and twists that will have you guessing whodunit until the end.
The characters are pure magic together and their two stories are interwoven and create dynamic chemistry when paired!
This book is a fantastic read that I could not put down. I had a hard time in the beginning getting through some of the family history, but all of those details came into play and made it worth that dry bit of reading for the shocking conclusion.
Editor’s Note- There is graphic language, sexuality, & violence in this book.
The Girl Who Played With Fire by Stieg Larsson-
After reading, “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,” I was anxious to dive into this next book and find out how these characters would develop after such an exhilarating ride with the first book.
The relationship with Blomkvist and Salander ends within the opening pages as Salander realizes that she has fallen in love with Blomkvist and finds him arm-in-arm with his on again/off again lover on the street. She mistakes their history as a relationship that has continued and decides to cut off all contact and her relationship with Blomkvist.
Blomkvist, meanwhile, is at the center of the media after cracking the case in the last book and is unsure of how to address being the focus of the media attention when he once was the interviewer. He is also confused by his sudden end of the relationship between him and Lisbeth and seems to be living his life in a state of limbo.
When he decides to run a story in his magazine though on a sex trafficking operation between Eastern Europe & Sweden, he opens a can of worms that he never thought he would.
The story that will be published will bring to the center of the controversy many of the prominent officials in the Swedish government and endangers many careers and lives with its publishing.
As the story is about to go to press, two investigative reporters are murdered and the accused murderer? Lisbeth Salander.
Lisbeth goes into hiding and her perspective is missing from the story for a good two hundred pages as Blomkvist firmly believes in Salander’s innocence and decides to do his own investigative sleuthing to discover who the true murderer is.
Anticipation builds up as more and more evidence points in Salander’s direction, but the book takes you on a surprising journey through Salander’s past as it comes to the cliffhanger ending.
The only fault with this book is that you have to wait for the next one to find out the fate of Salander and Blomkvist.
Editor’s Note- There is graphic language, sexuality, & violence in this book.
Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier-
Remarkable Creatures is a beautiful historical fiction story based on the real life story of Mary Anning and Elizabeth Philpot. These two women pioneered the uncovering of fossilized creatures and lead many of the scientific discoveries of the nineteenth century.
Set in the city of Lyme, Mary is a girl who has been unusual her whole life. Her uniqueness begins after being struck by lightening as a baby and she continues to be considered different by her community because of her unusual habit of searching for fossils on the beach… a trait that has been passed down to her by her father.
Elizabeth, a middle-aged woman who has never been married, and her sisters move to the town and each take to their own hobbies. All of the sisters have the usual hobbies of gardening, keeping home, and baking… all of them except Elizabeth. Elizabeth soon finds her own hobby of fossil discovery, although she lacks the eye of training that Mary possesses.
An unlikely friendship between two women of very different social classes form because of their mutual interest in these fossils as they make rare scientific discoveries by gathering these bones.
When a man comes between the two women, neither can put their egos aside to apologize and they are left to their discoveries alone. When Mary discovers something that their community thinks cannot be made by God’s hands, the only person that can preserve her reputation is Elizabeth, because of her social standing.
Will Elizabeth put aside her feelings to defend her friend’s honor or will she allow nature to take its course and discredit Mary’s standings in the scientific community?
I found the book to be a fast read and a very interesting look at a time when talk of fossils challenged the very belief system of people and a time when women were never intended to pioneer anything other than the keeping of their homes. It was a great book and I look forward to reading more books from Chevalier!
True Colors by Kristin Hannah-
I read Firefly Lane last year and was anxious to dive into another Kristin Hannah book. Since I had a flight this week, I thought this would be the perfect light read for my trip, and I was right.
This book is about the three Grey sisters who lost their mother when they were very young and the unfolding of their lives since their mother’s death. Their father, Henry Gray, seems to favor only one child and keeps his focus on making sure that their family upholds their ancestral heritage. His only concern is maintaining their appearance and reputation at all times in their town.
When Vivi Ann meets the true love of her life, their father is angry with her choice in choosing a rancher who is Native American and not from a “proper upbringing.” Vivi Ann follows her heart though despite her lover’s past and decides to make a commitment to him that will change their lives forever.
When a murder takes place in town, the first suspect is Dallas, Vivi Ann’s love, and everyone in the family is forced to choose sides and decide whether they believe Dallas to be guilty or not. With his difficult past and quick temper, could Dallas have been the killer?
The lives of all three sisters change as each sister decides her stance and the true secrets of each of their feelings. Their story is peppered with constant rivalry, the forgiveness that must be given, and the redemption that they must allow one another because of their sisterly bond.
I found the beginning of the book a little slow, the middle to be fast-paced with a fun twist, but the last quarter of the book really slowed down again for me.
I really enjoyed the character development of Vivi Ann and her sister Winona, and Noah, but Aurora’s voice was never heard in the book which would have definitely improved the story since it was about three sisters and not two.
Overall, it was a fast read that would be perfect to take with you when you travel or a fun summer beach read!
Disclosure: All of the links above are affiliate links and are provided so you can locate the books quickly and easily. Feel free to order a book, but we encourage utilizing the library system and buying me a latte instead. Then we both would be really happy and we could have our own little book club together! Wouldn’t that just be so much more lovely? Happy Reading!
What has been in your book stack this month? Feel free to share your book recommendations or feedback on any of the books that have been mentioned above! I love getting new suggestions for my book pile!