January Novel Ideas – 17 Quick Reviews

January Novel Ideas

Welcome to the supersized December and January Novel Ideas, 2018 edition. Novel Ideas is a roundup of mini-reviews for books we read this month, as well as snippets of future posts and other bookish news.

Kirsten’s Stack

I started this year off with a huge stack of books including my choice for our Reading Challenge. I’m hoping to spend more time this year reading what I want to read instead of what I need to read. I’m hoping that means I’ll get to read a few more of the 68 books on my unread shelf this year. I managed to tackle 2 this month…not terrible, but not great.

Carnegie’s Maid by Marie Benedict – We received a copy of Carnegie’s Maid from Sourcebooks for free in exchange for our honest review.

First off look at this COVER! I loved this book but I’m sad my copy is an ebook because now I think I need to get the hardback version. This was one of the books on our January to March upcoming releases list. The story revolves around Andrew Carnegie’s housemaid and their fictional relationship. It was fascinating to learn about life in Pittsburg during the 1860s.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button by F. Scott Fitzgerald

I listened to this one while doing the laundry the other night, it’s only an hour long but I really rather liked it! I liked it so much that I was frustrated that it wasn’t a full-blown novel. That’s my problem with short stories. They are never satisfying enough! This one revolved around a man who aged in reversed – born as a 70-year-old and ending his life as a newborn.


The Boston Girl by Anita Diamant

So I know a lot of people who LOVED this book, but for me, it was rather meh. A solid 3 stars, it was a look back from the perspective on the life of a 70-year-old Boston woman. The style was very conversational but nothing really happened. It was just a reflection of her life. Interesting but not gripping. I’m glad I listened to it, the narrator brings a lot to the table.


Marlena by Julie Buntin

Yuck. I really wasn’t that thrilled with this story of a 15-year-old girl and her new neighbor. The story revolved around the drug scene in a small town in Michigan. I was not a huge fan at all. I barely got through this one.


Drums of Autumn by Diana Gabaldon

I mean…does it get any better than Jamie Fraser? I think not. The fourth book in the Outlander series, I wanted to tackle this one before the new series premiers on Starz later this year. Now I’m suffering from Droughtlander again. I better pick a book from our Droughtlander round-up. I’m thinking Scribe of Sienna perhaps.


A Rule Against Murder by Louisa Penny

Love, love, love this series. This mystery series is incredible and I highly recommend it to everyone. This was book 4 and features Chief Inspector Gamache solving a murder on vacation. As usual, I was stumped.


Betrayal by Aleatha Romig

I read the entire 5 book Infidelity series in one week! It was addictive in a very 50 Shades kind of way. I can’t handle flights and this kind of reading is the only thing that gets me through. Thank god for Scilla Lee of 2psinabookstagram for recommending this series to me!


Into the Water by Paula Hawkins

Jackie read Into the Water a few months ago and on her recommendation, I put this on my library holds list. The audiobook version came due while I was away on vacation so I was happy to listen to it poolside. It was creepy but not keep me up at night scary.  If you like these kinds of books, take a look at Jackie’s post for a more in-depth review and a list of 16 other books like it!


Ginny Moon by Ludwig Benjamin

Loved this story of an autistic girl who struggled to find a place with her new adopted family. The story was told from the perspective of the girl (written by the parent of an autistic child) and it was fascinating. It made me very anxious because Ginny’s inner dialogue is very different than mine. It really helped me understand the inner works of autism. I really recommend this book.


Jackie’s Stack

I definitely ended 2017 well and started 2018 off with a bang.  I’d definitely been in a reading slump but I’ve  already read some amazing books this year that I highly recommend.  I am also really excited for our reading challenge.  It has helped me start reading some great books that I may not have read otherwise.  It has actually helped me plan what to read a little more than I have done in the past.  I am trying to follow our own advice so my reading is more meaningful.

The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce

Wow. I loved this book.  Music is big in my house so this book spoke to me. Frank is a man who helps everyone with their problems by giving them the music they need from his little music shop. It sells only vinyl. When a woman faints outside his shop, Frank realizes he can’t hear the music she needs. His life changes forever. This book is a similar feel as Little Paris Bookshop/Perfume Collector.  There is a playlist on Spotify that goes with this book.  So sit back, read, listen and enjoy.

Thank you to Penguin Random House and NetGalley for giving me a copy of this book.

Meet Me at The Cupcake Cafe by Jenny Colgan

Warning: reading this book will make you hungry.  I am so not a baker and yet, I was almost inclined to give it a try.  Cupcake Cafe, like more of Colgan’s other books, is a perfectly sweet palate cleanser.  I am never surprised or disappointed in her books.



The Lost Girls of Camp Forevermore by Kim Fu

The book is very readable and has a great storyline. I love books about camp!  A group of girls come to camp and go on an overnight camping trip that will change their lives forever.  The book alternates between telling about each girl and telling about the camping trip.  I was dissatisfied with the ending and felt like a lot of issues were left unresolved. I wanted the stories of the girls to come back together somehow or for an epilogue. Thank you to Netgalley for giving me an advanced copy of this book.  It comes out Feb 13th.


Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

I have such mixed feelings about this book.  There was nothing I didn’t like.  It is a great story and written really well.  I think because of all the hype I was expecting to be completely blown away.  I actually stopped reading this book at about page 85 because I didn’t have the initial “wow” reaction.  I’m really glad I decided to give it another try.  Ng has a depth to her characters and looks at highly emotional issues. I ended up really liking the book once I got past the beginning.


Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan

I listened to this book and it was unreal.  I want my son to read this so badly but, I also want him to listen to it as well. It is a story about music.  The audio version plays to music so it is a full sensory experience.  Part fairy tale and part historical fiction, this book is amazing for middle grade and adults alike.


The City of Brass by S. A. Chakraborty

I decided to give this book a try.  It is “more” of a fantasy than I am used to reading and I am so glad that I did.  I really loved it.  I think I really love fantasies even though I have not read so many books in this genre over the last few years.  City of Brass is the first in a trilogy and I will definitely be reading the next ones when they come out.


Anatomy of a Scandal

Anatomy of a Scandal by Sarah Vaughan

The story is one that could have been plucked from the headline in any major city’s newspaper.  James, a young, good-looking politician who is married with two young children has been caught having an affair.  What he claims was one last consensual tryst, she claims is rape.  The story slowly unfolds from the point of view of both the wife and the lawyer who is trying the case. The premise of this book is very relevant.  It is well written and well researched.  I think I expected the story to be more fast paced and at times I felt like it was a little bit too long.  There were some definite surprises along the way; however, I don’t think I felt connected enough to the characters to be shocked. I didn’t like Sophie (the wife) or Kate (the lawyer) so I felt like I wasn’t rooting for either of them.  The only person that I was concerned about was the woman accusing James of rape.  Unfortunately, we did not hear from her point of view. Thank you to NetGalley for giving me a copy of this book.

Goldfish Boy by Lisa Thompson

Another great read in middle-grade books.  This story is about a boy named Matthew who has severe OCD and has trouble leaving his house due to his anxiety. Matthew is the last person to have seen the toddler next door before the four-year-old disappeared.   I love the fact that this book looks at the world from Matthew’s point of view.  It is very readable as well as eye-opening.


How to Stop Time by Matt Haig

I love this book.  Tom has a rare condition that makes him age very slowly.  Although he looks like he is in his 40’s, he is actually centuries old.  What do you do with unlimited time? I love that the story doesn’t glamorize long life but, portrays it as simultaneously poignant and beautiful. Tom is moving through life mourning the loss of his true love who died hundreds of years ago. The story follows Tom back and forth between the present as he searches to find his purpose.  However, the book isn’t “heavy”-  I couldn’t put it down! It’s an historical fiction but fantastical twist.  Thank you to Netgalley for my copy of this book.  It is being released on February 6th and was on our list of upcoming releases not the be missed!

Beyond the Bookends

We are so excited for next month’s Reading Challenge picks and will be sharing those with you later this week. Jackie will also be revealing her January challenge pick and review next month. Since February is the month of love, we have a very cute post coming up about famous literary couples and what we think they would give each other for Valentine’s Day!


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