This is my monthly roundup of books that came my way in the last month. I also share an update with you on other things going on in my and my family’s life.
January was kind of a weird month for us. It started with a snowstorm. We traveled to our first show choir competition. Then our daughter celebrated her 17th birthday. Then all three of us came down with Covid. All of us managed fine and didn’t have too much difficulty, but it forced us to slow down and stay home for several days.
Family and Life Update
This month the book selections include some excellent adult fiction, nonfiction, and a few really great children’s and middle-grade books I’m anxious to read and share with you. Later this week, I’ll also be sharing a bunch of children’s books from Chronicle Kids to be published this spring and summer.
In January I read 4 books off of my own to-read shelf as part of my goal of reading 22 books off of my to-read shelf this year. I’m pretty proud of that but know that all months won’t be like that. I’m already noticing I’m not reading as much in February as the first 7 days have been extremely hectic. I’m just trying to take those pockets of reading time when I can and not worry too much if I can’t do more than listen to an audiobook on a given day. I hope you find something that interests you in the books I’m sharing below.
Be sure to follow me on Instagram, HERE to see snippets of what I’m reading or what’s going on in my daily life.
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THE TAO OF INNER PEACE
By: Diane Dreher
Published: November 1, 2000
I’m not exactly sure why I received a book first published in 1990 and then again in 2000. But, it does appear it is newly available as an eBook, so maybe that is why the publicists are promoting it. In giving the book a quick skim, each section appears to include breathing techniques, personal exercises, and affirmations. If you are new to Taoist principles or looking to begin this approach in your life, this appears to be the recommended book to start your journey with.
Translated more often than any other book except the Bible, the Tao Te Ching has been a spiritual guide for centuries, helping millions find peace within themselves, with each other, and with the natural world around them. Written in workbook style, complete with exercises, questionnaires, journal-keeping techniques, and affirmations, The Tao of Inner Peace translates the ancient Eastern philosophy into a plan for contemporary Western living. Diane Dreher, Ph.D., shows the way to: * Bring greater joy, fulfillment, and creativity to daily life
* Heal the body and spirit
* Build self-acceptance and self-esteem
* Resolve conflict
* Reverse negative cycles of emotion
* Understand life as a process of changes and challenges
With its lively, demystifying approach, The Tao of Inner Peace shows how the Tao can be a powerful source of growth, inspiration, and peace.
By: Len Joy
Published: March 1, 2022
Publisher: BQB Publishing
This legal thriller offers a young, relatable character that readers will root for.
The day All-American Joey Blade turns 18, he learns his ex-girlfriend is pregnant, is betrayed by his new girlfriend, and is arrested for the attempted murder of two police officers. Then things get bad.
The high school bonfire is supposed to be the kickoff to a great night: Joey has just won a football scholarship and he’s hoping for a sex breakthrough with his new girlfriend. Then his true love–but ex-girlfriend–Mallory tells his she’s pregnant. He’s reeling from that news when the bonfire explodes.
Joey, his new girlfriend and her drug dealer friend TJ, flee in her truck. When the police pursue, TJ shoots at the cop’s car. It crashes and in the ensuing chaos TJ slips away undetected. Joey, the only adult in the truck, is hauled off to jail.
Joey is charged with attempted murder and released on bail. TJ is nowhere to be found. When Joey discovers that Mallory’s father is pressuring her to terminate the pregnancy, Joey has to remain free to prevent that from happening. In desperation, he reaches out to notorious gang leader, Chico Torres, whom he met in jail, for help locating TJ.
When Joey is offered a deal–his freedom in exchange for his cooperation in nailing Chico–he faces a decision that will change the course of his life and Mallory’s.
LOVE & SAFFRON
A Novel of Friendship, Food, and Love
By: Kim Fay
Published: February 8, 2022
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
This novel has gotten high praise from authors I respect including J. Ryan Stradal, Ann Hood, and Lian Dolan. Plus it’s a novel about food and letters between friends. I can’t wait to start this one.
When twenty-seven-year-old Joan Bergstrom sends a fan letter–as well as a gift of saffron–to fifty-nine-year-old Imogen Fortier, a life-changing friendship begins. Joan lives in Los Angeles and is just starting out as a writer for the newspaper food pages. Imogen lives on Camano Island outside Seattle, writing a monthly column for a Pacific Northwest magazine, and while she can hunt elk and dig for clams, she’s never tasted fresh garlic–exotic fare in the Northwest of the sixties. As the two women commune through their letters, they build a closeness that sustains them through the Cuban Missile Crisis, the assassination of President Kennedy, and the unexpected in their own lives.
Food and a good life–they can’t be separated. It is a discovery the women share, not only with each other, but with the men in their lives. Because of her correspondence with Joan, Imogen’s decades-long marriage blossoms into something new and exciting, and in turn, Joan learns that true love does not always come in the form we expect it to. Into this beautiful, intimate world comes the ultimate test of Joan and Imogen’s friendship–a test that summons their unconditional trust in each other.
A brief respite from our chaotic world, Love & Saffron is a gem of a novel, a reminder that food and friendship are the antidote to most any heartache, and that human connection will always be worth creating.
THE READING LIST
By: Sara Nisha Adams
Published: August 3, 2021
Publisher: William Morrow
This is the book choice for the February Literati Book Club. This month I am reading along with Luminary Kelly McGonigal, a psychologist and author. I was excited to see this book on the list and chose her book club for this month. See more about this in an upcoming post or check out my previous Literati posts, HERE.
Widower Mukesh lives a quiet life in the London Borough of Ealing after losing his beloved wife. He shops every Wednesday, goes to Temple, and worries about his granddaughter, Priya, who hides in her room reading while he spends his evenings watching nature documentaries.
Aleisha is a bright but anxious teenager working at the local library for the summer when she discovers a crumpled-up piece of paper in the back of To Kill a Mockingbird. It’s a list of novels that she’s never heard of before. Intrigued, and a little bored with her slow job at the checkout desk, she impulsively decides to read every book on the list, one after the other. As each story gives up its magic, the books transport Aleisha from the painful realities she’s facing at home.
When Mukesh arrives at the library, desperate to forge a connection with his bookworm granddaughter, Aleisha passes along the reading list… hoping that it will be a lifeline for him too. Slowly, the shared books create a connection between two lonely souls, as fiction helps them escape their grief and everyday troubles and find joy again.
THE VANISHING HALF
By: Brit Bennett
Published: June 2, 2020, paperback May 22, 2021
Publisher: Penguin US
I have the hardcover of this book waiting on my shelf already. This paperback was part of the Jen Hatmaker Book Club for January. The book also came with a Renew Shower Mist from Winton and Waits. I’m considering choosing this for my in-person book club this month since it is my turn to choose the book.
The Vignes twin sisters will always be identical. But after growing up together in a small, southern black community and running away at age sixteen, it’s not just the shape of their daily lives that is different as adults, it’s everything: their families, their communities, their racial identities. Many years later, one sister lives with her black daughter in the same southern town she once tried to escape. The other passes for white, and her white husband knows nothing of her past. Still, even separated by so many miles and just as many lies, the fates of the twins remain intertwined. What will happen to the next generation, when their own daughters’ storylines intersect?
Weaving together multiple strands and generations of this family, from the Deep South to California, from the 1950s to the 1990s, Brit Bennett produces a story that is at once a riveting, emotional family story and a brilliant exploration of the American history of passing. Looking well beyond issues of race, The Vanishing Half considers the lasting influence of the past as it shapes a person’s decisions, desires, and expectations, and explores some of the multiple reasons and realms in which people sometimes feel pulled to live as something other than their origins.
THE MAGNOLIA PALACE
By: Fiona Davis
Published: January 25, 2022
I chose this for my Book of the Month choice last month. I’ve been wanting to read a Fiona Davis book and this one interested me.
Eight months since losing her mother in the Spanish flu outbreak of 1919, twenty-one-year-old Lillian Carter’s life has completely fallen apart. For the past six years, under the moniker Angelica, Lillian was one of the most sought-after artists’ models in New York City, with statues based on her figure gracing landmarks from the Plaza Hotel to the Brooklyn Bridge. But with her mother gone, a grieving Lillian is rudderless and desperate—the work has dried up and a looming scandal has left her entirely without a safe haven. So when she stumbles upon an employment opportunity at the Frick mansion—a building that, ironically, bears her own visage—Lillian jumps at the chance. But the longer she works as a private secretary to the imperious and demanding Helen Frick, the daughter and heiress of industrialist and art patron Henry Clay Frick, the more deeply her life gets intertwined with that of the family—pulling her into a tangled web of romantic trysts, stolen jewels, and family drama that runs so deep, the stakes just may be life or death.
Nearly fifty years later, mod English model Veronica Weber has her own chance to make her career—and with it, earn the money she needs to support her family back home—within the walls of the former Frick residence, now converted into one of New York City’s most impressive museums. But when she—along with a charming intern/budding art curator named Joshua—is dismissed from the Vogue shoot taking place at the Frick Collection, she chances upon a series of hidden messages in the museum: messages that will lead her and Joshua on a hunt that could not only solve Veronica’s financial woes, but could finally reveal the truth behind a decades-old murder in the infamous Frick family.
By: Diana Farid MD, MPH
Illustrated by: Kris Goto
Published: March 15, 2022
Publisher: Cameron Kids
This middle-grade story written in verse is high on my to-read list soon. I really like stories written in verse and I think tweens and teens will like this one too.
A coming-of-age novel in verse set in 1980s Southern California, about a Persian American girl who rides the waves, falls, and finds her way back to the shore
Thirteen-year-old Ava loves to surf and to sing. Singing and reading Rumi poems settle her mild OCD, and catching waves with her best friend, Phoenix, lets her fit in—her olive skin looks tan, not foreign. But then Ava has to spend the summer before ninth grade volunteering at the hospital, to follow in her single mother’s footsteps to become a doctor. And when Phoenix’s past lymphoma surges back, not even surfing, singing, or poetry can keep them afloat, threatening Ava’s hold on the one place and the one person that make her feel like she belongs. With ocean-like rhythm and lyricism, Wave is about a girl who rides the waves, tumbles, and finds her way back to the shore.
GREAT OR NOTHING
By: Jessica Spotswood, Tess Sharpe, Joy McCullough
Published: March 8, 2022
Publisher: Delacorte Press
A reimagining of LITTLE WOMEN? Count me in!
A reimagining of Little Women set in the spring of 1942, when the United States is suddenly embroiled in the second World War, this story, told from each March sister’s point of view, is one of grief, love, and self-discovery.
In the spring of 1942, the United States is reeling from the attack on Pearl Harbor. While the US starts sending troops to the front, the March family of Concord, Massachusetts grieves their own enormous loss: the death of their daughter, Beth.
Under the strain of their grief, Beth’s remaining sisters fracture, each going their own way with Jo nursing her wounds and building planes in Boston, Meg holding down the home front with Marmee, and Amy living a secret life as a Red Cross volunteer in London–the same city where one Mr. Theodore Laurence is stationed as an army pilot.
Each March sister’s point of view is written by a separate author, three in prose and Beth’s in verse, still holding the family together from beyond the grave. Woven together, these threads tell a story of finding one’s way in a world undergoing catastrophic change.
ONCE UPON A FOREST
By: Pam Fong
Published: February 8, 2022
Publisher: Random House
Format: Hardcover Picture Book
A gorgeous wordless picture book about two friends saving their forest home from a wildfire.
After a fire leaves the forest smoldering, a determined marmot and her resourceful bird friend set off on a rescue mission in this beautifully illustrated, wordless story.
They clear away fallen branches and scorched bushes. They rake and dig and plant new seedlings in the earth. With determination and ingenuity, as the seasons pass, they care for the little trees by making sure they have enough water, protect their branches from the wind and snow, and keep away hungry creatures, until the trees can thrive on their own.
With a little time, care, and hope we all can help the earth.
THIS IS (NOT) ENOUGH
You Are Not Small series
By: Anna Kang
Illustrated by: Christopher Weyant
Published: March 1, 2022
Publisher: Two Lions
Format: Hardcover Picture Book
From the series including IT IS (NOT) PERFECT and WE ARE (NOT) FRIENDS, comes a story of two friends trying to find the perfect gift for each other. The book includes the same loveable characters and a sweet lesson on friendship.
Two friends are excited about getting presents for each other. But when they try to find just the right gift, nothing seems good enough. From skywriting to painting to gardens, each thing they try ends up feeling just a little off. How will they ever find that special gift?
With humor and heart, the purple and orange characters from Theodor Seuss Geisel Award winner You Are (Not) Small discover that what makes a gift special isn’t necessarily what’s inside the box.
BREAKING THROUGH THE CLOUDS
The Sometimes Turbulent Life of Meteorologist Joanne Simpson
By: Sandra Nickel
Illustrated by: Helena Perez Garcia
Published: March 8, 2022
Publisher: Abrams Books for Young Readers
Format: Hardcover Picture Book
I have never heard of Joanne Simpson and I’m guessing most children haven’t either. If your child loves watching the weather on the news, this is a book to inspire them to become a meteorologist.
An inspiring picture book about the meteorologist whose discoveries helped us understand how weather works. When Joanne Simpson (1923-2010) was a girl, she sailed her boat beneath the puffy white clouds of Cape Cod. As a pilot, she flew her plane so high, its wings almost touched them. And when World War II began and Joanne moved to the University of Chicago, a professor asked her to teach Air Force officers about those very clouds and the weather-changing winds. As soon as the war ended, Joanne decided to seriously study the clouds she had grown to love so much. Her professors laughed. They told her to go home. They told her she was no longer needed. They told her, “No woman ever got a doctorate in meteorology. And no woman ever will.”
But Joanne was stubborn. She sold her boat. She flew her last flight. She saved her money so that she could study clouds. She worked so hard and discovered so much that—despite what the professors said—she received a doctorate in meteorology. She was the first woman in the world to do so.
Breaking Through the Clouds tells the story of a trailblazing scientist whose discoveries about clouds and how they work changed everything we know about weather today.
Which one (or two or three) of these books will you be adding to your list?
To see all the posts featuring new books on my shelves, click HERE.
So many books, so little time!
Posted Under Anna Kang, biography, Book Review, Brit Bennett, Children's books, Christopher Weyant, Chronicle Kids, Diana Farid MD MPH, Diane Dreher, fiction, Fiona Davis, Helena Perez Garcia, Jessica Spotswood, Joanne Simpson, Joy McCullough, Kim Fay, Kris Goto, Len Joy, middle-grade, New on the Stack, non-fiction, Pam Fong, poetry, Reagan, Sandra Nickel, Sara Nisha Adams, Tess Sharpe