Mini-Reviews of Recent Reads – January 2022

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Just a few reviews this month, as I didn’t read a lot over the holidays. The last couple of months have been busy with family, personal projects, and doing some planning for the new year.

I’ve also been taking the time to relish the books that are hitting hard; the five-star book below was one I read slowly.

Savoring great books is something I haven’t done a lot recently–I tend to push through quickly so I can move on to the next one. Slowing down and focusing on the present is something that’s always worth doing.

I’m also moving slowly through my current audiobook listen, The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story. It’s not only long, it’s impactful.

Some of the essays include dense history, while others prompt me to stop listening and reflect. I highly recommend it to all.

Here’s what else I’ve been reading lately:

Finlay Donovan Knocks 'Em Dead by Elle Cosimano

Finlay Donovan Knocks ‘Em Dead

Author: Elle Cosimano
Source: St. Martin’s Press, Minotaur Books via Netgalley
Date: February 1, 2022

Last year’s Finlay Donovan Is Killing It was such an absurd, escapist read that I included it in my best books of 2021–it was so much fun! I was excited to read the second in this series about a divorced author who gets mistaken for a hit-woman. In this follow-up, Finlay learns that her ex-husband may be the target of a hit, and she has to stop it.

This one doesn’t disappoint, though it’s not quite as hilarious as the first–the author actually addresses the difficulty of writing comedy during the pandemic in her author’s note. Finlay and her sidekick, Vero, remain charming and bumbling, and the romances and even the crimes don’t feel too serious (a feat, considering some of the gruesome crimes in these books). I continue to think of this series as a fresh alternative to the Stephanie Plum series (my previous escapist go-to) and I hope there are more books to come. 4 stars

More info

Amazon | |

Joan Is Okay by Weike Wang

Joan Is Okay

Author: Weike Wang
Source: Random House Publishing Group via Netgalley
Date: January 18, 2022

Weike Wang writes characters with some of the most distinctive voices I’ve ever read; her previous novel Chemistry had a similar straightforward sparseness that felt both orderly and soothing. Joan is also a scientist, an attending physician at a Manhattan hospital. She relishes her job, her usefulness, and as such, the feeling of being a cog in the wheel. When her father dies, she takes only a weekend to fly to China for the funeral, though his loss permeates her life in the months that follow.

She is an enigma to her family, coworkers, and neighbors, all of whom try in different ways to forge connections and draw her from her work-focused ways. When the hospital makes her take off for bereavement, the newfound time forces her to examine her identity more closely than she has in ages–and it’s drawn into sharper focus when COVID hits and Asians become targets.

I loved being in Joan’s very literal head and her full acceptance of herself and her own life path. 4 stars

More info

Amazon | |

What Comes After by Joanne Tompkins

What Comes After

Author: Joanne Tompkins
Source: Book of the Month
Publish Date: April 13, 2021

In a small Washington town, the horrifying deaths of two teen boys shock everyone. Daniel’s father, Isaac, mourns his son and grapples with his anger, turning to his Quaker faith. Jonah’s mother, Lorrie, struggles with guilt. When Evangeline, a pregnant teen girl comes into their lives, she offers hope for new beginnings–and the possibility of answers to the questions that plague them.

Told in alternating voices of imperfect characters, Tompkins weaves a riveting literary mystery. Each distinctive character battles their worst impulses that hold them back from the love they desperately want. It’s a sensitive examination of tragedy and grief–a fantastic debut. Animal lovers will adore the dog who is expertly woven into the lives of the characters (be warned, though, about some violence toward animals in this book). 5 stars

More info

Amazon | |

What have you been reading lately?


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  1. Looks like a nice selection of books. I love that you include what you are reading with your kiddos. I am currently finishing up The Girl Who Could Breathe Under Water by Erin Bartels. It is a pretty heavy/intense read.

  2. I finished Wintergirls and Soeak. Both were profoundly moving. I reread CONFESSIONS OF BAT TURNER and burned with fury at slavery and slave states. Iam currently reading HOME.

  3. The way you describe Joan reminds me of the main character in Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata (translated from the Japanese by Ginny Tapley Takemori). I really liked that one and am intrigued by Joan Is Okay.

    What Comes After is on my shelf. You just moved it up a few places on my TBR.

    I appreciate your thoughts on the books you’ve read!

  4. I’m currently reading The Book of Hope by Jane Goodall, this is my local bookclub selection. I find it engaging and thought provoking. We’ve been on a current event road of late, also read How the Word is Passed, so I don’t think I could get into The 1619 Project. For something fun to read I’ve been reading the Roy Grace mysteries by Peter James. These were introduced to me through Camilla Parker Bowles and her Reading Room online bookclub on Instagram.
    I enjoy your blog, thank you.

  5. I’ve read The Spanish Love Deception by Elena Armas and The Taste Of Ginger by Mansi Shah.
    Currently I’m reading The Priory Of The Orange Tree

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