January Books in Review

February 23, 2022
Fable by Adrienne Young with a Ammie Y'all rainbow mug and an open book underneath, on a light colored blanket

One of the things I’m endeavoring to do this year is be better about reviewing the books I read. For the past seven years, I’ve tracked the books I’ve read each year, but I haven’t reviewed them in any regular fashion. It’s gotten to the point where I’ve often forgotten to give them star ratings, and unless the book was wonderful or terrible, I couldn’t remember if I liked it enough to recommend it. But only recently, when I picked up a book at a used book sale here that I vaguely remembered reading about 20 years ago, (while tucked up in my grandma’s spare room, reading the romance novels I was most definitely not allowed to read) and started to reread it, I realized that reviewing my books might be useful. Because that nostalgic book from my teen years? Not only did it not age well, but it was poorly written. I could have saved myself a few Euros and a couple hours of eye rolling.

In addition, I’ve recently taken the next step as a crazy book lover, and gotten approved for ARC (advanced reader copy) books, and I need to review them. You can follow along with my reading progress in real time on The Storygraph. Here’s my profile, I’d love if you follow or friend me there. 

Books Read: 8

Favorite books: Fable, My Lala
Least favorite books: Monet and the Monster Magic

Portrait of a Scotsman by Evie Dunmore

Portrait of a Scotsman (A League of Extraordinary Women Book 3) by [Evie Dunmore]

Fiction; Historical Romance
⭐⭐⭐⭐ 4.0 stars

A well written novel, and the 3rd in this feminist set of historical romance novels. I didn’t love these characters as much as I did some of the other characters, but as usual, her writing is amazing and I enjoy the modern perspective on historical romance.


Shrinkage by Krystaelynne Sanders Diggs

Fiction; Children’s Literature
⭐⭐⭐ 3.5 stars

If you’ve read Hair Love, you’re going to enjoy reading Shrinkage. This book is a sweet, and beautifully illustrated, book about a young girl and her magical hair. She styles her hair in a myriad of ways that show that her hair is magic. Great for all kids, but as a curly haired (white) mom with a curly hair (white) daughter, we especially loved reading it. As my daughter and I read the book, we talked about which hairstyles would work on our hair, and which wouldn’t, and about how amazing curly hair is. While I think this book is beautifully illustrated, there wasn’t much plot, so while we enjoyed it, it wasn’t one that was requested for a reread. 3.5 stars for the topic and the illustrations though!

I was provided an ARC copy of this book through Netgalley. My thanks to the publisher and the author for providing it to me.

Beyond: The Founding of Valdemar #1 by Mercedes Lackey

Beyond (The Founding of Valdemar Book 1) by [Mercedes Lackey]Fiction; Fantasy
⭐⭐⭐⭐ 4.25 stars

I’ve been hoping for a ‘this is how it all began’ since I first started reading these books 20 years ago. On the one hand, it was everything I had hoped for, and on the other, it fell a little short of the court drama that I had hoped for. All in all, I am excited to see where this series goes.

My Lala by Thomas King & Charlene Chua

Fiction; Children’s Lit
⭐⭐⭐⭐ 4.0 stars

Lala is a mischievous little girl who has a box full of treasures and one day, decides to use one of those treasures to let everyone know what all in the world belongs to Lala. This short story is perfect for little adventurers, and features a main character of Asian heritage. It’s beautifully illustrated, and the writing flows really well. It was one that my daughter asked me to read again and again, and I was glad to do so.

I was provided an ARC copy of this book through Netgalley. My thanks to the publisher and the author for providing it to me. This book is available for preorder, and will be out in June 2022!

Sweet by Elizabeth Hunter

Sweet: A Novella (Love Stories on 7th and Main Book 4) by [Elizabeth Hunter]Fiction; Romance
⭐⭐⭐ 3.75 stars

Super cute little novella, and a lovely way to read more about spider and daisy from the other books. I wish she’d written them a whole novel, their stories deserved more!

Monet and the Monster Magic – RE Lockett

Monet and the Monster Magic by [R.E. Lockett]Fiction; Children’s Lit
⭐⭐ 2.0 stars

I wanted to love this story based on the description of it, and the text, but unfortunately, the illustrations were really lacking. Monet is an adventurous child who sees a monster in the woods and goes off on adventures with them. The story is fantastic, and if I was judging this on the text alone, I would give it 4.5 stars. But the illustrations feel rushed and unfinished, and takes away from the story as a whole, leaving both myself and my age appropriate child disappointed with the tale.

I was provided an ARC copy of this book through Netgalley. My thanks to the publisher and the author for providing it to me. This book is available for preorder and will be out in March 2022.

Bear Loves Music by Pang Shuo & Gan Yufang

Fiction; Children’s Lit
⭐⭐⭐ 3.5 stars

When I saw this book, I had high hopes for it, but in the end, it fell a bit flat. Little Bear plays her flute for her friends and neighbors, and some of them react poorly, but then some of them really like the music. While the illustrations in the book are lovely, and it flows fairly well, it didn’t capture the interest of myself or my daughter. And, there’s no real story or moral dilemma in the book, so a problem is never solved. Cute, and something I would enjoy checking out of the library, but not something that I would want to add to my home library.

I was provided an ARC copy of this book through Netgalley. My thanks to the publisher and the author for providing it to me.

Fable by Adrienne Young

Fable: A Novel by [Adrienne Young]Fiction; Young Adult, Fantasy
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 5.0 stars!

I’ve seen this book around quite a bit since it was published, and I can’t believe it took me two years to read it. Absolutely breathtaking. The start was a bit slow, but the character development was good. You’re really pulled into Fable’s story. While most of the plot twists were somewhat predictable, the way the book ended was unexpected. Currently impatiently waiting for the second book to come up in my library holds so I can find out how the story ends! As an aside, while I love library books, I’m contemplating buying both Fable and Namesake just because the cover designs are SO PERFECT that I want them in my library.


Leave a Reply

photo of the author, she has dark wavy hair, brown glasses, and red lipstick on. She is wearing a grey shirt.


Servus! I’m Emily and you’ve found my little corner of the internet, where I write about travel, intentionally living with less stuff, and living as a German-American family in Munich, Germany.  Want to know more?