January Reads (click on title to read full review):
1. Ten Kisses to Scandal by Vivienne Lorret - When the youngest in a family of matchmakers tries to do some surreptitious matchmaking of her own, she ends up making a deal with an infamous rake. He will teach her lessons about natural attraction but for each lesson she must give him one kiss. What will happen as the kisses become more passionate?
2. Friday Black (short stories) by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah - A fabulous collection of short stories with focus on racism, consumerism, and poverty.
3. Tomorrow is Waiting by Kiley Frank and Aaron Meshon - A children's book about the many things to look forward to in life.
4. Vivian Maier: The Color Work by Colin Westerbeck, Vivian Maier (contributor) - A coffee-table sized monograph of Vivian Maier's color photographs, with excellent text explaining their value.
5. Splinterlands by John Feffer - In a dystopian future where climate change and the splintering of nations has led to a violent, shattered world, a man goes in search of his family as a virtual avatar.
6. Fighting Fascism: How to Struggle and How to Win by Clara Zetkin, ed. by M. Taber and J. Riddell - A guide to how to fight fascism, written in 1923 and taken up by the Communist party but then abandoned. The author's predictions of what would happen if people of varying beliefs didn't band together and create force in numbers unfortunately came to be.
7. Soon: What Science, Philosophy, Religion, and History Teach Us about the Surprising Power of Procrastination by Andrew Santella - A look into the history of procrastination and a theory about how sometimes procrastination may not be all that bad.
8. 13 Things Mentally Strong Women Don't Do by Amy Morin - A self-help book in which the author analyzes what mentally strong women don't do and helps you figure out how to make the mentally strong choice.
9. The Gown by Jennifer Robson - Two embroiderers work on Princess Elizabeth's bridal gown in post-WWII London while in a present-day storyline, the granddaughter of one of the embroiderers is left a box with embroidered flowers and a mystery.
10. Time is the Longest Distance by Janet Clare - When a middle-aged woman is told her deceased father was not her biological father, she travels to Australia to meet the man her mother had an affair with and get to know her other family. She ends up traveling across a dangerous desert track with them.
11. Freefall by Jessica Barry - After a plane crash, a wounded survivor grabs what she can from the wreckage and runs for her life. Who is pursuing her and why? Her mother doesn't believe she's dead and tries to find out what's going on. Will the crash survivor get to her mother in time to protect her from what she uncovers?
12. Howard's End by E. M. Forster - A classic tale of two sisters who meet a couple while traveling and accidentally steal an umbrella. The two accidents of fate will steer the coming years of their lives and everything that happens revolves around Howard's End, a house in the country.
13. Kivalina: A Climate Change Story by Christine Shearer - The true story of a village in Alaska that is quickly eroding and being swamped by the sea, its inhabitants unable to find the funds to leave, along with a history of corporate deceipt and how it wins out over science to the detriment of our safety and health.
14. Thunder Pug by Kim Norman and Keika Yamaguchi - A children's picture book about a pug and a pig who discover that everything's better when done with a friend.
15. A Song for Gwendolyn Brooks by Alice Faye Duncan and Xia Gordon - A children's biography of the African American poet that tells how she began writing poetry young and grew to be a prize-winning poet thanks to talent, dedication, and very supportive parents.
16. Mirabel's Missing Valentines by Janet Lawler and Olivia Chin Mueller - Mirabel is nervous about Valentine's Day but she creates some beautiful valentines to give away and then drops them. In the process, she discovers how easy it is to make someone's day and finds her courage. Another children's picture book.
17. Fire and Forget: Short Stories from the Long War by Ed. by Roy Scranton and Matt Gallagher - An anthology of stories about what it's like to be a soldier or a soldier's wife during a war or at home after deployment.
18. Old Baggage by Lissa Evans - The prequel to Crooked Heart tells the story of Mattie, a headstrong former suffragette who finds a new mission in educating young ladies and teaching them life skills.
19. Alpine Ballad by Vasil Bykau, translated by Mikalai Khilo - The story of a Belarusian soldier and a young Italian political prisoner who escape a Nazi concentration camp in Austria, climb into the mountains, and fall in love.
Oh, my gosh, what a month! I'm so thrilled to finally have finished all the reviews. In addition to being a great month for quantity, it was a fantastic month for quality. There was not a single book that I really disliked and I don't recall abandoning any books, either.
Absolute favorites in January were Friday Black, Tomorrow is Waiting, Vivian Maier: The Color Work, Fighting Fascism, The Gown, Kivalina, Mirabel's Missing Valentines, Fire and Forget, Old Baggage, and Alpine Ballad. That's a lot of favorites.
I also enjoyed 10 Kisses to Scandal, and . . . oh, shoot, everything else. If I had to pick on anything at all in the books that weren't my favorites, it would all be minor. Splinterlands was a little dry but worth hanging in there for the ending. Soon is entertaining but just that (not really helpful). Time is the Longest Distance has a lot of unlikable characters but fantastic use of the senses. The pages flew in Freefall but it was kind of odd how a festering wound suddenly stopped being a problem . . . you see what I mean. Nothing was awful or ruined any book for me. It was just a terrific month.