Wednesday, January 31, 2024

January reads

Not knowing what to read next is always the biggest obstacle in my way when it comes to reading, and having easy access to a series solves that issue. 

Around mid-January, I took stock and realized I had already finished 5 books! Part of me wanted to pause because I was worried about this blog post, but that seemed like a silly reason to stop reading is what it is! By the end of the month, my grand total was 11, which is one more than my goal for the whole year of 2023.

The thing is, having a series to plow through or a newly discovered favorite author makes picking up the next book effortless; no wonder I was so good at reading as a kid! I had so many unread Stephen King books to discover!

To start the year with a beautiful, warm hug of a book, I read The Matchmaker's Gift by Lynda Cohen Loigman.

This was the perfect book to begin the year! It was so wholesome and warm, and just full of the familiarity and comfort of Jewish families. There were times I laughed out loud because a scene or phrase was just so...Jewish!

The book flashes back and forth between 1910 and 1994. The 1910 scenes follow Sara, a young Jewish girl whose family has just moved to New York from Russia. Sara realizes from a young age that she has a gift for matchmaking - there may be a little magic involved here, but it's never truly examined. The 1994 scenes follow Sara's granddaughter Abby as she reluctantly picks up her grandmother's mantel after her death.

I absolutely loved following both of them. Sara's chapters revealed the interesting (and sometimes infuriating) history of Jews new to America. Abby's chapters revealed the struggles of young working women and finding a balance between tradition and modernity. Both women's stories delve into themes of family, belief and self-confidence, embracing your strengths and values, courage in the face of adversity, and using your gifts for good.

Like Iona Iverson's Rules for Commuting, this novel immediately set itself apart as one I'm not happy to have just borrowed on Kindle; the issue of borrowing through Libby is I sometimes forget I've read a book, because I hardly think of the title as I'm reading. I don't want to risk forgetting this one, so I'll be buying myself a copy...and I'm attending an Author Talk put on by JWI!

Next up was a whole slew of the Gaslight Mysteries series by Victoria Thompson. They were all readily available on Libby, so I binged them nonstop, reading one a day whenever I felt like downloading one. 

This month I read #9-17:

Murder in Chinatown
Murder on Bank Street
Murder on Waverly Place
Murder on Lexington Avenue
Murder on Sisters' Row
Murder on Fifth Avenue
Murder in Chelsea
Murder in Murray Hill
Murder on Amsterdam Avenue

The mystery of Sarah's husband's murder is finally solved in Murder on Bank Street. I found Murder on
Lexington Avenue
a little convoluted, but I really enjoyed Bank Street and Sisters' Row. Chintatown was a little clumsy; I understand the prejudices we see from the characters because the book takes place in 1897, but certain parts of the narration – especially with regard to depicting accents – was...not great.

By mid-January I was more than halfway through the series and had just realized the latest was published in 2023. That means the series isn't concluded as I originally believed, and I'm glad it's ongoing because I love having a series to keep up with! It also means I should slow down so I don't reach the end of available titles too quickly.

Somewhere between binging the mysteries, I decided to reread a romance I had on my Kindle. The Overlord's Bridge by Margaret Moore is one of those classic, cheesy romances you think of when you think of classic, cheesy romances. 

Elizabeth is the niece of some influential courtier set to marry a grumpy widower named Raymond, the overlord of some estate under some earl. It's a political match, but soon Elizabeth's plucky attitude and sharp intelligence wins over her groom. Both Elizabeth and Raymond have been hurt/mistreated in the past, and there are some fun scenes where they both get to deliver karma upon their enemies, and of course there's a Happily Ever After ending.

It makes me chuckle to include this book here because in the past, I would have been embarrassed. But reading is all about escapism and indulging fantasies, and I'm a romantic at heart. Isn't reading this kind of stuff what e-readers were made for?! Given that romances have kind of gone mainstream (at least fantasy-romances have), I'm just going to embrace it. Nothing like a fluffy, predictable romance to make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

This was an incredibly ridiculous month for reading. I've basically read half of last year's total in a single month. I've missed reading like this. I will certainly be slowing down a bit as I branch out from the mysteries and start to read some heftier works, but wow...what a way to start the year!


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