2.3.20 2

On My Nightstand: January 2020

Happy February! Is it just me, or did January drag on? I am excited for a new month and hoping that we are lucky enough to enjoy an early spring! Even if it is cold here, I am heading to Miami for a work trip in a few weeks and am excited to enjoy some warm weather temps for a few days. Anyway—enough about the weather, let’s chat about the topic of today’s post: books!

In January, I read eight books! In addition to having a flight to and from New Orleans to power through some reads, I also made a lot of time to read at home—I’ve been enjoying lazy weekend mornings where I read in my bed for an hour before getting up to start my day and it has been so nice. I also really loved my Metro reads this month, which meant instead of playing on my phone for half my commute, I focused fully on reading.

As is custom on these posts, I wanted to call out that I’m part of a program where Random House will send me some of their new titles each month. I’m under no obligation to post about any titles I receive, so I really can tell you my own opinion (good or bad!) about them. I’ve starred the books Random House sent me for free below. I’m so lucky to be sent books and that’s not lost on me!

You can always follow along with what I am reading in real-time over on Goodreads—feel free to friend me there! x

I WAS ANASTASIA // ARIEL LAWHON

In 1920, a woman who looks like Anastasia Romanov is pulled from a canal in Berlin. When she finally speaks, she tells everyone she is the missing Grand Duchess—but those who don’t believe her call her by her given name, Anna Anderson, and say she is posing as the Romanov daughter to claim the family’s missing fortune. Anna’s tale alternates chapters with that of Anastasia, beginning from the point when her Father, Nicholas II, abdicates the throne and the family is put under house arrest. The question of what happened to Anastasia Romanov and who is Anna Anderson are explored in the subsequent chapters.

Would I recommend it? I liked this one ok—but my favorite Romanov historical fictions are The Lost Daughter and The Secret Wife by Gill Paul.

IT ENDS WITH US // COLLEEN HOOVER

Lily grew up in a small town in Maine and moved to Boston for college. Soon after her father’s funeral, she meets a man, Ryle, on an apartment rooftop who she thinks she’ll never see again. Lily starts her own business—the flower shop she’s always dreamed of—and by chance encounter, meets Ryle again right before she opens the doors for business. They begin dating and as Lily falls more for Ryle, she begins thinking more and more of her first love, Atlas. A chance encounter with him threatens everything she’s built with Ryle—and she’s forced to decide if she can overcome demons of the past.

Would I recommend it? Absolutely—I read this one within 24 hours because I could not put it down! However, I do want to provide a trigger warning around domestic abuse.

FOREVER IS THE WORST LONG TIME // CAMILLE PAGAN

James meets Lou one day, and is attracted to her at first sight. Only problem? Lou is dating James’ best friend Rob. So he swallows his desires and moves forward with a mediocre life—he feels “meh” about his job, dates a woman he can’t fully commit to, and can never seem to finish the novel he wants to write. When Lou’s marriage collapses, she turns to James for comfort, and their actions end up having a big consequence.

Would I recommend it? I loved this one—it was so touching and while it was somewhat predictable, also had a ton of substance.

LIFE WILL BE THE DEATH OF ME // CHELSEA HANDLER*

In this memoir, while she talks about a lot of different subjects, the general theme of the book is based around conversations she had with her therapist as she works to come to terms with the trauma she faced in childhood when her brother, Chet, passed away when he was 22 and Chelsea was 9. She shares how Chet’s death changed her entire family’s dynamics, and is still impacting the relationships she has with those around her today. Told in true Chelsea form, she’s able to bring in humor at just the right time.

Would I recommend it? My opinion of Chelsea Handler is pretty neutral, but I really enjoyed this memoir and the way she approaches storytelling. Her vulnerability about grief around her brother’s death was admirable.

SMALL GREAT THINGS // JODI PICOULT

Ruth is an experienced labor and delivery nurse who has worked hard to support her and her son for the last 20 years. During a shift, Ruth performs a routine check of a newborn, but things quickly take a turn as the baby’s parents are white supremacists and don’t want Ruth, an African American, to touch their son. The head nurse complies with their request and reassigns another nurse to the baby. The next day, Ruth is alone in the nursery and the baby goes into cardiac arrest—and given her orders to not touch the child, she hesitates to perform CPR. As a result of her hesitation, she’s charged with a crime and assigned a public defender, Kennedy. Surprisingly, Kennedy tells Ruth playing the race card is not a winning strategy in the courtroom, and as the trial becomes a media sensation, Kennedy and Ruth must learn to work as a team and challenge the assumptions they have about each other.

Would I recommend it? Jodi Picoult is such an amazing writer; she can write about so many different topics well. I didn’t like this one as much as Leaving Time, but I still really enjoyed it and loved that it make me question a lot of my own privilege.

A HUNDRED SUMMERS // BEATRIZ WILLIAMS

Lily returns to Seaview, Rhode Island over Memorial Day 1938 and is expecting a quiet summer seaside. Everything is quiet until Lily’s former best friend, Budgie Greenwald, and former fiancé, Nick Greenwald, roll into town. The two have gotten married and Budgie is determined to become the center of the social season. As the summer heats up, Nick and Lily are forced to confront what happened after their engagement all those years ago.

Would I recommend it? 100%! I actually skipped out of a happy hour early to come home and finish this book—this would be a great read for a Presidents’ Day beach escape!

ALL THE NIGHT WE CANNOT SEE // ANTHONY DOERR

Marie-Laure lives in Paris with her father, the locksmith at the Museum of Natural History. Her eyesight worsens, and eventually, she becomes blind. When the Nazis occupy Paris, her and her father flee to the seaside town of Saint-Malo to live with her great uncle. Unbeknownst to Marie, her father has been charged with carrying a diamond from the museum’s collection—only he doesn’t know if it’s real or one of the three copies. Meanwhile, Werner, a young German orphan who grows up in a mining town, has become an expert at building and fixing radios—a talent that nearby Nazi commanders take note of. The Nazis offer him an opportunity to use his skills to track and take down the resistance. Marie-Laure and Werners lives are interwoven throughout the story, which speeds up as the war marches on.

Would I recommend it? I am so glad I read this one, and while The Nightingale and Lilac Girls are still my top two faves in this genre, this one is a close third. It did take me a while to get into it, but once I did, it was a page turner.

BEFORE WE WERE YOURS // LISA WINGATE*

n the present day, Avery Stafford returns to Aiken, South Carolina to help with her ill father. While there, she meets May Crandall, an elderly woman in the nursing home, who’s story she decides to investigate. Every other chapter, the novel flips back to the 1930s to Rill’s life. Her and her four siblings are kidnapped off their boat one night by Georgia Tann’s people and taken to the Tennessee Children’s Home Society, where they are starved, given horrible water to bathe in, and even molested. Even though their parents are alive, Georgia Tann presents them as orphans to prospective parents, as Rill fights to keep her family together so they can make their way home.

Would I recommend it? This is the best book I read all month—I have literally been talking to anyone who will listen about it. It’s based on true accounts of those who survived the Tennessee Children’s Home Society, and there’s a follow-up, non-fiction book called Before and After that is on my list to read.

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2 Comments

  1. Before We Were Yours was such an incredibly interesting story!!! Can’t believe something like that actually happened, and not that long ago.
    Great, helpful reviews Katie!

    Published 2.4.20
    Reply
    • Katie wrote:

      I know—it is so sad that it was relatively recently and it went on for so long. Such a moving story!

      Published 2.9.20
      Reply