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My Favorite Reads of January


     Due to an unforeseen sickness, I read a LOT more than I usually do in a single month.  Admittedly, I read a lot of short stories and children’s books, but I NEARLY read a book for every day of the month!
I wish that I could do this EVERY month; but I can’t.   My writing and the rest of my schedule have been out the window this month and starting in February, it’s back to work – the 682 books on my ‘to read’ shelf will  simply have to take a deep breathe, and wait patiently until I have a chance to listen to their frantic pleas for me to pick them up.

                                                                                                                                                                                        But enough chit chat – on to the books!

     It seems like I have read this story a hundred times before, but somehow, Perry Elizabeth Kirkpatrick made it fresh.  Mia is a charming narrator.   Making Mia write instead of talk was a stroke of genius.   Her relationship with all the human characters are funny and believable.  Mia herself is so believable I found my own dislike for cats melting away.  By the time I reached the end of the book, it left you convinced that you would never be able to look at a cat the same way again.   I used to enjoy these humorous stories about intelligent animals – but there are very few exceptional stories written about this subject.   The Case of the Tabloid Tattler has a fun, bright quality that made it stand out from the pack, it got me excited about animal stories again.   I could happily give this book to a child without reservations and that quality firmly secures my five star rating.
     This is one of the best children’s picture books I have read in a long time.  This book is such a masterpiece, it transcends its genre and its age group.  My entire family – including my Dad – flipped through the pages of this beautiful book.  The artwork is truly lovely, every shadow in this tiny little world is deliberate.  The nuanced detailing is astonishing.  I found myself completely immersed in the Mouse’s dreams and struggles.  The artwork touches me in the same way poignant words might move me….there is a beauty and richness to Torben Kulhman’s work that is rarely seen and I am delighted to see such quality reading material available for children.  Aside from the artwork, the story itself is charming and the translation spot on.  This would be a wonderful way for children to learn about the Space Race….who knows….if this book had been written twenty years ago….I might be more interested in science!
This is not the kind of book you buy second hand.  You need a perfect, pristine version of this, it needs a cherished spot on the shelf….and it needs someone to thumb it to death as they lovingly read it over and over again.   ‘Armstrong:  Mouse to the Moon’ would be the perfect gift; it is a treasure.
     I had quite a few preconceived ideas about this book that made me struggle through this book when I first picked it up.  The pacing was a little slow and my preconceived notions so solid, that I got about two thirds through this book and then set it aside for about a year.  I finally picked it up again…and realized that I had stopped just at the good part.  The end finale alone caused me to give the book another star – we have guns, knives, fist fights, falls, thrills – someone is even zapped by lightening – all culminating into one satisfying explosion.  This certainly wasn’t a boring read.
As I read further, I was also able to appreciate some of the backstory that I had been reading before.  One reveal literally brought tears to my eyes as the authoress capped off a satisfactory read with the perfect note of happiness.
Now that I’m ‘over’ all those preconceived notions I had mysteriously gathered, I’m able to gain some perspective on this book and really enjoy its uniqueness.  I am definitely buying a copy and planning on reading it all the way through with fresher and more appreciative eyes.  I have never read diesel-punk before, and I think I’ll be glad – I certainly will never forget – that Storming was my first foray into the genre.
Content:   The following description sounds incredibly graphic, but the references I am about to list are either restrained / editable.  This is a fairly intense book and it’s not for everyone….but I thought the fun adventure and great world building balanced out any of the content.
Some romantic moments involving, kissing, holding, feelings/thoughts.  Quite a bit of violence near the end including torture, stabbing, shooting.  One rather sad/upsetting death that a small child witnesses.   The little boy has been traumatized because a moment of carelessness nearly resulted in the death of his little sister, thus he won’t speak.   The little boy is frightened/terrorized throughout the end finale.  The MC was separated from his wife (she died afterwards).  There are some themes of vengeance.
     Aside from Narnia – I studiously avoid ‘portal fantasy’.   To me, it’s a Catch-22 situation.  You don’t want the character to leave Earth and all their family behind and yet you certainly don’t want them to stop having fun in this incredible parallel world.  Whether they stay or return, there doesn’t seem to be any satisfactory ending….one way or another, the reader is sure to be distraught and dissatisfied.
But Sharon Hinck disproved all my presuppositions.  First of all, she started with the brilliant idea that the lesson that Susan needed to learn was in her  world, her heart was firmly in her world, it was her emotions that had to be sorted out in the parallel world.  Then, making it a family affair helped immensely, having you-know-who, actually from you-know-where turned the whole scenario upside down, inside out and placed the whole story into a shiny, new concept that had me utterly captivated.
On top of that, Hinck’s rich writing, incredible world building, powerful allegories and believable characters are just like a double shot of sweetener in a story that felt like a warm drink of cocoa….warming me consistently from the first sip down to the very dregs.  I literally could not put this book down, but stayed up to the wee hours to soak in this beautiful world and the message of hope.
Content:   Some intense/frightening moments.  Torture scenes. Very brief scene involving the main character and her husband (not graphic/specific).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      And there you have it!

               If you decide to try one, or all, of the books above – I hope you enjoy them as much as I did!




2 thoughts on “My Favorite Reads of January

  1. BOO YAH! I love the Restorer and I am so glad you did too! I was reading your review of it nodding up and down vigorously and Amen-ing like a Baptist girl. “Amen sister! Preach it!” LOL! K.M. Weilands book kind of scared me off. Do you think I would like it? It doesn’t really sound like my thing. Never really read anything steam-punk, but it doesn’t sound that cool to me. *shrug* great post Alli!

  2. Haha! Love your comment, Victoria! The Restorer WAS fabulous – I’m looking forward to reading the next 3 books; I hope they’re as good! Are they?
    Hmm…It might be a little more of a ‘shoot ’em up’ than you usually read…I think you would like the 1930s type setting and would really enjoy how it’s written, as well as the characters. I loved all the world building and the mixing of genres….I don’t know. Your call! 🙂

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