Tag Archives: better than before

Jan and Feb 2021 Book Reviews

25 Mar

Well, it’s been a minute since I last posted, hasn’t it? As you can tell by the title, I’ve decided to lump the book reviews in two months today. Hopefully I can then get caught up and do March’s book reviews in the next week or so. Let’s begin, shall we?

Photo by Mahendra Kumar on Unsplash

Journey to the River Sea by Eva Ibbotson – English orphan, Maia is sent to live with her distant relatives who own a rubber plantation on the Amazon. Excited to explore the new world of sunshine, bright flowers and butterflies, she is surprised to encounter her cousins who douse the house with bug killer and won’t let her leave their compound. But Maia can’t be cooped up forever and she becomes involved in a mystery about an inheritance, a reluctant actor and a giant sloth

~ This is a children’s story so well written that I thoroughly enjoyed it. I fell in love with Maia and her governess, Miss Minton. I highly recommend it to pass on to young readers as well! It was such fun and getting to read about the Amazon just added to the delight.

A Year of No Sugar: A Memoir by Eve Schaub – when Eve’s eyes were opened to how sugar is hidden in just about everything (bacon, dressings, baby food, etc), she challenged her husband and two daughters to going a whole year without sugar. As they traversed the rocky road through holidays, birthdays and vacations, she learned what the real cost of such sugar consumption is- obesity, diabetes and increased risk of heart disease among other issues. Eve talks about what it’s like for an average American family to kick the sugar habit.

~ Every now and then I love to read food memoirs and this was a good one. I appreciated Schaub’s easy to understand explanations about sugar byproducts, and her honesty about the challenges of cutting sugar out of their diets. As someone who has had to cut out all processed sugars out of my own diet, I identified with a lot of what she talks about. It also motivated me to keep looking at the ingredient lists of anything I buy – which can get wearying after a few years but it’s Worth it. Highly recommend, whether you’re wanting a good kick in the pants to minimize your sugar intake or just a good memoir to laugh and groan along with.

Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of our Everyday Lives by Gretchen Rubin – We all know that habits are the key to change but Rubin wondered – how do we change our habits? She gives practical advice and theories – that she tested on herself and those around her- mixed with humor and research, on how to improve our lives by intentionally creating habits that help us lead the life we want.

~ This book was so inspirational. I’m tempted to buy it (I got it from the library to read) and actually give some of her ideas a try. This book was such an easy read and kept me turning the pages. (I even stopped reading the novel I was in at the time, it’s that good). I highly recommend!

Set the Stars Alight by Amanda Dykes – Raised on stories of the magic of the past and high seas adventures, Lucy Clairmont grew up to be a marine archaeologist. She’s not seen her childhood friend, Dashel, for years. But when tragedy strikes, it’s his knowledge as a forensic astronomer that will help her unravel the mystery that she finds in her childhood home. Somehow, it’s linked with a story two hundred years old- of childhood love, betrayal, sacrifice and redemption. And so, Lucy and Dashel journey to an estate on the East Sussex coast, where they find a community of gentle souls and long-lost secrets where they both just might find healing.

~ Deep breath, you guys. This novel was Incredible. It immediately went onto my Favorites of 2021 list. I adore when an author can carry two different timelines through the story and weave them so seamlessly together. This was my first novel of Dykes by the way, and I was thoroughly enchanted with her writing style. I wanted to shake Lucy a few times as she let fear or assumptions dictate her actions- but don’t we all do that at times? And really, if you can write marine archaeology into a book, I am probably going to be a fan. If you’re wanting a novel that you just can’t put down, give this one a try! I already can’t wait to read it again.

My Secret War: The World War II Diary of Madeline Beck, Long Island, New York, 1941 by Mary Pope Osborne – This diary follows the adventures and trials of young Madeline. Her and her mother live in a boardinghouse on Long Island while her father serves on an aircraft carrier on the Pacific Coast. When her and her friend find a German U-boat on the coast, they form “Kids Fight for Freedom” to do their own part in the home front war effort.

~ This is a part of the ‘Dear America’ series. I have read a few, mostly when I was a young teen, and enjoyed them. This was no exception, even if it was written a little simply and I would have loved more details on certain things. But, this is written as a diary, not a novel, so it makes complete sense as to its level. I appreciated the growth of Madeline throughout the story as she goes through good and bad times during the war. Also, it’s a little known fact that a German U-boat was found on the coast in New York. I definitely recommend this for younger (and older) readers.

Books coming up in the next review:

Redwall by Brian Jacques

To Whisper Her Name by Tamera Alexander

Mary Poppins by P.L. Travers

and more!

What have you been reading lately? I’d love to hear!

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