Readers' Favorite

January 31, 2020

Favorite Reads of January 2020

January was a long month with nearly 5 full weeks. Did you get a lot of reading done this month? What was your favorite book? Susan, MK, and Donna share their favorite read for the month.

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American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins

This novel is being hailed as 'A Grapes of Wrath for our times' by several reviewers and is appearing on most of the 'books to read in 2020' lists. I absolutely loved it and already know that it will be one of my top 10 books of 2020 and maybe for the decade. Lydia and her 8-year-old son Luca flee from Acapulco after her husband and the entire family is gunned down by a drug cartel. Lydia knows that unless she and Luca 'disappear' they will be killed, too. This is the story of their journey to America. As they ride trains and walk miles, they meet other immigrants who become part of their story. Looking ahead to life in America and keeping watch behind them for people who want to do them harm. this is the story of a trip for survival. The writing is exquisite and I highlighted many passages that were beautiful. I can't say enough good things about this book. ~ Susan

También de este lado hay sueños. On this side, too, there are dreams.

Lydia Quixano Pérez lives in the Mexican city of Acapulco. She runs a bookstore. She has a son, Luca, the love of her life, and a wonderful husband who is a journalist. And while there are cracks beginning to show in Acapulco because of the drug cartels, her life is, by and large, fairly comfortable.

Even though she knows they’ll never sell, Lydia stocks some of her all-time favorite books in her store. And then one day a man enters the shop to browse and comes up to the register with a few books he would like to buy—two of them her favorites. Javier is erudite. He is charming. And, unbeknownst to Lydia, he is the jefe of the newest drug cartel that has gruesomely taken over the city. When Lydia’s husband’s tell-all profile of Javier is published, none of their lives will ever be the same.

Forced to flee, Lydia and eight-year-old Luca soon find themselves miles and worlds away from their comfortable middle-class existence. Instantly transformed into migrants, Lydia and Luca ride la bestia—trains that make their way north toward the United States, which is the only place Javier’s reach doesn’t extend. As they join the countless people trying to reach el norte, Lydia soon sees that everyone is running from something. But what exactly are they running to? (Goodreads)

Buy American Dirt at Amazon

Cat Tale: The Wild, Weird Battle to Save the Florida Panther by Craig Pittman

Of the 9 books I read this month, 4 received 5 stars so picking my favorite read of January is very difficult. The first 5 star was for the new WWII novel The Whispers of War (read my review), then came the cozy mystery by a favorite author The Hitwoman Goes to Prison (read my review), which was followed by Cat Tale (read my review) and finally the latest thriller in Lisa Gardner's D.D. Warren series When You See Me (read my review). But Cat Tale is my pick because it isn't often that I find a nonfiction book so entertaining. It also reminded me why I enjoyed my dissertation topic and also why I decided to not to finish my Ph.D. The book is very accessible to the general reader and gives great insight into why endangered species recovery (and most environmental causes) is so difficult. ~ Donna

It wasn’t so long ago when a lot of people thought the Florida panther was extinct. They were very nearly right. That the panther still exists at all is a miracle—the result of a desperate experiment that led to the most remarkable comeback in the history of the Endangered Species Act. And no one has told the whole story—until now.

With novelistic detail and an eye for the absurd, Craig Pittman recounts the extraordinary story of the people who brought the panther back from the brink of extinction, the ones who nearly pushed the species over the edge, and the cats that were caught in the middle. This being Florida, there’s more than a little weirdness, too.

An engrossing narrative of wry humor, sharp writing and exhaustive reportage, Cat Tale shows what it takes to bring one species back and what unexpected costs such a decision brings. (Goodreads)

Buy Cat Tale at Amazon

Belle Révolte by Linsey Miller

Belle Revolte
Belle Révolte is my favorite for this month, though it's definitely a hard decision to make. Ultimately, it was the description of the different kinds of magic, its uses, and how the people interacted with each other that I really loved. There are people of different races, genders, and sexualities, and it never once felt like forced diversity. It's simply a part of this world and was another aspect that felt really immersive to me. There are different places, kingdoms, and political ideals, and it added to the fabric of the main story, as well as made it all feel real. Read my review. ~ MK

Emilie des Marais is more at home holding scalpels than embroidery needles and is desperate to escape her noble roots to serve her country as a physician. But society dictates a noble lady cannot perform such gruesome work.

Annette Boucher, overlooked and overworked by her family, wants more from life than her humble beginnings and is desperate to be trained in magic. So when a strange noble girl offers Annette the chance of a lifetime, she accepts.

Emilie and Annette swap lives—Annette attends finishing school as a noble lady to be trained in the ways of divination, while Emilie enrolls to be a physician’s assistant, using her natural magical talent to save lives.

But when their nation instigates a frivolous war, Emilie and Annette must work together to help the rebellion end a war that is based on lies. (Goodreads)

Buy Belle Révolte at Amazon

Have you read either of these books? We would love to know what you loved reading this month.

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  1. the florida panther book really caught my attention, since i live here. i have seen a documentary about them, but would love to read the book
    sherry @ fundinmental

  2. Your books look really good. I hope February is a good month for you.

  3. Belle Revolte is not my usual kind of book but I just love the themes in that book - I will have to check it out.