Readers' Favorite

January 31, 2021

Favorite Reads of January

We featured so many books this month so we wanted to highlight our favorite books in case you can't decide which ones you want to read first.

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The Last Garden in England by Julia Kelly

The Last Garden of England
I finished this book just a few minutes after midnight after reading it all-day New Year's Eve. I guess because Goodreads is based on the west coast, it counted as the last book read for 2020 but I think it was the first book of 2021. Either way, it deserves an extra shout out as it was excellent. I can't remember the last time I started and finished a book in one day. I loved that the three timelines revolved around a country estate's garden. Read my full review. ~ Donna

Present day: Emma Lovett, who has dedicated her career to breathing new life into long-neglected gardens, has just been given the opportunity of a lifetime: to restore the gardens of the famed Highbury House estate, designed in 1907 by her hero Venetia Smith. But as Emma dives deeper into the gardens’ past, she begins to uncover secrets that have long lain hidden.

1907: A talented artist with a growing reputation for her ambitious work, Venetia Smith has carved out a niche for herself as a garden designer to industrialists, solicitors, and bankers looking to show off their wealth with sumptuous country houses. When she is hired to design the gardens of Highbury House, she is determined to make them a triumph, but the gardens—and the people she meets—promise to change her life forever.

1944: When land girl Beth Pedley arrives at a farm on the outskirts of the village of Highbury, all she wants is to find a place she can call home. Cook Stella Adderton, on the other hand, is desperate to leave Highbury House to pursue her own dreams. And widow Diana Symonds, the mistress of the grand house, is anxiously trying to cling to her pre-war life now that her home has been requisitioned and transformed into a convalescent hospital for wounded soldiers. But when war threatens Highbury House’s treasured gardens, these three very different women are drawn together by a secret that will last for decades. (Goodreads)

Do Not Go Gentle. Go to Paris.: Travels of an Uncertain Woman of a Certain Age by Gail Schilling

Do Not Go Gentle. Go to Paris
With the pandemic, the only travel to Paris has to be mental travel and dreams and this was the perfect book to read to kick-start plans to travel to Paris on a solo trip.  This has long been one of my dreams but I felt like I was too old to take a trip like this -- Gail has convinced me that age shouldn't stop you -- all you need is an adventuresome spirit and curiosity about other people and places.  This book is much more than a simple travel book - though it does give a lot of travel tips.  It's a book that reflects on aging, family, love and feeling good about yourself.  It was the perfect book to read and take a mental vacation all by myself. ~ Susan
Rattled by fears that she is losing her keys, her looks, her job, and her sweetheart, Gail, 62, rashly announces that she will go to Paris, a dream postponed for 40 years. So begins the journey through France of an optimistic, infinitely curious, 62-year-old woman, who seeks to ransom her self-confidence and learn how to age. Deftly weaving scenic description with sketches of feisty Frenchwomen and flashbacks of older women she has admired, Gail draws wisdom from people and places that have gracefully endured the passing years. By the time she reaches the Mediterranean village that once existed only on her calendar, she feels revitalized. Her refreshed self-concept takes a hit, however, when her beloved proves fickle and a train strike maroons her on the edge of the sea. By the end of her journey, Gail recognizes the joie de vivre beneath the wrinkles of bygone beauty in French women. Now she awakens to her own joy of living and finds that it has no expiration date. (Goodreads)

The Mask of Mirrors by M. A. Carrick

The Mask of Mirrors
I read so many great books, but I think hands down that M.A. Carrick's The Mask of Mirrors is one that definitely deserves extra attention. There is exquisite world-building here, with different nations wielding influences over the people, and accurate ways of showing how mixed heritage can help or hurt peoples' goals. Read my full review. ~ MK

Fortune favors the bold. Magic favors the liars.

Ren is a con artist who has come to the sparkling city of NadeÅūra with one goal: to trick her way into a noble house, securing her fortune and her sister's future.

But as she's drawn into the elite world of House Traementis, she realizes her masquerade is just one of many surrounding her. And as nightmare magic begins to weave its way through the City of Dreams, the poisonous feuds of its aristocrats and the shadowy dangers of its impoverished underbelly become tangled…with Ren at their heart. (Goodreads)

Buy The Mask of Mirrors at Amazon

Even with all the books we read each month, we know that we are missing some great books. Tell us what books you read this month that were your favorites.

For more reading recommendations and catch up on blog posts you might have missed, check out Donna's wrap-up post.

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  1. These books all look good. I've been interested in Paris (and a few other places) lately. I've been enjoying my armchair travels and the first two on your list sound like good ones.

  2. The last garden in England does look Sooo good and I have it on my TBR shelf. Thanks for your lovely review and for visiting us earlier.
    Have a good week!