Reading is my oldest and favorite hobby. I literally can’t remember a time in my life when I didn’t love to curl up with a good book. Here are my reads for January, 2015…
Roots, Shoots, Buckets and Boots: Gardening Together with Children, by Sharon Lovejoy – This was a Christmas gift from hubby, who knows that I am looking forward to starting a garden with Peanut this spring. I was hoping that it would include things like art activities and learning games to play no matter what type of garden we choose to grow. There was a little of that, but mainly the book was organized into different gardens that were all planned for you. I did like the idea of the “pizza garden” and I expect that Peanut and I may try that one a few years down the road, when we’ve got our feet under us, but at the moment most of the suggested activities in here were beyond us. It was still great for inspiration and encouragement, though, and I loved the beautiful illustrations, so I enjoyed it nonetheless.
As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust (Flavia de Luce #7), by Alan Bradley – I know there have been mixed opinions about the seventh volume in the Flavia de Luce mystery series, but I loved it. I missed the Buckshaw and Bishop’s Lacey environment, certainly, but seeing Flavia adapt to a new place and new personalities was great. And the continuing storyline about Flavia’s mother’s legacy really has me excited. I can see this series going on for quite some time and just continuing to get better and better. My only complaint: now I’m all caught up again, and who knows how long I’ll have to wait before the next installment?
The French House: An American Family, a Ruined Maison, and the Village that Restored them All, by Don Wallace – The French-house-restoration-memoir genre is one of my “kryptonite” genres (meaning, I just can’t say no to one of these books) but this one didn’t really do much for me, I’m sorry to say. I pushed through because I kept waiting for the book to get funny and heartwarming, but I just couldn’t really see where it ever did. The villagers seemed unwelcoming, the American couple naive, and the French professor who arm-twisted them into buying a ruin and then fixing it to her specifications (their budget and desires apparently didn’t matter) struck me as manipulative and inconsiderate. I’d heard such wonderful things about this memoir, but in the end I was mildly disappointed.
The Romanov Sisters: The Lost Lives of the Daughters of Nicholas and Alexandra, by Helen Rappaport – I’ve long been interested in late Imperial Russian history, and I love a good Romanov biography, and this one is an excellent addition to the library of Romanov knowledge. The Romanov Sisters focuses on, as the title no doubt gives away, the Grand Duchesses Olga, Tatiana, Maria and Anastasia. So many other Romanov histories focus on Nicholas, Alexandra, and Alexei, and there might have been some other kids too but they’re not really important, that I knew very little about the Grand Duchesses. Even the four Grand Duchesses referred to themselves as a unit, “OTMA,” but in truth they had four very distinct (but all lovely) personalities. Rappaport’s biography focuses on the sisters and their home life, only mentioning things like politics or Rasputin where they touched the sisters’ lives. It was a refreshing and novel perspective and I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know “OTMA” better. And as one Goodreads review I read said, you know what the end was going to be but you were still hoping for a different result. (Alas, it’s not to be. But there is one thing – as I tweeted while reading the book, there’s nothing like a Romanov bio when you’re having a lousy day. At least you know their problems were bigger than yours.)
Not a bad January, I suppose. It’s not as many books as I’d like to have to share with you, but The Romanov Sisters was quite the chunkster. In terms of enjoyment, it was a mixed bag. I liked flipping through Roots, Shoots, Buckets and Boots, and I reeeeeeeally enjoyed As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust and The Romanov Sisters, but The French House fell flat for me. I’ve got a busy February ahead, so I don’t expect much more in terms of a book total, but I am trying. I’ve just started the newest Marilynne Robinson, and then I’m looking forward to digging into some mysteries next month – hope to have some good reads to report for you in a few weeks.