Balsamic and Book Reports (Day 30, Year 2)

Guess what?! Tomorrow is the last day of the longest month of the year! 

That's right, friends, Monday is January 71st 31st!

Since it is nearly the end of the month, I thought it would be an ideal time to share my January Book Report. I know I could, possibly, finish another book by tomorrow. However, Monday is the day I take all three of my children to the dentist for their first cleaning of the year. I am guessing there will be blog content (times three!) from that adventure, so I am squeezing in the January book report now!

Plus, I made some bangin' creamy balsamic dressing to have with an arugula and baby spinach salad tonight (perfect side for chicken and leek puffed pastries).

In January, I read 7 books! Which is a huge accomplishment that I attribute to COVID insomnia (at the start of the year) and some really excellent, fast-paced thrillers to close out the month. 

I started my 8th book of the year (The School for Good Mothers by Jessamine Chan) this morning, but unless I stop sleeping, ignore my family and quit my jobs, I won't finish this one by January 31 at midnight. 

Here's what I read in January:

1. The Party Crasher by Sophie Kinsella

I love Sophie Kinsella. Her brand of British meaningful and charming humor is just always such a lovely light in my life (and makes me feel much better about my moments poorly navigating the world). I love reading new releases from my long-time favorite authors. I think when you read an author consistently, their books are a little like going to one of your favorite vacation spots--they are always familiar, always an escape and of course, there are surprises and changes to enjoy. I adored this sweet book and I am still laughing about some of the scenes involving the main character hiding under tables! 

2. The Nanny by Gilly Macmillan 

I love British authors--especially those writing thrillers. This book was okay. It kept my interest and I enjoyed my time with it. However, I am not looking to go back. There were some plausibility issues throughout and often I was screaming at the main character to stop behaving so cluelessly. Despite my complaints, I am glad I read this. I'll read Macmillan again; she's got something special!

3. And Now You're Back by Jill Mansell

Keeping myself firmly planted in the U.K., Mansell's book was a lovely little RomCom gem. It was relatively light on the comedy, big on the romance and had a few notes of intrigue sprinkled in. All the characters were highly likable, the plot was predictable, yet somehow still interesting. It took me a while to read this; but it was easy and enjoyable. (Very good medicine for dark days!). 

4. Long Bright River by Liz Moore

This book! I cannot discuss it because it is my Eldridge Book Club book and I cannot get kicked out of another book club! BUT GO BUY IT AND READ IT. It is beautiful. 

5. The Maid by Nita Prose

Loved this British mystery featuring a maid, who seems to be on the spectrum. She is sweet, charming, misunderstood and the ultimate underdog. Her favorite restaurant is Olive Garden (and she loves going on a "tour of Italy."). Oh and she is a maid. This mystery novel brings humanity, friendship, intrigue, the fun and whimsy of a fancy hotel. I ordered a copy for Mike's Grandmother (who reads like 200 books a year!). It was such a lovely read!

6. Rock Paper Scissors by Alice Feeney

I love Alice Feeney, who is absolutely the queen of twists, turns and tricks. I don't want to give anything away, but this book is SO TRICKY. Feeney tricks you, does not make feel like you've been lied to. She is a really good poker player and I like that. Rock Paper Scissors is very atmospheric--taking place in Scotland during a snow storm. It is such a lovely winter read on a cold, dark night. 

7. I Know Who You Are by Alice Feeney

I had to finish my Feeney book punch list! I Know Who You Are is a quick thriller and it definitely left me guessing to the end. I am still a bit disturbed by how it all ended and feel a bit horrified. However, I think psychological thrillers featuring deranged characters should leave you horrified, otherwise you might be as deranged as the people in the book! 

I decided to switch away from British authors and thrillers, adding in a dystopian fiction book (The School for Good Mothers) that already feels very realistic. The main character is an overwhelmed mother, who judged at every turn and placed in a monitoring program for "bad mothers." I already feel solitary with the main character (especially after a trying day of teenage girl parenting). The author, Jessamine Chan, reminds me a little of my favorite author, Margaret Atwood. More on this book in February. 

And now, as promised, my creamy balsamic recipe. This one is easy, just toss the following in the blender:

1 T. chopped garlic

1 T. Dijon mustard

1 T. brown sugar

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar

1/2 cup olive oil


I served this with arugula, baby spinach, tomato, red onion and green olive salad. It was just right! Looking forward to using this on a chicken salad at lunch tomorrow.