January Reading Wrap-up + Goal Check-in
1. A Reaper at the Gates by Sabaa Tahir (458 pages) (5 ⭐️)
This YA fantasy is the 3rd book in the Ember in the Ashes quartet about a former slave turned rebel (Laia), a former solider turned traitor (Elias) and a solider torn between love and duty (Helene). I have been rereading this series in anticipation of the final installment. This is a solid installment in the series that sees the characters really put through the wringer emotionally. The explosive ending lends anxiety towards the series' conclusion.
Read if: You're looking for a darker YA fantasy (though start with Ember in the Ashes).
Full Review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3232054695
2. The Wicked Wit of Scotland by Rod Green (158 pages) (4 ⭐️)
This nonfiction book is, as the title implies, all about Scotland as written by a Scottish man. This niche book makes a great gift for those such as myself who dream of one day visiting the country. It covers a lot of topics including weather, cuisine, politics, dialect, and obscure folklore (my personal favorite topic).
Read if: You want to travel to/learn more about Scotland.
Full Review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3704612431
3. The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett (343 pages) (5 ⭐️)
This adult historical fiction follows two generation of the same family from a small southern town. The family includes twins who took very different paths in life (one decided to pretend to be white while the other had a dark skinned daughter). This character driven novel explores racism/colorism, relationships, gender, and loneliness. At its core it is about identity. Already it's a contender for my top books of the year. Read if: You like character driven stories and/or stories about family dynamics.
Full Review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3391320129
4. A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik (313 pages) (2.75 ⭐️)
This YA fantasy is about a school for magical teens which is crawling with monsters and in which alliances must be formed in order to survive to graduation. I enjoyed the nontraditional protagonist (a sort of anti-chosen one) and the vast feeling world. Unfortunately, the writing style grated on me and bogged down my reading experience.
Read if: You're a fan of Harry Potter.
Full Review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3611453108
5. Vicious by V. E. Schwab (366 pages) (5 ⭐️)
This adult sci-fi is about college roommates (Victor and Eli) who discover how to gain superpowers (become ExtraOrdinary as they call it) and later become archenemies. This is novel is phenomenal. If you like morally questionable characters and complex relationships then I recommend you check this book out. I imagine this will also be among my top books of the year. Please check out my full review for trigger warnings.
Read if: You like superhero/villain origin stories.
Full Review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3776339447
6. These Vengeful Hearts by Katherine Laurin (362 pages) (2.5 ⭐️)
This YA mystery is about a girl (Ember) who joins a secret group at her school (the Red Court) who gather favors and do 'jobs' that ruin peoples' lives. Ember joins to take the origination down. I was attracted to the idea of a secret society, but the execution was messy. The best part was the romance but it's not worth reading for that alone.
Read if: You enjoyed the movie Mean Girls.
Full Review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3729139419
7. Among the Beasts and Briars by Ashley Poston (338 pages) (4.5 ⭐️)
This YA fantasy is about a gardener's daughter (Cerys) who must save her kingdom from a cursed woods by traveling to a mythical city deep in the wood's heart and appealing to the Lady of the Woods. The story is enchanting and dark and sure to conjure nightmares. I recommend fans of books like Lori M. Lee's Forest of Souls and Melissa Bashardoust's Girl, Serpent, Thorn check this standalone out!
Read if: You're looking for a modern day fairy tale.
Full Review: Coming to the blog this month.
8. Concrete Rose by Angie Thomas (360 pages) (5 ⭐️)
This prequel to The Hate U Give follows Maverick Carter (Starr from THUG's father) when he was seventeen. The novel is about Maverick's journey with new fatherhood. I consider this a must read for Thomas fans. Maverick was my favorite character from THUG and he shines here as a protagonist. He's got all of adult Mav's heart but reads younger (as he should). Like her other two books, this one deals with difficult concepts and is a heavy read at times, but they're also important topics to discuss and Thomas never sugarcoats.
Read if: You want a hard hitting contemporary/you read The Hate U Give.
Full Review: Coming to the blog this month.
1. Boyfriend Material by Alexis Hall (DNF'd at 78 pages)
This adult romance is a fake dating scenario where the son of a troubled rock star Luc and a lawyer, Oliver. I have been searching for an LGBT+ adult romance to fall in love with, but unfortunately the third time was not the charm. I don't generally like to DNF books, but I was almost a 1/5 of the way through and I was finding the couple incompatible. Even as individuals they weren't all that compelling. Luc was whiny and Oliver was flat out boring. Oh, well, maybe the fourth time I'll strike gold.
2. Known My Name by Chanel Miller (DNF'd at 104 pages)
This is a memoir written by the victim of Brock Turner. I hesitate to describe her as such because she is so much more as a person; artist, writer, sister, daughter, etc., but this is her account of the event and trial. Chanel is very articulate and clearly a good writer. Her story is so valuable not only to her own healing but to others who may be able to relate. I am a very empathetic person and, while I thankfully cannot relate to Chanel's story, I found it gutting and generally emotionally draining to read. I got just over 28% through and I want to finish it at some point, but right now I'm just not in the right mental space.
TOTAL PAGES READ: 2,880 (average book length: 360 pages)
AVERAGE STAR RATING: 33.75/40 possible ⭐️ (4.2 average)
1. Read at least 60 books
In January I completed a total of 8 books, which leaves me at 13% of my yearly reading goal complete.
2. Have at least one book a month be a reread
In January I reread 1 book (A Reaper at the Gates by Sabaa Tahir), thus completing my goal last month.
3. Read at least 1-2 adult books a month
In January I read 2 adult books (The Vanishing Act by Brit Bennett and Vicious by V. E. Schwab), thus completing my goal. (P. S. I cannot recommend both of these books enough).
4. Read at least 10 nonfiction and/or poetry books
In January I completed 1 nonfiction book (The Wicked Wit of Scotland by Rod Green). This leaves me with 10% of my goal complete.
5. Post a blog every weekend unless ill and/or recovering from surgery
Despite having surgery in the middle of this month, I am proud to report that, with careful planning ahead, I was able to post a blog every weekend in January.