Goodbye January, and hello February!
Not to brag, but I slayed my January TBR . Not only that, but I finished off my TBR and read 6 more books to top things off. Ok, maybe I am bragging a little bit. I cannot believe that I was able to read 11 books in January! I was also very happy with the variety of the books I read, 5 of which being #DiverseBooks. Definitely one of my better reading months to date. I would like to thank two viruses and a sinus infection for my successful reading month. Actually, not really. I am glad that hell is over with.
Let’s take a look at what I had going on in January…
What I read in January:
*Titles link to Goodreads
» Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
Summary of feelings: I can definitely see why this is such a beloved book. Like many of the popular YA series we’ve seen emerge (Think the Twilight series, Hunger Games, Divergent, etc), I think this book will appeal to so many different types of readers. I really enjoyed this cast of characters and the thrilling heist plot. The first half of the book was on the slower side, but once the group reached the prison the story really took off! I had a few tiny issues with the book, but nothing that hindered my enjoyment. I will definitely be continuing on with the series.
» 13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl by Mona Awad
Summary of feelings: While there were brief glimpses of hope for this book, ultimately this was a flop for me. There were many times I was confused about what was going on. There were a few moments where I mouthed “What the f***?”. I will say this, if you have never struggled with your weight, this book will not appeal to you at all. Like the main character Elizabeth (Beth, Liz, Lizzie…) I was very overweight at one point in my life, then lost a substantial amount of weight. The transition was not as smooth and flawless as I thought it would be. There were many times I could relate to Elizabeth, which is why I picked this one up in the first place, but this book just didn’t feel coherent in any way.
» The Smell of Other People’s Houses by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock
Summary of feelings: After seeing the gorgeous cover and the odd title, I knew I had to pick this one up. What a beautiful little book set in 1970s Alaska. There is a lot going on here in only 240 pages. While I appreciate quick reads, I think the author could have gone more in depth here and even added another 100 pages to this book. Even though I wanted more, what I did get was good!
» Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan
Summary of feelings: While the last 25-30% of this book came up a little short, the first 70% of this book was a wild ride! It honestly felt like a psychological thriller. I cannot believe this actually happened to someone.
» Miller’s Valley by Anna Quindlen
Summary of feelings: This one came up a bit short for me. Actually, I was all set to give it 2 stars, but that ending was on point! There was so much potential here! This book had all the elements that I usually enjoy in a book: family secrets, coming of age theme, small town drama, etc etc. but it just didn’t work for me. I think this had a lot to do with the author’s timeline. Generally, I enjoy when an author jumps around from present to past and back again, but I had a hard time following where we were in time. I was often confused while reading until I would realize that I was actually reading a flashback.
» Stella by Starlight by Sharon M. Draper
Summary of feelings: A fantastic middle grade book! I think this would be an excellent book to show children what life was like in the 1930s, in particular the racial injustices that occurred in the segregated South. I think the author did a fantastic job taking such a hard topic and writing it for a younger audience that still portrays the racial tension of the times, but still keeping it appropriate for a middle grade audience.
» The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd
Summary of feelings: I went into this book completely blind. I didn’t read any reviews and didn’t even read the synopsis. Until I read the author’s note at the end, I had no idea that this book was based off a real set of sisters: Sarah and Angelina Grimké. The Grimké sisters were active abolitionists starting in the late 1830s until slavery was abolished in 1865. They were also women’s rights activists until their deaths in 1870s. HOW DID I NOT KNOW WHO THESE WOMEN WERE? Oh, that’s right. They were important WOMEN in history, that’s why. Despite the slow start to this book, I really enjoyed learning about the Grimké sisters. I also like how Kidd wove a slave narrative along their story as well. I think Sarah Grimké would have been proud of this fictional account of her life. I read this for my book club’s January selection, and it made for a fantastic discussion.
» Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly
Summary of feelings: Hidden Figures is the historical account of the impact that women of color had in the field of aviation. I learned so much from this book. The women in this book boggle my mind. I felt so empowered and inspired by these women. I will warn you that this is very much a non-fiction book that reads like a history book. It tends to throw lots of information and names your way in quick succession, which felt a little tedious at times.
» In Light of What We See by Sarah Painter
Summary of feelings: The two separate storylines did not particularly work well together, making this book feel jumbled. There was really no connection between them except an insignificant one. I also strongly disliked the main character Mina. She did get better as the book progressed, but my aversion to her in the beginning made it really hard for me to want to pick this book up. There were a few things I did enjoy about the book, but overall this was not my cup of tea.
» Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood
Summary of feelings: I had never read a Margaret Atwood book before this one. I went into this one not knowing what to expect. I heard it was a retelling of William Shakespeare’s The Tempest, but that it was set in a prison? This definitely peaked my interest. I am embarrassed to say that I’ve only read a few of Shakespeare’s plays, and The Tempest is not one of them. I did read a summary of the play before reading Hag-Seed, which was definitely a smart move. I for one thought this book was very clever, HOWEVER I don’t necessarily think this book is going to be for everyone. Fans of Shakespeare and theatre should definitely give this one a go.
» Listen, Slowly by Thanhha Lai
Summary of feelings: This is classified as a middle-grade book, but I almost want to say it would be better for a younger YA audience… The main character, Mai, is a 12-year-old but she felt older to me. Anyways! Mai takes a trip with her grandmother to Vietnam to find out once and for all what happened to her grandfather during the Vietnam War. This is a wonderful book full of Vietnamese culture and customs. If you know me, then you know I love learning about different cultures. I listened to this via audiobook, which I think was very helpful since there is a lot of Vietnamese words and the correct way to pronounce these words throughout the book. Mai goes through tremendous growth through this book, which was great to see since I was not a fan of her in the beginning.
January Book Reviews:
Top 5 Wednesdays
» I was able to knock out 5 squares on #DiversityBingo2017! This month I completed…
• MC w/ chronic pain → Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo #OwnVoices
• MC w/ an under-represented body → 13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl by Mona Awad
• Diverse non-fiction → Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly
• POC on the cover → Stella by Starlight by Sharon M. Draper
• Non-western (real world) setting → Listen, Slowly by Thanhha Lai #OwnVoices
*Not sure if this challenge is like traditional BINGO where you only need to get a line to “win,” but I’m going for a cover-all 🙂
January Book Haul:
» Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood
*For review from Blogging for Books
» The War that Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
» Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
» Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass by Lewis Carroll
» Essential Grimm’s Fairy Tales by Jacob & Wilhelm Grimm
» Christodora by Tim Murphy
*Giveaway win hosted by Ann Marie @Lit·Wit·Wine·Dine
» The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden
*Huge thanks to Ann Marie @Lit·Wit·Wine·Dine for offering me her ARC copy of this book! You can check out her review here → Review of The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden
» Human Acts by Han Kang
*Giveaway win hosted by the publisher, Hogarth Books (@HogarthBooks)
Which books did you read in January?
Did you buy any books? If so, which ones?
Comment below and let me know 🙂