December was a smaller reading month for me, which I attribute to our move & the craziness of the holiday season. I still managed to read 6 books, but I typically read around 10. Now that my life is finally settling down, I am back to the grind of reading & reviewing, continuing on my journey to the coveted 80% feedback ratio on NetGalley.
Let’s see what I have on the TBR for January…
*Book titles link to Goodreads
» The Girl in the Tower (Winternight #2) by Katherine Arden
The magical adventure begun in The Bear and the Nightingale continues as brave Vasya, now a young woman, is forced to choose between marriage or life in a convent and instead flees her home—but soon finds herself called upon to help defend the city of Moscow when it comes under siege.
Orphaned and cast out as a witch by her village, Vasya’s options are few: resign herself to life in a convent, or allow her older sister to make her a match with a Moscovite prince. Both doom her to life in a tower, cut off from the vast world she longs to explore. So instead she chooses adventure, disguising herself as a boy and riding her horse into the woods. When a battle with some bandits who have been terrorizing the countryside earns her the admiration of the Grand Prince of Moscow, she must carefully guard the secret of her gender to remain in his good graces—even as she realizes his kingdom is under threat from mysterious forces only she will be able to stop.
I read The Bear and the Nightingale back in November (big thanks to Ann Marie over @Lit•Wit•Wine•Dine who sent me her copy) and fell in love with Arden’s tale. I absolutely adored the Russian folklore woven throughout and the atmospheric writing. Rumor has it that the second book is even better than the first!
» The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne
Cyril Avery is not a real Avery — or at least, that’s what his adoptive parents tell him. And he never will be. But if he isn’t a real Avery, then who is he?
Born out of wedlock to a teenage girl cast out from her rural Irish community and adopted by a well-to-do if eccentric Dublin couple via the intervention of a hunchbacked Redemptorist nun, Cyril is adrift in the world, anchored only tenuously by his heartfelt friendship with the infinitely more glamourous and dangerous Julian Woodbead. At the mercy of fortune and coincidence, he will spend a lifetime coming to know himself and where he came from and over his many years will struggle to discover an identity, a home, a country, and much more.
John Boyne is probably most known for his book, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, which I have yet to read. I’ve been recommended the book countless times, but have yet to pick it up. When I saw that Boyne’s newest book was available through Blogging for Books, I swooped in at the chance to finally read one of his books.
» The House at the Edge of Night by Catherine Banner
A sweeping saga about four generations of a family who live and love on an enchanting Mediterranean island off the coast of Italy—combining the romance of Beautiful Ruins with the magical tapestry works of Isabel Allende.
Castellamare is an island far enough away from the mainland to be forgotten, but not far enough to escape from the world’s troubles. At the center of the island’s life is a café draped with bougainvillea called the House at the Edge of Night, where over generations the community gathers to gossip and talk. Amedeo Esposito, a foundling from Florence, finds his destiny on the island with his beautiful wife, Pina, whose fierce intelligence, grace, and unwavering love guide her every move. An indiscretion tests their marriage, and their children—three sons and an inquisitive daughter—grow up and struggle with both humanity’s cruelty and its capacity for love and mercy.
Spanning nearly a century, through secrets and mysteries, trials and sacrifice, this beautiful and haunting novel follows the lives of the Esposito family and the other islanders who live and love on Castellamare: a cruel count and his bewitching wife, a priest who loves scandal, a prisoner of war turned poet, an outcast girl who becomes a pillar of strength, a wounded English soldier who emerges from the sea. The people of Castellamare are transformed by two world wars and a great recession, by the threat of fascism and their deep bonds of passion and friendship, and by bitter rivalries and the power of forgiveness, in this richly written and powerful novel.
Catherine Banner has written an enthralling, character-rich novel, epic in scope but intimate in feeling. At times, the island itself seems alive, a mythical place where the earth heaves with stories—and this magical novel takes you there.
I actually started this book on New Years Day and just finished it today. Is it cheating to include it on my TBR still? Anyways! I really enjoyed this book and wish it had received a little more hype when it came out in 2016. It is set on an island off the coast of Italy and follows one family over the span of the 20th century. Full of folklore (inspired by Sicilian & Italian folklore), small island living (hint: everyone is in everyone else’s business), family secrets, superstition, etc. etc.
» Nora & Kettle by Lauren Nicolle Taylor
“What if Peter Pan was a homeless kid just trying to survive, and Wendy flew away for a really good reason?”
Seventeen-year-old Kettle has had his share of adversity. As an orphaned Japanese American struggling to make a life in the aftermath of an event in history not often referred to the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II and the removal of children from orphanages for having “one drop of Japanese blood in them” things are finally looking up. He has his hideout in an abandoned subway tunnel, a job, and his gang of Lost Boys.
Desperate to run away, the world outside her oppressive brownstone calls to naive, eighteen-year-old Nora the privileged daughter of a controlling and violent civil rights lawyer who is building a compensation case for the interned Japanese Americans. But she is trapped, enduring abuse to protect her younger sister Frankie and wishing on the stars every night for things to change.
For months, they’ve lived side by side, their paths crossing yet never meeting. But when Nora is nearly killed and her sister taken away, their worlds collide as Kettle, grief stricken at the loss of a friend, angrily pulls Nora from her window.
In her honeyed eyes, Kettle sees sadness and suffering. In his, Nora sees the chance to take to the window and fly away.
Set in 1953, Nora & Kettle explores the collision of two teenagers facing extraordinary hardship. Their meeting is inevitable, devastating, and ultimately healing. Their stories, “a collection of events, are each on their own harmless. But together, one after the other, they change the world.””
Last year I read Paper Wishes, a children’s book about a Japanese family who was forced into an internment camp during WWII. It really got me interested in this part of U.S. history which is often glossed over in schools here in the U.S. I was excited to see that this book takes place in the aftermath of the internment of the Japanese Americans.
» Tumbledown Manor by Helen Brown
New York Times bestselling author Helen Brown comes a witty, uplifting novel about a woman who discovers that it’s never too late to build the home–and the life–you’ve always longed for…
The windows rattle. The roof leaks. Every surface cries out to be stripped, painted, or polished. But for writer Lisa Trumperton, the dilapidated manor house that once belonged to her great-grandfather is far more than the sum of its battered parts. It’s the chance for a new start on her own terms. The fact that it’s in the Melbourne countryside of her Australian homeland, far from the deceitful ex-husband she just left behind in New York…well, that’s a bonus.
Lisa sets to work refurbishing Trumperton Manor, assisted by her son, his friends, and a “Gray Army” of retired handymen. But it’s not just her ancestral home that’s being transformed. As she trades her chic Manhattan clothes for jeans and work boots, Lisa is changing and fortifying her relationships with her family and her sense of self. There are floods, fires, and catastrophes, but there are new allies too, including a one-eyed cat, a stubborn cockatoo, and a rugged landscaper with an irresistible grin. Piece by piece, the house is pushing Lisa beyond her old limits, daring her to embrace something bigger, braver, and more rewarding than she ever dreamed.
This is a rather short book coming in at just under 300 pages. I have hope that this book is going to have some depth to it and not end up being a cheesy and cliché read… Keep your fingers crossed for me.
» May the Road Rise Up to Meet You by Peter Troy
An engrossing, epic American drama told from four distinct perspectives, spanning the first major wave of Irish immigration to New York through the end of the Civil War.
Four unique voices; two parallel love stories; one sweeping novel rich in the history of nineteenth-century America. This remarkable debut draws from the great themes of literature—famine, war, love, and family—as it introduces four unforgettable characters. Ethan McOwen is an Irish immigrant whose endurance is tested in Brooklyn and the Five Points at the height of its urban destitution; he is among the first to join the famed Irish Brigade and becomes a celebrated war photographer. Marcella, a society girl from Spain, defies her father to become a passionate abolitionist. Mary and Micah are slaves of varying circumstances, who form an instant connection and embark on a tumultuous path to freedom.
All four lives unfold in two beautiful love stories, which eventually collide. Written in gorgeous language that subtly captures the diverse backgrounds of the characters, and interspersed with letters, journals, and dreams, this unforgettable story, rendered in cinematic detail, is about having faith in life’s great meaning amidst its various tangles.
This is January’s selection for one of my book clubs. I started the audiobook back in December, but find that it is taking me a long time to get through. I am about 37% in. It isn’t bad per se, just really slow… We shall see how it pans out.
Which books are on your TBR for January?
Have you read any of the books on my list? If so, what did you think?
Comment below & let me know 🙂