wrap up

Wrap Up: January 2019

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Hello lovelies! How are you? Are you as pleased as I am that it’s finally February? I feel like January lasted for at least 12 years, so I’m very grateful to discover we haven’t all been sucked into some wicked spell where it’s cold and dark and full of snow forever and ever. Like some kind of joyless Narnia, without the talking animals and aesthetic castles. Since January lasted for 12 years, you’d think I would’ve read more than usual – but I read 15 books, which is pretty average for me. I read some really good books though, so I’m very happy with my reading this month. I even found a new favorite or two!

WONDERFUL

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The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

The Bear and the Nightingale is the perfect winter fairytale, as cold as the howls of Russian winter-winds and as cozy as a tale told by a cackling wood-stove. It’s a tale of old magic and new gods, old stories and new beliefs, the forest from every fairytale and the ancient evil sleeping there. It’s the story of a a witch-girl and a frost-demon. It’s perfect and I love it and I already want to read it again (for the 5th time).

A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

I don’t usually connect very deeply with American YA contemporaries, but I related to this one in ways I weren’t expecting. Obviously I don’t know how much of this is pulled from the author’s own life, but it felt so intimate and personal sometimes, it was like reading someone’s diary. As a muslim girl in America post 9/11 Shirin experiences a lot of racism and injustice, and the hurt of it has turned her heart angry and mistrustful. But at it’s heart this is a hopeful story about daring to be open to love, despite the world’s cruelty. I loved it.

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Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

I can’t even explain to myself what it is about this book that resonated so deeply with me. It’s got a simple premise and if you’ve read YA fantasy before, you can probably guess what’s going to happen. But that’s the thing about stories, the pleasure’s in the telling and I loved the Adrienne Young told this one. It was so visceral, every scene is fraught with fierce emotion. from anger and hate, to love and hope. When Eelyn felt something, I did too – and that’s a mark of great writing in my opinion.

The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

I’m so glad I finally read this book, cause it reminded me why I love big. fat books so much. It’s such a luxury to spend so much time with a cast of characters, you get to now them so well. And what a splendid cast of characters this books has! They’re all so compelling and complex, but especially the women. Ellen, the withcy woman who lives an outlaw life in the woods, Aliena, the Earl’s daughter who loses everything, but takes it all back with pure grit and determination, and even lady Regan, who out-schemes the best of men.

I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

I have a love-hate relationship with this book. I loved it, but I loved it too much. It gave me the worst book hangover. Ok, that’s more of a love-love relationship, but you know what I mean. Cassandra is such a charming, charismatic narrator and her family’s full of delightfully quirky characters. If you enjoy female-led coming of age story, you need to read this. It’s a joy.

Favorite Quote: “When I read a book, I put in all the imagination I can, so that it is almost like writing the book as well as reading it – or rather, it is like living it. It makes reading so much more exciting, but I don’t suppose many people try to do it.” – I Capture the Castle
GREAT

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Bad Girls with Perfect Faces by Lynn Weingarten ⭐⭐⭐⭐

This book reminded me why I used to love reading YA thrillers. It’s gorgeously written, in the kind of fast-paced prose that sinks it’s claws into you and won’t let go until you’ve found out what happens next. The characters are all messed up and tangled up in each other’s lives in a toxic web of lies and deception. The ending left me feeling genuinely unsettled.

Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Sleeping Giants has a really cool premise: a giant robot is found buried beneath the earth and no one knows where it came from. But what made this book stand out to me was the the cast of characters. They’re all complex and kind of unlikable, but I LIKE THEM ALL A LOT OK. I got extra attached because I listened to the audiobook and there’s different narrators for each character and they’re all amazing. 10/10 would recommend the audiobook.

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It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini ⭐⭐⭐⭐

When I made my Goodreads account back in 2013, I added this book to my TBR. It took me 6 years – but I finally read it! I probably would’ve connected more deeply with it if I’d read it in 2013, but it’s a great contemporary with great mental health rep. I don’t know why I have nothing to say about this, cause I really did enjoy it a lot. I promise.

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton ⭐⭐⭐⭐

I read a few books this month which have been on my TBR since the dawn of time and this is one of them. It’s a slow, character-driven family saga about a girl born with wings. The story meanders a lot, but is so full of beautiful imagery, lyrical prose and all kind of wonders that I found that easy to forgive.

Esperanza Rising by Pam Muñoz Ryan ⭐⭐⭐⭐

This is another book that’s been on my TBR for a very long time. It’s such a beautifully written story about a young girl who’s forced to leave Mexico for America, after the death of her father. Though it’s historical fiction, it’s exploration of Mexican immigrant’s living conditions in America is just as heartbreakingly relevant today.

Favorite ship: Shirin and Ocean from A Very Large Expanse of Sea. They’re so sweet and their love story felt like a really realistic teenage relationship, which I loved.
GOOD

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The Call by Peadar Ó Guilín ⭐⭐⭐⭐

The Call is what you get if you take the bleakest dystopia you’ve read and populate it with the most viscous fae. I never thought mixing two of YA’s greatest hits could lead to such an original story, but this is unlike anything I’ve read before. It’s a dark and cruel and sharp and twisty tale, seeped in Irish folklore – with a fierce disabled heroine who’d be queen of Slytherin house.

The Gallery of Unfinished Girls by Lauren Karcz ⭐⭐⭐

This is a strange book about art, creativity, family and crushing on your best friend. It’s got a magical element – a mysterious, dream-like building where artist create their best work and an equally mysterious girl who introduced the protagonist to it. I think I wanted to like this more than I actually liked it, it was all just a little too vague for me.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid ⭐⭐⭐

I don’t enjoy reading books about celebrities, so I should’ve known I wouldn’t love this book. But the hype still had me so hopeful. I see why people love this so much, Evelyn Hugo’s a fantastic character, and the f/f relationship was wonderful. But the overall plot just wasn’t for me and I don’t think this story will stick with me, unfortunately.

Favorite character: Vasya from The Bear and the Nightingale is my forever favorite. Ellen and Aliena from The Pillars of the Earth are new favorites. 
MEH

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Skyward by Brandon Sanderson ⭐⭐⭐

I enjoyed listening to this on audio and the dynamic between the main character and the sentient space ship she finds and repairs was super cool – but other than that the plot and characters didn’t stand out to me at all. I think I prefer Sanderson’s fantasy novels.

The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton ⭐⭐

This book had the most luxuriously lush world-building, it’s like a beautiful rose tinted day-dream with it’s pretty post balloons, tea-cup sized animals and pastel pastries. But it’s got no substance. The characters are bland, the plot’s irrelevant and the stakes were never high.

 

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Was January a good start to your reading year as well? What was the best thing you read this month?  Have you read any of these books?
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38 thoughts on “Wrap Up: January 2019

  1. I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy Evelyn Hugo more! That was the kind of book that’s more of an exception than a rule for me, because the summary didn’t appeal to me at ALL but then I found myself so enchanted by it once I started reading. But, I suppose I can see where the very premise could be too unappealing to form much of an attachment to it. And, as I’ve said like five times already, yay for The Pillars of the Earth!! That’s one of my all-time favorite books, I was heartbroken to part with the characters by the end. Have you watched the miniseries? If you haven’t I would HIGHLY recommend it!!

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    1. I don’t enjoy books about celebrities/Hollywood, historical fiction set in the 20th century or books about people telling their life story, so this was definitley just a personal taste thing. I enjoyed it more than I ever thought I would enjoy a book that ticked all this boxes though. The Pillars of the Earth is so good it deserves five yays! I haven’t watched it, but I’m definitley planning on it (I need more of the characters) so I’m very happy to hear you enjoyed it!

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  2. I had a similar reaction to The Gallery of Unfinished Girls. I’ve been debating rereading it even though I don’t think I liked it all that much the first time because I just keep thinking I liked it more than I did in reality? It was definitely a weird book.

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  3. That’s awesome that you found so many amazing books in January! 😀 I still haven’t gotten around to reading The Bear and the Nightingale, but it does seem like the perfect winter read. And I keep hearing about I Capture the Castle but I don’t actually know what it’s about…glad to hear that you liked it so much, though! 🙂 Happy February!

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    1. It was such a good read month! I hope you love The Bear and the Nightingale when you get to it, I totally recommend picking it up in the winter time 😊 I Capture the Castle’s not the most plot driven novel, it’s basically a coming of age story about a girl who lives in a crumbling castle with her eccentric family and how they make ends meet. It’s very charming! Thank you so much and happy reading 😊

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  4. Wow you had such a good month!! I also loved Bear and the Nightingale. Sad to hear you didn’t enjoy Skyward. My husband picked it up and I was curious about it!

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    1. It was a really good reading month! I’m so glad you loved it, it’s my favorite ❤️ I hope you enjoy Skyward more than I did, it was definitley a personal taste thing. It’s just not my type of story!

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  5. So much amazing books on this list! I’m glad you loved I Capture the Castle! It gave me a huge book hangover too. Glad to know I’m not alone! I hope February will prove to be a good reading month for you as well!

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    1. It was a really good reading month! All I wanted to after finishing I Capture the Castle was to read another book just like it and I couldn’t find any. So I bought myself some L.M Montgomery, which I’m very excited to read 😊 Thank you so much! I hope you’ll have a lovely February full of beautiful books ❤️

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  6. Hah! I’m glad you loved Sky in the Deep 😀 I agree that it surprised me, because it kinda seems like cliché YA fantasy at first glance, but then the emotions and the relationships just stole the show for me. So many siblings, both blood and adopted, and it was so good.

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  7. That’s hilarious because I said that I felt each day in January lasted 12 years! At least it was just the month that lasted that long for you and not each day 😉 I’m glad to be out of it though because January just felt long and cold. But reading The Bear and the Nightingale is such a perfect read for it! I agree with you on the love for Vasya, she is just awesome and I need to read the next books asap.

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  8. I read Sky in the Deep late last year and really enjoyed it. I’m a huge fan of enemies to lovers and Yong handled it well enough. I’ve been on the fence with The Belles, the premise just doesn’t interest but the book community seems to really love. It’s kind of nice to see that not everybody loved it.

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    1. I so agree! I love enemies to lovers romance too and the one in Sky in the Deep is one of the best I’ve ever read. I heard a lot of great things about The Belles too, that’s why I picked it up despite not being that interested in the premise, but it was a big disappointment.

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