January Reading Wrap-up 2018

Sunday, January 28, 2018
It's time for my first reading wrap-up of 2018! I had a fairly ambitious TBR for the month of January (although I always have ambitious TBR lists for every month!) but thankfully I was able to finish everything I wanted to in January and more which included 3 audiobooks, 3 e-books and 10 physical books! I think I managed to read much more than usual this month as a few of the books were a little shorter than average, the audiobooks were very short and I've been ill on and off in January so I managed to get even more reading done than usual. However, hopefully I can keep up this pace and read just as much in February! 

*Zenith by Sasha Alsberg and Lindsay Cummings (511 pages - 11th January)  ★★★
Out of all the books I read this month, I was cautious about this one the most as it's written by a youtuber and I typically stay well away from youtuber/blogger books but this one subverted my exceptions. We follow a misfit all girl space ship crew as they take risky jobs to survive in a cut throat universe but some of the girls have secrets from their past that come to haunt them and take them on a rip roaring adventure filled with action, revenge, loss and unrequited love. 

I love the crew as they were so unique, spunky and vivid, even if they were quite cliche and very YA at times. I loved the adventures, the relationships between the crew. Despite being over 500 pages, it was such an easy, entertaining and quick read with very short chapters, every one of which focused on one characters perspective/thoughts. 

I'm not really a Star Wars fan but I have watched a couple of the films and this book definitely gave me Star Wars vibes, albeit on a very YA level. However it did have the typical sci-fi elements as well as spaceships, 'aliens' and much more. If you like sci-fi books then I'd recommend this one but just be aware of the YA genre and the tendencies towards tropes and cliches. 

*Beautiful Star & Other Stories by Andrew Swanston (256 pages - 11th January)
★★★
I'm not going to talk about this book too much as I've already published a full book blog tour post on it which you can read for more information. I was initially drawn to this short story collection as the cover is amazing and the synopsis sounded like something I'd absolutely love as it's historical fiction with what seemed to be quirky elements which I'm all for! 

There are seven short stories, all of which are historical fiction and focus on time periods that I'm interested in. My favourite stories from this collection include: Beautiful Star, The Tree, The Flying Monk and A Witch and A Bitch. If you like historical fiction then check out this interesting, entertaining short story collection! 

*Women of the Raj by Margaret Macmillan (320 pages - 25th January)
★★★★
Thames and Hudson kindly sent me a few stunningly beautiful books last month that I adored and I was sent a few more (thank you!) which the first being Women of the Raj. It's a non-fiction book with a gorgeous cover and a topic that I know nothing about!

It starts with the horrendous journey to India for both men and women in the 1800s and early 1900s which is something I would not want to experience! It also looks at the travellers first impressions of India and it's people as well as how they perceive this foreign exotic country, cultural clashes and how the Europeans try to carry on with their own version of society in a country that is very different to their own. 

Throughout the book the author not only describes the experiences, history and culture concisely and in a way that isn't dry, dusty or dreary but it's also accurate as the author draws on individual accounts from that time. I personally didn't know too much about the raj, the individual experiences of europeans in India or the caste system in India so it was definitely informative! I wasn't taught anything throughout my schooling about India or the British empire so this book in it's accurate, informative and surprisingly easy way definitely helped fill in the blanks in my knowledge. I'd definitely recommend it as a unique, interesting and very niche non-fiction read. It's great to see a book focusing on women's experiences as so much of history is focused on men! 
*The Child Finder by Rene Denfield (288 pages - 11th January) ★★★
I love reading thrillers during the autumn and winter months so I was excited to receive this book for review. I managed to read this book in one day as it's super a quick, page turning thriller. 

We follow Naomi, the child finder, who has been hired by the Culvers to find their missing daughter who disappeared during a winter trip to Oregon. Throughout the book we not only find out Maisons story but also the main characters past which has surprising parallels to the missing girl she's been hired to find.

Let's start with the positives, I loved the setting, the wintery landscape and the tension filled, sinister atmosphere of the book. I also like the main character, the fairytale elements and the writing style which was very quick and easy but also compelling. The story on the whole was interesting and a page turner but it was also thoroughly disturbing with dark, awful topics, mainly around child abuse which made for very uncomfortable reading. If you think that you had handle those kinds of themes then definitely check out this book! 

*My Sweet Orange Tree by José Mauro de Vasconcelos (192 pages - available now) ★★★
How cute is this cover! I was sent this book from the amazing people at Pushkin Press and I was interested to read it as it's very different to any of the other books I've read because it is a semi-autobiographical almost modern classic from the Brazilian author, José Mauro de Vasconcelos. The book has been in print since it's publication in 1968 but it has been republished in this gorgeous edition by Pushkin Press.

We follow the author's childhood in Rio De Janeiro but don't be fooled by the adorable, colourful cover as this book will break your heart! The main character of Zeze has to endure so much at such a young age and the saddest part of the story is that it's based on the authors life. It manages to covey an emotional, heart wrenching story in under 200 pages. 

*The Wages Of Sin by Kaite Welsh (308 pages - available now) ★★★
I noticed this book on BookBridgr in December and I knew, not just from the cover, that I had to request it and I was so excited when it arrived at the very end of December - I had to read it immediately, although I didn't finish it until the first of January. We follow Sarah, one of the new female medical students at the University of Edinburgh as she struggles with her past, her studies and the negativity she experiences because of her gender within the medical profession and academia. 

I adored the setting of the book, it was one of my favourite things about the book as well as the medical side, the mystery and the hate to love almost romance within the book. The main characters felt feel and vivid, I liked the writing and how quick of a read it was. However, I didn't like the constant mentions to the main characters 'stained' past as I think it undermined the rest of the book which is very much a girl power and equality focused book. I also think the book was far too slow at times which made me skim read a fair few paragraphs within the middle of the book. I would 
recommend it as it was entertaining and enjoyable but not quite as amazing as I'd hoped it would be. 

*Thief Of Time by Terry Pratchett (316 pages - available now) ★★★
I hoped to finish this book last year but sadly I couldn't! It's the final book in the death series within Terry Pratchett's huge Discworld series. I love this series on the whole with Hogfather being my favourite but there are a couple that I haven't liked quite as much as the others including Soul Music and annoyingly, this book too. 

We follow an acclaimed clockmaker as he is commissioned to create the most accurate clock in existence by a mysterious benefactor, Susan (who we met in the previous two books in the series which I reviewed last month) and the monks of history. The book started, for me, like a book that wasn't written by Terry Pratchett at all but thankfully it regained it's unique Terry Pratchett charm and wit. 

The start wasn't very compelling but it definitely picked up and I read the rest of the book quite quickly as I wanted to find out what was going to happen. Also Susan is definitely my favourite Terry Pratchett character so I'm glad she was in this book. Terry Pratchett is such an intelligent writer and his books are always filled with dark humour, witty remarks and sarcasm. From a rocky start, I finished the book feeling so glad that I read this series. If you haven't read any of his books then you need to start with Mort (or Equal Rights which is the first book in the witches series). 

*The Intruder by P.S Hogan (288 pages - e-book available now) ★★★
This is another read that I won't talk too much about as I've already published my full blog tour book review for the e-book release. The e-book is available now but the paperback will be released in May. We follow William Henning, an estate agent who happens to keep the keys to all of the houses he has sold and visits the residents without them knowing...we also look back on his life and childhood to try to understand him. 

It was fairly creepy from the beginning, especially as we just focus on the main character and it feels like we are in his head (it's not a comfortable place to be). The writing was quick, very easy to read and as entertaining as you would expect from a thriller so I would recommend it as a quick thriller or halloween recommendation. However, the ending for me was a little anticlimactic especially compared to the rest of the book. 
*Dear Ijeawele by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie via BookBeat ★★★
I listened to the audiobook of We Should All Be Feminists last year and loved it as a simple, straightforward introduction to feminism and this one was no different. If you are like me and haven't read or listened to much feminist literature or work in general then the audiobooks from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie are great starting points. 

I agreed with so much of this book about subverting gender roles, gender equality, how parenting should be an equal task rather than being viewed as something for women to manage, how girls and boys should be treated more similarly and that women shouldn't feel guilty to be themselves rather than just a mother. It's such a short, no-nonsense audiobook that I'd definitely recommend to everyone - I just wasn't a fan of the narrator. 

*Art In The Blood by Bonnie Macbird via BookBeat ★★★
I have had a hit or miss experience with audiobooks recently as I've had to DNF a couple (including To Catch A King and Pretty Honest) but thankfully this one was great! It's a reimagining of a classic Sherlock Holmes story which I'm all for as I love the Sherlock Holmes series but sadly, while it was entertaining, it didn't have the classic, unsolvable or intricate feel of the originals for me. 

I liked the narrator on the whole, although his voice for Sherlock was very high and a little creepy, it was a fairly quick audiobook and it was entertaining and enjoyable but for me it is quite forgettable and it missed that Sherlock Holmes feel or spark that we are all familiar with. I would recommend listening to it but don't have your expectations too high! 

*Shadow Show edited by Sam Weller via BookBeat ★★★★
Ray Bradbury is one of my favourite authors as his way with words is so unique and magical so I had to listen to this anthology of short stories created by various famous authors who loved or were influenced by Ray Bradbury.

The stories range in their influence and similarities to Ray Bradbury's stories. The stories I loved the most were from the following authors: Neil Gaiman, Margaret Atwood and David Morrell as well many others. I liked the vast majority of the stories, the narrators and the Ray Bradbury themes or inspiration in each story but within the middle there were a few that weren't as interesting or as unique as the rest. 

*The Beginning Of The World In The Middle Of The Night by Jen Campbell (288 pages) ★★★
Jen Campbell is an author and youtuber that I follow so I had to read her last book (with the longest book title ever) especially as she has such an amazing knowledge of fairytales and folktales which definitely shows in this short story collection! The cover is stunning and for me it such was a quick, easy and poetic read. 

I think that I had built this short story collection up a little too much before reading it as I wasn't as impressed or as in love within it nearly as much as I thought I would be. Out of the twelve short stories, my favourites include: animals, little deaths, human satellites and bright white hearts. I would recommend it if you like fairytales, folktales and bizarre stories but it could be quite polarising. 

*The Coffin Path by Katherine Clements (384 pages - 8th February) ★★★
We follow Mercy and her family who reside in a decaying country home in a rural region filled with folktales and haunting stories passed down from generation to generation. With the changing seasons, farmhands travel from farm to farm for work and Ellis joins Mercy at Scarcross Hall. Suspisions fly when items start to disappear, eerie sightings and gruesome discoveries are made. 

The premise of the book sounded incredible, however the first 20 to 25% was so slow, especially compared to the super quick reads I've been reading recently. Although thankfully the pace did pick up and become even more atmospheric, eerie and mysterious. I did enjoy this book but I feel a little let down by it, maybe I had built it up too much before reading it. I found it entertaining, genuinely creepy and eerie at times but it was also a little too slow and the end/reveals were predictable for me. I think you'd like it if you like the film Crimson Peak as it did have those vibes, especially towards the end or The Silent Companions but I was personally a little bit disappointed by this book. 

*The Wicked Cometh by Laura Carlin (352 pages - 1st February) ★★★
I requested this book a while ago via Netgalley but I have been receiving so many physical arcs (I'm not complaining) that my netgalley books have been neglected however I'm trying to catch up with my Netgalley reading and reviews, including The Wicked Cometh. I adore the cover so I might have to buy a physical copy!

It's a historical fiction novel partly set in the grimy backstreets of London in the 1800's and it's also partly set in a grand house in the country - both of those settings tick my reading preferences boxes. We follow Hester, a teenage girl living in poverty after a series of tragedies that have taken her away from her rural, idilic upbringing. Her fate turns around after an unfortunate encounter after which she meets the intriguing Rebekah Brock. 

I adored the writing style as it was rich but concise and extremely quick to read, so much so that I managed to read 66% of the e-book in one day! I also loved the characters of Hester and Rebekah as well as their somewhat tension filled relationship which possibly turns into something more...I loved the twists and turns as well as the LGBT, Burke/Hare and slightly Frankenstein vibes; however it was just a little too slow at times. 

I did read a whopping 13 books (including physical books and e-books) as well as 3 audiobooks via BookBeat this month but I haven't included all of the books in this post as it would just be too long! The books I read in January but haven't reviewed here include: The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton and The Owl Always Hunts At Night by Samuel Bjork but I am reviewing each individually as part of blog tours in collaboration with the publisher in February instead so you'll still get reviews of those two books! 

Have you read any of these books or audiobooks? What are you currently reading?

20 comments

  1. Posts like this always give me motivation to do some more reading x

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  2. I cannot wait til Summer so I have the time to read all of your recommendations, they look amazing! :)

    Erin || MakeErinOver

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  3. Oh my word you managed to read so many!! I’ve struggled to finish 3 this month! There’s a real mix of books here too. Well done on reaching all of them and good luck for February’s challenge! x

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  4. You always have the best book recommendations! X

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  5. Women of the Raj sounds right up my street x

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  6. How do you get through so many books?! I like the sound of Women of the Raj! X

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  7. I’m halfway through The Intruder and the main character is so creepy x

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  8. Women of the Raj sounds like an interesting read. It's a topic I know nothing about.

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  9. I love your book reviews! Thank you for sharing!

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  10. Oh wow! I wish I had more time to read because some of these sound amazing! x

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  11. Please can I come and raid your library haha! x

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  12. You read soo many books in one month!xo

    Char | www.charslittleblog.co.uk

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  13. I love how you are always reading, that used to be me x

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  14. You are seriously inspiring to get back into reading. I use to love it but university sort of knocked it out of me with all the readings I had to for class. Now that I am done with university I need to jump back on the reading band wagon. x

    www.themakeupaficionado.com

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  15. I can’t work out how if anyone can read so many books. I’m lucky to read one!
    I enjoyed this post as I’m looking to read more and you mention some great books.

    http://littlemissmelanie.com

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  16. Women Of The Raj sonds fab, I think i'll need to pick that one up!
    Chantelle x
    The Girl In The Tartan Scarf

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  17. Oh wow, you read so many awesome books in January! I love reading these posts but it just reminds me that I need to do a whole lot more reading! xx
    www.imjustagirl16.co.uk

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  18. the child finder sounds like my kinda book

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  19. You got through so many - well done :) x

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