January Reading Wrap-up 2019

Monday, January 28, 2019
I wanted to start of my first reading wrap-up post of the year with some of my reading goals, the first is my GoodReads reading goal for 2019 which I've set at a much more reasonable 50 books; however as I read 190 books in 2018, I will probably surpass my 50 book goal. Another goal of mine is to read more classics and longer reads that I've wanted to get round to for a while which is why I've chosen a couple of the books in todays wrap-up, along with some of my new Christmas books.

My BookBeat audiobook subscription has come to an end (I will be paying for it in the future) so for now, I'll only be reading physical and e-books; that means that there will be less books in each wrap-up post but I am surprised by how many books I've read this month. If you don't have time to read then definitely listen to audiobooks as they are so convenient to listen to in the car, while cooking or cleaning and before bed.

I managed to read eight books this month, six of which were fairly short, one book at almost 500 pages and finally, one over 500 pages, the latter is a book I've wanted to read for months, The Lies of Lock Lamora. Does anyone else put off reading a book because you think you're going to love it or is that just me? January was an amazing reading month overall with three books that I utterly adored and will probably make it to my favourite books of 2019: The Lies Of Lock Lamora, Working Stiff and Luck In The Shadows!

The Little Book Of Feminist Saints by Julia Pierpont (208 pages) ★★★ (3.75)
The first book I finished in January 2019 was one of my christmas presents from my sister, The Little Book Of Feminist Saints which features so many incredible women, some of which I hadn't ever heard of. There are two pages per person in this book which includes a short description of their life and achievements along with a gorgeous illustration. I adore the illustrations and cover as well as the small size which made it very easy to take on the go - that's another tip for reading more, along with listening to audiobooks, always take a book with you.

I loved how quick, easy to read and informative this read was and the illustrations were gorgeous! I did recognise maybe 50% of the women in this book but it's awful that I didn't know about others, all of which pushed boundaries and made a difference in some way. The author of this book must be North American as most of the women featured were American or if they were from another nationality, they were connected to America in some way. I feel as though the American women were prioritised, such as Julia Childs who had a larger section of information than Queen Elizabeth I, which just doesn't seem right to me, if I'm honest. I think it would have been better if it was spilt into genres or countries so everyone gets a fair share of the book. However, I adore non-fiction reads like this that are quick, interesting, entertaining and a little quirky so I'd definitely recommend this non-fiction read featuring so many inspiring women that everyone should know about!

The Lies of Lock Lamora by Scott Lynch (624 pages) ★★★★★
I have wanted to read this book for maybe over a year but I've been putting off reading it as I know that I'll adore it; however I decided that January would be the month that I'd finally read it and it definitely didn't disappoint! I have the gorgeous limited edition 10th anniversary cover which is so beautiful - I have already bought the next in the series!

We follow the orphaned talented trickster and thief, Lock Lamora as he is sold, trained and quickly enlisted in The Gentleman Bastards, a group of misfits, thieves and con-artists who steal from the rich and keep the money for themselves. The setting is utterly stunning and very vivid with a Venetian theme (which I adored) and to me it had an Assassins Creed vibe to it (Assassins Creed is my all time favourite game series). Just to give you can idea of the setting: glass bridges, tunnels underneath the graveyards, Venetian canals, dangerous creatures lurking in the water and a den of thieves underneath a temple.

I utterly adored the character of Lock as well as all of the other Gentleman Bastards, the schemes they plot, the deep friendship they share and their training which we get glimpses of through flashbacks to Lock's childhood training with Chains. The feel of this book was everything I wanted, I loved the plots and schemes throughout and I adored exploring this world as well as the cunning, nefarious and brutal characters within this read.

Typically I tend to read very quickly and I get a little disheartened and bored if a book is too slow or too long but this was a book I wanted to savour, read, live in (maybe not...), watch and play as a video game - why hasn't anyone adapted this for the screen in some way or as a video game! This read just kept getting better and better (and sadder and sadder) but I completely fell in love with it. It's one of the very best fantasy books I've EVER read and I cannot recommend it highly enough. I've already bought the second book as I can't wait to spend more time with these characters.

Melmoth by Sarah Perry (273 pages) ★★★
Another book I received for christmas was Melmoth which is inspired by the story of Melmoth the Wanderer, the original is a gothic novel written in 1820. The book begins with Helen Franklin being given a strange collection of documents which seems to cause distress to everyone who reads it. It also follows her dreary life and the life of her very unusual, disturbing neighbour as well as a couple of academics who are her only friends in Prague. We explore the various letters and documents that Helen was given so we go back in time and meet various new characters, the most memorable being Jospeh, so to me it just felt very disjointed and all over the place.

I was very interested in the premise so I couldn't wait to start it, especially as it's a relatively short book and I love to read as much as I can each month. Sadly, the book started off very slow and I didn't feel very compelled to read it but thankfully it did pick up a little at the half way mark. However I was just a little bored throughout the book. I also didn't know that it looked back in part to the occupation of the Czechoslovakia during the war which is a time in history that I never want to read as it's just incredibly heartbreaking (I personally read for entertaining/enjoyment, not to feel upset etc) and I had to study the first and second world wars in school so much that I just don't want to spend my free time reading about it, if I'm honest.

The one interesting and atmospheric element of the book was Melmoth herself as she is a very disturbing omen and she is present wherever despair, death, wickedness, disease and distress can be found. Her character alone saved the book for me as it was the only compelling character. The book itself felt like a collection of short stories about Melmoth that were jumbled together and I didn't understand flow between them. However I did like the final 25% of the book the most and it had some utterly heartbreaking and emotive moments. I would definitely recommend it if you like slow, beautiful writing featuring difficult topics of grief, loss, illness and guilt. However between the beautiful moments of writing and emotion were pages and pages of slow, slightly boring sections sadly. Everyone seems to love this read so I'm probably in the minority of those who didn't love this read.
The Visitors Books and Other Ghost Stories by Sophie Hannah (106 pages) ★★★ (3.75)
Last year I read my first Sophie Hannah read which was a new Poirot story and I really enjoyed it so I wanted to read more from her. I saw this very short and cute little hardback on World of Books so I had to buy it. It contains four short stories all of which have a sinister, eerie or supernatural element to them that manages to have a twist with so few pages.

All of the stories were so quick and easy, I read the book in the space of a car journey (it would be perfect to get into reading again, for a readathon or if you are in a reading slump). My favourite story of the four is definitely the title story, closely followed by the last story, All The Dead Mothers Of My Daughter's Friends. I loved this little collection, I'd definitely recommend it (the book itself is gorgeously designed too) and I will be reading more from Sophie Hannah.

The Man In The Picture: A Ghost Story by Susan Hill (145 pages) ★★★ (3.5)
Since reading and loving The Woman In Black a couple of years ago, I've read quite a few more of Susan Hill's books but sadly I've been disappointed by all of them; however I still wanted to read more as I do like the eerie atmosphere she creates. In The Man In The Picture we follow a Cambridge professor who is uncovering the eerie, dark secrets of a painting and how the painting seemingly affects everyone who views it.

As I've said, I've been disappointed by the previous three or so books I've read by Susan Hill as they were a little boring but thankfully I really enjoyed this one! I loved all three settings in this book, especially Venice and I loved the sinister Venetian carnival atmosphere as well as the mystery and supernatural elements. Out of all the Susan Hill books I've read, I can definitely recommend The Woman In Black and The Man In The Picture!

Bloody Scottish History: Glasgow by Bruce Durie (95 pages) ★★★ (I'm being generous with three stars, it's much closer to two stars!)
Within 2018 I started my ancestry research again as it's something I've been looking into for years but I haven't looked into my mums side of the family until 2018 and I found a veritable army of Scottish relatives from around Scotland including Glasgow (as well as Aberdeen, Paisley, Midlothian and Stirlingshire) so I wanted to learn more about the city of Glasgow. There are so many of these books available for various cities around the UK and they are all very short and seemingly quick to read.

Sadly, I was just a little disappointed by this read and I think part of that is my own fault as I'm not very familiar at all with Scottish history so many of the events and terms were new to me (and not very well explained within this book). I did find some of the sections very interesting, especially from the halfway mark, including the witch trials, Jospeh Lister (and the other medical/epidemic sections of the book) and the specific events that happened to the city itself. However, I just didn't click with this book, the writing didn't flow in an easy to read way and I probably won't buy any more from this collection sadly.
Working Stiff: Two Years, 262 Bodies, and the Making of a Medical Examiner by Judy Melinek (270 pages) ★★★★ (4.5)

There are a couple of book genres that I loved in 2018 and they include: medical non-fiction and books around death. One of my favourite books of 2018 was Smoke Gets In Your Eyes by Caitlin Doughty which is all about Caitlins life, her career and everything you could want to know about death, cremation and working in the death industry so I naturally wanted to read more books in that genre.

Smoke Gets In Your Eyes was more cremation focused but this one is very visceral, gory, graphic and goes into detail about autopsy, dissecting the body and everything that goes along with that including performing an autopsy on decomposed remains, a pregnant woman hit by a bus and drug users, to name a few. It will not be for everyone, naturally, and even for myself (I'm not squeamish at all and I grew up with slightly graphic medical books on our bookshelves), it was a little difficult to read at times.

However, I found it very interesting and gave me so much information I had previously no knowledge of, although most is very specific to the US and in the UK procedures/terms etc may differ. I liked learning about various processes involved in an autopsy, behind the scenes of the duties of a medical examiner and about Judy Melinek's life/career, which I was left in awe of, if I'm honest.

I experienced numerous emotions and thoughts while reading this book from interest, shock, awe and sadness; I'm not one to cry while reading but there were moments of sadness throughout this book. However the section that made me stop, cry and carry on reading was towards the end of the book where the author describes her experiences of the world trade centre terror attack, dealing with the personal ramifications and with the bodies or fragments of the dead...it was very moving, shocking and heartbreaking. Overall, I cannot recommend this book enough!

Luck In The Shadows by Lynn Flewelling (479 pages) ★★★★ (4.5)
I was going to read the second Tudor Queens book by Alison Weir in January (hence why it is included in the photos) as I adored the third in the series last year but by the time I got round to it, I just wasn't interested in it at that moment in time so I opted for another fantasy read, Luck In The Shadows as I've wanted to read it for so long!

We follow Alec as he encounters a cunning, intelligent and mysterious thief while he's locked in a dungeon but his new companion, Seregil, breaks them out and Alec soon becomes his apprentice in a swashbuckling, magic filled adventure. I loved the settings throughout the book, it felt very vivid and real. I also adored the relationship between not just Alec and Seregil but the deep and loving friendships in the book as well. There seems to be a focus on romantic relationships in all books but I loved that there was so much heartfelt and genuine friendship in this book.

I liked the vivid world, the increasingly magic elements and the action/adventure throughout as well as the mystery! I've already bought the next two books in the series and I'll probably be reading them both within February - thankfully it's a six book series.

I haven't read anything from this author before but this series has nothing but praise for it online so I had to read it in January, even though it is more than a little similar to another read this month, The Lies Of Lock Lamora. Lock definitely has some similarities to Seregil in terms of the thievery, cunning and scheming...as well as the disguises. I didn't intend to read two similar fantasy books one after the other but I absolutely adored both of them and I think they'll both end up on my best books of 2019 list!

Overall, there were a few disappointing books including Melmoth and Bloody History - Glasgow. However, there were three books I utterly adored and I think they'll end up on my favourite books of the year list which includes: The Lies Of Lock Lamora, Working Stiff and Luck In The Shadows, all three of which I cannot recommend enough...read them now.

Have you read any of these books? Do you have any reading goals for 2019?

14 comments

  1. Such interesting reads. I want to get into more Fantasy books so will be adding some of these to my list.

    xoxo
    JessThe Crown Wings | UK Travel & Lifestyle Blog

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  2. I am always in awe of how much you read. There is a new Paulo Coelho book out that I need to get.

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  3. I haven't read any of these unfortunately. I suppose it can be a little hit and miss sometimes xx

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  4. Some amazing books here! I've actually got the Alison Weir book on my to be read list as I'm about half way through the Kathrine of Aragon one!

    Love, Amie ❤
    The Curvaceous Vegan

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  5. Eight in a month?! TEACH ME YOUR WAYS!

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  6. Ah The Lies of Locke Lamora has been on my TBR list for the longest time now, I need to get around to reading it asap! Even more so after your review. I read Six of Crows recently and the scheming was what I enjoyed most, so I think I'd love it. Thanks for sharing! x

    Evie x | www.eviejayne.co.uk

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  7. You’ve read some great books this month. Still amazed at the sheer amount.

    http://littlemissmelanie.com

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  8. I love how varied your reads are each month! I’m so bad at not changing genre but as a book is a means of escape for me, then I have to enjoy what I read x

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  9. I'd never heard of the The Lies of Lock Lamora before but it sounds like an amazing read.

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  10. I like Susan Hill, her books always creep me out. I only finished one book this month, Ostrich by Matt Greene which was amazing.

    Jenny
    http://www.jennyinneverland.com

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  11. I want to read more, but I need to finish uni first! I think I have given up putting pressure on myself to read!

    Erin || MakeErinOver

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  12. The Lies of Lock Lamora by Scott Lynch sounds so good x

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  13. So interesting that your books read goes down when not listening to audiobooks. My number dropped considerably when I tried them! You still managed to get through quite a lot though! x

    Sophie
    www.glowsteady.co.uk

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