January Reading Wrap-Up 2020

Friday, January 31, 2020
2019 was a good reading year overall, especially January and August but sadly the last three months have been filled with reading slumps and a depressing amount of DNF'd books so I wanted to try and start my reading for 2020 on a positive note. I was able to read ten books in January (which I'm very happy with, particularly as one was over 600 pages) and I read a range of genres from non-fiction and fantasy to dystopian, translated fiction and manga. My favourites books from January include: Battle Royale, Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs and Death Note. 

Battle Royale by Koushun Takami (627 pages - dystopian) ★★★★
I'm trying again with my longer books challenge for 2020 with a book that was the inspiration for The Hunger Games. The book is translated from Japanese and it follows a class of high school students as they are taken by the government to an island on which they have to kill each other until only one student survives. You can instantly see, from the world and the premise, how much of it was used as part of The Hunger Games but the original idea seems to be from Koushun Takami.

The book begins as the students are taken to the island and we are introduced to a whole cast of characters which definitely made the initial couple of chapters a bit confusing but thankfully, it became clearer and a very compelling read after that. The world was vivid as were the main handful of characters and I loved the quick, easy and dramatic nature of the book, especially as it continued to unfold and we learn more about the students themselves and how they deal with the situation as it becomes more and more dire for everyone.

It didn't read like an over 600 page book as I could read large chunks in one sitting - it was just a throughly enjoyable read, albeit with a good deal of gore! I liked the dystopian setting, rebellion against the government and the wider political situation within the book, although it does focus mostly on the game and characters which I'm thankful for as it was the most interesting aspect. Thankfully the ending was the best I could have hoped for, given the premise. My only negatives were the huge number of characters which made it a little confusing at times but as the game continues and the student die, it becomes easier to keep track of the individual characters. I would highly recommend this read but I'd also add in a warning here for blood/gore, violence, murder, abuse and sexual violence/rape, all of which are mentioned throughout the entire book.

Death Note - Volume Two by Tsugumi Ohba, Takeshi Obata, Yuki Kowalsky (385 pages - manga) ★★★
Last month I read the first volume of the famous manga Death Note and really enjoyed it (although it had it's flaws) so I wanted to carry on and read the second volume. I have the gorgeous black editions with contain two volumes in one so this second volume contains volumes three and four. We follow on directly from the events in the first manga so I can't really say much about the content of this volume as I don't want to ruin it.

However, the general plot follows the life of Light as he discovers the death note which is a notebook dropped by one of the shinigami (gods of death). If you write a name in the notebook within a certain time limit the person will die. It's a great look at basic Japanese culture and philosophy on the nature of good vs evil and playing god. I gave the first volume the same rating but I think I like this one a little more as it introduces new stakes and new interesting characters. If it sounds like something you'd enjoy then definitely give it a go!

Motor Crush - Volume One by Brenden Fletcher (142 pages - graphic novel) ★★★
Next up, another free graphic novel from Kindle Unlimited. Motor Crush follows Domino Swift, trying to win prestige and a narcotic known as 'crush' in a motorbike race. It is basically a female focused version of Death Race which is such an awful but amazing movie! I loved the premise, the gorgeous colour scheme and the illustration style throughout as well as the storyline and two LGBT characters. It was an interesting (although slightly confusing at times) graphic novel that is perfect for getting out of a reading slump as it's very quick and entertaining.

*Payback by R.C Bridgestock (320 pages - crime thriller) ★★★
I reviewed this book within a previous post so I won't go into too much detail here but if you want more in-depth thoughts on this newly released crime thriller then check out my blog tour review. I haven't read a crime thriller for a while and this one was a great reintroduction to the genre, especially as it was created by two individuals with years of experience within the police force. We follow Charley Mann, who has travelled back to her home region of Yorkshire, as the areas first young female DI as a brutal murder is discovered.

Firstly, I loved the premise, how detailed the investigative elements of the book were (which you'd expect from authors with police experience) and the main character, Charley Mann. In my somewhat limited experience, it is fairly rare to see a female main character in such a role so it was a refreshing read from that aspect. It was a great crime thriller that I'd recommend to anyone who loves the genre.

Blue Exorcist - Volume One by Kazue Kato (180 pages - manga) ★★★
I've been very interested in Japanese and Korean culture and food recently so I've been reading a few manga and Japanese translated fiction in January. In Blue Exorcist we follow Rin, an orphan raised by Father Fujimoto (a famous exorcist) as he discovers that he is the son of satan which means that he has demonic powers and begins to be trained as an exorcist to kill demons. It all sounds crazy but I loved it! It's a very quick, easy and interesting manga that I finished in one day - so it was a perfect slump book.

Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs? by Caitlin Doughty (200 pages - non-fiction) ★★★★
Caitlin Doughty had been one of my favourite non-fiction authors for a couple of years now and I've read all three of her books - I cannot recommend them enough. When I saw her latest book on sale, I bought it and I'm glad I did. As with all of her books, they focus on everything related to death from death rituals, what happens to a body after death, the cremation process, decomposition and everything in-between. If you've ever had a death related question, her books will have the answer.

Within her latest book (which has the best title ever), she answers various morbid and curious questions about death from pets eating their owners, why don't animals dig up graves, what happens to your hair after you die and more. As with all of her other books, this one also has her typical darkly humorous tone and wit throughout it, along with simple illustrations and lots of interesting facts. While I adore all of her books, I think this one is my least favourite but that being said, I do highly recommend all three.

Tokyo Ghoul - Volume One by Sui Ishida (218 pages - manga) ★★★
The third Japanese manga I read in January was Tokyo Ghoul which along with Death Note and Blue Exorcist, seems to be some of the more popular manga that have been translated into English. In Tokyo Ghoul we follow Ken Kaneki as he is turned into a human-ghoul hybrid and he has to live as a hybrid or die. It was another very quick, easy and entertaining manga but it was probably my least favourite of the four I read although I'd still recommend it.

Witch Hat Atelier - Volume One by Kamome Shirahama (216 pages) ★★★
The last Japanese manga I read in January was my favourite in terms of it's art style! We follow Coco, a young girl with a passion for all thing magic, as she meets a travelling magician and is taken away to be trained along with other young girls in the art of magic and spells. Any book related to magic and magical training is going to be something I'll enjoy thanks to Harry Potter so I naturally loved the storyline but my favourite aspect was the art and illustrations which seem to be a beautiful mixture of European fairytale illustrations and magical Japanese manga - loved it! As with all of the manga I've read, it was entertaining, enjoyable, quick and a very easy read that I sped through. It was free on Kindle Unlimited so if you have it then why not give it a go.

*Deeds Not Words by Sandra Sider (96 pages - non-fiction) ★★★
My second non-fiction read of January was a very quick and unusual book that will be released at the end of March 2020. It was created to honour the anniversary of the 19th amendment (the date American women won the right to vote) as numerous artists used their quilting abilities to make quilts depicting various scenes or individuals associated with the votes for women fight in the US. I personally didn't know anything about the events or individuals involved as my education focused on the suffragettes in the UK so it gave an interesting but very brief insight into the battle American women fought as well as the thoughts of the artists and a little background on each artist too. My negatives mainly focus on the structure of the book although I think that is only due to the ARC copy I have. Also it didn't give much background information which is something I needed, especially with my limited knowledge of American history.

*Prosper's Demon by K.J Parker (112 pages - novella) ★★★ (3.5)
Last but not least for the month of January, a very unusual novella that I ended up really enjoying! We follow our narrator, a morally ambiguous and throughly interesting exorcist, as he removes demons from people. He can see them, speak to them and injure them but he can't kill them. The novella focuses on the narrators thoughts, memories and his actions when he encounters Prosper of Schnaz, the latter is a famed man of science who also happens to be processed by a demon. It sounds like something I'd love and the premise, tone and the narrator were fantastic. Thankfully it wasn't too abstract as I think that would have ruined the book for me but it was a fantastic blend of historical fiction, fantasy and magical realism that I won't be forgetting soon.

Have you read any of these books or manga? Do you have any reading goals for 2020? 

*Gifted

11 comments

  1. I'm not really a fan of manga or graphic novels but I love the sound of 'will my cat eat my eyeballs?' I'm glad you enjoyed that one! x

    Sophie
    www.glowsteady.co.uk

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  2. I've not actually read any of these! I'm hoping to read about 8 books this month x

    Tiffany x www.foodandotherloves.co.uk

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  3. Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs sounds really interesting... if not a bit morbid! x

    Jenny
    http://www.jennyinneverland.com

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  4. Oooo these sound interesting, not my usual genre but I'm trying to get out of that this year xx

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  5. I've got a 25 hour flight coming up...I better get downloading some of these!
    Em x

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  6. I'm still on the same book as I commented in your post from last month - your reading rate really does put me to shame!

    Jasmine xx



    Jasmine Talks Beauty

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  7. Have you seen Battle Royale the film? That's pretty incredible x

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  8. So many books. There’s some interesting reads.

    https://littlemissmelanie.com/

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  9. You deffo have a reading type! x

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  10. I've been reading more this month and really been enjoying it!

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Feel free to leave me a comment, I read all of them!

If you would like to contact me, email: heathernixon4@gmail.com