You might have read my 2019 Reading Goals post, in which I explained that I didn’t set a Goodreads goal this year to not pressure myself. Ironically, this has resulted in me reading even more books than I did in January 2018. So last month, I read a grand total of 36 books. Don’t worry though, I won’t go into all of them here! I’ll just share my reviews on some of my favourite reads of the month.
Natasha Ngan – Girls of Paper and Fire
Sometimes, I read a bunch of generic YA fantasy books in a row, and I start to wonder why I love this genre. But then I pick up a book like this and it just reignites my love for fantasy all over again! This book is so well-written and immersive, and it has fantastic world building. While it is a fantasy, it also holds such relevance! I loved seeing so many different types of strong women, and so many complex characters.
Ashley Herring Blake – Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World
I fully expected to love this book. What I did not expect however, is that it would have me bawling in the middle of the night. I don’t even fully know what made this story so relatable for me, being twice Ivy’s age and dealing with very different problems, but her feelings seemed to be quite universal. Ultimately, it’s a story about a 12-year-old girl trying to find her place in the world – among her family, among her friends, among society as a whole. This really spoke to me, because I think it’s a struggle a lot of people go through in their life, and it doesn’t have a deadline. As a middlegrade novel, I feel like this book has everything: a lovable main character, wonderful side characters (no joke, I loved each and every character!), and relevant themes.
Shaun David Hutchinson – We Are the Ants
You know those books you just know you’ll love the moment you read the first page? That’s how I felt about this one. I have to admit the tone of voice put me off a little at first, but it quickly started making more sense and from then on I just loved this book a lot. The depression rep was absolutely amazing, and I loved the metaphor of (not) wanting to press a button to avoid the end of the world, because it really visualised what depression feels like and I could really relate to it. However, I would have liked the book to have less violence, especially from Charlie and some of the other side characters, as it often wasn’t explicitly condemned.
Nina LaCour – Everything Leads to You
It took me longer than usual to read this novel, just because I didn’t want to rush it. I’m in love with Nina LaCour’s writing style, and it’s such an atmospheric read. The story is pretty simple on first glance, but there’s a lot going on under the surface, which made it a very interesting read. I especially loved the restricted way in which the story was told: we see everything through Emi’s eyes exclusively, and all the other characters are pretty flat, but that has a clear purpose, because it makes everything feel more real. Emi is a very realistic main character with clear flaws, who learns to realize that other people have real lives just like she does, and as a reader, it’s impossible to distance yourself from her, so you’re on that path to realization with her.
Amanda Lovelace – The Witch Doesn’t Burn In This One
The Witch Doesn’t Burn In This One resonated with me a lot more than The Princess Saves Herself In This One. I think that’s mainly because I could relate to some of the topics more, but I also thought the poems were stylistically better. I wasn’t sure if I’d want to pick up the third installment, but now I probably will!
Shelby Eileen – Sunshine, Sadness and Other Floridian Effects
I’ve been wanting to read more poetry and Shelby Eileen’s poetry has been recommended to me by multiple people. I put Soft In the Middle on my wishlist because of that, but when I couldn’t sleep, I went on Twitter and saw that this poetry collection was available for free, so I figured I’d give it a shot to see how I liked it. I downloaded and read it right away, and I have to say, it made me feel loads better. I’ll probably reread these at some point when I’m more in the mindset of forming coherent thoughts about them, but they did speak to me. I’m definitely going to pick up Soft In the Middle!
Meredith Russo – If I Was Your Girl
What hit me the most about this book, are some of the reviews I’ve read. People, including the author herself, have described this book as unrealistically normative and unchallenging. Of course, I fully realize that most trans people’s experiences are very different from Amanda’s. Some might be similar or more positive, but so many more of them still are much more complicated. But while I know this, I’m not sure I ever realized that as fully as when I read this book. Because Amanda’s story is not overwhelmingly positive at all. There’s so much pain and fear, and she never knows who she can trust. And while her parents are trying to be supportive and accepting, they make mistakes. So to see this book described as better than reality, that really hit me.
V.E. Schwab – Vengeful (Villains #2)
For some reason, I put off reading Vengeful because I was afraid I might not like it. But I was drawn in from the very first page, and I absolutely loved this book! It was a pretty slow read, but it was always engaging, and I love Schwab’s writing style.
Seanan McGuire – In An Absent Dream (Wayward Children #4)
I can’t express how much I love this series! I love portal fantasy in general, and the meta level this series takes on is so interesting, without taking away from the sheer fun of diving into magical worlds. This installment is maybe my favourite so far, just because I could relate to Lundy a lot. But I did miss the diversity that the previous books offered, and I hope that will be more present in the installments to come!
Nora Sakavic – All For the Game Trilogy
I picked up this trilogy because so many people recommended it to me, but I still didn’t expect to love it this much, for some reason. I was drawn in from the very first page and I absolutely loved the characters, no matter how messed up and horrible they are. I did have a few issues with it, but overall, I really loved this series. I grew to love these characters so much, and I just know I’ll be rereading these books sooner rather than later.
What was your favourite read of January?