Let’s begin with a couple of really late additions to my December Wrap-Up:
1606; Shakespeare and the Year of Lear by James Shapiro
As and English Literature graduate it was probably one of the highlights of my year to go and visit Stratford-Upon-Avon, which was where I picked up a signed copy of this book. In case you haven’t noticed, I’m not a huge non-fiction reader, so I don’t have much to compare this to. While it did take me around 6 months to finish, I actually really enjoyed it. Each chapter focuses on a different aspect, or event, that happened in 1606 which may have had an impact on Shakespeare while he was composing King Lear. The structure of this was great because it was super strong, and while I found some chapters more interesting than others, overall this is a very well-written book, and I really want to read more from Shapiro.
Our Numbered Days by Neil Hilborn
After seeing on of Neil’s shows on his UK tour, I picked a signed copy up, and have only just finished it in its entirety. Though my knowledge of poetry collections (especially contemporary ones) is pretty limited, I really enjoyed it. Predominantly through free verse, the collection explores many tried and tested subjects, such as love and death, through a modern unique lens. Interspersed with the ‘Our Numbered Days” sextet, the collection manages to balance the pain and pleasures of love, while not dwelling on the subjects. I can’t wait to get hold of his new collection, coming in 2018.
Onto January 2018:
You may want to grab a cup of tea at this point, because we have a lot to get through!
Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders
Last year I made the resolution to read more critically acclaimed books, hence my Man Booker TBR. I never finished that TBR, though mostly because I was having trouble getting ahold of a couple of the books. This year I made the same promise to myself, and by happy coincidence, the winner of the Man Booker 2017, was also super cheep on kindle. Hello, Lincoln in the Bardo. This book blew me away, with it’s lyrical prose, it’s unique form and stunning whimsical setting. The narrative is unique, but bears echoes of James Joyce, wonderfully complex and yet flowed beautifully. I cannot imagine any of the other books on the shortlist surpassing this one in my eyes.
Forest of a Thousand Lanterns (Rise of the Empress #1) by Julie C. Dao
This was the book that I got way back when in the October FairyLoot box, and I’ve only now gotten around to reading it. Why did I leave it so long, because Forest of a Thousand Lanterns was so good. Set in an Asian inspired setting we follow the rise of Snow White’s Evil Queen, as she strives to achieve her destiny. There is a richness to the descriptions of this book, that allows, or even encourages the reader to view it on its own, rather than as a retelling. My only nitpick was that it was overly complex, and maybe after a reread (or two) I’ll be able to follow the mythology with ease, but for now I got a little lost along the way. Still, I can’t wait for Book 2!
Harley Quinn, Vol. 2; Joker Loves Harley by Jimmy Palmiotti, Amanda Conner and John Timms
Following on from Vol. 1; Die Laughing, which I read last year, Joker Loves Harley was just as great. Picking up where we left off, Harley is getting packages from her ex-Puddin’, and I was so excited to get to see Joker x Harley on page, (side note: any recommendations for Joker x Harley stories?), which was defiantly my favourite part of the collection. I liked the twist, as it was interesting and meant that everything made sense, especially a certain dream sequence. The final story was Christmas themed, and was okay, though it didn’t quote fit in with the rest, but I guess it’s got to go somewhere, right?
The Hating Game by Sally Thorne
Even though I have heard so many good things about this contemporary romance, it has been on and off my TBRs for what feels like forever. Don’t take forever to read this book, because it was really good. During December I was looking for some cute romances, and they didn’t;t quite hit the spot but this book was exactly what I was looking for. We follow Lucy and Josh, who work together and are going for the same promotion, meaning they are mortal enemies… or are they? The only slight qualm I had was that nothing really surprised me, but I felt like it was supposed to, though it wouldn’t stop me from re-reading it again (and again).
The Austere Academy (ASOUE #5) by Lemony Snicket
Like last year, I am preparing for the new season of Netflix’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, though, admittedly, I thought it was out this month. Nevertheless, The Austere Academy is the fifth installation in the Baudelaire orphans’ lives wherein they are taken to live at a boarding school, and, of course, it does not pan out very well for them. I found the humour in this one to be more apparent, and I enjoyed it purely for that reason. We’re also introduced to V.F.D, one of the great mysteries of the series, which will develop as the books go forward, and I can’t wait.
The Ersatz Elevator (ASOUE #6) by Lemony Snicket
Even though this is a re-read it turns out that I really don’t remember this book, probably because asking me to read past five books in a series is quite an ask. I love the way that The Ersatz Elevator is beginning to get somewhat darker, along with the development of the V.F.D mystery, but it is balanced with the humour. Another thing which really appeals to me is the setting of 667 Dark Avenue, which reminds me very much of a locked room murder mystery, and creates this fabulous sense of claustrophobia. I enjoyed it much more than I remember and have to wonder why it’s such an underrated episode in the series.
A Gathering of Shadows (Shades of Magic #2) by V.E.Schwab
This is the second time I’ve read this book, and my first re-read of the trilogy as a whole, and I can tell you now, that this is my all time favourite trilogy. I read this in two days straight through and just want more, granted there is more, but this book is just so special. Of course the writing is excellent, the plot maintains the beautifully precise balance between the mundane lives of our favourite princes and pirates, and the overarching political plot. There is such a masterful build of tension throughout, so subtle sometimes you don’t even realise it’s there until that final page. The only question is when are we getting a special edition?
Everless by Sara Holland
Ah, Everless where to begin? I went into this book with decent expectations regarding a fantasy world in which time can be distilled from blood. However, despite all the rave reviews I’ve seen around I was left extremely disappointed. This books was okay– but that was the problem, it was just okay. The plot felt over saturated with mythology, leading to a revelation that must felt like something I’ve seen before. The characterisation was lacking, leaving me, as the reader, feeling distant, and uninvested. If you enjoyed Wicked Like a Wildfire, then you’ll probably enjoy Everless, unfortunately neither really hit the spot for me.
Until Friday Night (The Field Party #1) by Abbi Glines
Let me start off by saying that I was in the mood for a light, easy contemporary, so I picked up Until Friday Night, which had been sitting on my Kindle for a while. I hated this book. I have never read a book where the male characters are so unbelievably sexist, and they are never called up on it. I have never read a book where the romance makes me so uncomfortable. And, I have never read a book that makes me so determined never to read anything by this author again. The one saving grace of this book was a really well written death, that made me cry, but didn’t make up for all the parts I could not enjoy. For more of my thoughts you should definitely check out my GoodReads status updates, which illustrate my feelings perfectly.
Nevernight (The Nevernight Chronicles #1) by Jay Kristoff
I really enjoyed this book, so you’re probably wondering why I only have it three stars, which, admittedly, is me being pretty harsh. It reminded me of an adult version of Thorne of Glass, as, even though Mia is only 16, it’s a lot more graphic than that series, which was great. The first third of the book is interspersed with extensive flashbacks which I found a struggle to get through and slowed the pacing a lot for me. But, my biggest problem was that, despite being an assassin’s school, there was a lot of importance on outer beauty, that just didn’t sit right with me. Even though it only got an average rating I am looking forward to finishing the trilogy, as it is a lot of fun, with some excellent action scenes.
Skirrid Hill by Owen Sheers
Even though I have studied some of these poems for my A-level English Lit course, it was only a partner text so it was very brief, and this is the first time I am reading the collection in its entirety. It really wasn’t what I imagined it to be, and it left me a little disappointed. Maybe I missed the point, but I found the poems really disjointed. There were some poems which I really enjoyed, like L.A Night, and then their were a lot that focused on nature and the great outdoors, which is not something that interest me personally. I am glad that I read Skirrrid Hill, but it’s not something I can see myself coming back to.
The Cruel Prince (The Folk of the Air #1) by Holly Black
So this was supposed to be on my February TBR, and I thought I’d start it now, since it’s the end of January, and I ended up finishing it in two days. What stood out the most was definitely the world building which was excellent, especially given how expansive the world of the fae is. I did think that toward the end the plot line got a little bit confusing, but that might be because I was tired after reading 300 pages of it in one hit. This is my first experience reading a Holly Black book, and I had so much fun that my head is spinning. It wasn’t a perfect book, but I really want to re-read it already, so that’s a good sign.
So, as you can see my 2018 is off to a roaring start, which work for me because I hate falling behind in my reading challenge. My favourite book I read this month was… A Gathering of Shadows or Lincoln in the Bardo, if I want to pick a new read, but what was yours?
Have you read any of these books and what did you think? If you haven’t do you read poetry, and if so, what do you recommend? Comment down below