I wanted to start my first wrap-up of the year by sharing some of my reading goals. I mentioned in my 2019 Intentions post how this year I’m aiming to read 60 books. Counting towards this total will hopefully be some classic literature. Despite being an English Literature student, there is a world of celebrated classics I’m yet to read. So, I’m intending on choosing one each month so I can start crossing them off my list. Finally, I want to read more nonfiction, a genre which I’ve admittedly never given a proper chance. I already have my sights set on a few which might just win me over.
I managed to read six books this month. It would have been more, but the last week of January has been dedicated to reading my first ever Stephen King novel. As his longest book at an immense 1325 pages, I’m not quite done with it yet. I have 400 pages left to finish so this will be featured in next month’s wrap-up! Despite its length (I could use this thing as a murder weapon) I’m savouring and enjoying every word.
January was an amazing reading month overall with three books I utterly adored and will probably make it to my favourite books of 2019: Six of Crows, Crooked Kingdom (this duology stole my heart) and An American Marriage, all brimming with an incredible cast of characters.
My first book of 2019 was one that I had wanted to read for a while. After being left disappointed with its preceding Shadow and Bone trilogy, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Reading its synopsis, I knew I’d enjoy this book. What I didn’t know was that it would introduce me to 6 incredible, diverse characters or how much I’d care for each of their stories. On the surface, Six of Crows is about a seemingly impossible heist, flooded with action and adventure. What I cherished, however, is that this is a book about experiences. It’s a story of how certain choices can shape our future, about the impact they can have on our lives.
I’ve already rhapsodised over how much I love a character-driven novel, and this cast stole my heart. Bardugo gradually peels back their layers and unveils their backstories and individual motivations as to why they’re going ahead with the dangerous heist. I didn’t once lose interest.
I admired the badass female leads, the jurda crazy Grisha, the will-they-won’t-they tension between Nina and Mathias, the seemingly impossible heist, the comedic spark between Jesper and Wylan, and, of course, the notorious Kaz Brekker. Six of Crows was dark, rich, and inundated with incredible characters. I was so captivated by this beautifully-crafted world. What I would do to have Bardugo’s imagination to create a plot so completely surprising but so completely believable.
After falling in love with Six of Crows, I couldn’t help but dive straight into the Dregs’ next adventure. Crooked Kingdom just reaffirmed everything I loved about the characters. We learn more about their backgrounds, their family, their flaws and insecurities. Bardugo has juggled so many characters and still manages to make me care for them all.
The 500+ page book never once lagged or lost its pace. Bardugo succeeds in adding depth to her characters and complex plot without once sacrificing tension. It’s heavy stuff at parts; full of bloodshed, characters hell-bent on revenge and redemption. But the group’s easy banter, the romance plots, and, of course, the sea of twists and turns following their schemes all enliven this. As cliche as it sounds, it’s a roller coaster of emotions, from light moments of humour to dark scenes of violence. I also may have shed a tear or two when a certain someone died.
I can only describe the ending of the duology as sheer perfection. This story was tantalizing, breathtaking and I need another book. Not because things were left unfinished, but because I’m itching to watch more ventures following this gang of fascinating misfits. Also, anyone else excited for the Netflix adaptation?!
This psychological thriller was featured in my Mini Reviews post last week, so I won’t say too much. Overall I was so intrigued by the premise of this: Jess is an aspiring makeup-artist who is strapped for cash. With the promise of anonymity and a paycheck, she signs up for a psychology study conducted by the mysterious Dr. Shields. However, as the questions become more intense, it’s not long before the study takes a turn. It morphs into something dangerous. Jess is caught in a web of deceit and jealousy and desperately tries to untangle her way out.
While I did enjoy this one, the lack of twists made the pacing rather slow and the ending didn’t blow me away. If I took one thing from this book, it’s to read the fine print before taking a survey. You really don’t know what you’re signing yourself up for.
January’s classic of choice was the timeless tale that is Little Women. What struck me most was that this is a story about facing hardships, self-growth and learning from mistakes. Not much can be said in terms of a plot, Alcott rather making the novel flourish with her character development. However, watching each of the girls grow and relish in their childhood years together was a joy to read. The March sisters have contrasting personalities, they’re no saints, they make comical mistakes; Jo mistaking salt for sugar on their berries being one example, but they’re endearing.
Out of the diverse bunch, I took a shine to Jo the most. I adored her delight when she stumbled upon Mr Laurence’s library, and my favourites scenes were those with her and Laurie. Plus, she’s irritable and clumsy, of course, I can relate.
Money may save you from some hardships, but what is a life without friendships, love and happiness? This is a story which provokes us to remember the importance of gratitude. January’s classic was the cosiest of winter reads.
This was a powerful story of love, loyalty, and injustice driven by beautiful prose. I’ve read a few books which discuss racial inequalities and the injustice of the US legal system. Anyone can be wrongly convicted. However, the sad reality is that juries are more likely to convict a black man than a white man. At the forefront lies an exploration of the injustice and the effects it has on relationships of all forms. To achieve this, Jones has created a cast of characters so rich and fleshed out that I forgot that they were fiction. The hardships they face are real, and she sheds light on the poignant reality which hundreds of black Americans experience every day.
The novel focuses on the newlywed couple, Roy and Celestial, who are torn apart by circumstances out their control. Roy is accused and convicted of a crime he didn’t commit. The story jumps from alternating first-person perspectives to an epistolary section during Roy’s time in prison. As the years pass by, the letters become less frequent, feelings change, and Jones makes us consider whether loyalty can always be expected in a marriage.
An American Marriage explores how the unjust legal system impacts not only those who fall victim to false-accusations but how it marks everyone around them. It affects the newly wedded wife, the widowed father, lifelong friends. The injustice forces them to confront hardships they never anticipated. Jones succeeds in portraying the far-reaching impact of racial injustice and it was outstanding. Thanks again to NetGalley for the eARC in exchange for an honest review!
This was a slow-paced novel following the sudden death of Sydney’s father in a car accident. I have mixed feelings about this book. The first half is an atmospheric exploration of grief. Sydney is reeling from the sudden death of her father and her coping mechanism? Scrolling through a website which posts surveillance footage of deadly road accidents. We delve into her mind and see how she struggles. She’s sad, angry and she uses sarcasm and jokes as her way of brushing off serious conversations.
The second half of the story was weak. It centres around the mystery behind Sydney’s ominous texts and peculiar incidents following her father’s death. However, I thought the answer was predictable from the get-go. Various red herrings emerge throughout which only made me more certain of the foreboding outcome.
The Truth About Keeping Secrets touches upon not only grief but other poignant relationship issues; manipulative friends and abusive relationships. This isn’t a story for the faint of heart. It is predictable, the mystery isn’t too compelling. Nonetheless, there is an abundance of beautiful paragraphs and turns of phrase which made this a pleasure to read.
Thanks to NetGalley and Penguin Random House UK Children’s for providing me with an eARC in exchange for an honest review.
Have you read any of these books? Do you have any reading goals for 2019?
Thanks for reading