I’m sorry for my absence from this blog and the wider community recently, unfortunately I had university assessments in mid to late January, and then after they finished I tested positive for Covid at the start of this week. I had managed to avoid Covid this entire pandemic, so it feels a bit ridiculous to get it now, but the good news is I’m fine, but my main symptom is fatigue and a bit of brain-fog so I haven’t been able to do much!
Anyway, these are the six books I managed to read in January, and considering how tiring January was I’m proud of finishing six. It was a fairly good reading month with four of my books being four stars or more! And I’m glad I managed to read two arcs so I can finally start bringing my Netgallery percentage up again.
The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V. E. Schwab
I wanted to love this book, because Schwab is auto-buy author for me, but it just spoke to me in all the wrong ways. It was boring, a bit repetitive and so Western-focused it made me roll my eyes. This could have been packed full of fun adventures and stories, instead all I got was the same lacklustre romance for hundreds of pages with no entertainment in sight. Whilst I appreciate the conversations surrounding mental health in this, it just wasn’t enough to save it. Read my full review here.
Final rating: 2/5
Conjure Women by Afia Atakora
This is the first book I finished in January, and one I thoroughly enjoyed. It had an interesting premise that was excellently executed, as well as complex characters that reeled me in, and just the right amount of magical realism. The narrative switches from the past to the present seamlessly, weaving a tale of intrigue and it had enough twists and turns to keep you always wanting to to turn the page.
Final rating: 4/5
Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield
I secretly read this ebook on my shifts at work when it was dead, and it definitely helped to get me through some very quiet, boring times. Despite its slow start, this a whimsical, enchanting story that had me gripped once it started going with such wonderful characters that never disappointed. The mystery that also makes up this book is captivating and I couldn’t help wanting to know even more, it’s one I would highly recommend.
Final rating: 4/5
Sci-Fi Shorts Anthology Volume 1 Edited by Rod Castor and J. A. Taylor
I acquired an arc of this through Netgallery on the desire of finding more less well-known authors, and some great short stories I could return to over time. This anthology is truly a mixed bag with some stories that were too confusing for the 500 word limit, to stories that made me laugh and took my breathe away, desperate to learn more about the worlds they were told in. Overall, there’s some really great stories in here and I’m excited to see if certain authors will publish more.
Final rating: 3/5
Free Love by Tessa Hadley
I acquired a copy of this arc thanks to Netgallery and Penguin Random House, and I’m so glad I did end up picking this up. This is set in late 1960s Britain and explores the politics and cultural ideas that defined that decade, and the characters each embody different ideas and the cultural conflicts between them. It’s well-written with complex characters who you can’t decide whether you like or not, which for some readers is off-putting, but a puzzle that I enjoyed personally.
Final Rating: 4/5
Starve Acre by Andrew Michael Hurley
This is the last book I read in January, but my favourite of the month. A tale that to me is very reminiscent of Max Porter’s Lanny, and full of gothic and atmospheric story-telling that will leave you gripped to it’s pages. It is certainly not everyone’s cup of tea, but if you are a fan of folk horror which can successfully increase the stakes and paranoia as you read on, without spoiling the ideas and emotions of the characters, then this is for you.
Final rating: 5/5