January 2023 Wrap Up!

Here we are! We are already one month into 2023! How scary is that! This last month was my best reading month to date! I always start off too strong when it comes to January. Every Jan I read loads of books, probably powered by the fact that it’s a new year and new possibilities, and the following months while good never match up to the power of January. Let’s dive in!

Stats

  • I read 18 books this month
  • Genre: 13 fantasy, 1 historical fiction, 1 mystery, 1 non-fiction, 1 romance and 1 sci-fi.
  • Gender of authors: 4 women, 4 men and 1 various
  • Race of authors: 7 asian authors, 5 white authors and 2 black authors
  • Age range: 12 YA and 6 adult
  • Format: 13 paperback, 3 ebook and 2 hardback

Challenges

  • Sequel: Twilight Princess Vol.2 & 5 extra volumes of The Promised Neverland
  • Tor.com: Fruiting Bodies – Kemi Ashing-Giwa-Giwa

Fruiting Bodies – Kemi Ashing-Giwa (2 stars)

Plot: An alien fungal infection has ravaged a faraway planet, turning all but six of the colonists into ravenous alarinkiri. Inyama, a mycologist, is her species’ last hope. But it’s not expertise her fellow survivors want from her.

This just fell flat for me I’m afraid. It had such a great premise but I spent most of the story trying to figure out what was going on. I was a bit confused.

Night Train to the Stars – Kenji Miyazawa (2.5 stars)

Synopsis: A collection of short stories based on animals, nature and the growing increase in technology. These stories were written from the late 1800s- early 1900s.

Overall I felt this collection was a bit lacking. Barely any stories truly grabbed me but I did enjoy delving into the mind of this author and these little worlds he has created.

  1. A Stem of Lillies – 1
  2. The Man of the Hills – 1
  3. The Wild Pear – 1
  4. Night Train to the Stars – 2
  5. The Earthgod and the Fox – 2
  6. The Bears of Kametoko – 2
  7. Tokkobe Torako -2
  8. The Red Blanket – 2
  9. The Police Chief – 2.5
  10. Ozbel and the Elephant – 3
  11. The First Deer Dance – 3
  12. Gorsch the Cellist – 3
  13. The Thirty Frogs – 3
  14. The Ungrateful Rat – 3
  15. Night of the Festival – 3
  16. March by Moonlight – 3
  17. Down in the Wood – 3
  18. The Spider, the Slug and the Racoon – 3.5
  19. General Son Ba-Yu – 4
  20. Wildcat and the Acorns – 4
  21. The Dahlias and the Crane – 4
  22. The Fire Stone – 4
  23. The Restaurant of Many Orders – 5
  24. Kenju’s Wood – 5

Legends and Lattes – Travis Baldree (3 stars)

Plot: Retired barbarian Viv decides to set up shop and create the very first cafe in the city of Thune. Little does she know she can’t truly shake off the past.

Great characters and a beautiful cosy vibe but it was let down by the very quick pace and the fact that we simply couldn’t sit in the moment with the characters. We were always jumping from one plot point to the next leading me to not connect with the novel as a whole. I would also say that the big sapphic romance that was marketing was truly underwhelming and felt like a last min addition which was disappointing. Thimble though will forever be my fave!

TLOZ: Twilight Princess Vol. 2 – Akira Himekawa (4 stars)

Can’t go into too much detail about this as it will be spoilers but this was a solid volume. Literally no critiques.

The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books – Martin Edwards (4 stars)

Synopsis: In this book Martin Edwards breaks down the history of the classic crime era sectioning into subgenre, years and influencing culture whilst also recommending some iconic classic novels.

I really enjoyed reading this. It was like one big long list of book recs as well as some really interesting components to the British publishing/writing world and beyond. There were some books that I had read plus some books already on my TBR! I love the British Library’s contribution to the crime genre.

Snow White with the Red Hair, Vol. 1 – Sorata Akiduki (4 stars)

Plot: A very loose re-telling of Snow White. Literally don’t go into this expecting Snow White.

Beautiful art, amazing characters, a protagonist you can’t help but root for! Plus a blossoming relationship between a prince and an apothecary! What I liked about this volume which I don’t see too much in manga was that each chapter was split into a different standalone story. Each story pushes the plot forward and we watch the characters grow but it was nice to see this structure over one continuous narrative.

Drifting Dragons, Vol. 1 – Taku Kuwabara (4 stars)

Plot: Follow a team of Dragon Hunters aboard their ship as we learn about them as individuals plus their interpersonal relationships. Also food is a major factor in this manga.

Probably the manga series I read this month with the best art-style. From the background design to the pictures of food. BEAUTIFUL! I really liked this more stripped back series where the focus is on the characters more than an over-arching plot. It was a big change to all the other series I was reading and it made for a nice break. I am so excited to read the next volume and see where the characters are heading next.

Children of the Whales, Vol. 1 – Abi Umeda (4.5 stars)

Plot: The world is covered by oceans of sand and 513 people live in isolation on an islandlike ship that is adrift on the sand. As he investigates an abandoned ship Chakuo — the island’s archivist — meets a mysterious girl named Rikosu. It marks the first time that an island inhabitant has made contact with someone from the outside world. Chakuro wonders if it is a sign that a new world awaits.

This was super, super good. The art was beautiful, the setting was unlike something I have ever seen and that ending was IMPACTFUL. It threw me so off guard. My jaw hit the floor. I am super interested to see where the rest of the series goes as we have only just scraped the surface.

The Promised Neverland, Vols. 7-11 – Kaiu Shirai (4-5 stars)

I WILL SCREAM ABOUT THIS SERIES UNTIL I AM DEAD. I literally cannot discuss too much due to spoilers but omg everyone pick this series up!

The Faraway Paladin, Vol. 1 – Mutsumi Okubashi (5 stars)

Plot: We follow a young boy who is being trained by 3 members of the undead but he soon starts to question who he is and what their stories are.

A manga I was not expecting to give 5 stars to, yet here we are. Such an underrated series with beautiful art. Found family, tragic backstories and really interesting lore!

Six of Crows – Leigh Bardugo (5 stars)

Plot: A bunch of reckless individuals with nothing to lose but a lot to gain go on an insane heist.

I mean, I think everyone knows this book let’s be honest. I can’t believe it took me this long to pick it up. I picked this up for a book group I am apart of and I am so thankful I was able to read it. All the characters were so distinct and I truly enjoyed learning and following each one. I felt that Bardugo did a great job with her more morally grey characters as well and tackling such difficult topics. I thought the plot was really engaging and I flew through the book. I did get a bit confused in the beginning and the middle of the book but that ending had me shook! Cannot wait to read the sequel.

Legendborn – Tracy Deonn (5 stars)

Plot: After her mother dies in an accident, sixteen-year-old Bree Matthews wants nothing to do with her family memories or childhood home. A residential program for bright high schoolers at UNC–Chapel Hill seems like the perfect escape—until Bree witnesses a magical attack her very first night on campus. And that is literally all the can be said as I don’t want to spoil ANYTHING.

Now, here is another book I wish I had read way earlier! Literally everyone was talking about how amazing this book was and I knew I needed to finally see what all the hype was all about. I LOVED THIS SO MUCH!!! The lore, the magic, the exploration of grief both current but also generational. I loved Bree so much and I really enjoyed the romance in this book! I found the ending to be so incredibly powerful and I needed to read the second book ASAP.

The Mysterious Case of the Alperton Angels – Janice Hallett (5 stars)

Plot: A true crime journalist/writer sets out to write about the Alperton Angels case and gets caught up in the conspiracies, lies and truths of what happened years ago! Told in Hallett’s iconic epistolary style.

Every January I can’t wait to sit down with the latest Janice Hallett novel and expect my brain to explode from my genius. This book was no exception. I literally read this book in 2 days. I was up late into the night to finish this book. Hallett’s brain is just so smart and talented. I found this book to be my favourite of the 3 she has written so far. The plot is so smart, the characters so interesting. I highly recommend this book.