Ah, the start of a new year. A fresh reading year full of new, endless possibilities. I’m combining two months into one as our January was manic and I wasn’t able to get the post up before we flew out of Germany, so instead of trying to put up a subpar post, I just decided to consolidate two months into one. I didn’t do as much reading as I intended, so ultimately it probably doesn’t matter much.
Also, hi! It’s been a month since my last post and I am going to take a second to give a little hello. I took the month of February off, as it seems to be a good annual time to take a step back and just evaluate everything. This happened to also coincide with our move back to the USA. More to come on that experience, but this post is my way of getting back into my weekly blog posts.
***I apologize for the lack of purchase links, March’s wrap up will be fully back to normal.***
So, let’s get into it.
Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton 4 Stars Well, I just started off on a strange (for me) foot for 2021. I’m not a Sci-Fi girl, but I had heard that this book was great if you wanted a little bit more in depth than the movie and I can confirm that it is. The only part I didn’t enjoy was the portions devoted to Chaos Theory, but that’s mostly my own issue. Overall, if you liked the movie and want more, then give the book a shot.
The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers 4 Stars I LOVED this. This was so far out of my standard genre’s (seriously, the last time I picked up a space sci-fi was a few years ago now) and I’m so glad I read it. In this book we follow a rag tag crew of a spaceship as they are creating a “tunnel” to one of the farthest, most volatile planets. It is incredibly character driven, but not so much so that the story doesn’t move forward. There is an element of science and space exploration, but it’s not overpowering, you aren’t focusing constantly on the logistics of it all. Highly recommend this one as well.
The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker 5 Stars I LOVED this book. Wecker has a way of spinning a story similar to Carlos Ruiz Zafon or Madeline Miller. There is something about her words and her descriptors that just really spins this beautiful web for you to get stuck in. This was incredible, and not just because there was so much Jewish and Arabic/Middle Eastern mythology that I could see a lot of my own views in.
A Close and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers 4 Stars Ah, I really enjoyed this second, companion novel to The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet. In this companion novel we are following to side characters from the first book as they navigate some pretty big changes. It serves as a way of expanding this massive universe, learning about some more of the politics around different creatures. I don’t know if I loved this one AS MUCH as the first, but I really enjoyed expanding the world and learning about some of the other characters and their struggles.
Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi translated by Geoffrey Trousselot 4 Stars I feel conflicted about this read. On the one hand I enjoyed the concept and some of the stories really pulled at my heart, BUT I also felt like at times it was a bit slow to read. In this collection we are following a small coffee shop that, within rules, can transport its’ patrons back in time.
Whiteout by Ken Follett 4 Stars A pandemic related thriller set in Scotland during a snow storm? Yes please! I actually really loved this one, but I do think that short, plot driven stories are not Ken Follett’s forte. Having read his Pillars trilogy, reading something short and more plot, rather than character, driven felt like putting on a pair of pants two sizes too small and the wrong cut. As much as I enjoyed it (and would recommend), it felt like he could have really taken these characters and ran with them.
Tender is the Flesh by Agustina Bazterrica translated by Sarah Moses 3 Stars This takes the spot of “most disturbing book” I’ve ever read. In Tender is the Flesh humans are living in a period after all animal consumption has been banned due to a disease pandemic. Animals are not able to be consumed, so humans have turned to their own for protein. It is not only disturbing in content (serious content warnings here), but also just in the fact of what humans are capable of when pushed.
A Vow So Bold and Deadly by Brigid Kemmerer 4 Stars I enjoyed this concluding novel to the trilogy and felt like we had FINALLY reached some turning points that we were anxiously awaiting in the second book. On the whole, I really enjoyed the trilogy and would recommend it for a good in between the serious books trilogy to read.
A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson 3 Stars I have absolutely nothing to say about this book. Honestly, I’m trying to think of anything that stood out to me, but there’s nothing. It’s just a standard “high school girl goes missing, but is she really dead” story. I feel like there was some good commentary on civil issues, but overall, it wasn’t memorable. Obviously.
The Lost Shtetl by Max Gross 3 Stars This one was a tough one for me to read as I really wanted to love it. There aren’t a lot of “Jewish” stories out there that are not Holocaust related and this one just sounded so great. We are following a small Jewish town (called a Shtetl) in the heart of the Polish forest as they discover, through a series of small events, that the world has entered a modern era. In parts I loved this story and could picture a lot of what was happening (Eastern European Jew over here), but there was also a feeling of nothing truly happening. At least not in the manner that you would expect from a novel. This is very much a…town coming of age novel and while I enjoyed it, I also felt a bit let down in the same way.
Tomie by Junj Ito translated by Naomi Kokubo NR In a massive shift from my normal, I decided to pick up a horror manga. I knew nothing about this going in, and overall enjoyed the entirety of this collection. The artwork was incredible and the storyline truly horrifying at times.
The Deep by Alma Katsu 4 Stars I thoroughly, thoroughly enjoyed this book from Alma Katsu. I think the Titanic is always a hard one to cover, but she did it in a way that brought a new touch. In The Deep we are following a group of characters that are traveling on the Titanic, but all have some form of connection to each other and to one major event. In a dual timeline, we are also following two Titanic survivors as they are once again reunited on the sister ship the Britannic. This was beautifully written, hauntingly enchanting, and a true feat. What I missed in her other novel, The Hunger, was brought to life in this novel to perfection. There were still some slower moments, but I just really loved the overall novel as a whole.
I did DNF (Did Not Finish) a book in January, A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik. I don’t know if this was just when I read it or something different, but the 80 pages or so that I read were quite juvenile, jarringly written, and I found myself not caring. This would have been my third by her and while I enjoyed the other two (Uprooted and Spinning Silver) this was just not my cuppa. I also DNF’d The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon in February. I had such high hopes for this book and this series, but something about it just did not connect with me.
And that’s it! All the books I’ve read in the first couple months of the year. Any stand outs? What about your reading?