I’m trying something new this year as my review mojo (whatever there was left of it) seemed to have finally vanished into oblivion. Instead of writing individual book reviews, I’ll be posting a monthly wrap-up post on what I’ve read for the month. I still do write short reviews and thoughts on my Goodreads profile, so this post will be sort of an summary and reflection upon the month that was.
I’ve read 6 books and several short stories in the month of January, most of them are buddy reads with my co-bloggers.
Keeping with the season, two of the books we’ve chosen have winter settings; Russian winter settings to be exact albeit one of them was a fairy tale retelling while the other was closer to historical fiction laden with Russian folklore and magic.
Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik
So much better than Uprooted, I found myself captivated from the beginning and absolutely adored how this book ended. It’s pretty amazing how Novik managed to write 6 different first person PoVs and made them sound distinctive. However, there was one character PoV which I found to be boring and pretty much unnecessary, which affected my overall enjoyment as the book lost its shine for me for a while as I got impatient to get back to the crucial story and characters. Nonetheless, it was still a great fairy tale retelling with lovely writing and wonderful characters.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The Bear and The Nightingale (The Winternight Trilogy, #1) by Katherine Arden
I actually enjoyed this one just a bit more than Spinning Silver and I think it has to do with the fact that I liked the main character, Vasilisa Patrovna, slightly more than the ones in the former title. It also could be that I was even more captivated by the rich Russian folklore in this story then the fairy tale retelling in Spinning Silver. Vasilisa might be less flawed than the ones in the Novik’s book, but given that she’s supposed to be special I was more than fine with it. Altogether the story was beautifully written and captivating, and the wintery setting was so vividly described that I almost felt the chill as I was reading this book.
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
Ever since I’ve read Madeline Miller’s Circe, I was eager for more from her. Her writing was exquisite and so lyrical without being purple and bloated that I always felt like I was serenaded by the imagery of her prose. I’ve heard great things about her debut novel, The Song of Achilles, especially when Petrik said he liked it even more than Circe. With that, another buddy read was born between myself, Celeste and Eon as we immersed ourselves into the Miller’s divine and powerfully emotional retelling of the story of Achilles through the perspective of Patroclus – a character which though was considered a minor character in The Iliad, his fate was greatly intertwined and portentous with that of Achilles.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars.
Theft of Swords (The Riyria Revelations, #1 & #2) by Michael J. Sullivan
The Riyria Revelations is one of my all-time favourite series and I’m extremely biased when it comes to anything related to its two main characters, Hadrian Blackwater and Royce Melborn. In fact, this is the 3rd time that I’m rereading Theft of Swords and the first time after I’ve finished The Legends of the First Empire, a 6-book series on the events the predates the ones here by almost three thousand years. It’s so fascinating to relearn about how much the lore and history of the world has evolved into myths and legends now that I’ve known the real story.
I’ve enjoyed these first two stories in the series even from the start, with The Crown Conspiracy and Avempartha earning 3.5-star and 4-star ratings respectively then, even though we don’t get to know Hadrian and Royce all that well yet. However, once I’ve finished the entire series and the first two published Riyria Chronicles‘ books, I was so enamoured with the characters that rereading felt like coming home to meet old friends whom I loved so well. This resulted in an immediate upgrade to 5-stars across the series, hence my bias-warning earlier. I’d always felt ridiculously happy when I reread these books, and this time was the same. I’m so looking forward to reread the rest over the next few months, as these books only get better and better (as all readers who’ve read this series will undoubtedly attest).
My rating: 5 of 5 stars.
Red Country (First Law World, #6) by Joe Abercrombie
I found this to be the weakest book in the First Law series thus far. The Western setting was definitely not one I favoured, and the main PoV characters a bit less compelling compared to those in the previous books. If not for one returning character, I would have been even less inclined towards the story. It took almost half the book before it started to keep my interest for longer than a couple of chapters at a time. But still, this is an Abercrombie book and his grimdark humour remained infallible as far as I’m concerned.
My rating: 3 of 5 stars.
It has been a while since I’ve reached for the classics (notwithstanding the bunch of Agatha Christie mysteries that I’ve read last year).
Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne was probably one of the most well-known classic titles, which had seen a few adaptations. I certainly recalled watching a movie, although not much else about what transpired after Phileas Fogg decided to proof that the journey around the world can indeed be completed in 80 days even with disruptions, complications, riots, etc etc, along the way. Hence, when Eon suggested that he would like to read this given that 2022 is the 150th anniversary of the book, we decided to embark on a buddy read together with Celeste. And I’m so glad that we did for this was a most enjoyable and delightful read. I found that the book provided enough historical context of the wider world during that period to drive the plot as Fogg and his loyal servant, Passepartout, traversed the globe. As far as classics go, the writing was way more accessible than most and the story moved at a good clip. I think this will be a good pick for anyone who wants to start reading more classics.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars.
Together with Eon and Celeste (yet again), we’ve also decided to incorporate short stories into our reading year, with an aim to cover the classics. So far we’ve read the following:
The Most Dangerous Game by Richard Connell
A well-written and well-executed short story with a premise which we’re all familiar with, given that it has inspired much of various media that followed. While I guessed the plot quite soon after, it was still a great read with an ending which I did not expect.
Lamb to the Slaughter by Roald Dahl
Classic Dahl, laced with dark and sinister humour which made you feel complicit just from enjoying it so much.
A Sound of Thunder by Ray Bradbury
A great short story which possibly inspired the concept of the butterfly effect which made me want to read more from him. I’ve read Fahrenheit 451 which I wasn’t a big fan of, even though I absolutely respected its value and impact as a modern classic
The Murders in the Rue Morgue by Edgar Allan Poe
Supposedly the first detective story ever written that inspired the likes of Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Poirot. Poe can be really long-winded but it was an interesting (and gruesome) read. I’ve also read The Black Cat but it as so unsettling and disturbing for huge cat lovers (i.e. Eon), this didn’t become a BR.
And then, there was one short story which I discovered while researching on Shepherd Peng’s upcoming book, The Cartographers. The Future Library was one of the most powerfully moving short stories that I’ve read in a while. The author brought together all that which I love so dearly – books, words, stories and trees – into a most unexpected and impactful short story that hit me right in the feels. The reason why the title caught my eye was the word “library”. Little more to be said about it save that I think everyone needs to read this story for themselves, which is available to be read for free here.
There you have it, my first monthly wrap-up for 2022. I think the year has started well in terms of the quality of my reads, and here’s hoping this keeps up. I’m restarting my reread of the Wheel of Time series, my interest being substantially reignited after the disappointment of the TV show. In fact, there’ll be quite a bit of rereading planned for this year as I await for my most anticipated book release of the year, The Lost Metal by Brandon Sanderson, the final book in the Mistborn Era 2 aka Wax & Wayne series. For one, I’ll be rereading the entirety of the published series starting from The Final Empire. It is also likely that my rereads will include Sanderson’s tongue-in-cheek, 4th wall breaking, middle grade series, Alcatraz vs The Evil Librarian, as its final book will finally be released later this year as well.
Thanks for reading my post, and feel free to let me know what you think of this format. Until next month… 🙂