January Wrap-Up

January Wrap-Up

January was a great month for me, book-wise. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I’ve gotten super into the Bookstagram community lately (@midnightvoltage), and it’s been fantastic! It’s just such a great community and it’s great interacting with people who love books and are as obsessed with books as I am. ^^

I also started blogging again! Thanks to having a few 2016 wrap-up posts (and still one or two more), it’s allowed me to get ahead on other blog entries, so I’m really hoping to keep things fairly consistent by posting at least once a week.

As I will be stating in my actual 2016 wrap-up post (if I actually end up posting it, as the farther away I’m getting the less I find it relevant, haha), I didn’t read many actual novels last year—in fact, far less than I read in the past five years. I read a huge number of graphic novels and comics (which I don’t mind at all—I love comics! And 2016 was a super fantastic year for them), but I was a little disappointed in how few actual novels I read. And already things are looking up in that department, as I read 11 books this month, 7 of which were novels (and two were fairly long). Two were audiobooks, one was an illustrated book, and one was a graphic novel that I finished.

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And with one exception, I enjoyed all of them. I want to do more book reviews in general, so I thought I’d start with doing mini reviews for the books I read this month.

Mini Reviews

  • Wind/Pinball. I’ve been meaning to read a Murakami book for the longest time, so when I saw this on BookOutlet I bought it without a second thought. Little did I know it was two short novels, ones only recently re-released, nor did I realize it was thought to be on the lower end of his work. I found this all out while waiting for it to arrive, and my excitement dropped a little, but because I had been meaning to read Murakami book for so long I still immediately read it. And I loved it! It wasn’t absolutely amazing, but it was still a super enjoyable read, one that I read in a single sitting. I fell in love with Murakami’s writing style, and I immediately bought A Wild Sheep Chase (the next book in his Rat series). There was something that immediately just pulled me along and made me fascinated by the main character. They’re both weird stories, and I didn’t particularly like the main character, but it was all fascinating all the same. I also bought Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki I haven’t read it yet, but I’m definitely excited to and I can’t wait to eventually read every single one of his novels. 4.5/5 Stars
  • The Fire by Night. I received an ARC of this and wanted to read it right away as I had been putting off several others I received and didn’t want to continue the trend, especially because the novel had not yet come out. And it was a really great read. I’m not usually one for historical fiction, but after reading The Last Days of Night by Graham Moore I’ve been wanting to give more a try. And this one was definitely very effective—using the two female nurses as the protagonists was the perfect choice, and allowed for a unique spin on a usually-familiar story. 4/5 Stars
  • The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. I listened to this on Audible while working (I was scheduled in the back of the store for a few weeks, so could listen to whatever I wanted), and Stephen Fry was the perfect choice. I didn’t pick up on the entire story as I was working and couldn’t focus completely, but what I did pick up I really enjoyed, sort of the novel version of a great popcorn film where you don’t need to pay total attention, but it’ll just be a good time. I’m definitely looking forward to rereading the book in paper and continuing the series. 4/5 Stars
  • The Lies of Locke Lamora. This…disappointed me a little bit. It was still great, and a big portion was absolutely fantastic, but it wasn’t quite as great as I was expecting/hoping it to be. Which I understand is my own fault because of expectations, but I was hoping that it’d be as good (to me) as A Song of Ice and Fire and the Kingkiller Chronicle, but it wasn’t. There were moments when it was—moments when I was completely into the story, but not enough of those moments. One of the biggest detriments to my enjoyment was that I read the Six of Crows Duology beforehand, and just liked Kaz Brekker and Co. so much more than Locke Lamora. Ah, well. I’ll still probably continue the series, as I did in the end enjoy it overall. 4/5 Stars
  • Uprooted. This was fantastic. The writing of this book was simply magical, and I loved how it was its own take on the Beauty and the Beast story. The magic here was incredibly interesting and wholly unique, and I really enjoyed the ending and how it all wrapped up as well. There was one small scene I didn’t like, but the book as a whole was fantastic. Definitely hoping to go back and reread some of her other books. 5/5 Stars
  • All-Star Batman, vol 1: My Own Worst Enemy. I love Scott Snyder. I should start with that because I’m wholly biased when it comes to any of his work. He’s by far my favorite currently-writing comic writer (i.e. not counting Neil Gaiman), and I loved this as well—and just the idea of Batman on a road trip with Two-Face in general is so much fun. 4.5/5 Stars
  • Leviathan Wakes. I had extremely high expectations of it because of comparisons to Firefly and A Song of Ice and Fire, but despite those the book still completely wrapup3captured my attention. I love the setting and the story as a whole, especially the mystery and horror aspects, and I cannot wait to read the rest of the series. 5/5 Stars

 

  • The Sleeper and the Spindle. I’ve read/listened this story a few times before, but didn’t read the beautifully-illustrated version by Chris Riddell until now. And it was amazing, as completely expected. The gold highlights are absolutely fantastic, and I love the way it matches Odd and the Frost Giants—will definitely be writing a review of both at some point. As for the story, I know others weren’t completely on board but I was, and I’d love more. 5/5 Stars
  • The Sympathizer. I hated this book. To be honest, I don’t think a book has ever made me this angry about it as this one. I’ve “hated” books before, but never utterly despised them the way I did here. Full review coming soon (honestly wrapup4I’m going to wait a while so I can try to write a review with a more open mind, one step removed), but basically: I had to read this for school and while initially excited just couldn’t stand the misogyny and sexism. As we discussed it in class, everything just made me more and more angry at how horrible the book is in its treatment towards women,
    and how it utterly fails at what it’s trying to do. I don’t think it’s written well either, but again, more on that in my review… I do think being forced to talk about a book I disliked so much upped the hatred, but still, it just wasn’t enjoyable to me at all. 1 (or less)/5 Stars
  • Lord of the Rings, Radio Production. I was initially super disappointed in this, because I thought it was just an audiobook of LotR before realizing it was adapted. That said, once I accepted what it was it was utterly amazing. Fantastically done, and it was so much fun hearing Ian Holm as Frodo instead of Bilbo. All I want to do now is reread the book and rewatch the films. 5/5 Stars
  • The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell. Just an incredibly charming read. The writing wasn’t great, but I (overall) loved the story/idea and characters. Though the pacing was another problem—the first 100 pages was great, but afterwards everything just flew by and they went to so many places so quickly. I will be picking up the rest of the books sometime. 3.5/5 Stars

 

Book Hauls

I also bought a lot of books this month (whoops), but I’m actually pretty proud of how all were bought from BookOutlet (i.e., super cheap) with the exception of only 5 (all of which were still heavily discounted, thanks to B&N discounts/coupons, employee discount, etc.).

The first book haul I posted on Instagram was mostly things I had bought on BookOutlet in December (the stack on the right):

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The great thing about BookOutlet is that I’ve found so many books that I’ve always wanted to read/have, but were never high enough on my list to justify buying them at near list price—BO solves this. I’m a huge George RR Martin fan, and I want to eventually collect everything he’s done, including the anthologies he edits, and I’m also trying to collecting Kazuo Ishiguro’s books, after loving The Buried Giant so much last year.

The rest are all just books I’ve been meaning to read or I’ve heard are amazing, with the exception of the bottom book Transcendental, by James Gunn (no, not the Guardians Gunn), which just sounded cool and was only $2.

S. I had had for a while, and included it in the picture as it fit a Bookstagram challenge for the day, but the stack on the left were the books I actually bought in January, and not from BO. The Sympathizer was for school, A Wild Sheep Chase was because I needed more Murakami after reading Wind/Pinball, The Queen of the Tearling was bought because I’ve heard such great things about the series and I’m excited to read it. The Expanse boxset was the same—this series has been so highly recommended by so many people, I just couldn’t resist finally. And I’m glad I couldn’t! As I said above, Leviathan Wakes was amazing, and I can’t wait to read the rest of the series.

And now the second book haul I posted on Instagram:

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All but the Tolkien Treasury boxset (which was bought from a seller on Amazon, and only $20) were once again from Book Outlet.

I’m definitely most excited for all of these Tolkien books I found. I’ve been wanting to read all of them for the longest time, but particularly the History of Middle-earth, which has always just daunted me (mostly my wallet) because of the large number of books. But now that I’ve gotten a jump start on my collection, I hope to obtain the whole series. And The Inklings I’ve been really, really wanting to read more on—this’ll also be a good way for me to get more into non-fiction. ^^

As for the other stack, a lot of these I’ll talk about below, but Circling the Sun and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn have been highly recommended to me, and I was so excited to see the paperbacks on BO. A Troll’s Eye View, Nocturnes, and Colorless Tsukuru go toward my wanting to get all the books by Gaiman, Ishiguro, and Murakami, respectively, and The Dispossessed was bought because I’ve been wanting to read more of Ursula K. LeGuin, and it’s the first in her “Hainish cycle.” Also that cover! <3

 

Looking Ahead

Looking ahead, I hope first off to continue posting more blog entries. In terms of reading goals, one of the Bookstagram challenges last month was “authors you want to read this year”:

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I’ve already completed two (James S.A. Corey and Haruki Murakami), but I can’t wait to read the rest. Joe Abercrombie keeps coming up in lists of great fantasy authors, and I’ve been itching for more great fantasy. Marissa Meyer, too, keeps getting recommended to me, and I’m a huge fan of fairy tale retellings. I read the first couple sentences of Cinder and was instantly hooked, but haven’t been able to go back and actually read the book yet. I debated whether or not to read Heartless first, since I also have that, but Cinder seems to be more widely praised, and as I said I liked the first couple sentences so I’m starting here.

Michael Chabon is the author who’s been on my to-read the longest out of these. I’ve heard such amazing things about The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, but every time I’ve been in the mood for a long, dense read, I’ve wanted to read something else. Like The Passage, for example—I’m more excited to read that book and will probably be the next long and dense book I read.

John Scalzi is another author that keeps getting recommended. I wasn’t the biggest science fiction fan for a while, mostly liking to just stick to fantasy (for example, even for Star Wars what I’ve loved most is how it’s an epic space opera, sort of a fantasy film just set in space), but more recently I’ve been getting slightly obsessed with it (in part definitely due to Leviathan Wakes, as well as Ready Player One, The Martian, Stories of Your Life, etc. As for Outlander, the synopsis has never sounded that interesting to me, but it keeps getting so much praise I definitely want to read it eventually.

And for one of today’s Bookstagram challenges I did the February TBR.

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I don’t plan to read all of these this month, but they’re basically the ones that I want to read sometime soon. I just started All Our Wrong Todays, and it’s great so far. Looking Glass Wars, Hyperbole and a Half, Cinder, Silence, A Darker Shade of Magic, Queen of the Tearling, and A Court of Thorns and Roses are all just books I need to read soon, and have been really looking forward to.

Neverwhere is a fantastic novel, one I remember loving but don’t remember much else, unfortunately. And because Gaiman’s my favorite living author, I really need to re-read it (the same is true of Anansi Boys, but I don’t remember enjoying it as much, so it’s not as big of a priority). The Last Temptation represents the few Gaiman graphic novels I haven’t read yet. I had been holding off on them until a time when I didn’t feel like reading, but that hasn’t happened yet so I might just go ahead and read them haha. And along the same lines, I really need to read more Tolkien, as he’s my all-time favorite author—represented here with On Fairy-stories.

And lastly, Aftermath. The original Star Wars trilogy was a huge part of my childhood, and they’re absolutely amazing films. That said, I haven’t gotten all that much into the universe as a whole, and I really want to. So I plan to do a marathon of all the films and TV shows soon, and along with that, read some Star Wars novels! I read the original trilogy novelization, but didn’t really like them, so I’m excited to read an original novel in the universe (I also have the Thrawn trilogy and Scoundrels, but want to start with something “canon”).

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So yeah. January was a great month in terms of books, and I’m really looking forward to February!

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