As ever, January felt approximately 432 days long, whilst also passing by in a flash. Such a weird time of year.
And wet. Very, very wet.
I finished 8 books this month, meaning I am a little ahead of schedule for hitting my 75 books target. This is good – I like building a bit of a buffer so it’s okay when I have a bad month or I tackle a particularly long book that drops a month’s total a bit.
It was a good mishmash this month as well, 2 graphic novels, one novella, 2 audiobooks and 3 novels.
I’ll start with the novella because that was how I chose to start the year…
No guesses as to why I picked that one!
…And A Happy New Year? is a sweet finale to Holly Bourne‘s Spinster Club series – flashing forward to after the girls have gone their separate ways to uni and beyond but get back together for a New Year party with their friends. It is as honestly real as the rest of the series, depicting how friendships wobble over time but stay firm despite differences. And that beautiful thing where you can get back together with your friends after months (or longer) and realise that even though things have changed, you are still friends and the time passing doesn’t matter.
There’s no such thing as a happy ending. Because there’s no such thing as an ending. More days keep coming, some good, some bad. You can’t just stay limboed in a moment of happiness. That’s not realistic.
One of my favourite series from one of my favourite authors, even if she does make me cry. Frequently.
On to the graphic novels:
The Adventures Of King Arthur by Russell Punter & Andrea Da Rold is actually a book Arthur got for Christmas and wasn’t on my TBR at all, but I thought I’d have a quick look at it when I was tidying the presents away and then next thing I knew I’d read the whole thing from cover to cover. Oops!
A great book to introduce the Arthurian legends, it was easy to follow and good fun to read. I enjoyed the style of the illustrations and the fact that it covered everything from King Arthur’s birth through to his death in one volume.
Rivers Of London: Night Witch (RoL Graphic Novels Vol. 2) by Ben Aaronovitch, Andrew Cartmel & Lee Sullivan was my second graphic read – another great installment in the Rivers Of London saga. I love that this series is a mixture of standard novels, novellas and graphic novels – it makes it feel much more vast and colourful somehow. Night Witch gave us a bit of backstory to a character from the last novel I read and was a story of subterfuge and mystery. (It’s so hard to not be spoilery when reviewing books in the middle of a series!!)
It’s a police mantra that all members of the public are guilty of something, but some members of the public are more guilty than others.
My first audiobook of the year was Leigh Bardugo‘s Crooked Kingdom which is the conclusion of the Six Of Crows Duology. I had heard rumours that this book was going to break my heart – aaaand they weren’t wrong. I still get the urge to shout HOW COULD YOU?! at the author whenever I think about the book. (Again with the not-spoilering thing.)
It was as brutal, honest, exciting, twisty, and magical as the first book and I loved it. But I also had to sit down and cry for about half an hour after a certain scene…
You aren’t a flower, you’re every blossom in the wood blooming at once. You are a tidal wave. You’re a stampede. You are overwhelming.
The second audiobook of the month was probably the book that most surprised me, because, well, I had set a pretty low bar of expectation on it from the title and it turned out to actually be genius. Genius, and brilliantly narrated, which also helps.
Morningwood: Everybody Loves Large Chests (Vol. 1) by Neven Ilev is a LitRPG, which is not a style I have read before but have always been curious about, thus me picking it up when it was in a sale a while back. (LitRPG is short for Literary Role Playing Game and is a genre that is a sort of mix between fantasy/sci fi and role-playing games – such as Dungeons & Dragons etc.)
I was expecting it to be kind of rubbish, with lots of bad puns and dubious writing skills… I was right about the bad puns. But they were the sort of bad that’s actually good. It’s full of gore, indecency, ridiculous pokes at how weirdly stereotyped women are in epic fantasy (large chests…), and standard RPG dungeon battle craziness.
Except that the main character is a Lesser Mimic, which, for those who aren’t RPGers, means it is an animate, grumpy chest that likes to eat people that come too close to it (large chests again…)
Lesser Mimics are supposed to be dim, simple creatures, and the main character in this is no different, except that it accidentally sometimes does clever things and in the universe it lives in, this means it levels up. And levelling up means learning new things, like skills and magic and… other things an inherantly stupid Big Box With Teeth should never know.
It is hilarious.
I need Volume 2 soon.
Even the slightest movement on the Mimic’s part was sure to wake the big scary thing up again. Therefore, the faux-chest focused its entire being on chesting. It would be the Chestiest Chest That Ever Chested!
(Mum, you’d hate it. This is not a book for you.)
Next, I finally picked up the third installment of the Cogheart Adventures by Peter Bunzl. Skycircus was possibly my favourite adventure with Lily, Robert and Malkin the clockwork fox so far.
This exciting Middle Grade steampunk novel beautifully tapped into the circus vibes – taking the wonder of the acrobatics and the vague creepiness of clowns and rolling it all together into a story of friendship, family, and high-flying adventure!
Every time I read one of these books I am left feeling like there isn’t enough steampunk fiction in my life. I’m really going to have to search some more out. Probably starting with the fourth and final title in this series which came out recently…
I’m not going to talk about the next book much because I want to write a proper review later, but the first book my friend sent me in our monthly book swap was The Psychology Of Time Travel by Kate Mascarenhas and I loved it!
Life’s better with a few risks than a lot of regrets.
Finally, I read Aurora Rising by Aime Kaufman & Jay Kristoff which I’ve been itching to pick up since before it was released but had to wait for my copy to come home from America (long story, don’t ask) before I could bump it up the TBR and read it.
After adoring the Illuminae Files, there was always a chance that Aurora Rising wasn’t going to hit the mark – it had a lot to live up to after all.
No fear though, I preordered book 2 whilst sobbing away at the end of this one because it was beautiful.
Kaufman and Kristoff write pure space magic and it’s amazing. Exciting, funny, alarming, galaxy-spanning, heartbreaking, magic. With sassy AIs. And sexy space elves.
I don’t really know how to review it coherently without being spoilery, so have the blurb instead!
‘The year is 2380, and the graduating cadets of Aurora Academy are being assigned their first missions. Star pupil Tyler Jones is ready to recruit the squad of his dreams, but his own boneheaded heroism sees him stuck with the dregs nobody else in the Academy would touch…
A cocky diplomat with a black belt in sarcasm.
A sociopath scientist with a fondness for shooting her bunkmates.
A smart-ass techwiz with the galaxy’s biggest chip on his shoulder.
An alien warrior with anger management issues.
A tomboy pilot who’s totally not into him, in case you were wondering.
And Ty’s squad isn’t even his biggest problem—that’d be Aurora Jie-Lin O’Malley, the girl he’s just rescued from interdimensional space. Trapped in cryo-sleep for two centuries, Auri is a girl out of time and out of her depth. But she could be the catalyst that starts a war millions of years in the making, and Tyler’s squad of losers, discipline-cases and misfits might just be the last hope for the entire galaxy.
They’re not the heroes we deserve. They’re just the ones we could find. Nobody panic.‘