Monthly Round Up – January

It’s the beginning of the new year and more importantly new reading challenges. Here are the books that I’ve been reading this month, what I thought and what challenges I am using them for. (N/A means it doesn’t fit any of the challenge criteria.)
The colour coding is as below, I’m trying to cut down on buying new books and actually reading the ones I own:
Received for review/ARC – 8
Library/borrowed – 1
Bookcase; owned before Jan 2020 – 2
Kindle; owned before Jan 2020
Audiobook – 4
New (bought in 2020) – 3
Bought just for a challenge category

Pages read: 5621

  1. Break the Fall – Jennifer Iacopelli
    Popsugar – Released in 2020
    Flourish & Blotts – Follows a dream
    Read Harder – No
    It’s an Olympic year so it makes sense that I started the year off with a book about the Olympics. It’s about the USA team and how they cope when their coach is arrested for sexual assault. This book is all about going for your dream and learning how to pick yourself back up again when the worst happens. If you’re a fan of teen gymnastic/dance films on Netflix then this book is definitely for you.
    It’s not out till February so thank you to my bookseller sister who was able to get me an ARC
  2. Victory Day – Rachel Churcher
    Popsugar – Passes the Bechedel test
    Flourish & Blotts – Published in 2020
    Read Harder – No
    The last in the ‘Battle Ground’ series by Rachel Churcher and just like all of the others it doesn’t pull it’s punches in just how screwed it civil war/rebellion/politics/child soldiers are. The first third or so of the book is the revolution with the rest dedicated to the aftermath, dystopia books are about the rebellion and don’t really look at ‘after’. So this is a great change to the norm.
    Full review can be found here
  3. Snapshot – Brandon Sanderson
    Popsugar – Meant to read in 2019
    Flourish and Blotts – Under 150 pages
    Read Harder – Sci-fi/Fantasy Novella (under 120 pages)
    In this book Sanderson proves why he is up there was some of the best genre authors of all time. It’s 114 pages and we get a sense of the world really quickly (he is a master world builder) and the two men whose job it is to go into a replication of each day (a snapshot) and discovery information about whatever crime they are following. It’s a really clever story and I would love to read more set in this world. Also the idea of an officer showing me a warrant card that says that they are real and I’m not is terrifying. In just over 100 pages this book has more twists and turns than should be possible
  4. Call it what you want – Brigid Kemmerer
    Popsugar – Pink Cover
    Flourish and Blotts – Someone breaks the law
    Read Harder – No
    With ‘A Heart so Fierce and Broken’ out this month I thought I’d read some of Kemmerer’s other books. Although at first glance this is an ‘unpopular girl meets popular boy’ romance trope it’s more complex than that. The popular boy has already fallen from grace and they are forced to get together for a school project. This book is about two lost teenagers trying to find their way after becoming outcasts – Maegen for cheating on the SATs and Rob for his dad embezzling fund of most people in town, including various teachers. The romance didn’t feel forced but I think my favourite relationships are Maegan & her sister Samantha, Rob & Owen, and Rob & his mum – particular how that has changed since his father’s suicide attempt failed leaving them his full time carers.
    It would be easy to read this book and just take it as a generic high school YA, but it’s about learning forgiveness and friendship.
  5. Poptastic! – Tony Blackburn
    Popsugar – By/about a journalist
    Flourish and Blotts – Includes a boat
    Read Harder – No
    I challenge you to read this book with a straight face. Steve Coogan has gone on record to say that he based Alan Partridge on this book. And I really don’t think it was written to be so funny, but no one could write anything drier and funnier. He honestly says that next time there is a war in the middle east that he should be flown in, because he doesn’t think he can make it worse and it’ll probably be a big help. I will leave you with one final comment that he honestly says he wants written on his gravestone. “I gave you time checks” 
  6. Subtle Knife – Philip Pullman
    Popsugar – Banned Book
    Flourish & Blotts – Mood Read
    Read Harder – No
    With the series 1 of the TV show coming to an end, I decided to cheat with my annual reread of His Dark Materials and jump to book 2. It is almost impossible to understate how much this series means to me and how much it shaped me. If you want to understand me as a person you need to look no further than HDM and HP. Subtle Knife introduces us to Will and to a knife that can cut through worlds. He’s the only person who can face Lyra and convince her to do something else, and tell her off when needed. It expands on the first book beautifully and I would 100% recommend this series to everyone.
  7. Monkey Awkwright – Rob Campbell
    Popsugar – Bildungsroman
    Flourish & Blotts – Includes a train
    Read Harder – No
    First in a series and after reading the book and writing my blog tour post on it I’m still not convinced I know if the good guys are actually good. I like both teenagers but they definitely shouldn’t be pulled into a weird stealing/but not stealing/ but definitely stealing magical lucky items. I don’t think I’ll read again but I might pick up the second at some point.
    Full review can be found here
  8. Becoming – Michelle Obama
    Popsugar – Fiction/Non-fiction about a world leader
    Flourish & Blotts – Written by/about someone you respect
    Read Harder – No
    I really enjoyed this audiobook and I can see why it got loads of praise and traction last year. It’s an honest autobiography about what’s it’s like to be the First Lady of the United States (or FLOTUS for short) and how to bring up kids in a world where they will have secret service men with them for life. Set in three parts; ‘Becoming Me’ – her life up to the point she met her future husband, ‘Becoming Us’ – their life as a family until they became the First family, ‘Becoming More’ their lives in the White House. What this book was confirm what I thought I knew about her and just how brilliant and badass she is and how difficult life under the spotlight bringing up kids is. If you haven’t heard/read this book yet and you are at all interested you should definitely get your hands on it – I can almost guarantee that your library will have a copy.
  9. One of us is lying – Karen McManus
    Popsugar – Featuring one of the seven deadly sins (Anger)
    Flourish & Blotts – Someone keeps a secret
    Read Harder – No
    GUYS! GUYS! Once again Karen McMunas has given us a thriller that makes you dread the next page and need it like a drug. Teen drama, a school need for gossip, and school wide game of truth and dare is a deadly mix. Although it’s a sequel to ‘One of us is lying’ you don’t need to have read the first one, it gives a bit of context but this is full of new characters and new gossip. With about 100 pages left I had a moment of actively stopping and saying aloud, “I’m worried about x… because they would know how to do y….” and then it turned out to be someone else and I was relieved because I didn’t want to be worried about x. AND THEN THE LAST TWO PAGES AND OH MY GOD I WAS PARTLY RIGHT AND NO! (BUT ALSO SMUG THAT I CALLED IT.)
  10. Amber Spyglass – Phillip Pullman
    Popsugar – Minimum of 4 stars of GR
    Flourish & Blotts – Over 450 pages
    Read Harder – Last book in a series (of the original trilogy not including spin off and The Books of Dust)
    The final book in the original His Dark Materials series – which continues to get darker as Lyra and Will explore other worlds, their friendship, and try to make amends for previous mistakes. This book also brings Lord Asriel back as he puts together an army to kill God using all sorts of beings from multiple worlds. I don’t want to say too much because I know there are people who haven’t read it yet but it’s brilliant close and as much as it hurts it also has hope.
  11. Sixty Minutes – Tony Salter
    Popsugar – Set in a city that has hosted the Olympics (London 2012)
    Flourish and Blotts – Includes a trip
    Read Harder – No
    I thought this story showed the intertwined lives really well, Shuna’s and Jim’s link is clear from the beginning as her complaint led to him loosing his job (him stalking her also had a fairly major part in that). You see them all reach the Natural History Museum in the hour before terror attack is due to take place. Hussain’s story felt very stereotypical and obvious but I could see how it happened and still sympathise with him. I loved how Nadia was constantly having to deal with her Muslim faith and having to deal with dealing with ISIS terrorist threats.
    Full review to be found here
  12. The Museum of Second Chances – AE Warren
    Popsugar – More than 20 letters in the title
    Flourish and Blotts – Body part on the cover
    Read Harder – No
    I don’t know what I was expecting from this book, but it’s better than my expectations. It’s a slow start and I was worried the rest of the book would be a slog – which as I’ve singed up to review book 2 is a real concern. But once Elise met Kit things started to pick up, once she meets Seventeen it’s all go and although I could see the sky getting dark I didn’t want to move away to turn the lights on – so I increased the brightness and kept going.
    Full review to be found here
  13. The Base of Reflections – AE Warren
    Popsugar – Three word title
    Flourish & Blotts – Multiple locations
    Read Harder – No
    Sequel to ‘Museum of second chances’, I really enjoyed the growth of the characters and the world. Once again the neanderthals feel real (something I would imagine is very difficult) and the stakes her been upped.
    I’m looking forward to reading more in this world and seeing how it continues to grow, there are other areas of the world still to explore – both physically and metaphorically.
    Full review to be found here
  14. Doctor Who: The Crawling Terror – Mike Tucker
    Popsugar – Author has written more than 20 books
    Flourish & Blotts – Includes an animal
    Read Harder – No
    I got this one for 50p at the library book sale. It’s been literal years since I last read a Doctor Who book although I own all of the books for the 9th and 10th doctor and a handful of 11th doctor ones. This is the first 12th doctor book I’ve read and although I’m not a fan of Clara I had a lot of fun reading this book. Fair warning though this one does has MASSIVE bugs including spiders and beetles and OH MY GOD THOSE THINGS ARE TOO BIG
  15. Tales of What the F*ck? – D A Watson
    Popsugar – An anthology
    Flourish & Blotts – Includes a magical creature
    Read Harder – No
    This collection of stories completely justifies the title as that was my thought at the end of almost all of the stories. I’ve already recommended it to a number of people because it is brilliantly batshit. Seriously though, everyone – who wouldn’t be tirggered by it – should want to read this collection of insanity. Freja is stalking the halls of a euthanasia clinic, Socrates is running a music shop and discussing philosophy with people who just want to sell their guitars, and there is a Scottish rewrite of Edger Allen Poe.
    Full review to be found here
  16. A Crown in Time – Jennifer Macaire
    Popsugar – MC in their 20s
    Flourish & Blotts – Tied to your roots/heritage (a large chunk of this book is set in Tours which is where my mum is from)
    Read Harder – Historical fiction not WWII
    I really enjoyed this book. Going in I didn’t know what to expect and I don’t have any knowledge of the times that it’s set in (French Crusades) but I thought it told a really good story and made me care about the people who died hundreds of years ago. I was really upset and shocked at certain deaths. (It’s weird because saying who dies sounds like a spoiler even though it’s a matter of historical fact was 800 years ago). The relationship between Isobel and Charles (a 10 year old she ‘adopts’) as well as the ones between her and the queen and her and Jean felt real and believable. I’ll be on the look out for more by this author and have already recommended this book multiple times.
    Full review to be found here
  17. War Doctor: Surgery on the Front Lines – David Nott
    Popsugar – About a subject you know nothing about (surgery in a war zone)
    Flourish & Blotts – Major combat
    Read Harder – No
    Bloody hell – literally. Much like ‘This is going to hurt‘ by Adam Kay, this is a story of an NHS Doctor, but this man isn’t just a trauma surgeon. He’s one of the top trauma surgeons in the country and travels around the world to active war zones or to where there has been a natural disaster and practices out there, teaching local doctors to make sure that things continue once he has left. The stories are insane and in most cases if he hadn’t been there they would have died. It definitely leaves you thinking and once again realising how lucky we are with the NHS in the UK, and that we don’t live our lives in constant fear/in a literal war zone.
  18. Heartstopper vol 3 – Alice Osman
    Popsugar – Author in their 20s (she’s a year younger than me)
    Flourish & Blotts – Set in Spain or France
    Read Harder – No
    I love this series and these characters, it’s adorable, cute, and queer. Book 3 of Alice Osman’s web comic takes our boys on a school trip to Paris and as the discussion is not about Charlie coming out to his mum, but about how they tell their friends and also getting to know each other more. We get more of an understanding of how hard it was when Nick was bullied for being gay and what impact it had on him.
    I love this graphic novel series, and although I know I could find out what happens by going to the web comic I enjoy reading it all in one go and paying for it. It’s a such a cute series and a really easy read. The drawing is different to every graphic novel I’ve ever seen as it’s much more rough and more like something ‘normal’ people would draw. Please go and seek out book 1 – if you know me personally I’ll lend them to you because more people should get to know this cuteness!

 

It’s only when writing out mini reviews like this that I realise just how much I read. And 5000 + pages in a month is a stupid amount, but it’s been a really good month and I haven’t had a duff book.

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