JANUARY WRAP-UP: The Top, The Bottom, and The Did Not Finish

January has been a very busy month for me and it’s only the beginning of the year! I’ve successfully read nine books this month which is honestly incredible considering how busy I have been in the “real world”. I’ll include the full list of books at the end of this post but for the time being want to talk about the hits and the misses of my TBR list.

TOP

I think my favourite book I read this month was If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio. I am a huge fan of Shakespeare and an absolute sucker for re-tellings. I found this book from following Rio’s tumblr from a year or two back and was excited at any little hint of her book she posted about. I meant to read it when it first came out, but ended up not getting around to it.

The story takes place at a prestigious arts college where our cast of characters are the last of the students in 4th year theater. Tensions are high as egos clash with cast lists and suddenly the friends find themselves in a very dangerous situation with very real consequences staring them down.

It was a dark story that had me white knuckling the book at times because of the intensity of several scenes throughout. I’m behind on my January reviews, but I can’t wait to get to my full review of this book. Definitely the highlight of the month.

BOTTOM

It saddens me to say that Leia: Princess of Alderaan by Claudia Gray was my low point in January. As mentioned in my review, it’s not necessarily that it was a bad book, it’s just that as such a long time fan of Star Wars, it took me out of the world more than it sucked me back into it.

The story revolves around a young pre-A New Hope Leia on her journey to do more for the galaxy than she’s been told is within her power. Hinting at plot points for The Last Jedi and giving small throwbacks to the Prequel films, it’s a part of Leia’s life we haven’t gotten to see yet within the terms of the New Extended Universe.

Awkward dialogue and poor characterization ruined this story for me, but as per usual I won’t warn people off of it. New fans might get a kick from Gray’s latest work, but those who have ever been familiar with the original canon might agree with me on this one.

HONORABLE MENTIONS

With the second season of Netflix’s A Series of Unfortunate Events coming up in March, I got a jump on getting caught up before the season drops. I revisited The Austere Academy (book 5) and for the first time in almost 15 years I got through The Ersatz Elevator (book 6). Not only that, but I took a chance on Why We Broke Up, a novel written by Daniel Handler – the man behind the persona of Lemony Snicket.

Handler/Snicket’s books have always had an aesthetic behind them that I am yet to find perfected by any other author. Reading the ASOUE books from my childhood and then jumping into an entirely unrelated book by the same author, it’s easy to spot the similarities but that doesn’t take away from the writing of either.

I am so happy that I still enjoy ASOUE despite being so much older than I was when I first started the series and I love that Handler’s other works are capable of standing up on their own.

So Honorable Mention of the month goes, without a doubt, to Daniel Handler/Lemony Snicket for his twistedly entertaining work.

DID NOT FINISH

  • The Bat  – Jo Nesbo

Reason: Came off as kinda homo/transphobic. Possibly unintentionally but made me squirmy enough to not bother finishing.

  • The Heart’s Invisible Furies – John Boyne

Reason: I had a hard time connecting with the narrator. Didn’t get very far for that reason.

  • A Boy at the Edge of the World – David Kingston Yeh

Reason: Didn’t enjoy the writing style. Speaking as a Canadian, there is such a thing as too Canadian.

  • The Absent One – Jussi Adler-Olsen

Reason: Graphic sexual abuse that made me incredibly uncomfortable. A sad thing since the first Department Q novel was so good.

Complete January Read List

  • Percy Jackson and the Battle of the Labyrinth – Rick Riordan
  • Leia: Princess of Alderaan – Claudia Gray
  • If We Were Villains – M.L. Rio
  • The Austere Academy – Lemony Snicket
  • The Ersatz Elevator – Lemony Snicket
  • Why We Broke Up – Daniel Handler
  • Ruin and Rising – Leigh Bardugo
  • Dead Serious: Breaking the Cycle of Teen Suicide (ARC) – Jane Mersky Leder
  • The Hazel Wood (ARC) – Melissa Albert
* ARCs – Advanced Reader Copies – were provided by NetGalley
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