January Reading Round-Up and February TBR

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This year started off pretty slow for me reading-wise. The first few books I read I enjoyed... but my focus just wasn't there. I could tell you basic plot lines and the general feeling of each book. But details? Nope. It felt slow for me. On the one hand, it was good because I wasn't reading as much and that's a goal of mine for the year. (I need way more life/reading balance!)

On the other hand, it feels odd to me. I can tell something is off because even though I read far less books than usual, my focus on them wasn't there at all. Even for writing, I can't seem to focus on anything. I blame winter. 

It got better the last few days though.


Here's what I read this past month. 

*This post contains Amazon affiliated links.


The Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo

  • Genre: YA Fantasy
  • Format: paperback
  • Rating: 4 Stars for the whole series

I've literally had this series sitting on my shelf for years. I heard a ton of hype for the first book, Shadow and Bone so I picked up the paperback. It took me at least three years to finally pick it up. I'm not sure why because I knew I'd like it. When I did at the end of 2016 I was blown away! WHY DID IT TAKE ME SO LONG? Which meant I immediately ran to the store to buy the next two. 

Then... they sat and gathered dust on my shelf for at least another year. 

I decided the first thing I would read in January was this trilogy. Give the first book a re-read then jump into the next two right away. 

The Grisha Trilogy is a sold four-star series. Which, was slightly disappointing to me. So many people rave about these books I for sure thought I was going to jump on the bandwagon and make it five stars as well. But... it just wasn't there for me. I cant think of a single thing which is particularly "wrong" or done "badly." The characters were good and I liked the relationships Alina built, the Darkling was interesting, and the friendships were great particularly in the second and third books. The world building and magic were good and I liked how it had a historical Russian feel. The plot was fine, and it ticked all of those usual boxes I usually LOVE in a YA fantasy series.

But, it didn't have that particular "extra" I need in order to be a complete fan-girl over them and give a full five stars. Even the first book which I remembered LOVING so much at first, upon my re-read I was like "oh... it was good but... NOT BEST BOOK EVA" the way I had originally. 

I do want to read the spin-off duology, Six of Crows, but I'm going to take a break from this author for a bit, then go back to it. 

If you enjoy YA fantasy, you'll enjoy this series.

  • You'll like this book if you also enjoy: Other young adult fantasy books, love triangles, adventure, Russia, magic
  • Trigger Warnings: violence, mutilation, manipulative relationship, harm to animals, orphans, poverty

Wives of War by Soraya M. Lane

  • Genre: Historical Fiction (WWII)
  • Format: ebook
  • Rating: 4 stars

The start of this book was a bit slow for me, but once I got to part two - I was all in! My favorite part was the friendship between the three nurses. They're definitely #squadgoals! They had their ups and downs, and had to stick by each others side even when the world seemed to be ending around them. Each woman was fantastic and powerful in her own way, and I was a fan of all three of their romances. 

The writing style, I'll admit, wasn't anything remarkable. She got repetitive and would talk over and over again about how they wanted to take a warm bath and drink real tea. Which, I'm sure those were thoughts nurses during WWII had repeatedly during their service. But, as a reader, I don't need it to be told to me every other page. 

There was one character who had significant injuries toward the end of the book and had paralysis. I wasn't a huge fan of how she handled that particular character, but she also kind of wrote herself into a hole in regards to them, and there weren't many other options for them. But, there was another character who also ended up with significant injuries and could be considered disabled and I thought they were handled much better. 

  • You'll like this book if you also enjoy:  Call the Midwife, WWII stories, books about friendship, historical romance, multiple points of view
  • Trigger Warnings: graphic war injuries, PTSD, unplanned pregnancy, trauma, burning, cheating, suicide, depression

Uprooted by Naomi Novik

  • Genre: Fantasy
  • Format: ebook
  • Rating: 4 stars

Under normal circumstances, Uprooted is a book I would have LOVED. But, as I stated at the start of this post, my focus has been lacking the last few weeks. It took me far longer than usual to read this book, and there were a lot of times I'd read a page then be like "what did I just read?" then have to go back and read it again. I remember the gist of the book, and was able to follow the main plot points. But details? Not so much.

It was a weird reading experience for me. But I don't think it was the book's fault, just my brain not working how it usually does.

It's not you, Uprooted, it's me.

When people talk about Uprooted, usually I hear about how it has a fairy tale feel and the romance between Agnieszka and "the dragon." These are both true things, and I enjoyed both. But, the true heart of the story is the friendship between Agnieszka and Kasia. The romance was much more in the background than I anticipated. Just... OH MY GOODNESS talk about #friendshipgoals. They were by far my favorite part of this book. In fact, I want some fanfiction about them being the real romance. Can I have that please? Thanks. (Not that I didn't like the romance between her and the dragon, that was good too.) The world building was fine, the magic was fine, and I liked the fairy tale feel. But seriously, the friendship was what sold me. 

  • You'll like this book if you also enjoy:  epic fantasy, fairy tales, romance, friendship
  • Trigger Warnings: sexual assault/on page rape attempt, graphic magic violence 

Relinquished Hood (Red Hood Chronicles #2) by Kendrai Meeks

  • Genre: Urban Fantasy (could be considered New Adult)
  • Format: ebook
  • Rating: 3.5 Stars

After not being able to focus on anything, I decided I needed a bit of a lighter read and something I could get through quickly and have fun. For me, that usually means an urban fantasy. I read the first book in this series, Reluctant Hood, over the summer and really liked it, then downloaded the second one once it came out. But I haven't read it yet, and the third book is coming out in February. I decided it was high time I read book two. This was was exactly what I needed because I finished it in a single day.

It took me a second to remember the details of the first book, but as I got into this one it all came back to me. I really love the whole vampires who are also scientists twist this book has and how Geri is a biology student. The twists on fairy tales and the lore is also really fun. I can't go too much into detail about what happens in this book and my thoughts because I don't want to spoil the first one. But, there is this whole thing where werewolves and hoods can spiral into madness which is really interesting, but I don't think it was shown enough in this book and we were only told that Geri could go down that spiral. I didn't actually see the potential for her too, and if I had, I think it would have bumped up my rating for this book because it could have been interesting to see. 

That being said, I'm still pretty excited for the third one to come out at the end of February and already have my copy pre-ordered.

  • You'll like this book if you also enjoy:  fairy tale inspired, werewolves, vampires, STEM, Dracula/Van Helsing lore, urban fantasy that has some romantic elements but they are more in the background
  • Trigger Warnings:  loss of a loved one, graphic violence

Illuminae (The lluminae Files #1) by Amie Kauffman and Jay Kristoff

  • Genre: Young Adult Sci-Fi
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Rating: 5 Stars

Then I read Illuminae.

I have been attempting to read this book for over a year. I've picked it up and put it down at least two or three times. Not because I wasn't enjoying it or I didn't like it or wasn't interested. I simply didn't have the focus for it. After I finished Relinquished Hood, I thought that perhaps the unique format would be good for me so I could get into a different head space. 

What makes this book (the the other books in this series) so unique is that it is not your typical novel format. The entire book is a collection of "files" compiled together to form a narrative. It's multi-media, has notes, pictures, name lists, diagrams, emails, instant message conversations, etc. Which, is pretty awesome, and creative. I've also heard that the audiobook is amazing. I do have the audiobook and I wanted to listen to it as I read because it has a full cast and a friend of mine said it's a great reading experience that way, but when I listen to audiobooks it's in the car on my way to work which means that I wouldn't be able to actually read along. Maybe someday I'll go back and listen to it. 

I definitely needed to switch my mind into a different gear to read, but once I got used to it ... WOW. Just... wow. Part of me doesn't even want to tell you more about it because the more I read the more I loved it and I got so invested in the story... and I kind of loved not knowing a whole lot about the story. It's space, and artificial intelligence that turns against you, and people getting sick, and action packed (much more brutal and dark than I originally thought, but I shouldn't have been since one of the authors wrote Nevernight)Just go read the book! It was amazing and I need to go get the second one, Gemina right now!

The only complaint I'd have about this book is that due to the format, I had a hard time keeping track of characters who weren't our two main protagonists, and I couldn't get to know them quite as much as I would have in a more traditional book. But, I was still very attached to them.

  • You'll like this book if you also enjoy:  space, Firefly, unusual/unique book formats, dark Sc-Fi, artificial intelligence
  • Trigger Warnings:  mass killings/attacks, space warfare, PTSD, loss of loved ones, madness, graphic/brutal violence, creepy children

  • Genre: Young Adult Sci-Fi Graphic Novel
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Rating: 4 Stars

After re-reading all of The Lunar Chronicles in December, and with the second Wires and Nerve graphic novel being released this week, I decided it was time to re-read the first graphic novel in preparation. 

If you like The Lunar Chronicles, you'll like Wires and Nerve. Particularly if Iko is one of your favorite characters because this is all about her! I'm glad she finally got to be in the spotlight because she's just so delightful. You definitely need to read the other books first because the first five pages of the graphic novel give you a summary of the series and will definitely be filled with spoilers. I don't think it's quite as good as the novels, but still really fun. 

  • You'll like this book if you also enjoy:  graphic novels, space, sci-fi, squad goals, androids, action, The Lunar Chronicles
  • Trigger Warnings:  on page violence (but all of the images are in blue, and are very cartoon-esque, so it's pretty tame)

What I Want to Read in February

I decided for February, I'm going to have two specific themes for the books I'll be reading. 

It being Valentines Day, it's the perfect excuse to dive into all the cheesy/trashy/wonderful/and light-hearted romance books I have sitting on my Kindle. There's so many taking up space that I haven't had the chance to read yet. Then, after reading all of the holiday romances in December, I've still been in the mood for those types of books. This is the perfect time for me to binge read some. 

Here are some of the ones I'm thinking about:

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But then... it's also Black History Month, and as of late, I've been doing an awful job of being sure that I'm reading more #ownvoices books. Therefore, I also want to read books which are written by black authors. I have yet another "stack" of them on my Kindle begging to be read!

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What's even better? When the books fit with both goals.

Such as these:

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Then, in preparation for the final Throne of Glass book by Sarah J Maas being released later this year, I'll be re-reading each book leading up to that day. Which mean, in February I'll be re-reading The Assassin's Blade and cry for forever. 

We'll see which of these I actually read!

What did you read in January? What are you planning to read in February?

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