Did anyone else feel like January went by really fast but was also excruciatingly slow? I feel like that happens to me every year! That said, I did some amazing reading in January and I hope that it is a reflection of my reading life for the rest of the year.
I read 12 books in January for a total of 4,499 pages. Three of those twelve books were nonfiction, which makes me so happy! I am officially falling in love with nonfiction again. I read from a mix of genres- romance, mysteries, horror, fantasy, and more. My average rating for the month was 3.96.
I am one of those people who puts a lot of pressure on the first book that they read in a year, so I went back and forth on which one to choose. I am so glad that I settled on A Certain Appeal by Vanessa King- something about it screamed New Year to me. Retellings can be hit or miss for me, but Pride and Prejudice retellings more often than not work out. And I am happy to say I think A Certain Appeal might just be my favourite because it did some interesting things. I loved that it was a modern take of the original story set in a burlesque club in New York while also maintaining the heart of the story and connection between Elizabeth and Darcy. A lot of the side characters are in here as well- from Jane to Wickham. I have to say, I loved the relationship between Jane and Charles. I also appreciated that Vanessa King twisted the ending in a way that felt completely satisfying. I came out of A Certain Appeal with a deeper appreciation for the burlesque world and now I want more from these characters!
Finlay Donovan Knocks ‘Em Dead is the sequel to Finlay Donovan Is Killing It, and I think that fans of the first one will be delighted with this next installment. I thought that the setup for this one was interesting and that Finlay and Vero got caught up in some hilarious antics. I will say that I did not think it was quite as funny as the first one and I was hoping for some more character development from Finlay. It did feel like we ended where we started, but it was a good time and I am crossing my fingers that we get a third book. I think we were being set up for one!
Did I already read my best book of 2022? This happened to me last year! I read Piranesi in January and by the end of the year, it remained my favourite. That could definitely happen with Firekeeper’s Daughter. I had been saving this book for when I was ready because I just knew it was going to be a favourite, and I was right. It is funny that I thought that because Firekeeper’s Daughter ended up being nothing like I expected and I adored it. Angeline Boulley takes on some very real and very heavy themes and does so in a way that feels so authentic. Daunis has become a favourite character and I felt so deeply for her. I appreciated the conversations around grief and I learned a lot about the Ojibwe culture and what they believe happens after someone dies. It was moving! Also, as someone who lives in Northern Ontario, the setting felt very familiar and I completely understand the passion for hockey.
I was so excited about The Christie Affair, which is why I am disappointed to say that I just didn’t love it. I think I went in with the wrong expectations! I was under the impression that the story was more rooted in truth. It takes place during the eleven days when Agatha Christie went missing after discovering her husband’s affair. That is something that truly happened and happens in The Christie Affair, but after that everything else that comes is fiction. The narrator of the story is Christie’s husband’s mistress. And though he did have a mistress, this character is not based on her. The focus is more on her and her motivations and what she believes to be true about Agatha Christie; however, it felt like Christie’s character could have been anyone! There are also a lot of time jumps that were difficult to keep track of. That said, something happened near the end that I thought was interesting! I think The Christie Affair is a book you have to go into with the right expectations and be prepared to suspend your disbelief and just go along for the ride.
The Girl from the Sea was the first book I read for the 12 Challenge and it was a huge success! I absolutely adored this graphic novel- it was endearing. Also, how talented is Molly Knox Ostertag? She is both the author and the artist! The illustrations and the colour palette are beautiful and I also loved the setting. I cannot say I have read many books set in Nova Scotia. The tone of this was so dreamy and I was not prepared to tear up at the end.
I do not know that I would have ever prioritized John Green’s nonfiction, but I had heard so many good reviews for The Anthropocene Reviewed and I was curious. I am so glad that I caved because this was exactly what I didn’t know I needed. Who knew that listening to John Green give star ratings to everything from scratch-and-sniff stickers to the smallpox vaccine would be so delightful. I definitely recommend you listen on audio because John Green narrates it himself.
Crying in H Mart is a memoir that received a lot of buzz last year, and for good reason. I was moved by it and it felt like an honest look at grief. Michelle Zauner reflects on her mother’s cancer diagnosis and how that affected their entire family. Her already rocky relationship with her father becomes even more fragile. She does not shy away from speaking about the complicated relationship she had with her mother and how that has impacted her grief. Michelle’s mom is from Korea, so there is a lot of talk about Korean food throughout the book. I love how Michelle Zauner found comfort in cooking, despite it not being a passion of hers before her mom’s illness. There is so much that she touches on and it is definitely worth the listen, and she narrates it!
Yinka, Where is your Huzband? is being compared to Bridget Jone’s Diary, and I think that is a pretty apt comparison. I had a lot of fun with this book and I especially loved the inclusion of mixed media throughout. Yinka could be frustrating at times, but I understood her. I cannot imagine the pressure you would feel when everyone in your family is constantly asking you when you are getting married. I could see how she became desperate! I think that is why I never felt invested in any of the romances. I did not feel like Yinka herself really wanted a relationship or was ready for one. That said, I thought there was some amazing character growth by the end and something that really stood out to me was the positive look at therapy. It is not often that I read about a character in a book going to therapy, and I loved it!
Look at me finishing a series so early on in the year! I am so glad that I finally sat down and devoured A Psalm of Storms and Silence because it reminded me why I loved the first book so much. The characters and the world are just so interesting! I noticed that many readers preferred book one, but I actually think I favoured A Psalm of Storms and Silence. I have been thinking about why that is and I think I got it! I am very much a character-driven reader, and I would say that the characters were the focus of this book, whereas the plot was much more at the forefront in book one. This second and final book focuses more on the fallout of the events of the first book and how the characters are impacted, and I thought it was so well done. I also think the ending will be divisive, but I loved it!
I am so thrilled that I managed to read three nonfiction books in January, and they were all very different. Why We Sleep is a deep dive into the importance of sleep, and I took so much more away from this when than I was expecting. I actually think that if you are someone who has difficulty sleeping this might be too much for you. I have always been a good sleeper, and it was still overwhelming for me at times. I think we all know that sleep is important, but Matthew Walker really drives that point home. I do question some of his research and with books like this I think it is important to do more research, but it was interesting for sure. There are some tips for better sleep, but it is probably nothing you haven’t heard before!
It feels as though I am always talking about Extasia because I freaking loved it but am still working out all of my feelings. I say this every time, but this is not the book for everyone. Even if you loved Sawkill Girls by the same author, I don’t think that guarantees Extasia will be for you. While they are both YA horror, they have very different vibes. Extasia is much more cult-like and I found it hard to read at times. The way that the women in this village have been used and manipulated is the most horrifying part of the story.
I thought that Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake was a fun book and is perfect for fans of Great British Bake Off! Rosaline is a contestant on a show that follows a very similar format and it was so fun to read about all of the bakes and to get to know Rosaline’s fellow contestants. There was a lot of talk about the editing that goes into making the show feel as comforting as it does. Though this is technically a romance, it is very much a slow burn and Rosaline goes through a lot to get to her eventual HEA. While I enjoyed Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake, I think it is important to go into it with the right expectations. It is much more about Rosaline’s journey on the show and her finding her voice than it is about her finding love.