January was a great, if not random, reading month for me! I picked up a lot of books on a whim and they are on the shorter side. I guess that was what I was in the mood for, but a lot of these were hits for me so I am glad I just went with it.
Before the Coffee Gets Cold received a lot of love last year and I am so happy that I finally got to it! One of my goals for 2023 is to marathon series when I can, so I moved right on to Tales From the Cafe and Before Your Memory Fades. These books are collections of short stories that are interconnected. I do think that it is best to read them in order because we do get updates from characters in past stories as we move along and the employees of the cafe are at the heart of the stories, so we get character development from them as well. As is the nature of short stories, there were some that hit me harder than others, but I had tears in my eyes pretty much the entire time I was reading. These stories were bittersweet but I was ultimately left with a feeling of hope. This was a good reminder that I love magical realism and translated fiction. I cannot wait for the next book in the series to be translated into English!
I am reading all of the SPFBO finalists this year, which is how The Thirteenth Hour ended up on my radar. There is a lot to love about this book, the world-building in particular, but the pacing stopped me from absolutely loving it. I also struggled to tell the characters apart, especially on audio. I would recommend reading this physically if you can! The concept of this world is so intriguing and I feel like there is so much more to explore in future books, which is why I am still curious enough to try the sequel.
The Raven and the Reindeer was my first five star read of the year! I knew that T. Kingfisher wouldn’t let me down. This is a Snow Queen retelling that has T. Kingfisher’s signature style of perfectly blending cozy and dark themes. There were moments of pure delight and others that crushed me but I was ultimately left with a smile on my face. I always say this, but I don’t typically love quest stories; however, T. Kingfisher is always the exception. This is the perfect book to read in the winter!
I was looking for something to listen to on Scribd when I stumbled upon That Time I Got Drunk and Saved a Demon. That title caught my eye and it was a short read, so I thought I would give it a try. I am so happy that I did because it was a fun and ridiculous time! I would call this a cozy fantasy romance because our main character, Cinnamon, is a spice farmer who just happens to discover that demons are being possessed by a goddess and the cinnamon (the spice, not the person!) is the antidote. This leads her on a journey to defeat the goddess and she meets demons of all kinds along the way. I just loved it! Plus, the romance is super steamy and adorable!
I immediately picked up the sequel, That Time I Got Drunk and Yeeted a Love Potion at a Werefolf, and I think I loved it even more, though that doesn’t seem to be the popular opinion. I think that this one leaned even more into the ridiculousness of it all, which I appreciated, and I personally related to the main character, Brie, on a different level, and the love interest, Felix, was softer and more my type of hero. I will admit that the stakes are lower in this one, so we don’t quite get the same level of adventure as we did in the first. I keep checking every day to see if information about the third book has been announced!
I am a simple girl, I see a new release from Talia Hibbert and I read it! Highly Suspicious and Unfairly Cute is her YA debut, which I was nervous about, but I thought this was perfect for the target audience. Something that I always trust Hibbert to do well is write mental health representation, and this was no exception. I have also realized that I like academic rivals in my YA romances because it leads to great banter! The friends-to-enemies-to-lovers vibe between Bradley and Celine was so much fun to read about and felt authentic to teenage relationships. I would definitely check out more YA from Talia Hibbert!
The Six Deaths of the Saint was having a moment on Twitter and I caved! I then discovered that Tamsyn Muir and Nghi Vo also had short stories in this series, so I also downloaded them on Kindle Unlimited. Alix E. Harrow and Tamsyn Muir are both new authors to me, so it was great to explore their writing in this way and I am now even more excited to read their full length novels! Nghi Vo is already one of my favourite authors, so I will read anything she puts out.
The Six Deaths of the Saint was the highlight of these stories and is in a league all on its own. It is written in the second person and something about that makes it hit in a different way. It takes a special author to be able to tell a deeply emotional and wholly complete story in 30 pages. Undercover is dark and gory and had me turning the pages. I need to read more books centred around ghouls! What the Dead Know is the one that I think would have benefitted from being longer in order to build the tension but it had Nghi Vo’s incredible writing and the vibes that I have come to expect from her.
And we have another five star! Emily Wilde’s Encyclopaedia of Faeries was everything that I was hoping for and more! I already knew that I loved cozy fantasy, but cozy fantasy romance takes it to a whole new level. I was completely charmed by the interactions between Emily and Wendell and I appreciated this scholarly approach to faeries. The side characters were also fantastic and there were so many sweet moments. I cannot wait for the sequel!
I reread The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet for the Book Check Out Book Club! I first read this in 2018 and it instantly became an all-time favourite. I was nervous to reread because I didn’t want my feelings about it to change, but I think I loved it even more upon a reread and will continue on with the series… finally! If you want to hear more of my thoughts, we will be discussing it on my BookTube channel on February 12th.
I finally continued on with the Murderbot Diaries! I had read up until Exit Strategy and was told it was best to read Fugitive Telemetry next before going back and reading the full length novel. Now I only have to read Network Effect before System Collapse comes out later this year. It was so nice to be back in Murderbot’s head!