This past month I read a total of 8 books: 2 physical books and 6 audiobooks. At this point I am slightly above target to complete my 2019 reading goal of 75 books so I’m pretty pleased with myself. February is looking like a great reading month too, as a bunch of my library audiobook holds have just come through.
For the most part I enjoyed the books I read in January – there were a few really good ones that I still can’t stop thinking about! But there were also a few I didn’t like so much and I’m thinking that in the spirit of my 2019 reading goals (focusing on my already owned books and only buying a few books I REALLY want) I’m going to start immediately unhauling the books that I don’t like. Which leads me to Carry On by Rainbow Rowell… I started the audiobook a few weeks ago and I absolutely hated it. I didn’t like any of the characters and the story was a bad knock-off of Harry Potter. I didn’t want to officially include it here in my wrap up, because technically I only got about a quarter of the way through but I wanted to at least mention it. Out of curiosity, how often do you DNF books? And what do you do with them if you have a physcial copy? Let me know in the comments. 🙂
So here they are, the 8 books I read in January:
The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides (3 Stars)
The Marriage Plot follows three primary characters: Madeleine Hanna, Leonard Bankhead, and Mitchell Grammaticus. In this coming of age story, these three leave college and enter various states of “the real world.” Challenges emerge in the form of mental illness, quarter life crises, relationship issues, and the ever present question of “who am I and what am I meant to be?”.
I enjoyed this book. Eugenides is a detailed storyteller and was able to tell three unique, yet entirely entertwined, stories in this book. Some people think his writing style is pretentious, and I agree, but I don’t think that detracts from the story at all. In the case of this book, his style actually compliments the story quite well because the characters themselves are pretentious, even if they don’t see themselves that way.
China Rich Girlfriend by Kevin Kwan (4 Stars)
This is the second book in Kevin Kwan’s triology and it did not disappoint! In this installment, Rachel Chu and Nicholas Young finally get married (with the approval of Nick’s mother!), but new family issues emerge when the identity of Rachel’s biological father is revealed. As Rachel and Nick get to know their newly-found family, they’re thrown into a world even more wealthy and twisted than the one Nick grew up in.
I really liked this book – even more than Crazy Rich Asians! It was completely absorbing and had me laughing out loud at how utterly ridiculous some of the characters were.
Uncommon Type by Tom Hanks (4 Stars)
In Tom Hanks’ first collection of short stories we are introduced to a quartet of intense adrenaline-seeking friends, an Eastern Europen immigrant newly arrived in New York City, a World War II veteran, and man who pays to travel back in time to re-meet the woman of his dreams over and over again. Listen to the audiobook – it’s narrated by Mr. Hanks and is a joy to listen to.
I really enjoyed this collection of short stories. Some of them resonated with me more than others, but all of them were unique, observant, and atmospheric in their own way.
The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi (3 Stars)
Maya has always felt that she was destined for more. As the daughter of the Raja of Bharata, she is expected to make an advantageous marriage when she comes of age. But women in her position often end up the political pawns of men, and Maya has no interest in that. When the inevitable happens and Maya is married to Amar, the Raja of Akaran, she enters a world that’s completely unexpected. Instead of oppresion and silence, she experiences compassion, protection, and equality. But who is her new husband, truly?
This book was alright. Given its description I was expecting to like it more. As much as I appreciated Chokshi’s use of Indian folklore, religion, and culture to develop a fantastical world, the characters just didn’t appeal to me.
The Winter of the Witch by Katherine Arden (5 Stars)
This is the final book in Arden’s Winternight Trilogy and it totally lived up to the hype. The book picks up right where The Girl in the Tower left off: Moscow is in a state of chaos and destruction and the people are desperate for answers – and someone to blame. Vasya Petrovna once again finds herself thrust into the middle of the action, and as she struggles to survive she realizes that she alone has the power to save Russia and the magical world of the domovoi.
I loved this book, I loved this series, and I love this author! Katherine Arden is the most atmospheric writer I have ever read and I cannot begin to express how excited I am to read everything she publishes in the future.
The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn (4 Stars)
Anna Fox lives alone in a large brown-stone in New York City. Anna Fox is also agoraphobic and has not been outside in months. Tortured by her past and the phobia that has taken over her life, Anna has resigned herself to a life of online chess, re-watching her extensive Hitchcock movie collection, spying covertly on her neighbors, and drinking alone. But when she witnesses a murder in the house across the park, her life suddenly explodes. At least she thinks she saw a murder…
I really liked The Woman in the Window. Even though I guessed who the murderer was from the beginning, the book constantly had me second-guessing myself. Normally I’m not a huge fan of unreliable narrators in thriller novels, but A.J. Finn developed Anna’s character so well that her unreliability was more interesting than irritating.
Annhilation by Jeff VanderMeer (2 Stars)
A biologist, an anthropologist, a surveyor, and a psychologist embark on the 12th expedition into Area X. Area X, which has been cut off from the rest of civilization for decades now, holds mysteries (biological and other-wordly) that the outside world seeks to understand. But there are powers at play that make these expeditions dangerous and many explorers never make it home alive.
Unfortunately, I really did not like this book. It’s been recommended to me by several people so I had high hopes and really wanted to like it, but I just… didn’t. I listened to the audiobook, so there’s a chance that if I had read the physical book my opinion would be different. Ultimately, the concept behind the story is compelling, but I’m just not that into biological sci-fi.
The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty (4 Stars)
When Cecilia Fitzpatrick finds and reads a letter addressed to her from her husband that states it should only be opened in the event of his death, she sets off a series of events that will ultimately have earth-shattering reprecussions for her family and the families around her.
I don’t want to say too much about the plot of The Husband’s Secret because I’m nervous I’ll give too much away; but just take my word for it that this is a great book and read it! I listened to this one on audiobook and was completely riveted from the very start. Moriarty is great at taking multiple storylines and weaving them together in a way that makes everything clear by the end of the book. I loved Big Little Lies and I loved this book – can’t wait to read more from her soon!
Have you read any of these books? If so, I’d love to hear your thoughts! Happy reading! 🙂