Memo Pad: January Wrap up

I’ve had an excellent start to my reading year this month. I finished a whole 6 books and that’s only because I made myself stop reading towards the end of the month so I wouldn’t have too many reviews to write! Four of them were five star reads although towards the end of the month things went down hill a little with a DNF.

Away from reading, I’ve been taking the month off from writing and by that I mean I draft zero’d a 10k short story, started writing myself an edit letter for #ExcitingSpaceWIP and did more planning and plot hole hunting for my next wip…..whoops. (i’m officially naming the new one #ChronicallyWitchyWIP). Anyway, it actually was a lot of time off even if it doesn’t sound like it hence all the reading.

Our house is also officially on the market, so we’ve had lots of people coming and going for viewings. All the waiting is very nerve-racking.

But back to books. I think one of the reasons I had such a good reading month is that I read whatever I felt like at that moment which meant I bought quite a few books but I did read most of them as soon as I bought them which meant I kept my owned books under 50 which is my aim.

Books Read: 6 DNF: 1 Books Acquired: 7

And onto my mini reviews for the books I read this month… (The first review here is actually from the end of December)

Queen of Air and Darkness (The Dark Artifices #3) by Cassandra Clare *****

This was the final book in The Dark Artifices trilogy and I have to say…. I was disappointed. I really wanted to find out what happened to my favourite characters but honestly there was just too many threads and not enough time to do any of them justice (even in a book with 900+ pages!)

While all of the characters were there and they all got page time it felt like I was missing important scenes that would have meant a lot to the characters but weren’t shown. Almost like we were only given the important plot parts that couldn’t be left out and being told about the rest instead of letting us see the characters reacting which cut a lot of emotion out. Kit, Ty and Kieran especially had multiple scenes I would have loved to see.

I also didn’t feel like it was that will written, for example pretty much every character speaks like they are philosophers at some point instead of sounding natural /themselves. I probably wouldn’t have noticed that if I was enjoying the rest of the book more. And I was rather peeved at how the trilogy made out that being ‘In love’ with someone was stronger than every other type of love. In a series and world that tends to show amazing family and friendships this definitely left me with a sour taste. I still enjoyed this series and was very invested in the characters I just wish I’d had more of them to flesh it out.

Rep: bi, gay, polyam relationship, trans F, autistic

The Disasters by M K England *****

This is such a fun rip-roaring adventure full of exciting action but more importantly just amazing characters with plenty of laughter.

Nax managed one day before getting kicked out of space academy but the station is attacked just as he and a bunch of other rejects are leaving. They are the last survivors and with the whole galaxy thinking they’re to blame they have to band together to stop a much bigger threat.

Nax is a brilliant main character, he’s cocky and such a show off but he cares so much about the people around him and he’s really insecure inside. I loved him so much and the rest of the crew are just as good. All of them had flaws and strengths that made you want to see them succeed. I loved that the stakes were so high and yet they got to act like the kids they were. The moments of humour were excellent. The moments of action were breathtaking. It’s a proper adventure with plenty of character to go with it. I’d recommend it to anyone who wants to lose themselves in an easy diverse ride.

Rep: main character is bi, side characters are gay, trans F, and Muslim, with anxiety.

If I was your Girl by Meredith Russo *****

This is a really great YA contemporary with amazing female friendships and complicated families that I loved.

Amanda is starting again at a new school after assault and a life of bullying for being trans. She meets new friends, a boy and gets another chance at starting a new life.

It’s Ownvoices for trans female rep. I did feel like it relied on stereotypes (Amanda knew from a very young age, she’s straight, she always liked ‘girly’ things and always hated ‘boyish’ things, she’s fully transitioned, she passes well and people comment very frequently about how pretty she is) but in the authors note (which you should definitely read) the author explains she did this on purpose so there was no possible ambiguity and that readers who knew nothing about trans issues would understand that Amanda was a girl. And while there are many difficult moments (trigger warnings for assault, suicide and attempted rape) the books ends with Amanda in a strong and hopeful place. It’s a great read that I really enjoyed and I’d recommend to anyone who enjoys YA contemporary stories.

Rep: trans F MC and a bi and a lesbian side characters.

A Boy Worth Knowing by Jennifer Cosgrove  *****

This is such a fluffy and adorable contemporary fantasy. I read the whole thing in one day when I was feeling sad and it made everything better.

Nate can see ghosts and his habit of speaking to them when he shouldn’t has left him alone and ostracised, not just at school but from his mum as well. But when he’s told to show a new boy around things change, only James has the ghost of his recently deceased brother following him around which is even more complicated than Nate’s feelings for him.  

I thought the two boys relationship grew from being friends to something else really naturally while both are struggling with their own lives. And I loved the relationship Nate has with his aunt who he lives with (and her cat) as well as his dead Nan (he chats to her ghost) and his sister who still lives with his mum. In fact ALL the relationships in this book are so well done. It’s also a short read at less than 200 pages and I’d recommend it to anyone who likes fluffy, cuddly stories filled with angst (but not too much)!

Rep: the main character is gay and the love interest is bi

Failure to Communicate by Kaia Sonderby *****

I’ve had this book on my radar for a while and honestly? I never quite felt like reading it. I’m not really sure why but whenever I thought about it I ended up reading something else but wow. I finally read it and I am kicking myself for not reading it sooner. I loved it so much. It was clever, and engrossing and exciting too.

Xandri is Autistic, she heads a Xeno liasions team who make first contact with new species by using the unique skills she’s developed of logic and observation to understand her own species. But when her ship is called to oversee a political treaty between two factions whose societies don’t gel and they expect her to fix it she has her biggest test yet.

It sounds rather political but it focuses more on the characters relationships and it never felt slow. I loved the autism rep and you can really tell it’s ownvoices. Xandri is so relatable and while knowing how important the talks are she is not amused by people refusing to say what they want. I loved the developing relationship between Xandri, Diver and Kiri, although it doesn’t develop into anything in this book the feelings are obviously there and I look forward to seeing where it goes in the next book. But they aren’t the only amazing characters, the whole crew are great and there are really interesting aliens species, all of which have their own cultures and ways of thinking. I loved everything about this book and I can’t wait to read the next. If you liked books like Becky Chambers The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet series I’d definitely give this book a read.

Rep: MC is bi and autistic (Ownvoices), queer side characters, potential polyam relationship.

A Danger to Herself and Others by Alyssa B Sheinmel *****

I received this book for free in what exchange for an honest review. My actual rating is 3.5 but I’ve rounded up because I enjoyed reading it. It’s intriguing and the main characters voice is very strong and compelling.

Hannah has been sent for observation in a psych ward after her best friend was injured in an accident. She believes it’s a complete misunderstanding and imagines herself as a character in the middle of an interesting story but as time goes on things get more complicated.

The way the plot unfolds is slow and tantalising, I wanted to know what happened next and what was going on but, as much as I did enjoy reading, I do have issues with the book at large. It falls a little too far into the problematic territory of a character with mental illness hurting someone else. It does mention Hannah hurting herself and in the authors note it tells the reader that someone with a mental illness is more likely to hurt themselves or be hurt by others than hurt anyone else but as that’s not in the story, and I think most people won’t read the authors note, this isn’t enough. Especially when the whole story revolves around whether or not Hannah did hurt someone. It also doesn’t say what illness she is diagnosed with which to me feels like a cop out. It means the author can get away with cherry picking which symptoms she wants from any mental health conditions without any come back (and from my very inexpert opinion it felt like 2 or 3).

Saying that, I actually really did enjoy reading the book. It had a creepy and intriguing plot and Hannah’s thoughts really pull you along and give you a sense of doubt while still having a very definite sense of her life. The twists and emotions are very raw and, I felt, realistic.

Rep : mental health of some kind though it’s never stated what

A Gathering of Shadows (A Darker Shade of Magic #2) by VE Schwab *****

It took me four years to get to this book. I loved A Darker Shade of Magic so much – it is one of my favourite ever books – that it made me hesitate. What if the sequel ruined it? The good news is that it didn’t. I loved it, not as much, but still a lot. The fraught but so loving brotherly relationship between Kell and Rhy is still the best thing about this book quickly followed by the amazing magic and separate Londons. The King and Queen have dethroned Umbridge to become the worst villians-who-aren’t-the-villian ever in my books. I wanted to scream at them. I wanted SOMEONE to scream at them. (And I need Rhy to give Kell a freaking hug in the next book please!) I was worried about the blossoming relationship between Kell and Lila which made me nervous to pick this book up but it shouldn’t have as it didn’t become overbearing to the plot. I do wish we had more of Alucard around Rhy and Kell though, but then there is another book so there’s still time.

With all the things I loved though, I do have to say that I didn’t feel there was much plot in this instalment and things don’t really happen until the second half. The first half was more about moving everything into place and setting everything up for the end and the next one. It didn’t bother me at all. I loved the whole book but it did feel like a second book in a trilogy. Not as amazing and perfect as our first steps in the world nor did it have the resolutions or high impact moments that a finale would have. I’m simultaneously excited and terrified to read the final instalment!

Rep: disaster bi characters (m/m)

DNF:

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

I just didn’t like the characters? Maybe they would have grown on me because this seems to be a very popular series but I wasn’t invested at all. DNF @25% 

My favourite book this month is a split between Failure to Communicate and The Disasters. Both amazing but very different sci-fis. I don’t read as many sci-fi books as I do fantasy but when I like them I love them! What about you, what you’re favourite book this month /recently?

February TBR:

I’m going on holiday next week which is exciting and of course means I should have even more time to read! Some of the books I’m hoping to read next month include finishing up Anger is a Gift and finally reading Vicious and An Unkindness of Ghosts as well as The Bird King. Hopefully I’ll have reviews to share with you for all of those next month.

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