I was able to cross six books off my list last month. Check out my thoughts on my January reads!
This year, I decided to take on an Alphabet Reading Challenge where I read a book that starts with every letter of the alphabet. I’ve been listening to audiobooks like crazy. While I love reading books the traditional way, the main reason I stopped reading for fun is that it’s hard to fit it into my schedule. This still remains true, which is why I love audiobooks so much. My boyfriend can attest to the fact that I’ve been listening to audiobooks nonstop. I listen to them on my commute to work, when I’m doing the dishes, when I’m editing blog photos, during my morning routine, and even when I’m in the shower. It’s been so great being able to fall in love with books again, and I’m so grateful that I’m able to thanks to audiobooks and my local library app.
The beginning of the Alphabet Reading Challenge has been fairly easy because I’ve been able to pick whichever books I’ve been wanting to read. I imagine that as the year goes on, it’ll be tougher because I’ll want to continue series or read a book that everyone’s been talking about. Before I allow myself to indulge in these bookworm habits, I’ll be doing my best to stick to the challenge and hopefully diversify my reading choices, although I’ve already run into the issue of wanting to read a sequel with the Crazy Rich Asians series, but that’s neither here nor there.
I was able to finish reading six books in January, and for the most part, I really enjoyed all of them. To keep up with my progress and see which letters I’ve crossed off, check out my Alphabet Reading Challenge page or follow me on Goodreads.
Ash Princess by Laura Sebastian
Completed January 4, 2019 | Published April 24, 2018
Synopsis: Ash Princess is about a girl named Theodosia whose country was invaded and officially taken over when her mother, the Fire Queen, was murdered right in front of her. She was just six-years-old. Instead of killing her, the Kaiser crowned Theodosia the “Ash Princess,” a title of shame, and kept her as his prisoner.
Ten years later, she continues to live as a prisoner in her own palace, enduring numerous beatings and public ridicule. She isn’t even allowed to speak her own real name or communicate in her former language.
Unexpectedly, the Kaiser summons her and punishes her in front of the court by asking her to do the unthinkable. This sparks something in her that makes her realize that her former tactics of simply doing whatever it takes to survive, will no longer stand. She decides to do whatever it takes to free her people and herself.
My thoughts: I first came across Ash Princess in a bookstore in Washington. It was suggested by one of the employees, and the description definitely intrigued me. While it doesn’t hold a candle to some of my favorite YA dystopian trilogies, the story itself and the way it’s written was enough to keep me intrigued and wanting to know more.
It has everything you would expect a book of its kind to have: a heroine kept captive, an evil dictator just waiting to be overthrown, and an unnecessary and totally predictable love triangle. It also has more graphic violence than you would expect, but I think that’s one of the factors that makes you want to keep reading. You become has hungry for justice as the heroine herself.
While the story itself is really nothing new or anything super special considering how many other YA dystopian trilogies like it exist, I may still give the sequel a read when it gets published this month.
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Completed January 9, 2019 | Published February 28, 2017
Synopsis: The Hate U Give is about a black teenager named Starr who seemingly lives two different lives: one at home in her poor neighborhood and the other at her fancy prep school. She found it easy to walk within these two different worlds until her entire life is upended when she witnesses one of her childhood best friends, Khalil, shot by a police officer right before her eyes.
Khalil’s death quickly becomes national news, and everyone is left with unanswered questions that only Starr can answer. Assumptions about Khalil are blasted on the news. Protests become frequent as people fight for Khalil’s justice. Intimidation tactics are used against both Starr and her family, all while Starr is still trying to keep the line between her life at home and her life at school solid.
My thoughts: This book has been on my TBR list for an embarrassing amount of time, and I’m glad I finally got to cross it off. The Hate U Give was the only book I gave five stars to this month for many reasons. As someone who is mixed race, I could identify with some of the feelings that Starr felt while trying to navigate life in her prep school, such as brushing off some of the racist comments thrown my way, especially those made by friends, being aware of how many people of color are in the room simply because you physically feel yourself standing out, and some of the thoughts that come with dating outside of your race.
Besides being able to connect with the character, the story itself is both timely and intriguing. It’s easy to forget that this is a work of fiction because the story it tells is unfortunately one that’s been told over and over again in the media.
Even if you aren’t a reader, I urge you to pick up this book and give it a read or even a listen if you prefer audiobooks. There is also a movie adaptation that I still have yet to see, but now that I’ve finished the book, it’s high on my to-watch list.
Sadie by Courtney Summers
Completed January 14, 2019 | September 4, 2018
Synopsis: This book follows the story of Sadie who has had anything but an easy life growing up in a small town. She doesn’t know who her father is, and her mom disappears for long periods of time. Sadie was the mother-figure to her little sister, Mattie, so when Mattie is found dead, Sadie’s entire world is shook.
Sadie goes on a journey to find Mattie’s killer and put him to rest, but then she goes missing. Radio personality, West McCray, finds himself immersed in Sadie’s story, and uses his podcast to follow Sadie’s story and figure out what happened to her.
My thoughts: Of all the books I’m sharing today, Sadie is the one I would recommend most to listen to audiobook over reading the book. The chapters rotate between Sadie’s journey and West McCray’s podcast – “The Girls” – and listening to the podcast on the audiobook is much more satisfying than reading it. I also read a few reviews that mentioned Sadie’s stutter being written out in the book. In the audiobook, you hear Sadie’s stuttering, but I can imagine that it might get a little annoying to have to read each time.
Sadie is one of the most intriguing mysteries I’ve read in a long time. The fact that each chapter rotated views made me even more eager to keep listening and to find out what happened. There are some dark topics discussed in this book, including rape, pedophilia, drug abuse, sexual abuse, and murder. While those parts are hard to read/listen to, it’s also the fuel that keeps you turning the pages and cheering for both narrators to find their desired conclusions.
The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen
Completed January 20, 2019 | Published January 9, 2018
Synopsis: The Wife Between Us alternates between narratives of two people: a woman named Vanessa who’s divorced her ex-husband, Richard, and working to rebuild her life after some huge lifestyle changes and a woman named, Nelly, Richard’s new and young fiancée. Vanessa is bent on making sure Richard doesn’t marry again, and she’s willing to do whatever it takes to prevent it.
My thoughts: There are so many twists and turns to the story that it’s impossible for me to go into any kind of detail without giving away the surprises that the book’s description promises. While I can’t say that I saw any of the twists coming, I have to admit that they still left me with something to be desired. My assumption for this is that I didn’t find myself truly invested in any of the stories being told.
I enjoyed the first half of the book where the chapters alternated perspectives between Vanessa and Nellie then it got to a point where I thought, “Where is this going?” Then it got to where it was going, and I was hyped up again. After awhile though, my interest in the plot continued to spiral downward, only being temporarily brought back up in random spurts where another twist came around.
While I liked the book just fine, the mystery/thriller aspect of the book didn’t leave me at the edge of my seat in the way that a Gillian Flynn book would.
Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll
Completed January 24, 2019 | Published May 12, 2015
Synopsis: Luckiest Girl Alive follows the story of Ani FaNelli, a woman who seemingly has it all, including a job at a well-known magazine and the perfect, well-connected and equally wealthy fiance. Since graduating from high school at Bradley, Ani’s only goal was to rise to the top and leave all of the public humiliation and dark secrets behind her.
Now Ani has the opportunity to tell her side of the story and maybe even clear her name, but will revisiting her past open up wounds that will shatter the perfect life she’s built for herself?
My thoughts: I’ll start by saying this – there’s no part of me who likes Ani, not as an adult and most certainly not as a teen. From start to finish, listening to her narrative is almost painful because she was such an unlikable character for me. The story itself, however, was interesting enough for me to want to figure out what the heck happened back in her high school days when she was known as Tiffany.
Luckiest Girl Alive touched on subjects like rape, eating disorders, and murder but they were so glazed over and the main character was so unlikable that it was hard to be invested in these parts of the story, let alone any others. Also as an aside, her mother is absolutely awful. I truly hate that the cover the book has a quote that compares it to Gillian Flynn because it’s not even on the cusp of being comparable to any works by that brilliant woman. This was easily the most disappointing read of the month, but I’m glad to have finally checked it off of my TBR list.
Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan
Completed January 30, 2019 | Published June 11, 2013
Synopsis: Crazy Rich Asians tells the story of Rachel Chu who is head over heels for her boyfriend of over a year, Nicholas Young, and is more than excited to spend a summer in Singapore on his arm. What Rachel doesn’t know (and what Nick does an awful job preparing her for) is that Nick’s family is, well, crazy rich. Instead of the low-key family gathering she expects, Rachel is thrust into a world full of old money and old-fashioned expectations, those of which don’t meet the standards of most of Nick’s family members and friends.
My thoughts: I broke my rule of seeing the movie before reading the book, but honestly, I think it made me fall in love with the book even more. I appreciate the changes they made when they adapted the book for the big screen, but I’m so glad I got to learn more about each of the member’s of Nick’s family and also more about Rachel. There’s also lots of other subplots to enjoy that were nearly as intriguing to me as the main story itself, particularly Astrid’s.
I highly recommend both reading the book and watching the movie. I’m already impatient to continue reading the series and getting even more engrossed in the crazy drama.
What books did you read in January?