Tuesday, February 01, 2022

2022 : Books I Read in January

I really like talking about books! Like a lot. There is something so wonderfully satisfying at trying to explain the feelings they evoke as I read them. I love nothing more than needing to put down a book, for just a second, and pace around the kitchen island, because I am just way too excited to continue. Or worried. You know, that moment when something is about to change and the characters figure out exactly what sacrifices are being asked of them. I just can't bear that moment, so I put the book down and pace. But just as quick I'll pick it back up and dive back in to read, to experience it all with them. 

Another joy that I have are with the two little bookclubs that I am a part of. The one I have with friends is amazing because it allows me to read books that I wouldn't necessary pick up (at all or right away) and I love the discussions that come from it all. One person can absolutely love the book, while the other could hate it, and each opinion is so interesting. I am also reading a series with my husband and it's fun because, usually, its him waiting for me to reach a certain scene (he reads faster than I do) and then we discuss it like crazy. I have deemed it a bookclub even though I am not entirely sure it will continue on after we've finished reading the 'A Dream of Eagle' series, but I'm hopeful. 

With these reasons, and I'm sure there are more, I thought it would be amazing to bring back a little series that I played around with in 2020. That year I posted all of the books that I read during a specific reading month and wrote a little blurb about each one, explaining what I liked and what I didn't, with maybe a spoiler or two thrown in. I love discussing books and wanted to take this opportunity to speak about the ones I have read this January. None of them are listed in any particular order here. 
1. 'The Historian' by Elizabeth Kostova ✩.5 - This was an incredible historical novel about a girl and her father, and their academic search for the historical truth behind a mysterious book with a dragon on its cover. From two character's perspectives, and past and present timelines, their hunt traces back through-out time as they put together the missing pieces that continually link back to Dracula. Yes, this is a vampire story. And it's filled with rich imagery, cosy library searches, traveling on trains, and following clues from city to city, country to country. This is a slower read, one that is full of information and setting, and I highly recommend it. Settle in and enjoy it for a few weeks. I loved it and the only reason I didn't give it a full five stars was because I personally found that the ending wrapped up too quickly for me. I simply wanted more. 

2. 'The Hobbit' by J. R. R. Tolkien ✩ - My husband read this out loud to us before the girls went to bed each night, and it was such a wonderful time. We looked forward to it every evening, winding down with Bilbo and the funny things he said. It was such a treat to see the wide, eager eyes of my daughters as they experienced the giant spiders, Gollum, and the trolls for the first time. Such a lovely adventure and I am so happy that it has made its way to the hearts of my own children, and hopefully, not for the first time. My own childhood memories of this story seem to be from the animated movie rather than the book itself. I was enthralled with the humour of the trolls, dazzled by the awesomeness of Beorn, and bewildered by the greediness of the dwarves at the end - although, I should have seen that coming. They are dwarves after all! This book is a classic for a reason. 

3. 'Every Heart A Doorway' by Seanan McGuire ✩.5 - This is the first book in the Wayward Children series and it shocked me a little bit, not going to lie. I was expecting it to be super fantastical, and the little bit of gore surprised me. The premises is so intriguing and I really enjoyed learning about each of the characters, figuring out each personality and the doors they traveled to (logic vs nonsense). It took me a bit to appreciate the shortness of this novel, I think I kept wanting more. This was a very fun read. 

4. 'Down in Among the Sticks and Bones' by Seanan McGuire  - This is the second book in the series and I really liked it. Not only did this give me a great backstory on Jack and Jill and the upbringing they had, but it gave me such insight into their personalities; their quirks, their fears, their differences. In book one, we meet Jack and Jill and they are super interesting characters, but with this book, I feel like I have been given the chance to really fall in love with who they are. Also this book is about vampires and mad scientists, so even that is awesome, and I am beginning to sense a theme with the vampires. Loved this one!
5. 'The Snow Child' by Eowyn Ivey ✩.5 - This was the first audiobook that I listened to this year and it was so whimsy and lovely. This is a story about a couple who move to Alaska looking for a fresh start. Through painful circumstances and long, tired years, they've disconnected from each other and this story is all about the painful and hopeful moments that come when they try to find their way back. Magic is in the air after they build a snow girl together and, from then on, the magical realism that fills this book is so beautiful. There were so many moments that I was doubting the magic and trying to figure out exactly what was going on. I recommend reading it when the snow is cold and blowing. 

6. 'American Kingpin' by Nick Bolton ✩ - This was a book club pick and boy, it was an interesting read. Reading like fiction, this non-fiction story was fast paced and originally I rated it five stars. Once I remembered it was non-fiction, I had a little issue with it, but overall enjoyed the experience of reading it. 

7. 'Beneath the Sugar Sky' by Seanan McGuire  - This, sadly, is probably the most disappointing book in the Wayward Children series. I love Sumi (she makes me laugh out loud the most) and was very excited to learn more of her world. However, for some reason, I found this adventure to be on the slow side, and maybe it's only because my hopes had been so high. There were several laugh-out-loud moments and I am really enjoying the variety of character voices, but I kept waiting for something big to happen, and it just fell flat. I did find a quote that I absolutely loved and connected with immensely (minus the candy corn farming bit) : "I'm just a candy corn farmer. My only part in this play was loving your mother and raising you, and I did both of them as well as I could, but that didn't make me worldly, and it didn't make me wise. It made me a man with a hero for a wife and a daughter who was going to do something great someday, and that was all I wanted to be. I never saved the day. I never challenged the gods. I was the person you could come home to when the quest was over, and I'd greet you with a warm fudge pie and a how was your day, and I'd never feel like I was being left out just because I was forever left behind."

8. 'In an Absent Dream' by Seanan McGuire - Okay, okay, okay! And right after we had the lowest rating of the series, this was my absolute FAVOURITE of them all. Oh my goodness, my heart! This is the fourth book in the Wayward Children series and I know that this will be a story that I continually come back to. This story is about a girl named Lundy, who we briefly meet in book one, and how she first found her magical door. This story is so deeply rooted with choices and riddles, and the ending is heartbreaking. I LOVED this book! 
9. 'Eugene Onegin' by Alexander Pushkin ✩ - This Russian poetry was recommended by CarolynMarieReads and I couldn't help but request it from the library once I read her raving review on it. The idea of reading a story in prose intrigued me and after reading this snippet, I was hooked : 
“But even while his eyes were reading,
His thoughts were far away, as old
Desires, dreams, sorrows kept invading
And crowding deep inside his soul.
Between the lines before him, printed
His inward eye saw others hinted.
On these he concentrated most,
In their decipherment engrossed.
These were the secret legends, fictions
The heart’s dark story had collected,
The dreams with all else unconnected,
The threats, the rumours, the predictions,
Or else some lengthy, crazy tale
Or letters from a fledgling girl.”
I feel like this will be a piece that after rereading it several more times, I will fall deeper into it and more in love. 

10. 'The Singing Sword' by Jack Whyte  - This is the second in the 'A Dream of Eagles' series (also known as the Camulod Chronicles) and is the last told from the perspective of Publius Varrus, a character whom I love. This story was wonderful and continued on from book one, building up suspense and leading us all the way to the making of Excalibur. GASP! While writing this, I'm already a third of the way through 'The Eagles Brood' (the third book) and so much is happening, I won't say anything else. Highly recommend. This series is very graphic with both the violent and 'love' scenes so be aware - I am very thankful that I am physically reading these and can skim certain scenes to pass through mentally unscathed. 

11. 'Come Tumbling Down' by Seanan McGuire  - This was another fun read as we journeyed onwards with Jack and Jill's story, continuing near where we left off in book one, as they come back to the school in search of help. Joined by the characters we have come to know and love, it was fun to spend more time in Jack and Jill's intense world. (although I would never want to actually go there personally!) I really enjoyed being able to see more of the monsters who dwell near the sea (and why they make chocolate biscuits), but after 'In an Absent Dream,' I am left wishing I had more world to sink my teeth into. 

~~~

Wrap Up 
My favourite book of the month : In An Absent Dream by Seanan McGuire. 
Book that surprised me : The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova (I was surprised by how much I ended up loving it) 
Book that I would recommend others read : The Hobbit by J.R.R Tolkien

Feel free to add me as a friend on goodreads. I love adding books and updating my word count. :) Happy reading! 

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