Wednesday, 26 February 2014

January 2014: The Highs, Lows and Everything in Between.

I intended to have my January roundup posted a while ago, but unfortunately I was ill for the first couple of weeks of February, and blogging was one of the last things on my mind. But, anyway! Back to the important stuff: Books!

January was a really good month. I read a total of fourteen books: eleven of those I rated 3 stars and above. It’s even better when those books are written by a new-to-you author: that can only mean the possibility of even more books you can love. I really hope this trend continues for the rest of 2014. And yes, I hope I don’t regret those words!

I love when I find a book that ends up surprising me. When you start out reading, you have low expectations, but by its conclusion, you end up completely absorbed and invested in the story and the characters. This didn’t just happen once: it happened four times! Each of these books was written by new-to-me authors, and some are the first books in a series or trilogy. And these little gems are: The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris by Jenny Colgan; Trinity: Military War Dog by Ronie Kendig; Defying the Odds by Kele Moon and The Better to Bite by Cynthia Eden. Each one has memorable and distinctive characters that I love to find in my books, with well-crafted and believable worlds.

The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris by Jenny Colgan Book Cover

My January Book of the Month is: The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris by Jenny Colgan.

This book surprised me on so many levels! I adored the descriptions of Paris and life as a Chocolatier, and I found Anna to be a really likeable narrator. But I will warn you, you might need a couple of tissues handy for what happens in the last chapter. It's a book that will stay with you for a long time. Plus, there are lots of yummy chocolate recipes at the end. I haven't tried any of them yet, but I definitely will at some stage!

Fracture, by C.J. Daugherty is a very close second. In fact, I almost gave it 5 stars rather than 4.5. It is the third book in the Night School series, which is near the top of my all-time favourite series list. This is one of those books where you are kept in the dark, and have no clue what is happening, but you love it anyway. Night School I originally rated 4 stars (on Goodreads), but I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Every time I saw it on my bookshelf, I kept being reminded of different things from the book, and this usually only happens with books I rate 5 stars or higher. If I ever do a re-read, I probably will bump the rating up to match this. I highly recommend it – but, if you are considering starting the series, read the books order… pretty please! I think you will lose so much detail and meaning if it’s read out of sequence. The fourth book, Resistance, is set to be released this summer, and I can't wait to get my paws on it ASAP!

These weren’t the only books that stood out. The Dead of Night by John Marsden; Ink by Amanda Sun; The Bell Between Worlds by Ian Johnstone; Artichoke’s Heart by Suzanne Supplee and Dead Beautiful by Yvonne Woon all have positive merits. The Dead of Night is the second book in the Tomorrow series, and it continues on from Tomorrow, When the War Began. I loved this edition even more than the first. It had a realness that the first one skimmed over. Artichoke’s Heart is another solid read that I enjoyed, but found a couple of little things that ended up irritating me a bit too much to warrant a higher rating than 3.5 roses.

Ink by Amanda Sun is set in Japan, and she describes the country so authentically. You can tell she has first-hand knowledge of the customs and day-to-day life and was able to portray this in her work – definitely the highlight of the book. Now, I’m Irish, and one thing that really bothers me is when non-Irish authors try to set a book set in Ireland, and portray the country incorrectly. I hate, no, scratch that, I will really enjoy popping this bubble, but we don’t live in bogs, huddled up in tiny stone cottages with thatched roofs burning peat in open fires and cycling everywhere to get around. *raises an eyebrow at a certain author that did this* But back to Ink: I liked Tomohiro and Katie, especially their dialogue together. But I’m not as convinced of them as characters when taken separately. I thought Tomo was a little plain, but likeable. Katie is American, and I felt she became overly Japanese way to quickly to be believable. I am curious about the series, so I will continue with the second book when it’s released.

Check out my reviews for The Bell Between Worlds by Ian Johnstone, and Dead Beautiful by Yvonne Woon. Both were solid reads but I had a couple of little issues which I discuss in my reviews.

My disappointments for January were Evermore by Alyson Noel; Miss Match by Nicola Yeager and Gateway to Faerie by M.D. Bowden. Evermore didn’t live up to the hype, and both Miss Match and Gateway to Faerie were all-round annoying. In regards to Miss Match: I love sarcastic humour in a novel, but you have to be very careful it doesn’t come across as pretentious. Unfortunately, I didn’t work for me.

Overall, January 2014 was a great reading month. Now, if the remaining eleven months continue on like this, my favourites’ shelf will get a lot of new additions.

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