Book Haul: January 2018

This is a bit new for me.

Though I’ve done a couple of reviews here, as well as an entire Year In Books post for 2017, this blog was never really a book blog. I’m going to start changing that, slowly but surely. I want this to be a place I can put anything–poetry, rants, stream of consciousness, and book reviews as well as book hauls.

First, some context.

I graduated college this past May, marking another milestone in my life. It was a wonderful experience going to Belhaven University in Jackson, Mississippi, and I wouldn’t change it or anything that happened–even the bad. All those things shaped me into the person I am today, and I quite like her.

The only bad thing about Belhaven, and college in general, was my lack of reading time. Before I went to college, I read constantly, but things steadily changed once classes started. I almost started to wonder if I just didn’t like reading anymore, because I never wanted to. Any free time I didn’t have to spend on homework, I was with friends, playing video games, or the like. I didn’t even take into consideration that I was burnt out, that there was so much information being stuffed into my brain I just didn’t have any room left for reading for pleasure.

Of course, I hadn’t fallen out of love with reading, not really. I was just stressed and overworked, as all college students are. Once I finished my senior project and had a straight shot to graduation, I found myself reading because I wanted to once again. I got a bunch of books for my twenty-second birthday, and many of my final days on campus were spent reading because of this.

Now, with college behind me and a new year as a graduate ahead, I know that books will once more take precedence. Last year, for Goodreads’ reading challenge, I pledged thirty books and barely crested the challenge at thirty-six. This year my goal is fifty, but I hope to greatly exceed it.

So far, things are looking pretty good on that front.

But let’s get to the actual haul, as well as an outline for what these monthly hauls will look like in the future. Aside from listing the books I’ve bought and read this month, I will also talk about the books I want to read and the genres I want to look for. Also, in an effort to make my Year In Books for 2018 less ridiculous, I will review a couple books here so I can skip over them when December 2018 rolls around.

Let’s get started!

Books Bought, January:

  • Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance by Ruth Emmie Lang
  • Two Girls Down by Louisa Luna
  • The Cruel Prince by Holly Black
  • The Empire’s Ghost by Isabelle Steiger
  • Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
  • The Elite by Kiera Cass
  • Ink and Bone by Lisa Unger
  • The Waking Land by Callie Bates
  • Bird Box by Josh Malerman
  • A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab
  • The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

The list for books read, however, is a bit different–and in order thanks to Goodreads’ handy tracking system (which also says I’m four books ahead of schedule! Woo!). I will also add my reviews and ratings to these.

Books Read, January:

(no bullet points because it would take too long
and I don’t like walls of text.)

Lirael by Garth Nix (5/5) — as the second book in Garth Nix’s Old Kingdom Series, this book follows the events of the first book by twenty years or so, telling the tale of a Daughter of the Clayr named Lirael. I know a lot of people thought this book was boring compared to Sabriel and Abhorsen, but I enjoyed every second of it, from Lirael’s discoveries to her exploration of the Library and her finding the Disreputable Dog. It was so much fun, and once I finished I dove straight into the third book.

Abhorsen by Garth Nix (5/5) — the third, and acting finale, of the Old Kingdom Series, this one ends right where Lirael left off, and I read it in one sitting. I was actually sobbing by the end, to the point that my mom came downstairs and asked if I was okay. (To which I had to explain I was crying over a book, but in a good way. The ending was just so perfect.) I love this series; it’s one that I can’t wait to show to my future children.

Two Girls Down by Louisa Luna (4/5) — my first mystery of the year! Though the story and mystery were pretty simple, I was there for the characters, not the plot. Alice Vega was everything I ever wanted to be, badass and mysterious, and Max Caplan was the perfect down-to-earth sidekick to follow her along. I almost didn’t care about the mystery in the end, though it was good, because I just loved seeing Cap and Vega interact. Yes.

The Cruel Prince by Holly Black (4/5) — okay, full disclosure, I love Holly Black. Since I first discovered The Spiderwick Chronicles, I have loved her, and I have never been disappointed. This book feels like a story she’s been working towards for a while, especially considering the inclusion of characters from other works of hers (i.e., Roiben and Kaye from Tithe, Severin and Ben from The Darkest Part of the Forest, etc.). It makes me think of F. Scott Fitzgerald and how he eventually wrote The Great Gatsby with multiple characters from other stories, even though the stories are nothing alike, of course. Anyway, I love this book. I can’t wait for the next one!

The Empire’s Ghost by Isabelle Steiger (5/5) — hoo boy, here we go. Get ready for a long one, because to say this book was good would be doing it a disservice. This book reminded me of David Eddings’ The Belgariad in all the best ways. At first glance, it seems like your run-of-the-mill fantasy series, complete with rulers and kingdoms and ancient whispers of magic. The summary leaves a lot to be desired, and really, when you get into it, the plot seems kind of simple. But that’s the point, because the plot isn’t what’s important, it’s the characters.
I love, relate to, and/or believe every single character in this friggin’ masterpiece. And yes, this book does take a bit of time to get started, but I guess I’m used to that after spending so much of my life reading high fantasy. You have to give them time, let them set-dress and introduce characters. The Empire’s Ghost didn’t really start the party until it was absolutely sure it had me in its grasp, until it knew without a shadow of a doubt that I loved and would DIE FOR these characters, and really, I don’t know how I’m supposed to continue on when the next book doesn’t come out for another year at least. Help.

The Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard (4.5/5) — This book was originally going to be 3.5 stars. but then THAT ENDING CAME ALONG and long story short my heart hurts and I love this book. I was expecting another teen YA Fantasy with love triangles and maybe a bit too much drama, but then Victoria Aveyard went and destroyed everything I thought I understood. I can’t wait to get the next one.

The Elite by Kiera Cass (4/5) — I feel the same way about this book as I did about its predecessor, that sometimes you need something kind of silly and flighty and with a good old-fashioned love triangle, though there is actually a good amount of tension in this one, and I sped through the last two-thirds of it in one sitting (admittedly, for the first half of the 24in48 readathon, but still.)

Everless by Sara Holland (3.5/5) — aw, man, my first lower rating of the year. There’s a good reason for this, but I’m sad because I had a lot of hopes for this book. I do like the way it challenged a lot of YA Fantasy norms, but it took a damn long time to get started. Seriously. I didn’t really care about the characters or (lack of) plot until page 250, which is about 100 pages from the end. I understand setting up characters and whatnot, but I just felt like nothing was happening for the first 200 pages. It was a struggle to get there, but the ending did bump it up from a 3 to a 3.5
I’ll read the sequel, because stuff finally happened in the end and it was really good and got me interested, I just wish the book had started out stronger.

And that’s all for now. Phew. I’m currently reading The Bear and the Nightingale, and I’m enjoying it so much. It’s beautiful with just enough fairy-tale to be good, but enough darkness and gorgeous writing to not be contrived. Also, I love the Russian aspect of it; I’ve never read any Russian fairy tales myself, but this book seems like a culmination of them with the different wood and river and house spirits, ancient magic, and dark evils lurking in the woods, as well as real and present human evils. So good.

See you in February!

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