Rolling straight out from the Holiday spirits of December, January is always a great opportunity to start the year out on a high note. In spite of a few disappointments, January 2019 did just that for me. I’ve had quite the eventful month on a personal- and work-base, yet still somehow managed to read a total of 9 books, including 4 that were over 500 pages as per my goal to prioritize “big books” this year.
As many of you know, I'm quite sparing when it comes to giving out 5-star ratings, yet January 2019 managed to pry 3 (possibly 4!) out of me, all of which I felt were justified! If this is an indication of the year to come, I can't wait to see what 2019 brings me next!
La Belle Sauvage (The Book of Dust #1) - Philip Pullman As the sequel/prequel to one of my all-time favorite series His Dark Materials, my hope were high for this one. Unfortunately I was quite let down by what I got. La Belle Sauvage was quite an enjoyable "adventure-read" and by no means a bad book, yet it pales in comparison to the depth and beauty that His Dark Materials brought. Full Review can be found here
Rating: 2.5/5 stars
The Thing about Jellyfish - Ali Benjamin For some reason that I can't quite explain, there is a special part in my heart resereved for beautiful, well written middle-grade novels, that can transcend their age demographic and bring something for both children, as well as adults. This is exactly the type of book that The Thing About Jellyfish is. A deeply heartwarming, yet heartbreaking story of a girl trying to figure out her place in the world, whilst dealing with the recent death of her best friend. Full review to come.
Rating: 5/5 stars
Elevation - Stephen King Elevation came to my radar when it was elected "best horror of 2018" in the Goodreads Choice Awards. Unfortunately, I can't say I agree with this pick... Not only is this novella only placed in the horror-genre because of its authors reputation as such, it was far from one of Kings better books, in my opinion. It managed to keep my engaged in its "mystery" for its short length, but was otherwise quite a disappointment. Full review can be found here
Rating: 2/5 stars
Vele Hemels Boven de Zevende - Griet op de Beeck The first Dutch book I read in 2019 was one by an author of whom I have now read all but one of their books. Her work is very hit-or-miss for me: I loved "Het Beste Wat We Hebben" but wasn't a fan of "Kom hier opdat ik u kus" and "Gezien de Feiten". Vele Hemels Boven de Zevende was one of my favorites by her, which is especially impressive considering it's her debut novel. She is a Belgian author so unfortunately, her books are only available in Dutch, so I understand that not everybody will be able to pick them up. If you do speak Dutch and have the opportunity to, this is one I do recommend.
Rating: 4/5 stars
Tales from the Inner City - Shaun Tan I picked the Dutch Translation of Tales from the Inner City ("Verhalen uit de Binnenstad") up from my library in December, purely based on the cover and was blown away by the beauty (in every sense of the word) it kept inside. Being a lover of the English language, I knew I wanted to read the original version as well. As expected: I loved it even more than the translation. This collection of short storied, combined with stunning illustrations, all centered around a different animal is more on the experimental side and won't appeal to everybody. It sure did to me though! I loved the content, and especially loved the style and format. Full review to come.
Rating: 5/5 stars
The Book of Strange New Things - Michel Faber My feelings before starting The Book of Strange New Things were equel parts anticipation and dread. On the one hand, it's (one of my favorite people in the book-community) Jen Campbell's favorites. On the other hand, it's a novel that seems to focus on religion, which can be quite the controversial topic, and I was very nervous it might rub me the complete wrong way. Having read it, I can say my fears were completely unnescessary: this was an instant favorite. Full review can be found here A link to Jen Campbells channel can be found here
Rating: 5/5 stars
The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon I finally decided to crawl out from under my rock of isolation and pick up one of the most hyped and most popular books out there. Now I can finally join in with the conversation, be it with a slightly unpopular opinion. Although I understand why so many people love it, it's not a new favorite for me. I loved the atmosphere, the premise and the descriptions of beautiful of Barcelona, but was quite let down by the ending and lack of characterdepth. I had a lot of mixed thoughts about this after finishing it, which can be found in my post here.
Rating: 3/5 stars
All The Birds, Singing - Evie Wyld All The Birds, Singing, despite its bright and spring-inspired title and cover, is for sure the darkest books so far for 2019. Similar in tone and execution to works of David Vann, this is a hard-hitting novel that doesn't hold back on any of the ugly realities of the scenario's it describes. Although I did really feel it was wonderfully written and well structured, I couldn't help but feel overwhelmed at times, leading to me distancing myself from the story. My full review can be found here
Rating: 3.5/5 stars
The Diviners - Libba Bray I technically haven't finished this one at the time of writing this post (I'm about 90% through the audiobook), yet I still wanted to include it in my wrap up for January. The Diviners was one of the longest standing TBR-books, and I honestly can't tell you what kept me from picking it up for such a long time. This month I finally took the plunge with the audiobook and absolutely adored it! Although I still have about 90 minutes to go, I can already tell this is probably going to be another 5-star read for me. I highly highly recommend the audiobook read by January LaVoy (I got mine through Audible). The narration is incredible and truly adds to the atmosphere and feel of the novel. I can't wait to see how it ends.
Predicted Rating: 5/5 stars
As most of you know, I don't like setting strict monthly TBR-lists for myself. Occasionally I do have some books I want to read within a certain timewindow, usually due to library return-dates or just because I'm extremely excited for them. This month I have 3 of these on my short-term-TBR, that I hope to get to in February.
1. The Unseen World - Liz Moore
2. Strange the Dreamer - Laini Taylor (reread in preperation for reading The Muse of Nightmares)
3. Caribou Island - David Vann
You can of course follow my progress during the month on my Goodreads, or await next month wrap up. I hope your January was as good a reading-month as mine, and of course hope that the rest of the year will continue in that line for all of us!