The Fiction Fox
Despite having a busy month, I was on an absolute roll reading-wise. Thanks to a few audiobooks, I mentioned to somehow finish 10 books this month, which is honestly kind of ridiculous at this point. We have a lot of books to get to, so without further ado: let’s get into the wrap up.
1. The Age of Miracles – Karen Thompson Walker
I was on a “slow-burn-post apocalyptic-kick” (think Station Eleven) when I picked this one up. The world as we know it is changing as result of a natural disaster called the “The Slowing”, in which the rotation of the earth is gradually slowing down. Days and nights grow longer, and as a result nature and life on earth itself seems to slow down with it. As fascinating and unique that concept sounded, so mediocre was the execution to me. The Age of Miracles was an enjoyable read, but didn’t quite stand out to the point where I think I’ll still think of it years down the line. Full review can be found here.
Rating: 2.5/5 stars
2. The Book of M – Peng Shepherd
Another slow-burn-post-apocalyptic-novel, yet this time it had everything I was hoping for. An amazing (and somewhat terrifying) concept and worldbuilding, suspense and an emotional punch that will stay with me for quite some time. My full review can be found here, but suffice to say, this was one of my favorite reads of the year so far. Highly recommend it!
Rating: 5/5 stars
3. Halibut on the Moon – David Vann
Despite having 6 library books that were screaming to be read, I had to drop everything the moment Halibut on the Moon appeared in stores. I have been a big David Vann fan since I read 4 of his previous books over the last 1.5 years and had been highly anticipating his newest release for quite a while. David Vann writes harrowing, darkly melancholic and raw novels that often involve dark topics like mental illness, abuse and suicide. Halibut on the Moon is no different, telling the story of man suffering from severe manic depression on a spiral that seems destined for self-destruction. I have to be honest and say that I struggled at times reading this. Having suffered a form of depression myself (non-manic), it hit close to home at times, to the point where I wanted to put it down and run from it in disgust at times. However, this is only a testament to how amazingly well written this novel is and I can’t give it anything other than five stars. I have a lot to say about it, and my full review can be found here.
Note: it’s a novel where the state of mind of the reader is very important: if you are suffering from depression at the moment, I don’t recommend it just yet, as it’s very very bleak. Wait for a time when you feel better and are ready to face the dark place you were in. Trust me: that time will come! Hang in there.
Rating: 5/5 stars
4. An Unkindness of Magicians – Kat Howard I described An Unkindness of Magicians in my review as “urban fantasy giving me vibes of the Tri-wizard tournament from Harry Potter on steroid” and I still stand by that description. Although it didn’t quite meet the high expectations I had of it, I still very much enjoyed this action-packed, albeit fairly middle-of-the-road YA-fantasy. My full review can be found here.
Rating: 3/5 stars
5. Land Mammals and Sea Creatures – Jen Neale
This is where my month got a little disappointing… When I first came across Land Mammals and Sea Creatures, I was pretty sure I was going to love it. Magical realism with a seaside setting focused on a father and daughter dealing with issues of grief, PTSD and finding back their joy in life. The premise sounded right up my alley and despite the lukewarm reviews it got, I really hoped I would be the outlier who would absolutely love it. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the case. There were some individual scenes that might have been 5-stars on their own, but they were to fragmented throughout the novel to make a coherent whole. That, combined with some other issues I had with the story made for one of my biggest disappointments of the year so far. My full review can be found here.
Rating: 2/5 stars
6. Every Heart a Doorway – Seanan McGuire Disappointment continued with another 5-star prediction that didn’t turn out as well as I hoped. I don’t think Every Heart a Doorway needs much introduction as it’s one of the most read and well-loved books online. Despite clearly good intentions and a core that could have made for something I would have loved, I just had too many issues with this novella. My full review can be found here.
Rating: 2/5 stars
7. Down among the Sticks and Bones – Seanan McGuire Despite not really loving Every Heart a Doorway, I had already picked the sequal/prequel Down Among the Sticks and Bones up from the library, so I figured I might as well read them both back to back. Down Among the Sticks and Bones was in every way a more temperate experience for me: there was less that I explicitly loved, but there were also significantly less problems with it. After having read both, I have decided however, that I have no interest in continuing this series. Full review can be found here
Rating: 2.5/5 stars
8. Everything Happens for a Reason and Other lies I’ve loved – Kate Bowler
Everything Happens for a Reason and Other lies I’ve loved was on my December TBR as one of my “annual cancer-memoirs”, written by a divinity professor whom beliefs in a benevolent God are challenged as she herself is diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer. She describes her experiences and internal struggle with great detail and honesty, in this openhearted memoir. As is often the case, I find it easier to review highly personal works such as memoirs and poetry in words, than I do in a quantitate star rating. I realize this is a very niche topic, but if you are interested in it, I’d rather you read my thoughts in my review, than judge it on a number alone. Rating: no star rating
9. The Anomaly – Michael Rutger
The Anomaly is a horror/thriller/adventure and as such, quite far out of my usual comfort zone as far as genres go. Regardless: this was a very pleasant surprise. Picture Indiana Jones meets Buzzfeed Unsolved (two of my personal guilty pleasures), and sprinkle in a dash of X-files and the result would be close to The Anomaly. It’s suspenseful and as soon as the action kicks off, it was very hard to put down. If that description sounds good to you, The Anomaly might be just was the doctor ordered. Full review to come.
Rating: 4/5 stars
10. Sadie – Courtney Summers
Sadie was one of the most hyped books of the second half of 2018, and to its credit, still managed to surprise me. A very “mature”(for lack of a better word) and tragic YA novel, that doesn’t underestimate its young readers’ ability to understand and relate to very hard topics. Due to its unique format, being partially told in the form of a podcast, it’s almost made to be listened to on audiobook, which I highly recommend. Sadie isn’t your typical innocent and light YA, but for sure on of the more interesting ones I’ve read recently. Full review linked here
Rating: 4/5 stars
In April I will again be in residency (Internal medicine), and therefore have less free time on my hands. For this reason, I’m keeping my TBR short this month, and limiting it to the library books I currently have at home.
- The Gilded Wolves – Roshani Chokshi One of my most anticipated books of 2019 has finally arrived at my library and I can’t wait to dig in. Fantasy in a nineteenth century setting, secret societies, a hidden artifact, a rag-tag crew to hunt it down and some major Six of Crows vibes. Sign me up please!
- Arcadia – Iain Pears Ever since I first heard about Arcadia on Jen Campbells channel, I’ve been wanting to pick this up, and I hope that April is finally the time for that. I don’t know too much, apart from this being a kind of philosophical portal fantasy novel, but I honestly don’t need to know much more at this point. If Jen compares something to her love for His Dark Materials, you can bet I want to see what’s up here.
- The Fifth Season – N.K. Jemisin I’ve already read The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin once last year, and didn’t quite enjoy my time with it. Ever since however, I’ve felt like I didn’t quite do it justice with my first attempt (distracted due to personal reasons, and rushing to finish it), and I’ve been wanting to give it a second try. As I struggled to keep up with the plot and different POV’s last time, I’ve decided to read it in Dutch (my native language) this time, in order to potentially make it easier for me to enjoy the story, and not having to put extra energy into reading in a foreign language. I have no idea if this’ll work, but I plan on giving it a try anyway.
You can of course follow my progress during the month on my Goodreads, or await next month wrap up. I wish you all a happy reading month, and hope to see you back soon!