The first month of 2019 has come and gone, which means I’m ready to talk to you all about the books I managed to finish. I had such a good reading month! I honestly can’t remember the last time I read this much and ended up loving what I read as well. So let’s get into it!
Attack on Titan Volume 1 by Hajime Isayama – ★★★★
My first read of the year was manga, which I’m really happy about. I’ve been meaning to read more manga and watch more anime so this was certainly a step in the right direction. I ended up really enjoying this first volume! It didn’t take me long to get into the story at all, and I felt immediately at home in the world. This is definitely a series I want to continue. Should I wait and buy the next volumes first before watching the anime? I don’t know…
Naoko by Keigo Higashino – ★★★★
My second read of the year was also written by a Japanese author! I had never heard of this book before but spotted it in my local library during a recent visit. On the cover, it mentioned that this book (and author) won the Japanese Mystery Writers Award, which I figured was a good start. I ended up really enjoying the book, but am wholly confused as to why this is categorized as a mystery novel. It really isn’t! I would personally put it under general fiction. It made me question what I would do if I were in the characters’ place, and made me feel so sorry for them.
Naoko follows Heisuke, who learns that his wife and 11-year-old daughter have been in a car accident when he comes home from work one day. Their bus drove off a cliff, and both have been transferred to the hospital. His wife passes away, but his daughter opens her eyes soon after arriving. Only she claims to be Naoko, his wife, instead and knows certain details about their life together she shouldn’t know.
Binti (Binti #1) by Nnedi Okorafor – ★★★★★
I listened to Binti while cleaning, and I absolutely loved the experience. I’d highly recommend the audiobook of this science fiction novella because Robin Miles is a fantastic narrator who really adds to the story. At first, I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to get into the story because it’s so short. Short science fiction (or fantasy) stories make me hesitate to pick them up, because there’s only so much world-building that can be done. However, Nnedi Okorafor created a world that’s easy to grasp and fall into in only 100 pages. I absolutely loved this, and will definitely continue the trilogy.
Binti is the first of the Himba people ever to be offered a place in Oomza University. However, her people don’t look to kindly on those who decide to leave Earth and travel through space. If she wants a spot in the most prestigious university in the galaxy, she’ll have to leave her family behind.
Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah – ★★★★★
I’ve had this Kristin Hannah novel on my Kindle for ages, but have been too afraid to start reading it. Why, you ask? Well, the last Kristin Hannah book I read reduced me to tears. While Winter Garden didn’t have the same emotional impact as The Nightingale did, I thought it was an incredibly moving story. I’ll definitely read more books by this author, because I’ve rated both books I’ve read of her 5 stars.
Winter Garden is the story of two sisters (and their mother) who come together to tell the fairy tale from their childhood one more time, after their father passes away.
Solve for i by A.E. Dooland – ★★★★
When I first started reading Solve for i I thought it would end up as a 3-star read for me. We follow Gemma and her best friend, Sarah, as Gemma struggles with her sexuality and how she feels about Sarah. During the first half of the book, I thought these two were way too dependent on one another – especially since they’re both 29. I had some minor issues with the book at first. However, during the second half of the book the author cleared up a lot of those issues, and you can witness Gemma’s character growth easily. I flew through the second half, and will definitely read more of the author’s works. I loved Min in this book, so seeing there’s a book focused on her is really exciting.
Solve for i follows 29-year-old Gemma, who is realizing her feelings for her best friend aren’t just a ‘girl crush’. In fact, she’s in love with her. The only problem? Sarah is straight, in a happy relationship, and pregnant.
A Shiver of Snow and Sky by Lisa Lueddecke – ★★★★.₅
I picked up A Shiver of Snow and Sky from a secondhand bookstore last year, and put it on my ‘winter 2018-2019 to-read list‘. It’s a polar fantasy novel, perfect for this time of year (in Belgium). I loved this. The only reason this doesn’t get 5 stars from me is because I wanted more time with the characters before the big event at the start of the novel. On this island, Skane, the Goddess communicates through lights that appear in the sky during clear nights. Green means that everything is okay, while blue is a warning for an approaching snow storm. When the lights turn red, it’s time to panic.
A Shiver of Snow and Sky follows Ósa and Ivar, who witness the sky turn red for the first time in 17 years. The last time that happened, a plague was unleashed that claimed the lives of hundreds of villagers, including that of Ósa’s mother. What will happen this time?
The City of Brass (Daevabad #1) by S.A. Chakraborty – ★★★★★
I finally read The City of Brass, and am kicking myself for not doing so earlier. I could have fallen in love with this book months ago! I could’ve been raving about it for ages! I’ll make up for lost time in the months to come. The City of Brass is a fantasy novel set in 18th century Cairo. It’s atmospheric, full of magic, sarcasm and intriguing characters. I flew through this book because I just didn’t want to put it down. I can’t wait to read the sequel.
Nahri has never believed in magic. Certainly, she has power; on the streets of 18th century Cairo, she’s a con woman of unsurpassed talent. But she knows better than anyone that the trade she uses to get by—palm readings, zars, healings—are all tricks, sleights of hand, learned skills; a means to the delightful end of swindling Ottoman nobles. But when Nahri accidentally summons an equally sly, darkly mysterious djinn warrior to her side during one of her cons, she’s forced to accept that the magical world she thought only existed in childhood stories is real.
A Girl Like Her (Ravenswood #1) by Talia Hibbert – ★★★★★
I bought A Girl Like Her because Destiny @ Howling Libraries recommended it, and I trust her opinion. I hadn’t been excited to read a romance novel in ages, because they often have problematic aspects I just don’t want to deal with. A Girl Like Her is one of the best romance books I have read in a long time, maybe ever. It follows a black, autistic woman and a metalsmith who recently moved to her small town. It’s an #ownvoices novel AND IT IS SO FANTASTIC! If you only pick up 1 romance book this year, please go for this one. There’s also a trigger warning included in the Goodreads description, if you need that!
After years of military service, Evan Miller wants a quiet life. The small town of Ravenswood seems perfect—until he stumbles upon a vicious web of lies with his new neighbour at its centre. Ruth Kabbah is rude, awkward, and, according to everyone in town, bad news. Thing is, no-one will tell Evan why. Does she perform ritual sacrifices? Howl at the moon? Pour the milk before the tea? He has no clue. But he desperately wants to find out. Because Ruth doesn’t seem evil to him; she seems lonely. And funny, and clumsy, and secretly quite sweet, and really f*%king beautiful…
American Street by Ibi Zoboi – ★★★★.₅
I saw this book at the library, and knew I had to borrow it. This is a YA contemporary novel that follows Fabiola, a girl from Haiti who immigrates to Detroit. It’s an #ownvoices story, and I can’t recommend it enough. Honestly, I’m sad I haven’t seen that many people talk about it. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve seen it on some of my favorite blogs and YouTube channels! I’d like for it to get even more attention though.
On the corner of American Street and Joy Road, Fabiola Toussaint thought she would finally find une belle vie—a good life. But after they leave Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Fabiola’s mother is detained by U.S. immigration, leaving Fabiola to navigate her loud American cousins, Chantal, Donna, and Princess; the grittiness of Detroit’s west side; a new school; and a surprising romance, all on her own.
The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris – ★★★★
The Tattooist of Auschwitz was such an interesting read. At first, I wasn’t sure whether it was categorized as historical fiction or as non-fiction. I quickly learned that it is seen as historical fiction. While the author spent so much time with Mr. Sokolov (Lale) to record his story, she did adapt small parts – like putting Lale and his girlfriend together in the camp at a time when they were apart in reality. I would highly recommend this novel. It follows Lale, who became the tattooist of Auschwitz and Birkenau – and thus tattooed the numbers on the prisoners in the camp. I gave it 4 stars because it reads more like a biography or screenplay at times than a novel. That would be fine if it were categorized as such, but it isn’t.
Based on interviews that were conducted with Holocaust survivor and Auschwitz-Birkenau tattooist Ludwig (Lale) Sokolov—a love story in the midst of atrocity. In April 1942, Lale Sokolov, a Slovakian Jew, is forcibly transported to the concentration camps at Auschwitz-Birkenau. When his captors discover that he speaks several languages, he is put to work as a Tätowierer (the German word for tattooist), tasked with permanently marking his fellow prisoners. Imprisoned for over two and a half years, Lale witnesses horrific atrocities and barbarism—but also incredible acts of bravery and compassion. Risking his own life, he uses his privileged position to exchange jewels and money from murdered Jews for food to keep his fellow prisoners alive.
That’s everything I read in January! Like I said, I’m really happy with my reading month. I managed to read a lot, and ended up loving so many of the books as well. I hope that trend continues throughout the rest of the year. I found that the monthly prompts I started doing really pushed me to read more, and allowed me to focus on books I might have pushed back otherwise. Have you read any of these books? What did you read in January?