This post continues digital advanced reading copies from NetGalley and all opinions are my own.
I split the January Reads post into two parts as I had read 16 books. You can find part one here.
January Reads Part 2
Listen, Slowly by Thanhha Lai
Mai is an eleven year old girl, born and raised in California and just looking forward to spending her summer with her friends on the beach. Until her parents tell her she must accompany her grandmother to Vietnam, who’s travelling there to find out what happened to her husband during the Vietnam War. Her parents see this as an exciting oppurtunity for Mai to find out more about her family and heritage but Mai just sees it as a massive pain in the butt. It’s hot, she keeps getting bitten by mosquitos and she can barely understand the language. But slowly Mai grows to enjoy her trip. It was a very sweet book, I loved seeing this different culture and all it’s traditions. This is a great middle grade book that kids will enjoy but I think adults will too.
The Robber Bridesgroom by The Brothers Grimm
I picked this up from the Penguin 80s collection for one of the Read Harder challenges. Most people are familiar with the Brothers Grimm in one form or another, their fairytales are famous. This book has several short stories, the only two that were familiar to me were Snow White and The Musicians of Bremen. The Brothers Grimm did not shy away from the twisted and gory, this has the wicked stepmother in Snow White being made put on iron shoes that were heated and made dance until she died! These Penguin 80s are a great way of trying new authors and genres without paying too much money (80p in UK, about €1.15 here in Ireland).
It’s Not Me It’s You by Mhairi MacFarlane
I read this after seeing Leena Norms mention it in a video. Delia Moss has been with her boyfriend for 10 years and loves their lives together. So much so she decides to propose. After getting a lukewarm reception from her boyfriend, he sends her a text message that was meant for his mistress and Delia is devastated. With her relationship in ruins and her work shit, Delia takes up her friend’s offer of a room in London and moves down there. She takes up a new job with a dodgy boss, is blackmailed by a handsome journalist and reignites her love of drawing comics. Not to mention becoming online friends with the mysterious Peshwari Naan. Delia must also try and sort out her feelings about her ex, about whether to she trusts him and if they should get back together. This was funny in parts and sweet too. I loved Delia’s relationship with her brother and I loved the fact that we saw some of Delia’s comics come to life too. Predictable in parts, yes. Most ‘chick lit’ is to some degree but this doesn’t change the fact I enjoyed this, it wasn’t cliched and Mhairi’s writing is witty. If you enjoyed Lindsey Kelk’s I Heart New York then you’ll probably enjoy this too.
I Call Myself a Feminist: The View From Twenty-Five Women Under Thirty edited by Victoria Pepe
This book has short essays from different people under the age of 30 about feminism. What I liked most about this book is that there's so many different views on feminism and that feminism isn't just something you can look at on it's own. That there's other cross sections like when feminism crosses with sexism, or racism or when you don't identify as hetreosexual. Or even a combination of these issues. As a straight white cis-woman my experiences with feminism are different to a woman of colour, a trans woman or a lesbian woman. I think it's important to educate myself with these other views. But also to try and not judge woman in general, that we're all in this together and if I don't agree with someone else's choice, just remember these words from Amy Poehler 'Good for her. Not for me'. Speaking of Poehler, in between each essay are little quotes and snippets from other people which help break up the essays and add some extra food for thought. Worth a read (NetGalley Sample)
A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab
This book cropped up a lot on my radar last year and I bought it on Kindle at a cheap price. And it sat there waiting for me to read it, as do so many of my Kindle books! I finally got around to it though and I’m so glad I did (especially with book two coming out later this month!). In this book there are 4 different Londons. Grey London is the ‘normal’ London, set during the time of mad King George’s reign and lacking magic. Red London is where life and magic flourishes, White London is a ruthless London, where people fight and murder there way to the throne. And Black London no longer exists, having been too greedy when it comes to magic. Kell is one of two people who can travel throughout these worlds, living and working for the palace in Red London as an adopted Prince. His job is the travel between these Londons, giving and receiving correspondence between royalty in these worlds. Kell also smuggles things from one world into another, something that is strictly forbidden. When his reputation gets him in big trouble by smuggling an extremely dangerous artefact, he finds his life collide with Delilah, a talented Grey London thief who dreams of being a pirate. They must work together to get rid of this dangerous artefact. I loved the worlds this is set in (Schwab does a good job of describing the atmosphere in each London), it’s such an interesting idea. Lila is such a great character and I found myself rooting for her. I liked how the magic worked in this world and I can’t wait to read this next book! I’ve already read a preview of it on NetGalley and it looks like it’ll be a great follow up.
The Men Who Stare at Goats by Jon Ronson
This is probably Ronson’s most famous book and yet it’s taken me almost 3 years to read it. The Men Who Stare At Goats has Ronson look into the secret psychic unit in the US Army that was set up in the 1970s and what influences it’s had on the modern US Army. He speaks with people who were key players in these departments and the experiments these performed, such as being invisible and being able to kill a goat with just a stare. This was interesting (some of these men seem interesting and how their beliefs have trickled down to modern warfare techniques, like the mental effects of playing certain music on prisoners) and as with any of Ronson’s books with a conspiracy element to them, there are some strange goings on too which add to the intrigue. While I did enjoy the book, I didn’t enjoy it as much as Ronson’s other writing. It’s possible this is because the book is over ten years old and while it’s not out of date, it might have had a greater impact on me if it were up to date with information.
The Mystery of the Jewelled Moth by Katherine Woodfine
I loved The Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow when I read it last year, it was such a fun, a mix between Enid Blyton, Mr Selfridges and Philip Pullman's Sally Lockhart series. The Mystery of the Jewelled Moth sees the return of Sophie, Lil, Billy and Joe when they are asked by débutante Veronica to help find the jewelled moth that was gifted to her by Lord Beaucastle. Of course, it doesn't take long before the infamous Baron crops up in the story, all while the gang enjoy teas, iced buns and codes to crack. It's fantastic that the books has strong female leads, this book can easily be enjoyed by girls and boys. I liked seeing a bit more of London besides the glitz when we see Chinatown in Limehouse. Super fun reads for target audiences (10-14 year olds) but can equally enjoyed by older audiences who want to feel nostalgic for Enid Blyton and Nancy Drew. (NetGalley Sample)
The Little Shop of Happy-Ever-After by Jenny Colgan
Jenny Colgan is the queen of cute and quirky romances. Every year I enjoy reading one of her new books, whether it's returning to old favourites or meeting new character. In The Little Shop of Happy-Ever-After, we meet Nina, a librarian in Birmingham who has just lost her job due to downsizing. On a whim, she decides to go to Scotland and open a book bus. Colgan has a way of writing small, close communities where the heroine starts up cute fun business. Previously I've wanted a cupcake cafe, a sweetshop, a bakery and now I want to run a book bus! The book was a bit predictable in places, especially cos I'm familiar with Colgan's previous works, I could see influences from her other books in this one but it didn't stop me from enjoying the book. If you've enjoyed other Colgan books, then you'll enjoy this jaunt into the Scottish Highlands! (NetGalley Sample)
Number of books read- 16
Ratio fiction to non-fiction- 12:4
Female to male authors- 13:3
Number of eBooks- 11 (Lumberjanes, Forensics, Red Queen, Rebel of the Sands, A Fever of the Blood, Glass Sword, Assassination Vacation, I Call Myself a Feminist, A Darker Shade of Magic, The Mystery of the Jewelled Moth and The Little Shop of Happy Ever After)
Number of books borrowed from library- 2 (The Body at the Tower and Listen, Slowly)
Book Riot Reading Challenge Completed
Read a non superhero comic that debuted in the past 3 years- Lumberjanes
Read a book of historical fiction set before 1900- The Body at the Tower
Read a non-fiction book about science- Forensics
Read a book about politics, in your country or another (fiction or nonfiction)- Assassination Vacation
Read a book that is by an author from South East Asia- Listen, Slowly
Read a book under 100 pages- The Robber Bridegroom
Read a book over 500 pages- It’s Not Me It’s You
Read a non-fiction book about feminism or deals with feminist issues- I Call Myself a Feminist
Read a middle grade novel- The Mystery of the Jewelled Moth
I’m really pleased that I managed to get through quite a few of my NetGalley books, I have a habit of building up books to read. Physical books and ebooks that I buy but now also NetGalley requests! I’m also pleased with my start to the Read Harder challenge, I’m over a third of the way through.
Don’t forget, you can read part one here to see some of the other books I’ve mentioned above. If you’ve read any of the books, I’d love to hear your opinions down below.