It’s not often I can say that I had a fantastic reading month but that was certainly the case in January. What a start to my reading year! I loved almost every single book I picked up and that makes me so excited for the rest of the books I have on my Winter TBR.
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A Storm of Swords: Steel and Snow – George R. R. Martin
You might already be aware that I am currently re-reading (for about the eighth time!) the Song of Ice and Fire books. Otherwise, more popularly known as Game of Thrones. This particular book is book three, part one, so it’s difficult to go into too much detail without spoiling some of the major plot points. If you haven’t come across this particular series of books before I’ll quickly summarise for you that they are adult, high fantasy which are both plot and character driven, with A LOT going on. Each book is about 800 pages long and there is politics, magic, dragons, mystery, coming of age and so, so much. These books are a 5 star read for me every day of the week.
The Bear and the Nightingale – Katherine Arden
This is the first book in the Winternight trilogy and is Young Adult historical fantasy fiction. It centres around Russian folklore set during the medieval period. We follow our protagonist Vasya who grows up on a remote farmstead. Vasya can see, and interact with, the Russian spirits who protect the village and the villagers (for the most part!) which is fine, apart from the fact that Vasya’s stepmother is extremely religious. This story is slow-building, atmospheric and I loved the way Katherine Arden described how the villagers were caught between the old (the Russian spirits they left provisions out for) and the new (religion). Her writing with lyrical and the story was beautifully told. There was something about it that just drew me in and made me want to savour every single word. Definitely another 5 star read.
The Good People – Hannah Kent
The Good People has very similar vibes to The Bear and the Nightingale, in that it centres around a community caught between their traditional beliefs and the new. This particular book is historical fiction and is set in Ireland in the 1820s. It was incredibly interesting for me to discover more about Irish folklore; this is the story of Nora, a recently widowed woman who is also the sole caretaker of her grandson, a 4 year old boy who is unable to speak or walk. Nora lives in a remote village where there is still a strong belief in Fae, i.e. fairies, or ‘the good people’. When things start to go wrong in the village, people begin to accuse Nora’s grandson of being a changeling; a person who has been ‘taken over’ by a fairy spirit. Nora, in her immense grief, also begins to believe this as she had, a few years earlier, seen her grandson whole and healthy. She clings to the hope that her grandson could be returned to her, and seeks the help of a local handy-woman, Nance. Together they set off on a journey to rid the boy’s body of this changeling. As I said, this was such an interesting insight into Irish folklore and beliefs and although I felt the book could have been slightly faster in pace, I gave it 4 stars as it was very atmospheric, believable and a fascinating read.
The Immortalists – Chloe Benjamin
This was the Bookish Mamas choice for February and I was really excited to pick it up as I thought the concept sounded absolutely brilliant. We follow the stories of four siblings who visit a psychic in 1969; this psychic tells each of the children, out of the hearing of the others, the precise date of their death. We then follow each sibling’s story individually, which I thought was a good layout as it definitely lent a sense of urgency to the story. The issues I had with the book primarily lie in the fact that I felt the story lacked depth. I didn’t connect really with any of the siblings, and I only found one of the stories of any interest, which was a real shame as I think the idea of how knowing the date of your death could affect the way you live, one which could be really interesting. I also have to point out that Simon’s story, which is the first you read, contained quite graphic sexual content which I found unnecessary and almost made me DNF the book as that type of content just isn’t for me. I rated this 3 stars.
The Raven Boys – Maggie Stiefvater
This is a Young Adult paranormal, romance book and one which I have been meaning to pick up for the longest time. I’m so glad I finally got around to it, as I absolutely loved this book. It’s quite different from something I would normally choose to read but I thought the suspense was done well, and despite being YA the characters weren’t too angsty which is always a win! The basic premise is that we have a young girl called Blue who has been told her whole life that when she kisses her true love, he will die. Blue falls in with a group of boys from the nearby private school and the story sort of unfolds from there…I don’t want to say too much as I think that takes the fun out of reading it. But let’s just say it contains long-sleeping Welsh Kings, magic, ghosts, mystery and slow burning romance. Also, if I was still a teenage girl, my heart would totally be Ronan’s. The End.