Reading Wrap-Up | January 2015

By | 4:09 PM 2 comments

Fantasy and nonfiction abound! Let's get into the fourteen books and novellas that I read in the month of January.

Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes
Book One of the Falling Kingdoms Series
2 out of 5 stars.
This was a reread for me, and unfortunately my thoughts after reading this a second time were drastically more negative than my experience with Falling Kingdoms the first time around. The world-building was very poorly done, the characters were impossible to connect with and Rhodes very lazily relies on romantic tension anywhere she sees it is possible to do so... at times making some of her characters act out-of-character to do so. For more of my thoughts, I wrote a review on Goodreads that you can check out if you wish.

A Shadow in Summer by Daniel Abraham
Book One of the Long Price Quartet
3 out of 5 stars.
A Shadow in Summer is an adult fantasy novel with a lot of potential. I enjoyed reading it, though I was a little let down with how Abraham used some of the creative concepts he'd come up with in this series... or, more accurately, how he didn't use them. In this series we have these creatures called the "andat" who are essentially concepts that exist within the world which can be captured by people called "poets" who can then control the andat for their ends, often for the good of a city or country. This wasn't explored as much as I would have liked, but I enjoyed the story nonetheless and did continue on with the series later in the month.

Rebel Spring by Morgan Rhodes
Book Two of the Falling Kingdoms Series
2 out of 5 stars.
The purpose of rereading the first book in this series, Falling Kingdoms, was to refresh my memory so that I could continue onto Rebel Spring since it was very kindly gifted to me last year by a subscriber. Unfortunately I ended up liking this as much as the first book, meaning not very much. The same problems I had with Falling Kingdoms cropped up in Rebel Spring, and as much as I would hope otherwise I don't think this series is going to make any huge improvements. Not sure that I'll be bothering to read any of the later books in the series.

Mitosis by Brandon Sanderson
#1.5 of the Reckoners Trilogy
3 out of 5 stars.
It had been ages since I'd read Steelheart, the first book in this trilogy, and with the impending release of its sequel Firefight, I thought it would be wise to pick up this little short story. It takes place in-between the two novels and, while it isn't necessary to read, was fun and did help me get reacquainted with the characters and the world.

Gender Hurts by Sheila Jeffreys
3 out of 5 stars.
I read a couple of nonfiction books in January, this being the first. Gender Hurts is a radical feminist analysis on transgenderism and its social consequences. It does what it sets out to do, and I did think it was an important contribution to modern day feminism. I did find that Jeffreys was rather insensitive, particularly towards the transgender people she was analyzing, which will likely alienate a lot of readers. Most reviews of this on Goodreads are either 1-star or 5-star, receiving the same treatment as radical feminism overall in present day, which is typically the receiver of much hate - but still staunchly defended by those who agree with its ideals. An enlightening read.

Firefight by Brandon Sanderson
Book Two of the Reckoners Trilogy
3.5 out of 5 stars.
I've been waiting a year to finally get to read this sequel, and it didn't quite live up to what I'd been hoping for. Mostly because at the time I hadn't been getting along with YA books, as evidenced by my feelings towards Falling Kingdoms, but I was hoping Sanderson would be able to pull me out of my YA slump. I still enjoyed this, though I did feel it was a bit predictable and some parts were anticlimactic towards the end. Still a really fun and quick read.
5 out of 5 stars.
More feminist nonfiction! This was my first book by bell hooks, and I have to say it was flawless. I would highly recommend this to anyone interested in feminism or anyone who currently identifies as a feminist but hasn't yet read this. hooks has a very accessible writing style and does an impeccable job of pointing out the flaws in the feminist movement and putting forth ideas of what feminism as a movement should be if it has any hope of success. Lots of genius insight and I know I'll be coming back to this in the future.

The Ice Dragon by George R.R. Martin
3.5 out of 5 stars.
I picked up this little book from the library and read it in one sitting. There's not much to say about this one - it was a really enchanting "children's" story about a girl and her ice dragon that left me wanting more.

Are Prisons Obsolete? by Angela Y. Davis
4 out of 5 stars.
The last nonfiction book of the month was Are Prisons Obsolete? which is essentially Angela Davis' plea for the abolition of the prison system. I found this to be really enlightening in terms of the history of prisons as well as what they've become over the years and the possible horror of what they could become. I thought Davis made a pretty good argument in this book, though I wish it had been a bit longer.

A Betrayal in Winter by Daniel Abraham
Book Two of the Long Price Quartet
3 out of 5 stars.
The sequel to A Shadow in Summer, A Betrayal in Winter was pretty equal in my mind. I still felt like there was a lot of untapped potential, although Abraham's writing did improve in this second book. I own the last two books in this quartet and do plan on reading them, but I'm not feeling like I need to rush to do so. This is an okay fantasy series, I just hope Abraham can offer something new in the last half.
Night of Cake and Puppets by Laini Taylor
#2.5 of the Daughter of Smoke and Bone Trilogy
4.5 out of 5 stars.
I wasn't originally planning on reading this companion novella, but I felt a need to pick it up when I saw my library had it and boy am I glad that I did! This was a really excellent novella - 100% romance oriented - but it followed two side characters from this trilogy that I really liked and this novella made me love them even more. This is essentially the story of Mik and Zuzana's first date, which is quite a tale. This was a joy to read and, as always, Laini Taylor's writing is impeccable. 

Dreams of Gods & Monsters by Laini Taylor
Book Three of the Daughter of Smoke and Bone Trilogy
4 out of 5 stars.
At last, I have finished the Daughter of Smoke and Bone Trilogy! This wasn't my favorite of the trilogy, but it was a decent end to a pretty great series! I think one of the main downfalls of this final book, and the trilogy as a whole, was how much Laini Taylor was trying to do. There was a lot of jumping between POVs that worked well at times and sometimes put too much strain on the story. There were some aspects of the ending where massive things were revealed that had been previously unknown and it seemed more like Taylor was trying to set up a story for another book/series rather than focusing on ending what she already had. This made the ending a bit convoluted, though I can't say it wasn't somewhat satisfying.

Fairest by Marissa Meyer
#.5 of the Lunar Chronicles
1 out of 5 stars.
Add this to the "I hated this book!" list. I don't feel as if this added anything to the series and it wasn't even remotely entertaining to read. I've enjoyed the other books in the series mostly because they're fun, quick reads... but I found Fairest to be a chore to get through. Maybe readers who actually like Levana's character in the series to begin with will like this, but I personally don't see the appeal. Levana's character was awful, and I don't know if this novella was meant to make me feel sympathetic about her... but you can't make me feel sympathy towards an evil, flat character by showing her being bullied by an even flatter character. None of this was realistic and finishing this was a ridiculously difficult feat. At least I got this from the library instead of paying for it.
Elantris by Brandon Sanderson
3 out of 5 stars.
This definitely read like a debut novel from Sanderson. It has all of the elements I've seen in his other books, but they're much less polished than his newer works. I felt the concept of Elantris was interesting but the novel was so drawn out and hesitantly presented that it was hard to keep interested in the plot or the characters. An enjoyable read, but I would say it pales in comparison to his other works and in the vastness of the fantasy genre, this doesn't really stand out.

Overall it was a pretty productive reading month! 
What was your favorite book read in January?

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  1. At the risk of sounding like the universal broken record of "the next book/episode/xyz is better!", Abraham's Long Price quartet's two remaining novels are much superior to the first two. I had much the same reaction as you did to those books (interested, somewhat ambivalent), but Autumn and Spring knocked my socks off enough that I consider the series overall one of the best to come out in recent times.

    1. Ah, I'm so glad to hear that! None of my pals on Goodreads have read them, so I had no idea what to expect.