HomeMonthly FeaturesWrap-UpsJanuary 2023 Reading Wrap-Up

January 2023 Reading Wrap-Up

For the curious, here is what I read this January with my brief thoughts. While January was a bumpy ride with so many DNF’s (especially audiobooks where I DNF’d 4 in a row!), there were a few stand out reads. Read on for the lowdown … 

Anatomy (4.5)

Written by Dana Schwartz

Published by Wednesday Books

Technically I finished this on the first day of January and counted it as one of my fav YA reads of 2022 … I’ll put it here for honesty’s sake. The love story aspect wasn’t necessarily needed for me, but Hazel was such an interesting character! Her grit and gumption and smarts trying to follow her dream to become a surgeon in early 19th century Scotland made her a main character to root for. All the horror of dead bodies, graveyards, and one incredibly squeamish eyeball scene added to the atmosphere of this unique story.

You can find it here: Bookshop.org

The Whalebone Theatre (2*)

Written by Joanna Quinn

Published by Knopf Publishing Group

I thought I’d be all over this multigenerational historical fiction, but I couldn’t care less. The story drowned in a meandering way under heavy purple prose and very little of anything happening. I struggled through the whole whacky upbringing of these three children forming a theatre out of a dead whale skeleton to get to the “WWII spy” part, but after following one main character for all of Part 1, the novel splits off into multi perspectives and just doesn’t fit. As a major Jenna Reads fan this is an off pick and struck me as odd, she really didn’t ever have much to say about it other than it was the “joint pick nonsense with the Queen consort”. I feel duped.

You can find it here: Bookshop.org

Honor (3*)

Written by Thrity Umragar

Published by Algonquin Books

I was trying to catch up on some past Reese Book Club picks this month and listened to this harrowing story on audiobook. Initially I was really invested, but after I finished and sat on my thoughts a few days I found myself very frustrated. I thought the story languished in disturbing content and I understand that it was necessary to fully express the extent of the horrors of the treatment of women in India, but I felt it crossed the line into gratuitous. Further the late game love story was awkwardly placed within the gut churning climax of violence and rather then telling the story well of these individual women and their individual experiences, the author painted them as poster boards for all Indian women. Side characters could be replaced by lamps.

You can find it here: Bookshop.org

Counterfeit (3*)

Written by Kirsten Chen

Published by William Morrow & Company

It was a fine, fast heist novel. And the right read to break me out of the slump of crap I had been reading. But largely forgettable. I think this would make a great read for the beach or a plane … some place where you’ll be distracted and only half paying attention.

You can find it here: Bookshop.org

Dead Voices (5*)

Written by Katherine Arden

Published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers

I adored this spooky and wintery Middle Grade horror story centred at a snowed-in ski lodge (formerly a boarding school for girls) that is haunted by girls in white nightgowns and evil headmistresses. The second in Arden’s Small Places series, I think it might outshine the first! You have to try this series.

You can find it here: Bookshop.org

Signal Fires (4.25*)

Written by Dani Shapiro

Published by Knopf Publishing Group

This is for all those who love a good family drama spanning multiple decades. A story about the corrosive power of held secrets, the interconnectivity of life and a good mediation of all forms of human condition and relationships. Short, yet powerful.

You can find it here: Bookshop.org

Sam (3.75*)

Written by Allegra Goodman

Published by Dial Press

The January Read With Jenna pick has had some mixed reviews so far, but overall I enjoyed it and do believe it’s a story best read quickly. Luckily, it lends itself well to that and is a fast read. A coming-of-age story about a young girl with a well meaning but distant father (who struggles with addiction) who finds a love for climbing that sees her through (and thrown into) life’s great challenges.

You can find it here: Bookshop.org

Hurricane Girl (4*)

Written by Marcy Dermansky

Published by Knopf Publishing Group

File under the “what the heck did I just read” category, this weird, whacky story is best to go in with no prior knowledge. A little bit fever dream, a little bit horror, a little bit observational fiction, and quite funny … it’s a ride to remember!

You can find it here: Bookshop.org

Chorus (4*)

Written by Rebecca Kauffman

Published by Counterpoint LLC

Much like Signal Fires, this novel will appeal to those seeking great family dramas that span multiple decades and multiple POVs. This follows a family of seven children from the 1920s to the 1950s and how they individually cope with their mother’s early death. For such a little novel I thought Rebecca did a great job giving voice to so many characters and perspectives. It’s a comforting story about those invisible, but mighty, bonds that tie families together. I’m a sucker for sibling stories.

You can find it here: Bookshop.org

Wildoak (4*)

Written by C.C. Harrington

Published by Scholastic Press

Those looking for a sweet eco-fable with disability rep will be hard pressed to beat this middle grade story about a young girl in 1960s England, struggling to have her voice heard due to her stutter. Venturing to stay in the countryside with her kindly grandfather she meets a very unlikely friend – an abandoned snow leopard.

You can find it here: Bookshop.org

Emily Wilde’s Encyclopaedia of Faeries (5*)

Written by Heather Fawcett

Published by Del Rey Books

I loved this story. I loved it so much and I will now be on a cozy fantasy only reading kick. I think it’s somewhat best to go into this one with less knowledge. Yes, there are footnotes but they are largely ignorable if need be and get less prominent as the story progresses.

You can find it here: Bookshop.org

Beartown (3*)

Written by Fredrik Backman

Published by Washington Square Press

I listened to this community beloved story on audiobook which was well done, but it’s another novel that feels upsetting in order to be upsetting and just when things are bad they get much, much worse. It’s a YA marketed as an adult fiction story, and therefore every adult is fairly incompetent and never does the right thing and all the kids are wiser than their years and … bah. It just isn’t a book I can recommend except for those who like to read sad fiction in order to be very very sad? Backman is a brilliant writer and always drops nuggets of great wisdom on the human condition, but this wasn’t my favourite of his.

You can find it here: Bookshop.org

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