Another month, another wrap up! Unfortunately I can’t say my 2018 reading got off to the most perfect start, but then it took off dramatically and I’ve read a few amazing books that I’m really excited to talk about.
Arabella by Georgette Heyer
Georgette Heyer is basically the grandmother of the romance genre, and her Regencies inspired basically everyone who writes historical romances today, so I was kind of excited when my book club picked Arabella since I’m not sure I ever would have picked up a Georgette Heyer book on my own. Arabella is a classic story of a woman from a poor family who is sent to London in order to make an eligible match to secure her family’s future. There, she meets the eligible Mr. Beaumaris, but when she overhears a remark of his that stings her pride, she pretends to be an eligible heiress, setting up a chain of events that, of course, eventually leads to a happily ever after.
I was not at all a fan of this book. I thought Arabella was silly and wanted to smack her when she decided to utter her stupid lie, and I thought Beaumaris was a jerk for letting the lie get out of hand and refusing to put her out of her misery. There was also a whole sideplot with Arabella’s brother that I wasn’t a fan of, and overall I just thought this book was kind of boring and slow. I really struggled to finish it and probably would have DNFed it if I weren’t so determined to finish it for my book club. Definitely not a great way to start the year, but that’s what I get for waiting until the last minute to finish this book.
The King of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner
After Arabella, I needed something I knew I would like, so I picked up The King of Attolia, the next book in the Queen’s Thief series. I really can’t discuss the plot of this book because even the blurb kind of gives spoilers if you haven’t read The Queen of Attolia, but I definitely recommend checking out this classic YA fantasy series. I’ve been really enjoying it so far!
I thought The King of Attolia was an excellent addition to the series, possibly even my favorite so far. It was a little slow at the beginning and it took longer than I wanted for Gen’s tricks to play themselves out, but it was so worth the wait. I knew something was going on, but I had no idea what until Gen revealed his hand. And while I’m a little disappointed that this book doesn’t follow Gen’s point of view as closely as previous books, I really like how the world has been expanded so much with the new characters, and you can really see how the scope of the series has increased dramatically since the first book. This was definitely the great read I was looking for!
Heart on Fire by Amanda Bouchet
Heart on Fire was probably one of my most anticipated reads of this year after the first two books in the trilogy made my favorite books of 2017 list. Again, it’s a sequel, so a plot summary will either give away spoilers or not make any sense, but I highly recommend checking out these books if you enjoy both fantasy and romance.
It actually took me a while to get back into this story since it’s been such a long time since I read them, and while the bulk of the book was a perfectly enjoyable read, I didn’t think it really got good until the end. So overall I found it to be a little underwhelming and maybe not the strongest conclusion to the trilogy, though I did still like it and would still recommend these books.
Oh, and on a side note: calling Cat’s unborn baby Little Bean was cute at first but got old reeeeeally fast. Was definitely not thrilled with that.
Beyond Scandal and Desire by Lorraine Heath
Beyond Scandal and Desire is a revenge story, as the illegitimate Mick Trewlove is determined to ruin his father the duke if the duke won’t recognize Mick as his son. Part of his plot involves wooing the duke’s ward, Aslyn, away from the duke’s legitimate heir. Only as the two get to know each other and start to fall in love, Mick has to decide if his vengeance means more to him than a life with Aslyn.
I was given an advanced copy of this book by the publisher as part of the Avon Addicts program.
I really enjoyed this book, which should come as no surprise since it’s Lorraine Heath. I will admit, it wasn’t perfect. I had a few issues later in the book with things that I think could have been handled better but that I can’t really discuss because they involve serious spoilers, and I’m still not sure how I feel about the big plot twist at the end. But overall I really liked Mick and Aslyn and reading their story, and I think you’ll enjoy this if you’re a fan of Lorraine Heath or if you’re looking for a solid historical romance.
Beyond Scandal and Desire will be available on January 30, 2018.
One Day We’ll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter by Scaachi Koul
One Day We’ll All Be Dead and None of this Will Matter is an essay collection by Buzzfeed writer Scaachi Koul that discusses what it was like for her growing up as the daughter of Indian immigrants in Canada.
I decided to pick it up after Rincey at Rincey Reads named it one of her favorite books of 2017, and I’m so glad I did. I thoroughly enjoyed this essay collection. Koul had me laughing out loud numerous times throughout this book, and I really appreciated her insights into what it was like for her to be Indian in a largely white community as well as how she balances Indian and Canadian culture. I saw something on Twitter the other day about books either being mirrors of your own life or windows into someone else’s, and I thought this was an excellent window into someone’s life that’s completely different from my own. I am officially a huge fan of Koul’s and definitely recommend checking out this book.
Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann
I struggled with which book from my Book of the Month subscription to read first, but my husband told me to go with this one since it’s the one he’s heard me talk about the most, and it was definitely the right decision. Killers of the Flower Moon tells the story of a spree of murders committed against members of the Osage Nation in the 1920s and ’30s in order to gain access to their oil money, as the oil under Osage land made tribe members among the richest people in the country. Interestingly enough, these murders were also what helped lead to the foundation of the FBI, so there’s a lot of crime solving history involved in this book too.
This book was so fascinating and so heartbreaking. Sadly, I’m not at all surprised that Osage members were killed for money, but that doesn’t make it any less sad to read about. I really enjoyed learning about a part of history that I knew nothing about, and I thought Grann did an excellent job telling the story. This book was highly readable even if you don’t read a ton of nonfiction, and I think it’s a really important book to read as a reminder of how terrible U.S. history is when it comes to Native Americans. Maybe this is just me still being in the yearend post frame of mind, but I definitely anticipate this being one of my favorite books of 2018.
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
Ready Player One is a scifi book set in a dystopian future in which the creator of the virtual reality game called the Oasis has died and promised his wealth to whoever can find the Easter egg he hid in the game. As the founder was obsessed with the eighties, a whole culture has sprung up around reviving eights movies, music, and video games in hopes that they’ll provide a clue in order to find the Easter egg. When Wade Watts stumbles across the first clue, he accidentally unleashes a chain of events in which he’ll have to win in order to survive.
I was pretty excited to read this book even though it doesn’t entirely sound like my thing because I’ve heard so many people rave about it, both online and in real life. But honestly, I didn’t enjoy it that much, and I only made it halfway before I decided to DNF it. I just don’t game and I didn’t appreciate all of the eighties references since I’m a nineties kid and I really didn’t care about all of the descriptions of technology. I’m disappointed I didn’t love it and I debated whether to force myself to finish, but I decided that there were other books I’d rather spend my time reading and that I was totally happy reading spoilers on Wikipedia. On the other hand, my complaining about this book actually got my husband really interested in it even though he doesn’t read a ton, and he’s now halfway through it and loving it. So this book really does just depend on the audience and what you like reading.
I’ll also add that I really, really disliked the audiobook version of Ready Player One. I’ve heard a number of people say how much they love it and that it’s even better than reading the physical book, but I thought the narrator was waaaay too slow (I never speed up audiobooks, but I had to put him at 1.4x speed) and I really disliked the voice he gave to Wade. I would definitely recommend listening to a sample of it to see if it’s your style before deciding to go with the audiobook over the physical book.
Indigo by Beverly Jenkins
Indigo is one of Beverly Jenkins’ most iconic romance novels about former slave and member of the Underground Railroad Hester, whose story begins when a fellow conductor brings an injured man to her for safekeeping. Known as the Black Daniel, Galen is a notorious slave stealer and one of the most famous conductors on the Underground Railroad. Forced into close proximity as Galen recovers from his wounds, the two quickly find themselves falling in love.
I loved this book so, so much. Seriously, I wouldn’t be surprised if this becomes one of my favorite books of the year too. I really loved Hester and Galen and watching them fall in love, and I really liked that their romance progressed so slowly and that it didn’t largely take place when they were forced to be together under the same roof. Rather, that’s when it started, but it only really developed into a relationship after Galen healed and left Hester’s home. Those two were so wonderful together and I really enjoyed their story, plus Jenkins did an amazing job at bringing so much history into the book. The romance did not suffer at all for the historical parts of it, and I loved it. I can’t wait to keep working my way through Jenkins’ backlist, and I’m so excited she’s doing a signing in New York next month!
Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
Persepolis is the last book I finished during the first half of the month. It’s Marjane Satrapi’s graphic memoir about what it was like for her growing up in Iran following the Iranian Revolution and her struggles as an immigrant when her family sent her to study in Vienna to ensure her safety. Eventually Satrapi returned to Iran, so you also got to see her perspective on what it was like to reintegrate into such a conservative culture and deal with having left when Tehran was attacked.
Graphic novels aren’t my preferred medium, but this story was wonderful. It was just so interesting learning more about the Iranian Revolution and what it was like to live in Iran, as well as learn a lot more about the immigrant experience. I myself lived abroad for a year, but it was such a different experience. I spoke the language well enough to get by and I had access to technology that made it really easy to talk to everyone at home. Satrapi didn’t speak German when she went to Vienna and didn’t have the technology to talk to her family very often, so it was really interesting and really hard to learn about her experiences in a country where she really didn’t speak the language or know the culture and was incredibly isolated.
It was also really interesting reading this right after Killers of the Flower Moon, as the Osage murders took place because of oil money and all of the meddling in Iranian politics by America and Europe was largely over oil. Basically, it never really goes well when oil and a ton of money is involved, and it’s hard to reconcile all of the benefits of my life with all of the horrible things that our government and corporate interests have done in order to ensure that lifestyle and their own profit. So yeah, this book touched on a lot of important issues in addition to just being an interesting story with beautiful graphics, and I highly recommend checking it out.
Alright, there you have it! Even though I’ve had a few duds, I’ve read some really amazing books so far this month, and I can’t wait to see what else 2018 has to offer if it’s off to such a strong start.
I’m also in the middle of reading Hunger by Roxane Gay and listening to Born a Crime by Trevor Noah, and I’m loving both of those, as well as Shadow of Night, the second book in the All Souls trilogy by Deborah Harkness, which is amazing. I seriously have so many great books on my shelves and my TBR that it’s unreal, and I’m super excited to keep reading! So much for trying to slow down a bit this year…
How has your reading been going so far in 2018? Let me know in the comments!