Read in January 2024

January didn’t start well in terms of reading.
The first week of the month I didn’t even pick up a book. I didn’t read a letter and I didn’t feel like reading either. Then I started listening to a book sporadically, specifically for a readathon I didn’t want to fall behind on. This boosted my appetite again and I ended up closing January with not one, but two great books that got the full 5 stars from me!

This way I still managed to finish 6 books in January, although one of them was actually a short story. Other books had more pages than average, so that I read a total of 2738 pages, which on average amounts to 456 pages/book.
As I said, I didn’t feel like reading for several days in January, so I read on only 19 days out of 31. On average, this amounts to 144 pages per day read.

In terms of target audience, this was evenly divided between Young adult books (3) and adult books (3).

I also varied well in my reading style, with 2 e-books, 1 audiobook and 3 physically owned books. The book read as an audiobook was also one from my physical TBR, so I actually already read 4 of my own physical books in January!

In terms of ratings, January was already a fairly high-scoring month when I look at the average score for the six books, namely 3.7 stars. Not really surprising with the two 5-star books! The lowest score was 2 stars, which was the case for one book. The other 3 books received 3 or 4 stars.

There was less variation in the genres read with only 2 different genres, namely mystery (2) and fantasy (4).

Regarding the language, you probably won’t be surprised to learn that I only read in English.

Below is the list of the books I read in January and my rating in stars.
Click the link to jump to the blurb and my review! As always, be aware that both blurb and review may contain spoilers, especially if they are sequels in a series! Sometimes I’ll also hide spoilers behind an expandable text.

  1. Abercrombie, Joe – Red Country (First Law World #6) 🎧 ★★★
  2. Purdie, Kathryn – Bone Crier’s Moon (Bone Grace #1) ★★★
  3. Purdie, Kathryn – Bone Crier’s Dawn (Bone Grace #2) ★★
  4. Prose, Nita – Murder at the Royal Ruby ★★★★
  5. Galbraith, Robert – The Running Grave (Cormoran Strike #7) ★★★★★
  6. Taylor, Laini – Daughter of Smoke & Bone (Daughter of Smoke & Bone #1) ★★★★★

🎧 Abercrombie, Joe – Red Country (First Law World #6) ★★★

Genre: Fantasy (grimdark, Western)

They burned her home.
They stole her brother and sister.
But vengeance is following.

Shy South hoped to bury her bloody past and ride away smiling, but she’ll have to sharpen up some bad old ways to get her family back, and she’s not a woman to flinch from what needs doing. She sets off in pursuit with only a pair of oxen and her cowardly old stepfather Lamb for company. But it turns out Lamb’s buried a bloody past of his own, and out in the lawless Far Country, the past never stays buried.

Their journey will take them across the barren plains to a frontier town gripped by gold fever, through feud, duel and massacre, high into the unmapped mountains to a reckoning with the Ghosts. Even worse, it will force them into alliance with Nicomo Cosca, infamous soldier of fortune, and his feckless lawyer Temple, two men no one should ever have to trust…

The past never stays buried…

You could already read my review for this book here.

Purdie, Kathryn – Bone Crier’s Moon (Bone Grace #1) ★★★

Genre: YA Fantasy

Bone ​Criers have a sacred duty. They alone can keep the dead from preying on the living. But their power to ferry the spirits of the dead into goddess Elara’s Night Heavens or Tyrus’s Underworld comes from sacrifice. The gods demand a promise of dedication. And that promise comes at the cost of the Bone Criers’ one true love.

Ailesse has been prepared since birth to become the matriarch of the Bone Criers, a mysterious famille of women who use strengths drawn from animal bones to ferry dead souls. But first she must complete her rite of passage and kill the boy she’s also destined to love.

Bastien’s father was slain by a Bone Crier and he’s been seeking revenge ever since. Yet when he finally captures one, his vengeance will have to wait. Ailesse’s ritual has begun and now their fates are entwined—in life and in death.

Sabine has never had the stomach for the Bone Criers’ work. But when her best friend Ailesse is taken captive, Sabine will do whatever it takes to save her, even if it means defying their traditions—and their matriarch—to break the bond between Ailesse and Bastien. Before they all die.

Unfortunately I did not manage to read all my old Owlcrate books last year, but with only 3 books left, 2024 will be the year, starting with this Bone Crier’s Moon.

I still remember that when this book came out, it got a fair bit of attention. I guess the gorgeous cover by Charlie Bowater had something to do with it, but also the story sounded interesting. Upon reflection, I don’t remember hearing much more about it afterwards, so I could take that as an indication that it was not one of those YA-books that live on long after their initial hype.
However, this was not something I thought about when I started reading this. I went into this story with an open mind, hoping for a captivating mythology and a heart rendering tale of doomed lovers.
And to an extent, the book delivered.

The mythology was fascinating and unique, but unfortunately didn’t delve as deep as I would have liked.
The same can be said for the world in general, which was initially well conceived, taking a lot of inspiration from medieval France and evoking that folkloric feel. But after a while this felt only like a surface level veneer, perpetuated by the use of some French-inspired vocabulary, that felt somewhat forced at times.

As for the doomed lovers, this was the weakest part of the book in my opinion.
Nowadays this is something I often find issue with in YA-books. I have difficulties believing the relationships, because everything develops too fast, without conveying proper connections.
This was definitely the case here. I just couldn’t believe the feeling between these two. There was no spark, no craving or pining. We were simply told that one moment they hated each other and the next they couldn’t live without each other. Meh.

The writing was nice, compelling and smooth.
Apart from a couple of phrases that bothered me (“My heart pounds out of my chest” got repeated a couple of times. Not it feels like, but just the phrase like that, as if their heart is LITERALLY outside their chest.) it read quickly and easily.

All in all, this book was just plain fun.
If I could tune out the things I did not like or annoyed me, I could really lose myself in it. The greatest potential lies in the mythology and my fascination and want to learn more about it was wat compelled me to continuously keep reading. Ultimately, this is also why I’m sufficiently intrigued to want to continue on with the sequel.

Purdie, Kathryn – Bone Crier’s Dawn (Bone Grace #2) ★★

Genre: YA Fantasy

Love is a matter of life and death.

Bone Criers have been ferrying the dead into the afterlife for centuries, a dangerous duty only possible with the powers they gain from sacrificing their amourés the men destined to love them and die. But Bone Criers Ailesse and Sabine—along with Ailesse’s love, Bastien—are working to chart their own course and rewrite the rules of the afterlife. If they don’t break the soul between Ailesse and her amouré, she could die—just as Bastien’s father did.

Sabine struggles to maintain her authority as matrone of her famille—the role always destined for her sister—even as she fights to control the violent jackal power within her.

Bastien is faced with a new dilemma as the spirits of the Underworld threaten the souls of his friends—and his father.

Ailesse attempts to resist her mother’s siren song as she’s drawn into her own version of the Underworld. How will she save her friends once she’s cut off from their world?

This pulse-pounding follow-up to Bone Crier’s Moon is a story of love, sisterhood, and determination as three friends find the courage and power to shatter the boundary between the living and the dead.

Unfortunately, this sequel did not give me what I had hoped for.
The first half of the book was quite long-winded and full of irritations about the stupid choices and the direction the story took. The second half of the book provided more action and interesting additions to the mythology, but by then I was no longer interested and just wanted it to be over.

Prose, Nita – Murder at the Royal Ruby ★★★★

Genre: Mystery (short story)

The curtain rises, and the chandelier falls—taking the star of the show down with it. An ambitious young usher working at the theater sets out to find who killed the leading lady in a crackling short story by #1 New York Times bestselling author Nita Prose.

Grace is an usher at the stately (and possibly haunted) Royal Ruby Theater. She’s also an aspiring actress ready for her big break. Vanessa is the glamorous yet spiteful star who’s made more enemies than friends on her rise to the top. When Vanessa winds up dead in act one, Grace is determined to find the killer. But is she seeking justice, or something darker?

Murder at the Royal Ruby is part of Obsession , a collection of compulsively readable short stories about people pushed to their extremes. So addictive you won’t be able to put them down—read or listen to each story in a single sitting.

This was a great little short story!
From the get go it managed to bring across the theater environment and I could almost feel the red velvet chairs. With just a few words, the characters felt real. So the writing really was amazing. The only thing bringing this down was the ending. It was just too lackluster for the mesmerizing environment that had been created.

Galbraith, Robert – The Running Grave (Cormoran Strike #7) ★★★★★

Genre: Mystery (detective)

In the seventh installment in the Strike series, Cormoran and Robin must rescue a man ensnared in the trap of a dangerous cult.

Private Detective Cormoran Strike is contacted by a worried father whose son, Will, has gone to join a religious cult in the depths of the Norfolk countryside.

The Universal Humanitarian Church is, on the surface, a peaceable organization that campaigns for a better world. Yet Strike discovers that beneath the surface there are deeply sinister undertones, and unexplained deaths.

In order to try to rescue Will, Strike’s business partner, Robin Ellacott, decides to infiltrate the cult, and she travels to Norfolk to live incognito among its members. But in doing so, she is unprepared for the dangers that await her there or for the toll it will take on her. . .

Utterly pulse-pounding, The Running Grave moves Strike’s and Robin’s story forward in this epic, unforgettable seventh installment of the series.

Oh my goodness, she’s done it again!

It has been a long time since I stayed up way too long simply because I couldn’t put my book down. This was just absolutely brilliant.
Yes, this is a huge book and one of the criticisms I read most about this series is that the books should be shortened, but I completely disagree with that. I think it’s fantastic to follow the entire research from needle to thread. It builds up the tension, while also being extremely compelling and almost compulsively readable for me.

“ ‘You,’ said Wace quietly, his voice now more hoarse and cracked than ever, ‘are remarkable.’
And in spite of herself, Robin felt an irrational pride in Wace’s approval.”

For me this was probably the best Strike book so far.
This time Strike and Robin investigate a religious sect and Robin goes undercover. Oh dear, this immediately sets the tone and I was at the edge of my seat almost throughout the entirety of this book, constantly anticipating impending danger.
Very captivating, uncomfortable at times and fascinating. As a rationally thinking person, I find it incomprehensible how people can fall for such cults, but the way it is conveyed here creates a kind of understanding that is extremely uncomfortable and frightening.

“So here stood Cormoran Strike, slimmer, fitter, clearer of lung, alone in his attic, poking broccoli angrily with a wooden spoon, thinking about not thinking about Robin Ellacott.”

In addition to this main story, the book is perfectly balanced with other cases the detective agency is working on and personal interactions. Strike and Robin’s relationship, a.k.a. the slowest slow burn that ever slow burned, experienced some plot twists and that last chapter made me growl in frustration. Book 8 better come soon!

Taylor, Laini – Daughter of Smoke & Bone (Daughter of Smoke & Bone #1) ★★★★★

Genre: Fantasy (YA)

Around the world, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.

In a dark and dusty shop, a devil’s supply of human teeth grows dangerously low.

And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherwordly war.

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real, she’s prone to disappearing on mysterious “errands”, she speaks many languages – not all of them human – and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out.

When beautiful, haunted Akiva fixes fiery eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?

When I devoured the Strange the Dreamer duology by the same author, I immediately put this trilogy high on my to-read list. Unfortunately, I got distracted by the many other books on that list, but now that this one was chosen for A Frolic Through Fiction’s book club, I finally had to read this one.

And yes, I said unfortunately, because I can kick myself for not reading this sooner.
There are some books where I quickly realize that I am reading something special. They worm their way inside my heart, transport me to another time and place, and make me forget that I’m simply reading words on paper. This was such a book for me.

“Like mold on books, grow myths on history.”

And still, it begins like any standard YA book, except that the writing style immediately stands head and shoulders above it all. Poetic, vivid and lyrical.
The world building is magical and vibrant. It initially takes place in Prague and ever since reading this I’ve been craving to take a city trip there!

“Humans have gotten glimpses of things over time,” he’d said. “Just enough to make the rest up. It’s all a quilt of fairy tales with a patch here and there of truth.”

On the surface, this story uses plot elements and mythologies that have been used so often that they have become tropes and clichés, but Laini Taylor still creates something I have never read before.
I love the way wishes and teeth are woven into the story, how we both get a tragic love story and an epic battle spanning generations.
All imagery is exquisitely vibrant. All characters are dynamic and real.

“Wishes are false. Hope is true. Hope makes its own magic.”

This truly was such a beautiful, imaginative and transportive story, making my heart sore and break. I wasn’t even halfway through this book when I purchased the sequels. And these are my first priority to read!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.