Books I read in January | 2023

New year, new challenges — right? Since 2019, my annual Goodreads reading goal has always been to read 100 books. Whenever I tell people about my reading adventure, I’m often met with quips such as, “that’s ridiculous” or “wow, I could never do that!” Just wait until I tell you that it roughly works out at just two books a week. Not so out of reach now, huh?

Unbelievably, this is my fifth year attempting the challenge! And hopefully, my fourth successful one. I’m a bit behind on documenting 2023’s reads so far but that just means you get January, February and March’s bookish thoughts all in one go. Aren’t you lucky!

So, one month into this year’s Goodreads reading challenge, I’ve already discovered some 5* reads. I’ve also stuck my nose into some stories that are sure to stay with me for months to come. So, without further ado — here’s my review of all the books I read in January 2023.

They Both Die at the End – Adam Silvera

Read via Kindle

When a novel goes viral on BookTok, you know it’s either going to be really good or overhyped to no end. Luckily, I thought They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera was brilliant. The story follows two teenagers, Mateo and Rufus. Both are informed in the early hours of the morning by a disembodied voice on the phone (known only as the Deathwatch) that their lives will be ending within the next 24 hours. What ensues is a journey of enjoyment, discovery, regret, and romance.

Last year, Silvera released The First to Die at the End. It’s a prequel to the trending 2017 novel, and I can’t wait to get stuck into it ASAP!

Straight Outta Crawley – Romesh Ranganathan

Read via audiobook

Awkward deadpan humour is right up my street. That’s probably why I liked diving into Romesh Ranganathan’s Straight Outta Crawley so much. Documenting his rise from high school teacher to full-time comedian, this autobiography was an easy read. I actually listened to this via audiobook, which made it all the better.

Fresh perspectives on his TV show, Asian Provocateur were also given throughout the book. And as the series’ biggest fan, I felt like I was let in on cast secrets and behind-the-scenes antics. Honestly so good. I would recommend this to budding comics and fans of Ranganathan alike.

Nick & Charlie – Alice Oseman

Read via audiobook

Nick and Charlie are everything. If you watched Heartstopper on Netflix last year, then you will already know what I mean. Alice Oseman’s novella, Nick & Charlie, revisits our favourite duo — but they’re going through some tough changes.

Being a year older than Charlie, Nick is preparing to make the big move to university. He’s giddy, but Charlie doesn’t share his sentiment. He’s worried that his boyfriend is going to leave him behind and those thoughts start filtering through his actions.

Honestly, this brought tears. I love the characters of Nick and Charlie so much. Please — Heartstopper season 2 now.

Legendborn – Tracy Deonn

Read via Kindle

Legendborn is an epic magic adventure that is set at the University of North Carolina and is inspired by the legend of King Arthur. Following the death of her mother, protagonist Bree Matthews wants to forget the past. In fact, she wants to think about anything other than that mysterious day in the hospital. The one that is clouding her memory.

But when she makes the move to UNC-Chapel Hill for the year, the 16-year-old is initiated into a world beyond her wildest dreams. When demons start to attack and she witnesses the reawakening of the Knights of the Round Table, Bree realises this world has always been hers for the taking. She just didn’t know it.

I firmly believe that Legendborn is a book best read blind. Without knowing what’s to come, you’ll experience the full effects. The twists and turns are perfect and the romance aspect makes it the best fantasy YA book I’ve read in a long time.

The Court of Miracles – Kester Grant

Read via audiobook

When a fierce Guild of Flesh lord enslaves Nina’s sister and sets his sights on her friend Ettie, the little cat burglar must do what nobody has ever done before — take down the Tiger. The Court of Miracles is an epic fantasy tale that features prison breakouts, the glittering palace of Louis XVII, the French revolution, and the underbelly of the criminal world. Assassins, protestors, thieves, and a prince — the first novel in Kester Grant’s fantasy series really knocked me off my feet.

The second Court of Miracles novel isn’t set for release until 2024, so plenty of time to get your chops around this one! If you liked Six of Crows, you’re going to love this!

Spring-Heeled Jack – Philip Pullman

Read via audiobook

I’m a huge Philip Pullman fan, but Spring-Heeled Jack just didn’t do it for me. This short story sees three young children escaping the clutches of their gruesome orphanage, only to run into the arms of the notoriously villainous Mack the Knife. However, Spring-Heeled Jack is on hand to save the day.

For me, this was pretty bland and almost unforgettable. At only 112 pages, it was always going to be impossible to create depth and a plot that wasn’t super straightforward. However, one step closer to reading all of Philip Pullman’s literary works. 19 down!

The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett

Read via audiobook

Jack Edwards recently said via his YouTube channel that The Secret Garden probably wouldn’t get released today. I hard agree. While this novel is considered a classic, I found the morally grey characters that developed throughout this lacklustre story to be bland, boring, and wildly inappropriate.

Perhaps if I had read The Secret Garden 20 years earlier, then this review would be chock-filled with nostalgia and longing for simpler times. However, I read it for the first time at 26. And let me tell you, I won’t be reading this Frances Hodgson Burnett again.

Beryl: In Search of Britain’s Greatest Athlete – Jeremy Wilson

Read via library

I am ashamed to not have known of Beryl Burton before 2023. However, everything comes to us at the right time — and Jeremy Wilson’s biography on British cycling legend Beryl did just that. Considered to be one of the greats, Beryl has had her achievements downplayed her entire life. However, without this unsung hero, women wouldn’t have half the opportunities they have in sports today. She was a pioneer. A trailblazer.

Wilson does a fantastic job of documenting Beryl’s childhood, and her cycling achievements. He also manages to tap into the nitty gritty of her home life and her unexpected death. He brings her to life on the paper through interviews and extensive research. By the end? You really feel like you had a slice of Beryl all to yourself.

I believe you don’t have to be interested in cycling or sport to enjoy this biography. Beryl is for everyone. That’s what makes her special.

King of Scars – Leigh Bardugo

Read via Kindle

Leigh Bardugo’s King of Scars marks my sixth journey into the Grishaverse. And, it’s possibly my favourite adventure so far! We’re reunited with our heroic Heartrender Nina Zenik, Squaller Zoya Nazyalensky, and the newly appointed King of Ravka, Nikolai Lantsov as well as Grisha Tailor Genya Safin and Durast David Kostyk. However, despite the familiar faces, this story was a totally different beast compared to the five stories that proceeded it.

I thought King of Scars was powerful and descriptive. Although we were already familiar with Ravka, it felt like a reintroduction of sorts. Its slow-paced style separated itself from both the original trilogy and the Six of Crows duology, and fully fleshed out some areas and characters we’d previously only caught glimpses of.

King of Scars is another start. A fresh breath. It has me so excited to dive into Rule of Wolves later this year. I would recommend it to any Grishaverse fan.

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