I can't believe January is behind us already, but there you go. I've even noticed that the evenings are starting to draw out just a 'little' bit and the light is also changing. I like winter a lot as a season but I also like spring and there's so much flu, covid, bugs, colds, coughs etc. around at the moment that I'm hoping as spring approaches it will ease off a bit. *Fingers crossed*
Anyway, books. I read eight in January and they were a varied bunch, not only in theme and genre but also in quality.
1. The Starless Sea - Erin Morgenstern (2 stars)
2. Lagoon - Nnedi Okorafar. This is a science-fiction story set in Nigeria. Aliens have arrived and taken up residence in the ocean off the coast of Lagos. A female marine biologist finds herself involved with first contact, along with a rapper and a soldier. It's mayhem and I found the book a bit too chaotic for my taste and somehow the depiction of Nigeria and Nigerians felt very one-sided. A few people were decent but mostly they weren't and I wondered how an actual Nigerian would feel reading this book. Not a great success for me. (3 stars because unlike The Starless Sea it wasn't 500 pages long and I liked the female marine biologist, Adaora.)
3. The Broken Girls - Simone St. James (5 stars)
4. The View from Mary's Farm - Edie Clark (Very brief review.) (4 stars)
5. Two for Sorrow - Nicola Upson (4 stars)
6. The Pleasure of Reading - ed. by Antonia Fraser (Very brief review.) (3 stars)
7. There's a Seal in My Sleeping Bag - Lyn Hancock. A book from the 1970s by the wife of Canadian naturalist and film maker, David Hancock. This recounts Lyn's life as a sidekick to her husband as they go on expeditions to count eagles, seals, various sea birds and so on along the coast of British Columbia and once or twice down to Washington state. They also end up with quite a menagerie themselves at their home near Victoria. This had a really strong sense of BC, the coastline and the people who live there but, for some reason, it didn't quite live up to my expectations. (3 stars)
8. On Basilisk Station - David Weber. To be reviewed but a good, solid sci-fi read. (4 stars)
So, five fiction books and three non-fiction. Of the fiction reads there were two science-fiction, one magical realism, one historical crime yarn and one gothicky, supernatural, historical crime story. Quite a mix and also quite a mix of ratings. This was my favourite book of the month:
The Broken Girls by Simone St. James was an exciting, creepy, well written, ghostly crime yarn and I absolutely 'loved' it. Honorable mentions: The View from Mary's Farm by Edie Clark which was delightful and Two for Sorrow by Nicola Upson which taught me a lot about the sad history of baby farming.
I travelled around a fair bit in January too: Nigeria, Massachusetts and New Hampshire in the USA, and BC, Canada. Oh, and into outer space with Captain Honor Harrington.
So, a variable reading month, I did begrudge a whole week spent at the start of the year on a two star book. That did make me mutter darkly about hyped books. No matter, I will get over it... in a year or three. And it didn't help that the second book for 2023 was less than stellar too. But that's the way it goes with this great obsession of ours, you win some, you lose some. Onwards and upwards.
I hope you're all well and had a good reading month in January. What were your stand-out reads?