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January Monthly Recap

pile-of-books

Time for our first recap of 2016! Find out which books were favorites, which were duds, and which ones we are most looking forward to in 2016. We’ll end our wrap up with a calendar of book-related events/facts coming up in February and a glimpse of our upcoming content.

One randomly selected follower (email or wordpress follower) will win a $10 amazon gift card. Scroll down to see if you are the winner. The prize is only awarded if you contact us with your email address so make sure to check these monthly recaps each month to see if you won! We also want to hear from you so let us know what you read in January and what you look forward to reading next month. Have you been living up to your new years reading resolutions?

Jen: After a REALLY slow start to the reading year (thanks to having to move my Shelfari content), I somehow managed to pull off completing 10 books. I am not sure how I did it because it felt like all my time was consumed with setting up groups and transferring data. I read a book I hated, a book a loved, and lots in between. I also had a higher ratio of fantasy/escapism books this month – a trend that generally coincides with stressful months.

Favorite book read in January: My favorite January read was Anthony Marra’s The Tsar of Love and Techno: Stories (read that review here). It was my first book of 2016 and I LOVED it!! Honorable mentions to A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James (a book I didn’t particularly enjoy but that I appreciated and has stuck with me) and Who Fears Death by Okorafor. I picked this up three days before the end of the month for a reading challenge.

Least favorite book read in January: Leaving the Sea: Stories by Ben Marcus. This book left me feeling frustrated and annoyed. You can read my review here. Dishonorable mentions: Bats of the Republic: An Illuminated Novel by Zachary Thomas Dodson. I wanted to love this book but found it gimmicky and disappointing from a plot perspective. The artwork and the concept was cool but the storyline was lackluster for me. I will be writing up a mini review of this book for my Scavenger Hunt Challenge update.

New Year’s Resolution (& January goals): So below are my new year’s resolutions and here’s how I’ve done so far. They remain my goals for February.

  • Slow down my reading pace. Nope. Thought I had done this but turns out I still read 10 books over the month with two weeks where I did zero reading. So 10 books in two weeks is NOT slowing it down.
  • Read more books published in 2016: Nope. So far I have not read any published this year. I read one published Oct 2015 but none in 2016 yet. I did recently get a galley of Mr. Splitfoot so I plan to read that in early February.
  • Clearing out my physical TBR before buying new books: Nope. I also failed on this one too. Out of the ten books I read this month, four were on my physical TBR shelf, 1 was a reread of a book I already owned, 1 was a galley, and I bought 4. So I did clear some off my shelf but broke my pledge about new books.

Book Worm:

Favorite book read in January: My favorite January read was The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison (review coming soon) with honourable mention going to The Mystery of Edwin Drood by Dickens (short review coming as part of my scavenger hunt update)

Least favorite book read in January: The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher: Stories by Hilary Mantel. The very title told me I wasn’t going to enjoy this book and I don’t mean the assassination bit, I mean the “stories” bit, yep short stories. Those of you who have been following this blog for a while will know that as a general rule I hate short story collections and this collection did absolutely nothing to change my opinion. The only reason this got 3 stars from me was that 2 stars would put it on the level of The Eye or Morvern Callar and it wasn’t as bad as those.

New Year’s Resolution (& January goals):  Like Jen I have managed to read 10 books in January at the same time utterly failing to reduce the amount of physical TBR books. I guess this is something that is just not going to happen.

My main achievement in January was to finally read Life After Life this was good and bad. Good because I really enjoyed the book, but bad because I now need to read the companion book A God in Ruins. The TBR mountain keeps growing.

Goals for February: February is going to be a busy 1001 book month for me I will be attempting to read Solaris by Stanislaw Lem, Midaq Alley by Naguib Mahfouz, Cloudsplitter by Russell Banks , Saturday by Ian McEwan and The Crab Flower Club by Cao Xueqin. I think that is quite enough to keep me out of trouble.

There are a few literary events occurring in the UK during February that I feel deserve a mention these are:

National Libraries Day – Saturday 6th February. I for one will be out to support my local library. Without my library I would not read half as many books as I do and even though their selection of non English writers and books is appalling, I blame lack of funding rather than the dedicated staff who must love books as much as we do.

Bare Lit in London – Friday 26th – Sunday 28th February the UK’s first book festival dedicated entirely to writers of colour. I think its sad that there is a need for this event as I am a colour and sex blind reader. Really I couldn’t care less what an author looks like, if they are male or female or what religion or not they choose to follow. What I care about is the story itself. I think it’s a good thing in that it will allow readers to connect with authors they might never have heard of and any festival that celebrates reading gets my vote.

What can you look forward to on our blog in February? First off, we will be continuing with the winter reading challenge. All items have been posted so it’s time to read! You can join it at any time this year. The first round of prizes will be given out at the end of March but anyone who completes all items by end of year will be eligible for one final prize. We hope you join in because it will be a fun scavenger hunt. You can read more about it here. We also will feature our recurring posts: Love it or Hate it, Read Around the World, Featured Author Ian McEwan, Kid’s Corner, and Terrible Reviews of Great Books. Finally, we’ll feature regular reviews of both non-list and 1001 list books.

For more on upcoming content you can always check out our event calendar — featured on our sidebar.

February 2016 book releases:
The High Mountains of Portugal: A Novel: Release date: Feb 2
The Vegetarian by Han Kang. Release date: Feb 2. This book is getting some buzz. I’m type of book but I’m intrigued by one review that compared the beginning to a Murakami book.
In Other Words by Jhumpa Lahiri. Release Date: Feb 9
Midnight Sun by Jo Nesbo. Release date: Feb 16.

We want to hear from you. So what are your plans for February? Which books were your favorites and least favorites in January? Are you sticking to your New Year’s reading resolutions? 

The winner of our follower appreciation is a wordpress follower: Elizabeth from The Stonehenge Stacks blog. In order to claim the prize you need to reply to this post or email me (jenlane3@yahoo.com) saying that you want to claim the prize! You must claim your prize before the end of the February otherwise it will go back into the pool for the next winner. Congrats, you win a $10 gift card to Amazon!

NOTE: winners are randomly selected from pool of either wordpress or email followers of this blog.

Stay tuned for the announcement of our reader-book match. If you want to be matched to a book speak up!! We are creating a list of people who want to do this. If we select you, we’ll email you a survey and when you send it back to us we (along with help from our followers) will create a personalized reading list for you.

15 Comments Post a comment
  1. Tracy S #

    By far the best book I’ve read this month is Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights by Rushdie- this will be on the year’s greatest hits, for sure. My least favorite was Between the Acts by Virginia Woolf.
    I also swore I would read only from Mt. TBR this year, and that hasn’t worked out very well. However, I’ve started a new job working from home seven days on/off, so my reading time will be much more plentiful. So there’s still hope…

    Liked by 1 person

    January 31, 2016
    • Yay! I’m so glad you liked it (the Rushdie book). I also loved it

      Like

      February 1, 2016
  2. I managed 13 books this month, which is more than double what I typically read in a month. I’m not sure why, either!
    Book of the month for me was Kenzaburo Oe’s The Silent Cry. The novel is an exploration of human fragility, of our responses to uncontrollable events, of the choices we make in life. It examines the stories we tell ourselves and the way we manipulate memory to both form our self-image and justify it. It considers the nature of truth and whether we ever truly know it or speak it. It’s an incredible work.
    The Hired Man by Aminatta Forna came a close second. It was a very emotional and worthwhile read, and I recommend it highly.
    Most disappointing book was Only Forward by Michael Marshall Smith. The blurb on the back made it sound really good, but it was a patchy read for me.
    Next month I’m looking forward to The Noise of Time, which arrived on my Kindle at the end of this week. I’m dreading The Blind Owl!
    I read 10 off my TBR, but added 7, so not the best start to whittling it down.

    Liked by 1 person

    January 31, 2016
  3. Chili #

    Yes sign me up for the reader-book match! I would love to see what would be picked for me.

    Liked by 1 person

    January 31, 2016
  4. JoLene R #

    I read 11 books in Jan which is a bit high, but challenges really seem to motivate me.
    My 3 favorites were “Unbroken” which I think most people have at least heard of and “Under A Painted Sky”, which is a YA western about an unlikely friendship between a runaway slave and chinese orphan girl. They disguise themselves as boys to try to travel west, but are wanted by the law. There was some tragedy and some laughs and just an enjoyable read.
    The other favorite was called “Rules for a Knight” and written by the actor Ethan Hawke. It is a simple life lessons book that was very charming.

    I did manage to read 5 books from my TBR and 5 from the library; I had to buy one because the hold list was too long and it was for my upcoming F2F bookclub.

    I too would be interested in the book match.

    Liked by 1 person

    January 31, 2016
    • I still have to read Unbroken. Will add you to our list of book match readers. Thank you!!

      Like

      February 1, 2016
      • JoLene R #

        Unbroken works for the WW2 tag in February 😉

        Liked by 1 person

        February 1, 2016
      • Good point!

        Like

        February 1, 2016
  5. Sign me up to be matched though goodness knows I do not need additional reading commitments lol!

    I have to say, Jen, that your reading resolutions pretty much parallel my dietary ones in terms of our success.

    Liked by 1 person

    February 1, 2016
    • ha ha! may be both have better luck with resolutions in the next few months.

      I will add you to our list of book match people. Thank you!

      Like

      February 1, 2016
  6. Wow! I want to be like you both when I grow up!!! jajajaaja, my reading challenge last year was of 30 books and I ended the year with 33, this year is 40. So far I’ve read 3 (almost 4) books in January.

    Sign me up for the book match.

    Liked by 1 person

    February 1, 2016
  7. I read 22 books in January, but only because 15 of those were graphic novels.

    It’s really hard to pick a favorite, because I’ve actually loved all but a couple! I’d probably have to choose between volumes two and three of Ms. Marvel by G. Willow Wilson, Othello by Satomi Ikezawa (a manga series), and The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce. If I really have to.

    Least favorite: The Essential Ginsberg, by Allen Ginsberg. Just didn’t work for me.

    I have two reading challenges going so far. For my Goodreads group challenge I’ve filled five of 30 categories and have two in progress; for the Winter challenge here I’ve finished six of 31 categories and have four in progress.

    Liked by 1 person

    February 2, 2016
    • JoLene R #

      I just bought Vol 2 and 3 of Ms Marvel and looking forward to reading them. I also picked up the first volume of Capt Marvel. I hardly ever read any super-hero graphic novels so it’s been interesting to see the more feminist slant.

      Like

      February 3, 2016
      • They’re so good, I hope you like them! I was never into superhero comics before, either, but I started with Wonder Woman and Captain Marvel and it turns out there are some really excellent female-led comics happening right now. Kamala Khan especially is so impressive from a feminist standpoint.

        Like

        February 3, 2016

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