January books 2023

I stopped doing singular book reviews as they took so much time, nor did they get as much engagement. However, I still like doing them, looking at others’ reviews and just reading a damn good book! I thought I’d start doing monthly summaries (we’ll see) as I try to reach my yearly target of 50 books.

I can’t believe I’ve made it through 13 books already – the pace is unreal! You can see how I read so many books here.

However, as a result, my own writing has slowed down (something I spoke about on my SubStack, The Transparent Page). I found some great books and some that didn’t quite float my boat. Also, I don’t know when I’m going to accept that I just don’t like books that win prizes…

good girl complex - elle kennedy book review

Good Girl Complex – Elle Kennedy*

I didn’t realise this was a YA/New Adult book as I waited for the storyline between Cooper and Mac (Mackenzie) to evolve, until realising it was a good-girl meets bad-guy story. Despite sticking with, I quickly discovered this was certainly not my kind of book. Saying that, Mac was quite a likeable character, where she is girl bossing it and taking no sh!t from anyone.

We Just Clicked – Anna Bell*

Please… I was expecting an easy read, but quite frankly, I found this to be a waste of time. Harsh I know, but it felt like it was full of dissatisfaction because the story was so plain. Not a lot happened. And it’s set in. Reading and Basingstoke, of all the places – trust me, I’m allowed to make that judgment! Izzy is a wannabe influencer who ends up fake-dating a guy at her work to gain more followers. Pair that with a sub-plot love story with Aidan… everything was just too safe.

we just clicked - anna bell book review
the castaways- lucy clarke book review

The Castaways – Lucy Clarke*

Loved it!

First encounter with her writing

Finally got round to reading it and gobbled it up – reading and audiobook

Despite being a thriller, I found the writing to be quite beautiful. A sensitive telling of the relationship between sisters Lori and Erin, one of them who has been involved in a plane crash

The Diary of a Secret Tory MP – The Secret Tory*

First things first, if you’re going to read this, you need to understand this is pure satire and nothing else! Or is it?

I mean, Priti Patel is a dominatrix. He’s obsessed with Liz Truss. Therese Coffey and Gavin Williamson are having a baby. Him and Prince Andrew are best mates. Oh, and he’s Russia’s inside bitch for god-knows what.

It’s pure dry wit and sarcasm throughout. It’s tricky to know what to write here whilst remaining impartial as politics can be a rather sensitive topic!

diary of a secret tory mp - the secret tory book review
the other passenger - louise candlish book review

The Other Passenger – Louise Candlish*

(A returned library book hence no pic I’m afraid)

Jamie works as a barista in a café in Waterloo, where he commutes by boat each day. His wife Clare is the breadwinner and they live in a gorgeous flat, mainly thanks to her. Then they become friends with couple Kit and Melia.

At multiple times throughout this novel, I wanted to put it down, wondering if there was even a story based on Kit going missing. Jamie’s interviewed, oblivious to anything. It was one of the longest, painful suspenses I’ve endured in a book, questioning where it was going.I was 75% through and nothing made sense, yet I couldn’t stop reading it. And then boom! With only 100 pages left, everything came together. My eyes bulged at the point.

All I’d say is that even though it’s told from a first-person narrative, don’t believe everything you’re told… You’re the passenger sitting in for a gripping ride! It’s been a while since I found a crime author that I look forward to reading more of.

Dear Dolly – Dolly Alderton*

I love Dolly Alderton’s work, fact and fiction. Her latest book is an accumulation of her Dear Dolly columns from the Guardian, where she acts as an agony aunt. Each query is addressed over 3 or 4 pages max, making it a quick and easy read. It’s addictive, warm, witty, funny and relatable. Alderton in her best, purest form.

dear dolly - dolly alderton book review
A court of frost and starlight - sarah j maas book review 
a court of thorns and roses series

A Court of Frost and Starlight (ACOTAR #4) – Sarah J. Maas*

The first 3 books have been 5 stars from me so far, the 2nd being my favourite which I raced through whilst in Tenerife. But the 4th… I don’t know what value this brings. It’s a novella of sorts, where it seems to be an extension of Feyre and her mate humping, plus Nessa’s continued hate for Cassian. A bit of a let-down, but there’s still 1 more to go and it’s a lot chunkier.

Watching You – Lisa Jewell*

I previously tried reading The Family Upstairs but I just couldn’t stand it. I can’t pinpoint what it is! The experience was similar with this book: it was confusing, but not in a trying-to-find-the-killer-kind-of-way, but trying to make times, dates etc align. I don’t want books to feel like a chore when reading them and figuring out the plot. Instead of being full of suspense, it was full of frustration with an underwhelming ending.

watching you - lisa jewell book review
circe madeline miller book review

Circe – Madeline Miller*

I honestly wouldn’t have got through this if it wasn’t for the audiobook. Narrated by Perdita Weeks, I felt I understood this story more, otherwise it would’ve gone over my head completely. Whilst Greek mythology is not a genre I would think to choose, it is a compelling tale of the gods and how Circe (Sir-see) is banished by her family to an island. It’s a dense book. The writing is quite powerful, although I feel some parts were either dragged out or raced through in just a few pages.

Watermelon – Marian Keyes*

Set in Ireland (in the 90s), the protagonist Claire seems quite self-absorbed, but is still the better person for giving it a go with baby Kate when her husband James announces he is leaving them both, just as she’s given birth. Left in even more of a vulnerable state, she returns home to Ireland where we are introduced to the Walsh family. Despite being chunky at nearly 600 pages, it’s a story you can race through.

James seems like a child anyway – who would forget that over the past 9 months, you’ve been waiting to become a father?! I’m currently making my way through the rest of the Walsh family so far, so I’ll report back.

Very easy reading if you like chick-lit.

watermelon - marian keyes book review
small things like these - claire keegan book review

Small Things Like These – Claire Keegan*

(Shortlisted for The Booker Prize)

Pointless. A pointless read. I couldn’t tell you what I just read apart from a guy kind of saving a child from a church in the village. That’s it.

If you’re into literary fiction books, please don’t let me stop you! It’s just not for me.

Love Marriage – Monica Ali*

Another chunky book of 500 pages. Whilst it is slow to get into (about 150-200 pages in), I found myself to really enjoy this. It follows Yasmin (I loved and hated her throughout), her fiancé Joe, and their families as they depict what exactly a ‘love marriage’ is. A rather comforting, real telling of how individuals experience racism, family, culture and love.

love marriage - monica ali book review
the boy in the striped pyjamas - john boyne book review

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas – John Boyne*

My final book of January which I just knew I would love. I’m a fan of the film featuring Asa Butterfield where I swear tears come into my eyes everytime I watch it. A similar thing happened when I read about Bruno’s family’s waiter, Pavel, who told him he was a doctor. Boyne perfectly tells it through Bruno’s eyes, his youth and naivety that can’t see through what’s going on as they live in Out-With, observing people in striped pyjamas from his room where he soon meets Schmuel, who is apparently lucky to be inside the wired enclosure.

Disclaimer: Links marked with * indicate an affiliate link. This does not cost you anything extra, but helps support my channel where I may earn a small commission. Thank you for your support if you choose to purchase through this link and use my discount codes!

Thank you for your support! xx

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