Monthly Wrap Ups

Monthly Wrap Up: January 2020

Hey readers, is it just me or was January forty-seven years long? Honestly I can’t believe that was only a single month. When I was reviewing what I read last month, I did a few double-takes when I realized some of the books I read were finished not that long ago. I was sure I had read them weeks ago, but nope- January was just slow as hell. That’s probably why I managed to get so many books read!


A couple of the books were pretty short and others were ones I had started in December but hadn’t managed to finish before 2019 came to a close so I don’t know if my number is that impressive. Still, I got a lot of reading in.

For the most part, I enjoyed everything I read to varying degrees, with none of them coming in at fewer than 3-stars. A couple were absolutely mind blowing, deserving way more than 5-stars. Let’s hope this sets the tone for the rest of my reading year!

Before the Devil Breaks You (The Diviners #3) by Libba Bray


This series is the cat’s pajama’s! I’ve been holding off on reading this one because I don’t want the series to end, but with the fourth book coming out soon I decided it was time to see what our Diviners were up to.

Definitely the darkest of the series so far, we once again follow the Diviners as they battle against the evil teeming under the surface of 1920’s New York City. Paranormal events are increasing in alarming frequency, but the belief and trust in the Diviners is waning as more people turn toward Christian faith and “American” (aka “white”) patriotism.

Tensions in the city are simmering and growing closer to the boiling point, putting the Diviners right in the crosshairs of their fellow New Yorkers and the shadowy men after them. With their lives in danger, especially the Diviners of color, what is to become of them? And who will protect the city once the volatile ghosts have no one to stop them?

It was heartbreaking seeing their struggle against those who would see them fail. This book mostly set up readers for the upcoming King of Crows, the book that will hopefully tie everything together and see our Diviners come out on top.

A Warning by Anonymous


With how fast the White House chaos moves, this book is probably already completely outdated. Its message certainly isn’t, though: We have a dangerous president in office who is increasingly only surrounding himself with unqualified officials who are little more than yes-men.

There’s nothing new revealed in these pages as we’ve already it all before. However, Anonymous has put it forward in a way that neatly lays out all the noise in a digestible way that ends up painting a pretty awful picture.

It got a bit sanctimonious and hypocritical toward the end though, especially with the babble about the only way to get rid of Trump is to vote. Uhh…but we didn’t vote for him? And with the insane gerrymandering and voting restrictions running rampant across the country, those who would vote against him will struggle to be able to do so in a meaningful way, if at all.

Despite this, the takeaway we should be walking away with after reading A Warning comes through really clear. This presidency is dangerous and is setting horrific precedents that left unchecked will continue to put our national security, reputation, and nation in peril. Peril that we may struggle to ever get back from.

If Trump gets re-elected, he will take that as proof he is untouchable and we won’t be able to stop him and his cronies from going completely over the edge. Unfortunately, the people who need to read this book won’t. That’s why I’m not really sure who the author’s intended audience was because it’s not going to change any Trumpster’s minds.

**Side note: I don’t tend to get political often on here so don’t worry about finding lots of ranty posts on my blog, but I have no qualms about mentioning how much the current administration sickens me.

Devolution by Max Brooks


Well, I’ve officially read a book about Bigfoot that isn’t published by Weekly World News. From the author of the super awesome zombie book, World War Z, comes a book about volcanoes, Bigfoot, and what happens when you realize how much you truly rely on technology. Review to come closer to the publication date in May!

Recursion by Blake Crouch


Even though I still think The Light Brigade should have received Best Sci-Fi book in the Goodreads awards, I can see why Recursion won. It must be quite an adventure being inside Blake Crouch’s head.

To describe this book would give a lot away. Also, it’s pretty hard to describe this book because it was such a mindfrack that I’m not even sure I could accurately describe it. It was a heck of a ride, though! It’s very timey-wimey to say the least, but the settings, dialogue, and the way he carried out the recurring timelines was all a hit.

If you liked this, I’d definitely recommend Dark Matter. They have similar themes and similar mindfrackery going on. What a treat it is to have Blake Crouch writing these books for us! Even if they do completely turn our brains to wonderful mush.

Wilder Girls by Rory Power


A really buzzy book in blogger circles last year, once it was released it received mixed reviews. So many reviews mentioned that the ending wasn’t very satisfying so I was pretty nervous going into this thinking I might end up thinking, “Why did I just waste hours of my life for THAT?”

Personally I fell somewhere in the middle, neither loving it or hating it, but that has nothing to do with the ending. Ambiguous endings are hard to pull off and often don’t work, but in this instance it worked. It was actually probably the most hopeful part of this dark story.

It was interesting and unique, told from two very different perspectives that really fleshed the narrative out. The setting made it almost like a female Lord of the Flies meets a seriously warped Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. There were a lot of interesting elements, I liked the main character, and it was well written- it just didn’t blow me away.

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet (Wayfarers #1) by Becky ChambersThe-Long-Way-PB_1024x1024

Despite being on the top of my TBR for ages, it took me several years to finally read this book and I’m a little upset I didn’t do it sooner. It was utterly delightful! I wasn’t sure what to expect as the synopsis and original cover art had me thinking it would be like Firefly but with aliens. It sort of ended up being like that, but much lighter than I had anticipated. There were darker undertones to be sure, but the overall feel of the book was very cheery.

Sure, the characters were a little one dimensional and we only get cursory info about this universe, but for all that it had within its pages this book would have ended up being Silmarillion length if it went into detail about everything.

Sometimes you need some fluff with your sci-fi and this book pulled it off well. I’m just a little (okay, A LOT) disappointed to find out that after Chambers made us fall in love with the rag-tag crew of the Wayfarer, we’re not going to be seeing them again. I’ll probably read the other books set in this universe eventually, but for now I just want to stick with the crew from book #1.

The Night Tiger by Yangsze Choo


After really enjoying one of the books from Reese’s Book Club, I went on a bit of a spree requesting other selections from my library. Sadly, most of them have been a bit “meh” for me and this one only just escaped being “meh” too.

It was beautifully written with unique source material, but it just didn’t get there for me. Then toward the end all the various characters and story lines got a bit muddled up and grew increasingly difficult to follow. There was just too much going on in colonial Malaya.

It didn’t help that I hated almost ever character and couldn’t really get attached to them, especially Shin. What a narcissistic, toxic human being he was. Him ending up being the love interest was pretty gross and not just because of the fact they were step-brother and sister.

Despite my issues with the book, the lyrical language kept drawing me back in as did the intriguing setting. Don’t get me wrong- it’s a good story that was mostly well woven and I loved the way it all tied together in the end. It just wasn’t spectacular for me.

Cleopatra: A Life by Stacy Schiff


Stacy Schiff always writes fascinating and well researched books. A Great Improvisation: Franklin, France, and the Birth of America remains one of my favorite books of all time.

Cleopatra is one of her works I’ve been meaning to read for awhile and finally decided to after a fairly silly prompt. I watched a historical “roast” of Cleopatra on Netflix that had me laughing non-stop. Yet even though it was a ridiculous premise, watching her lovers throw shade at her made me realize that there was so much about her I didn’t know.

I’ll be the first to admit that Elizabeth Taylor and Shakespeare have been my main source of info on the famous Egyptian queen. While I went through a massive “Ancient Egypt” phase as a kid (and I’m pretty much still in it), my focus was more on Nefertiti and Hatshepsut when it came to female rulers.

Despite being an archaeologist who devours academic research journals like there’s no tomorrow, this book got bogged down in the details. Not that there was too much of it, but that it got overwhelming at times at how dry it was. Even though this is a fairly short book when it comes to historical biographies, it took me weeks to finally finish it because I kept having to take breaks after a couple of chapters to let my brain recover.

Not that this is a bad thing, but given the other books of Schiff’s I’ve read I was expecting a little more fun between the pages. I’m glad I finally finished it, though, and I certainly view Cleopatra in a much more appreciative light.

The Unspoken Name by A.K. Larkwood


My first 5-star review of the year. THIS BOOK IS INCREDIBLE. Review to come later this month when it’s published.

The Woman in the Veil (Victorian Mystery #4) by Laura Joh Rowland

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A really grisly but fun read set in the streets of Victorian Whitechapel. Read my review here!

You Have Arrived at Your Destination (Forward Series) by Amor Towles


Blake Crouch isn’t shy about how much he admires Amor Towles’ writing, citing A Gentleman in Moscow as one of the greatest books he’s ever read. It is a pretty phenomenal work so if you haven’t read it, I recommend you go pick up a copy asap.

Even though Towles isn’t a sci-fi or fantasy author, because of his admiration for the author Crouch wanted his voice included in the Forward series. Although I listened to it on Audible so it was more of David Harbour’s voice that I heard. The narration was fantastic, though, and I loved the bizarre premise of selective IVF. The main character was a bit blah, I found the side characters in the bar more compelling, but it was still an interesting bit of speculative fiction. 

The Hiccupotamus by Aaron Zenz


Hippos are my absolute favorite animal so when this popped up on Kindle Unlimited there was no hesitation in me downloading it. Oh my god, was it ADORABLE. It was just the pick me up I needed after suffering hardcore from post-holiday blues.

The last pages are a hilarious add-on for adults so even if you don’t have kids, people of all ages should get a kick out of this picture book.

Those are my books so far in 2020! Have you read any of these? What did you read in January? Let me know in the comments!

4 thoughts on “Monthly Wrap Up: January 2020”

    1. Thanks! I feel like it looks more impressive than it was, though, because 2 were really short and a few I had been partially already through, but still. It was a good start to 2020!


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