“The real story isn’t half as pretty as the one you’ve heard.”First line in Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik
January is over and I have double-checked that the year is correct in this post’s title. First month of 2022 is done and like always, January felt like it should count for at least three months and not just one. It’s unreal. I’m looking at the first book I finished this year and it already feels like ages ago. But outside of reading, my January was pretty uneventful unless you count the intense storm that hit us last weekend. So much wind is not a good thing when you’re surrounded by water, but fortunately, I live pretty high up so I avoided the floods.
But let’s talk books!
You may or may not have noticed that I’ve made some changes to my stats card so that I’m now tracking how many YA and Adult books I read each month. It used to be male and female authors, but since I read so many more books by female authors than male ones, it didn’t really make sense for me anymore. So now I can say I had a very “mature” January as I only read Adult books. It wasn’t intentional, and I’ve already started a YA one for February because I missed it.
In terms of quantity, I didn’t read a whole lot, BUT I also spent a large part of the month reading To Paradise by Hanya Hanagihara, I just didn’t finish it in time (seriously, that book is so huge it qualifies as a murder weapon!). It’s a strange one but I think I love it.
The average rating is a fun one because would you believe that I at the start of January had the mindblowing thought that all my reads that month could be five stars? Not sure if I jinxed it because I didn’t have a single one and was quite disappointed with a couple of them. But let’s get to the mini-reviews, which, I must admit, are of very varying lengths.
Ship of Destiny (Liveship Traders #3)
Author: Robin Hobb
Published: March 2000
So this book was perfect right until we hit the final 150 pages. The ending might actually have started to chip away at some of my love for Hobb because she threw my favorite character under the bus and rendered his character arc completely pointless in the process. That almost hurt me more than any of the horrible stuff she put her characters through. But anyway, since this is the third book in a trilogy there’s not much I can say about it. I do have a spoiler-filled book chat up for it if you’re interested. Note that I’ve downrated the book from 4.5 to 4 since posting that.
The Willful Princess and the Piebald Prince
Author: Robin Hobb
Published: February 28th, 2013
Genre: Fantasy Novella
Yes, I started the year with two books by Hobb, but I needed confirmation that Ship of Destiny was just a tiny hiccup, and luckily it was! It quite surprised me how good this novella was because I mainly read it for some information about the Farseers. I didn’t expect it to be so much its own story that had me deeply invested. It is as political as The Farseer Trilogy, just more condensed but none of the intrigue is missing. It also gave me the information I desperately wanted, so now I’m very ready to read some more about this family in the Tawny Man trilogy.
Author: Naomi Novik
Published: July 18th, 2018
Buzzwords: Fairytale retelling, winter
Well, it took 300 pages before I cared about anything that happened in this book. It was a minor side character that suddenly became interesting, but I’m not sure that was an altogether good thing because it just meant that I became very annoyed with everyone else for being so boring and taking time away from that character. I had had zero connection with any of the characters up until this point and felt very indifferent about everything, so it didn’t take much for me to start hating them. This was also around the time that the writing style started to drive me nuts. So many unnecessary details!!! Instead of just telling me a character was helping out around the house, for example, I would be subjected to half a chapter of detailed descriptions of every single task she performed. WHY?? It was like this constantly! Did I accidentally pick up How to be a Medival Housewife: A Crash Course instead of Spinning Silver? How about developing the characters and making me care about them instead??
So despite 300 pages of indifference, I spent the last 100 pages passionately rooting for the villain to kill all the badly developed characters so they wouldn’t annoy me anymore. It definitely didn’t help that the excitement of the plot was based on me not being given information that the characters were suddenly revealed to have been in possession of the whole time or that the lacking development of characters was done right as it became important. Why did we spend 300 pages on nothing when all of that could have been set up?
Finally, some minor grievances that just added to the picture. First, it’s actually possible to create an atmosphere in ways that don’t involve constantly describing the scenery. There are trees, a road and snow, I get it! Move on, please! Second, there were two characters who were only there to describe climactic scenes to the reader. Literally the only point of their existence. They themselves had zero agency in those scenes and were just there to observe. How about we spent those scenes with one of the characters who mattered so we could get their thoughts and feelings about it? But I guess that wouldn’t do because knowing their thoughts would remove all the excitement. Not really a sign of a great plot, is it?
I read this book because it’s so often compared to the Winternight Trilogy, but my favorite series of all-time doesn’t deserve to be insulted like that. They are both wintery reads and that’s all they have in common.
Author: E. M. Forster
I never know how to review classics, but this was good. Maybe a bit underwhelming but it was a sweet and profound story about love that probably should be more popular than it is.
(Sorry, I really don’t have more to say about it).
Who would have thought that my favorite reads of the month would be a classic and an in-series novella? That sounds fake. What are you doing, 2022? Still waiting for my first 5-star read of the year, though, so I guess I’m continuing the trend from 2021. I’m hoping for at least one in February (I’ve learned not to ask for more). But how was your first month of the year? Can you share some 5-star reads now that I failed so horribly?