Wrap up

January 2022 Reading Wrap-Up

“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

Genre: Fantasy

My rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

My thoughts

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

My rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

My thoughts

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.

Spinning Silver

Author: Naomi Novik

Published: July 18th, 2018

Genre: Fantasy

My rating:

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Buzzwords: Fairytale retelling, winter

My thoughts

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.

Maurice

Author: E. M. Forster

Published: 1971

Genre: Classic

My rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

My thoughts

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?

10 thoughts on “January 2022 Reading Wrap-Up

  1. I thought I had braced myself to face deep pain while reading this wrap-up, but still 😭😭😭 Not only did you hate on the beautifully lyrical and character-driven book that is Spinning Silver, you also took another half-star away from my favorite series finale I’ve read in a while **sniffs**

    After having reread the entire series (which is your fault, by the way; when I had to reread the beginning to find that detail about Brashen, I just never stopped 😂), I am even more convinced that the ending was the perfect way to show Wintrow growing up, becoming less innocent, and yet still having the beginning of that thought process you missed so dearly. But alright, I’ll shut up before you dock any more stars in frustration 😜

    As for Spinning Silver, I can kind of see why I might have loved it so much more than you did… I absolutely adore lyrical descriptions of house tasks, trees, roads, and snow! 🥰 Those help me picture the scenery so much more vividly, and as a result, they immediately drew me in and also made me love the characters through whose eyes we got to experience all of this. I actually never felt that we were in the dark about their thoughts — we got so much emotion!! So much family trauma! It was awesome 😊 (And definitely a whole lot more exciting than reading hundreds of pages about a besotted Galen traipsing after Lune 🙄)

    But hey, we do agree on something! Namely, your Maurice views!! I also really enjoyed it, thought it was very sweet, but was a bit underwhelmed by how “neat” the ending was (plus, I did not like Alec). However, then I remembered that it was written about half a century before homosexuality was legalized in Britain, which actually made the ending quite the statement and made me appreciate it much, much more.

    I’m also really loving To Paradise (you don’t even want to know how late I stayed up last night because I kept listening to one more chapter), but I’m almost afraid to tell you this and jinx things 😅

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You need to read some better series finales then 😉 And I’m sorry, but when you don’t love Wintrow nearly as much as I do, you’re not able to judge his journey correctly (you wanted to punch him!!!). And the beginning of that thought process is still not nearly enough. When two whole books have been spent setting it up, I need the whole damn thing!

      And for Spinning Silver, I guess I just don’t understand how I’m going to know about a character’s thoughts from tree descriptions. I tell you, my e-reader has never been in so much danger as when I read the last couple of pages of that book and found out that she was just going to marry the Staryk king without so much as a. Single. Hint. Of romance between them! I paid a lot of attention to that because I wondered whether that was where the Winternight comparison would come into play. I was so relieved when there was no sign of romance because at least people aren’t claiming they are like Vasya and Morzoko… 😒 I was so close so giving it 1 star. And again, I just like the more complicated characters that aren’t easy to love like Galen and the tsar (whom we definitely didn’t get enough of!)

      And yes, we agree on Maurice! Although it wasn’t so much the ending I found underwhelming but more the entire book. Like, not much happened and when something did, it kinda came out of nowhere.

      I’m really glad you’re loving To Paradise, but Book I isn’t as good as Book II so I’m a bit worried about what you’ll think of that 😅

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ah, but you see, not being utterly blinded by love enables me to make more rational judgments 😉 (Also, I only wanted to punch him for a little while!!! Someone needed to knock some sense back into that boy, but after Etta took action, my violent tendencies were quickly quelled again 😁)

        However, I am actually amazed to say this, but your comment means we do actually agree on some Spinning Silver related things – the Tsar was awesome, and the romance between Miryem and the Staryk king was unnecessary and definitely not comparable to Vasya and Morozko’s. I didn’t really mind that the book ended that way — it felt more like some sort of epilogue where we got to check back in with the characters later, and I could see Miryem having fallen in love with the Staryk kingdom, and, by extension, its king, especially once she had spent more time there and became changed by its magic — but I also didn’t think we needed this. Miryem would have been fine on her own, too. However, since what I loved most about this book was how much it focused on the importance of family and friendship, I absolutely did not care that we were deprived of that romance 😁 It was more of an afterthought, while what was really important, like Wanda’s relationship with her brothers, Miryem’s determination and independence, and Irina plotting against her husband and eventually realizing she cared for the person behind the demon got the book’s full attention 🥰 (In fact, my biggest criticism of Uprooted was how the smutty romance completely overshadowed the plot, so I was pleasantly surprised Naomi Novik had gone in a totally different direction here!)

        And yeah, I suppose not much happened in Maurice earlier, either, but there was so much angsty pining and sadness that I was totally invested! 🤣

        (Also, I never thought I’d say this about a man whose idea of a romantic letter was writing a beautifully detailed full-length novel about the death of a family friend, but I’m starting to feel seriously horrible on behalf of Charles! Edward had better be worth this much pain!!)

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Even one second of wanting to punch Wintrow is unforgivable!

        And yes, the tsar was awesome so why were we reading about feeding goats when we could have explored the only complicated/unlikable character of the book? And if that last chapter was an epilogue, you can’t just introduce a completely new plot point and then call it a satisfying ending. An epilogue is meant to be a conclusion to things already set up. And Novik had plenty of opportunities to introduce the romance earlier but she didn’t so it had no business being in the final chapter.
        And while the book did focus on the importance of family (which is probably also why I hated it 🤔), I disagree that it had anything to do with friendships proven by how Miryem doesn’t care one bit about sacrificing Irina to that demon by freeing the Staryk king, and how she seems greatly disinterested in what was going on in Wanda’s life when she was working for her.

        (And I can’t comment on that! 😂)

        Liked by 1 person

      3. The goat feeding parts were so good, though! They gave us insights into Wanda and her brothers’ damaged and yet still loving and protective relationship 😭 And not every ending has to wrap everything up in a neat bow to be satisfying, either – that development was far enough within the realm of possibilities that I don’t mind at all 😁 It just shows how much change Miryem went through! Because yeah, I agree that she didn’t have any close friendships to Wanda (she was so focused on providing for her family that I don’t think she ever saw Wanda as more than a servant) and not even Irina (that was mutual respect that could evolve into friendship, given more time), but she did form a real connection with the Staryk servants! I loved those friendships, I loved seeing Wanda pine after Miryem and her family, and I loved Irina’s relationship with Magreta. There was plenty of friendship in all sorts of different forms! But it’s fine. I can love this book enough for both of us 😂

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for introducing me to Maurice in the first place! 😍 And it wasn’t your hype that made it underwhelming. I don’t read a lot of classics so I needed that level of hype to even pick it up, but I didn’t feel that a whole lot happened in the book. It was very chill if you get my meaning. But I practically never rate a classic 5 stars, so it’s probably more of a me-thing.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oooh, I totally get that as I used to feel that way about classics too. They used to be solid three stars for me, with the occasional four stars. Regardless, I’m glad you picked it up!

        I’ve also realised I enjoy books where not much happens and we focus on the characters, but I can see that that’s not necessarily everyone’s cup of tea (it’s not mine always, it tends to vary and I couldn’t tell you the reasons why). But you’re right that not that much actually happens 😂 If you feel like it I’d recommend the film, even if you just watch for the aesthetics. I watched it before reading the book and it’s what pushed me to give it a try.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I do also love books that only focus on characters but I think it very much depends on the characters, although in this case, I think it was more because of the writing. Not that it was bad, but I often feel classics have a somewhat detached or too formal style for me to really connect with the characters.
        But I’ll consider the movie for the aesthetics 😄

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I have to agree on that, classics very rarely “hit” like modern books do, and it’s definitely got to do with the writing style (this one just worked for me, heh). The film is pretty nice, so I hope you do enjoy it if you end up watching it!

        Liked by 1 person

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