What I read in January

January was a good month for me, reading-wise. In real life, I fell over on Boxhill which meant my joint issues flared up, so I was home sick for a couple of weeks and then I gave notice at my job after they informed me my job role was being ‘retired shortly’.  So now I have plenty of time for reading!

I went with a mixture of new and rereads this month as I continue to fill the gaps in my shelves, and spend my Christmas Waterstones vouchers!

The final book in the All Souls Trilogy came out while I was on my book buying ban, so having picked up The Book of Life I had to reread the first two as well. A Discovery of Witches is an incredible and in-depth introduction to the world of witches, vampires and daemons which Deborah Harkness has wrought, but Shadow of Night is still my favourite, even after reading the finale. Diana and Matthew go back in time to the court of Queen Elizabeth, they travel to Prague, and stay with Matthew’s father in France. I love reading historical fiction, particularly when laced with magic, intrigue and adventure – or the hunt for a valuable book – and Shadow of Night ticked all those boxes for me.

My Mum finally finished Connie Willis’ Blackout and All Clear and returned them to me over the holidays and I reread them the first chance I had. Despite claiming after A-Level that I never wanted to hear anything about WWII ever again, these are two of my favourite books. They follow the fates of three time travellers from 2060 who are visiting the 1940s to study various aspects of the WWII home-front. Evacuees, shop girls on Oxford Street, the heroes of Dunkirk, the women of the FANY, the fire guard of St Pauls and more. The level of tension is ramped up for the time travellers – while they can memorise every dangerous area to avoid during their trip, they find themselves trapped in the 1940s, having to find each other, survive the war and try to find a way back to 2060. They’re nail-biting, absorbing, exciting and informative all at once!

I need to read The House of Shattered Wings by Aliette de Bodard again soon, I think. There was so much to take it, and I basically devoured the book in a couple of days. Set in a ruined Paris, we’re quickly introduced to Phillipe and Isabelle, with little idea who they are or what they are capable of – both mysteries which gradually unfold throughout the immersive plot. I was consumed with curiosity that I raced through fallen angels, mysterious warriors, dragons, ruined department stores, addicted alchemists, gothic cathedrals and political intrigues, and I was left bereft at the end! I’ll be writing a longer review of this soon.

Another one to devote a longer post to later is Nnedi Okorafor’s LagoonAliens come to earth and the first creatures which they meet are the sealife off the coasts of Lagos, Nigeria. Having given the sea creatures everything they want, the aliens turn to humans, kidnapping three people who meet seemingly by coincidence but it transpires throughout the story that they are each special in their own way.  I generally avoid gritty novels with guns and riots, but this was so well written that I had no intention of stopping reading. It reminded me a bit of Zoo City by Lauren Beukes, which starts off urban and detective and eventually descends into a particularly harrowing scene which gave me nightmares for a while.

Finally, I have been wanting to reread Cassandra Clare’s The Infernal Devices trilogy for ages, but never got around to getting hold of Clockwork Angel until now! I much prefer The Infernal Devices to The Mortal Instruments. They’re set in Victorian London, there are clockwork creatures, and the heroine manages to rescue herself on more than one occasion.

It occurs to me that most of my historical knowledge comes from reading historical fiction, much of which is fantastical. I’m currently reading Midnight Never Come by Marie Brennan, which is also set during Elizabethan times, and all I have to compare it to is Shadow of Night  for accuracy!