January Reading Recap

I keep telling myself that I will review every book I read. Or, at least, more of the books I read.

And I keep not doing it.

Sometimes, I feel like it’s a herculean task to get my thoughts about a book out of my mind and written out. Other times, I’m not sure I have enough unique thoughts to make it worth it.

I don’t think either of those excuses is actually true. They are simply…. excuses.

Instead of writing reviews for all the books I read last month, here’s a recap.

The Gilded Ones (Deathless, #1)

A solid fantasy adventure with great world-building and unique characters. This also follows my theme from 2022 of reading books about women who want more than they get.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

What If? 2: Additional Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions (What If?, #2)

These are hilarious and educational simultaneously.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

When Women Were Dragons

Another book about strong women and the desire for more.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts.

This is an excellent book about building trust, communicating opening, and being yourself. Highly recommend to anyone who works with others in a business setting or just wants tools to approach conflict better.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

A Paris Apartment

Historical fiction based on Marthe de Florian and the story of her Parisian apartment that was discovered, untouched for decades, in 2010. This book was recommended as part of my 12 books for 12 months of 2023 challenge. I don’t think I would have picked it up on my own, and while parts of it were interesting, on the whole, I didn’t care for this book.

Rating: 2 out of 5.

My Favorite Reads from 2022

I’m a little late writing this, but better late than never!

Last year, I read 57 books. Out of those 57, I rated only seven books as 5-star reads. Another 22 made the list with 4 stars. I won’t include all of these in this post. Goodreads doesn’t allow partial stars, so many of those are 3.5-star books that I’ve rounded up to 4 stars.

Let’s start with the 5-star books.

  • At the top of the list, we have my all-time favorite book, Watership Down. What can I say? Watership Down is a story filled with adventure, a desire to seek a better life, spirituality, hope, and above all else, bunnies!
  • Lessons in Chemistry is a story of survival and challenging the status quo. Set in the 1960s, Elizabeth is not your average woman, and she is unwilling to settle for an average life.
  • The Dictionary of Lost Words is a beautiful story that mixes a love of words with a desire for more from life than what is currently expected or given to women of the time. Esme recognizes the power of words and, in her own way, fights to raise not only her own voice but the voices of all women.
  • Fairy Tale is an epic fantasy adventure. This is King’s homage to fairy tales, and despite the mixed reviews it’s received, I found it great.
  • Upgrade, on the surface, is an action-packed book about what happens when humans start genetically engineering humans. Underneath that is a story of the moral dilemmas of modern technology and the idea of whether we should trade millions or billions of lives to engineer super-humans that can withstand disease and injury or whether we should engineer more compassion and empathy.
  • Louise Penny continues to amaze me with her ability to craft delightful murder mysteries and characters with such depth and emotion. A World of Curiosities (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, #18) does not disappoint and is, perhaps, my favorite of the entire series thus far. I recently learned there is also a TV adaptation, but as the actors seemed to have American accents, I was a little put off and haven’t watched it yet.
  • Last but not least, Still Just a Geek: An Annotated Memoir. I did not read Wil’s original memoir, but I have followed his life in recent years, including reading some of his fiction work and, at times, his blog. Wil Wheaton is an incredibly brave, strong person for sharing intimate details of his traumatic childhood and a role model for speaking out about mental illness to reduce the associated stigma. My only complaint here is that, in the audio version, it’s a little hard to follow what’s the original and what’s annotated.

The best of the 4-star books are:

  • I’ve already reviewed Maame. You can find my full review here.
  • Fevered Star (Between Earth and Sky, #2) is an excellent follow-up to Black Sun. This is another that I’ve already reviewed, which you can find here.
  • Gideon the Ninth (The Locked Tomb, #1) is a story of magic, specifically necromancy, and a wild, inventive story. On negative for me here was the audiobook. With dozens of characters with complex names and nicknames, I was often lost as to who was doing what.
  • She Who Became the Sun (The Radiant Emperor, #1) is yet another book about a woman (or girl, in this case) wanting more from life than she’s been given. Set in the 1300s, this is a clever mash-up of historical fiction and fantasy about an alternate China and the Mongol rule of the time.