Recent Reads, January 2024

January ended up being a great month for reading for me! I got in a decent amount of reading time, plus audiobook time too, and really loved what I read, too. I feel like I’m really starting out 2024 on the right page reading-wise, if you’ll allow the pun, and I’m so happy about it. Here’s everything that I read in January.

Midnight at the Blackbird Cafe by Heather Webber

This was a cozy, small Southern town story with just a touch of magical realism. Anna Kate finds herself in a small town called Wicklow, running the Blackbird CafĂ© that was owned by her grandmother who just passed away. Anna Kate has every intention of getting into and out of town quickly, to return to her life and her dreams, and definitely has no plans to get to know the family she’s been estranged from. But the longer she’s there, the more she finds herself wanting to stay… and to keep protecting the secret of the blackbirds. I really enjoyed the sense of home and belonging I felt in this book!

Bad Cree by Jessica Johns

Bad Cree is marketed as a horror, but I don’t think of this as horror in the traditional sense. Mackenzie left her hometown in rural Alberta a few years ago and hasn’t looked back – she didn’t even go home for her sister Sabrina’s funeral almost a year ago. But when she starts having dreams about her home – and starts to bring back objects from her dreams into the real world – she knows she needs to get help from her family. Once she’s home, Mackenzie has to figure out how her dreams relate to her sister, her family, and even her whole community. This is an incredible story and by the end, I couldn’t put it down!

Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir

I am not typically a sci-fi reader (and space kind of overwhelms and scares me!), but so many people I trust told me to read this book – and they were absolutely right. Ryland Grace finds himself on a spaceship, tasked with the mission of saving Earth from something mysterious in the atmosphere – except when he wakes up on the ship, he’s not sure why he’s there or what he’s supposed to do. The story jumps back and forth a bit as Ryland recovers more and more memories, and as he works out how he can save Earth… alone. It sounds overwhelming, but it’s actually heartwarming (though stressful at times!). This is one of those books where the less you know going into it, the more I think you’ll enjoy.

The Djinn Waits a Hundred Years by Shubnum Khan

(I got an ARC of this through NetGalley, but it’s out now!) This book is beautiful – the writing is kind of slow and dreamy and magical, just like the story itself is. Sana has just moved into an old, somewhat decrepit mansion, and starts poking around, trying to unravel the mysteries that seem to surround the house. In one long-forgotten corner, she finds a room that’s been untouched for years, and reads an old diary where she learns about the long-ago inhabitants of the house. But sometimes, as Sana learns, the past and the present are not really as distant as they seem. This was just a stunning story and I loved it.

Sure, I’ll Join Your Cult by Maria Bamford

I listened to this on audiobook, and I think hearing it in Maria Bamford’s voice added a lot to it, but know that there are “sound effects” throughout that might be off-putting to some! This book is kind of like a trip through Maria’s mind – starting out when she was younger and some formative childhood experiences, but also sharing really openly about her mental illnesses and time in psychiatric treatment facilities. I really appreciated how honest she was, but found the first half of the book a bit disjointed. I think the second half, where she gets more into the details of her time in different treatment centers and groups, is where it really came together for me.

Percy Jackson and the Olympians (Book One, Book Two, Book Three, Book Four, Book Five) by Rick Riordan

I never read the Percy Jackson books growing up, but since the new series is out now on Disney+, I decided I wanted to read the books, too. They’re quick reads because they’re middle grade books, but I really enjoyed them – I never felt like the writing was condescending towards kids or adults. Percy is a demi-god – one parent is a Greek god, the other is a mortal – living in the modern day world. This has been hidden from him, though, and he thought all his struggles were just because of his ADHD and dyslexia, which turn out to be common about demi-gods! I really loved how Percy’s disabilities are turned into strengths, and a sign of being destined for something greater. Throughout the series, Percy has to navigate issues big and small – keeping Olympus from all-out war, and figuring out how to confess his feelings to the girl he has a crush on. It’s a fun, quick series to go through.

Divine Rivals by Rebecca Ross

I know so many people on Instagram raved about this book, but honestly, it fell a little flat to me. It’s a historical fantasy set during wartime, and Iris wants to win the position of columnist for the Oath Gazette after her brother has gone off to fight in a war for the gods. She keeps writing her brother letters on a magical typewriter, but the letters instead end up in the hands of her rival for the columnist position, Roman. But when something happens at home, Iris decides she needs to head to the front lines of war to try to find her brother… only to find out that Roman is there, too. The story was fine, but the world-building felt really thin to me, and the enemies-to-lovers plotline developed too quickly for me. I might eventually read the sequel, but I’m not in a hurry.

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