The first month of 2020 is over! I was looking forward to starting a brand new reading year in January and although I didn’t have a set TBR at the start of the month, I did end up sort of participating in a readathon halfway through. It’s called the Backlist Bookathon and it’s all about reading the books you’ve had on your shelves for a long time. It runs from the 15th of January until the 15th of February, so I’m still smack dab in the middle of it. Truth be told, though, I’m kind of half-assing it, but it did motivate me to set a TBR of books I probably wouldn’t have read right now otherwise.
Last year, I really enjoyed doing these mini review posts each month, but I stopped doing them after April because I ended up reviewing the books I read on my YouTube channel. I’ve taken a bit of a break from that, though, and I’m excited to start doing these tiny reviews on here again. So, having said that – let’s get to them!
Call Down the Hawk by Maggie Stiefvater ★★★★⭑ (4.5)
This was probably my most anticipated release of 2019! It came out in November, but I didn’t get to it then because I was in the middle of writing my novel, and Call Down the Hawk has similar themes, so I didn’t want things to get muddled in my head. CDtH ended up being my first read of 2020 and I’m glad it was because I loved it! I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect from this book. It’s the first book in a new trilogy that’s set in the same universe a Stiefvater’s The Raven Cycle. It’s about Ronan, one of the main characters of the first series, and it follows him after the events of TRC. It’s so completely different, though, and it didn’t lean on TRC: it does its own thing and I loved it for that. This was my kind of book: all about dreams and dreamers, reality and imagination (and the vague boundaries between those things).
The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden ★★★★☆
I listened to this on audio and it took me quite some time to finish it – I started listening to the audiobook sometime in December, I believe. That doesn’t mean I didn’t love it, though! It’s set in a village in long time ago Russia, and it’s about Vasilisa, who is a very special girl. I believe the story is based on Russian folktales and it certainly has a fairytale-like atmosphere, which was wonderful. The story is absolutely magical, and it was a lot of fun to listen to this around Christmas, because it focuses on winter a lot as well. Don’t mistake The Bear and the Nightingale for a sweet tale, though. It’s about family and magic, yes, but it also has quite a few dark elements. Even though I thoroughly enjoyed this, I’m not that pressed to pick up books two and three in this trilogy. I think that’s because this felt like a pretty finished story on its own. I’ll probably read the others at some point, but I don’t think it’ll happen soon.
Tell Me How You Really Feel by Amina Mae Safi ★★☆☆☆
This book stands out a little between all of those four star-reads, and I’m definitely sad I couldn’t give this one a high rating as well, as I had high hopes for it. Tell Me How You Really Feel is a YA romantic contemporary about two girls who initially have a very difficult relationship (one hating the other), but then fall in love with each other. I bought this because of the dedication, which is “For Amy Sherman-Palladino. Thank you for never giving Rory Gilmore a decent boyfriend. She’s always had Paris.” I adore Gilmore Girls, and this dedication made me laugh out loud, so I wanted to read the book straight away. Unfortunately, it fell flat for me. The initial conflict between the two main characters wasn’t believable to me and I fully disliked one of the girls (Rachel). I expected to be sucked into a cute, diverse romance, but I was mostly just disappointed and annoyed. I did like Sana (the other girl) and her development, though. I just never fully connected to the story.
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott ★★★★☆
A classic! Like a lot of people, I wanted to read this before the film comes out (it comes out later this week where I live, I believe). All of my knowledge about this book came from the episode of Friends when Joey reads Little Women because it’s Rachel’s favourite book. In short: I knew very little, apart from the fact that it’s about a bunch of sisters and a boy named Laurie (Joey is very confused about that). When I started reading, I thought I would probably end up thinking the story was too sugary-sweet and old-timey, but I was wrong. Sure, it’s very sweet, and I wasn’t that fond of the focus on religion and God as your best friend, but mostly this book just made me feel warm and fuzzy inside. I love the March sisters and the way they care for each other and how they look at the world. Obviously, Jo is my favourite, but the others were a lot of fun to read about as well.
The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli ★★★★☆
This is the first book off my list of ten books I want to read in 2020! I bought this novel when it came out in 2017 and was excited to read it then, but for some reason my enthusiasm waned and I ended up kind of dreading reading this book – weird how that works. It was also completely unnecessary because I loved this! The Upside of Unrequited is a YA contemporary story about Molly, who’s never had a boyfriend but who has had 26 crushes. Molly is very insecure about her body and thinks no boy could fall in love with her. Of course, she ends up being wrong. This story is about so much more than just having a boy fall in love with you, though. It’s about Molly’s journey to becoming more self-assured and finding herself, and about her and her twin sister Cassie growing up and the possibility of them growing apart. It’s also just a lot of fun with a lot of great dialogue and heartwarming moments. I recognised a lot of my teenage self in Molly and I think that made it even more fun to read this. If only this would’ve been around when I was seventeen!
And that’s it for my mini reviews of the books I read in January! I had a great reading month but now I want to hear about yours! Which books did you read in January? Did you like them? Do you have any thoughts on the books I read? Let me know in the comments below and we can chat about it!