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  • Writer's pictureS. Yumi Yamamoto

January Reading Log

Remember in school when we were all forced to read and then write up a Reading Log or Reading Journal, or some shit? Good intentions badly implemented until it ended up creating generations of kids who hated to read.

Well, I'm going to write up a reading log like the old days and see where it goes.

January was a productive month! To stay on track for my reading goal for 2019, I only had to read one book a week. Well, I overshot that goal by almost double! Though I suppose if you don't count my re-read, the number isn't that impressive. Still, I'm ahead of the curve, and I like that feeling! I'll recount my vague feelings and thoughts about each, as I seemed to have done a bit of everything this month.

First, there was Ilona Andrews' Wildfire, which I'm sad to say was my first book of the year. This romance was easily digestible and perfect for a week that I just wanted to do nothing at all. Not much to say about this, other than it wasn't as bad as the first two in this series. Honestly, I can't believe I've gotten this far into the series, and I still have at least one more to go. I'm at that strange point where I've invested so much time into the series where I feel compelled to finish, but I don't feel like I would care if I never picked up another one ever again. It's like a bag of mixed candy where you've already eaten all your favorites: the other ones will still satisfy a sweet tooth, but you're not thrilled to finish the bag.

Second of the month was one I was very happy about! The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee was a novel I had heard so much about, and one I figured I'd love immediately. I did. The adventure had just enough ridiculous antics to keep me interested, and having the story filtered through an arrogant, privileged, selfish, charming protagonist gave the novel a particular flavor that I loved. I'm sad that the companion to this novel (The Lady's Guide to Petticoats and Piracy) did not get a lot of good reviews, but I am looking forward to reading it some time.

Third on the list was The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, which put me in a strange mood and a stranger dilemma. I went in without really knowing what the book was or why it was capturing the minds of so many POC. After the first chapter, I immediately understood and I wasn't sure if I was ready to delve into so much pain after two relatively fluffy novels. Thankfully, the protagonist had enough day-to-day melodrama that it kept me from spiralling too far into the subject, but at the same time it did not shy away from the matter at hand. This seems to be a very divisive book, and it clearly shows people's backgrounds and experiences. Some people had criticized the novel for it's narration or style, and others have found fault in the flow of events. This, I attribute to the problem of "relatability" (which I absolutely hate). I related a lot to Star, as my childhood was half spent in an upper-middle class neighborhood and the other half was spent down the street from a high school that had gun incidents every other month (before school shootings were commonplace). People who haven't seen the "other side", no matter what that side is, have a hard time believing, imagining, and empathizing with characters who aren't like them. While this "relatability" problem doesn't just happen with race or class or politics, it's clear that this book more clearly has that problem than others.

Fourth this month was a comfortable re-read of Shattered Mirror by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes, and that was mostly to take off my rose-colored glasses and see it for what it is. I wrote up a more detailed review last week, and I'm fairly happy with the result of my experiment. I'm still immensely thankful for the novel and when it came into my life. Regardless of how good or bad it was, it changed the way my life ended up.

Fifth was The Cruel Prince by Holly Black. I've read some of Holly Black's writing before, mostly short stories, and I was anticipating more of her magic in this book. The Wicked King just came out this month, and so to keep up with the times I figured I should read the first book before reading the second. Sadly, I didn't feel the same kind of wonder and spiteful magical faeries that I had experienced in her short stories. Not to say that the novel was bad, but I went in with some expectations that weren't met. Also, the protagonist (Jude) is a fucking idiot, and I hate her. I was much more interested in her older sister Vivi, the faerie politics, and, frankly, the prince who was a complete and utter psychopath toward Jude. I'm curious as to how it will play out in The Wicked King, but I hope Jude gets knocked down a few more times. She just deserves it for all the unnecessarily stupid decisions she makes.

Lastly, I finished Stephen Fry's Victorian Secrets which was more of a podcast/TV documentary-style audiobook than anything else. I've said it before and I'll say it again: I love the 19th Century! The Victorians were highly secretive, but with a good two hundred years between us and them, so many of those secrets have come to light. I wasn't quite expecting experts to come and discuss their findings/research, but I was happy to have it! Covering everything from sex and sexuality to toilets and drug use, I learned a lot about the spirit of the age and more about why it fascinates me so much. I'd highly recommend it to anyone who has an interest in the era, even if only with passing intrigue.

February is going to be longer, and that's only because the Booktube Games is on, and I'm determined to have Team Ketterdam blast everyone else out of the water 😈 I've already downloaded a shit ton of audiobooks and plan on listening to them at a faster speed, and I'm thinking of how to get the challenges done as quickly and efficiently as possible! Being on vacation and doing the Booktube Games will be a challenge in itself, but I'm READY.

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