January Reading Wrap Up

I’m going to start this post with a disclaimer.. If you’re new around here and this is the first wrap up of mine you’ve read, please understand that this amount of books is not normal for me. Usually I manage 3 or 4 books in a month. Don’t get too excited.. It probably won’t last.

This month I’ve read 11 books! I must admit that half of them were children’s / middle grade books, but at the end of the day a book is a book. I’ve also really got back into audiobooks… but only middle grade ones. I find audiobooks of adult fiction can get a bit confusing sometimes as too much is going on and I’ll switch off once I’ve lost the idea of what’s going on. Middle grade books, however, are great. Underrated and great. I’m working a few mornings a week for some extra pennies alongside my degree and I’m finding that audiobooks whilst working are actually helping me to be more productive and it definitely makes the time go quicker.

This month was the first month of using the CAWPILE system to review books. If you don’t know what that is then you can check out my blog post on that here. But it really has revolutionised the way in which I’m thinking about books. I mentioned in that blog that before starting using CAWPILE that I basically plucked a number out of thin air to rate the book, and my rating was mostly based on two things: 1. The ending of the book 2. The mood I was in when I finished the book. 2020 saw me giving out a lot of 5 stars and looking back, the vast majority of those books didn’t deserve such a high rating. But anyway, you can check out my blog about that!

3 STAR

Before talking about my three star reads, I firstly just want to reiterate that 3 stars IS NOT A BAD REVIEW!!! To me, three stars means that the book was good, but it didn’t blow my mind.. But it is by no means bad!!

East Side Hustler – Leopold Borstinski (Alex Cohen #2) – This is the second book of the Alex Cohen series that I read right at the start of January. I gave books 1 and 3 a four star review, but I found this book to be slightly less entertaining. The Alex Cohen series is a historical fiction crime series based in New York. East Side Hustler follows Alex’s life throughout the 1920s. The writing throughout all 3 books is phenomenal; it keeps you immersed and I don’t think I’ve ever read three books as quickly in my life. In this book, however, I really grew quite a disliking for Alex, which made it more difficult for me to enjoy.. I did warm to him in the third book though!

If you want to read my blog tour review of the first three books of the Alex Cohen series then click here!

The Switch – Beth O’Leary – I enjoyed reading The Flatshare last year so had reasonably high expectations for The Switch. The whole premise of the book is that Leena is told to take 2 months away from her job due to her mental health and in those two months she switches lives with her grandmother, Eileen. The book switches POV each chapter between LEena and her grandma. Eileen is an absolute gem and I adored that woman and wish she was real. Leena.. Meh. I found her a bit annoying. It took me around 100 pages to actually get into the book and I did debate a few times giving up on it, but Momma (and Poppa) didn’t raise a quitter and so I persevered and I thought by the end of it that it was a good book, just not the best I’ve ever read.

Emerald Star – Jacqueline Wilson – This is the third book in the Hetty Feather series. I’ve really enjoyed listening to this series whilst I’ve been working over the past few weeks – it’s definitely made my mornings go quicker. This one, however, I didn’t think was as logical as the other two and to me seemed a bit far fetched. I know this is a book aimed at younger readers, but if this book was to be ‘realistic’ then I just can’t see how a lot of it happened. To summarise, hopefully without spoiling too much.. This series is historical fiction. Hetty is a foundling. She had a foster family until she was 5 and then had to be returned to the foundling hospital (book 1). Whilst with her foster family, a travelling circus comes to their village and Hetty sneaks in and from that point on is obsessed with the idea of circuses. I’m not going to say too much more because I’ll ruin the entire thing, but put it this way the circus theme continues. I also don’t quite believe that everything that happened would have happened in a real life scenario.. I know it’s a work of fiction, but like I said, it became a bit illogical and farfetched.

4 STAR

Poppy Flowers at the Front – Jon Wilkins – I did a blog tour review for this book. You can check it out by clicking here. This book has been on my mind a lot since I read it right at the start of the month. It’s a historical fiction novel… 8 of the 11 books I’ve read have been historical fiction. Can you guess what my favourite genre is?!

This book is set during WW2 and is the story of how Poppy Loveday, an underaged ambulance driver, falls in love with fellow nurse Elodie. Throughout this book my heart continually ached for the pair as I can’t imagine how hard it must be to not be allowed to show affection towards the person you love. Jon wrote about the pair so beautifully and the book has really found a place inside my heart. It’s a short book but took me a while to read because I found myself really wanting to enjoy each and every page.

The Bowery Slugger – Leopold Borstinski (Alex Cohen #1) – The first book in the Alex Cohen series. This book takes place in New York throughout the 1910s. This is the first introduction to Alex, who’s moved to America from Europe for a better life. At the start of the book he’s around 15 years old, but already finds himself getting into the wrong hands when he tries to find a job. As mentioned in my East Side Hustler summary, the writing in the books is phenomenal and you can so clearly imagine Alex and the situations he gets himself into inside your head.

Midtown Huckster – Leopold Borstinski (Alex Cohen #3) – After deciding whilst reading the second book that I’d fallen out with Alex due to some of the silly mistakes he made, he did redeem himself in the third book. The third book is based throughout the 1930s – so Alex is now in his 30s. In the second book he’s very much focused on progressing up the ranks of the crime world and it makes him extremely selfish. In this book he’s reminded that he does actually have a family he should be taking care of (not that he sees them very often) and there are moments where the selfishness does dissolve a little bit. Though there are still times where he’s extremely selfish. This book ended on a bit of a cliffhanger, and I’m excited to see where book 4 takes the story!

Dancing The Charleston – Jacqueline Wilson – This was my first audiobook of the year and the one that got me back into listening to audiobooks. As its name suggests, this is also a historical fiction set in the 1920s. Mona is an orphan living with her aunt in a little cottage of the grand Somerset estate. Her aunt works as a dressmaker and makes dresses for Lady Somerset. When Lady Somerset passes away there becomes quite a lot of uncertainty about where the pair would live due to some not so nice members of Lady Somerset’s family. This was an audiobook I really enjoyed. It was easy to follow and understand what was going on. And there was even a cameo appearance from (now grown up) Hetty Feather which I thought was a really nice touch.

Hetty Feather – Jacqueline Wilson – Speaking of Hetty Feather, here’s another 4 star book! As mentioned in my Emerald Star review, Hetty Feather is the first in the series and book one follows the life of foundling, Hetty throughout the first 10 or so years of her life. Like the other Jacqueline Wilson books I’ve listened to audiobooks of, they’re really easy to follow and understand. They’re also books that if you stop listening for a moment, you can easily pick back up on the plot and continue to follow the story.

Sapphire Battersea – Jacqueline Wilson – This is Hetty Feather book #2. I’d say out of the three books I listened to as part of the Hetty Feather series, this one is definitely the most emotional. After the first book, it becomes quite hard to gauge how old Hetty is and everything seems to happen pretty quickly. This doesn’t distract from the fact it’s a good book!

44 Tiny Acrobats – Sylvia Bishop – This book will be published on 4th February 2021 and I have a full review of this book coming on its release date. I was very kindly gifted this book by Little Tiger and this book is aimed at 6-9 year olds. I won’t say anything else about it.. You will have to read my review when it comes out!

5 STAR

Like I mentioned at the start of this blog, I’m trying to keep my 5 stars for books that I feel are truly exceptional. I only read one 5 star book this month.

The Midnight Library – Matt Haig – Click here to read my full review of this book. Like I mentioned in my review, it took me days after finishing the book to finish writing the review. I felt that whatever I wrote wouldn’t do the book the justice it deserves. The book focuses around mental health which is a topic that is especially important for us to be considering at the moment seeing as we have been battling with the coronavirus for almost a year now. Although the first few chapters might be a bit challenging, once you’re through them, the book has the most wonderful storyline and the last few chapters of the book are incredible. They’re empowering, uplifting, and make you realise that life can be good, even when you think that is impossible.

And that is that! I won’t lie, it feels like I started writing this blog about 3 hours ago… But I got there in the end. If you’re reading this then congrats for making it this far. I have quite a few audiobooks and 4 blog tours / reviews already lined up for February, which means that my reading count is probably going to be quite high again. You can probably tell by the way that my summaries got shorter and shorter as the blog post went on, that I’m a bit tired.

I hope February is a great month of reading for everyone. Keep your eyes peeled for my reviews of some amazing books throughout the month/ I will also hopefully (fingers and toes crossed), be starting my author interview series.. I just need to get around to actually thinking up some questions!

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2 thoughts on “January Reading Wrap Up

  1. Great reviews!! I need to read The Midnight Library – I’ve heard so many good reviews. I love Jacqueline Wilson.

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