January Reading Wrap-Up



I used to do this back on my old blog, and I switched blogs for the primary reason of well I like the formatting for this website much better. The actual content hasn’t really changed much, although I hope to improve it. I enjoy doing these, especially to look back on, and I hope you do too. I’m trying to read more diverse books (currently my only progress with this has been following diverse bloggers on Twitter, I’m afraid none of these books are diverse, my local library doesn’t really supply them) but, for now, enjoy what I read this month!

If you’re familiar with the bookish side of the Internet, then this isn’t a new thing to you and you can skip the rest of this paragraph. For all those out there who are unaware of what a reading wrap-up is, it’s where you sum up books you have read briefly over a certain period of time. Because I am very slow lately when it comes to my reading pace, I will be doing them monthly where the most you’ll see me read is three or four at most probably. Some people do this bi-weekly, can you imagine? Truly people to admire.

I’m quite happy with this months collection of reads and I hope you end up picking at least one of them up if you haven’t read them already!

Cogheart by Peter Bunze

This is a rather heartwarming steampunk adventure with mechanical people/animals living with regular humans, facing discrimination against the general population. There are airships battling in the sky. Utterly vile and vicious villains. Strong main characters, although this is a kids book so they are somewhat underdeveloped and the good characters all sort of melt into the same person as do the bad people. There’s never really a representation of how good/bad resides in all of us, and it depends what we choose. There’s never really anything more than that, they’re just good and bad.  Girl-power, too. For the win!

This story follows a rather badass little girl called Lily and her pet mechanical animal fox. Her father, a famous and incredibly talented man, created a machine that it seems some people would do anything to get their hands on it. Little do they know what they’re truly up against.

It was a story that truly took me away, brought me back to my childhood and made me feel little again. Not to mention it was brilliantly told, with some truly beautiful quotes.

It also made me think quite a lot about how people in society may be viewed, specifically physically disabled people, and maybe they aren’t really viewed the same as other people because of the way they are, such as being in a wheelchair or having a prosthetic leg. Perhaps I am the only one who made that connection and I think that the writer had no intention maybe of that being implied, but there is a lot of elements in this book with how differently mechanical people are treated with the assumption that they can’t feel or can’t feel the same as humans. It was very interesting.

Cuckoo’s Song by Frances Hardinge 

It follows the story of Triss who wakes up one day and has no idea what happened or how she got there. Even more bizarre is that her little sister, Pen, completely hates her. People whisper around her, word starts to spread, and slowly little secrets begin to unfold about what happened that night and what exactly happened.

It’s very creepy. It involves dolls (if that wasn’t/isn’t obvious by the cover!), a lot of strange little unsettling moments, but my favorite is the feminism sown in here and there. It takes place just after World War Two, where women had “realized” that they can handle things on their own and they don’t need their husbands in order to have control and leadership within themselves. That, though, is more of a background element I enjoyed.

This isn’t the first time I’ve read from this author. The first time was when I read “The Lie Tree” and this follows very similar themes and the writing style felt like that same warm hand coming out to grab mine, familiar and comfortable, despite the topic that hand is writing.

Again, this book also had elements with how people are treated. With the current conversation surrounding refugees and xenophobia, I naturally came to a strand of thoughts that certain people in this book (that I can’t specify due to spoilers) are treated badly because they are seen and talked about as monsters when, in reality, they’re just protecting themselves (although they can be a bit nasty….) I also related this to animals and how badly they can be treated because they are seen as horrible, vile creatures when I think they’re far from – snakes, lizards and yes even spiders! Another case of me reading too much into a topic that might have just been a plot device, but I quite liked it.

The downsides was that the book sometimes seemed to drag on. I feel like fifty pages could have been cut out with the pointless descriptions or the odd chapter here and there that are suspenseful, but don’t really have any meat added to it and isn’t really of any importance in itself. Other than that, though.

The Reptile Room by Lemony Snicket, Book The Second in the ‘A Series of Unfortunate Events’ series 

This was, of course, influenced by the recent premier of the Netflix TV show by the same name. I read the first book a long long time ago (not that long, probably three or four years ago). I still own it but, because I’m lazy and I was just excited to continue the series, I didn’t re-read it and jumped straight into this one. In case you were wondering, just as an add on, the TV series goes from the first book up until the forth book (‘The Miserable Mill’).

I enjoyed this book just as much as I enjoyed the first. Actually, I enjoyed it more! It’s so fun to read, despite the annoyingly painful moments when the orphans are suddenly lumped into another unfortunate event. But, of course, it’s in the title…you should expect frustrating things to happen. Count Olaf is truly one of the best villains ever written, excluding Disney and Harry Potter villains of course.

The only criticism I really have is how Snicket will jump ahead sometimes and tell us what is about to happen rather than allowing us to find out for ourselves, although saying that I think this style of writing is unique and it builds suspense for exactly how it’s going to happen. I also don’t like how he informs us what words mean far too often rather than allowing the child, the target audience, to research what the word means themselves. It gets rather tedious after a point (as it does in the show, too, but that’s another post for another time…).

They are very short and quick reads, very funny, quick-witted! Sometimes, the unfortunate events these children go through are just absolutely ridiculous but I enjoy them all the same! It might even be because of the ridiculous that is luring me in. I’m very excited to start reading “The Wide Widow” and just as February begins too! February already?!)

Anyway, that’s my rather short (and also rather long!) reading month and my first reading month of the year! I’m excited to see what everyone else enjoyed after their Christmas holidays. Hopefully something good! See you next time, Lorna.


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