How the time flies. Initially, I was meant to draft this January Wrap Up way earlier, but unfortunately, last week has turned out to be busier than expected, and I have been feeling very exhausted.
But I read some great books in January, and I’d definitely recommend adding some of them to your TBR list! I read 29 books in January (a bit crazy number for me), so it’s quite hard to choose my favourites, but I combined below a list of the books that will definitely stay in my mind for a long while.
My Top 5 Books in January
Piranesi by Susanna Clarke
Piranesi was wonderfully weird, and I cannot recommend it enough. It’s such a unique book, composed of a quite complex and unexpected narrative. I’m really happy I ended up listening to the audiobook version, even though I own a physical copy as well. Even though I know I would have enjoyed this book regardless of its format, there was something captivating in the audio. Chiwetel Ejiofor certainly suited the role of Piranesi so perfectly, bringing the diary entries of the main character to live.
Code Name Hélène by Ariel Lawhon
Though fictionalised, Code Name Hélène is based on the life of a true heroine of World War II, Nancy Wake. Nancy Wake, an Australian expat, was living in France and working as a journalist in the 1930s when she met and married a French industrialist. When the war started, unable to sit in one place, Nancy has started to help out the British Intelligence when the opportunity has presented itself. Code Name Hélène uses dual narrative, and the reader meets Nancy both as an operative coming back to France to help out the war effort and a young woman falling in love not long before the war started. It has been well-written and well-research historical fiction, and I really want to read the biography of Nancy Wake, she was a fascinating and brave figure.
Franci’s War by Franci Rabinek Epstein
Franci’s War is a powerful, heartbreaking, and eye-opening book. It’s definitely one of the books that will stay in my mind for a long time. I don’t see myself re-reading it as it’s not an easy read and concerns heavy topic, but it’s definitely an important memoir. It’s rare to read a memoir on this subject written in such a matter-of-fact tone. In Franci’s War, the narrator says how it was without hiding all the things people held in the concentration camps done in order to survive even a little longer. It is especially striking to read the middle of the book when the narration changes. No longer in the first person, Franci recalls the events in the third person speaking of herself as if observing someone else. In this way, she distances herself from the events in order to survive.
The Mask Falling by Samantha Shannon
The Mask Falling is probably my favourite The Bone Season series so far. I enjoyed the setting especially, partially because it’s set mostly in Paris, but also because it has a greater international scope than the previous books in the series. I also thought that Paige’s struggles in this part were particularly well-shown. She has to deal with a lot and come to terms with the aftermath of the events of the previous book. She’s still seriously injured, both physically and mentally, and I was glad to see that it was not brushed off to the side, but rather played the important role in the narrative. I’ve already written a more detailed review earlier this month, but on the overall, it was a great story, and I would recommend the series. It took me a while to get into it, but this part was definitely my favourite.
Take a Hint, Dani Brown by Talia Hibbert
The Brown Sisters series is such a great series of contemporary romances with vibrant and lively main characters that are flawed, funny and believable. Talia Hibbert’s writing is also very inclusive, with the first book, Get a Life, Chloe Brown, following Chloe who has a chronic illness, and Take a Hint, Dani Brown, having a character with anxiety. While I’ve enjoyed all three books in the series – I have been lucky to read the third one, Act Your Age, Eve Brown, before the release date – this one is definitely my favourite. Dani is quirky, funny and relatable.
What are your recent favourites?