Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Reading round-up: January

January 2014 books

1. what purpose did i serve in your life by Marie Calloway - 7/10. Read my full review / Buy the book
2. A Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle - 7/10. Buy the ebook
3. Don't Stand So Close by Luana Lewis - 6/10. Read my full review / Pre-order the ebook
4. Season To Taste or How To Eat Your Husband by Natalie Young - 4/10. Read my full review / Buy the ebook
5. The Gospel of Loki by Joanne M. Harris - 9/10. Read my full review / Pre-order the ebook
6. The Goddess and the Thief by Essie Fox - 6/10. Read my full review / Buy the ebook
7. Glow by Ned Beauman - 10/10. Review to come / Pre-order the ebook

Although it's only the beginning of February, I've already identified two of the best books of 2014 (in my opinion). The first is Ned Beauman's brilliant Glow (out in May), a conspiracy thriller which reads like a cross between David Mitchell, Jonathan Coe and DBC Pierre. Colourful, funny and dirty, it's a return to form for the author and if I read anything better this year, it will be a brilliant year. Hot on Glow's heels is The Gospel of Loki (out in March), the first fantasy novel from Joanne Harris (writing here as Joanne M. Harris). It's an epic account of Norse mythology as told by the unreliable trickster god, Loki. Really fun and readable and actually made me feel like I had learnt a lot about these myths and their origins.

I checked two more advance copies off my list this month, but neither of them were anywhere near as good as the above favourites. Don't Stand So Close was a gripping, pacy thriller, but it wasn't particularly memorable and failed to stand out from the crowd - and with the amount of psychological thrillers around these days, that's a big crowd. Season To Taste, which has divided opinions amongst reviewers, didn't work for me. Although the simple but gruesome premise (long-suffering wife murders her husband, then eats him) grabbed my attention, I found the execution dull as dishwater.

As the above suggests, I haven't done particularly well with my promise to read fewer review copies and expand my reading to 'older' books. However, in the interest of being more organised, last week I started a spreadsheet - complete with colour-coding - to track my 2014 reading. Yes, I know this sounds a bit over-the-top, but it's helped so much in defining the distinction between what I really want to read and what I feel I should. I would recommend this tactic if you have an enormous to-read list, it really helps to stop you feeling overfaced (the end result of which is usually reading things 'for the sake of it').

To balance things out, I read the first Sherlock Holmes book, A Study in Scarlet, at the beginning of the month: I enjoyed it, and will probably read more of the series later, but I didn't LOVE it. The same could be said of Essie Fox's The Goddess and the Thief, which was a little disappointing and didn't capitalise on a really good beginning. Marie Calloway's what purpose did i serve in your life was a different story: I gave it a middling rating, but found it to be a very interesting and at times intensely uncomfortable read which threw up a lot of questions and really made me think.

All in all, a good, varied month of reading to start the year. January itself hasn't been particularly good, I've constantly been either busy, ill, incredibly skint or all three at once, so I'm hoping that's all the bad stuff out of the way for the rest of the year... That's why I haven't been great at posting reviews here for the last few weeks, but with plenty more exciting new releases to look forward to, I'm hoping to get on top of that in February!

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  1. Oh, a Study in Scarlet is the first Holmes book, but being a seasoned Holmes fan, I always feel like it shouldn't be the first one read to get somebody to love the series.

    I'm interested in what purpose did i serve in your life and the Gospel of Loki. I hereby solemnly swear to try my best in not having the Marvel-Loki as my mental Loki image when I get to read the book.

  2. Wow, I used to read your blog many moons ago (and LJ before that). I absolutely love this, I've been looking for a book review blog for a long time.