We’re already at the end of January??? You know what that means! It’s time for a recap of what I read this month! If you read my What I Want To Read… post, then you know that I took up the method of finding out what I would read next by putting the titles of my monthly TBR in a jar and doing a random drawing. Well, that didn’t last long. You see, I had told two of my friends that I was going to read two different books with them, and so I ended up doing that this month, too. One of those books was in the jar, but I didn’t randomly draw it out. Then, I wasn’t in a great state of mind at the beginning of the month, so I wanted something a little easier to read, so I took a different title from the jar ahead of time. Not to mention Holly Black’s new Folk of the Air released… So yeah… But I did get a good about read! I might not have read the stuff on my TBR, but there were books, I promise!
Endless Night by Agatha Christie
Synopsis: Gipsy’s Acre was a truly beautiful upland site with views out to sea – and in Michael Rogers it stirred a child-like fantasy. There, amongst the dark fir trees, he planned to build a house, find a girl and live happily ever after. Yet, as he left the village, a shadow of menace hung over the land. For this was the place where accidents happened. Perhaps Michael should have heeded the locals’ warnings: ‘There’s no luck for them as meddles with Gipsy’s Acre.’ Michael Rogers is a man who is about to learn the true meaning of the old saying ‘In my end is my beginning.’
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I listened to the audio book version of this last year, and it’s actually what really got me into Agatha Christie! This is my favorite of all her books because it seems like everything is fine at the beginning, but by the end everything is just horrifying. It’s definitely one of her more frightening stories! Funny enough, it’s even scarier reading it a second time. Knowing what was going to happen just made the story being from Mike’s point of view really creepy. If you’ve read this one, you know what I mean!
Everything about this book is excellent. The characters are realistic. The writing style is a little different than normal, but I believe that is because this is one of her first-person pov books that was from a character not related to Poirot. She also wrote this book when she was in her seventies (it was one of the last ones she wrote). She really got into being Mike and made him come to life, flaws and all. For better or worse, you got to see everything exactly how he saw it.
We also get an incredible unreliable narrator here; the best I’ve EVER seen. If you have never been sure what an unreliable narrator is, read this book because this is the paragon of one. Just excellent! It’s actually quite similar to her other book, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, since there is a similar situation with an unreliable narrator in that one, too. Both are amazing reads!
I would really like to annotate this now that I got a physical copy for Christmas (the one I read), so I’m looking forward to that! And hey! This is my first read of the year, and it happens to be the first five star read of the year, too!
Rating: 5/5 Stars
The Stolen Heir by Holly Black
Synopsis: A runaway queen. A reluctant prince. And a quest that may destroy them both.
Eight years have passed since the Battle of the Serpent. But in the icy north, Lady Nore of the Court of Teeth has reclaimed the Ice Needle Citadel. There, she is using an ancient relic to create monsters of stick and snow who will do her bidding and exact her revenge.
Suren, child queen of the Court of Teeth, and the one person with power over her mother, fled to the human world. There, she lives feral in the woods. Lonely, and still haunted by the merciless torments she endured in the Court of Teeth, she bides her time by releasing mortals from foolish bargains. She believes herself forgotten until the storm hag, Bogdana chases her through the night streets. Suren is saved by none other than Prince Oak, heir to Elfhame, to whom she was once promised in marriage and who she has resented for years.
Now seventeen, Oak is charming, beautiful, and manipulative. He’s on a mission that will lead him into the north, and he wants Suren’s help. But if she agrees, it will mean guarding her heart against the boy she once knew and a prince she cannot trust, as well as confronting all the horrors she thought she left behind.
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Y’all, the moment I got this book in my hands I wanted to drop everything and read it! I finished up Endless Night, then I jumped right into this one. I was so happy to be back in the world of Elfhame! But I’m going to be honest. It was hard to get into, and there for a bit I was afraid I was going to hate it. You see, I’m terribly attached to Jude and Cardan, and knowing they weren’t going to be there made it difficult to go forward with it. Yes, I know it’s petty, but that’s just the way I am! I have a hard time reading a book with a bunch of new characters when I just want to see more of the old ones! But we did get a lot of Oak (and Suren is a character who appeared briefly in the original trilogy), so I was good with that!
I did like the characters, and I knew Oak would grow up to be the mischievous brat that he is. He’s just tons of fun. As for Suren, I honestly don’t know what to think of her. She just can’t beat Jude as the pov character! I have a hard time liking female pov characters, so I was a little nervous about it, but I think I’m fine with her honestly. Like I said, she’s no Jude Duarte, but I can let go of that for a while…
Jude and Cardan were mentioned plenty of times in the story, which was nice, since we got to know a little of what they’ve been up to. It looked like they were still big baddies up in their kingdom, which is just lovely. Oh, I just love them. Ahem…anyway, we also got to see Madoc, which was cool. I have kind of a hate-love relationship with Madoc, but it was pretty good to find someone familiar.
The characters were great, but in my opinion, the plot kinda wasn’t. It was sort of slow, and maybe it was just my dumb brain, but I wasn’t following what was happening sometimes. BUT, I did start to wonder if this was influenced by one of my favorite fairy tales! I got series Huntsman vibes from it, and I couldn’t stop seeing it as that the whole time. Maybe I’m just reading too much into it, but everything with the deer’s heart and Oak and Suren made me think it had to come from that fairy tale. I mean, the Huntsman story is even mentioned near the beginning. Maybe??
Ok, I’ll stop with that. All in all, I thought it was a great inclusion to the Folk of the Air series. And that ending! Way to leave us on a cliffhanger!!! And I’ve got to wait until next February to read what happens next…
Rating: 4/5 Stars
The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielson
Genre: Fantasy/Middle Grade
Synopsis: In a discontent kingdom, civil war is brewing. To unify the divided people, Conner, a nobleman of the court, devises a cunning plan to find an impersonator of the king’s long-lost son and install him as a puppet prince. Four orphans are recruited to compete for the role, including a defiant boy named Sage. Sage knows that Conner’s motives are more than questionable, yet his life balances on a sword’s point—he must be chosen to play the prince or he will certainly be killed. But Sage’s rivals have their own agendas as well.
As Sage moves from a rundown orphanage to Conner’s sumptuous palace, layer upon layer of treachery and deceit unfold, until finally, a truth is revealed that, in the end, may very well prove more dangerous than all of the lies taken together.
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I don’t know what I expected when I started this, but it definitely wasn’t what I got. I saw this book a few years ago and thought it sounded interesting, but I actually bought it a month ago. I was having a bit of a hard time the start of January because of some stuff I was working through, and I wanted to read something lighter. This was on by TBR list for the month, but instead of drawing it randomly, I just picked it up and started reading. And…I was not impressed. But maybe that’s because I didn’t realize I was going into a freaking middle grade story?
Knowing it’s a middle grade story, I think it’s actually pretty okay (and that explains the raving Goodreads reviews). I’m going to try and go easy on it. But while I was going through it, I was just shocked at what was happening. First of all, the characters were just plain annoying. I didn’t care for any of them, for real. Also, the plot was completely predictable, and most of it was just weird. I mean, this guy had two weeks to train these orphans to act like the late prince, who had been missing for four years. But he was training them to act JUST like him. Couldn’t the prince have changed in the last four years? Also, at the end, we clearly find that, had the plot twist not happened, it would have been a complete fail. I was just super confused with all the plot holes.
Speaking of the plot twist, it was just a pure hoodwink. In fact, as I was reading the book, I was like, “wouldn’t it be hilarious if one of the boys turned out to be the missing prince?”
Lo and behold.
I couldn’t even be surprised because I was somewhat disappointed in it. It wasn’t just one of the boys. It was the freaking pov character!! And what’s even funnier if that his personality did a 180 change. He was suddenly different, and I was just sitting there like, what the heck? I mean, I will say that he was more likable as a prince, so I guess there’s points for that.
You might be saying, “But Princess! It’s just a kid’s book!” Well, so is Percy Jackson and the Olympians, A Wrinkle in Time, and Howl’s Moving Castle, all books I love with a passion. When compared to other middle grade books…it just could have been better.
Rating: 3/5 Stars
Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo
Synopsis: Hunted across the True Sea, haunted by the lives she took on the Fold, Alina must try to make a life with Mal in an unfamiliar land, all while keeping her identity as the Sun Summoner a secret. But she can’t outrun her past or her destiny for long.
The Darkling has emerged from the Shadow Fold with a terrifying new power and a dangerous plan that will test the very boundaries of the natural world. With the help of a notorious privateer, Alina returns to the country she abandoned, determined to fight the forces gathering against Ravka. But as her power grows, Alina slips deeper into the Darkling’s game of forbidden magic, and farther away from Mal. Somehow, she will have to choose between her country, her power, and the love she always thought would guide her—or risk losing everything to the oncoming storm.
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This took me a loooong time to get through, like Shadow and Bone did, but I managed. I’m hoping to finish the third one as well before season two of the TV show comes out, but I’ll see what happens. I’m just not that big of a fan of this series. Really, the only reason why I watch the TV show is because the Crows are in it, and Six of Crows is one of my favorite books. I mean, it’s a good series. Just kinda…dull. Especially this one.
I do appreciate the characters, though I find that Alina gets on my nerves a little bit. I felt she could have made some wiser decisions, but I guess we’re going to feel that way about any character, aren’t we, haha! I did love Nikolai, and I had already seen him in Crooked Kingdom so I knew what to expect a little. He is just a joy, and the banter between him and Alina was one of the things that kept me reading. I didn’t see the romance between them coming, but that made things a little more interesting.
My biggest issue with this book is the pacing. This book is 400+ pages long, and it didn’t need to be. I’m reading A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas right now and I feel that it has the same problem. In fact, a lot of high fantasy books has it. They’re just too dang long. Being a fantasy writer myself, I know it’s hard to build an entire world and tell a story in it in just a few hundred pages, but I felt this book just moved to slowly and some scenes could have been cut out. If this book was shorter, I probably wouldn’t have taken so long to read it. More than that, if it hadn’t been so slow. I mean, both Crow books were incredibly long (Crooked Kingdom is 500+ pages), and I read them in a few days (at separate times) because of how good they were. There was never a dull moment. But let’s be real here, Bardugo wrote those books later in her writing career. The Shadow and Bone trilogy were her first books, so I’ve got to cut some slack, yeah?
It’s kind of a thing that people like her Six of Crows books better, so I guess I’m not alone. I would say that if you want to get into the Grishaverse books to start with SoC, but then you might go to SaB and be disappointed because they aren’t as good. Maybe go the other way around? But then you might not like Shadow And Bone, and think Six of Crows would be bad too… It’s a little of a dilemma, I guess. Of course, there’s people out there that LOVE Shadow and Bone, and if that’s you, you do you! As for me…I just can’t get into it as good.
Rating: 3.5/5 Stars
The Big Four by Agatha Christie
Synopsis: Framed in the doorway of Poirot’s bedroom stood an uninvited guest, coated from head to foot in dust. The man’s gaunt face stared for a moment, then he swayed and fell. Who was he? Was he suffering from shock or just exhaustion? Above all, what was the significance of the figure 4, scribbled over and over again on a sheet of paper? We follow Hercule Poirot as he finds himself plunged into a world of international intrigue, risking his life to uncover the truth about ‘Number Four’.
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I read this one pretty fast when I finally got to it (I held up my friend who was reading it with me long enough, haha!). It’s your typical Christie read, but I must say, I wasn’t as impressed with this one, unfortunately. I still liked it, but there was just some stuff I found strange.
It was good to read from Hastings’ pov again (I love Hastings), and Poirot was his usual self (he was just a little more obsessive that usual in my opinion). But this plot, man. It was all over the place. And while it all tied together, I thought the ending was weird. Not only was it all very sudden, but it was incredibly anti-climactic. My friend had the same thoughts. If you’ve read this, you probably know what I mean.
The villains were made to be this horrible looming shadow over the entire world. But you never get to see one of them! And at the end, just like that, they’re easily killed. I was just like, “oh, okay.”
Don’t get me wrong! As I said, I still enjoyed reading it! I just think the ending could have been a bit better. If you want to get into Agatha Christie, I have to say that I wouldn’t start with this one.
Rating: 4/5 Stars
I had hoped to squeeze A Court of Thorns and Roses (which I’m loving) in here, but it just wasn’t meant to be. I’m hoping to finish it tomorrow though, so it’ll definitely be in my February reads! I’m also going to do the random drawing to pick out which book I’ll pick out next, so check out my Instagram (@princessgeekreads) to see that take place!
What did you read this month? Any five star reads yet? Let me know in the comments below! And as always, God bless y’all and have a wonderful rest of the week!
All synopses taken from Goodreads.