Monday, 2 February 2015

Reading Wrap-Up | January 2015

I'm very pleased to announce that January was a brilliant reading month for me, meaning I got the new year off to a fantastic start! I read ten books this month, and enjoyed all of them.

by Hannah Kent

My Rating:

Set against Iceland's stark landscape, Hannah Kent brings to vivid life the story of Agnes, who, charged with the brutal murder of her former master, is sent to an isolated farm to await execution. 

Horrified at the prospect of housing a convicted murderer, the family at first avoids Agnes. Only Tóti, a priest Agnes has mysteriously chosen to be her spiritual guardian, seeks to understand her. But as Agnes's death looms, the farmer's wife and their daughters learn there is another side to the sensational story they've heard. 

A stunning debut novel and a stunning piece of historical fiction. If you'd like to see more of my thoughts on it, you can find my review here!

by Owen Sheers

My Rating: 

Based on the fable of Branwen, Daughter of Llyr, this interpretation revives one of the most action-packed stories in the whole myth cycle. Moving this bloodthirsty tale of Welsh and Irish power struggles and family tensions into the 21st century, this retelling retains many of the bizarre and magical happenings of the original. After being wounded in Italy, Matthew O’Connell is seeing out WWII in an obscure government department, spreading rumors and myths to the enemy. When he is assigned the bizarre task of escorting a box containing six raven chicks from a remote hill farm to the Tower of London, he soon finds himself ensnared in an adventure that leaves him powerless.

My first retelling of the year was White Ravens, a retelling of one of the tales from The Mabinogion. I enjoyed it, and I look forward to reading more of these retellings!

by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples

My Rating: 

When two soldiers from opposite sides of a never-ending galactic war fall in love, they risk everything to bring a fragile new life into a dangerous old universe. 

This month I finally started Saga, which I've been meaning to read for a long time now. I loved it. I love the originality of the character designs; I love Prince Robot IV, and despite being terrified of spiders I really love The Stalk, too. The chemistry between Alana and Marko is perfection and I just love this series so much. I love it!

by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples

My Rating: 

Thanks to her star-crossed parents Marko and Alana, newborn baby Hazel has already survived lethal assassins, rampaging armies, and horrific monsters, but in the cold vastness of outer space, the little girl encounters her strangest adventure yet... grandparents.

Did I mention I love this series?

by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples

My Rating: 

Searching for their literary hero, new parents Marko and Alana travel to a cosmic lighthouse on the planet Quietus, while the couple's multiple pursuers finally close in on their targets.

Like, really love it.

by Virginia Woolf

My Rating: 

A Room of One's Own is an extended essay by Virginia Woolf. First published on 24 October 1929, the essay was based on a series of lectures she delivered at Newnham College and Girton College, two women's colleges at Cambridge University in October 1928. While this extended essay in fact employs a fictional narrator and narrative to explore women both as writers of and characters in fiction, the manuscript for the delivery of the series of lectures, titled "Women and Fiction", and hence the essay, are considered non-fiction. The essay is generally seen as a feminist text, and is noted in its argument for both a literal and figural space for women writers within a literary tradition dominated by patriarchy.

I've been meaning to read this for the longest time, so I finally got myself a copy and read it during my bus rides to and from work. I loved it; there are entire extracts from this I'd love to print out and stick on my wall.

by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples

My Rating: 

Visit new planets, meet new adversaries and explore a very new direction, as Hazel becomes a toddler while her family struggles to stay on their feet.

When do I get Volume 5?!

by Gwyneth Lewis

My Rating: 

A dangerous tale of desire, DNA, incest and flowers plays out within the wreckage of an ancient spaceship in The Meat Tree: an absorbing retelling of one of the best-known Welsh myths by prize-winning writer and poet, Gwyneth Lewis.

An elderly investigator and his female apprentice hope to extract the fate of the ship's crew from its antiquated virtual reality game system, but their empirical approach falters as the story tangles with their own imagination.

By imposing a distance of another 200 years and millions of light years between the reader and the medieval myth, Gwyneth Lewis brings the magical tale of Blodeuwedd, a woman made of flowers, closer than ever before: maybe uncomfortably so.

After all, what man has any idea how sap burns in the veins of a woman?

Next I read another Maginogion retelling. I didn't enjoy it as much as I enjoyed White Ravens - it's very weird - but it was still an entertaining and original read.

by Nancy Bilyeau

My Rating: 

Joanna Stafford, a Dominican nun, learns that her favourite cousin has been condemned by Henry VIII to be burned at the stake. Defying the rule of enclosure, Joanna leaves the priory to stand at her cousin’s side. Arrested for interfering with the king’s justice, Joanna, along with her father, is sent to the Tower of London.

While Joanna is in the Tower, the ruthless Bishop of Winchester forces her to spy for him: to save her father’s life she must find an ancient relic—a crown so powerful, it may possess the ability to end the Reformation.

With Cromwell’s troops threatening to shutter her priory, bright and bold Joanna must decide who she can trust so that she may save herself, her family, and her sacred way of life. 

I was craving some historical crime in January, and as the latest Matthew Shardlake book isn't out in paperback until March I decided to pick up the first book in Nancy Bilyeau's Joanna Stafford series. It was just what I was in the mood for, and it was great to read some female-led historical crime. Look out for my review!

by Kurtis J. Wiebe and Roc Upchurch

My Rating: 

Who are the Rat Queens? 

A pack of booze-guzzling, death-dealing battle maidens-for-hire, and they're in the business of killing all god's creatures for profit. 

It's also a darkly comedic sass-and-sorcery series starring Hannah the Rockabilly Elven Mage, Violet the Hipster Dwarven Fighter, Dee the Atheist Human Cleric and Betty the Hippy Smidgen Thief. This modern spin on an old school genre is a violent monster-killing epic that is like Buffy meets Tank Girl in a Lord of the Rings world on crack! 

I really want to read more graphic novels this year, and I think reading five in January has certainly gotten me off to a good start. I really enjoyed Rat Queens; I adore Violet and Dee Dee in particular, and I'm looking forward to the animated series!

What did you read in January?

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