Read in: January 2018

Ah January, the first month of the year and a blank slate to set new goals and try new challenges. I started the month by heading to Iceland (more on that soon!) so I didn’t get a chance to read as much as I’d like. Still, I read a few very interesting books so I wanted to highlight them in this month’s round up. Plus, keep reading to the end to find out what’s on my reading list for February.

The Vegetarian by Han Kang (translated by Deborah Smith)

Facts and figures

Published: 2015, Portobello Books (originally published Oct ’07)

Standalone/Series: Standalone

Genre: Contemporary

Acquired: Purchased myself

Goodreads // Amazon

What did I think?

Not the most uplifting read but intriguing, fascinating and heartbreaking. The Vegetarian is one of the most compelling books I’ve picked up in a long time and it’s beautifully translated by Deborah Smith.

Comprised of three novellas collected into a single volume, The Vegetarian is the story of Yeong-hye decides to become vegetarian after a disturbing dream one night. While that act alone doesn’t seem like it would form much of a plot, the repercussions of her decision are shocking, rippling out and creating conflict within her relationship and with her family.

Getting progressively darker as the story unfolds, you can’t help but be drawn into this tale of a woman seeking a more plant-like life (note I didn’t say plant-based…).

Bad Girls with Perfect Faces by Lynn Weingarten

Facts and figures

Published: October 31st 2017, Electric Monkey

Standalone/Series: Standalone

Genre: Contemporary/thriller

Acquired: Kindly sent for review by the publisher

Goodreads // Amazon

What did I think?

I really enjoyed Lynn Weingarten’s previous release, Suicide Notes for Beautiful Girls, so I was hoping for another action-packed thriller in the same vein.

While Bad Girls with Perfect Faces does have some similarities (mostly in tone and pace) it’s definitely its own fully realised story and I loved discovering the story unfolding as I raced through the novel at fever pitch.

 

The Unpredictability of Being Human by Linni Ingemundsen

Facts and figures

Published: 28th December 2017, Usborne

Standalone/Series: Standalone

Genre: Contemporary

Acquired: Kindly sent for review by the publisher

Goodreads // Amazon

What did I think?

The Unpredictability of Being Human is a charming, funny coming of age story about Malin, a teenage girl who lives in a teeny tiny town in Norway. Blunt, oftentimes profound and racing from darkness to humour, this is a great read for those who don’t like their contemporary to be sugar-coated and romanticised.

There are little sentences in here that are real gems and this is actually one I’m keen to reread, which is not something you’ll catch me saying often. I think there’s a lot here to take in so it’ll probably take a couple of reads to really make the most of the writing, without the distraction of wondering what’s going to happen throughout the story.

The Truth and Lies of Ella Black by Emily Barr

Facts and figures

Published: January 11th 2018, Penguin

Standalone/Series: Standalone

Genre: Thriller

Acquired: Kindly sent for review by the publisher

Goodreads // Amazon

What did I think?

The Truth and Lies of Ella Black didn’t do it for me. Thrillers are one of my favourite genres but I couldn’t get into this one. Ella isn’t written as the most likeable protagonist and that’s not a problem, I can almost always get on board with a difficult lead character, but I didn’t find her very compelling either, which was a problem.

I had to drag myself through one and there were plenty of times when I almost put it down without finishing it but I wanted to keep going in case the ending changed things up. Unfortunately, it didn’t.

I can’t recommend this one. There are so many good YA thrillers out there (Bad Girls with Perfect Faces, mentioned above, being one of them) that I don’t suggest spending valuable reading time on a book that is neither entertaining nor particularly well-written.

Kitchen Confidant by Chronicle Books

Facts and figures

Published: February 27th 2018, Chronicle Books

Standalone/Series: Standalone

Genre: Non-fiction

Acquired: Kindly sent for review by the publisher

Goodreads // Amazon

What did I think?

Whether you love cooking or your New Year’s Resolution for 2018 is to spend more time in the kitchen, you need this little gem of a book in your life.

Beautifully designed and packed full of information, this is a must-have for bakers, casual cooks and cocktail veterans. Topics covered include handy guides such as weight conversions and ingredient substitutes, basic cocktail equipment you should have in your kitchen, meat ‘doneness’ temperatures and recipes for a few basic sauces.

It’s a slim volume that will fit easily on your cookery book shelves and I’ve spent the last two weeks dipping in and out of it non-stop. Instead of having to Google cooking questions on my phone while I’m trying to become more brave in the kitchen I can just flick through Kitchen Confidant and nine times out of ten I have my answer in a flash.

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On my February reading list

  • From the Tree by Robin Benway
  • Hero at the Fall by Alwyn Hamilton
  • Second Best Friend by Non Pratt
  • The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw
  • The Very Short Story Starter by John Gillard

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