January 2018 Wrap-Up

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What up, squad? It’s time for my first wrap-up of the year! January wasn’t my best reading month. I only finished a couple books. That’s largely due to my sudden infatuation with fanfiction (mainly Macdennis (from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia—keep up)). The Sunny fandom has some really great writers among them. It’s also due to the fact that one of the books I read this month was really dense. I did read a few graphic novels that I enjoyed, and that will make it seem like I read more than I did.

Which brings me to my 2018 reading goal. Initially, I had set it to 85 books because that was a goal I was sure I could not only meet but beat. However, due to my slow reading month, I had already fallen behind. I felt really pressured and strangely guilty. It was January and I was already behind. And then I saw that a friend had set her goal to just one book: that way she can read as little or as much as she wants and not feel like she’s racing against the clock. I decided I like this idea, so I lowered my reading goal to ten. This year, I’m prioritizing quality over quantity.

So far, it’s a mixed bag. I read three novels and three graphic novels, making for a total of six books finished in January. Most of the content was really good, but a couple were mediocre. But this intro has gone on long enough, so let’s get to the actual books, shall we?

 

The first thing I read was a Star Wars graphic novel called Doctor Aphra, Vol. 1: Aphra by Kieron Gillen with illustrations by Kev Walker.

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Chelli Aphra is the self-serving, lesbian antihero of my dreams. After faking her death in order to escape former employer Vader, the infamous archaeologist is back to her old tricks. But when her estranged father waltzes back into her life, she must team up with him to uncover an ancient Jedi secret and obtain the rarest artifact yet. Even though I occasionally found it difficult to suspend my disbelief in regards to the world-building, I love Doctor Aphra too much to say anything too negative about this. I’m so glad she’s gotten her own solo series and am excited for volume two! I gave this one four out of five stars.

 

Next I finished a book I started back in December called Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge by Paul Krueger.

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In the simplest of terms, this book is The Mortal Instruments for adults. College graduate Bailey Chen is having trouble finding a job in her field, so she takes a job with her childhood best friend at his family’s bar. However, she soon discovers that things aren’t all that they seem. It turns out bartenders use special drinks in order to hunt and fight demons! It’s the kind of premise that sounds so ludicrous, it’s amazing. And it could’ve been. I like the idea and I like the diversity, but Krueger did not give this story enough room to breathe. It would’ve benefited from some more length. This would allow for conflicts to better develop and for relationships to form and become complex. The dialogue was also a bit wonky: sometimes it was great and others it was laughably awkward. There was also some unnecessary girl hate as well as a little too much reliance on stereotypes and flat characters (always in the name of making our heroine look better). There was no tragedy to this book because nothing was really developed.

And yet, it was a really fun read and a super cool concept. I also learned how to make a bunch of drinks I didn’t know how to before. So, I guess I recommend it if you’re looking for something light, but not for a serious read. I really wish this book was better, but it’s really only worth about 2.5 stars at most.

 

If you’ll recall, after reading the first two books of the Tearling trilogy by Erika Johansen I decided to take a break. Well, in January I decided I’d taken a long enough break and finally jumped into The Fate of the Tearling.

03 The Fate of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

I was nervous but excited going into this book. So many fans of the series say the concluding novel is a let-down. But I found it so be a great conclusion. I never saw things going this way. Kelsea’s character development was fantastic. I loved getting to see her interact more with the Red Queen. And that ending? Wow! I absolutely do not understand why a lot of fans of the series disliked this book. It was excellent. There were a couple choices I didn’t like, but overall it was fabulous. I gave it four stars.

 

After enduring all that, I decided I needed something light. So, I picked up Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli.

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Going into this, I wasn’t expecting much. I already knew who Simon’s online boyfriend was, so the mystery was gone. I’m also not a big fan of contemporary. But I knew it would be light and fun, so I read it. It follows the titular Simon who finds himself being blackmailed and at risk of being outed. Meanwhile, he’s carrying on a relationship with a boy at his school exclusively through email. It’s a really cute story about identity, friendship, love, and family. I really enjoyed it. It was a soft romance and a relatable coming-of-age story. I related more to the portion of the book where Simon is out because I’ve been out for a long time, but I still really appreciated the book as a whole. The writing style is great too. Even though I had a couple issues, overall it was a fun read. I gave it four stars.

 

Then I was in a graphic novel mood, so I read Star Wars: The Screaming Citadel by Kieron Gillen with illustrations by Jason Aaron and Marco Checchetto.

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This graphic novel is a crossover between Doctor Aphra and the original trilogy trio. In order to activate the artifact she obtained in Aphra, Doctor Aphra enlists the help of Luke Skywalker. She whisks him away to an annual party, during which a queen will grant one favor to whoever brings her the best gift. Meanwhile, Leia and Han team up with Sana to try and rescue their missing friend. This story challenges Aphra’s sense of morality, a position she hasn’t been placed in before. She and Luke also have some great enemy-of-my-enemy-type banter. Unfortunately, it’s not my favorite of Gillen’s works. I also hated how the artwork changed halfway through. It was a good story, but not a great one. In the end, I gave it three and a half stars.

 

And finally I decided to catch up on the Poe Dameron solo series and read the third volume, Legend Lost. This series is written by Charles Soule and illustrated by Ángel Unzueta.

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Being the third volume in Poe’s solo series, I don’t want to give too much away. But I did really like it. For a graphic novel that’s primarily about a trip to obtain fuel, this sure is an action-packed read. Okay, there’s more to the story, but that’s a good chunk of it. I really loved getting more content, background, and characterization for Jessika and Karé, as well as the introduction of Suralinda. I do hope Poe gets back to his main mission soon though. Either way, great volume. I definitely picked the perfect favorite Star Wars character. I gave this volume four stars.

 

This month I also started two ARCs, but haven’t finished them yet. I plan on trying to finish them so I can review them, but if the quality doesn’t pick up I probably won’t.

 

Have you read any of these books? What did you think of them? What books did you read in January? Tell me about them in the comments!

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