2019 did not quite get off to the start I was hoping for. I’ve had a difficult January. This is the first year I’ve really noticed what people mean by it being a strange month and everything feels like it has got away from me.
The main problem is I’ve had a lingering cold for a month which turned into sinusitis (again). Not feeling well meant I stopped the gym for about three weeks and completely undid all the hard work I had done before Christmas. The headaches prevented me from using the evenings in the way that I wanted and my weekends seemed to be focused on cleaning and nothing else.
February is going to change that: I’m adamant about it! In fact, my final week of January saw me determined to get things back on track for this month and I’m hoping I can pull it together. I was so determined, so successful, just before Christmas that I will do whatever I can to get that back.
I talked about my goals for 2019 at the beginning of the year, and how I hoped to join a book club. I’ve found one close to work that focuses on my favourite genre. I’m hoping to make it to my first session there this month: I’ve just bought the book to start reading for it. I’m nervous, but excited – hopefully I’ll love it.
I thought I would try something a little different this month. Rather than focusing on what I want to read, I’m instead going to look back at last month. It means I’m not constantly mentioning the same books, as not all of these will be reviewed.
I had a slow start to the year in terms of reading. I started the year with two really long books that took me longer than I was expecting. It would have been fine, except I struggle with both of them and it meant I started the year in a bit of a slump. I’ve got them knocked off my list now though, so hoping to pick up the pace and find some far more enjoyable reads.
My reading habits at the moment are all over the place. Reading three different series in between reviewing books isn’t particularly working. I’m aiming to get them finished off (in February if I can!) and then start clearing some backlist books. I’m slowly winning with Netgalley, so then I can start planning properly!
What have I read?
Magician’s Gambit by David Eddings (5*)
Ce’Nedra, Imperial Princess of Tolnedra, is confused. Everyone knows the tales of the Orb protecting the West from the evil god Torak are just silly legends. But here she is, forced to join a dangerous quest to recover that stolen Orb. No one believes in sorcery, but Garion’s aunt and grandfather seem to be the fabled sorcerers Polgara and Belgarath, who would have to be thousands of years old.
Even young Garion is learning to do sorcery. He’s just a farm boy, totally unsuitable for an Imperial Princess. Yet for some reason, she has the urge to teach him, brush back his tangled hair, and comfort him. But he is going to a strange tower in the center of all he believes evil, to face some horrible, powerful magician, and she can’t be there to watch over him. She may never see him again!
Thus continues The Belgariad, an epic prophecy still unfolding.
The Fork, the Witch and the Worm by Christopher Paolini (5*)
A wanderer and a cursed child. Spells and magic. And dragons, of course.
Welcome back to the world of Alagaësia. It’s been a year since Eragon departed Alagaësia in search of the perfect home to train a new generation of Dragon Riders. Now he is struggling with an endless sea of tasks: constructing a vast dragonhold, wrangling with suppliers, guarding dragon eggs, and dealing with belligerent Urgals and haughty elves. Then a vision from the Eldunarí, unexpected visitors, and an exciting Urgal legend offer a much-needed distraction and a new perspective. This volume features three original stories set in Alagaësia, interspersed with scenes from Eragon’s own unfolding adventure. Included is an excerpt from the memoir of the unforgettable witch and fortune-teller Angela the herbalist . . . penned by Angela Paolini, the inspiration for the character, herself! Relish the incomparable imagination of Christopher Paolini in this thrilling new collection of stories based in the world of the Inheritance Cycle.
Gnomon by Nick Harkaway (3*)
In the world of Gnomon, citizens are constantly observed and democracy has reached a pinnacle of ‘transparency.’ Every action is seen, every word is recorded, and the System has access to its citizens’ thoughts and memories–all in the name of providing the safest society in history.
When suspected dissident Diana Hunter dies in government custody, it marks the first time a citizen has been killed during an interrogation. The System doesn’t make mistakes, but something isn’t right about the circumstances surrounding Hunter’s death. Mielikki Neith, a trusted state inspector and a true believer in the System, is assigned to find out what went wrong. Immersing herself in neural recordings of the interrogation, what she finds isn’t Hunter but rather a panorama of characters within Hunter’s psyche: a lovelorn financier in Athens who has a mystical experience with a shark; a brilliant alchemist in ancient Carthage confronting the unexpected outcome of her invention; an expat Ethiopian painter in London designing a controversial new video game, and a sociopathic disembodied intelligence from the distant future.
Embedded in the memories of these impossible lives lies a code which Neith must decipher to find out what Hunter is hiding. In the static between these stories, Neith begins to catch glimpses of the real Diana Hunter–and, alarmingly, of herself. The staggering consequences of what she finds will reverberate throughout the world.
Queen of Air and Darkness by Cassandra Clare (3*)
What if damnation is the price of true love?
Innocent blood has been spilled on the steps of the Council Hall, the sacred stronghold of the Shadowhunters. In the wake of the tragic death of Livia Blackthorn, the Clave teeters on the brink of civil war. One fragment of the Blackthorn family flees to Los Angeles, seeking to discover the source of the blight that is destroying the race of warlocks.
Meanwhile, Julian and Emma take desperate measures to put their forbidden love aside and undertake a perilous mission to Faerie to retrieve the Black Volume of the Dead. What they find in the Courts is a secret that may tear the Shadow World asunder and open a dark path into a future they could never have imagined. Caught in a race against time, Emma and Julian must save the world of Shadowhunters before the deadly power of the parabatai curse destroys them and everyone they love.
Evil Star by Anthony Horowitz (5*)
It began with Raven’s Gate.
But it’s not over yet.
Once again the enemy is stirring.
After defeating the Old ones at Raven’s Gate, Matt Freeman thought he could get on with his life. But someone has other ideas.
Far away in Peru a second gate is about to open. Only Matt has the power to stop the forces of darknesss breaking through, but now they know all about him. This time they’re going to destroy him first.
Past Life by Dominic Nolan (3*)
Waking up beside the dead girl, she couldn’t remember anything.
Who she was. Who had taken her. How to escape.
Detective Abigail Boone has been missing for four days when she is finally found, confused and broken. Suffering retrograde amnesia, she is a stranger to her despairing husband and bewildered son.
Hopelessly lost in her own life, with no leads on her abduction, Boone’s only instinct is to revisit the case she was investigating when she vanished: the baffling disappearance of a young woman, Sarah Still.
Defying her family and the police, Boone obsessively follows a deadly trail to the darkest edges of human cruelty. But even if she finds Sarah, will Boone ever be the same again?
Castle of Wizardy by David Eddings (5*)
It had all begun with the theft of the Orb that had so long protected the West from the evil God Torak. Before that, Garion had been a simple farm boy. Afterward, he discovered that his aunt was really the Sorceress Polgara and his grandfather was Belgarath, the Eternal Man. Then, on the long quest to recover the Orb, Garion found to his dismay that he, too, was a sorcerer.
Now, at last, the Orb was regained and the quest was nearing its end. Of course, the questors still had to escape from this crumbling enemy fortress and flee across a desert filled with Murgo soldiers searching for them, while Grolim Hierarchs strove to destroy them with dark magic. Then, somehow, they must manage to be in Riva with the Orb by Erastide. After that, however, Garion was sure that his part in these great events would be finished.
But the Prophecy still held future surprises for Garion–and for the little princess Ce’Nedra.
This continues the magnificent epic of The Belgariad, begun in Pawn of Prophecy, Queen of Sorcery, and Magician’s Gambit–a fantasy set against a background of the war of men, Kings, and Gods that had spanned seven thousand years–a novel of fate, strange lands, and a prophecy that must be fulfilled!
For some reason, I am really struggling writing this post. It has been a while since I did a monthly wrap-up, but I feel I haven’t got anything to say. Have I really spent all of these posts rambling about nothing and complaining about things not going according to plan?