January 2024 Wrap-Up

January 2024 Wrap-Up

Welcome to my first monthly wrap-up of 2024! Happy to bring you some reviews and recommendations to start your new year off right - or not (this was not a top-tier reading month for me haha).

I know that some of these books may be listed for sale on the website, but I want to keep my reviews honest. We may not have the same taste in books and I encourage you to check them out regardless!

I read four books in January and DNF'ed one: two physical books and three audiobooks. Let's go!

I Keep My Exoskeletons to Myself - Marisa Crane

⬤⬤⬤〇〇 | audiobook | synopsis here

My Review: This was our first Prose & Paperbacks Book Club pick of 2024 - thanks to everyone who read along with us! Overall, I think this book was well-written but not what I expected. I was expecting the plot to be heavy on the science fiction and implications of the double shadows. Instead, I found that the element of the additional shadows for felons was used for as a catalyst for themes of grief and parenthood and love.

I liked a number of the themes and questions the book brought about, and it left plenty of room for exploration and introspection, but I think this was done to a fault. Some concepts, like the exoskeletons, the child not having a name, and the shadows themselves, seemed prime to touch on themes and posit introspective questions, but it never really got there in any capacity. This was really disappointing to me. If you're going to skim over the sci-fi dystopian elements in lieu of literary commentary, go all the way!

In the end, I'm glad I read this. I didn't think it was a bad book per se, just not what I went in expecting. I'd read more from the author but would probably take further synopses with a grain of salt.

content warnings: death of parent, grief, sexual content, homophobia, police brutality

The City of Stardust - Georgia Summers

DNF | e-ARC | synopsis here

My Review: Thanks to Redhook Books and NetGalley for providing me an e-ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and feedback are my own.

This might be my biggest case of "it's not you, it's me" to date. I requested this ARC because I genuinely loved the premise of the blurb. When I started reading, I was intrigued by the inciting conflict and was interested in our main characters. I also appreciated the prose I was reading; the novel seemed well-crafted and the writing was nice and intricate without being purple.

As I read, the worldbuilding felt lacking and the pacing seemed to drag. I didn't love Violet and the decisions she was making; she seemed too naive and hesitant that I was reluctant to root for her. She seemed to lack any urgency for a climax with a definitive timeline, and because of that I found myself only able to read a couple pages at a time.

Perhaps at some point I'll pick this book back up again and give it another go. But for now, I'm going to move on.

content warnings: abandonment, kidnapping

Mislaid in Parts Half-Known - Seanan McGuire

⬤⬤⬤⬤◔ | audiobook | synopsis here

My Review: Side note but this is the same audiobook narrator that did the last book and her voice is just great, would absolutely love to listen to more by her.

Another solid installment in the Wayward Children series! Probably one of my most favorite ones so far. I really enjoyed Antsy's door and her story in Lost in the Moment and Found, but I also enjoy the found family aspect of the rest of the group, so this was a lovely meeting of the two. The inciting incident here was a little silly and I felt it wasn't totally resolved at the conclusion of the story, but that didn't bother me too too much. As usual, some of the dialogue was a little clunky and trying too hard to be quirky, but that doesn't bother me as much anymore.

I enjoyed the fact that we went through some new doors this book! I wish we had spent more time in them but I understand the constraints of the novella format. Hopefully we'll be able to get to Kade's world soon and that he gets a story all his own - or Eleanor herself! Who knows. These stories are cozy to me and I could keep listening for as long as Seanan keeps putting them out.

content warnings: death of parent, gaslighting, child abuse

Your Shadow Half Remains - Sunny Moraine

⬤⬤⬤◕〇 | e-ARC | synopsis here

My Review: Thanks to Tor Publishing Group and NetGalley for providing me an e-ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and feedback are my own.

I wasn't sure what to expect from this book going in, but I found it to be very atmospheric and creepy and I enjoyed it a lot. I don't find myself getting scared or grossed out by a lot of books, but messing with eyes is one way to really get to me quick. Between some of the great imagery (no pun intended) Moraine writes and some of the tense scenes with Riley in her home, I got pretty freaked out at times. I always love when that happens. I liked the doubt and unreliability that was injected into the characters and the narrative, and I was always eager to keep reading.

The ending wasn't my favorite thing ever, sometimes the narrative got a little repetitive, and there were a couple confusing moments. The plot and crux of the story reminded me a lot of Bird Box, but that book was so good it's hard to meet those expectations. Overall, this was a fun, creepy little tale that brought me out of a reading slump, but it wasn't anything overly memorable.

content warnings: violence, gore, pandemic/epidemic, animal death, murder

The Twilight Zone - Nona Fernández

⬤⬤⬤◕〇 | audiobook | synopsis here

My Review: I really appreciated what this book set out to do and thought the plot and structure of the story was very compelling. I enjoyed that the title, The Twilight Zone , is a dual reference to not only the TV show but also the nebulous region between recounting facts of history and imagining/humanizing it. The writing was well-done and the topics and themes were obviously very heavy and important.

I think I made a mistake by listening to this book on audio, which isn't something I say often. This book has a lot of timelines and listening to the audiobook was a little confusing in this regard. I also got the impression that there were quotes or excerpts throughout the book (maybe just at the beginning of chapters), but I didn't recognize this until over halfway through the book. I think this confusion didn't help with my comprehension and made things more muddled than they needed to be.

I probably wouldn't have picked this book up were it not for the literary awards reading challenge I created on StoryGraph. I'm always interested in being exposed to fiction outside of my comfort zone, even if it isn't my all-time favorite. Overall, I thought this was an engaging read and I'm glad I came across it.

content warnings: torture, violence, murder


What was your favorite book you read this month? Let me know!

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