Here is a list of all of the books I read in January 2021 and what I thought of them!
I managed to read 7 books in January, even though I’ve been very busy setting up my new YouTube channel! I read 3 physical books, 3 ebooks, and 1 audio book in total. See below for quick-links to each review.
- The Betrayals by Bridget Collins
- Quarter to Midnight by Darcy Coates
- My Best Friend’s Exorcism by Grady Hendrix
- The House of Long Shadows by Ambrose Ibsen
- Haunted: Perron Manor by Lee Mountford
- Becoming by Michelle Obama
- The Octunnumi Fosbit Files Prolouge by Trevor Alan Foris
1. The Betrayals by Bridget Collins
Category: Magical realism, Historical fiction, Political fiction
Publisher: William Morrow
Release Date: 12/11/2020
“If everything in your life was based on a lie
Would you risk it all to tell the truth?
At Montverre, an exclusive academy tucked away in the mountains, the best and brightest are trained for excellence in the grand jeu: an arcane and mysterious contest. Léo Martin was once a student there, but lost his passion for the grand jeu following a violent tragedy. Now he returns in disgrace, exiled to his old place of learning with his political career in tatters.
Montverre has changed since he studied there, even allowing a woman, Claire Dryden, to serve in the grand jeu’s highest office of Magister Ludi. When Léo first sees Claire he senses an odd connection with her, though he’s sure they have never met before.
Both Léo and Claire have built their lives on lies. And as the legendary Midsummer Game, the climax of the year, draws closer, secrets are whispering in the walls…”.
My rating: 2/5
My quick review: This book follows the POV’s of four characters; the Rat, the Magister Ludi, Leo in the present, and Leo in the past, and truth be told, the only point of view I had any connection or interest in was that of Leo in the past. It follows the creation the Grand Jue, which is sort of a form of theatrics (but also not), kind of about music (but it’s also not actually music), and I think mathematics (but again, its not mathematics)… I’ve read the entire book and still have no idea what the ‘Grand Jue’ even is? It was infuriatingly slow at times. There were times that I actually considered not finishing it, which I HATE doing. I also found the setting quite restrictive. Bridget Collins created an interesting outside political world, which I would have loved to delve into, but instead we are stuck within the walls of Montverre, with no outside perspective. The only part of this book that I enjoyed was a great plot twist two thirds of the way through, that I had not predicted at all. But other than that, unfortunately, I would not recommend The Betrayals by Bridget Collins.
2. Quarter to Midnight by Darcy Coates
Category: Horror, Short Stories
Series: Standalone (Collection of fifteen short stories)
Publisher: Black Owl Books
Release Date: 01/05/2015
Fifteen chilling tales of gothic horror and suspense.
Push past the curtains of the rational, safe world and explore the un-nameable horrors living in the darkest corners of our conscience. This is the realm of monsters and shifting shadows, where a single wrong step can plunge you into a terrifying, irreversible fight for your life
My rating: 4/5
My quick review: I’ll be honest with you all… I will probably be somewhat bias in this review as Darcy Coates is one of my all time favourite authors. However, with that being said, I will try to be as subjective as possible! Quarter to midnight is a collection of fifteen short stories based around horror and the supernatural. Even though, I don’t normally go for short stories, I thoroughly enjoyed this collection. Every story was incredible spooky, and there was a common theme in many of the stories that involved mannequins that move don their own whenever you weren’t looking (which frankly will now terrify me for the rest of my life…). If you’re looking for some quick spooky reads at night, I would definitely recommend Quarter to Mindnight!
3. My Best Friend’s Exorcism by Grady Hendrix
Publisher: Quirk Books
Release Date: 17/05/2016
Literary Awards: Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Horror (2016)
Abby and Gretchen have been best friends since fifth grade, when they bonded over a shared love of E.T., roller-skating parties, and scratch-and-sniff stickers. But when they arrive at high school, things change. Gretchen begins to act….different. And as the strange coincidences and bizarre behavior start to pile up, Abby realizes there’s only one possible explanation: Gretchen, her favorite person in the world, has a demon living inside her. And Abby is not about to let anyone or anything come between her and her best friend. With help from some unlikely allies, Abby embarks on a quest to save Gretchen. But is their friendship powerful enough to beat the devil?
My rating: 3.5/5
My quick review: My Best Friend’s Exorcism was an enjoyable read, with substantial world building and character development. There were frustrating elements, and some references that can be seen as offensive today. I found the horror aspect lacking in parts and found that I wanted more ‘The Exorcist’ and less ‘Mean Girls’. Overall, even though this is technically a horror story, I think this book, at it’s core, is about the strength and endurance of friendship and I am glad I read it. See my full review here
4. The House of Long Shadows by Ambrose Ibsen
Series: House of Souls #1
Release Date: 29/03/2018
Setting: Detroit, Michigan
The house at 889 Morgan Road has been empty almost thirty years. Maybe it should have stayed that way.
Kevin Taylor is an internet-famous handyman on a mission: Find a house and renovate it in thirty days. By flipping a derelict house in a month’s time and chronicling the entire thing on video for his online subscribers, he seeks to impress a handful of network TV producers and become a star.
The problems that plague this property will require more than elbow grease to fix, however.
Shadows throughout the home are distorted, and an enigmatic trespasser keeps showing up in his footage. Worse still are the hideous voices that issue from otherwise empty rooms in the dead of night.
Amid mounting dangers, Kevin is forced to meet the house’s shadowed past head-on—a past, he begins to suspect, he wants nothing to do with. Armed only with the hearsay of locals and the frightening clues he’s uncovered within the home, he attempts to find out what led to the house’s abandonment while juggling his strenuous renovation projects.
What he uncovers is horrible beyond imagination. All signs seem to be pointing to one thing:
Something in the house is awakening.
My rating: 3/5
My quick review: The house of long shadows is a classic take on the trope of a creepy old house being bought for renovation, and the new owners eventually finding out that they got more than they bargained for with their new property. I liked the idea that the main character bought the house for a YouTube renovation series, and the prospect of people seeing things in the footage that he did not spot before hand. There were truly spooky elements to the house, especially the fact that all the shadows were somewhat distorted. I did however find that the ending to this book was a big let down. It left many questions unanswered, and I was certainly left feeling disappointed after such an excellent build up throughout the book.
5. Haunted: Perron Manor by Lee Mountford
Series: The Haunted Series #1
Release Date: 29/10/2020
Perron Manor—a place evil calls home
Sisters Sarah and Chloe inherit a house they could never have previously dreamed of owning. It seems too good to be true.
Shortly after they move in, however, the siblings start to notice strange things: horrible smells, sudden drops in temperature, as well as unexplainable sounds and feelings of being watched.
All of that is compounded when they find a study upstairs, filled with occult items and a strange book written in Latin.
Their experiences grow more frequent and more terrifying, building towards a heart-stopping climax where the sisters come face to face with the evil behind Perron Manor. Will they survive and save their very souls?
My rating: 3/5
My quick review: Following the story of two sisters who inherit a large mansion known as “Britain’s most haunted house” from their recluse of an uncle, Haunted: Perron Manor is a scary, eerie read that genuinely had me feeling spooked at times. I absolutely loved the build up and tension of this book. The characters have great depth and history with the manor, and the house itself a major character in the book. I did find however, that the ending really let down the overall rating for this book, there were so many questions that went unanswered, and I felt like I didn’t actually get any closure at the end. That being said, this is the first part in a series, so if I do get around to reading the sequel, perhaps there will be more answers in the future!
6. Becoming by Michelle Obama
Release Date: 13/11/2018
Los Angeles Times Book Prize Nominee for Current Interest (2018), Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Memoir & Autobiography (2018), NAACP Image Award Nominee for Biography/Autobiography (2019), Audie Award for Autobiography/Memoir (2020)
In a life filled with meaning and accomplishment, Michelle Obama has emerged as one of the most iconic and compelling women of our era. As First Lady of the United States of America—the first African American to serve in that role—she helped create the most welcoming and inclusive White House in history, while also establishing herself as a powerful advocate for women and girls in the U.S. and around the world, dramatically changing the ways that families pursue healthier and more active lives, and standing with her husband as he led America through some of its most harrowing moments. Along the way, she showed us a few dance moves, crushed Carpool Karaoke, and raised two down-to-earth daughters under an unforgiving media glare.
In her memoir, a work of deep reflection and mesmerizing storytelling, Michelle Obama invites readers into her world, chronicling the experiences that have shaped her—from her childhood on the South Side of Chicago to her years as an executive balancing the demands of motherhood and work, to her time spent at the world’s most famous address. With unerring honesty and lively wit, she describes her triumphs and her disappointments, both public and private, telling her full story as she has lived it—in her own words and on her own terms. Warm, wise, and revelatory, Becoming is the deeply personal reckoning of a woman of soul and substance who has steadily defied expectations—and whose story inspires us to do the same.
My rating: 5/5
My quick review: This is the one audiobook I read this month and is narrated by Michelle Obama herself. Becoming was easily one of my favourite reads of the month. I didn’t previously know much about the Obama’s other than the obvious, but this book gave such an incredible insight into the history and background of their family. I now find that Michelle Obama is somewhat of an idol to me. She is smart, caring, and extremely passionate about what she does. It was fascinating seeing a behind the scenes perspective of politics in the USA. This book also gives insight into what it was like growing up as a minority in the South side of South Carolina and broaches important topics on the racial differences in North America. I honestly think this is a book that every one should read.
7. The Octunnumi Fosbit Files Prologue by Trevor Alan Foris
Category: YA, Fantasy, Science Fiction
Series: The Octunnumi Prologue (12 part series)
Publisher: Scariodintt Publisharys
Release Date: 03/2020
The Octunnumi does not exist.
Fosbit and any files relating to a Fosbit do not exist.
The Tarelen peoples that protect and provide sanctuary for the Avitens of Fethrist are not real.
The abilities of the Tarelen peoples with their heightened skills, living in their Utopian world are myth, their purpose here mere tales; rumours of their reincarnations enabling them to live many lives… ridiculous!
And there is definitely no magic.
None at all.
No, really, there isn’t.
Magic is not a thing.
There are also no hidden worlds or mythical beings coexisting just out of sight.
Equally, there are no secret access points to these hidden worlds that don’t exist, and there is no, ‘unfinished business from the past’ that is set to destroy, well, anything.
There is no disaster looming.
Anyway, regardless of any potential threat that may or may not be present, this publication, The Octunnumi and any reference to any other beings is a work of fiction.
And for the record, Scariodintts, should they exist, are perfectly lovely beings whose purpose in life is grossly misunderstood.
My rating: 5/5
My quick review: The Octunnumi Fosbit Files Prologue is a breathtaking and immense first novel in this series. Following two ‘Tarelen’ twin brothers, Reig and Trad, you are transported to a multitude of bizarre universes on a quest to solve a large mystery. The writing is witty and captivating, the characters are memorable and well developed, and the world development is like no other book I have read before. You can tell that this simply scratches the surface of the complexity of the universe that has been created here, and I can not wait to truly delve head first into the rest of the series. See my full review here.