January 2023 Round-Up

Title in white on brown and blue book spines

One month of the year completed already! It’s been a bit of a hectic month for me because I went on my first experiment at the end of the month, which meant spending the first part of the month dealing with all the forms associated with that. However, the big advantage of taking a bunch of night shifts meant I read a lot (had to stay awake somehow!)

In terms of what I read, this was a very unusual January because I mostly read new releases. Usually, January is full of backlist titles as I’m trying to catch up on the previous year. However, I was very lucky this year to get a lot of advance copies of the many, many releases coming out this month.

Best New Release

I’m going to be very greedy (or indecisive) and give TWO books for this as I can’t pick between them,

Book cover for EMILY WILDE'S ENCYLOPAEDIA OF FAERIES: title in purple on cream above a book with mushrooms and leaves around it

EMILY WILDE’S ENCYLOPAEDIA OF FAERIES, by Heather Fawcett, is the author’s first adult book and it was utterly delightful. I’ve used that phrase so much about it, but it is completely true. The book is a “light academia” fantasy, full of nerdiness but nowhere near as bleak or dangerously obsessive as it’s “dark academia” cousin. If you liked A NATURAL HISTORY OF DRAGONS, this book is the natural successor.

Emily Wilde is a professor of faeries and is in Norway researching for the final chapter in the titular encylopaedia. Unfortunately, her field studies are interrupted by the arrival of an infuriating (and far too handsome) colleague and reticence from the tight-knit community.

Book cover for THE ADVENTURES OF AMINA AL-SIRAFI: title in cold on dark blue and red geometric image

THE ADVENTURES OF AMINA AL-SIRAFI, by Shannon Chakraborty, is probably going to be one of spring’s biggest releases, coming as it does from the author of the beloved THE CITY OF BRASS books. This is the start of a completely new trilogy, set about 600 years earlier and (so far at least) has no real crossover as it doesn’t involve the city of Daevabad.

Instead, it is a swashbuckling pirate adventure set on the Indian Ocean and features a retired infamous pirate who is a mother and trying to live a quiet life without drawing attention to herself. Which doesn’t go to plan and she’s thrust back onto the seas in order to find a missing girl and follow the trail of a Frank who wants to take the magic of the world for himself.

Best Backlist Read

I’m skipping this one this month because I read so little backlist. Plus I’ve been greedy/indecisive with a few prompts!

Most Surprising Read

Book cover for BREATHLESS: title in yellow below dark snowy mountain peak

BREATHLESS, by Amy McCulloch, was not only one of the few backlists I read this month but also the January pick for my book club. it is a thriller set on one of the tallest mountains in the world, where the top is high enough up that it can be deadly to be without oxygen up there.

Cecily is a journalist hoping to get her big break by interviewing one of the most famous men in mountaineering – except to get the interview, she has to make it to the summit and back. That would be hard enough without there possibly being a killer on the mountain – or it could just be the delusions brought on by the lack of oxygen.

Best UK-Authored Read

Book cover for REPUTATION: title in white in pink box on graphic of four girls in regency dress drinking on pale blue

I am not a romance reader. As someone who’s aroacespec, it’s just not my jam. However, I absolutely gulped down REPUTATION and INFAMOUS, by Lex Croucher, this month. These are Regency Romances that feel crossed with YA contemporaries (these books would be NA if it existed, but as it doesn’t, they’re Adult.)

These books are funny romps about rebellion and high society, about wanting to be a part of something and changing to fit it, about being let down by heroes. It’s not a series in that there are no character links between the books, but they’re all set in the same hyper-realistic world. (The author has said that she’s not striving for accuracy, just fun and vibes, and it works because it’s so obviously deliberate.)

Best Debut

Another category where I’m going to pick two books!

Book cover for THIS DAUGHTERS OF IZDIHAR: title in white on orange blob in the middle of blue

THE DAUGHTERS OF IZDIHAR, by Hadeer Elsbai, was my first five star read of the year. It is the start of a feminist duology inspired by Egypt and all about women’s rights. It follows two women who are caught up in the women’s suffrage movement from different socio-economic backgrounds but linked initially by one of the men in their lives.

It’s the sort of book that both makes you blisteringly furious about systematic injustice and oppression, but it also makes you so hopeful that change will and can happen. The women of this book are fierce and I look forward to seeing them (literally) burn down the patriarchy in the next instalment.

Book cover for SHEILD MAIDEN: title in black on white arounf embroidered bands wrapped around a sword

SHILED MAIDEN, by Sharon Emmerichs, is a book I wanted to read for purely nerdy reasons. It’s a reimagining/retelling of the final act of the Old English Poem, BEOWULF, focusing on a woman who wants to become a shield maiden but has a suffered an injury to her arm.

It absolutely lived up to all my nerdy expectations, referencing not just BEOWULF but a range of other Old English poems too. Plus it even includes some translated snippets from that body of work. For those who aren’t so interested in the Old English nerdery side of things, it also includes a heroine who is so kind you just want her to win against all the awful men around her.

Most Anticipated February Read

Book cover for A DAY OF FALLEN NIGHT: title in white on blue writhing dragon

I absolutely loved THE PRIORY OF THE ORANGE TREE, so I am very, very excited for A DAY OF FALLEN NIGHT, by Samantha Shannon. I imagine it’s probably a lot of people’s most anticipated book of February too – it’s probably going to be the biggest SFF release of the winter.

It’s set several hundred years before PRIORY, so isn’t really a prequel as it’s about a different set of characters. However, it’s exploring more of the world and history, and it’s another thick book. I’m going to need to clear a fair chunk of time to read it (and I think I want to re-read PRIORY at some point too.)

Most Viewed Post

This is a new category going forward, mostly because I like watching this stat come in over the month, seeing what completely unpredictable thing is driving traffic to my blog.

Book cover for WIN LOSE KILL DIE: title in white on black with blue hair with pink crossing out

This month managed to meet my yearly goal of hitting 4.5k monthly views in January. This was not at all because of anything I’d done, but because:

  • WIN LOSE KILL DIE went viral on TikTok again (accounting for 9% of total site views)
  • CHILDREN OF MEMORY was published in the US at the very end of the month and so people were looking for reviews of the series, which translated for me into lots of hits on CHILDREN OF RUIN (accounting for just under 9% of total site views)

In both cases, I am somehow one of the top reviews on google searches, which meant I got a lot of traffic from people interested in the books. (For comparison, the 31 blog posts published this month only accounted for 8.5% of all views.) I absolutely do not expect these high numbers to continue into February (these trends don’t stick long and it’s also a shorter month) so I will be interested to see what is the most viewed post next month!

How was your January?


4 thoughts on “January 2023 Round-Up

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