“2 books ahead of schedule” – Goodreads~
Remember to stay up to date with the world, listen to those facing atrocities and help spread awareness/donate where you’re able to.
I read a lot more than I anticipated I would in January, and I’m really happy about it ♥
I hope that this is a more enjoyable post to read as I decided to actually be organised with this wrap up and write my little reviews straight after or soon after I finished the books. Often times, I go into these and have to pressure my two brain cells to think back and it’s just not fair on them 😂
Onto the books!
Secrets of a Summer Night; Lisa Kleypas
Annabelle Peyton, determined to save her family from disaster, decides to use her beauty and wit to tempt a suitable nobleman into making an offer of marriage. But Annabelle’s most intriguing–and persistent– admirer, wealthy, powerful Simon Hunt, has made it clear that while he will introduce her to irresistible pleasure he will not offer marriage.
Annabelle is determined to resist his unthinkable proposition… but it is impossible in the face of such skilful seduction. Her friends, looking to help, conspire to entice a more suitable gentleman to offer for Annabelle, for only then will she be safe from Simon–and her own longings. But on one summer night, Annabelle succumbs to Simon’s passionate embrace and tempting kisses… and she discovers that love is the most dangerous game of all.Goodreads
I read the The Wallflower series last year and enjoyed them, so when I picked this up for one of the Buzzwordathon prompts (yes I am reading them out of order 😅), I was surprised how much more I enjoyed it the second time around!
There are some rather ridiculous parts, but the characters are really such a wonderful driving force in this book and series as a whole. And fun antics in a period setting are always so enjoyable to read for some reason.
Annabelle is charming, somewhat conceited but fun character to be around. She goes through a lot of growth in the book, while still being true to herself. I think her perseverance is noble and the way she stands up for herself, her family and newfound friends is wonderful to see.
While the romance between Annabelle and Simon is fast paced and driven by mostly desire, I did like the sweet and tender moments they shared. And from the midway point, it does become clear that their attraction isn’t just physical.
Overall, a great book to start the year with ♥
A Touch of Darkness; Scarlett St Clair
Persephone is the Goddess of Spring by title only. The truth is, since she was a little girl, flowers have shriveled at her touch. After moving to New Athens, she hopes to lead an unassuming life disguised as a mortal journalist.
Hades, God of the Dead, has built a gambling empire in the mortal world and his favorite bets are rumored to be impossible.
After a chance encounter with Hades, Persephone finds herself in a contract with the God of the Dead and the terms are impossible: Persephone must create life in the Underworld or lose her freedom forever.
The bet does more than expose Persephone’s failure as a goddess, however. As she struggles to sow the seeds of her freedom, love for the God of the Dead grows—and it’s forbidden.Goodreads
A Touch of Darkness is the first book in the Hades x Persephone series.
I liked the writing and concept of this, but the plot was just mid. There were times where I was forcing myself to get through it as nothing was really happening. The audiobook and making myself read it on Darcy’s dog walk helped so much to get it done.
I liked the modernisation of the characters, while keeping core elements to their myths. And it was interesting to see the dynamic between Persephone and Hades grow throughout the book. I just felt that there was not much tension. I didn’t really feel that Persephone’s happiness, position at her work, or relationship was ever in any real jeopardy, which made it kind of boring.
As I’m writing this review, I’ve lowered my rating to 2⭐ lol
A Game of Fate; Scarlett St Clair
Hades, God of the Underworld, is known for his inflexible rule, luxurious night clubs, and impossible bargains. Use to control, he is not prepared to discover the Fates have chosen his future wife and Queen—Persephone, Goddess of Spring.
Despite her attraction to the god, Persephone, an ambitious journalism student, is determined to expose Hades for his cruel and ruthless ways.
Hades finds himself faced with the impossible—proving his future bride wrong. Despite his efforts, there are forces who wish to keep the two apart and Hades comes to realize he will do anything for his forbidden love, even defy Fate.Goodreads
A Game of Fate is the first book in the Hades Saga and is A Touch of Darkeness from Hades’ POV.
I enjoyed this a lot more than Persephone’s book as we delve a into actual plot outside of their relationship and are introduced to an array of characters. It was interesting to meet more of the gods and there was a lot more integration of myths.
I like Hades as a character, and it’s probably because of his age and that his friendships/rivals are already established, that he has such a more well-rounded personality and is interesting. His perspective is also more insightful.
I don’t think I will continue with Hades x Persephone books, but I might consider continuing with the Hades Saga.
Alice; Christina Henry
In a warren of crumbling buildings and desperate people called the Old City, there stands a hospital with cinderblock walls which echo with the screams of the poor souls inside. In the hospital, there is a woman. Her hair, once blonde, hangs in tangles down her back. She doesn’t remember why she’s in such a terrible place-just a tea party long ago, and long ears, and blood…
Then, one night, a fire at the hospital gives the woman a chance to escape, tumbling out of the hole that imprisoned her, leaving her free to uncover the truth about what happened to her all those years ago. Only something else has escaped with her. Something dark. Something powerful. And to find the truth, she will have to track this beast to the very heart of the Old City, where the rabbit waits for his Alice.Goodreads
To start, this book has a lot of trigger warnings as it is a dark retelling. Those are: psychiatric hospitalisation, drug abuse/involuntary treatment, rape/threats of rape, sexual assault, slavery/sex slavery/human trafficking, body horror/mutilation, murder, cannibalism, animal abuse, trauma induced amnesia
I went into this with not high expectations, and was actually pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed Alice.
There is a lot of action and characters, but ultimately, the driving force of the story is Alice and Hatcher’s relationship and shared journey to remember their pasts. It was really interesting to see the magic and parallels to the original within the twisted and shocking “new reality” of the Old City.
I will say we spend a large majority of the plot building up to meeting this one man and it’s a little disappointing. I understand and appreciate, that this is mostly about the journey and Alice realising her own strength and starting the healing process, but it was over quickly. And this is also relevant to the Jabberwocky, however, I feel like this will be explored more in the sequel.
Unwell Women: A Journey Through Medicine and Myth in a Man-Made World; Elinor Cleghorn
When Cleghorn was finally correctly diagnosed with an autoimmune disease after years of being told her symptoms were anything from psychosomatic to a possible pregnancy, she was inspired to unpack the roots of the perpetual misunderstanding, mystification, and misdiagnosis of women’s bodies. The result is an authoritative and groundbreaking history of the relationship between women and medical practice, from the wandering womb of Ancient Greece to the rise of witch trials across Europe, and from the dawn of hysteria as a catchall for difficult-to-diagnose disorders to the first forays into autoimmunity and the shifting understanding of hormones, menstruation, and menopause.
Packed with character studies and case histories of women who have suffered, challenged, and rewritten medical orthodoxy–and the men who controlled their fate–this is a revolutionary examination of the relationship between women, illness, and medicine. With these case histories, Elinor pays homage to the women whose bodies were sacrificed to make strides in this still-evolving area of medicine and to show how far we still have to go in terms of understanding the female body.Goodreads
This is a passionate and informative journey through women’s health and medical practice in the West. Cleghorn includes case studies for all levels on the social ladder and when middle to upper class white women are at the forefront of bettering medical advancements, she’s passionate and quick to highlight the inequalities towards other classes and ethnic minorities. I will say, the book does focus predominantly on white and black women. Cleghorn doesn’t shy away from including the harrowing experiments that black enslaved women went through and how black women, and other marginalised POC/indigenous still face institutionalised racism in medicine which stems from historical assumptions that still pervade the present.
Elinor Cleghorn herself experienced the unwillingness of medical professionals to take her pain seriously and it’s such a common occurrence. Both with pain and mental health. My mum’s pain in her face was written off as toothache for so long, that by the time she was properly diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder, she was already on such a quick decline. It’s so frustrating and saddening. My sister suffers from the same disorder and it’s through having a female doctor that worked with my mum that she is able to have discussions about her pain and concerns that aren’t just written off.
Overall, a great insight into the medical field and how throughout history women have fought with men about their own bodies.
Middlemarch; George Eliot
Taking place in the years leading up to the First Reform Bill of 1832, Middlemarch explores nearly every subject of concern to modern life: art, religion, science, politics, self, society, human relationships.
Among her characters are some of the most remarkable portraits in English literature: Dorothea Brooke, the heroine, idealistic but naive; Rosamond Vincy, beautiful and egoistic: Edward Casaubon, the dry-as-dust scholar: Tertius Lydgate, the brilliant but morally-flawed physician: the passionate artist Will Ladislaw: and Fred Vincy and Mary Garth, childhood sweethearts whose charming courtship is one of the many humorous elements in the novel’s rich comic vein.Goodreads
Overall, I enjoyed Eliot’s writing. She can meander and there was an element of a narrator throughout, which added to the “country” and somewhat gossipy nature of the village. I really enjoyed the main characters. Doreatha definitely grew on me because of the relationships around her and her giving nature. I thought Fred was cute and added a lot of charm to the story which was highlighted by his love for Mary. I mostly felt bad for Lydgate, I can’t imagine having to put up with a Rosamond.
There are lots of elements to Middlemarch, my copy is 923 pages long and like I said Eliot meanders. As I’m not well versed in the politics of the late Georgian era, those elements – especially Brooke’s political endeavours – weren’t particularly interesting. Within the whole story, each character is bound up in the conversations of faith, art, morals, duty, class and the roles of men and women.
When we were focused on the character relationships, I had more fun and that came mostly in the second half of the book and the Finale at the end was sweet and satisfying.
*SPOILERS FOR ALICE*
Red Queen; Christina Henry
The land outside of the Old City was supposed to be green, lush, hopeful. But the verdant fields are nothing but ash—and hope is nowhere to be found. Still, Alice and Hatcher are on a mission to find his daughter: a quest they will not forsake even as it takes them deep into the clutches of the mad White Queen or into the realm of the twisted and cruel Black King. The pieces are set and the game has begun, and each move brings Alice closer to her destiny.Goodreads
Red Queen is the sequel to Alice and we follow Alice and Hatcher outside the Old City and while there were aspects that were very gripping, it did lack in comparison to the first book. There were some interesting concepts, such as the queens and the Black King, but I don’t think they were explored enough. We meet quite a few characters, and they didn’t have the same punch or hold the same interest. It also missed the Alice/Hatcher dynamic that was so integral to the first book.
I did enjoy seeing Alice grow into her powers and we saw her having to fend for herself more which meant that by the end of the book her personality was more solidly her own. Some parts were gripping and took some interesting turns. However, I will say that the “showdowns” in both books were a little lacking and easy. In Red Queen, there was more of an emotional aspect that had consequences, which was better.
Overall, while not as gory and gripping as Alice, Red Queen was a decent sequel and explored more of Alice’s character growth.
Side note: this book has no chapters and that’s kind of a pet peeve of mine, so a heads up if you’re the same so you can be prepared 😂
*SPOILERS FOR ALICE*
Looking Glass; Christina Henry
In four new novellas, Christina Henry returns to the universe she created for Alice and Red Queen, where magic runs more freely than anyone suspects, but so do secrets and blood.
In the New City lives a girl called Elizabeth, a girl who has a secret: she can do magic. But someone knows Elizabeth’s secret–someone who has a secret of his own. That secret is a butterfly that lives in a jar, a butterfly made by a girl called Alice.
Girl in Amber
Alice and Hatcher are just looking for a place to rest. Alice has been dreaming of a cottage by a lake and a field of wildflowers, but while walking blind in a snowstorm they stumble into a castle that seems empty and abandoned…at least until nightfall.
When I First Came to Town
Hatcher wasn’t always Hatcher. Once, he was a boy called Nicholas, and Nicholas fancied himself the best fighter in the Old City. No matter who fought him he always won. Then his boss tells him he’s going to battle the fearsome Grinder, a man who never leaves his opponents alive.
The Mercy SeatGoodreads
Alice has a secret–a secret that not even Hatcher knows yet, but pretty soon she won’t be able to keep it from him.
This was good little novella collection to round the duology out. It wasn’t anything super special, but it gave us an insight into some more characters, especially Hatcher.
Lovely Creature was good, if not a little bland and easy. I liked Elizabeth’s resolve at the end, but I find that Christina Henry makes quite lacklustre choices when it comes to conflict resolution with the bad guys. I would, however, love to see more of Chesire!
Girl in Amber was a bit boring. I think the concept was interesting, but was handled a bit messily and too quickly.
When I First Came to Town was a great insight into Hatcher and how he became the way he is in Alice.
The Mercy Seat was fine. Again, it had an interesting concept, but didn’t have the word count to do it justice. I tend not to read blurbs too in depth nowadays, but this one is so misleading! It’s like Alice forgot he does in fact have some magic of his own. Also, I found myself not really liking the wolf aspect of Hatcher’s character. I think it doesn’t do his character growth justice.
Have you read any of these books? What were your thought?
Let me know what you read in January!
Thanks for reading!
I hope you’re having a lovely day and staying safe ♥
Awesome wrap up! Alice has been on my radar for a long time now. I need to pick it up. I completed the Mistborn Era 2 by Brandon Sanderson in January. I really enjoyed it.
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Thank you! I definitely recommend giving it a go~ Ooh, Mistborn era 2 is the one that’s the cowboy’s, right? I’m glad you really liked it! ♥
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It is! I really wasn’t sure how I would feel about the cowboys aspect of it but I really liked it.