January Wrap-Up and TBR Jar

Hello! Brace yourselves for a REALLY long post, my apologies in advance.

I figured that I would start this with an overview of my rating system. I use the “out of 5” system, since it correlates directly to the rating system on Goodreads, which I use to keep track of my reading.

1 star: A 1 star rating equates to one of the worst books I have ever read. This book will be given away within a week because it just disgusts me to have it on my shelf. I probably didn’t even finish it.

2 stars: This book could have been worse, but I didn’t enjoy reading it. Just not my cup of tea. I could see how some people might like it, but it just wasn’t for me. Probably finished it but would never read it again.

3 stars: I enjoyed this book, but was a little disappointed. Definitely didn’t live up to it’s potential, or my expectations. Would recommend it, but definitely not one of my favorites. Just a pretty decent book in general, but no strong feelings either way.

4 stars: I really like this book, but there was just a little something missing that kept it from getting 5 stars. Would definitely recommend.

5 stars: This book is perfect and there is nothing I would change about it. Would reread it a million times over, and I will make you read it immediately.


January was actually a pretty good reading month considering that it was also finals month. I managed to get through 8 books this month, and I enjoyed pretty much all of them. Good month for quantity and quality reading!

The first book I read this month was QUEEN OF SHADOWS by Sarah J Maas. This is the 4th book in the THRONE OF GLASS series, so I won’t get into the plot to avoid spoiling the earlier books in the series, but if you haven’t read this series, I definitely recommend it! This book lived up to and exceeded my expectations. There was so much character development and there was never a dull moment for our eclectic cast of characters. My only issue with this book is, looking forward, I’m not sure that there is a lot left to write about. Again, without going into spoilers, I basically felt like the series could have ended with this book, and I would have been completely satisfied, but I’m definitely looking forward to see where this series goes next. 5 out of 5 stars

The next book I read was THE PENELOPIAD by Margaret Atwood. I went into this book with really low expectations, as I have read THE HANDMAID’S TALE and really disliked the writing style. I was so wrong. This book was amazing. It is a retelling of the Greek mythological story of Penelope and Odysseus from a modern perspective, and told from the POV of Penelope, with interjecting chapters from the POV of the 12 maids that Odysseus killed in addition to the suitors who courted Penelope in his absence. This book was so witty and sassy, and I flew right through it. Definitely glad I picked this one up. 5 out of 5 stars

Next up, MAYBE ONE DAY by Melissa Kantor. I have been putting off buying this book for so long, because while it looked interesting, I just wasn’t entirely convinced that it was going to be worth it. I was kind of right. While this book was enjoyable, I didn’t really find myself growing attached to any of the characters. This book is about two friends, Zoe and Olivia, who get kicked out of their ballet school and are trying to find out how to go about a normal high school life. Then Olivia gets a diagnosis no one wants to hear. I felt like Olivia’s illness was used more in the plot than Olivia herself, so I felt very detached from a lot of the characters. Zoe wasn’t really likable, and the premise of Zoe falling for Olivia’s crush just felt entirely unnecessary and irrelevant. I feel like this book had a lot of potential, but it just didn’t go anywhere and certainly did not live up to my expectations. 3 out of 5 stars

THE GRAVEYARD BOOK by Neil Gaiman, which is about Nobody (Bod) Owens, a boy who is raised by spirits in a graveyard after his parents and sister are mysteriously killed. He spends most of the book growing up in the graveyard, exploring and eventually trying to figure out who he is and where he comes from. This is the first book I’ve ever read by Neil Gaiman, and of course it blew me away. While this is more of a middle-grade novel, I definitely loved it. I read this in one sitting because I just couldn’t put it down. I loved the characters and the plot, and the writing style was absolutely beautiful. My only issue with this book was that we didn’t get to see too much of the other characters besides Bod, our main character. I would love a spin-off book about Silas, or some of the other spirits who helped to raise Bod in the graveyard. 4 out of 5 stars

This next book is actually a play that I had to read in school, and it’s GIRLS LIKE THAT by Evan Placey. My teacher really set this play up to be entirely revolutionary and almost taboo writing, but I found it to be a rather lack-luster rehashing of the impacts of cyber-bullying and teen boy/girl culture. I think part of the reason I didn’t love this play was because I didn’t find it to be relatable, having grown up an introverted child who preferred the pages of books to having actual friends… Or every actually speaking to anyone. Most of the people in the class really liked it because it felt very nostalgic to them, and a few even said that they felt like they were reading their own memoirs. I’m definitely interested in checking out some of Evan Placey’s other plays, as they seem to be more interesting, and maybe more original topics. 2 out of 5 stars

Now I have a book that I have been meaning to read for ages. I’ve owned it for over 2 years, and I’ve known about it since it was turned into a film in 2011. This book is THE HELP, by Kathryn Stockett. If you don’t know what this book is about, just go read it immediately. Go, now. This book is definitely going to stick with me for a very long time, and I think it is so important for everyone to read. This is probably one of the best books I have ever read. I loved all of the characters, particularly how none of them were entirely good or bad, and how everyone had their own prejudices, regardless of the color of their skin. The sass and the humor in this book also made for a nice change to the generally dark storyline, so overall it was just a very well-rounded, thoroughly enjoyable read. 5 out of 5 stars

HELLO, GOODBYE, AND EVERYTHING IN BETWEEN is the 4th book I have read by Jennifer E. Smith. It takes place in the 12 hours before Zoe and Aidan, who are boyfriend and girlfriend, leave to opposite sides of the country for college. This book is probably the best book that I’ve read by Jennifer E. Smith, partially because I found it to be super relatable, and I also think that it’s probably the most realistic book of hers that I’ve read, since it focuses not on the insta-love plot device, but instead on the well-seasoned relationship between Clare and Aidan that is now come under fire by the necessity of moving to opposite sides of the country. Clare and Aidan spend the night before going away to college trying to rehash their relationship and decide whether to stay together or break up once they go to college. This book was so sweet, and so incredibly well-written, and it was one of the 2 books this month that I read in one sitting. 5 out of 5 stars

The final book I read this month is another one that I’ve been putting off for a while, and it is WONDER by RJ Palacio. It’s about a boy named August who has a “cranial/facial abnormality” who is going to school for the first time, entering middle school and the 5th grade. This book was really enjoyable, but there were a few things that I took issue with. I really liked the writing and the plot, but I found several typos in my edition, which I found to be really distracting. Also, this book was told through several different POVs, but all of them were normal except for one – August’s older sister Olivia has a boyfriend, and they boyfriend’s part in the story had no capitalizations, and I have no idea why. It was very frustrating to me because I didn’t feel like this added anything to the character’s personality, particularly since the character is portrayed as nerdy. So, while I really enjoyed this book, some of the plot as well just felt a little too easy, and a little bit unrealistic. 4 out of 5 stars

Finally I would like to talk about TBR for this year. I am definitely a mood reader, so I don’t like to pick out too many books ahead of time. However, I have so many books on my TBR shel(ves) it’s embarrassing, so I wanted some way of knocking out a few books that have been on my shelf for a really long time. I got this idea from KATYTASTIC on YouTube, but basically I made a TBR challenge jar. I took a little pasta jar and put pieces of paper that have book categories that I will draw from each month inside. The categories are as follows –

  • start a new series
  • read a classic
  • read a book under 200 pages
  • read a book between 200 and 5oo pages
  • read a book over 500 pages
  • read a book by Shakespeare
  • read a book by an author you have read before
  • read a book by an author you have never read before
  • read a book that you’ve owned for more than a year
  • reread a favorite
  • read a book that someone else picks for you

The category that I drew for the month of February is – READ A BOOK UNDER 200 PAGES. If you would like to join me in this TBR challenge, comment below which book you will be reading this month that fits the category.

WOW this was a really long post. Sorry about that, I didn’t mean for it to be quite so long, but if you stuck it out good for you! If you would like a more in-depth review of any of these books, please leave a comment down below! What books did you read this month? did you love them as much as I loved all the books I read this month?

Happy Reading!





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