What I Read: January 2024

What I Read: January 2024

Are we a full month into 2024? Yes.

Did I still type 2023 when writing this post? Also, yes.

I hope everyone’s 2024 is off to a good start. Mine’s certainly off to a busy start. Between changes at work, changes outside of work, my car needing an oil change, my yearly doctor’s appointment, etc., I’m in a survival state. You know those periods in your life where you’re just hanging on and hoping it’ll pass? That’s where I’m at.

But that didn’t stop me from escaping into books with this month’s read included an interesting mix of fantasy, sci-fi, and non-fiction:

  • The Cruel Prince by Holly Black
  • Running with Purpose by Jim Weber
  • Fear the Flames by Olivia Rose Darling
  • The Inner Game of Tennis by W. Timothy Gallway
  • Kill Show: A True Crime Novel by Daniel Sweren-Becker
  • All Systems Red by Martha Wells
  • Artificial Conditions by Martha Wells
  • Fate Calls the Elf Queen by J.M. Kearl

The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

I almost didn’t finish this book a few chapters in as the writing felt very young (it is YA) and choppy. However, I stuck with it and I’m glad I did!

Jude and her sisters are essentially kidnapped and forced to grow up in the High Court of Faerie. But as a mortal human, Jude and her twin sister don’t fit in and are frequently bullied by their faerie peers.

Taking matters in her own hand, Jude becomes a skilled fighter and gets involved in the messy battle for the crown even at the risk of angering her biggest enemy, Cardan.

Rating: 8/10

Running with Purpose by Jim Weber

This was outside of my usual reading as it featured business topics. (I honestly had been hoping it was more about running…)

Jim Weber shares his path to becoming CEO of Brooks Running Company, his experience with running, his battle with cancer, and more.

I really enjoyed the more personal parts of this book and how honest Jim Weber was with his struggles in business and personal life. However, some of the business parts were very business-y, which isn’t my personal favorite. It also felt at times like a sales pitch for Brooks shoes?

Rating: 7/10

Fear the Flames by Olivia Rose Darling

Elowen lives in a secret kingdom after escaping from her abusive father. But in order to make it out safely, she had to leave her dragons behind. Now, as an adult, she wants revenge. So, when she stumbles across a commander from another kingdom, they reluctantly become allies. He wants to destroy her father and so does she. But their relationship becomes blurry as they fall for each other.

Parts of this were really good, but other parts dragged. It’s like at times the plot was almost abandoned? There are going to be sequels, but I’m on the fence.

Rating: 7/10

The Inner Game of Tennis by W. Timothy Gallway

Do I play tennis? No.

Would I recommend this book? Absolutely.

I came across this book while listening to a running podcast about developing mental strength and improving your mindset around tough things. While it is about tennis at times, it is really more about psychology and the importance of letting your body and mind do what it does best, without negative interference and self-talk.

It’s a short read, so even the tennis-focused parts don’t drag on for long. Check it out if you have big goals on the horizon.

Rating: 8.5/10

Kill Show: A True Crime Novel by Daniel Sweren-Becker

Let me start off by saying, this is not a true crime novel. It’s a work of fiction. (I know the title is confusing.)

Sara, a young teenage girl, goes missing from school. Her family pleads for help on the news and videos surface online that catch the attention of a reality TV producer. She convinces Sara’s family to do a short reality series about the search for their daughter and, hopefully, her rescue. But, everyone involved has secrets and those secrets turn deadly.

I haven’t read a book in this style before, but I thought it worked! It was a series of interview snippets, so at first it feels choppy, but I liked that style for a story like this. However, I wasn’t the biggest fan of any of the characters.

Rating: 7/10

All Systems Red by Martha Wells

This novella is so good, I started and finished it before bed in one night!

A SecUnit whose job is protect clients and act as security, hacks its governor unit, and begins to secretly make decisions for itself. (Those decisions usually involve watching media and avoiding interactions with people.) But on one job, “Murderbot” is forced to choose between hiding its freedom and saving the lives of its clients.

Murderbot is hilarious! Even if you’re not much of a sci-fi person, this is worth reading. It’s short and there’s not too much worldbuilding. Highly recommend.

Rating: 10/10

Artificial Conditions by Martha Wells

This is the second book in The Murderbot Diaries series, so it may contain spoilers from the first book (above). Read with caution!

Murderbot has run away from its guardian and is trying to pose as an augmented human. It wants to learn more about its past and the killing spree it was previously involved in. To do that, it wants to return to the plant where it all went down. Murderbot ends up befriending ART, a research transport, who decides to help. (ART also has a great sense of humor.) But pretending to be human isn’t easy.

I love the characters in this series! I’ll admit, I didn’t love this sequel as much as the first one (maybe my expectations were too high?!). But I plan to keep reading the series.

Rating: 7/10

Fate Calls the Elf Queen by J.M. Kearl

This is the third book in the Elf Queen series, so it may contain spoilers from the previous two books (review #1 here and review #2 here). Read with caution!

After the second book dragged a bit, I was worried heading into this one. But I loved it!

I’ve listened to this entire series as audiobooks and I couldn’t recommend it enough. The voice actors do such a good job of bringing the characters and story to life! In this book, Layala and Thane are struggling to come to terms with the fact that they are the gods, Valeen and War. AND- that they must work with one of their greatest enemies, the Black Mage/Hel, in order to survive. It’s a difficult adjustment as they try to reconcile who they were, with who they are now.

I know people have very mixed reviews about this as it flips the story compared to the previous two books, but I was a fan.

Rating: 10/10

Want more reviews?

Check out my top picks from 2023! As always, I want to know what YOU are reading. Leave a comment below with some of your recent favorites.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *