What I read in January 2021

I don’t think I’ve read this many five-star reads in the space of a month before - 14 books completed, and seven of them got full marks from me. And I am not one to give five-star ratings out lightly! I very much hope this trend continues into February.

I finished watching Ghosts and series one of Borgen, binged It’s a Sin (I kept getting ‘something in my eye’), The Pembrokeshire Murders, and The Investigation (great, but a bit disconcerting to come straight from Borgen and see two of its main actors in the first scene!). I also saw The Dig and have been keeping up with WandaVision. I’ve rediscovered reflective and creative writing (for good, I hope) and played The Sims 4 A LOT.

The Dark Room, Silent Graves, A Song for the Dying, The Boy from Boskovice, The Coffinmaker's Garden

The Dark Room, by Sam Blake - 4*

Silent Graves, by Sally Rigby - 4*

A Song for the Dying, by Stuart Macbride - 5*

The Boy from Boskovice, by Vicky Unwin - 4*

The Coffinmaker’s Garden, by Stuart Macbridge - half a point docked off because I could not for the life of me get my head around the thing with the phone tracing. 4.5*

Mr Wilder & Me, Exit, The Shape of Darkness, Two Wrongs, Skin

Mr Wilder & Me, by Jonathan Coe - a captivating escape from the mundanity of lockdown life. 5*

Exit, by Belinda Bauer - if I could write like any author, I’d struggle to choose between Bauer, Kate Atkinson and Lissa Evans. Simply brilliant and an early contender for my ‘Best of 2021’ list. 5*

The Shape of Darkness, by Laura Purcell - another title I can’t see being dislodged as one of my books of the year. 5*

Two Wrongs, by Rebecca Reid - 4*

Skin, by E. M. Reapy - January’s Books That Matter pick is full of wisdom and truth, and was exactly what I needed at the time I read it. 5*

The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and other clinical tales, Fake, The Last Snow, My Dark Vanessa

The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and other clinical tales, by Oliver Sacks - my first Oliver Sacks book, and it definitely won’t be my last! Humane and witty, but also tragic and moving in places. 5*

Fake, by Roz Kay - review coming soon. 4*

The Last Snow, by Stina Jackson - review coming soon. 4*

My Dark Vanessa, by Kate Elizabeth Russell. A skilful and compassionate telling of a complex and sad story, from the point of view of a very damaged character who is just beginning to discover and address the reality and extent of her inner wreckage - 5*

Looking ahead…

The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot, She Came to Stay, Psycho-Logical: Why Mental Health Goes Wrong - and How to Make Sense of It, A Beautiful Spy, The Dare

I may have failed to read two of the books I said I would in December’s round-up. I had a very long gap between paydays and decided to read some books I already had instead! I’ve pre-ordered Psycho-Logical: Why Mental Health Goes Wrong - and How to Make Sense of It, by Dean Burnett, as I’ve enjoyed his other books and I’m finding that when it comes to mental health, knowledge is power.

I’ll definitely be reading The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot, by Marianne Cronin, She Came to Stay, by Eleni Kyriacou, A Beautiful Spy, by Rachel Hore, and The Dare, by Lesley Kara, because I’m on the blog tours for them and they look particularly exciting!

Alas, this will be the first time I don’t get to see Lesley promoting her new book in person. I met her at Colchester Waterstones when The Rumour came out, then her publishers treated a group of us local book bloggers to a fancy meal to launch Who Did You Tell?, and I saw her at Waterstones again when it was published, which was one of my last engagements in The Before Times.

But there are upsides to everything moving online - next month I’m going to see Elly Griffiths and Nicci French as part of the Suffolk Libraries Day Book Festival - whereas previously I’ve always missed them due to time or location.

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About Alice Violett

Reader of books, editor of web content, haver of PhD

Colchester, UK https://www.draliceviolett.com