January 2020 Wrap-up | Part 2: Fiction

◀️ Part 1: Overview | Part 3: January 2020 Nonfiction Wrap-up ▶️

Hi guys! I’m back with my fiction wrap-up for this month. I read 11 fiction books this January, and I’m pretty glad that I turned out enjoying nearly all of them. Here they are:

2020-01 Fiction

Now for a quick rundown of my thoughts on them, grouped according to genre.


Mystery/Thriller

1. The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware – ★★★☆☆ (2.5)A nanny receives a job offer that seems too good to be true, from a family that’s too perfect to be real. Creepy and atmospheric, this book excels in portraying the gothic and the uncanny, but fails in its execution as a thriller. Read my full review here.

2. The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie (Hercule Poirot #1) – ★★★☆☆ – Poirot and Captain Hastings investigate the poisoning of an ostensibly benevolent yet controlling family matriarch in her bedroom, and all her family members are suspect. This work is a diamond-in-the-rough, containing all of the familiar elements that we’ve come to recognize as Christie’s style, but without the polished plotting and the genre-defying twists that she’s really known for. Read my mini-review here.

3. Evil under the Sun by Agatha Christie (Hercule Poirot #24) – ★★★☆☆ – A famous actress is murdered on the seaside resort where Poirot is taking his vacation. Whereas in The Mysterious Affair at Styles everyone seemed to have motive, in Evil under the Sun, not many seem to have motive enough. This book was more bloated than usual with inconsequential characters and a gimmicky murder set-up. Read my mini-review here.

4. The A.B.C. Murders by Agatha Christie (Hercule Poirot #13) – ★★★★☆ – A serial killer sets Poirot up as his enemy and taunts him to figure out his identity before he chooses his next victim. Deservedly called one of Christie’s masterpieces, this work showcases not only Christie’s genius with mystery conventions but also her ability to capture both amusing and profound insights about human behaviour in one or two deftly-written sentences.

5. Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz (Susan Ryeland #1) – ★★★★★ (4.5) Editor Susan Ryeland thinks she’s in for another normal day at work when their most famous author’s latest manuscript for a murder mystery lands on her desk. But the deeper she gets in the story, the more she realizes that the manuscript holds the clues to a real-life murder. This was a gripping, tightly plotted book-within-a-book that pays homage to Agatha Christie while at the same time changing up the conventions of the genre. Read my mini-review here.


Romance

6. What Happened at Midnight by Courtney Milan – ★★★★☆ – I love reading Milan because she portrays her heroines as both strong, passionate, and reasonable – a combination that isn’t as common as you might think. In this novella, John hunts down his ex-fiancée who flees after her father was found to have embezzled thousands of pounds from their business. But when he finds her, he realizes that her situation is not what it seems. Short, sweet, and steamy, and great as a quick read before going to bed.

7. A Wallflower Christmas by Lisa Kleypas (Wallflowers #4.5) – ★★★★☆ – I stumbled on this courtesy of Erin’s review at The Smut Report (thanks guys!). I find that I always have reservations after I read a Kleypas novel, especially about her heroes, but at the same time I can’t seem to stop reading them. In this novella, an irreverent, nouveau-rich American rake falls for a proper yet dowry-less English miss (who, we learn from the subtext, is ‘not like other girls’). As usual, I find such setups highly implausible in real life, but then again, I’m not here for the reality. A cozy read that hit all the right notes.

8. What I Did for a Duke by Julie Ann Long (Pennyroyal Green #5) – ★★★★★ – This was a reread, and I’m happy to find that it was even better than the first time. What begins as a ploy to seduce the little sister of the man who wronged him turns into something more. I loved the banter, and I loved that the plot grew organically from the personalities of the characters rather than being tacked to get the romance moving. The result is a refreshing historical romance with real character growth, surprisingly meaningful fluff, and just the right amount of angst. One of my favorite HRs of all time.


Others

9. [YA Fantasy] A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula Le Guin (Earthsea Cycle #1) – ★★★★☆ – A talented young wizard overestimates his abilities and unleashes an evil beyond his control. Written with a cadence and rhythm more similar to lyrical ballads rather than contemporary YA, A Wizard of Earthsea was a slow immersion into a vividly imagined world where magic is both life-giving and dangerous, and each magical act ladened with a consequences commensurate to the power unleashed. Read my full review here.

10. [Classics] Gigi and The Cat by Colette – ★★★★☆ – This book consists of two novellas in one. Gigi is the story of a courtesan who defies her family’s expectations of her, and The Cat features comical a love triangle between a young man, his new wife, and his cat. Both are charming comedies of manners written in gorgeous prose that explore how women test the limits of their independence and self-expression in a society that restricts their freedom.

11. [Contemporary] Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson – ★★★★☆ – In this novel, Lillian, a woman in her mid-thirties in a dead-end career, is tasked to babysit twins who can spontaneously combust. This ostensibly gimmicky novel turns out to be nothing but: it dwells only briefly on the absurd premise before going on to explore the bonds of friendship and family between its characters and the way that love can grow between the most unlikely of people. A surprisingly heartwarming novel with an offbeat narrator and characters you grow to love, Nothing to See Here has a lot to offer, and will appeal to all kinds of readers. Full review to come.


🌟 Favorite Fiction of the Month 🌟


What were your favourite fiction reads for January? What genre, character, storyline, or even book cover did you find yourself drawn to this month, and why? I’d love to hear about it in the comments! 👇

◀️ Part 1: Overview | Part 3: January 2020 Nonfiction Wrap-up ▶️

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4 thoughts on “January 2020 Wrap-up | Part 2: Fiction

    1. Yay! I’ve read a number of Milan’s novellas and I’m always pleasantly surprised at the substance she’s able to pack in a slim volume. I hope you’ll enjoy it and I’ll look forward to reading your thoughts if you decide to write up something about it 🙂

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