January 2016 Reading Recap

I’m off to a good start with my goal of reading 52 books this year. This month, I’ve read 8 books, so I have 44 more to read and am 15% done. I always read a ton in January because I’m on break from school and because I want to get a good start on my annual challenge because my reading is practically nothing at the end of the year! I still read quite a bit this year, but not as much as previous years (I read 11 last year!) since I worked this break.

I also think I am going to post these recaps more frequently. Last year I did it quarterly, but I read so much that it’s always hard for me to cram all my reviews for the past three months into one post. I can’t even fit in all the books I read just for January! :P Here’s most of my books from this month.

Yes Please by Amy Poehler – 3/5 starsYes Please
I’ve always really liked Amy Poehler in the movies I’ve seen her in (Mean Girls or Baby Mama, anyone?) but especially from the TV show Parks and Recreation. Her hyperactive character I find myself relating to a lot, and since I had read Mindy Kaling’s two autobiographies, I thought Poehler’s would be just as funny.

It really wasn’t. There were some moments where I gave a little chuckle, but overall, the book is pretty true to its genre. It’s an autobiography about her life, so I think I was a bit let down because of the expectations I had from reading other autobiographies from comedians. Took me a long time to finish it.

Percy Jackson & the Olympians by Rick Riordan – 5/5 stars
I started reading this series back in December, and I finally finished the last two books. I was a bit iffy on starting them because I’m really not very interested in Greek mythology, but Andrew kept pestering me saying that I would like them, and he was right! The main character’s perspective is so refreshingly that of a teenaged boy. It’s very down-to-earth and had me cracking up. The series follows Percy Jackson, who is a half-blood — meaning the son of a god —  and his many adventures trying to save the world.

There was nice character development all around, and then ending wasn’t exactly what I thought it would be. And despite knowing very little about Greek mythology, Riordan did a really good job in subtly reminding you who gods were and what their powers were without being repetitive or detracting from the story. If you like action and adventures with a touch of romance and quite a bit of humor, I would definitely recommend this series! I’m looking forward to reading the next series!

At the Water’s Edge by Sara Gruen – 4/5 stars
At the Water's EdgeI listened to this audiobook partly because I really enjoyed Gruen’s Water for Elephants but also because it was available and I needed something to listen to. The beginning was a bit slow, but I still really enjoyed this novel. It’s set during WWII, and focuses on privileged upperclass Maddie, her color blind husband Ellis, and their friend Hank. While the men seek to catch footage of the Loch Ness monster, Maddie slowly falls in love with the small country town and with the people where they are staying.

I was personally a bit wary when I read the description. Hunting the Loch Ness monster? Sounded a bit fantastical being set in WWII, but the story really doesn’t focus as much on the monster, but more of the actions caused by her husband and friend searching for it. There were also interesting tidbits and facts about the war throughout the novel that I didn’t know before, which was really interesting for me.  At the Water’s Edge is a great timepiece read and I would recommend it if you like a bit of adventure, romance, and history.

Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari – 5/5 stars
I will admit, I didn’t really look at what this book is about before I picked it up. I saw Aziz on the front and was kind of like, “Oh my gosh! Aziz has a book out?! Where have I been? What have I been doing with my life?!” Okay, it might have not been that dramatic, but I have always found Aziz absolutely hilarious and knew that I would love his book.

I was expecting the book to be an autobiography, but it was actually  a research study centered round romance in today’s society: how it’s changed, the impacts, how it affects how people date, etc. It was a really fascinating read, educational without being boring (it’s not your typical research study), and punctuated with Aziz’s humor. It was a really easy read and fairly short, so I would recommend this one to everyone.

The Amulet of Samarkand (Bartimaeus Trilogy, #1) by Jonathan Stroud – 4.5/5 stars
The Amulet of Samarkand (Bartimaeus Trilogy, #1)I really enjoyed this book. I’m always skeptical of fantasy/magic books post-Harry Potter, but besides being set in England, there’s not really a whole lot in common. This was a very fresh and unique take on a boy apprentice who is learning to become a magician. The magicians can summon djinni (otherwise known as “demons”) who become their slaves. Nathaniel summons Bartimaeus as his first demon and the novel follows their adventure.

What really made this book is Bartimaeus’s character. He is so sarcastic, witty, and funny that it makes the book very easy to read. You learn about most of the magical world from Bartimaeus, but it’s done very appropriately. You don’t read paragraphs and paragraphs about the world; it’s all woven into his story. Another thing I’ve never seen any other book do quite like this, is his use of footnotes. Normally it’s a line or two clarifying something, but Bartimaeus uses them more as a sidetrack to his main train of thought. At first it was very weird to me to have some pages half full of footnotes, but as the book progressed I really liked it. It fit his character and the plot (with his mind working on different planes).

Overall really good first book in the trilogy. Fairly fast-paced, unique, and a definite recommend to fantasy lovers. I’d also recommend if you liked Harry Potter, but they are pretty different so it’s more if you enjoy magic. :)

Conclusion
Good start to my challenge! My favorite read this month is hand’s down Aziz Ansari’s Modern Romance. I think February I will have much less time to read since my classes have just started up, but I’m hoping that they will be just as good as this month. I normally don’t have such positive reviews on all my books!

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22 thoughts on “January 2016 Reading Recap”

    1. Goodreads is great to track books you’ve read and books you want to read. It for sure helps me keep track with my challenge! I use it all the time – I accepted your friend request :)

  1. Dude! LOVE PERCY JACKSON! :D I was a bit hesitant to read them at first, but I did because I love Greek myths, and adsfklaskl;jad I was impressed by Riordan’s combining Greek myths and modern day elements. The meshing he did was just brilliant. I still crack up at how Ares is a biker and Aphrodite a starlet XD

    Are you going to read The Heroes of Olympus series? If you love Percy Jackson, then I think you’ll like that one, too :) I found that to be more mature than the PJ ones and it was also better in some ways because we got to see the stories from multiple character’s POV instead of just Percy’s.

    Anyway, good luck with your reading for February :)

    1. Yes! I’ve got the first three books of the Heroes of Olympus so once I get my hands on the last two I’d like to start reading them! My brother just started reading them and I know if hey are anything like Percy Jackson I will love them! Good to know they are even better!

  2. Is Percy Jackson a really easy read? I remember reading the first book and I thought it was easy but it was cute. Aziz Ansaris book sounds good! He’s so funny!

  3. Good job on finishing 15% of your goal so far! Keep it up and you’ll accomplish your challenge-52 :D.

    It’s a bummer when a book doesn’t meet up to our expectation. At least you finished through Yes Please! Intersting to see how her book isn’t all about giggles despite being a comedian- but good at the same time that it gets on the realistic side.

    It may take a while to like a good, and I’m glad you finished the series! I can imagine how annoying it must be if the author has to constantly remind what the gods’ powers were. Good that the author thinks the readers are smart enough to remember XD.

    I never make time to read books, but audiobooks seem pretty helpful during driving (especially since my commutes are usually 30++ minutes each way).

    Keep it up with your challenge and you will be fine ;D.

  4. Wowwww 52 books!!! I had a goal of 12 this year and so far I’ve only read 1. Out of all the books you wrote about the only one I’ve seen is The Amulet of Samarkand, and I’m glad you liked it! I’m also skeptical of fantasy after Harry Potter, I remember reading the Eragon series and not being able to finish it, but hey maybe I’ll give fantasy another shot this year! I’ve always wanted to read The Lord of the Rings but it was too complex for me to follow. I might try The Amulet of Samarkand!

    1. I would recommend the Amulet of Samarkand- but give it some time. It’s not really a fast-paced book, but it does have a great story. I actually had never heard of it before but my husband gave me them for Christmas so that was a pleasant surprise!

      The Lord of the Rings books are my top five favorite books/series. However, they can be very dry. They aren’t easy reads, but I love the detail and complexity of the story. Some of that comes off in the movies, but there’s a lot that they leave out! I’d say give them a try again!

  5. You are extremely lucky to be reading the books you want to read before starting college. I was reading Stephen King’s “The Bazaar of Bad Dreams,” before college started for me, only to leave off half way through. Though, I think I was getting tired of reading nothing but fiction. So, I’m glad to be taking a little break from it. Even though I love it.

    Right now, I am currently reading two programming language books C# and asp.net . I was told that these count towards my reading goals? I’m also reading some other books for English for example, Psychology of Superheros, Philosophy of The Big Bang Theory, and Psychology of Survivor. They all should be relatively interesting. Except, some of the chapters that I have read so far in C# are a bit redundant as it is going over a program named Visual Studio (which we get for free — I like Visual Studio better than Dreamweaver honestly). Do these books count as part of my reading goal?

    1. I started school on the 20th of this month, so I’ve done a pretty good job of reading even after school has started! Sometimes I get tired of reading the same genre, too, which is why I think Modern Romance was so refreshing! It’s been a bit too long since I’ve read a good nonfiction book.

      A book is a book, whether it’s for school or for pleasure so yeah! They definitely count! The only rule I have for schoolbooks is that you have to read them through completely, cover to cover. So I never count them because I only read sections of them, not the whole book.

  6. Yay reading! =3

    I really should read more of the Percy Jackson series. I did enjoy the first book. Also have seen The Amulet of Samarkand (Bartimaeus Trilogy, #1) by Jonathan Stroud around every so often and kinda wanna read it.

  7. That’s great progress and a good start! 8 is a lot in a month :) I’m glad you liked most of the books in this list. I’ve heard good things about the Percy Jackson series, though I haven’t read any of it. Modern Romance sounds really interesting! That seems like something I’d enjoy!

  8. ah becca, i love your enthusiasm on reading! the average book i can finish per year is 12 (no kidding) and i admire people like you who sets reading goals and actually meets the target!

    oh wow you gave 5 stars for the percy jackson series. i have only seen the film adaptation and was actually into it. so i guess i’d love it more if i get my hands on the series! (besides i like greek mythology!)

    at the water’s edge and the amulet of samarkand got me too based on your reviews. but among the books you reviewed, i think i’ll go find aziz ansari’s modern romance. ;)

    and becca, i was about to ask if you have goodreads.:D

    1. I think 12 is still great! Honestly, as long as you’re reading something! I just really enjoy reading, but it’s always something that I tend to push off. So making a challenge always helps me read more- even if I don’t reach my specific goal.

      I’ve not seen the film of Percy Jackson. I’ve heard some pretty horrible things about it, though, so I probably won’t plan on watching it. I always like the books better than the movies anyways (I feel like such a snob when I say that, haha). I think you would really enjoy them Patti if you ever get a chance to read them!

      Sure do! I just accepted your friend request on there. :)

  9. I love the Bartimaeus Trilogy! I love the contrast in tone between Bartimaeus and Nathaniel, I don’t think the book would work if it was all told by one character. Enjoy reading the rest of the series – the second book is just as good! At the Water’s Edge sounds an interesting read – I’m trying to branch out and read books that aren’t about wizards or elves so I’d like to try it.
    That’s a shame about Amy Poehler’s biography, I’d have expected it to be very funny.

  10. I don’t have that large of a book challenge but I do want to read more. You are on a roll, missy! It’s awesome that you are taking the time to really smash out this challenge.

    The Percy Jackson books and Jonathan Stroud books are on my list of personal reads. I’ve been wanting to read them for a while but didn’t have the time and now that I do have it, I want to get to it!

    I’ve been wanting to comment on your blog for the longest time but I’ve been so busy. From first glance, it seems like we have a lot in common =) glad we got to cross blogging paths

    1. I would recommend Percy Jackson first! They are such fun easy reads that they don’t take too long to finish!

      Thanks for dropping a comment, Joy! :) I’ve been reading your blog for a bit, too! I can be really bad about not commenting, so I understand, haha.

  11. Glad you have already started with Percy Jackson. It’s really fun and easy to read and never fails to keep the young soul alive within me. Just a question though, what format of book do you usually read? It really seems like you read a lot. Do you buy their physical copy or use ebooks or perhaps, audiobooks most of the time.

    1. I do a little bit of everything! I have a lot of physical books that were gifted from Christmas every year, so I read those when I have down time at home. Then I borrow e-books and audiobooks from my public library and listen on my commute or read my e-book when I’m on the go. I don’t read as many e-books as I used to, though.

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