Top books of January

I can’t believe that it is already the end of the month! I still have a great deal of ARCs to get to, and many of them are January releases that I will only get to in February (oops) …. but they will definitely be done!

There have been so many amazing novels that I’ve read this month and I really wanted to highlight some of these great reads! Here is my list of my top books from this month:

  1. The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekannen: I have a very high standard when it comes to thrillers but this novel was actually really good. It had me guessing the entire time, and I loved the intensity and tension that was pervasive in this novel.
  2. The Cruel Prince by Holly BlackThis was one of my favourite YA fantasy books of the month. It had an interesting story and, more importantly, unique characters. This is not the same old story rehashed. I loved the immersion into the world of the fae as well as all the treachery and planning and twists that were thrown in! I am definitely keeping my eye out for the sequel!!
  3. Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste NgWhile I know that this wasn’t a book that came out in January, I only got around to it this month. It is so beautiful and heartbreaking and wonderful. It is a very complex story that looks at what it means to be a mother. I was riveted from page one and emotionally exhausted by the end – and I mean this in the best way possible.
  4. Only Child by Rhiannon NavinI loved that this story was told entirely from the perspective of a young boy. This story is all about how tragedy can change a family and a community. It was poignant and I was bawling my eyes out by the time the story was done. It’s worth the ugly crying!
  5. The Perfect Nanny/Lullaby by Leila Slimani: This was a short read but it was eerie and unputdownable. This book was all about ramping up the tension that eventually led to a complete breakdown and the ultimate death of two innocents. I was blown away by the writing style and the story.
  6. A Killer Harvest by Paul Cleave: A very interesting book that deals with a lot of heavy subject matter like cellular memory and vigilante behaviour. It was fast-paced and intriguing, with plenty of twists and turns to keep me occupied!
  7. Rage Against the Dying by Becky Masterman: This is not a new book by any standards but it featured one of the most unique protagonists ever. Brigid Quinn is a 59-year-old woman who was once a great FBI agent, but has seen sought early retirement. She is quirky and dark and fierce in the best way possible. I loved this novel and cannot wait to start on this amazing series.
  8. Himself by Jess KiddAnother novel that I waited way too long to read, this one was not at all I expected. I love magical realism, and this novel did it right, with plenty of interesting characters and events.
  9. In Case I Go by Angie AbdouThis book was a cross between a ghost story, historical fiction, and had some magical realism in it. It worked beautifully. The story was haunting, the writing was captivating, and I just couldn’t put this book down!
  10. The Marsh King’s Daughter by Karen DionneNot only did this novel have a unique premise, it also had a believable protagonist. This is a character-study novel that explores how the protagonist’s childhood shaped her into the person she becomes later on – and how it makes her the best person to kill the most dangerous man she knows: her father.

That’s a wrap for January … can’t wait for the books that February is going to bring!

Happy reading ~

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The Marsh King’s Daughter by Karen Dionne

You have no idea how long I’ve waited to read this book. A LONG TIME. It’s been on my radar for a while, but I never got the chance to read it. I made it a part of my TBR list for January, and I’m so glad I got to read it before the month was up! Here is my review:

Synopsis (Goodreads): Helena Pelletier has a loving husband, two beautiful daughters, and a business that fills her days. But she also has a secret: she is the product of an abduction. Her mother was kidnapped as a teenager by her father and kept in a remote cabin in the marshlands of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Helena, born two years after the abduction, loved her home in nature, and despite her father’s sometimes brutal behavior, she loved him, too…until she learned precisely how savage he could be.

More than twenty years later, she has buried her past so soundly that even her husband doesn’t know the truth. But now her father has killed two guards, escaped from prison, and disappeared into the marsh. The police begin a manhunt, but Helena knows they don’t stand a chance. Knows that only one person has the skills to find the survivalist the world calls the Marsh King—because only one person was ever trained by him: his daughter.


Review: There are many reasons why I liked this book. One major reason is that I like unique story lines. The premise here reminded me of Room … but more of what would the child from Room have grown up to be like if the child had had a more violent upbringing when in isolation. And the story does an incredible job of showcasing the way that such a lifestyle would affect a child. Because of this unique situation, the reader gets this amazingly unique protagonist: Helena.

Helena was a character that I liked from the start. She isn’t spunky or funny or emotional. In fact, she is the opposite of those things. She is reclusive, with not too many social graces, and is more comfortable out in the woods than with her family. She is analytical and can come off as cold through the way she perceives things and the way she talks. But I liked that about her. It showed how her childhood had impacted her and made her the person she grew up to be. There are so many books where the main character has supposedly gone through some kind of difficulty in childhood but they don’t show any signs of that as adults; this is not the case here, and I loved it. Helena was damaged and that made her perfect for this story and for me.

The story, while told entirely from her perspective, flits from past to present. Helena recounts the things she learned from her father, and how she and her mother escaped him. Through these memories, the reader gets to see the unique “family” dynamic that Helena was a part of – and also, the way it was sometimes almost normal. It explained the conflict that she felt currently, having to hunt down her father because she knew he was dangerous – but she also loved him for being her parent. I will admit that not much happened in the novel until the end, which may have been a let-down for some people who were expecting a fast-paced high-intensity novel. This is definitely more of a character study – but it is a good one.

Overall, I’m giving this novel a solid 4/5 stars. I liked the premise, and I liked that the character stayed true to her background. I loved how the story flitted back and forth in time, and the ending gave me the satisfaction I was looking for. I would recommend this for anyone looking for a gritty character study.

Happy reading ~