January 2020 Reading Recap


Happy 2020! Welcome to the first addition of what I learned by reading. This month felt like it was a million years long, which is fine in terms of reading because I read 12 books so far, well ahead of my 100 book goal for 2020.

Read Cover-to-Cover in January


The Vanished Birds by Simon Jimenez

  • Adult science fiction about community in which a captain takes a time-travelling young boy and an ambitious scientists stretches her work beyond the last vestiges of Earth
  • Takeaway: Beautiful prose that makes evocative metaphors that don’t distract from the plot or characterizations


Kushiel’s Dart (Phèdre’s Trilogy, #1) by Jacqueline Carey

  • The first installment of Phèdre’s Trilogy, about a smart young woman enraptured in a multi-national war full of court intrigue and the infamous BDSM the book is known for
  • Completely lives up to the hype
  • Takeaway: How to write a 900+ page book that does not feel 900+ pages


Prosper’s Demon by K.J. Parker

  • Da Vinci is possessed by a demon and our sarcastic, tired, nameless narrator is going to exorcise it
  • Takeaway: Correct way to play the pronoun game


Seven Deadly Shadows by Courtney Alameda & Valynne E. Maetani

  • Young adult fantasy taking place in Japan in which a young shrine maiden must gather seven shinigami to prevent eternal darkness
  • Takeaway: Lean into tropes and culture to deliver a wonderful experience

Finished in January

IntoThinAirInto Thin Air by Jon Krakauer

  • Non-fiction story of the 1996 Mount Everest disaster
  • Takeaway: Deep emotional cores deserve the utmost respect and accuracy in their retelling



Mortal Heart (His Fair Assassin #3) by Robin LaFevers

  • Third book in the young adult fantasy, His Fair Assassin, trilogy which takes place in an alternate history of medieval France and Britain
  • Takeaway: Bring themes established in the previous books to satisfying conclusion, regardless the narrator


Blackfish City by Sam J. Miller

  • Adult science fiction in which a woman comes to the city of Qaanaaq riding a whale that’s actually about why landlords are bad, the AIDS epidemic, and how climate change rocks communities
  • One of my favorite books of all time
  • Takeaway: Tight prose and sentences which do more than one thing at the same time


Come Tumbling Down (Wayward Children #5) by Seanan McGuire

  • The fifth installment of the Wayward Children series in which we return to the Moors for the continued adventures of Jack and Jill
  • Takeaway: Fantastic characterization in such a small package


In the House in the Dark of the Woods by Laird Hunt

  • Great title and cover
  • Shifting fairy tale about a woman moving away from her puritanical way of life
  • Not quite like The VVitch as I expected
  • Takeaway: I need to manage my expectations better


The Whisper Man by Alex North

  • Crime thriller about a series of murders returning to a sleepy town in where a bereaved father and his son just move into
  • Takeaway: Fantastic true crime has to poke at something deeper than just the horror of the murders and crimes


Thirteen Doorways, Wolves Behind Them All by Laura Ruby

  • A World War II era Chicago era told from the points of view of a ghost and an alive girl navigating familial hardships
  • Dear reader, I cried
  • Takeaway: Another excellently woven narrative that’s researched without feeling like it


The Last Pirate of New York: A Ghost Ship, a Killer, and the Birth of a Gangster Nation by Rich Cohen

  • Non-fiction vintage true crime about Alfred Hicks and New York’s crime in the mid-1800s
  • Takeaway: Consider the overall story arc to manage reader expectations


Until next time,

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