We did A Few Reading Firsts last year and it was fun to look back and see what books moved us (in a good and not-so-good way) at the beginning of the year. So we’re back with a 2020 edition.
+ TANYA PATRICE +
First Book Read this Year
Miracle Creek, Angie Kim
I really enjoyed this debut novel from Angie Kim. The dramatic events are told from multiple points of views, which was the perfect way to tease out the mystery of what happened. It’s a well thought out novel, well written with enough detail but not too much of the technical – which could easily have been too much when you’re talking about hyperbaric chambers, and going through details of a murder trial. I listened to the audiobook, and the narrator did a phenomenal job. This is an immigrant story, a story of hope, perseverance and a story of dreams dashed in many ways.
How far will you go to protect your family? Will you keep their secrets? Ignore their lies? In a small town in Virginia, a group of people know each other because they’re part of a special treatment center, a hyperbaric chamber that may cure a range of conditions from infertility to autism. But then the chamber explodes, two people die, and it’s clear the explosion wasn’t an accident. A showdown unfolds as the story moves across characters who are all maybe keeping secrets, hiding betrayals. Was it the careless mother of a patient? Was it the owners, hoping to cash in on a big insurance payment and send their daughter to college? Could it have been a protester, trying to prove the treatment isn’t safe?
First Favorite & First Book Hangover
The Bear and the Nightingale, Katherine Arden
This book was a recommendation in our Goodreads GXO Reading Challenge group for the January Monthly Motif Reading Challenge. It was the 3rd book I was reading this year, and it was an unexpected favorite. It’s based on a Russian fairytale, and tells the story of a tough, young girl who has the ability to see the unseen.
At the edge of the Russian wilderness, winter lasts most of the year and the snowdrifts grow taller than houses. But Vasilisa doesn’t mind. She spends the winter nights huddled around the embers of a fire with her beloved siblings, listening to her nurse’s fairy tales. After Vasilisa’s mother dies, her father goes to Moscow and brings home a new wife. Fiercely devout, city-bred, Vasilisa’s new stepmother forbids her family from honoring the household spirits. The family acquiesces, but Vasilisa is frightened, sensing that more hinges upon their rituals than anyone knows.
First Reading Slump and Book That Pulled Me Out
Normal People, Sally Rooney
I went into a reading slump after The Bear and the Nightingale. I was reading a book of short stories – How Long Til Black Future Month, N.K. Jemisin – which was OK, but I just wasn’t feeling short stories in general. And then I tried another book of short stories – The End and Other Beginnings, Veronica Roth … still not feeling it. And then Normal People, Sally Rooney came off hold at the library. This did the trick. It’s a tough book to read in certain parts and deals with a lot of heavy – coming of age – issues. The audiobook narration by Aoife McMahon was a delight – from the Irish accents, to the way she was able to make each character distinct.
At school Connell and Marianne pretend not to know each other. He’s popular and well-adjusted, star of the school soccer team while she is lonely, proud, and intensely private. But when Connell comes to pick his mother up from her housekeeping job at Marianne’s house, a strange and indelible connection grows between the two teenagers—one they are determined to conceal. A year later, they’re both studying at Trinity College in Dublin. Marianne has found her feet in a new social world while Connell hangs at the sidelines, shy and uncertain.
< KIM >
First Novella, First Favorite, First Book Hangover
To Be Taught if Fortunate, Becky Chambers
Becky Chambers continues to wow me with her thoughtful and touching science fiction stories. This one is a novella and it really packs a punch. I had a serious book hangover after finishing it. It leaves on a note that is so unexpected that I just sat there staring at the wall for several minutes. What I love about her writing is that it’s deep and meaningful but still satisfies my need for a bit of a thrill ride.
In her new novella, Sunday Times best-selling author Becky Chambers imagines a future in which, instead of terraforming planets to sustain human life, explorers of the solar system instead transform themselves.
First Audiobook Of The Year
Daisy Jones & The Six, Taylor Jenkins Reid
The first book I finished this year was the audiobook of Daisy Jones & The Six. Last year I listened The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo and really loved it. I was excited to listen to Daisy Jones as there had been so much buzz about it all over #bookstagram. I did enjoy it but compared to Evelyn Hugo, I felt it just wasn’t as strong of a story. It was compelling for sure and hooked me from the beginning but left me wanting a bit more…. something.?
Everyone knows Daisy Jones & The Six: The band’s album Aurora came to define the rock ‘n’ roll era of the late seventies, and an entire generation of girls wanted to grow up to be Daisy. But no one knows the reason behind the group’s split on the night of their final concert at Chicago Stadium on July 12, 1979 . . . until now.
First Graphic Novels
Several years ago I read The Lunar Chronicles and adored the entire series! I was really excited to get my hands on the newest graphic novels set in this world – Wires and Nerves #1 and Gone Rogue #2. They follow the events of Winter/Book 4 and what happens after Cinder takes the crown. What I love about these is that Iko is the main character and she is a total badass. I had fun revisiting this world.
When rogue packs of wolf-hybrid soldiers threaten the tenuous peace alliance between Earth and Luna, Iko takes it upon herself to hunt down the soldiers’ leader. She is soon working with a handsome royal guard who forces her to question everything she knows about love, loyalty, and her own humanity.
What are some of your reading firsts this year so far?