January 2021 monthly wrap-up

I’ll be the first to admit, this year did not start as nicely as I would have liked. I’m extremely behind on putting up my reviews (though they are all written in my planner), I didn’t finish the book that I most wanted to read this month (it was due back at the library and I was only halfway done), and I only finished seven books (usually I’m closer to 9 or 10?). Still, I did have a couple of really good reads this month, and I’m trying to get back into the habit of regular blogging. With that said, here’s a roundup of what I read this month, and maybe some bits and pieces of other stuff?

What I Read

General Stats

  • Total books read: 7
    • Print books: 0 [and 1 that I’m halfway through, plus the library one]
    • Ebooks: 3
    • Audiobooks: 4 [and 1 that I’m halfway through]
  • Total pages read: 3,164
    • For fun: 2,871
    • For school: 293 (this is an underestimate, one book doesn’t have page numbers)
  • Books purchased: 2
    – Look, I didn’t want to buy any books, but they were Fairyloot editions at Half-Price Books, one of them was on clearance for $3, and the other was $9. I couldn’t resist.
  • DNF: none, unless you count Hamnet, by Maggie O’Farrell, which I started the audiobook for, but decided I wasn’t in the mood after an hour or so
  • Favorite ones: I’ll Fly Away & The Subtle Knife

The Books

I’ll Fly Away, by Rudy Francisco (poetry) ★★★★★ – I absolutely loved this collection. No surprise, really; Rudy is amazingly talented. Highly recommend this one for fans of Amanda Gorman.

The Guest List, by Lucy Foley (mystery/thriller) ★★★★☆ – I don’t read a lot of thrillers, but I liked this one. The relationship drama, with the guests betraying each other left and right, was captivating, and the depression rep was painfully real. The ending was a little abrupt and some elements were too convenient, but overall I liked it!

Brother, by Ania Ahlborn (horror) ★★★☆☆ – This was my first “hillbilly horror” story, and it was…fine? I liked the psychological complexity of the characters. There was a lot of questioning nature-vs.-nurture, and the impact of trauma on people’s development. But that aside, there wasn’t much that made it stand out to me. Didn’t love it, and I called the “big twist” pretty early on, but I’m glad I gave it a shot.

The Subtle Knife, by Philip Pullman (MG fantasy) ★★★★★ – I first read this book ages ago, but I had forgotten how dark and sophisticated it was, for a book ostensibly geared toward children. Also, so much outright criticism of organized religion, but…in an interesting way. Basically, I loved it, and I think I appreciate it a lot more, reading it as an adult.

Wench, by Maxine Kaplan (YA fantasy) ★★½☆☆ – This was the only book that I wasn’t a fan of this month. Its fierce feminist take was great, but the book itself was kind of a jumbled mess that had way too many things going on, half of which didn’t have any bearing on the “overarching plot” (if it can even be called that…). Basically, it worked in theory, but the execution was lacking.

The Book of Eels, by Patrik Svensson (nonfiction science/memoir) ★★★★☆ – Okay, eels, are super freaking cool. This one was a bit heavy on the memoir and light on the awesome eel-related content, but its philosophical fusion of the human relationship with mystery, discovery, and acceptance of the unknown was insightful.

Fable, by Adrienne Young (YA fantasy) ★★★★½ – I wasn’t sure if this would quite live up to the hype, but it came pretty close! Grief, grit, family, free-diving, betrayal, boats–this story has it all, held together by a scrappy, driven heroine. Even with some minor quibbles, I loved it and positively flew through the pages.

Currently Reading (but didn’t finish)

Concrete Rose, by Angie Thomas (YA contemporary) – so far, so AMAZING. But really, is that surprising? Angie Thomas is so freaking good.

The Midnight Library, by Matt Haig (contemporary/fantasy/magical realism) – so far, so painfully real

The Project, by Courtney Summers (YA thriller) – so far…meh?

What I Wrote

Honestly, not much. I’ll admit, I barely posted at all. But I did write one post that I was really proud of: a compilation of a bunch of books with ace rep, with notes on the type of representation and how well it was handled. If you’re looking for some ace books to fill your TBR, please, check it out!

I also wrote a handful of short reviews for NetGalley and Goodreads, trying to clear some of my backlist titles where I had previously put in a vague “review coming soon.” And, for whatever it’s worth, I also wrote a 2,500-word paper for my legal writing class that was due this morning. Oof.


  • At the start of this month, I got back my grades from my first semester of law school, and I did really well! That’s exciting for me.
  • I moved to an apartment in downtown Chicago last week, and I really like it. I couldn’t bring all my books with me (obviously) which kind of sucks, but I brought almost all of the Addie LaRue Owlcrate items to decorate the bookshelf here. It looks pretty great, if I do say so myself.
  • I’m back to posting on Bookstagram again as @metaphorsandmisc!

That’s all for now!

Anything you want to see from me on here as we go into February? Any thoughts on the books I read, or the ones I’m reading? What did you have for breakfast today?

Until next time,

Kathryn (“K-Specks”)


2 thoughts on “January 2021 monthly wrap-up

  1. bookish_renee February 1, 2021 / 11:12 pm

    The Book of Eels so sound fascinating! And oddly specific lol. I can’t say I’ve seen that type of content around in a book before!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kathryn Speckels February 3, 2021 / 11:33 am

      Lol yes, it is oddly specific, but it was SO interesting. Like nobody has ever seen an eel reproduce. They can exist for such a long time without food. There’s no real fixed number of years between their changes into next levels of maturity. And no matter where they go in the world, they always return to the Sargasso Sea to reproduce [though, again, nobody has ever actually seen them mating or anything]. For centuries, people were baffled by the fact that nobody could locate eel testicles–even Freud went on a big study abroad thing once to try and find them. It is WILD.

      If you want something very different, I’d definitely recommend it 🙂


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