The Ten Thousand Doors of January – A Goodreads Choice 2019 Nominee

The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow

My Rating: ####/5

Goodreads Rating: 4.16/5

Published September 10th, 2019

“When I was seven, I found a door. I suspect I should capitalize that word, so you understand I’m not talking about your garden- or common-variety door that leads reliably to a white-tiled kitchen or a bedroom closet.
When I was seven, I found a Door. There – look how tall and proud the word stands on the page now, the belly of that D like a black archway leading into white nothing. When you see that word, I imagine a little prickle of familiarity makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. You don’t know a thing about me; you can’t see me sitting at this yellow-wood desk, the salt-sweet breeze riffling these pages like a reader looking for her bookmark. You can’t see the scars that twist and knot across my skin. You don’t even know my name…”
– The Blue Door, The Ten Thousand Doors of January.

I was gifted a copy of The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Must Read Books YA SA and Jonathan Ball Publishers. This is an unpaid review.

One of my favorite books from 2018 was The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan. When I read the synopsis for The Ten Thousand Doors of January I felt the sentimental longing to go back to Anthony Peardew’s mansion, meet Laura for the first time and discover the story of The Keeper of Lost Things all over again. I had to know if TTTDoJ was going to leave the same wistful affection in my heart.

“But you still know about Doors, don’t you? Because there are ten thousand stories about ten thousand Doors, and we know them as well as we know our names.”

January Scaller is an orphan of sorts. She doesn’t belong anywhere; she doesn’t come from anywhere and she doesn’t know what the future holds. She feels ignored and alone and out of place. When January discovers a strange book that talks about Doors (with a capital D), other worlds, love, and adventure, how can she not read it? With each turn of the page, January’s whole life changes and she discovers there is one door that she will never be able to enter – the door before The Ten Thousand Doors of January.

“But I was done with the fanciful nonsense. No more doors or Doors, no more dreams of silver seas and whitewashed cities. No more stories. I imagined this was just one those lessons implicit in the process of growing up, which everyone learns eventually.”

I get a lump in my throat just telling you about January’s story and this book. It’s not like anything I’ve read before. Alix E. Harrow transports you into a world so magical and so full of adventure, you feel a little like the son or daughter of Indiana Jones and Lara Croft, meets The Keeper of Lost Things.

Alix E. Harrow delivers the twists and turns of this magical, fantastical plot with elegance and confidence. Narration in sections of TTTDoJ nods to the narration at the start and end of The Age of Adeline (2015) and these were truly my favorite part(s) of the book. The narrator imprints on you that time weighs heavily on all the characters and for good reason.

“She became something else entirely, something so radiant and wild and fierce that a single world could not contain her, and she was obligated to find others.”

Every chapter is named for the Door discovered in the chapter and gives insight on what to expect throughout the chapter. Will it be a wonderfully lovely Door or a worrisome Door to be wary of? There is the Unlocked Door, the Door to Anywhere, the Door of Blood and Silver, the Burning Door and the Door in the Mist.

January’s Doors is going to stay with me for a long while still…

“…not every story is made for telling. Sometimes just by telling a story you’re stealing it, stealing a little of the mystery away from it.”

GOODREADS | AMAZON | BOOK DEPOSITORY | LOOT | READERS WAREHOUSE

The Finalists Have Been Announced – Goodreads Choice Awards Final Round

The final round for the 11th Annual Goodreads Choice Awards dates are from 19th of November to the 2nd of December, followed by the Winners announcement on the 10th of December.

Herewith the top contenders and my predictions. Let me know if you’ve read any of them and if you think they deserve to be in the final round?

Best Fiction:

Normal People or The Testaments

Did you know that Normal People by Sally Rooney has over 123,000 ratings on GoodReads?

It has also been nominated for the Booker Prize for Longlist (2018), the Costa Book Award for Novel (2018), the Dylan Thomas Prize for Longlist (2019), and the Women’s Prize for Fiction for Longlist (2019).

Best Mystery & Thriller:

The Silent Patient or An Anonymous Girl

Did you know The Silent Patient is Alex Michaelides’s first novel, but that he wrote the film The Devil You Know (2013) starring Rosamund Pike.

Best Historical Fiction:

Daisy Jones & The Six or City of Girls

Best Fantasy:

Fire & Blood or The Winter of The Witch

Uhm, Mr Martin, when will you be finished with book 8 of A Song of Ice and Fire….mmmm????

Best Humor:

Life Will Be The Death Of Me:…And You Too! or Dear Girls

I listened to Dear Girls on Audible, and it was fantastic!

Best History and Biography:

Midnight in Chernobyl and Say Nothing

Say Nothing has also been nominated for the National Book Award for Nonfiction (2019), the Kirkus Prize Nominee for Nonfiction (2019) and The Orwell Prize for Political Writing (2019).

Best Graphic Novels:

Pumpkin Heads or Heartstopper VOL. 2

There is a lovely blog-post at Ruby Rae Reads on all the Graphic Novels she’s read this year – it features Heartstopper Vol. 1 and Pumpkin Heads.

Best Debut Novel:

The Silent Patient or My Sister The Serial Killer

My Sister the Serial Killer has also been nominated for the Booker Prize for Longlist (2019), the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Mystery/Thriller (2018), and the Women’s Prize for Fiction (2019).

Best Young Adult Fantasy & Science Fiction:

The Wicked King or Queen Of Air And Darkness

It’s Queen of Nothing release day – have you ordered your copy yet?
Amazon | Book Depository | Loot

Best Middle Grade & Children’s:

Diary Of An Awesome Friendly Kid or New Kid

New Kid has also been nominated for the Kirkus Prize for Young Readers’ Literature (2019).


Are you ready to cast your final vote?

The Guardian of Lies – A perfect read for the upcoming holidays.

The Guardian of Lies by Kate Furnivall

My Rating: ###/5

GoodReads Rating: 3.85/5

Published August 22nd, 2019

Fans of Tom Clancy and Kate Quinn – this one is for you.

“Eloïse Caussade is a courageous young Frenchwoman, raised on a bull farm near Arles in the Camargue. She idolizes her older brother, André, and when he leaves to become an Intelligence Officer working for the CIA in Paris to help protect France, she soon follows him. Having exchanged the strict confines of her father’s farm for a life of freedom in Paris, her world comes alive. 

But everything changes when André is injured – a direct result of Eloise’s actions. Unable to work, André returns to his father’s farm, but Eloïse’s sense of guilt and responsibility for his injuries sets her on the trail of the person who attempted to kill him.” – Goodreads 

I was gifted a copy of The Guardian of Lies by Must Read Books SA and Jonathan Ball Publishers. This is an unpaid review.

What an enjoyable story. This story has all the right ingredients for an intensely satisfying and captivating spy meets historical fiction tale. The writing is fast-paced, the dynamics between the characters are intense and interesting and just the right amount of romance is present so that everyone will enjoy it. I often found myself trying to predict the outcome, but just when I thought I knew who “the bad guys” were, Furnivall introduced a new twist and kept me on the edge of my seat. 

Most Historical Fiction novels are based in WWII (which I absolutely love), so it was refreshing to read a story set in post-war France where new history was being made. In this story, we are introduced to the start of the Cold War, Joseph Stalin, the creation of nuclear weapons and The Space Race. 

My absolute favorite thing about this book is the Southern France setting. The region of Camargue is some of the most natural and most protected regions in all of Europe, so I can just imagine how beautiful it was 65 years ago with The Mediterranean Sea on one side and full, luscious marsh plains in-land. 

Murder, lies, spies and secret agents, loyalty, betrayal, more secrets, more lies, fear, guilt, courage, and French wine – this book has it all!

Vote for the Best Books of the Year! – Goodreads Choice Awards Opening Round

I am an absolute Goodreads Choice Awards junkie.  I love going through the list of nominees and winners to see which books I’ve read and which books I need to add to my #tbr ASAP… because #fomo.

The opening round for the 11th Annual Goodreads Choice Awards dates are from 5th to November 10th, followed by the Semifinal round, the Final round and Winners announcement on the 10th of December.

There are 20 categories, with 15 books per category.  You are can submit a “write-in vote” if there is a book not nominated, that you feel deserves to be there.  Rules and eligibility for “write-in votes” here.

Categories are:

  1. Best Fiction
  2. Mystery & Thriller
  3. Historical Fiction (my favorite)
  4. Fantasy
  5. Romance
  6. Science Fiction
  7. Horror
  8. Humor
  9. Nonfiction
  10. Memoir & Autobiography
  11. History & Biography
  12. Science & Technology
  13. Food & Cookbooks
  14. Graphic Novels & Comics
  15. Poetry
  16. Debut Novel
  17. Young Adult Fiction
  18. Young Adult Fantasy & Science Fiction
  19. Middle Grade & Children’s
  20. Picture Books

Some of the 2019 well known book nominees include The Testaments by Margaret Atwood, Lock Every Door by Riley Sager, The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern and Pumpkin Heads by Rainbow Rowell & Faith Erin Hicks.

So far I have voted for Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid, The Winter of the Witch by Katherine Arden, Dear Girls by Ali Wong, A Curse so Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer and Dead Voices by Katherine Arden.  AND I have added about 20 new books to my ever-chaotic #tbr-pile *facepalm.

Don’t delay!  Go cast your votes book-peeps!!

Aladdin at O.A.K. Youth Theater

Last year we went to see O.A.K. Youth Theater’s production of Beauty and The Beast and WOW, it was amazing – see blog post here – so when they announced Aladdin earlier this year, I was probably one of the first to purchase a ticket.

Aladdin:

Aladdin (1992) A kindhearted street urchin and a power-hungry Grand Vizier vie for a magic lamp that has the power to make their deepest wishes come true.

O.A.K. retells the classic Disney fantasy with modern twists and turns, humor and classic nostalgia.  The cast is made up of 45 talented singers, dancers and contortionists.  Ladies and gentlemen, there is no lip-syncing here, these kids CAN SING!   It’s The Greatest Showman (2017) meets Aladdin.

Cast Members:

Aladdin is played by the very handsome Miguel de Sampaio.  I don’t believe that it is a coincidence that Miguel looks remarkably like a young Zac Efron – guys I am not even kidding, it’s doppelganger resemblance.

The charming Eldiré Strauss portrays a very beautiful Princess Jasmine.  In O.A.K.’s reproduction, Princess Jasmine has a sassy little sister, Princess Chamomile, who has you in stitches in the first couple of scenes as she teases Jasmine mercilessly about choosing a prince to marry.

In Beauty and The Beast in 2018, Matthew Otto was my favorite on-stage personality with his portrayal of Gaston. I was ecstatic to see him cast as the boisterous Genie this year.  His acting skills and stage personality is made for this role.

Music and Dance:

After the opening scene with the classic narrator introduction, the cast jumps straight into the toe-tapping rendition of “The Greatest Showman” originally performed by Hugh Jackman, Keala Settle, Zac Efron, Zendaya and The Greatest Showman Ensemble – this already gives you a sense of how much fun the production is.   Dancing includes acrobatics-; hip-hip-; modern-; ballet-; Gatsby and tap-dancing.

The second song is performed by Aladdin, Zahar and Princess Jasmine respectively with their rendition of “A Million Dreams” originally performed by Ziv Zaifman, Hugh Jackman and Michelle Williams.  It shows how each character has their own dreams of a “better” or “different life”.  Zahar’s ending note being “a million dreams of a world I am going to take…” [insert crowd laughter and applause here].

The show continues with scene after scene of talented acting, singing and dancing, humoristic comments and nuances, making references to classic fantasy tales like Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid, Pocahontas, and The Road to El Dorado, and modern pop culture like the loveable Baymax, Baby Shark, Harry Potter, Frozen and Game of Thrones.  Donald Trump, Jacob Zuma, SARS, Susan Boyle and Lord of The Rings are made fun of (very tastefully) and of course the show would not be complete without true Aladdin classics like “Friend Like Me” originally performed by Robin Williams and “A Whole New World” originally performed by Lea Salonga and Brad Kane.

Other songs include:

  • The Other Side by Hugh Jackman & Zac Efron
  • Treasure by Bruno Mars
  • I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles) by The Proclaimers
  • Havana by Camila Cabello ft. Young Thug
  • Party Rock Anthem by LMFAO ft. Lauren Bennett, GoonRock
  • Just The Way You Are by Bruno Mars

Genie – Matthew Otto:

Matthew shines!!!… like a Genie diamond.  His on-stage personality bursts at the seams with singing and dancing talent, quick wit and Elton John-like attitude.  His quips are quick, and on-point and he has the crowd in the palm of his hand throughout the whole show.   

His funniest quote – “Maleficent wants her dress back!”

His funniest moment – “I am Blue (Da Ba Dee)” by Eiffel 65

Once again – well done and congratulations to O.A.K. Youth Theater on another spectacular production.

Image credit: O.A.K. Youth Theater Facebook Page