Folks, I had a fast-paced December. I went to a blogging event, took part in a readathon, and celebrated Christmas and new year.
I read nine books in December, which was a good high to finish the year on.
The Poppy War // 4 stars // Hardback/Audiobook
After putting this on hold for about 10 months, I finally finished it. And it ripped my heart right out. I started the hardback, but finished it on audio and the final chapter was poignant and powerful. But everything leading up to it was so harrowing and emotionally wrought that I felt so bereft for Rin. She lost so many people and took on so much darkness that she wasn’t the same person who left her small village to join the academy.
This was definitely one of the most intense books I’ve read in a long time and it took me through a whirlwind of emotions, so I’m probably going to read something a bit more light-hearted before I pick up the sequel. But damn that was good.
TWs: on-page death, rape, child abuse, domestic and physical violence, emotional manipulation, physical mutilation.
The Merciful Crow // 3 stars // Audiobook
I liked this, but I just couldn’t quite get fully into it. Maybe this was because I was reading it on audio while driving, but I didn’t feel immersed.
The plot was pretty good and I did like Fye, Tavin, and Jasimir, but I wasn’t completely taken with them. Having said that their dialogue did have me laughing out loud at some points, and the magic system was quite different (one word: teeth).
Overall, it was fun but it didn’t really slap, you know?
TWs: on-page death, violence, gore, loss of limbs, child soldiers, discussions of and engagement in slavery.
War Girls // 3 stars // Hardback
After so much intense action, this book just sort of ended? There was some resolution for the sisters, Onyii and Ify, but I would have liked a lot more.
I think my main issue with the book was that it was so soul crushing. SO many characters died. Every time I started to become attached to someone, they were gone. Tochi Onyebuchi is coming for GRRM’s title.
But I think this book worked very well as an exploration of the brutality, hardships, and horrors of war. It glamorised nothing, and I respect Onyebuchi for that.
I started this in HB but finished it on audio, and at the end of the audio, the author himself explains that he wanted the novel to remind us of the atrocities Nigeria faced during the civil war in 1967-1970. And he does that incredible well, while putting a sci-fi twist on it.
Frankly In Love // 3.5 stars // Paperback (ARC)
I thought Frank made some terrible decisions at certain points in this book and he treated both Britt and Joy poorly, but I did enjoy his friendship with Q and the other Apeys. I loved how in sync Joy, Q, and Frank were with each other, and there were times when their dialogue made me laugh.
The discussions around diaspora, racism, and Korean American identities were nuanced and insightful, and you could really tell that the author cared deeply about these issues.
But. I didn’t love the fact that the only LGBTQ+ rep was thrown in haphazardly in the last chapter, without much development. It kiiiiind of felt like sexuality was being used as a final plot twist to shock us. And I’m not really down for that.
Somewhere Only We Know // 3 stars // Library book
I enjoyed the character development in Somewhere Only We Know and I’m a big K-pop fan so I liked the focus on the music industry.
But the romance was too insta-love for my liking (they fall in love over the course of one day?!) and not altogether believable. If someone spent a whole day lying to you about who they were, wouldn’t you be more annoyed or creeped out when you found out the truth?
Lucky and Jack both lied to and manipulated each other, yet they both forgave each other very quickly. It was sweet, but I question whether this would actually happen in real life. Despite my criticisms, though, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy this.
Mooncakes // 4 stars // Paperback
I loved this so much! The artwork was lovely and the colours are gorgeous.
There’s an f/f relationship and a queer relationship, and so many diverse characters. I really enjoyed the sweet, witchy vibes and I’d love to read more stories with these characters.
Call Down the Hawk // 2.5 stars // Audiobook
I read this on audio and I liked the narrator’s gravelly tone, but I just felt so underwhelmed? I enjoyed the Raven Cycle when I read the series a few years back, but this didn’t really do it for me.
I was hoping for a lot more of Adam and Ronan together, but there weren’t enough scenes of them both and, in terms of plot, very little actually happened? Until the final few chapters?
I haven’t decided if I’ll read the second book (maybe), but I wasn’t wholly convinced on this one.
Red, White & Royal Blue // 5 stars // Paperback
To every single person who told me to read this ASAP: YOU WERE RIGHT. I LOVED IT.
Honestly, this novel was brilliant. On so many levels. The familial love, the burgeoning romance, the witty, laugh-out-loud dialogue and emails. Everything. The characters were fantastic and Alex’s discovery of his sexuality really resonated with me. There were a couple of things I found slightly unbelievable (Alex and Henry being able to dodge their security so easily), but I was willing to forgive them because the whole book was so fun and feel-good.
The final few chapters were uplifting and wholesome, and I closed the book with tears in my eyes (rare) and a feeling of hope.
Fence volume 3 // 4 stars // Paperback
This series gets better with every volume. I enjoyed the fencing in this volume, but the character development really stole the show.
The progression of the tournament took a turn I wasn’t expecting and I like how Seiji and Nicolas are starting to become frenemies after their duel.
I can’t believe it ended on such a cliffhanger, though. Roll on volume 4.
I talked about Christmas card messages I’d send to my favourite characters and posted my TBR for the end of year readathon (End of Yearathon).
My last post of the year was a throwback to the 5 star read predictions I made at the start of 2019. I reviewed each prediction to see if I read the book, and if I rated it 5 stars.
In the last month of 2019, I went to Simon and Schuster’s Big Book Brunch. This was a Christmas bloggers’ lunch where they showcased their up-and-coming YA novels of 2020 and fed us snacks (yes, mince pies).
Danielle Jawando, one of their debut 2020 authors, read a segment of her novel And The Stars Were Burning Brightly and chatted with us about why she wrote the book and the messages she wants to express through it.
The event was so much fun and I loved hearing about S&S’s 2020 releases. They have an Arthurian legend retelling releasing later in 2020 that I’m very excited for.
After the event, we went to Winter Wonderland in Hyde park and I had the biggest warm salted pretzel. Delicious.
We also went to Forbidden Planet, and Persephone Books (for the first time) and I may have treated myself to Fence volume 3 and the UK collector’s edition of A Gathering of Shadows. It was such a fun day and I got to hang out with some wonderful blogger friends.
My work’s Christmas meal was in December and it involved karaoke (haha not me), vegan rice pudding (mmm), and aggressively loud Christmas crackers.
I don’t drink so I drove some of my colleagues to the event and we had a really fun time. The food was good and I got to see two of my friends do a duet to Breaking Free from High School Musical. Golden.
I celebrated Christmas with my family and I can honestly say it was so relaxing and fun. My folks and I went to midnight mass on Christmas eve and then we spent Christmas opening presents, making dinner, and watching new shows.
On Boxing Day we went for a long walk to get some fresh air, then went to our neighbours for snacks and drinks. I also went to see Frozen II just after Christmas and I LOVED it. I really enjoyed how characters and plot points set up in the first film were developed in the second, and I haven’t stopped singing Into The Unknown since I saw it.
My TBR was:
- Red, White & Royal Blue
- King of Scars
- Fence volume 3
- Throne of Swans
- Loveboat, Taipei
The books I manged to read were:
I had hoped to read more than this, but since it was a busy time over Christmas, I didn’t get to every book on my TBR. But some books could double for more than one challenge, so the challenges I completed were:
- Read a book with a red cover
- Read a book from a series
- Read a 2019 release
- Read a book under 300 pages
- Read a diverse book
I really enjoyed taking part in End of Yearathon and ended up beating my Goodreads challenge of 75 by four books as a result!
How was your Christmas/holiday season? Did you hit your Goodreads goal?