I read 6 books in December which wasn’t as many as previous months, but took me to a total of 120 books for the year. 120 is the most books I’ve ever read in a year, so despite 2020 being a hot dumpster fire, I was really pleased with my reading.
After I hit my reading goal of 100 books for the year, I quietly set myself the goal of trying to get to 120. I felt it was achievable for the amount of weeks I had left and, hey, it’s a nice round number.
There was a moment on December 31st when I didn’t think I was going to do it. My audiobook was due back in a matter of hours and I had 2 hours left to read. But I knuckled down, powered through the 2 hours, and finished the book with an hour left to spare on the last day of the year.
Where There’s Smoke // 4 stars // ebook
Trigger warnings for murder, on-page death, violence, kidnapping, racism, stalking, scenes of a sexual nature and sexual intercourse.
This was definitely one of my favourite books of the series so far because Malcolm and Seong-Jae’s relationship takes a significant JUMP.
They’re finally beginning to accept their feelings for each other as they grow closer and closer and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy the YEARNING this book provided. I also loved seeing them really begin to understand each other better in ways that no-one else does.
As usual, Cole McCade’s writing is great and I really enjoy the way they concurrently run an overarching series plot, and a plot within each book. They’re also just a master of characterisation and I’m really looking forward to see how Malcolm and Seong-Jae’s relationship develops further in book 7.
The City of Brass // 4 stars // Audiobook
Trigger warnings for violence, rape and mentions of sexual assault, human trafficking, and slavery.
I’ve been wanting to read this since it first released, so I’m really pleased that I finally picked it up. I’d heard mixed things about the audiobook, but I decided to give it a go because my library had it and I really enjoyed it.
I loved Nahri’s character, she’s so bold and passionate and progresses from putting herself first to putting others first throughout the story. I started the book liking Dara’s grumpy, gruff manner, but the more I learned about him, the less I was certain that he’s actually a good person. The opposite was true for Ali; I didn’t warm to him at first, but the more I read, the more I realised he had good intentions.
The action scenes were definitely some of my favourites, and I raced through the chapters when Nahri and Dara were trying to get to Daevabad. The pacing in the middle of the novel was a touch slow, but the politics and events happening around Nahri kept things interesting, and then the ending really made up for it.
I’m pleased I can finally tick this off my backlist and I’m eager to pick up the sequel in 2021. Especially because of that ending.
When the Tiger Came Down the Mountain // 4 stars // Audiobook
Trigger warnings for violence, on-page death, murder, emotional manipulation.
I was so excited to pick this up after loving The Empress of Salt and Fortune earlier in 2020 and, FRIENDS, it did not disappoint.
Once again Nghi Vo’s writing is lyrical and graceful; it has this sumptuous quality to it that makes you feel like you just dined out on your favourite indulgent meal. The audiobook narrators also did a brilliant job of bringing each character to life.
In this book, Chi must recount and record the stories of a tiger and their lover to keep their companions and themself alive. Nghi Vo layers stories within stories so beautifully that it’s easy to tell which level is Chi’s present, and which is the historical tale of the tiger. I loved the LGBTQIAP+ rep in the story (a sapphic romance and a non-binary main character) and I enjoyed the meta narrative elements a lot.
This was a wonderful sequel and Nghi Vo has rapidly become one of my favourite authors in 2020.
Long Exposure // 4 stars // webcomic
Trigger warnings for bullying, homophobia, violence, kidnapping, domestic violence, fatphobia.
I took a chance on this webcomic after seeing really positive reviews for it and learning that it was m/m, and I’m so glad I did. The story follows Mitch, a bully, and Jonas, a ‘nerd’, who are forced to work together on a school project. As they do so, the two begin to grow closer and, after a trip to a nearby research lab (for their project) they discover they’ve developed new abilities.
I was a little hesitant going into this webcomic because it’s an eventual enemies-to-lovers romance between a bully and the person they’re bullying, and I was concerned that the bullying would be excused or romanticised. But thankfully this didn’t happen at all. The bullying at the beginning of the webcomic isn’t condoned at all and is shown to be harmful, toxic behavior it is.
The art style is expressive and full of energy. I really like the way Mars draws facial expressions and the colours they used for Jonas’s powers really added to the story. The romance is slow-burn and very sweet, and the character progression from the beginning to the end of the story is excellent.
Get It Right // 3.5 stars // ebook
Content warnings for unplanned pregnancy, discussions of abortion, homophobia and queerphobia, migraines, scenes of a sexual nature, poor treatment of inmates in prison hospitals.
This was a fun sapphic romance between a pansexual nurse and a lesbian parolee who are both trying to find their feet after unexpected events.
Finn is kind, selfless, and absolutely whipped for Vivi. She doesn’t want to be a burden to others in her family so she’s trying to find a job and her own apartment after leaving prison. Vivi is sweet and smart, but struggling to decide what to do about her unplanned pregnancy. After several misunderstandings, the two begin to realise that they’re both falling for each other and confess their feelings.
Although this is a pretty short novella, we’re introduced to a lot of different characters and we find out Finn’s backstory of how she ended up in prison. The narrative is critical of homophobia and pro-choice for pregnancy, and we also get discussions of pain relief and pain management relating to Finn’s migraines.
The cute romantic moments were some of my favourites in this story and I really liked the fact that we had a pan MC and a lesbian MC as the two leads.
Rebecca // 3.5 stars // Audiobook
Trigger warnings for murder, drowning, gaslighting and emotional manipulation.
Last book of 2020! I listened to this on audio and the narration was different to what I’m used to, but it suited the tone of the book really well.
I enjoyed the gradual unveiling of the mystery and I didn’t see the big twist coming at all. The unnamed narrator is melancholic, thinks herself dull, and believes that she’s inferior to Rebecca in so many ways. It’s only when she learns of Rebecca and Maxim’s history that she begins to believe in her strength of character more.
At its heart, this book is about perception and intention. Each person perceives their own character and their behavior differently to how society perceives them. The narrator views herself as childish and dowdy and thinks Maxim sees her that way too, until he tells her that he doesn’t. Intentions, too, come across differently. The narrator often makes incorrect assumptions about others because she perceives them through her own lens and bias.
Despite a few slow chapters, I enjoyed this and I’m glad I finally picked it up.
I spent Christmas with my family and had a really relaxing few days offline. I was lucky enough to get some lovely gifts, including new running trainers, a ring light from, and a few books including The Roommate, Incendiary, and The Tea Dragon Society. The others will be in my Christmas book haul, which is coming soon.
I actually had 2+ weeks off over Christmas, which is the most time off I’ve had (in one go) in about 3 years. With lockdown and covid, I’d hardly used any of my holiday in 2020, so I ended up using it up over Christmas and it was nice to have such a long break.
Blogging and booktube
I’d originally planned to film lots of videos and blog during my time off, but I ended up spending more time with friends and family, and catching up on a few of the Thai and Chinese dramas I’ve been watching instead.
Normally I’d beat myself up for not being as productive as I’d planned, but I’m actually glad I took some time away from my creative pursuits and gave myself a break. It’s left me feeling refreshed going into 2021 and more motivated to blog than I was before Christmas.
With booktube, if I’m not in the mood to film, I’ve decided I’m not going to force myself. Motivation to film always comes in waves for me, so I’ll just wait for the next wave and film some of my planned videos then.
I’ve never been a big gamer, but I got really into watching streamers play Among Us before the holidays. Over Christmas I graduated to playing with some book community friends and now I’m slightly addicted.
It’s such an entertaining game that I’ve ended up playing for 2.5 hours before when I only meant to play for one. No regrets though, it’s great fun (until you die first round).
Which books did you read in December? What were some of your last reads of the year? Did you hit your reading goal for 2020?