December 2020 Wrap-Up

The hellyear has ended!

But wait—we’re not out of the woods yet. A new year unfortunately doesn’t reset the past.

Anywho, this was another rough month, mainly because I dropped my notice at the beginning of the month after a long contemplation (looooong story there). The time is right to become a writer for a little while, as I have got to finish this sequel as soon as possible, at least until we make another move for my wife’s job. I’m grateful to be privileged enough to make this move, but I’m freaking out a little at not having my income, despite having saved enough to do this, and freaking out about what comes next in the worklife.

But the books! I cleared my January ARCs so kudos to that!

I read 14 books this month, for a total of seven books, six audiobooks and one graphic novel, for a total of 4,776 pages and 57 hours listened.

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While I had a feeling that Minor Feelings was going to be a five-star read, I was delighted to find the same in Superman Smashes the Klan and The Ex Talk. I love Gene Luen Yang, but his stuff runs hot or cold for me, but this was a home run. A 1940s Asian-American family, Superman, white supremacy, immigration and coming to terms with clashing cultures? Yes! The Ex Talk was a delight in every sense of the word, from the stellar banter to the sweet storyline to the chemistry to the fascinating dive into public radio. The Golem and the Jinni was my last read of 2020, and it was just perfection. Overly descriptive writing is hit or miss with me, but this was absolutely, 100% a hit. I loved how everything weaved together and the building mystery and the fraught danger lurking at every turn.

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Yes, I apparently had a theme this month. Green covers and lots of grass.

However, these were both enjoyable! Across the Green Grass Fields was my first read of the Wayward Children series (yes I picked up in book six, whatever, they can be read out of order although I know I missed some things), and I loved its insight on girlhood, growing up, friendship, family, and how it took the trope of the Chosen One and twisted it into delightful bow ties. Plus Gristle and Chicory are my favorites. The Forever Sea, on the other hand, also had much grass, and many endless descriptions of said grass that stretched further than the actual Forever Sea. Despite the need for some serious pruning and weeding in its descriptions of foliage, I loved the world-building and where the plot was going, but wished that more had been resolved by the end. However, I doubt I’ll be continuing on with either of these series, despite my enjoyment.

Happily Ever Afters was delightful and insightful, and I loved its take on writers block, the creative process, and passion. However, it’s basically Pretty in Pink meets Mean Girls, with some minor adjustments. Nikki on the Line also dealt with passion and running into blocks (literally in this case), and I really, really enjoyed how genetics, basketball and passion came into play as Nikki learned teamwork, hard work and self-confidence. Spoiler Alert was fucking amazing, with body positivity and two main characters with slow-burn chemistry—but I loved the secondary characters most of all, along with all of the tidbits, fanfiction and GoT parodies. I’m a sucker for fake fandoms, and this delivered. The Perfect Guests was twisty, turny deliciousness, with three interweaving storylines set in a spooky house—orphans, mysterious murder mystery parties, tense atmosphere and more abound! While some twists were obvious, the last one did surprise me.

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I really enjoyed A Simple Wild, but Wild at Heart took everything I enjoyed about the first (found family! Estranged dad! Spoiled girl who kinda grows out of it!) and um, didn’t exactly shit on the character growth but shunted it to the side. However, the secondary characters more than made up for Cara spending her days buying expensive shit and taking two days to learn how to artfully arrange a bookcase while bemoaning her lack of fitting in, so yay secondary characters! Plus everyone’s favorite not-a-pet pet raccoon was there, along with a grumpy wolfdog and creepy goat.

Recipe For Persuasion was a solid adaptation of the Jane Austen novel, however, I wished that it had stuck to one timeline instead of bouncing back and forth—particularly I wanted more of the cooking show and cooking drama and there was not enough of that.

How to do Nothing had a lot of fantastic insights, but while there were some excellent chapters, others felt, um, out of touch, particularly in the middle of a pandemic. So perhaps this would have been fantastic to read pre-pandemic but not so much now. I did enjoy her essays on community and using technology to truly build community and conversations instead of using it to talk at and over each other.

What were your favorite reads this month?

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