December is done, and while I only accomplished two of my goals for the month (neither of them writing or reading goals), I’m going to consider it a success since this was a very emotionally draining month. I had kinda hoped to finish The Fiery Cross before the end of the month, but was busier during Christmas week than I’d expected so there’s 1,000 pages to go before midnight, and I don’t think that’s realistic for me.
I plan on doing a longer 2021 wrap-up next week, highlighting my favorite books of the year and total books read and stats and whatnot (the latter two if I’m feeling up to math/screenshots).
Anywho, since reading is my unhealthy coping mechanism for anxiety and depression, I read 19 books this months, breaking down into 8 books and 11 audiobooks, for 6,496 pages and I don’t even want to know how many hours listened (at lot. it was a lot).
To the books!
Jade Legacy was the first book I read this month, and it was both amazing and a slog. I draggggged through the first five hundred pages, considered DNFing about 30% in and then again around the 55% mark, but pushed through and this is one of the few instances where I am so glad I did because it is straight up brilliant. However, while I see what exactly Lee tried to do and did, I do think that this would have been better off split into two, although again, I understand why she did what she did. It’s ambitious, impactful and the sheer scope is breathtaking.
I talked about How High We Go in the Dark in my Top Ten Science Fiction Books of 2021 post, but I cannot stop gushing about it. It’s another book that is so incredibly ambitious in scope, and it pulls it off—and in a rather unique way, too. Interconnected short stories telling the tale of the Arctic Plague and how humanity coped…and didn’t cope. It’s really, really good, and gorgeously written.
I really enjoyed Cultish and learning about how language shapes fanatics and essentially draws people together (or excludes them), and the book further hammered home the thought that the Marine Corps is a cult. And no, I’m not going to let the rather nasty comment from an Army veteran telling me, a Marine Corps veteran, that I brought dishonor to the military by saying this dissuade me from saying it, because it’s 100% true. Anywho, a good read and really fascinating, although she constantly says “I’ll talk about X in Part Y” a lot.
I read a lot of four-star books this month. Not quite three stars for some, but not dipping into five-star territory for me. I picked up Cinderella is Dead because I loved This Poison Heart, and while I didn’t love the former as much, I really appreciated the unique twist on Cinderella Bayron put onto this story. It was fresh and it was well done! Vacation Guide to the Solar System taught me a fuckton about the solar system in a way that was easy to understand and pretty (loved the illustrations), but I felt that the gushing over private spaceflight à la Bezos, Musk, et al, did not age well. And to cap off this odd threesome of random books, I really enjoyed Sisters in Arms, which tells the story of the 688th, a regiment that needs just as many stories as the WWII fiction about codebreakers and secretaries.
Lots of science fiction this month, although it wasn’t as much as I thought? I tend to read less science fiction than I think I do, mostly because a lot of them feel heavy even if they aren’t. Salvation Day and Dead Silence took very similar concepts (a lost/abandoned space ship where everyone mysteriously dies) and went in two very different directions that nevertheless had similar parallels. Embassytown was a book that I would have felt was unique had I read it when it was first published, and while it was very good and very intellectual, I wasn’t thrilled by how it was told (the writing style and main character’s POV were dull and convoluted).
Literary fiction, hoooooo!
I read a lot this month, mainly to tick off boxes for a reading challenge, but I am super happy that I read these because they were all amazing. Well written, funny, sad and all filled with hope (well, except for Maud who is a serial killer but she also has hope?).
The romance books I loved!
Payback’s a Witch felt so nostalgic, in the best way, and I loved All the Feels (although I don’t believe we ever received the Peg That Was Promised). The Donut Trap and Must Love Books were less romance-romances and more coming of age books about young 20-somethings finding themselves, but I still really liked them (even if they are kinda mismarketed as fluffy romance by those cute covers).
It had its moments (hot sex scenes minus the cringe-worthy sexy talk) which is why there are three stars, but overall I did not like it. I felt like I read a different book from everyone else, and the awful pet names had me screaming internally (please don’t call a grown-ass adult Baby unless they Frances from Dirty Dancing, and even then that was infantilizing), and then there was the phrase high maintenance pussy used as an endearment. Which. No.
Which a title like that and a cover like that and a blurb like that, I felt like I was going to be getting an entirely different book than what I got. It was a less funny or insightful version of The Chair, and I really, really did not jive with the writing style at all. I saw what Jurczyk was trying to do, and perhaps it will work with others but it did not work with me. I should have DNF’d, and I don’t know why I didn’t.