December Reading Wrap-Up

A day late but…

This month (last month?) boasted a lot of winners! Woot! The circumstances of 2020 aside, I flew through a ton of books this year and am rather pleased with myself for it. Without further delay, here’s what I enjoyed (or not) in December.

Image Description: A flatlay featuring the book Murder at the Brightwell by Ashley Weaver. To the left of the novel, Sarah’s hand is reaching into the frame toward a dry martini with two green olives on a toothpick adorning it. To the top, bottom and right of the book are a slew of disarrayed playing cards. There is an open accordion hand fan at the top left corner, peeking into the frame and a string of pearls just to the right.

Murder at the Brightwell by Ashley Weaver

🍸🍸🍸🍸 (four stars as rated in classy-ass martinis, darling)

I was given a free advanced reader copy of this book by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

The following review is copied from my previous post about this book.

Ashley Weaver’s writing is gorgeous. And I found the mystery to be fantastic. It accomplished everything I seek from this genre without getting overly convoluted. The conclusion came as a surprise to me (a big win) and I really didn’t know who to believe until all was revealed at the end.  I love “locked door” style period mysteries and this one was ab-so-lutely delightful. Not to mention, the thing is classy AF. 🎩 A perfect story for fans of Agatha Christie or Jaqueline Winspear and, as a fan of both, I just adored it.

Content Warnings for this book: murder and attempted murder, infidelity, attempted suicide, drowning, dysfunctional relationship, toxic relationship, emotional abuse, bullying, manipulation

Image Description: A photo of Sarah reading the book Ready Player Two inside of the internet! Binary code and blue and yellow cyber patterns swirl around her. Sarah’s face is hidden behind the open book. She is wearing a white chunky knit sweater.

Ready Player Two by Ernest Cline

DNF 🤷

The following review is copied from my previous post featuring this book.

The only reason Ready Player One got away with the whin-ey white male gamer MC was because there was enough of an original story to make up for it. Ready Player Two has a lot of the prior, to be fair. But the tiny bit of the later that it does possess feels like a knock off of book one. Based on the reviews I’ve read, I felt pretty safe DNFing this. Bummer, though. I was really hoping for more.

Image Description: A flat lay featuring the book, Outlawed by Anna North, as seen on the screen of an android tablet with a black protective case. The tablet is laying on a wooden background with some faux fur to the top and left. At the right are bits of twine and a bunch of lavender, with lavender sprinkled about the the bottom as well.

Outlawed by Anna North

🤠🤠🤠🤠 (Four stars as rated in cowboy hat wearing emojis)

I was given a free advanced reader copy of this book by the publisher via NetGalley inexchange for an honest review.

The following is copied from a longer review in my previous post about this book.

Holy smokes. I feel both satisfied and completely heartbroken by this book. What an emotionally turbulent journey I just went on!
For this story, we venture into the alternate timeline of the North American West, in which women are accused of witchcraft for being barren and, sometimes even for the barrenness of others. When Ada Magnussen is accused of such by her meddling in-laws and spineless neighbors after her own failure to conceive, she flees for fear of her life, ultimately joining up with a band of similar outcasts, led by an infamous, beguiling and gender neutral outlaw known merely as The Kid. This book has so much of what I’m looking for in a story, adventure or otherwise; The plot is engaging, the characters are well rounded and, what’s that? Did you say realistic representation of marginalized communities!?!?! And served on a bed of prose that is just beyond devour-able. Be still my beating heart. I am genuinely enamored with how much was pulled off (and pulled off well, no less) within this singular volume. 

Content warnings for this book: homophobia, racism, genital mutilation, death of a child, death of a friend, death of a partner, death of a spouse, general violence, starvation, mental illness, bombings, time in prison, wrongful accusations, disowning, drug use, eugenics, hate crimes, delusions, trauma, gun violence

Image Description: A stack of Saga Volumes 1-8 on a table with a glass of eggnog perched atop them. In the glass is a paper straw with red snowflake patterns adorning it. Beyond the pile of books is a living room scene at Christmas. There is a tree, green garlands with lights and five stockings hanging over the fireplace. Beside the tree, there is a black cat sitting in the window.

Saga Vol. 1-8 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples

🚀🚀🚀🚀🚀 (five stars overall, as rated in rocket ships)

I have tried multiple times to write a decent review for these books. And every time it’s comprised of primarily screaming and crying. I can’t even believe how many things this series has made me feel. To say I am shook would be the understatement of 2020.

Just… just read them. DO IT!

Image Description: Sarah’s arm is seen reaching into the frame from the left and gripping the book, Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi in the middle of the shot. The cover of the book is cut at the middle in a slightly diagonal line, so that the top half of the book is pink and the bottom is black, with gold lettering. There is a graphic of a young Black girl in a white tank top who is praying in the very center of the book. Her hair is in a bun on top of her head. Around the book there are swipes of golden paint accentuating the frame of the photo. Only Sarah’s arm can be seen and she is wearing a white sweater.

Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi

🐭🐭🐭🐭🐭 (five stars, as rated in lab mice)

The following review is copied from my previous post about this book.

At the outset, I worried that I would not enjoy this book. And even a good third of the way in, I wouldn’t have said that I was terribly invested in it. But Bahni Turpin’s narration was reliably persuasive, and thank goodness for that because, ultimately, the pay-off was worth every ounce of that slow burn.
This story takes place in two timelines; past and present, with very little distinction made as we are thrust between the two. The skill with which Gyasi pulls this off is absolutely incredible. We are brought from one to the other in a way that is so indisputably intentional, yet feels almost effortless. Let me tell you though, my emotions took a dang beating. I feel exhausted by what I just listened to and, honestly, I’m saddest that with this being a new release, I’ll have to wait another year at least before she can put me through it again.
If there was any doubt before, this book has established Yaa Gyasi as one of my favorites. I genuinely can’t believe how much I enjoyed this sensational book.

Content warnings for this book: absent parent, memory loss, death of an animal, animal testing, bullying, depression, hospitalization, death of a sibling, mental illness, pills, addiction, racism

Image Description: a flat lay featuring the book Radiance by Grace Draven, as seen on the screen of a white iPad. The iPad is in the center of the frame on a gray knitted blanket and surrounded by a string of white lights. To the right of the tablet is an unlit candle in a glass holder. At the top right corner of the frame is one visible corner of a yellow and white pillow.

Radiance & Eidolon (Wraith Kings #1 & 2) by Grace Draven

🦪🦪🦪🦪 (four stars for both, as rated in oysters because that’s pretty close to mollusks? Right? Which will make way more sense if you read the book…)

Oooh rainy days really are the best times to melt into a book, aren’t they? Well, lucky for me, it’s been dreary aaaaall weekend and I stumbled right into the arms of this book and its sequel just in time! Hip hooray! The sleep I sacrificed was MORE than worth the subsequent adventure, let me tell you.
Radiance and it’s sequel, Eidolon, provided exactly what I’m looking for in a popcorn read. They’re light and fast-paced without being superficial – despite what the description might lead you to believe – or, even worse; a mess of plot holes.
This tale, in many respects, is essentially that of Khal Drogo and Daenerys, but with, you know, CONSENT!? (It’s amazing how little we ask for from a romance, isn’t it?) The book contains violence without being gratuitous (always a plus) and includes its own mythology WITHOUT letting it take over the story, WHICH is exactly to my liking because I have patience for about 5% world building. And after that you’re just showing off. 😉

Content warnings for this book: child neglect, abusive parent, infanticide, toxic relationship with a parent, blood, graphic injuries, death threats, attempted murder, sacrifice, forced marriage, death of a parent, death of a child, torture, battle, war themes, sex.

Image Description: a flat lay featuring the book The Faceless Mage by Kenley Davidson as seen as an e-book on the screen of an iPad. Surrounding the tablet are red roses on long stems as well as a bundle of baby’s breath flowers and an array of red rose petals. Sarah’s hand is reaching into the frame at the bottom left holding a red rose, with red painted finger nails. At the top left of the frame is a blue and silver masquerade mask.

The Faceless Mage (Legends of Abreia #1) by Kenley Davidson

💫 💫 💫 💫 💫 (five stars as rated in MAGIC!)

Oh. My. Gosh. I really loved this. Like, I really REALLY loved this. I don’t think I was expecting to enjoy it as much as I did BUT WOW! I can not wait for the next one.
First, I really like these characters. Especially in terms of their dynamic with the more villainous members of court. Nothing felt forced or superficial. Who knew that throwing The Man in the Iron Mask into the world of The Fae would work so well?

Seriously counting the days until the release of book 2.
Def recommend to anyone looking for a “popcorn” romance read. This one was quick and fun.

Content Warnings for this book: Imprisonment, manipulation, forced marriage, kidnapping

Image Description: A photo of Sarah wearing a gray sweater and holding an Android tablet in front of her face, with her eyes happily peeking over the top. On the screen of the tablet is the cover art for the book, Love in Colour. The cover art features the silhouettes of two Black individuals who are leaning in to one another, apparently for a kiss. Around them are a variety of bright and vibrant colors that are mirrored in the colors in the background of Sarah in the photo.

Love in Colour: Mythical Tales From Around the World, Retold by Bolu Babalola

💐💐💐💐 (four stars, as rated in colorful bouquets of flowers!)

I was given an Advanced Reader Copy of this book via NetGalley by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

The following is copied from a longer review on my previous post about this book.

Oooh what an unexpected delight this book was! I have such a soft spot for retellings of traditional stories, so of course I had to read this collection. ESPECIALLY, when I figured out that the majority of them were given highly original twists… FOR EXAMPLE, I invite you, if I may, to imagine Mount Olympus but as…. *dun dun dun*… an office building?!?!? Y’all. I am HERE for all of that water cooler gossip. Like, can you even imagine!? BAH.

As with any anthology, some stories packed a better punch than their counterparts. A few of them hit with so much ka-PLOW that I was genuinely, SHOOK when I finished the story. While others settled much more gently. I wouldn’t say I enjoyed one style more than the other. Also, just so we’re clear, there are a handful of completely original stories at the end that deserve praise in their own right. 

Content Warnings for this book: bullying, body shaming, death, arranged marriage, hospitalization, violence, war, slut shaming, sex

Image Description: a flat lay featuring the book, The Project by Courtney Summers, as seen on the screen of a white iPad. The iPad is in the center of the frame on a gray knitted blanket and surrounded by a string of white lights. To the right of the tablet is an unlit candle in a glass holder. At the top right corner of the frame is one visible corner of a yellow and white pillow.

The Project by Courtney Summers

⚓⚓⚓ (Three stars, as rated in anchors because, well… read the book and find out!!)

I was given an Advanced Reader Copy of this book via NetGalley by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

The following is copied from a longer review on my previous post about this book.

Well this was certainly a ride! This is exactly the kind of book I want with me on an airplane; it moved confidently along, kept me invested and was, overall, just so deliciously binge-able! I was really hankering for a fun thriller and I feel that I found one in The Project. If this was made into a series where the protagonist is now roaming the world, looking into nefarious activities as an investigative journalist, I would read every installment. Would absolutely recommend this title to someone looking for a “beach read” sort of experience. This book brought the drama I craved without getting too bogged down in real life. And in a year like 2020, that’s 99% of what I was looking for!

Content warnings for this book: abuse, amnesia, car accident, cult, death, murder, drowning, hospitalization, death of a parent, mind control, complications during pregnancy, torture, trauma, stalking

Here’s to another wonderful year of reading, if nothing else! Sending my New YEar’s best to all of you.

Sarah

Published by girlonbooks

My name is Sarah and I can't imagine my life without books. Actually, I can and it's terrible. I'm also into climbing, video games and bothering the nearest cat.

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