Ok, I’m taking a quick break today from all of my yearend posts to go over the books that I read in December. In case you missed the first part of my monthly wrap up, be sure to check it out here.
I read a total of 17 books this month. I know I said I was going to focus on reading exclusively from my shelves, but…I lied. That was initially the plan. But I just got fed up with not reading the books I really want to read and said to hell with it, at least for the rest of December.
As you might have seen yesterday in my 2018 Reading Goals post, I’m going to give myself all of next year to try and get my TBR down to zero, or at least to something that’s turned around every three months. So once I read (or unhauled) the books that I mentioned in my December TBR that have been on my shelves since the beginning of 2017, I decided to give myself a break and just read a bunch of books I’ve been dying to read.
I am, of course, still tracking the number of books on my TBR shelves. I read seven books from my shelves this month, but in addition to the three I bought at the Romance and Respect event at The Strand in early December, I bought a bunch more at the end of the month, giving me a final total of 53 unread books on my shelves at the end of 2017. Oops.
It’s not the 30 I was shooting for at the beginning of December, but I’m ok with it. I’m really excited about all of the books I just bought and I feel ready to recommit to reading from my shelves.
A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
A Discovery of Witches starts when scholar Diana Bishop accidentally calls a bewitched manuscript from the library at Oxford. While Diana is a witch from an ancient and powerful family, she has spent years suppressing her power and is only interested in the manuscript for academic purposes. But by the time she returns the manuscript to the stacks, it is too late, and a horde of witches, vampires, and daemons descend on the library. As it turns out, the manuscript has been lost for centuries, and it seems Diana is the only one who can break the spell.
I really enjoyed this book! I probably shouldn’t be surprised as I got the feeling I would before I picked it up, but I’m still a little surprised. It’s just really unique in the way it draws on history (though I’ll admit, after a while I got a little incredulous at how Matthew, a vampire and Diana’s love interest, always seemed to be in the center of important historical events) and I love the epic proportions of this story. I’m really excited to keep reading this story and see how the mystery presented in the first book is resolved, plus I hear there’s even more history involved in the second book. As soon as I finished the first book, I ordered the entire boxed set, so I’ll definitely be finishing this series soon!
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling
I actually have a full post coming up about my experience rereading Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, but I just didn’t have a chance to write it before I started my yearend posting spree. So keep an eye out for that in the next week or so!
Madam President by William Hazelgrove
Madam President is a historical nonfiction book about Edith Wilson, Woodrow Wilson’s wife who essentially took over her husband’s duties as president after he suffered a debilitating stroke while in office, essentially acting as the first female president.
I think the idea of this book is really interesting and I was excited to read it, but ultimately I just wasn’t interested enough in this time period to sustain a full book. For me, I think it’d work better as a chapter or two in a book about Woodrow Wilson’s presidency. Plus I struggled sometimes keeping track of what point in time we were since the book switched back and forth between when the Wilsons met and when Woodrow Wilson suffered a stroke. Like, I always knew what year we were in, but I didn’t necessarily know what time of year and how much time had passed since the stroke or since the Wilsons first met.
I was also annoyed while reading this book with how often the author called Edith Wilson President Edith Wilson. I get that the premise of this book is that she essentially acted as president in her husband’s stead, but it makes a difference that she never truly held the title. She was more of a gatekeeper to her husband and was never actively involved in passing legislation, a difference that was really clear to me since I just read FDR’s biography and FDR was a very active president.
Anything for You by Kristan Higgins
In Anything for You, Connor and Jessica have been in an on-again, off-again relationship for years. But when Connor wants to make things more permanent and proposes to Jessica, her answer is a firm no. Only this time, Connor insists that it’s all or nothing. “If she doesn’t want to marry him, he’ll find someone who does. Easier said than done, given that he’s never loved anyone but her. And maybe Jessica isn’t quite as sure as she thinks…” the blurb says, phrasing it better than I can.
This was a good story but ultimately just wasn’t for me. I bought it at a joint book signing with Higgins and Sarah MacLean because I really enjoyed hearing Higgins speak, but the reality is that I just don’t like second chance romances or romances where the couple have a romantic history together. It’s just personal preference, and it’s something I couldn’t get past for this story. I did like Connor and Jessica (though her backstory is heartbreaking and was hard to read) and thought the book was generally well done, it’s just not something I gravitate towards.
I’m still interested in reading more of Higgins’ works since I’ve heard such great things, but I don’t think this was the best book for me to start with.
The Queen of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner
As The Queen of Attolia is the sequel to The Thief, I don’t want to discuss too much of the plot and give away spoilers for the first book (check out the summary of the first book on Goodreads here). I will say that it continues to follow the story of master thief Gen, only with his country caught in the middle of a sprawling war, this time the stakes are higher than ever.
This book was just really good. I loved all of the political maneuverings and machinations throughout this book, and of course I thoroughly enjoyed Gen and his clever tricks. The Queen of Attolia did an excellent job expanding the world created in The Thief, and even though the characters felt a bit remote (now that I think about it, probably because of the point of view), I’m still very attached to them and excited to see how their story continues.
To give you an idea of how much I liked this book, I read The Thief and enjoyed it enough to keep reading the series, but not necessarily to buy it. But after finishing The Queen of Attolia, I immediately bought all of the books that are currently out in paperback (and preordered the one that isn’t). And I seriously struggled with whether to send The King of Attolia to my parents’ house so I could keep reading the series immediately. I wound up deciding to wait and sent it to my apartment, but it was a close call!
The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty
The City of Brass is a Middle Eastern-inspired fantasy that opens in eighteenth-century Cairo, where Nahri is a con woman doing her best to get by. She doesn’t believe in magic despite her own clearly magical abilities, but when she accidentally summons a djinn during one of her cons and is subsequently pursued by ifrit, she’s forced to accept that magic is real and seek refuge in Daevabad, the legendary city of brass and home of the djinn.
Oh man, I have so many thoughts about this book. For the first half, I was totally obsessed with it and was seriously considering picking up a physical copy to finish it because I was sure it was going to be a new favorite and that I would want a copy of when I was done. The world was just so fascinating and beautiful and I couldn’t wait to see what was going to happen next, plus I needed to solve the mysteries surrounding Nahri and Dara, the djinn she summoned.
But then they got to Daevabad, and the story just went kind of sideways for me. There was just so much going on and the book raised a ton more questions without answering any of the ones that were initially introduced. And I felt like the book didn’t have a proper story arc. Like, it just set up a ton of stuff for the next book, but didn’t really accomplish a standalone story in this first one.
So yeah, I’m really excited to see more Middle Eastern-inspired fantasy and really enjoyed parts of this book, but I think my enjoyment of The City of Brass is largely dependent on what happens in the second book. Right now it’s scheduled for publication in 2018, but I suspect it won’t be out until late in the year, so it’s going to take me a while to make up my mind about this one.
There you have it! The six books I read during the second half of December. You might notice that Why Earls Fall in Love, which I mentioned in my December TBR as one of the oldest books on my shelf that I needed to clear out, isn’t on here. As it happens, I started it, but just decided that I wasn’t excited about it and that I’d rather unhaul it in favor of books I’m more eager to pick up. So I technically DNFed it? But mostly I just decided to skip it.
Anyways, enough about me. How did your reading month go in December? Did any new favorites sneak their way in before the end of the year? What was your favorite book you read last month? Let me know in the comments!