You know, when I think about how much December fucking sucked for me emotionally, I’m surprised that I managed to read so many fricking books. My total came to eleven with two DNF’d titles. One of those was due entirely to my ADHD kicking me in the arse rather than being of terrible quality. I will confess, however, that I started quite a few books at the beginning of the month that I then had to put aside because I kept getting distracted with other things (yay, there’s that pesky ADHD again). I finished one of those in January and shall be finishing up some of the others before this month’s end (hopefully).
I read more sci-fi and fantasy in December than anything else, which makes me feel good because I have been struggling with these genres all year long (at least that’s how it feels to my brain for some reason) and they’re legit my favourite genres next to Japanese literature. There is only book that I vehemently wanted to throw into a trash-fire and this same one crawled its way to my most-hated books list of 2018, which shall be shared later this week.
Anyhoo, everything is shared below in rough genre categories (unlisted). As per usual, there will be a brief synopsis, links to any reviews I’ve written, and my overall rating. If I shared a book that doesn’t have a review associated with it, and you’d like to see one, please lemme know in the comments and I shall try to oblige. ✌🏽
Last Breath by Karin Slaughter
A psychological thriller that is considered to be a prequel story to Slaughter’s The Good Daughter, it follows Charlie as she’s fresh outta law school trying to find her rhythm as a lawyer, while working on building a family with her husband. Many people have said that you can read this prior to reading The Good Daughter, but I respectfully disagree. Some of the information in this tiny book does give away enough details pertaining to TGD so as to decrease the suspense quite a bit. So, I’d recommend reading it afterwards if you’re interested in it. Overall, I felt indifferent about this story. It shines a light into Charlie’s life when things weren’t so dreary, but most of it is covered so well in TGD that this story felt wholly unnecessary. I only read it because I found it at a local bookstore for $1 not realising it was connected to another novel. My spoiler-free review for TGD. 3/5.
Static Ruin (Voidwitch Saga #3) by Corey J. White
The final volume in the galactic empire, space opera series that has easily become one of my faves of 2018, does everything right as it wraps up a story about a lady named Mars Xi who is on the run from the Empire until they hurt people she cares about, pissing her off and sending her on a vicious rampage. You can read my full spoiler-free review for it here, as well my reviews for books one and two. 4.5/5.
Artificial Condition (Murderbot Diaries #2) by Martha Wells
The second book in the artificial intelligence story about an android who becomes self-aware and goes on a mission to fill in the parts of its memory that are missing; parts that make it believe it’s a mass-murdering monster. This instalment is my fave in the series so far as it introduces another AI character that I can’t get enough of. If you’re in the market for a simple yet intelligent SF story with sentient AI, then you should check this one out. Here’s my spoiler-free review for this book and for book one here. 4.75/5.
Draconomicon: Book of Dragons by Various Authors
Published by Wizards of the Coast, this is a sourcebook for Dungeons & Dragons from the 3.5 ruleset that goes into immense detail about dragons, from their physiology to their faiths and much more. I picked it up as research and inspiration for a current WIP of mine and loved everything about it. My full review is here. 4/5.
I Met a Traveller in an Antique Land by Connie Willis
An urban fantasy novel about a pro-eBook blogger who stumbles into an antique bookstore that will astound him and instil in him an appreciation for musty, old books unlike any other. There is a very special motif in this novel that I wasn’t expecting, and it utterly blew me away. My full review for this shall be up later this week, but if you’re someone who likes to read about books and enjoy modern fantasy, then you should read this short title! 4/5.
Six-Gun Snow White by Catherynne Valente
A fantasy fairy tale retelling about Snow White who’s an Indigenous person that grows up to become a gunslinger in the Wild West. That premise sounds amazing, doesn’t it? Well, the book is one of the most offensive pieces of shit I’ve read in a very long time. It’s SUPREMELY racist, painting White people as these holier than thou individuals that Native Americans strived to imitate, even after being horridly abused and dehumanised by them constantly. As someone who has been abused and dehumanised in such a fashion, I can say that fantasising about becoming my abuser never fucking crossed my mind at all. This book is so problematic, I can’t even comprehend how it was published. Snow White is named as such because her White stepmother thinks it’s funny to re-name the kid after an ideal that will never be her reality, and also as a constant reminder as to her being “a savage,” and this shit is never challenged in the book. I’ve read quite a few #OwnVoices reviews by Indigenous readers who can attest to how much this book harmed them and how terrible it is. If you’d like links, drop me an inquiry (they are bookmarked on Sir Betrothed’s computer and I’ll have to hunt them down). 1/5.
The Strangeness of Beauty by Lydia Minatoya
An #OwnVoices Japanese-American story about a young woman who moves to Japan from Seattle with her deceased sister’s daughter with the hopes of instilling their heritage and culture into the young girl’s life, as per the wishes of her Japanese-American father who stays back in Seattle. This is an excellent story about the diasporic experience, particularly pre- and post-war. The commentary on culture and Japanese versus Japanese-American lifestyles are very intriguing. Unfortunately, due to my ADHD, I had to DNF this book. I did manage to find a copy of it at a local used bookstore for a couple of bucks, so I’m hoping to finish reading it in 2019. Since I DNF’d it, no rating.
Engraved on the Eye by Saladin Ahmed
An #OwnVoices Middle-Eastern, #OwnVoices Islamic collection of fantasy short stories authored by one of my favourite humans in the whole world! There is more originality and imaginative storytelling in this collection of tales than there are in jam-packed shelves of entire tomes in the fantasy section. I loved all the Islamic influences that helped shape a lot of the magic in the narratives. It is a short and easy to read as well, making it ideal for bookworms with limited amounts of reading time. I read it via Kindle and don’t believe there’s a physical copy of the book, so keep that in mind if you’re wanting to test it out. 4/5.
Women and Gender in Islam by Leila Ahmed
An #OwnVoices Egyptian, #OwnVoices Islamic non-fiction book that goes through the history of faiths in the Middle East to pinpoint how modern religious, particularly Islam, has become so oppressive towards women, while debunking common presumptions on women’s roles within Judaic-based faiths. It is super fucking dense, but brilliantly insightful and informative. The information is strictly limited to the Middle East and Egypt rather than focusing on a world-wide spectrum, which was the only trait I was disappointed with. Overall, it’s a great place to begin if you are interested in expanding your knowledge and understanding of gender roles in Islam. 3.75/5.
Gossip Girl by Cecily von Ziegesar
Oh yes, I finally read the first book of the series and I feel proud that I finally fucking did it. This young adult contemporary follows a bunch of ridiculously wealthy kids from the Upper East Side in NYC, and all their ludicrously superficial issues. I’m a big fan of the TV series of the same name, so when I fell into a mood for reading a story that was just over-the-top preposterous, naturally I thought of this immediately. I did enjoy it, but only to a very short extent. Honestly, the TV series is far better written, and I would highly recommend that over these books any day. Shocking and blasphemous, I know. 2/5.
The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Kiersten White
UNPOPULAR OPINION ALERT: THIS BOOK WAS PAINFUL. It’s a horror fantasy retelling of Mary Shelley’s classic, Frankenstein told via the perspective of Elizabeth who was a ward for the Frankenstein family. The original 1818 text of Shelley’s narrative is one of my favourite pieces of literature of all-time. I tried so hard to like this book, but it was so terribly formatted that I wanted to throw it out of my window into a pile of squishy mud. My biggest complaint are the flashbacks that take place. As Elizabeth goes on her fucked-up adventure, she periodically thinks back to certain points of her childhood involving Victor Frankenstein and/or his family, and/or her time with her mother. They are not well-balanced with the present (relative to time period) perspective, and work only to disrupt any sort of comfortable flow of the storytelling. I couldn’t get invested in anything that was going on because the suspense would be constantly interrupted with these stupid arse flashbacks, most of which aren’t even necessary because they could’ve been inferred from Elizabeth’s and Victor’s personas, decisions, etc. Safe to say, I fucking hated this book. I know… Like I said, unpopular opinion. DNF.
As you can see, all in all December turned out to be pleasant for me reading-wise. Please, do keep an eye out for the I Met a Traveller in an Antique Land book review. I’m looking forward to discussing that one the most. Have y’all read any of these books? Do any of them sound interesting to you? Please, come chat with me in the comments! I’d love to hear from you. ♥
I raise my cup of milo to the belief that January will fare far better for me in terms of books read total. My goal for the year is to read more Asian literature books as I didn’t read nearly as much as I had wanted in 2018.