Happy New Year, chums! December was a very uneventful month for me in terms of reading, most likely due to my typical Holiday Blues. I fell into a terrible rut and couldn’t focus on anything I picked up for more then ten minutes at a time. Because of that, I’ve only got about six books to share with you in this wrapping. I do have a few thicker tomes that I started in the beginning of December that I’ve been picking away at very slowly, which I’m hoping I’ll be able to finish in time for January’s round-up.
Anyhoo, I’ve got snippets and content warnings listed with them, and reviews for most of these shall be going up in the coming weeks.
A Spindle Splintered by Alix E. Harrow: A portal fantasy fairy tale re-telling of Sleepy Beauty, that’s loosely inspired by that tale and just classic fairy tales in general, that revolves around a teenager with a terminal illness that seeks to experience some sort of magical splendour of her own before she passes. This sounds bleak, but it was actually very heart-warming and fun with witty dialogue, sapphic romancing, and a bittersweet ending. While it does have evocative moments, the short length and smartly crafted prose make it super irresistible. This is the only book I read in a single sitting one rainy evening. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. CW: Some teen bullying and homophobia. Terminal illness representation and brief ablism. Some strong language and mild sexism/misogyny.
The Order of the Pure Moon Reflected in Water by Zen Cho: A Malaysian-Chinese wuxia fantasy about a young woman that ends up joining an eclectic band of thieves to protect a sacred object but ends up in a much stickier situation than anticipated. I loved this so fucking much. There is so much sass and humour to the character interactions, as well as badassry and a queer-divergent atmosphere. My only real complaint is that everything felt slightly rushed due to it being a novella. It would’ve been much better as a fuller novel, but either way, it was fucking fantastic. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. CW: Violence and death, sexism/misogyny, some crude sexuality (mostly dialogue), and misgendering.
These Ruthless Bones by Cassandra Khaw: A dark fantasy, horror short tale about the second bride of a king, who’s also a Witch Bride, and her mounting loathing for the king’s son. Another one that I loved to bits and wish was longer. The short story is actually written perfectly for its small size, but I loved the Witch Bride character and her hatred for the whiny little boy was fucking gold in terms of amusement and black, morbid mirth. I definitely added some amazing insults to my repertoire after reading this. This was my first Khaw work and I really enjoyed the author’s writing style very much. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. CW: Animal deaths & cruelty (past), child death.
Awakening Your Ikagi by Ken Mori: A Japanese nonfiction, spiritual self-help book that goes over a Japanese tradition that helps individuals to wake up and feel a sense of purpose in their life, to put it succinctly. I picked this up when I felt my depression spiralling into some dark places, and I loved how much it connected the practise to Buddhist beliefs, which helped me make a more spiritual connection to it. It definitely requires a bit of an open-mind, but I would RECOMMEND this to anyone that needs a spot of motivation in their overall routines and basic day-to-day functioning.
Klaus by Grant Morrison & Dan Mora: A Nordic folktale origin story of jolly ol’ Santa Klaus. It was interesting to see a guy who went around leaving presents on the stoops of poor folx’ homes as a way to make their Winter Solstice better, but in typical Grant Morrison fashion, it gets weird in the second half. I didn’t mind it though. It was different than typical tales about Saint Nick, and I loved the cinematic art style. RECOMMENDED for fans of origin tales and graphic novels with amazing illustrations. CW: Mild language. Blood and violence. Domestic and child abuse (psychological). Depiction of oppression and terrible treatment of poor people. Mild sexuality.
Green River Killer: A True Detective Story by Jeff Jensen & Jonathan Case: A nonfiction graphic novel that tells the story of the chase and capture of the Green River Killer as told by a lead detective’s son. I know very little about the Green River Killer, so when I came across this at the library, I became intrigued. The artwork is all monochrome, akin to The Walking Dead, but not as thoroughly detailed. I appreciated the vaguer depictions because the content is already hefty with discussions of the dreadful crimes the Killer committed and the splayed out dead bodies. Even though it was as minimally graphic as possible, it leaves behind a very disturbing imprint. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for fans of comics and true crime. CW: Strong nudity, depiction of dead bodies and corpses, detailed descriptions and discussion of heinous crimes including sexual violence, strong language, alcohol consumption, consumption of food.
The current plan for January, aside from finishing up current reads, is to check out wintery fantasy stories (I’ve been in a mood for ‘em) and also to hunt down more horror because I’ve been craving that a lot recently as well.
Until next time, I wish you all a lovely new month in a brand-new year. Keep reading and keep otakuing, my chums!