2016 is FINALLY over! And with that, another month has come to a close, and that means it’s time for another look back at the books I’ve read. December was both a month for new discoveries and wrapping up some series and borrowed books I was ready to move on from. It felt like a slow month, but actually I finished ten books! If I posted a full review of the book, you can click the title to find it and read more. In short, here’s what I read:
- Attachments by Rainbow Rowell. 4 out of 5 stars. I can’t believe it took me so long to get around to reading a Rainbow Rowell book. Although this wasn’t my favorite book, I did enjoy the story and the way it was presented, and am looking forward to reading more Rowell books in the future. In fact, I’ve already borrowed Eleanor and Park from a friend and plan to read it in the coming month. I’ve also become pretty intrigued by Carry On, but I feel like I should read FanGirl first. Is that the right order? I’m hoping to find a more solid favorite somewhere among Rowell’s oeuvre.
- A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas. 5 out of 5 stars. I didn’t particularly like the first book in this series, but I had heard that other people who thought the same thing ended up loving this sequel. I was really glad I gave this book a chance, because it absolutely hooked me. I’m still a little hesitant about this series because of the vast difference in enjoyment I experienced between the first and second books, but this sequel dropped off in an interesting place and I am waiting extremely impatiently to find out what the next volume will have in store when it’s published in a few months. Although I don’t know that I would call this book one of my all-time favorites, even in the YA genre, it certainly drew me in and I can hardly wait to see where this story will go.
- Fairest by Marissa Meyer. 2 out of 5 stars. This book was probably the most disappointing read of the year for me. I was ready for an exciting look into the villain of the Lunar Chronicles that would shock me with hidden depth, but instead I spent much of the story trying not to cringe. Fairest made Levana look like a lost sheep–for half of the story she possessed very little agency, and for the rest she didn’t understand what she was doing at all, which made the book feel pointless rather than revealing. I wished I’d skipped this one.
- Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater. 5 out of 5 stars. Although not my favorite book in the Raven Cycle, this third volume was just as engaging and quirky as the first two, and certainly left me ready to read the final piece of the series. The Raven Cycle has been my favorite YA choice lately, and this book was no exception. I’m glad that I started reading these when all of the books had already been published, because that’s made this a nice, anxiety-free reading experience without unsavory gaps of impatiently awaiting the next installment. I can’t wait to start the final book this next month and see how this series will end. I have some theories.
- And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie. 5 out of 5 stars. This book was not high on my TBR until a friend lent it to me last month with high recommendations. I’ve read some of Agatha Christie’s books in the past, but I’d almost forgotten why I liked her books in the first place until I read this book and was reminded of how expertly crafted her mystery plots inevitably are. This was certainly my favorite Christie read so far. The crazy plot twists made this book impossible to put down, and left me in the mood to pick up more great Agatha Christie books, as well as mysteries in general.
- Winter by Marissa Meyer. 4 out of 5 stars. This book, the final portion of the Lunar Chronicles, was my favorite of the bunch. I loved the shifts between character perspectives and the way the narration wove in and out between all of the important people and places that were coming together as the tension of this series reached its peak. The addition of a “crazy” character made the story even better. I still had difficulty with the writing style, but overall I considered this book a success and I wished they’d all four reached as much potential as this one finally managed. I was worried about the end of the Lunar Chronicles after being so disheartened by Fairest, but this one didn’t let me down. My review for this one also includes a closer look at my thoughts on Fairest.
- Agent 6 by Tom Rob Smith. 4 out of 5 stars. I had started Smith’s adult series about communism in Russia in the mid 1900s earlier this year, and after some mixed feelings about the first two books I put this final piece of the trilogy so far on the back burner that I almost forgot I had one book left. As the year came to an end, I decided I wanted to come back and finish this trilogy before the end of the year, and it was very satisfying to have finished this set. There were certainly some extreme aspects to all of these books, a lot of emotional ups and downs, but overall I did enjoy the series and am glad I read it all the way through. This book was certainly one that left me thinking, and left me in the mood for more diverse books. Although I didn’t write a review for every book in this series, you can check out my thoughts on the first book, Child 44, here.
- Brides of Ohio by Jennifer A. Davids. 3 out of 5 stars. My grandma lent me this book because she knows I’m working on writing one and she was excited to see a published book written by someone with the same last name as me. So she read it and lent it to me a couple of months ago when I was really busy, and although the story didn’t sound especially interesting to me, I was determined to read it before the end of the year. I managed to return it when I saw her for Christmas, and it even surprised me. I thought the story would drag by and it would take me forever to finish; I haven’t been in the mood for historical fiction war stories, and I thought I was even less in the mood for Christian fiction, but all three stories in this book went by quickly and warmed my heart. I’m glad I ended up reading it at this time of year–between the uplifting nature of this book and the approaching Christmas holiday, I was in a great mood for the end of December. This is not a book I would’ve picked up for myself, but it was a nice nudge back toward the religious side of Christmas and I felt good about reading it. I don’t think I’ll be writing a review for this book, but feel free to leave any questions you might have in the comments below.
- Missing, Presumed by Susie Steiner. 4 out of 5 stars. This is an England-based mystery I’ve had my eye on since its publication this summer and finally found at my local library. When I saw this one had arrived in the new books section, I was willing to put my other reading plans on hold to work through this one, and I don’t regret that decision. And Then There Were None put me in a great mood for this mystery, and although there were fewer deaths here to puzzle over, there were more lovable characters in this one that kept me invested. I believe this is going to be a series, and I am definitely interested in reading further books.
- The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie. 5 out of 5 stars. A good friend lent me this YA book about a Spokane Indian teenager fighting for a better life than his family and friends seem to find stuck on the reservation. There are little graphics scattered throughout the book and a great sense of humor that make some heavy topics like discrimination, abuse, and alcoholism much more manageable than one would expect. This is an inspiring read for every person who is or was a teen that had to fight for something. My full review for this book will be up later this week.
While I did read more books than I had planned in December, and truly enjoyed some of my unexpected add-ons, this month felt like a reading battle. I skipped a couple of books that I would’ve appreciated wrapping up this month, and there were so many additional books I wanted to read before the end of 2016 that I didn’t have time for, and those factors really dragged me down. I felt like I was constantly on the verge of a reading slump, despite liking most of the books I was reading and feeling plenty of excitement for future reads. Looking back at my list now that it’s complete, though, I’m pleased with my reading accomplishments this month. Although it seemed like I was getting absolutely nowhere, I read several long books this month, and I’m happy to have read as much as I did. I’ll call it a success. Hopefully my 2017 reading will start as strongly as 2016 ended.
What have you been reading lately?
The Literary Elephant