Hi! It’s time the last wrap up for 2017! December hasn’t been an amazing reading month for me. I read a lot, but a lot of the books I felt pretty ‘meh’ about. In November I read 8(!!!) 5 star books, in December I’ve only read one that wasn’t a reread. The fact that so many of the books I picked up just weren’t working for me is probably why I ended up rereading a lot this month. Sometime you just need something you know you love.
The Wild Things by Dave Eggers – 2,5 stars
As you’ve probably guess from the title this is a retelling of the children’s classic ‘Where the Wild Thing Are’. I picked this book up on a whim cause I liked the cover. I’d never heard anyone talk about it and I’ve never read any Dave Eggers before, so I got to go into it with zero expectations. And at first I was really impressed by it – I loved reading about Max, this wild little boy who’s going through so may changes and clearly has a very hard time expressing or even sorting out his emotions. He’s a very interesting and relatable character. Who hasn’t let their anger get the best of them? Who hasn’t said or done something they regret? Who hasn’t wanted to run away from the consequences? Unfortunately my fascination for Max as a character wasn’t enough to make this an enjoyable reading experiences. You’d think a whole book about Max and the wild things and their wild rumpus would be fun, but nope. It’s so boring. Pretty much all the Wild Things do is bicker and contemplate eating Max once in a while, when the occasion calls for it.
To the Bright Edge of the World by Eowyn Ivey – 3 stars
I read and adored this author’s debut novel The Snow Child, so when I heard she had another book coming out and that it would also be set in Alaska – I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. But after reading it I think the best way to sum up my feelings toward it is the word of the month ‘meh’. One of the things that didn’t really work for me in this novel is the epistolary format. Most of the story is told through the diary entries of the main characters: Colonel Allen Forrester and his wife Sophie. While the colonel is leading a reconnaissance mission along the Wolverine River, Sophie waits for him to return. Allen’s chapters would be interesting if only the prose wasn’t to dry that even the exciting parts never feel exciting. In Sophie’s chapters the prose may not be as dry, but the high of excitement in her narrative is that time she saw a bear.
I don’t mean to sound so harsh, I did give the book a 3 star rating and I did like it. The side characters are all richly drawn and interesting to read about, there are fascinating bits of Native myths woven through the narrative and the magical elements were perfectly done. All in all it’s a good book. I’m just a little bit underwhelmed. Cause I was expecting so much more.
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott – 3 stars
I finally read Little Women! This book’s been on my tbr for ages. To be honest I’ve been putting it off because I wasn’t sure it would be for me. Something about the title and the snippets of the story I’ve picked up from various places made me think it would be too cloyingly sentimental and full of Christian moral lessons for my Slytherin soul to bear. I can’t say it’s free of those things, but it’s nowhere near as bogged down by them as I feared. I think it’s a sweet story, with lots of charm. And I really enjoyed finally getting to know Meg, Jo, Amy and Beth. Though in a way I feel I always have.
Rat Queens, Vol. 4: High Fantasies by Kurtis J. Wiebe and Owen Gieni – 3 stars
Rat Queens wasn’t the first graphic novel I read, but it was the first one I got really excited about. What could be better than a band of bad-ass female mercenaries going on fantastic misadventures? Unfortunately I haven’t been enjoying the series as much as I used to, but I’m way too invested in the characters to quit now. So hopefully – it’ll get better again.
Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy – 4 stars
I always knew Thomas Hardy could be depressing, I didn’t realize how depressing until I read this absolute tragedy of a novel. All Jude wants is to be a student and the university, but because he is too poor, his dream is crushed. He doesn’t have much more luck with women. Or anything else really. It’s an incredibly bleak novel. But it’s Hardy, so it’s also brilliantly written.
The Ice Sea Pirates by Frida Nilsson – 4 stars
The Ice Sea Pirates is a middle grade novel that’s been translated from Swedish and compared to Astrid Lindgren’s books. It follows a girl called Siri who’s little sister is abducted by the most notorious pirate on the Ice Sea. When she realized no one else is going to rescue her sister, Siri decides to go get her sister back herself. On her journey across the Ice Sea she meets a lot of different characters (some helpful, some harmful) and overcomes a lot of challenges.
This was a great reading experience, every character’s well drawn and the plot is always engaging. with a few surprising twists and turns. I absolutely love the writing style in this book. It’s simple, but beautiful – with some truly lovely descriptions of the winter landscape that added to the overall cold and magical atmosphere of the book.
Deathless by Catherynne M. Valente – 5 stars
Catherynne M. Valente is my favorite writer and Deathless is my favorite of all her books. It’s set in Russia before and during the revolution, and tells the life-story of the marvelous Marya Morvena. Valente’s prose is in a class of it’s own, so is her world building. In this novel she completely revamps the fairytale retelling and takes the reader on the ride of a lifetime. I love seeing creatures from folklore in books, and this one is full of them – even Baba Yaga herself makes an appearance.
Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Holly Golightly
I’ve read this story once a year since the first time I read it and every time I do I’m as charmed as ever by Miss Holiday Golightly. I’m so in awe of Capote as a writer and storyteller. I wish I half his talent for creating characters who come alive on the page. I always say I have to read more of his works and I hope 2018 will be the year I finally get around to it.
Harry Potter by J.K Rowling
What can I say? Rereading Harry Potter is always an amazing, nostalgic, magical experience. This time I hadn’t read them in over three years, which made this reread extra fun for me. I was so surprised to discover how many little things I’ve completely forgotten, both plotwise and about the characters. I find that each time I read the books different things stand out to me and this time it was how amazing Hermione is. She’s such a universally loved and admire character it’s easy to take her awesomeness for granted. But rereading the books and seeing all her strengths and quirks and little flaws resparked my love for her and made me appreciate her awesomeness even more.
Christmas Days: 12 Stories and 12 Feasts for 12 Days by Jeanette Winterson – 3 stars
I always go into a short story collection expecting to enjoy some stories more than others. But I don’t think I’ve ever read a collection I had so many differing opinions on as this one. Which probably isn’t that strange since I’ve never read a collection with so many different types of stories either. I think it’s safe to say there will be something here for everyone. Like ghost stories? There’s three of them. Like dogs? It has a talking one! Like fairytales? There’s a feminist one with Bluebeard vibes! Like heartwarming Christmas movies? There’s a story about a man who doesn’t like Christmas – until a Christmas-loving woman gives him a Christmas tree. My favorite stories were The Mistletoe Bride (Feminist fairytale!) and A Ghost Story (Mountaineers! Haunted hotels!).
Let It Snow by John Green, Maureen Johnson & Lauren Myracle – 3 stars
The three stories in this YA anthology are all connected, as characters cross over and everyone comes together in the end. As always with anthologies I didn’t enjoy all the stories as much. My favorite was the first one about a girl who ends up spending Christmas with strangers after her parents get arrested and her train get stuck in the snow. While I didn’t enjoy the other two as much, I really like that each stories focuses on different stages in relationships. There’s break ups and first meetings, friends to lovers and getting back together.
My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Winter Romances by Stephanie Perkins – 4 stars
In my humble opinion this is still the best collection of holiday stories out there. I wish there was more diversity (there’s a m/m story, but at least one f/f one would be nice too) and yes, I know it says winter romances right there in the title – but I would’ve loved if just one or two of the stories were about different kinds of love. Romance is not the end all be all, and for me Christmas is all about family. BUT, I love this collection. It has a perfect balance of contemporary and fantasy stories and some of the romances are positively swoonworthy.
The Good Sheperd by Gunnar Gunnarsson – 4 stars
This little novella from Iceland is quite a different Christmas story. It’s a very understated and simple, but charming tale about an old man who spend December in the mountains gathering lost sheep. I’m a little surprised by how much I loved it. But I have a thing for Icelandic winters in literature, so many I shouldn’t be.
Fire julefortellinger (Four Christmas-stories) by Selma Lagerlöf
As the title suggests this is a collection of four Christmas stories by Swedish writer and Nobel prize winnter Selma Lagerlöf. This collection includes Holy Night and The Legend Of The Christmas Rose. I love Lagerlöfs writing and her stories are perfect for the holidays, so rich in atmosphere and full of wonder. The Legend of the Christmas Rose, in which a whole forest turns into a magical garden each Christmas Eve, is one of my all time favorite Christmas stories.
Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn – 5 stars
I tried to read this book years ago when it was all the hype. I think I made it through about 40 pages before giving up and declaring it the worst YA book I’d ever read in my life. I thought I’d thrown it in the trash, but when it turned up in a box just before Christmas I decided it give it a second chance aaaand I loved it! It’s such a fun story about two very different teenagers who spend a Christmas in New York passing a notebook of truth and dares back and forth without actually meeting. I love holiday stories set in New York, I love books about books (yes, notebooks count) and I love Dash and Lily. My only complaint is that “I am not adorable, I am just a Lily” is still the most ridiculous line of dialogue I’ve read.
Did you read any Christmas books this year? What’s the best book you read in December? Have you read any of these books?