Hello lovelies! How are you? I hope you’ve all had a wonderful holiday! I’ve had such a lovely time with my family, watching Christmas movies, eating good food and of course reading in my pajamas. I love that we’re a family of bookworms, cause it means there’s always some books under the tree and I got so many exciting new books this year. I also read a lot of books this month. I think December’s been my best reading month all year, both in terms of how many books I read (21!!!) and star ratings. What a way to end the year!
Blanca & Roja by Anna-Marie McLemore ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
I’m so in love with this Snow White and Rose Red retelling about two sisters, two lost boys, a bevy of swans and a family curse. I’ll never have the words to do Anna-Marie McLemore’s writing justice. Her writing’s beautiful and lyrical, but also deeply rooted in the reality of being a brown girl in this world. Her characters are all flesh and blood, you see their hopes and dreams and secret desires, their fears and scars and contradictions. Her books remind me why it’s called magical realism.
The Wicker King by K. Ancrum ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
The Wicker King’s a fast paced book, with very short, breathless chapters, interspersed with multimedia elements like photographs and drawings. I was transfixed by the intensity of emotion between it’s two main characters August and Jack. Their relationship is complicated, fierce, messy and fraught with conflicting emotions. There’s also a interesting fantasy-like element, Jack has hallucinations of a world where he’s king and August his loyal knight, which gives the book a rich, unusual atmosphere.
The Crown’s Game by Evelyn Skye ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
This fantasy novel set in Russia was an absolute treat to read, like a beautiful, pastel-colored dessert which tastes as delicious as it looks. It’s written in the kind of crystal clear prose that makes everything come to life before your eyes, from the glorious ballrooms and ballgowns, to the majestic Russian nature and the characters’ grand displays of magic. I loved every little detail.
Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
On the surface this is another literary fiction novel about unlikable people having affairs and saying vaguely mean things to each other over red wine. But unlike a lot of these books, this one made me care about it’s characters. They might noe be likable, but they felt like real, flawed people and I wanted to know how their messy, awkward relationships would work out. This book also has one of the best endings I read this year. Not so much because of what happens, I just love how it’s written. Like a perfect crescendo it left me a little breathless and elated.
If They Come for Us by Fatimah Asghar ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
It’s been a very long time since I’ve been this impressed by a poetry collection. Fatimah Asghar poems are all rooted in her country’s history, her family’s history and her own experience coming of age as a Muslim girl in America. They explores themes like race, religion, identity, Partition, cycles of violence and sexual abuse. So it goes without saying that they’re extremely powerful to read. Sometimes beautiful, but just as often brutal and devastating.
I’ve Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Sophie Kinsella is the queen of chick lit and the fact that no one has made this into a rom-com is criminal. From the hilarious meet-cute and clever banter, to the spine-tinglingly romantic first kiss, this book had me giggling at every mishap and swooing at every lingering look the whole way through. I haven’t been this swept up in a romance in ages. It’s so charming and romantic and funny and cute and I loved it so much and someone make it a rom-com please? Pretty, pretty please?
Favorite Quote: “I was a girl who would never exist in a fairy tale, not just because of the brown of my body but because of my heart, neither pure enough to be good nor cruel enough to be evil. I was a girl lost in the deep, narrow space between the two forms girls were allowed to take.” Blanca & Roja
The Light Between Worlds by Laura E. Weymouth ⭐⭐⭐⭐
This Narnia inspired story about three siblings who are transported from a WWII bomb shelter to a forest land of magical creatures and talking animals, is absolutely beautiful. It explores what happens when they return to the real world, and is told from POV of the two sisters: Evelyn who just wants to go back and Phillipa who just wants to forget. Even though I loved both of the protagonist and rooted for them both, I lacked a strong emotional connection to them
One Day in December by Josie Silver ⭐⭐⭐⭐
It’s love at first sight when Laurie sees Jack out of the bus window, but the next time she sees him he’s her best friends boyfriend. One Day in December follows their complicated relationship over the course of nine years as their lives tangle and untangle in unexpected ways. This was a very fast and enjoyable read, it had some lovely moments. I loved the beginning and the ending, which were definitley swoony. But I think the middle lacked a little tension, it could’ve probably been about 60 pages shorter,
East by Edith Pattou ⭐⭐⭐⭐
East is a retelling of my favorite fairytale, East of the Sun, West of the Moon and it’s got one of those fierce, untamed female protagonists I always fall in love with. The ones with wild hearts and adventures in their blood. The ones so wild they bring polar bears knocking on their family’s door. I love Rose. I love that she goes with the polar bear, not just to save her family from poverty, but because she wants to go, because she’s always wanted to go. I just wish there’d been a little more dialogue, cause it all felt a little distant to me and it made the romance hard to relate to.
The Shadow Queen by C.J. Redwine ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Fairytale retellings is my favorite genre, but it’s been a while says I read such a pure fantasy adventure version of a fairytale and I loved it. The protagonist reminded me so much of Bandit Snow White from Once Upon a Time, she’s brave, powerful and always does what’s best for her people. I loved the dynamic between her and the “huntsman”, it’s peak enemies to lovers.
The Wish Granter by C.J. Redwine ⭐⭐⭐⭐
This is a companion novel to The Shadow Queen, set in a different kingdom and inspired by Rumpelstiltskin. I enjoyed this one even more than the first one. The villain was more complex and therefore more interesting, the romance was really sweet – I’m always here for the princess and the guard trope (technically he’s the weapon’s master but…) and I loved the protagonist. She keeps snacks in her purse and would do anything for the people she loves. #PrincessGoals.
The Traitor Prince by C.J. Redwine ⭐⭐⭐⭐
This is the third book in the series, it’s also a companion novel set in a different kingdom, but I don’t think it’s a fairytale retelling. The plot’s set mostly in a prison, after the main character’s been falsely imprisoned and he’s forced to compete in gladiator like tournaments. Since this type of plot’s not my cup of tea, I enjoyed this book less than the first two. But the romance was almost as good as the one in The Wish Granter, and I almost never like the romance in YA fantasy so.
Favorite ship: Definitley Poppy and Sam from I’ve Got Your Number! These two are rom-com goals. I mean: “A treasure such as this should not be left in the hands of Philistines. And Poppy is a treasure, though she doesn’t realize it” Your fave could never.
It Started With A Tweet by Anna Bell ⭐⭐⭐⭐
If you’ve ever wondered what would happen if Bridget Jones had twitter, this book’s for you. After a tweet sent from the wrong account gets Daisy fired from her marketing job, her sister convinces her she need a digital detox and they head to the country. I really enjoyed this one, I liked that it’s so focused on self development and the relationship between the sisters, not just the romance. There is a pretty predictable love triangle, but as far as predictable love triangles in chick lit go, it was an enjoyable one.
Mary Poppins by P.L. Travers ⭐⭐⭐
I finally read this iconic book and I really enjoyed it. There’s something so cozy and nostalgic about reading children’s classics, especially British ones, even if you haven’t read them before. This didn’t quite live up to my personal favorites Peter Pan and Winnie the Pooh, but it was still a charming read. I really want to see the new movie!
The Foxhole Court by Nora Sakavic ⭐⭐⭐
This is one of those books everyone seems to either love or hate with a burning passion, but I’m somewhere in the middle. It’s one of the most compulsively readable books I read this year, which surprised me since I don’t enjoy reading about sports. I found the characters and their dynamics super compelling. But there’s also some plot points that were just too wild for my suspension of disbelief to handle.
Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake ⭐⭐⭐
I’m in love with this concept, but the execution could’ve been better. The stories told from the point of view of the three sister queens, who have to kill each other to win the throne. I had a few problem with this one, the biggest being a ridiculous amount of insta love/lust, weak world building and a complete lack of atmosphere. I had a very hard time visualizing…anything. It’s not great when you’re reading fantasy and wondering if the characters are wearing jeans. But despite it’s flaws, I think this series has a lot of potential and the book DID make me want to read the sequel. And considering how bad I am at sequels, that says a lot.
A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J. Maas ⭐⭐⭐
I’ve heard mixed things about this novella, so I’m not surprised I have mixed feelings about it. It was nice to see my favorite characters like Mor, Cassian, Azriel and Nesta again and getting to read from some of their points of view. Plot wise this was about as necessary as another Feyre & Rhys sex scene (which we also got), but at least it wasn’t as awkward as one.
The Christmas Mystery by Jostein Gaarder ⭐⭐⭐
The Christmas Mystery is an advent calendar in book format. In it’s pages a boy finds a mysterious advent calendar in a bookstore. Inside it are little notes that tell the story of a girl who chased a toy lamb all the way to Bethlehem. It’s told in 24 chapters, full of history, geography and religion, but also an air of mystery and adventure.
Favorite character: Blanca and Roja! I could never chose one of these fierce, loyal and loving sisters. I love them both so much.
Tower of Dawn by Sarah J. Maas ⭐⭐
I like Sarah J. Maas’ books. I even love some of them. Chaol is one of my favorite characters in the series, but this book should’ve been a novella. It’s literally just bland heterosexual romance and like one piece of useful information right at the very end. It did introduce some new characters I really like, but a novella could’ve done that just as well. I know most YA fantasy has a “pair up all your straight characters romantically for literally no reason” problem, but it’s always extra blatant on SJM’s books.
The Other Half of Happiness by Ayisha Malik ⭐⭐
I loved Sofia Kahn is Not Obliged so much, but I honestly wish I hadn’t read this one. It completely negates everything that happened in the first book in the worst way possible. It doesn’t even read like the same genre, let alone the same series. Who knew chick lit could be so bleak. I’ve read more cheerful stuff by dead Russians!
Starry Night by Debbie Macomber ⭐⭐
This is a holiday romance about a journalist who travels to Alaska to track down and get an interview with a reclusive author. I enjoyed the first half, mostly because the Alaskan setting is gorgeous. But the second half was badly paced and the conflict felt lazy and unrealistic.
(The hero’s also wildly misogynistic but what did I expect)