December Reading Wrap-up 2017

Monday, January 01, 2018
I had a pretty good reading month in November and December was super ambitious as well and thankfully I did get to all of the books on my list. I managed to read 11 books this month as well as two audiobooks and one e-book, which I'm not going to review on here. The best thing about my reading this month is that I read quite a few fantastic books, including one rare five star book and another that was so close (I'm quite stingy with my stars!). Also I managed to read a few books that were more on the longer side this month which I'm very happy about!

Sadly I did have one DNF this month which was Secret Passages in a Hillside Town which sounded wonderful but sadly I just couldn't get into it, however I've adored every other book I've read from Pushkin Press, including The Disappearances (review below) which is one of my favourite books of the year!

*The Smile Stealers - The Fine and Foul Art of Dentistry (256 pages - available now from Thames and Hudson) ★★★★★

I was sent this incredibly gorgeous non-fiction book all about dentistry from the amazing people at Thames and Hudson, thank you! Within a couple of days I'd already read it cover to cover as it was so interesting and compelling; also there are quite a lot of photographs, diagrams and historical adverts to look through. I read a couple of reviews and comments saying that it wasn't detailed enough but I think if it was then for me at least, it would have felt like a textbook rather than a book I'm reading to enjoy.

It's one of the most interesting, quick and easy non-fiction books I've ever read! Also the cover and the design of the book on the whole is one of the most beautiful on my shelves so I now need more non-fiction from Thames and Hudson (I've already bought two more similar to this one from Thames and Hudson). It's a little gruesome as it is all about dentistry, however I cannot recommend it enough as a combination of a unique and beautifully put together non-fiction read and a pretty hardback coffee table book.

*Ghosts Of Christmas Past - Edited by Tim Martin (292 pages - available now) ★★★
When I saw this book on Bookbridgr, I knew I had to request it as not only is it the perfect time of year to read it and it has such a gorgeous cover but it also contains a short by Neil Gaiman which was one of the main reasons as to why I had to request it. I received it at the end of November and I read it within the first few days of December as it was such a quick read.

Some of the stories are very short and others are a little longer but they're all so quick and easy therefore it's great for those who don't have much time to read as you can dip in and out of it. I liked some of the stories more than others and my favourites include: Christmas Eve on a Haunted Hulk and The Lady and the Fox. The majority of the stories had a 'cosy mystery' feel to them but overall I was a little disappointed as so many of the stories were forgettable and the Neil Gaiman story was barely two pages long...It was only just a three star read which is so disappointing.
*The Disappearances by Emily Bain Murphy (400 pages - available now) ★★★★ (4.5)
When I first heard about this book, I was instantly intrigued! It's a YA historical fiction with fantasy, sci-fi and romance elements - it's a mixture of quite a few genres as well as magical realism. I adore the cover and it's beautifully published although the text is so tiny which is one of my bookish pet peeves!

We follow Alia and her brother in the aftermath of their mother dying and their father going off to war. They move to a small town with their mother's childhood friend and as they try to fit in with the close knit, suspicious community, they uncover secrets about their mother and the disappearances that are happening in their town.

I loved the characters of Alia, Will, George, Bea and Mrs Cliffton as well as Dr Cliffton, all of which are so lovely and familiar but there are also a few mysterious and darker characters such as Phineas and Stefan. The story and writing on the whole were so wonderful, magical and whimsical so much so that I didn't want to stop reading but at times it was much slower than I wanted it to be. However, the ending was perfect and I loved their friendship throughout the book as well as the sweet romance, although thankfully the romance isn't the main part of the story - the mystery of the disappearances is. I'd highly recommend it!

*A Mighty Dawn by Theodore Brun (608 pages - 4th January) ★★★ (3.75)
I won't go too much into this book here as I will be reviewing it in a separate blog post in a few days time. I was sent this book to review as part of a blog tour which is very exciting! We follow Hakan, a chosen son and heir to his fathers kingdom; however everything falls apart after a tragic event and he then tries to make his way as a warrior.

It is set in a heavily viking inspired world with viking gods and folklore which I absolutely adored (I read a book in December all about the norse gods and their folklore so I knew the gods mentioned and some of the stories attached to them and I think it would be valuable to know that information prior to reading this book). I liked the writing style, it was fairly easy and quick considering that it is almost 600 pages and it was an entertaining book overall.

The only thing I didn't like about the book were the two rape scenes, only one of which had an impact on the story and the pace was a little off for me personally as there were a couple of unexpected twists at the beginning of the book, then it became quite slow (but still interesting) then it was quite frantic and finally it ended on a little bit of an anticlimactic event - I thought it would end on a  cliffhanger to keep you interested for the next book in the series but it didn't. However, I still absolutely loved it, it just confirmed my adoration of the fantasy genre and it was so so close to a four star read. It didn't quite make it as I felt as though the first 15 to 20% of the book wasn't as great as the rest of the book. I cannot wait for the second book which will be released in June as this debut was very impressive!

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens (126 pages - available now) ★★★
I bought this gorgeous V&A edition of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens a few months ago so obviously I had to read it in December! It's a beautiful little hardback with illustrations and it has to be one of the most quintessential Christmas reads. We all know the story from various films but this is my first time reading the book and it definitely shows the time in which it's written but it's still an assessable and quick read. It's such a familiar story that it was a very predictable read; however I'd still recommend it for the festive season.

*How To hang A Witch by Adriana Mather (362 pages - 4th January 2018) ★★★ (3.5)
I love anything related to witches and historical events so this book sounded perfect! I was kindly sent an ARC copy from Walker Books and I loved it. We follow Samantha Mather, one of the descendants of the main individuals involved with the Salem Witch Trials as she has to move to Salem from New York with her stepmother while her father is in a coma. She uncovers secrets about herself, her family, Salem and the witch trials themselves as she tries to break the curse over the descendant families in Salem.

I loved the characters of Jaxon, Mrs Merriweather, Elijah and the story on the whole was fantastic. It was a fast paced, very quick read that I managed to finish in less than two days as I wanted to find out the mystery and if a certain two characters would get together! The romance sections of the book were sweet but contained one of my main pet peeves - instalove. The relationship with Elijah started out equally as sweet but developed into something more than a little creepy. The pacing of the book was great, I adored the mystery and historical fiction elements and I'd definitely recommend it, especially if you like paranormal or historical fiction YA books.
*City Of Bones by Cassandra Clare (528 pages - available now)
★★★ (3.75)
A few weeks ago I was very kindly sent this incredibly gorgeous 10th anniversary illustrated hardback edition of this famous YA fantasy/paranormal book. I have heard so much about this book and series on the whole as well as the author as she seems to be incredibly popular on booktube but I haven't read anything of hers, until December.

I adore the cover of this book, it's gorgeous and beautifully published. I also loved the character illustrations in the book too. I do love YA as it's such a refreshing, easy and entertaining genre, especially compared to the translated, adult and fantasy books I usually read.

In this book we follow Clary as she is thrown into the world of the shadowhunters who are a community of supernatural individuals with various abilities based on their runes (markings on their skin). She finds out about what happened to her parents, her own abilities and the usually unknown world to human of demons, shadowhunters and monsters. I loved the characters, the world and the supernatural elements as well as the super quick and easy writing style and the general premise. There are quite a few YA tropes but it is over ten years old so it would have been newer and less full of tropes back then than it seems now. I loved this book, I'd definitely recommend it if you like YA fantasy and supernatural books. I definitely want to carry on with the series.
A Very Russian Christmas (160 pages - available now) ★★
I bought this book a while ago in preparation for christmas as it is very festive and I wanted to read more Russian literature but the best thing about this book...the price! I only paid £1.99 for this hardcover with free delivery from Amazon so you should check it out.

The book is so nicely published, I like the cover and it contains so many very short christmas themed stories from a range of Russian authors such as Leo Tolstoy. The first few were pretty average if I'm honest and it didn't get much better until the last few stories which were the only ones with any kind of emotion or uniqueness. The only stories I liked were: The Little Boy At Christ's Christmas Tree and Christmas Phantoms. I don't know if it is a problem with the stories themselves or the translation, I think it is the latter. Overall, for the price it's well worth checking out but I was definitely disappointed.
*Devil's Day by Andrew Michael Hurley (304 pages - available now) ★★★
I know that Christmas time isn't really the best period to read dark mysteries and thrillers but I couldn't help myself when this edition came in the post via BookBridgr. We follow John Pentecost with his new bride who is currently pregnant as they travel back to his isolated home in the middle of nowhere to attend the funeral of his grandad.

We reminisce and get to know John and his family, especially his grandad as they travel to the Endlands and switch between the past and the present as well as the future with John's son, Adam. I adored the descriptions of the countryside, cut off villages and the folktales and myths associated with the area including the darker aspects of human nature, hardships and daily struggles.

It was such a quick and easy read that is enjoyable with a consistent dark, sinister theme throughout involving the woods, old traditions and the devil/possession which was eerie at times. I did enjoy the book overall but I thought the book would go one way but it took the more anticlimactic route to the ending. I would recommend it especially as a dark, eerie winter read!

Soul Music by Terry Pratchett (378 pages) ★★★
This is the fourth Terry Pratchett book I've read and I absolutely adore them as they have the same feeling to me as J.K Rowling's books because they feel homely, comforting, whimsical and wonderful. They are the book version of a cosy day at home under numerous blankets in it's feeling but with wizards, whimsical characters, sarcastic and witting writing and a quirky, eccentric but kind of familiar world.

I have to admit, even though I adore his Discworld books, this was my least favourite as music or at least books about music, isn't something I'm interested in but I wanted to read it as it's part of the death series (in my opinion you have to read the series in order). We follow a group of unlikely friends including a troll and a dwarf as they try to form a band and earn money as well as the history and childhood of teenage Susan, who just happens to be death's grandfather (did I mention that death is a physical character in this series?). Terry Pratchett's books always have at least three storyline running through them that you flip between constantly but they all come together in the end and they always make some kind of sense, if there is any sense in the discworld...

I loved learning about Susan, I liked the setting of the wacky city of Ankh-Morpork as well as the unusual characters, magic and gods as well as the as the idea of music being an constant in the world, a background noise and a powerful, infinite force that we don't fully understand but it just wasn't as amazing as the other books in the series, for me personally. I'd 100% recommend Terry Pratchett's books if you love magic, fantasy, dark comedy, witty and sarcastic but very intelligently written books (without being pretentious or overbearing) with a quirky, strange and wide ranging cast of unforgettable, vivid characters.

Hogfather by Terry Pratchett (445 pages) ★★★★
My intention of the latter half of December was to read the last three books in the death series which include Soul Music, Hogfather and Thief Of Time but sadly I didn't manage to read the final book; however I did end my reading year on a very high note as this book happened to be one of my favourite Terry Pratchett books so far!

We follow a now adult Susan, that we met in Soul Music as she is now a governess as well as the alternative Santa Claus that Terry Pratchett's wonderful mind conjured up. Susan, being Deaths granddaughter, has inherited some of his abilities as she is able to take over his job, she can see magical creatures that humans normally can't see and she fights off monsters lurking under childrens beds.

One thing I find amazing about Terry Pratchett's ability and way with words is how he manages to juggle three or four storylines in one book without it being too much, without it being confusing or too long and they all weave together at the end. So as well as Susan's story, we find out that the Hogfather has been killed and Death is taking over his job which obviously results in wizards being involved, the god of hangovers...and an intimately darkly comic, entertaining, whimsical and magical story that is perfect for this time of the year! In my opinion you can't start with this book, you have to start at the beginning of the death series with Mort (then Reaper Man, Soul Music, Hogfather and finally Thief Of Time) to be able to understand the relationships and the backstory of this book and the others in the death series. Terry Pratchett's books and how to read them is a topic of argument but I personally read them in the mini series order, eg: death series, witches series as it's just so much easier and less confusing!
*Crown and Country by David Starkey via BookBeat ★★★
I love watching documentaries and David Starkey makes quite a few so I wanted to listen to one of his latest audiobooks. I'm not a royalist by any means but I'm interested in the history of the monarchy which is what this audiobook is all about. I love the topic and I did like the narrator (it switches between a narrator and David Starkey). However, it was such a long audiobook at over 15 hours and because of the vast amount of information, it was quite forgettable and I knew a fair amount already.

*A Very British Christmas by Rhodri Marsden via BookBeat ★★★
Next up is a book that I received as an e-book on Netgalley and I listened to it in part on BookBeat. In terms of the format, I definitely prefer it as an audiobook even though I wasn't a fan of the three interchanging narrators. It's an entertaining festive audiobook or e-book that will definitely put you in the festive spirit with it's nostalgic, sarcastic and familiar take on the christmas season and all of the ups, downs and oddities that come along with it. However, sadly as with the a couple of the other audiobooks I've listened to recently, it is very forgettable.

Have you read any of these books? How was your reading year for 2017? 

10 comments

  1. oh wow that city of bones cover is beautiful, I love it, so so pretty! I so love seeing how much you read every month, its lovely :)

    Erin || MakeErinOver

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  2. Reading vicariously through you right now!! X

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  3. Ooh The Smile Stealers sounds really interesting! X

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  4. Now that is quite a wide and varied read list and Terry Pratchett is just one author I just can’t get into...

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  5. Smile Stealers sounds like such a unique read. I got absolutely no reading done at all in December.

    Roxie | thebeautifulbluebird.com

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  6. Picking up the Smile Stealers it sounds so good x

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  7. So many good reads here! The Disappearance sounds like a really good book! x

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  8. like the sound if Smile stealers

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  9. I haven't heard of the smile stealers before, and I literally don't know how! It sounds just like my cup of tea, so I've added it onto my ever-growing to-read list. I'm always looking for book recommendations and you're reading wrap-up's really help!

    Thank you for sharing x

    Sophie / www.stambroiseblog.com

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  10. I love your book posts! The Disappearances sounds really good!
    Chantelle x
    The Girl In The Tartan Scarf

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