December Reading Wrap-up 2018

Tuesday, January 01, 2019
For the month of December, I didn't want a TBR, I just wanted to pick up the books that I wanted to pick up, which kind of worked out as I did read a fair few books but I also fell into a mini reading slump at the end of December too. I tried to take part in a couple of readathons in December including: #CloakAndDaggerChristmas and TisTheSeasonAThon but I only managed to read one or two books for each readathon. My longer books for the month included Career of Evil (574 pages) and Lethal White (640 pages) both by Robert Galbraith, J.K Rowling.

Career Of Evil by Robert Galbraith (574 pages) ★★★ (3.75)
The first book I finished in the month of December was the third in the Cormoran Strike series by J.K Rowling under the name of Robert Galbraith. I read the first book last year, the second last month and I've also purchased the fourth book, so I think you can tell that I like the series. I loved the first book but the second didn't live up to the hype on the whole; thankfully the third in the series was fantastic!

As with the previous two books we follow the decorated war veteran turned private detective, Cormoran Strike and his assistant Robin as they try to uncover another gruesome mystery. Each book follows a different crime and storyline but I think you do need to read them in order as you see their relationship develop and the backstory of the main characters.

The story begins with a gruesome package being sent to Robin and what follows is an exploration into Strike's past and an investigation into a few men that want to see Strike fail, all of which have a motive. I liked the overall story as well as the quick and compulsive writing style - it doesn't read like an almost 600 page book for me. The mystery was interesting, I wanted to find out the conclusion to the story and I loved Strike, as always. Sadly as with the previous book, there was the frustrating relationship between Robin and Matthew that throughly annoyed me, especially with that ending! Also I didn't like the constant mentions to female characters appearances, eg: Strike doesn't like very short women and mentions of Robin appearance etc, which I thought was a little unnecessary. I've now moved onto the fourth book, check out the review below.

Classics Reimagined - Grimm's Fairy Tales (208 pages) ★★★
I have a couple of books within this series of reimagined classics as I think they look so beautiful! I love the cover and the gorgeous illustrations through the book which definitely add to the stories. As you can see from the title, this collection features a range of stories from the Grimm canon of fairytales and folktales. There are a variety that I haven't heard of and there are others that are very familiar such as Cinderella. The Cinderella story was very different to the Disney version I grew up with as the sisters cut off their toes to try to fit into the glass slipper and there is no magical pumpkin carriage! Also the Snow White story is different too with no kiss from the prince and her heart isn't what the wicked queen wants, it's her lungs and liver...

I loved the stories on the whole with some of my favourites being my nostalgic Disney stories of Cinderella and Snow White as well as Little Red Cap. There were definite differences between these classic stories and the modern or Disney versions! The stories were very short and classically sweet as all fairytales and folktales are but I didn't like the constant 'king/prince wants the girl so she is taken away whether she wants to or not' theme and there are more mentions of god and religion than I thought they'd be. Additionally, the style was very repetitive but I guess that's the nature of folktales and fairytales, especially classic stories. Overall, I'd definitely recommend it if you like fairytales and folktales but I was a little disappointed on the whole.

Hogfather by Terry Pratchett (368 pages) ★★★ (3.5)
Terry Pratchett is one of my all time favourite authors and while I did read Hogfather last year, I wanted to read it again as I have the beautiful new hardback edition to read and it's such a festive (well as festive as the Discworld gets) story so it's perfect for this time of the year. The Discworld is a very unusual world that involves a giant turtle floating through time, a guild of assassins, an anthropomorphised version of death and some of the best darkly comic but witty and intelligent writing you'll find.

As with all of his books we follow numerous strands of the story from various perspectives that come together at the end and within the Hogfather we follow Death, his granddaughter Susan and a band of killers on hogswatchnight (the Discworld version of Christmas Eve) as they're all trying to uncover the mystery of the missing Hogfather. I think you could start with this book but it does include quite a few characters from other books such as Death and the wizards at the Unseen University so maybe finish the death series before reading this as I did. I adore the witty, darkly humorous writing, it was so entertaining and I cannot recommend Terry Pratchett's books enough.

*The Teahouse Detective: The Old Name In The Corner by Baroness Orczy (288 pages) ★★★ (3.5)

I'm not going to write too much about this as I've already published a blog tour post reviewing this book in full earlier in the month. I was very kindly sent this book for review from the super lovely people over at Pushkin Press and as always their books are gorgeously designed. In The Teahouse Detective we are introduced to 'the man in the corner' of a teashop who engages a young woman, Polly, in conversation (well a rather one sided conversation), about a series of mysteries that he is sure he's solved when the police haven't. The style was very repetitive but that formulaic style made it an extremely easy and quick read. I liked the classic mysteries throughout the book, they were intriguing and it made me realise my love for classic, almost cosy mysteries. If you like classic mysteries or cosy mysteries then definitely check out this read from the author of The Scarlett Pimpernel, which is another book I want to read.

Lethal White by Robert Galbraith (656 pages) ★★★ 
The longest book that I read in the month of December was the fourth and most recent book in the Cormoran Strike series by J.K Rowling. I read the third book earlier in the month and really enjoyed it so I wanted to carry on with the series. However, each book is very long, especially this last one but overall I think they are worth a read!

In Lethal White we follow on one year from the events of the previous book and Robin is now a partner with Strike's private detective business (which is the only spoiler I'll give). We follow another crime which involves an MP, horses, political issues and a family with a lot of secrets. I definitely preferred the dysfunctional family side of the story, rather than the political elements. Additionally, as with all of the other books in the series, I did find Robin and Mathew's doomed relationship throughly frustrating!

As always I loved the character of Strike, I enjoyed uncovering the mystery and I adored Strike and Robins changing relationship which was one of my favourite parts of the book! I definitely enjoyed this read but it was just too long at over 650 pages. For a mystery/thriller which this book could be descried as, it's unusually long and perhaps bogged down in a plethora potentially unnecessary details so it did take me quite a while to finish it. If you love the series then I'd definitely recommend this read but with each book there are a few negatives, whether it's the length, unnecessarily detailed writing or slow pace for example so while I enjoyed the series, it isn't without it's faults, in my opinion.

Smoke Gets In Your Eyes and Other Lessons From The Crematorium by Caitlin Doughty (266 pages) ★★★★★

I have been watching a youtube channel called 'ask a mortician' for years and when Caitlin released a book, I had to buy it. I love her channel, the taboo topics she discusses and her personality which is darkly humorous. I hoped her book would give an insight into her life, career and experiences which it definitely did with her usual dry, darkly humorous tone and personality (which I loved).

You can probably tell from the title of the book that it's going to be more than a bit gruesome, gory and macabre so if that is something you aren't interested in then...maybe still give this book a go as it's so eye opening, thought provoking and answered so many questions I had around death, cremation and everything else in between but it's told in a less academic/dry tone rather a more darkly humorous, honest and intelligent way that made me want to keep reading and reading.

Naturally due to the topic, it's going to be heartbreaking, sad and downright disturbing at times but that is why you should read it as it definitely doesn't shy away from any aspect of death, from tragic deaths, disease, what actually happens to the body during a cremation, the cremation of babies and what it's like to work within the death industry. It contains so much information but in an 'easy' to read, quick and throughly interesting way with information about Caitlin's career, life, loves and experiences whether they were good, bad or gruesome (for the later point, such as the leaking fat from the cremation machine, mould, stinking bodies, cremating amputated limbs, collecting foetus and babies bodies from the hospital and more, just to give you an idea of the book).

I knew some of the more cultural, social and fact based elements as I do watch her Youtube channel but there was so much information that I had no idea about and that will stay with me for a long time. It also contains her stance on a more green and natural burial which I'm all for. Along with Caitlin, I'm not a fan of the huge casket, embalming type burials as I think it's so expensive and it isn't natural so I found that viewpoint very interesting.

One of the most powerful aspects of this book is how upfront, honest and completely raw everything is - she doesn't shy away from anything which might upset us, disgust us or repulse us but death is something none of us can avoid and within our society we've become so removed from it that anything related to death is seen as morbid and taboo. I think it should be discussed and normalised again as it will affect every single one of us. I cannot recommend this book enough to everyone, it's one of my favourite books of the year...perhaps you can tell that by how much I've written about it here!

Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman (304 pages) ★★★
December was a bit of a strange reading month as I did manage to read quite a few books and I didn't set myself a TBR for the month so I loved the freedom of choosing whatever books I wanted; however I did go through a mini reading slump were I just kept picking up books, reading a few pages and putting them down again as I just wasn't in the mood for that particular book at that moment.

However, I did read this beautiful signed hardback edition of Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman and while I adore the cover, I loved the myths and it was such a quick, easy and no-fuss read...I was also partly disappointed by it. The book retells some of the famous norse/viking myths but I hoped it would be told in a more magical way as that's what Neil Gaiman does best; however, the myth retellings were very simple, short and almost child-like sadly.

Last year I read Norse Myths by Kevin Crossley-Holland which was also a retelling of norse myths with gorgeous illustrations and while it was a children's book, it was enjoyable and I found that both books were very similar which I wasn't expecting and I didn't want that from this Neil Gaiman read - that's probably why I'm a little disappointed by it. Sadly, Norse Myths by Neil Gaiman didn't bring anything new as I'd already read a children's book that had the same myths and simple style but I would recommend it if you haven't ever read any norse myths before.

*The Embalmer by Anne-Renne Caille (80 pages) ★★★
The shortest book I read this month was an e-book from Netgalley which was only around 80 pages or so. It was one of the quickest and most unusual reads of December and it has the same theme of death, embalming and working in the death industry as Smoke Gets In Your Eyes. However, within The Embalmer we get very short, often less than one page, of the thoughts and experiences of a daughter asking her father about his work within the death industry. It was an unusually structured book, I wasn't expecting the very short sections and it wasn't as impactful as other reads this month but it was very quick and interesting!

Have you read any of these books? What have you been reading recently? 

21 comments

  1. I really want to make more time for reading in 2019!

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  2. So many amazing books! I've already finished my first book of 2019! I'm so happy!
    Love, Amie ❤
    The Curvaceous Vegan

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  3. I have been meaning to read Norse Mythology.
    Happy 2018.

    https://modaodaradosti.blogspot.com/

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  4. This is really inspiring to write book posts! I love reading and now I finally have the motivation to write! Woo! xD

    Daisy | TheDeeWhoLived

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  5. This is a nice post
    Happy new year and have the best of 2019
    https://www.melodyjacob.com/

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  6. It's my new years resolution to make more time to lose myself in a book at least once a month.

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  7. I’ve tried to read the Robert Galbraith books a few times but oddly they just don’t hold my attention. X

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  8. I really want to read Norse Mythology. I didn't read anything in December - I haven't really read anything properly since September.

    Jenny
    http://www.jennyinneverland.com

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  9. Smoke Gets In Your Eyes and Other Lessons From The Crematorium sounds right up my street x

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  10. My reading list has just got a little longer!

    Danielle xx
    http://www.fashionbeautyblog.co.uk/

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  11. I really want to read more this year x

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  12. The cover of Grimms Fairy Tales is so beautiful. I want to collect pretty classics like that to pass down to my children.

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  13. Sounds like some great reads! 🌸💜

    With love, Alisha Valerie x | www.alishavalerie.com

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  14. Smoke Gets In Your Eyes and Other Lessons From The Crematorium sounds right up my street sounds so good. A slightly odd topic but it sounds like a great read and obviously worth it considering such a high rating x

    Sophie
    www.glowsteady.co.uk

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  15. I've not read in SO long. It's actually worrying. I just don't have the time :(

    Erin || MakeErinOver

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  16. I've just added the crematorium one to my good reads accounts

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  17. They sound interesting. I’m making more effort to read this year.

    http://littlemissmelanie.com

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  18. Grimms Fairytales!!! Such a throwback!

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  19. As usual, you’ve read so much! It’s amazing! The Teahouse Detective: The Old Name In The Corner sounds like an interesting read - I love a good mystery xo

    Char | www.charslittleblog.co.uk

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  20. I'm really trying to up my reading game this year now! x

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If you would like to contact me, email: heathernixon4@gmail.com