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December was a very good reading month. I read a lot but I read a lot that I liked a lot. Like, there are five books on here that got 5/5 out of fourteen books total. That’s pretty good.
I finally got a library card here (woohoo!) and a few of these are library reads. I saw Rock Paper Scissors as I was getting the card and grabbed it, then I saw The Maidens and grabbed that (I haven’t read it yet but I still have it.)
So far, I’ve enjoyed having the card but now I feel like I have to read the library books and not the books I own which is an issue because I have so many.
I just need to find a middle ground on this. We also just went to Flagstaff and the Barnes and Noble is closing so everything was half off and I ended up with like, eight books.
To be fair, they were all on my wishlist or TBR so I’ve wanted to read them for a while. They were impulse purchases but also not because I didn’t grab random books. And now I want to just read all of those right now.
SO MANY BOOKS. Too little time. Anyway.
- If you want to listen to some of these, consider trying Audible! You can get your first month free (one free book) plus tons of others they have for free. Get that Audible deal here.
- If you’re on more of a budget, try Scribd! You can get your first month free there. You can read books and listen to audiobooks. It is unlimited (especially the reading) but if you listen to tons of new audiobooks you may be restricted after a few. I don’t listen to enough to confirm this, but I do use Scribd myself and like it a lot. Sign up for Scribd here!
- Shop my collection of bookish goodies on Etsy! These aren’t my shop items, but other shops I’ve curated into a book-themed collection. Shop my Etsy bookish goodies here!
- If you want to read more on your Kindle but don’t want to buy books, Kindle Unlimited is a wonderful option. It’s $9.99 a month but if you read a lot and like to read more than just new releases, it could be worth it. Get Kindle Unlimited here!
- Get $5 off of $25 from BookOutlet! This is a great place to find new books for pretty cheap. They also have sales quite a bit, so keep an eye out for those. I tend to check here for books I want if they’re more expensive other places. They don’t have everything but they do have a lot. Shop BookOutlet here!
- Thrift Books has become my go-to when I’m looking for a book and want it cheap. It’s great if you like buying used books. With this you can get a free book after spending $30!
- Shop my book lists here! You can find every book list I have on Bookshop.org (except my monthly round-ups) and I add everything I can but they occasionally won’t have some. I do occasionally add extras though. If any lists are empty, they’ll be filled in shortly! Shop my bookshop.org book lists here.
The Case of the Haunted Maze
Author: Marvin Kaye
Genre: Middle-grade mystery
About the book: Mitch says their outdoor corn maze is haunted but we didn’t believe him. Until we saw the ghost ourselves! But is it real or is someone trying to scare us away?
Final thoughts: This one was fun. I don’t have a lot to say about it but I liked it.
Author: Lauren Oliver
Genre: YA dystopian
About the book: I don’t want to give a description and ruin the first book in case you want to read them.
Final thoughts: I really liked this one but the ending did not surprise me one bit and I really didn’t like it but I really enjoyed the rest of the book.
I feel like there was a lot of character development in this one, which was great. I read like, half of this one in one night because I got so into it.
Author: Lauren Oliver
Genre: YA dystopian
About the book: Again, this is the series finale so I won’t put a description to ruin the first two.
Final thoughts: I had a lot of thoughts on this one. From Good Reads: ** spoiler alert ** For so much happening in this, nothing really happens?
This will be full of spoilers so read with caution.
Why was Julian even introduced at all? Lena just strings him along and abandons him when she finds out Alex still loves her.
Back to the beginning, when she and Alex see each other at the beginning, they just do nothing? Are mad? There are NO feelings there at all? You’re just going to be petty the whole book and ignore each other? Ok then.
I liked coral.
I did not like the whole story with her mom. I honestly forgot we even knew she existed for a while, then we meet her and there’s like, no chemistry at all. It felt kind of pointless and painful reading their interactions.
I liked hearing Hanas’s side of things but also, the end with her just didn’t make that much sense to me. She saves Lena then says she’ll turn her in and is actually like, nah, get outta here? I don’t know. I’m glad she let her go and that Lena told her about the bomb and that she left Fred behind but it was just kind of a weird scene.
Then that non-ending? What was that!? She finds Grace, good, then sees Alex and they proclaim their love for each other and then rip apart a concrete wall WITH THEIR FINGERNAILS?! I’m shuddering writing that.
What even happens!? Is the whole government ruined? Did they just take down Portland but the whole rest of the country is still the same as it was? Why didn’t they ever bother going more than 100 miles from a major city on the eastern seaboard? There are far more remote places to escape this government. What happens to her and Julian!? To Hana!? To her and Alex!? To Fred!? Raven? Tack? Literally anyone?
The more I think about this the more annoyed I get
The Creak on the Stairs
Author: Eva Bjorg Aegisdottir
Genre: Nordic noir
About the book: In the town of Arkranes, a woman’s body is found in a lighthouse and she is no stranger to the area. After a failed relationship, Officer Elma returns to Arkranes. She and her colleagues begin an uneasy investigation that uncovers a shocking secret in the woman’s past that continues to reverberate through the present day.
As they investigate, they uncover a host of hidden crimes that shock the community. They have to find justice as they fight through shattered memories of the townspeople while they dodge increasingly serious threats.
Final thoughts: I really liked this one. Some of it was a little confusing, like, there were so many characters I couldn’t always keep track, did Hendrik have a son and brother named Tomas? Or was that the same person somehow, and **MINOR SPOILER BELOW BUT DOESN’T GIVE AWAY ANYTHING CRAZY**
Magnea being pregnant, then I think it was her story, they mention a kid already? Or a baby or something? I can’t remember but she just found out she was pregnant then had the baby but then she was only a few months along? I can’t remember, can anyone who has clarify?
I liked the overall story though and would read more of her work. I also appreciated the pronunciation guide even if I couldn’t remember all of it exactly.
Your Republic is Calling You
Author: Young-Ha Kim, Chi-Young Kim (translator)
About the book: Ki-Yong is a foreign film importer in Seoul. And a North Korean spy. He was sent down twenty-one years ago and just received Order 4: the order to return home. But he hasn’t heard from anyone in ten years, why is he being called home now?
This takes place over the course of that fateful day as we follow his family, showing we never really know the people we love.
Final thoughts: From Good Reads: This wasn’t terrible but it also wasn’t all that exciting? I certainly wouldn’t call it a thriller. I enjoyed some of it, some of it was boring. Just ok for me
Girls With Sharp Sticks
Author: Suzanne Young
Genre: YA dystopian
About the book: Innovations Academy is the home to beautiful and well-behaved girls, their report cards say so. The Guardian ensures they receive a well-rounded education that will only make them better.
Their carefully controlled existence may not be all that it seems, though, and as Mena and her friends uncover the dark secrets of the academy, the girls begin to fight back.
Final thoughts: I loved this one a lot. It’s like The Handmaid’s Tale but almost a little sci-fi, too? It’s very icky feeling but also feminist power, and I just love it.
I liked the pacing of this and can’t wait to keep reading this series. I read half of it in one day and was looking for the rest right away.
Rock Paper Scissors
Author: Alice Feeney
About the book: Things haven’t been good for Mr. and Mrs. Wright for a while so when they win a weekend away in Scottland, it may be just what they need.
They exchange traditional gifts on their anniversary every year and every year she writes him a letter she never lets him read. Until now.
They both know this weekend will make or break their marriage. But they didn’t randomly win the trip. One of them is lying and someone doesn’t want them living happily ever after
Final thoughts: I loved this. This was the perfect winter thriller. I feel like I am a little picky about thrillers and what I like a lot with them but this one was perfect for me. I liked the format (but get why people might not) and felt like it was a good pace.
I read it pretty quickly and in the second half, I didn’t want to put it down. I didn’t see the twist coming (not a spoiler, it’s a thriller, there will be a twist) but I’m also just not that good at guessing endings which I actually like because I feel like I enjoy them more that way.
So, I loved this. Definitely would recommend, especially if you want something cozy and creepy for winter.
Don’t Come Back
Author: Adam Fletcher
Genre: Travel memoir
About the book: Adam just left his girlfriend and accepted a speaking opportunity that he found in his spam folder. Then his friend Nick decides to come with and in typical Adam fashion, everything goes wrong.
These are the tales of his travels through South Africa, Indonesia, and Cuba while he contemplates the status of his life and lives of those he meets along the way.
Final thoughts: This was just fine. Some things were pretty interesting but I also found myself wanting this to be over more often than not.
I’m glad I finally read it because I almost started it a lot, but I was hoping it would be more interesting places (not that the places he went weren’t interesting) but I liked the destinations in his first book a lot more.
Author: Kara Thomas
Genre: YA thriller
About the book: When Claire wakes up alone and covered in blood on a hiking trail with no memory of the last forty-eight hours, the perfect prom weekend getaway is over.
Everyone wants answers, especially Claire since her two best friends are now missing. She remembers Friday night, but that’s it.
She knows the answers are somewhere in her memory. She knows everyone has their secrets, including her missing friends. She also knows she’s probably not going to like what she remembers.
Final thoughts: I loved this! I understand how and why people don’t but I liked it. Kara Thomas is for sure on my I’ll read everything they publish list. Obviously, there is a twist because this is a thriller, but I won’t say what it is.
I will say that I liked it and I think it made everything that happened that much worse (but in an interesting way). I get why it could be gross or creepy, but isn’t that what makes is good? Because it’s that much more horrifying?
The Canyon’s Edge
Author: Dusti Bowling
Genre: Children’s realistic fiction poetry
About the book: One year after their family was forever changed by a random shooting, Nora and her father are canyoneering deep in the Arizona desert when a flash flood rips through the canyon, sweeping her father and all of their supplies away leaving Nora alone.
She’s lost, alone, and facing deadly desert conditions and the beast of her nightmares. To save herself and her father, she has to face her fears and conquer the beast to allow her to live a new life.
Final thoughts: This was SO GOOD. I loved it and I don’t care about poetry AT ALL. I saw it at the library (I finally got a library card!) after wanting to get it for months and I’m so glad I grabbed it and so glad I read a physical copy.
Then, at the Flagstaff Barnes and Noble that is closing, I saw two of her other books and got them right away. And they’re signed! So exciting.
Author: Scott Westerfeld
Genre: YA dystopian
About the book: This is the last book in the series and i don’t want to spoil anything.
Final thoughts: I was ready for this one to be done not long after I started. I didn’t realize this is the final book in the series and Extras is just sort of, well, an extra book, so I didn’t know this was how everything tied up at the end and it just felt, not that good?
It’s also basically the exact same format as the first two books and I just wanted it to be different and better. I didn’t hate it but I’m not even sure if I want to read Extras even though I have it. (I will, eventually.
By this point, it was just kind of annoying. I basically read the same book three times with increasingly strange vocabulary.
Also, suggested alternate title: Tally-Was Starts A Monkey Wrench Gang.
Author: Scott Westerfeld
Genre: YA dystopian
About the book: This is the second book in the series and I don’t want to spoil anything here in case you haven’t and want to read it.
Final thoughts: I liked this one but I liked the first one more. I honestly can barely remember this one and differentiate them right now looking back. I was still entertained when I read this one.
Author: Craig Childs
Genre: Non-fiction archaeology
About the book: This is for all you archaeology fans out there. Craig Childs takes us (mostly) to Southern Utah to learn about the looting of Anasazi relics, the debate on proper practice, and sales (legal and illegal) of artifacts around the world. This is especially interesting if you’re familiar with southeast Utah and the Blanding area.
Final thoughts: I love this book. The author seems a little like a goody-two-shoes (I totally understand his point of view though, don’t get me wrong) and this may not be the best if you’re an actual archaeologist, but as a casual fan, I love this.
I also have lived in the area most of this takes place in (Southern Utah and Northern Arizona) for the majority of the time since 2016 so I really liked reading about places I’ve been (Blanding) and that whole area.
The international chapters are a little less interesting to me (I don’t mind the Mexico and Central America ones) but overall I enjoy this one a lot.
This was actually a re-read while I was in Moab recently and I listened to it this time. I liked it just as much both ways.
Tune in Tokyo
Author: Tim Anderson
Genre: Non-fiction travel
About the book: Tim needs to get away from his life in North Carolina so he decides to pack up and move to Japan to teach English.
These are his (mis)adventures stumbling his way through navigating life abroad in a new country.
Final thoughts: I wanted to like this one more than I did. It’s not bad but it’s not great either. It has some funny parts but it’s more about life as an American teacher in Tokyo than about adventures in Japan, which maybe is what I was expecting?
I’m not sure but it’s not my favorite and I’ve read far worse, so. Yeah. It’s fine.
Have you read any of these? Which ones? What did you read in December?