JJ Reads

Memo Pad: December Book Wrap Up (+ Xmas Book Haul)

Merry Christmas everyone! It’s the end of the final month of the year which means my last 2018 book wrap up. I’ll be doing a bookish year post in the next week or so once 2018 is officially over (you never know what awesome books I’ll read between now and new year!) but for now my last reviews of the year.

Stats wise I went on a book buying ban in June in an attempt to get the 75+ books on my kindle down to a more manageable number. Well I can officially say I managed to get it down to under 50. Before Christmas it was down to just 44 (pretend with me that’s a low number please!) and it meant that I could allow myself to buy a few books for Christmas. I think my goal next year will be to keep it below 50 so I’m allowed to buy books up to that number.

The books I bought in my mini Christmas haul were:

Sometime After Midnight by L Philips (which I’ve already read. See below) / Vicious by VE Schwab (finally!) / Queen of Air and Darkness by Cassandra Clare (Which I’m currently reading) / Failure to Communicate by kaia Sonderby / The Disasters by MK England / An Unkindness of Ghosts by Rivers Solomon

But onto books I’ve read this month…

Read: 5 DNF: 1

The City of Brass by S A Chakraborty *****

There is so much hype on this book that I had to put this on hold for months but I finally felt it was the right moment to read this and just wow. I really need the sequel now. I do have to say that it felt more like a solid four stars until the last third. But what an end it was.

Nahri is a thief living in the streets of Cairo when she accidently calls forth a djinn who tells her of a magical city and, with demons also accidently called forth, Nahri has no choice but to follow him.

I do have to mention the problematic start. I didn’t like that the story started by having an autistic girl possessed by a demon and murdered simply to earn the main character sympathy points and push her off on her journey. It could have used something else and I’m surprised that it hasn’t been mentioned anywhere which is disappointing. I also felt the pacing of the first half was a bit slow and things could have moved quicker but the rest of the story was griping and other elements kept me engrossed until then.

I am VERY invested in happy endings here (for some people anyway. Definitely not for others).  Dhiru better end up happy (I think I spelt that name wrong). I have a lot of other demands but I feel like that’s the only thing I can say without giving away spoilers and is the most important one anyway!

Personally I did find the characters a bit too flawed. It does make for more epic character arcs but means for quite a lot of the book they were annoyingly flawed and I rolled my eyes a lot. But the relationships between all of the characters and how they are all connected means you can’t help but love them anyway (even if they’re being annoying!) And as I said, it all came together so well in the last third of the book that I can’t wait to read more. I also loved the world created. The different cultures, names, and characters really made the world vivid and rich and set it apart from the same old western inspired fantasy setting. I’m looking forward to the sequel (although part of me is also dreading it because INVESTED)

Scardust by Suzanne Van Rooyen *****

This was a quick and engrossing read but it does hit a lot of heavier topics (Trigger warnings for rape, self harm, physical abuse and sibling suicide).

A near future sci fi set in the middle of nowhere texas where Raleigh dreams of joining the MarsLife program to escape his life but his plans get interrupted when a guy crash lands in a crater nearby.

I loved the mix of feeling like the world was on the edge of the future but it hadn’t reached this small place on earth yet. Raleigh’s dreams of escaping were very real and you definitely routed for him through all of the heartbreak. His life is absolutely tragic and you need him to make it through. The connection and way the relationship between both boys grew was really great. It wasn’t instant, there was plenty of mistrust and learning between them and it developed into such a caring and understanding relationship that it makes you physically scared about what will happen. I guessed the twist quite early on but it was very well written and just made me want to turn the pages quicker to find out what happened next and I wasn’t disappointed once I got there at all.

City of Strife by Claudie Arseneault *****

This isn’t the first book I’ve read by this author, in fact Baker Thief is on my list of best books of the year, and while this didn’t quite reach those heights for me it is still a brilliant book full of amazing characters. It’s set in an old city on the edge of an empire where old families rule from their towers and a sect of magic users are infiltrating and disrupting the peace. There are elves mixed in with the humans, and as most of Arseneaults books do, it focuses on family and friendship with a good dose of aromantic, asexual and nonbinary rep mixed in with other queer rep.

The thing I love about all the worlds that this author creates is that they are so real and fully realised that they feel normal. You really feel as if there are ordinary people going about their lives and living in these places beyond the characters and story. I loved all the characters and there were A LOT of them. I think there were ten point of view characters. But it’s very well written and I was never confused or lost. They were all distinct, I knew how they all related to each other and everything was well explained without slowing the pace down. There are lots of characters to love. The downside of so many povs though is that there wasn’t THAT much plot and I wasn’t expecting for it to just end there. There are sequels but I definitely felt it could have been a bit longer to round out the plot more. I guess I will just have to read the next books!

Pulse by Danielle Koste *****

The thing that drew me to this book was that it was vampires but not in your typical urban fantasy setting. Instead it focuses on a boy captured and kept in a laboratory. It’s all scientific experiments and secret testing facilities but at the same time focusing on the characters caught up in it and their interactions. It reminded me of the way The Girl With All The Gifts changed up the zombie idea and I really liked it. There’s also no love triangle which I was worried about for a while. I did feel the end was messy and I was a bit disappointed with how things went in the last quarter but only because I’d enjoyed the rest so much. Overall it was a really enjoyable read that I raced through and was a fresh and different take on an over used trope.

Sometime After Midnight by L Philips *****

This was such a cute, easy read. It’s a queer modern cinderella retelling where two guys meet at a gig but the rich guy only manages to snap a picture of the other’s sharpie decorated converse before he runs away. It gets put on social media and things explode. It’s all about music, guitars, singing, the record industry and the good and bad that comes with it. Also something to note is this is NOT a coming out book. Both main characters are already out and it’s fully accepted by both friends and family so it’s never used as part of the drama which is also really nice to read. If you like your YA fluffy and light then I’d definitely recommend this book. It was such a quick but engrossing read and all of the characters are loveable.

Trigger warning for mentions of a parents suicide


White Fire by Laurie Bell

I honestly can’t put my finger on a good reason why but I just didn’t connect with this book. It’s also split into parts and when it switched to two years later I couldn’t convince myself to keep going for no other reason than I just wasn’t invested. DNF @35%

Best book of the month goes to The City of Brass. What about you? What was the best book you’ve read recently? And how was your reading this year? Any new favourites that you would recommend?

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3 thoughts on “Memo Pad: December Book Wrap Up (+ Xmas Book Haul)”

  1. I’m so gald you enjoyed The City of Brass so much, I’m super excited to read that one! City of Strife also sounds really interesting. I haven’t read a lot of SFF with aro/ace characters, so that sounds amazing!

    Liked by 1 person

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