December Wrap-Up

December ended up being a pretty great reading month – in terms of both quantity and quality – despite being crazily busy at work and at home in the build-up to Christmas. I read a grand total of 5 novels, 1 short story collection, and 10 manga volumes – including several books that I’d been really excited for for a long time! And they most definitely did not disappoint~ 😀

Leigh Bardugo//Crooked KingdomCrooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo. The sequel to Six of Crows, which follows a group of criminals trying to make their fortunes in the underbelly of the Amsterdam-inspired city of Ketterdam, and bring ruin to everyone who’s ever crossed them. I didn’t enjoy this book as much as Six of Crows (though I still enjoyed it a great deal); there was a plot development near the end that I really didn’t like, and, worse, felt was completely unnecessary, and it didn’t leave me with quite the giddy, excited feeling that I had after reading the first book. What it did do was tear out my heart and stomp on it. 😥 The writing was wonderfully emotional, the character development was superb, and the plot was brilliantly complex; a masterfully crafted roller-coaster of a story, full of dramatic twists and turns. Definitely a worthy ending to a great series.5 stars

Kate A. Boorman//WinterkillWinterkill by Kate A. Boorman. The first book in series which follows a young girl called Emmeline, who lives in a remote and isolated community that’s plagued by a strange monster called the malmaci. This was my Library Scavenger Hunt pick for the month, so I’ve already posted a review of it here, but in short: it was well-written, with an engaging plotline, likeable characters and a great, spooky atmosphere, and I had a lot of fun reading it. 🙂3 starsAmie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff//GeminaGemina by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff. The second book in The Illuminae Files, which all document an attack on a mining planet called Kerenza, but from several different points of view. Gemina showed the incident from the perspective of two teenagers aboard the Heimdall space station, where the Kerenza survivors were fleeing during the first book – Hanna, the station commander’s daughter, and Nik, an unregistered civilian whose family is running a drugs operation – and like Illuminae, it’s fast-paced and action-packed, and surprisingly emotional for being written as a series of data files. So, naturally, I loved it. ❤ Hanna and Nik were both great characters, and the story’s twists and turns kept me on the edge of my seat the whole way through… Illuminae is a tough act to follow (one of my favourite books of all time), and I don’t think Gemina was quite so good, but it comes pretty close. Needless to say, I’m very excited for the next book in the series.5 starsCLAMP//Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle vol. 11Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE, Volumes 11-20 by CLAMP. A fun and energetic series about a group of friends travelling between different worlds (and meeting lots of other-world versions of characters from CLAMP’s previous works) in search of Princess Sakura’s stolen memories, which take the form of magical feathers. It’s been a long time since I last rad any of this series (several years, in fact), but I was surprised by how easily I was able to pick up where I’d left off, even though I’d been in the middle of a story-arc when I last stopped – the story and characters are all incredibly memorable. In these 10 volumes, the plot took a very surprising turn, taking the series in a rather dark direction, and I’m really excited to see how this new dilemma is going to be resolved!4 stars

Francesca Simon//The Monstrous ChildThe Monstrous Child by Francesca Simon. The story of Hel, the Norse goddess of death, and Queen of the Underworld, imagined as a teenager who’s despised by her divine family. Understandably – since this book is about Hel’s whole life rather than just a certain event – the plot lacks direction somewhat, and I wasn’t a huge fan of Hel herself; she’s rather an abrasive character. This was, however, really interesting as a character study, in a way that was almost reminiscent of Fairest by Marissa Meyer, and I really enjoyed that aspect of it, along with the writing, which was fluid and engaging.3 starsMarie Rutkoski//The Winner's CurseRick Riordan//Percy Jackson & the Greek HeroesTo finish off the year, the Holiday Booktubeathon arrived, and I managed to read two books over the course of it: The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski, and Percy Jackson & the Greek Heroes by Rick Riordan. I’ve written mini-reviews for both of them, which you can find by clicking on their respective covers. 🙂

Library Scavenger Hunt: December

The very last Library Scavenger Hunt challenge of the year was to read a book with a tree on the cover, several of which I managed to locate fairly easily – trees being a reasonably popular thing to put on book covers – though I didn’t have a specific book in mind when I first went off to the library. And, much to my surprise, one of the books I found was one I’d been meaning to read for a while, but wasn’t sure enough that I’d like to justify buying it outright; exactly the kind of books the Scavenger Hunt was designed to encourage people to read! 😀 That book was…

Kate A. Boorman

Kate A. Boorman//WinterkillIn a small, remote settlement, surrounded by walls and woods, lives a community beset by the mysterious malmaci – a terrifying monster that lurks outside the walls, stealing away and devouring anyone foolish enough to leave their safety. Inside the walls, life is safe but harsh, especially for people like Emmeline, who is tainted in the eyes of the community – and the draw she feels to the woods doesn’t help matters in the slightest.

This book actually reminded me a lot of All the Truth that’s in Me by Julie Berry (which was my LSH pick back in February), and in tone, the two books are quite similar; both set in small, isolated communities, threatened by some mysterious danger that nobody really understands, but everyone is afraid of; both with the same wintery, oddly unsettling atmosphere; and both featuring protagonists who are ostracised, and who – at least to an extent – believe that they deserve to be ostracised. The major difference was that, in my opinion, Winterkill did much better with its pacing and plot. The mystery of Emmeline’s “Stain” was actually revealed fairly early on in the story, which made room for the much more tantalising mysteries of the malmaci and the Lost People to take precedence, while the slow build towards their eventual solutions kept me invested right to the end.

Character-wise, there wasn’t a huge amount of character development, but there was an interesting mix of people and personalities, none of whom felt at all fake. Emmeline was a great lead characters, with both strengths and flaws that felt realistic and relatable, and although Brother Stockham came across as a very obvious villain even at the very beginning of the book, the way that his story arc progressed was really interesting. Kane and Tom were the other two main characters, and while both of them seemed to fit into the love interest and best friend moulds (respectively) pretty much perfectly, the roles that they actually ended up playing were quite unexpected. I would’ve liked to have seen a bit more of Edith (Tom’s little sister), but perhaps she’ll have a more significant part to play in the sequels.

Winterkill wasn’t the most impressive thing I’ve read by far, but it does do very well at setting up what looks like it’s shaping up to be an interesting series, and I definitely want to read more.

3 stars[Find out more about the Library Scavenger Hunt by following this link!]