Wrap-Ups and Readathons

My December 2014 Wrap-Up

One thing I have never done before is a monthly wrap-up. I conclude each of my weeks with a small update, but I am yet to bunch all of the month’s reads together in a big wrap-up. Ideally, I would start this in the New Year, but if I can do it now, why not? I’m going to use these wrap-ups to discuss how my TBR went, list everything I read in the month chronologically and give a one line synopsis and  a brief overview of my thoughts. I will then conclude by announcing my favourite book of the month, a scheme that I have been doing on Goodreads since I joined.

I had 10 books on my TBR list at the beginning of this month (as always). Throughout December, I read 4 of these…I got distracted by choosing books for the CramAThon, during which I only used one of my TBR picks. I read ‘The 5th Wave’ by Rick Yancey, ‘Furies of Calderon’ by Jim Butcher, ‘Talon’ by Julie Kagawa and my TBR jar pick, ‘PS, I Love You’ by Cecelia Ahern (for the CramAThon). Most of the remaining books I didn’t read as I got distracted and read other things (as I predicted!) however, I did read further into ‘A Game of Thrones’ by George R.R. Martin, I started ‘Never Fade’ by Alexandra Bracken and I decided not to read Veronica Rossi’s ‘Into the Still Blue’ this month, as I could read it in January and count it towards my ‘Finish That Series’ challenge. Away from my TBR pile, there are a few books which I started but did not finish in the month of December. I am a third of the way through one of my TBR jar picks, ‘Forsaken’ by Jana Oliver, I briefly started ‘The Power of Six’ by Pittacus Lore yesterday and I am also currently reading ‘The Magician’s Nephew’ by C.S. Lewis. I doubt that I will finish either of these before tonight as I am not reading much today, so I am going to say now that they are unfinished in December. Now onto the books that I did finish:

1. ‘The 5th Wave’ by Rick Yancey

Read – 3rd December

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Synopsis – In the face of an alien apocalypse, a young girl sets out to find her missing younger brother, amidst fears that it is no longer possible to tell who is human and who is not.

My Rating – 5 stars

Thoughts – With a strong female protagonist and generally a fantastic bunch of supporting characters, the story is captivating and the writing is brilliant. The slow leaking of information and the dramatic irony experienced as a reader made me want to read more. The only let-down was the romance. Evan is a possessive and creepy character who I did not like at all, but the fact that the romance wasn’t great didn’t bother a romance-hater such as myself anyway.

Read my full review here

2. ‘Wonder’ and ‘The Julian Chapter’ by R.J. Palacio

Read – 5th December

Wonderjulian

Synopsis – A boy with facial deformities tries to face up to the fact that he will never be seen the same way as everyone else as he attends school for the first time.

My Rating – 4.75 stars (‘Wonder’), 3.75 stars (‘The Julian Chapter’)

Thoughts – A poignant and thought-provoking story, the fact that we see the situations from the points of view of everyone around Auggie made the book a lot more relatable to many people. I felt a strong connection to his sister Via, who was by far my favourite character, although every character was understandable and felt real. I was less keen on ‘The Julian Chapter’ as it felt as if we were meant to sympathise with Julian, but his reasoning for being a bully was incredibly weak. The grandmother’s story, however, was absolutely brilliant (I would have happily read an entire book about that story, as I think I may have enjoyed it more than ‘Wonder’ as a whole).

Read my full review here

3. ‘Six Geese A-Laying’ by Sophie Kinsella

Read – 6th December

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Synopsis – An incredibly short free eBook story giving a contemporary twist on Dickens’ ‘A Christmas Carol’.

My Rating – 1.75 stars

Thoughts – This was far, far too short to attempt to pull off what it was trying to achieve. All of the characters were self-centred, rude and egotistic and the whole story felt incredibly laboured.

4. ‘Spying in High Heels’ by Gemma Halliday

Read – 6th December

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Synopsis – When her boyfriend goes missing, a fashion designer embarks on a journey to discover exactly where he has vanished to and how he is connected to the deaths occurring throughout the city.

My Rating – 3.25 stars

Thoughts – This shouldn’t be taken as anything more than a light and amusing read. It definitely achieves that. If you were to look at it analytically, then you could say that it is an obvious and nonsensical plot and the protagonist is a stereotypical ‘blonde bimbo’ kind of character. These faults would all be true, but if you do not take the book too seriously, it is actually an enjoyable read.

5. ‘Furies of Calderon’ by Jim Butcher

Read – 12th December

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 Synopsis – In a world where people are brought together by their abilities with ‘furies’ (water, air, earth, fire and metal), a young boy is struggling with the fact that he has shown no ability with furies, just at the time when his village is put in danger.

My Rating – 5 stars

Thoughts – When I started this one in October/November, I got 20 pages in and put it down due to lack of motivation. It was when I picked it up for the second time in December that I flew through it. The writing was fab, I loved all of the characters (especially Tavi and Bernard) and I really liked the five points of view that we see in the book. A surprising favourite read of the year.

Read my full review here

6. ‘Elsewhere’ by Gabrielle Zevin

Read – 14th December

Synopsis – A young girl tragically dies in a hit-and-run, and struggles to accept the Heaven she ends up in after she has passed away.

My Rating – 4 stars

Thoughts – An incredibly quick read, this book is generally enjoyable. I sympathised with the main character on the whole, and she developed into a rather likeable person. The ideas were rather juvenile and simple, but if you take a step away from the analysis and read it is a simple story, it is rather enjoyable.

Read my full review here

7. ‘Earth and Sky’ by Megan Crewe

Read – 17th December

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Synopsis – A girl desperate to discover what happened to her long-lost brother meets a mysterious boy who isn’t quite as human as he seems.

My Rating – 2.5 stars

Thoughts – This story was a bit of a repetitive, confusing mess. The romance was forced and bizarre, the plot was predictable and the characters were very irritating. It’s a shame as I like Crewe’s ‘Fallen World’ series, but this was not good.

Read my full review here

8. ‘These Foolish Things’ by Deborah Moggach

Read – 19th December

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Synopsis – The experiences of a group of elderly people as they leave England for an experiment of a care home in India.

My Rating – 3.25 stars

Thoughts – I so wanted this to be good as I love the film that is based off of it (‘The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’), however, I have to say that the book is very average, and is not nearly as funny, unique and entertaining as its movie counterpart.

Read my full review here

9. ‘Night of Cake and Puppets’ by Laini Taylor

Read – 20th December

Night-of-Cake-and-Puppets

Synopsis – Exactly how Zuzana and Mik began dating; an unseen moment in ‘Daughter of Smoke and Bone’.

My Rating – 5 stars

Thoughts – This novella was incredibly cute, and it was fantastic to see my favourite character Zuzana get a little more focus.

Read my review in the CramAThon Wrap-Up

10. ‘How the In-Laws Wrecked Christmas’ by Fiona Gibson

Read – 20th December

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Synopsis – A short story of a woman meeting her boyfriend’s parents for the first time over the Christmas period.

My Rating – 3 stars

Thoughts – The scenes with the boyfriend’s daughter were very cute, but otherwise this wasn’t particularly interesting. Thankfully, it is incredibly short.

Read my review in the CramAThon Wrap-Up

11. ‘The Complete Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood & The Story of a Return’ by Marjane Satrapi

Read – 21st December

CompletePersepolis

Synopsis – An autobiographical graphic novel highlighting one woman’s experiences in a war-struck Iran, and her struggles when she moves to Europe.

My Rating – 4.25 stars

Thoughts – The artwork didn’t really do it for me, but the story is thought-provoking and inspiring, and really made me think about wars in the world and the rights which we have but other people may not.

Read my review in the CramAThon Wrap-Up

12. ‘The Tales of Beedle the Bard’ by J.K. Rowling

Read – 21st December

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Synopsis – A collection of the wizarding fairytales referenced in ‘Harry Potter’, including ‘The Tale of the Three Brothers’.

My Rating – 5 stars

Thoughts – Fairytales that could totally pass as real lore, these enjoyable tales have lovely messages, and it was nice to read the stories which Ron mentions in ‘Harry Potter’, and hear ‘The Tale of the Three Brothers’ once more.

Read my review in the CramAThon Wrap-Up

13. ‘Casino Royale’ by Ian Fleming

Read – 22nd December

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Synopsis – The story which introduced the world to agent 007 James Bond.

My Rating – 3 stars

Thoughts – Having had no previous experience with James Bond, I was expecting to understand the brilliance of the franchise. Instead, I discovered an extremely sexist and misogynistic git who didn’t really inspire me to invest more in the series.

Read my review in the CramAThon Wrap-Up

14. ‘War Horse’ by Michael Morpurgo

Read – 22nd December

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Synopsis – A story of the First World War, told from the perspective of a cavalry horse.

My Rating – 4.5 stars

Thoughts – As with all of Morpurgo’s books, this children’s book is well thought-out, informative and enjoyable to people of any age.

Read my review in the CramAThon Wrap-Up

15. ‘Dear Lupin: Letters to a Wayward Son’ by Roger and Charlie Mortimer

Read – 23rd December

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Synopsis – A collection of letters written by horse-racing correspondent Roger Mortimer, to his son Charlie.

My Rating – 3.5 stars

Thoughts – An enjoyable collection of letters letting us in on the humour of the Mortimer family. Some of the goings-on seem almost so unbelievable that they have to be true!

Read my review in the CramAThon Wrap-Up

16. ‘PS, I Love You’ by Cecelia Ahern

Read – 24th December

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Synopsis – After the untimely death of her terminally-ill husband, a thirty-year-old woman has to learn to experience life without him. A collection of letters gives her a shove in the right direction.

My Rating – 4.5 stars

Thoughts – This book manages to pull off heart-wrenching and hilarious simultaneously, and Ahern’s writing very much impresses me. I would recommend this to any fan of contemporaries.

Read my review in the CramAThon Wrap-Up

17. ‘The Hobbit: Graphic Novel’ by J.R.R. Tolkien and Chuck Dixon

Read – 25th December

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Synopsis – The fantasy classic ‘The Hobbit’ put into graphic novel form.

My Rating – 4 stars

Thoughts – Of course the story is fantastic, and the art is very lovely, however the pages are a little crammed with numerous speech boxes.

18. ‘The Best of Miranda’ by Miranda Hart

Read – 25th December

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Synopsis – A collection of six scripts from the TV series ‘Miranda’, with new annotations and facts.

My Rating – 4 stars

Thoughts – I loved reading the scripts as much as I loved watching them, and the annotations and information were very interesting.

19. ‘My True Love Gave to Me’ by Stephanie Perkins and Others

Read – 27th December

Synopsis – A collection of 12 holiday romances written by some of the best loved YA authors.

My Rating – 3.625 stars

Thoughts – The stories really did vary in quality. There were some which I absolutely adored, some good but not brilliant and some really not that impressive. They averaged out to a pretty respectable score, but there was an even balance of good and not-so-good.

Read my full review here

20. ‘Talon’ by Julie Kagawa

Read – 30th December

Synopsis – A dragon is in hiding amongst humans to learn how to protect herself from a band of merciless dragon slayers.

My Rating – 2.75 stars

Thoughts – This could have been marketed as a contemporary romance for the lack of fantasy in it. The main character was positively vile, the romance was awful and there was no building upon the actually really interesting history between the dragons and the slayers.

Read my full review here

That sums up the books I read in December. The winner of my ‘book of the month’ is ‘Furies of Calderon’ by Jim Butcher. I chose this book as it not only surprised me and had me immersed in the story, but it made me want to read on immediately (I went to order the second book straight away), and it wormed its way onto my ‘top books of the year’ list. All in all, it was a good month, even if I failed miserably on my TBR, and I hope that January is as successful on the reading front.

Twitter – @emmathereader

Tumblr – www.snapeisourprince.tumblr.com

Goodreads – www.goodreads.com/snapeisourprince

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