December picked up considerably from prior months, which I really enjoyed. It was nice to end a big reading year on an “up” month.

Programming note: Come back next week for my Reading Year in Review. The following week, I plan to have my Writing Year in Review, followed by my “Looking Ahead to 2016” post the final week in January.

Let’s go!


 

Library of Souls (Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children #3) – Ransom Riggs  – 3.5* – (Dec. 3):
(Goodreads review)
libraryofsoulsThe conclusion to this trilogy was action-packed to the point I found it somewhat exhausting. Taking the trilogy as a whole, it makes sense for the third act to be full of action leading to a final resolution. But as a single book, there was rarely any break to the action. It made it a quick read, but I found it tiresome. I also found the very final chapter disappointing and I wish it hadn’t been included. Amazing concept for a series overall and it’s given me some great ideas as a writer. It just went far beyond what I originally expected into a genre I don’t adore.


What She Left Behind – Ellen Marie Wiseman – 4.75* – (Dec. 7):
(Goodreads review)

whatsheleftbehindSo many things I’m fascinated with all in one book – psychiatry, asylums, abandoned buildings, the foster system, the treatment of women by family and society… And all set very near to where I grew up in Upstate New York.

In the present day, a girl helps her foster parents with the cataloging of abandoned possessions at the closed Willard Mental Institution. It’s uncomfortable for her as her own mother was once in a mental institution after murdering her father, though she’s since been convicted of the murder and placed in prison. One particular steamer trunk captures her interest and the second storyline follows the owner’s story through the past as Clara was wrongly committed to the institution back in 1929 essentially for disobeying her parents’ wishes.

It wasn’t a perfect book but with so many elements I enjoy, I had to rate it highly. My Goodreads review includes more details.


Sarah’s Key – Tatiana de Rosnay – 4.75* – (Dec. 9):
(Goodreads review)

sarahskeyThis was a tough read about the roundup of French Jews in Paris. Sarah’s family was taken from their home as part of the roundup, placed in a temporary camp, then later separated. Reading about the different physical and emotional blows she suffered was heartbreaking.

In the current-day storyline, there’s a reporter writing about the anniversary of the roundup while dealing with all of her life stuff and her own personal mission to let the people of Vel d’Hiv know they haven’t been forgotten. Why is it her personal mission? Because she’s an ex-American with something to prove. Seriously. I rated the book really highly but the woman drove me a little crazy. I definitely would deduct points for telegraphing certain “twists.” Most of the writing was very good and then occasional bits were laughable. (Really, the girl with the key around her neck is named ‘Sarah’? Like the title of the book? You don’t say!)


Had a Good Time: Stories from American Postcards – Robert Olen Butler – 4.25* – (Dec. 22):
(This IS the Goodreads review.)

hadagoodtimeI often remark about the uneven quality of short story collections but this was rather consistent – and quite enjoyable. The idea – creating sometimes crazy stories based on the short notes scribbled on postcards from over 100 years ago – appealed to me. Some were funny, some terrifying, some quite touching, but few disappointed.


Steal Like an Artist – Austin Kleon – 4* – (Dec. 28):
(Goodreads review)

steallikeanartistI’ve read this before but with projects planned for a January kickoff, I wanted to read it again. There’s not much else to say about it that’s not in my Goodreads review. Obviously, I enjoy it or I wouldn’t read it more than once. If you need a creative kick-in-the-arse to start your year, this is a good, quick read.


Jamaica Inn – Daphne du Maurier – 4.5* – (Dec. 28):
(Goodreads review)

jamaicainnI’m not sure how this is only my second proper du Maurier novel. It’s not as amazing as Rebecca (it’s a high standard!), but it was very good. It was full of mystery and deceit, despicable characters, desolate scenery, lively confrontations, and ghosts from the past. Mary Yellan was an imperfect heroine but a persistent type, even if to her detriment. It made it fun to follow her attempts to make things right.


My original goal was 40. I set a stretch goal of 100 at one lofty point. With 6 books this month, I ended at 75. Not too shabby. And I was well into #76 but I didn’t finish (spoiler alert – I’m done now so it’s book #1 of 2016).

yeah!

Diversity? YA, a short story collection, some historical fiction, a nonfiction/inspirational book, and what I consider a modern classic (du Maurier).

Star ratings: These numbers weren’t adding up correctly so I’ll have them fixed for my Annual Review next week.

One last stat – pages read:

  • January – 2010
  • February – 2166
  • March – 2419
  • April – 2349
  • May – 1752
  • June – 819
  • July – 2786
  • August – 3318
  • September – 1517
  • October – 329
  • November – 454
  • December – 1837

Total is 21,756 pages for the year.

Overall, December was a good reading month. Only one kind of “meh” read and the rest were very solid. If only all our reading months could hit that kind of percentage!

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