My goal for December:

I have two books to finish in the reading challenge (a book written the year I was born and a book by a one-hit wonder). I like to read something holiday-related later in the month. I’ll commit to 4 books and see what happens.

What I read: (Link to my Goodreads 2017 shelf where you can find individual reviews that may or may not differ from what is posted here.)

The Girls – (Emma Cline) – 3* – (Dec 5)

This book was disturbing – full of underage sex, manipulation by men in positions of unearned power, gory in the details of murders. Those details in Cline’s writing are why I think this book has received the attention it has. It’s very well-written and quite compelling. But it’s also a sort of fictional rehashing of the Manson murders when I would’ve preferred something more original. The brief sections set in the present didn’t add much for me, except to point out that Evie was still strongly affected by her time on the ranch and that she recognized familiar traits in the girl who visits the beach house. 

House. Tree. Person. (Catriona McPherson) 
– 3* – (Dec 20)

I enjoyed reading this and seeing how the story came together. However, the more I read it, the more it bothered me how conveniently certain things were happening.

Ali’s previous mental break made it interesting for her to work in a mental hospital, especially since she lied on her resume to land the job. I’m not sure how many things happening in the hospital were legit or far-fetched, but it’s not any place I’d want to be either as an employee or a patient.

The situation with her teenage son, Angel, felt off to me. His behavior was just weird and I couldn’t figure out what to make of him or his reactions.

I’m not sure how I felt about the book as a whole, but the author did a good job of providing explanations at the end that made sense of the oddness. Still, I’m not sure if I found it satisfying.

Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls – (Elena Favilli, Francesca Cavallo) – 5* – (Dec 26)

I fell in love with this book the first time I heard of it. Then I lost track of it until it was time to do my holiday shopping. With two young nieces, I had to have it!

The book includes dozens of one-page profiles of amazing women. Women whose stories can teach and inspire young girls to pursue so many professions as well as to lead tremendous, authentic lives.

I decided to read it before gifting it. Many of the women were new to me and I found myself searching for more of their stories online.

Also, the illustrations are really lovely.

Even though the holidays are over, I’d highly recommend this book for any of your upcoming gift-giving occasions, for girls both young and old.

Six Wakes – (Mur Lafferty) – 4* – (Dec 26)

Weird, somehow I ended up reading a sci-fi novel for one of my last for the year. However, it’s a sci-fi MYSTERY, and it’s written by Mighty Mur Lafferty, so it was a risk I was willing to take.

The plot and characters here are well-developed. If you didn’t know better, you’d think Mur had been writing these intricate mysteries forever. She also did an amazing job in developing the world these characters live in.

The character stories are rich and complicated. Their reveals are done in a way that enhances the current circumstances they find themselves in after the entire crew has been regenerated due to death.

I occasionally found myself a little “eh” on the more technical aspects, but I appreciated the detail. I also appreciated the way it all came together in the end. However, I found the resolution of the mystery and the crew’s crises to be somewhat too tidy. Also, one of the characters ended up with a real superhero shine on them that felt weird.

But I enjoyed it, even though sci-fi isn’t my usual jam.

Abandoned America: The Age of Consequences – (Matthew Christopher) – 5* – (Dec 30)

Previous photo compilations I’ve browsed have focused specifically on asylums. This book goes beyond that to include schools, churches, businesses, and industrial locations.

The text is a thought-provoking complement to the images as the photographer shares some history of the location, the current status, and his feelings about it. His primary purpose is to shed light on the amazing architecture destroyed by neglect because society has abandoned the cause.

I was stunned at how bad conditions were in some of these sites. I was also stunned to see the expanse of what had been left behind without finding another purpose. It seemed so wasteful and so sad. I did find his almost unwavering declarations that every building should be preserved somewhat in disagreement with my own feelings. Some of these places were clearly beyond repair. And some could serve no useful purpose even as a monument to the past

I started with three reading goals this year but added a fourth:

  1. Read 40 books: – Completed in August. I finished with 64.
  2. Complete the Rhymes with Croatia 2017 Reading Challenge: There are 24 categories, and I’ll count no book for more than 2. I also decided not to count re-reads (unless the category specifies it must be a re-read). Numbers below are new/add’l categories completed.
    1. January – 5 (set somewhere you’ve never been, set in a school, thriller, library, kick-ass woman protag/female author)
    2. February – 4 (teaches something new, recommended by a friend, embarrassed to be seen with in public, takes place during winter)
    3. March – 3 (collection of short stories, one-word title, adapted to tv/movie)
    4. April – 4 (new-to-you classic author, banned book, historical event, famous author never read)
    5. May – 2 + 1 alternate (purple cover, coffee table book, Bonus: TBR 3+ years)
    6. June – 1 (book with a flower/plant in title)
    7. July – 0 (ouch! 7 left to go)
    8. August – 1 + 1 alternate (family history/heritage, Bonus: punny title)
    9. September – 1 + 1 alternate (written the year I was born, written by a doctor – AND I made plans/purchases for the final categories)
    10. October – 2 (biography/memoir, another belief system)
    11. November – none (ack!)
    12. December – 1 (one-hit wonder)
  3. Decrease my TBR: 
    1. January 1 – 88 physical/29 digital
    2. January – 91/29 (read 2 physical, added 5 – 2 were gifts)
    3. February 28 – 91/30 (read 1 physical, bought a few, donated and otherwise updated my shelf to reflect what’s actually there)
    4. April 6 – 88/31 (no new physical, despite my birthday, bought 2 digital)
    5. May 3 – 89/32 (bought 1 physical, received 1 at a writing conference, bought 3 digital)
    6. June 1 – 86/32 (I only read 1 – the other 2 are being read slowly now)
    7. June 30 – 78/32 (I decided to donate some but mostly read from the library)
    8. July 31 – 82/32 (Some people buy magnets on vacation – I buy books as souvenirs)
    9. August 1 – 77/32 (Despite buying 2 and reading several library books, I managed to decrease the TBR – assuming my count is accurate)
    10. September 29 – 81/35 (Some of what I bought was specifically to meet reading challenge categories, some was trip souvenirs, and one was a gift)
    11. Nov 1 – 81/18 (I did some shelf updates, made some donations, ditched a whole bunch of digital that were in my tally but I had no interest in reading)
    12. Dec 1 – 81/18 (Interesting, as I only read one from my shelf but I added two so I don’t know how that works)
    13. Jan 2 – 88/19 (Christmas happened and my physical TBR is right back where it started)
  4. Read more political/activism books: None.

Diversity? A coffee table book, a sci-fi mystery, and a collection of biographies aimed at young girls.

Star ratings: I base this on the flat stars Goodreads displays in list-view, not the quarter-star system I assign in my reviews.

  • 5 stars: 9 books
  • 4 stars: 28 books
  • 3 stars: 24 books
  • 2 stars: 3 books
  • 1 star: 0 books
  • 0 stars: 0 books

Pages read:

  • January – 2936
  • February – 1075
  • March – 1380
  • April – 1786
  • May – 1064
  • June – 2272
  • July – 1157
  • August – 2409 (wow!)
  • September -2009
  • October – 1327
  • November – 981
  • December – 1559

I’ve posted my Reading Challenge and my 2017 Annual Review/2018 Goals already. I may handle my book reviews differently this year, though I haven’t decided yet. We’ll find out in a month! (I’m planning to read at least 4 books in January.)