Reading Wrap-up: December

I started out the month with my sights set on the titles pictured below…

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Baby H., capturing the gleeful essence of my bookish being in this portrait. 

I knew it would be a stretch, completing 6 titles while the little guy learned to army crawl, changed up his nap rhythm (yet again), and generally demanded all of the attention (not even a little mad about it). But still, I persevered — and guys, I’m not disappointed at all to tell you I only fell a little short. The quality of books I read this month was S-U-P-E-R-B, for the most part, and that means far more to me than the number I accomplish.

Read on for a 30-second book review of each title I completed in December, in order of their completion.

  1. The Wife Between Us by Sarah Pekkanen and Greer Hendricks. This psychological thriller alternates between the perspectives of two women — the ex-wife, and the wife-to-be. The novel is full of twisty surprises that kept me on my toes from start to finish, and though I didn’t love the lead male (or his Christian Grey-esque characteristics), I was very pleasantly surprised by this ARC that I received from St. Martin’s Press. Overall: 3.5-4 stars…can’t decide.
  2. Future Home of the Living God by Louise Erdrich. This work of speculative fiction features Cedar Songmaker, an adopted Native American woman who is pregnant at a very ominous time: the world is experiencing backward evolution and no one is sure what will happen when the next generation of children is born. Will their brains be functional at the level of modern-day humanity, or is the modern world about to witness Neanderthals in the living flesh? Told in a series of very-lengthy diary entries, FHOTLG was more of a miss than a hit for me due to a number of underdeveloped characters and a disappointingly slow build to a meh conclusion. Overall: 2.5 stars. Maybe.
  3. The Girl With All the Gifts by M. R. Carey. This zombie-apocalypse novel surprisingly swept me away. I’m not really one for zombies or post-apocalyptic themes, but Carey created a fantastic cast of characters that follows young Melanie and her beloved teacher as they struggle to survive a series of cataclysmic events. Unbeknownst to Melanie, she’s a “hungry” — but her wit, humor, and naiveté come together to create a lovable female lead whose perseverance and strength are absolutely worthy of your time. Overall: 4.5 stars.
  4. Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng. The minute I finished Ng’s debut novel (Everything I Never Told You) I started champing at the bit for her next masterpiece. LFE did not disappoint: with tension and familial drama, this novel is a portrait of a utopian community nestled in the outskirts of Cleveland in the 90s. I savored this story from start to finish, relishing the recurring imagery of fire and the rich emotions of remorse, desperation, and loyalty. Ng is QUEEN of writing trainwrecks-in-waiting. Overall: 5 big, shiny stars.
  5. The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey. For a full review, check out this postThe Snow Child is a touching, hopeful tale of one couple’s struggle to overcome their disappointment at being childless — by moving to the Alaskan frontier and starting anew. This is an ideal read for adult fans of Harry Potter and Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus; but it’s so much more than a novel for fantasy-lovers. This story, based on a Russian fairytale, is magical and heartwarming with every turn of the page. Overall: 5 snowflakes.
  6. Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt. Okay — I’m cheating a bit, here . . . I’m only halfway through this work of YA fiction, but I’m absolutely in love with Brunt’s construction of time and place, and her vivid characters. When June loses her beloved uncle Finn to AIDS in the 1980s, she loses more than a close family member; she loses the only person who truly gets her. Though I’m not finished, I already know this is going to become one of my favorite fiction reads of the year, one I’m likely to highly recommend.

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