January 13, 2021

What I Read in December 2020

I only read seven books in December – a bit less than the pace I was hitting earlier in the year, especially since I had a vacation at the end (though I spent it teaching skiing instead of purely relaxing). But that still means I read 101 books in 2020, which is one more than my goal of reading 100! This is the first year since 2017 that I’ve hit my goal, and I’m hoping I can keep up the momentum in 2021 and make it less of an anomaly that I actually make it to the century mark 🙂

I loved Stephanie Garber’s Caraval, and gave it five stars; in fact, the rest of the series all got four stars from me. It’s solid!

5 stars:

Caraval, by Stephanie Garber: This was a page turner and I devoured this book, reading it in two nights. I loved the magical world and was quite surprised by many of the twists and turns, though I probably could have done without some of the violence. However, the story was beautiful and the descriptions of the magic were entrancing. I had a hard time putting it down, and I can’t wait to read the next book in the trilogy.

4 stars:

Legendary, by Stephanie Garber: I was thrilled to get this book so quickly after finishing the first Caraval book, but a little disappointed when this was told from Tella’s perspective instead of Scarlett’s (the protagonist in Caraval #1). Scarlett was infinitely more likable than the headstrong Tella, and I was also a little disappointed that her character was much more subdued in the second two books. However, I still loved the world and the stories, even if this one was slower paced than the first.

Finale, by Stephanie Garber: Once again, I read this right on the heels of the first two – which makes it hard for me to tell if the author did a good job providing enough backstory to catch you up if you didn’t read them in a row like I did. I thought this was better than the second book, but not nearly as good as the first book. I was frustrated by many of the choices the characters made in this book, but I was excited to see everything wrapped up. This series kept me staying up late multiple nights to read all three books in a week (and a busy week when I shouldn’t have been staying up to read, no less) – I’d give it four stars overall.

Anxious People, by Fredrik Bachman: This was raved about as the best fiction book of 2020. Although I like Bachman’s unique writing style and fascinating insights about human behavior (which were certainly on full display here), I sometimes found it frustrating – the plot moved so slowly (and it was a pretty short timeline for a plot anyway) that it felt a bit artificially stretched out. There was a big reveal partway through that the slow pace enabled, so that made me enjoy it a bit more, but overall, I didn’t love this as much as I wanted (or even as much as Beartown).

The Cookbook Club, by Beth Harbison: This was really sweet, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. However, I felt like three main characters was a bit much – sometimes I forgot what was happening with one vs another. The end was also a bit abrupt, even though I knew how it would work out. Overall, though, I really enjoyed it and look forward to reading more by this author!

Joint Custody, by Lauren Baratz-Logsted and Jackie Logsted: I loved this sweet rom com, as told from the dog’s perspective! It admittedly took me the first chapter or two to get into the idea of Gatz the dog as the protagonist, but then I ended up loving it – kind of like a Disney movie told by the dog, peppered with idiosyncratic viewpoints and turns of phrase (e.g., the way that Gatz described humans having sex). And the story itself was really cute too. I ended up finishing it in one night; really cute story

3 stars:

Ready Player Two, by Ernest Cline: I absolutely loved Ready Player One (though I read it 7 years ago, so I can’t remember all the details). This sequel, unfortunately, fell flat for me. The first third of the book was excellent, with a great premise, but the next two-thirds got SO into the weeds on very specific cultural references that I felt lost since I was not a real (Prince, John Hughes, Tolkien) aficionado. I also found some of the battle scenes downright confusing (not to mention overly drawn out), and was reading as fast as I could to try to get to the next interesting piece of action. Be forewarned: 95% of the book takes place within 12 hours, so you are basically reading a second by second account, which is a bit tedious. Although the overall premise / moral at the end are pretty interesting, and I read this pretty quickly just so I could see what happened in the end, I can’t say I really recommend this book.

Any book recommendations for me? Follow me here on Goodreads to keep up with what I’m reading in real time.


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