In December, I read 16 books:
- 10 new novels, of which 2 were ARCs
- 2 graphic novels, of which one was an anthology
- 1 ARC of an anthology
- 3 short stories, which I already reviewed here and won’t talk about in this wrap-up.
This was a good reading month for me in terms of quantity, but most books I read were in the three star range.
Obsidio by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff – ★¼
I think the authors ran out of interesting ideas during book one and ended up writing Illuminae three times just with slightly different characters. Also, what about not writing children just to hurt them or kill them off to be edgy? It makes the book feel cheap.
The Girl King by Mimi Yu – ★★½
…when I decided which two-star books I was going to write in my list of “least favorite books of 2018”, this didn’t end up on it because I didn’t want a book that isn’t even published to end up on a “worst of the year” list already. But it could have been, because it’s an overall mediocre fantasy story with some really uncomfortable plot points – the evil girl seems to have anxiety and the only character who is even just implied to be queer is a rapist – and no sense of setting. I believe that formulaic diverse stories are important and this is an Asian-inspired fantasy by an Asian author, but I don’t think I can honestly recommend it.
Could Have Been Better
Creatures of Want and Ruin by Molly Tanzer – ★★★
Much better than its companion prequel, still not that good. While it’s great to read about a polyamorous woman and her diverse group of friends fighting bigots in prohibition-era Long Island, the pacing was all over the place and the writing could have been better.
The Weight of Feathers by Anna-Marie McLemore – ★★★¼
Anna-Marie McLemore got a lot better since her debut. I don’t have much else to say; the atmosphere and message were great, but everything about this pales in comparison to all her other books.
The Consuming Fire by John Scalzi – ★★★¼
A very entertaining sequel about political intrigue in space and a forthcoming apocalypse; not much more. I liked that there was an f/f relationship but all the interpersonal relationships in this book are so flat, one-note and underdeveloped that I couldn’t really bring myself to care.
Giant Days by John Allison, Lissa Treyman & Whitney Cogar – ★★★½
A fun slice-of-life graphic novel following three girls and their developing romances during their first months of college. There isn’t a true beginning nor a true ending, which makes sense for a slice-of-life story, but as the characters didn’t have much depth, having near to no plot was kind of disappointing.
Black Enough, edited by Ibi Zoboi – ★★★½
An anthology about being young and Black in America. As I’m neither Black nor American, I felt like I was missing the context sometimes, but I really appreciated the messages and the diversity of this anthology nonetheless. As usual for anthologies, not every story worked for me, but I still recommend it.
Moonshine by Jasmine Gower – ★★★½
Another book about a diverse group of friends fighting against bigots, this time in Soot City, a fantasy place inspired by prohibition-era Chicago. Bright, colorful and vibrant – just as its beautiful cover – this book captured my attention immediately. I loved how many queer characters there were here and I loved how this book talked about bigotry, but I have to say that there was almost no reason for the main character to be the main character, as she barely made any decision that influenced the plot.
Mirage by Somaiya Daud – ★★★¾
I loved the worldbuilding (Moroccan space fantasy!) both for the aesthetic and for the nuanced exploration of colonialism, but I have to say that I ended up not caring about the characters as much as I wanted to, and I did not like the ending.
Twisted Romance Vol. 1 edited by Alex de Campi – ★★★★
I loved this comic/short fiction anthology so much! It’s about unconventional romances and the aspects of relationships we don’t often talk about, and I loved almost all of it. There’s polyamory, there are fairytales about escaping abusive relationships, there are stories about bondage, weird paranormal romances, and almost all of it it’s queer and/or written by queer authors/authors of color. Again, not every story worked for me but most of them did. Some stayed with me in a way short fiction rarely does.
Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor – ★★★★½
Not quite as good as Strange the Dreamer because Lazlo and Sarai had close to no character or relationship development, but still stunning. The side characters are wonderful and developed, Thyon’s storyline was everything to me, and this book is still an example of gray morality as its best even though the main character isn’t morally gray. And the way it refuses to solve things through violence? One of the most subversive choices I’ve ever seen in YA fantasy.
Blanca & Roja by Anna-Marie McLemore – ★★★★¾
This retelling of Snow White and Rose Red meets Swan Lake was so beautiful. I don’t understand how McLemore keeps writing stories like this – they all have the same magical feeling and wonderful writing and yet they’re so different from each other. Like, this did remind me of The Weight of Feathers more than Wild Beauty or When the Moon Was Ours did, but it’s still its own story with a completely different message. It’s about the role of fairytales and stereotypes in people’s lives, and it features latinx, trans and disabled main characters. The Page/Blanca romance was everything to me.
Strange Grace by Tessa Gratton – ★★★★¾
Polyamory in YA! Relevant creepy forest content! Beautiful descriptions and discussions about gender! Weird pacing that worked for me in every way! I loved this surreal, creepy book so much. Also, that romance is one of the best love stories published in 2018.
Stats, stats, stats
It’s time for the end-of-the-year wrap-up!
In 2018, I read 160 books. Which, if you ask me, is a bit much. One of my goals for 2019 is to read less – and focus on what I think I’m going to like over what I find on netgalley/edelweiss.
Of these 160 books, only 115 were novels (so I’m excluding novellas, short stories, anthologies and comics). Of these, 51 were adult books.
Considering that most short stories, novellas and comics I read are adult fiction, I read more adult fiction than YA in 2018, which I would never have done a few years ago. I predict that the amount of YA books I read is going to decrease every year because from 2020 I won’t be a teen anymore, but we’ll see.
Out of all 160 books, only 18 had a main character that wasn’t marginalized in any way. All the other 142 were diverse books or anthologies with a relevant number of stories by/about marginalized people.
I’m so glad that this is how my reading year looks like even though I’m not reading books just because they are diverse anymore. This is what interests me, and this is such an improvement since 2016, during which the balance was the opposite (less than 20 diverse books out of more than a hundred). This isn’t just because of me, it’s because diverse books are finally getting the hype they deserve. There’s a reason most of the non-diverse books were backlist.
If we’re talking about ratings, I had more or less the same amount of five stars (45), four stars (43) and three stars (40). I had a lot less two stars and one stars, as it should be – it means that I didn’t have an awful reading year – but I want to see the number of two stars decrease in 2019.
Was December a good reading month for you? How was 2018? Have you read any of these?