December Redux: on your left

A pair of burgundy boots rest on a bookshelf of fantasy novels

The Captain America running meme has its place every year, but particularly so this year. We’ve reached the end of 2021 while my brain is still somewhere in early 2020. I keep seeing the ‘what’s your biggest 2021 flex’ and all I’ve got is ‘I’m still here’ – hunkered down, reading and reviewing, and sending love to those that need it.

I’ve already posted my Best Of 2021 and I’ll be back in a few days with a retrospective on my 2021 reading/blogging along with some thoughts on what my 2022 goals look like. For now, I’ll just look back at December.

Reading Round-up

I started the month by finishing Abaddon’s Gate and tearing through Cibola Burn – confirming that they are still my least favourite novels of The Expanse. I got very little out of either on this reread, although there’s some neat character moments in Abaddon’s Gate and I will never not cry when they spin up the Behemoth (on page or on screen). But with the outcomes known, I find the journeys tedious; in part because I just don’t love the characters on page. This is a rare instance where I feel the show improves on the books for giving us Drummer over Pa and Bull, reinventing Ashford, and leaving Havelock and the RCE vigilantes on the cutting room floor. That said, I admire Corey’s ambition in centering (but not sympathetically) characters driven by privilege, fear, ambition and prejudice from book three onwards, even if I can’t say I enjoy them.

Of all the space opera I read this month, I was most pleasantly surprised by The Loneliest Girl In The Universe. I was expecting a YA meetcute; I got a psychological thriller focused on mental health and fanfic, which I found utterly charming. You Sexy Thing was a popcorn diversion that didn’t live up to my anticipation – I found it a little flimsy in the end.

Book of the month goes to You Let Me In, Camilla Bruce’s blood-soaked debut of fairies and abuse. The unreliable narrator encourages the reader to draw their own conclusions about the truths of her life, leaving me with shades of The Thirteenth Tale and a whole lot of discomfort. But, you know, in a good way.

  • Dune – Frank Herbert ★★★
  • The Loneliest Girl In The Universe – Lauren James ★★★☆
  • You Sexy Thing – Cat Rambo ★★★
  • You Let Me In – Camilla Bruce ★★★★
  • Audio Reads:
    • Abaddon’s Gate – James S A Corey ★★★☆
    • Cibola Burn – James S A Corey ★★★

Additional Reviews

I ended 2020 with a Twelve Days of Bookmas to clear my review backlog – and it felt wonderful. Damn right I’m doing it again this year, because while I didn’t have so many books on my review backlist, two of them were amongst my best reads of the year, and my awed procrastination was frankly criminal. That said, I’m off to a slow start – but an excellent one:

Stacking the shelves

Another month, another Audible credit for the next Expanse and another (incredibly glamorous) Goldsboro SFF title. Tempting offers meant I repurchased some books in new formats (I wasn’t even going to try to resist the notion of Chiwetel Ejiofor as an audiobook narrator) – and then it was Bookmas. The book elves were very kind and the Amazon offers were irresistible; a Yuletide Book Flood indeed. Just as well I’m eyeing at least 3 TBR challenges in 2022…

Reading statistics

2021 was a year of no reading targets, so while I’ve felt pressure to read certain books, it’s been delightfully disconnected from any numbers. That’s worked well for me (ahem, unless I consider my intentions to read more of what I already owned, oops), so I’m torn on whether to do all the exciting challenges I’ve seen crossing my timeline or just meander again.

Books completed: 69 | DNFs: 3 (there were more, I was rubbish at tracking DNFs)

  • 8 off the shelf (i.e. not bought in 2021)
  • 27 ARCs
  • 19 bite-size (excl. short stories)
  • 12 audio reads

Authors: 20 male (29%) / 34 female (49%) / 8 trans, enby or genderqueer (11%) + 8 collaborations (11%)

  • Authors of colour: 24 (33%)
  • LGBTQIA authors: 23 (32%)
  • Non-US / UK based authors: 6 (8%)

BookSpin: 2 read | 1 DNF | 3 back on the shelf

What’s coming up?

I don’t go back to work until the 10th, so I shall be enjoying a few more days of seasonal peace and quiet! My only plan for January is to actually take part in Vintage SciFi Month for once; and then I’m looking forward to February She Wrote.

How was your December?