Monthly Wrap Up – December 2020

I can’t believe tomorrow is the last day of 2020, it’s insane to think about when how long this year felt back in the Spring! I hope you all managed to enjoy the holiday period despite the pandemic. I haven’t read as much this month which was to be expected with Christmas and New Year, plus I have been working on getting blog content ready for 2021, however I did still manage to read some great novels this month!

Books read this month

This month I read a total of 6 books (6 physical and 0 ebooks)

  1. The Burning God by R.F. Kuang
  2. The Glass Woman by Caroline Lea
  3. The Beast Player by Nahoko Uehashi
  4. Sorry It’s A Girl by A.A. Khan
  5. little scratch by Rebecca Watson
  6. Elantris by Brandon Sanderson

Favourite books read this month

The Burning God by R.F. Kuang
I doubt that this comes as a surprise as all as both of the instalments before this one have made it to this section in previous monthly wrap ups! As you can tell from my previous review, I could talk about this book for a while so I will keep this brief: this is a great end to the series. It was brilliant and bittersweet. I’m genuinely sad that this series is over but it has spurred me to read many more fantasy series in 2021!

The Beast Player by Nahoko Uehashi
This is one fantasy series that I will be continuing in 2021 after loving this first instalment. Although I’ve been reading more fantasy novels this year, I have been slightly disappointed with the lack of fantastical creatures in them (even if the novels were still great) so when I came across this novel all about fantastical beasts and caring for them I was thrilled. I loved the characters in this book and even though it is a title from Pushkin Children, it is one that I would encourage everyone to read no matter how old you are.

little scratch by Rebecca Watson
My full review of this novel will be coming out in a couple of weeks, so you’ll be able to see read my gushing then! Just know that this is a very challenging novel due to its content and the writing style and I loved every page of it. It’s a very raw and refreshing read that I’m still thinking about even now.

Elantris by Brandon Sanderson
In 2020 I rediscovered my love for fantasy novels and my last book of the year became one of my favourites of the year when I read Brandon Sanderson for the first time, after his books have been recommended to me for quite some time. Filled with brilliant characters in an expertly crafted world with such fascinating lore. I’m very excited to read more of his work in 2021.

Did you manage to get much reading in December? Was it a race to meet your reading challenge goal or did you fit in reading time around what festivities you were able to have? Let me know in the comments!

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The Burning God by R.F. Kuang

Publisher: HarperVoyager UK
Publication Date:
26/11/2020
Length: 640 pages
Genre:
Fantasy

CW: sexual assault, violence, drug use

Blackwells.co.uk

After saving her nation of Nikan from foreign invaders and battling the evil Empress Su Daji in a brutal civil war, Fang Runin was betrayed by allies and left for dead. 

Despite her losses, Rin hasn’t given up on those for whom she has sacrificed so much—the people of the southern provinces and especially Tikany, the village that is her home. Returning to her roots, Rin meets difficult challenges—and unexpected opportunities. While her new allies in the Southern Coalition leadership are sly and untrustworthy, Rin quickly realizes that the real power in Nikan lies with the millions of common people who thirst for vengeance and revere her as a goddess of salvation.

Backed by the masses and her Southern Army, Rin will use every weapon to defeat the Dragon Republic, the colonizing Hesperians, and all who threaten the shamanic arts and their practitioners. As her power and influence grows, though, will she be strong enough to resist the Phoenix’s intoxicating voice urging her to burn the world and everything in it? 

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The Dragon Republic by R.F. Kuang

Publisher: HarperVoyager UK
Publication Date:
08/08/2019
Length: 658 pages
Genre:
Fantasy

CW: sexual assault, violence, drug use

Blackwells.co.uk

In the aftermath of the Third Poppy War, shaman and warrior Rin is on the run: haunted by the atrocity she committed to end the war, addicted to opium, and hiding from the murderous commands of her vengeful god, the fiery Phoenix. Her only reason for living is to get revenge on the traitorous Empress who sold out Nikan to their enemies.

With no other options, Rin joins forces with the powerful Dragon Warlord, who has a plan to conquer Nikan, unseat the Empress, and create a new Republic. Rin throws herself into his war. After all, making war is all she knows how to do.

But the Empress is a more powerful foe than she appears, and the Dragon Warlord’s motivations are not as democratic as they seem. The more Rin learns, the more she fears her love for Nikan will drive her away from every ally and lead her to rely more and more on the Phoenix’s deadly power. Because there is nothing she won’t sacrifice for her country and her vengeance.

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Top 5 Friday – Books of 2020

I’ve had such an amazing year in terms of books, I seem to have read so many brilliant ones which hasn’t happened for a while! So, it’s going to be tough to just pick my five favourite reads of the year. In order to make it slightly easier for myself I’ve decided to just focus on those books that were published in 2020. Although, that’s still going to be a challenge!

These aren’t in any particular order as I loved all of them and couldn’t choose between them to even have a singular favourite out of the five! 

Cat and the City by Nick Bradley

This novel combines two of my biggest loves: Japan and cats, however this novel went way beyond what I was expecting. Whilst the novel sounds like it is a collection of short stories of different people in Tokyo, they are actually all related to each other in some way some with just subtle nods and others more detailed. Each story too is told in a different way, not only does Bradley wonderfully craft a brilliant cast of characters, but each segment is written in a different genre, from mystery fiction, to haikus, to manga this book has it all! Although the novel is written this way, it doesn’t feel disjointed in the slightest, in fact it makes it feel even more cohesive as it gives each character a unique voice and really emphasises how many different types of people there are in Tokyo (or any city, for that matter). It also emphasises how talented Bradley is as a writer.


Piranesi by Susanna Clarke

This is easily one of the most unique novels that I have ever read. I was drawn to this novel by the beautiful hardback and the mysterious description. It’s impossible to capture the brilliance of this novel in just a few words, especially as going into this novel completely blind really makes the experience even more magical and more impactful. I loved the protagonist and the way he views, and catalogues, the world that he is in. After finishing the novel I just wanted to re-read it immediately and experience it all over again as I was in denial that it was over. Once I had finished Piranesi I just had to sit quietly for a while afterwards just absorbing what I had just read and, almost mourning the fact that I won’t get to experience the novel for the first time again. This narrative and story is one of the most unique I have ever read, I can’t think of another novel like it and I doubt I’ll find another one like it for years, if ever. 


These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong

This is one of the strongest debut novels I have read in a long time and has me very excited, not just for the rest of this series but for any work Gong releases in the future. As an English Literature graduate, I love Shakespeare so I’m always intrigued by adaptations of his works and this was, without a doubt, one of the most refreshing takes on Romeo and Juliet since Baz Lurnham’s. This take on Romeo and Juliet is set in 1920s Shanghai, home to the blood feud of two rival gangs, with a slight fantastical element too, is just such a unique way to transform a classic work of literature. Don’t be fooled, however, just because you may have read and studied Romeo and Juliet there are still many surprises and twists that you won’t see coming. 


The Burning God by R.F. Kuang

This novel was very bittersweet for me, as I’m sure it was for everyone else. Not only was the novel a great ending to the series but it also means that the series has ended. Going into this book you know that you won’t get a ‘happily ever after’ ending, no matter how much you may want and wish for it. If you haven’t read any of these books, you need to do so in 2021 as they will have a huge impact on you. What I often worry about with the last book in a series is whether everything in the previous instalments were relevant to the ending or completely disregarded. However, that certainly wasn’t the case with The Burning God – Kuang continued to build upon the character development but there were also many callbacks to the first book too. This novel was a wonderful end to a wonderful series and I can’t wait to see what Kuang does next.


Leave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam

I received this book as book mail from Bloomsbury, which was a complete surprise to me, and I adored this book. Alam is a very talented writer, who expertly managed to make even a list of items bought whilst shopping make me feel uneasy. I could have happily read another few hundred pages as the novel quickly sunk it’s claws into me, and still hasn’t completely let go even now. Which is even more impressive when barely any of the characters were even likeable, but that was all part of the books appeal-these characters are flawed, average, people not heroes or anyone special which had a much bigger impact when it comes to the suffocating and unsettling tone of the novel. I feel that this is another book that will continue to reveal different things to you on each read.

It was very difficult to narrow my favourites list of the year down to five books, and I still keep changing my mind on which books I want to feature! Hence why I’m posting this list now before I change my mind again…! I may have to do a part two focusing on books that I read in 2020 but wasn’t necessarily published in 2020… Let me know if you’d be interested in reading that!

What were your favourite books of the year? Did you read a lot of great books this year or did you have a slightly disappointing book year?

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Monthly Wrap Up – November 2020

This month was slow starting for me in terms of reading, I’m not sure why but I was in a bit of a slump! Maybe it was because I was being good and not doing a monthly haul this month so I didn’t feel that I had to race through to get to my new books. It definitely picked up 

I’ve tried to focus more on blog tour books and review requests this month in the spirit of ‘Galleyathon’ – even if they didn’t all come from NetGalley specifically! 

Books read this month

This month I read a total of 13 books (7 physical and 6 ebooks)

  1. The Ruby Locket by Melissa Wray
  2. The Fathers, the Sons and the Anxious Ghost by Jamie Adams (Blog tour)
  3. Nevernight by Jay Kristoff 
  4. The Smallest Man by Frances Quinn (ARC / Blog tour)
  5. There’s No Such Thing As An Easy Job by Kikuko Tsumura
  6. The Inugami Curse by Seishi Yokomizo (ARC) 
  7. The Dragon Republic by R.F. Kuang
  8. The Decagon House Murders by Yukito Ayatsuji (ARC)
  9. Fae Child by Jane-Holly Meissner (Blog tour)
  10. Leave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam
  11. Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout
  12. Nothing Good Happens After Midnight edited by Jeffery Deaver (ARC / Blog tour)
  13. Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata
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Favourite books read this month

Nevernight by Jay Kristoff
This is the first in the Nevernight chronicle series which is definitely one that I will be finishing after such a strong start! I adored this fantasy novel, I loved the world, the characters and the tone of the novel. I wasn’t expecting this novel to have as much humour in it as it does which I really loved. 

There’s No Such Thing As An Easy Job by Kikuko Tsumura
In this novel Tsumura brilliantly captures work burnout and jumping from job to job as a temp. I especially loved how each job wasn’t exactly what it seemed and there was some kind of mystery surrounding them. 

The Dragon Republic by R.F. Kuang
It’s no surprise that this made it onto this list as I loved The Poppy War. All the characters were wonderfully developed and you could clearly see how they were impacted from the first novel. This was a brilliant second instalment to the series and had me incredibly excited for the last novel The Burning God

The Decagon House Murders by Yukito Ayatsuji
I do love a good detective fiction novel and this is one of the best that I have ever read. It simultaneously feels like a classic detective fiction novel but it also feels very contemporary and subversive in some ways, despite the novel originally being published in the 1980s. 

Leave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam
I can’t remember the last time a book left me as unsettled as this one. Alam has such a way with words and tone that you feel suffocated from the very pages, yet you can’t help yourself but keep turning them. Alam also clearly understands people as his characters don’t feel like characters at all, but people you have met in passing instead. 

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Monthly TBR – November 2020

With Christmas looming on the horizon, instead of a full monthly haul this month I’m going to outline what I hope to get through this month instead! As I mentioned in last month’s Thoughtful Thursday post, at this time of year I become a bit of a seasonal reader. This month also sees the next Galleyathon Round (9 November 2020 – 15 November 2020) and I have a few sitting on my shelf that I need to get through! 

The Dragon Republic by R.F. Kuang

In the aftermath of the Third Poppy War, shaman and warrior Rin is on the run: haunted by the atrocity she committed to end the war, addicted to opium, and hiding from the murderous commands of her vengeful god, the fiery Phoenix. Her only reason for living is to get revenge on the traitorous Empress who sold out Nikan to their enemies.

With no other options, Rin joins forces with the powerful Dragon Warlord, who has a plan to conquer Nikan, unseat the Empress, and create a new Republic. Rin throws herself into his war. After all, making war is all she knows how to do.


There’s No Such Thing as an Easy Job by Kikuko Tsumura 

A young woman walks into an employment agency and requests a job that has the following traits: it is close to her home, and it requires no reading, no writing – and ideally, very little thinking.

She is sent to a nondescript office building where she is tasked with watching the hidden-camera feed of an author suspected of storing contraband goods. But observing someone for hours on end can be so inconvenient and tiresome. How will she stay awake? When can she take delivery of her favourite brand of tea? And, perhaps more importantly – how did she find herself in this situation in the first place?

As she moves from job to job, writing bus adverts for shops that mysteriously disappear, and composing advice for rice cracker wrappers that generate thousands of devoted followers, it becomes increasingly apparent that she’s not searching for the easiest job at all, but something altogether more meaningful… 


The Smallest Man by Frances Quinn

When should my story begin? Not when I was born, a butcher’s son, in a tiny cottage just like all the other tiny cottages in Oakham. Who’d have thought then that I’d ever have much of a story to tell? Perhaps it starts when people began to nudge each other and stare as I walked with my mother to market, or the first time someone whispered that we were cursed. But I didn’t know then. No, I think my story begins on the day of the Oakham Fair, in the year of 1625. 

When I was ten years old and I found out what I was. Nat Davy is a dwarf. He is 10 years old, and all he wants is to be normal. After narrowly escaping being sold to the circus by his father, Nat is presented to Queen Henrietta Maria – in a pie. She’s 15, trapped in a loveless marriage to King Charles I, and desperately homesick. Nat becomes a friend to the woman who’ll become the power behind the throne and trigger the Civil War, but in the eyes of the world he’s still a pet, a doll to be dressed up and shown off. Nat longs to ride and hunt like the other boys at court. The real boys. But he will never be accepted. 

Loosely based on a true story, this epic tale spans 20 years; during which the war begins, Nat and the queen go on the run, Nat saves the queen’s life, falls in love with the most beautiful girl at court, kills a man, is left in exile. Told from his unique perspective as the smallest man in England, with the clever and engaging voice of a boy turned man yearning for acceptance, this story takes us on an unforgettable journey. He’s England’s smallest man, but his story is anything but small.


The Fathers, The Sons and the Anxious Ghost by Jamie Adams

Three guys in their thirties have something in common. Their children all go to the same school. One day a tragic event leads to them having to deal with a lurking aftermath which draws them into each other’s lives and causes them to rethink their attitudes to just about everything.

The children tell the second part of this story, ten years after the initial events. The dust seems to have settled until one of them uncovers information that throws everything back into chaos.

The third part… well that will have to wait.


The Inugami Curse by Seishi Yokomizo

A fiendish classic murder mystery, from one of Japan’s greatest crime writers

In 1940s Japan, the wealthy head of the Inugami Clan dies, and his family eagerly await the reading of the will. But no sooner are its strange details revealed than a series of bizarre, gruesome murders begins. Detective Kindaichi must unravel the clan’s terrible secrets of forbidden liaisons, monstrous cruelty, and hidden identities to find the murderer, and lift the curse wreaking its bloody revenge on the Inugamis.


The Glass Woman by Caroline Lea

1686, ICELAND. AN ISOLATED, WINDSWEPT LAND HAUNTED BY WITCH TRIALS AND STEEPED IN THE ANCIENT SAGAS.

Betrothed unexpectedly to Jón Eiríksson, Rósa is sent to join her new husband in the remote village of Stykkishólmur. Here, the villagers are wary of outsiders.

But Rósa harbours her own suspicions. Her husband buried his first wife alone in the dead of night. He will not talk of it. Instead he gives her a small glass figurine. She does not know what it signifies.

The villagers mistrust them both. Dark threats are whispered. There is an evil here – Rósa can feel it. Is it her husband, the villagers – or the land itself?

Alone and far from home, Rósa sees the darkness coming. She fears she will be its next victim…


A Burning by Megha Majumdar 

For readers of Tommy Orange, Yaa Gyasi, and Jhumpa Lahiri, an electrifying debut novel about three unforgettable characters who seek to rise—to the middle class, to political power, to fame in the movies—and find their lives entangled in the wake of a catastrophe in contemporary India.

Jivan is a Muslim girl from the slums, determined to move up in life, who is accused of executing a terrorist attack on a train because of a careless comment on Facebook. PT Sir is an opportunistic gym teacher who hitches his aspirations to a right-wing political party, and finds that his own ascent becomes linked to Jivan’s fall. Lovely–an irresistible outcast whose exuberant voice and dreams of glory fill the novel with warmth and hope and humor–has the alibi that can set Jivan free, but it will cost her everything she holds dear.


This is just a glimpse of my general TBR which is growing by the day! I’m hoping that I will get through more books than the one listed, however I’m currently having a slow start to the month and haven’t managed to finish one book yet! 

What are you guys planning to read this month? Do you have an idea of what you’re going to read or do you just pick a book off your shelf at random after finishing one? Let me know in the comments!

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