December reading wrap-up

Happy new year. Here’s to this year being better than the last.

If you’re curious about what I’d read in 2020, Goodreads compiles the data in its Year in Books page. Nothing terribly impressive there; I’m not a very fast reader. Some of them are audiobooks, which totally count, and there’s only one comic. Strange. I kept thinking I should check out more of those from the library and never got to it.

My favourite book of the year is A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine. (I’m excluding the Dorothy Dunnett rereads.) Space opera with a political bent as well as a smattering of alien literature—what’s not to love?

Books finished in December:

  • A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
  • Hogfather by Terry Pratchett
  • Abaddon’s Gate by James SA Corey

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

This is a book that I’ve meant to read for ages. I finally picked up the e-book from the library after my best friend bought the paperback version of the same title. We used to borrow each other’s books, but this hasn’t happened in forever. We can blame the pandemic, like all things 2020.

Conor’s mother is ill, and the treatments she’s getting are not quite working. The kids and the teachers at school treat him differently. He’s not speaking to his best friend any more. He keeps having the same dream every night and wakes up terrified.

One day, a monster calls, just after midnight. As they do. The monster tells Conor stories and makes him confront his feelings. 

This is an intensely compelling young adult fiction book, but I’d recommend it to anyone. Everyone. There’s always more to loss than just grief, and this captures it so perfectly without making you feel that it was written just to tug at your heartstrings and make you cry. It’s about love, and hope, and loss. It’s about how humans are a mess of contradictory things. 

You’re more than just your thoughts—it’s how you choose to act that matters most.

Hogfather by Terry Pratchett

I don’t really read ‘seasonally’. What I mean by that is I don’t read Christmas books because it’s winter, or autumn books because the leaves are turning red and gold. We’re practically on the equator and the only seasons here are monsoon and not-monsoon. I picked this up because someone on my feed on Goodreads was reading it and I remembered that I actually have a copy, so I thought I might as well give it a go.

This is one of the Discworld books. The thing about Discworld is sometimes it can be just a bit too much. Perhaps my enjoyment of the universe depends on the characters: I’d rather be reading about the antics of Sam Vines and the Watch than the groups of people here. (I found the staff at the Unseen University particularly aggravating.) This was definitely one of those books that fell under ‘too much’. I’m sure part of it is because I didn’t get the jokes and references to the real world that Pratchett always makes. I also don’t celebrate Christmas, so it’s a cultural thing, too, I guess.

Have you noticed that the Discworld books have no chapters? There are scene breaks and POV changes, but there are no chapters. Makes it hard to decide on a stopping point at times. 

There are a few more of the Discworld books sitting around that I haven’t read. I’ll get to them someday.

Abaddon’s Gate by James SA Corey

It’s funny—when I read the previous book in the series I said that I liked all the new POV characters. This time I don’t think I really liked any of them much. If I had to rank the three books I’ve already read, this comes up last. I liked it well enough; it’s just that I liked the previous two books better.

This is the third book of The Expanse series, and there’s no way to talk about this without spoilers, so this is your spoiler warning.

So now we have the opportunity to travel to distant galaxies (via wormhole, I presume), since the protomolecule made that gate. Things are strange on the other side of the gate, and the laws of physics don’t quite work the way they should. We have some idea now who these aliens are (though not that much) and that there’s even a worse threat out there. It’s pretty much progressing the way I’d expect a science fiction series to progress, to be honest. I wasn’t really surprised by any of the broad strokes of the plot, but the details still remain fascinating.

Thanks to the way the chapters are structured, I felt like we barely saw the crew of the Rocinante aside from Holden. Especially Alex—he was around for only a few pages, more or less. It’s cool that Miller’s back, even though it’s not really Miller. And I think I’m liking Holden a bit better now, since he’s a little less self-righteous these days. It’s a bit amusing watching him charm people without him realising what he’s doing.  

I’m definitely continuing with the next book. I might as well give in and order the rest of the series. 

Currently reading

  • Pawn in Frankincense by Dorothy Dunnett (audiobook, read by David Monteath)
    It’s been raining quite a bit, so I haven’t been gardening much. That’s when I usually listen to my audiobooks. I wonder if my neighbour ever spies on me and wonder what it is I’m listening to, since I keep muttering, ‘Oh my god, Jerott, why.’
  • The Elegant Universe by Brian Greene
  • Greenglass House by Kate Milford

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