It feels like December was at least four months long. It just never ended! That wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, either, just that it kept going forever and ever. I got a lot of good reading done, absolutely no writing, and watched a ton of TV, so I’d say, overall, it was a really good month!
Mini Book Reviews
🌈 LGBTQPIA+ characters
🔥 BIPOC authors
🌑 BIPOC characters
A History of Wild Places | Shea Ernshaw
I figured out the twist in this one pretty early on, but Ernshaw still had me second guessing right up until the end. She’d kind of lean into the twist in a way that had me nodding along, like yeah, I’ve totally figured this out, and then she’d swerve away with just enough momentum that I was like, uhhhhh maybe not?? I can’t say that I remember the last mystery/thriller that I’ve read, and while this didn’t convert me into reading them often, Ernshaw is such a fantastic writer that I was hooked in this right away and wanted so badly to know what was going to happen. There’s a reason she’s an auto-buy author, and this was another fantastic addition.
Girls of Fate and Fury | Natasha Ngan 🌈🔥🌑
I just don’t even know what to say about this book. It was perfect. The entire trilogy was perfect. From start to finish, I have never once been even the slightest bit disappointed by the way this story and these characters have moved, and it’s just outstanding. Ngan is a master storyteller, and she has such control over the exact shape of her characters and how she wants to write them into a larger world and a wild plot, and it’s just amazing to witness. Everything in this book was so well done, and though there were so many moments of holy shit what, each of them felt deserved, and the plot made so much sense. This was just expertly written, and it’s definitely one of my favorite series of all time.
Little Thieves | Margaret Owen 🌈
Well, hell. I mean, I knew I was going to like this. It’s Margaret Owen. I’d be absolutely heartbroken if I didn’t wholeheartedly love it, but that much? I keep underestimating my faves because Owen took my love for The Merciful Crow and honest to Satan cackled. She just straight up crushed it with this book, and I am so in love with this entire damn cast. Obviously, Emeric & Vanja were my favorites, but I would go to war for Gisele and Ragne and Joniza, and heckity heck maybe even Barthl. But the plot in this! My dudes. WOWZA. I was knocked flat on my ass by the layers upon layers of world-building inside this plot, and I am so heckin’ excited that this is a duology. I want so much more.
Thanks A Lot, Universe | Chad Lucas 🌈🔥🌑
This was way more intense than I was expecting. Like, damn. I really just thought I was reading a soft, sad middle grade about two boys discovering they were gay, and that was actively the opposite. This was action-packed, full of insane situations that I can’t even imagine, and way less grappling with newly budding emotions and way more stealing from adults and running away into the woods because your dad is a criminal and you’ve been raised to trust no one. And I know that there are definitely kids in the world that are experiencing all of this, so I’m not saying any of it was unbelievable, just that I was not expecting it. That said, it was really well done, and it certainly held my attention. There were some parts that I didn’t quite believe, like how figures of authority let the kids dictate what they were going to do with their lives, but still a great read.
Here the Whole Time | Vitor Martins 🌈🔥🌑
It seemed fitting, as I was going into quarantine myself, to read about two boys stuck in the same room for fifteen days. And while Felipe & Caio aren’t in quarantine, they are in close quarters and spending all of their time together for two weeks, and it makes for a really fun story. There’s all the tropes that we know and love–have to share the same bed one night, wake up snuggling one morning, conversations in the dark, and lesbian best friends that are all get your shit together you gay dumbasses, and it’s beautiful. This was a lot of fun, super fast to read, and I ordered one of Martins’ other books so I can practice my Portuguese, which I’m hyped about!
Chain of Gold | Cassandra Clare 🌈🌑
Not gonna lie, that Will & Tessa bonus scene at the end nearly made this a five star read, but the fact that it was just Will/Tessa/Jem rehashed with James/Cordelia/Matthew and a side of Jace being controlled by Sebastian translated into James & Grace had me eyerolling a tiny bit. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I totally get it. If I loved a plot & characters that much, I would also just do them over and over again. I kind of do sometimes! And I think that’s part of the reason why I love Shadowhunters so damn much because Clare just leans into how much she loves this universe unabashedly. No matter what, I loved getting to know a new generation of Herondales & Carstairs, and the queer representation in this was next level. Lowkey really appreciate the almost full ignoring of the homophobia of that time because why not just have a story of accepted love rather than digging into a horrific past? There’s already vampires, might as well let the gays exist! This was a lot of fun, and though I’m so sad that I’m finally reaching the end of this three year challenge to read everything outside of TMI in the Shadowhunters universe, I’m also really excited to be finally diving into The Last Hours! Hopefully, you’ll see a review for Chain of Iron soon, too.
Pepper’s Rules for Secret Sleuthing | Briana McDonald 🌈
This was adorable! Right from the beginning, I knew I was going to like this, but I totally did not expect a plot twist at the end, and it was so fun. This read like a very lowkey children’s version of Knives Out, which was a freaking fantastic vibe, and I really hope McDonald will write more with Pepper Blouse as a detective. I loved the inclusivity of this book, too, and the theme of friendship at its core. This was everything and more that I want out of every book, and I can’t wait to read more by McDonald.
Chain of Iron | Cassandra Clare 🌈🌑
Not gonna lie, I’m a little mad at myself for reading this now given that the sequel isn’t even up for preorder yet, but alas, I set out to reread TMI in 2018 before catching up on all currently released Shadowhunters books, and here I am, three years later, finally with not a single one left, and I am so sad. I may just have to reread them all again. Truly, The Last Hours has been a fantastic addition to the universe, and though a lot of it does just feel like Will/Tessa/Jem all over again with a little James/Jace being trapped against their will via jewelry and Cordelia/Emma just being the same exact person, I did love this middle book immensely. It was an eternity too long, and I loved every single page of it. The Merry Thieves had me hollering with delight, how much I adored Lucie totally snuck up on me, and it was so interesting to actually see the beginning of Malcolm’s ultimate ruination. Truly, these books are never going to disappoint me, and reading this has just reinvigorated my love for them all over again. I can’t wait until Chain of Thorns and finally seeing James & Cordelia together in all the wonder and joy that they deserve.
All of Us Villains | Amanda Foody & Christine Lynn Herman 🌈
No one is more bummed than me that this was a disappointment for me. You know, at the very start, I told one of my friends that the writing was done in a way that I couldn’t tell what was Foody & what was Herman, but I take that back, the whole book reads like Herman, and that’s probably why it was subpar for me because I’m a five star stan with Foody usually. Anyway, everything from the title to the cover to the summary promises villainous, horrible characters, and instead we got angsty, moping, doesn’t want to kill anyone characters, and I feel cheated. Like, fine, if that’s the story you want to write, then go for it, and I probably would have liked it, but we spend half the book with the characters telling us how villainous they are while doing the exact opposite. I came for a magical death tournament, and instead I got weird one dimensional emotions and people trying to be heroes.
Year of the Witch: Connecting with Nature’s Seasons through Intuitive Magick | Temperance Alden
(12/27) DNF @ 50 pages ★
The first fifty pages of this were rife with anti-science and anti-feminist rhetoric, as well as gross instances of transphobia and cultural appropriation that other reviews promised would only grow in scale as the book went on. The “humans can’t effect the world enough to influence climate change” really got me doing a head tilt, but then the “men can’t bleed because they’re not biological women” matched with pulling pieces out of several different religions and “birth control is evil” just made me doing a big ole nope on this one. Not going to put myself through another 150 pages of that bullshit, and definitely going to unhaul and unfollow Alden on Instagram.
Books read: 10
Pages read: 3,727
Great TBR Challenge: 11/72
I’ve still got some preorders leftover from last year, and I’d like to keep working through them, so this TBR is going to look a little redundant. But I also want to do some Tolkien reading in January for his birthday, plus I’ve been slowly starting to like contemporaries again, so hopefully there’ll be a nice balance struck!
- A Sky Beyond the Storm by Sabaa Tahir
- A Psalm of Storms & Silence by Roseanne A. Brown
- Fire with Fire by Destiny Soria
- Tolkien and the Great War: The Threshold of Middle-earth by John Garth
- The Monsters & the Critics by JRR Tolkien
- The Marvelous by Claire Kann
- The Falling in Love Montage by Ciara Smyth
- The Monsters of Rookhaven by Pádraig Kenny
Yes, I have over five on this list. Yes, it’s already giving me nerves. No, I’m not going to change it.
It’s my favorite time of the year! People start posting anticipated releases posts, and I am just awash in all the books I didn’t know about. Fadwa @ Word Wonders dropped 22 titles, only one of which I actually knew about, so ya girl is screaming.
Krysta @ Pages Unbound wrote about not wanting to read about books set during the pandemic, and it’s like she took the words right out of my heart.
Nothing? I can’t remember, I know I didn’t do a lot, but I was bad at keeping track of actually everything this month. According to last month, I had just finished Aurelian’s section, and while I remember that being a huge success of last month, I can’t remember if I also started Dimos’ section last month. Oh damn, I did. Okay, well, that settles it. I wrote nothing this month, and I’m okay with that! It’s been a very busy month at work, and I’ve been focusing on my reading lately. Chelsea did give me edits for the first three lovers, though, which has made me so excited to get back to work on them, so hopefully January will see a bit more writing!
What I’ve Been Watching
I’ve been wanting to watch Ashes in the Snow for years now, and I’m so glad that I finally got to see it. This was such a faithful adaptation to Ruta Sepetys’ Between Shades of Grey, and I really hope that they someday adapt Salt to the Sea so we can see the other characters in this time period. This was so much softer than I was expecting, and I really appreciated that gentle lens because this story is heartbreaking, and if they’d leaned into the gore and the horror of it too much, it would have lost the truly beautiful and honest aspect of it.v
Y’all, Single All the Way was too much for me, of all people, and that’s really saying something. It was fine, there was nothing inherently wrong with it, but it was worse than the Hallmark movies that my mom serial watches. I don’t know how I wasn’t on my phone the whole time because I truly just did not care about any of the characters. Not a single one. I tried to be excited at the end when the two best friends finally got together, but even then, I kept checking how much longer I had and wishing that I was watching The Thing About Harry instead.
I finally started Schitt’s Creek, which two of my friends have been trying to get me to watch for years now. They both were all “just make it past the first season, you just have to grin and bear it,” but in true Mary fashion, I thought it was hilarious from the first episode. Obviously, Dan Levy is a gift to the world, and he’s my favorite character. I am highly annoyed by Alexis, and I hope her character improves over the seasons. Even if it doesn’t, if she could just drop throwing her hair around, that’d be great.
We watched Vita & Virginia because I was vibing lesbians, and I’m always down for an author movie, and it was weird. It wasn’t bad, and I’m not mad that I spent two hours watching it, but I also kind of wish I hadn’t? I hated Vita pretty much the entire movie, and I think I wouldn’t have hated her if we’d just actually been able to see any response from Virginia whatsoever. We barely get to see Virginia by herself or in relation to Vita, which means that all we see is Vita never taking no for an answer and being very rapey about the whole thing. If Vita was a man, we would have stopped watching about twenty minutes into the movie, and if they’d actually shown Virginia’s feelings about Vita, or just Virginia in general, I probably would have loved this.
Yes, I started season two of Schitt’s Creek, I spent a week in quarantine, so I ended up watching the entire first season in about two days. I didn’t realize I’d finished it until I started season two while I was meal prepping and happened to see one of the episode numbers. I’m definitely starting to like more of the characters outside of David, though Alexis still drives me crazy. This is such an easy show to binge, though, I’m sure I’ll watch at least another season before the year is over.
I wanted to rewatch the first season of The Witcher before the second one, and though I definitely could have started it way sooner, I decided to watch it the day after the second season premiered because I’m the worst. I’ve been trying to get my dad to watch it forever, though, so I was super excited to finally convince him to sit down and watch it with me. Alas, he only lasted about four episodes before he started groaning about it, so I ended up rewatching the second half by myself because I really want to see the second season.
My goodness, Minari broke my damn heart. Erin and I have been trying to watch this for a while now, but we keep forgetting about it, and we were finally in the mood for it this month, and damn. It was so good. It was so not what either of us was expecting at all, and it was amazing. I cried so many different times, which was totally unexpected, and I will 100% watch this again. I wish I could show it to my parents because I think they’d love it, but they don’t like subtitles, so I’ll just have to gush about it on here.
Did I subscribe to Sundance in November purely so I could have a membership for three months so I could watch A Discovery of Witches slowly? Yes, of course. I finished rewatching the first season a few weeks ago, and I finally started watching the second season this month. I will undoubtedly cancel my Sundance subscription after the third season comes out, but it was super cheap to get to watch the whole show! As of posting this, I’ve only actually watched the first episode, so I can’t really put my thoughts out there yet, but Diana’s already told off Matthew a few times, so I’m happy.
My dad and I watched The Matrix: Resurrections the day it released on HBO Max, and my goodness, what a beautiful Sense8 reunion. There was something like ten of the actors, and I was so over the moon about seeing them in this. Plus, David Mitchell co-wrote it! The combination of Wachoswki + Mitchell + Sense8 was almost more than I could handle, and it was a truly fantastic movie. I loved every single moment of it, despite not remembering anything at all about the trilogy, and the continued commentary on queerness and mental health was just phenomenal.
I had a lot of cooking and baking to do over Christmas weekend, so I ended up watching season three of Schitt’s Creek in its entirety while in the kitchen. This show continues to get better and better with each season, as promised, and I’ll be sad when it’s over. I feel like I’m going to zip through this so fast, and then I’ll be at a loss for what to watch during meal prepping again. I’ve also finally arrived at David & Patrick, which has me living, I am so happy.
I just remembered why December felt like four months in one. My mom & sister got COVID, which meant that I was banned from the office for the duration of their quarantine since we all live together. I also ended up quarantining away from the rest of my family because I wouldn’t be able to isolate from my cats, and I just didn’t want to get COVID, as well, so it was a long ten days, and I was in a lot of physical pain after with my back. I’m so grateful to be back in the office at my expensive desk chair, and I hope that I don’t have to leave it again for a long, long while.
We had a couple rare days of beautiful weather, though, where I was able to practice yoga outside, and it was really nice. I’m excited for the snow, and I wish it would just stay cold, but I appreciated the 50 degree days during quarantine so I could get out of my tiny ass room. It ended up being a yoga-heavy month since I’m starting to work a weekly practice outside of teaching back into my schedule now that things have calmed down a bit after the hell that was autumn. I got a membership to Commune Yoga, which is based in Washington, so I’ll never be able to go in-person, but I follow Patrick, Carling, and CJ on Instagram and love their style of teaching, so figured I’d just start doing virtual yoga since I don’t have any studios around me that I currently like, and I really can’t fathom spending several months trying to find a new one. I’m already very happy with Commune’s classes, though, and I’m hoping I’ll be able to do at least one a week in addition to practicing on my own.
Not much else happened. I baked Estonian Kringle bread, which I wanted to last year and just never got around to doing, Grace gave Lily way more love than she normally does, and I’m excited for NYE! My best friend & I always make gourmet grilled cheese & watch Disney movies, so that’s where I’ll be Friday night, and then I’m off to do my annual 108 sun salutations in the morning.
There’s a ton of awesome posts coming up, so keep your eyes peeled! All my top tens went live this month: rereads, contemporary, sequels, and overall. My goals wrap-up for 2021 went up yesterday, and my goals for 2022 are going live tomorrow. (Yes, on a Saturday, how wild.) Tolkien month is on its way (official announcement post coming on Monday!), and there’s a ton of topics coming at you that I’ve been wanting to write for a while now. I can’t say I’m sad to leave 2021 behind, so here’s to a wonderful 2022 ahead!