December is here and ended, and it has been a busy month (to the point that I’ve spent the end of the month recovering from an illness more or less made significantly worse by being sick.) The upshot of all of that is that it’s one of my better reading months, thanks to a few days of enforced bed rest!
Best New Release
A FIRE ENDLESS, by Rebecca Ross, was my most anticipated release of December and I dropped what I was currently reading when this arrived in order to read it immediately. It did not disappoint. (Mini-spoiler for an upcoming post, but this duology was my favourite read of the entire year!)
This is the second book in the Elements of Cadence duology (the first book, A RIVER ENCHANTED) released earlier this year, and I have loved every minute of this duology. It is a stately adult fantasy about magic and family and love and doing what’s right, all while battling others and the isle itself. I highly, highly recommend it to everyone.
Best Backlist Read
DAUGHTER OF THE PIRATE KING, by Tricia Levenseller, and its sequel, DAUGHTER OF THE SIREN QUEEN, were titles I was vaguely aware of from the book community. However, there was no UK release and the original US titles were really cringey to a UK reader. But then the books got a UK release with covers more suited to our expectations, plus a friend had raved about them, so I gave them a go.
I loved this duology! I love high seas books and this is one that does not glamourise life. The pirates are actually violent and dangerous. There is a lot of work that has to be done to keep the ship running. There is action and Alosa’s smart mouth worked for me (sometimes it really doesn’t!)
Most Surprising Read
PHEOBE, by Paula Gooder, was my book club’s pick for December (we formed at a church and decided it was about time we read something Christian!), and I was very, very sceptical going in as most of the Christian fiction I’ve read has been pretty dire. However, this reads much more like a historical novel that just so happens to be about events that explore the ideas of Paul’s letters than a book ramming theology down your throat.
As the title suggests, this book is about a woman named Phoebe. We think she was the person who delivered the letter of Romans to the Roman Church, and the book imagines the aftermath as the church debates the letter and tries to get on with life despite many upheavals.
Best UK-Authored Read
ONCE UPON A HILLSIDE, by Angela McAllister and illustrated by Chiara Fedele, is an absolutely gorgeous story book, bursting with colour thanks to the watercolour illustrations throughout.
The book is a collection of seven stories across time set on the same hillside, from the Stone Age to the modern day. The different characters drop objects and find those left by previous visitors, tying them together across millennia. It’s just such a lovely thing to read, perfect to read with a small child.
THE WITCH AND THE TSAR, by Olesya Salnikova Gilmore, was a book I was really looking forward to. Olesya and I are part of the same historical fiction group, and it’s also a historical fantasy set in Medieval Russia around the reign of Ivan the Terrible with an enchanted winter – perfect for this season!
This book blends history and folklore, weaving a tale of immortal gods striving for power underneath the upheavals and violence of Ivan’s reign. Yaga (she of the Baba Yaga legend) tries to navigate a shifting world of alliance and divine danger to protect her home and loved ones.
Most Anticipated January Release
This prompt took the longest to work out as I’ve been lucky enough to read a lot of my anticipated January releases already, and I have a rule that I can’t mention a book I’ve already read here.
However, one book I haven’t managed to get my grubby paws on early is BARROW OF WINTER, by H. M. Long. This is the third book in the HALL OF SMOKE series, a spin off/companion novel (compared to the direct sequel of the second book, TEMPLE OF NO GOD) and promises to be an icy, Norse-inspired story.
How was your December?