Pages of December || Reading Wrap-up

In December, my goal was to read every single day even if it was just 5 pages a day. I’ve been trying to recover from a slump and forming the habit again as this felt like a good idea. And it worked!

While I may not have read several books this month—nowhere near how much I read in early 2023—I did read a handful so I count it as a success. Here are all the books that I read in December!

royal rescue by a. alex logan

royal rescue book cover

Royal Rescue is a queer young adult fantasy novel about a royal on a quest to break the existing system. Gerald had no interest in marrying anybody of any gender. When he is forced to take part in the marriage quest tradition as a rescuee, he recruits another royal and goes on a quest with his dragon to set up a new system where he can be free to not choose.

My friend gifted this book to me a while back for Ace week and because it sounded so good, I picked it up soon. The plot and characters were really nice. There was a lot of adventure and a cool dragon that made everything more interesting. I could relate to Gerald a lot which made the book even better for me.

My only complaint would be the writing and pacing. In the middle of the book, things suddenly became so flat and uninteresting, I had to push myself to finish the book.

The book tackles only that one identity—Asexuality—by having a world whether other sexualities are easily accepted but no one accepts Aces the way they are. It reminded me of how even in queer circles, the asexual identity is not accepted.

I would highly recommend this book to everybody. If you’re on the Ace spectrum, you’ll relate to this and find it fun. If you’re not, you will get to learn about the identity through a great plot.

the forest of enchantments by chitra banerjee divakaruni

the forest of enchantments book cover

I really liked The Palace of Illusions and had high expectations for this book. Sita’s role in the Ramayan is not much. Most of the highlight is on the men and she’s seen to be just as a woman waiting to be rescued. I was looking forward to seeing how this book highlights Sita and her journey.

The book sorely disappointed me. Here’s why:

  1. The moral of endurance. While I agree with the meaning of endure and how it is also hard, I don’t agree that just because women have been enduring for centuries, we should continue to do so. I hate that it’s a moral for us to endure. 
  2. The entire concept of seeing the different types of love. Sita kept talking about the various forms of love and what it makes people do but it never actually added anything to her character. It was a writing style, I would say. It was annoying.
  3. The pacing in this book was so bad. Time flew away and there would be no indication of it until a random sentence in the middle of the chapter. I’d have to suddenly reorganize the story in my brain. There were multiple chapters that spanned over the same timeline but they spoke of different things. It was like “during this time, this happened for this thing” and the next chapter would say “during the SAME TIME, this happened for another thing.” I did not like the narration style.

The main point of the book was to highlight Sita, show things from her perspective and make her a whole person instead of a sideline character in Ramayan. But this book did not add anything to my image of Sita, other than “endurance”. The whole point of the book failed.

Sure, the book gave Sita a better ending. But it’s not enough.

a house of rage and sorrow by sangu mandanna

a house of rage and sorrow book cover

A Spark of White Fire was NOT impressive for me. I was pretty sure that I wouldn’t continue with the series. But recently, I was just thinking about it and became curious about how the story progresses. Even though the series is inspired by the Mahabharata, quite a few integral things were changed for this trilogy. And I had already bought book 2 assuming I’d love book 1, so I picked it up.

As expected, I wasn’t impressed with this book either. Not only did it make me dislike the main character even further, but it also kinda ruined the only character I was looking forward to. A bunch of other random things happened with the plot which I didn’t care about.

The only plus point of this book was that it was really easy to read like book 1. I finished the book quickly. Did it satisfy me? No. Will I read book 3? Yeah, because I still want to know how the story ends. I also have an ARC of book 3 which I got long back. Let’s see.

junk mail by kendall ryan

junk mail book cover

I don’t remember how I came across this book but the premise sounded so good. Even though it has a romance that goes into professional boundaries which I hate, I was intrigued.

This book was alright for the most part but the professional boundaries were pretty much non-existent. It pushed my tolerance for office romances. There were multiple times where I was saying “no! don’t do that! this is going to end badly.”

The spark between the characters wasn’t even obvious. I couldn’t see them together beyond both of them being passionate people and having the hots for each other.

The wrong text which led to an evening of conversation according to the premise? It was nothing. It shouldn’t have made a difference to either of them. But it did and I simply couldn’t understand why.

Overall, it wasn’t a good read. I’m determined to completely avoid office romances now.

the stationery shop of tehran by marjan kamali

the stationery shop of tehran book cover

I’ve had a copy of this book on my shelf for a few months now, just waiting for the time when I want to cry. The time finally came so I picked it up. This book’s reputation is that it will make you cry. When I posted an IG story saying that I’m reading this, two people replied and told me to keep tissues ready.

The Stationery Shop of Tehran is about Roya’s love story set in 1953 Tehran and also her current day life in the US decades later. It takes us through the tumulous political time in Iran, how it came into every aspect of their lives, and how Roya fell in beautiful love amongst that.

In the end, this book is a sad story. I expected to cry but I didn’t, which was a bummer. The story was nice though. I didn’t love it but it was nice. I didn’t really connect with the characters. I don’t have more opinions on the book which tells how much of an impression it made on me.

what if you & me by roni lauren

what if you and me book cover

I started this as an audiobook on in November. Listening to audiobooks isn’t in my routine right now so it took me a long time to finish this book.

What If You & Me is a romance between Andi, a horror novelist and true crime podcaster with a traumatic history, and Hill, a firefighter who had to retire due to a major injury leading to a disability.

The characters were the highlight of this book. The main characters were full of personality, dreams, and fears. The supporting characters were great too. Reading about them, I almost felt like I was with them. The dialogue was so natural.

As for the main part of the book, the romance was great. I loved the relationship development. The third act breakup wasn’t too bad as well.

All in all, a great romance book which I enjoyed despite the time it took me to read it.

sustained by emma chase

sustained book cover

I picked this up because Riza spoke highly about it and I liked the idea of a book with a lot of kids and family. I was also looking for a nice romance to read fast and have a chill day with.

Sustained is about a defence attorney who gets pickpocketed by a teen and ends up getting involved with his whole family because he falls for the teen’s guardian.

I really liked how Jake slowly grew to bond with every single kid and eventually became like their father independent of his feelings for Chelsea. I loved every single interaction he had with the kids and how he became a part of their family. He said that he is not interested in getting involved with a bunch of kids but they wormed into his heart and I loved that.

I didn’t like Chelsea and the actual romance much, though. It was okay. The problem is Chelsea, honestly. I just did not like her as a romantic partner. There was this one thing that she did towards the beginning of the book which annoyed me and since then she’s been on my bad side. She didn’t even apologize for it! She was more of a damsel-in-distress with good intentions and love for her family than a good romantic partner.

Overall, it was a good book. I’d reread it for Jake and the kids.

an atlas of impossible longing by anuradha roy

an atlas of impossible longing

This book caught my eye in the bookstore during my last trip because of the title. I was so curious because of it. The premise sounded pretty good too. I finally picked it up in December when I wanted to read literary fiction.

While this book starts off interesting, the plot starts losing direction after a while. I became confused about who the main characters are. After 80%, I read the premise again to understand what the book was about and found that the premise wasn’t accurate. It mentions a bunch of things that don’t happen simultaneously.

The characters weren’t interesting on their own either. The first character that we saw a lot was pretty good but all the ones later were uninteresting. I couldn’t care less about them. The final “main characters” were really bad. I did not like them.

In the end, the book has no point. I spent quite a bit of time on this book because it is not easy or interesting to read. Realizing that the book had no point made me annoyed. I regret the time and energy I spent on it.

atomic habits by james clear

atomic habits book cover

After reading and loving Maybe You Should Talk to Someone last month, I wanted that feeling again. Reading good non-fiction can feel amazing because it reads well and we learn things. Atomic Habits is one book that I’ve been wanting to read for a long time so I finally picked it up.

I read this book little by little over several days. I picked it up in the mornings right after I wake up when my mind is still a little fuzzy but otherwise startlingly clear. What I read stays with me throughout my day so reading a book like this—which gives value and direction in every chapter—was perfect.

The book is about creating good habits and abandoning bad ones. It is more directional than theoretical compared to The Power of Habit. The author builds on the 4 stages of Habit Loop explained in The Power of Habit and says how we can control every stage to turn things our way. There are several strategies in the book for us to pick and choose from.

I did know a lot of the things mentioned but it always helps to see it written so plainly. Reading and annotating the book gave me something to think about every day, as I went through the regular motions.

I haven’t tried anything out yet but I will do it slowly over time, once I know my 2023 routine because office starts back then. And I’m actually looking forward to making changes in my habits.

My only complaint is that the writing style was repetitive. In a chapter when trying to make a point, the author says it multiple times, each phrased differently. But it’s the same thing. The book could have been made concise and better if those fillers were removed.

malibu rising by taylor jenkins reid

malibu rising book cover

I loved The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo so I had high expectations going into Malibu Rising. I did not read the blurb and went in directly. The book surpassed my expectations.

The book is about 4 siblings and one of their annual parties but also about their entire lives. The narration alternates between the current day and history in order to give context and build up the characters. I was more interested in history at first but towards the end, I was hooked on everything.

The writing style is very immersive. Coupled with the great audiobook narration, it pulled me in and didn’t let me go. I couldn’t stop listening to the audiobook unless I had to. It has been a while since an audiobook made me feel this way.

The characters were flawed and interesting and lovable. Over the book, I came to like almost every single character because we’re given so much background on them. Even the shitty people were a little endearing. The book is about these flawed characters and their interconnected lives which leads to one night of utter chaos.

By the end, I was so invested in the book that I even teared up at one point and had silent tears running down until the end. I was not just listening to the audiobook and staring at nothing, I was there with them.

Malibu Rising is a brilliantly written book and I recommend it to everybody.