Last year I rounded up the books I read in blocks of five. However, to make life a lot easier for myself I’m going to start rounding up the books I’ve read by months.
Starting as we mean to go on, here are the books that I read in the month of December. I’m going to pretend that only reading 78 books didn’t annoy me and I wasn’t thinking of a way to read two books on the last day of December, but who would I be kidding?
I can’t believe I read a total of 78 books in 2020, and I just hope that I don’t read anywhere near as much in 2021 because I’ll be too busy living. Anyway, here are the reviews of the nine books I read in December.
Keep up with the books I read in realtime on Instagram at @ocbookshelf
Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo
Teeming with life and crackling with energy – a love song to modern Britain and black womanhood. Girl, Woman, Other follows the lives and struggles of twelve very different characters. Mostly women, black and British, they tell the stories of their families, friends and lovers, across the country and through the years. Joyfully polyphonic and vibrantly contemporary, this is a gloriously new kind of history, a novel of our times: celebratory, ever-dynamic and utterly irresistible.
My rating: ★★★★
Girl, Woman, Other had been on my list all year. The book details the life of Black women in England, focusing on important topics including LGBTQ, racism, oppression and miscarriage among others.
A very important book that everyone should read and at times made me laugh out loud whilst also hitting home the things that women across England go through today and years before.
The book ended well with all characters coming together and being connected in some way, even though they had led completely different lives up until the ending. A book that I would very much recommend.
This is Going to Hurt by Adam Kay
Scribbled in secret after endless days, sleepless nights and missed weekends, comedian and former junior doctor Adam Kay’s This is Going to Hurt provides an essential, brutally frank account of what life is like for the beleaguered vanguard of the NHS. Now providing the groundwork for a sell-out stand-up tour, This is Going to Hurt is an unmissable window into Britain’s ailing health system and the lives of the people who are its lifeblood. Simply essential reading.
My rating: ★★★★★
If you ever want an insight to what it’s like to work for the NHS, read this book. If you don’t want an insight, also read this book.
This should be mandatory reading for everyone to know just what it’s like as someone working as a doctor, nurse, or in any part of our National Health Service.
The minimum wage, the long hours, unpaid overtime, stress, abuse and negligence is appalling. I don’t have any close friends that work in the health sector so had no idea just how awful it is.
The book made me laugh out loud and I actually learnt some new things that I hadn’t picked up when watching all 16 seasons of Grey’s Anatomy. Read this book!
A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
At first sight, Ove is almost certainly the grumpiest man you will ever meet. He thinks himself surrounded by idiots – neighbours who can’t reverse a trailer properly, joggers, shop assistants who talk in code, and the perpetrators of the vicious coup d’etat that ousted him as Chairman of the Residents’ Association. He will persist in making his daily inspection rounds of the local streets. But isn’t it rare, these days, to find such old-fashioned clarity of belief and deed? Such unswerving conviction about what the world should be, and a lifelong dedication to making it just so? In the end, you will see, there is something about Ove that is quite irresistible…
My rating: ★★★★
It took me a little while to fully get into this book, but by the end it had me (almost) weeping. The story follows a grumpy old man very set in his ways and rules, who wants to end his life and be with his recently deceased wife. However, it seems that there is always someone getting in the way before he can actually do it.
Nosy neighbours, small children and a cat somehow worm their way into Ove’s grumpy life and over time change him into a more caring man. A very wholesome read that makes you see that there’s a better way to live life than to always seeing the negative in everything.
Blood Orange by Harriet Tyce
Alison has it all. A doting husband, adorable daughter, and a career on the rise – she’s just been given her first murder case to defend. But all is never as it seems… Just one more night. Then I’ll end it. Alison drinks too much. She’s neglecting her family. And she’s having an affair with a colleague whose taste for pushing boundaries may be more than she can handle. I did it. I killed him. I should be locked up. Alison’s client doesn’t deny that she stabbed her husband – she wants to plead guilty. And yet something about her story is deeply amiss. Saving this woman may be the first step to Alison saving herself. I’m watching you. I know what you’re doing. But someone knows Alison’s secrets. Someone who wants to make her pay for what she’s done, and who won’t stop until she’s lost everything…
My rating: ★★★★★
As you’re probably aware by now, I am obsessed with thrillers. Last year’s chosen genre was very much business and self-help books, but thrillers have taken the forefront this year. And what a thriller this was.
A great crime novel with many twists and turns, and running up to the end I finally figured out what was going on. If you’re looking for a novel to keep you engrossed, this will be the one.
This is Harriet Tyce’s debut novel and I can’t wait to read her next release.
The Chalet by Catherine Cooper
French Alps, 1998. Two young men ski into a blizzard… but only one returns.
20 years later. Four people connected to the missing man find themselves in that same resort. Each has a secret. Two may have blood on their hands. One is a killer-in-waiting. Someone knows what really happened that day. And somebody will pay.
My rating: ★★★
I saw this book recommended on my book Instagram feed (shameless plug, @ocbookshelf) and that it was only £3.50. Since I was in the mood for some Christmas themed reading, this sounded right up my street as it was a crime novel.
I gave the book a 3 star rating, as even though the book was good, there were a lot of loose ties at the end and characters I thought would play a part that really didn’t. It got a little confusing towards the ending but the story in itself was good and intriguing.
I just wish there was more of a twist or more of a detective aspect to the story.
Wonder by R.J. Palacio
Wonder is an emotional, important tale of a 10-year-old boy with ‘mandibulofacial dysotosis’ or ‘Treacher-Collins syndrome’ – or in plain English ‘rare facial birth disfigurement’. Auggie has had 27 operations, yet his first foray into school life, having been home educated to this point, isn’t so much about what he looks like (“Whatever you’re thinking, it’s probably worse”) and more about how people react to him. At Beecher Prep he meets both with cruelty and bullying and with acceptance and kindness.
My rating: ★★★★★
Excuse me while I try to stop crying. This book is honestly one of the most heartbreaking things I’ve ever read. Kids can just be so mean. Now to watch the movie and cry all over again.
Even though this is a kids book or young adult, to me, it should be required reading for anyone of any age. It teaches us to be kind to everyone, not to stare, not to laugh, not to point and go that extra mile to be kind to everyone we meet.
It broke my heart with every page, and it’s definitely made me think about being the kindest I can to everyone I encounter as we never know what anyone is going through or how anyone feels about themselves. Be kind, and then be kinder.
VOX by Christina Dalcher
Silence can be deafening. Jean McClellan spends her time in almost complete silence, limited to just one hundred words a day. Any more, and a thousand volts of electricity will course through her veins. Now the new government is in power, everything has changed. But only if you’re a woman. Almost overnight, bank accounts are frozen, passports are taken away and seventy million women lose their jobs. Even more terrifyingly, young girls are no longer taught to read or write. For herself, her daughter, and for every woman silenced, Jean will reclaim her voice. This is only the beginning…
My rating: ★★★
Hmm, I don’t really know how to feel about this one. The premise of the book was very good but I don’t think it was told that great.
It seemed to get quite confusing with the different characters, who was who, what was happening and why. I think it could have been told really well if there was less technical and scientific parts to it, but it was a good read all the same.
I can see this one being made into a movie very soon!
This Time Next Year by Sophie Cousens
Get ready to fall for this year’s most extraordinary love story… Quinn and Minnie are born on New Year’s Eve, in the same hospital, one minute apart. Their lives may begin together, but their worlds couldn’t be more different. Thirty years later they find themselves together again in the same place, at the same time. What if fate is trying to bring them together? Maybe it’s time to take a chance on love…
My rating: ★★★
A very cute book to round off the year. This Time Next Year is definitely one to snuggle up with over the Christmas holidays. It’s a book I can see being adapted into a movie; think The Holiday or Me Before You – very cute and very romcom.
The book follows Minnie Cooper (yes, really) who was born on New Year’s Day and believes the day brings her bad luck every year. Minnie happens to bump into her birth twin – someone who was born on the same day just a minute before, who also stole her name. A great romance novel.
We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
1. Read this book.
2. On reaching the final page, you may experience an urgent need to read it all over again.
3. Check your friends have read it.
4. NOW YOU ARE FREE TO TALK TO THEM ABOUT IT ENDLESSLY
We are beautiful, privileged and live a life of carefree luxury. We are cracked and broken. A story of love and romance. A tale of tragedy. Which are lies? Which is truth?
My rating: ★★★★★
We Were Liars was a short read in just over one day. I had seen it recommended on Beth Sandland’s Bookclub Instagram so bought it to check it out for myself.
A young adult/teen book which was different for me but it was so beautifully written, almost poetic. The story ended with a great twist and was told brilliantly. I would definitely recommend reading this, but it probably won’t take you long.