I’ve read a lot of books in December. I mean a lot. It’s the 26th and two books stand between me and 120 books for the year, nearly twenty of them read in December alone. Since the original review post for December’s books was getting quite long, here’s the first half now.
(Okay, you might also be getting the first half now so I can make this two posts. Shhh.)
Cinder by Marissa Meyer: Oh. My. Baty. This is beautiful. I was skeptical about reading another Cinderella retelling (especially since I was meh about the other one), but after hearing my friends rave about it (including one who won Meyer’s 2013 Write Like Crazy challenge), I had to grab a copy. I’m so glad I did. The writing is beautiful, the story stuck out (hello, cyborg mechanic!) in a wonderful way, and every character had a distinct personality (or personality chip). Time to pick up the second book!
Goodreads rating: 5 out of 5 cyborgs
Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell: This was another one that lots of friends raved about, and for good reason. I was overcome with emotion about seventy pages in and bawled my way through the book, even though the book wasn’t just a sad story. My new goal in life is to write as frankly as Rowell does in third person.
Goodreads rating: 5 out of 5 mixtapes
What If? Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions by Randall Munroe: This book is gorram brilliant. All the questions are silly, but Randall uses science and math to solve them, along with some stick figures and [citaton needed] for good measure. The science is sound, but it’s explained so clearly that non-science nerds can also enjoy what’s going on. Stop reading this review and go read this book.
Goodreads rating: 5 out of 5 
The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith (okay, JK Rowling) : I don’t read too many mysteries, but this is a JKR mystery, so of course I had to. The characters are well-rounded, and the mystery was brilliantly crafted, and now I need to grab the next one (which is about a novelist, I hear).
Goodreads rating: 4 out of 5 designer handbags
Divergent by Veronica Roth: Unpopular opinion time: I did not like this book. It left me wondering “Why?” but not in the way that keeps you turning the page. Why were the factions like that in the first place? Why were only these traits the ones to focus on? If this novel takes place in the large city of Chicago, why were there so few initates in Beatrice’s group? Things don’t add up. The first few chapters left me wondering if this was a Hunger Games fic. This book should not have been told in first person present. That said, the book wasn’t awful; I did find myself reading chapter after chapter, if only to get it over with. I won’t be seeking out the other books.
Goodreads rating: 2 out of 5 factions
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline: I know predictions of the far future are mostly silly, but Ernest Cline’s version of thirty years from now is not completely implausible. The narrator, Wade, sounds like that friend whose stories you can’t help but listen to, making you feel like you’ve always been there. The hunt for an easter egg in virtual reality propels the story forward, while bringing up lots of questions for how virtual reality could work in our world. All in all, a great read.
Goodreads rating: 5 out of 5 80s references
Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld: This book is about a Wrimo! Specifically, a teen Wrimo who gets a publishing deal. The story alternates between the writer’s story and the book she’s rewriting, and you can tell when things from the author’s life influence her character’s life. While I enjoyed this book, I enjoyed the author’s adventures much more than the character’s adventures and am not sure why. Sure, some of the author’s shenanigans were unrealistic, but they still kept me wondering what would happen next.
Goodreads rating: 4 out of 5 matchbooks
Sleeps with Dogs: Confessions of an Animal Nanny in Over Her Head by Lindsey Grant: Lindsey is a past NaNo staffer, and the idea behind this book was on her staff profile. Anyway, this book tells the tale of Lindsey’s past pet nanny business, including all the unusual animals (and their more unusual humans). Stories of the rest of her life are also interwoven with the pet adventures, both from her past and adventures taking place at the same time. I enjoyed reading about all of these things, but sometimes it was confusing to find that line where she reflects on her past and how it relates to the present. If that makes sense. Still, I enjoyed reading it (and meeting her again at a book event).
Goodreads rating: 4 out of 5 stubborn dogs
The Last Book in the Universe by Rodman Philbrick: Books are no longer a thing in the world this book takes place in, a futuristic world where the world is almost destroyed. The main character, an epilectic teenager called Spaz, meets an old man named Ryder who still remembers books and stories. The story moved on quickly enough with a quest to save Spaz’s sister, but the book didn’t pull me in any way. I didn’t find myself particularly invested in the outcome. While it was engaging, I found some parts confusing and a bit jump-the-logic-boatesque for me.
Goodreads rating: 3 out of 5 normals
The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith: Yep, this is JKR’s second crime story. I was particularly excited about this one because it features a novelist. The story itself pulls you through the mystery, and the side characters are just as complex as the main characters. This book is a lot of talking to people, and JKR does a good job at not making it boring. (Encouraging for me since I write so much dialogue.)
Goodreads rating: 4 out of 5 ropes