Reading books in December

I’m currently reading a few books and quite enjoying them. I’ve also finished a couple of really good ones, and I also had to drop one book I didn’t like. Here’s more about all these books.

The books I’ve finished

1. The Last List of Miss Judith Kratt by Andrea Bobotis

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I enjoyed absolutely everything about the book: its story, characters, writing. The Last List of Miss Judith Kratt is a story about a family in a little town in the South of the US. The action takes place both in modern times and in the year 1929. The writing is amazing! I’ve collected several pages of quotes! The characters are very realistic, multilayered and alive. If you like literary and historical fiction, and family stories, you will definitely like this book.

The book will be published only in July 2019. I feel bad for making you excited about the book that you can’t get right now. I will, of course, remind you about the book closer to the publication date, when I post my full review of it. If you are not sure you’ll be reading blogs then, maybe it’s a good idea to pre-order the book now.

2. No Motive by Daphne du Maurier

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No Motive is a short story from The Rendezvous and Other Stories collection. I picked it up when I was looking for something really good after a book that had disappointed me. I expected No Motive to be a decent well-written story, but du Maurier, again, did much better than that. I really don’t know how she managed to pick up a shocking idea, to knit it, thread by thread, into a perfect story, and to create not only a gripping plot but a logical and clear ending.

Here’s how the story begins:

Mary Farren went into the gun room one morning about half-past eleven, took her husband’s revolver and loaded it, then she shot herself.

Marry Farren was happy. She was expecting a baby, loved her husband, and no people who talked to her that day suspected that anything that horrible could happen. Why did it happen? Read the story to find out 😉

3. The Familiars by Stacey Halls

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I expected to be annoyed by the situations in the story, and indeed I was. That doesn’t mean, though, that the book is bad. On the contrary, it means, the book is very good.

It’s a story about Fleetwood, a 17-year-old wife of a noble person living in the year 1692. She’s going through her new pregnancy, she miscarried all the times before. Fleetwood has reasons to worry that either she or her baby, or both of them, won’t survive the childbirth. She’s desperate to give an heir to her husband. She meets Alice, a girl who knows a lot about herbs that can help, and so now there’s a hope that Fleetwood and her baby will live. Unfortunately, a friend of the family found a way to climb up a political ladder by inventing an enemy for the kingdom (as you can see these tactics are as old as the history itself). This time the enemies are witches, i.e. any clever, peculiar or just uncomfortable women. That’s when the story starts to unfold.

I found the story very gripping. I couldn’t put it down and hated when anything was distracting me from the book. If you are looking for an interesting, historical story about women doing their best to survive in a society that treats them like cattle (it’s my personal interpretation), you will like this book.

The Familiars will be published soon, there are only two months to go. You can pre-order the book now. I will remind you about the book when I post my full review of it (so subscribe to the blog, if you are not subscribed yet).

The books I’m currently reading

1. The first novel about Patrick Melrose, called Never Mind

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When I first started reading the novel I was really impressed by its humour and writing. Soon I realised it wasn’t that funny at all. In a witty and cynical way the book describes the lives of several aristocratic and very dysfunctional couples, while Patrick Melrose is still a kid. There are all kinds of abuse and violence going on between family members and friends. It’s not there to merely attract attention to the book. The events that are described, are indispensable for the plot and the characters. Never Mind a very well-written book for those who can stand reading about violence for the sake of a story.

2. The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson

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I was attracted by the description of the book. It’s a story about a blue-skinned woman (and such people really existed!) who’s traveling to distant places with her library, trying to spread the power of books while facing and fighting prejudices. It’s still too early to say something certain about the book, but I’m starting to suspect that I will dislike some aspects of it. I will know for sure by the end of the month so I will tell you if my suspicions were correct.

This is also “a book from the future”. It will be released in May 2019 but you can pre-order it now. The full review will also be published in spring.

3. Woman Last Seen in Her Thirties by Camille Pagán

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Theoretically, this book isn’t my type. It’s a chick lit genre, a genre that focuses on a woman manoeuvring through everyday life situations that include troubles with men, children or girlfriends. Woman Last Seen in Her Thirties is about Maggie, an average woman who’s facing quite usual struggles of a not so young anymore person. Her husband left her as a result of his own midlife crisis. Her children are grown-ups and have their own lives and interests. She’s fifty-three, but the last time she felt happy or noticed was when she was in her thirties.

I would have never picked this book up, had it been not for the style of writing. From the first pages I’ve been able to hear a true voice of a real person, and it’s interesting to simply listen to her. There’s a lot of self-irony, and even humour at times. Basically, I’m reading this book because I like Maggie’s personality. I’m not sure what I will eventually say about the book but so far it’s been a good companion.

The book I decided not to finish

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It’s Daughters of the Lake by Wendy Webb. The book is shelved under mystery, gothic and thriller genres but these are not the book’s primary genres. In its core it’s chick lit and romance. There is a woman, betrayed by her husband, a tall handsome stranger with a deep voice, a newborn baby, and some love stories.

Was this book better written, I would have still carried on with it. Unfortunately, it’s not. For example, it has a bad case of “somehow” infestation. Here are a few examples:

…a voice she had never heard but somehow knew…

…she knew somehow that she would always be safe with it.

Somehow, he always knew.

…these small stones somehow carried the spirit of the lake…

… the harsh winter that surrounded the town but somehow didn’t penetrate it.

… her ghostly shape, somehow translucent and solid at the same time.

It feels dangerous, somehow.

It smelled of the past somehow.

I had both audio and digital version of the book. The audiobook is even worse than the actual book. The narrator smiles through the book, even when something boring or dreadful is happening.

Wendy Webb published many novels, which makes me think people need her books, so I’m just not the right reader for her stories.

That’s how my December is going. I’m off to compose a list of noteworthy books that I’ve read this year, so come back soon!

PS: Do you like the forest photo at the top? It’s mine 😇. I took it years ago. The one at the top of the post about books I read in November is also mine.

39 thoughts on “Reading books in December

    1. I’m happy my post was useful! I actually started with her other collection, called The Birds and Other Stories (I also reviewed it not so long ago), so I can say with certainty that the stories from The Birds collection are all good. I haven’t finished that second collection yet. But I have a suspicion that everything by du Maurier is good. I think she probably was that rare and lucky combination of talent, skill, time and the means to write. She had it all and she used it correctly.

        1. I’m definitely excited for you too! I’m postponing reading her other works because I’m afraid my blog will be not Reader Witch but it will turn into Du Maurier Reader 🙂

  1. Some interesting opinions. I haven’t read any of these but I’m interested in the Patrick Melrose one. I’d probably just stare at Mr Cucumberpatch on the front though.
    Love the photgraph of the trees. It’s beautiful.

    1. hahaha! Your name for Benedict is similar to what I sometimes use for him too: Cucumberbatch. Anyway, yes, he was the reason I purchased the books. It was Black Friday so I was able to buy all 5 (five!) novels for a reasonable price. I’m not sure what your attitude to something dark and dysfunctional in books is. The first novel (and I guess, all the other ones) is really tough at places but always perfectly written. I think I could compare it with Lolita by Nabokov, not because of a storyline, but because of this whole situation when you dig deep into something really shocking and horrible via very good literature.

      1. I like dark and I like being made uncomfortable by literacture and art. Not all writing/art should invoke a happy feeling – (just my opinion). I’ve avoided the TV show as my friend said it was confusing and I was working through GOT but I’m really curious about it.

        1. Ok, then it might be the book you’ll really like. There are all kinds of abuse going on there, I wanted to warn you, just in case. I’m going to write my review soon.

          1. I understand. I now see how people’s piles of books to read grow uncontrollably. I think it started happening to me too, just 4 months into focused reading (as a result of blogging:) )

          2. Me too! Hey, off topic. When you write a comment, I don’t see any user picture near the comment, just that empty generic grey circle that shows if a person didn’t add the picture to the profile. Of course, it’s up to you if you want to include any, I thought I’d let you know.

  2. Hello Alexandra, how are you? 😉
    First of, I love the forest photo, so beautiful!

    I love reading so, so much! And I love book blogs, so many ideas and new books to add to my list 🙂 Just… no romance books, can’t stand them…

    1. Hello Jea! (My phone just wanted to autocorrect your name to Heather, and before it, when we were talking in your blog, it wanted to write “Dear”) I’m happy to see you here.🙂 I can’t stand romance either! I’m also very bad at fantasy, apparently. Maybe there are good books of both these genres somewhere, but I feel like it would take some time and skills to find them. Are you reading anything at the moment?

      1. These days I answer to almost every name starting with a J, it’s always corrected, actually, people tend to call me the wrong name too… OK, really starting to think about who the H I’m friends with now XD
        I guess your phone just likes me 🙂
        Oh I love fantasy! I’m reading Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare right now. Well, that and Anatomy Atlas, but it doesn’t usually count. I’m a huge, proud, geek 🙂
        I’ve read som amazingly well written romance books, but I was just bored out of my mind.
        No, actually, I do like some come to think of it, I love Jane Austen above all else. I think it’s because she has such strong female characters 🙂 I’ve started collecting Pride & Prejudice in as many languages as I can, it’s my go-to happy book. I have english and spanish so far. (Same with Harry Potter, I want them in different languages too.) Do you have that one book that stand above all else too?

        1. I like your humour about the whole name situation 🙂 and your friends :))

          Yeah, that’s what I mean, there can be some very well-written romance books with strong interesting characters. It’s just easier to hit upon a bad book in this genre because it’s so popular. I googled recently – apparently, it’s the most bought genre. It’s an interesting idea about a special book in different languages. In fact, now when you said it, I understand I have a book like this too! The English language version of The Master and Margarita was recently (finally!) delivered to me. (I order books from Book Depository). I even posted about this edition, because it’s so beautiful, like a work of art on its own. I’ve never read it in English before.

          1. It’s easier to laugh than cry 😊 Or at least I’ll stay sane longer 🤣

            Agreed, the bad ones are everywhere…
            I’ll have to look up The Master and Margarita, always love to find new ones!
            I prefer to not read in swedish, but I don’t know why… english, danish and spanish is fine, but not my own language… it’s just no fun for some reason. Except facts, that’s not a problem…
            My brother usually orders a lot of movies and video games from a site called Discshop (a swedish one) and they have pretty much all books I want. Then we have the SciFi bookstore (all things nerdy!) and they have SO many books – book heaven!

          2. I also read mainly in English, although it’s not my initial language (I think I just created a new term :)) ) I feel like there are more books in English than in any other languages, but that might be an illusion. 🙂

          3. Well, I haven’t looked into it, there probably should be a major research before me stating something like this, but I have a feeling that there are always some literary events going on in the English speaking world. They always have some Awards, they still publish short stories in magazines and pay for them. It feels like literature is a constantly developing sphere there, unlike in many other countries that I know. This could explain why it’s easier to find good books written in English.

  3. Urg… I haven’t read any Wendy Webb, but she certainly has a major outbreak of somehowitis, hasn’t she? She also needs to sack her editor… You certainly have an interesting bunch of books you’re reading through December – I hope you enjoy them:)

    1. A curious thing is, her book is not the only one! That’s why I have a special term for it already, the infestation (I loved your variant with “a major outbreak” :)) ) I’ve seen it several times in several thrillers before, all of them have this special style of writing. I’m still looking for the right word to describe the writing in all such books, chatty, flirty, pretentious while trying to sound everyday-ish (that made me cringe too). One common thing about all of them is the “somehow” infestation. I totally agree about the editor, I was also curious if there was one and what actually did he/she do.

      1. Yes… unfortunately I’ve noticed that even traditionally published books are a lot rougher around the edges than they used to be.

        And when done well, that chatty, easy flowing style works really well – particularly in a thriller where things start going badly wrong. But it needs to be well written…

  4. SOMEHOW I am not surprised you put that book down because SOMEHOW it sounds awful. But SOMEHOW she got it published so there must be people that SOMEHOW liked it! (did I SOMEHOW get that right?)

    I can’t believe you took that picture <3 I love it!!!

    1. Thank you for understanding! 😁 This word gets stuck in my head exactly like this! Maybe THAT’S HOW it spreads! 😱

      And thanks for the kind words about the picture. 😁

  5. So glad no motive was good- I’ve been meaning to read Du Maurier’s short stories because I love her novels 😀 hehehe pity about the somehow phenomenon in daughters of the lake. Great reviews!

  6. It seems I’m going to be adding another du Maurier book to my TBR. No Motive sounds amazing! The Patrick Melrose book isn’t my kind of book though. I’ll avoid that one 😅

    1. That’s good that you know what books are not your type. Patrick Melrose is full of triggers. I’m on the second book now and it’s even worse in this matter. I love du Maurier. Her works are like a treat for me whenever I need something definitely good.

  7. Update: I am reading a new book now, and while I am loving it, the characters are CONSTANTLY using each other’s names when they talk to each other…and are alone in the room together, so it’s not like they have to clearly identify who they are talking to, lol. It’s reminding me SO much of the “somehows” you pointed out in Daughers of the Lake. 😀 I keep thinking, “Man, this book is going to drive Alexandra nuts,” hahaha. The name aversion is a personal preference for me, though. I don’t like when people use my name too much (it feels salesperson-y), so the characters constantly using their names is driving me a bit batty. 😀

    1. You made my day! (Probably again,because your comments often do) I laughed so much. You are right, I would hate it. Although, I know one little fella, he’s about 3-4 years old I think. He’s very chatty and likes talking to people. When he wants to address someone he first asks their names, and then goes like “Alex, I’m going for a walk right now”. So, that doesn’t bother me at all 🙂
      Also, I’m horrified to learn about your name aversion. I used to love calling you CJ and calling all other bloggers by the names they provided. Do you think they might have the name aversion too? Because it does sound salesperson-y …

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