Merry Christmas! I hope that you are able to spend it with loved ones and share in the holiday cheer. December has been a great month. I got to see friends, have FaceTime movie nights, and spend time with my family. I also got to read some really, really good books! I was able to read quite a few titles this month and enjoyed all of them immensely. Without further ado, here are the books that I read in December!
How the King of Elfhame Learned to Hate Stories (Signed Barnes and Noble Edition) by Holly Black
Summary: An illustrated addition to the New York Times bestselling Folk of Air trilogy, that started with The Cruel Prince, from award-winning author Holly Black. An irresistible return to the captivating world of Elfhame. Once upon a time, there was a boy with a wicked tongue. Before he was a cruel prince or a wicked king, he was a faerie child with a heart of stone. #1 New York Times bestselling author Holly Black reveals a deeper look into the dramatic life of Elfhame’s enigmatic high king, Cardan. This tale includes delicious details of life before The Cruel Prince, an adventure beyond The Queen of Nothing, and familiar moments from The Folk of the Air trilogy, told wholly from Cardan’s perspective. This new installment in the Folk of the Air series is a return to the heart-racing romance, danger, humor, and drama that enchanted readers everywhere. Each chapter is paired with lavish and luminous full-color art, making this the perfect collector’s item to be enjoyed by both new audiences and old.
My thoughts: I loved this novella. I adore Cardan and this was such a juicy look into his life both before The Cruel Prince and after The Queen of Nothing. My only criticism is that I wish there had been more of Jude and Cardan together. I miss their bantering and how witty they are with each other. But I was very happy with the stories of how Cardan became the way that he is and how we got to see him first noticing Jude. I have linked the Barnes and Noble Edition here, and it’s signed by Holly Black!
House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J Maas
Summary: Bryce Quinlan had the perfect life—working hard all day and partying all night—until a demon murdered her closest friends, leaving her bereft, wounded, and alone. When the accused is behind bars but the crimes start up again, Bryce finds herself at the heart of the investigation. She’ll do whatever it takes to avenge their deaths. Hunt Athalar is a notorious Fallen angel, now enslaved to the Archangels he once attempted to overthrow. His brutal skills and incredible strength have been set to one purpose—to assassinate his boss’s enemies, no questions asked. But with a demon wreaking havoc in the city, he’s offered an irresistible deal: help Bryce find the murderer, and his freedom will be within reach. As Bryce and Hunt dig deep into Crescent City’s underbelly, they discover a dark power that threatens everything and everyone they hold dear, and they find, in each other, a blazing passion—one that could set them both free, if they’d only let it.
My thoughts: This book was everything I didn’t know I needed. There were so many aspects to this book that I adore: enemies to lovers trope, witty banter, amazing friendship dynamics, badass protagonists, and lovable pets. This book was a whopping eight hundred pages and I cried for the last one hundred. I gave it five stars and if possible, I would give it more. I can’t believe the sequel (the name of the book hasn’t even been announced) won’t come out until November of 2021. It’s a crime that we have to wait that long! Bonus: House of Earth and Blood was just announced as the Goodreads Fantasy Pick of the Year for 2020! I have linked the book right here on Barnes and Noble.
Faking Under the Mistletoe by Ashley Shepherd
Summary: Olivia Langley is the human embodiment of Christmas cheer, and she has absolutely no problem spreading it around for all to hear. Christmas sweaters? She has twenty. Christmas cookies? She’ll take three dozen. Christmas movies? Yeah, she’s seen them all. So it’s no surprise when she’s put in charge of Loveridge & McGowan’s holiday festivities. Secret Santas? Yep. Ice skating? Of course. Holiday trivia? Duh. Christmas-themed bar crawl? That’s one big jingle bell hell yes. Kissing her boss at a Christmas tree lighting in front of his ex-girlfriend? Well… it is the season of giving. And Olivia does not come with a gift receipt. No exchanges. No returns. No refunds. All sales are final. In an effort to ungrinch the grinchiest man she’s ever met, Olivia enlists herself, Santa’s Executive Helper, to scheme up a plan that includes sleigh rides, snow days, and one too many mistletoe kisses, which certainly gets Asher’s tinsel in a tangle. She’s pretty sure that she sleighed this whole fake dating thing. Well… until she realizes there’s nothing fake about her feelings for Asher, and suddenly tangled tinsel, unsolicited Christmas trees, and celebrity heartthrobs are the least of her worries.
My thoughts: This was the perfect Christmas read. I really, really enjoyed it. Will I read it again before the end of the year? There’s a good chance. This has been added to my list of all-time favourites. It was so cute and I laughed throughout the entire book. I highly recommend and, even better, it’s on Kindle Unlimited! Kindle Unlimited is amazing because there are so many great books to choose from and it’s only $9.99 a month. If you read two books, it’s already worth it. I recommend checking it out and I have linked Faking Under the Mistletoe right here!
Head over Heels by Hannah Orenstein
Summary: The past seven years have been hard on Avery Abrams: After training her entire life to make the Olympic gymnastics team, a disastrous performance ended her athletic career for good. Her best friend and teammate, Jasmine, went on to become an Olympic champion, then committed the ultimate betrayal by marrying their emotionally abusive coach, Dimitri. Now, reeling from a breakup with her football star boyfriend, Avery returns to her Massachusetts hometown, where new coach Ryan asks her to help him train a promising young gymnast with Olympic aspirations. Despite her misgivings and worries about the memories it will evoke, Avery agrees. Back in the gym, she’s surprised to find sparks flying with Ryan. But when a shocking scandal in the gymnastics world breaks, it has shattering effects not only for the sport but also for Avery and her old friend Jasmine.
My thoughts: As a former athlete, I was able to relate to the main character a lot. While I didn’t train for the Olympics, I competed on a nationally-ranked team so I could relate to the hard work aspect. The athletic portions of this book were very well-written. While I wish there had been more romance between the two main characters, I enjoyed the book and know I will reread it again someday. I have linked the book right here on Amazon!
The Hating Game by Sally Thorne
Summary: Lucy Hutton and Joshua Templeman hate each other. Not dislike. Not begrudgingly tolerate. Hate. And they have no problem displaying their feelings through a series of ritualistic passive aggressive maneuvers as they sit across from each other, executive assistants to co-CEOs of a publishing company. Lucy can’t understand Joshua’s joyless, uptight, meticulous approach to his job. Joshua is clearly baffled by Lucy’s overly bright clothes, quirkiness, and Pollyanna attitude. Now up for the same promotion, their battle of wills has come to a head and Lucy refuses to back down when their latest game could cost her her dream job…But the tension between Lucy and Joshua has also reached its boiling point, and Lucy is discovering that maybe she doesn’t hate Joshua. And maybe, he doesn’t hate her either. Or maybe this is just another game.
My thoughts: This is my second time rereading this in 2020, and I absolutely love this novel. It has everything I enjoy in a book: enemies to lovers, humour, loads of laughs, and character development. I’m really excited because right now they’re filming the movie adaptation with Lucy Hale! I already know I’m going to buy the movie when it comes out. I highly recommend this book to everyone who enjoys reading romance! You can find The Hating Game right here on Amazon.
Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco
Summary: Seventeen-year-old Audrey Rose Wadsworth was born a lord’s daughter, with a life of wealth and privilege stretched out before her. But between the social teas and silk dress fittings, she leads a forbidden secret life. Against her stern father’s wishes and society’s expectations, Audrey often slips away to her uncle’s laboratory to study the gruesome practice of forensic medicine. When her work on a string of savagely killed corpses drags Audrey into the investigation of a serial murderer, her search for answers brings her close to her own sheltered world. The story’s shocking twists and turns, augmented with real, sinister period photos, will make this #1 New York Times bestselling debut from author Kerri Maniscalco impossible to forget.
My thoughts: I know why this book is so popular: it’s great! This is the perfect blend of crime, romance, and a period piece. I love how accurate everything is, from the forensic science to how the fashion was back then. It’s full of twists and turns, and I have been on the edge of my seat for almost the entire book! I can’t wait to see how it ends and where the series goes. After finishing the book, I gave it a rating of 4 Stars out of five. I have linked Stalking Jack the Ripper right here on Amazon.
Hunting Prince Dracula by Kerri Maniscalco
Summary: Following the grief and horror of her discovery of Jack the Ripper’s true identity, Audrey Rose Wadsworth has no choice but to flee London and its memories. Together with the arrogant yet charming Thomas Cresswell, she journeys to the dark heart of Romania, home to one of Europe’s best schools of forensic medicine…and to another notorious killer, Vlad the Impaler, whose thirst for blood became legend. But her life’s dream is soon tainted by blood-soaked discoveries in the halls of the school’s forbidding castle, and Audrey Rose is compelled to investigate the strangely familiar murders. What she finds brings all her terrifying fears to life once again.
My thoughts: I’m really enjoying the gothic undertones in this book. The architecture of the castle that the book is set in sounds just like Hogwarts and I love it. Audrey Rose, the protagonist, is such a wonderful narrator of the book because she is so headstrong and refuses to put up with any misogyny from any of the male characters. I’m enjoying this book more so than the first one, and can’t wait for the third and fourth! I have linked Hunting Prince Dracula right here on Amazon.
Escaping from Houdini by Kerri Maniscalco
Summary: Audrey Rose Wadsworth and her partner-in-crime-investigation, Thomas Cresswell, are en route to New York to help solve another blood-soaked mystery. Embarking on a week-long voyage across the Atlantic on the opulent RMS Etruria, they’re delighted to discover a traveling troupe of circus performers, fortune tellers, and a certain charismatic young escape artist entertaining the first-class passengers nightly. But then, privileged young women begin to go missing without explanation, and a series of brutal slayings shocks the entire ship. The disturbing influence of the Moonlight Carnival pervades the decks as the murders grow ever more freakish, with nowhere to escape except the unforgiving sea. It’s up to Audrey Rose and Thomas to piece together the gruesome investigation as even more passengers die before reaching their destination. But with clues to the next victim pointing to someone she loves, can Audrey Rose unravel the mystery before the killer’s horrifying finale?
My thoughts: I am loving this series! Kerri Maniscalco is such a talented writer and I am so happy to be enjoying her works. I can’t wait to see how this ends and who ends up being the bad guy. I’ve never been able to guess who the villain is until the big reveal (which is rare for me!) and I like being on the edge of my seat. I have linked Escaping from Houdini right here on Amazon.
These are all of the books that I was able to enjoy during the month of December! I was very fortunate to find some new reads that I was able to devour during the holiday season. I liked the Christmas-themed book I read earlier in the month, and I was able to catch up on some books that I’ve had for a while but never touched. If you have read any of these books and want to chat about them, comment down below! Or if you have any recommendations, I’m always open to finding new books. And, as always, thank you so much for reading!