I'd usually have this round-up at the very start of the month, but as I had a few book posts around Christmas I held it back for a little while in case things started to get a bit samey around here.
I did okay in December - I managed 9 books - a few of them were very short. I tried to keep to a Christmas/December theme (apart from one).
First up - Netgalley approvals that had been sitting on my Dashboard for weeks:
A Christmas Horror Story by Sebastian Gregory
Set for the most part in present-day UK, Katie and her two siblings are home alone on Christmas Eve. They have all had strange dreams about young children being taken away by a black shadowed figure - and when strange things begin to happen, they realise that they may not have been dreaming....very spooky, a great fairytale, modern-day young horror akin to Goosebumps or some of the scarier episodes of Are You Afraid of the Dark.
The Boy in the Cemetery by Sebastian Gregory
Boy lives in a cemetery, but he is not really alive. Carrie moves to a new town after enduring horrific abuse (very uncomfortable to read about) and seeks solace in the cemetery when she has a terrifying experience at school. This was a brilliant book, but quite dark. Sebastian Gregory is firmly on my radar.
I Will Marry George Clooney (...By Christmas) by Tracy Bloom
I requested this on Netgalley months ago and was just approved before Christmas. Michelle is a 36 year old single Mum (with a horribly rude 15 year old daughter) who works in a chicken factory. In order to try and stop her daughter doing something stupid, Michelle vows to track George Clooney down and ask him to marry her to show her daughter Josie that you should follow your dreams. A light, easy read, a bit ridiculous in parts but enjoyable enough all the same. Even though Josie was a total and utter wagon.
The Room by Jonas Karlsson
Translated from Swedish, this short novel (under 200 pages) is a deadpan look at mundane office life from the point of view of Bjorn, a workaholic who is determined to succeed and get promoted ahead of his new colleagues. When Bjorn finds a room he can think in, a room that seems to stimulate his creativity and help him achieve great things, he is overjoyed - but when Bjorn enters the room, all his colleagues see is him standing at a wall in a catatonic state. To everyone else, there is no room. As his colleagues become increasingly irritated by his oddness, and he becomes increasingly irritated by...well, by everything - something has to give. But will Bjorn give up his room without a fight? Is he playing his colleagues? Is he playing the reader? Or is he genuinely going mad? A fantastic read, very clever and highly recommended.
Next up was the book that Rick O'Shea chose for his book club for December:
The Thing About December by Donal Ryan
Set over the course of a year in the life of twenty-something year old loner Johnsey Cunliffe, this is a powerful, devastating story. Each chapter covers a month from one December to the next. It looks at how Johnsey deals with a terrible tragedy, and how lonely he feels. It's full of rural colloquialisms, but they aren't distracting. Johnsey's voice is so strong, and so pure. It may sound like the most miserable book in the world, but it's not. Johnsey is a lot sharper and stronger than he gives himself credit for. I don't think I took a breath for the last chapter - it's just powerful writing. An absolute must-read, unlike anything else I read in 2014.
Last up - four books that I picked up on Amazon:
Getting Over the X by Steve Brookstein
You may remember Steve as the first ever winner of the X Factor. Or you may not - and this book will tell you why. A really interesting read, reviewed in-depth here.
Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris
A compilation of holiday-themed stories from Sedaris - some true, some fiction. If you've read Me Talk Pretty One Day or Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim then you've read two or three of these stories already. It's not a bad thing, really - Us and Them could be included in every one of his books and I'd still laugh like a hyena at it every time. As usual, he completely crosses the line a few times but the humour in some of the other stories more than makes up for it. Almost. Except the dryer part. Ugh, David. Just Ugh.
How the In-Laws Wrecked Christmas by Fiona Gibson
This was free on Amazon, it's a short story that comes in around 60 pages. It had great potential - Anna and Ben are on their way to spend their first Christmas together with Ben's very posh parents. Anna feels self-conscious and feels left out - and then the whole lot goes downhill very quickly. The title is inaccurate - they weren't "in-laws", and they didn't wreck Christmas. Anna changed her opinion based on something she overheard, that's what "wrecked" Christmas. The ending was blah, with a predictable twist.
Skipping Christmas by John Grisham
The movie version of this (Christmas with the Kranks) has long been one of my favourite Christmas movies. It's just a pure guilty pleasure, and it's something I watch several times every year during December. I have often wondered how the movie compared to the book, so I bought this. Holy moly - the movie is SO MUCH BETTER. In the book, Luther Krank isn't just crotchety - he is miserable, rude, and just horrible. I don't like the way Grisham writes women , either- "Even dressed, she felt like a slut" - this was in reference to Nora wearing a bikini under her clothes. Awful. Just awful. The book has no heart. Even though the movie has the stupid flying Volkswagen at the end, I'll take it - there's no contest, it's a million times better.
And that's it! That rounds off my reading year for 2014. If you want to have a look back at all the books I read in 2014, I've moved my book pages to the sidebar up the top where they're more manageable. Each book cover links to my review on Goodreads (feel free to add me as a friend).
See you in February!