A third of January gone already, would you believe it? And I’m only now getting down to wrapping up my reading for December 2021. In December I read fewer books than in past months, finishing only 9. One of these however was something I’d been reading instalments for the past few months so only technically ‘finished’ in December. I also began a tenth book but that ended up spilling over into January (so if anyone were interested, I didn’t get that 100th book in, though it took me literally 30 minutes to finish on 1 January). Of the 9, 8 were fiction and one nonfiction. Genres included classic fiction, historical fiction, fantasy, a mystery and some children’s fiction.
There were two reading memes I participated in, the first of which was #RumerGoddenReadingWeek hosted by Brona at This Reading Life. For this I chose to read An Episode of Sparrows. Set in post war London, we meet a little girl, Lovejoy Mason all but abandoned by her mother, living with her landlady. One day Lovejoy comes across a packet of seeds and soon in the debris of the old catholic church, she with a friend from the neighbourhood begins to establish a garden, something that gives them purpose and also friendship. But being from a poorer quarter of the city, they turn to their wealthier neighbourhood to take some much needed earth for their plants. This leads to some trouble for the children. This was heartwarming and also realistic, a book I enjoyed very much (full review)
I also read the final pick for my goodreads group’s lesser-known Agatha Christie books challenge. The December book was The Sittaford Mystery. This one is set in a small village, Sittaford, in which Major Burnaby attends a small gathering at Sittaford House, rented by Mrs Willet and her daughter who want to experience an English village. At the party a table turning is held in which one of the spirits informs Major Burnaby that his friend and the owner of Sittaford House, Captain Trevelyan is dead. While Major Burnaby does not believe in spirits, he goes downhill in the snow to make sure and indeed Trevelyan is dead—murdered. Soon Trevelyan’s nephew is arrested and his fiancée, Emily Trefusis who knows him to be innocent, gets on the case. Alongside, Inspector Narracott also investigates. A case full of secrets and surprises which I enjoyed very much and fitting for the season with plenty of snow. (full review)
The Old Curiosity Shop by Charles Dickens was a book I read with another goodreads group over two and a half months. In this we have little Nell who at 14 finds herself having to look after her grandfather who on the pretext of providing for his granddaughter takes to gambling, losing everything; his shop and home now in the hands of the odious Daniel Quilp. Nell must face many challenges and bear the burden of protecting her grandfather even from himself. Alongside in the usual Dickensian style, we have a range of colourful characters including shop boy Kit Nubbles, Dick Swiveller, the Brass siblings and the little Marchioness. An enjoyable revisit, particularly all the additional characters though Nell herself is the typical angelic heroine. (full review)
But my first read of the month was something different and fun, a fantasy adventure which takes one into both historical and futuristic realms, Thunderpaws and the Tower of London by Ben Housden. This story is about Teufel or Thunderpaws, a tom cat whose master a vicar is appointed rector at the Tower of London. Here, Teufel meets the ghosts of the tower (Anne Boleyn and Lady Jane Grey among them) and finds himself the subject of a prophecy. This was good fun and incorporated quite a few legends, though I preferred the historical thread more than the futuristic one. (full review)
Another of my fantasy reads was The Lost Legends by Cait Marie, the first of a series set in the kingdom of Detmarya, whose princess Adalina has grown up on legends of the Nihryst, thieves turned warriors who were cursed with immortality. When she finds her own father in a conspiracy which will bring certain ruin, she must travel in search of the Nihryst. An entertaining story with adventure, pirates, curses and prophecies, and also romance. (full review)
The last of my fantasy reads was for Chris’s #Narniathon21, the first of the Narnia books, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis. Since this is one familiar to all, I won’t write more but this was the first time that some of allegorical elements stood out to me, though I realized from discussions and others’ reviews that I’ve probably barely scratched the surface. (full review)
An Evening with Claire by Gaito Gazdanov is the story of Kolya who is living in Paris since after the Russian revolution and rekindling his romance with his first love, Claire. This takes him back into his memories, from his childhood in Russia and other major life events, and his eternal search for the elusive Claire. (full review)
The Second Person from Porlock by Dennis Hamley is the story of Samuel Taylor Coleridge and his poetry; this one follows parallel threads with Coleridge and two young men in search of him—one wants to understand Coleridge the man, and the other Coleridge the poet. Through these stories we learn not only about his life and poetry but also questions of what poetry is. (full review)
Finally, my only nonfiction read of the month was Nature is Never Silent by Madlen Zeige which explores the different ways in which plants and animals (from unicellular to more complex organisms) communicate with each other and their surroundings. While the initial part of this one was a little slow moving, I enjoyed the various illustrations and anecdotes she gives and which amaze and surprise once again. (full review)
So those were my reads for December. I also added a few updates to Keli Cat’s Book Corner, and has a kitty-book themed Christmas post from which I will soon be expanding the catalogue, plus adding lots more.
What were some of your favourite reads last month? Any you’d recommend? Looking forward to your thoughts and recommendations!