Before thoughts turn fully to the year ahead, there’s just time for one last wrap up. I read 8 books throughout December, bringing my final total for the year up to 121. Here are some brief thoughts on each of them, with links to my full reviews if you’d like to know more.
Dark, Salt, Clear by Lamorna Ash
[ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ] Full review to come for BookBrowse
Surge by Jay Bernard
[ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ] By looking at the similarities in the handling of both the New Cross Massacre and the Grenfell Tower disaster, this harrowing collection of poems exposes the persistence of systemic racism, economic inequality, and bias within the UK’s police and media. Though a couple of more personal pieces felt somewhat out of place, Bernard’s style is approachable yet compelling.
Earthlings by Sakaya Murata, translated from the Japanese by Ginny Tapley Takemori
[ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ] This discomfiting novel is concerned with those who fail to adhere to society’s norms, and the notion of storytelling as a means of self-protection. Though I found the climax’s descent into madness too extreme and abrupt to be believable, the book as a whole is gripping and provocative.
The Robin and the Reindeer by Rosa Bailey & Carmen Saldana
[ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ] A beautifully illustrated and hugely charming children’s story about bravery and trust, this offers ideal cosy escapism on a cold winter’s day for readers young and old alike.
Tidings by Ruth Padel
[ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ] This extended poem told from multiple perspectives contrasts the joy of a young girl’s Christmas with the pathos of a homeless man’s. It’s messages about remembering the true meaning of Christmas, and hope born of kindness and connection, are admirable if heavy-handed.
The Miracle on Ebenezer Street by Catherine Doyle
[ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ] A radical, modern reimagining of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, this middle grade novel about confronting grief embraces both the magic and the sadness often inherent to Christmas. It’s bittersweet yet fun and ultimately hopeful.
Dorothy Wordsworth’s Christmas Birthday by Carol Ann Duffy
[ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ] A simple, cosy poem that captures the beauty of domesticity and time spent with loved ones at Christmastime. The vivid imagery is complimented perfectly by Tom Duxbury’s gorgeous illustrations.
The Lost Spells by Robert Macfarlane, illustrated by Jackie Morris
[ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ] Another lovely collaboration that brings together the lively poems of Macfarlane and the stunning artwork of Morris. It’s a heartfelt, lyrical celebration of the natural world and the language we use to describe it.
There we have it! My favourite read of the month was Earthlings. What was yours?