Dec 2018 Wrap Up

December was a pretty busy month for me as I took a cruise to Mexico. More details will be coming soon in a separate post. I read 6 books in total in December.

Here are the books that I finished in December –

1. Jungle of Stone by William Carlsen

3 stars – I read this book about Maya civilization just before my trip to see Mayan ruins. It was educative and helped me understand more about the civilization. Link to my review of the book.

2. Sadie by Courtney Summers

4.5 stars – Sadie is about two sisters who go missing in a town. One of the sisters is found dead while the other (Sadie) goes missing. A man is trying to find the missing girl through his podcast. We get to see two perspectives – one in the form of podcast episodes and the other from Sadie’s POV. This book evoked so many emotions in me. I loved the ending a lot even though it was open ended. I hadn’t read such a powerful punch in the gut type of book in a long time. The audiobook has full cast and is the best way to read this book. There is a serial podcast in this book which is better when listened to as an audiobook. This is easily one of the best books I have read this year. Great representation of a person with stutter in this book.
Trigger warning for rape and sexual assault.

3. Tales from the history of Mathematics by Archana Sarat

3.5 stars
I picked this book mostly because I love mathematics and I have always been good at mathematics. I initially thought this was nonfiction but later realized that the author has written short stories about the history of mathematics. This book was targeted for children. So the book is about two things – History of mathematics, which was very well researched and presented and Fictitious stories from history, which is where I feel this book lacked.

The stories themselves had no purpose other than to educate children about the history. So why not write them as non-fiction essays? The stories were extremely short and were not entertaining. They were too simplistic, may be good for people who are beginners and haven’t read much fiction. Also every story was accompanied by a non-fiction essay anyway. So the same information was repeated twice – once in the form of a story and then as an essay at the end.
What the book also lacked in was mathematics. I wish the author had spoken about mathematical problems and puzzles solved by the mentioned mathematicians. She did have some interesting problems and ways in which they were solved in the past. I just wish the book had more. Also, I noticed that this book was targeted for really young children as the mathematics was pretty elementary.

Also I am not sure how feasible it was for the author and publisher, but having photographs of the books that the author saw in museums would have been amazing. Not everyone can visit London Museums so I would have loved to see photographs of the books that she saw in the various museums she visited in order to do her research. The history aspect of the book was great. The author has done lot of research and it is easy to teach children about India’s contribution to mathematics through this book. I would recommend it to kids and parents alike. There are biographies of many famous mathematicians and a lot of history that we are not aware of. I especially liked reading about the first female mathematician and her contributions. I hope there is a sequel for this book soon and hope that it will be a non-fiction book.

4. City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab

4 stars
I picked this middle grade fantasy ghost story while on vacation as I thought it will be a light read and it ended up as a great choice for light reading.
1. It’s written by V E Schwab so you cannot go wrong. It’s written extremely well just like her other books.
2. It’s a ghost story which I have never read before. I stay away from horror but this was not a horror book.
3. The story takes place in Edinburgh, Scotland which is one of the best cities I have ever visited. The book had so many references to places in the city where I had been and gave me nostalgic feelings.
4. Harry Potter references – any book which has these is bound to be my favorite. The main character is a huge fan of HP and we see a lot of references.
5. It’s the start of a series and it ended as a cliffhanger. I am now very eager to know what is going to happen in the next part. I am guessing it will be darker than this part.
6. Great portrayal of friendship between a human and a ghost.
7. Next part will be in a different city and country. I love how this book also talks a lot about the city itself. I would love to read about a new city and it’s history in the next part. It’s a great way to introduce kids to various cities in the world.
8. I usually never like middle grade fiction as they are too silly for adults. But this was great!
Time to read other books by this author soon!!

5. The Little Black Book of Style by Nina Garcia

4 stars – As a person whose ancestors never wore western clothes, I had no idea about dressing in western clothes. I just picked something on a whim. This book was enlightening in that aspect. I liked the basics and what to wear when sections. But would love to read a book that has more content and goes into more details. This book was too small.

6. The Power by Naomi Alderman

3 stars (or 2.5 stars?) – I tried the audiobook earlier and ended up DNFing it. This time I read the physical copy. I found the first 60% of the book really interesting. And then I got bored of it and had to skim through the rest. Just when I was about to give it 2 stars, I read the last part which has a conversation between the writer and Naomi and that was amazing. The premise and plot is worth 5 stars. What if women are more powerful than men? I loved the premise. The execution, not so much. The characters are flat and boring, the writing is dull and boring. I would like to give this book another try some other day. I am glad I read it though as the premise is amazing.

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