December in Review // books, video games, & a whole lot of food

December was a whirlwind for me! I’m fortunate enough to work for a public university, which means that I only needed to use three vacation days to have a nice ten-day vacation at the end of the year! I spent my time lounging around my dad’s house, eating food I didn’t have to cook, reading books, roasting Hallmark movies with my dad, and playing some video games. It was some much-needed downtime for me and I came into 2019 restored and ready to take the world by storm!

I already wrapped up my favorite reads of 2018, and a couple on that list were read in December. I am still a bit behind on my WP Reader and blog hopping but I will be catching up this weekend so that I can get to my 2019 goal of keeping up with it daily! Let’s take one last look at 2018 through my December in Review and see what I read and played during the last month of the year.


Reading

I read a total of 13 books in December, wow! And only four of those books were ARCs, hooray for mood reading!!! As always, you can click on the title links to be taken to the Goodreads page, and if my review has been published here on the blog I will also provide a link to it. ARCs/copies from author or publisher are noted above by an asterisk *

Five Stars

  • From Novice to Master: An Ongoing Lesson in the Extent of My Own Stupidity by Soko Morinaga – this is a beautiful memoir and introduction to Zen Buddhism. Morinaga had a wonderful voice and a talent for finding lessons and meaning in the smallest things. I re-read this book about once a year.
  • Illuminae (Illuminae Files #1) by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff – Illuminae is nothing short of incredible and I am so glad to have finally read it! | 📖 Read my full review
  • Trail of Lightning (Sixth World #1) by Rebecca Roanhorse – is an incredible debut that landed a spot on my favorite reads of the year! The characters are all wonderful and the worldbuilding offers just enough to whet the appetite, and while there are Navajo words and phrases used I never once felt lost. I honestly cannot recommend this book enough. | 📖 Read my full review
  • Gemina (Illuminae Files #2) by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff – just holy crap, I didn’t expect to feel these feelings or love this book more than Illumaine, but here we are. I haven’t written my review of this yet because brain = dead.

Four Stars

  • Perfect (Pretty Little Liars #3) by Sara Shepard – I actually enjoyed Perfect a lot more than the first two books in the series. I feel like while the action was happening, a lot of groundwork was being made to develop the four main characters – both who they were in relation to Alison and who they have become in her absence. This definitely paid off for me big time.
  • Unbelievable (Pretty Little Liars #4) by Sara Shepard – I’ve finished the first arc for Pretty Little Liars and I have to say: I think I enjoyed the books more than the series! Our girls have been put through the wringer and all the developments from book 3 continue here. While books 1 and 2 were all setting the stage for book 3, Unbelievable is the direct continuation & resolution of the previous book.
  • * Schmuck the Buck: Santa’s Jewish Reindeer by EXO Books and Karina Shor – is a beautifully illustrated book and a more inclusive take at the traditional story of Rudolph. I don’t read many illustrated books these days which honestly is a shame! I was instantly blown away by the artwork and really enjoyed this quick read. | 📖 Read my full review
  • Witching Hour Theatre by Jonathan Janz – This is a re-release of Jonathan Janz’s first published work, originally published in 2005. While this wasn’t a perfect read, it was instantly captivating and as a lifelong horror fan it spoke to me deeply. From wishing that my town had a weekly Witching Hour Theatre for me to attend to cringing at Longface, I was fully enthralled from start to finish and recommend this novella to fans of the horror genre.
  • Firefly: Big Damn Hero by James Lovegrove – This was a wild ride back into the world of Firefly that I sorely missed and I loved learning some of the backstories that Fox robbed us from fifteen years ago. Full review to come!

Three Stars

  • Flawless ( Pretty Little Liars #2) by Sara Shepard – Flawless picks up right after the first book ends with the first group A message. The book does a really good job of making the case for who A could be, and casting doubt on everyone. Interestingly enough the girls are still separated and not really re-bonded yet in this book, unlike in the tv series.

Two Stars

  • * The Dreamers by Karen Thompson Walker – this was such a disappointing read for me. There’s a reader for every book, but unfortunately, this one was not for me. While the writing is beautiful, I found the story had too many characters and suffered from a lack of a clear narrative voice that ultimately made it difficult for me to care about the characters. | 📖 Read my full review
  • * Kingdom of Needle and Bone by Mira Grant – Friends, it pains me to say that this was just not the book for me. This is my first Mira Grant (Seanan McGuire) read and while I absolutely adored the plot, unfortunately, the writing style and narrative voice just did not work for me. This is definitely a case of the right book, the wrong reader. | 📖 Read my full review

One Star

  • * A Murder of Crows by Annie Kirke – I love me some strong female characters, so when Dying Arts Press reached out to me to offer me a chance to read this YA fantasy I jumped at the chance. Unfortunately, this book did not work for me: I found the characters flat, world-building confusing, and the plot to be predictable and a little troublesome. | 📖 Read my full review

DNF – Did Not Finish

  • Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo – I tried twice to read this book with Sam, but both times we couldn’t get into it. It took me about three hours to read 70 pages because I kept zoning out and staring into space. While this is a plot that I am sure I would love and Bardugo can write a good action sequence, unfortunately, I found the writing style the rest of the time to be boring and dense with information. 🤝 Buddy read & DNF with Sam @ Fictionally Sam

Total Books Read in December: 13

 

Total Books Read in 2018: 137
Goodreads Reading Goal: 50 100 125


Gaming

I thought that I would include a bit about the video games that I obsessed over played in December.

  • King’s Quest: this is by far the best game ever. I grew up with the original franchise, the puns, and their floppy disks and I jumped at the opportunity to play the new game in 2016. This game does a great job of balancing nostalgia, staying true to the original games, but also making its own and it is just incredible. I am replaying for the last few achievements that I need to 100% the game.
  • Soma: I finally caved and bought an Xbox one controller so I can more easily play the game and I just love it so much. I am about 7 hours in so far and wandering around the ocean trying to find my way to the next base.
  • Don’t Starve Together: had a two-hour session with my friend Eva! A group of friends and I used to play quite a bit when it was still in Early Access and shortly after, but it’s been at least a year since we last played. Lots of fun improvements and can’t wait to play some more!
  • Stardew Valley: I decided to get back into my farm for a bit last month and I am slowly working towards 100% achievements.
  • Sunless Sea: I have 174 hours on record and this is one of my favorite PC games ever; slowly working on completing the game (78% achievements) and am working on one of the more annoying Ambitions.

Are you on Steam? Feel free to add me as a friend, I am kalventure on Steam! I am always down for a game of Town of Salem, DST, or Uno, so hit me up!


Awesome Community Posts

I did a bad job at hopping & remembering to save links in December, I am sorry friends!


Thank you

Thank you, everyone, so much for visiting, liking, commenting, and sharing your bookish thoughts with me this past month and year! My first ten months of book blogging have been simply amazing and I have each of you to thank. I will be hosting a giveaway in appreciation soon, so be sure to watch the blog and Twitter (@kalventure)!

I hope that you had a fantastic December, and I wish you happy reading in 2019!


spacer_wLet’s go on another adventure together!

45 Comments

  1. Kayla @ Books and Blends

    January 3, 2019 at 9:18 AM

    You had a great month Kaleena! I work for a university as well so I only have to use 3 days as well.
    I hate you couldn’t get into SOC. Honestly, the same thing happened to me a few months ago. I still need to pick it up!

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      January 9, 2019 at 9:52 AM

      Thank you so much, and high-five for long vacations without draining vacation time!
      I am still so sad about SoC, I really wanted to love it but Sam and I tried to BR it TWICE and both times it was just horrible. Not for me, which is sad.

      1. Kayla @ Books and Blends

        January 9, 2019 at 10:39 AM

        I hope I can get into it! I’m aiming to try to read it by the middle of the year!

  2. Hannie

    January 3, 2019 at 9:31 AM

    Stardew Valley is one of my favorite games ever! I’m such a farming addict!

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      January 9, 2019 at 9:53 AM

      Hahaha it is such a fun game! I go through waves of interest with it, but I always come back to it haha

  3. Becca Leighanne (Bex)

    January 3, 2019 at 9:51 AM

    A VIDEO GAME AND READING LEGEND! December was such a wonderful month with you! I absolutely adored our Illuminae Files buddy reads!

    I don’t use Steam often, but I’m definitely going to add you on there! & maybe I’ll purchase some UNO <3

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      January 9, 2019 at 9:55 AM

      Aww Bex, thanks so much! December was a wonderful month for me and you were a big part of that! Looking forward to reading Obsidio soon, and our next squad reads! xoxo

  4. Kim @ Pages and Pekoe

    January 3, 2019 at 11:48 AM

    Just added you on Steam! So Graveyard Keeper is pretty much a dark version of Stardew Valley which is why I love it so much lol!

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      January 9, 2019 at 9:54 AM

      Yay for more Steam friends! And OMG that sounds incredible and right up my alley, hehehe.

  5. Avery @ RedRocketPanda

    January 3, 2019 at 12:25 PM

    Ahhh love your round up and I added you on Steam! We should play games together at some point as its one of my goals for this year. I got SOMA in one of the humble bundles but haven’t played it yet bc I’m a bit of a fraidy cat haha, I also really like the sound of Sunless Sea!

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      January 9, 2019 at 9:57 AM

      Yay for Steam friendship! Definitely down for playing games together, one of my fave things to do and I don’t have a lot of people to play with / timezones suck. SOMA is good and atmospheric, it did creep me out last time I played it though… so maybe play with the lights on. Sunless Sea is INCREDIBLE.

  6. Bookish Rita

    January 3, 2019 at 2:34 PM

    Oh no! I’m so disappointed you didn’t love The Dreamers. It’s one of the books I want to read the most in 2019. I will still get to it, but I hope I like it more than you did! Also, love these wrap-up posts. I like how you included non-bookish things!

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      January 9, 2019 at 8:24 PM

      I am so sad I didn’t love The Dreamers but I sincerely hope you adore it! Thanks so much for stopping by and I am glad you enjoyed my wrap-up!

  7. Cassie Winters

    January 3, 2019 at 4:33 PM

    Totally requested to add you as a friend on Steam! Not sure what it will show you, but I requested you. I just started getting into gaming (very much a casual gamer here). Stardew Valley is one of my favorite games ever. Loved seeing what games you like and are playing!

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      January 9, 2019 at 8:25 PM

      YAY to new friends on Steam, huzzah! Nothing wrong with casual gaming at all, I typically consider myself more casual than anything but sometimes I am more into it than others.

  8. Kelly Brigid

    January 3, 2019 at 5:40 PM

    Wonderful wrap up! So glad to see that your December was lovely! I have yet to try Stardew Valley, but I LOVE Don’t Starve together! I was just playing it with my brother a few days ago. I’m also quite glad that you enjoyed Illuminae so much! I can’t wait to start it soon!

    Wishing you the happiest of January’s and 2019! ❤️

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      January 9, 2019 at 8:27 PM

      Thank you so much, love! Stardew Valley is honestly so much fun to just casually play, if you like the sims or other sims you will enjoy it. Don’t Starve is SO FUN I LOVE IT. I’ve been a little addicted for the past week ahaha.

      I hope you love Illuminae as much as I did! Please DM me your thoughts as you read it. I wish I could experience it for the first time again.

  9. Jessica at Booked J

    January 3, 2019 at 8:40 PM

    Can I just take a moment to say how rad it is that you are reading Pretty Little Liars? It makes me want to do a reread of the series myself. Especially the first two arcs.

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      January 9, 2019 at 8:30 PM

      Aww YAY! I actually really enjoyed the first arc and am probably going to read arc 2 soon because I feel slumpy.

  10. PerfectlyTolerable

    January 3, 2019 at 10:37 PM

    Good job, you killed your goodreads goal!! I like your graphs 🙂 Good job on your backlist haha I need read more backlist books!

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      January 9, 2019 at 8:32 PM

      Haha yea that Goodreads goal didn’t stand a chance! Thank you so much and definitely get some backlist love in, it’s fun!

  11. Phantom Paper

    January 4, 2019 at 5:30 AM

    You DNF-ED SIX OF CROWS??!

    I’ve never read it though 😂 Just that it’s on my TBR. I will still give it a go since the library has it.

    Overall, a very productive month, Kal! Great going 💪😄

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      January 9, 2019 at 8:33 PM

      I did *hangs head in shame* I wanted to love it and tried so hard, but I just couldn’t get into it. I hope you like it more than I did!

      1. Phantom Paper

        January 10, 2019 at 7:36 AM

        haha, it’s ok! I hope I like it, too 😊😊

  12. brittanythebookguru

    January 4, 2019 at 7:41 AM

    Wow, you got a TON of reading done! And it looks like you had a pretty good month all the way around. 😊 Happy reading for January!

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      January 9, 2019 at 8:34 PM

      Thank you so much, and it was one of my better reading months! Happy reading this month as well, Brittany!

      1. brittanythebookguru

        January 10, 2019 at 11:27 AM

        You’re welcome! And thank you as well ☺

  13. I Dare You Book Tag - Becca Leighanne

    January 4, 2019 at 8:52 AM

    […] her, so please go check her blog out!), Kayla from Books & Blends, Avery from Red Rocket Panda, Kal from Reader Voracious, Taylor from Nerd Narration, I’m really bad at this so just everyone? I […]

  14. sammers65

    January 4, 2019 at 2:11 PM

    SoC was a struggle indeed. But I feel low key relieved that I officially DNF’ed it. We gave it two tries. I mean….if the shoe don’t fit. 😂

    Looks you had an epic reading AND gaming month! Much proud I am.

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      January 10, 2019 at 9:47 AM

      I am honestly so glad we were both on the same page with SoC, I would have forced myself had you been digging it but I wouldn’t have liked it. Bad start to the Wonder Twin BRs!

  15. maxinesobsessions

    January 5, 2019 at 5:07 AM

    I struggled with SoC so much the first time I read it. I was so mad because the first chunk just felt a little to Mistborn. I ended up reading it and enjoying it, didn’t particularly like book 2. I’ve come to the conclusion that Leigh Bardugo just isn’t my thing. I dnf’d her Grisha book and wonder woman was not for me at all.

    Your 10 days of sound like a little slice of heaven.

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      January 10, 2019 at 9:57 AM

      I am glad you were able to finally finish SoC! I tried reading it twice and it was just… I’ll be honest, it felt like torture. Just not for me and I am so sad about it!

  16. Norrie

    January 5, 2019 at 5:20 AM

    19 day vacation! That’s a dream <3

    Uh-oh, Six of Crows… i had that on my list for such a long time. I'm a bit scared now 😀

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      January 10, 2019 at 9:58 AM

      Vacation was lovely and I am bitter to be back in the Real World.

      Don’t worry, I seem to be in the minority for Six of Crows so chances are you will like it! If anything, hopefully my meh experience will help you go in with less hyped expectations?

  17. Lili Star Reads

    January 5, 2019 at 10:03 AM

    Thats an awesome month! I love watching people play Stardew Valley it is just so peaceful. I read the first two Pretty Little Liar books before and they are so different from the series and a lot darker. I need to get back to them!

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      January 10, 2019 at 10:01 AM

      Stardew Valley is such a relaxing game, it is so fun to casually play! Definitely agree on the books being darker than the tv series, and I liked them a lot more as well. You should read the rest! The books are on KU right now!

  18. waytoofantasy

    January 5, 2019 at 10:31 AM

    Sounds like an amazing December, glad you had so much time to relax and refresh. 😀

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      January 10, 2019 at 10:02 AM

      December was pretty awesome, I feel happily recharged. I hope you had a great December and new year as well!

      1. waytoofantasy

        January 10, 2019 at 10:12 AM

        Thanks! It’s been good so far. Glad you’re feeling recharged!

  19. Weekly Wrap-Up: Happy New Year, A Trophy for Kaleena

    January 5, 2019 at 9:01 PM

    […] FIRST, we begin with a trophy presented to Kaleena from Reader Voracious for urging me to um… look for that like button option. I struggled to find the option and […]

  20. Vicky Who Reads

    January 20, 2019 at 8:52 AM

    awww, kaleena!!! I haven’t had a time to read this until now, but thank you for linking up my post and it seems like you’ve had an awesome reading month in December!!! and I totally get the SoC DNF, I feel like I could have done that too if it wasn’t for my friends shouting in my ear to read it :S

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      January 24, 2019 at 8:40 AM

      You are totally welcome, Vicky!!! I had a lot of people screaming at me about the SoC DNF too, I just stopped caring. Did it at least get better for you? I am going to just watcnh the Netflix show when it is available because I am sure that the content is something I would LOVE, I just don’t think Bardugo’s writing is for me. 🙁

      1. Vicky Who Reads

        January 25, 2019 at 6:12 PM

        it did! it was honestly a little confusing without knowing what the grisha were, though

        1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

          January 28, 2019 at 11:08 AM

          Glad it got better at least! At this point I am just going to consume the netflix show when it comes out. I know the story is something I will enjoy, but Bardugo’s writing just isn’t for me.

  21. January in Review – Reader Voracious Blog

    February 3, 2019 at 8:59 AM

    […] (released on January 31!), and my goodness is this game fun! It’s the spiritual successor to Sunless Sea, which I talked about last month, and just incredibly atmospheric. I love the changes they made to legacy and gameplay, and they way […]

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