December Book Review Summary

The Weather Outside is Frightful

It's winter in Michigan's Upper Peninsula (aka the "U.P.") , and it's an experience! If you've not lived through a U.P. winter it may be hard to understand. My husband and I live in the Keweenaw, a peninsula itself ( a peninsula on a peninsula) that sticks up north into Lake Superior and so gets a lot of "lake effect" snow. 

For those of you in warmer climes here's a few statistics about winter in the Keweenaw - 

  • Average Snowfall: Depending on which website you belive, the average is anywhere from 210 to 240 inches of snow per year. Yes, that is seventeen & a half to twenty feet of snow. The good news is it doesn't come all at once, and it tends to settle down into a snowpack quite a bit lower than 17 feet.
  • Average First & Last Frost: September 25th & May 28th. It's not uncommon for folks around here to recall trick or treating in a blizzard. And forget about planting your tomatoes unprotected until after Memorial Day.
  • Average December Daily High Temperature: 28° F / 15° C 

Well, I know this isn't the weather for everyone. You need to love the outdoors and enjoy winter sports to live here year 'round. But we love it up here.

And of course, when you're not out snowshoeing or snowmobiling or skiing, it's nice to sit by the fire and read a good book.

Favorite book this month

Without a doubt my favorite book of the month was Adrian Tchaikovsky's novella Elder Race. It was a bunch of fun to read and also my only Five Star read of December. I liked it so much I was telling everyone to buy it as a last minute gift for the fantasy book lovers on their Christmas lists.

Book Formats

Fewer audiobooks than the last few months:
  • Two audiobooks (All You Can Ever Know, and The Writing of the Gods
  • Five ebooks (The Scourge of the Five Kingdoms, Logistics: A Christms Story, The Loop, Elder Race and The Address Book
  • Two physical books (Longitude, and 1912.


Three ARCs this month - the debut indie fantasy The Scourge of the Five Kingdoms, which was gifted to me by the author Charles K. Jordan; Logistics: A Christmas Story provided by author Chris Coppel and Henry Roi PR; and The Loop by  provided through NetGalley and Hachette Books.

Book Tours

No book tours this month.

Affiliate Links

Starting with my review of The Loop this month I've begun including affiliate links in the bookseller links at the end of my reviews. Affiliate links are identified by an asterisk (*) following the link wording. In addition, I've selectively gone back and revised some of my prior reviews to include affiliate links. 

This is new for me and we'll see if it amounts to anything. It seems that affiliate links on book blog posts don't typically generate much in the way of revenue for the book bloggers using them, and so my expectations are low. But it would be nice to generate enough to buy a book or two every so often. 

This is how these affiliate links work. You - the review reader - click on an affiliate link, and then buy something from the bookseller (whether the reviewed book or not). The bookseller knows you came to their site from my blog, and so will provide me a small commission at no cost to you. 

Enjoy my reviews? Feel like buying a book after reading one? Well, click on an affiliate link for your favorite bookseller, and  I thank you in advance!

Summary Reviews

Summary reviews of each of my December reads are below. The link in each summary review lead to my full review post for that book. At the top of each full review post are links to the publisher's page for the book, and the author's web page or internet presence. At the bottom of each review post are the bookseller links. 

Four Stars ⭐⭐

A fun and entertaining debut fantasy novel. The writing and the world building are excellent. The book unfolds as a set of stories, as we follow a cast of characters while the Five Kingdoms enters into war. The focus is not on the war itself, but rather on the scheming and machinations of the various factions within the Kingdoms, and without, as they deal with the war and its meaning for Cordizal.

Four Stars ⭐⭐

Chris Coppel's Logistics: A Christmas Story fits right into the adult romance Christmas story tradition, but with its own unique twist. I can't think of another Christmas story that throws in science fiction elements to explain Santa, his elves, and their ability to deliver all those presents on just one night.

Three Stars ⭐⭐⭐

Nicole Chung's story of interracial adoption will tug at your heartstrings. Chung is completely open about her life and her families (birth and adoptive), and you feel that she has really let you into her life story. But the quiet power of her narrative is diminished by a repetitive and overlong telling.

Four Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Thought provoking book on artificial intelligence (AI). Ward lays out the research into how we humans make decisions and how much of our decision making is done from a subconscious level.  He then demonstrates how AI is finding patterns in our subconscious decision making and reinforcing them, but much of that reinforcement is for the profit of others, leaving us in a restricting loop of less and less individual choice.

Four Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐

In this classic of popular science from 1995, author Dava Sobel tells the story of the lone genius who designed a clock small enough and robust enough to be used by sailors on long sea voyages to determine their longitude. Written in a clear and easily digestible way, it's only 175 pages in the paperback edition it's not a long read. If you have an interest in history, science, or navigation and haven't yet read it you're missing out.

Four Stars ⭐⭐⭐

Dolnick tells the story of the race between the British scientist Thomas Young and the French scholar Jean-Fran├žois Champollion to be the first to “break the code” of hieroglyphic writing using the Rosetta Stone as the key. It took over 20 years. Beyond the main story Dolnick also gives us additional insights on Egypt and language. Altogether this is a fascinating look at the Rosetta Stone and written language itself. 

Five Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

What is so much fun about Adrian Tchaikovsky’s new novella is that it is both science fiction and fantasy.  Lynesse is the youngest daughter of the ruler of her land, in a world that seems medieval, where queens rule and swordsmen are mythological heroes. Nyr is an anthropologist  from Earth studying the culture of this colony planet long separated from Earth. As the story unfolds we alternate seeing things from Nyr and Lynesse’s perspectives. 

Two Stars

In 1912 the author spends as much time on the biographies of the four candidates as he does on the presidential race. Thus, with five story threads to cover in less than 300 pages the book is more atmospheric than it is thorough. The first decades of the 20th century in America are a fascinating time. So much change was in the air. 1912 works best as a summary of the four men and the presidential race. It doesn’t go beyond the summary level to put the race into the context of its times.