Monthly Roundup – December 2019

I hope you have been enjoying a peaceful and happy festive season. With my three children home I have had a lovely Christmas, especially as I have not had to host any additional visitors. That probably sounds most unfriendly but reflects more on my social anxiety than a dislike for people. I did attend a Christmas event for the first time in several years – accompanying my husband to his work ‘do’ – and have been chewing over my behaviour throughout the evening ever since. It is frustrating that my mind cannot let go of minor incidents that others are unlikely to pay any heed to. At least I was happy with how I looked on the evening if not the impression made.

How does that read – a middle aged woman happy with how she looks? The beauty industry would be appalled. The recent (not unprecedented but rarely maintained) change in my outward appearance is in no small part down to the exercise regime I have been building up to for the past two years. I was gifted a Fitbit for Christmas 2017 and on Boxing Day that year got on the scales and was horrified enough to decide to do something about my weight. I am now 30kg lighter which allowed me to take up running thanks to decreased fear of the impact on my joints. I completed the ‘Couch to 5k’ program this month and am now working on improving my time over the distance. My Fitbit has been upgraded to a Garmin activity tracker and I am enjoying the challenge of trying to beat personal bests across a range of regular activities. I recognise how privileged I am to enjoy good enough health to enable me to do this.

Between family and exercise my available reading time has decreased this year. I posted reviews for 10 books in December – 8 fiction (1 translated), 1 non fiction and 1 mixed anthology. I also put together a list of books read throughout the year that I am happy to recommend.

Click on the title below to read my review and on the cover to learn more about the book.



I reviewed two works of fantasy fiction, neither of which I enjoyed. As a result I will take a break from this genre as my criticism of them largely reflects the overuse of tropes rather than the quality of the writing.

Course of Mirrors by Ashen Venema, published by Matador
Infinity Son by Adam Silvera, published by Simon and Schuster

My review of another book not enjoyed led to a fellow blogger expressing an interest so I was happy to pass my copy on to her. I feel vindicated in writing negative reviews when they encourage a reader to pick up the book.

The Ground is Full of Holes by Suzy Norman, published by Patrician Press

Thankfully, all remaining titles reviewed were more to my taste. These two YA novels both impressed.

The Raven Wheel by AF Stone, published by The Book Guild
Turtles All the Way Down by John Green, published by Penguin

I reviewed a couple of novels by authors whose previous work I enjoyed – they did not disappoint.

A Pale View of Hills by Kazuo Ishiguro, published by Faber and Faber
All the Beggars Riding by Lucy Caldwell, published by Faber and Faber


Translated Fiction

This was the final book from my pile of HarperVia proofs. I have enjoyed them all.

The German House by Annette Hess (translated by Elisabeth Lauffer), published by HarperVia


Non Fiction

Living near Silbury Hill, the history in this monograph was particularly fascinating. Each of the Little Toller books I have read are beautifully written and produced.

On Silbury Hill by Adam Thorpe, published by Little Toller Books


With climate change very much in the news this anthology of poetry, photographs, artwork and think pieces is a timely if troubling reminder of man’s impact on our world.

Planet in Peril edited by Isabelle Kenyon, published by Fly on the Wall Press


I posted my annual list of book recommendations mid month which comes with a risk that I will read a book before year end that should have been included. Although I enjoyed many of the titles read in the latter half of the month I decided not to add any to the 24 books listed here.

Annual Roundup: My Books of 2019


As ever I wish to thank the publishers who send me their titles to review – the arrival of a book parcel remains a cheering event in my day.

My thanks also to those who share my words across their social media platforms. Your continuing support is always appreciated.

I wish you all a healthy and happy 2020 filled with much good reading.


5 comments on “Monthly Roundup – December 2019

  1. What a wonderful photo of you both Jackie. Congratulations on your improved fitness. You’re looking fantastic. What a super selection of books too.
    Happy new year and here’s to a happy, healthy 2020.

  2. Jo says:

    What a fantastic achievement, Jackie – you look fab!

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