Monthly Wrap-Up: December 2019

  • The Wicked King by Holly Black (★★★★★)
  • The Poison Master by Liz Williams (★★★★★)
  • The Queen of Nothing by Holly Black (★★★★★)


A rather paltry number of books read this month, which is fine. For various reasons December was not a super productive month for me, but I’ll get into that below when I talk about some life updates. In any case, I managed to finish a series (the Folk of the Air), which felt very productive, as well as read an older fantasy novel. So, in all, though I didn’t read a lot, I’m happy with what I read.

I really enjoyed the last two books in The Folk of the Air series, much more than I enjoyed The Cruel Prince, actually. I thought The Wicked King, especially, was fantastic; Jude has really grown in my estimation as a brilliant, scheming, ruthless character. I adore her. The Poison Master by Liz Williams is an older and more obscure novel that turned out to be a mashup of fantasy and science fiction, which I don’t tend to enjoy, but I think it worked well here. I wanted a bit more from the romance, but I did love the main character, who was very resourceful and took things in stride in a way few heroines do.

I am currently reading:

Four is far more than I usually read at a single time, but I think that now that we’re past those odd liminal days between Christmas and New Year’s, I’m ready to read again, and excited to try new things! Monster She Wrote was actually meant to be finished this month, but I’m loving it so much I realized that I want to savor it, and will likely include it on next year’s best books list, so I stopped rushing to read it. I am liking Winter of Ice and Iron so far – it’s very well-written, though I think it might suffer from an unfortunate tendency that some fantasy has to make their heroes very, very morally upstanding, and therefore boring. Too early to tell, but I’m really hoping the heroine becomes more interesting. I am intrigued by the world, though, and it’s good to sink into some adult high fantasy again.

I hadn’t intended at all to start reading We Have Always Lived in the Castle, but after having read the entry on Shirley Jackson in Monster She Wrote, I really wanted to read something by her, and I own We Have Always Lived in the Castle, so I thought I’d be spontaneous. I’m about two chapters in, and it’s fine so far. Finally, I just started Queen Victoria’s Book of Spells: An Anthology of Gaslamp Fantasy because, again, Monster She Wrote has inspired me to write more short stories like all the astonishingly productive female writers they discuss, so first I have to start by reading more short stories, and since this is a collection I own and have been wanting to read for a while, it seemed appropriate.

I think it’s cool that I’m reading four different genres at once!

Television Update

I marathoned Four Weddings and a Funeral early in the month, and freaking LOVED it. I kind of knew I would; I love that type of light-hearted rom-com-esque escapist television. I mean, it’s about four friends who move to London and have no visa issues. That alone makes it an amazing fantasy. But it’s got some surprising depth with regards to its POC representation; the two main character are a black woman and an Pakistani Muslim man. The Muslim representation on this show is so good, you guys. I’ve never seen a mainstream American show depict arranged marriages and dating with chaperones in a positive light. Overall it was such an entertaining and heart-warming show.

I also, of course, started The Witcher, and I absolutely love it. It’s so unabashedly Old School Classic Fantasy, to the point where like…a lot of things don’t make sense but are handwaved away because magic. But it’s sometimes nice to watch a series that revels in its own fantasy-ness; it’s so different from Game of Thrones, which was so much more political. And there’s so many women on The Witcher, all of them so different and all of whom have such fascinating relationships and conversations with each other. Geralt may technically be the main character, but really, it’s the women who are the linchpin of this show.

I don’t think I’ve watched anything else? I’ve just been watching a ton of Youtube. Booktube, mostly. I’ve watched some random episodes of stuff on Hulu, just trying to catch up to shows that I already watch.

Life Update

December was a very hectic month for me. I had several phone interviews with various institutions, and then one of those turned into an intense in-person interview way upstate, which involved a flight and a stay at a hotel, and then I had another full interview, only this one was virtual, because I was interviewing with a school that operates entirely online. Meaning that the position I was interviewing for is a work from home position.

And I got it. I’m going to be a work from home librarian.

It still feels slightly surreal to say this, but it’s ironclad now that I’ve signed the contract; I start the first week of February. I am…beyond excited that I will be working full-time from home with a good salary; it just seem way too good to be true. Working from home has always been a dream of mine, but I never thought that I would actually achieve it while doing something that I enjoy, or making decent money. So for this to have happened to me just feels…so wonderful that I’m struggling to believe it or properly put it into words.

I have been with my current job for five years and two months now, which is an astonishingly long time; it’s the longest I’ve ever been in one place, ever, in my entire life. On the one hand, this has been wonderful, because I’ve gotten to form close relationships with coworkers and I’ve developed deep institutional knowledge and I’ve gained the kind of easy respect and recognition that comes from seniority. On the other hand, it also means I’ve stagnated in a lot of ways, and I’ve been feeling the desire to move on for quite some time. It would have been difficult to move locations for a new job at this juncture, so this work from home job, which will allow me to switch to a new position without moving anywhere, feels like a godsend.

I have high hopes that this will lead to a significant improvement in my standard of living, and will leave me with extra time and energy to commit to my first priority, which is writing books. So much of my time now is taken up by going to work and getting home from work and then recovering from that commute; working from home is going to save me at least five hours a day.

It’s been a whirlwind month and it’s been full of so much stress, which is why I’ve struggled to read, but now that everything is settled I hope to get back in the swing of things soon!

5 thoughts on “Monthly Wrap-Up: December 2019

  1. Congratulations on the new job Hadeer! It sounds like it will be perfect for you! My commute isn’t even that bad – usually between 30 and 45 minutes each way – but I remember the joy of working right across the street from me and how much time that saved, so I imagine this will make a huge difference.

    I just watched the first two episodes of Witcher yesterday with friends and I think I’m intrigued enough to keep watching (or half-watching anyway) and see how it plays out, but I’m not hooked yet.

    Another friend had a similar opinion about the Holly Black series, had trouble with the first book but enjoyed 2 and 3 quite a lot so I may have to give them a try.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Congratulations on the new job! Out of interest, what does the online librarian job entail?

    Monster She Wrote sounds like and excellent book!


    1. Thank you!

      I believe my work will be a lot of reference, so answering reference questions via email and phone and live chat, and then also doing lots of webinars, and also various projects like research guides and whatnot! I’ll probably post more about what it all entails once I find out more, haha!


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