What a weird month! I was still struggling with bronchitis for the first part of it, we had another fairly involved renovation project going on, and then I got another virus that laid me low with a fever and sore throat for a week – which all added up to almost no Christmas spirit! I don’t have a SINGLE Christmas decoration in this house! Ah well.
The good news is, the week of resting from the virus took care of my lingering bronchitis, and I’m back to feeling completely well – with that added awesomeness that only comes after you’ve been low-grade sick for a while. (I get up every morning and think, “I can breathe! I can breathe!”) I’ve got some 2018 resolutions involving various housekeeping and house-painting projects, I’ve given a firm, “I am not working more than three days a week!” answer to my spring job at the greenhouse (which last year ended up more like 55 hours a week for over a month…), and overall things are just feeling good.
Reading-wise, December has been solid. This has been my best year of blogging so far. I finally feel like I have a good pattern for reviews – the monthly minireviews have really helped me to get past reviews that just aren’t that involved, and I’ve started taking a few notes every time I finish a book, so even if the review happens several days later, I’m better able to revive my feelings towards the story. I’m excited about continuing into 2018.
Favorite December Read
I had a couple of really enjoyable reads this month, but nothing that just wowed me. I think I’m going to put Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore in this slot, as it’s the book I’m most likely to reread. It was quirky and entertaining, and I really liked all of the characters.
Most Disappointing December Read
I didn’t have any huge bombs this month, but my most disappointing book was probably Son by Lois Lowry. It dragged on forever and didn’t really seem to have much of a point. It was especially disappointing because The Giver is so brilliant. But the other three books just didn’t work for me.
Other December Reads
- Album of Horses by Marguerite Henry – 4/5 – a really fun children’s nonfiction book with awesome illustrations.
- A Beautiful Blue Death by Charles Finch – 3/5 – I wanted to like this more than I did.
- Best Worst Mistake by Lia Riley – 3/5 – Cute story that could have benefited from a lot less sex.
- Bronco Charlie by Henry Larom – 4/5 – another great children’s book – with more great illustrations!
- The Burnaby Books by Anne Emery – 3.5/5 – these five books were really enjoyable reads about the ups and downs of high school and college life.
- The Divine Conquest by A.W. Tozer – 5/5 – don’t read if you aren’t ready to be challenged.
- A Drop in the Ocean by Jenni Ogden – 3/5 – a decent novel, but the ending really aggravated me, as did the romantic emphasis.
- Gathering Blue – by Lois Lowry – 3.5/5 – Intriguing, but a little strange.
- The Giver by Lois Lowry – 4.5/5 – Brilliant.
- The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben – 3/5 – a book I wanted to like but just didn’t.
- A Lady of Quality by Georgette Heyer – 4/5 – classic Heyer.
- Last First Kiss by Lia Riley – 3/5 – formulaic but pleasant.
- The Little Lady Agency by Hester Browne – 3/5 – intriguing premise, but just kind of depressing and boring in execution.
- The Man Upstairs and Other Stories by P.G. Wodehouse – 3/5 – an alright collection, but honestly not very Wodehouse-y.
- Messenger by Lois Lowry – 2/5 – What the heck?!
- November 9 by Colleen Hoover – 3/5 – an engaging read, but Ben was just a bit too creepy for me to get behind the ship.
- Right Wrong Guy by Lia Riley – 3/5 – nice romance, but a little too sexy.
- The Rose-Garden Husband by Margaret Widdemer – 4/5 – predictable but so warm and happy.
- The September Society by Charles Finch – 3/5 – just a bit too prosy to be actually enjoyable.
- The Wishing-Ring Man by Margaret Widdemer – 4.5/5 – a weird beginning, but overall so happy and enjoyable.
- The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn – 4/5 – compulsively readable, engaging, but not brilliant.
In Decembers Past…
Now that I’ve been doing my Rearview Mirrors for two years, I thought it would be fun to see what my favorite and least-favorite reads were from those years.
Last year was a toss-up between two very different but both very enjoyable books – A Life in Letters (edited by Sophie Ratcliffe) is a fascinating collection of Wodehouse’s letters throughout his life, with very thoughtful and interesting biographical information to link them. I still use this book as a reference when I am starting new Wodehouse books, to see if he had anything personal to say about them! The other awesome book last December was Daisy in Chains by Sharon Bolton. It felt like everyone thought this book was amazing, so I was a little scared – but it totally lived up to the hype. I guessed some of the twists, but definitely not all of them. I didn’t want to do anything except read this book when I was reading this book! Just reading my review makes me want to read this book again!
My most disappointing book in December 2016 was Love’s Haven by Catherine Palmer – one of those books that is so terrible that I genuinely have no idea why I finished it!
In December 2015 I was reading Nora Robert’s Bridal Quartet, which has become one of my go-tos for warm, fuzzy romance without a lot of thinking. The final book in the series, Happy Ever After, was my favorite for the month.
In contrast, I found Rainbow Rowell’s Carry On to be pretty meh fare.
Sadly, I did a some research and realized that I had a BUNCH of books on my physical shelves – mostly nonfiction – that wasn’t on the Personal TBR list. Tragically, it increased my number by quite a lot… but now I feel like I’m on the right track there. So there’s that.
For those of you who don’t know, I’m weirdly obsessive with organizing the TBR, and have it on a spreadsheet divided into five different tabs:
- Standalones: 820 (DOWN THREE! DOWN!)
- Nonfiction: 85 (steady)
- Personal (which includes all books I own (fiction and nonfiction), but lists any series I own as only one entry…): 670 (up by so many)
- Series (each series counted separately, not each book within a series): 226 (down one!)
- Mystery Series (each series counted separately, not each book within a series): 105 (down one!)
Overall, a good month! Not counting my Personal tab, which was really just recalculating because I didn’t buy
any very many books this month, I actually managed to drop five!
Would you believe… nothing?? All I have in the pile right now are four Love Inspired titles, because I’m reading Love Inspired #5, because I review them in batches of five. So I’m actually caught up as we head into the new year!
- Montana Hearts by Charlotte Carter – aforementioned Love Inspired title. Actually not that terrible.
- Manna from Hades by Carola Dunn – first book in her Cornish Mysteries series. I liked the Daisy Dalrymple series on the whole, so I thought I’d give this one a go, especially since there are only four books!
- The Mapmakers by John Noble Wilford – a nonfiction read on the history of maps and their creation. Now that I’m done with the incredibly lengthy chapter that just whines about how horrible Christians ruined everyone’s lives by hating science in the Middle Ages, the book is picking up in interest.
- Waiting for Normal by Leslie Connor – a children’s book that is actually rather heartbreaking in a not-exactly-sad way?? Hard to explain.
Approaching the Top of the Pile:
The probably next five reads…
- A Colourful Death by Carola Dunn – the second Cornish mystery, providing the first one isn’t trash.
- Copper-Toed Boots by Marguerite de Angeli – a beautifully illustrated children’s book that has been on my shelves forever.
- Wrestling Prayer by Eric Ludy – honestly scared of what I’m sure will be a challenging read.
- The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley – some of her books I love and some I feel really meh about, so we’ll see where this older title falls.
- The Cat and Mrs. Carey by Doris Gates – an old children’s book that I’ve had for ages about a nice old lady who inherits a house, a cat that only she can hear talking, and possibly some smugglers.