Rearview Mirror // December 2018

I am literally struggling to believe that it is not only the end of December, but the end of 2018!  I’ve been told that the older you get, the faster the time goes, and I can attest to that fact for sure!

December is traditionally a busy month, with much holiday excitement.  My mom really loves Christmas a lot.  We were home schooled growing up, and usually took the entire month of December off (except for math, which was a year-round subject haha) to focus on making gifts, baking cookies, visiting grandparents for candy-making, and various other Christmasy adventures.  While I’m not quite as into Christmas as Mom, I still did manage to get some decorations up, including a Very Small Tree (hopefully next year our back-porch-becomes-a-sun-room project will actually be finished and a REAL tree can go there!).  This is better than last year (I was sick a lot of November and December) when I put up ZERO Christmas decorations.  I realize Christmas decorations aren’t all there is to Christmas (I’ve watched enough Christmas movies! :-D), but having a little tree and some tinsel around really does make me happy.  There have been some weird things going on in our family, so Christmas wasn’t completely like normal, but for the most part we still had a good time with lots of laughter and food.

As a side note, for Christmas my brother got me a book about the Vietnam War to follow up on Embers of Warso that’s exciting!  I also have some Christmas money that will probably be spent on books (and washi tape if I’m honest).  As always, I gave my two nieces (cousins to each other, three months apart) books, because that is who I am as an aunt, and this year they were introduced to the delights of The Moffats.  Books have always been a big part of our Christmases.

I overall had a pretty low-energy month here on the blog.  Things have still been busy, so I have still been on a track of fluff reading.  I worked in some other books, but then got distracted by a ridiculous chick lit series that I’ve now almost finished.  Hopefully next month I’ll be ready to actually hit some of the thrillers sitting on my shelf from the library.  I just haven’t been feeling it!

Favorite December Read:

This slot definitely has to go to All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater.  This was a hauntingly delightful and thought-provoking book, although reviews of it revealed it to be a bit of a marmite book as well.  I fell firmly into the “love” camp, even though I can see how the language of the story, which honestly reads more like a folk tale, could be annoying to some.  The characters, the story, the sense of place – everything was wonderful, and I enjoyed every page.

Most Disappointing December Read:

Although it wasn’t the book I rated the lowest, I think that Early Candlelightby Maud Hart Lovelace, was my most disappointing read of the month.  While not a bad book, the story was somewhat slow and meandery, and I could never quite grasp what the huge “class difference” was between the two main characters.  After enjoying the Betsy-Tacy books so much, I had somewhat high expectations for this one, so I was rather let down when it just turned out to be a rather meh read.

Other December Reads:

  • Bare Minimum Parenting by James Breakwell – 3.5* – a fun, tongue-in-cheek parenting guide that nonetheless does manage to, almost accidentally, provide some decent parenting advice.
  • The Coming of Bill by P.G. Wodehouse – 3.5* – much more serious than usual Wodehouse fare, but not a bad story.
  • Embers of War by Frederik Logevall – 4.5* – really sweeping nonfiction about Vietnam leading up to the American Vietnam War.
  • Enclave by Thomas Locke – 3* – a book that would have ranked higher if it had contained more world-building and/or a more conclusive ending.
  • Farmer Giles of Ham by J.R.R. Tolkien – 4* – a children’s story that was fun and a bit silly.
  • The Other Wife by Michael Robotham – 4* – in a month that didn’t include All the Crooked Saints, this would have been my favorite read.  A few untidy ends, but overall enthralling read and a great addition to the series.
  • Smoky the Cow Horse by Will James – 4* – a Newbery book that was actually an engaging little read – a sort of western Black Beauty tale.

Last December…

I was still recovering from bronchitis, and then got MORE sick on top of that… but all the lounging about meant I did get some reading in!  While I didn’t have any amazing or horrific reads, I did enjoy Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore quite a bit.  I reread that one this summer and found it just as fun the second time around.  On the other hand, I was really disappointed in Lois Lowry’s Son.  While I still think The Giver is a brilliant book, the rest of the stories in the quartet, especially Son, left me feeling confused.

TBR Update:

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:  887 (up 6)
  • Nonfiction:  83 (up 2)
  • Personal (which includes all books I own (fiction and nonfiction), but lists any series I own as only one entry…):  675 (down two!)
  • Series (each series counted separately, not each book within a series):  238 (holding steady)
  • Mystery Series (each series counted separately, not each book within a series): 108 (holding steady)

Awaiting Review:

I’ve been reading an absolutely ridiculous chick lit series called the Weekday Brides by Catherine Bybee.  I’m on the last one now and am planning to review the series as a whole.  They’ve been silly but fun.  Nice for quick reading during holiday craziness!

Current Reads:

Just Treasured by Thursday.  Next month, I may begin my method of reading multiple books at a time again, but for now things have been too busy to keep more than one book straight.

Approaching the Top of the Pile:

The probable next five reads…

This list never seems to end up being accurate!!!

  • I’m hoping to read The Runaway Princess by Kate Coombs, which my mom loaned me months ago and I still haven’t read.
  • For Christmas, my sister got a hard copy of one of her favorite books, Followed by Frost by Charlie Holmberg.  Even though I didn’t like the Paper Magician series by Holmberg when I read it earlier this year, I’m still going to give this one a go.
  • I had a book come in on hold that I won’t be able to renew.  It’s the first book in a series, so if I like it (the book is Simply Irresistible by Rachel Gibson) I’ll read the rest of the series.  It’s like romcom sports or something so there’s a high probability that I won’t like it, but we’ll see!
  • I still have several books that I received in random book boxes, including Ana of California by Andi Teran.  It’s kind of supposed to be a modern Anne of Green Gables so it could be fun or it could be extremely terrible.
  • Finally, I somehow ended up with several thrillers from the library and have NOT been in a thriller mood since I got them!  The first one in the pile is Sweet Little Lies by Caz Frear.  And if I like it, there’s a sequel coming out next summer!!

Happy January!!!