Rearview Mirror // December 2019

The end of the year!  The end of the decade!  How does time go so fast??  This year has FLOWN by.  It has had its ups and downs, but so much of life is learning to embrace the good while learning from the bad.

December was a super busy month with lots of family shenanigans.  I still managed to wedge in a lot of reading, though!

Favorite December Read

(pictured with my readathon time at the time haha)

So basically Arthur Ransome has been my favorite for the second half of 2019, and December was no exception.   Winter Holiday was an absolute delight that I wanted to have last forever.  I can’t wait to continue this series in 2020!!

Most Disappointing December Read

As usual, I had several meh reads.  But I think I have to tag The Coat-Hanger Christmas Tree for this slot.  I’m still not over the mom in that story and how unreasonable she was about her kids having a Christmas tree!  I expect better from Eleanor Estes!

By the Numbers

In December –

  • I read 8254 pages across 28 books.  That’s my second-biggest reading month (June had more).
  • My average star rating was 3.8.  I had a lot of enjoyable 3.5* and 4* reads this month.
  • Once again, I only read one Kindle book.  I seem to go through cycles of Kindle reading, and I have not been on one for a few months!
  • This month’s oldest book was Susan Coolidge’s In the High Valley, originally published in 1890.
  • Nora Roberts captured the longest book yet again with Northern Lights which clocked an impressive 637 pages!

December DNFs

I had two this month, and they were right in a row.  I’ve had The Fairest of Them All by Carolyn Turgeon on my shelf for quite some time – it came in some book box or another.  I loved the concept – a mashup of Rapunzel and Snow White, wherein Rapunzel ends up being the evil stepmother from Snow White.  However, the story was just too angsty and ridiculous for me.  About 70 pages in, I finally started skimming to see if things were going to get better and instead they got worse, including a completely bizarre and creepy incest situation, so I called it quits.

My second DNF was Match Made in Manhattan (by Amanda Stauffer), which sounds like it should be up my alley.  Alison decides to try an online dating service, and the book is comprised of the different guys/dates from the website.  I read about half of this book before again skimming through the rest.  Alison got on my nerves from the first chapter, and then continued to get on my nerves throughout the book, and it didn’t look like that was going to change.  There were several things that annoyed me right off – the whole set up for this book is Alison breaking up with her boyfriend of several years because he doesn’t want to move in with her until they get married.  Like literally the guy mentions getting married as part of their future relationship, but because he wants to postpone their plan to move in together, Alison decides he isn’t committed enough and breaks up with him.  So in my mind she’s already set herself up as kind of ridiculous, because that’s the reason she throws over her boyfriend of several years?!

Next, the actual format of the book was confusing, which also ties in with reason #3 that this book wasn’t for me.  Each chapter is a different guy that Alison meets.  But it turns out that Alison has decided that the most efficient way to do this dating thing is by setting up multiple dates at a time (reason #3).  I can understand this (kind of) for just a first date, since frequently the first date shows that there will be no second date.  But there were several times that Alison went out with the same guy several times in a row, but was also continuing to meet/date new guys on the side.  This felt extremely strange to me, like “I’ll stick with this guy unless something better comes along”??  It also made the format of the book very choppy, as it moved forward and backward in time since various relationships were overlapping.  A more linear viewpoint would have made the book easier to read, and also made it more obvious that Alison was somewhat of a jerk.  I just felt like if the story was about a dude doing this, the concept would be presented as him being a player trying to get around, and I didn’t like it.

There were some decent parts about the story – this could easily have devolved into Alison sleeping around, and it didn’t, because she had some standards/rules that she stuck with.  There were several side characters that I liked, and some of the dates were fun ideas.  But I just didn’t like Alison ever, at any point of the story.  She was consistently self-centered about every relationship and frequently unreasonable in her demands.  And after skimming through to the end, I was even more glad that I didn’t bother to actually read it.  Ah well, at least it’s another book off the TBR!

TBR Update

Speaking of which!  I’m slowly (SLOWLY) getting caught up on reading everyone else’s blog entries.  I’m in the middle of November now!!  However, it does mean that more books have been creeping onto my lists!

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:  446 (up eight)
  • Nonfiction:  105 (holding steady)
  • Personal (which includes all books I own (fiction and nonfiction), but lists any series I own as only one entry…):  655 (up one)
  • Series (each series counted separately, not each book within a series):  236 (up one)
  • Mystery Series (each series counted separately, not each book within a series): 112 (down one)

Awaiting Review

I did a lot of reading in December, so there is still a little pile of reviews that need to happen –

  • Mariana by Susana Kearsley – this is a book I wouldn’t have picked up on my own, but had to read it as part of a Litsy traveling book club I’m in.  I ended up really enjoying it, even though it isn’t my usual type of romance.
  • Little Face by Sophie Hannah – I feel like I see Sophie Hannah’s books around the blogosphere a lot, but this was my first time actually reading one.  Not a bad mystery, but it also wasn’t for me.
  • 10 Blind Dates by Ashley Elston – okay, honestly this is more of what I was expecting when I read Match Made in Manhattan.  This story was SO adorable.
  • The Martian by Andy Weir – I wasn’t sure that I was going to like this book, but it actually ended up being a lot of fun.
  • Winter Holidays by Arthur Ransome – like I said at the beginning of this post, this book was just too, too fun.  I love this series so much.
  • Northern Lights by Nora Roberts – I’m almost through the box of random Nora Roberts books that someone gave me.  This one was romantic suspense and was pretty fun.
  • The Man in the Brown Suit by Agatha Christie – a reread of one of my favorite Christie books.
  • The Storm Keeper’s Island by Catherine Doyle – a decent middle grade book that I liked but didn’t love.  There’s a sequel that I would like to read to find out what happens, but the library doesn’t have it, so I haven’t decided if it’s really worth $8 to find out the end.

Currently Reading

Although I don’t usually read ARCs, I have two to read this month.  One of them is Off Balance by Aileen Erin, which is the sequel to Off Planet, which I read last year.  I’m currently rereading Off Planet so I can remember more of the details of what was going on!

The Probable Next Few(ish) Reads

I have not been doing a good job sticking with my list lately, but we’ll see what happens!!  These may not be the actual next few reads, but here are the books I’ve committed to reading sometime in January, mostly thanks to Litsy –

  • Not the Girl You Marry by Andie Christopher – I’ve heard mixed reviews, so we’ll see what happens.  This is the next book for my Litsy traveling book club, and out of the two people who have read it before me, one loved it and one hated it!
  • A Man Called Ove; Beartown; and Us Against You by Fredrick Backman – again, thanks to Litsy!  One of the members there has an author a month.  I’ve always meant to read some of Backman’s books, so this seems like a great chance to try them out, especially Beartown.
  • How to Stop Time by Matt Haig; Cogheart by Peter Bunzl; The Explorer by Katherine Rundell – along with The Storm Keeper’s Island, these are all books for a Litsy group called #NewYearWhoDis.  Another Litten is hosting the group, and basically she had people sign up and list several books they LOVED in 2019.  Then, she took the time to carefully match people together who she thought would enjoy each other’s lists!  So these are the books on my match’s list, mostly middle grade reads, which I actually quite enjoy.
  • Off Balance by Aileen Erin and Collateral Damage by Lynette Eason – two ARCs this month, which is kind of weird for me.
  • Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne – I’m hosting my own fun on Litsy by having a book spin every month, based on the book spin I’ve seen the Classics Club do here on WordPress.  Anyone who wants to chooses 20 books from their TBR and posts the lists, then I draw a number and everyone reads that number book.  80 Days is my draw – I’ve really been meaning to read some more Verne!

Well, happy January everyone!  I’ll try to get a 2019 Rearview out soon!!