Rearview Mirror // December 2021

Woohoo!! I made it to the end of December’s reviews!!!  Thank you all for believing in me.  I thought this day would never come!

Favorite December Read

I actually loved Hercule Poirot’s Christmas.  It was clever, Christmasy, and full of Christie’s wry humor.  A definite win.

Most Disappointing December Read

Probably Mistletoe at Moonglow.  I still have no idea what was going on with Mist or why she was supposed to be somehow inspiring.  I just found her annoying.

Other December Reads

December Stats

  • Total Number of Books Read:  27 (six on Kindle)
  • Total Pages Read:  7910
  • Average Star Rating for December:  3.68
  • Longest Book: Forest of Souls (382 pages)
  • Shortest Book:  The Birds’ Christmas Carol (69 pages)
  • Oldest Book:  The Birds’ Christmas Carol (published 1886)
  • Newest Book: The Christmas Escape and The Holiday Swap were published this year.
  • Number of New-to-Me Authors:  8

December DNFs

I only noted down two, although I think there were probably more when I saw skimming through Kindle Unlimited options haha

  • The Christmas Room by Catherine Anderson – my only note here is “nope” so that’s my main review LOL  As far as I can remember this book, for the first hundred pages anyway, was not Christmasy in the least, and contained several characters who just annoyed me.  The supposed “meet cute” kind of situation of the younger guy meeting the rich guy’s daughter involved the dude straight-up asking her if she was a virgin???  So that already had me giving this book the side eyes.  The rich guy is just over-the-top obnoxious and mean to his daughter, verging on abusive.  And the younger guy’s mom or grandma or whoever she was was just as annoying.  The younger couple are always having to sneak around.  The dude has a teenage son who is spying on them and says it’s because he’s low-key hoping to catch them having sex?!!??!!?  That was when I jettisoned this one because that was just grade-A creepy.
  • Flora’s Traveling Christmas Shop by Rebecca Raisin – So this sounds like a book I would enjoy.  Flora loses her job before Christmas and decides to buy a camper van and travel to Lapland for a huge Christmas festival, selling little Christmas gizmos.  But Flora herself had me bailing on this book after just a few chapters.  She was SO. OBNOXIOUS.  Like I’m okay with Christmas romances having a character who is a little obsessed with Christmas – it adds to the fun.  The main character in The Little Christmas Shop on Nutcracker Lane was totally over-the-top with her Christmas love and it didn’t bother me at all.  I actually read that one shortly after I bailed on this one, so I thought quite a bit about why Flora aggravated the bejeezers out of me and Nia didn’t.  My conclusion was that, for lack of a better term, Flora is basically a Christmas gatekeeper.  She’s aggressive and demanding and if you don’t know the names of all of Santa’s reindeer then she literally considers that a good reason to not have a relationship with you.  She starts conversations with perfect strangers by shooting Christmas trivia questions at them like she’s some kind gestapo.  She has to sell some of her Christmas décor to fund her new camper van lifestyle, but acts like she is adopting out a child or something, trying to find “worthy” homes for her stuff.  She’s grating and obnoxious and acts like everyone else is the problem because they don’t have enough “Christmas spirit.”  It was horrible.  Nia, on the other hand, is warm and gracious.  She loves Christmas and loves sharing Christmas.  When the male MC of that story doesn’t like the holiday because of bad childhood memories, she doesn’t act like he’s stupid or unreasonable – instead, she invites him to join her in creating new Christmas memories while she shares parts of the holiday that are meaningful for her.  Yes, she loves to wear ridiculous Christmas sweaters, watch al the Christmas movies, and believes in a bit of Christmas magic, but she does it with a genuine warmth and a welcoming attitude that made her believable and made the male MC’s gradual warming towards Christmas (and Nia) also believable.  So yeah, that got a little rambly, but trying to read Flora made me kind of think about why some Christmas romances work for me and some don’t – and the difference in the way those two main characters handled their Christmas obsession was definitely a bit part of it.

TBR Update

This I keep updated as I go, so it’s current as of today, rather than as of the end of December.  HOWEVER I did have the forethought to note down my stats before adding my first January read, so my overall 2021 stats should be accurate for the year!!

For those of you who don’t know, I’m weirdly obsessive with organizing the TBR, and have it on a spreadsheet divided into six different tabs:

  • Standalones:  497 (holding steady)
  • Nonfiction:  129 (holding steady)
  • Personal (which includes all books I own (fiction and nonfiction), but lists any series I own as only one entry…):  634 (down six!)
  • Series (each series counted separately, not each book within a series):  250 (holding steady)
  • Mystery Series (each series counted separately, not each book within a series): 110 (holding steady)
  • New Arrivals – (I have a lot of books that I have been gifted or that I pick up somewhere and they get put on my “oh I’m so excited about this shiny new book” shelf… and then of course don’t actually get read.): 158 (up seven!)

Current Reads

  • David Copperfield by Charles Dickens – I’m doing a pretty good job of sticking to a chapter-a-day with this one and am better than halfway.  Uriah Heep!  I’m amazed at how absolutely creepy and believable he is as a character!  And what a name!  I’m actually thoroughly enjoying this book – I definitely need to read more Dickens!!
  • Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott – This was my February draw for the classics I’m trying to read this year, so it’s another chapter-a-day book.  It’s a little harder for me to get into than Dickens, but things are starting to happen now.  I’m amazed at how anti-Semitic it is (although so were the times so).  This is one of those random books that I have literally meant to read my entire life but just never have.
  • The Golden Road by L.M. Montgomery – February’s Montgomery book is the sequel to The Story Girl.  Episodic like the first book, it’s still full of fun little stories, although perhaps not quite as lighthearted.
  • An Old-Fashioned Girl by Louisa May Alcott – Another reread for me, but it’s one of my all-time favorites, so when I saw it was a buddy read on Litsy, I jumped in.  I still absolutely love this story so much and have so many passages underlined.  One of the formative books of my youth and still a top-10 favorite of all-time.
  • The Duke and I by Julia Quinn – The Bridgerton series has been everywhere since Netflix decided to miniseries it.  I got this one in a book swap, so I decided to read it next as I was in the mood for some romance.  So far, I love the banter not just between the two romantic interests, but the entire Bridgerton family.  I do love some good sibling relationships!  My only concern is seeing how spicy these get.

Last Time on “Up Next”

Did I actually read my probable next five reads from last month?

  • The Fire by Katherine Neville – Yes!  I didn’t enjoy this one nearly as much as The Eight, though.
  • Sarah’s Ground by Ann Rinaldi – Kind of!  I started this one and bailed on it.  It just wasn’t for me.
  • The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway – Yes!  I think I liked it??  It wasn’t a bad read, but it also wasn’t a story I see myself returning to.  But I Have to give it credit for lingering in my brain for quite a while after finishing.
  • For the Wolf by Hannah Whitten – Yes!  Mixed feelings on this one.  I liked the story and concept, but the world-building was super uneven and made it hard to get into the book.
  • The Girl Who Could Breathe Under Water by Erin Bartels – Yes!  And I actually even already reviewed it!

Up Next

The probable next five(ish) reads –

So I have a huge list of books for February and am not exactly sure which order I am going to tackle them in!  But here’s a guess.

  • The Viscount Who Loved Me by Julia Quinn – If the first Bridgerton book ends well, I’ll pick up the second since it’s already on my shelf – somehow I got gifted this one as well!
  • A Deal With the Elf King by Elise Kova – This is another traveling book club book, so I honestly don’t know anything about it haha
  • Rose Daughter by Robin McKinley – A group on Litsy does a Fairy Tale Reading Challenge where each month is a different fairy tale and you read the original and/or variations.  February is Beauty & the Beast and I have sooo many variations of that one on my TBR!  This one is a reread, but it’s been SO long that I don’t remember anything about it, just that I didn’t love it as much as McKinley’s other B&B variation, Beauty.
  • Family for Beginners by Sarah Morgan – I’ve really enjoyed Morgan’s Christmas books, so I’m looking forward to reading a not-Christmasy one!
  • The White Cottage Mystery by Margery Allingham – This one was also gifted to me and is just such a pretty edition that I really hope I love it and want to keep it forever haha  Allingham is another Golden Age mystery writer who I’ve never read, so I’m looking forward to this little dabble into her works.

So that’s a wrap for December!! Next, I’ll be back (someday) with a 2021 Rearview Mirror!!