Wednesday, April 21, 2021

What I Read in December

Oh, my gosh. I'm finally wrapping up my 2020 reading. Listen: no matter what I say to try and convince you that I'm on top of things, don't believe me. I will inevitably end up under a mountain of intentions. Maybe I'll figure it out in my 40's. But probably not. 


Okay I'm the worst, yadda yadda, onto the books!

All the books I read in December 2020 |

The Dinner List by Rebecca Serle (4.5 Stars)
Why did no one tell me how gorgeously complicated and heartbreaking this book was??? I thought it was a cute little kitschy book about that game we've all played - the "dead or alive, who would you invite to have dinner with if you could choose anyone?" And while it was that, it was SO much more. Sabrina actually gets to live out this scenario for her thirtieth birthday. She doesn't know how it comes to pass - is it a dream? An actual fantastical occurrence? Is she hallucinating? The crazy thing is, the reader never gets to know, either. And the experiences and closure she has with each of her dinner guests are deep and messy and gorgeous and profound and I LOVED going along for the journey. This book is so underrated!

Home Body by Rupi Kaur (4 Stars)
I love Rupi Kaur's poetry - even though it gets a bit darker than I can relate to at times, she has a way of really getting *right* to the heart of the human experience. I liked this newest collection more than one of her others - definitely worth a read.

A Princess for Christmas by Jenny Holiday (3 Stars)
I was in the mood for something Christmasy and this popped up on my libby app as an audiobook. It was a cute story to listen to while I baked and did Christmasy things around the house. The story follows a single taxi driver who finds himself playing chauffeur to a visiting princess. The two become friends as they navigate NYC, and the rest unfolds much like a Hallmark movie. Super cute!

A Promised Land by Barack Obama (3 Stars)
If you've considered reading this book, you might want to make sure you have a whole lot of time on your hands! I listened to this one as an audiobook and it was nearly 30 hours long! It was super interesting, but not at all concise. I loved having his point of view as he went through his life, campaigned, became president, and dealt with the crises that came up along the way. It even made me laugh to hear him swear and go through some of the situations he found himself in. This was interesting, educational, and worth it (for me)...but it was looong and a bit dry, and didn't find myself feeling overly entertained or enraptured, so I only gave it 3 stars. Also: there's apparently a whole part 2 coming?! Barry likes to talk! haha

Normal People by Sally Rooney (4 Stars)
I walked into this book with a big helping of skepticism - both because I'd heard mixed reviews and because it didn't have any dialogue punctuation. So weird! While that definitely made the usual breakup of paragraphs and pages a little strange to navigate, I didn't otherwise miss it. The story was so well done and emotionally heartbreaking in all the right ways that after a while, I hardly noticed. This book revolves around two friends (that have sometimes been more than friends) while their life circumstances and social status sort of ebb and flow and trade places. They have to keep adjusting and shifting in order to remain in each other's lives, while both working with their deep, seemingly endless, sometimes impossible to explain connection. I loved it!

The Christmas Town by Donna VanLiere (3 Stars)
This was a cute little book I'd gotten from a book sale for pennies. The holidays felt like the perfect time to give it a shot. It follows Lauren as she finds herself in the adorable, highly-connected small town of Grandon where love and hope and support are intricately woven through the people she meets. This is for sure a story about redemption and building a good life out of very little, which was sweet and satisfying for Christmas. I love watching her friendships bloom as she finds purpose in her new life, as well as cheering her on with her potential love interest. It was cute, at times a little preachy, but definitely a good cozy Christmas story.

Majesty by Katherine McGee (3 Stars)
This book...kind of took me by surprise. It is the second in the American Royals series (which explores the concept of a Royal Family in America with some revisionist history), and I LOVED the first one. December 2020 Book StackIt was so full of angst and longing that I couldn't wait to see what would happen in the next installment. It was a good story, and the author definitely did a good job changing your mind about who belonged with who, but NONE of the couples that I was rooting for before the publication of this book turned out. I'm not sure how I feel about it? It sort of ended in a "okay that makes sense" way. I appreciated it in the way some people are Team Jacob. Healthy, logical, sane, comfortable. But it didn't have the spark and excitement of the first book and its cast of potential partners. I still liked it! It was worth a read. But the first book is better, for sure.

In a Holidaze by Christina Lauren (5 Stars)
AH! This book comes around again. How could I let December pass without giving it another read? I've already reviewed this one HERE and HERE, so I won't do it again...but 100% add this to your reading list this year! In December for sure!

The Answer Is... by Alex Trebek (4 Stars)
Man...this book! I listened to it as an audiobook and I 100% recommend that you do!! The book is mostly read by Ken Jennings, but there are certain parts that Alex read himself and I loved that! I love when authors read their own books. Alex was an incredibly interesting man! His life was fascinating to hear about. And the end? Oh my gosh the end. I won't spoil what he said, but I cried. 

The Twelve Dates of Christmas by Jenny Bayliss (4 Stars)
This was another one of those "available so I'll listen to it" audiobooks that I played while I was doing Christmasy things around the house. Of the two I listened to this month, this was my favorite. This one was a holiday-themed, England-based romance about a designer/baker named Kate. Her friend convinces her to give a holiday-themed dating exercise a shot, and she starts her journey through both comical and terrible dates. While none of them seem to promise her love, she does make friends and have a lot of fun along the way. I loved listening to her Christmasy adventures and seeing where her romantic prospects might actually lie. Super cute!

Ex-Mas by Kate Brian (3 Stars)
Phew, this one narrowly avoided a 2-star rating. It was just SO cheesy. The book starts out with popular girl Lila attempting to throw a big party while her parents are away, but her much younger little brother tattles on her. She retaliates by telling him the North Pole is melting, which prompts her brother to run away and attempt to make it to Santa in time to make a difference. Because Lila is in charge of her brother over her parent-less weekend, she ends up on a road trip with an ex who didn't rise to popularity along with her. The end of the story is cute, and the relationship Lila and her ex Tyler develops in a way that redeems them both a bit, which is what bumped it up an extra star for me. But overall? It was pretty painful to read through. That may just be because it's aimed at a much younger crowd, though!

The Cosmic Power Within You by Joseph Murphy (4 Stars)
This was pretty good! I've said this before, but I'm a bit desensitized to spiritual/self-help books at this point. I've read so many that most of the principles out there are a little redundant and not earth-shattering, but I do love it when an author confirms something I've already come to believe in their own words. This was one of those books for me! If you're intrigued by manifestation and co-creation, this is a good one to add to your list!

And that does it for 2020! Finally.
Despite all of the other disappointments in 2020, it was a great reading year for me! I'm hoping for an even better one this year. I'll start sharing some 2021 books I've read soon!

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