Posted in Books and Shows

December: What I’ve Been Reading

I read 6 Christmas themed books this month, and I’m sharing them with you today!

Honestly, for the sake of time, I’m sharing the Good Reads summary and just a few quick thoughts.

Long story short, I enjoyed all of the books, and they were perfect reads leading up to Christmas. Not that you can’t read these books at any time of the year, but I will make sure to share this post next November leading into Christmas 2021. Next year, I may try to read a few holiday books in November in order to share titles sooner!

Seven Days of Us:

It’s Christmas, and for the first time in years the entire Birch family will be under one roof. Even Emma and Andrew’s elder daughter—who is usually off saving the world—will be joining them at Weyfield Hall, their aging country estate. But Olivia, a doctor, is only coming home because she has to. Having just returned from treating an epidemic abroad, she’s been told she must stay in quarantine for a week…and so too should her family.

For the next seven days, the Birches are locked down, cut off from the rest of humanity—and even decent Wi-Fi—and forced into each other’s orbits. Younger, unabashedly frivolous daughter Phoebe is fixated on her upcoming wedding, while Olivia deals with the culture shock of being immersed in first-world problems.

As Andrew sequesters himself in his study writing scathing restaurant reviews and remembering his glory days as a war correspondent, Emma hides a secret that will turn the whole family upside down.

In close proximity, not much can stay hidden for long, and as revelations and long-held tensions come to light, nothing is more shocking than the unexpected guest who’s about to arrive…

My thoughts:

I mentioned this book in a previous post about how odd the timing was to read while currently living through a pandemic. The family is in quarantine together at Christmastime because the daughter has just returned home after treating patients in Liberia who are experiencing a virus. This book was probably my least favorite to read and not necessarily because of the pandemic terminology. It was just kind of slow for me, but I did finish it and liked it.

Mr. Dickens and His Carol:

Charles Dickens should be looking forward to Christmas. But when his latest book, ‘Martin Chuzzlewit’, is a flop, his publishers give him an ultimatum. Either he writes a Christmas book in a month or they will call in his debts and he could lose everything. Dickens has no choice but to grudgingly accept …

My thoughts:

This charming take on how A Christmas Carol came about was such a fun read. Perfect read for the holidays.

In a Holidaze:

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…but not for Maelyn Jones. She’s living with her parents, hates her going-nowhere job, and has just made a romantic error of epic proportions.

But perhaps worst of all, this is the last Christmas Mae will be at her favorite place in the world—the snowy Utah cabin where she and her family have spent every holiday since she was born, along with two other beloved families. Mentally melting down as she drives away from the cabin for the final time, Mae throws out what she thinks is a simple plea to the universe: Please. Show me what will make me happy.

The next thing she knows, tires screech and metal collides, everything goes black. But when Mae gasps awake…she’s on an airplane bound for Utah, where she begins the same holiday all over again. With one hilarious disaster after another sending her back to the plane, Mae must figure out how to break free of the strange time loop—and finally get her true love under the mistletoe.

Jam-packed with yuletide cheer, an unforgettable cast of characters, and Christina Lauren’s trademark “downright hilarious” (Helen Hoang, author of The Bride Test) hijinks, this swoon-worthy romantic read will make you believe in the power of wishes and the magic of the holidays.

My thoughts:

I’d seen many people share this book as a great holiday read, and it was. I loved the plot of Mae reliving Christmas over and over in a groundhog day like plot. This was such a cute read.

25 Days ’til Christmas:

Kate Potter used to love Christmas. A few years ago, she would have been wrapping her presents in September and baking mince pies on Halloween, counting down the days and hours to Christmas. But that was before Kate’s husband left for the army and never came home. Now she can hardly stand December at all.

Kate can’t deny she’s lonely, yet she doesn’t think she’s ready for romance. She knows that her son, Jack, needs a Christmas to remember—just like Kate needs a miracle to help her finally move forward with her life. So she’s decided if there isn’t a miracle on its way, she’ll just have to make her own.

As Kate’s advent countdown to the best Christmas ever begins, she soon realizes that even with the best laid plans, you can’t plan for the unexpected. For when the path of the loneliest woman in town crosses with that of the loneliest man, these two destined hearts might find a way to save the holiday for both of them.

My thoughts:

Of the six books I read this month, 25 Days ’til Christmas was my fave! This was a heartwarming book about a mother doing whatever it takes to make the holidays special for her son. I loved the British references and and setting. This was such a sweet little read!

Let It Snow:

Christina Antonioni is preparing for the holidays at her Nantucket toy shop, unpacking last-minute shipments and decorating for her loyal Christmas shoppers. But when her Scrooge of a landlord, Oscar Bittlesman, raises her rent, it seems nearly impossible for Christina to continue business on the wharf.

Even so, Christina hopes there is a warm heart underneath Oscar’s steely exterior. When she bonds with Wink, his sweet, young granddaughter who frequents the shop, it becomes clear that perhaps he isn’t so cold after all. And with the help of Wink’s uncle, who happens to be a charming and very handsome bachelor, this may be the best Christmas any of them could have ever imagined. Nancy Thayer’s enchanting Nantucket setting provides the perfect backdrop for this holiday love story. 

My thoughts:

I love Nancy Thayer books, but I don’t know that I’ve read a holiday book by her. The Nantucket setting at Christmas always hooks me! The plot moved right along, and I loved the characters.

Jingle All the Way:

Trapped in the middle of five siblings, Everly Lancaster always had big dreams. Now a top real-estate executive, Everly finds her work is her life, leaving no space for anything (or anyone) else. Sensing her stress, Everly’s boss insists she take December off. At first, a month away seems crazy–how will the company survive without her? But Everly’s mother convinces her otherwise. She deserves a vacation–plus, when she returns, she’ll have no excuse to skip family Christmas like she did last year.

But after her vengeful assistant books a guided cruise in the Amazon instead of the luxury beach vacation she expected, Everly is horrified to realize that she’s about to spend the next two weeks trapped–with no Wi-Fi!–in the rain forest. Not even Asher Adams, the ship’s charming naturalist, can convince Everly that the trip will be unforgettable. Slowly but surely, she realizes he is right: the sights are spectacular. And with each passing day, Everly’s relationship with Asher deepens, forcing her to take a long, hard look at her priorities.

Everly and Asher begin to see magic in the possibility of a life together. But as the cruise nears its end, and Everly’s family Christmas approaches, both must decide if love is worth the risk. A merry surprise may be in store in Debbie Macomber’s newest holiday delight.

My thoughts:

Macomber seems to be the queen of Christmas themed books, but I think this may be the first one I’ve read written by her. Like the other books I read this month, a sweet plot, a hint of romance, and the December setting made for a perfect reading selection this time of the year.

That being said, the first half of this book wasn’t very “Christmasy,” but it was short read which also made it appealing as I finished up my reading list of the month.

There are so many great holiday themed books that I do think I will try to read a couple in November next year in order to enjoy them leading up to the holidays. I’ve even thought about reading a couple in July for a “Christmas in July” themed book list!

I plan on sharing my top 5 books that I read in 2020 either tomorrow or Thursday.

Happy Reading!

Posted in Books and Shows

December Books + TOP 5 books of 2019

Happy last day of 2019! Even with the hustle and bustle of December, I was able to read 6 books this month! That being said, my first book, I started reading right around Thanksgiving and had the nine hour car ride home from KC combined with some extra time after Christmas to read as well.

I technically have a Good Reads account, but never really keep up with it. Instead, I have a note on my phone (I know, really high tech) with books I want to read (the list is getting too long) and then books I’ve read (2018 and 2019). When I looked at my list of the 40 books I read this year, my top 5 jumped right out at me! So, I thought I’d share those as well.

But first….the books I read in December.

I’m so glad I chose to read holiday books during this time. With the craziness of Christmas, I love the twinkle of the lights on the tree, peppermint mocha creamer, and the days getting darker earlier (I know, I’m weird). So, reading holiday themed books during this month, just helped the coziness creep in even more to offset the craziness of this time of the year.

One Day in December

This book was a sweet little read. It had been on my list for awhile, and I decided to start the month with it. The main character Laurie sees a man out the bus window and feels an instant connection. She then is on a mission to find him while not knowing his name, where he lives, etc. She ends up being reunited with Jack but not the way she would have preferred. The story follows the friendship and relationships of Laurie, her best friend Sarah, and Jack for over ten years…and I love how the month of December is a timeline reference throughout.

The Winter Street Series

  • Winter Street
  • Winter Stroll
  • Winter Storms
  • Winter Solstice

I get so many awesome book ideas from Mix and Match Mama and she had mentioned this series at some point. I had decided to at least read the first two. Then, another favorite (food) blogger, Bev Cooks, shared on her Instagram Stories that she was going to read all four of the books before Christmas. After reading the first book, I was hooked….and just kept chugging along while adding the next book to my Kindle. These books are fairly short, so they were easy to read somewhat quickly. Plus, I just fell in love with the Quinn family.

Like any big family, there are ups and downs, chaos, and celebrations. The Nantucket setting at Christmastime for each book, ties them together. Since I read each book back to back, the plot lines are all so intertwined. Overall, Kelley Quinn and his wife Mitzi run an inn on Nantucket. Each December, there’s a Winter Stroll through town. Kelley was married to Margaret for many years before Mitzi. Margaret is a CBS anchor and with Kelley, they have three adult children. With Mitzi, Kelley has a son named Bart who is a prisoner of war. Again, there are ups and downs, strained relationships, blended families, imprisonment and more. I seriously teared up at the conclusion of this series. I was sad to say goodbye to the Quinn family.

Christmas in Paris

This was a cute read with such a picturesque setting. Who wouldn’t want to visit Paris at Christmas time?

Isabel has canceled her wedding but decides to go on her honeymoon in Paris. While there, she meets Alec who also had wedding plans dissolve. Alec shows her around Paris, and they meet a fortune teller who tells Isabel she will meet and marry a French aristocrat. Isabel has been so unlucky in love that she’s adamant in pursuing whatever it takes to see those “dreams” come true.

This is a charming and light hearted read which was a perfect way to wrap up my December reading.

Top 5 books of 2019

Books #5 and #4 I read in January. I started the year off right! Actually, I ended 2018 reading on a high note. The Dinner List was the last book I read in 2018, and I loved it. (So, there’s a bonus reading recommendation if you’d like one.)

#5

All Your Perfects was a tough read. I remember picking this book right off the shelf of the library, reading the back, and thinking it would be a good book. BUT once I started to read it, such a main emphasis was on infertility and how it can impact a marriage. Since I’ve dealt with infertility , it piqued my interest and that part of the plot drew me in. Quinn and Graham had a great marriage and all the dreams in the world as any freshly married couple has in the beginning. As time goes on, the strain of infertility and the wondering of what the future holds gets to them. The book is structured in past and present which is a clear delineation in their happy and sad times. As a couple, they struggle to communicate. Quinn feels the grief and shame of not being able to start a family (I can relate). It’s not that Graham isn’t always there for her. It’s just that as a woman, she bears the burden on her own and they feel and process the devastation in their own ways. Honestly, the ending wasn’t what I expected, but I could appreciate why Hoover ended their journey the way she did.

If you are in the thick of infertility, it may be too soon to read this book, but Quinn and Graham and their relationship were certainly relatable.

This book hooked me from the beginning, had me in tears throughout, and definitely provides a perspective on a topic that very few people talk about.

#4

Swear on this Life was the first book I read in 2019. My goodness it was so good. Emiline is a writing instructor. She reads a book about two best friends, Emerson and Jackson, who are childhood sweethearts living in rural Ohio. Emerson has a very tough childhood and life and as Emiline reads the book, she realizes it bears a resemblance to her own upbringing. She then realizes the author, “J. Colby” must be Jase her childhood sweetheart. So, of course, she must find him and confront him for telling her story.

This book was so good, and I read it so quickly! I definitely recommend it.

Books #3-5, I’ve actually written about in my monthly book reviews, so I will share those posts as well.

#3

Ask Again , Yes was so amazing. The lives of two families over decades and how time can heal wounds made this book such an interesting read.

#2

Bread and Wine was an inspiring mix of food, recipes, stories, friendship, and nourishment (both for body and for mind).

#1

I put off reading Where the Crawdads Sing because I felt like everyone was reading it. I finally borrowed it from a friend to read on vacation; I read it in two days…and didn’t want it to end. For me, it had a To Kill a Mockingbird feel to it which is one of my favorite books of all time. Kya, “Marsh Girl,” is a fighter and a survivor and an outcast in her society. I loved the setting of North Carolina and Owens certainly paints a picture of that part of the country. The symbolism, the imagery, the characters, the plot, and the lessons learned made this book one that I will never forget…and I’m sure I will read it again.

One more bonus book—Verity by Colleen Hoover was a page turner!! I read it on vacation as well and a review of it is in the link above.

I can’t believe I’ve only been blogging a few months and that this is the last post of 2019. Thanks for following along on my journey. I hope you find a book or two that you’ll love. What was your favorite book that you read in 2019?

Happy New Year’s Eve!

Jen

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