Thursday, December 31, 2020

December 2020 Wrap Up

 Wrap up and send off! 2020 has been a pretty crazy year. Hopefully next year will be a little better.

Let's start off with some short book reviews.

Title: These Ghosts are Family
Author: Maisy Card
Narrator: Karl O'Brian Williams
Synopsis: Stanford Solomon is getting on in years and he decides to share his secret with his family that will affect all of their lives--he is actually Abel Paisley who was pronounced dead decades ago. His daughter from Jamaica turns up to be his home health aide and is under the impression that her father is dead. The stories of several different people meet and entwine together.
Thoughts: This was a book club selection. It was strange because it was hard to define a plot line, but it was very good and it was interesting. We discussed it and the consensus was that those of us who read it (we have two selections every month and most of us only read one) liked it. The ending was interesting to discuss. And the narration was very good!

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Title: The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue
Author: V. E. Schwab
Synopsis: Addie is desperate to change her fate, so she makes a deal with one of the world's darker entities for total freedom. But he twists her wish (as they do) so that she will always be forgotten. She perseveres through 300 years and ultimately arrives in New York in the present day. It is here that she meets someone who remembers.

Thoughts: I have been hearing raves about this book all year so I couldn't wait to get my hands on it. I generally love her books, so I expected to like this one. And I did! It was strange and interesting and went much faster than I expected. It was a very interesting book and I liked Addie's creativity in finding ways to leave her mark.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Title: Mr. Dickens and His Carol
Author: Samantha Silva
Narrator: Euan Morton
Synopsis: A fictional story about Charles Dickens. He is coming off of a book which was a flop and ends up more hard-off for money than he is used to. In order to bring in some money, his publishers convince him to write a Christmas story.
Thoughts: I had mixed feelings about this one. I didn't enjoy Charles' character very much and had a hard time getting through to the end. But I really enjoyed the last few chapters of the story.
Rating: 3 stars out of 5

Title: Booked for Christmas
Author: Lily Menon
Synopsis: Sophie is a romance writer and preparing to throw her annual Christmas party in her remote cabin. One unexpected guest shows up, the critic Evan Wolfe. Evan has written several reviews of her books that have been less than complimentary. But a huge blizzard traps them together in the cabin for the weekend. What starts out with harsh exchanges turns into something else.

Thoughts: So, I enjoyed most of her young adult books. I thought I would give this a try. It was really not for me. I don't love romance stories and books, this one was no exception. It felt contrived mostly, but it was a short story so I stuck it out.

Rating: Generously 2 out of 5 stars (Sorry, I will stick to her YA in the future.)

Title: A Christmas Carol
Author: Charles Dickens
Narrator: Tim Curry
Synopsis: I don't think I need to describe this classic!
Thoughts: One of my annual re-reads. I still love it and I still imagine the characters as Disney mice and ducks.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Title: Landline
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Narrator: Rebecca Lowman

Synopsis: Georgie loves her husband, Neal. And she know he loves her. She's pretty sure, anyway. At the last minute, her job requires her to stay in LA to work and Neal takes their daughters to Nebraska for Christmas. Georgie all but moves back in with her mother, who thinks Neal left Georgie, though Georgie argues that this is not true. Desperate to connect with her husband, she keeps calling but can never get through. Until she tries her old yellow rotary phone in her childhood bedroom to call Neal's landline. And she gets through! To Neal in the past, during the Christmas week he had broken up with her and gone to Nebraska alone. Georgie hadn't talked to him the whole week, but he showed up to propose on Christmas morning. But now she is talking to past Neal. Is she supposed to change something? Fix something?

Thoughts: I LOVE this book. It is one of my very favorites. I cry all the way through the last few chapters (they are short chapters, its OK). I just love it so very much. After I finished reading it, I turned around a listened to the audiobook. So technically, I read it twice this year.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Title: Royal Holiday
Author: Jasmine Guillory
Narrator: Janina Edwards
Synopsis: Vivian is convinced to travel to England with her daughter who has been hired to do holiday design work for some of the English royalty. While she is here, she meets handsome Malcolm, who has been working for the queen for years. An unexpected romance blooms between them.

Thoughts: This was a book bail for me. As I said, I don't really enjoy romance, but I wanted to try it because it was the holidays and it seemed nice and appropriate. But I just couldn't do it. It was contrived and convenient, which I don't much care for. I have heard good things about it though. If you like romance stories, you might enjoy this one.

Rating: None

Least favorite book read this month: Not counting Royal Holiday? Booked for Christmas
Favorite book read this month: Landline (of course)

It is also the end of the year. I read 87 of 80 books this year, which was great. I didn't quite complete the alphabet challenge, but that is alright, it was a bit of fun.

In 2021 I hope to read 75 books. My main reading goal next year is to finish some series that I never got around to reading the last book. 

And in January, I hope to participate in this Instagram challenge (or parts of it) hosted by a person I follow and a couple of her acquaintances. Check it out here and feel free to participate and/or follow!

I wish I could say I had other New Year's Resolutions, but I don't really. I want to say I will work out or I will eat better, but with my job the way it has been, I know I can't keep those. So I guess I will say that I will try to do better.

2020 was a strange year. In some ways, my life didn't change too much since I had recently moved here and didn't know anyone or any places to go. So I didn't go anywhere. And then the pandemic happened and I still didn't go anywhere! My work life blew up to insane levels though. On one hand, I suppose it is good job security, but on the other hand it is exhausting. Luckily it is mostly work that I enjoy doing.
Because of the pandemic, several of my friends started meeting virtually and we have been meeting every week since March. While I would love to see them in person or be able to grab dinner or a drink, it has been really nice to feel so connected to them. We haven't been so involved in each others' lives for quite some time I think. That is something positive that came out of all of this and I am very grateful.

On Christmas Eve Kevin proposed to me and I said yes (obviously). He is the best person I have ever met and just the type of person I want to spend my life with. I feel very lucky. And it was a nicer way to help ring in (unintentional pun) 2021.

I hope 2021 brings good things (better things anyway) to everyone. We survived 2020. Happy New Year!