Wrap Up | December 2017

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Michaela

Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance | Ruth Emmie Lang- This was a super pleasant reading experience, warm and a little magical, but I wish the plotting had been tighter. It needed to either be much stronger with it's characters or have a much more structured plot to elevate it past "just okay". It felt dreamy and whimsical, so the tone hit all the right marks, but it just wasn't strong enough to be great. Thanks to St. Martin's Press for sending us a free review copy!

A Christmas Carol | Charles Dickens- I really, really loved this little classic. It really captures the spirit of Christmas, and though everyone is familiar with the plot, it surprised me how much humor Dickens wrote into his story. Really, it was just the perfect seasonal read and it so feels cozy and alive. A great one to pick up if you want to just feel flooded with the true spirit of Christmas. 

Mr. Dickens and His Carol | Samantha Silva- I do not understand everyone who keeps saying they love this book. I really liked the writing in it, it was really pleasant and pretty....but the plot was a boring mess. It started out strong, and I thought I was going to love it, but the middle 200 pages go nowhere, and are just frustrating, and slow, and pointless. Plus, the ending is predictable, yet ridiculous all at once, which was such a let down. I honestly wish I had DNF'd this. 

Sisters | Raina Telegmeier- Raina Telegmeier really excels at doing cute, deeply true feeling novels and this graphic memoir was no exception. It was such an accurate portrayal of sibling relationships and well crafted on all fronts. 

Big Fish | Daniel Wallace- A re-read, and just as interesting and delightful as I remember. I picked it back up because I realized Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance was basically a worse version of this book. Big Fish is equal parts whimsical and heavy, it has a gravitas that Beasts lacks, and a much tighter structure. The deeper themes and heavier bits keep the whimsy balanced, grounded, and meaningful instead of just dreamy and fluffy; it works so well.

Uprooted | Naomi Novik- I was so surprised at how much I liked this one! It uses a lot of familiar tropes but in beautiful, fresh ways. The plot moves forward, unrelenting, but every new development, big or small serves to advance the book as a whole. Every plot point develops characters, relationships, themes, and the wider story all at once. That made for a well layered, well thought out reading experience with characters that were well drawn and had fleshed out relationships. It struck me as kind of a Howl's Moving Castle/Beauty and the Beast mash up that somehow became something deeper and new and wonderful.

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Rikki

The Glass Castle | Jeannette Walls - This was a re-read for me, and since I'm really looking forward to seeing the film adaptation, it's why I read it again. I remember enjoying it before, but man, this book has a lot of familiar ground in it for me and just hits me right where it counts, ya know. Plus, a story of pure, genuine redemption is solid gold in my book! For sensitive readers, this can be a tough one, but Walls writes how it was, and I don't know how she does it, but is not ever looking for an ounce of sympathy, which I so greatly commend her for and admire in her writing.

A Christmas Carol | Charles DickensThis book was so wonderful to read this time of year. I wished it was longer, but it was perfectly packed with bringing out the true meaning of the season, and it truly filled me with joy. I even got my son to read this book with me and he flew through it and declared it a wonderful book. If you've never read it, give yourself an afternoon before Christmas to enjoy.

To Kill A Mockingbird | Harper Lee - If I read this book in grade school, I can't remember it. I've been eyeing a beautiful hardcover copy on my shelves for quite some time, but took it up on audio recently. This book is powerful and well told, rife with lessons of right versus wrong and understanding human nature by "putting yourself in their shoes." I enjoyed it immensely.

Miracle on 34th Street | Valentine Davies - This is one of my very favorite Christmas movies to enjoy during the holiday season, so of course, the book is just as darling. A fun, quick festive read you should enjoy at least once. A good, strong storyline that makes you want to BELIEVE in the magic of the season. We should all hold on to that a bit more.

This is Not a Werewolf Story | Sandra EvansThis month's buddy read with my son was so fun! It was really slow to start (about the first 60 pages or so) and I was about to quit. I'm glad I didn't, though, because the story picked up and was atmospheric with a lot of excitement, action, and fantasy mixed in. As an adult, you'll certainly walk away with a lot of questions, but that doesn't take away from the story's intrigue or the joy of the story for younger readers.

A Redbird Christmas | Fannie FlaggThe most darling, charming holiday book ever. Fannie Flagg is a masterful story teller and creator of unique, extraordinary characters that you can't help but love. This story was tied in a lovely little bow at the end, but the kind you don't dislike or makes you roll your eyes, it's the kind that makes your heart just a little bit happier.

And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer | Fredrik BackmanI'm a LOVER of stories with wise older characters and beautiful relationships. This novella is full of bits of worldly wisdom, a bit of heartbreak, but a whole lot of love. Take an hour to read it, you'll love it.

Big Fish | Daniel Wallace - This was a fun, interesting book to end the year with. An interesting portrayal of a man's life, as told mostly by his son. It really made me think of how I might write my own dad's story, how it would be fun to twist and turn his adventures like William did. 

 

OTHER NOTES

We hosted our inaugural holiday book exchange this month, and it completely surpassed all our expectations. To our surprise, over 100 people across the country joined in on the fun, and sent out books to fellow readers. It was honestly delightful to see everyone get excited about the amazing packages they sent and received. Thank you all for your participation, we look forward to making this a tradition! 

We also finally returned to our Literary Dinner Parties after a couple months off while Rikki settled into life with a new baby. Of course we chose something seasonal, and it was such a cozy way for us to celebrate, our families included!

Cheers to 2018!