What I Read: November and December 2017

Well, my plans to write individual book reviews immediately following every book I finished ended up getting the best of me. In theory I’d still like to do it, but it’s maybe something I don’t quite have the time for right now. I don’t want to stop with my monthly posts, though! I love reading, I love hearing about what other people are reading, and I want to share what books have mattered most to me. With my sewing craziness at the end of November and early December I didn’t have any time to write out my November book post. So this is going to be a long one!

I did end up reading quite a few great books in the last two months. I also probably stopped reading more books than I have in the rest of my life put together. I want to be able to set aside books that aren’t keeping my attention because I KNOW there is definitely something better out there. But it’s so hard to let go! FOMO is real. I’m still tentatively thinking I might go back to a few of these, but we’ll see. My To Be Read pile is gigantic and growing every day.

Finding Fraser by KC Dyer

Finding Fraser by KC Dyer
Rating: 3 stars

I happened upon this book by accident at Half Priced Books one day. I thought it looked hilarious and picked it up as a gift for my Outlander loving mother-in-law for Christmas. But I really like to read books before I gift them, so I can give a solid recommendation (hopefully). Finding Fraser is the story of Emma, who decides to quit her job and journey through Scotland on a mission to find her own real life Jamie Fraser. She blogs throughout the journey, gaining and losing followers and support. I loved reading about all her adventures in Scotland. But I lost a lot of respect for her when she found a man who was so obviously wrong for her and treated her like crap. I have a hard time loving a book when a character is just so DUMB! I also got a little irritated with Emma talking about how she was such a good writer when her blog posts were never detailed and usually only a couple of sentences long. That does not make a writer great! In my opinion. 🙂 But overall, it was a light and funny read and would probably be appreciated by anyone dreaming of their own Jamie Fraser!

The Coincidence of Coconut Cake by Amy Reichert

The Coincidence of Coconut Cake by Amy E. Reichert
Rating: 4 stars

I really enjoyed this book about a chef/owner of her own restaurant and an acclaimed and often hated food critic, both of whom keep their identities secret and develop a friendship that deepens over time. I love that it was set in Milwaukee and a lot of the places they visited and talked about were familiar to me. But maybe I’m way too judgemental of characters, but it really bothered me how Lou was always talking about what she’d wish her restaurant could be, but she didn’t do ANYTHING to actually create that dream. If you’re not going to take the risks then don’t complain about it not working out. Maybe? It’s definitely inspiring as you follow Lou’s journey about discovering who she is and what she truly wants out of life.

Full review here.

The Ghostwriter by Alessandra Torre

The Ghostwriter by Alessandra Torre
Rating: 5 stars

This is an incredibly sad yet devastatingly beautiful story about a woman who killed her husband, lost her daughter, and has given up all hope in connecting with anyone ever again. She’s a world famous romance author, but also a total recluse, at only 32 years old. She is suddenly diagnosed with brain cancer and giving three months to live. Before she dies she wants the truth of what happened to her little family to be out there for the world to see. Swiftly losing her own ability to make a book happen so quickly, she is forced to beg her writing nemesis to come on as her ghost writer. The respect and finally friendship that develops between characters is so tender and inspirational. It’s not an easy read as it’s shrouded in grief and sadness. But it was a wonderfully written book.

Full review here. 

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (audiobook version)
Rating: 4.5 stars

I rated this book highly because I think it’s important, not because I necessarily enjoyed reading it. (Listening, in this case.) It’s a tough book. It will force you to think about black neighborhoods, gangs, police brutality, and undeserved death. Things I don’t particularly enjoy in my reading life because that’s not an escape. That’s reality. And it sucks, for a lot of people. It’s a fascinating book as you listen to Starr struggling between her thug life neighborhood where she lives and the mostly white private school with white boyfriend and white friends in another city. Starr witnesses the death of one of her best friends and spends the entire book learning to fight for his justice and what is right. I think this is a powerful book for anyone to read, but I particularly enjoyed the audio version because it had such a strong voice.

Full review here.

Castle of Water by Dane Huckelbridge

Castle of Water by Dane Huckelbridge
Rating: 5 stars

I think being stranded on a deserted island is pretty much a great premise for any book, even if it’s been done many, many times before. This one felt a little different with only two survivors of a plane crash and people that absolutely hated each other for a very, long time. But they slowly start to depend on each other, and try to make the other one smile, and build a beautiful and engaging relationship with each other. Without all the distractions. Just the two of them, their words, and nothing else on their tiny little island. Despite their circumstances they find a level of happiness that is rarely achieved. I loved this book. It was definitely a slow start, but better and better as it went on.

Full review here.

I'd Rather Be Reading by Guinevere De La Mare

I’d Rather Be Reading by Guinevere de la Mare
Rating: 2 stars

I don’t have a lot to say about this book, other than don’t waste your time. It had so much potential of being a beautiful coffee table book filled with book art, library and bookstore photographs, etc. Instead it’s a tiny little book with “essays” that were mostly pretentious and highly biased to classic literary works of fiction being the only books worth reading. That really rubbed me the wrong way! This book was a huge disappointment.

Full review here. 

The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street by Karina Yan Glaser

The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street by Karine Yan Glaser
Rating: 4.5 stars

I find myself highly intrigued by middle grade books lately. I think it’s the cover art. Who are these people doing cover art for middle grade books and why aren’t they also working on adult or YA books?! Every book is so beautiful! Anyway, I’ve already written about this book twice on my blog. It’s wonderful. And not just for kids. I think any adult would thoroughly enjoy it too. It’s about a family with five children that are fighting to save their home at Christmastime. It’s sweet and endearing and a wonderfully uplifting book.

Full review here.

Copycat by Alex Lake

Copycat by Alex Lake
Rating: 3.5 stars

This is an intriguing thriller about a woman who is one day told there’s a copycat account for her on facebook. This quickly spirals into full out stalking which leads you to wonder if you’re dealing with something that’s actually happening or the narrator is indeed unreliable. It was a satisfying book, but not entirely memorable. Fast paced and interesting, but I was not particularly happy with how things ended. I’ll be curious to see if there’s a sequel.

Full review here.

Merry and Bright

Merry and Bright by Debbie Macomber
Rating: 3.5 stars

Merry is an overworked temp who is barely getting by with the high demands of her job, a difficult boss, and a family that depends on her for so many things. Jay is that demanding and difficult boss who has a very lonely  and isolated personal life. They are both talked into joining a dating site where they become interested in each other – without knowing who they are in real life. It’s a sweet holiday romance. Not too deep, but nice and light for Christmastime.

A Winter Dream by Richard Paul Evans

A Winter Dream by Richard Paul Evans
Rating: 4 stars

This is a modern day retelling of Joseph and his many brothers that were jealous and hated him and sold him away. It was definitely interesting and held my attention to the end. I’m starting to realize that so many of Richard Paul Evans’ characters have a lot of similar characteristics. They are all such upstanding and likeable men. Which is why his books are so wonderful reading. This one wasn’t particularly Christmassy, but I enjoyed reading it during the season.

What Light by Jay Asher

What Light by Jay Asher
Rating: 3.5 stars

Sierra’s family owns a Christmas tree farm in Oregon and every year they spend the month of December selling their trees at a town in California. This year Sierra meets a boy, Caleb, who seems troubled and distant, but continues to come back day after day buying trees for other people. They form a friendship that develops into more. This book is darker than I expected it to be. But I guess you can expect that from Jay Asher? But it was also full of sweet gestures. The annoying characters in the book – Sierra’s parents. They fell in love working at this very Christmas tree lot, but do everything in their power to stop it from happening to Sierra.

My New Crush Gave to Me by Shani Petroff

My New Crush Gave to Me by Shani Petroff
Rating: 5 stars

I loved this book! Timing probably had a lot to do with it. I kept starting books that felt so slow and cliched and fluffy. I was also stressed to the limit personally and was desperately craving a book to drag me out of it. This was the cure! This delightful YA Christmas novel is about a Secret Santa exchange between a group of students working on their school newspaper. The characters cheat and conspire with each other, trying to make their crushes each fall in love with them. I thought JD was an absolute delight and he was a huge part of the book. Character interaction makes books so much more exciting! This is going down as one of my favorite books of the year simply because it brought me so much joy!

Full review here.

Kiss Me in New York by Catherine Rider

Kiss Me in New York by Catherine Rider
Rating: 3.5 stars

Charlotte is at the airport waiting to head back to England after a semester abroad in New York and a breakup with a boy she thought she loved. Anthony is at the airport about to pick up his girlfriend from college, only to find out that she’s cheating on him. With a bunch of snow cancellations, Charlotte and Anthony end up spending the entire night together, wandering around New York and going on a myriad of adventures. And it all takes place on Christmas Eve. Overall, this book felt fairly unbelievable, but was still entertaining. It’s hard to get behind a romance that happens in such a short time – and so immediately after breaking up with other people. But they have a very realistic future ahead of them, so their happily ever after felt inevitable.

We'll Always Have Christmas by Jenny Hale

We’ll Always Have Christmas by Jenny Hale
Rating: 4 stars

Noelle is a single mother who desperately wants to save her family’s bakery that is about to close because Alexander Harrington jacked their rent up so high. She takes a position as a caretaker for Alex’s ailing grandfather. They all begin a journey to acceptance and forgiveness over things that have happened in the past. One thing that surprised me is that Alex was in no way a mean man. He’s set up like that at the start, but he is sweet and supportive and wants to help Noelle achieve her dreams. The entire story is a bit too much like a fairy tale, since Alex is a billionaire and can and does shower them with a ridiculous amount of gifts and splendor. But it’s fun and festive! I felt like there was way too much going on in this book, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.

The Noel Diary by Richard Paul Evans

The Noel Diary by Richard Paul Evans
Rating: 5 stars

Tried and true author, he’s always a favorite! His newest Christmas release was about a man – an author of romance novels – who was trying to come to terms with his past after the passing of his estranged mother. As he’s cleaning out her hoarder house, he meets Rachel, who is trying to figure out the mysteries in her own past. This is a fast paced and intriguing read about learning how to feel worthy of love, no matter what your past circumstances.

Dot Journaling by Rachel Wilkerson Miller

Dot Journaling by Rachel Wilkerson Miller
Rating: 5 stars

If you’ve ever been intrigued by the idea of a bullet journal, but were quickly overwhelmed by all the information available online, this is an awesome comprehensive guide that will simplify the bare bones of getting started and give you ideas for how to really make it a daily and worthwhile part of your life. I’ve tried bullet journaling in the past and gave it up because it made me feel inadequate in comparison to how many beautiful pictures I’ve seen online. But I really do love planning, organizing, and writing things down to remember in the future. I’ve been mulling the idea of starting another bullet journal in the new year and this was just the book to help me. It was so exciting reading such short chapters of inspiring reasons why dot journaling can not only be a place to write your to do lists, but also a memorable keepsake of all aspects of your life. I read through the book in a day and immediately got started setting up my next journal.

Making Faces by Amy Harmon

Making Faces by Amy Harmon
Rating: 5 stars

Fern is a late bloomer with unruly red curls, freckles, braces until she was 18, and thick glasses. Bailey is her cousin and best friend who has a degenerative muscle disease and is well acquainted with the idea of his own death. Ambrose is the gorgeous muscular small town wrestling hero who convinces all of his friends to join the Army with him and comes back home alone and disfigured. These three characters are constantly interacting and growing and facing loss and heartache mixed with love and hope. The third person point of view really threw me at the beginning of the book. I wasn’t sure that I’d like it until about a third of the way in when it suddenly became a beautiful and engaging story. There is so much heartache and apprehensive and grief tied into this book, but it comes together with so much love and faith in each other. Be prepared, the final part of the book will wreck you. But it’s so worth it. I read this in a day and completely fell in love with it and all of the flawed yet ultimately beautiful characters.

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Author: Amy Noe

I'm a maker, a writer, a reader, a wife, and a mom. I love pursuing my creative passions!

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