Books, What's On Your Bookshelf?

December Reads

A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens:

It’s that time of year again. The season wouldn’t be complete without rereading A Christmas Carol. I find something new to love about this Dickens classic every single time.

This year, I listened via audiobook. I couldn’t help but banter with the narrator.
“Marley was dead.”
“How dead was he?”
“Deader than a doornail!”
I am reminded again and again that Dickens was an absolute genius. He had much to say about the far-reaching destruction of greed and the unmatchable power of simple kindness. Although this was written in 1843, it remains remarkably relevant today.
I previously wrote The Top Ten Reasons to Read and Love a Christmas Carol (here.)

Christmas Carol Murder, Leslie Meier

Not quite wanting to let go of A Christmas Carol, I turned to this modern-day spinoff. I found this to be a wonderful extension to my Christmas reading. It is heavily grounded in current recessionary times and is a clever take on Dickens’ timeless tale. It is a fast, fun read. Four stars from me!

Other Reads (Not so filled with holiday cheer):

The Glass Hotel, Emily St. John Mandel

Book’s Blurb: “The Glass Hotel moves between the remote wilderness of Vancouver Island, the skyscrapers of Manhattan, and a ship at sea. It paints a breathtaking picture of greed and guilt, fantasy and delusion, art and the ghosts of our pasts.”
MyRating: 
4.5
Current Rating on Goodreads: 3.68
Current Rating on Amazon: 4
My Review:  Read Here.

Little Fires Everywhere, Celeste Ng

Book’s Blurb: “From the bestselling author of Everything I Never Told You comes a riveting novel that traces the intertwined fates of the picture-perfect Richardson family and the enigmatic mother and daughter who upend their lives.”
MyRating: 
4.5
Current Rating on Goodreads: 4.09
Current Rating on Amazon:  4.4
My Review:  Read Here.

The Children’s Train, Viola Ardon

Book’s Blurb: “Based on true events, a heartbreaking story of love, family, hope, and survival set in post-World War II Italy—written with the heart of Orphan Train and Before We Were Yours—about poor children from the south sent to live with families in the north to survive deprivation and the harsh winters.”
MyRating:
4
Current Rating on Goodreads:  4.05
Current Rating on Amazon: 4.2 
My Review:  Read Here.

A Killer in King’s Cove, Iona Whishaw

Book’s Blurb: “It’s 1946, and a war-weary young ex-intelligence officer leaves London to look for a fresh start. When she finds herself settled into a sleepy hamlet in the interior of British Columbia surrounded by an eclectic cast of small-town characters, she feels like she may finally be able to put her past to rest.”
MyRating: 
3,5
Current Rating on Goodreads: 3.91
Current Rating on Amazon: 4.3 
My Review:  Read Here.

Friends, Lovers and the Big Terrible Thing, Matthew Perry

Book’s Blurb: “Hi, my name is Matthew, although you may know me by another name. My friends call me Matty. And I should be dead.” So begins the story of acclaimed actor Matthew Perry, taking us along on his journey from childhood to fame to addiction and recovery in the aftermath of a life-threatening health scare.
MyRating: 
2.5
Current Rating on Goodreads: 3.84
Current Rating on Amazon: 4.4 
My Review:  Read Here.

So, What’s Been on Your Bookshelf Lately?

It could be a recent read, a Christmas indulgence, a long-standing favourite or any piece of writing at all. Inquiring minds (aka nosey book lovers) would like to know!

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80 thoughts on “December Reads”

  1. Good reviews. I was particularly interesting in Matthew Perry’s autobiography. You rated it about what the other reviews I’ve read did. Does he whine too much? I don’t like that.

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    1. Hi, Jacqui – I was so disappointed with Perry’s book. A celebrity memoir is not a typical read for me. I thought this would be a fun indulgence. Sadly, not so much. I don’t know if it was ‘whinning’ per se. Mostly, there was a strong tone of arrogance that I had not expected. Thank you so much for dropping by.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Jo – I find book rating systems fascinating. I love how there are special books for each of us, but not one book that fits all. Right back at you on the fabulous cohost comment. I greatly look forward to following your ‘Just One Thing’ blog series in the new year!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I read an interesting book about a survivalist-type guy who basically bummed his way around the world and posted on social media about his adventures. He disappeared in the Himalayas, in an area where people seem to disappear fairly frequently. Some don’t want to be found, and others they’re not so sure about. The book goes into a good bit of detail about the people who trek to India in pursuit of enlightenment and fall off the deep end. They call it the India Syndrome.

    The book was Lost in the Valley of Death: A Story of Obsession and Danger in the Himalayas by Harley Rustad.

    I also loved Project Hail Mary by Andy Wier, who also wrote The Martian. A wonderful space adventure story!

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      1. I added to my wish list…thanks! I’m still waiting from Harlequin on my release date. Things have been painfully slow and with the holidays, I don’t expect to hear anything until next year. I might have to self-publish a story while I wait…LOL! Thanks for asking, Donna.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. A Christmas Carol is one of my favorites. I’ve read Little Fires Everywhere and really liked it. Right now I am on a kick of mid-twentieth century British women writers. Hope to join in with you after the holidays. Phew! Coming out with a book is nearly as arduous as having a baby. 😉

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    1. Virginia Woolf, Jean Rhys, Rebecca West, Iris Murdoch, Doris Lessing, A.S. Byatt, Monica Ali? Have any of these women been on your list? All fabulous mid-twenthieth century British female writers!
      I have never published a book but have given birth — arduous is a great term!
      Despite all that you do you are always a diligent and fabulous commenter. I greatly appreciate this! ❤

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      1. A-w-w-w, thanks! I have read all of the above authors except Monica Ali. I will be checking her out. My current enthusiasm is Elizabeth Jane Howard. Do read her Cazalet series if you get a chance. And Dorothy Evelyn Smith.

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  4. Hi Donna! I’ve been a bad, bad girl (don’t tell Santa) because I have fallen so behind on reading your blog. But I’m here. I haven’t read any of your suggestions (yet) except for Little Fires Everywhere. But I always appreciate ideas. The current book I am reading is really a re-read, “The untethered Soul” by Michael Singer and his new follow up book, “Living untethered.” Both of them have given me much to think about as this year draws to a close. Can’t wait to read your final report on your Peace WPTY and the book! (I didn’t miss it did I?) ~Kathy

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    1. Hi, Kathy – No problem at all. I promise not to tell Santa. I do greatly appreciate you dropping by. Little Fires Everywhere seems to be a very popular book. Thank you for sharing Michael Singers book.
      You haven’t missed the final Peace Post. That takes place December 29. I hope to see you there.
      Wishing you and Thom a very happy holiday and a wonderful new year!

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  5. I enjoyed The Glass Hotel and used it in one of our book club meetings last year (we have books on themes, we don’t all read the same book). The theme was ‘a book set in more than one country’. Little Fires Everywhere sounds like my sort of book.

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    1. HI, Kathy – From the comments here alone, I believe that Little Fires Everywhere is a very popular book. I highly recommend it.
      I’m glad that you visited Vancouver Island via The Glass Hotel. Emily St. John-Mandell has recently published Sea of Tranquility which has just won a GoodReads award.

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  6. I’ve read three of Celeste Ng’s novels: Little Fires Everywhere, Everything I Never Told You, and, her newest, Our Missing Hearts. All very different but all with a powerful underlying social message. I recommend them to anyone looking for well written, engrossing novels that stay with you even after you’ve read the last page.

    I’m going to put The Glass Hotel on my library wait list now… thanks for the tip!

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  7. I read Matthew Perry’s book too this past month and I find it’s one that I’m actually recommending quite often; I found his honest struggles with drug and alcohol abuse to be quite powerful.

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    1. Hi, Joanne – I am delighted to hear your response to Matthew Perry’s book. It truly wasn’t my thing. My hope was the this was just me and that his sharing of the horrifying hold of addiction, despite income or status, would reach many. I greatly appreiciate your point of view.

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  8. Yes i love Dickens, everything he wrote. He has stood the test of time. I am reading The Madness of Crowds by Louise Penny which is set in a pandemic time. I give it a 3. I lived in Montreal and did a short training session at the Allen Memorial in the 1970’s and remember the history Penny refers to in her story. Penny might overuse togue and merde to make her stories more authentic to Quebec. I found things rolled out very slowly. I have read one of her other books and didn’t enjoy it but thought i would give it a second shot because some friends were raving about her. I won’t be reading any more of her work.

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    1. Hi, Ann – I too love everything that I have ever read by Dickens. I’d like to say, “who doesn’t?” but apparently 11,428 reviewers on Goodreads hated ACC so much that they rated it 1 star! Although I try to respect differing points of view, this does make me a little crazy! 😀 Thank you for sharing your thoughts on The Madness of Crowds. I read Penny’s ‘All the Devils are Here.’ I liked it, but am not much of a series reader so stopped there. So many books, so little time!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. You can’t go wrong with Dickens, in my opinion! I’ve kinda fallen off the reading wagon for the past couple of months (who am I, again?!?!?!) due to moving/renovating madness but I am ready to get back into it. ‘Tis the season to curl up with a good book! I’ve been enjoying reading this blog challenge and it is providing me with plenty of suggestions of books to look for, at the library! Thanks Donna and the rest of the WOYBS gang!

    Deb

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    1. Hi, Deb – I believe the upcoming month will be my turn to fall of the reading wagon. But I do plan to read more Dickens – starting with Great Expectations. Thank you for your kind words about WOYBS. There have been such wonderful recommendations from commenters here that my TBR List has tripled in size! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Mathew Perry’s book sounds interesting. I’m not a fan and am probably the only person in the world who hasn’t seen a single episode of Friends. However I’ve heard that his life ia a story worth telling

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    1. Hi, Jennifer – I believe that Jo Tracey has never watched an episode of Friends either. Although the message about the impenetrable hold of drugs and alcohol to the addict is an immensely important one, I was left disappointed after reading. If this book truly helps others that would ease my misgivings.

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  11. Hi Donna – I loved your succinct reviews – and quite a contrast between Christmas vibes and murder and mayhem…..and then some Matthew Perry tossed into the mix – quite an ecclectic mix again this month.

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    1. Hi, Leanne – Thank you again for your kind feedback. Part of the reason for my ecclectic reading mix is due to my bookclubs. But the Matthew Perry memoir was totally my own mistake (not a bc read). I also wanted to thank you for being a diligent and thoughtful commenter. I know that it takes a great deal of effort and I greatly appreciate it.

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  12. At Book Group last night we discussed Joanna Glen’s “All my mothers”. Interestingly, there was no consensus – usually we are fairly well aligned, but views this time ranged from “definitely didn’t like it”, through “a bit ambivalent”, all the way to “loved it”. Makes for a good discussion!

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  13. Hi Donna, of these I have only read ‘the glass hotel’ (agree with your review) and I watched the ‘little fires everywhere’ mini-series, so no need to read that one. Not interested in celebrity memoirs, exhibited by the fact that I can’t quite bring myself to watch Harry and Megan on Netflix. ‘A Killer in King’s Cove’ sounds like something I’d enjoy (period piece, mystery). I’ll download that one for sure.

    Anything Dickens is a winner. I love a good ‘message’ book, especially at Christmas. Thanks for sharing and happy reading.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, Suzanne – I am not much of a television or Netflix watcher. Even if I was, there is little chance that I would switch on the Harry and Megan documentary. I agree with you on giving the Perry memoir a miss — I wish that I had. I also agree that anything by Dickens is a winner. I will be reading Great Expectations shortly. Wishing you and your family a very happy holiday season and the continuation of More!

      Liked by 1 person

  14. My favorite Christmas read is “A Child’s Christmas in Wales,” by Dylan Thomas. His prose is as beautiful and poetic as his poetry, and it reminds me of my Christmases as a child in England. I did not like “Little Fires Everywhere.” I thought it was contrived, implausible, and I have family in Shaker Heights who definitely did not like the way their town was depicted! I am reading Michelle Obama right now, the first one, then I’ll read her new one.

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    1. Hi, Jill – Thank you for the recommendation fo A Child’s Christmas in Wales. I will take a look for it. I completely understand that LFE would not be everyone’s cup of tea. I’m sorry that many in Shaker Heights did not like the portrayal of their town. That’s another reason why I will never write a memoir (or anything similar).
      I read the first Michelle Obama book and liked it but sadly did not love it. The jury is still out as to whether or not I will read her recent book.
      Wishing you a wonderful holiday and a happy & healthy new year!

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  15. Your Matthew Perry review on Goodreads is making me want to read it more now, Donna. He’s come across as sincere in the interviews (which interested in me in the book), but now I’m curious enough to see how it all meshes. Thanks! – Marty

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      1. Donna, I made a promise to myself that I’d only read fiction in 2023 (I lean heavily to non-fiction, specifically biographies). But this book is probably the sixth biography in the past month where I thought, “Oooh, I have to get that!” 🙄😆

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I totally get this. When left to my own devices, I lean heavily toward non-fiction. Thank goodness for book clubs. They help keep me in balance!
        Wishing you and Gorgeous a wonderful Christmas and a happy & healthy new year!

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  16. The Beekeeper from Aleppo – it’s too painful though. Too realistic. So, I’m reading it every now and then. It’s very good. Another I read recently was The Paper House – I think that’s its title. Want to get to the library next week before they close. Thanks for the brief review of books Donna.

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    1. Hi, Susan – Thank you for dropping by and sharing these recommendations. I am trying to avoid any reading that is too painful at the moment — holiday season at all! I did look up The Paper House at our local library but could only find one in Juvenille Fiction by Lois Peterson. Do you remember the author’s name?
      I hope your arm is healing well. Wishing you and your family a wonderful holiday season and a happy & healthy year ahead!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The Paper Palace! So sorry – if I’d had the book here I would’ve checked! Debut novel I think. Merry Christmas and festive season to you all Donna. 🎄💙

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  17. Donna,
    Thanks for sharing your reads and your ratings. Your reviews and your reader’s comments are very enlightening. I can’t contribute much to the discussion since my reading tastes fall in a narrow range of genres and authors. Nevertheless, your post has piqued my interest in branching out. All the best to you and Richard for a blessed Christmas season. Joe

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  18. Thanks for this great lineup Donna. I read/listened to Christmas Carol last year (for the first time) and loved it. I’m keen to read the murder related one now. Your rating system compared to those on GoodReads and Amazon is really intertesting too. Thanks for being such a committed co-host, it’s so much fun doing this series with like minded friends. xx

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  19. HI Donna I enjoyed Little Fires Everywhere and read it a couple of years ago. I also enjoyed Things I Never Told You by the same author. I valued our Book Club discussion on A Christmas Carol and look forward to reading more of Dickens in 2023. Thank you for being my mentor and teaching me to ‘read beyond the page’. It has been fun co-hosting #WOYBS in 2022 and I’m looking forward to sharing our love of reading as #WOYBS continues in 2023. x

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    1. Hi, Sue – This comment made my whole day! I was just going to get up and do some household chores….but I think that I will now sit by the fire and indulge in a little more reading. I am avoiding opening Emma…which is VERY hard. I look forward to our next discussion!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, Darlene – I have been so envious that you have been reading War and Peace. I wanted to read that this year too but wasn’t sure how to juggle it with everything else that I was reading for book clubs etc. I’d love to know your thoughts on this reading experience.

      Liked by 1 person

  20. Hi Donna, Thank you for sharing your December reads and ratings. I greatly enjoyed Little Fires Everywhere. Celeste Ng also wrote “Everything I Never Told You” and I enjoyed it, too. I am almost at the end of Indians on Vacation which means I enjoyed the book 🙂 Wishing you and your family a happy and healthy holiday season!

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  21. In a strange aside some of Dicken’s books have illustrations from my husband’s ancestor George Cruikshank. I feel very unrefined as I am certain I didn’t make it all the way through A Christmas Carol. Guess I should try again. Bernie

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  22. I’m intrigued by A Christmas Carol Murder. I’ve been thinking about writing a modern version of A Christmas Carol with horror elements. And now I’m wondering how many other retellings of A Christmas Carol exist. I’ll have to research that.

    Happy holidays and thanks for hosting the WYOBS challenge!

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