December Wrap-Up: 23 Books in December

Hi everyone! It’s been a minute since I was last here – but I’m determined for 2023 to be a better year for the blog with more posts and book reviews.

To start the year, I’m here with my December wrap up, which is covering 23 books! That’s the second most amount of books I’ve read in a month, only second to the 24 I read in June 2021.

If you’d like to see this post in video format, you can find it on my YouTube channel below.

Storygraph | Bookshop.org

Atlanta is blanketed with snow just before Christmas, but the warmth of young love just might melt the ice in this novel of interwoven narratives, Black joy, and cozy, sparkling romance—by the same unbeatable team of authors who wrote the New York Times bestseller Blackout!
As the city grinds to a halt, twelve teens band together to help a friend pull off the most epic apology of her life. But will they be able to make it happen, in spite of the storm?
No one is prepared for this whiteout. But then, we can’t always prepare for the magical moments that change everything.

★★
3 out of 5 stars

Storygraph | Bookshop.org

Emmy Harlow is a witch but not a very powerful one—in part because she hasn’t been home to the magical town of Thistle Grove in years. Her self-imposed exile has a lot to do with a complicated family history and a desire to forge her own way in the world, and only the very tiniest bit to do with Gareth Blackmoore, heir to the most powerful magical family in town and casual breaker of hearts and destroyer of dreams.
But when a spellcasting tournament that her family serves as arbiters for approaches, it turns out the pull of tradition (or the truly impressive parental guilt trip that comes with it) is strong enough to bring Emmy back. She’s determined to do her familial duty; spend some quality time with her best friend, Linden Thorn; and get back to her real life in Chicago.
On her first night home, Emmy runs into Talia Avramov—an all-around badass adept in the darker magical arts—who is fresh off a bad breakup . . . with Gareth Blackmoore. Talia had let herself be charmed, only to discover that Gareth was also seeing Linden—unbeknownst to either of them. And now she and Linden want revenge. Only one question stands: Is Emmy in?
But most concerning of all: Why can’t she stop thinking about the terrifyingly competent, devastatingly gorgeous, wickedly charming Talia Avramov?


3.5 out of 5 stars

Storygraph | Bookshop.org

The heroes of Cloud Cuckoo Land are trying to figure out the world around them: Anna and Omeir, on opposite sides of the formidable city walls during the 1453 siege of Constantinople; teenage idealist Seymour in an attack on a public library in present day Idaho; and Konstance, on an interstellar ship bound for an exoplanet, decades from now. Like Marie-Laure and Werner in All the Light We Cannot See, Anna, Omeir, Seymour, and Konstance are dreamers and outsiders who find resourcefulness and hope in the midst of peril.
An ancient text—the story of Aethon, who longs to be turned into a bird so that he can fly to a utopian paradise in the sky—provides solace and mystery to these unforgettable characters. Doerr has created a tapestry of times and places that reflects our vast interconnectedness—with other species, with each other, with those who lived before us and those who will be here after we’re gone.


2.5 out of 5 stars

Storygraph

Syd (no pronouns, please) has always dealt with big, hard-to-talk-about things by baking. Being dumped is no different, except now Syd is baking at the Proud Muffin, a queer bakery and community space in Austin. 
And everyone who eats Syd’s breakup brownies . . . breaks up. Even Vin and Alec, who own the Proud Muffin. And their breakup might take the bakery down with it. Being dumped is one thing; causing ripples of queer heartbreak through the community is another. 
But the cute bike delivery person, Harley (he or they, check the pronoun pin, it’s probably on the messenger bag), believes Syd about the magic baking. And Harley believes Syd’s magical baking can fix things, too—one recipe at a time.

★★
4.5 out of 5 stars

Storygraph | Bookshop.org

Sal lives in a haunted house.
He longs to be ordinary, but when the strangest of strangers arrives on his doorstep – a fellow outcast called Pax – his life grows even more complicated.
Sal goes on to develop an unlikely friendship with Pax, whose love for all things spooky drew him to the house and its inhabitants. But as the two grow closer, the true nature of the hauntings is gradually revealed.
Will Sal find the courage to conquer his ghosts, or will he risk losing Pax for good?

★★
4 out of 5 stars

Storygraph | Bookshop.org

It’s the golden rule of pretending to be someone’s girlfriend: don’t fall for their sister.
After a year from hell, Haf is ready to blow off steam at a Christmas party: a kind stranger, a few too many drinks and suddenly she’s kissing Christopher under the mistletoe – in front of his ex-girlfriend.
The next day the news is out that they’re apparently a couple, madly in love and coming to Oxlea to spend the festive season with Christopher’s family. But Haf doesn’t have better holiday plans and to save her new friend from embarrassment, she agrees to pretend to be Christopher’s girlfriend for Christmas.
It has the makings of a hilarious anecdote they’ll be telling for years. Until Haf meets Christopher’s sister: the mysterious, magnetic and utterly irresistible Kit. Maybe love was waiting for Haf in this quiet little town all along . . .

★★
5 out of 5 stars

Storygraph | Bookshop.org

I am girl of Ember Grove, and these are my woods… Growing up in Ember Grove, Bitsy Clark knows better than to mess with the long-held traditions of her hometown. Until her best friend, Amy, persuades her to sneak into The Revelry – the end of school party in the woods, to which only those leaving are invited. When she wakes the next day, Bitsy can’t remember anything from the night before. Weirder still, whenever she tries to speak about The Revelry, Bitsy chokes on the words. But this is just the beginning, and what starts out as a run of bad luck starts to feel like a curse. As Bitsy’s life goes from bad to worse, things only get better and better for her best friend. It’s as if there’s only so much luck to go round and Amy’s getting all of it…

★★
3 out of 5 stars

Storygraph | Bookshop.org

Full of finely drawn forest scenes, this gentle picture book encourages children to explore their connections with nature. Award-winning artist Emma Carlisle asks readers to consider how each tree is different, what they have witnessed in their centuries of life, what animals they have sheltered, and who may have played under their branches. Exploring growth through the eyes of a child, this lovely picture book urges readers to connect with the world around them, fostering a deeper appreciation for the natural environment and their place within it.

★★
5 out of 5 stars

Storygraph | Bookshop.org

A lonely little kitten wanders into a dull, gray station, full of dull, gray people. Her colorful fur and bright green eyes bring warmth and life to this weary place, and soon people begin to notice the kitten. As she learns about the different travelers and their struggles from loss and loneliness, the little kitten wants to help fill their world with hope and color, too.
In this timely and important book, author and illustrator Stephen Hogtun shows young readers the pride and sense of purpose that can come from helping others.

★★★
4 out of 5 stars

Storygraph | Waterstones

First came a sinister warning to Poirot not to eat any plum pudding… then the discovery of a corpse in a chest… next, an overheard quarrel that led to murder… the strange case of the dead man who altered his eating habits… and the puzzle of the victim who dreamt his own suicide.
What links these five baffling cases? The little grey cells of Monsieur Hercule Poirot!
Contains the stories:
• The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding
• The Mystery of the Spanish Chest
• Four-And-Twenty Blackbirds
• The Under Dog
• The Dream

★★
3 out of 5 stars

Storygraph | Waterstones

Christmas Eve, and the Lee family’s reunion is shattered by a deafening crash of furniture and a high-pitched wailing scream. Upstairs, the tyrannical Simeon Lee lies dead in a pool of blood, his throat slashed.
When Hercule Poirot offers to assist, he finds an atmosphere not of mourning but of mutual suspicion. It seems everyone had their own reason to hate the old man. . . .

★★
4 out of 5 stars

Storygraph | Bookshop.org

When a hunting fox pounces through the snow and finds itself inside a warm home, it’s welcomed and given dinner by a kind bearded man with a big round belly. Soon yawning, the man leaves the fox to explore through piles of strewn wrapping paper and rows of empty shelves. As the man sleeps, the fox curls up, too, until sun and flowers return, luring them both outside. But soon the man gets back to work—drawing and measuring, painting and hammering, sewing and stuffing, until all the empty shelves are filled from top to bottom. Paired with Richard Jones’s charmingly detailed illustrations, Polly Faber’s gentle story offers a fresh look at how Santa prepares for the most magical night of the year.

★★
5 out of 5 stars

Storygraph | Bookshop.org

Since early 2020, Dolly Alderton has been sharing her wisdom, warmth and wit with the countless people who have written in to her Dear Dolly agony aunt column in The Sunday Times Style. Their questions range from the painfully – and sometimes hilariously – relatable to the occasionally bizarre. They include breakups and body issues, families, friendships, dating, divorce, the pleasures and pitfalls of social media, sex, loneliness, longing, love and everything in between.
Without judgement, and with deep empathy informed by her own, much-chronicled adventures in love, friendship and dating, Dolly leads us by the hand through the various labyrinths of life, proving that a problem shared is truly a problem halved.

★★
5 out of 5 stars

Storygraph | Bookshop.org

Bee Hobbes (aka Bianca Von Honey) has a successful career as a plus-size adult film star. With a huge following and two supportive moms, Bee couldn’t ask for more. But when Bee’s favorite producer casts her to star in a Christmas movie he’s making for the squeaky-clean Hope Channel, Bee’s career is about to take a more family-friendly direction.
Forced to keep her work as Bianca under wraps, Bee quickly learns this is a task a lot easier said than done. Though it all becomes worthwhile when she discovers her co-star is none other than childhood crush Nolan Shaw, an ex-boy band member in desperate need of career rehab. Nolan’s promised his bulldog manager to keep it zipped up on set, and he will if it means he’ll be able to provide a more stable living situation for his sister and mom.
But things heat up quickly in Christmas Notch, Vermont, when Nolan recognizes his new co-star from her ClosedDoors account (oh yeah, he’s a member). Now Bee and Nolan are sneaking off for quickies on set, keeping their new relationship a secret from the Hope Channel’s execs. Things only get trickier when the reporter who torpedoed Nolan’s singing career comes snooping around—and takes an instant interest in mysterious newcomer Bee.
And if Bee and Nolan can’t keep their off-camera romance behind the scenes, then this merry little meet cute might end up on the cutting room floor.

★★
4.5 out of 5 stars

Storygraph | Bookshop.org

When Evie and Duke meet on set, it’s a frosty encounter – even icier than the cobbled Bavarian streets they’re filming on.
But after images of them arguing leak to the press and put the movie in jeopardy, they are left with no choice but to fake date until the cameras stop rolling. 
As the pair start to put their differences aside, their feelings gradually begin to thaw… But can sparks ever really fly in a snowstorm?


3 out of 5 stars

Storygraph | Waterstones

A Christmas Carol is the most famous, heart-warming and chilling festive story of them all. In these pages we meet Ebenezer Scrooge, whose name is synonymous with greed and parsimony: ‘Every idiot who goes about with “Merry Christmas” on his lips, should be boiled with his own pudding, and buried with a stake of holly through his heart’. This attitude is soon challenged when the ghost of his old partner, Jacob Marley, returns from the grave to haunt him on Christmas Eve. Scrooge is then visited in turn by three spirits of Christmas Past, Present and Future, each one revealing the error of his ways and gradually melting the frozen heart of this old miser, leading him towards his redemption. On the journey we take with Scrooge we encounter a rich array of Dickensian characters including the poor Cratchit family with the ailing Tiny Tim and the generous and jolly Fezziwig.

★★
5 out of 5 stars

Storygraph | Bookshop.org

A collection of Tillie’s three longform comics with Avery Hill, I Love This Part, The End Of Summer and A City Inside. Plus the early sketches, short comics for magazines and webcomics such as “What It’s Like To Be Gay In An All-Girls Middle School” that shot her to fame on both sides of the Atlantic and have never been collected before.


4 out of 5 stars

Storygraph | Bookshop.org

What do the residents of Animal Crossing™: New Horizons get up to when you’re not around? Find out all about their antics in this hilarious manga filled with goofy gags and silly stories!
Get ready to meet more characters from Animal Crossing™: New Horizons! Enjoy their silly adventures with our four goofy residents on a deserted island!

★★
3 out of 5 stars

Storygraph | Bookshop.org

★★
3 out of 5 stars

Storygraph | Bookshop.org

What if you could communicate with a whale? Rio has been sent to live with a grandmother he barely knows in California, while his mum is in hospital back home. Alone and adrift, the only thing that makes him smile is joining his new friend Marina on her dad’s whale watching trips. That is until an incredible encounter with White Beak, a gentle giant of the sea changes everything. But when White Beak goes missing, Rio must set out on a desperate quest to find his whale and somehow save his mum. Dive into this incredible story about the connection between a boy and a whale and the bond that sets them both free.

★★
4 out of 5 stars

Storygraph | Waterstones

Kara Sullivan is definitely not avoiding her deadline. After all, it’s the week of her best friend’s wedding and she’s the maid of honour, so she’s got lots of responsibilities. She’s a bestselling romance novelist with seven novels under her belt, so she’s a pro. Looming deadlines don’t scare her, and neither does writer’s block, which she most certainly does not have. She’s just eager to support Cristina as she ties the knot. Right? Right.
But then who should show up at the rehearsal dinner but Kara’s college ex-boyfriend, Ryan? Turns out he’s one of the groom’s childhood friends, and he’s in the wedding party, too. Considering neither Kara nor Ryan were prepared to see each other ever again, it’s decidedly a meet-NOT-cute. However, when Kara sits down to write again the next day, her writer’s block is suddenly gone. Are muses real? And is Kara’s muse . . . Ryan?


3.5 out of 5 stars

Storygraph | Bookshop.org

His crewmates dead, his memories fuzzily returning, Ryland realizes that an impossible task now confronts him. Hurtling through space on this tiny ship, it’s up to him to puzzle out an impossible scientific mystery-and conquer an extinction-level threat to our species. All he knows is that he’s been asleep for a very, very long time. And he’s just been awakened to find himself millions of miles from home, with nothing but two corpses for company. Except that right now, he doesn’t know that. He can’t even remember his own name, let alone the nature of his assignment or how to complete it. Ryland Grace is the sole survivor on a desperate, last-chance mission – and if he fails, humanity and the earth itself will perish. And with the clock ticking down and the nearest human being light-years away, he’s got to do it all alone. An ally he never imagined. An impossible mission. Or does he? 

★★
4 out of 5 stars

Storygraph | Bookshop.org

Jake Livingston is one of the only black kids at St. Clair Prep, one of the others being his infinitely more popular older brother. It’s hard enough fitting in but to make matters worse and definitely more complicated, Jake can see the dead. In fact he sees the dead around him all the time. Most are harmless. Stuck in their death loops as they relive their deaths over and over again, they don’t interact often with people. But then Jake meets Sawyer. A troubled teen who shot and killed sixteen kids at a local high school last year before taking his own life. Now a powerful, vengeful ghost, he has plans for his afterlife–plans that include Jake. Suddenly, everything Jake knows about ghosts and the rules to life itself go out the window as Sawyer begins haunting him and bodies turn up in his neighborhood. High school soon becomes a survival game–one Jake is not sure he’s going to win.

★★
3 out of 5 stars

My favourite book of the month was definitely Make You Mine this Christmas, with my least favourite sadly being Cloud Cuckoo Land. Give my video a watch for more of my thoughts and feelings!

What did you read in December?

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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