December: Books Plus

December: plans for reading all the Christmas-y books and then not feeling like it.  Plenty of Christmas spirit otherwise, though, and a magical Christmas season minus the pregnancy sickness!  If you missed it, we’ve got a little one coming in June : ).
In other news, this is my last of my monthly round-ups.  I’ve mostly enjoyed doing it, although it is quite time consuming.  One definite benefit is that it’s been fun looking back on the rest of the year to try to see what I was watching or reading or learning about at different times.  I’m not sure what I’ll be doing in the new year as far as these round-ups.  Suggestions certainly welcome!
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My Reads

I don’t know if short story collections are really my thing, but I’m very glad this one exists.
➕ Maud Hart Lovelace’s Betsy Tacy first five books
Jumped into re-reading these for the hundredth time as a bit of welcome comfort and joy.  If you haven’t heard me say it (um, where have you been?), I will say it really loudly:  THESE ARE The CHILDHOOD CLASSICS YOU ARE MISSING. They really hit their stride in the fourth book, but the first three are cute and short, and I don’t mean to be dismissive, my dear Maud.  And once you hit Downtown…sigh.  The Ray family is THE BEST family in all of literature and I would jump into this world in a heartbeat.
➕ Varian Johnson’s and Shannon Wright’s Twins
I really liked this middle grade graphic novel exploring the relationship between twins as they come into their own. I can see many of you happily spending an afternoon with it.
➕ Elle Cosimano’s Finlay Donovan is Killing It
Thank you to Minotaur Books for my review copy! The premise of this one reminds me of the Bill Murray movie, The Man Who Knew Too Little- do you know that one? If you’re looking for a consuming page-turner, definitely pick this one up!
➕ Lily LaMotte’s and Ann Xu’s Measuring Up
Take an afternoon for this middle grade graphic novel, too! This one centers around a Taiwanese girl immigrating to America and a cooking competition she enters in order to try to win money to bring her grandmother over for a visit.  Sweet and fun.
I remember someone saying that this one felt like just a repeat of the first, so maybe my memory’s really terrible, because I really liked it. Paris, fairytales, lots of food mentions, adventures…a wonderful bit of escapism.
➕  Ashley Elston’s 10 Blind Dates
So predictable and such a weird plot and yet so darn cute and fantastic.  The kind of book you don’t want to put down and then, when you do reach the end, you want to give a big hug.  This needs to be made into a Netflix movie right away.

➕  Valerie Tripp’s Kit Kitteridge series

I was “too old” when Kit came out, but I had a sneaking suspicion she would have been my girl. These books validated that.  Newspaper writing, the way she rearranges her attic bedroom, photography, baseball…you go, Kit.  I looked up if they still sell her and, they do, but with none of her things, including her books. Excuse me.

➕ Valerie Tripp’s Happy Birthday, Molly

My main thoughts reading this, aside from how right Molly was to be rageful over lemon tart being eaten at a birthday party rather than cake, was how ridiculous it was.
➕ Valerie Tripp’s Molly Saves the Day
From experience, I know the real losers were the ones in the poison ivy.
➕ Valerie Tripp’s Changes for Molly
In which a writer tries to validate all mothers about how wet hair outside is going to get you sick.
➕ J.K. Rowling’s The Ickabog
Dull, trite, irritating. Admittedly, I am not pleased with Rowling (understatement) regarding her statements about the trans community and I am not a fan of parables, but this one felt like a waste of time and I say this as someone who has devoted maybe half my life to HP.
➕ Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol
We listen to Jim Dale read this to us every year.  Funny, heartwarming.
➕ Edna Lewis’s The Taste of Country Cooking
This was a delight. I’ve been meaning to read Edna Lewis for the longest time.  She’s the granddaughter of an emancipated slave and in this book she recounts her childhood growing up in their house with her parents and many others.  It’s all food focused, with so many delicious recipes, and I was spellbound by the way food shaped her and her family’s life.

Podcasts

➕ First Name Basis’s Service, not Saviorism
The title says it all, although it’s specifically referring to white saviorism.
➕ The Popcast’s Flavor Town 5
The Popcast is always gold and these episodes never fail to make me laugh.

Music

➕ Almost solely Christmas music, but of course.

TV and Movies

➕ The Mandalorian Season 2
Liked it even better than the first and was often exclaiming “yessss!” “whoa!” and other very dorky mom things from the couch. So, so good.
➕ Inside Pixar
I am a sucker for (well told) how-it’s-made stories?  This series takes a look at people in various jobs at Pixar and I loved it.
➕ White Christmas
This is probably my favorite Christmas movie and I loved sharing bits of it with Maeve this year.
➕ The Princess Switch
I think we’ve established I like a good bad movie and this certainly fit the bill. Throw in a third look alike who seems to be vaguely channeling the Hilary Duff Italian look alike to compete with the vaguely channeled Lindsay Lohan’s Annie? I’m in.  Head to my story highlights to see us having fun “critiquing” the movie.
➕ Happiest Season
I feel like this movie got a lot of criticism and I’m wondering if that was partially because it had a lot of expectations put on it.  We went in with lowered expectations and ended up enjoying it.  Here for Dan Levy’s character, the youngest sister, and queer representation.
➕ Soul
I’m not sure what I ended up thinking about this movie.  I liked parts of it- the passion for jazz, the existential questions, the lovely moments celebrating life’s little beauties.  Other parts felt off to me, and I’m still processing them, along with reading thought pieces like this one and this one.

What’s Not Working For Me

(This section is officially for nonsense only.)
➕ American Girl.
I’m not sure if it’s just a not user-friendly website, but I started looking into the dolls after my recent stint of reading a lot of the books and they sell almost no historical books anymore, not to mention that there are very few historical dolls and most of them don’t have anything beyond the basic starter set.  I am not here for super expensive dolls if they’re not even going to be attempting to educate or have cute trunks and birthday outfits. Do better, AG.
➕ “Hallmark” Christmas movies.
Look, I like bad movies. But every bad Christmas movie I started this year, with the exception of The Princess Switch, I could not stand. I finished Merry Liddle Christmas only because it had Kelly Rowland and I was rewarded with the most awkward dance scene ever.  The rest were not finished and I’m not sure if I’m just not the right audience right now or if things are just being majorly phoned in for a house-bound audience.

Working For Me

➕ Sticky toffee pudding.

We had to try this when we went to England a few years ago because of Harry Potter. We ended up loving it and now we make it for Christmas every year.  Our favorite recipe so far has been this one.

➕ Butter cookies.

I think when I hear butter cookies I immediately think they’re going to be super buttery, which sounds gross to me personally, but maybe not to you.  This recipe from King Arthur is wonderful, though. They are buttery, but also don’t feel heavy and I could gobble them plain by the handful. That does not have to do with me being pregnant.
➕ Hot chocolate on walks.
My husband recently made this recipe of hot chocolate and it is fantaaaastic.  All the more fun to bring along on a walk with a toddler who almost never has chocolate in chocolate heaven.
➕ Girl power.
Learning that, since they have antlers, the reindeer who pull Santa’s sleigh are females.  Who run the world?
➕ Brandi Kincaid’s wisdom.
Over and over again.
➕ Choosing to believe in the magic of a new year.
I wrote some thoughts here about the new year, but, essentially, while obviously there is no real change coming at midnight on December 31, I’m choosing to embrace it for whatever it can be.

Please do join in however feels fitting to you!


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2 Comments

  • Emily says:

    I enjoyed the second installment of book wandering, but I just felt like nothing happened…Hoping the third book brings it together….

    • Erin says:

      Interesting! I thought a lot happened with the scrapes they got into in the fairytales, but I honestly don’t remember the first one. Is the third definitely the last? It’s such a cool world, so I hope it works better for you!

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