December Wrap-Up

December was a great reading month — I read everything on my December Hopefuls list … and then some! I am closing out my year with 54 books!

Here’s what I read this month:

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

A Christmas Carol

An annual reread … and one of the best Christmas ghost stories! Every year I get something different out of this book, and this year, I was actually spooked! I also made a resolution to read at least two Dickens novels this year! I admittedly have only read two … A Christmas Carol and Oliver Twist. I read Oliver Twist in 9th grade, so I look forward to reading it again as an adult.

Letters From Father Christmas by J.R.R. Tolkien

7331

It felt really special to read this out loud to my daughter this year. Ian and I took turns reading a letter throughout the season. If you love Tolkien or whimsy things (and let’s be honest, you love both when you love Tolkien), read this! It’s hilarious, fun, smart, and so beautiful.

Britt-Marie Was Here by Fredrik Backman

Britt-Marie Was Here

I go into more detail in my book review, but golly, Backman is one of my favorite authors ever. This book was Beartown meets A Man Called Ove meets Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine in all the best ways. I absolutely adored it. I have one more novella and I will have completed all of Backman’s works!

King of Scars (King of Scars #1) by Leigh Bardugo

King of Scars (King of Scars, #1)

I am working my way through the Grishaverse! I read the Shadow and Bone trilogy this summer, giving them an average review. That didn’t stop me from reading the Six of Crows duology, which I have yet to review … but Six of Crows was one of my favorite books this year! Crooked Kingdom … not so much.

Anyways, I devoured this book in a week or so, and found it to be … mmm, well. Average. This 527-page book is a bit of a rollercoaster. I was feeling disconnected from the main characters and the pacing throughout. The story follows Nikolai (one of the only reasons I continued to read Shadow and Bone), Nina (one of my favorite characters in Six of Crows), and Zoya, who was a prevalent character in Shadow and Bone. All of the characters were watered down versions of themselves, especially Nikolai. I will give a longer review when I finish Rule of Wolves, which I have ordered. The way this story ends makes you want to pick up the last book, so don’t fret if you started this one and you’re unsure. We can finish this together!

The Poppy War (The Poppy War #1) by R.F. Kuang

The Poppy War (The Poppy War, #1)

Thank goodness I ordered this book. I finished it this week and wow. I am enthralled by this story and the main character. Rin is unlike any fantasy heroine I have ever encountered … and this book was unlike any fantasy book I have ever read. It is raw, dark, violent, honest. It packs a punch and is not for the sensitive or faint hearted. It was my first military fantasy and I cannot wait to see what happens next.

The Cruel Prince (The Folk of the Air #1) by Holly Black

The Cruel Prince (The Folk of the Air, #1)

I finished The Cruel Prince the morning of Dec. 31. I was hoping to make this one my first completed read of 2022, but I flew through this one. This book was extremely interesting and though there are things I did not like about it … I certainly didn’t hate it. I look forward to completing The Folk of the Air trilogy in the next couple of months!

What about you? What did you read this month?

Another year in the books (heh). Check out all the books I read in 2021:

January Wrap-Up

February Wrap-Up

March Wrap-Up

April Wrap-Up

May to September Wrap-Up

October Wrap-Up

November Wrap-Up

December Wrap-Up

Top 10 Books of 2021

2021 is at its end, and that means it’s time to write another Top Books post. I had a difficult year with books; I ran into a lot of what I call “meh” books that were overhyped and left me disappointed. But overall, I am still happy that I read.

From wrapping up a master’s thesis to getting pregnant with our first baby, I didn’t expect to meet my Goodreads challenge, but I did! Hooray!

While I did read 5X books this year, only a few made the Top Books list. I’m excited to share them below.

Beartown by Fredrik Backman

Beartown (Beartown, #1)

Perhaps one of my favorite books of all time? I read this one for a buddy read back in January. It was my first book of 2021, and my favorite this year. I write more in detail in my book review, but there are a lot of trigger warnings in this one. If you want to read, reach out and we can talk about it. This book is complicated, frustrating, raw, and beautiful. Backman is just tremendous. My advice: Yes, it’s a book centered around hockey, but it’s so much more than that.

Four Hundred Souls by Ibram X. Kendi and Keisha N. Blain

Four Hundred Souls: A Community History of African America, 1619-2019

This book is from a chorus of writers accounting 400 years of the history of Black America. This book is an essential piece of storytelling and I highly recommend reading it. I plan on rereading it next year because it is that good. The audio is also fantastic.

The Rose Code by Kate Quinn

The Rose Code

After reading a few disappointing books this summer and fall, Kate Quinn certainly delivered with The Rose Code. In my book review, I wrote about how this book is all about strength, sisterhood, love, and sacrifice. Quinn always knows how to weave a good story and bring rich history into her books. I highly recommend this one and anything Kate Quinn writes. I’d give something she wrote on a napkin 5 stars.

Us Against You by Fredrik Backman

Us Against You (Beartown, #2)

This book is the sequel to Beartown and oh my goodness, I enjoyed this one. These books break my heart. Again, some trigger warnings, so please reach out if you’d like to read this series. Backman will be releasing the third one this year, and while I can’t wait, I am also preparing my soul for simultaneous heartache and healing.

Hood Feminism by Mikki Kendall

Hood Feminism: Notes from the Women That a Movement Forgot

I read this one on my iPad and furiously highlighted throughout. Hood Feminism offers rich insight in areas such as intersectionality and the problem with white feminism. I learned so much reading this book and I encourage everyone who is interested in feminism (read: everyone) to pick it up.

Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas

Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass, #4)

Throughout the fall of 2020 into spring 2021, I read the Throne of Glass series, which was no easy feat. I am glad I did it, and I am thrilled that I found an author that I enjoy. Out of all of the Throne of Glass books, Queen of Shadows was my favorite. The action, the badass women, the plot — I was hooked throughout. You can read more about my thoughts on Throne of Glass in my series review.

Act Your Age, Eve Brown by Talia Hibbert

Act Your Age, Eve Brown (The Brown Sisters, #3)

You want to have a lot of fun? Read Talia Hibberts’ Act Your Age series. I read all of them, and really enjoyed them. Out of all three, I’d have to say I liked Dani the best, but I enjoyed Eve’s story more. These books are funny and steamy, but I also love their representation, from LGBTQ to mental health and more.

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Six of Crows (Six of Crows, #1)

I read the Shadow and Bone trilogy and the Six of Crows duology this year, and while I flew through the Shadow and Bone trilogy (review here), I enjoyed Six of Crows as a standalone book much more. I am yet to read King of Scars and Rule of Wolves, but I have a feeling I will continue to enjoy the stories. I really loved the Grishaverse and the characters she introduces in Six of Crows. I love the action and the heist and how she writes dialogue. It’s fun, witty, and engaging. I really loved Nina and Inej, as well as Jasper and Wyatt. Looking forward to checking in with Nikolai in January!

Britt-Marie Was Here by Fredrik Backman

Britt-Marie Was Here

Oh, look. Another Backman! Britt-Marie Was Here was fantastic. This one is a good mix of A Man Called Ove and Beartown — without feeling like you are reading the same book. I go into more detail in my book review, but this one really stuck with me. I loved Britt-Marie, the town and its characters. I laughed and shed many tears reading this one!

The Nature of Witches by Rachel Griffin

The Nature of Witches

This was a perfect Halloween, witchy read. What I really loved about this book was the pretty prose throughout. Griffin has a talent for atmospheric writing. I appreciated all of the seasons while reading this book (and I usually hate summer!). I also loved the idea that everyone has their own “season” where they feel the most themselves — I am definitely an autumn! You can read more about my thoughts on this one in my book review!

Your turn

What were your favorite books this year?

2021 Kassual Reads

Check out my wrap-up posts throughout the year:

January Wrap-Up

February Wrap-Up

March Wrap-Up

April Wrap-Up

May to September Wrap-Up

October Wrap-Up

November Wrap-Up

December Wrap-Up

Bookish Goals for 2022

I’ve always had a sticky relationship with book goals and Goodreads challenges. Since becoming a bookstagrammer in particular, I find myself comparing my book counts to others, wondering why I can’t reach the same goals.

Not anymore, folks.

In 2022, I plan on not setting a number goal. I am just going to read and see what happens.

With a baby on the way in 7 short weeks, I know that life as I know it will change. Will I be able to read 50-70 books like I usually do? Who knows? I plan to read a lot during my maternity leave (print and audiobooks), but the last thing I want to do is pressure myself and then come to resent my favorite hobby.

Ever since I was a little girl, reading has been my escape. While other kids played outside, I was indoors reading The Chronicles or Narnia, or under a hammock reading the newest Harry Potter book. I have such fond memories of reading as a child…and as an adult! I have met some wonderful friends through my love of reading, and that won’t change if I read 50 books or 20 books!

So, my bookish goals for 2022 are simple: I want to read books and I want to read books I enjoy. I want to expand my bookshelf to include more diverse authors across all genres, particularly first-person narratives. I want to take time researching a book and its author before auto buying. I want to ask myself, “am I really interested in this book, or am I just getting it because it’s hyped on the internet?” before purchasing. I want to enjoy reading and tracking my books on a new app, The Storygraph. I want to talk about books and write about books on my blog. So, I will do just that!

What are your bookish plans for 2022? Do you have a reading goal set? Share in the comments below.

And, please share book recommendations!

My favorite Christmas songs

Christmas, Background, Flat Lay

Admittedly, I’ve been listening to Christmas songs (or Christmassy-like tunes) since mid-November. Cut me some slack though; we are still in a pandemic and I was feeling very nostalgic and excited this holiday season.

As someone who loves to sing, Christmas songs are my jam (pun … intended, I guess?). I wanted to share a non-exhaustive list of my favorite Christmas tunes to listen to/blast throughout the holidays. Let me know if you see any you love or any you’d add. Also, check out my friend’s list! Great minds, Cecilia!

O Holy Night – Andy Williams

O Holy Night absolutely ranks as my top Christmas carol. It is my favorite song to sing, and it really does fill me with a “thrill of hope.” Why Andy Williams? Not sure. Whenever I hear it, I picture my little hands putting ornaments up on the tree, so this version must have been played a lot in my childhood home.

The Christmas Song – Nat King Cole

As if there’s any other version to listen to. Classic, warm, wholesome. The first 5 seconds of this song immediately puts me in the Christmas spirit.

A Holly Jolly Christmas – Burl Ives

Rudolph vibes! This song slaps. You can’t help but dance when this one comes on.

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas – Judy Garland

This one has hit home the past two Christmases – particularly during this challenging time (although “next year all our troubles will be out of sight” didn’t really come to fruition this year). Let’s hope for next year?!

Ave maria – Christina Perri

Christina Perri has a hauntingly beautiful voice, and I love her Christmas album “a very merry perry christmas.” The title is clever. This version is also very easy to learn on guitar, which I have yet to record and post!

Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town – Frank Sinatra

… Along with the entire “Christmas Songs by Sinatra” album and every Christmas song he’s ever recorded.

Christmas is A-Comin’ – Bing Crosby

The crooner himself. Bing Crosby’s entire Christmas album is a household favorite. I just love the lyrics in this one, particularly “Christmas is a-comin’ and the egg is in the nog.” Gets me every time. Special shout out to Christmas Is Here to Stay.

Sleigh Ride – The Ronettes

Ring-a-ling-a-ling-a-ding-a-ling.

O Tannenbaum – Vince Guaraldi Trio

Anything by those three really…

Mele Kalikimaka – Bing Crosby and The Andrews Sisters

While my idea of Christmas is a snowy one, I do enjoy the song’s vibes and The Andrew Sisters harmonies.

Silver Bells – Dean Martin

Another classic. I like the slowness and easiness of this one.

Man With the Bag – Jessie J

Pop-tastic. Feisty, fun, playful. I love it. Jessie J is one of my favorite vocalists and I love blasting this one in the car and pairing it with some impressive shoulder dancing.

Where Are You Christmas – Faith Hill

I love Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas almost as much as I love impersonating Faith Hill’s voice while singing this song.

What are your favorites? Happy Holidays!