Happy Friday! I read some books in December. 😳And I read some books that I really enjoyed, so I’m excited to share them with you! I actually read the first in November, but forgot to include it in my last wrap-up (🤦🏻♀️🤷🏻♀️), so I’m sharing it with you now, even though it might be the most pointless review in the post. Enjoy! 😉
Let me know what you read in December! I’m always on the lookout for new books to add to my never-ending TBR.
Note: Some of the links used are affiliate links, which means I’ll earn a small percentage if you make a purchase using it, at no extra cost to you.
Of Neptune by Anna Banks
This is the third in the Syrena trilogy. Half-human and half-Syrena Emma and her Syrena boyfriend Galen decide to get away from their Kingdoms and Emma’s grandfather suggests a town called Neptune. There they discover a town filled with other Syrena and half-human/half-Syrena’s like Emma and they find themselves involved in a dispute between those on land and those in the sea.
It’s been a long time since I read the first two, so I don’t remember much of the conflict, but I do remember enjoying the books and loving the characters. I, once again, enjoyed spending time with these characters, but after listening to this I still don’t remember the overall plot of the first two in the series and I feel like this was unnecessary. It was also incredibly long. I thought the novel was probably wrapping up and I still had an hour left. Once again, I thought it was wrapping up, and I still had a half hour left. It wasn’t bad, by any means, I’m just not sure it was needed to complete the story.
Read this if you:
>> Enjoy mermaid stories.
>> Are looking for a light story to escape into.
Still Water by Amy Stuart
After a woman and her young son have disappeared, Clare is hired to help find them. When she arrives, she discovers a town that women in hiding run to, and a matriarch who offers them a safe place and anonymity.
The publisher reached out to send me a copy of the book, but it never arrived and I ended up tracking down the audiobook at the library to listen to during my commute. Goodreads says this is the second in a series, and it might be good to start with the beginning, because there’s a backstory to Clare that has relevance in this story that I would have loved to read about. The story moved a little slowly at times and some of my favorite parts were told to the reader in conversation between characters instead of shown through action. Toward the end it really started to pick up and I was engaged in the story. While this can stand on its own, I think the reading experience would be enhanced and I would have been more invested in following Clare to this town if I had read the first one first.
Read this if you:
>> Love slow-burn mysteries
>> Have read the first in the series.
Pride by Ibi Zoboi
A retelling of Pride and Prejudice. Elizabeth Bennett is now Zuri Benitez, an Afro-Latina poet who’s hoping to attend her dream university, but torn by how much she loves her family and her neighborhood. Darcy is Darius Darcy, whose family moves into the house across the street.
I’m not a fan of Pride and Prejudice and don’t remember all of the details, but I think this is a fairly accurate retelling. And I really enjoyed it! Elizabeth Acevedo (spoken word poet and author of The Poet X) narrates the audiobook, so as soon as I saw that I knew I had to listen and I highly recommend it. Her narration is amazing! I didn’t feel really connected to any of the characters, however I absolutely loved Zuri. I loved seeing how much she loved where she was from, but that didn’t stop her from dreaming about going to a college that has a background that’s meaningful to her as well. She was a fun character to spend time with, even if I didn’t fully connect with her and the other characters in the novel.
Read this if you:
>> Love retellings of classics
>> Are a fan of Pride and Prejudice
>> Like strong, female protagonists
>> Enjoy when poetry is used in a narrative
The Wicked Deep by Shea Earnshaw
Two hundred years ago in the seaside town of Sparrow, three sisters were accused of witchcraft and drowned. Each summer they return and inhabit the bodies three local teens in order to lure boys into the sea to drown them as revenge. Penny and the others in the town accept their fate each year, but when Bo stumbles into town just as the sisters are about to return, Penny realizes she has to save him from them.
I wondered what I would think when I started this, because it totally sounds like a story I’d love, but it also had some mixed reviews. I loved it! This is a slow-burn story, so don’t come into it expecting a lot of action. Spend the summer with Penny and Bo and enjoy the writing and your time with them. The writing was a bit passive at times (as opposed to active) and I think that’s why some reviewers indicated they had some issues with the writing style. But it’s also incredibly poetic and beautiful. It was a nice escape and I’m excited to read more of Shea Ernshaw’s work in the future. (Also, if you love beautiful imagery and captions, you should totally follow her on Instagram.)
Building a StoryBrand by Donald Miller
Donald Miller walks you through the StoryBrand process to clarify your message so customers will listen.
I met Donald Miller at a conference in February and I immediately loved the concept behind StoryBrand, which is essentially using story structure to communicate a message. I incorporated this idea into the work I do and it’s a method of communicating a message that just… works. If you follow me on GoodReads you probably saw this on my Currently Reading shelf for the looongest time. It’s not because of the book itself, but we learned about it at the conference and I had shared the process with a few others, so it seemed like I was reading things I already knew. That’s not to say I’m an expert in the StoryBrand process. I’d actually like to do a more detailed training for it. But this is a great introduction to it and will do wonders for your communications strategy.
Read This If You:
>> Have a message you’d like to communicate.
One Day in December by Josie Silver
While sitting on the bus one day in December, Laurie makes eye contact with a guy at the bus stop. He doesn’t get on and she doesn’t get off, but they make such a connection that she vows to find him throughout the next year. Toward the end of the year she does, when her roommate and best friend introduces Laurie to Jack, her new boyfriend and the love of her life… and the guy she made eye contact with on the bus. The novel follows Laurie, Sarah, and Jack throughout the next ten years.
I don’t have a lot to say about this one, other than I really enjoyed it. I wanted to see how the story would play out for all three characters and wasn’t even sure how I wanted it to end throughout the entire novel. It felt a bit long at times, which these types of novels often do, and I also thought the ending was a bit rushed. But I really enjoyed following all three characters through all their ups and downs, and their lovable and unlikable moments throughout the ten years. And I definitely teared up at different parts throughout. It reminded me a lot of Love, Rosie, by Cecelia Ahern. This isn’t an epistolary novel, though, so if you were intrigued by the concept of Love, Rosie, but were turned off by the format, this is a “normal” narrative format of storytelling.
Read this if you:
>> Love following characters over a period of time
>> Love a rom-com with realistic (aka not-always-likable) characters
The Deal of a Lifetime by Fredrik Backman
On Christmas Eve a father and son see each other for the first time in years so that the father can tell his son an important story that involves a dying girl in a hospital.
I’ve been interested in Backman’s books for awhile, but since I haven’t had the time/attention span that I’d like for reading over the last few year (but I think I’ve finally turned the corner! 🎉) so I’ve been hesitant to pick one up because of the size. They’re not huge, but they’re also not small. When I saw this short story on the bookshelf at a library, I knew it was time to see if I liked his writing. And I did! This is a nice story to read at Christmas Eve. While I wasn’t necessarily invested in the characters themselves (except for the little girl) I was invested in the story and interested in how it would end. It’s short and has illustrations, so you can get through it fast, and it’s a book that will make you think. I’d definitely like to read more by Backman in the future.
Read this if you:
>> Are looking for a quick story to read.
>> Love a good Christmas story
An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekannen
On a whim, Jessica signs up for a psychology study conducted by Dr. Schield so that she can earn some extra money to send to her family. She thinks she’ll answer a few questions, collect her check, and leave. But Dr. Schield keeps expanding the study and the questions/things she’s asked to do become more and more invasive.
I loved this book! It was hard to put down and it was such a quick read each time I sat down with it. I found Jessica to be an incredibly compelling character and equally as compelling was Dr. Schield. I gave it to my mom to read as soon as I finished it and would definitely reread this in the future, even though I know how it ends. This is actually being released on Tuesday, but I got it through Book of the Month in December
Read this if you:
>> Love a good mystery.