Quick Lit: December 2018

With this post, I'm finally caught up on reviewing books I read in 2018. I thought this day would never come! I read 22 books in December, and I'm reviewing 15 of them in today's post. At the end of the post, I briefly chat about the 7 other books that I decided not to fully review. As always, check out the Quick Lit linkup  that's hosted by Modern Mrs. Darcy for more reviews and recommendations.

SEASON OF WONDER BY RAEANNE THAYNE – After falling in love with the Haven Point Series, I was bummed when I hated the previous book. I hoped this one would restore the feels, especially with the Christmas elements, but it was pretty bland overall. The romance had almost no development and felt so forced! The heroine's negative motivations (thanks to this review for teaching me the term) were such a drag to the plot and pacing. The overall story was fine, but the book gets a So Okay With It. And honestly, I'm hesitant to continue the series.

WINTER IN PARADISE BY ELIN HILDERBRAND – After reading my first Elin Hilderbrand in September, I couldn't resist her newest release. While the characters were almost all completely unlikeable, I still found myself so sucked into the drama! How did she do it?! I loved the St. John setting, and I'm so intrigued by the mystery. It's worth noting that the ending is total cliffhanger, but it just made me excited to read the second and see what happens next. I So Enjoyed It and really enjoy Hilderbrand's writing style. It just sucks you in and makes it hard to put the book down!

DAYS OF BLOOD AND STARLIGHT BY LAINI TAYLOR – After re-reading the first book and the novella in November, I continued my re-read with the audio of this one. And man, I just never get tired of this story! It's been so long since I read this book that I'd forgotten a lot of the details, so it was lovely to rediscover my favorite scenes. Whether I was lamenting the star-crossed romance or tearing up over the horrors of war, all of my emotions were swept up in Taylor's lyrical writing. And once again, Khristine Hvam is an excellent narrator. I'm So Obsessed With It.

A CHRISTMAS PROMISE BY MARY BALOGH – I was trying to pick some holiday reads during the Christmas season, and I'd noticed that most were contemporary. Well, I wanted something historical, too, and grabbed this oldie from a new favorite author. And oh my goodness, it was a delight! The holiday scenes were fantastic, and I thought the relationship development was so believable. There are misunderstandings here, but it made sense to be since the hero and heroine are basically strangers to one another. I So Enjoyed It and wish Balogh had more holiday books! 

THE CHRISTMAS SISTERS BY SARAH MORGAN – This was a random find while browsing online, and I thought the summary sounded pretty good. Then Kelly read it first and begged me to prioritize it. I'm so glad she did because this was my favorite Christmas book of the season! The family dynamics were so well done, and I loved getting so many perspectives. The various romances were charming, and I thought the overall conflict and backstory were so intriguing. I couldn't put the book down because I wanted to know what was going to happen! I So Loved It.

MY FAVORITE HALF-NIGHT STAND BY CHRISTINA LAUREN – As soon as I started this book, I couldn't put it down! The friend group was great in this one, and I think that's something these authors do really well. The romance is a little problematic, so I can understand how it will bother some readers more than others. If you struggle with conflicts where one character is keeping something from the other, beware this book. But honestly, I thought it was fun overall and so compulsively readable! And I was pleased with the heroine's growth by the end. I So Enjoyed It.

CHRISTMAS IN SNOWFLAKE CANYON BY RAEANNE THAYNE – This is the sixth book in another Thayne series, Hope's Crossing, and the only one I've read. I liked the tie to the hero of the first Haven Point book, which is the reason I wanted to read it in the first place. After the meh-ness of Season of Wonder, I was happy that this restored some of my Thayne glow. It was nice to see the heroine's growth, and I loved how the hero eventually let his guard down. This one reminded me of the reasons I initially binged so many of her books, and I So Enjoyed It

THE FIERY CROSS BY DIANA GABALDON – My informal goal has been to read one Outlander book per year, but I failed in 2017. I was determined to do better in 2018, and I managed to squeeze in the fifth book right near the end of the year. I spent about a week with this beast, and it was one of my least favorites so far. It gets better by the end, but it took a while for me to get hooked. There's just so many details and random dramas! But I was always curious about where it would go next and did finish excited to start the next book. So, I'd say I So Enjoyed It overall.

HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER'S STONE BY J.K. ROWLING – I didn't read Harry Potter until I was out of college, so I don't have the nostalgia attached to this series that so many other readers do. But I kept thinking about re-reading it, so I decided to go for it. I started with the first, and it's the only one I've re-read before. I don't know why, but it took me forever to finish it! I never felt the urge to pick it up, and then lost my motivation to continue my re-read. It's a great book, and I'd even say I So Loved It. But something just wasn't clicking for me this time around...

SEVEN DAYS OF US BY FRANCESCA HORNAK – What I expected from this book was very different than what it actually delivered, and I think that played a role in my disappointment. The story of a British family quarantined together for one week during the Christmas holidays sounded like a recipe for drama. And it was, to an extent, but it mostly just felt dysfunctional. Everyone in the family is awful, and the ending was so depressing. I'm sorry, but I was here for holiday cheer – not drivel and disaster. Plus, So Many Coincidences! I'm So Over It.

THE LION, THE WITCH, AND THE WARDROBE BY C.S. LEWIS – Fantasy wasn't my go-to genre growing up, and I didn't fall in love with it until I started blogging. This was the only Narnia book that I read as a kid. I know, I know. But with winter-y books on my brain, I couldn't resist re-reading this one. I downloaded the audio and dove in! I finished it in an afternoon and thoroughly enjoyed it. It was fun to listen to it as an adult, and it made me excited to continue the series this year. I So Enjoyed It, and I'm looking forward to reading it to my son someday.

THERE YOU'LL FIND ME BY JENNY B. JONES – I read this back in 2011 and had fond memories of it, so I randomly decided to borrow the audiobook from the library. While the narrator was lovely, I didn't like nearly as much when I revisited it, and I hate when that happens! There was just so much going on – celebrities, eating disorders, bullying, grief, falling in love, travel, faith, music – and it felt cluttered. It's a short book, too, so I kept wishing certain storylines had more depth and others had been cut out. I So Liked It, but I won't re-read it again. 

SOMEONE TO TRUST BY MARY BALOGH* – I was so excited to continue Balogh's Westcott series, and this one didn't disappoint! I loved what I knew of Elizabeth from previous books, and I couldn't wait for her to get a second chance at love. And with a younger man? OH MY! I didn't expect an age-gap romance, and I love that Balogh did something so unexpected. I wished they would have communicated more clearly, but I can understand why it took them to so long to admit to their feelings. It wasn't my favorite in the series, but I definitely So Enjoyed It.

THE GOWN BY JENNIFER ROBSON* – I know I shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but sometimes I can’t help myself. I was expecting a book about Elizabeth's royal wedding but was surprised that it truly does focus on the gown. From the artistry that went into creating it to the difficulty of keeping the design a secret, it was a tribute to the women working behind the scenes who often go unrecognized. I could have done without the contemporary storyline and found the characters a bit flat, but I loved learning about the dressmaking process. I So Enjoyed It.

ONE DAY IN DECEMBER BY JOSIE SILVER – Blame it on bookstagram and Reese's book club! I couldn't resist the hype and bought this one because it fit in perfectly with my holiday reading. The concept – two people, one magical moment before they part ways, and the ten years that follow – sounded great. And while I loved the setting and enjoyed Silver's writing, I wasn't invested in the romance and didn't like the hero at all. But I still had a grin on my face by the end... so, yes, I'm one big contradiction. Since I couldn't put it down, I'll give it a So Liked It

As I mentioned, I read 7 other books in December that aren't included above. As with a few other past months, there were a handful of books that I just wanted to recap rather than review. In my holiday book binge, I read Marry Me at Christmas by Susan Mallery and Winter Street by Elin Hilderbrand. I'd give both a So Okay With It rating. Mallery's book felt very shallow, and there just wasn't anything memorable about it for me. Hilderbrand's book was a little better, in comparison, but I like my holiday reads a little happier / less dramatic. And when I was done, I just didn't feel any desire to continue the series.

I binged two historical romance series in December, too. The first was the Bevelstoke series by Julia Quinn. I So Liked It – they all had witty banter, a dose of drama, and definite swooning. There were things that annoyed me about each, and they all get a little too silly for me. But they were fun overall! The other series was the Scandal & Scoundrels series by Sarah MacLean, and I was So Okay With It. I technically read the last book in January, but I'm including it here. I liked the inspiration behind the series – modern celebrity gossip with a pre-Victorian twist – but wasn't crazy about the execution. They all felt too long and repetitive. Not terrible, but not MacLean's best.

* I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review consideration. This did not affect my opinion of the book or my review.

What have you been reading lately?


  1. I know what you mean about Haven Point - I feel like I love the setting so much that I'll continue the series, but the last two weren't as good. I still need to keep reading the Hope's Crossing series! I think I've read the first two?

  2. I've been thinking about the Chronicles of Narnia series as the weather gets colder! I loved that whole series from the time I read them as a kid, and I really do want to reread them all. That's on my list for 2020!


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