Quick Lit: December 2020

It's a moment to celebrate: with the exception of one book, I'm caught up on reviewing everything I read in 2020! I can't tell you how happy it makes me that I was able to be consistent and never fell too far behind. Thank goodness for my Quick Lit format + the power of setting goals! I finished 12 books in December, and I'm reviewing all of them in today's post. If you enjoy this feature, check out other readers' reviews at Modern Mrs. Darcy.

THIS TIME NEXT YEAR BY SOPHIE COUSENS – This was a really fun contemporary romance and perfect for the end of the year. I loved seeing the New Years Eve near misses between the two characters over the years, and I was invested in how these birthday twins would finally sort through all their personal baggage. I appreciated that the story involved personal growth for both characters, but I did occasionally find them frustrating. A huge part of the charm of this book was the setting. Without that, I might have more to nitpick about it. As it was, however, I So Liked It. It was leaning more into Enjoyed until the very end – things were wrapped up a little too perfectly and all the secondary characters made huge progress on their own problems. That was a bit too much for me, personally!

CHAIN OF GOLD BY CASSANDRA CLARE – Listen, I basically bought this book because quarantine and the cover got to me. Back in May, I was wandering around Target alone and couldn't take my eyes off this book. I've only read Clare's Infernal Devices series... and yet, I wanted to buy this spin-off book. At first, I had a hard time following all the characters and how they were related to one another. And I definitely could have used a re-read of the trilogy to refresh my memory. Other than that, however, this was a really fun read! The first half felt a little long, but the second half sucked me in. I loved the group dynamics and am very intrigued where the story is headed. I So Enjoyed It and will definitely continue the series when book two releases this year. Give me all the drama!

TASTE AND SEE BY MARGARET FEINBERG – Even though I'm not a foodie, I've noticed that I do love food in fiction. So, I was really intrigued by the premise of this Christian non-fiction book, which explores the Bible through a culinary lens. Feinberg notes that "food plays a prominent role in the most spiritually significant events from the moment the story starts" and then zeroes in on six specific foods in the Bible (fish, figs, bread, salt, olives, and meat). I appreciated how the book combined research and teaching with hands-on experience as Feinberg goes on a global adventure to do things like fish in the Sea of Galilee and harvest olives in Croatia. The focus and the way it was written really made it stand out to me, and I can see myself re-reading it someday. I So Enjoyed It.

THE JANE AUSTEN SOCIETY BY NATALIE JENNER – Would I have enjoyed this book as much as I did if it were about any author other than Jane Austen? Probably not. But as an Austen fan, I just loved this story about a group of her fans coming together to preserve her legacy. I thought the setting was charming, and it made me wish that I'd been able to visit Alton and Chawton Cottage when Kelly and I were in England. There were a lot of characters populating the story, but I was pleased with their development overall. It definitely isn't a character-driven book, but I did think they were fleshed out well considering the quantity. If you want to read it, I highly recommend the audio. It's narrated by Richard Armitage, and his voice is divine. Because I love Austen, I So Enjoyed It

SOMEONE TO ROMANCE BY MARY BALOGH – I've enjoyed Balogh's Westcott series overall, though some have worked better for me than others. The huge cast of family members can be hard to keep straight, making it daunting for readers who might be considering jumping in to the middle of the series. However, I do love the huge family dynamics and how they all show up for one another! I'd been looking forward to Jessica's story, and Balogh didn't disappoint. She was an enjoyable heroine, and I loved that she made the hero prove himself to her. I thought the hero's backstory was intriguing, and I couldn't wait to see how all of it resolved. I So Liked It but did listen on audio and think I may have felt less invested listening than I would have if I'd been reading the physical book.

HOUSE LESSONS BY ERICA BAUERMEISTER – I bought this memoir after hearing about it on the From the Front Porch podcast, and I'm so glad I did. This was a really lovely memoir-in-essays in which Bauermeister writes about renovating a trash-filled home in Washington and explores the way our spaces affect us. I found the parts about the power of home to be so moving! The research throughout about the area, different architecture elements, and related topics was a nice touch that kept it from getting lost in the nitty gritty renovation details. In a year where we've all spent so much time at home, this was a timely read. It made me appreciate the place I call my own and the people in it who fill it with love. I So Enjoyed It and gave it to my mom to read as soon as I was done.

IN A HOLIDAZE BY CHRISTINA LAUREN – I've mentioned before that I'm not a huge fan of holiday books. Combine that with the fact that Christina Lauren's last two books didn't work for me, and you'll have an idea of what this book was up against. Y'all, I'm shocked to say I So Loved It! It was such a fun holiday rom com, and the Groundhog Day setup added a nice dose of whimsy and mystery. I couldn't wait to find out what would happen and how Maelyn would find happen. Yes, it was perfectly predictable – but in a way I found comforting, if that makes sense. The romance was delicious and full of tension. Instead of feeling like it needed more development, I bought into all the backstory that existed off the page. That doesn't always happen for me! Reading it made me so happy.

HER LAST FLIGHT BY BEATRIZ WILLIAMS – Am I breaking up with Beatriz' books? I honestly might be. Kelly and I binged her backlist in 2018, which we called the Bestie Beatriz Binge. But sadly, I haven't enjoyed her books since then. I started Her Last Flight with hopes it would turn things around, but I think it just solidified that I don't click with her writing anymore. It was so melodramatic! I predicted one of the biggest twists in the book (which felt straight out of The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo) and rolled my eyes at some of the others. I thought it was boring and learned that I don't really enjoy aviation stories. Her books have always been dramatic, but I used to be invested in the characters. In this one, everyone was intensely unlikeable for me. I hate to say it, but I'm So Over It.

THE TWELVE DATES OF CHRISTMAS BY JENNY BAYLISS – Ooooooh, this book. The writing was over-descriptive, info dump-y, and rushed at the end, which affected the pacing. It lacked development between the heroine and the man she ends up with. Who, by the way, is absolute garbage. Justice for Kate! Though shame on her for not setting better boundaries and letting this jackhole continue to use her AND be a jerk. Second chance romance is one of my least favorite tropes, and this one exemplified why: if it didn't work out before, it was for a good reason. Namely, [redacted] needs to go sit in the corner and think about what he's done. Anyway, the setting was adorable because a small British town is all kinds of cozy during the holidays. That's all I can say to recommend it. I'm So Over It.

AND EVERY MORNING THE WAY HOME GETS LONGER AND LONGER BY FREDRIK BACKMAN* – Confession time: I first read an advance copy of this novella in 2016... and then never reviewed it. What a total fail! To give myself a pass, I will acknowledge that I had a baby that year and had not rediscovered my blogging rhythm. With a 2021 goal of catching up on my NetGalley queue, I checked this out from the library to re-read it. This is an emotional short story about a man, his son, and his grandson – and how they are all reacting to the man's failing memory. It was in Backman's typical style and voice, though I do think you can tell this story was more personal to him and not really written with the intent to publish it. It was very sad, but the length kept it from being too heavy. I So Enjoyed It.

MY SOUTHERN JOURNEY BY RICK BRAGG – Although I think I've read some of Bragg's essays in magazines, I've never familiarized myself with his style or work. I was missing out! I loved this collection of essays about life in the South. I listened to the audiobook, narrated by the author, and found his Southern twang perfectly matched his words. He is a gifted writer, a born storyteller, and a dang good narrator. I loved the things that felt familiar to me, that called up my own memories of this place I call home, and the parts that showed a side of it I rarely see. The essays are grouped by theme (such as Home, Table, and Craft). My biggest complaint about the book was the last section, Spirit, about football. They didn't appeal to me at all. But overall, I So Loved It.

NEW MORNING MERCIES BY PAUL DAVID TRIPP – One of my overarching goals for 2020 was to revitalize my faith, which included reading through the Bible and a daily devotional. I chose New Morning Mercies as my devotional because I loved Tripp's writing, and I'm so glad that I did. Tripp continually points to God, reminding readers of the power of the Gospel and the gravity of sin. It was both encouraging and convicting, which is the highest compliment I can give. Many devotionals I've sampled lean too far into the fluff for me, cutesy encouragement that makes me feel good but is quickly forgotten. Tripp, on the other hand, shares important wisdom that I'd often think about all day long. I'm thankful for the truth he shares and So Loved It.

Have you read anything you loved lately?

*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.


  1. I have to admit, I DNFed The Twelve Dates of Christmas on the first page because of a typo! Doesn't sound like I was missing much!

  2. And Every Morning The Way Home Gets Longer and Longer still makes me emotional whenever I think about it! I haven't ever reread it, but I'm always thinking about the premise. And yay for enjoying Chain of Gold! That was one of my favorite reads of 2020 ;)


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