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December 31, 2018

Donna's December Reading Wrap-up #MondayBlogs

by Donna Huber

Here we are: the last day of 2018. It has been a great reading year. I've read/listened to 118 books (because I'm counting the stories in A Christmas Treasury as separate "books" - I'm not going to read them all this year so I thought it was a good way to get credit for what I did read), which is 3 more than last year and 18 more than my goal of 100 books. December was an average reading month (thanks to short stories). I enjoyed a few Christmas stories and a short break from review copies.

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In audio...

Lift and Separate
Lift and Separate by Marilyn Simon Rothstein
This is another book that was recommended by reviewer Susan Roberts that happened to by a free Prime ebook with Audible narration. I enjoyed the story and the audiobook was well done.

Marcy Hammer’s life has been turned upside down. Her husband, the head of a global brassiere empire, didn’t think twice about leaving her after thirty-three years of marriage for a 32DD lingerie model. Now Harvey the Home-Wrecker is missing in action, but Marcy’s through thinking about what a cliché he is. What she needs now is a party-size bag of potato chips, a good support system, and a new dress.

Striking out on her own is difficult at first, but Marcy manages to find traces of humor in her heartbreak. Even while devastated by Harvey’s departure, she still has her indomitable spirit and her self-respect. She has no intention of falling apart, either, even when her adult children drop a few bombshells of their own and she discovers a secret about her new, once-in-a-lifetime friend. Life may be full of setbacks, but by lifting herself up by her own lacy straps, Marcy just may be able to handle them all.

Buy Lift and Separate at Amazon

Killer Jam
Killer Jam by Karen MacInerney
This was a fun homestead cozy mystery (I didn't know that was a category!). While the homesteading side of the story was a bit idealistic it made for a fun backdrop to this small town mystery. I would read more in this series. It was a Prime free read with Audible narration.

When Houston reporter Lucy Resnick cashes in her retirement to buy her grandmother’s farm in Buttercup, Texas, she’s looking forward to a simple life as a homesteader. But Lucy has barely finished putting up her first batch of Killer Dewberry Jam when an oil exploration truck rolls up to the farm and announces plans to replace her broccoli patch with an oil derrick. Two days later, Nettie Kocurek, the woman who ordered the drilling, turns up dead at the Founders’ Day Festival with a bratwurst skewer through her heart and one of Lucy’s jam jars beside her…and the sheriff fingers Lucy as the prime suspect.

Horrified, Lucy begins to talk to Nettie’s neighbors, but the more she gets to know the townspeople, the more she realizes she’s not the only one who had a beef with Nettie. Can she clear her name, or will her dream life turn into a nightmare?

Buy Killer Jam at Amazon

In ebook...

Storey's Guide to Raising Pigs
Storey's Guide to Raising Pigs, 4th edition by Kelly Klober
An excellent resource for anyone new to livestock raising in general and swine in particular. Read my full review. I received a free copy from the publisher.

Stressing the importance of sustainable and environmentally friendly farming practices, farmer Kelly Klober provides expert advice on making any size hog operation more efficient and profitable in Storey’s Guide to Raising Pigs.  The most comprehensive book available on the topic, this fourth edition features the most up-to-date practices, illustrated with color photography. Both beginners and experienced farmers will find all the information they need to select, house, care for, breed, and butcher pigs, along with marketing advice.

Buy Storey's Guide to Raising Pigs at Amazon

What Child is This
What Child is This by Rhys Bowen
I enjoy Bowen's historical fiction so when I saw this short story for free I had to pick it up. It was good.

Jack and Maggie Harris are adrift on ravaged streets during the London Blitz. Their home is gone. They have nowhere to go and nothing left to lose. With only the memories of their greatest loss—the death of their child during a Christmas years before—Jack and Maggie settle in a seemingly deserted mansion for the night.

Inside they find shelter, warmth, and a bit of cheer. They also discover a surprise. Now, in the darkest of times, the unexpected compassion of strangers will make this Christmas one to remember forever.

Buy What Child is This at Amazon

A Kiss for Christmas
A Kiss for Christmas by Melody Grace
This is a set of three Christmasy novella's that are part of Beachwood Bay series. I enjoyed Holiday Kisses but the other two were kind of boring. I basically skimmed the last story as the set up was kind of silly; the author definitely doesn't know Atlanta and apparently couldn't do a quick search to get a little information about weather in December. It was a free ebook at Amazon.

In Holiday Kisses… Writer Dash needs peace and quiet to finish his new script, but he wasn’t betting on inn-keeper Ellie and the local Starbright festival to give him a jolt of holiday inspiration.

In Unexpectedly Yours… Sophie has been dreaming of a magical winter holiday in New York City. Can a chance encounter with musician Austin bring her festive dreams to life?

In Holiday Kisses… Writer Dash needs peace and quiet to finish his new script, but he wasn’t betting on inn-keeper Ellie and the local Starbright festival to give him a jolt of holiday inspiration.

Buy A Kiss for Christmas at Amazon

A Cotswold Christmas
A Cotswold Christmas by Kate Hewitt
Another free ebook. It was a cute holiday romance. It makes me want to travel to a little English village.

Welcome to Wychwood-on-Lea… a not-too-quaint village where frosty evenings, welcoming fires, and second chances will make this a Christmas you’ll never forget.

Anna Vere has escaped to the Cotswolds for Christmas to try to heal from her broken engagement and, far worse, her broken dreams. When her reserved room at a bed & breakfast is flooded, she takes up the offer of camping out in Willoughby Close, the converted stables of the nearby manor house… and is taken under the wing of sexy local carpenter Colin Heath.

What starts out as merely helping a neighbor in need turns into far more as Colin and Anna share a surprisingly intense and emotional connection, weaving their own Christmas magic as they spend the holiday together. But Anna has a secret she’s scared to reveal, something that could destroy the fragile bond they’ve just created, and Colin knows she’s only in England for a short time. Can these two sudden soul mates risk their hearts for a love that has yet to be tried and tested?

Get swept away by this poignant and heartwarming story, set in beautiful Wychwood-on-Lea, in the English Cotswolds. And look forward to four more books set in Willoughby Close, where everyday miracles and happily-ever-afters are guaranteed.

Buy A Cotswold Christmas at Amazon

In print...

Alaskan Holiday
Alaskan Holiday by Debbie Macomber
Since discovering Debbie Macomber's Christmas stories a few years ago I've tried to read at least one each Christmas. I didn't really expect to get the new one before Christmas as I was getting from the library. But lucky for me my hold came in the day I started my Christmas holidays. As usual, it is a cute story and almost makes me want to move to a remote Alaskan village.

Before beginning her dream job as sous chef in one of Seattle's hottest new restaurants, Josie Avery takes a summer position cooking at a lakeside lodge in the remote Alaskan town of Ponder. Josie falls for the rustic charms of the local community--including Jack Corcoran, the crotchety keeper of Ponder's famed sourdough starter, and, in particular, the quiet and intense Palmer Saxon, a famed master swordsmith.

Josie and Palmer become close during the long Alaskan summer days, but Josie knows that, come fall, she'll be returning to reality and the career she's worked so hard for. Palmer, on the other hand, would like nothing better than to make Josie his wife and to keep her in Ponder. But Josie can't imagine abandoning her mother back in the Emerald City and sacrificing her career to stay in this isolated town--not even for a man she's quickly coming to love.

Fate has other plans. Josie misses the last boat out of town before winter sets in, stranding her in Ponder and putting her dream job at risk. As the holidays approach, Josie and Palmer must grapple with the complications that arise when dreams confront reality, and the Christmas magic that can happen when they put their faith in love.

Buy Alaskan Holiday at Amazon

A Christmas Treasury
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
The first story in my new Christmas book, A Christmas Treasury, is A Christmas Carol. I read it a few years ago, but this version was easier to read as the wording is a bit different. 

The story of Ebenezer Scrooge opens on a Christmas Eve as cold as Scrooge's own heart. That night, he receives three ghostly visitors: the terrifying spirits of Christmas Past, Present, and Yet to Come. Each takes him on a heart-stopping journey, yielding glimpses of Tiny Tim and Bob Cratchit, the horrifying spectres of Want and Ignorance, even Scrooge's painfully hopeful younger self. Will Scrooge's heart be opened? Can he reverse the miserable future he is forced to see?

Buy A Christmas Carol at Amazon

A Country Christmas by Louisa May Alcott
I wasn't sure if I would like it since it isn't really a time period I read, but I like Christmas stories much more than time period. It was a fun look at a country Christmas with guests from the city providing contrast. This story is also part of A Christmas Treasury.

In "A Country Christmas", Louisa May Alcott tells the story of Sophie, a debutante from the city who travels to rural Vermont to spend Christmas with her cousins Saul and Ruth. Though apprehensive at first, Sophie learns that the charms of celebrating Christmas in the country are many.

Buy A Country Christmas at Amazon

The Peterkins' Christmas-Tree by Lucretia Hall
Another short story included in A Christmas Treasury. This is a bit of a silly children's Christmas story. I can see it delighting children much the same way as 'Twas a Night Before Christmas and The Grinch Who Stole Christmas

First introduced more than 120 years ago in The Peterkin Papers, the Peterkins now appear in this brand-new holiday tale. Intending to surprise the young ones with the tallest Christmas tree they can find, the Peterkins' plans go awry because their special tree is too big to fit in the house.

Buy The Peterkins' Christmas at Amazon

A Christmas Treasury is a Barnes & Noble special edition.

Up Next

It's back to review copies and I'm starting with this one.

The Island of Always
The Island of Always by Stephen Evans
Minneapolis environmental attorneys Nick Ward and Lena Grant are no longer partners in law and marriage. But neither Lena’s heart nor Nick’s imagination can seem to accept that fact. As Nick pursues ever-wilder animal rescue schemes, Lena continues to rescue him. But who will rescue her?

By The Island of Always at Amazon

Check out our top viewed posts and other 2018 highlights and the round-up of our reviews of the year.

Happy New Year! Here's to another great year of reading.

Donna Huber is an avid reader and natural encourager. She is the founder of Girl Who Reads and the author of how-to marketing book Secrets to a Successful Blog Tour

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  1. Looks like some fun holiday reading going on!

  2. Lovely books to read! I've been wanting to grab a Rhys Bowen book...this might just be the year. Thanks for sharing, and for visiting my blog. Happy New Year.

  3. Nice variety of books. Congratulations on meeting your Goodreads goal. Come see my week here. Happy reading and happy New Year!

  4. All your books are new to me. Congrats on reaching your goal. My last update for the year

  5. So many of these books--Killer Jam, What Child Is This, Alaskan Holiday--sound amazing. Debbie Macomber is one of my favorite authors. I don't read enough by her.

    Hope you have a happy and healthy new year. Thanks for visiting The Book Connection.

  6. I've been wanting to read a book by Rhys Bowen because I'm always reading good reviews of her books.

  7. Great looking books. I have Killer Jam in my TBR and looking forward to reading it. Happy New Year!

  8. 118 books is awesome! I love the look of the Rhys Bowen short story. I read one of her Royal Spyness mysteries a few years ago and liked it!

    Happy New Year!!

  9. Congratulations on 118 books! I did add What Child is This? to my RBDigital wish list. Thank you!

  10. What a lovely collection of books and stories! Especially the Christmas selections. I enjoy Rhys Bowen's writing, so that one intrigues me especially.

  11. Ooo all those snowy Christmas books look great!!!! Especially that Rhys Bowen one. And I have to say, I am curious about that pig book although there is no way I could raise a pig where I live. Lol. I'm intrigued by the environmental, sustainable aspect of it, since you hear about all the negatives associated with the factory farm pigs.:)

    1. The book is more for family farms that have 40 - 100 hogs and how you wouldn't have the problems associated with factory farms.

  12. You had some wonderful holiday reading. Sorry I missed the Rhys Bowen title for free. I have A Kiss for Christmas - maybe December reading. Lift and Separate actually looks cute. I'm going to peek at the Raising Pig review. :-)
    Congrats on your GR goal.
    Happy New Year and Happy Reading!

  13. Here's to more good reading in the New Year! 🎉

  14. Lift and Separate looks like it would be a good read! Looks like you had a lot of good ones last month. Hope January is a good reading month for you as well!

  15. Wow! Looks like you read some amazing books during December. I might have to try out Killer Jam. :)

    A Christmas Carol is one of my favorite stories ever; sometimes it's worth a re-read. Also, I'm a BIG fan of Louisa May Alcott and her writings, but I don't believe I've read A Country Christmas. :O You're one up on me there.

    Best wishes in your 2019 literary adventures!


  16. Oh my goodness, 118 is amazing! I'm always happy if I can do more than 52 a year, but I usually try and aim for 60 or more. :) I still need to read a book by Debbie Macomber and I'm hoping to pick up one of hers this year! :)
    Jen @ Star-Crossed Book Blog

  17. You read one more book than I did in 2018--great job! You had an excellent December for reading, especially those wonderful holiday books. I decided to make my Goodreads challenge this year much higher because I also plan on reading and reviewing picture books.

  18. I loved A Christmas Carol too when I read it a couple of years ago. It inspired my annual Dickens read which has now become a kind of tradition. This year was Great Expectations!