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by Donna Huber For the A to Z Challenge, I'm discussing different book genres/categories. Each day, I will give a few details about the...

December 27, 2020

The Last Reading Month of 2020

by Donna Huber

We've finally made it to the end of 2020. In just a few days we will flip the calendar and 2020 will be hindsight. While some of the challenges of 2020 will follow us into the new year, there is hope that we will overcome them. 

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In Life...

I had a lot of leave to take before the end of the year and my workplace always takes a shutdown between Christmas and New Year's Day so I've been home with not much to do in December. I cleaned some areas of my house that don't get cleaned often. We had a few really nice days so I actually trimmed my American holly bushes at the right time this year. Unfortunately, my electric hedge trimmers stopped working about halfway through and I had to finish the job with my manual trimmers - my arms were so sore. Then we had heavy rain on Christmas Eve followed by falling temperatures. While I didn't get a white Christmas it definitely was freezing (we were in the 30s all day). The holidays were quiet. I did go to my parents' for lunch. I gave them cookies and they gave me smoke/carbon monoxide detectors - nothing like being an adult!

I actually splurged on my kitties this year as had a really good sale for Black Friday/Cyber Monday. They had me up early Christmas morning and were wild most of the morning.

On the blog...

We will have a "year in review" wrap-up on Thursday so today I will just focus on December's highlights.

We did feature a number of Christmas books this month, there were still plenty of new books in other genres for us to review too.
  • MK's review of Lazarus Rising was our most viewed post. It is a tragic story set during the AIDS epidemic of the 1990s.
  • Susan had two reviews tie for her most viewed review: Glimmer as You Can by Danielle Martin and Take It Back by Kia Abdullah. Maritn's book is a beautiful story about friendship in the 1960s. Abdullah's book is the first in a new legal thriller series.
  • My most viewed reviewed was for a Christmas book: Mistletoe & Cocoa Kisses by Stacy Eaton. It was a bit steamier than I usually read but still a good holiday romance novel.
We had a few "discussion" type holiday posts that you might still want to check out if you missed them:
  • Alison discussed her "holiday" reading by featuring The Hollow Places. She also shared an easy cookie recipe so you can get back to reading faster. 
  • I shared 12 holiday reads that are "Hallmark movies" in book form.
  • Guest Desiree Villena did a round-up of 5 feel-good books to read during the holidays.
If you love Christmas reads and haven't gotten your fill yet, we featured several great books each day last week. On Wednesday we will pick our favorite reads for the month. Also, be sure to check out our year-end review for highlights from 2020.

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I haven't been doing much on Instagram this month but I did snap a pic of this month's print book haul.

Of Reading...

With so much time off this month and really no other plans, I read quite a bit: 16 books (11 ebooks, 4 audiobooks, and 1 print story). Not record-shattering but definitely above my normal average. Plus I still have a few days left in December! Since Thursday's wrap up will focus on the blog, I'm going to do my "year of reading" wrap-up here. I didn't do the spreadsheet thing this year so no fancy graphs and charts. But I can still gather some data from my Goodreads tracking. Let's start first with my goals and challenges.
  • Goal 1 - Read as many, or more, review copies as non-review copies: 11/16 this month. (YTD: 74/139)
  • Goal 2 - Read at least 12 nonfiction books this year: 1 this month (YTD: 12).
  • Goal 3 - Read 12 backlog review copies: 0 this month (YTD: 2).
  • Big Book Summer Challenge: 5/2
  • Goodreads Challenge: 139/120
Goal 1 - MET - 53% of the books I read this year were review copies. YAY! Unfortunately only 2 review copies I read were from the stack of 12 print books I picked out at the beginning of the year from the backlogged review pile. 

Goal 3 - MET - I thought I was going to be a book short of completing my non-fiction reading goal but then I remembered a nonfiction review copy I was sent earlier this year and it was short so I was able to squeeze it in during my holiday book binge reading.

This was my first year participating in the Big Book Summer Challenge and I far exceeded my expectations with 5 books of more than 400 pages read between Memorial Day and Labor Day. I kind of wished I tracked how many pages each book I read was because I would like to know how many "big books" I did read this year. Maybe I'll find time to dig deeper into my Goodreads list to figure it out.

I completed my Goodreads Challenge last month so this month's reading was just icing on the cake. Last year when I was setting my goal I thought of putting it at 130 as I read about that many books last year but I thought it was a fluke. I had a few record-setting months this year thanks to the pandemic. I might set it at 130 for 2021. 

54 of the books I read this year were audiobooks (39%). My library switched back to Overdrive for its digital library which is so much better than RBDigital, plus I discovered an audiobook tour company and a few authors sent my Audible codes to review their audiobook. I was looking forward to Netgalley offering audiobooks until I discovered you had to use their app and download the books on your phone. My phone is too old for that.

I continued to expand where the books I read were from. A majority of the books I read are set in the U.S. or the U.K. (or with US/UK character country hopping through the world) and are written by U.S. or British authors. I read a Chinese-born author (Severance by Ling Ma), a Manilla-born author (Something in Between by Melissa de la Cruz), and an Indian author (The Secret of Plants in the Environment by Rishikesh Upadhyay). I also read a few translated novels: The King of Warsaw by Szczepan Twardoch (Polish), Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi (Japanese), Roadside Picnic by Arkady Strugatsky & Boris Strugatsky (Russian).


What I read this month

Let's take a closer look at the 16 books I finished the year with.

The Kensington Kidnap by Katie Gayle

The Kensington Kidnap
I'm not sure I like Pip. She was a bit too whiny and in the beginning, she seemed entitled. But when she was actually working the investigation I kind of liked her. So she might grow on me. If she can outgrow some of her ditziness. The word mixing up of her sister Flis wasn't endearing either. The mystery was really good. And while I figured suspected characters (and was right) I wasn't completely sure how they all fit together. Read my full review. I received a free ARC via Netgalley.

A missing teenager, a mysterious cult and a case of mistaken identity – just another day’s work for Epiphany Bloom.

Epiphany ‘Pip’ Bloom is down on her luck. She can barely afford cat food, and just because Most has three legs doesn’t mean he eats any less. So she absolutely can’t afford to mess up her latest temp job. But when she walks through the door of the private investigation firm, her new boss mistakes her for a missing persons expert. He then charges her with finding Matty Price – the teenage son of two A-list celebrities – who has mysteriously disappeared from his home in Kensington.

It ought to be a disaster, but Pip reckons it’s actually an opportunity. She’s always been curious (nosy, her mother calls it) and has an uncanny knack for being at the wrong place at the right time (she doesn’t want to know what her mother thinks of that). After years of trying to find something she’s good at, has Pip managed to walk straight into the job she was born to do?

She owes it to herself and poor missing Matty to find out.

But searching for Matty takes Pip into the strange, intimidating world of the rich and famous. And it soon becomes clear that some of these people’s love for themselves doesn’t extend to their fellow humans.

As Pip investigates further, she realises the question isn’t whether Matty ran away – it’s whether she will find him alive and make it home safely herself. (Goodreads)

Buy The Kensington Kidnap at Amazon

Cold Wind by Paige Shelton

Cold Wind
This was my most anticipated novel of December and it lived up to expectations. I enjoyed the mystery and getting to know the townspeople more. You don't necessarily have to read the first book but I think it would make this second book more enjoyable. Read my full review. I received a free ARC via Netgalley.

Beth Rivers is still in Alaska. The unidentified man who kidnapped her in her home of St. Louis hasn’t been found yet, so she’s not ready to go back.

But as October comes to a close, Benedict is feeling more and more like her new home. Beth has been working on herself: She’s managed to get back to writing, and she’s enjoying these beautiful months between summer and winter in Alaska.

Then, everything in Benedict changes after a mudslide exposes a world that had been hidden for years. Two mud-covered, silent girls appear, and a secret trapper’s house is found in the woods. The biggest surprise, though, is a dead and frozen woman’s body in the trapper’s shed. No one knows who she is, but the man who runs the mercantile, Randy, seems to be in the middle of all the mysteries.

Unable to escape her journalistic roots, Beth is determined to answer the questions that keep arising: Are the mysterious girls and the frozen body connected? Can Randy possibly be involved? And―most importantly―can she solve this mystery before the cold wind sweeping over the town and the townspeople descends for good? (Goodreads)

Buy Cold Wind at Amazon

Mistletoe & Cocoa Kisses by Stacy Eaton

Mistletoe & Cocoa Kisses
It is like reading a Hallmark holiday movie - sweet and predictable plot, gorgeous characters, snowy country setting. However, there were a couple of explicit sex scenes that would not have been in a Hallmark movie (and the reason I'm giving it only 4 stars). Read my full review. A free audiobook was provided by Audiobookworm Promotions.

Robin Cove has had enough of her boss, is over her boyfriend, and makes a split-second decision to leave it all behind. Too bad she didn’t check the weather forecast before she left. Stranded on the side of the road when her old car breaks down, Robin fears her impulsive action will be the death of her as her body temperature steadily lowers to dangerous levels.

Matt Landry is slowly making his way home in the storm when he finds an unconscious woman on the side of the road and rushes her home to his father Chris to save her.

When Robin wakes up, she finds herself in the kind of home that she has always dreamed of having, except for the handsome man with the surly attitude. As much as Robin wants to stay, she knows she’ll never win him over and needs to find the right future for herself.

Will Robin’s future bring her back to Chris and his kids, or will Chris lose the chance to have the love of a woman who will never leave him and the family he has always wanted? (Goodreads)

A Deadly Edition by Victoria Gilbert

A Deadly Edition
Love is in the air as Richard and Amy's wedding approaches. Unfortunately, that doesn't mean a murder mystery won't complicate things. The mystery was good, though I figured it out before the end. The wedding is everything fans were hoping for. Read my full review. A free ARC was provided via Netgalley.

The pursuit to acquire a rare illustrated book turns deadly, and on the eve of her upcoming wedding, library director Amy Webber is drawn into a web of treachery and betrayal that could derail her happy day—and maybe just claim her life.

Planning a wedding can be murder—sometimes literally. At a party celebrating their upcoming nuptials, Taylorsford, Virginia library director Amy Webber and her fiancé Richard Muir discover the body of art dealer Oscar Selvaggio—a bitter rival of their host, Kurt Kendrick.

Both had been in a heated battle to purchase a rare illustrated volume created by William Morris's Kelmscott Press, so suspicion immediately falls upon Kurt. Amy knows that Kurt has a closet-full of skeletons from his past—but she can't believe he's guilty of murder.

Amidst an avalanche of wedding preparations, Amy begins an investigation with the help of her aunt Lydia Talbot and the new mayor of Taylorsford, Sunshine "Sunny" Fields. Much to Lydia's dismay, her boyfriend, art expert Hugh Chen, becomes convinced of Kurt's guilt and launches an investigation of his own. As the case hits painfully close to home, the stakes become impossibly high—and the danger all too real. (Goodreads)

Buy A Deadly Edition at Amazon

Murder for Christmas by Francis Duncan

Murder for Christmas
If you are wanting a holiday book that isn't a romance then this cozy mystery is good. I enjoyed the mystery and the characters were interesting. I checked the audiobook out from my digital library. This is book 1 in the series and I know my digital library has book 2 so I will probably check it out next year.

Mordecai Tremaine, former tobacconist and perennial lover of romance novels, has been invited to spend Christmas in the sleepy village of Sherbroome at the country retreat of one Benedict Grame.

Arriving on Christmas Eve, he finds that the revelries are in full flow - but so too are tensions amongst the assortment of guests.

Midnight strikes and the party-goers discover that it's not just presents nestling under the tree...there's a dead body too. A dead body that bears a striking resemblance to Father Christmas.

With the snow falling and the suspicions flying, it's up to Mordecai to sniff out the culprit - and prevent someone else from getting murder for Christmas. (Goodreads)

Buy Murder for Christmas at Amazon

An Ivy Hill Christmas by Julie Klassen

An Ivy Hill Christmas
This was probably my most surprising read of the month as I loved it much more than I expected. I largely chose this book because of the cover. I passed over it a few times because it is set in a time period that I'm not quite a fan of but I finally gave in and I'm so glad I did. Fans of Pride and Prejudice will enjoy the story. While it is part of a series it isn't necessary to have read any of the other books (I haven't). Read my full review. A free ARC was provided via Netgalley.

Richard Brockwell, the younger son of Ivy Hill's most prominent family, hasn't been home for Christmas in years. He prefers to live in the London townhouse, far away from Brockwell Court, the old family secret that haunts him, and the shadows of his past mistakes. But then his mother threatens to stop funding his carefree life--unless he comes home for Christmas. Out of options, he sets out for Ivy Hill, planning to be back on a coach bound for London and his unencumbered bachelor life as soon as the festivities are over.

But Christmas in the country presents unforeseen surprises, including encounters with an orphaned apprentice, the first love he disappointed years ago, and Arabella Awdry, a young lady who is far more appealing than he recalled . . . and determined to have nothing to do with him.

Will Christmastime in Ivy Hill, with its village charm, kissing boughs, joyous songs, and divine hope, work its magic in his heart . . . and hers as well? (Goodreads)

Buy An Ivy Hill Christmas at Amazon

Christmas Caramel Murder by Joanne Fluke

Christmas Caramel Murder
I thought I had listened to all the Hannah Swensen books my digital library had but when I searched for Christmas books a few more popped up. A fun short Christmas cozy. You don't need to have read any of the other books in the series to enjoy it. The audiobook was well done and at around 4.5 hours it's the perfect length for the busy season. I checked it out from the digital library.

The holidays have arrived, and Hannah and her good pal Lisa have agreed to provide all the goodies for the town’s annual production of A Christmas Carol. But before anyone can say “Bah, humbug!” a Santa-sized sackful of trouble ensues. Like the fact that Lisa’s husband will be playing Mr. Claus to his ex-girlfriend Phyllis Bates’ Mrs. Claus. Or that before the curtains even go up Phyllis is found dead in the snow—wearing a costume that the real Mrs. Claus would put on the naughty list. Soon after the suspects pile up faster than snowdrifts in a blizzard, while a merry murderer remains on the loose. With clues even harder to find, it might take a visit from ghosts of Christmas past to wrap up this mystery in time for the holidays. (Goodreads)

A Christmas Carol - in rhyme by Dave McCluskey

A Christmas Carol
A cute adaptation of A Christmas Carol. I think it would be a great way to introduce younger children to this Christmas classic. Read my full review. A free audiobook was provided by Audiobookwork Promotions.

A classic Christmas tale, lovingly recreated in this beautiful audio book.

The reviled Scrooge is visited by three spirits who teach him the real meaning of life.

The tale has been turned into rhyme, making this a delightful new twist to the story you know so well. Could it be a new addition to your Christmas traditions? (Goodreads)

A Little Country Christmas by Carolyn Brown, Rochelle Alers, Hope Ramsay, A.J. Pine 

A Little Country Christmas
This anthology contains 4 novellas. I liked that one featured people of color and another was about older people. I really liked two of the stories. One story didn't really feel like a Christmas story but more of a romance that happened to be set during the holidays. Read my full review. I received a free ARC via Netgalley.

The Perfect Christmas by Carolyn Brown
Rugged cowboy Landon Griffin can't help being smitten by single mom Dixie Boudreaux and her baby girl. To help win their hearts, he wants to give them both the perfect holiday at Longhorn Ranch -- baking cookies, trimming the tree, building snowmen, and the whole works. But when nothing seems to go right, he might need a Christmas miracle to help him out of the mess.

Joy to the World by Hope Ramsay
Retired music teacher Brenda McMillan has lost her holiday spirit, but reluctantly agrees to fill in for the director of the Magnolia Harbor Christmas Chorale -- even though Dr. James Killough, the town's biggest Christmas enthusiast, is the group's accompanist. Will he have enough Christmas magic to mend her broken heart?

Home for the Holidays by Rochelle Alers
Pastry chef Iris Nelson is looking forward to spending Christmas on Cavanaugh Island with her best friend's family. But she wasn't expecting to celebrate with their very handsome visitor on leave from Afghanistan. Is their attraction just the glow of the season or a gift to enjoy forever?

Cowboy Christmas at Heart by A.J. Pine
For Deputy Sheriff Daniela Garcia, no hometown tradition makes her happier than the Meadow Valley Holiday Light Parade. This year she's planning for the sheriff's office to have the most dazzling lights. But when the new mayor -- and certified grinch -- threatens to cancel the event, Dani will have to show him the true meaning of Christmas. (Goodreads)

Organized for Christmas Wishes by Ritter Ames

Oranized for Christmas Wishes
As far as Christmas short stories go this one is a good one. I'm not sure what the regular mysteries are for this series as this is the first book I've read in the series, but there wasn't much of a mystery: Someone in town is granting Christmas wishes. As there are only about 42 pages in this book (which includes a recipe and character interview) the mystery isn't drawn out either. If you are a fan of this series, this book is a fun way to spend Christmas with the characters. I bought it at Amazon for free.

Christmas is days away, but a puzzling mystery leaves residents in Hazelton, Vermont wondering about more than what presents are wrapped and under the tree...

Kate & Meg are making their lists and checking them twice, trying to finish all their Christmas tasks on time and stress free. However, things take an unexpected turn when they find a mystery in their hometown. This year, there's a Secret Santa who's keeping everyone wondering who the mysterious benefactor is, why the goodwill is suddenly coming to town, and if more surprises are on the way. What is this benefactor's true motive?

There might not be a murder to solve this time, but there is a festive mystery that grows bigger each day--and the organizing duo keep a-sleuthing...

Organized for Christmas Wishes is a holiday novelette in the popular Organized Mysteries series. The series features a small town New England setting and interesting characters, along with humor, strong family and friendship ties, and absorbing cozy mysteries. (Goodreads)

Decker and Joy by Elle Rush

Decker and Joy
This was a very cute and sweet story. It's a quick read and just perfect for the holiday season. I would read more in this series. It's an Amazon free ebook I bought.

Jaded P.I. Decker Harkness must track down a missing prototype if he wants a shot at a corporate security contract. Sexy cat shelter manager Joy McCall has her own investigation running - she needs to figure out who broke into Kitten Caboodle and made off with her foster kittens. They'll have to work together to get the happy ending they both deserve. (Goodreads)

Buy Decker and Joy at Amazon

The Secret of Plants in the Environment by Rishikesh Upadhyay

The Secret of Plants in the Environment
The many grammatical and typographical mistakes were distracting. I'm not sure if the author was clear on who his target audience is - it's a bit too scientific for a general audience but I'm not sure there is enough evidence of scientific rigor to satisfy researchers. Maybe it could be used as an undergraduate textbook, but the literary quotes that start each chapter seem odd for a textbook. It is a short book only about two-thirds of it is actual text (~136 pages) the other third is a commonly used abbreviations list (not really useful in an ebook given it isn't easy to flip back and forth), suggested reading, and indices. I didn't see a literature cited section unless that is what suggested reading is considered. I was given a free ebook by the author for review. Read my full review.

Plants are sessile organisms that are unable to move but face the challenge of ever-changing or adverse environments. The study of the development of environmental changes in tolerant plants is fundamental for the maintenance and streamlining of high crop yields and plant adaptation in natural environments. The identification of genes that lead to changes or stress tolerance is urgently needed for the growth and development of plants in their natural environment. 

The Secret of Plants in the ENVIRONMENT addresses environmental concerns such as the different types of stress situations and plant adaptation to changing environments, including the positive and negative effects of stress on the growth of crops, the beginning stages of plant life cycles, and plant output. This book seeks to discuss the impact of environmental changes or stress on plant life, environmental stress physiology, and adaptation mechanisms. It highlights the impact of environmental stresses on plants and crops under changing environments and gives a comprehensive overview of how plants respond to such environments.

In addition, it serves as a helpful guide to the students of BSc, MSc and to all professionals engaged in teaching and research on environmental-related subjects. It dwells on some important aspects of environmental change or stress as the main issue affecting the survival of plants at the early stages of their life cycle. Hence, the author hopes that both early-career scientists and research scholars interested in pursuing environmental science to an advanced stage would also benefit from the important information discussed in this book.  (Goodreads)

Shadow of the Dragon by Marc Cameron

Shadow of the Dragon
I love Jack Ryan books. I've been listening to them on audiobook but when I saw the new book offered at Netgalley I had to get it. It was so enjoyable to read. It sucked me in and I couldn't put it down. There were nods to previous stories which were fun for longtime fans of the series. I received a free ARC via Netgalley. Read my full review.

Aboard an icebreaker in the Arctic Ocean a sonar operator hears an unusual noise coming from the ocean floor. She can't isolate it and chalks the event up to an anomaly in a newly installed system.
Meanwhile, operatives with the Chinese Ministry of State Security are dealing with their own mystery--the disappearance of brilliant but eccentric scientist, Liu Wangshu. They're desperate to keep his crucial knowledge of aerospace and naval technology out of their rivals' hands.

Finding Liu is too great an opportunity for any intelligence service to pass up, but there's one more problem. A high-level Chinese mole, codenamed Surveyor, has managed to infiltrate American Intelligence. President Jack Ryan has only one choice: send John Clark and his Campus team deep into China to find an old graduate student of the professor's who may hold the key to his whereabouts. It's a dangerous gamble, but with John Clark holding the cards, Jack Ryan is all in. (Goodreads)

Buy Shadow of the Dragon at Amazon

The Romance of a Christmas Card by Kate Douglas Wiggin

The Romance of a Christmas Card
This short story is included in A Christmas Treasury that I bought a few years ago. Each Christmas I read one or two of the stories. I've never heard of the author but I enjoyed the story. It isn't like the holiday romance stories of today but it is full of love and Christmas magic. Now I want to look into the history of the story and learn more about the author. Just from Goodreads, I know that it was first published in 1916 and a number of editions have been published.

"My door is on the latch tonight, The hearth fire is aglow. I seem to hear swift passing feet -- The Christ Child in the snow." Reba, the minister's new wife, was spirited, vigorous, courageous, and clever. She was also invincibly, incurably happy -- so that the minister seemed to grow younger every year. Reba doubled his joys and halved his burdens, tossing them from one of her fine shoulders to the other like feathers. She swept into the quiet village life of Beulah like a salt sea breeze. Now she has a plan -- one involving a few small verses she has penned. For there are rebellious youths and some contention in the church that threatens to split it. (Goodreads

Grounds for Murder by Tara Lush

Grounds for Murder
Journalist turned coffee shop owner Lana investigates a murder after her ex-employee is found dead in the alley. It is a good cozy mystery. I liked the characters a lot and there are enough quirks in the local population to add the right amount of levity. I received a free ARC from the publicist.

Barista Lana Lewis's sleuthing may land her in a latte trouble as Tara Lush launches her new Coffee Shop mysteries.

When Lana Lewis' best -- and most difficult -- employee abruptly quits and goes to work for the competition just days before the Sunshine State Barista Championship, her café's chances of winning the contest are creamed. In front of a gossipy crowd in the small Florida town of Devil's Beach, Lana's normally calm demeanor heats to a boil when she runs into the arrogant java slinger. Of course, Fabrizio "Fab" Bellucci has a slick explanation for jumping ship. But when he's found dead the next morning under a palm tree in the alley behind Lana's café, she becomes the prime suspect.

Even the island's handsome police chief isn't quite certain of her innocence. But Lana isn't the only one in town who was angry with Fabrizio. Jilted lovers, a shrimp boat captain, and a surfer with ties to the mob are all suspects as trouble brews on the beach.

With her stoned, hippie dad, a Shih Tzu named Stanley, and a new, curious barista sporting a punk rock aesthetic at her side, Lana's prepared to turn up the heat to catch the real killer. After all, she is a former award-winning reporter. As scandal hangs over her beachside café, can Lana clear her name and win the championship -- or will she come to a bitter end? (Goodreads)

Buy Grounds for Murder at Amazon

The Last Garden in England by Julia Kelly

The Last Garden in England
Loved it! I loved how the stories of several generations wound together. I loved the garden. The characters are so real that I wish I could meet them in person. I received a free ARC via Netgalley. 

Present day: Emma Lovett, who has dedicated her career to breathing new life into long-neglected gardens, has just been given the opportunity of a lifetime: to restore the gardens of the famed Highbury House estate, designed in 1907 by her hero Venetia Smith. But as Emma dives deeper into the gardens’ past, she begins to uncover secrets that have long lain hidden.

1907: A talented artist with a growing reputation for her ambitious work, Venetia Smith has carved out a niche for herself as a garden designer to industrialists, solicitors, and bankers looking to show off their wealth with sumptuous country houses. When she is hired to design the gardens of Highbury House, she is determined to make them a triumph, but the gardens—and the people she meets—promise to change her life forever.

1944: When land girl Beth Pedley arrives at a farm on the outskirts of the village of Highbury, all she wants is to find a place she can call home. Cook Stella Adderton, on the other hand, is desperate to leave Highbury House to pursue her own dreams. And widow Diana Symonds, the mistress of the grand house, is anxiously trying to cling to her pre-war life now that her home has been requisitioned and transformed into a convalescent hospital for wounded soldiers. But when war threatens Highbury House’s treasured gardens, these three very different women are drawn together by a secret that will last for decades. (Goodreads)

Getting a jump start on my January ARCs as I have quite a few books already lined up for the next 5 months. How was your month?

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. LOL my parents gave me a food storage set :)

    Wishing you a joyful January

  2. LOL about the smoke detectors. My parents usually get me slippers and a calendar, but they got me a computer this year because my old one is near death. Have a great week!

    Aj @ Read All The Things!

  3. I added Glimmer and Severance to my wish list at Overdrive, which I love.

  4. I've been eyeing Thin Ice & Cold Wind. It's too bad there were grammatical and typographical mistakes in The Secret of Plants in the Environment. That would have annoyed me a lot.

  5. I tend to clean and organize too when I have time off. You had a great year in nonfiction reading. Looks like you accomplished most of your goals. I hope the next year will be just as successful.

  6. "nothing like being an adult" haha so true! We don't get the fun gifts anymore :) Glad you had a nice holiday though. I'm still kind of in the mood for holiday reads so I'll check out your recs...

    I loved Murder for Christmas!

    Hope you have a merry New Year!

  7. I have such a hard time choosing Christmas books. They're all part of a much-larger series and I don't know if they can stand alone or not! I'm glad to see you address that in your reviews.

    Congratulations on completing so many of your challenges!

    Happy New Year and enjoy your week!

  8. So many of the books on your list have been on my TBR forever. Looks like you did really well with your goals and challenges. Hope you have a great week! Happy New Year!

  9. A smoke detector for Christmas, eh? It's certainly useful!

    I miss having my cats. I had to choose between cats or birds and I decided on my birds.

    Nothing like books in the mail!

    Glad you met your nonfiction reading goal.

  10. Glad you got plenty of things around the house done at the end of the year. It's nice to have that sense of accomplishment. And now your house won't burn down, so double-bonus. :-)

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

  11. All I want to do this month was cozy up and read in my new reading nook. I have already read 15 books this month which is definitely above my average!

  12. Looks like you had a great reading month! Reading is always the first thing I choose when nothing else is pressing.

    The Mordecai Tremaine book is on my TBR. I need to move that up. I am also on the hold list for Before the Coffee Gets Cold.

    It always feels so great to complete challenges. Glad you were able to do that.

    Happy New Year!

  13. I've heard wonders about The Hollow Places! I'll go check that post right now! Happy New Year!

  14. Congratulations on making your goal! Looks like some good books you read. Happy new year!

  15. Great job on your goals and your reading. I hope 2021 is treating you well!

  16. Great goals! Good luck!