Books I Read in December

 While I typically set aside all "other" books and just read Christmas themed novels in December, this year I wasn't finding that the holiday books appealed to me and so I kept up with more "normal" books and sprinkled a few holiday reads in between.  Looking back at what I read it's rather funny that at least 5 of these reads deal with murder and death! Definitely not my usual December picks but I enjoyed them all a lot. 



1. The Blonde Identity by Ally Carter-- I LOVED this adorable and funny book.  When a woman wakes up in the middle of a Paris street with a handsome stranger staring down at her yelling "Run, Alex" she takes of running.  Not remembering anything about her previous live she assumes her name is Alex and once people start trying to shoot her she assumes she must be a spy... Told from "His" and "Her" points of view it was a really fun book. Turns out Mr. Hot Guy realizes Alex is in fact NOT Alex but her twin sister and the is tasked with keeping her safe until the two can either find Alex or the drive that all the bad guys are looking for. 



2. Family of Liars By E. Lockhart- In this prequel to We Were Liars we learn about life for the previous generation of the Sinclair family. Whereas the first book was told from the point of view of the kids, this book is told from the point of view of one of the mothers and looks back on a summer at the family compound when her and her sisters were all a bit boy crazy and just starting to think about their futures and their plans. I wasn't sure I was going to like it at first but I got sucked in quite quickly. 


3. Bright Lights, Big Christmas by Mary Kay Andrews-- This was an adorable Christmas book.  Kerry's father is in no shape to take the annual trip to NYC to sell his Christmas trees with his son so Kerry is asked to go instead.  Kerry has zero interest in driving the old trailer to the city and living with her surly bother and his dog for a week in a tiny, old trailer that has no working bathroom or kitchen.  But family loyalty has her agreeing and to her surprise she finds that this trip is just what she needs. Kerry finds that she quickly falls in with many of the locals and makes all sorts of friends in this tiny corner of the city. 


4. The Look of Love by Mary Jane Clark (Piper Donovan/Wedding Cake Mysteries book #2)-- Another fun and somewhat suspenseful book in the series! In this book Piper is hired to fly out to Hollywood and stay at an exclusive spa/resort to make a wedding cake for the director of the spa.  The wedding was already postponed once when the director's housekeeper got a face full of acid thrown at her and everyone was pretty sure it was meant for the director herself. Within moments of Piper's arrival the housekeeper turns up murdered and Piper is thrown into a murder investigation with her new friends.  At one point I had nearly a dozen suspects! 


5. The Dead Will Tell by Linda Castillo (Kate Burkholder book #6)-- The story starts 35 years ago when a huge tragedy happens at the Hochstetler farm in the Amish country of Painter's Mill.  Now, one by one the perpetrators of the tragedy are getting picked off and Kate must follow the trail trying to piece together the truth of what happened that awful night.  


6. The Summer of Songbirds by Kristy Woodson Harvey-- Daphne, Lanier, and Mary Stuart all met when they were little kids at summer camp. The three hit it off and have been inseparable ever since. But, now nearly 30 years later, this year is going to test them all and the bonds they have formed.  When they discover that the camp might be shutting down for good all three band together and vow to do what they can to save it. The story is told in alternating voices between June (Daphne's aunt and owner of the camp), Daphne herself, and Lanier. Each of these three women struggle with past and present choices and what it really means to be family.  I wasn't so sure about this book at first but by the end I was cheering for them all and their idyllic sounding summer camp.


 7. Hadley and Grace by Suzanne Redfearn-- I finally got around to reading this book that I'm pretty sure I got as one of my Kindle First reads a few years ago.  It was a really fast paced story!  It reminded me a bit of Thelma and Louise but with much more sympathetic characters.  Hadley and Grace teamed up, mostly by mistake and happenstance, the two women are on the run with their 3 kids in tow. Bad decisions, misunderstandings, and their growing connection to one another keep the two women together who are praying desperately to avoid prison and being ripped away from their kids. 



8. My Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella-- This was another fun Libby audiobook.  Katie/Kat is working in London and though her life isn't going as well as she'd like it to, she does make sure her Instagram feed looks fabulous.  Jealous of her perfect boss who does in fact have the perfect life, Katie can't believe it when she's let go from her job and has to move back home with her father and step mother. Determined to keep up the facade she doesn't tell them she was fired and instead tells them she's on sabbatical in order to help them set up their new glamping adventure on the family farm.  With Katie's PR help, the business takes off.. only for her ex-boss to turn up as one of the guests!  Though I wanted to roll my eyes and perhaps even strangle Katie a time or two the story did have me laughing out loud and rooting for Katie to finally come into her own. 




9. Snowed in for Christmas by Sarah Morgan-- Ross, Alice, and Clemmie are siblings that all meet up before their family's annual Christmas gathering to go over what things they will and will not be revealing to their parents.  This year it seems the trio is more on edge then ever. Lucy Clarke is facing another Christmas alone and is determined to work cheerfully through it, her one last stop is drop off a presentation to Ross at his family lodge.  Thinking she'll just ring the bell, hand over the presentation, and be on her way Lucy is surprised by the warm welcome the family gives and soon finds that they all think she is Ross' girlfriend. Between a major snowstorm brewing, a series of misunderstandings, and a few slipped/revealed secrets tensions are soon high.  It was a really cute story. 




10. She Started It by Sian Gilbert-- When 4 old friends are asked to join Poppy on their own private island off the coast of the Bahamas with all expenses paid for a hen party weekend, Annabel, Ester, Tanya, and Chloe decide to accept; despite not having seen or talked to Poppy in ten years. I'm still not sure how I felt about this story.. these women were all pretty awful and I certainly wasn't rooting for anyone of them.  Despite 5 fairly awful characters, the story was fairly compelling and it was a quick and easy read.  


11. Payback in Death by JD Robb (book #57 of the In Death series)-- When Eve Dallas is newly back from vacation she's called in to investigate the death of a retired internal affairs captain,  Staged to look like a suicide, Eve notices small inconsistencies that seem to point to murder.  Her suspect list is long with lots of dirty cops wanting payback.
 


12. Christmas as Mannus Ridge by Joanne Tracey-- I just love Joanne Tracey's books and this story was no exception. Ainsley hasn't been home in over 14 years after fleeing from a wedding to fulfill her career goals.  Now having lost her job, her friends. her apartment, and her money, Ainsley has no choice but to return home. While her family welcomes her with open arms not everyone is so happy to see Ainsley returning.  It was a fun story that I thoroughly enjoyed. 




13. One of Us is Lying by Karen McManus-- A juicy story I listened to on audiobook.  When a group of 5 kids are all in detention and one of them dies the whole group becomes the main suspects in a police investigation. Turns out all 4 of them had secrets they were trying to keep and all had something to gain by the death of the one boy who ran the school's juiciest online gossip column. 



14. The Book Club Hotel by Sarah Morgan-- I had time to squeeze in one last Christmas book before the holidays.  Hattie has been trying to keep her husband's dream of owning and running an inn going despite being widowed a few years before. Exhausted from trying to keep everything going, Hattie is dreading the Christmas season and just hopes to make it through.  When three best friends Erica, Claudia, and Anna book the final rooms checking in for their yearly book club holiday, Hattie senses that all 3 friends are bringing along some major emotional baggage.  While I did predict quite a bit of this story; I still thought it was really cute and sweet and just perfect for a cozy, winter read. 



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Comments

  1. I had no idea that there was a prequel to We Were Liars. I will read Family of Liars for sure. I have only sought out holiday reading once and that was when I read Dickens´ A Christmas Carol in December. Give me all the suspense even in December, lol!

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    1. I found I really liked this reading list much better; for this year at least.

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  2. Wow these books all look fantastic! I need to start reading more. “One of us is lying” looks like an interesting book!! Would it be appropriate for a 15 year old?

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    1. Thank you! I think One of Us Is Lying would be okay for a more mature 15 year old; I can't remember any overt swears or sex or anything like that. It was mostly a murder mystery based on secrets and high school gossip.

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  3. Ok- thank you-really needed some suggestions- just added "We Were Liars" and "Family of Liars" to my Kindle :)

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  4. I enjoyed bright lights, big Christmas. It made me even more interested in the tree stands around NYC.

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    1. Yes, I found I was more intrigued about them too.

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  5. Surprised you hadn't read One Of Us Is Lying before! I have the sequel which I haven't read yet.

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    1. I am 75% of the way through the sequel; though I was disappointed that it was different characters...

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  6. You really read some good ones last month!

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  7. How do you keep track of all the books you've read. I've been known to reread something years later, LOL
    XOOX
    Jodie

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    1. I have done that a time or two also; especially when they rerelease it with a different cover. I have found that keeping track on the blog helps me since I can just do a search for the title on my blog and see if it comes up or not.

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  8. I have no idea why my comment says anonymous?
    Jodie
    www.jtouchofstyle.com

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    1. :) Ahh... the questionable practices of Google!

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  9. You were seriously prolific! I was especially glad to add some Christmas titles. I missed reading the season this year!

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    1. Thanks! I found reading helped distract from our busy/crazy month. It was a great escape.

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  10. Wow Joanne, you read so many books for December! I like the authors Mary Kay Andrews, Kristy Woodson Harvey, and the book - one of us is lying sounds like winner. I will be pinning this and adding to my TRL. I hope you enjoy the rest of the week.

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  11. I love Sophie Kinsella books. I've not read that one, but it sounds good!

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    1. I've only started reading her books but I am enjoying them a lot.

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  12. I didn't think I'd read any of these, but after your descriptions, I realized I'd read the Sophie Kinsella book and One of Us is Lying. Lots of good books, here, Joanne!

    https://marshainthemiddle.com/

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  13. I love Sophie Kinsella and I haven't read that one yet... I'll have to check it out!

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  14. Hi Joanne, like you I couldn't get into many Christmas books in December so only read a couple. You have read some interesting books and a couple that I will definitely be putting on my list, in particular One of Us Is Lying. I enjoy J.D. Robb although I haven't read the one you have mentioned. Thank you as always for your support of #WOYBS and it will be lovely reading your monthly reviews in 2024. Happy Reading! x

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    1. One of Us is Lying was a lot of fun; I just finished listening to the second book in the series this week.

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  15. Firstly, thanks for the shout-out ... it means a lot that you enjoyed Ainsley's redemption story. A great mix of reads this month and thanks for being one of our regular linker-uppers.

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    1. You're welcome! I can't wait to read your latest!

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  16. Hi, Joanne - Thank you for sharing these reads with us. I always greatly enjoy your book reviews. I agree that Christmas at Mannus Ridge was an awesome read. The first book in Joanne Tracey's new cozy crime series set in Whale Bay will be out this April. I think that you will greatly enjoy that one too. I am off to your site soon to catch up on what I have missed.

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  17. What a great list of book you've read Joanne and I agree our Jo's books are brilliant - so well written and fun! Thanks for joining us for #WOYBS

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  18. I'm excited to join the WOYB party. My making my way around to see what everyone else is reading. It's fun to see people from other link parties...yaya. I need to read more of Jo's books. The ones you listed sound good. I'll have to add a few to my TBR list.

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    1. It is fun and a great way to get book ideas (not that I really need anymore ideas but I love them all the same!).

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