Tuesday, December 29, 2015

December Wrap-up

You'd think I'd be over being surprised that yet another year has gone by.


I've been blogging since late June, so this is my first year-end post.  I've also been super busy this month, what with work and the holidays and getting sick.  You know, like everyone else.

But here's what's happened:

My Reading

Um.  Eight.  Plus lots of picture books.


I finished Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key, Tiger Rising, and Found with my classes.  I have such a soft spot for Joey, and found his story all the more poignant now that I have my own Joey at home.  Tiger Rising was maybe a little too subtle for a read-aloud, but it is still a great book.  Found is the least literary of the bunch, but BOY did the kids love it.  Wow.  Their excitement made it all worthwhile.  

We ran out of steam with The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, and I'm going to have them choose a different book after break.  We also read The Day the Crayons Quit and The Day the Crayons Came Home during the last few days before break, which were both fun.  After reading the first book, students wrote delightful letters of complaint to themselves from their posessions, and since I was coming down with strep by the end of the week, I had student volunteers take turns reading the second book aloud, which was a good change of pace for all of us.

At home we were doing our "book Advent," so instead of keeping up with Percy Jackson, we were reading our favorite holiday and winter books each night.  This year's best discovery was Christmas Wombat, by Jackie French.  My kids' perennial favorite is Jan Brett's The Mitten.  

Mildly Disappointing

I won a copy of The Secret Chord a couple of months ago, and finally got myself to read it.  I loved The Year of Miracles, and was fascinated by March, but this time Geraldine Brooks just didn't do it for me.  

Streak of Solid 4 Stars!

Once I made my list of prioritized books to read, I started out with the ones I'd been looking forward to the most.  I didn't give any of them five stars, because they didn't quite move me as much as other books have, but they were definitely all really good books.  The Hired Girl was so very sweet.  I think she and Anne Shirley would have gotten along like a house on fire.  A good old-fashioned read without being treacly or arch.  The Rest of Us Just Live Here was at its best when describing "ordinary" types of mental illness, and sibling love.  Patrick Ness is seriously one of my heros.  I mean, did you see this?  

Tonight the Streets Are Ours is not my favorite Leila Sales, but it's still damn good, and raised interesting questions about what it means to love someone and about how we portray ourselves in writing.  And I finally read Winter.  Ah, Winter.  I wish I'd been able to read it when I plowed through the first three; I think the long break made the ending less glorious than it would have been otherwise.  But I adore Marissa Meyer and the world she created.  It everyone was paired off a little too neatly (and heterosexually), well, better that than a sad ending, in this case.  

My Writing

I started the month with a guest post on the Nerdy Book Blog.  I shared some of my triumphs and tragedies as I read aloud to my middle schoolers.  I was trying to be funny, but I'm not sure I really was. While I'm on this topic, be sure you are checking out their awards each day this week!  So far they've posted the best fiction picture books, nonfiction picture books, and early reader books of 2015.  Great, great lists.

Otherwise, this will be my 11th post of the month.  One of which was making excuses for my absence, so I'll just refer you there instead of repeating them.  As seems to by typical, my wrap-up from last month got the most views, followed by my Top Ten Tuesday posts about my favorite winter/holiday books, best books I read this year, and favorite new-to-me authors of the year.  I also decided to join the 12 month classics challenge in 2016, and I got inspired to organize and prioritize my thousand-plus TBR list.  


You don't need to hear any more about my strep throat.  Seriously.  Instead, I'll leave you with a summary of the excellent book-related gifts I received this Christmas.

1.  My sister gave me a baseball hat that reads, simply, "Library."  As in--that's my #1 team.
2.  My husband found me a lovely, moody Call of the Wild t-shirt.
3.  A $10 gift card to a bookstore from my Secret Santa at work.  Basically, this guy I don't really know gave me chocolate all week and then a B&N gift card, so, best Secret Santa ever.
4.  My bookish Secret Santa did even better, of course.  Reading posters, tea and chocolate, and several great books.  So awesome.  
5. My sister got me two Truman Capote picture books, which is not a phrase I ever knew existed.  He wrote this very bittersweet and gorgeous stories from his childhood, one about Thanksgiving and one about Christmas, both featuring his elderly second cousin/best friend.  I love them, and hope to review them soon.
6.  My brother- and sister-in-law gave me a book about editing one's writing, which completely goes in my husband's win column, because there's no way they thought of that without some prompting from him.  

Also, I gave my daughter a copy of the new, fully illustrated edition of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, which is almost like getting it for myself.  I'm pretty sure I'm more excited about it than she is, but she does appreciate it at least.  

All in all, a terrific ending to a year that has brought a lot of positive reading/writing development into my life.  I feel like I've found a piece of myself that has been missing for a few years, and it makes all the other things a little better too.  


  1. Ooooo....The Hired Girl sounds like my kind of book! I can't wait to check this one out!

    1. I didn't know much about it going in, other than that I loved the cover and there was some disagreement about whether it should be classified as a YA or MG novel. I was completely charmed (and can see why it's hard to decide).

  2. I got my daughter the HP book too - and, same thing, I think I'm more excited about it than she is. :-) I love that you had your students write letters of complaint from their possessions!

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

    1. Her excitement is growing as we read a chapter most nights. She falls over giggling at the funny bits, and stops me so she can admire the illustrations in full. I can't really do accents, but for some reason I feel obligated to make Hagrid sound like he does in the movie. I hope you and your daughter are getting as much joy out if it as we are!

  3. I really loved Winter too! Happy 2016!


Please share your thoughts. Comments are almost as sweet as chocolate!