Books I Read in December (and Kids Winter Break Favorites)

Yep, it's January 18th and I'm just getting around to writing up December reviews! I thought I'd jazz it up a bit with what the kids enjoyed reading over the holiday break, as it's been awhile since I touched upon what they've been reading. 
In addition to alllll the National Geographic Kids Chapters books and Magic Tree House adventures, my seven year old has now been introduced to Neil Gaiman and she thought Fortunately, the Milk was ridiculously silly and fun, just like her brother did when he read it a few years ago. And we decided that this Christmas was the perfect time to introduce her to The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe: a rousing success, not surprisingly. And, yes, that is my copy of the book from my well preserved childhood Narnia set!
I read The Mysterious Benedict Society along with my ten year old and he really enjoyed it. It starts out fantastic, with great imagination and humor with these misfit kids all coming together to be tested into a secret sleuthing society. The second half dragged a bit for me, but I'm sure it would enthrall the middle grade reader in your house! He's also been enjoying alllll the James Patterson silliness: all the I Funny and Middle School books.
City of Thieves by David Benioff
This seemed like a good winter read, and it was, if a smidge harrowing! I was curious about Benioff's story telling, as a fan of HBO's Game of Thrones, which he co-created.  A young Russian is thrown together with an army deserter during the Nazi seige of Leningrad, supposedly based on a story told by his grandfather, had a similarly visceral feel to Thrones - scenes that were downright horrible, now burned in my brain. The pair's questionable mission (to obtain a dozen eggs for a Soviet colonel who wants them for his daughter's wedding cake) had shades of Saving Private Ryan. It was a sad and sincere read that made really want to know how much of it was embellishment, and how much was true the story of Benioff's grandfather.

A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab
I finally started the Shades of Magic series, and it's one I think I will continue! It's been awhile since I read a fantasy novel that really grabbed me. The premise of the novels feels original and rife with possibilities: our protagonist, Kell, is only one of two surviving 'Antari' that can travel between the Londons (yes, plural) that exist in four separate universes. The world building is vivid and immersive,  while the plot moves quickly and had me turning the pages. I do love the characters, but would love to get more backstory. I felt like I got a good handle on their motivations, but only snippets of their past when I really wanted MORE. Lila is awesome and looks to be on the cover of book two, so I have hope.

The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman
Practical Magic is one of those novels in which I barely remember the plot, but do remember loving it unconditionally some twenty years ago. Needless to say, I had high hopes, especially with the added hype over this 'prequel.' I'd say that in the first three quarters of the book, I was feeling as if my expectations were not being met. It's a slow burn, to say the least. But, the writing is lovely and creates an equally lovely, albeit somber, atmosphere in which I enjoyed lingering. "Unable are the loved to die, for love is immortality." My heart swelled at the conclusion and made the journey worthwhile.

Winter Solstice by Elin Hilderbrand
I mean... What more can I say about this series that I haven't said already? Words that are on repeat for my reviews of Winter Street, Winter Stroll, Winter Storms and now Solstice: humor, heart, immersive Nantucket, lovable characters, fun, and perfect light fare. It was fun to learn the origins of the Quinn family books from Hilderbrand's author note, and I look forward to a new winter series with a new family set in the Virgin Islands!

The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin
You can read my review here!


  1. I agree about the Winter series! I have so enjoyed them!

    1. I was really sad after the last one, thinking it would be the very last. I think having Solstice was juuuuuust right - I'm satisfied and ready to bid adieu to the Quinn family :)

  2. I unexpectedly really liked Rules of Magic...despite not liking magic in my reading in general!

    1. Yes, I remember that! It must've been the dysfunctional family dynamic and great writing that swayed you :)

  3. I've seen quite a few posts about this Shades of Magic series and they have all been really favorable! I am always a bit nervous about trying something like this, but I am definitely interested after hearing your thoughts. I guess I'm going to have to make sure to add these Winter novels to my list; everyone seems to love them and I have always enjoyed her writing!

    1. I honestly think I like the winter novels better than the summer ones!