December Book Reviews


Cantoras by Carolina de Robertis
“She’d never lived in such a place before; the freedom dizzied her. It was strange, she thought, how you could live all your life in a home defined by people who loved you and took care of you and shared ancestors with you and yet did not entirely see you, people whom you protected by hiding yourself.”
This novel about a queer group of women who establish a home together, literally and figuratively, during the dictatorship in 1970s Uruguay was just beautiful and heartbreaking.
I am really glad that I waited until after our elections here in the US to start reading it, because it is quite terrifying how Uruguay went from a modern democratic society to a fascist rule (and back again). Definitely an eye opening read on that front, but mostly this was an epic character driven story about friendships and how they grow and change. I wanted to reach out and embrace each of these women, they felt so authentic. If a novel that follows beloved characters through decades of heartbreak and triumph appeals, definitely pick up Cantoras.

In a Holidaze by Christina Lauren
Adding my Holidaze post to the pile that has been all over the ‘gram! If you saw my book stack thoughts last week wherein I was hesitating on this one, I obviously went ahead and let curiosity get the better of me. The reviews seem to be all over the place, and it also seems that people are are all over the place on their CLo favorites! I have only read two of their books, one I loved (Love and Other Words) and one that I felt was meh (Josh and Hazel) if that helps give context for my thoughts on Holidaze.
I guess I have a soft spot for the childhood friend turned romantic interest, because I actually ended up enjoying this one! A lot of folks had issues with the time loop theme, but I thought it served the story, and the impetus for Maelyn’s decisions, very well. It reminded me of Groundhog Day of course, but also of the very excellent Netflix show Russian Doll, and Before I Fall: a fantastic YA novel by Lauren Oliver. Though, that book is NOT light in tone. Holidaze was a perfectly fun and light holiday romance, and I’m glad I dove in.
The second in the Bridgerton series is just as entertaining as the first. Julia Quinn does a fantastic job with setting a scene, witty and humorous banter, and most importantly, empathetic characters. I really felt for Anthony and Kate, especially as someone who lost a parent at a young age.
I have a love/hate relationship with great book series. Like Louise Penny, it’s wonderful to have a trove of reliably great books to read. But on the other hand, finding the balance of not binging and fitting in ALL THE BOOKS is painful.
This book seemed to come out of nowhere to win the Goodreads Choice award for fiction, and I’m glad I finally read it! It’s a lovely, albeit melancholy, novel about a character who gets the opportunity to explore the parallel lives she could have lived, while in a sort of purgatory after attempting suicide. So, fair warning on that front.
I found the idea of fixing past regrets and trying on different lives so compelling, and flew through this relatively short book, curious to see where Nora’s choices would take her. But somewhere along the way, I realized that I wanted more depth than breadth from the story. I mean, the existential themes of the book are DEEP, but my connection to the main character and her relationships were not. Although, one of the things I think Nora has to learn is that she needs to live for herself and not others, so delving into her relationships was not the focus. For me as a reader, a novel focused mostly on plot and messaging makes for a REALLY GOOD read, but not a GREAT one.

A Promised Land by Barack Obama
The longest it’s taken me to read an audiobook is now six weeks! But this behemoth, with another to come (!), was worth it and did not feel like a slog at all.
What can I add to the discussion on A Promised Land!? It’s deserving of all the accolades. I found that it bounced nicely between the political and personal, and there’s something for everyone - whether it’s foreign policy, environmental issues, or family life in the White House. Obama moves seamlessly through myriad of subject matter.
I am always glad to listen to the audiobook when the author narrates, and the emotion comes through in this memoir. I was especially moved when he talks about climate, as well as the anecdote about coaching his daughter’s basketball team.
I think I enjoyed Becoming a smidge more, probably because I could identify with Michelle more easily. But I miss Mom and Dad equally, and it was a joy to listen to his soothing ‘everything is gonna be okay voice’ for the last months of 2020. 

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett
“You don’t have to explain anything to me,” she would say. “it’s your life.”
“But it’s not,” Stella would say. “None of it belongs to me.“
“Well, you chose it,” Loretta would tell her. “So that makes it yours.“
Last book review from 2020! And this is one of the reasons why I do not post my favorites of the year until well into January.
I was quite confident that I was going to love The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett. The Mothers landed on my favorite books of 2016 - I even got to meet the author and get my book signed that year! And, of course, all of the reviews are glowing, rightly so.
The story of twin light-skinned Black women, one deciding to ‘pass’ as white, and how it reverberates with their daughters was propulsive, gorgeously written, and so thought-provoking. What does it even mean to be white? Aren’t we all playing a part in our daily lives? The way Bennett layers these ideas with each and every character is fantastic. I don’t know how much more praise I can add to the pile other than to absolutely recommend picking it up, and share another favorite quote...
“Her death hit in waves. Not a flood, but water lapping steadily at her ankles. You could drown in two inches of water. Maybe grief was the same.”


  1. I also really enjoyed The Mothers. The Vanishing Half is waiting on my shelf. I even bought it for my sister for Christmas so we could read it together sometime this year. Thanks for reminding me of Cantoras. I want to read that one as well.


    1. Oh how fun! It will be especially impactful reading that book with a sister!