December 2022 Book Reviews

christmas in paris

Compared to last month, December started out pretty strong. Although I started reading two within the last few days in November, I’m still proud that I finished them by December 3rd. 

It ended up being a very decent reading month overall, especially since I was busy with the holidays and still working a lot. Let’s take a look at the books I read in December 2022. 

 

The People We Keep by Allison Larkin

the people we keep

the people we keep

I loved this book so much, I cannot even express it in too many words. For now, I’ll just say that if you haven’t picked it up yet, please do. You’ll fall in love with 16 year old April, and really feel for her and the life she’s living. 

 

Synopsis

Here’s how the book is described on Goodreads:

 

“Little River, New York, 1994: April Sawicki is living in a motorless motorhome that her father won in a poker game. Failing out of school, picking up shifts at Margo’s diner, she’s left fending for herself in a town where she’s never quite felt at home. When she “borrows” her neighbor’s car to perform at an open mic night, she realizes her life could be much bigger than where she came from. After a fight with her dad, April packs her stuff and leaves for good, setting off on a journey to find a life that’s all hers.

As April moves through the world, meeting people who feel like home, she chronicles her life in the songs she writes and discovers that where she came from doesn’t dictate who she has to be.

This lyrical, unflinching tale is for anyone who has ever yearned for the fierce power of found family or to grasp the profound beauty of choosing to belong.”

 

My Thoughts

 

This book is well written, and the storyline is gut-wrenching. I loved April’s character, her maturity, tenacity, and strength. While being left by her mother and neglected by her father, she learned to depend on no one. She does what she has to do in order to survive, while staying true to herself. 

While on her journey, she encounters some people that become very important in her life, and she creates bonds that last a lifetime. 

The book made me sad throughout, but at least the ending was pretty hopeful. I cried, I laughed, and I did not want the book to end. I hope the author will write a sequel, because I feel like April became part of my life. It would be nice to know about her life as she grows up into a full-fledged adult.

If you like character-driven books that are well narrated, pick up this book.  I highly recommend it, and I gave it five stars on Goodreads. 

 

One Of The Girls by Lucy Clarke

one of the girls

one of the girls

This book was part of a buddy read with one of my engagement groups on Instagram. 

I enjoyed it ok, but I liked our group’s chats more, to be honest.

 

Synopsis

Here’s how Goodreads summarizes it:

 

‘It was supposed to be the perfect weekend away. Six very different women travel to a sun-soaked Greek island for a bachelorette trip. They are going to celebrate Lexi’s upcoming wedding. From the glorious ocean views to the quaint tavernas and whitewashed streets, the vacation seems too good to be true. But dangerous undercurrents run beneath the sunset swims and midnight cocktails.  Each of the women is hiding a secret. Someone is determined to make sure that Lexi’s marriage never happens. One of them doesn’t leave the island alive.

Gripping, twisty, and full of sun-soaked suspense, this timely thriller examines the joys of female friendship. Along with the deadly consequences when a relationship goes wrong.’

 

My Thoughts

 

Although I do enjoy this genre, this book was just okay for me. It did have Little Big Lies vibes, but it wasn’t as cleverly plotted. I thought some of the details that were added to the storyline were completely unnecessary. 

The group chat was really fun and I loved getting everyone’s opinions. The book was just okay for me.  I didn’t love it, but I didn’t hate it either. It did keep dragging on at times, but I found the ending kept me fully engaged until the last page. 

Do you need to add it to your tbr? If you like character-driven psychological thrillers that contain lots of complicated relationships, then sure. But it’s not one of the books that will mark me, or one that I will wholeheartedly recommend to anyone. It is entertaining, that’s for sure. 

With that being said, I rounded off to three stars on Goodreads, since I didn’t think it deserved four stars. 

 

The Sanctuary by Katrine Engberg

the sanctuary

The Sanctuary

This is the fourth installment in the Kruger/Werner series. Thank you to Netgalley, Simon & Schuster, and Katrine Engberg for my advanced reader’s copy. 

 

Synopsis

The Goodreads synopsis goes as follows:

 

“Jeppe Kørner, on leave from the police force and nursing a broken heart, has taken refuge on the island of Bornholm for the winter. Also on the island is Esther de Laurenti, a writer working on a biography of a female anthropologist with a mysterious past and coming to terms with her own crushing sense of loneliness in the wake of a dear friend’s death. When Jeppe lends a helping hand at the island’s local sawmill, he begins to realize that the island may not be the peaceful refuge it appears to be.

Back in Copenhagen, Anette Werner is tasked with leading the investigation into a severed corpse discovered on a downtown playground. As she follows the strange trail of clues, they all seem to lead back to Bornholm. With an innocent offer to check out a lead, Jeppe unwittingly finds himself in the crosshairs of a sinister mystery rooted in the past, forcing him to team up with Anette and Esther to unravel the island’s secrets before it’s too late.

 

My Thoughts

 

Although I absolutely love the cover, the book is not my favorite in the series. I still rounded it up to four stars, but it was between 3.5-3.75 stars for me. 

The plot seems a bit far-fetched, although I do love the author’s storytelling style. 

I personally feel the detective that leaves the force to still be involved in the investigation is a bit redundant. As I just read The Rabbit Hunter last month, the similarities are uncanny. Hence, it is probably the reason I didn’t love this plot as much as her previous book, The Harbor. 

With that being said, I did enjoy the book. In my opinion, it is a great continuation into the Korner/ Werner series. Although I found the characters were insufferable and acting downright stupid at times. I did not care for the decisions they made and the overall descriptions. The character development was not as well executed as in her previous books.

Hopefully, the next one will be better!

If you’re new to Scandinavian crime fiction, Endberg is a great author to start off with. But you should probably read the books in order. Start off with The Tenant, followed by The Butterfly House, then The Harbor. The Sanctuary comes out in North America on February 7th , 2023.

 

Toby Fleishman is in Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner

fleishman is in trouble

Fleishman is in trouble

I decided to up this book on my list because Prime Video started the TV series adaptation of the book. Hence, I wanted to read it before watching the show. 

 

Synopsis

This is the description of the book you will find on Goodreads:

 

“Recently separated Toby Fleishman is suddenly at age forty-one, short as ever, and surrounded by women who want him: women who are self-actualized, women who are smart and interesting, women who don’t mind his height, women who are eager to take him for a test drive with just the swipe of an app. Toby doesn’t mind being used in this way; it’s a welcome change from the thirteen years he spent as a married man. The thirteen years of emotional neglect and contempt he’s just endured. Anthropologically speaking, it’s like nothing he ever experienced before. Particularly back in the 1990s, when he first began dating and became used to swimming in the murky waters of rejection.

 

But Toby’s new life, liver specialist by day, kids every other weekend, rabid somewhat anonymous sex at night is interrupted when his ex-wife suddenly disappears. Either on a vision quest or a nervous breakdown, Toby doesn’t know, because she won’t answer his texts or calls.

Is Toby’s ex just angry, like always? Is she punishing him, yet again, for not being the breadwinner she was? As he desperately searches for her while juggling his job and parenting their two unraveling children, Toby is forced to reckon with the real reasons his marriage fell apart, and to ask if the story he has been telling himself all this time is true.”

 

My Thoughts

 

I wanted to love this book so much, but I struggled to. I liked it okay, just didn’t love it. One of the negative points that didn’t work out for me was that there were no actual chapters. That was a bit of a turn-off for me. The three parts of the book set the stage for the storyline, but the ending left me unsettled.

The character development was great, and the deep analysis of divorce and the consequences it has on all involved was well executed. Her overall writing style is great, just the plot seemed like it had no real purpose. It seemed more like a psychological analysis than a novel to me. 

Unfortunately, I only gave it three stars on Goodreads. I think in this case I actually enjoyed the TV adaptation more.

 

Christmas in Paris by Anita Hughes

christmas in paris

Christmas in Paris

I finally picked up a Christmas book that I read for the holiday this year! Unfortunately, it was not a memorable read. It had some decent parts, especially about French history, but I felt as if I was reading a bad rom-com that was stuck in the sixties. 

 

Synopsis

“Isabel Lawson is standing on the balcony of her suite at the Hotel Crillon as she gazes at the twinkling lights of the Champs Elysee and wonders if she’s made a terrible mistake. She was supposed to be visiting the Christmas tree in the Place de la Concorde and eating escargots and macaroons with her new husband on their honeymoon. But a week before the wedding, she called it off. Isabel is an ambitious Philadelphia finance woman, and Neil suddenly decided to take over his grandparents’ farm. Isabel wasn’t ready to trade her briefcase for a pair of rubber boots and a saddle.

When Neil suggested she use their honeymoon tickets for herself, she thought it would give her a chance to clear her head. That is until she locks herself out on the balcony in the middle of winter. Thankfully her neighbor Alec, a French children’s illustrator, comes to her rescue. He too is nursing a broken heart at the Crillon for the holidays. With a new friend by her side, Isabel is determined to use her time in the city of lights wisely. After a chance encounter with a fortune teller and a close call with a taxi, she starts to question everything she thought was important.”

 

My Thoughts

If you read my Goodreads review, this should come as no surprise to you. I only gave it two stars, so that should pretty much say it all. 

It was filled with many stereotypical cliches that I found very problematic. It had me rolling my eyes throughout the whole book. 

The characters had no depth to them, they were all worried about being married as if their marital status defined them as people. It was supposed to be a feel-good, light Christmas love story, but it was more of a fluffy story than anything. Sorry guys, but you can skip this one. Thank goodness I didn’t pay the full price for this one!

 

The Measure by Nikki Erlick

the measure nikki erlick

the measure

I saw this book all over Instagram in the last few weeks, and I only heard good things about it. So of course it caught my curiosity. Hopefully, this will encourage you to pick it up as well!

 

Synopsis as seen on Goodreads:

 

“Eight ordinary people. One extraordinary choice.

It seems like any other day. You wake up, pour a cup of coffee, and head out.

But today, when you open your front door, waiting for you is a small wooden box. This box holds your fate inside: the answer to the exact number of years you will live.

From suburban doorsteps to desert tents, every person on every continent receives the same box. In an instant, the world is thrust into a collective frenzy. Where did these boxes come from? What do they mean? Is there truth to what they promise?

As society comes together and pulls apart, everyone faces the same shocking choice: Do they wish to know how long they’ll live? And, if so, what will they do with that knowledge?”

 

My Thoughts

Boy, did this book make me feel things that I did not expect! While I loved the author’s concept and the execution of the story, I did not love the emotional roller coaster it took me on. It was a deep story of human suffering and the struggle to feel important. The story showed an uglier side of humanity, one that is filled with prejudice and disregard for people’s worth.

But the writing was exceptional, and the narrative was top-notch. I gave it four stars on Goodreads, as I thought some of the execution was too neatly presented. That isn’t a negative point, but I had different expectations. 

 

Concluding Words

This sums up the last month of 2022. It was a pretty decent reading month overall with a few good books I’m very happy I finally got to read. 

How did your reading year end? Did you find any gems in 2022? Keep an eye out for my favorite books of 2022 that will shortly follow.

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