December 2023 Bookish Bingo ❄️

Could you listen to something different to fill that task? I would DNF and just go with a different book. Much better than listening to something that makes you want to cut your own brain out for 6 more hours! lol

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I’m still finishing a few chapters of two last books, but I wanted to share what I’m posting on my social medias for the “Share pic of a BookishFirst book you won”. Sorry, haven’t won any, but I feel like if you take a picture of none and you have won none, that should still count! I just wanted to finish the whole board and it was the only way to do it (I didn’t read the “or a BookishFirst book you’ve read this year” until just now, so opps). That’s me in my very messy bathroom. :smiley:


Can you speed the audio book up if you decide to finish it?

Oh, I finished that DAYS age. Hated every bit of it. lmao.


Bingo! I read:
Two word title: My Murder
Blue or white cover: Everything All at Once
Combines tropes you love: Love Interest
Set in a remote location: The Fury
Audiobook over 8 hours: Leslie F*cking Jones

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Bingo for the second to last row!

Two word title: Demon’s Touch by Ella Jade
Blue or white cover: Yumi and the Nightmare Painter by Brandon Sanderson
Combines tropes you love: Lore of the Wilds by Analeigh Sbrana
Set in a remote location: Suki, Alone by Faith Erin Hicks
Audiobook over 8 hours: The Golden Enclaves by Naomi Novik


Across - 3rd Line
The Hunting Party - Set during a winter holiday
Bright Lights Big Christmas - Last book read in 2023
Free Space
You Can Die - Snow on the cover
The Complete Beginners Guide To Tarot - Book received as a gift

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BOX: Dessert On Cover

BOOK: The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender (cake!)

REVIEW: This is such a haunting and surreal book. It’s about a little girl who suddenly develops the power to taste people’s emotions through the food they’ve cooked, kind of like in Sarah Michelle Gellar’s movie ‘Simply Irresistible’, with a bit of the whole family having powers like in ‘The Incredibles’ and all blending together like a Salvador Dali painting melting away. The “chair scene” (won’t spoil that) was some body horror that I still think about today despite reading the book at the beginning of the month. I also think it played on this theme of being the person in the family who can sense everyone’s emotions but doesn’t know exactly the origin of them because there’s so little communication in the family very well. I could relate.

BOX: Published In December

BOOK: I Wrote This For You Paperback by pleasefindthis (December 2011 – there are different edition, so I’m a bit confused by this, but mine says December 2011)

REVIEW: I picked this up in a bookstore a few years ago and NEEDED to buy it because every poem-paragraph spoke to me. Each page makes me feel seen. It speaks my language in its whispers and reflections on the word around the poet. Raw and beautiful. I usually don’t go for poems without line breaks, but they work so well it makes me forget about that. Also the photographs are haunting. The titles of the poem-paragraphs were a little confusing though, but dreamy enough that I just ran with them. Beautiful joy, melancholy, nostalgia and fear that speaks of the human condition.

BOX: Winter Sport

BOOK: The Call of the Wild by Jack London (dog sled racing, bit of a stretch since dog sledding is mostly used for transportation but there is a chapter in there where bets are made)

REVIEW: I listened to this audiobook while looking at Christmas tacky lights around the neighborhood! Oddly enough, I related to this book at well – from pampered pet to just trying to survive after such a rude awakening to brutal life, let’s call metaphorically my early 30s. Excellent adventure, but damn, I just wanted Buck to be left alone and to be happy. Though I was glad it wasn’t one of those ‘dog dies at the end’ books and instead let him go be wild and free, which was a small concellation after everything he had been through.

BOX: On A Friend’s ‘Best of 2023’ List

BOOK: This Is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar & Max Gladstone (as suggested to me by Kit Jena)

REVIEW: This book had a fascinating concept that intrigued me more than the execution itself. Two writers decided to write letter back and forth to each other with the barebones of a story, then after the letters were written they went in there and added some narrative exposition. It’s very sci-fi. It follows two agents, Red and Blue, on opposing sides of a time-traveling war. Then they fall in love with each other as they chase each other through time in their cat and mouse game. I feel like it could have been better because mostly I was just guessing at what was even going on because the writing is just really confusing at parts. Like what are you talking about, sir?? It’s lyrical though, definitely a book for the vibes. There really wasn’t enough world building because most of the book is told through their letters. Very romantic though. I LOVED the ending, when Red and Blue choose love over continuing the war. Favorite last line of a book. Something like ‘this is how we win the time war’. Because yes, there really is no winning a war but to lay down your weapons and unite together. Side note: reminded me a bit of Loki and the TVA.

BOX: Title Includes A Temperature Description

BOOK: The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black

REVIEW: I used to LOVE Holly Black, but after reading this I think its best if she sticks to writing about faeries instead of vampires. Set in a world where vampires are quarantined in Coldtowns, the story follows Tana through a plot of horror and suspense. Felt just a bit too Vampire Diaries and Blade for me, all leather and big nightclub parties. Tana’s character was pretty resiliant and determined though, badass chiche-- but overall the book was heavily cliched.

BOX: Snowed In

BOOK: The Book of Awesome: Snow Days, Bakery Air, Finding Money in Your Pocket, and Other Simple, Brilliant Things by Neil Pasricha (mostly about random things, but has a few chapters about snow, one of which is how cool it is when there’s a random snow day when everyone is snowed in)

REVIEW: This book is just a bloggers ‘1000 things I think are great little moments in daily life’. It has a lot of humor and was a really quick read, kind of an ode to the little joys in life. Made me smile and was very positive. However, it’s pretty much HIS little joys in life, so sometimes I agreed and sometimes I was like ‘no, that one actually gives me anxiety’ or ‘ugh, I actually hate when that happens’. Maybe I should write my own Book of Awesome just for myself. It would serve as a better journaling experiment instead.

BOX: Title Begins With D

BOOK: Descending Twilight

REVIEW: This book holds a special place in my heart. I bought it on my family’s last vacation with my sister 16 years ago before she passed away. I found it in the gift shop of the campground that we went to every year in summer. It’s self-published and flawed, yet deeply heartfelt. The writing sometimes stumbles with long, awkward dialogues and factual errors (the errors about my own field of work were a bit hard to get through, like not knowing the differences between a ‘psychiatrist’ and ‘psychologist’). However, despite its flaws, the book’s 417 pages brim with the author’s sincerity and emotion. It’s about a ‘chosen one’ who has to reach out to various leaders of world religions before the rapture. It’s an odd mix of first time writer mishaps that probably needed better editing and “The Da Vinci Code.” Reading it felt oddly personal, as if it was meant just for me—especially since I found no other reviews online. Especially since I remember the day I bought it and the cashier told me that the author was working the guard booth at the campground, so I raced down on my bike to have him sign it. “I hope you go on as a beam of white light, Janet,” he wrote and then signed his name. I found out after looking the author up that he died in October of this year. His wake was on my birthday on October 13th. How odd that this year is when I chose to finally pick it up and read the whole thing after carrying it through several moves and almost two decades of life happening. “Descending Twilight” isn’t a literary gem, but it’s a fast paced and touching read. Its flaws don’t overshadow the genuine feelings poured into it. If you’re after a flawless masterpiece, this might not be it. But if you appreciate raw sincerity over perfection, “Descending Twilight” offers a heartfelt journey worth exploring. This review is my way of acknowledging a book that means a lot to me and giving recognition to its author’s passion for storytelling. I probably should have read it earlier, but then life sometimes happens like that. Wish I could have told him before he went off to that white light that there was someone out there reading and listening. Thank you, Mr Lyons.

BOX: Set In Vermont

BOOK: A Day No Pigs Would Die by Robert Newton Peck (rural farming 1920s Vermont)

REVIEW: A YA book, but it’s supposedly classic lit and it was the only one I could find set in Vermont. It’s supposedly a bit of a memoir for the author’s own times in Vermont. I enjoyed the look at how hardy and hard-working the folks in rural farming communities can be, but overall the book felt a bit disjointed with random storylines just popping out everywhere. Suddenly he’s failing his classes and his aunt gives him grammar lessons that he bungles, then they have to eat his pet pig because of a bad winter (never name your pets on a farm! That’s an old lesson there!) and then boom, his father suddenly gets sick and dies. Just so much happening and with very little foreshadowing, just a roll of the dice as if the writer grabbed storylines from the air. Though I did enjoy the dialect, rural vibes and how it almost felt like a Vermont-Huck-Finn character.

BOX: New-To-You BIPOC Author

BOOK: Crazy Is My Superpower: How I Triumphed by Breaking Bones, Breaking Hearts, and Breaking the Rules by A. J. Mendez (Puerto Rican)

REVIEW: AJ Lee is one of my favorite wrestlers and it was amazing getting to read this book after wanting to for so long. So I guess she wasn’t ‘new to me’ but her writing was-- and I very much enjoyed her writing. It’s very informal, but it also brings you into the way she lives her life. It feels like she’s writing to you as if you’re a good friend. I never would have guessed how impoverished she grew up or how hard she worked to perserve through everything. The book made me all the more proud to call her my favorite female wrestler of all time. And it also had a huge dose of fandom speak and I had no idea that she loves many of my same fandoms. She talks about Buffy helping her to be strong and Castiel/Dean fanfic. God, I want to hang out with her so badly now, but at least reading her book was a very close second. I wish she had spoken more about CM Punk though, but I also respect her giving the barebones and then saying that she was going to respect his privacy and not divulge too much of their relationship. She’s a very hardworking and classy lady who I now adore all the more!

BOX: Cozy Read

BOOK: How to Tell If Your Cat Is Plotting to [Unalive] You by The Oatmeal

(Weird choice but I would like to posit, if I may, that How to Tell If Your Cat Is Plotting to K*11 You by Matthew Inman is indeed cozy.

My Points:

  1. It has cats. Cats are inherently cozy. Curl up with a good book, a cat, don’t get m#rd3r3d… yeah, that feels right.

  2. It’s a m#rd3r mystery! M#rd3r mysteries are cozy. Who’s gonna get m#rd3r3d by their cat? Probably this reader, but yeah… keeps you guessing!

  3. It’s got lighthearted humor. Definitely funny, cozy and uplifting… until the m#rd3ring begins.

  4. It’s made by The Oatmeal. Oatmeal is obviously cozy.)

REVIEW: I’m a crazy cat lady so I loved this book. I found it cute, adorable, but yes, my cat is definitely plotting against me. There is proof of this now. I will keep my eyes peeled for their sudden but inevitable betrayal now!

BOX: Set During A Winter Holiday

BOOK: By Winter’s Light by Stephanie Laurens (scottish Christmas)

REVIEW: HATED it. Soooo utterly boring. Absolutely nothing happened. I felt like it was a Little Women knock off. I’ve never read anything by Stephanie Laurens but I have absolutely no desire to do so now. I’ll say that some of it was cozy – Christmas in Scotland, warm fires, old traditions, a baby gets born and people go sledding, but mostly it was incredibly tedious to get through. Also, apparently Stephanie Laurens is known for her erotica, but I did not know this going into the book and she introduces these characters as prim and proper lords and schoolteachers and you think, oh, it’s gonna be like Little Women… only to suddenly be thrust into a sex scene about 50 pages before the ending. It felt jarring, almost like witnessing your old schoolmarm involved in intimate moments. I’m okay with erotica, but that felt uncomfortable and off-putting. Last time I read anything by Stephanie Laurens.

BOX: Last Book You Read In 2023

BOOK: As Old as Time by Liz Braswell (lol… I couldn’t wait will I got through my last couple, so I was reading it simultaneously but left three chapters to read so it could be my last of 2023)

REVIEW: Torture, murder plots, an asylum where people are forcible imprisoned and a little bit of horror – this may be the Disney Twisted Tale that took the hardest 90 degrees turn from the source material out of the 4 or 5 that I’ve read so far. It went hard and got (mildly) scary. I really liked that (spoiler) The Beast gets to stay a beast at the end, cause I know I’m not the only one who saw Prince Adam at the end of the movie and thought “no, turn back”. I really liked the whole enchantress and witch hunting plot running through it, and the idea that the king sent the enchantress away when she offered a blessing because he ‘didn’t believe in that superstitious nonsense’ only for the townsfolk to think he was a dope because “who turns down a free blessing for their child even if they don’t believe in it”. That part is a metaphor I’m going to be using from now on. All total, fun book, enough twists to make it an interesting alternative universe and I think this was the one Twisted Tale that really deserves a sequel.

BOX: Free Square

BOOK: I’m Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy (I actually read half of it in October, but it’s a free square, so meh-- also gave her the free square because of how much I wanted her to be FREE from her mom throughout the book)

REVIEW: I was only vaguely aware of this actress before, but I picked up the book because it’s something I’ve thought about my own mother before. And it’s something that most people just won’t understand unless you’ve lived through an abusive childhood. It was honestly a relief to hear it come out of someone else’s mouth instead of feeling like there was something wrong with me for feeling that way. Jennette McCurdy does an incredible job of showing the horrors of codependency and how emotional abuse can affect someone just as much as physical abuse, because often society seems to think that if they weren’t punching you daily then obviously there was no abuse present, which is so wrong. McCurdy shows how much it can derail a life, how emotional abuse can cause you to get involved with self-destuctive behaviors like drugs or her own eating disorder and how pervasive it can be that it can rewire your whole world and make you believe things that are fundamentally not true about yourself and your world. There were so many times I found myself agreeing with her, feeling for her or even feeling like her words could have been my own words. Actually, at one point, while listening her read the audiobook track, I thought “wait, was that my inner monologue – cause that sounded almost like my inner monologue spoken out loud” (it was late that night, I went to bed right after, lol). The whole book made me ache for her, wanted her to see freedom and desperately hoped she realized that she held the key to her own cage. She was so brave for speaking her truth and I feel it’s something those who grew up in similar ways need to hear and those who didn’t need to learn from. Amazing book.

BOX: Snow On Cover

BOOK: Conceal, Don’t Feel by Jen Calonita (Elsa’s snow magic)

REVIEW: I really enjoy the Twisted Tales Disney series and this was no exception. After Elsa zonks her with her ice magic, Anna gets hidden away for safe keeping and placed under a spell of amnesia so that she can grow up as a common peasant girl until the sisters find each other years later. Enough of the old story and new to feel familiar and yet give some interesting new twists and turns – like Hans and Elsa hooking up, Olaf being Elsa’s sidekick and Elsa being a lot less depressed. I kept thinking the writer didn’t like Kristoff though because she was writing him as such a brat. Maybe could have used being nicer to Kristoff and some more twists to the old story.

BOX: Book You Recieved As A Gift

BOOK: Rocks Stars by Matt Mason (author sent me a signed copy as a gift because he liked my review of one of his previous books so much and was using that review on his social media)

REVIEW: I was graciously gifted this book directly from the poet himself, all signed and everything, all because he appreciated a review I wrote for another of his works. This second collection of poems was just as inspired and wonderful to read, even though I’m not too familiar with the 80s songs and musicians that inspired them. But you don’t really have to be, because these poems are as much about life and living through it as they are about any particular song or musician. I believe I’ve stumbled upon my favorite poet of all time and that first book I read by him “On The Corner of Fantasy and Main” was no outlier.

It’s not just his words and beautiful phrases which leave me breathless in this volume; it’s also the meticulous attention to the entire page and format. Someone once told me poetry is as much a visual art as a literary art. And Mason seems to agree as he considers everything on the page – the layout, structure, and punctuation – to transform the poems into something to truly see rather than just paragraphs that line breaks were just randomly added to like some modern poets do (I could name names, I won’t). I find these poems so inspiring for my own creative muse as a poet myself. These pieces fuel my own creative spirit. Beyond more than just the emotional impact, which is undeniably present, I’m struck by the craftsmanship and technical prowess. Take for example, these lines in ‘When We Saw Prince,’ where the poem revolves around the anticipation of their child’s birth and how they went to a Prince concert while pregnant with the child:

"such strobe, such electricity, while the body and brain are finding
their ways and not to be touched; this gestation

takes patience: we feed her bones to strength"

The pause in that line, that empty space, embodies the very essence of gestation. You can feel it, almost as if your eyes pause for a moment, mirroring the patience required to navigate down the page – much like the gestation, the pause, and the patience experienced during pregnancy. It’s almost a physical sensation, echoing the anticipation within the meaning of those lines and in the journey of pregnancy.

Mason proves he’s not a one-trick pony with this collection. Some poems had me nodding in agreement, others made me stop and just take in those lines of wisdom, while some made me burst out laughing. He doesn’t take himself too seriously and yet there is such wisdom in so many of his poems that make you realize how much he truly know about life and how much he wants to share that with everyone. He’s truly insightful!

The book’s is structured like tracks and sides of an old-fashioned mixtape which carried the theme nicely and showed just how much thought he puts into everything about the collection. I always wanted someone to give me a mixtape that came straight from the heart, and now, someone has and I’m grateful for that.

BOX: Two Word Title

BOOK: Finding Serenity by Jane Espenson & misc others.

REVIEW: I think I liked Found Serenity, the second volume of these Firefly essays (but the first I read out of them) a bit better. This book is definitely great for Firefly fans though. I like how they included essays that focused on each individual character. And Jewel Staite’s recollection of Firefly behind the scene moments for each episode was great. The glossary of chinese phrases found in the show could probably have been found on a fansite out there somewhere though. I also kind of disliked how they included essays that were about Firefly and another show (kind of like a crossover, I suppose). One was about The Tick and the other was about Star Trek, but I’m not versed (no pun intended) in either of those shows enough to get much from those essays. And some of the essays brought some weird spins to the show or where written in doctoral thesis philosophical terms that the general reader would just get lost in. It was also a bit strange to see Joss Whedon praised so much, man I kinda miss the days when he wasn’t completely cancelled, but what did we know back in the mid-2000s anyway? However, all in all, this book is about people coming together to discuss their love and views on a show we all loved (except for one essay that was written by someone who seemed to not love the show and I’m not sure why that one was included, but I digress…). Take my love, take my land, take me to a world where I can delve into specific aspects of fandom discussions until I’m satisfied. This books seems to do that, even if it makes some minor misteps.

BOX: Blue Or White Cover

BOOK: I Would Leave Me If I Could by Halsey (blue cover, white writing)

REVIEW: Another quick poetry book. I love Halsey as a songwriter and thought if she could write lyrics she could write poetry, but now I’m not so sure. She definitely has some nice lines in there, but overall her poems seemed to many little sense. She went deep though, I’ll give her that, and spit up all the trauma of her past even if the meanings of the poems left me scratching my head at times. I was listening to the audiobook while reading the text version and I’ll say the audiobook left out one poem and it was the best poem in the whole damn book, so I don’t get why that version left it out.

BOX: Combines Tropes You Love

BOOK: The Faerie Path by Frewin Jones (Magical Girl, Shakespeare Is Real, Fairies, Hidden Worlds)

REVIEW: I really thought I was going to like this story, since it has many of my favorite tropes in it-- but the main character is such a whiny vapid ditzy little Mary Sue. And far too girly for my taste. She sparkles almost as much as Edward in Twilight, is only interested in parties and going “home” despite how much that would destroy the fairy world. If I heard “I just want to go hooooome” one more time I was going to roll my eyes back into my skull so hard I would be blind forever. There’s also a really sexist feel to it too, because Frewin Jones is an old YT guy, so does he think that ALL females are this whiny, childish and only into glittery parties? Also, there is one scene that just completely destroyed all my hope that this book might be worthy of two stars at best – when the main character gets hit by a MACE during a battle and just rolls and shakes it off because she’s apparently soooo special that getting stuck by a 10lb ball of iron is something she can just shrug off. This is what happens when men write teenage girls, so glittery and so sad.

BOX: Set In A Remote Location

BOOK: What I Was Doing While You Were Breeding: A Memoir by Kristin Newman (multiple locations like Argentina, Brazil, France, ect)

REVIEW: Oh my god, I HATED this book with an undying passion! I had such hope for this book because it’s summary called it a memoir about a solo traveler, which I myself have become in recent years as well. I thought there would be something here I could relate to-- but the author pretty much lied in the summary. It’s not about solo travel and the adventures that you find out there because she didn’t really do any solo traveling. She was always meeting up with people there, going with friends as a single person in their group or chasing tail with various boys she met along the way. The places that she traveled were an after thought. And she seemed to look down on everyone along the way through her rich and fabulous tv show writer (she apparently wrote That 70s Show) and those who couldn’t just hop a plane whenever they were feeling bored or couldn’t live extravagantly through a life of Hollywood excess. For instance, there was one passage where she was talking about the writer’s strike, where she stood on the picket line for a few hours, only to turn around and go to a five-star dinner before boarding a plane to yet another foreign country, seeming to leave all that nasty picketing work to those lesser beings. And every vacation she went on was just her hooking up with the locals and performing god knows how many sexual acts on the locals boys (some of the descriptions were basically porn) until she came back home and claimed to not be promiscuous because ‘that only happens to me when I travel’. Girl, pick a lane! She just seemed like one of those rich, YT women who wipe their butt with the culture of the places they travel too. No thought was put into the culture, the experience, the sights or traditions-- just bring on the boys and the sex and the getting down and dirty. I’m not a prude, but geez, other cultures are not your sexual playground to exploit, ma’am. And then the book ended with her getting married anyway, while she acted like all her single traveling was nothing more than sowing her wild oats while she waited for what she really wanted and found a marriable partner after telling everyone throughout the book that she wasn’t like all those other girls. For those of us who take pride in our single life and the adventures it can lead it, this book was just gross. The author was gross. I never want to read another one of her books. I don’t even want to watch That 70s Show anymore.

BOX: Audiobook Over 8 Hours

BOOK: The Happy Ever After Playlist by Abby Jimenez (9 hours)

REVIEW: This rom-com is a great blend of sweet and flirty with tons of humor. It reminded me a bit of the 2007 film “Music and Lyrics.” The plot revolves around a musician and a woman who crosses paths when she finds his lost dog. It beautifully explores themes of navigating a widow’s grief while entering a new relationship, showing how people can still be loved despite their struggles. It also highlights the pitfalls of dating a musician and the horrors of the entertainment field, as well as how people are often not what they first appear. I really liked the twist with the female musician in the end because it all added up so perfectly even though I didn’t see that twist coming at all. I miss rom-com movies like this. Have all the talented rom-com writers started writing books instead? I’ve reserved more of Abby Jimenez’s books at my library and hope to be able to dive into them soon. I also heard some rumors about this book being adapted into a movie, and I genuinely hope it materializes because it has the potential to be fantastic.

BOX: Share A Pic Of A BookishFirst Book You Won

NOTE: See photo below… I don’t know if it counts, but I’m calling it a win. I have never won a book on this site, so I had to go with that to get the full board filled in. Shrugs.

BOX: Debut Novel Published In 2023

BOOK: Assistant to the Villain by Hannah Nicole Maehrer (August 29, 2023)

REVIEW: I love the tropes used in this book and I thought I was going to love it. I’ve always been a fan of the villain with a heart of gold romance, as my obsession with Spike from Buffy in my early 20s would attest. However, I can believe how bad this book was. It really proved that maybe TikTok influencers should NOT be writing fiction until they understand HOW to edit their work. I could go on so many rants about this book. But I’ll just say Evie is a self-insert, wish fulfillment Mary Sue who doesn’t take accountability for herself and does some mental gymnastics if she believes she just “works” for the villain. If you work for the villain, you can’t just pretend you’re another character on Dilbert, you become a minion, you become part of the problem, you are the villain as well at that point. Also… who names their superbaddie “The Villain”. I get that it’s supposed to be very meta, but come on, show some creativity in there. And it’s not even fantasy, it’s more, like I said, Dilbert coffee work drama time. I desperately want the hours of my life I spent reading this book back.

BOX: Title Begins With O

BOOK: Once Upon a Dream by Liz Braswell

REVIEW: This was very middle of the board-- nothing really stood out to me about it but it wasn’t horrible. It takes a turn at the last 15 minutes of the movie wherein Aurora doesn’t wake up when the princes kisses her and instead gets stuck inside Maleficent’s dream world. Everything was very ‘mid’ as the kids say these days. I did like how Aurora learned that her beauty and grace weren’t going to prepare her to lead her nation and she was actually going to have to grow a brain, which besides updating the story in a feminist way, fixed some of what I didn’t like in the original movie. It takes more than a pretty face to take down Maleficent and wear the crown! It was also interesting how much this book borrowed from Angelina Jolie’s Maleficent movies for the Aurora and Maleficent relationship. Not bad, not great, maybe it just wasn’t right for me because the original movie is meh for me.

december - finished

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BOX: A Classic

BOOK: The Awakening by Kate Chopin (published in 1899 and still kickin’)

REVIEW: This is supposedly a feminist story, wherein the main character is set free to explore her own creativity and sexuality so that she would be led from her husband, kids and white picket fence life and find her own way. And it was supposedly groundbreaking for being published in 1899-- however, looking at it now, the main character doesn’t really explore herself, but instead chases after a boy who spoke to her a few times who is pretty much a turn-of-the-century player who didn’t appear to ever really have much of an interest in her. And then, at the end, pregnancy scares her so much as her friend in labor tells her “think about the children!” so the main character walks into the ocean and offs herself. So I get that she felt stuck in her life, but that was such a sudden turn that it felt laughable. Think about the children, think about – oh god-- might as well go unalive myself now. Ummm… right. Anyway, as a side note, it reminded me a lot of the Grand Floridian at WDW and in my imagination most of the story takes place there, heh. Also, I still find reading 19th century books to be a challenge-- the writing in this one was very poetic, however I couldn’t make heads or tails of it at first. Then I ran it through ChatGPT (I know, I know… sigh) with the prompt ‘rewrite in modern english’ and then compared the two. I did that for the first few chapters before getting a hang of Chapin’s writing style. I found it a really good workaround to dive into the writing. Kind of like the Shakespeare Made Easy books with the modern english translation on the other page.

BOX: Author You Want To Read More Of In 2024

BOOK: What Once Was Mine by Liz Braswell (one of the writers of the Disney Twisted Tales that I’m obsessed with)

REVIEW: A very quick read. I finished it in a couple of hours because I couldn’t put it down, mostly probably because I love Tangled: The Series and this book seemed to pull a lot from both the movie and the series. Flynn and Rapunzel are still adorable together. And there was a character similar to Cassandra from the show. I don’t know why the author didn’t just include her by name, possibly just for copyright reasons. They also added Elizabeth Báthory as one of the villains, which was fun. And the moon magic, wherein Rapunzel’s powers changed by the phase of the moon was an interesting addition to the superpowers trope. I like how all the Twisted Tales book have a different sort of reason for the twists in them, and the reason for the twists in this novel were my favorite out of the whole series – a brother creating a new version of Rapunzel to entertain his sister during her chemo sessions. His sister asked him to read her the Disney’s Rapunzel book, but he was so tired of that same old story he begged to just make up his own version of it. The twists in the story, like incorporating Elizabeth Báthory (his idea) and an excessive focus on horses (her idea because she loved horses), seemed to be exactly how a brother might tell the original story if he had his way and what he also believed would hold his sister’s interest. The fact that there was an overfocus on the horses any time they came up (every time there was a horse in the story the author would wax on for pages about the kind of horse, the colors of the horses, the behavior of the horses) was both funny and a really sweet nod to what was going on outside of the Rapunzel storyline in the hospital between the siblings. All in all, fun story, sweet moments and definitely made me love Tangled all the more.

Almost a bingo, please see the note for Put a Lid on It

Two word title: Slow Bullets by Alastair Reynolds
Blue or white cover: The Postman Always Rings Twice by James M. Cain
Combines tropes you love: Love, Lies, and Hocus Pocus: Beginnings by Lydia Sherrer
Set in a remote location: MARS Vol. 13 by Fuyumi Soryo
Audiobook over 8 hours: Put a Lid on It by Donald E. Westlake – almost 8 hours, only 7:42 but it is the closest I got




Couldn’t get a blackout this month :frowning: guess I need to try to win some bookishfirst books!


I’ve read something like 25 books this month, & yet getting a bingo was nearly impossible. I’ve never won a book from this site, & I don’t do audiobooks, & for some reason, that was blocking every path to a bingo!

But I finally got there!
on a friend’s best of 2023 The Apology - Jimin Han
new to me BIPOC author The Late Americans - Brandon Taylor
snow of the cover With Love, From Cold World - Alicia Thompson
set in a remote location The Land of Milk & Honey - C Pam Zhang
a classic Beloved - Toni Morrison


I went for a blackout this month and I finally achieved it! I’m still waiting to see what the last book I read in 2023 is going to be, but I didn’t want to forget to post here by the end of the month.