Wrapping up December 2021

I hope you had a good Christmas weekend and are enjoying the season, Reader! The past several days have been mostly pleasant for me. Unfortunately, illness has also raised its head in my circle, so there is some added stress from that, but praying and trusting that rest and healing will be the trend.

I am posting my monthly wrap up a few days early so that I can also share some end of the year posts shortly. It’s not surprising that I read fewer books this month than the previous. There were some wonderful stories this month though – including one that I just finished yesterday!

Highlights from Books Completed This Month

The Angel Tree

The Angel Tree by Daphne Bendis-Grab

Genre: Middle Grade Contemporary Fiction; Christmas; Mystery

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Synopsis: Every Christmas in the small town of Pine River, a tree appears in the town square–the Angel Tree. Some people tie wishes to the tree, while others make those wishes come true. Nobody’s ever known where the tree comes from, but the mystery has always been part of the tradition’s charm.

This year, however, four kids who have been helped–Lucy, Joe, Max, and Cami–are determined to solve the mystery and find out the true identity of the town’s guardian angel, so that Pine River can finally thank the person who brought the Angel Tree to their town.

The Carols of Christmas: A Celebration of the Surprising Stories Behind Your Favorite Holiday Songs

The Carols of Christmas by Andrew Gant

Genre: Nonfiction, Musicology

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Synopsis: Everyone loves a carol–in the end, even Ebenezer Scrooge. They have the power to summon up a special kind of mid-winter mood, like the aroma of gingerbread or the twinkle of lights on a tree. It’s a kind of magic.

But how did they get that magic? Andrew Gant–choirmaster, church musician, university professor, and writer–tells the story of some twenty carols, each accompanied by lyrics and music, unraveling a captivating, and often surprising, tale of great musicians and thinkers, saints and pagans, shepherd boys and choirboys. Readers get to delve into the history such favorites as “Good King Wenceslas,” “Away in a Manger,” and “O, Tannenbaum,” discovering along the way how “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing” came to replace “Hark, how all the welkin’ ring” and how Ralph Vaughan Williams applied the tune of an English folk song about a dead ox to a poem by a nineteenth century American pilgrim to make “O Little Town of Bethlehem.”

Once Upon a Wardrobe by Patti Callahan

Once Upon a Wardrobe

Genre: Historical Fiction

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Synopsis: Megs Devonshire is brilliant with numbers and equations, on a scholarship at Oxford, and dreams of solving the greatest mysteries of physics. She prefers the dependability of facts—except for one: the younger brother she loves with all her heart doesn’t have long to live. When George becomes captivated by a copy of a brand-new book called The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and begs her to find out where Narnia came from, there’s no way she can refuse.

Despite her timidity about approaching the famous author, Megs soon finds herself taking tea with the Oxford don and his own brother, imploring them for answers. What she receives instead are more stories . . . stories of Jack Lewis’s life, which she takes home to George.

Why won’t Mr. Lewis just tell her plainly what George wants to know? The answer will reveal to Meg many truths that science and math cannot, and the gift she thought she was giving to her brother—the story behind Narnia—turns out to be his gift to her, instead: hope.

Books Read but Not Completed This Month

Hallmark Channel Countdown to Christmas: Have a Very Merry Movie Holiday

Hallmark Channel’s Countdown to Christmas: Have a Very Merry Movie Holiday by Rachel Hardage Barrett

Genre: Nonfiction

Synopsis: This stunning book invites readers to an exclusive inside look at the making of everyone’s favorite holiday classics with secrets from the stars, screenwriters, set designers, costume designers, and directors who create the movie magic. Featuring the network’s top leading ladies and gentlemen–Candace Cameron Bure, Lacey Chabert, Kristin Chenoweth, Debbie Matenopoulos, Cameron Mathison, Chris McNally, Danica McKellar, Christina Milian, Tamera Mowry-Housley, Jodie Sweetin, Holly Robinson Peete, Alexa and Carlos PenaVega, and many others–this ultimate deck-the-halls guide shares their personal holiday recipes, favorite ideas for Christmas decorating and gift giving, as well as ways to savor and share the true meaning of the holidays.

I'll Be Home for Christmas Movies: The Deck the Hallmark Podcast’s Guide to Your Holiday TV Obsession

I’ll Be Home for Christmas Movies by Brandon Gray

Genre: Nonfiction

Synopsis: Hosts and best friends Brandon Gray, Daniel “Panda” Pandolph, and Dan Thompson share reviews that make you feel like you’re watching these holiday favorites with your best buds, discussing warm Christmas feelings and absolutely bonkers plot twists with equal enthusiasm. And thanks to original interviews with the movies’ stars and creators, fans will find out insider information on the making of the movies and learn answers to pressing questions: Why do the lead characters keep coming down with amnesia? Why do so many female stock brokers and lawyers find themselves forced to plan parties? And do all of the stories take place within something called the “Kennyverse”?

To complete the perfect Christmas package, the book is also chock-full of ideas for hosting your own holiday movie-watching party, complete with delicious recipes. Featuring dozens of full-color photos throughout, I’ll Be Home for Christmas Movies is as cozy and sparkly as the movies themselves.

Goals Follow-Up

This month started off so busy that I didn’t post any goals ahead of time!

Other December Highlights

Music of the Month: I wrote two posts about Christmas music this month: Favorite Advent & Christmas Hymns and A Christmas Road Trip Playlist.

Movies Watched: Christmas Scavenger Hunt (2019) ⭐⭐⭐, Christmas at the Plaza (2019) ⭐⭐⭐⭐, Blizzard (2003) ⭐⭐⭐⭐, White Christmas (1954) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Top Posts of December 2021: Spell the Month in Books December 2021 Linkup, WWW Wednesday // Christmas Edition 2021, & Christmas Bookshelf Challenge

  • Finished the semester with all A’s – it may not have as much meaning as in undergrad, but I’m holding a 4.0 GPA with not much longer to go for my MLS!
  • Participated in 12 Days of Christmas posting leading up to Christmas Day
  • Got to see some out-of-town family
  • Baked cookies with a new sugar-free recipe and they turned out tasting amazing
  • Celebrated my birthday with close family and homemade burritos

I do think that I will finish reading both of the books listed above as “not completed” by the end of the month, but since I have not yet, that is the category they must stay in.

Do you have exciting plans for the New Year’s holiday? It being on a Saturday feels strange to me. I usually have Saturdays off of work anyways and do a lot of errands on that day, so it will be interesting figuring out how else to get everything done. Hopefully the day itself will be restful yet productive.

Until the next chapter,

Jana

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