Friday, December 30, 2016

Jess Reads December

So I made it.  My yearly goal is 100 books, and I squeaked them in by the skin of my teeth!

Here's what December was:

1.  A Letter of Mary

I continue to move through this series focusing on Mary Russell, now Sherlock Holme's wife and partner.  I'm still dealing with the crazy 30 year gap in their ages, so unrealistic, but the books are still awesome anyways.  You'll love this series, if my last few months of raving about the books aren't enough to tell you that!

2.  To the Bright Edge of the World

I was fairly excited about this book which focuses on Colonel Allen Forrester as he led a very small group of men into Alaska and across the Wolverine River into unchartered areas.  It was sort of advertised as a great epic voyage mixed in with some fantasy elements.  Written in letter format from the perspective of Allen as well as his wife Sophie who was left behind in Vancouver, it focuses on both of their stories simultaneously.  The back and forth letters drove me a little batty- I tend to not love stories told in letter format.  In the end I kind of felt that it was lacking, both in the adventure of Alaska, I was expecting more of what they suffered, what they did, saw, ate, etc., and I felt it was lacking in more of the fantasy.  There were some fascinating fantasy traditions from Native lore, but again I felt like it was just a little bit, not enough to really engage me and I wish they would have fleshed these out a bit, especially the ones involving Sophie thousands of miles away.  But it could just be me, the book has 4.6 stars on Amazon.

3.  The Snow Child

This book was written by the same author as To the Bright Edge of the World.  Actually written first, it focuses on an infertile couple in their 50s living in Alaska near the Wolverine River.  (The author is actually from Alaska).  The couple emotionally have been struggling for years because of their inability to have children, and now are estranged from each other in a lot of ways.  One night inspired by a beautiful snow fall, they build a little snow child.  They giver her hair and a face and the next morning when they wake up the snow is half gone/toppled and there are steps leading only away from the snow girl.  This is essentially a fairy tale, and I can't really give all that much detail about it without giving it away.  A much better book by Eowyn Ivey in my personal opinion, and was actually a finalist for the Pulitzer prize.

4-9.  Laura Ingalls Wilder series

The weather got cold here and I decided to read the first Little House book, my all time favorite in the series. This caused me to go down a Little House hole of which I haven't quite come out of yet.  I read Little House in the Big Woods, Little House on the Prairie, skipped Farmer Boy, read On the Banks of Plum Creek, By the Shores of Silver Lake, The Long Winter, and Little Town on the Prairie.  I love Farmer Boy but wanted to concentrate on just the Laura books.

I love this series and probably read it every year.  It makes me feel like I'd rather simplify my life and calm down a little bit and be grateful for all of the things I have.  It also leads me to be frustrated with my kids at how much they have and don't appreciate.

Pa always has great sayings, things like (summarizing) "modern inventions are great but then we rely on them".  He was talking about kerosene for a light and Ma had said they never had kerosene when she was growing up but still somehow had light.  Can you imagine?!  Americans have no practical skills anymore, and this is a huge reminder of that.  Makes me want to learn how to do things "the old way".

I think everybody and their mother has read this series, but if not, buy it ASAP, you'll be glad you did.  All in all, a good way to end 2016.

Final 2016 book total: 104

Currently reading Robinson Crusoe for the first time and Pride and Prejudice (again...).  Wonder which one will be my first book for 2017?!

And here's a post on Five books to spend your hard-earned money on.


  1. I've read the Little House books more than a few times too! Especially my two favorites - Farmer Boy and The Long Winter.

  2. I am hoping to read both of Ivey's books this year. I haven't read anything my an author from Alaska or the setting in Alaska (other than a Goosebumps book when I was a teen about an abominable snowman, haha. That hardly counts). I have never read The Little House books and they were recommended to me recently so I may have to read them! I