Weekly Reads – December 11, 2022

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas! Well, at least in our house we’re getting closer. We finally got our tree up yesterday, although I’ve come to the conclusion that my house is not designed for Christmas trees. We’ve had our tree in several different places throughout the year and we’ve never found a place that it works. This year, we have it up in our front room, which makes half that room unusable. Since we rarely use that part of the house anyway, I guess it is no great loss.

The kids have one week left of school, which is exciting for them but makes this a do-or-die week for me to finish up all those pre-Christmas things I need to get done when they aren’t around. Next weekend will be a busy one for us. On Saturday night, the Girl Scouts are coming over for some kind of a party. I figure I’ll have cookie decorating options and Christmas movies and they can do whatever they feel like. I had planned to do the yearly cookie training, but our cookie season was pushed back a month due to some issues with the baker. Sigh…last year was a rocky cookie season, so this does not bode well.

In other news, Lillie’s play was this week. She played the villain and got to beat someone up, so that was fun! Chris loves seeing Lillie in a play! Sitting next to him at one of her plays is like sitting next to him at a Marvel movie–he gets SO into it! Lillie has enjoyed doing plays, but she has decided to take spring off. They will be doing a musical and she’s not a singer. She could do tech on that production, but she decided to just take a break. She does plan to continue with drama once she gets to high school.

So, that’s what is going on in our world…and now, onto the books!

As usual, I’m linking up with Kathryn at Book Date and her It’s Monday…What Are You Reading? blog hop.

Last week, I finished reading:

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
Date finished: December 8, 2022
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐/A

I feel like I deserve a medal for reading this!

This is not to say that 1000+ pages were a burden. I actually immensely enjoyed most of this and found it far more readable than some other classics (looking at you, Middlemarch). My real accomplishment is that I stuck with it for nearly a year. Yes, the year-long read was planned, but I didn’t quite stick to the plan. I wasn’t due to finish this for a couple more weeks, but once I neared the end, I couldn’t stop.

I think of this book in 3 parts: Prison, planning, and revenge. The prison and revenge sections of this book are unputdownable. The planning part, however, isn’t quite as successful for me. It’s not that the story falls apart here. I just found that there were times during this section when the story just slowed. There is also a long section–the longest chapter in the book–about the Count and a minor character getting high on hashish that really didn’t add much to the narrative and left me wondering what the heck I just read.

But this book delivers if you can make it through the rough spots in the middle. Injustice! Romance! Revenge! This book has it all and is well-deserving of its reputation.

Caramelo by Sandra Cisneros
Date finished: December 8, 2022
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐/A

This is an example of why sometimes I should push through a book.

I read this for a book club, and the beginning of it was slow going. I was having trouble finding something to anchor myself in the narrative. I mentioned to a fellow member, who was farther ahead than I was in the book, that I felt that there was no plot. She said there wasn’t, and that is probably what saved me.

Don’t get me wrong–there is a plot. But once I stopped looking for one in the narrative and just accepted things as they were, this became a much more successful book for me. As with many books, I needed to accept this book for what it was rather than try to fit it into some preconceived box.

This is the story of Lala, a Mexican-American girl, as she comes to grips with her and her family’s stories. Through Lala’s eyes, we meet Soledad (her “awful” grandmother), Inocencio (her father), and Lala herself. This book has a somewhat other-worldly element that comes close to magical realism, but I would hesitate to put it under that umbrella.

Once I surrendered to Cisneros’s storytelling, I was swept along decades of family history and secrets. Not all the characters were likable, but they were all relatable. By the end of the book, we are one of the Reyes family.

Yes, the beginning is a bit of a slog. This is not a perfect book, but it ended up being far better than I expected and I’m so glad that I pushed through.

Midwinter Murder: Fireside Tales from the Queen of Mystery by Agatha Christie
Date finished: December 9, 2022
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐/A

I’m really enjoying these themed collections of Christie short stories. This is my second (I previously read The Last Seance), and it was just as satisfying.

Here we have a collection of winter tales. Some are Christmas stories, but not all. Some are wintry stories, but not all. There is something here for everyone, and the general quality of the stories is high. We have a few Poirots and Marples, but we also have Mr. Quinn, Parker Pyne, and Tommy and Tuppence–and a handful of standalone stories. If you haven’t read much Christie, this may be an excellent place to start.

The collection begins with the novella of “Three Blind Mice,” but after that, the stories are fairly short and can be read in 20 minutes or less. Because of that, this is an excellent collection to pick up now and then or to read at night.

There are currently three collections like this, and I would love to see more. They provide a great survey of Agatha Christie both for readers new to her and those who have spent plenty of time in her world of crime.

Last week, I finished reading:

As has become my new habit, my current reading wrap up is in the video below and you can access the rest of my videos on my channel. To reiterate what I say in my video, at this time of the year, I’m starting to wind down my reading so that I can start 2023 with a clean slate. I also tend to read a little lighter this month, which is a nice change. I’m already working on my 2023 goals, so stay tuned!

8 thoughts on “Weekly Reads – December 11, 2022

  1. Congrats on the Count of Monte Cristo read. I tried to read Middlemarch and gave up! Love that Chris really enjoys Lillie with her plays, yes being the villain would be fun.

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  2. Our tree is up- sans ornaments lol. We just have the lights on. Who has time? 🙂

    Drama is so fun. My kids did a little but then they ended up doing some other activities but the plays they were in were a joy to behold.

    I’m going to get that Midwinter Murder, not only do I LOVE that cover but I’m one of thoe readers who’s read very little of her work and this sounds perfect!

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  3. It can definitely be hard finding a place for a tree. I’m fortunate that my condo is set up in a good way for me to sneak in a tree (or two). But they have to be narrower trees than in some places. Now, if I could just work a third tree in somehow….

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  4. I’m intrigued that you start each year fresh. I don’t really break. I’m carrying over quite a few series. Also, since I’m about two-three weeks ahead on when books will appear on my blog, my current read will finish out my 2022 calendar. All the rest I read in December will be on my January calendar. Come see my week here. Happy reading!

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  5. We have the “where to put the tree” debate every year it seems. I wish we could put it in front our front window like so many do, but that’s not an option for us. It’s always blocking something no matter where it goes . . . I hope you are able to get all your pre-Christmas stuff done as planned this week before the kids are off from school. I think I’m mostly done with that aspect. We still haven’t put up all the decorations–or decorated the tree. I don’t get time off for the holidays and with company coming, next weekend will be crazy as I try to get everything done last minute. I am so glad Lillie had a good time being part of the play! I am glad to hear her brother is so proud of her too. I don’t think mine even cared what I did when we were growing up.

    I agree with you about The Count of Monte Cristo. The prison and revenge parts were unputdownable. I really enjoyed it. I think I was expecting it to be more of a style liken to Victor Hugo since they were compatriots but was pleasantly surprised. I guess I can understand why The Count of Monte Cristo is popular among middle school/teens. That isn’t to say I didn’t love Les Misérables–I did. But they are very different types of books. Are you planning another big read for this coming year?

    I hope you have a great week!

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About Melinda