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  • Writer's pictureJenna Miller

December 2023 Reads

The Spectacular by Fiona Davis: historical fiction set in the 1950s during the end of the reign of terror by the Big Apple Bomber in New York City. When 19 year old Marion loses her job teaching dance, she goes against her father's wishes to try out for the Radio City Rockettes. Her success ostracizes her from her family, and when personal tragedy occurs, Marion sets out with a burgeoning criminal psychologist to figure out the identity of the bomber. I enjoyed this book! I especially found it fascinating that the man who founded criminal psychology predicted the exact style of outfit the bomber would be wearing when caught!

The Long Way Home by Andrew Klavan: Christian YA; #2 in a four part series that is similar to the TV show 24. It's suspenseful and fast paced. In the first book Charlie West 'awakes' to find himself captured and being tortured by a rogue terrorist group wuth absolutely no memory of the past year. He manages to escape and go on the run. This second book finds Charlie reunited with old friends trying to prove his innocence. These are quick reads and keep you on the edge of your seat!

Lady Avery and the False Butler by Sofi LaPorte: abandoned in England by her brother and his family, Lady Avery is all set to become a companion for her great aunt when she has a sudden epiphany and decides to buck responsibility in favor of living her own life. Set in regency England, this is a fun, love story where you will have to suspend disbelief. I always enjoy LaPorte's humorous novels.

Tin Can Serenade by Amanda Dykes: a short story written in notes back and forth between a young boy and a young girl. They send messages back and forth over the river via a tin can and discover a secret regarding his widowed father and her widowed mother. So lovely and sweet!

Bespoke: A Tiny Christmas Tale by Amanda Dykes: a beautiful short story about a young woman wishing to honor her composer father with the help of an estranged friend and blacksmith. Amanda Dykes is one of my very favorite authors. I loved this!

Beauty by Robin McKinley: a Beauty and the Beast retelling following Beauty, the youngest of three daughters who must relocate to the countryside with her family when her father's shipping business goes bankrupt. The least pretty but the most intellectual of the sisters, Beauty does not miss her life in the city, other than having less time to read and study her beloved books. When their father accidentally finds himself beholden to the Beast that hides in the forbidden forest, Beauty willingly chooses to take his place. I flew through this book and thoroughly enjoyed it. My only true critique was the ending--it felt rushed compared to the rest of the novel.

True to You, Bradford Sisters #1 by Becky Wade: Nora is the resident genealogist and historical village owner. She offers to help veteran John Lawson try to find his birth parents after getting a devastating medical diagnosis. As they get closer and closer to the answer, they realize not only their feelings for one another, but how God can take tragedy and sin and use them for His glory and the good of those who love Him. Loved it.

Homecoming by Kate Morton: 1959 in Adelaide Hills, Australia, a terrible tragedy is discovered--an entire family dead and a baby missing. 60 years later, Jess returns home to Australia from London because her grandmother fell and has been hospitalized. While sitting at her bedside, Jess's grandmother starts to say things that don't make sense and sound suspicious. Jess investigates and discovers the answers to some devastating family secrets. I felt all the emotions reading this story. Kate Morton always spins a compelling tale.

The Magician's Nephew and The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by CS Lewis: the kids and I listened to the audiobook versions of these installments of Narnia. I had read them aloud to the kids about a year and a half ago, and these were just as fun. If you've never read them, you need to!

The Mind of the Maker by Dorothy L. Sayers: a philosophical book showing how the Biblical Trinity can be related to human artists' creative processes. This was probably the hardest book I read this year! A lot went over my head, but I'm glad I pushed myself to finish it. If you love philosophy or trying to better understand the creative process, pick this up. It is truly fascinating. In order to help understand what I was reading, I listened the Literary Life Podcast's episodes on this book.

Hallelujah: Cultivating Advent Traditions with Handel's Messiah by Cindy Rollins: I used this Advent guide to listen to Handel's Messiah with my boys. It was a good introduction to opera, and I enjoyed hearing songs that I have heard before but did not realize were part of the opera. The book also includes inserts of how different families celebrate Advent, winter poems, and hymns. I recommend it.

Walking in His Ways: Psalm 119 by The Daily Grace Co.: For the month of December I read through Psalm 119, prayed through it, and wrote it out. It was a nice, focused BIble study during a busy month. Psalm 119 is the longest psalm in the Bible and is essentially a love song to God's law. It is 50% off now! The Daily Grace Co. has some great resources!

Emmanuel: An Invitation to Prepare Him Room at Christmas and Always by Ruth Chou Simons: a beloved friend gifted this to me last year and I did not finish it then, so I decided to pick it up again this Advent season. Ruth is a fantastic artist and all the artwork in thsi book is just lovely. Each day included a Scripture, hymn, devotion, and prayer. Check it out along with her website! On a side note, Ruth has six boys and I have always found her IG posts and emails so encouraging.

Once Upon A Wardrobe by Patti Callahan: Megs Devonshire is a brilliant maths student at Oxford in 1950. Her beloved 8 year old brother is dying of an untreatable heart condition, and his one great desire is to know where Narnia came from. So although she doesn't understand his love for a childish fairy tale, Megs loves her brother more than anyone in the world and approaches Mr. Lewis to discover the truth. As Jack tells her stories from his own life, Megs finds herself falling in love with the book too. Perhaps there is more to life than just practicality and maths. I thought this was the best book I've read by Callahan. I cried and found myself yearning for that which is to come. C.S. Lewis wrote in Mere Christianity---"If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world."

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