Fantastical adventures, soccer, murder, and baby Jesus
Hello, everyone, from that weird last week of December in which time ceases to have no meaning when you have some kind of connection to a school schedule. December has been full of activity (book signings! Travel! Family! Friends! Parties! Shopping!) but also some really lovely slow and uneventful days as well. I watched some Christmas movies (a different selection than originally planned, but still good choices), didn’t read quite as much as I planned, and started what I hope to be a new tradition. I’ve begun my end of year/beginning of year reflections. Do you like to set goals for a new year? Every year is different for me, and I’m really gravitating toward thinking in terms of what worked in 2022, and what didn’t? What do I want to carry with me, and what do I want to leave behind? I’ll make a few more concrete, measurable goals professionally, but as of right now my only measurable personal goal is to start a backyard compost in 2023. Otherwise, this year feels more like a year for seasonal goal setting.
But enough about new year contemplations! One day I might be like everyone else and do a year-end wrap up list, but 2022 is not that year. Instead, per usual, here are some things I enjoyed in December…
Kate Goes Creating Advent devotional: Incarnate. This was a very simple devotional with scriptures, music, and visual art to help you reflect on Jesus’ incarnation. Mostly about contemplation and awe, and it was a nice thing to have on mornings when I needed to pause and quiet my spirit. (I discovered this devotional because the author and illustrator is a friend of a friend, and the sister of one of my newest favorite singer-songwriters Sarah Sparks).
Welcome to Wrexham is a documentary series on Hulu about two actors (Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney) who buy a struggling Welsh soccer (football) team. At its heart, it’s really about the town of Wrexham and the people who live there, and the way the town’s soccer team is and has been such an integral part of that community for so long. It’s heartwarming and charming, and actually kind of tense as you watch and wonder if the team and city’s hopes will be realized or dashed at the end of the season. Jeremy and I have a few more episodes left to watch, so it’s a nail biter at the moment.(content note: there are a lot of f-words)
The It Girl by Ruth Ware was a fast-paced, well plotted mystery about a young woman who begins to question whether the man convicted of murdering her college roommate and best friend was actually the true killer. The Oxford and Edinburgh settings were well done, and the author did a great job of making it difficult to know who to trust.
The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow. I adored this book. It’s a portal fantasy with a bit of a mystery, a story within a story, with a fairy-tale like quality. The tone reminded me a little bit of The Starless Sea, but more grounded. It’s a story about home, family, identity, adventure, love, and a young woman discovering her strength.
The French House by Courtney Lochner was a pleasant surprise. It’s an atmospheric, psychological thriller about a college freshman who gets the chance to live in the Universtiy of Wisconsin “French House,” a residence house designed to give French language students the experience of living in France, but without actually going to France. There are long-standing tensions between the native French residents and the language students, and things come to a boil when a student is found dead. The author also makes good use of her unreliable narrator, which contributes to the intentionally off-kilter vibe of the story, and makes interesting observations about the differences between French and American culture.
Last but not least, I read and loved The Lost Metal by Brandon Sanderson, the final installment of the Wax and Wayne series. I won’t say much, since it’s the last book in a series, but I will say it was a very satisfying, well done ending to a creative, fun fantasy series.
All right friends, may you all ease into the new year with gentleness and hope. See you next year!