December 2018 Reading List.

December 2018 Reading List.

Happy December, friends! We are back with another reading list. OKAY first of all I just have to say that I am so sad because I really did not enjoy Nine Perfect Strangers. This was such a letdown as I had pre-ordered it, eagerly waited for it in the mail, the whole thing. Liane Moriarty is one of my absolute favorite authors (still is, she gets a pass) but man, this one was a big miss. Luckily, the other books I read more than made up for it. Lilac Girls made me ugly cry. Multiple times. I was on my way to Boston and sobbing on the train because it was so sad. But it was so good. And The Proposal and 99% Mine were just so fun to read. Delicious little rom-com books! Read on for the whole scoop but overall, it was still a very good month of books.

New here? If you’re looking for a book, don’t forget that you can always check out my Book Club Page. Every month I update it, so it includes every.single.book I’ve read in the past few years. The best part is that you can filter + search by genre (memoir, light read, historical fiction, thriller, etc!) to find exactly what you’re looking for. I always add whatever it is that I’m currently reading in real time to my Amazon Shop.

Last order of business before the reviews! Please comment and tell me what you are reading… your suggestions are my THE BEST… I always shop off of your suggestions – you always have such good recommendations for me, which I really appreciate!

December 2018 Reading List:


the proposal by jasmine guilloryThe Proposal
, by Jasmine Guillory.

It is a really cute rom-com of a novel (Guillory also wrote The Wedding Date, read that review here). We read this for the podcast and honestly I wasn’t so sure of it because of the title. But then I read it and I loved it! It’s not about a good proposal, for the record… the “not everybody wants one” speaks volumes. Nik is at a Dodgers game when the guy who she’s casually seeing proposes – on the Jumbotron, for all to see. When she says no, the dude totally flips out. Carlos (Drew’s best friend from The Wedding Date) and his sister Angie see her struggling and decide to rescue her. Carlos and Nik become friends and eventually start dating, both agreeing to keep things casual. Slowly things begin to get more serious and a little bit of drama ensues. I don’t want to ruin the story for you, but in true rom-com fashion one of them realizes it’s true love before the other one does. Honestly, I loved this book but not just because of the romance (and the fact that it gets a little steamy!). I thought it was a testament to the importance of having great female friendships and maintaining our own independence… while also letting someone in (especially when you’ve been hurt before). It did get a little cheesy at times (which was very satisfying actually!) BUT I found the characters to be really real and relatable.

  • Overall Score: A-

Nine Perfect Strangers, by Liane Moriarty. Nine Perfect Strangers, by Liane Moriarty.

UGH. I really, really wanted to love this one. Like really wanted to love it; Liane Moriarty is one of my favorite writers. I pre-ordered it and dove in the day it arrived in the mail. But it fell a little (okay a lot) short for me, especially as I had such high expectations from her. At first I thought maybe I was just in a reading rut. But it took me til I was about 60% through to feel invested in the book and even then I felt bored/irritated by it. There were too many main characters, none particularly likeable, and it just went on for too long. Frances is an aging writer who checks into Tranquillum House for a ten day reset of sorts (along with 8 other guests). Things slowly unravel and it gets a little bit crazy. The charismatic founder (Masha) seems to have all the answers after having a near-death experience. But does she? Anyone who has ever done a fitness/wellness retreat will get a good laugh here but for Liane Moriarty I just expected better. I feel badly being so hard on her but this was a big disappointment. Maybe I am being too harsh with the C+ rating, but this one was a letdown! I will say that the ending was cute, but that’s about it.

  • Overall Score: C+

Lilac GirLilac Girls, by Martha Hall Kelly.ls, by Martha Hall Kelly.

So many of you guys had suggested this one (thank you!!!) but it took me a while to get to it as I knew it was going to be really sad, and wasn’t “in the mood” for a sad book. I was so let down after Nine Perfect Strangers that I reached for this, knowing that no matter what, it would definitely at least be really good book. Okay this book wasn’t good – it was amazing. It broke my heart so many times over and over again. I was on the train to Boston crying like a crazy person as I read it. Parts were really, really hard to read. It takes place during WWII with the Holocaust and tells the (intersecting) stories of three women: Caroline Ferriday (a real person), a socialite based in New York who advocated for a group of survivors called The Rabbits (they were the subject of terrifying experimental operations), Kasia Kuzmerick (a Polish teenager sent to Ravensbrück, the Nazi concentration camp for women), and Herta Oberheuser (also a real person – a young doctor working at Ravensbrück). It was deeply upsetting but so beautifully written. I can’t recommend it enough.

  • Overall Score: A

99% Mine, by Sally Thorne.99% Mine, by Sally Thorne.

I could not love Sally Thorne more. Her novels are always just such a treat to read. They won’t make you smarter but they will definitely make you happier. If you loved The Hating Game as much as I did (review of that in this post!) you will love this. Sally Thorne just does a romantic comedy (heavy on sexual tension) SO WELL. I had a harder time getting into this one at first as I didn’t really identify with the main character, Darcy. She’s very brazen and a bit of a badass, which I am not. Darcy is in love with her twin brother’s best friend, Tom. Darcy and Jamie (the twin) are renovating her grandmother’s house before they put it on the market and Tom steps in to do the build. Tom is single for the first time in years and Darcy is determined to make him (you guessed it) 99% hers. It’s the perfect light, feel good read… I couldn’t put it down! As an aside, this one isn’t out to January 29th. I definitely recommend pre-ordering it so you will get a treat in the mail, BUT we are also doing a reader pass along over in the private Facebook group, so definitely join the group and go add your email to that if you are interested in participating.

  • Overall Score: A-

photo by Carter Fish.

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Comments

  1. I love that you still read romance novels, Grace! I feel like I haven’t read one in a long time. Perhaps it’s time to revisit my favourite genre during my teenage years, haha. I’m currently reading Mad Girl by Bryony Gordon – I bet you’ve read it before!

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog
    http://charmainenyw.com

    • grace at the stripe says 12.6.18

      Haha thanks Charmaine! I read all genres but yes, sometimes a romance book is fun! Haven’t read Mad Girl but will look into that! xo

  2. Courtney says 12.6.18

    Oh, Lilac Girls was just incredible. After reading it, I wanted to do research on the real characters and the actual “rabbits” from Ravensbruck. It was truly heartbreaking, but beautifully written, as you said. I’ll have to check out the other books on this list!

    Courtney
    http://www.thegoldentabby.com

  3. Sharon says 12.6.18

    Right now, I am reading Maybe, Someday by Colleen Hoover. I am about 50% through and am really enjoying it. Have you read The heart’s invisible furies? I loved that book so much!

  4. Alisande says 12.6.18

    Hi Grace! Bummer about the Liane Moriarty- I saw that it had lousy reviews on Goodreads. Another big recent disappointment for me was Tana French’s The Witch Elm, I love her stuff and could not get into that one. A few recent recommendations: My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Otessa Moshfegh, The Woman in the Window by A.J. Flynn, and The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah. Those are my three favorites from the second half of 2018 (apologies if you’ve mentioned these, I don’t think you have). Happy Holidays, and Happy reading!

    • grace at the stripe says 12.6.18

      Thank you so much for sharing as I had put down The Witch Elm. I was planning to revisit it (EVERYONE loves her so much) but am dreading it. So maybe I won’t read anymore!!!

      LOVED The Woman in the Window and The Great ALone, will have to look into your first rec! xo

  5. Annie says 12.6.18

    If you’re looking for recommendations, you should read Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens. Probably the best book I’ve read this year. Can’t recommend it enough. Love your blog! Thank you!

    • grace at the stripe says 12.6.18

      Thank you so much for the suggestion!!!!

    • Katie says 12.6.18

      Where The Crawdads Sing was AMAZING!

    • Shelley says 12.7.18

      I also recommend Where the Crawdad Sing. Wonderful book.

  6. Allie says 12.6.18

    I just finished Lilac girls too, I loved it! And I felt like I learned a lot too, or rather realized things I already knew, such as how some people leaving the camps would then face Stalin’s regime. I technically knew it, but had never thought about it before. Really, really great book.
    Thanks for these great lists, I can’t wait to pick up 99 percent mine,
    xAllie
    http://www.theallthatglittersblog.com

  7. Allison says 12.6.18

    I am currently working my way through the Harry Potter series and having so much fun with it!! I’m also reading The Adults, and after that Family Trust! So many more books I want to get to before the end of the year, but so little time! Love your recs as always and Happy reading!

    • grace at the stripe says 12.6.18

      I LOVE that! Harry Potter is the best – you’re making me want to re-read it!!!!

  8. Kelli says 12.6.18

    So excited for 99% Mine! Currently reading The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman. I love it, its just not what I want to be reading during the Holiday season (its more of a August/September book) so I’m having a hard time reading it. After I finish it, I’m moving on to One Day in December – because duh.
    I look forward to your monthly reading roundup and your podcast – it has resulted in a VERY large To Be Read pile.
    Happy Holidays!

    • grace at the stripe says 12.6.18

      It was SO GOOD!!! Make sure you join the Facebook group as we are passing it along!

      LOVED The Rules of Magic and dying to read One Day in December! xo

  9. Briana Lee says 12.6.18

    So sad to hear Nine Perfect Strangers was a disappointment! However, I’m adding Lilac Girls to my TBR immediately 🙂

    briana | youngsophisticate.com

  10. Andi says 12.6.18

    I really really did not like Nine Perfect Strangers. Such a disappointment as her books have all been wonderful up to this one! I completely agree – it was boring, the characters were awful and it took me forever to finish the book.

  11. Jessica Camerata says 12.6.18

    I have GOT to get my butt into a good book stat.

    xo Jessica
    My Style Vita

  12. Nicole says 12.6.18

    I’m reading An American Marriage now. So good, but so sad at the same time. I’ll have to check out 99 Percent Mine. Everyone needs a little mind popcorn.

    • grace at the stripe says 12.6.18

      Yes! Mind popcorn is the perfect way to put it.

      I love love loved An American Marriage!

  13. Hillary says 12.6.18

    Grace, thank you so much for continuing to review these! It’s so great to have a resource for recommendations. I just read Nine Perfect Strangers and *really* enjoyed it – I stayed up late because I had to finish! Definitely a departure from her other novels, but I was hooked right away so I think that was the key.

    • grace at the stripe says 12.6.18

      I’m so glad to hear that!

      Glad you liked Nine Perfect Strangers! It wasn’t for me, but it’s nice to know some people liked it!

      • Hillary says 12.6.18

        I’m also anti e-reader (physical books all the way!) and am trying to adopt your practice of passing the books along when I’m done instead of hoarding them in piles all over my house.

        • grace at the stripe says 12.6.18

          Yes!!!! I love passing my books along… I have piles for every family member!

        • Nicole says 12.7.18

          I have a group of girlfriends where we get together every spring and fall to swap all the books we’ve already ready over brunch. It’s a good way to keep the books moving and to share what you loved about it. We tried a book club, but let’s just say we ended up buying books and drinking a lot of wine without ever reading them.

  14. Regina says 12.6.18

    I second My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Otessa Moshfegh! Have just started Educated by Tara Westover.

    • grace at the stripe says 12.6.18

      I’m going to have to read that!

      Educated was possibly the best book I read all year – hope you love it!

  15. Katie says 12.6.18

    The best book I read this month was The Home for Unwanted Girls. Similar to Lilac Girls in that you learn about something horrific that happened in history, and the story is delivered by really likable and moving characters. Maggie has a daughter when she is 16 who is taken to an orphanage. In French Canada at the time, orphanages were converted into mental hospitals because they made more money (who knew!!!). The story is of Maggie’s daughter, Elodie, growing up in such a horrible place, while Maggie also grows up and tries to find her daughter. AN AMAZING READ and you learn a lot!

  16. TP says 12.6.18

    Hi Grace, Long time reader first time commenter (hi!).
    I went out and picked up a copy of Nine Perfect Strangers after reading all of Moriarty previous books. I felt much the same. I wanted to be good…but it was a little lack luster. I have been dying to know your thoughts, so thanks for including it in this months reading list 🙂

    • grace at the stripe says 12.7.18

      Of course! Have a great weekend, Tanya! (and hiiiii – thanks so much for commenting!)

  17. Allison says 12.6.18

    These are always my favorite posts, Grace! You have the best recommendations. Thank you!!

    I just finished Beneath a Scarlett Sky and really enjoyed it. It’s based on a true story of an Italian boy who becomes a spy during WWII. Heartbreaking at times, but beautifully written and an amazing story. Highly recommend!!

  18. Heidi says 12.6.18

    I couldn’t agree with you more about Nine Perfect Strangers and I didn’t even have high expectations. I’ve read a few of her books which I have enjoyed (definitely a good author) but this one was just awful. I thought that the protagonist was laughable and it all felt a bit slapstick to me. Even the (slightly better) ending couldn’t redeem it in my mind.

  19. Katherine says 12.7.18

    It is my strong belief that everyone MUST read The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver in their lifetime. It’s about a crazy father taking his family of women to be a missionary in the Belgian Congo right before decolonization. It is such an amazing read. So smart, so preciously written–you will SAVOR it! I’m an English major so I love the symbolism and stuff, but it’s also just an engrossing and captivating read. I’m writing about it for my senior thesis right now and STILL love it, so that should tell you it’s REALLY good.

    • grace at the stripe says 12.7.18

      I read it years and years ago (I think I was in highschool!!!) It stuck with me but now I feel like maybe I should re-read it. Thanks for stopping by and commenting, and for the thoughtful suggestion!!!

  20. Erin says 12.7.18

    I am so disappointed to hear about Nine Perfect Strangers. I still want to read it but I hate going into reading a book thinking I won’t like it!
    I just finished Becoming by Michelle Obama and love love loved it. It’s inspiring and optimistic and now I want to give it to everyone for Christmas!!

    • grace at the stripe says 12.7.18

      I know, it’s the absolute worst.

      Sorry to ruin it for you but I always want to be honest! Dying to read Michelle’s book!!!!

  21. Amy Day says 12.11.18

    It makes me so sad to hear about Nine Perfect Strangers! I love Liane Moriarty & was so excited to read this. I decided to try it since it just came from the library & am a few chapters in, but I am struggling! Ugh, trying to decide if it’s worth trying to make it to the ending.

    ~Amy

    • grace at the stripe says 12.11.18

      I know, it was so disappointing. I had preordered it and waited and waited for it to arrive, so eager! It was such a letdown, I had been looking forward to it for so long!

  22. Katie says 12.12.18

    Hey Grace!! I swear I saw you post about an influencer book this past week on your instagram and I thought I had added it to my Amazon reading list but it turns out I did not. Do you have that book referenced anywhere else on your platforms? I can’t seem to find it anywhere now..

    Thanks! 🙂

    • grace at the stripe says 12.12.18

      I don’t think that was me!

      I did post a book about writing – it’s called Nobody Wants To Read Your Shit, but it’s def not an influencer book… more about becoming a better writer.

      Is that it? I linked it in my amazon shop – amazon.com/shop/graceatwood