What I’ve Been Reading: Christmas Break

I was hoping to do a lot more reading over break, along with job applications and sewing projects.  But since I decided last-minute to take a CLEP test, a lot of my free time was spent studying.  My application and sewing plans went out the window, but I squeezed in a little time here and there to pick up a few books.  Here’s a rundown of what I did get to read.

My mom and I both enjoy watching HGTV, and Fixer Upper is our favorite.  I got this for my mom for Christmas, and read it after she was done (although the temptation to read it before Christmas was strong).  It was worth the wait though, because it was wonderful.  It’s a quick, light, often funny read, and it really shows how to maintain a healthy relationship when times get tough.  It makes me want to get into flipping houses (but that’s nothing new).  Even if you’ve never watched the show, the Gaines’ have such an interesting life there’s got to be something in there you’ll enjoy.

This. Is. Incredible.  In case you don’t know, Diane Guerrero is an actress in Orange is the New Black and Jane the Virgin (among other things).  This book is her story about growing up after both her parents were deported.  It’s honest and raw, and completely disproves bad stereotypes about Latino immigrants.  I cannot say enough good things about this book or about Guerrero.  Read as part of my goal to read more diverse authors. 

I borrowed this from the library to ease back into Spanish.  It’s a translation of Stevenson’s book Outback, and it would be a perfect challenge for an intermediate Spanish student.  As a middle grade novel, the vocabulary and verb tenses are fairly simple, as is the story.  It’s supposed to be a survival/adventure novel, but there wasn’t as much of that as there was setup.  Also, the character of Mel, a researcher, felt a little one-sided.  However, I loved the ending — spoiler alert: the two main characters did not get together romantically at the end, and the whole book has underlying themes about dealing with depression and illness while not being too heavy.

This floated around on the blogosphere for a long time, and I finally got my hands on a copy.  I really wanted to like this book, but in the end I don’t think it was worth all the hype.  It was a lot of philosophy and not a lot of character development.  It was such an interesting concept and story, but nothin really got resolved — we never find out how or whether the MC pays his invoice.  Maybe I’m missing the point, and it never meant to be just a novel — maybe it was meant as more of a social commentary, like Animal Farm.  But at least Animal Farm resolved somewhat.

This is a retelling of Shakespeare’s King Lear, which I’ve never read.  I was vaguely familiar with the plot, but this novel would’ve been enjoyable even if I wasn’t.  Set in Barbados, it deals with family drama, racism, favoritism, greed, and jealousy.  While not one I would likely return to (unless I read King Lear first), Nuñez’s style is easy to read and she is an admirable storyteller.  Read as part of my goal to read more diverse authors. 


  1. Ugh! The Invoice is art! Yes, social commentary; Yes, unresolved; but I would have trouble finding another book that put me into such a deep, introspective rumination. Possibly, I was already questioning happiness, and this book gave me clarity. Regardless, it’s such a quick read, I feel it’s at least worth the (minimal) effort.

    I plan to read Even in Paradise. A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley (also a retelling of Lear) is another book that really stuck with me.

    Keep reviewing. Love them.

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