This month's assortment of books are as random as I am - that's what the holidays will do to you. Enjoy!
Sidney Chambers and the Forgiveness of Sins, by James Runcie. The fourth in the Sidney Chambers "Grantchester Mysteries" series, which has since become a TV show on PBS, is a decent addition to the its first three siblings. It's a little slow in places - it's British, so you have to be of a certain mindset to really enjoy or "get" it. Instead of one continuous novel, it's 6 mini-stories. The mysteries are wrapped up pretty quickly and then you move on to the next. It's a great cozy fireside read on a cold winter's day (too bad we don't have that here in good ol' S.C.). I'd recommend giving this a read, but you definitely want to start by reading the first three. While the mysteries are all short-lived, there are some overarching plot lines, and certain things wouldn't make sense.
Peanut Butter and Naan, by Jennifer Hillman-Magnuson. This book is about one Nashville family's move to India. It's similar to a another favorite book, French By Heart, which is about a family who moves to France, from, of all places, Greer (yes, Michelin was involved). Anyway. This book was fantastic, and it touched on a lot of the experiences we went through as temporary expats - but theirs was even more extreme. At least France is a first-world country (in some ways, ahem, even nicer than the U.S.). Magnuson is brutally honest, touching, and really, really funny - she reminds me a lot of Jen Hatmaker. My only complaint was that the book was too short - surely after nearly a year in India the family had accumulated more stories than were told in its 196 pages. This is a great read that makes you re-think your priorities.
A Little Something Different, by Sandy Hall. This book is, in fact, something different, so I guess you could say it's well-titled. It's a love story between two college students told from the point of view of 14 different people - and items, such as a bench on campus - that observe their relationship unfold. It seemed a little immature - the dialogue was very fake sometimes - but then I realized it was a young adult book. The story is cute, and the different viewpoints are fun, although some of the 14 characters seem like stock characters. They fall a little flat. It was cute, but not my favorite. Oh well - you win some, you lose some.
Carry On, Warrior, by Glennon Doyle Melton. Melton is the writer behind the Momastery blog, which I had never paid attention to because, hello, I'm not a mom (unless you count mothering a giant dopey black Lab). But then my dear sister-in-law raved about this book and very kindly offered to let me borrow it. I'm so glad I did. I'm not a mom, but Melton speaks so honestly about life that it doesn't matter. Her writing is great, and she is so very open and transparent with her struggles that you can't help but love her, because you feel the need to trust anyone that's that honest. She offers one of the most practical, workable views of Christianity I've ever heard. I'm going to need to acquire my own copy of this book soon for further perusal as life demands. A fantastic read.
Mrs. Queen Takes the Train, by William Kuhn. This book about the Queen of England sneaking out of the palace and taking a train to Scotland isn't just about the Queen. Instead, it details the lives and brings together those close to her and not so close. Her dresser, her lady-in-waiting, her butler, her equerry, a girl from the Mews, and a cheese shop employee all come together to help locate the queen, while telling their own stories in the process. It's a little slow to warm up, but once it gets going, you'll fly through it. A cute, unusual novel that I recommend, especially for literary (or otherwise) Anglophiles.