While I was in my hometown for Christmas, everyone asked me what I thought about Minnesota. "It's cold and snowy," I replied. Sometimes I'd even joke about how I questioned my decision to move here...and there's a grain of truth to that. I hate winter and I especially hate snow, with the exception of white Christmases. I thought when I moved here I'd get some gateway winter weather to ease me back in but a switch flipped in December and I've been in for a rude awakening instead. Since I chose to move back to the Midwest, I've been trying to find the beauty in this cold, snowy season. I'm reading poems from A Mind Of Winter and taking pictures of fresh snowfalls and, of course, I'm drinking lots of tea while curling up under blankets with a good book. 2016 was a whirlwind. There was so much- good and bad- I never saw coming. We'll see where 2017 goes.
Read and Reading
I have heard so many rave reviews about A Court Of Thorns And Roses (Maas) and it absolutely lived up to its reputation. In fact, if I hadn't already written about my Favorite Fiction of 2016, it would be on that list. I'm not sure what genre it is (YA? New Adult? Fantasy?) but the world building and storytelling were incredible. I'm a sucker for anything magical and questions about good and evil so this was perfectly up my alley. The character development was fantastic, particularly for Feyre and unexpectedly for the presumed villain Rhysand. I loved seeing Feyre and Tamlin's relationship develop and all that we get to learn about the Faerie world. There's lots to ponder concerning the poor relationship between Faeries and humans, mostly due to how humans were enslaved for years and how treacherous their lives are, even though they now live free of Faerie rule. I also liked how literacy played such an important role in the plot. This is the first book in a series and it left me with a ton of questions so I'm glad book 2 is already out.
Talking As Fast As I Can (Graham) will probably be best appreciated by Gilmore Girls fans. I found it to be quite enjoyable, especially getting to know about Graham's unconventional upbringing, her years as a struggling actress, and of course all the behind the scenes stuff. My favorite part, however, was her chapter on singleness.
I related so much to Penelope in Irresistibly Yours (Layne) and for that reason, I read with bated breath to see her relationship with Cole unfold. This is the kind of romance novel that gives me hope. Plus, Lauren Layne novels are plain fun to read.
Scrappy Little Nobody was fun and sardonic. If you've ever followed Kendrick on Twitter, you'll have a good idea of what to expect here. I loved how she's fine with being her awkward self- or at least the evolution of how she came to be- and the way she talked about her first year in LA. This definitely doesn't glamorize life in Hollywood, which made the behind the scenes stories that much more interesting.
The Friend Zone (Callihan) was such a sweet slow burn of a romance! I loved how Ivy and Gray first connected by texting and how quickly it became more, even though they were scared of losing their friendship. It was especially great to see Gray confront his issues and to see how different things with Ivy were from how he would have handled it in the past. Callihan's story was really fresh and engaging, steering clear of any predictable plot lines and making this a novel I couldn't put down.
Currently reading: The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness (Alexander), The Art Of Happiness (Dalai Lama), A Mind Of Winter (poetry), The Association Of Small Bombs (Mahajan), Dorothy Day: The World Will Be Saved By Beauty (Hennessy), Heartless (Meyer)
(I read 32 books this month. You can tell hibernation has begun in earnest.)
This is the first year in a while I haven't had regular access to Hallmark Christmas movies but I did watch a couple with Addie and it was glorious.
I'm still mad about the last episode of This Is Us. They are beyond emotionally manipulative. I'm going to give it one chance to make it up to me or we're so breaking up.
New discovery: Meg Myers
I barely listened to Christmas music, which was strange. The exception was my friendAnnie's fantastic Christmas song Secret Santa. I've had the chorus stuck in my head for weeks! I also adored Mariah Carey's Carpool Karaoke. All those great people singing All I Want For Christmas! It filled me with so much spirit.
Listen to the What I'm Into playlist.
Hold Up! Time For An Explanatory Comma is precisely why I listen to Code Switch.
The rise of fake news should concern us all. To that end: Reply All gives us Voyage Into Pizzagate.
I loved the book episode from Sorta Awesome! I kept wanting to chime in with Laura and Jess.
Season 4 of Start Up followed Dov Charney, the controversial founder of American Apparel. I appreciated the way they didn't shy away from the allegations of sexual harassment. I'm still not sure what to make of Charney- other than knowing there's no way in hell I'd ever work for him- but it made for compelling listening.
- There were three Little Free Libraries within walking distance of where I was catsitting at the beginning of the month. It seems like MSP has tons of them everywhere.
- This is going to sound goofy but I went over to a friend's house to help her get organized and it was so much fun! My brain automatically creates systems and flow so I really enjoyed seeing how my advice helped her out in such a tangible way. Now she calls me her personal Mary Poppins.
- My new winter coat from LL Bean! It's down and practically floor-length and came just in time for the first big dip in weather.
- Chris Ann's husband Todd cooked an incredible Indian meal for us. It was great getting to know him better!
- I won 3 book giveaways in the span of a week!
- My best friend Tracy sent me one of the best gifts I've ever received: this sign from Whimsy Makery. I can't wait to have my own place so I can hang it up!
- Annie let me crash her gathering with friends. I loved getting to know them better and our discussion about fame, feminism, and more.
- My first stop when I headed home for Christmas was Megan's house. It was so good seeing her family and Al made me an incredible Manhattan and we sat by the fireplace and it was the coziest visit ever.
- My best friend Erin and I made our annual visit to Little Goat. This is the fourth year of this tradition. We split the fries and I ate the Bahn Mi burger and it was heaven.
- My mom asked me to help her clean out her closet and she listened to my advice! It was like my own personal What Not To Wear and I relished my role. It was so much fun.
- I made a couple of stops at Serene Teaz. I love that place so much.
- Annie and I caught up for a couple of hours at Starbucks and it was just what I needed. Crazy to think about how we've been friends for 22 years now. Our old pal Charles happened to come into Starbucks while we were there and it was nice getting to catch up with him.
- Christmas Eve was spent with my dad's side of the family and Christmas was with my mom's side of the family. Lots of catching up all around and they didn't rib me about the Cubs winning...too much. #gowhitesox
- My parents and I opened presents Christmas night, which is not our usual order. But it was still nice. My sister-in-law was due with my nephew and they couldn't travel so it was strange not being together and I definitely missed my niece. We Skyped the next day so I could get my fix.
- Laura and I spent a magical day together. We went to Barnes & Noble, bought tea at Adagio, then sat in Starbucks for a while before heading back to her house to hang out with her daughter and husband. I treasured every moment, partly because I don't know the last time we got to have that much time together and partly because it is just so wonderful to spend time with her. We always joke that we're twins and the day was a reminder of why.
- Donna, Jen, and I were roommates more than a decade ago and when it worked out Jen and I would both be back in town at the same time, we made lunch plans at Egglectic. It was such a treat to be just the three of us! (With a bonus brief visit from Jen's husband Jason, aka Token Male. Love you, TM!)
- On my last night in town, my parents took me to dinner at Portillo's. They still have the best french fries and I cannot wait for them to open their MSP location.
- My nephew was born! He is absolutely darling and I cannot wait to snuggle him.
- Spending time with Kelly and her family, who are graciously letting me stay with them right now.
- For NYE I joined Kelly's family for their traditional cheese and chocolate fondue and it was glorious.
In the Blogosphere:
You can find the best of what I've been reading at Storify.
(If you want to follow me on Instagram, my user name is leighkramer.)
On The Blog:
On the Leigh Kramer FB page, we shared A LOT of Rory Gilmore angst, delighted in the Hallmark Christmas movie plot generator, and did an inspiring 2017 word search.
(The best way to see updates in your newsfeed is by liking and commenting on my posts regularly.)
What I'm Into Link Up Guidelines:
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What have you been into this month?
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