December Wrap-Up | well, I survived 2020

We did it, folks. We made it through the disgusting dumpster fire that was 2020.

While I know that the changing of the calendar year won’t make a significant difference in the world, it’s nice to be able to kick the worst year of my life out the door and look ahead to something new. I think we just need a reason to celebrate something, even if—maybe especially if—that reason is pretty meaningless in the grand scheme of things. 

Looking back on 2020 is hard, if I’m honest, because there’s not much that I can celebrate or be glad about. I hit some new lows in the past year that I previously didn’t know I was capable of. I guess the good part is that I made it through, so now I know I can survive those lows. Still, I don’t even feel that I can say I’ve gotten stronger as a result—instead, 2020 feels like it’s beaten me down in every way and now I’m just begging 2021 to give me a break.

♡ cambrina ♡ | Pitch perfect funny, Pitch perfect, Pitch perfect quotes

December was another rough month, unfortunately. As much as I enjoy the holiday season, working in retail plus the general stress of the world meant that I basically spent the month in a haze of exhaustion. In terms of blogging, I wasn’t able to write as many posts or blog hop as I would have liked, which especially sucks since the end-of-year wrap-up posts are some of my favorite to read and write. I’ve been trying to catch up over the last few days, but there’s so much that I’ve missed. 

Right now, I’m feeling burnt out in pretty much every area of my life. I hate to say it, because it is one of the few things I do that I actually enjoy, but blogging has been a source of stress for me lately, so I think I’m going to be stepping back for a bit. I’ll still post occasionally, I think, just not as frequently as usual. I wish I could start out the new year on a more optimistic note, but these days I barely have the energy to pull myself out of bed, let alone write multiple blog posts per week. We’ll see if taking that pressure off manages to lower the stress.

But anyway, December. I read a total of seven books with an average rating of 4.25 stars, which I’d say is pretty good considering how little time I’ve had. Let’s get into those books, shall we?

Books I read

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The Space Between Worlds by Micaiah Johnson ⭐️⭐️⭐️/5

I wanted to love this book more than I did, and honestly I think part of it is that I just didn’t read it at the right time. Still, despite the fact that it didn’t quite live up to my expectations, it did keep me on the edge of my seat and managed to surprise me quite a few times. Mini review to come.

Once Ghosted, Twice Shy by Alyssa Cole ⭐️⭐️⭐️.5/5

I picked up this novella because I needed something quick and fun to break me out of a weeks-long reading slump, and it certainly succeeded at that! Though I don’t think this is one that will stick with me for a long time, it was an enjoyable read and I’m looking forward to reading more from Alyssa Cole.

You Have a Match by Emma Lord ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️/5

release: Jan. 12, 2021

Emma Lord’s second novel was so much fun! I still love Tweet Cute a little more, but this one had the same levels of hilarity and cuteness while also balancing some heavier emotional subjects. Review to come.

Why Fish Don’t Exist: A Story of Loss, Love, and the Hidden Order of Life by Lulu Miller ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

This nonfiction book took me by surprise and ended up as one of my favorites of the year! I feel like I’ve already talked about it so much in the few weeks since I read it, so instead of reiterating what I’ve already said, I’ll just send you to my review.

55363795. sy475 Amazon.com: Fire (A Companion to Graceling) (9780142415917): Cashore,  Kristin: Books 13356706

Graceling by Kristin Cashore (reread) ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ and Fire by Kristin Cashore (reread) ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I’m rereading the Graceling books in anticipation of the fourth book’s release in January, and I’m enjoying them so much! I already knew that these books were favorites, but revisiting them just reminds me why all over again. I’m planning on doing a spoiler-filled series review once I’ve finished my rereads, so stay tuned for that!

The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien (reread)

Somehow, despite the fact that The Lord of the Rings is one of my favorite stories of all time, I haven’t reread the books all the way through in probably ten years. Since 2020 was the year of getting back into LOTR, I had to rectify that! I listened to the audiobook of this and enjoyed it immensely. There are so many details from the books that I’d forgotten about, and returning to Middle-Earth always feels like returning home. I have no idea how to rate these books, so I’m not going to try, but let it be known that I loved this reread. 

Other things

As previously mentioned, I had the absolute pleasure of working a retail job during the holidays, which just reminded me of all the joy and good cheer of the season! (sarcasm) Customer service is always tiring (especially as an introvert) and this past month was especially difficult, largely thanks to covid. The added stress of constantly keeping track of numbers in the store and reminding customers to wear their masks correctly and physically distance, on top of all my usual bookselling duties, was a lot to handle. I came the closest I’ve ever come to crying at work. There were some highlights (like seeing my favorites The House in the Cerulean Sea and The Ten Thousand Doors of January end up as store bestsellers because of my handselling), but overall it was just. so. exhausting. I’m glad the holiday season is over. 

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Even though this was a very strange Christmas that didn’t really feel like Christmas, I did find some joy in baking Christmassy treats! I especially loved baking a Yule log for the first time, which I think turned out pretty good. 

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The Prom came out on Netflix and it was a delight! Though it wasn’t perfect, I still enjoyed it for all its campy, glittery glory. It reminded me how much I adore musicals and how much I miss seeing them live. I really hope this ends up as a common high school theatre production (like, this generation’s Grease) because that would be incredible.

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I didn’t watch many holiday movies/shows this year, but there were two that I (mostly) enjoyed. Happiest Season also had its problems, certainly, but it was a feel-good holiday movie with a happy ending for its sapphic couple, which counts for something. I didn’t know what to expect going into Dash & Lily, and even though I spent the entire hating Dash (he’s my least favorite kind of person!!), I still watching the entire thing in one night and didn’t hate it. Holiday movies aren’t generally my thing, so anytime I find one that I marginally enjoy is a win in my book.

Evermore (Taylor Swift album) - Wikipedia

I feel like everyone and their cat has already raved about evermore by Taylor Swift (including me in my media that sparked joy post), but I couldn’t not mention one of the best things to come out of this December! Even though I think I like folklore a liiiiittle bit more, I’m never going to complain about more music from Taylor Swift. My current favorites of this album are:

  • willow | “life was a willow and it bent right to your wind / they count me out time and time again”
  • ’tis the damn season | “and wonder about the only soul / who can tell which smiles I’m fakin’ / and the heart I know I’m breakin’ is my own”
  • dorothea | “and if you’re ever tired of bеing known for who you know / you know that you’ll always know me, dorothea”

Some other music I listened to this month:

  • Minimum by Charlie Cunningham | “how should I walk this earth? / so much worse the further, the further you go”
  • Colder Heavens by Blanco White | “now we’re so tired by the things we have seen / all we’ve forgotten only visits in dreams”
  • hallelujah by Bea Miller | “it seems ridiculous to live in hell / but I guess that’s what we’re doin’ now”

December blog posts

As previously mentioned, I’m disappointed about how little blogging I was able to do in the past month. But still, here are the posts I did manage, in case you missed any of them!

How many of my anticipated 2020 releases did I read? 🎄 Recently read books 🎄 Media that sparked joy in 2020 🎄 Anticipated 2021 book releases (January-April) 🎄 My top 8 books of 2020 🎄 More 2020 favorites + reading stats (technically published in January but shh)

I almost started writing something here about how I wish I’d done more blog hopping in December…but I’m pretty sure I’ve said a variation of the same thing in every wrap-up for the past six months. Sigh. I guess that’s just the way it is these days. At any rate, in addition to all the end-of-the-year wrap-up posts that I’ve been loving, I found some more wonderful posts from around the blogosphere!

🎄 Shealea @ Shut up, Shealea created a database for 2021 releases by Asian authors and it’s incredible! Go check it out! I have so many books to add to my TBR.

🎄 Marie @ Drizzle & Hurricane Books talked about time management as a book blogger, and what perfect timing, in a month when I was barely able to find time for blogging at all! As usual with Marie’s posts, this one is incredibly helpful and well-written. 

🎄 Sophie @ Me & Ink listed 60 anticipated 2021 releases, prompting me to rub my little book nerd hands together and add LOTS of them to my TBR. Thanks, Sophie!

🎄 Lily @ Sprinkles of Dreams highlighted some debut authors that we should all be keeping an eye on. I’m excited for all of these books listed and can’t wait until they’re out in the world!

🎄 Veronika & Sabrina @ Wordy and Whimsical recommended books based on songs from evermore and I’m obsessed with their choices. They’re all so creative and well thought out!

🎄 Dezzy @ The Thoughtful Voice made her triumphant return to the blogosphere with the Percy Jackson Book Tag. Welcome back, Dezzy!

🎄 Aditi @ One In a Million recommended four fantasy novels by BIPOC that deserve more attention. I’m so excited to pick up the ones from this list that I haven’t read!

January TBR

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  • Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore (Graceling #3)
  • Winterkeep by Kristin Cashore (Graceling #4) – out Jan. 19
  • Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid – out May 25
  • What Big Teeth by Rose Szabo – out Feb. 2
  • Spoiler Alert by Olivia Dade
  • Beyond the Black Door by A.M. Strickland

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How was your December? Are you excited about the new year? What did you read this past month?

x Margaret

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29 thoughts on “December Wrap-Up | well, I survived 2020

  1. wonderful post, Margaret! enjoyed reading this wrap-up of yours as always ❤ thank you so much for mentioning my blog post and welcoming me back to the bookish community, i really appreciate it 😊

    2020 was such a tough year ahh, i hope that 2021 is better for you and brings you some more peaceful & relaxing times, you deserve it 💓 and no worries about stepping back from blogging, your mental health always comes first, and we're all still here for you no matter how much you post ☺️

    i also watched Happiest Season and Dash & Lily last month, and enjoyed both of them! i'm really excited to watch The Prom, it sounds super fun and joyful! glad you liked it 🤩 and omg – willow, 'tis the damn season, and dorothea are some of my favorites from evermore too, along with champagne problems :))

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Dezzy! I hope 2021 brings many great things your way as well ❤ Ahh thank you, that does help – I would love to post more but it just depends on what I have the energy for 🤷‍♀️

      Glad to hear you enjoyed Happiest Season and Dash & Lily too! 🙂 And I hope you like The Prom too – it's so much fun!! Ahh it was so hard to pick favorites from evermore because I love so many of the songs!!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I loved this post! The Graceling series has the most stunning covers I’ve seen in awhile < I completely understand your feelings when it comes to retail, I've been working on retail for the past months and I think I will never get used to it, people are so damn rude without needing to 🤷🏻‍♀️

    Liked by 1 person

  3. i’m sorry to hear december wasn’t the best for you! i’m wishing you a much better january, and healing from working retail during the holidays 😭 i’m sorry to hear that you didn’t enjoy the space between worlds as much as you’d hoped — i’m really looking forward to reading it!

    i hope you love winterkeep as much as i did!! i love how its release is bringing out all the graceling fans, i’m so happy to see other people who love the series ❤ i hope january is kinder to you, and happy new year!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, May! ❤ haaah yep, healing from holiday retail work is much needed 😅 I'm glad to hear you're excited about the space between worlds, and I hope you end up enjoying it more than I did!

      Ahhhh it's amazing to see all the graceling fans come out of the woodwork 😀 Cannot WAIT to get my hands on Winterkeep, and I hope I love it too! Hope your January is full of good things, and happy (belated) new year to you too ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m so sorry December was a busy month for you, I hope you can have a bit rest in January! Also, I hope taking a step back from blogging will make you feel better 🙂 I agree that while 2021 doesn’t necessarily mean that something life-changing will happen, I think the whole world is just looking forward to leave 2020 behind and have a ~fresh start~. It’s certainly the best new year I had, all things considered.

    I hope I can read Graceling this year, it has been gathering dust on my shelf for waay to long!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! I’m glad to say that January has been more restful than December so far…at least in my personal life. Can’t really say the same for the world at large, unfortunately 😬

      Ahh I hope you love Graceling if you get around to it this year! It’s one of my absolute favorites 😀

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  5. I’m so sorry to hear that you’re having a hard time! 😔 Definitely take the time to take care of yourself, that’s always most important ❤ So happy to hear that you loved You Have a Match, I’m eagerly anticipating that one, as I need some cuteness in my life 🥰

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Ahh, that yule logs looks INCREDIBLE! I know Christmas is over, but I need to bake a yule log now, haha. As you know from our post, evermore brought me a lot of joy last month, I can’t believe Taylor dropped two surprise albums in 2020. 🥰 While The Happiest Season wasn’t perfect I did enjoy it, and I liked an article where the director shared her POV on the characters. I also need to watch The Prom – it looks really fun and because the musical never came to Hungary this is the only version I can see. 😔 Spoiler Alert was fantastic, so I do hope you’ll enjoy it. 😀 I hope your energy and desire to blog will come back soon, but don’t feel pressured to write posts if you don’t want to! The most important thing is to take care of yourself and do whatever makes you happy. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I firmly believe in baking whatever you want when you want, so if you want to bake a yule log in January, go for it! Taylor Swift’s albums were truly the best surprises of 2020. And ooh I need to go find that article from the director of Happiest Season!

      Thanks so much, Veronika—I hope the rest will help me too! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I’m so sorry to hear that you are struggling and blogging has been a source of stress. I’m sending you all good thoughts and love, I really hope 2021 can be a better year for you. I totally get needing to step away from blogging a bit, it can totally feel like an anchor at times I guess as you feel like you need to do all this but when you push yourself to do it, it feels awful really. I am trying to relax with it and just post when I feel like it really as I just hated the pressure. I still feel guilty about it at times but I think I feel better with it. I really hope you are able to find a balance that works for you and I really hope you feel better.
    I am seriously loving all the covers for graceling, which I think are new but if I’m wrong then sorry, but wow seriously stunning. I’m glad to hear they live up to their covers and I really hope you the fourth one is just as good for you.
    Retail work really does sound awful especially now, people can be soooo frustrating. I’m sorry it has been so bad and I hope things improve now the holiday season is over. I finally listened to some of Taylor’s new music and so far my favourites are Willow and No Body, No Crime.
    Thank you so much for sharing my post, I’m so glad you could find so many books. I hope January is a good month for you and ahh.. you have malibu rising, I hope you love it !! 🥰

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Sophie! 💕 Yep, that’s exactly it—blogging has always been something I love doing, but lately it’s been feeling like more pressure and stress than I need 😕 I hope I’m able to find a balance with it too!

      Yesss the new graceling covers are absolutely gorgeous 😍 I’m so glad they’re finally getting covers as beautiful as the books themselves!

      Things have definitely been less stressful at work since the holidays ended, thank goodness! Thanks so much again, Sophie, and I hope your January is lovely as well 💕

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Oh, I hope you enjoy Beyond the Black Door! It was such a unique story, and though the writing was really slow and the story took its time, everything felt so deserved because of that, and it ended up being a spectacular read, I thought.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I’m sorry to hear you’ve been struggling lately! December is always my favourite month, but it really didn’t feel the same this year. I’ve been having trouble with reading lately, and though I’m finding blogging fun I’m running rather low on ideas. I can’t imagine how exhausting it must be working in retail in the time of covid.

    I tried to read Graceling before on audiobook but I couldn’t get into it. You (and those gorgeous new covers) have inspired me to give it another go! Some stories just don’t work for me on audio, so I think I’d go for a physical copy next time.

    You should definitely ease up on the blogging if it’s stressing you out. Hopefully a break will make you feel a little better. Sending you all the virtual hugs and best wishes for the new year 🥰❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yep, December really didn’t feel the same this year. I hope your reading and blogging energy comes back soon—that is not a fun feeling ❤

      I imagine Graceling might be better as a physical book rather than an audiobook, especially since it starts out pretty slow 🤔 I hope you enjoy it when you try it out again, and I'm glad the gorgeous new covers could help convince you! 😀

      Ahh thank you, I really do think a break will help me 😊 Best wishes for the new year to you as well!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Happy new year!! That Yule log looks AMAZING- I’ve never heard of it, but is it made with chocolate?
    It’s so interesting- I saw the cover of Graceling a few years ago and went “eh” but somehow the sequels’ covers are absolutely stunning!
    Thank you SO much for the mention! It means so much 🥺💕
    And please take a break from blogging if you need it! I can tell you that I was in a huge reading and blogging slump for several months last year and while it made me sad for a little bit, when I came back, I had so much energy to read! I’ve read 9 books in the past 10 days 😅 It really proves how much a rejuvenating break can do for you ❤
    I hope you have a wonderful year!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much!! ❤ Yes, the yule log is made with chocolate, and it's delicious!
      I love the new Graceling covers so much and I'm glad they're finally doing the series justice 😍
      That's great to hear that your reading energy has come back to strongly! I really do think that a break will help me too 😊 Thank you, and happy new year to you too! 💕

      Liked by 1 person

  11. margaret, i’m sorry to hear december was a stressful month for you. i hope this blogging break allows you to unwind and feel refreshed and inspired again! at the end of the day, blogging should be fun, not another thing to add to our list of chores.

    i have yet to watch the prom and happiest season, which i heard mixed things on, so i don’t know how i’ll feel about them. i’m most excited about the prom because it is a musical and the cast is amazing, but i heard the romance was lackluster ):

    hope you have an amazing january!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ahhh thank you 💕 I think the break will definitely be good for me, and I look forward to feeling inspired again!

      I’d heard mixed things about the prom and happiest season too before I watched them, which I think is what helped lower my expectations so I could enjoy them, if that makes sense 😅 the prom is such a fun musical, even if the romance wasn’t as prominent as I would have liked!

      hope your january is wonderful too! 💕

      Liked by 1 person

  12. I’m so sorry December has been so stressful to you. I hope that January will be better and that you’ll feel refreshed taking blogging at your own pace, as well. We’re always here to support you, no matter how little you feel like posting, always ❤
    Thank you so, so much for sharing my post, so happy you enjoyed it! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Wonderful wrap-up, Margaret 💙 I really hope you have a much better 2021, but I’m glad you at least read lots of great books in December. Take all the time you need with blogging, it is helpful to step away for a bit sometimes. Your yule log looks lovely too. Take care 🥰

    Liked by 1 person

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