What I Read in November 2019

I made it through eighteen books this month. As of the 24th of November, I am officially finished with all three reading challenges I did for 2019, which is a great feeling. Now I have a full month of reading whatever I want!

What I Read in November 2019

 

The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware

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A decent mystery with a super creepy vibe – this was a great read for Halloween week!The writing is simple, which makes for a fast paced easy to read novel. While I haven’t loved all of Ware’s books, she’s fantastic at building suspense. I recommend this for readers of mystery and thrillers – fans of Ware’s other novels will devour this one quickly!

The Flight Attendant by Chris Bohjalian

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This is a decent thriller. It’s fast paced and compulsively readable, I couldn’t put it down. But if it weren’t for that, I’d give it two stars. It’s awfully repetitive. It’s quite a bit different than the more literary fiction I’ve read from this author, so keep that in mind if you’re a regular reader of his novels. I recommend it for readers of the thriller genre.

The Swallows by Lisa Lutz

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This is a compelling novel, although I wouldn’t go so far as to call it a mystery/thriller as it is labeled on Goodreads. The story is told in first personal narrative from alternating characters at a private high school. We hear from staff and students, and gradually learn about the school’s social hierarchy and secret sexual contests. I listened to the audio book and I can’t imagine reading a physical copy would have been as entertaining. Multiple narrators gave the characters personality and added to the tension. I recommend this for readers who enjoy contemporary fiction, YA fiction (which this isn’t), and novels based on current affairs.

Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson

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This was the November selection for the local book club I lead. This is a multigenerational story, told by different family members in different points of time. It’s an exploration of inherited family trauma. The writing is emotional and descriptive, I wanted to savor it. At times it reads like poetry and it took me a little while to get into the rhythm. This was a powerful read. I recommend it for readers of literary fiction.

The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

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First of all, this book is pure sex! Yes, there’s a storyline and it’s cute. It was compelling enough to keep me reading but it is very sexy. But while it’s a steamy romance novel, it’s also a lesson in unconditional love and acceptance –  self acceptance as well. Plus it’s got a strong, smart female protagonist and is wonderfully sex positive. I recommend it for fans of the genre and also general fiction readers who want something light and different.

Taft by Ann Patchett

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Patchett writes characters who are emotionally complex and completely genuine. They are real people with complicated lives, and Taft is no exception. It’s an interesting story about an ex-musician who only wants to be a good father to his son. Patchett’s writing is skilled as always. I recommend it for fans of her novels and readers of literary fiction.

How to Walk Away by Katherine Center

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This is a thoroughly enjoyable read, despite the heavy subject matter. The writing is fairly simple and straightforward, and I was hooked from the beginning, eager to root for Margaret. She’s a fantastic protagonist, smart and strong, and now questioning everything she’s ever believed in her life after becoming severely injured in an accident. Ultimately this is a story about hope and recovery, physically and emotionally. It’s about love and acceptance, of self and of others.  I highly recommend this book for readers of romance as well as general fiction.

Would I Lie to You? by Judi Ketteler

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 Advanced copy from NetGalley, Expected publication December 31, 2019 This book reads more like a memoir than self-help. It’s packed full of research, statistics, and anecdotes that explore what honesty means and looks like in our society. Ketteler looks at honesty in the work place, friendships, intimate relationships, in parenting, and in relation to self. She breaks honesty down and quotes research that shows how dishonesty works in positive ways at times. I highly recommend it for those who are also struggling with the current administration’s dishonesty. Also for readers of social science and non-fiction.

Leave Me by Gayle Forman

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I’ve never had a heart attack and I don’t have children, yet I related strongly to Maribeth, and I think most woman would. Her story was compelling to me and I enjoyed the book. The writing is pretty simple, which is why I’m not giving it more stars. I recommend this book for readers of women’s fiction, and those who enjoy a character driven story.

 

All That’s Bright and Gone by Eliza Nellums

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Advanced copy from NetGalley, Expected publication December 10, 2019 This story had a lot of potential but fell flat. I understand a child narrator often makes for a simple writing style but the writing felt even more basic than necessary. Otherwise, this is a sweet story. It’s about family and what we’re willing to do for each other when the going gets tough. I’d still recommend this for readers who enjoy family drama and magical realism. It’s not a bad book, it just isn’t high quality.

The Need by Helen Phillips

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This one is just too weird for me. Maybe it’s because I don’t have kids.  I can see how this story could instill terror in a mother –  even the tiniest possibility that it could happen to her.The writing is vivid, Phillips is great at building suspense. I kept reading because I had to know what was going on, even when I was baffled by the sci-fi component. Readers of sci-fi and speculative fiction would enjoy it.

 

 

Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano

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Advanced copy from NetGalley, Expected publication January 6, 2020 I’m not clear on the point of this story other than to be sad.What I liked about this novel is how complex the story is, there are many different timelines and characters with their own backstory, they all weave together seamlessly, which seems a pretty extraordinary feat for a writer. I highly recommend it for readers of literary fiction, and those who don’t mind a lot of despair.

Buy Yourself the Fucking Lilies by Tara Schuster

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Advanced copy from NetGalley, Expected publication February 18, 2020  Part memoir, part how to guide, this is a lovely book about the journey to heal yourself and pursue a genuinely happy life. The writing is relaxed and conversational. It’s funny, touching, and wonderfully honest. It’s geared toward women who are looking for a partner and finding their footing in the work world. Yet it will resonate with any woman who has already gone through these stages. I highly recommend it for readers of memoir and personal development.

 

 

A Long Fatal Love Chase by Louisa May Alcott

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For the PopSugar Reading Challenge category: A book published posthumously My struggle with this one at the start inspired a post about why it’s important to read classic literature. This is basically a dark romantic thriller, which just happens to have been written in 1866. The language slowed me down a bit, so it took a while to get into it but once I did I was hooked. I recommend it for readers of classics and also those who like a twisty love story.

White Elephant by Julie Langsdorf

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For the While I Was Reading Challenge category: A book with your favorite animal on the cover or in the title This was so close to being a good book. You’ve got feuding neighbors, extra-marital affairs, mysterious vandalism – it could be really juicy. Instead it was just plain boring. Some readers of literary fiction might like this but I think there are a whole lot of other novels out there you should read first!

A Warning by Anonymous 

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This book doesn’t necessarily contain any new information. What makes it so powerful is that it isn’t written with the intention to gossip or trash the president. The details of what goes on in the administration are lined out in a calm, straightforward manner. I highly recommend this book for any American voter.

 

On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong

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This is the December selection for the local book club I lead.The writing is unbelievably beautiful, poetic, and haunting. It’s a gut-wrenching story of family history, exploring inherited violence and trauma. I highly recommend this novel for readers of literary fiction.

 

The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren

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This was a surprisingly fun, cute read. The writing isn’t anything complex, but it’s witty and the storyline is sweet with just the right amount of steam. The audio book narration is great. I highly recommend this one for readers of the romance genre, and also fiction readers looking for something light and easy.


What’s the best thing you read in November?

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