November Book Reviews: Books You Need to Read

… And a few you can probably pass up. November started slow and quiet and I’m thankful that I took the first half of the month to soak in the calm lull between Halloween and Thanksgiving. My month ramped up when I decided to write detailed instructions on how to make the viral book ornament. You can find that tutorial and free template download here. 

It didn’t take long before I was convinced to offer a few handmade ornaments in my Etsy shop. Although time consuming, taking on this limited project has aided some much relished audiobook listening.

Thanks to this extended reading opportunity, I read 11 books in November. Below are my thoughts on each of them, including which ones you should definitely add to the top of your list and suggestions on who to gift these to this holiday season.

Quick note: You can stay up to date on all of my ratings on Goodreads!

Let’s get to it! 

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Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt

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5/5 stars

I was shocked at how much I loved this story. I’d fully expected it to be a solid story, but nothing to write home about. I was so pleasantly wrong. The unlikely friendship between Tova and Marcellus (a giant Pacific octopus) gave me the coziest feels. Marcellus is extremely observant and insightful beyond human understanding. This is also a story of second chances and reckoning with the past. What a debut novel!! It reads as if Van Pelt is a seasoned writer. 

It’s a book that leaves you feeling as if you’ve been hugged. Hopeful and promising. 

This book is perfect for those that love a gentle character and witty humor!

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The Matzah Ball by Jean Meltzer

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4/5 stars

This was the perfect way to jump-start my holiday reading!! It’s been patiently sitting on my shelf for the better part of a year just waiting for holiday vibes to roll around. I knew it was the perfect read to pick up when The Bookcase Beauty Backlist Club chose cozy reads this month- and it lived up to my expectations! 

Put this one on your “right now” TBR. Don’t wait a year like I did! It was so much fun!

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When Women Were Dragons by Kelly Barnhill

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4/5 stars

This was a wild, entrancing story that I could not stop listening to! It was weirdly a mix of Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wison and Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus. Women spontaneously turn into dragons en masse. Women hiding their traits for fear of being outcast. This story follows Alex, a young girl in 1950’s America who is navigating The Mass Dragoning of 1955. This story is a breath of fresh air! So original and mesmerizing! 

This book is for the reader who loves an empowerment story and the path to self-discovery. 

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Lovelight Farms by B.K. Borison

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4/5 stars

My holiday reading continued with this precious friends-to-lovers romcom. This was sugar cookie sweet and exactly the kind of easy holiday listening I was looking for. I’m so glad this is the first book in a series of three (soon to be four). This will definitely be one I continue in December! 

This would make a great gift for a holiday book swap or book club pick!

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The Cloisters by Katy Hays

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4/5 stars

Woah! This was fun! It gave me some National Treasurer vibes with a flair of magic and mystery. Lots of ancient artifacts and a deck of 15th century tarot cards that predict the future! Of course, with that kind of magic, there are those that will do anything to harness it. I was all in! 

If you’re looking to buy for an inquisitive reader, a fan of magical realism, or a history buff with a soft spot for fiction, you can’t go wrong with this one!

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Mad Honey by Jodi Picoult and Jennifer Finney Boylan

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4/5 stars

Mad Honey was the Bookcase Beauty Book Club pick for November ‘22. I’m a huge fan of Picoult and was thrilled when the club voted to read her latest novel! This book had me feeling a range of emotions! There are chapters that feel soft and comforting, chapters that feel inquisitive and witty, and chapters that evoked anger in me. The story is told from three points of view, which seemed to fit the idea that two writers were collaborating on the novel- the perspectives are so clearly different and developed. You can definitely go searching if you’re looking for spoiler alerts, but I won’t share those here. I will say that Picoult is no stranger to taking on big social topics and examining them fully. 

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The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

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This book was recommended to me by my Mother-in-law, who read it with her group of high school students in a book club. They all loved it and I knew I needed to see what the fuss was about, especially after seeing it make the rounds on social media! This is the first in a series of three and I’m hooked! Money, mystery, love interests, and high-stakes games all make for an enthralling YA read. 

If you have a teen or young adult that needs to reignite their love of reading, share this one with them. For the record, I’m 30 and fully enjoyed it!!

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When in Rome by Sarah Adams

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4/5 stars

Ask me if I’ve read the Tiktok breakout book, The Cheat Sheet and my answer is still no… but after reading Adams’ newest release, I’m prioritizing it because When In Rome was magic! I don’t know if it’s just the colder weather or the time of year, but this story reads like a holiday romance- without the holiday. Does that make sense? Where everything is just so adorable and perfect and fun. There’s a mild amount of spice, keeping this one a sugary sweet celebrity-to-small town romance trope. Eeek it was wonderful! 

This book is perfect for the low-heat romance fan and readers that love buzzy books!

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The last three books were just okay to me. All of them were three stars. I finished them. I can see who others will enjoy them, but they didn’t blow my socks off. Take my opinion with a grain of salt and don’t shy away from them if they sound interesting to you!

Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin

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3/5 stars

The premise of this book had me intrigued- childhood best friends, storyline spanning decades, video game creation- it all sounds great to me! Ultimately, it fell kind of flat for me. I followed the story, but at the end just felt like I’d read a book. It hadn’t impacted me or left a lasting impression. I’ve also heard rave reviews! I’m always in favor of reading something to find out for yourself. 

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The Villa by Rachel Hawkins

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3/5 stars

I think I’ve determined that Rachel Hawkins is just not the author for me. I wanted to love it, I really did! I wanted redemption for hating Reckless Girls so much, but this was just meh. The synopsis sounded promising: eerie, old house, unsolved scandalous murder, friends with hidden agendas. If you enjoyed her other books, definitely give this one a go! If you weren’t a fan of her previous books, this one will probably fall right in line. 

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Sign Here by Claudia Lux

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3/5 stars

This was a “just okay” read. I heard others rave about it, so I was excited to finally pick it up. It, unfortunately, fell flat for me. If you’re a fan of underdog reads, you may grasp onto this one! 

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If you made it all the way to the end, thank you! I’d love to hear from you. Have you read any of these? Are any of these books on your TBR?

Happy Reading!

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Ten Books I Read in September 2022

I tend to remember books in association with the season I read them in. The transition from Summer to Fall is typically my least favorite time of year. If you’re a newsletter subscriber, I talked about this a little bit in my latest letter. Summer is my favorite season. Give me sunny days, water, and warmth. Fall, in distant memory, has been associated with the increasingly difficult work of setting the foundation for another school year.

This is the first time in memory that I’ve really enjoyed the change of season. It’s been a renewing and welcomed embrace.

September has come and gone. These are my reflections on the ten books that I read.

I’ve outlined my thoughts on all of them below. Be sure to let me know if we’ve read any of the same books!

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The Fortunes of Jaded Women by Carolyn Huynh, published September 2022

I enjoyed the premise of the story, but felt a lot was lost on me by listening to the audio. There are a lot of characters, they’re all women, and they’re all in the same family! It was a lot to try and keep straight via audio. There is a family tree printed in the print copy, so consider that when giving this one a read.

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Atomic Habits (for the second time this year) by James Clear, published October 2018

Never have I read a book twice in one year until now. I first read Atomic Habits in January and it was like a fire was lit in my brain. It’s filled with practical and purposeful actions and reflections of how to build positive habits and work toward your goals- and the opposite of working to break bad habits for the betterment of your well-being. The audio is fantastic, Clear narrates his own book, but you’ll want a physical copy to annotate!

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This Time Tomorrow Emma Straub, published May 2022

*Sigh* I had such high hopes for this book! I’d looked forward to it for so long. It has all the elements that I love: family dynamics, magical realism, introspective reflection. Ultimately, it fell flat for me. While reading, I found myself getting bored. I was expecting more drama or meaningfulness or I don’t know… something to grip me, but it never happened. This isn’t a rip! Other reviews have raved! If the synopsis sounds interesting to you, go for it and form your own opinion!

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The Girl in the Mirror Rose Carlyle, published October 2020

Ehh, it was just so so! Again, it had all of the elements that I love in a thriller, but it didn’t quite blow me away. It was an enjoyable, quick read, but nothing to write home about. This is another that I’d say if it sounds interesting to you, try it! I read this for my Backlist Book Club’s September genre, thrillers.

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Nothing But the Truth by Holly James, published July 2022

This is a female-centered, modern version of the movie Liar, Liar, one of my favorite movies! I completely enjoyed it. It’s fun and empowering and shines a very bright and necessary light on harassment and systems set up in favor of men. It’s strong and lovely at the same time. Definitely worth a read!

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The Silent Wife by Karin Slaughter, published August 2020

I’ll start by saying that I didn’t realize this was the **10th** book in a series. So, maybe I should’ve just stopped right then. I was not so wise, I definitely kept going when I found that out. Although the plot stands alone, I was so confused on who the characters were and kept feeling so disconnected. Well, that’s why. If you’ve read any of the Will Trent series and have a basis for who these characters are, you’ll probably enjoy this book more than I did! I read this for my Backlist Book Club’s September genre, thrillers.

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Fairy Tale by Stephen King, published September 2022

I love the way Stephen King can craft a story and build a world. 11/22/63 is one of my favorite books of all time. If you haven’t read it, do it! It’s historical fiction mixed with some magical realism and it’s amazing. Not scary, in case you’re wondering. 

That impromptu review being shared, maybe I had too high of hopes for this one. It was just okay. Fine, if not a little long and drawn out. The premise of good vs. evil fighting to the death and a boy and his dog working at the forefront, I was all in. Ultimately, it left me a little disappointed.

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Sophie Go’s Lonely Hearts Club by Roselle Lim, published August 2022

This was a cute and refreshing storyline! I loved Sophie’s drive and passion for making her dreams come true. I loved the group of septuagenarian bachelors. I loved learning more about matchmaking in Chinese culture. For those reasons, I would recommend the book! 
On the flip side, the character development fell short for me. I was hoping for deeper introspection, more developed descriptions of the characters, and maybe some redemption for some unlikeable characters. It was a little dry at times and I found myself skimming more than I would have liked. This was the Bookcase Beauty Book Club pick for September!

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Killers of a Certain Age by Deanna Raybourn, published September 2022

Solid, fun, and entertaining. It kept me excited to find out what happened next! This audiobook was the soundtrack to my morning walks. I looked forward to “my stories” each morning. This would be a great movie! I kept picturing Diane Keaton and Jane Fonda.

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The Personal Assistant by Kimberly Belle, publishing November 2022

I am excited for this one to hit shelves! This suspenseful thriller is told from multiple perspectives and dual timelines. At first, I was skeptical that this story would be cliché and another ‘meh’ social media thriller, but I was delightfully wrong. It kept me guessing until the end, excited to read what could possibly happen next, and compare my theories to what actually played out.

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Overall, here’s how my reads stacked up:

Five Stars:

Atomic Habits by James Clear

Four Stars:

The Fortunes of Jaded Women by Carolyn Huynh

The Girl in the Mirror by Rose Carlyle

Nothing But the Truth by Holly James

Killers of a Certain Age by Deanna Reybourn

The Personal Assistant by Kimberly Belle

Three Stars:

This Time Tomorrow by Emma Straub

The Silent Wife by Karin Slaughter

Fairy Tale by Stephen King

Sophie Go’s Lonely Heart’s Club by Roselle Lim

Follow me on Goodreads and Instagram to stay up to date on my ratings!

Have you read any of these? Do we have any similar or differing opinions? Put any of these on your TBR?

Leave me a comment!

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