I hit my reading goal for the year in early November when I finished Little Fires Everywhere, and then kept on trucking to finish the month with 8 books read. I am well on my way to reading 115 books this year, but I don’t think I’ll hit 120. Not that I wanted to hit 120; it was just a number I pondered about hitting once I knew I’d blow my 100 book goal out of the water. We’ll see what happens in December, though. I tend to want to finish off the year with romances, which I zip through in a day or two.
But let’s focus on November first. It was an outstanding reading month with two BOTM picks that I handed off immediately to friends once I finished reading them, some terrific romances, and a memoir I’ve had on my Kindle for at least a year.
Top Read of the Month
Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng (★★★★★) – Celeste Ng’s debut novel Everything I Never Told You was one of my favorite books from 2015, so I was super excited when her next novel was announced and even more excited when it was part of October’s Book of the Month (<– referral link) options. I didn’t even look at the other books on the list – I just selected it right away. Just like in her first novel, Ng begins this novel with the end: we know that a house is burning down and we have a strong suspicion of who set the fire, but we don’t know all of the details. After that initial scene, Ng takes us back to where everything began: when a woman named Mia and her teenage daughter Pearl move to the idyllic neighborhood of Shaker Heights, renting a house from the family that would soon in the future watch their house burn to the ground. Mia and Pearl cause a bit of a ruckus with their arrival, including getting into the middle of a custody battle involving a Chinese-American baby. What I loved most about this novel, other than Ng’s incredible writing style, is the way I was forced to think about certain situations, situations where I thought I fell wholeheartedly on one side of the debate, in an entirely different way. It’s an important book, and it’s a book I finished while sitting in a rocking chair in Asheville with the fall colors on display around me, which only added to my delight with this novel.
Top Romance of the Month
Second Chance Summer by Jill Shalvis (★★★★☆) – Jill Shalvis has never let me down when I need a quick and fun romance to cleanse my mind and make me happy. Second Chance Summer begins a new series by Shalvis where we’re introduced to a cast of new characters that I already love and cannot wait to learn more about. The first book in this new series involves the love story between Lily, who has come back home after ten years away due to being fired from her job at a high-end salon in California. She hasn’t been in town for very long when she runs into her old flame, Aidan, and from there, sparks fly. I loved Lily and the way she stood up to Aidan and everyone else in town. And I loved Aidan and the way he was so strong in his feelings and didn’t back down from them. It was the perfect romance that had everything I need to make me happy. Jill Shalvis is my author crush, for sure.
Other Notable Reads
Artemis by Andy Weir (★★★★☆) – This is another Book of the Month selection, this time for November! And it was another example of loving the author’s first novel and getting super excited to see his second novel available as a BOTM selection. Again, didn’t even look at the other books, I picked this one right away. Of course, I was nervous about Artemis because The Martian is one of my most beloved books of all-time. I still consider Mark Watney to be one of my favorite fictional characters. Can Artemis live up to the pedestal I’ve placed Andy Weir on? Happily, he can! Artemis was excellent and such a fun book to read. This time, the scene is the moon where the one and only city has been formed, called Artemis. Artemis is mostly filled with eccentric billionaires and super rich tourists (just imagine how expensive it would be to vacation on the moon!), but there are a few misfits and those just barely skating by – people like Jazz Bashara. Jazz makes her money illegally by smuggling contraband onto the moon for people. And then Jazz is given the opportunity of a lifetime – a crime so big and so illegal that the reward is way too lucrative to pass up. And so she doesn’t. And that’s when she’s thrust into a conspiracy plot and on the run for her life and YOU GUYS THIS BOOK WAS SO GOOD. Ughhhh. Andy Weir is such a phenomenal writer and I loved every single character I came across, most especially Jazz. This novel definitely had Weir’s signature wit and hilarious one-liners. Andy Weir is a genius and I will read everything he writes.
Anchored by Kayla Aimee (★★★★★) – I started following Kayla Aimee when her daughter Scarlette was born because I kept seeing tweets from people I followed online about her and the micropreemie she delivered at just 25 weeks. Scarlette was 1 pounds, 8.5 ounces when she was born and from there, Kayla and her husband spent every single day at the hospital, praying for their tiny baby to hold on and keep fighting. After 156 days in the NICU, Scarlette came home and now she’s a healthy (and hilarious!) seven year old. In a word, this memoir is beautiful. Kayla’s writing is both gorgeous and witty. She mixes in the funniest anecdotes with vulnerable words filled with pain and suffering. It’s a story of struggle, a story of survival, and ultimately a story of hope. A fair warning that it is heavy on the Christian themes, as Kayla is a Christian and relied heavily on her faith in God to see her through this tragic time.
The Wife, the Maid, and the Mistress by Ariel Lawhon (★★★★☆) – I listened to this novel on audiobook, and I think it enhanced my experience with it in a much more positive way than if I had read it myself. It’s a slowly paced book, and for me, those are best listened to on audiobook. The novel is about Stella, Maria, and Ritzi, and how all three of them react to the disappearance of Judge Joseph Crater. Stella is Crater’s wife, Maria is his maid, and Ritzi is his mistress. There was a twist near the end of the book that I wasn’t expecting and it only added to my enjoyment of this interesting novel. (And side note, Judge Joseph Crater is a real person who actually disappeared! WHAT.)
What was the best book you read in November?