November Wrap Up // 2022

Once again, I had to hit the breaks on my reading as real life took over. I got to cheer on my girl in her first high school volleyball post-season run! They made it all the way to the State Championship match…and unfortunately, did not win. But taking 2nd place out of 60+ teams, experiencing the main event, and being just a freshman makes this mama’s heart almost explode! What an fun weekend we had in Denver, and we look forward to more in the future (we hope)! Now, onto basketball season!

What did you read in November and enjoy?

November By the Numbers:

  • Total Books Read: 9
  • Audiobooks: 0
  • Five Star Reads: 2
  • Debuts: 1 (11%)
  • Published in 2022: 6 (67%)
  • Nonfiction Reads:  2 (22%)
  • By Women Authors: 7 (78%)
  • Books by BIPOC Authors: 2 (22%)
  • Diverse Books: 1 (11%)
  • Goodreads Challenge: 112/125 (90%)
  • 12 Friends + 12 Books + 12 Months: 9/12 (75%)
  • Nonfiction Challenge: 8/12 (67%)
  • Unread Shelf: 13/24 (54%)
  • EIWTB Challenge: 11/12 (92%)
  • A to Z Challenge: 21/26 (81%)

Favorite Book of the Month:

Greenwood by Michael Christie

Wow! Wow! Wow! I’ve seen a lot of rave reviews of this one, but I absolutely wasn’t expecting to be blown away like I was. I was hesitant to pick it up because nature, woods, forests, trees, climate dystopia aren’t really my thing. I was afraid of being bored and that the 500 pages would really drag on for me. AND I WAS SO WRONG! This story is layered and complex, full of ambiguity and nuance. It had my head spinning in the first couple of pages and I knew this one would chew me up and spit me – so much a better human for having read it. I loved the characters (especially Everett) and how their stories unfurled to reveal a multi-layered, multi-generational saga that I won’t soon forget. This has potential to topple my previous “book of the year” and I hope everyone pushes this to the top of their TBRs soon!

For Those That Like To Contemplate What They Read:

Tiny, Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar by Cheryl Strayd

Still just as good as the first time around! The advice is still relevant to all and it was a total joy to be immersed in Strayd’s world of advice once again! (Read my first review here!)

Signal Fires by Dani Shapiro

It’s going to be complicated for me to put into words how I felt about this one. I have read Shapiro in the past (but nonfiction writing, not fictional), so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I have literally only seen rave reviews about this one, so I was definitely hopeful. After reading the opening pages, I was hooked. I thought I might even devour it in one sitting. But once I reopened the book the next day, it just wasn’t capturing me the same way it did in the beginning. I don’t hate what Shapiro was trying to do – a sort of stream-of-consciousness, meandering thought-provoking paragraphs – and I even appreciated a lot of them. There were some nuanced and profound ideas that came up for me that I would happily ruminate within a book club. But, I also was a little annoyed that the story didn’t feel like it was going anywhere. Honestly, the length was perfect (ony about 215 pages) because I’m not sure Shapiro could have held me much longer. As it is, it ended in just enough time for me to remain open and contemplating to the overall effect of the book. I do love the idea that we are all connected, that we’re just one circumstance/choice/decision away from a completely different life, but I also would have really appreciated more of a point.

Our Missing Hearts by Celeste Ng

Well, damn. I just wanted so much more from this one. The premise was promising and I really fell for Bird in Part One. But then Part Two came along and our perspective switched to Bird’s mom…which is fine and almost even preferable. But I didn’t like the switch…in my opinion, it should have been told entirely from Bird or Bird’s mom’s perspective, but not both. It changed the vibe of the story for me, it slowed the momemtum way down, and I had to force myself to keep caring and to keep reading. By the last page I was totally underwhelmed…and so very sad that this one just wasn’t a hit for me.

For Those Who Like To Read About Nature/Climate Change Issues:

Once There Were Wolves by Charlotte McConaghy

I ordered this book immediately after loving McConaghy’s debut novel, Migrations. I was struck with awe at her ability to craft sentences, to invoke such an intense sense of feeling within me as I read the book. Once There Were Wolves instilled a lot of those same feelings, but this book didn’t hit me near as hard, and I think there are a couple of reasons for that. First, McConaghy tries to tackle A LOT in a short book. This one is just 250 pages and she covers wolf reintroduction, domestic violence, parental abadonment, a secondary characters potential murder, mental health, and another real-time murder mystery. It just felt a little chaotic and all-over-the-place…totally lacking a real focus and cohesive story. Second, the part of the book that interested me – the wolf reintroduction – was not the focus of the story, in my opinion. It felt secondary and I feel like McConaghy did the subject a disservice by somewhat ignoring this aspect. What she did introduce and focus on paled in comparison to a previous reading experience I had when I read (and really enjoyed) American Wolf. What is apparent after reading both of McConaghy’s books is her sure talent for writing. She is unique in her abilty to capture the essence of what she wants to say very succinctly and I really love that about her style. I will definitely keep her on my list of authors I want to try again!

The Displacements by Bruce Holsinger

I’m sensing a theme in my reading this month, and like my previous book, Greenwood, this book provides us with a cautionary tale we’d be wise to examine. As hurricanes, tornadoes, and other natural disasters become more common, the question becomes: how do we handle these crises? Where do displaced people go for food and shelter when their homes and communities are desecrated? In a timely coincidence, we have recently seen the exact events of this book play our near Fort Myers, FL when Hurricane Ian ravaged the state in October. Having that event fresh in my mind made this an unforgettable experience. I don’t know what the answers are to the current climate issues, but I did appreciate this exploration into the near future if things continue as they are right now.

For Romance/Fans of Colleen Hoover:

Reminders of Him by Colleen Hoover

I’m on the stuggle bus when it comes to finding books that engage me and keep me reading. I don’t know exactly what is off for me, but it’s been an issue for awhile now and it’s defintely feeling defeating. Reading shouldn’t be work, but it totally feels like it this year. After trying several books that just weren’t sticking for me, I perused the Kindle Unlimited selections and decided to try another Colleen Hoover book. True to her style, this was a quick read with decent investment from me for the characters and the story. It totally accomplished my goal of actually reading a book from start to finish, but it won’t top any of my lists at the end of the day. I’m not trying to take anything away from the book – this is, and has been, a continual case of “it’s me, not you” – and I’m very grateful to find any book that holds my attention at this point, but this one will more than likely fade from memory pretty quickly.

For Readers Who Can Read Books That Aren’t for the Faint of Heart:

Such a Pretty Girl by T. Greenwood

This felt like a fictional mashup of the Jeffrey Epstein case and the Jennette McCurdy book. A mother living vicariously through her daughter and jumps at every chance for one of them to become famous, Ryan Flannigan has a very complicated relationship with her mother. Mostly estranged, her whole childhood comes back under scrutiny when a big time dude is arrested for child trafficking/pedophilia. Somehow Ryan’s agent and her mother become entertwined in this murky tale, and Ryan must reexamine everything she has stuffed down while growing up. It’s intense and twisty and was hard to swallow at times, given that these very scenarios have played out in a courtroom over the last couple of years. We are living in some sick times and I wish we were still naive to think that a topic such as this is purely fictional.

I Cried To Dream Again: Trafficking, Murder, and Deliverance by Sara Kruzan

Kruzan was abused, groomed, and trafficked for sex from age eleven to age sixteen. She then then killed her trafficker/father figure and was sentenced as a juvenile to life in prison without parole. An extremely heartbreaking book to read that started off strong but wrapped up really quickly and maybe not so convincingly. Still, Kruzan has a redemptive arc and her capacity for forgiveness is amazing. Definitely not a book for the faint of heart, it is difficult to read.

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