November in Review – Books

Hey all,

Oh my, I thought the end of the year would allow me to catch up, but it seems that it’s not happening!

I’ve moved on December 15th so of course everything was packed so I was not able to use my stuff, and since the hubby was away for 2 months I did everything by myself and thus it’s been complete chaos! And on top of that I’ve worked like a crazy person, yaaay, so I haven’t had time to do anything for me.

I am now staying with my parents for a few days for Christmas and it’s been lovely but I haven’t had much time for blogging there either, so here’s my super-belated November bookish wrap-up!

I didn’t read any mangas in November either, this seems to be a recurring theme, so let’s see what happens in January (and the last few days of December).

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I started the month with Pumkinheads by Rainbow Rowell and Faith Erin Hicks, which I unfortunately didn’t enjoy that much for a Rowell story (╥_╥)

Deja and Josiah are seasonal best friends. Every autumn, all through high school, they’ve worked together at the best pumpkin patch in the whole wide world. They say good-bye every Halloween, and they’re reunited every September 1.

But this Halloween is different—Josiah and Deja are finally seniors, and this is their last season at the pumpkin patch. Their last shift together. Their last good-bye.

Josiah’s ready to spend the whole night feeling melancholy about it. Deja isn’t ready to let him. She’s got a plan: What if—instead of moping and the usual slinging lima beans down at the Succotash Hut—they went out with a bang? They could see all the sights! Taste all the snacks! And Josiah could finally talk to that cute girl he’s been mooning over for three years . . . What if their last shift was an adventure?

I was a little bit disappointed in this one, it lacked the usual charm found in Rowell’s novels. I liked the art but the format just didn’t allow Rowell to work her magic with the description of feelings, so apart from a few scenes it didn’t have that very recognizable feel. I also think I was super excited about the super fall-ish feel that people had been raving about, and my expectations were probably a bit too high. It’s still a cute story, but I won’t be re-reading it and I donated the physical copy, it might make someone else happy. I will probably read Wayward Son as soon as I receive it to get more of the Rowell magic in me this year!

3 stars

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I then moved to a thriller because I’m done fighting it! I love thrillers and I don’t see why I should force myself to expand my bookish horizons when I know what I like (and get disappointed a lot when I try hyped books outside of my favorite genres). BUT I didn’t go to my favorite sub-genre (procedurals with serial killers), I tried another Ruth Ware (ok what was I just saying about the hype??), The Woman in Cabin 10.

I don’t generally like psychological or domestic thrillers, and I didn’t care for In a Dark Dark Wood by this author, however I loved The Turn of the Key so I thought I might try this one and see whether it worked for me, and it did!

Lo Blacklock, a journalist who writes for a travel magazine, has just been given the assignment of a lifetime: a week on a luxury cruise with only a handful of cabins. At first, Lo’s stay is nothing but pleasant: the cabins are plush, the dinner parties are sparkling, and the guests are elegant. But as the week wears on, frigid winds whip the deck, gray skies fall, and Lo witnesses what she can only describe as a dark and terrifying nightmare: a woman being thrown overboard. The problem? All passengers remain accounted for and so, the ship sails on as if nothing has happened, despite Lo’s desperate attempts to convey that something (or someone) has gone terribly, terribly wrong. 

I didn’t go into this book with very high expectations since it’s not generally my genre of predilection, but it was a good surprise.

The author did a great job with Lo, who was questioning her sanity but without being totally unlikable. At first I really thought she was both hiding something and losing it, but after a while all the passengers became suspects and nothing was that black and white anymore.

The twists were good and I loved the ending, overall I had a great time and I highly recommend the audiobook read by Imogen Church, as usual she does a great job!

4.5 stars (what is happening to me?? I guess Ruth Ware is really good if she can make me like that type of story!)

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My next read was Scythe, which is another hyped book but I was in the mood for a little dystopia and a YA sounded easy enough while I was packing boxes.

A world with no hunger, no disease, no war, no misery. Humanity has conquered all those things, and has even conquered death. Now scythes are the only ones who can end life—and they are commanded to do so, in order to keep the size of the population under control.

Citra and Rowan are chosen to apprentice to a scythe—a role that neither wants. These teens must master the “art” of taking life, knowing that the consequence of failure could mean losing their own. 

So this one took me a while to go through because it was not really fast-paced, so I kind of gave up on it mid-month and picked it up again only after about 10 days, but it was good overall.

I thought that the way Shusterman incorporated scythe journal entries to the story to flesh out the world was quite good since it posed questions that forced the reader to think more about the world, about the challenges that it faces and also about how our world could actually transform into that one.

I loved following multiple scythes with different approaches, which created a wide array of questions about morality, and I found myself picturing how I would act, what my criteria for gleaning would be, how hard it would be for me to be a scythe.

However, the story never engrossed me. Citra and Rowan are not very memorable, I didn’t care much for them, and I didn’t really feel invested in their struggles (probably because I don’t understand what would be so difficult about the job, after all population control is extremely important in their world so it’s that or everybody will be worse off).

Looking back on it, I’m not sure I was invested enough to continue with the series, I’m not really excited about reading the next installment and could totally live without ever knowing what’s happening next. Thus, I’m giving it 3.5 stars.

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After giving up on Scythe for a little while, I needed something exciting that I knew I would most likely love, so I got No Exit which had been recommended by Krystin Rachel @ Here’s The Fucking Twist, and spoiler alert: I fucking LOVED it!

On her way to Utah to see her dying mother, college student Darby Thorne gets caught in a fierce blizzard in the mountains of Colorado. With the roads impassable, she’s forced to wait out the storm at a remote highway rest stop. Inside, are some vending machines, a coffee maker, and four complete strangers.

Desperate to find a signal to call home, Darby goes back out into the storm . . . and makes a horrifying discovery. In the back of the van parked next to her car, a little girl is locked in an animal crate. Who is the child? Why has she been taken? And how can Darby save her?

There is no cell phone reception, no telephone, and no way out. One of her fellow travelers is a kidnapper. But which one? 

Trapped in an increasingly dangerous situation, with a child’s life and her own on the line, Darby must find a way to break the girl out of the van and escape. But who can she trust?

What a slap to the face!! This was action-packed, riveting, I couldn’t put it down and I enjoyed the ride so much!

This was so different from all the popular thrillers that are legion these days (basically domestic thrillers which I generally find boring and repetitive) and I was so thankful for it! Darby was a great character because she was smart, she was quick-thinking, she was incredibly resourceful, but in a believable way. I was rooting for her so hard I probably broke a thing or two that I was packing because it was so intense. (★^O^★)

Of course as soon as I was done I had to check whether the book had been picked up for a movie adaptation and the answer is yes! I can’t wait to see it because it was amazingly cinematic ۹(ÒہÓ)۶ They could screw up but seeing the names attached to the project, I think we’re pretty safe and it’s going to be amazing to watch, provided it’s R-rated (coz it was gory, violent, and freaking amazing!!!). And I hope the Hollywood “curse of the redhead” doesn’t strike again and we get a fiery redhead to play Darby! 

5 stars! 

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After finishing the more-than-average Scythe, I wanted to continue with great reads for the end of the year so once again I picked up a book mentioned by Krytin Rachel and other people who also like dark and twisted reads, and went with Heartsick by Chelsea Cain. I’ve been having trouble getting the audiobooks for that series and I only found the first one, but I thought if I liked it I would find the rest later, and since it had been on my TBR for forever I wanted to get to it this year.

Damaged Portland detective Archie Sheridan spent ten years tracking Gretchen Lowell, a beautiful serial killer, but in the end she was the one who caught him. Two years prior, Gretchen kidnapped Archie and tortured him for ten days, but instead of killing him, she mysteriously decided to let him go. She turned herself in, and now Gretchen has been locked away for the rest of her life, while Archie is in a prison of another kind—addicted to pain pills, unable to return to his old life, powerless to get those ten horrific days off his mind. Archie’s a different person, his estranged wife says, and he knows she’s right. He continues to visit Gretchen in prison once a week, saying that only he can get her to confess as to the whereabouts of more of her victims, but even he knows the truth: he can’t stay away.

When another killer begins snatching teenage girls off the streets of Portland, Archie has to pull himself together enough to lead the new task force investigating the murders. A hungry young newspaper reporter, Susan Ward, begins profiling Archie and the investigation, which sparks a deadly game between Archie, Susan, the new killer, and even Gretchen. They need to catch a killer, and maybe somehow then Archie can free himself from Gretchen, once and for all. 

This was such a good thriller, exactly what I am looking for in my reads: sick, twisted, full of serial-killers and damaged cops. My favorite style! 4.5 stars.

The audiobook was not very good so it dampened my enjoyment a little bit, which is why I didn’t give it 5 stars, but it was still riveting and I can’t wait to get more of Gretchen Lowell! Since the audio version was not great and since my library doesn’t have them anyway, I have decided to get the rest as e-books and will probably get to book 2 pretty soon.

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My next read was another thriller because I was on a roll and wanted to finish that series before the end of the year, so I picked up Skin Privilege by Karin Slaughter, the last book in the Grant County series.

Lena Adams has spent her life struggling to forget her childhood in Reece, the small town which nearly destroyed her. She’s made a new life for herself as a police detective in Heartsdale, a hundred miles away – but nothing could prepare her for the violence which explodes when she is forced to return. A vicious murder leaves a young woman incinerated beyond recognition. And Lena is the only suspect.

When Heartsdale police chief Jeffrey Tolliver, Lena’s boss, receives word that his detective has been arrested, he has no choice but to go to Lena’s aid – taking with him his wife, medical examiner Sara Linton. But soon after their arrival, a second victim is found. The town closes ranks. And both Jeffrey and Sara find themselves entangled in a horrifying underground world of bigotry and rage – a violent world which shocks even them. But can they discover the truth before the killer strikes again? 

The audiobook for that one wasn’t good at all, it felt really dated and therefore dampened my enjoyment of the book as a whole, so I really wouldn’t recommend it.

Regarding the actual book and the characters, as usual, Lena always gets everyone in trouble and makes the wrong choice at almost every corner, and I’m tired of that. The fact that Jeffrey and Sara want a kid in this volume also didn’t appeal to me so it was another thing that made it a meh book for me. And the whole plot was really average, I’m very disappointed because the first 2 books in this series were amazing, but the next 4 were really not that gritty, not that dark, and frankly not that interesting.

And the fact that this is the end of the road for this series makes it even worse. If you don’t know, the ending is quite shocking and left many fans pretty angry, and even though I didn’t personally mind what happened at the end, I thought that to leave it at that is a bit frustrating, especially since it was only brushed upon in the last 2 pages and not expanded upon at all. I knew what was going to happen getting into the series since I had read another series that takes place after, but still, it felt incomplete.
Overall pretty disappointing since the series started off amazing and quickly went downhill in my opinion. I’m glad it’s finally over and I can get to the Will Trent series now. 2 stars.

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Finally, I picked up a romance novel that everybody was raving about, The Simple Wild by K.A. Tucker.

Calla Fletcher wasn’t even two when her mother took her and fled the Alaskan wild, unable to handle the isolation of the extreme, rural lifestyle, leaving behind Calla’s father, Wren Fletcher, in the process. Calla never looked back, and at twenty-six, a busy life in Toronto is all she knows. But when Calla learns that Wren’s days may be numbered, she knows that it’s time to make the long trip back to the remote frontier town where she was born.

While she struggles to adjust to this rugged environment, Jonah—the unkempt, obnoxious, and proud Alaskan pilot who helps keep her father’s charter plane company operational—can’t imagine calling anywhere else home. And he’s clearly waiting with one hand on the throttle to fly this city girl back to where she belongs, convinced that she’s too pampered to handle the wild.

Another romance book, another book I didn’t really care for, so I think the genre is not for me.

The romance was ok but I really didn’t want ot read about that, I was more interested in the family dynamics and of course the setting (I LOVE reading about Alaska). Basically it was ok for a romance novel, but it was no Great Alone! The plot didn’t give enough space to the setting, and I was left craving for more.

In addition, the main character was judgmental, vapid and vain, I didn’t care for her one bit. I don’t care if you want to wear heels and makeup at home, good for you, but if you go to the middle of Alaska use some common sense and adapt to the place. She was so annoying that I almost DNFed this book several times, it was quite painful to go through.

Anyway, it’s a book I will forget all about pretty soon and I’m done with the genre, it’s just not for me, I want more in a book. So it’s too bad the month didn’t end on a high note, but let’s hope the year-end is better!

Hope you had a good reading month and that you are enjoying the holidays!

Thanks for stopping by! (๑•́ ₃ •̀๑)

see you soon

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