November 2018 Wrap Up

This past November I participated in an Instagram challenge called #ThankfulforBOTM with the goal of completing three of my unread Book of the Month Club picks. Going into the month I set myself a TBR consisting of The Broken Girls by Simone St. James, The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker, and The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver, all three of which were pulled from my Book of the Month Club shelves and so far unread. And as usual, my TBR fell apart almost as soon as it came together. Nevertheless, I did read one of my originally selected BOTM books and it was excellent, as were the other two I ended up picking up. Without further ado, here are the six books I read in November 2018.

P.S. I’m sorry this post is so late! November and December are busy months for me (I’m sure they’re busy for everyone!). I probably won’t be posting consistently up until the new year but 2019 will be here before we know it! 

P.P.S WordPress failed to save my first version of this post after I had written literally the whole thing. So this is round two. 

The Broken Girls by Simone St. James (4 Stars)

Vermont, 1950: At Idlewild Hall, a boarding school for society’s unwanted girls, a girl has gone missing. And while the school administration and authorities dismiss her disappearance as school-girl flippancy, her friends know better and are seeking answers.

Vermont, 2014: Fiona has not been able to find peace since her sister was found murdered on the fields of the abandoned Idlewild Hall twenty years ago. Now, Fiona (a journalist) is selected to write a piece on the Hall as it is being renovated into a functioning school again. As she digs into the Hall’s past, secrets which were meant to remain hidden (about her sister, the missing girl, and the school itself) become unearthed.

This was a perfect spooky ghost story for the end of October / beginning of November. Going into this novel I was expecting a simple ghost story, but this book has so much more to offer than that. That being said, I wasn’t a huge fan of the dynamic between Fiona and her boyfriend Jamie. Their relationship, especially their dialogue, came across as cheesy and unrealistic to me.  

Calypso by David Sedaris (4 Stars)

“‘Don’t you just love the feel of an iguana?'”

Sardonic and witty, Calypso is another fantastic collection of essays from David Sedaris. The essays in this book are darker than most of his previous work, including observations on his sister’s suicide, his mother’s death, and his father’s gradual decline into old age. However, in his typical fashion, Sedaris is able to present a hilarious and deeply intimate portrait of himself and rest of the Sedaris family. 

Don’t let the dark aspects of this collection scare you away; Calypso is just as hilarious as Sedaris’ other work and will have you laughing (or if you’re like me, snorting) from the first page until the last.

Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough (4 Stars)

Louise realized her mistake the moment her new boss, David, walked into the office on Monday morning. Now, having to balance their previous affair with a working relationship, and a blossoming friendship with Adele, David’s wife, Louise is struggling to keep up with what her life has become. As she grows closer to the seemingly perfect couple she begins to question their marriage. Why is David so controlling? And why does Adele refuse to leave him?

To be honest, I wasn’t terribly impressed with the first three quarters of this novel. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t dislike it, but it wasn’t all that different from other domestic thrillers. However, when the twist was finally revealed… holy smokes, I did NOT see that coming. The ending of this book left my head spinning! 

In the Woods by Tana French (4 Stars)

In the Woods presents us with two mysteries: one from the past and one in the present. Both cases take place in the Irish town of Knocknaree and both deal with the murder and disappearance of children. Further linking the two cases together is the main character and narrator, detective Rob Ryan, who as a child was found alone in the Knocknaree woods wearing blood-soaked shoes and suffering from trauma induced memory loss. Despite the ethical issue of investigating a case he has a personal stake in, Ryan agrees to take on the new case with his partner Cassie Maddox.

French’s style is unlike other mystery novels I’ve read; her writing is complex, atmospheric, and draws the reader in beyond the surface of the mystery. Unfortunately the mystery of Ryan’s childhood case is never solved, which is disappointing but nevertheless adds to the book’s intrigue. 

Becoming by Michelle Obama (5 Stars)

Beginning on the South of Side of Chicago, Becoming chronicles Michelle Obama’s life up until her and Barack’s departure from the White House in January of 2017. Focusing specifically on her educational and professional paths, Obama reflects on the struggles and triumphs that have shaped her into the person she is today. Equal parts uplifting, humorous, and intelligent, this memoir delves deeply into who Michelle is as a person, a parent, a wife, a daughter…

I have been a huge fan of Michelle Obama since I was first introduced to her during the campaign in 2008, but nothing could have prepared me for how much I loved this book. Michelle Obama is a national treasure and we, especially girls and women, are lucky to have her as a role model.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid (4 Stars)

Evelyn Hugo, an iconic Hollywood actress of the past, asks up-and-coming journalist Monique Grant to write a book recounting her glamorous life of Hollywood stardom. Monique is shocked to learn of Hugo’s meager beginnings in New York City and how she was able to wield her personal charms and power of persuasion to become one of America’s most beloved stars. Oh, and then there are her seven husbands, too.

Everyone has been raving about this book all year and I have to say that the praise is warranted. This isn’t your average chick lit story, far from it. Besides the dazzling depiction of Hugo’s glamorous life, this is a story of ambition, profound friendships, and most importantly, forbidden love.  

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