What I Read in November and December (and What I Want to Read in January)
In November and December, I managed to read 5 new books, even with all the holiday chaos. In fact, taking a bit of time to read probably saved me from stressing about all the holiday craziness! I read 2 really good books and a few that are worth a one-time read. Check them out below, and if you’ve read any of them, let me know what you thought of them! I’m always curious about how other people enjoyed or didn’t enjoy books that I’ve read.
After getting a note demanding his presence, Federal Agent Aaron Falk arrives in his hometown for the first time in decades to attend the funeral of his best friend, Luke. Twenty years ago when Falk was accused of murder, Luke was his alibi. Falk and his father fled under a cloud of suspicion, saved from prosecution only because of Luke’s steadfast claim that the boys had been together at the time of the crime. But now more than one person knows they didn’t tell the truth back then, and Luke is dead.
Amid the worst drought in a century, Falk and the local detective question what really happened to Luke. As Falk reluctantly investigates to see if there’s more to Luke’s death than there seems to be, long-buried mysteries resurface, as do the lies that have haunted them. And Falk will find that small towns have always hidden big secrets.
This book was really, really, good. It caught me from the very first chapter and made me want to keep reading it. I finished reading it in less than 24 hours, and I am anxious to read her next book now! Jane Harper does a great job at getting you invested in all the characters, and she makes it seem like everyone is capable of murder and yet, not capable. Rather, she gives everyone good qualities and questionable traits, so you’re kept guessing through the whole book.
It is better than your typical murder mystery, because it really interweaves two mysteries – the current day one that Agent Falk is solving, as well as one involving him from his childhood. There’s so much going on, but it’s so well played out. I can’t recommend this book enough!
Recommendation: Buy it!
In the summer of 1862, a group of young artists led by the passionate and talented Edward Radcliffe descends upon Birchwood Manor on the banks of the Upper Thames. Their plan: to spend a secluded summer month in a haze of inspiration and creativity. But by the time their stay is over, one woman has been shot dead while another has disappeared; a priceless heirloom is missing; and Edward Radcliffe’s life is in ruins.
Over one hundred and fifty years later, Elodie Winslow, a young archivist in London, uncovers a leather satchel containing two seemingly unrelated items: a sepia photograph of an arresting-looking woman in Victorian clothing, and an artist’s sketchbook containing the drawing of a twin-gabled house on the bend of a river.
Why does Birchwood Manor feel so familiar to Elodie? And who is the beautiful woman in the photograph? Will she ever give up her secrets?
Told by multiple voices across time, The Clockmaker’s Daughter is a story of murder, mystery, and thievery, of art, love, and loss. And flowing through its pages like a river, is the voice of a woman who stands outside time, whose name has been forgotten by history, but who has watched it all unfold: Birdie Bell, the clockmaker’s daughter.
This book involved a mystery, too, which is what kept me interested in the book. It’s a heavy literary fiction, and it involves a lot of history through multiple time periods. I liked the back and forth between history and the present, but it definitely took me some time to really get into the book.
This is one I read slowly (it took me 3 weeks to finish it), but when I was finished, I did feel like the loose ends were fairly well tied up. It was a good read, but one I’d probably only read once.
Recommendation: Borrow it from the library.
Two people. Ten chances. One unforgettable love story.
Laurie is pretty sure love at first sight doesn’t exist anywhere but the movies. But then, through a misted-up bus window one snowy December day, she sees a man who she knows instantly is the one. Their eyes meet, there’s a moment of pure magic…and then her bus drives away.
Certain they’re fated to find each other again, Laurie spends a year scanning every bus stop and cafe in London for him. But she doesn’t find him, not when it matters anyway. Instead they “reunite” at a Christmas party, when her best friend Sarah giddily introduces her new boyfriend to Laurie. It’s Jack, the man from the bus. It would be.
What follows for Laurie, Sarah and Jack is ten years of friendship, heartbreak, missed opportunities, roads not taken, and destinies reconsidered. One Day in December is a joyous, heartwarming and immensely moving love story to escape into and a reminder that fate takes inexplicable turns along the route to happiness.
This is definitely a chick-lit romance. It’s cheesy, not very Christmasy, and at times completely unbelievable. I mean, c’mon, they go to a live Grease movie reenactment, and Laurie’s (the main character) best friend turns out to be an absolutely fabulous dancer, and Laurie and her crush (her best friend’s boyfriend) end up on a romantic ferris wheel ride together. Like I said, cheesy. But. There is still some substance to it. It takes a long time to get to a happy ending for everyone, and there’s a lot of drama throughout the novel. It’s definitely deeper than your typical romance novel, but it almost seemed like the author wrote the book hoping it would be turned into a movie. Lots of the dialogue and events seemed like typical movie scenes.
It was a cute, easy read. It’s not Christmasy, so don’t pick it up looking for a festive holiday read. But it’s worth a read one time.
Recommendation: Borrow it from the library.
Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price―and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can’t pull it off alone. . . .
A convict with a thirst for revenge.
A sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager.
A runaway with a privileged past.
A spy known as the Wraith.
A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums.
A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes.
Six dangerous outcasts. One impossible heist. Kaz’s crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction―if they don’t kill each other first.
Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo returns to the breathtaking world of the Grishaverse in this unforgettable tale about the opportunity―and the adventure―of a lifetime.
I really enjoyed this book, and I’m itching to pick up the sequel, Crooked Kingdom. If you like dystopian novels (think Hunger Games or Divergent series) you’d probably love this book. It takes a bit to sort out and keep track of all the gangs, characters and places, because they’re all new creations, but it’s worth your time. The action is well written and fast paced throughout the novel. It’s meant to be a teen book, but I know a lot of adults who would love this book.
And the author makes you really fall in love with the characters. She gives you their best and their worst and by the end, you’re fully invested in them. (Which is why I’m sooo anxious to read the sequel). The characters are all teenagers, and they have conflicts with crooked adults in the book, but it doesn’t seem to be kid vs. adult; it’s not pushed at you. I felt like I really couldn’t completely predict how everything would turn out, and I think that’s part of what made me like it – I really had to think and guess what would happen. And now that I know, I would still happily read this book again!
Recommendation: Buy it!
Hocus Pocus is beloved by Halloween enthusiasts all over the world. Diving once more into the world of witches, this New York Times bestselling two-part young adult novel, released on the twenty-fifth anniversary of the 1993 film, marks a new era of Hocus Pocus. Fans will be spellbound by a fresh retelling of the original film, followed by the all-new sequel that continues the story with the next generation of Salem teens.
Shortly after moving from California to Salem, Massachusetts, Max Dennison finds himself in hot water when he accidentally releases a coven of witches, the Sanderson sisters, from the afterlife. Max, his sister, and his new friends (human and otherwise) must find a way to stop the witches from carrying out their evil plan and remaining on earth to torment Salem for all eternity.
Twenty-five years later, Max and Allison’s seventeen-year-old daughter, Poppy, finds herself face-to-face with the Sanderson sisters in all their sinister glory. When Halloween celebrations don’t quite go as planned, it’s a race against time as Poppy and her friends fight to save her family and all of Salem from the witches’ latest vile scheme.
The first half of the book is the story based on the film Hocus Pocus. It’s pretty much just the screenplay turned into a novel; the dialogue and actions are all exactly the same as the movie. I watch the movie every Halloween, so it was fun to read it in novel form.
The second half of the book is about Max and Allison’s daughter and the Sanderson sisters coming back. It’s set in current day, and it is very obviously geared towards teenagers. It was full of a lot of cliches, and sounded like it was another screenplay-turned-novel, only I’m pretty sure they’re hoping for novel-turned-screenplay. It was okay, but I don’t think I’d enjoy it as a movie. And I’d probably reread the first half of the book at Halloween and skip this part of it.
My recommendation: Take it or leave it. Nothing else to read? Give it a try.
What I Want to Read in January:
Any other recommendations? What else should I pick up this month?