Guess what, Linda? We’re doing something different. We’re gonna talk about the books I read in second half of November first. Wow, this is…really ground-breaking. Much excite.
November was a decent book-reading month for me, better than October if I recall. I had at least two solid “NEW FAVORITES, FIVE STARS, WOULD READ AGAIN” selections that had me super exciting and oh, would you look, they’re actually IN THIS POST.
7. Witch Please – Ann Aguirre
This was cute but not that memorable. The main couple was fine but the conflict was kind of “Eh.” Basically the girl is a witch and was told by her grandmother that if witches marry non-witches, they lose their power. And of course our main girl has INSTALOVE with a human baker man and it’s all, “OH NO DON’T LET GRAM FIND OUT” but honestly, the tension wasn’t there for me, it didn’t really feel “high stakes,” the chemistry wasn’t palpable. I thought there were entirely too many female characters and I could NOT keep them all sorted in my head.
The writing wasn’t bad by any means, but I think it just wasn’t really for me. It was a lot better than the other witch-centric romance I read in October though. I can’t even remember the name of that one, it was so, so, so, so bad except for the whole talking cat thing.
Basically, this was fine, light, and mildly entertaining, I never even once considered DNFing, but the only thing this book left me with was a painful craving for cinnamon rolls.
8. Nice Girls – Catherine Dang
This was…fine. I really *was* wondering, “What did you do?” (as the book’s tag line asks) a lot of times while reading it because all you know is that the main girl, MARY (hey Mary), gets expelled from Cornell for fighting an underclassman and you know what? This book was kind of stupid, now that I think about it. Mary is kind of despicable and it’s hard to root for her, or even pity her to be honest.
And then the climax of the book just is so fucking over the top and also felt very rushed, while at the same time, I was doing the “let’s wrap shit up” toe-tap. I don’t feel like saying anything else. It wasn’t the worst book but it started out good enough that it made me have high hopes for it but then it just kind of spirals out.
9. In My Dreams I Hold a Knife – Ashley Winstead
OK Brenda, this is in my Top 10 best books I read this year. Hear me out: Dawson’s Creek: The College Years BUT SINISTER. I was really hesitant to pick this up because it’s in the “dark academia” genre and I am famous for striking out with these types of books. Some of them can be SO PRETENTIOUS like, OK I get it. You’re a scholar. And now so are all of your characters. But this shit is dry and boring and NO ONE TALKS LIKE THIS.
(Looking at you, We Were Villains, or whatever the fuck that idiotic Shakespeare college book was called, god I hated that book.)
And then some of the Booktubers I follow kept raving about this but they are also REALLY into that genre so I was doubly-nervous because I always hate those types of books that they love, but they were doing such a great job at selling it, so I requested it from the library. And then…I picked it up, and couldn’t put it back down. I mean, I did put it down, many times. I can’t read a book in one sitting – have you even seen my nervous energy? It’s palpable and I think if you look close enough, you can see the wavy air around me.
But yeah, this book is FANTASTIC. Believable dialogue. Realistic characters. An unordered timeline that references things that haven’t happened yet and will make you frantic to find out things like, “Wait, how did he break his arm??”
Like most dark academia books, there’s a murder. In this one, there are 7 friends but one doesn’t make it out of college. And the present day chapters follow the 6 remaining friends as they attend their 10 year reunion and are forced to face the truth of what happened to their murdered friend. Every time I thought for sure I knew what happened and why and who, etc etc., I’d get to the next chapter and new information would be revealed, discrediting my theory.
It was FUN. Just a solid, entertaining, fun romp of a CW-style whodunnit that you could easily picture the cast of Dawson’s Creek or Gossip Girl starring in. It was scandalous and sad, and it made me genuinely wish I had a friend group like that while also being thankful that I DON’T have a friend group like that.
I made Janna read it immediately after and she also loved it and Janna is smarter than me so that should count for something. Go read this. Per Janna’s multi-degree recommendation.
(MOVIE! MOVIE! MOVIE!)
10. This Thing Between Us – Gus Moreno
Oh, what a weird, bizarre little horror book. It was a wild ride, had a mash-up of supernatural, haunted house, Pet Sematary vibes. I loved also that it put a sinister spin on a device modeled after Amazon Echo / Alexa. Those scenes were both frustrating (I call our own Alexa a ‘cunt’ constantly because she’s just a fucking moron, I swear to god) and also chilling. So basically, this dude’s wife is killed in a freak accident on her way to the subway and it sends her husband (who narrates this story), into a spiral. Weird shit is happening in their apartment (I actually jumped a few times, ngl) and he eventually is like “eff this noise” and moves to an isolated cabin.
There is a REALLY CREEPY scene in a diner, some real fucked up shit involving a dog (if you’re an animal lover like me, consider this a trigger warning), just a lot of anxiety-inducing scenes. I loved the voice of the protagonist and really just wanted everything to be ok for the poor guy. Like, Jesus Christ, let this guy move on with his life, you know?
This is translated from Spanish, I believe. A real solid horror novel, if you ask me. Better than most of that shit I read in October, le sigh. (El sigh?)
11. Cackle – Rachel Harrison
First thing’s first: This book is considered “horror” – forget that. It’s not horror. If you pick this up expecting to be pulling your blanket up around your chin while shuddering in the dark with a flashlight, it’s not gon’ happen. That being said, this was another one of the best books I read this year. I think I have discovered somewhere along my bipolar, identity crisis reading journey that my style is “Gilmore Girls-meets-[insert literally anything here].” Which makes sense because the writing for Gilmore Girls, the snappy, try-to-keep-up dialogue, the pure and witty conversations between friends and family, was everything to me during the time that show was on the air. The small town appeal had me, the person who always says I would never want to live in a small town, dreaming about Stars Hollow.
Cackle is all of this, with a sprinkle of magical realism and a hearty helping of GIRL POWER. I loved this book so much that I have been getting violently indignant every time I see a “meh” review. It’s mostly from people going into this expecting horror. This was some bad, terrible, detrimental marketing. Go into this thinking of a newly single woman learning to love herself. Also, go into this for the character of RALPH. He was my favorite. That’s all I’ll say.
No wait, I’ll say this too: I hate when people use “cozy” to describe anything that’s not like, a thicc blanket or drinking a hot spiked bev in front of a fire pit. But this book, OK fine, it was fucking COZY. It made me FEEL COZY without being an afghan or an Irish coffee in front of flames.
I need this to be a movie. Or a TV series.
12. Rock Paper Scissors – Alice Feeney
Am I dumb? What did I just read? This book was boring and confusing. I really liked “Sometimes I Lie” by this author but the twists in this one fell flat for me and I didn’t give a single shit about any of the characters. The writing itself was fine, it was just the, well, the actual story lol.
I think the book cover smashed it out of the park though.