Another delayed book post, but here is my November 2022 in books. It was a wild start being in the UK and driving around, and then having a flurry of photography work, finding time to read the books on my TBR has been a time in itself. My most anticipated read of the year, Babel has finally come out and it is in my possession, however, it will be featured on my December list.
I’ve tried to be more open to genres again, trying not to read the same genre in a row, and so far it is kind of working. It has been keeping my mind stimulated when it comes to reading and avoiding the dreaded reading burnout.
This month I have read: 6 books amounting to 1,969 pages. If you want to stay updated on my progress, add me on Goodreads!
It Happened One Summer
Length: 397 pages
First Published: 2021
Piper Bellinger is fashionable, influential, and her reputation as a wild child means the paparazzi are constantly on her heels. When too much champagne and an out-of-control rooftop party land Piper in jail, her stepfather decides enough is enough. He cuts her off and sends Piper and her sister to learn some responsibility running their late father’s dive bar… in the remote port town of Westport in Washington. Piper tries to keep her head down, especially as the locals seem less than friendly, in particular, that tall captain Brendan. The fun-loving socialite and the gruff fisherman are polar opposites, but there’s an undeniable attraction simmering between them. Piper doesn’t want any distractions, especially feelings for a man who sails off into the sunset for weeks at a time. (Synopsis from Goodreads)
Recharging station. Cute, sickly, please stop it…
It took a while to get into this one. There is nothing relatable in this book at all. The whole enemy-to-lovers trope moved so quickly and then just fizzled out. The situations where Piper and Brendan were forced together weren’t awkward and it kind of left the story a little bland. Yes, I’m sure everyone wants a handsome fisherman to whisk them off their feet now after reading this not-very-funny rom-com, but not for me. Very much a hallmark movie kind of romance, without the awkward spilling of coffee when bumping into each other moment.
However, the portrayal of emotions from both Piper and Brendan are quite delicious in the Douglas Kennedy sense, rather than the light-hearted rom-com of Tessa Bailey sense. Of course, this is all personal opinion and I’m sure I will have people arguing with me over this.
This book gets 3.5 stars due to its character development and writing style. I liked it, just didn’t care much for everything else. Oh, I will be reading the next one in the series too.
Length: 400 pages
First Published: 2022
A wedding in a small English village attracts a malicious spirit, forcing deep secrets to the surface–a hypnotic tale of sisterhood, first love, and hauntings. (synopsis from Goodreads)
“Every family has its strange, painful place, Chloe had thought, just as every house has one drawer full of chaos, crammed with nails and knotted string, orphaned keys and half-burned candles.”Small Angels, Lauren Owens
The slowest of burns to begin with. The setup is detailed but does not give too much away at once. This book is very much written in a dense gothic tone, so be warned it is a bit stodgy for those who are used to reading light easy breezy romances. (me this summer).
For me, this is a very English paranormal story. The church on the edge of the woods reminds me of my childhood with the chapel at the edge of the woods – the ghost stories we would tell ourselves while walking in the dark. Loved that little punch of nostalgia for me. On the other hand, I can see why people dislike the book because of this aspect. It is very much a folk horror and I love that.
I learned about this book from Twitter, so thanks book community on Twitter! Always get such great recommendations from readers and authors alike!
Slaughter House Five
Kurt Vonnegut Jr.
Length: 215 pages
First Published: 1969
Prisoner of war, optometrist, time-traveler – these are the life roles of Billy Pilgrim, hero of this miraculously moving, bitter and funny story of innocence faced with the apocalypse. Slaughterhouse 5 is one of the world’s great anti-war books. Centering on the infamous fire-bombing of Dresden in the Second World War, Billy Pilgrim’s odyssey through time reflects the journey of our own fractured lives as we search for meaning in what we are afraid to know.
Anyone who is in the same brain as me will love this book. It’s so cynical and weird, the commentary is perfect, and for someone who had to read many weird war books thanks to WW2 and Vietnam for their degree, it is the king of the pile.
As a commentary against war, this book is something else. It has the acceptance of war; soldiers just do as they are told. There is a job that needs doing and it is done. It’s simple yet complex in talking about what happens with Billy. The past the present and the future happen all the time, all at once.
The book has many quotable moments, the descriptions of life being so apt, even to today’s standards, that I will be thinking about this for a while.
The Diamond Eye
Genre: Historical Fiction
Length: 435 pages
First Published: 2022
In 1937 in the snowbound city of Kiev (now known as Kyiv), wry and bookish history student Mila Pavlichenko organizes her life around her library job and her young son–but Hitler’s invasion of Ukraine and Russia sends her on a different path. Given a rifle and sent to join the fight, Mila must forge herself from studious girl to deadly sniper–a lethal hunter of Nazis known as Lady Death. When news of her three hundredth kill makes her a national heroine, Mila finds herself torn from the bloody battlefields of the eastern front and sent to America on a goodwill tour.
Still reeling from war wounds and devastated by the loss, Mila finds herself isolated and lonely in the glittering world of Washington, DC–until an unexpected friendship with First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and an even more unexpected connection with a silent fellow sniper offer the possibility of happiness. But when an old enemy from Mila’s past joins forces with a deadly new foe lurking in the shadows, Lady Death finds herself battling her own demons and enemy bullets in the deadliest duel of her life.
Kate Quinn has done it again. An instant-buy author for me with such a good way of storytelling world war fiction without having to embellish facts or make things up. Great research, beautiful prose, and overall another favourite to add to my list.
This book is based on a true story, like most of Quinn’s books, and again it doesn’t fail to get the heart racing and the emotions turning. Using both true facts about sniper Lyudmila Pavlichenko (Mila) and her life as the little-known Russian-Ukranian sniper Lady Death, with accurate fictionalization creates this wonderful historical fiction novel.
Genre: Sci Fi, Dystopian
Length: 288 pages
First Published: 2022
Teen Malibu Makimura discovers she can feel people’s emotions and senses an ominous voice growing inside her. She lands a job at a women’s nightclub drawing surrealist caricatures. One night while drawing a portrait, she feels a sinister emotion projected by a woman named Luciana, who invites Malibu to her Presidio Heights mansion.
Vintage chiller horror. Love it. Take the language of victorian gothic but make it applicable to newer technologies in the early 20th century and you have these masterful pieces. The length of these short stories is just enough to leave you satisfied with the chill but also wanting more. The first two stories are a little more ropey than the rest but it only gets better!
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you Mark for sharing your work!
Where to start? This was not what I was expecting – in a good way. I have to admit the start did not hook me in, but as everything grew in the description, meeting new characters, and learning slowly about them as the plot unwinds, it was a slow burn for me. I love the premise and how it fits so nicely into the dystopian niche.
The characters. I can’t get enough of Malibu and Max. Love it. Also, Luciana is intriguing, a noir in a classy way, and pretty much the reason I finished the book.
French Language Books
Têmpete au Haras
Length: 234 pages
First Published: 2012
All these foals, I attended their birth, it was my great passion. And even today, despite everything that has happened to me, this is what interests me the most: the next foal to be born. To see him get up, hesitant, stumble, stick to his mother, suckle, all that, and then run, and grow, and soon win a race, before giving birth to other foals, and so on. Some horses become stars, you just have to make them run, and they go faster than the others. Why? It’s a mystery. At least that’s what those with a star claim: “Mystery and gumption.” But should we believe them? Haven’t they, in truth, found the magic potion?
This is a French book for teenagers, following the life of a boy who follows his father’s footsteps of breeding and racing in the trotting world. It is funny; of course, it is a different sense of humor from what I am used to, but it’s witty, funny, and also such a fun little read.