Recent Reads, November 2021

I feel like this month was split for me, reading-wise… about half the books that I read were fine, but not great, and then I read a stretch of them that I really, really loved. I didn’t end up having a ton of time to read, but I’m hoping it picks up a bit more in December. Here’s what I read over the last month.

Collage of ebook covers: The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets, Grimrose Girls, The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue, The Girl with the Louding Voice, We Are Not Like Them, I'll Be You, and Business Minded.
The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets by Eva Rice

One of my Internet friends recommended this book, and I loved it SO much. She described it as a “warm hug” in book form, and that is the most accurate description that I can think of. It’s set in 1950s in London – Penelope lives with her mother and brother in an old estate after her dad died in the war. One day Penelope meets Charlotte, is invited to join her and her aunt for tea, and a whole new world of London society is opened to her. It’s a story about family, about friendship, and about romance, too – it has a little bit of everything, and is so charming.

The Grimrose Girls by Laura Pohl

I picked this one up because it was described as “dark academia,” and while that’s not wrong, it was different than I was expecting. It is dark academia, but it’s also a retelling of fairy tales. Set at a boarding school, Ella, Yuki, and Rory are all mourning the death of their friend Ariane. Her death was ruled a suicide, but they think there’s more to the story than that. Nani, a new student, arrives and slowly befriends the trio as they work to find out what’s really going on at Grimrose. The book left off on a cliffhanger – I’ll definitely read the rest of the series, but it was a little more YA than I thought it’d be.

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab

This book!! I have seen this book going around for so long now and kept avoiding it for some reason or another, and I’m so mad that I waited to long to read it. It was so, so, so good. Adeline, or Addie, is growing up in France in the 1700s, and wants a life so much larger than her parents have in mind for her. Desperate to escape, she makes a deal with the Devil to live for as long as she likes… but in return, she is to be forgotten by everyone she meets. But then, hundreds of years later, she meets someone who remembers, and her world is turned upside down. I feel like my life was turned upside down by reading this! It was that good.

The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Daré

I feel kind of bad saying that I didn’t love this book – I think that the story is important, but I just didn’t love how… preachy it felt to me, at times. Adunna is a girl growing up in rural Nigeria, who wants more than anything to go to school and get an education. After her mother dies, though, she’s sent to be the third wife of an older man. She escapes and runs away, where she becomes a ladies maid of a wealthy Nigerian family – all the while trying her best to learn and get an education. It’s an important portrayal of the disparities between the wealthy and “poor” classes, but some parts of the story just felt forced to me.

We Are Not Like Them by Christine Pride and Jo Piazza

(TW: Police shooting) Books written by two authors are always so interesting to me – just the whole process of working with someone else while writing. This book alternates perspectives between childhood BFFs Riley and Jen, who have been growing apart a bit. Jen is married and (finally) pregnant, while Riley has focused on her career and is on track to become one of the first Black news anchors in Philadelphia. But their friendship fractures even further when Jen’s husband, a policeman, shoots a Black teenager. This forces them to grapple with a lot of things that they’d mostly previously ignored, and they both have to figure out where they – and their friendship – are headed after this tragedy.

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt

I didn’t realize that this was (at least loosely) based on a true story until I was about a quarter of the way through. The story is set in Savannah in the early 1980s, and follows a number of members of Savannah society, but really centers around Jim Williams and the question of did-he-or-didn’t-he murder Danny Hansford. It honestly is written so much like a novel that I wouldn’t have ever guessed the story was true. It kind of dragged on at the beginning for me, but the story is really interesting.

I’ll Be You by Janelle Brown

I read this book as an ARC through NetGalley – it will be out on April 26, 2022. I love a story that involves a cult, and I really loved some parts of this book, but felt like it was just a little bit too long. Sam and Elli are identical twins who become child TV stars a la Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen – Sam excitedly, Elli reluctantly. Elli left Hollywood and focused on being a wife and a mother; Sam tries to make it in Hollywood alone but is also struggling with addiction. Sam gets a call from their mother asking Sam to come home to help take care of the daughter that Elli has left with her parents while she takes a few days to herself. But Sam starts to worry after her sister doesn’t come home, and sets off to untangle the mystery of where her sister has gone. There are lots of twists and turns along the way.

Business Minded by Carly Riordan

I also read this as an ARC through NetGalley – it’ll be out on December 28, 2021. I’ve been a reader – and fan – of Carly’s blog for years, so I was very excited to read her book! It’s part business instruction manual, part guide to prioritizing your health, and part workbook – all for anyone who runs, or is thinking about starting, their own business. It’s split into two sections – the first focused on more business-related chapters, and the second focused on health (the “minded” section). Each chapter has advice written by Carly, plus interviews with a variety of other small business owners. It was really great, especially for someone like me who has no business school training. The only thing I wish is that there was a little more personal insight from Carly herself, but that’s just because I want to learn as much about her success as I can!

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