November 2019 Reading Wrap-Up

In my November TBR post, I revealed my ambitious reading plans for the month that included reading all of the Goodreads Thriller nominees and participating in Tome Topple, Buzzwordathon, and Sci Fi Month. I’m pleasantly surprised with my ability to stick (mostly!) to that original plan and ended up having a great reading month. Below are all of the books I completed along with which readathon/challenge it fulfilled for me. I’d love to know if you read any of the books below or participated in the readathons I mentioned above!

This month’s quick stats:
9 books (3 audiobooks)
2,480 pages
10 authors (7 female)
0 nonfiction | 9 fiction
This year’s quick stats:
101 books (22 audiobooks)
25,969 pages
95 authors (52 female)
24 nonfiction | 77 fiction

Title: Illuminae
Author: Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff Genre: Science Fiction
Pages: 596
My Rating: 3 stars
Readathon/Challenge: Sci Fi Month

Brief Summary: This book tells the story of Kady and Ezra, two teenagers forced to evacuate their home planet (not Earth) and board two different warships in a space battle between powerful space entities. The book is most notable for its unique writing style – the story is told dossier-style through emails, medical reports, memos, IMs, interviews, etc.

My Thoughts: My thoughts on this book are actually a little bit conflicting – on one hand, I absolutely love the multi-media format and thought it added an interesting element to the sci-fi story and made for a fun reading experience. I also really came to enjoy the relationship between the two main characters and found myself rooting hard for them not only to survive but to reconnect with each other in the end. However, that’s where my love for the story ends – the rest of it I actually found to be extremely confusing and boring. It took a long time for me to understand (if I ever did fully understand…) the universe they were in, what had happened in the past, and what they were fighting for in the present. I don’t typically love action movies or books, so I’m not surprised that I didn’t love the action scenes, but I also can’t think of a single OTHER character in the book that I fully knew, understood, or cared for. I do think I would pick up the second book in the series, because again I love the format and do think a lot of work went into building the story, but I’m not rushing out to buy it right this second.

Title: The Whisper Man
Author: Alex North
Genre: Thriller
Pages: 0 (audiobook)
My Rating: 2 stars
Readathon/Challenge: Goodreads Mystery/Thriller Nominees

Brief Summary: This book follows a few different perspectives of people living in a town where, 20 years ago, five young boys (like ages 7-8) were abducted and killed. The man responsible for the murders has been caught and become known in the town as the “Whisper Man” because of the way he would sit outside of their windows and whisper creepy things to in the days leading up to their disappearances. Now, 20 years later, the town is reeling because a new little boy has gone missing, and although the people and authorities know it can’t be the Whisper Man because he’s being held in jail, the similarities are eerie and have people wondering if there was an accomplice to the previous murders and if that accomplice could be back, looking for more little boys to abduct and kill.

My Thoughts: The premise of this book is super creepy – I mean, abducted and murdered children is absolutely a topic that makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up, and this book did a good job of building the suspense between the past and the present. Once the initial creepiness wore off, though, I found this mystery a little disappointing in that it didn’t do anything super original or surprising in any way. I would have loved a few more twists or something that would really make this book stand out in my mind, but unfortunately, I think most of the details will fade in my memory and this book will drop far down on my list of good or favorite thrillers.

Title: The Mother-In-Law
Author: Sally Hepworth
Genre: Thriller
Pages: 0 (audiobook)
My Rating: 4 stars
Readathon/Challenge: Goodreads Mystery/Thriller Nominees

Brief Summary: This book shifts back and forth between the perspectives of a mother-in-law and daughter-in-law with a complicated relationship. They didn’t exactly start off on the right foot, and since then their relationship has consisted of tip-toeing around each other, not exactly outwardly fighting but each knowing that the other isn’t her biggest fan. When one day the mother-in-law turns up dead, everyone else in the family begins to wonder about secrets within the family and whether the apparent suicide is what it appears to be, or if foul play could be involved.

My Thoughts: I’ll start this review by saying that I absolutely would not consider this book to be a thriller – although there is the mystery element of the murder/suicide, the majority of the story reads like a contemporary or chick-lit book. We get to know the past of the relationship between the mother- and daughter-in-law, plus the upbringings of both and how that affected their family dynamic. I surprisingly enjoyed the story because of these complex relationships and dynamics, and ultimately I was satisfied with the eventual reveal of the mystery. Was it the most thrilling thing I’ve ever read? No, but I can still appreciate a story with many layers and that actually tackles many hard-hitting issues a lot of families may deal with.

Title: My Sister, the Serial Killer
Author: Oyinkan Braithwaite
Genre: Thriller
Pages: 226
My Rating: 2 stars
Readathon/Challenge: Goodreads Mystery/Thriller Nominees

Brief Summary: This book follows a young woman named Korede, who frequently gets phone calls from her sister telling her that she accidentally killed her boyfriend and needs help cleaning it up. Korede has gone along with her sister three times now, covering up her mess and her crimes, but now she is conflicted because her sister’s new boyfriend is someone Korede actually has feelings for and doesn’t want to turn up dead – does she try to warn him and risk turning in her sister, or stay silent and risk another deadly accident?

My Thoughts: I’ve definitely seen this book around the Bookternet quite a bit, with reviews that differ greatly. Of the critiques I’ve seen, most say that the writing is chopping, the pacing is off, and the book itself is too short for the plot to fully developed. After finishing the book, I actually didn’t mind any of those things and disliked it for completely different reasons. In my opinion, the story is completely dull and I really hated almost all of the characters. I wasn’t rooting for anyone, I wasn’t scared or shocked by anything in the plotline (I mean, the title is pretty clear on what you can expect), and I didn’t really understand the point of any of the side stories that were thrown in. I wouldn’t say that I regret reading this book, but I’m disappointed after all of the buzz I’ve been seeing about it this year and definitely wouldn’t consider it a top thriller.

Title: Thunderhead
Author: Neal Schusterman
Genre: Dystopia
Pages: 504
My Rating: 4 stars
Readathon/Challenge: Tome Topple

Brief Summary: This is the second book in the very popular Arc of a Scythe series by Neal Schusterman, in which we follow characters in a futuristic world where humans have conquered mortality and the only way to die is to be selected and gleaned by a Scythe. Scythes are highly-respected and highly-trained members of the society tasked with gleaning a certain number of people every year in order to keep population under control. Otherwise, the world is a completely perfect and self-sufficient place, thanks to the Thunderhead – an entity based on todays “Cloud” that is all-knowing and all-controlling in terms of managing hunger, income, crime, etc. This second book continues the story of two apprentice scythes from the first book in the series and dives much deeper into the Thunderhead’s role itself.

My Thoughts: I read Scythe, the first book, earlier this year and absolutely loved it. I am very happy to say that Thunderhead is a very solid second book that didn’t suffer from “second book syndrome” at all in my opinion. I loved learning more about the world and each of the characters, and the new characters and plot advancements were enough to keep me invested throughout the book and intrigued for the third and final book in the series. This is a must-read for lovers of the dystopian genre!

Title: The Night Circus
Author: Erin Morgenstern
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 0 (audiobook)
My Rating: 3 stars
Readathon/Challenge: Tome Topple

Brief Summary: This fantasy book is generally about a traveling magical circus that pops up in random locations all over the world and is open to the public from dusk to dawn. When people attend the circus, they are awe-struck by the experience – delicious food and smells, dazzling decorations, and highly entertaining performers everywhere they look. Throughout this story, we get to know the behind-the-scenes members of this circus, including the originator himself and many of the employees and performers who make it all come together, including two young magicians raised in preparation for a competition with each other to determine whose powers are greater.

My Thoughts: I am not a very big fantasy reader, so I knew that it was unlikely that I’d fall head-over-heels in love with this book like everyone else seems to… but after finishing it, I’m actually a little confused by the hype. I will say that the writing is absolutely BEAUTIFUL and the descriptions of the circus absolutely make me wish I could go and experience it for myself. But the plot…. Is non-existent? The synopsis makes it sound like there will be a fast-paced, action-packed competition between two magicians, but that is so not what happens, and I found myself both bored and confused as I waited longer and longer for any action to happen. Plus all of the other side characters and stories were a little confusing and also took away from any sort of action. Overall it’s hard to say that I hated it, because I definitely wanted to finish the story, but even harder to say that I loved – or even liked – it. I’d love to hear some feedback from anyone who loves this story – did you go in with different expectations, or did I miss something in the story that made it more impactful?

Title: Wilder Girls
Author: Rory Power
Genre: Science Fiction
Pages: 353
My Rating: 3 stars
Readathon/Challenge: Sci Fi Month

Brief Summary: This book has been described as many things – a fantasy/sci fi/horror gender-bent retelling of Lord of the Flies has been the most common description that I’ve seen. The story follows a group of girls being quarantined on Raxter Island, where they were attending an all-girls school until a mysterious disease broke out and started causing mutations and eventually killing most of the inhabitants. Because nobody knows what the disease is or what is causing it, people on the mainland don’t want to risk it spreading and choose to keep the girls stranded on the island with few resources being shipped over every couple of days to keep the survivors alive until some kind of cure is found. This leaves the girls extremely hungry, scared, and determined to find out more about the island’s inhabitants and history to explain their mysterious situation.

My Thoughts: This book was good – even great at the beginning – but just wasn’t ENOUGH for me. I wanted more time with the characters, more information and background when it came to the setting, and definitely more answers at the end. I really enjoyed the story itself but all of the lingering questions left me unsatisfied and hesitant to recommend it to people who don’t know what they’re getting into.

Title: Nine Perfect Strangers
Author: Liane Moriarty
Genre: Contemporary
Pages: 450
My Rating: 3 stars
Readathon/Challenge: Buzzwordathon

Brief Summary: This contemporary story follows nine individuals as they check in to a 10-day health resort that promises to completely change their lives through mysterious and unconventional measures. The “patients” don’t quite know what to expect, but most are willing to try just about anything to get their lives back on track – something that the staff know well and even use to their advantage at times.

My Thoughts: I have been reading a LOT of thrillers and sci-fi lately, so it was nice to get back into contemporary and just read about characters living their lives – and in this case, trying to improve them. I thought the character development was great – this book is told through over 10 character perspectives, so the fact that I could easily keep all of them straight and actually end up invested and caring about all of them is really impressive. I loved the first half of the story (the slower and arguably more boring half) because I was so interested in each of the characters and intrigued enough in the situation to really want to know how they would all change by the end. The twist(s) that happened throughout the second half seemed unrealistic and unnecessary to me, though, and took away from my enjoyment a bit. I’d recommend this book to people who really enjoy character-driven books almost bordering on character studies, and then say to keep an open mind about where the story may go!

Title: Miracle Creek
Author: Angie Kim
Genre: Thriller
Pages: 351
My Rating: 4 stars
Readathon/Challenge: Goodreads Mystery/Thriller Nominees

Brief Summary: This mystery follows the story and court case after an explosion at an oxygen-treatment center leaves two people dead, a handful of people injured, and a bunch of people looking suspicious as the mystery is revealed of what ultimately caused the disaster.

My Thoughts: I wouldn’t call this book your typical thriller – much more of a mystery, as the tragic event happens right away and the entire rest of the book is filling in the pieces of what really happened. A good majority of the book is told through the court case following, and although I wouldn’t normally pin myself as a courtroom-mystery-lover, I actually did really enjoy this story as a whole, including the courtroom scenes and way of revealing the mystery.

Title: Station Eleven
Author: Emily St. John Mandel
Genre: Dystopia
Pages: 333
My Rating:  stars
Readathon/Challenge: Buzzwordathon


Although I do wish I could have completed a few more books in November, overall I’m happy with my reading experiences and hopeful that I will finish the year off strong with a good reading month in December. I’d love to know what reading plans you have for the last month of the year!

3 thoughts on “November 2019 Reading Wrap-Up

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