November Roundup

I kind of failed this month. I’m used to reading 10+ books a month, usually ending up closer to 20 reads. I didn’t even pass 10 book this month. I ended up only reading 5. I mean, 5 is good but I still feel like a failure for not reading more. November has been pretty stressful, mostly work related, but it has definitely negatively impacted my life and disrupted what I enjoy doing most.

I had a massive cull of books this month. My tbr shelves were purged. Any book that had been on my shelf longer than 6 months was put under the ‘am I actually ever going to read this’ test. I ended up getting rid of about 15 books. Some books I’d brought back in January but over the course of the year, my reading tastes have changed and I knew I wouldn’t find any joy in the books I purged. I gave some away to my Mum’s church raffle, while others became Christmas presents and the rest were put into the ‘blind date with a book’ box at work. I feel lighter now when I look at my tbr shelves because I know that the books there are ones I will most definitely read. It is of no surprise that the fullest tbr shelf is full of crime & thriller novels.

Anyway, on with the roundup!

It seems silly, considering how many Kindle books I got in November, that I only managed to read 5 books…

All 5 books were actually fantastic, I was lucky not to have any duds in November. 4 crime/thrillers and 1 children’s book.

The Dinner Party by R. J. Parker was definitely an impulse buy on one of my kindle hauls this month. The premise should have warned me off, a group of friends getting together for an event and then…something happens. It’s a plot line I’ve seen pop up in many books since the summer. (‘Nine Perfect Strangers’ by Liane Moriarty ‘What You Did’ by Claire McGowan & ‘The Holiday’ by T. M. Logan). It’s a plot line that I’ve discovered stands on a thin line between being good and being bad. I loved ‘What You Did’ by Claire McGowan but only thought ‘Nine Perfect Strangers’ by Liane Moriarty was ok, while ‘The Holiday’ by T. M. Logan was terrible.

However, I took a chance because I’m always curious as to whether I’ll be surprised or not. I was glad I picked this book up, it was complex, intriguing, suspicious, gripping and mysterious. The main point I have is that I didn’t guess it (straight up crimes or detective novels, I can usually guess the outcome, however, since I’ve moved further into thrillers & psychological thrillers, it has been harder for me to guess correctly, which is great!) This book was exciting to read, I felt the characters were given the space to grow and move and I felt that I was reading about genuine people rather than stiff or stereotypical people. It was a great mix of the secrets people hold dear and how those secrets can have the ability to conquer or crumble those involved, as well as making the reader think about the characters and why certain actions were taken.

Last Breath by Robert Bryndza is the 4th book in the Erika Foster series that I have come to love while reading this year. I’ve always thought that Erika Foster’s character is very real and has the ability to connect to any reader. I find her raw and real and with her leading the series, I am never thrown out of the book or left feeling that something is unrealistic or forced. The dynamics between Erika, Peterson and Moss is something that I’ve come to associate with the series and the three of them make up a strong unit to push back against the opposing crime. This book showed a change of pace with the characters, some took a backwards step while others became more prominent. I’m constantly waiting for Erika to break. Soon enough her character has to get sick of everything thrown at her and break in some way. It will be interesting to see if that happened and how the character will pick up after it.

Cold Blood by Robert Bryndza is the 5th book in the Erika Foster series and I read it off the back of finishing the 4th book, so everything was still fresh in my mind. I was a little irked by the turn of some of the characters in this book because I felt that it didn’t match up to their behaviour from the previous books. It brought back a little of the annoyance I had in the earlier books, where the males in charge didn’t see Erika as the strong capable detective that she was and looked down upon her/kept her on a tight leash. Hopefully, book 6 will steer Erika away from this annoyance and she’ll return to the strong person she is and be able to work with a better head on her shoulders and more trust in her heart.

The Wizards of Once by Cressida Cowell has been on my shelf since the beginning of the year and I finally got around to reading it. Reading this was made more enjoyable because my 7 year-old nephew was reading it at the same time. It delighted him to know I was reading the same thing he was, but he did also try and ruin the story for me – because he’s at that age where the things spoiling things for others is hysterically funny…but if you do the same to him, he’ll cry 😉

I really enjoyed the level of creativity in the story versus the level of creativity in the illustrations, they perfectly complimented each other and wove a story that came to live as I was reading. I loved this book, I loved how effortless it was, how compelling it was and how the two main characters were essentially unlikable and unsure. Watching both Xar and Wish travel along their journey and learn about themselves along the way was very heartwarming to see and pushed the story to be so much more than an adventure with witches.

Finally, ‘The Secret Santa’ by Trish Harnetiaux was a book I was supposed to be saving till December but I cracked and read it early. I suppose it could be considered as another book where a group of people get together and something dastardly happens, but it didn’t have the same feel to it. I run the Secret Santa at my place of work, so I suppose this held a level of amusement for me. I had this theory while reading, I was so dead set on this theory that I missed how wrong I was. I’ll admit, I was a little disappointed to discover that my theory wasn’t the correct one but I still found the ending unexpected and enjoyable. It was another book that made me think about people, the character’s lives and how the little we really know about the people around us. It was a short book that I read in only 2 hours but it was very enjoyable and well written.

Review 1 – The Dinner Party by R. J. Parker – ★★★★★

Review 2 – Last Breath by Robert Bryndza – ★★★★★

Review 3 – Cold Blood by Robert Bryzndza – ★★★★

Review 4 – The Wizards of Once by Cressida Cowell – ★★★★★

Review 5 – The Secret Santa by Trish Harnetiaux – ★★★★★

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