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Can you believe this long year is almost over? It’s been a tough one for my family, so I’m looking forward to a fresh start with 2022. Enough of that, let’s talk books. Today I’m sharing November books, but as December begins, I’m going to have all the fun end-of-year posts, starting this Thursday with 2021 Underrated Gems.
So, stay tuned or follow me on Instagram @novelvisits to see all my thoughts on 2021 books!
In November I picked up a couple books I’d missed earlier in the year and read some excellent November releases. I hope you can find a couple to enjoy among my six favorites from November.
Fault Lines by Emily Itami (debut)
Publisher: Custom House
Release Date: September 7, 2021
Length: 224 pages
My Thoughts: Let me start by saying that Emily Itami is definitely a writer to watch. I loved both the writing and storytelling in her debut, 𝐅𝐀𝐔𝐋𝐓 𝐋𝐈𝐍𝐄𝐒. Hers is a wonderfully layered story about a bored Tokyo housewife with two children, a crumbling marriage, and a lover on the side. Mizuki is a woman with much to be confused about, and even more that she sees clearly.
“…𝘪𝘵 𝘳𝘦𝘮𝘢𝘪𝘯𝘴 𝘴𝘭𝘪𝘨𝘩𝘵𝘭𝘺 𝘥𝘪𝘴𝘢𝘱𝘱𝘰𝘪𝘯𝘵𝘪𝘯𝘨, 𝘴𝘩𝘢𝘭𝘭 𝘸𝘦 𝘴𝘢𝘺, 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘐’𝘮 𝘧𝘢𝘳 𝘧𝘳𝘰𝘮 𝘨𝘦𝘵𝘵𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘣𝘦𝘴𝘵 𝘨𝘳𝘢𝘥𝘦𝘴 𝘪𝘯 𝘴𝘰𝘮𝘦𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘐’𝘷𝘦 𝘨𝘰𝘯𝘦 𝘪𝘯𝘵𝘰 𝘨𝘶𝘯𝘴 𝘣𝘭𝘢𝘻𝘪𝘯𝘨. 𝘗𝘢𝘳𝘦𝘯𝘵𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘪𝘴 𝘴𝘢𝘷𝘢𝘨𝘦—𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘳𝘦 𝘪𝘴 𝘯𝘰 𝘰𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘳 𝘢𝘤𝘵𝘪𝘷𝘪𝘵𝘺 𝘰𝘯 𝘦𝘢𝘳𝘵𝘩 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘺𝘰𝘶 𝘤𝘰𝘶𝘭𝘥 𝘨𝘦𝘵 𝘶𝘱 𝘵𝘰 𝘥𝘰 𝘧𝘰𝘶𝘳 𝘵𝘪𝘮𝘦𝘴 𝘢 𝘯𝘪𝘨𝘩𝘵 𝘧𝘰𝘳 𝘵𝘸𝘰 𝘺𝘦𝘢𝘳𝘴 𝘴𝘵𝘳𝘢𝘪𝘨𝘩𝘵, 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘢𝘵 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘦𝘯𝘥 𝘰𝘧 𝘪𝘵 𝘣𝘦 𝘮𝘦𝘳𝘦𝘭𝘺 𝘪𝘯 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘳𝘶𝘯𝘯𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘧𝘰𝘳 𝘮𝘦𝘥𝘪𝘰𝘤𝘳𝘦.”
Unconditionally, Mizuki loves her children, yet has no illusions about the doldrums of motherhood, especially with a spouse who provides well, but is rarely fully present. She expected more of her life, and she’s disappointed. She knows she wants more. She knows she deserves more. So, when the opportunity presents itself, she can’t resist the temptation of a relationship that makes her feel valued, free, and re-energized for the first time in nearly a decade. Before long, Mizuki is torn, leading a sort of double-life. And really, how long can a person go on like that? Always engaging, 𝘍𝘢𝘶𝘭𝘵 𝘓𝘪𝘯𝘦𝘴 was also suspenseful, funny, wise and heart-warming, and at a tight 213 pages it was a very fast read! Grade: B
Ghosts by Dolly Alderton
Release Date: August 3, 2021
Length: 320 pages
My Thoughts: Somehow I missed 𝐆𝐇𝐎𝐒𝐓𝐒 by Dolly Alderton when it was released in August. I first really noticed it a couple weeks ago when several people mentioned how much they liked it in the Sarah’s Bookshelves Live Patrons-Only Facebook group. These are serious readers with trustworthy recommendations, so I immediately put in a library request and quickly had the book in my hands!
If you read the synopsis of 𝘎𝘩𝘰𝘴𝘵𝘴, you might feel like it’s a romance about a girl who is ghosted by a guy she meets on a dating app, but it’s so much more. Nina is 32 and living a great life. She has close friends, just bought her own flat, has built a career she loves, and even has a great relationship with her ex-boyfriend, Joe. Despite all the good, life is also changing for Nina. Her dad has Alzheimer’s and her mother is struggling, her friend’s are marrying and having babies, and Nina is trying to figure out where she fits in all of that, and yes, she’d like a relationship.
“𝘐 𝘸𝘪𝘴𝘩𝘦𝘥, 𝘴𝘦𝘭𝘧𝘪𝘴𝘩𝘭𝘺, 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘐 𝘸𝘢𝘴 𝘭𝘪𝘵𝘵𝘭𝘦 𝘢𝘨𝘢𝘪𝘯. 𝘛𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘐 𝘥𝘪𝘥𝘯’𝘵 𝘩𝘢𝘷𝘦 𝘵𝘰 𝘴𝘦𝘦 𝘢𝘭𝘭 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘩𝘶𝘮𝘢𝘯𝘪𝘵𝘺 𝘰𝘧 𝘮𝘺 𝘰𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘳𝘸𝘪𝘴𝘦 𝘴𝘵𝘦𝘦𝘭𝘺 𝘮𝘰𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘳 𝘦𝘹𝘱𝘭𝘰𝘥𝘦 𝘰𝘶𝘵 𝘰𝘧 𝘩𝘦𝘳 𝘭𝘪𝘬𝘦 𝘢 𝘨𝘦𝘺𝘴𝘦𝘳.”
Essentially, 𝘎𝘩𝘰𝘴𝘵𝘴 is a very well-told story of growing up and truly becoming an adult. It’s not all sunshine and roses, as we all know. In the year we spend with Nina, she works at figuring that out. The first half of the book was just a little slow for me, but the second half flew by. It was a perfect, refreshing change of pace, with some real depth to it. Grade: B
These Silent Woods by Kimi Cunningham Grant
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Release Date: November 16, 2021
Length: 288 pages
My Thoughts: Sometimes a book just comes out of nowhere and takes you completely by surprise. That’s exactly what happened to me with 𝐓𝐇𝐄𝐒𝐄 𝐒𝐈𝐋𝐄𝐍𝐓 𝗪𝐎𝐎𝐃𝐒 by Kimi Cunningham Grant. You’re not going to get much from me about this book, because I think the story is better without knowing too much. (𝘋𝘰𝘯’𝘵 read the publisher’s synopsis.) I will tell you it’s about a father and his young daughter, Cooper and Finch, living off the grid in a cabin deep in the Appalachian mountains. There’s a reason why and a couple people who know, but their world is limited, which is not the same as small. Something happens to threaten the life Cooper so carefully built for them.
That’s all I’m willing to share, but trust me, you’ll want to read 𝘛𝘩𝘦𝘴𝘦 𝘚𝘪𝘭𝘦𝘯𝘵 𝘞𝘰𝘰𝘥𝘴. In some ways it reminded me of 𝘖𝘶𝘳 𝘌𝘯𝘥𝘭𝘦𝘴𝘴 𝘕𝘶𝘮𝘣𝘦𝘳𝘦𝘥 𝘋𝘢𝘺𝘴 by Claire Fuller, but rest assured the two books did NOT go to the same place. From start to finish, I was all in as Grant drew me deeper and deeper into the world of Cooper and Finch. Her characters were so well-developed and full of heart, I found myself enamored with them. The setting felt vivid and real. On top of all that, her story had a big dose of mystery to it, which compelled me to read “one more chapter” over and over again. The ending was a little neat and tidy, but still I consider this book a huge November win! Grade: A
Note: My thanks to Minotaur Books (via NetGalley) for an electronic copy of this book in exchange for my honest thoughts.
Femlandia by Christina Dalcher
Publisher: Berkley Books
Release Date: October 19, 2021
Length: 336 pages
My Thoughts: I like just a touch of dystopia every now and then and that’s exactly what Christina Dalcher delivered with her new book, 𝐅𝐄𝐌𝐋𝐀𝐍𝐃𝐈𝐀. Taking place in the very near future after the U.S. economy has completely collapsed, stores have closed, people are fighting for supplies, and sometimes much worse. The story centers on Miranda and her 16-year old daughter, Emma, who have lost everything. With nowhere else to turn, Miranda does something she swore she never would: sets out for one of the Femlandia compounds, originally started by her own mother.
By it’s title, you might think this book is some sort of feminist manifesto, but it definitely is not. It is a book focused on women, many of whom see men as the enemy, thus the creation of Femlandia, but it’s much bigger than that. Miranda doesn’t share her mother’s views on men, and most of the book is the struggle between their two belief systems. I listened to this one and it was excellent on audio. Brittany Pressley did a fantastic job bringing Miranda to life. Having read all of Christina Dalcher’s books, I think 𝘍𝘦𝘮𝘭𝘢𝘯𝘥𝘪𝘢 is my favorite. Miranda is a badass heroine, with lots of soft edges. Grade: B
The Family by Naomi Krupitsky (debut)
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Release Date: November 2, 2021
Length: 368 pages
My Thoughts: 𝐓𝐇𝐄 𝐅𝐀𝐌𝐈𝐋𝐘 by Naomi Krupitsky honestly wasn’t really a book I’d planned on reading. Historical fiction has been tricky for me since the start of the pandemic and the premise itself didn’t feel quite right for me. When the book came in the mail, I was immediately drawn to that cover, and sat down to read just a chapter or two. You probably know how it goes from there. I couldn’t put the book down and ended up loving it.
𝘛𝘩𝘦 𝘍𝘢𝘮𝘪𝘭𝘺 is surrounded by life in a WWII era Italian “Family,” but at its core it’s a story of the lifelong friendship between Sofia and Antonia, daughters of mobsters. They love their fathers and their families, but want different paths for their own lives.
“𝘛𝘩𝘦𝘳𝘦 𝘪𝘴 𝘯𝘰 𝘦𝘢𝘴𝘺 𝘸𝘢𝘺 𝘵𝘰 𝘶𝘯𝘵𝘢𝘯𝘨𝘭𝘦 𝘸𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘪𝘴 𝘍𝘢𝘮𝘪𝘭𝘺 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘸𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘪𝘴 𝘧𝘢𝘮𝘪𝘭𝘺. 𝘛𝘩𝘦𝘳𝘦 𝘪𝘴 𝘯𝘰 𝘤𝘭𝘦𝘢𝘯 𝘴𝘦𝘱𝘢𝘳𝘢𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯 𝘰𝘧 𝘱𝘳𝘰𝘧𝘦𝘴𝘴𝘪𝘰𝘯𝘢𝘭 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘱𝘦𝘳𝘴𝘰𝘯𝘢𝘭….𝘚𝘰𝘧𝘪𝘢 𝘪𝘴 𝘣𝘦𝘨𝘪𝘯𝘯𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘵𝘰 𝘶𝘯𝘥𝘦𝘳𝘴𝘵𝘢𝘯𝘥, 𝘺𝘰𝘶 𝘩𝘢𝘷𝘦 𝘵𝘰 𝘥𝘰 𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘯𝘨𝘴 𝘺𝘰𝘶 𝘸𝘰𝘶𝘭𝘥𝘯’𝘵 𝘩𝘢𝘷𝘦 𝘦𝘹𝘱𝘦𝘤𝘵𝘦𝘥 𝘵𝘰 𝘱𝘳𝘰𝘵𝘦𝘤𝘵 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘱𝘦𝘰𝘱𝘭𝘦 𝘺𝘰𝘶 𝘭𝘰𝘷𝘦.”
Debut author Krupitsky was masterful in developing these two characters and their complex, ever-changing, yet always enduring friendship. This was not an action packed story, to some it might even seem a little slow, but a deep, often dark, character-driven novel is exactly my kind of book! Grade: A-
Note: My thanks to Putnam Books for a finished copy of this book in exchange for my honest thoughts.
Imposter Syndrome by Kathy Wang
Publisher: Custom House
Release Date: May 25, 2021
Length: 368 pages
My Thoughts: Don’t you just love it when you pick up a book that you haven’t really heard much about and end up loving it? 𝐈𝐌𝐏𝐎𝐒𝐓𝐄𝐑 𝐒𝐘𝐍𝐃𝐑𝐎𝐌𝐄 by Kathy Wang was one of those books for me. I knew nothing about it until @sarahsbookshelves put it on my radar. Thank you, Sarah!
This is the story of a Russian operative, Julia, who was plucked from obscurity in Moscow and 12 years later is the COO of a large Facebook-like company in the Silicon Valley. For years she’s been a good agent, passing on all kinds of useful information gathered through her company, but there are problems. Julia has come to really love her life in California and her wealthy, powerful persona. She’s not so sure she wants to do what’s asked of her any longer. Big problem! Then there’s Alice, a fairly low level employee who has spotted some irregularities in the company that might point back to Julia and she just can’t let it go. Big problem!
𝘐𝘮𝘱𝘰𝘴𝘵𝘦𝘳 𝘚𝘺𝘯𝘥𝘳𝘰𝘮𝘦 is a fun and very different page-turning romp that I really couldn’t put down. Wang has written a book many people will enjoy and it’s just light enough to be perfect for this crazy, busy season when head space can be limited. If you were a fan of 𝘛𝘩𝘦 𝘈𝘮𝘦𝘳𝘪𝘤𝘢𝘯𝘴 (originally on FX, and now on Prime) you’ll definitely be all in for 𝘐𝘮𝘱𝘰𝘴𝘵𝘦𝘳 𝘚𝘺𝘯𝘥𝘳𝘰𝘮𝘦. Grade: B
What books have been your favorites from November?
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Hi Susie! Our reading lists are matching up a lot this month. I just finished Fault Lines and would definitely read more by this author. I’m about to start the Silent Woods book and I’m waiting for my library hold for The Family. I saw a couple more on your recap that sound good. :). Loved hearing you chat books on Sarah’s podcast.
Thx for posting here again. Silent Woods looks spooky good … and The Family’s synopsis grabs me a bit. I will look for both. You had a good November of books!