My goal for November:

I want to finish my reading challenge, which means I Am Malala and probably Wuthering Heights. Love and Other Consolation Prizes by the lovely Jamie Ford. And a couple of short books as well. Let’s go with 5.

I spent much more time writing and revising than I did reading this month so I fell quite short. I also didn’t read anything challenge-related.

What I read: (Link to my Goodreads 2017 shelf where you can find individual reviews that may or may not differ from what is posted here.)

Love and Other Consolation Prizes – (Jamie Ford) – 5* – (Nov 4)

More like 4.5 or 4.75 because I wasn’t completely satisfied with the resolution, but Jamie Ford is such a beautiful writer.

This story focuses on a young boy who came over from China only to be auctioned off at the Seattle world’s fair in 1909. He ends up working as a houseboy in a brothel where his affections are torn between two women. The second timeline is this same man dealing with the decline of his wife’s mental abilities in 1962. Ford was able to keep me guessing for most of the book about which woman he married.

Only Jamie Ford can make a book about brothels so gentle – he has a real way with words.

It’s Always the Husband (Michelle Campbell) – 2* – (Nov 18)

This book wasn’t my favorite. I expected a standard modern thriller and I give it credit for trying something different, even if it didn’t work for me.

The story opens with the death of an unnamed main character in present-day. Exciting! Then we delve into a plot surrounding a secret from 20 years ago, when three friends were college roommates. Half of the book is essentially a YA novel, full of angst and boys and drugs and drinking. The secret is heavily telegraphed in a way that left the actual reveal feeling anticlimactic.

But then – on to part two! Now the adults are still acting like children because the truth may come out from decades ago. There’s revenge and lying and more boys and drugs and drinking leading up to the opening scene in which a character dies. By the time the resolution came out, I was too tired of twists and turns to really care, leaving me disappointed.

The Girl Before – (JP Delaney) – 3.5* – (Nov 24)

This story is about a “smart” house and the people who have lived in it. There are many rules and a difficult rental application process involving a somewhat eccentric owner/architect. After Jane moves in, she learns a previous tenant (Emma) died there under suspicious circumstances. Jane and Emma’s stories are told side-by-side as Jane investigates what happened.

Interesting concept with a “smart” house but also quite unbelievable to me. I like that I didn’t quite guess the end. Compared to other similar books, this case presents several very plausible options without making you feel jerked around, leaving you unsatisfied. Overall, it can be seen as a cautionary tale about technology.

I started with three reading goals this year but added a fourth:

  1. Read 40 books: – Completed in August. I’m now at 59, which is 23 ahead of schedule.
  2. Complete the Rhymes with Croatia 2017 Reading Challenge: There are 24 categories, and I’ll count no book for more than 2. I also decided not to count re-reads (unless the category specifies it must be a re-read). Numbers below are new/add’l categories completed.
    1. January – 5 (set somewhere you’ve never been, set in a school, thriller, library, kick-ass woman protag/female author)
    2. February – 4 (teaches something new, recommended by a friend, embarrassed to be seen with in public, takes place during winter)
    3. March – 3 (collection of short stories, one-word title, adapted to tv/movie)
    4. April – 4 (new-to-you classic author, banned book, historical event, famous author never read)
    5. May – 2 + 1 alternate (purple cover, coffee table book, Bonus: TBR 3+ years)
    6. June – 1 (book with a flower/plant in title)
    7. July – 0 (ouch! 7 left to go)
    8. August – 1 + 1 alternate (family history/heritage, Bonus: punny title)
    9. September – 1 alternate (written by a doctor – AND I made plans/purchases for the final categories)
    10. October – 2 (biography/memoir, another belief system)
    11. November – none (ack!)
    12. Still to complete (2) – year I was born, one-hit wonder (Corrected May to include purple cover, April to include banned book, famous author & historical event)
  3. Decrease my TBR: 
    1. January 1 – 88 physical/29 digital
    2. January – 91/29 (read 2 physical, added 5 – 2 were gifts)
    3. February 28 – 91/30 (read 1 physical, bought a few, donated and otherwise updated my shelf to reflect what’s actually there)
    4. April 6 – 88/31 (no new physical, despite my birthday, bought 2 digital)
    5. May 3 – 89/32 (bought 1 physical, received 1 at a writing conference, bought 3 digital)
    6. June 1 – 86/32 (I only read 1 – the other 2 are being read slowly now)
    7. June 30 – 78/32 (I decided to donate some but mostly read from the library)
    8. July 31 – 82/32 (Some people buy magnets on vacation – I buy books as souvenirs)
    9. August 1 – 77/32 (Despite buying 2 and reading several library books, I managed to decrease the TBR – assuming my count is accurate)
    10. September 29 – 81/35 (Some of what I bought was specifically to meet reading challenge categories, some was trip souvenirs, and one was a gift)
    11. Nov 1 – 81/18 (I did some shelf updates, made some donations, ditched a whole bunch of digital that were in my tally but I had no interest in reading)
    12. Dec 1 – 81/18 (Interesting, as I only read one from my shelf but I added two so I don’t know how that works)
  4. Read more political/activism books: None.

Diversity? Not really. Two modern thrillers, one beautiful historical fiction.

Star ratings: I base this on the flat stars Goodreads displays in list-view, not the quarter-star system I assign in my reviews.

  • 5 stars: 7 books
  • 4 stars: 24 books
  • 3 stars: 21 books
  • 2 stars: 3 books
  • 1 star: 0 books
  • 0 stars: 0 books

Pages read:

  • January – 2936
  • February – 1075
  • March – 1380
  • April – 1786
  • May – 1064
  • June – 2272
  • July – 1157
  • August – 2409 (wow!)
  • September -2009
  • October – 1327
  • November – 981


On to December! I have two books to finish in the reading challenge (a book written the year I was born and a book by a one-hit wonder). I like to read something holiday-related later in the month. I’ll commit to 4 books and see what happens.