It’s already been almost an entire year of mini reviews! I’m not sure yet if I’m going to continue doing these reviews in this format in 2021, but it’s definitely a very nice way to wrap up every month. Back when I started this blog, I reviewed every single book I read with a full review, but there’s no way I’m able to do that now – especially this year, when I’m reading multiple books a week at times!
November was another great reading month for me. I participated in two readathons; a month-long one (the 1000 Doors Readathon – there’s a video on that one coming up next week, hopefully) and a week-long one (the Gilmore Girls Readathon – you can find my vlog here!). I didn’t fully complete the 1000 Doors Readathon, since I didn’t finish my last book (still haven’t), so you’ll see me reviewing that one in my December mini reviews post. However, I did manage to read seven books, which is great! And, more importanty, I loved most of them. There was only one disappointment in the mix, and I still gave that one three stars.
So, onto the reviews!
Record of a Spaceborn Few by Becky Chambers ★★★★★ (5)
This is the third book in the Wayfarers series, which I’ve been calling the Wayfarers trilogy up until now, but there’s actually a fourth book coming out in February! So far, I’ve loved all of the books in this sci-fi series, including this third one, and I’m happy to say that this is now definitely one of my all-time favourite series. The books are more like companion novels, with each of them focusing on a different cast of characters within the same universe. It’s a very expansive universe as well, with all kinds of different races, cultures and people. This one is about the Exodan fleet, which is the fleet that left Earth after it became uninhabitable centuries ago. Many humans left the fleet for other planets throughout those centuries, but there’s still a relatively large group left who live on these spaceships. As always, Becky Chambers has written a beautiful, rich story about interesting characters trying to find their way in the world. These stories are intelligent, loving and hopeful and I adore them!
Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating by Christina Lauren ★★★⭑☆ (3.5)
Josh and Hazel is the third romance novel I’ve read by this author duo and while it’s not my favourite, I did definitely enjoy it! As with their novel Love and Other Words, I liked the first half much better than the second half. There’s something about the last part of these books that’s a little too dramatic for me – I think Christina Lauren is better at the banter and the growing tension between the main characters. Hazel was definitely standout character for me. She’s quite quirky, which makes a lot of people shy away from her, but she’s not afraid to be herself, which I loved. I listened to the audiobook for this novel, which I honestly wouldn’t recommend, because the male narrator wasn’t great; the voice he gave Hazel was very whiny and awful.
Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier ★★★★⭑ (4.5)
Rebecca is one of those books that I knew I wanted to read at some point, but it wasn’t very high up on my TBR. This year, however, everyone in the community seemed to be reading or rereading it because of the Netflix adaptation that came out in October. I decided to jump on that bandwagon, and I’m so glad I did because I loved this novel! It’s told through the eyes of a nameless narrator who recounts what happened to her after she married a rich widower and moved back to his estate, Manderley, with him. Rebecca is the name of his deceased wife, and she plays a very large role in the story, as you can tell by the title. I’d previously read a short story by Daphne du Maurier, so I already knew I liked her writing style, but Rebecca just blew me away in terms of writing. It’s extremely atmospheric and lush but it also makes you want to keep turning the pages because of the suspense. I did think the ending was a bit abrupt, but that also fitted the story rather well.
The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater ★★★★☆ (4)
I love Maggie Stiefvater’s books and The Scorpio Races had been waiting on my shelves for me for quite a while now already, so I’m glad I finally got to read it in November. It’s the story of Puck and Sean, who live on a small island called Thisby, which hosts a competition called ‘the Scorpio Races’ every year. In this race, people ride savage water horses along the beach front. These horses are extremely dangerous, and it can get very bloody and deadly out on that beach. I loved this novel! What I love most about Maggie Stiefvater’s books are her beautiful writing and her eye for the most intricate, unexpected details. I also really liked the characters and the wildness of the island and the story itself. I do think the books in the Raven Cycle are better, but I’d definitely recommend reading this one too.
Fables, Vol. 3: Storybook Love by Bill Willingham et al ★★★⭑☆ (3.5)
Storybook Love is the third volume in this comic/graphic novel series about a group of exiled fable and fairy tale characters. A dark force known only as ‘the Adversary’ cast them out of their homeworld centuries ago, and ever since then, they’ve lived in ours, with New York as their home base. Every volume focuses on its own specific story, but they do build on one another, which I actually prefer to comic volumes that are just one continuous story. This third volume focuses on Bigby Wolf and Snow White, who face a problem with possibly deadly consequences. I enjoyed it a lot! I like how with each volume you learn a little more about the characters and their back stories. I’d definitely recommend reading this if you like seeing fairy tale characters in modern day settings.
The Astonishing Colour of After by Emily X.R. Pan ★★★☆☆ (3)
Although I did still give it three stars, The Astonishing Colour of After was a bit of a disappointment to me, unfortunately. It tells the story of Leigh, who loses her mother to suicide, and is convinced she has come back to her in the shape of a big red bird. Leigh travels to Taiwan to meet her grandparents for the first time, and continues to search for the bird and the answers she hopes it can give her while she’s there. I had very high hopes for this book, and while it wasn’t bad per se, I do think it could have been better on multiple fronts. I didn’t enjoy the writing style (too over the top) and the structure (too basic) and I’d hoped for a bit more ambiguity in terms of this bird and whether or not it truly was Leigh’s mother. Besides that, I didn’t think the characters were very well-developed. However, I did enjoy getting to know more about Taiwanese and Chinese culture and I thought the depiction of Leigh’s grieving process as well as her mother’s depression was very well done.
Other Words for Home by Jasmine Warga ★★★★★ (5)
This was such a wonderful surprise this month! I listened to the audiobook for this novel after seeing it recommend on BookTube and I absolutely loved it. Other Words for Home is a middle grade novel told in verse about Jude, a young Syrian girl who moves to the United States with her mother. In the US, she has to get used to a new school, a new home and an entirely new culture while also having to deal with discrimination and racism. The novel deals with some heavy and sad topics, but it does so in such a beautiful way. I’m so glad that this book is out there for children and adults alike to learn more about what it’s like to have to leave your home behind and start anew somewhere else. I hope it teaches children that other cultures are not scary or wrong and that we’re all just people who deserve love and kindness.
And that’s it for the books I read in November! Have you read any of these books and did you enjoy them? What was your favourite read in November? Let’s chat in the comments!