Hi, friends! Thanks for joining me today; I’m so glad you’re here 💙. Today I’m sharing my November 2021 wrap-up. Despite meeting my target of completing four books (and, bonus!: finding a new comfort read), I did fall into a slump in the second half of the month. I hope to turn that around in December. For now, though, keep reading to see what I got up to in November!
What I Read in November 2021
Almost everything I plan to read this year is part of my 2021 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge. You can check out the full list of prompts and my selections ･ﾟ✧here✧ﾟ･.
The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
— 3.5 out of 5 stars
The first book I read in November 2021 was Rick Riordan’s novel about Percy Jackson, a twelve-year-old boy who discovers he is the son of a Greek god. After a close encounter with a mythological demon, Percy is taken to the demigod safe haven, Camp Half-Blood. Here, he learns that his existence proves Poseidon broke the oath he shared with his brothers not to have any more children. Poseidon’s betrayal of this oath causes Zeus to blame his brother (and, thereby, Percy) for the theft of his lightning bolt. After a short stay at camp, Percy sets out on a quest to find Zeus’s lightning bolt and clear his name.
This was my favorite book in grade five, and it still holds up for the most part. There are a lot of similarities between The Lightning Thief and the Harry Potter series that young Tassara didn’t pick up on. Still, I didn’t mind them too much, even on this reread. The Greek Mythology veneer makes this otherwise-typical YA Fantasy novel feel slightly different from other popular series. Most of what didn’t hold up for me were the characterizations that relied on communicating to the reader who was good and who was evil based on whether they were fat and/or ugly. At least Rick was a bit ahead of the times with his disability representation. Plus, based on how much people enjoy his more recent releases, I’m inclined to believe his use of these tropes decreases with time.
If you’re looking for a breezy, easy-to-read fantasy adventure series for young readers (or have already read this and want a taste of that sweet, sweet nostalgia), then The Lightning Thief might be for you!
Support a local bookstore (and this blog!) by purchasing The Lightning Thief on Bookshop.org.
The Guest List by Lucy Foley
— 2.0 out of 5 stars
Next, I read Lucy Foley’s latest release, winner of the 2020 Goodreads Choice Award for Mystery/Thriller: The Guest List. This is the story of a wedding night gone wrong when someone is murdered during the reception. Each chapter is told from alternating perspectives, giving us a glimpse into a different character’s past. As the story progresses, more and more pieces fall into place about why the bride, the groom, or one of the guests might want another wedding attendant dead.
The novel’s concept is pretty much the only thing I can sincerely praise about The Guest List. Each of the characters having something to hide or something to lose and being trapped on an island where someone ends up dead is an excellent basis for a thriller like this. However, Foley doesn’t do anything interesting with the characters or the setting beyond that. Character motivations are contrived, the writing is laughable at points, and the novel contains more than a few questionable implications. I go into much more detail in my Goodreads review. Still, overall, The Guest List was a bloated, unsatisfying “thriller” that probably offended Agatha Christie’s ghost for being inspired by her.
If you’re looking for a quick, read-in-one-sitting thriller with a large cast of suspects and don’t mind some less than believable dialogue with problematic implications, then The Guest List might be for you.
Support a local bookstore (and this blog!) by purchasing The Guest List on Bookshop.org.
The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers
— 4.0 out of 5 stars
The next book I read in November 2021 was Becky Chambers’s 2014 novel and the first entry in the Wayfarers series. This book follows Rosemary Harper, the new clerk on the Wayfarer, as she learns a new way of life with an interspecies crew that includes, but is not limited to: an Aandrisk pilot named Sissix, a Grum who goes by Dr. Chef, an AI called Lovey, and a couple of humans to round out the bunch. The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet is, ultimately, a slice-of-life novel with a far-future, intergalactic setting. Most of the story is about the crew’s adventures on the way to a new job, rather than on a major conflict after they arrive. The result is a lighthearted frolic through space with characters who, just as they do for Rosemary, begin to feel like family the more time you spend with them.
This was my first time reading anything by Becky Chambers, and I can totally see why others describe her books as “cozy sci-fi.” Chambers masterfully and effortlessly populates her world with diverse characters whose lives, loves, and struggles may mirror some of our own. I truly fell in love with and related to each of the characters in this book for different reasons. As I said in my Goodreads review, The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet is – simply put – four hundred pages of pure warm fuzzies.
If you’re looking for an uplifting, wholesome, and diverse sci-fi novel full of characters you’ll instantly want to become best friends with, then The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet is definitely for you!
Support a local bookstore (and this blog!) by purchasing The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet on Bookshop.org.
Dearly by Margaret Atwood
— 2.5 out of 5 stars
The final book I read in November 2021 was Margaret Atwood’s latest release and the winner of the 2020 Goodreads Choice Award for Poetry: Dearly. This is a collection of new and previously-published poems by the author of The Handmaid’s Tale. The book is divided into five parts, each meditating on what I interpreted to be different themes. There were poems on memory and aging, gender and sexuality, nature and climate change, death, and loss. Atwood, a lifelong self-described feminist, and environmentalist, recently lost her partner of nearly fifty years. You can genuinely feel the influences of each of these aspects of her identity in the poems throughout Dearly.
Ultimately, though, I couldn’t give this collection more than 2.5 stars simply because I felt it was, overall, quite inconsistent. While each of the five sections generally stays within its theme, the quality of the poems therein varies widely. Some are well written and use interesting language; some are incredibly original; however, almost none of the poems in the collection are both. There was also a small handful of poems that left me scratching my head in confusion. I wondered: “Have I severely misinterpreted something harmful here, or has Maggie well and truly lost it?” You can find a list of my favorite (and least favorite) poems from Dearly in my Goodreads review, but I also plan on writing a full review soon, so stay tuned for that.
If you like poetry and want to pick up a collection of new and old poems exploring a variety of universal themes, then Dearly might be for you.
Support a local bookstore (and this blog!) by purchasing Dearly on Bookshop.org.
What I’m Currently Reading
The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty
Okay, I know I said I’d probably have finished this by the time I posted my October Wrap-Up. I really wanted to, but I fell into a major reading slump in the second half of November, and this book suffered for it. I’m still finding it quite compelling, and I do plan to finish it, but for some reason, it’s just taking some time. It’s the last book I have to read for this year’s POPSUGAR challenge, so I’m determined! I think once the two POVs converge, I’ll be a bit more engaged since right now, it feels like I’m reading two different stories. Hopefully, I’ll finish this one soon!
What I Want to Read in December 2021
I don’t tend to do a ton of reading around the holidays since there’s lots of planning and spending time with family that goes down. However, I would like to get started on one of these spec-fic babies soon. Maybe I’ll dive into one of the chunkier ones first, so I feel like I have a head start going into the new year! 🤪
- Dawn by Octavia E. Butler (finished)
- The Sword of Kaigen by M.L. Wang
- To Sleep in a Sea of Stars by Christopher Paolini
- The Vanished Birds by Simon Jimenez
- The Witch’s Heart by Genevieve Gornichec
Wrapping Up the November 2021 Wrap-Up
And there you have it! This is everything I have read recently, am currently reading, or will be reading soon. My favorite book I read in November 2021 was definitely The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet. My most disappointing book was obviously Margaret Atwood’s Dearly. If I had to say what I’m most excited about reading in December, it would probably be To Sleep in a Sea of Stars.
What about you? Let me know your favorite book from this month and what you’re most excited to read in December.
I’ll be back soon with another blog post, so keep your eyes peeled for that! In the meantime, you can keep up with my reading on Goodreads, where you can find me at @tassara_txt, or follow my other social media: I’m on Instagram as @thepaladinpages, Twitter as @tassara_exe, and Pinterest as @tassara_jpg.
As always, thanks for reading, and I’ll see you soon. 💙
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