November Book Reviews


The Duke and I by Julia Quinn
I blew through The Duke and I - it was the PERFECT brain candy distraction to take breaks from the real world. I really enjoyed the witty banter, the plot took some interesting turns before the happy ever after, and I thought it was interesting timing to read a fictional account of someone overcoming a stutter when we just elected Joe Biden. I can’t wait to devour more and watch the adaptation on Netflix!

Here is the Beehive by Sarah Crossan
Thank you to Little Brown for an early complementary copy of Here is the Beehive! I went into this book blind, and was pleasantly surprised to see that it’s written in verse. The writing technique is not something I seek out, but when I do read books structured this way, I inevitably find them so compelling.The pages flew by quickly not only because the words are sparse, but they packed quite a punch. I’m usually averse to books that delve into infidelity, as most seem to romanticize it in some way, rather than frame it as what I consider to be the lazy way out of a relationship, and a lazy way to create drama. This novel contains zero romance, and is actually a fascinating take on what might be inside the head of someone making such self destructive decisions. It is definitely not a cheery holiday read, as it kept getting slightly more awful as things progressed! But there was something so hypnotic and propulsive in the way Crossan structured the book. It felt reminiscent of the first season of Fleabag, in that truths are eventually dropped in your lap like a bomb. I do love a good ‘WHOA!’ in a book, or several, even if it is sorta terrible. I definitely recommend giving it a read if you don’t have a problem with “unlikeable” complex characters, and it can literally be done in a day or two - perfect for hitting those EOY reading goals.

The Self Driven Child by Stixrud and Johnson
I put a hold on The Self Driven Child pre-library closure and it came in the other week. I guess I was a glutton for punishment by going ahead and reading it, whilst we are all dealing with unprecedented learning challenges for our kids. Right now it’s pretty hard to be hands-off when grades, assignments, etc. are in our face constantly with systems in place to send updates while remote learning. 
Nevertheless, even if I read this pre-Covid, I still took the insights from this book with a huge grain of salt. Yes, I don’t interfere with my kids school work, they communicate with their teachers directly, and I let them fail while it is safe for them to do so. But, if they DO fail there are consequences beyond ‘natural consequences’. If my kids are not meeting our expectations on grades, they lose privileges. For the most part, this has motivated them and I don’t have to do it as often anymore. But to get to the point where you let them fail out of school altogether, instead of guiding them through failing grades seems over the top. I definitely agree with the scientific fact that it makes kids feel more self-sufficient when they do things for themselves, but for my family, I feel there is room for guidance.
And as much scientific evidence given about self-sufficiency in this book, there is a glaring lack of the data on children who fail out of high school or college and what that means for their future. Most of the rosy anecdotal stories used as examples, of kids turning things around after major failure, are statistically not the norm.
There are certainly great takeaways to be had, and it was a good reminder that grades are not the end all/be all of their future happiness. Also, not every approach fits every child. It’s also worth remembering that we as parents are the expert on our own kids.

Shit, Actually by Lindy West
After listening to a spate of audiobooks with heavier subject matter, I was SO PUMPED to finally get the new book by Lindy West from Libro.fm. I think she was also glad to get around to writing some lighter fare after taking on harassment (Shrill) and the patriarchy (The Witches are Coming). To be sure, those books still made me laugh, but with a large amount of righteous anger.
Sh*t, Actually is just straight up cackling over her spot on movie critiques. I love how she can totally rip apart a plot, but still have love for a film. She still finds comfort in Harry Potter audiobooks, but can still laugh about Dumbledore needing a put-outer when there are wands, or that there are ZERO grandparents in the wizarding world.
It’s totally in line with the way my husband and I watch movies, with a lot of fun and skepticism. (We agree heartily on her Twilight hot takes, especially the plot holes specific to the PNW, and yet we rewatch the series every year with glee.)
When she details her first time viewing of Terminator 2 without having seen the original, I had to pull my car over because I was cry laughing. Why would we put a limit on how fast a liquid metal man can run???
OK, I’ll stop giving away my favorite parts. If you have ever seen a movie in your life, this book is for you! Even if you’ve not seen the films she covers. I have never seen The Santa Clause and that chapter was just as entertaining as the ones about movies I’ve seen and loved, or seen and hated!

A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas
Even though I think ACOWAR could have been half as long, and I got a little lost amongst all of the politics and trying to remember characters from the previous books, this was still a delightfully fast read. Who doesn’t love a good Hero’s Journey tale? Maas writes such vibrant characters and world building. I definitely plan to breeze through A Court of Frost and Starlight this holiday!


  1. Coming late to this, but curious about Bridgerton. The reviews of the Netflix series have sort of put me off watching it, but I'm wondering about the books. Have you read any more since this review? How did you think the books and TV series compare?

    1. The second book was an absolute delight, as was the first - and I thought the show was, too!