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Quick Lit: November 2020 (Part 1)

It's time for more mini reviews! I finished 14 books in November, and I've chatting about six of those books in today's post + briefly mentioning two more at the very end. Tomorrow, I'll share reviews for the other six books I read in Part 2If you enjoy this feature, check out other readers' reviews at Modern Mrs. Darcy.


THE WITCH ELM BY TANA FRENCH – After getting back on the Tana French train in October, I decided to keep rolling and start The Witch Elm. From a quick perusal on Goodreads, I noticed this was her lowest-rated book, by far, so I went into it with low expectations. But y'all, I actually So Enjoyed It! I thought it was exciting to see French do something a little different. Her atmospheric writing and psychological-driven story were familiar to anyone who has read her work before, but it was a new experience to see thought the eyes of a victim and subsequent suspect rather than a detective. It was a spooky, mentally twisting read that actually surprised me. Is it overly long, character driven, and slow? Yes, but I really didn't mind. I give credit the audiobook for that fact. 

THE MIDNIGHT LIBRARY BY MATT HAIG – Well, this was a charming surprise! I bought this based solely on the cover and summary, and the reward was worth the risk. The concept immediately appealed, and I was so thankful that Haig delivered on it. I was invested in the heroine, even though I often wanted to shake her a little bit. The structure was very clever and perfectly paced. I kept telling myself I'd just read one more chapter, then only one more... until I was at the end! I treated myself to the audio, too, and adored listening to narrator Carey Mulligan. If you like books that explore at the various paths you could have taken in life, this one is for you. I found the ending so emotional and loved how it explored themes of choices, regrets, and how to fully live. I'm So Obsessed With It!

SAVE ME THE PLUMS BY RUTH REICHL – I love food in books and decided to finally try one of Reichl's memoirs! I'd started but decided not to finish her fiction debut, so I wanted to give her one more chance. Reichl has written several memoirs, each focusing on a different aspect of her culinary history. Save Me the Plums, her most recent, chronicles her time as the editor in chief of Gourmet magazine. The food writing was definitely the best part of the book, and you can see how Reichl has made that her career. I also enjoyed the peek inside the magazine industry, especially during the time print started to struggle. It did, however, name drop a little too often in a way that left me feeling disconnected. I wanted more of the nitty gritty of running the magazine, but I So Liked It overall.


BURY YOUR DEAD BY LOUISE PENNY – There are three mysteries at play within Bury Your Dead – a murder discovered in Quebec City's Literary and Historical Society, fallout from investigation gone wrong, and re-opening a previously closed case. For me, the way Penny shifted back and forth between them all kept me hooked. The murder taught me more about Canadian history, and I enjoyed that fact. I loved that Gamache was able to admit he might have gotten it wrong and allow someone to re-investigate one of his previous cases. This gentle detective has just snuck in and stolen a piece of my heart! But my favorite part was how Penny slowly revealed the incident that's left Gamache and his team reeling. I So Loved It and am glad I gave this series another chance.

THE ONCE AND FUTURE WITCHES BY ALIX E. HARROW – Having loved Harrow's debut, The Ten Thousand Doors of January, I couldn't wait to get my hands on this one. But y'all, it felt like it took me forever to make any progress on it. It started so slow, and I wasn't really invested until about halfway through the novel. The last quarter was the best, but for a while there I wasn't sure I'd finish it. Harrow's writing was gorgeous, and the concept was so clever. Stories with witches don't personally appeal to me, so it's saying something that I ultimately appreciated the way Harrow used that aspect to explore women's rights. But there was just something about the pacing and the characters that kept me at arm's length, so I'm a little sad to say that I simply So Liked It. I want it to be a favorite!

THE HUNTING PARTY BY LUCY FOLEY – Here's the deal, if I hadn't read The Guest List earlier this year, I probably would have enjoyed this book a lot more. Foley excels at atmosphere, and the idea of a group of friends stranded in an isolated estate in the Scottish Highlands definitely captured my attention. However, I felt like I'd already read this exact same story... from the same author. The multiple POVs, the largely unlikeable characters, the remote setting, and the closed circle mystery were all things Foley did The Guest List, too. And honestly, both were pretty predictable. It wasn't a bad read, but I'm just So Okay With It. The full cast audio made my reading experience very enjoyable and is the only reason I didn't get it a lower rating. I'm still bummed that the book wasn't more unique.
Additionally, I read Simple and Safe Baby-Led Weaning by Malina Malkani. I appreciated the portion size and serving suggestions that were pictured to scale, I found the overall book lacking. It didn't make me feel more confident about baby-led weaning or fully addresses some of my questions and concerns. I So Liked It for a basic overview, but not as a go-to resource. This is one I'd suggest getting from the library, rather than buying.

Finally, one of my goals for 2020 was the read the whole Bible in a year. I completed this goal in November! I couldn't have done it without the Read Scripture app – a beautiful resource with videos that helped me understand the context, daily text reminders to read my Bible, and a beautiful design that tracked my progress. I highly recommend the app and loved how accessible it made the entire experience! In-depth study leads to more insight, but I'd always wanted to read the Bible in its entirety for the big picture. I'm so happy that I've finally done it!

Check back tomorrow for Part 2.

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