Well, my November this year was not as much of a blockbuster as last year, but I did read four outstanding books, out of a total of 12 for the month. Not too surprisingly, they were all books released several years ago. Generally, November is a slow time for new releases (which seems odd to me because it’s right in time for holiday sales). This means most of my reading for the rest of the year will be free range—recommendations from other bloggers or whatever catches my eye at the library.
The Waiter by Matias Faldbakken, Alice Menzies
Published by Gallery/Scout Press
Publication date: October 9, 2018
The Waiter is a novel about the inner workings of a restaurant is the kind of thing that lands right in my sweet spot, but this was too dry for me to get through. It is a series of very long paragraphs crammed with descriptors and explanations of a famous restaurant in Oslo, Norway. The author is Norwegian and this is my second failed attempt to read translated Scandinavian fiction so it may be that I don’t get the style or humor, but there was no movement. I was hoping for something ala Sweetbitter, Hundred Foot Journey, or even Kitchen Confidential, but there was nothing to keep me reading. Check, please!
The Witch Elm by Tana French
Published by Viking
Publication date: October 9, 2018
The Witch Elm is Tana French’s new novel. I’ve never read her before, but I can see why she has so many fans. This mystery about the discovery of a body in the trunk of a tree has everything going for it, even if the premise sounds bizarre. Beyond that, I’m going to do something I’ve never done—direct you to another blogger’s review (here). Sarah at Sarah’s Book Shelves sums up the book so perfectly I can’t compete.
Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann: Another shocking chapter in America’s history of atrocities against Native Americans. And once again, I knew nothing about it. Review to follow
The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett: My favorite kind of fiction—snarky charming. An ode to the love of reading via Queen Elizabeth. My reviewMartha Hall Kelly
Published by Ballantine Books
Publication date: April 5, 2016
Lilac Girls introduced me to another piece of Holocaust history that I didn’t know before. It’s about the “Rabbits”—a group of young girls at the Ravensbrück camp for women in Germany who were experimented on by the Nazis. A horrific true story that author Martha Kelly tempers by splitting into 3 narrators—an American involved in the effort to get Jews out of France, a German female doctor at the camp, and one of the girls. Kelly has a great deal of historical detail, but while dividing the narrative works to alleviate some of the truly difficult aspects, she makes a romance an integral part of the American woman’s story. It comes off as frivolous and detracts from her very real heroism. I would have appreciated more development of each of the characters as well.
Waiting for Eden by Elliot Ackerman: Review to follow
When God Was a Rabbit by Sarah Winman: My review
Great Reading from Previous Years
Sharing the love for backlist books that I thought were outstanding!
An outstanding satire about industrial farming and where our food comes from
A small book about the 1999 WTO protests in Seattle has a big impact
Fabulous fiction about a royal wedding
A novel I loved with a painting as the main narrator
A novel where one house and five unusual occupants make a home
Sarah's Book Shelves says
Wow – thanks so much for your shout-out on my Witch Elm review! And the restaurant book does sound totally up your alley! Have you ever read Service Included? It’s a memoir by a server at Thomas Keller’s Per Se….that might work better for you!
There was no way I could summarize that book better than you did! I haven’t heard of that book- will check it out. Of course, now that November is over I’m starting to read non-fiction! Who knows why…
Renee (Itsbooktalk) says
I’ve tried The Alice Network but didn’t get too far before I put it down but I don’t remember why…maybe that was a good decision. Your take on it is different from the tons of raving reviews which I appreciate!
I don’t know that book. Was it similar to Lilac Girls?
[email protected] says
Have you read Kitchens of the Great Midwest? That’s a charming foodie novel I read and loved earlier this year.
I loved that novel! I need to check and see if the author has written anything else.
Susie | Novel Visits says
I’m sorry Lilac Girls didn’t work for you. As you know, I loved it. The Alice Network is another WWII novel…don’t bother. I didn’t like it much at all. I’ve been back and forth on Witch Elm, but am leaning towards skipping it after getting only 3 stars from you.
I think I’m done with women in WWII novels for awhile. There’s a new one coming out early next year, but I’m not even going to request it. Witch Elm was good not great. I’m reading The Good Daughter by Karin Slaughter right now and barring a massive change I’d highly recommend it. I don’t want to put it down. I’m on a thrillers streak!
Laura @ What to Read Next Podcast says
I own Lilac Girls but haven’t been compelled to pick up. Thank you for your review. It may be a while before I pick it up. I am . planning on reading The Witch Elm over the holiday break.
There are so many other better WWII novels about women. If you haven’t read The Nightingale you should. It’s one of my favorites.
It seems like the Uncommon Reader really boosted your November. I liked it a lot too. It’s like finding a gem in a haystack. Quite refreshing.
As a book lover it did warm my snarky heart! It was so perfectly British throughout.