Goodbye, November, hello, December! Did anyone else find November to be a rather placid month? It went a bit faster, but as I age I always think that. I just can’t remember anything extra good or bad that happened—which is great, right? My reading felt the same way as I bounced between thrillers and literary fiction. A lot of enjoyable reading, but very little that wowed me.
Along those lines, to anyone new to The Gilmore Guide, it may seem that I’m always cranky in my monthly recaps because the books highlighted often get low ratings. Yes, I may be cranky without provocation, but not when it comes to books. I write longer reviews every week of books I loved (and link to some of them in this post). The end of the month post is quick reviews, mostly books I didn’t like, because I don’t have as much to say about them, but still want to keep readers informed. I save my creative energy for the books I want everyone to read.
Greenlights by Matthew McConaughey
Published by Crown Publishing Group (NY)
Publication date: October 20, 2020
I’m almost afraid to write this because so many people I know who listened to this loved it. I DNFed Greenlights. I listened to it and while McConaughey has a great voice, his folksy, hard-won “wisdom” did nothing for me. I admire someone who can be completely comfortable in every single choice they’ve made throughout their life, but it came off as cocky and rationalized. Granted, I gave up while he was finishing college so maybe his self-confidence was tempered with a bit of humility later, but I didn’t care enough to find out.
Tell Me How to Be by Neel Patel: An Indian American mother and son come back together after the father’s death to empty out the family home. Review to follow.
The People We Keep by Allison Larkin: I loved this novel about one young woman reaching for the life she wants. My review
I Was Told It Would Get Easier by Abbi Waxman
Published by Berkley Books
Publication date: June 16, 2020
Your Local Book Store, Amazon
Abbi Waxman is firmly ensconced in the narrow niche of ‘go-to-authors-I trust-for-comfort-without-sweetness’. I loved The Bookish Life of Nina Hill and have now enjoyed a third book of hers, I Was Told it Would Get Easier. It’s about Emily, a successful lawyer and single parent whose daughter Jessica is getting ready to choose a college. They embark together on an expensive weeklong group tour of prestigious schools on the east coast. It’s written from both their viewpoints so brings back a lot of memories of what-is-said and what-is-heard between mothers and daughters. Once again Waxman gave me the reading I needed.
Not All Diamonds and Rose by Dave Quinn: I loved this gossipy oral history about the Real Housewives franchise. Fun, frivolous reading. My review
Intimacies by Katie Kitamura: Review to follow
Wish You Were Here by Jodi Picoult
Published by Ballantine Books
Publication date: November 30, 2021
Jodi Picoult fans may want to hate on me, but I DNFed Wish You Were Here at 10%. The COVID-based premise of a woman opting to go on vacation to the Galapagos Islands as the global lockdowns were beginning should have been a tip-off that this one wouldn’t work for me. Instead, the story is frontloaded with more drama than I could wrap my head around: fiancé can’t go, luggage is lost, she doesn’t speak the language, the island has shut down when she arrives (and she opts not to take the last ferry out). I couldn’t suspend my disbelief enough to keep reading.
The Ballerinas by Rachel Kapelke-Dale: Started this thriller about three friends all in pursuit of a ballet career. Review to follow
The Art of Bob Mackie by Frank Vlastnik: This visually stunning book would make the perfect holiday gift for anyone who loves pop culture, classic television stars, and gorgeous costumes. My review
My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing
Published by Berkley Books
Publication date: March 3, 2020
I loved Samantha Downing’s last novel, For Your Own Good so much that I thought I ought to go back and read her debut, My Lovely Wife. I’m happy to report that while it was not a great experience it did show me that Downing’s talent is maturing. My Lovely Wife is about a couple who finds killing women enhances their marriage. This premise might waive a lot of people away, but I was curious and as always, November is my month of thrillers. This novel kept me reading, but the portrayal of the husband just didn’t ring true and the plot went off the rails. Downing maintained enough momentum that I finished, but just barely.
That’s all for my November reading. How about you- any great books to recommend?
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*I received a free copy of Wish You Were Here from Ballantine Books in exchange for an honest review.*
I like your monthly wrap ups, and I always appreciate your honest reviews. I read and finished 10 books last month, and dnf’d 2 books.
I found a new thriller author and enjoyed her book, ” Anonymous ” by Elizabeth Breck, I requested her 2nd book. I enjoyed Michael Connelly’s “The Dark Hours”, I also read Thomas Perry’s ” The Left Handed Twin”.
In non thriller books I read Kimmery Martins ” Doctors and Friends” it was written before covid times but it does have a pandemic in it. Without giving to much away it is about the long standing friendship of a group of doctors, it is totally different from Jodi Picoults newest which I started yesterday, and so far find underwhelming. Also read “Heard It In A Love Song” by Tracey Garvis which I found entertaining enough what Sarah calls brain candy w/o being silly, it is by no means A Star Is Born. My favorite book last month ended up being All Together Now which you recommended. Oddly enough I read Abbi Waxmans book last year and that one didn’t resonate with me. I have a son instead of a daughter maybe that is why. I loved her other book that you mentioned.
December is always a hard month to find interesting reads, so I go back and try to read books that I wasn’t able to get to when they first came out.
Ten books is a great month! I read Kimmery Martin’s The Antidote for Everything and really liked it. As mentioned in the recap I DNFed the new Picoult so I’d be interested to hear what you think.
I’m fully immersed in backlist books from now until Christmas. It’s fun, but I’m reading so much I forget to write reviews and then I can’t remember the book.
I ended up giving the book 4 stars even though it was slow going through the first 80 or so pages. All I can say w/o giving spoilers is that all is not what it seems in the beginning. The book has several parts. If you own the book and your so inclined maybe you could try it again. Also I saw where Laurel-Rain gave it 5 stars in her review.
Jill Wright says
Thank you Catherine! I am so glad I found you and I’m learning that I can trust your book recommendations. I love the honest reviews.
Thank you so much! I used to do reviews 3 times a week, but after 10 years it’s gotten to be a bit more difficult. Plus, so many people say they don’t read blogs anymore so I’ve been wondering about continuing. It helps to hear from readers, I appreciate it!
Ah, not every book is for every reader and that’s okay! I have more patience with McConaughey’s excesses than most people do, LOL. He’s a weirdo but I’m fascinated by him.
I kind of am, too, but it felt like mansplaining. And I didn’t like how he brushed off plagiarism.
Cranky is Okay in the recaps. I sort of get a kick out of seeing the ones you didn’t enjoy. This is weird but I had a friend who was almost stuck in the Galapagos when the lockdowns started …. she & her husband got the last flight back to Ecuador …. but I think she has more sense then a Jodi Picoult novel … Enjoy your December.
Bless you, you always make me laugh out loud! I hope your holidays are bright.
Kristin Rocca says
I adore Abbi Waxman and forgot about I Was Told It Would Get Easier. I am so glad that you enjoyed it!
I have an ALC of Wish You Were Here from Libro and have been reluctant to pick it up. It has been many years since I have read a Jodi Picoult novel!
I am looking forward to your review of The Ballerinas. I have been seeing that book everywhere!
Abbi is my go-to happy writer these days- and I need it!
I don’t know what to say about the Picoult. Plenty of people gave it 5 stars, but even though I went back and finished it because so many people said it had a huge twist (it does) it became a hate read and I skimmed it. The only compelling parts for me was the boyfriend’s job as an ER resident during the pandemic.