November 2021 Novel Ideas: 28 Quick Book Reviews

Novel Ideas 2
November 2021 Novel Ideas: 28 Quick Book Reviews 30

November was a great reading month for Kirsten. She read 18 books and even had a five star read. This month was not as good for Jackie and that is ok! Do you ever find that some months you are in a reading groove and others are not great?

We are so grateful for the privilege of reading books. We are grateful for the readers who take the time to read our blog and interact with us on Instagram. And we are grateful to the publishers and authors who give us their books to read and listen to.

So, whether you read one book a week, a book a month, or a book a year, thank you for being a part of this reading journey with us.

*Post contains affiliate links. Purchases made through links result in a small commission to us at no cost to you. Some books have been gifted. All opinions are our own.

Kirsten’s November 2021 Novel Ideas Stack

The Family

The Family by Naomi Krupitsky

I can see why this was chosen for the Read with Jenna Book Club. This historical fiction is unlike anything I’ve read before.

Set in the 30s and 40s in Red Hook, NY, this is the story of two girls born into the Italian Mafia. Sophia and Antonia are the best of friends, neighbors, and daughters of local mob members.

The story spans their childhood, adolescence, and early adulthood as they navigate their relationships with each other and “The Family.”

It was captivating and wonderful to learn about lives of the women in the crime family.

Thank you to Putnam for my copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Rating: 4 out of 5.
The collectors daughter

The Collector’s Daughter by Gill Paul

I’ve never read a historical fiction set in Egypt during the time of the discovery of a Pharaoh’s tomb. This particular story was about Lady Evelyn, a female amateur archeologist whose father helped bankroll the discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb in the 1920s.

While that portion of the story was fascinating, the part set in 1970s, when Evelyn is suffering memory loss and dealing with her life after a stroke, was dull. I found myself skimming those sections of the story wishing to go back to the past.

Not my favorite Gill Paul, but I look forward to her next books.

Thanks to William Morrow for my review copy. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.
my monticello

My Monticello by Jocelyn Nicole Johnson

This is a novella with a few short stories and it was SEARING. The short stories in the beginning were good, but the titular novella had my heart pounding.

In it, the extreme weather of the near future, along with a group of white militia men, has forced black descendants of Thomas Jefferson to seek refuge in Monticello. As they battle to stay alive, they realize the danger they face from white men was always going to end this way.

The ambiguous ending left me pondering what I thought would happen to them. This would be a great book club pick for those that don’t like longer tomes.

Thank you to and Henry Holt for my copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Rating: 4 out of 5.
The Golden Couple

The Golden Couple by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

My favorite thriller writing duo did it AGAIN. LOVED this book about a couple in therapy for infidelity. But their therapist isn’t any therapist, she’s got an extreme method gauranteed to fix issues in 10 sessions.

The twists and turns of this story kept me on my toes, but the writing kept me HOOKED. I think I finished it in sitting.

Thank you to, St. Martin’s Press, and Macmillan Audio for my copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Rating: 4 out of 5.
We are Not like them

We Are Not Like Them by Jo Piazza and Christine Pride

A book set in Philadelphia! This is the story of 2 local girls, who have been best friends since childhood. Riley is a black woman living her dreams of being a reporter, while Jen is a pregnant white woman married to a cop.

Their friendship is put to the test when Jen’s husband kills and innocent black boy while in pursuit of a thief and Riley is the lead reporter covering the case.

Told from the perspective of both women, this gripping story covers systemic racism in the police force while dealing with the nuances of navigating a bi-racial friendship.

This doozy of a book was enthralling and though-provoking. I was captivated from the first chapter.

For more GMA Book Club picks, ranked, check out this post!

Rating: 5 out of 5.
an english bride in scotland

An English Bride in Scotland by Lynsay Sands

The arranged marriage of the English lass to the Clan chieftain in this romance novel was very reminiscent of Claire and Jamie’s wedding….and wedding night.

This is a steamy love story that focuses on the newlyweds finding how their relationship will mesh, while navigating the terrifying person hellbent on hurting them.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.
An enchantment of ravens

An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson

A stand-alone fantasy romance? These are few and far between, but this one is perfect for fans of ACOTAR.

This story of a human falling in love with a Fae prince has tons of elements for Sarah J. Maas fans to love. From Winter, Spring, Summer, and Autumn Fae courts, to enchantments and a forbidden love story.

I fell hard for Rook and Isobel. I think you all will too!

Rating: 4 out of 5.
pride and Premeditation

Pride and Premeditation by Tirzah Price

This Pride and Prejudice retelling is actually a murder mystery! In this version of the story, Mr. Bennett is a barrister and Lizzie is desperate to prove herself and be the first female barrister.

But while she offers to help Mr. Bingley find the real culprit of the murder he’s been accused of, she ends up butting heads with her rival, Mr. Darcy of Pemberley and Associates.

This delightful take on the classic story was refreshing and fun. I look forward to reading the rest of the retellings in this series.

Rating: 4 out of 5.
Anna K

Anna K by Jenny Lee

This modern day YA retelling of Anna Karenina was SO GOOD. It’s set in NYC at an elite prep school with total Gossip Girl vibes.

Manhattan’s teenage elite are partying, shopping, and hosting incredible parties. Anna K is torn between her long-term boyfriend and her attraction to Count Vronsky.

There are enough twists to make it interesting, but it was such a wonderful escapist read. I can’t wait to tackle the sequel!

Rating: 3 out of 5.
The island of missing trees

The Island of Missing Trees by Elif Shafak

November 2021 Reese Witherspoon Book Club Pick

I was so excited to read Reese Witherspoon’s latest book pick because it sounded so different – a fig tree as a narrator? I wasn’t sure it would work, but Elif Shafak pulled it off with aplomb.

After the recent death of her mother, Ada’s aunt shows up for the winter holiday and Ada begins to learn the story of how her parents fell in love in Cyprus in this book set in the 70s. Since one was a Turk and one a Greek, their love had a forbidden element that reminded me of Romeo and Juliet….and the Fig tree, now growing in Ada’s backyard, witnessed it all.

For more Reese Witherspoon book club picks, ranked, check out this post.

Rating: 4 out of 5.
A Knight in Shining Armor

A Knight in Shining Armor by Jude Deveraux

This set-up is the same as Outlander but in reverse! In the first part of the book, Dougless accidentally summons an Earl from the 16th century to modern England!

Dougless vowels to help return Nicholas to his own time, but not before trying to help him figure out who framed him for treason in his own era. But when he’s sent back and nothing changes, Dougless needs to head back to his time and try to save his life.

The attention to detail in the 16th century was reminiscent of Diana Gabaldon’s work. Its a total must-read for fans of Jamie and Claire’s love story.

For more books like Outlander, check out this post!

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.
Mr. and Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy

Mr. and Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy by Sharon Lathan

This story picks up where Pride and Prejudice left off and continues the love story of Elizabeth Bennett and her beloved Mr. Darcy.

We get to see their wedding, their wedding night and honeymoon, and even the birth of their first child. I loved seeing Mrs. Darcy acclimate to life as the mistress of Pemberley.

Wings of Ebony

Wings of Ebony by J. Elle

An urban fantasy set in two locations – modern day Houston and the magical island of Ghizon. Rue is a half human-half god, but she didn’t know about the magic in her blood until her mother died.

The first book in YA duology, has Rue struggling to fit in with the white Ghizon culture as the only black girl. But after accidentally using her magic to save a human, Rue becomes an enemy of the state and finds the real source of Ghizon’s magic.

I loved the fantasy version of white appropriation, that portion of the book is done particularly well. I found that this is one YA book that is written for it’s younger audience. The pacing was off and I got REALLY frustrated with Rue’s reactions quite a few times, but as a woman in my late 30s, maybe that’s to be expected 😉.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Passing by Nella Larsen

This book came to my attention because it was the first selected for Netflix’s new book club. They’ve been making so many adaptations recently that a marking move like that made sense.

I didn’t know the term passing, in which a black woman with light skin passes herself as white, until I read The Vanishing Half last year.

Nella Larsen’s book on the subject had me further understanding what it means, why a black woman would make that choice, and what the consequences of passing might be. I look forward to seeing the adaptation.

Rating: 3 out of 5.
Clanlands and other Books like Outlander

Clanlands by Sam Heughan and Graham McTavish (forward by Diana Gabaldon)

This hysterical book is part history and part comedy. Stars of the Outlander TV series, Sam Heughan (who plays Jamie Fraser) and Graham McTavish (AKA Dougal MacKenzie) go on a road trip with each other.

Along the way, they tell funny stories and experience Scotland’s rich heritage. I laughed out loud multiple times at their antics, and then promptly watched their show Men in Kilts on Starz.

If you are a fan of the Outlander series (television series), you must read this pick in books like Outlander. This is a feel-good nonfiction pick from books about Scotland. It is a perfect place to start if you are looking for nonfiction books for beginners.

Rating: 4 out of 5.
Wild Wood

Wild Wood by Posie Graeme-Evans

This was such a unique story! After getting knocked in the head Jesse, normally right handed, is able to draw with her left hand a place she’s never been to in her life.

Her neurologist has been to the sweeping keep, he lived there for years, and so he decides to bring her home with him on holiday to see if he can get to the bottom of it.

Meanwhile, in the dual timeline of 14th century Scotland, Bayard is investigating a mystery of his own. The way the two stories meet at the end was masterful.

Rating: 3 out of 5.
The Austen Playbook

The Austen Playbook by Lucy Parker

This cute little love story sticks an actress and her harshest critic together at the same estate. The estate in question is is owned by Griff’s family, where a theatre is hosting an Austen-Choose-Your-Own Adventure style play starring actress Freddy.

As they begin to fall in love, they uncover family secrets that affect them both. It’s cute and sappy, and it was a breath of fresh air for me during a stressful week.

Rating: 3 out of 5.
The Prime Ministers Secret Agent

The Prime Minister’s Secret by Susan Elia MacNeal

I love the Maggie Hope series, but this book was a total dud for me. Sick ballerinas, dying sheep, and a mother on death row, seemed to be filler plot while Maggie dealt with her PTSD.

It very much felt like a bridge book to get us to the next part of Maggie’s role in the war. I’m looking forward to her visit to America with Mr. Churchill in the next book in the series, and I’m glad this book is behind me.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

Jackie’s November 2021 Novel Ideas Stack

recipe for persuasion

Recipe for Persuasion (The Rates #2) by Sonali Dev

November’s Reading Challenge was to read a book with a blue cover and since I loved the first book in the series so much, I could not wait to read this one.

I loved this fresh take on Jane Austen’s Persuasion. The story is a classic and this adaptation was so much fun to read.

Rating: 4 out of 5.
Black Chalk

Black Chalk by Christopher J. Yates

Six students come together to play a game of dares and forfeits where the winner takes all. But what started out as fun turns into something much more dangerous. Now, it has been 14 years since the start of the game and the remaining two players have to play the final round.

What started out as a dark book became more twisted and convoluted with each turn of the page. However, there were elements of this story that I wish has a little more depth. Also, reading about all the pneumonic devices the character uses to get through his day became a bit tedious by the middle of the book.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.
The Uglies

The Uglies by Scott Westerfeld

Tally is about to turn 16, the time when every teen will undergo radical and high-tech surgery to make them unnaturally beautiful. Before the surgery, teens are sequestered because of how ugly they are to look at.

When Tally’s best friend runs away to live with a group of people who have rejected the surgery, her life takes a spin. She must chose to track down her friend and betray her or live as an ugly for the rest of her life.

It took me a while to wrap my head around just how messed up this society is but I couldn’t stop turning the pages.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.
Paybacks a witch

Payback’s a Witch (The Witches of Thistle Grove #1) by Lana Harper

This adorable romance was the perfect post-Halloween read for me. Emmy Harlow must return home to her magical town of Thistle Grove to arbitrate a spell casting tournament. The winner has control of magic in the town.

Emmy ran away because of a broken-heart but now, her heart may be on the mend thanks to the beautiful and powerful Talia. I loved this book.

Rating: 4 out of 5.
A day like this

A Day Like This by Kelley McNeil

I absolutely love this book and wish that I never had to put it down. It grabbed me from the first page until the last. Annie Beyers is happily married with a daughter named Hannah and living in her beloved yellow house.

When she gets into a car accident on the way to the pediatrician, she wakes up in the hospital and everything has changed. Her husband is estranged and they tell her that Hannah never existed. 

This well-written, gripping story asks the question “what-if?”.  

This book will leave you smiling and is a perfect feel-good read. There is the perfect amount of magic and reality to appeal to everyone.

Thanks to Sparkpoint Studio for my review copy of this book. All opinions are my own.

Rating: 4 out of 5.
the last house on needless

The Last House on Needless Street by Catriona Ward

This book is definitely one of the creepier books that I have read in a while. It took me about 1/2 the book to figure out what in the heck was going on.

There are a few stories going on simultaneously and at times I was extremely confused. All was revealed in the end but it took a little too long to get there.

I lost interest at times in the confusion of the story that is told from multiple perspectives: a man with memory gaps, a cat who reads, a little girl who is not allowed outside and their neighbor who moves next door.

Thanks to Macmillian Audio for my review copy of this book. All opinions are my own.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.
the donut trap

The Donut Trap by Julie Tieu

Jasmine has found herself in a rut working at her parent’s donut shop. She wants to do something else but, she is not sure what. When there is a rent hike and the business is threatened, Jasmine will do everything she can to save their livelihood.

Add to this story the reappearance of a college crush names Alex and this adorable rom-com has all the ingredients for a great story and is perfect for a list of books about food.

Thanks to for my review copy of this book. All opinions are my own.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.
Tools of engagement

Tools of Engagement by Tessa Bailey

Hot & Hammered Book 3

Bethany Castle has always been perfectly put together and organized on the outside. The inside is a different story but nobody ever sees that part of her.

When she decides to step away from the family construction business and branch out on her own, she finds herself in a “Flip off” with her older brother. Her only help is Wes Daniels who has jumped ship to come and help her.

Since I read the first two renovation romances in this series, I knew I could not go wrong with this romance. It was a quick and easy read that I really enjoyed.

Rating: 3 out of 5.
Midnight at the blackbird cafe

Midnight at the Blackbird Cafe by Heather Webber

Anna Kate has returned to her hometown to bury her beloved grandmother. It is supposed to be a quick trip to close her grandmother’s cafe but, Anna Kate finds herself drawn to the town.

The longer Anna Kate stays, the more she finds out about her family, and the pull to fulfill a promise starts to compete directly with the pull of her heart.

This pick from novels about food was an unexpected surprise. It has a little element of magic, as well as a fairy tale, feel.

Rating: 4 out of 5.
City of Time and magic

City of Time and Magic by Paula Brackston

This is the fourth book in the series by Paula Brackston and I like each book more than the last. Xanthe is a spinner of time. Objects “sing” to her and call her to different places and times to right injustices.

Xanthe has returned from her last trip to the past without Liam. She believes that Mistress Flyte has taken Liam and she is on a quest to find him.

She finds three objects that sing her and she must try and determine the correct one to lead her to Liam. What she finds is a group of Spinners who call themselves the Visionary society who mess with time in ways that are dangerous.

Thanks to St. Martin’s Press for my review copy of this book. All opinions are my own.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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