November 2018 Reading Wrap Up
Hello! it’s been ages since I last posted on The Joyful Pen, but I’m back! And there will be more content across all three sections of the blog in the weeks to come.
I may still post individual book reviews here from time to time, but for the most part I’m planning on returning to monthly wrap-ups. I post reviews for every book I read on Goodreads (let’s be friends), so if you’re looking for a more in-depth and generally spoiler-free review you can find them there.
This month I read a wide range of books, including backlist titles, re-reads, brand new novels, and nonfiction titles for the Ophelia’s Place Certification program that I’m currently enrolled in. Overall it made for a very entertaining and educational month.
An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen
I happily received an ARC of this book from St. Martin’s Press as I enjoyed The Wife Between Us. This book was bonkers in all the best ways. There’s so many sharp little pieces to this mystery that I don’t want to say too much and spoil anything, but I can say that Hendricks and Pekkanen do a great job of ratcheting up the tension over the course of the book and making even this therapy-goer think twice about the private life of my therapist! And the NYC setting made for a fun trip down memory lane.
Health at Every Size: The Surprising Truth About Your Weight by Linda Bacon
This was an eye-opening read, and part of the curriculum for the certificate program. I wish more people knew about the financial biases in health studies, and the lack of eating disorder education provided to most health care providers. Weight is not the greatest indicator of health. I’ve been using a weight-neutral approach for the past two years and have been fortunate to find physicians who do not discuss my weight with me, but rather focus on other factors like blood pressure and cholesterol. This book has some graphic content in it, like mouse studies, but it’s in the name of providing evidence-based science to support what many people feel is radical information. I actually highly recommend the book to everyone, though it may be triggering for those in recovery.
Tower of Dawn, and Empire of Storms by Sarah J Maas
5 Stars for both
It took me longer than I expected to finish my Throne of Glass series reread (I kept reading other books in between!) but I completed it. This is one of my absolutely favorite series. I thought for some reason that having read these books before that I wouldn’t cry this time around, but I most certainly did. I loved the change in setting and characters in Tower of Dawn, but my heart sung to be able to be with Aelin again. I love her perseverance, ability, and the way she cleverly executes secret plans. I’m also a big Lysandra stan, and was dazzled by all her transformations.
Kingdom of Ash by Sarah J Maas
This book completely deserves a full five stars from me for the emotional investment alone, but I’m going to talk about my quibbles first. I don’t enjoy battle scenes. I tend to skim over them a bit in any book I’ve read where people are taking up weapons of any kind against each other. And there are a lot of battle scenes in this 900+ page book. I’m also not sure how I feel about how things went down with the gods and the key, but there was so much else going on that I don’t know that I’ll ever find the words for that, or for this book in general. But suffice to say there was many a happy ending despite all the heartbreak. At one point my husband found me crying on the couch, bent over the book, and asked if I was enjoying it. Through my tears I sobbed out, “Yessssss,” before diving back into the story.
Elevation by Stephen King, Audiobook edition
I’m a big King fan, but I didn’t feel like either of the two stories in this wee collection were his strongest work. I felt like both stories were lacking the usual sharpness I love about his work, with the second story, “Laurie,” in particular feeling incomplete, like it was part of a larger novel. It was great to hear King narrate his work, but this publication felt like the publisher’s desire to get anything from this auto-buy author in the stores before the holidays. And from what I understand, the print edition doesn’t include the second story.
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, Special Edition Audiobook narrated by Tatiana Maslany
I somehow forgot how good The Hunger Games is! Maybe because I was so disappointed by the ending of the last book and got caught up in the drama of the movies, but damn, this first book holds up. And to get to hear one of my favorite actresses read it was an extra delight. Someone who can play so many sharp women in one TV series is the perfect person to lend a new voice to Katniss’s narration. I highly recommend this method of revisiting the story for anyone who hasn’t visited District 12 and beyond in awhile.
embody: Learning to Love Your Unique Body (and quiet that critical voice!) by Connie Sobczak
This is another title that is part of the OP Certificate program. It can be deeply uncomfortable to talk about self-love and the importance it has for your mental and physical health, so a book like this can help you start navigating some complicated feelings as you start to form a better relationship with your body. It’s a book that I think would have been helpful to me a few years ago when I first started this work, so for anyone who is contemplating ditching diet culture or has recently done so, this book is a great tool to have on hand.
Pachinko by Min Jin Lee
I (finally) read this one for my local book club, and while I was never frustrated with the book or felt compelled to stop reading, this was a book that left me feeling a little ambivalent about the characters, while feeling educated about a culture and time that I was not familiar with. There was a documentary feel to the style of the narration, which was interesting when considering the scope of years included, but occasionally kept the characters at a distance.
outside of this book I think Min Jin Lee is a tremendous encourager of writers, and has given great speeches and pep talks for writers, so if you’re looking for inspiration check her out speaking at The Muse and The Marketplace or her piece for NaNoWriMo.
Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty
This was my favorite Moriarty book so far as there was a hefty dose of humor to go alongside all the domestic drama. Each of the characters felt unique and each brought their own struggle to the experience, whether they were one of the people attending the health resort or one of the people working at it. I especially appreciated all the poking fun at online reviews and the way people wield reviews like weapons. There was also a bit of romance that was charming.
Alice Isn't Dead by Joseph Fink
I don’t have a full review up for this one yet as I’ll be seeing Joseph Fink talk about this book this weekend, but I would say that it was interesting take on the age-old battle of good versus evil, and I appreciated seeing characters with anxiety in heroic roles.
I’m also a little more than halfway through the audiobook of Lair of Dreams, and halfway through The Scorpio Races in preparation for seeing Maggie Stiefvater next week, but I’ll count those as a December reads in next month’s wrap up.
So that’s 11 mostly fantastic books this month! Have any of these have been languishing on your TBR? Or are you excited to see someone else reading titles that you also loved? Tell me about it in the comments below.
Cheers! And happy reading.