What I Read in November & December

Monday, December 27, 2021


And that's a wrap on 2021 reading! I hit my annual goal of 55 books within the first week of November, which means I got in a few extras as the last two months of the year played out. That means I'm now rounding up for you a whopping 16 final books of 2021.

I'm still hoping to do a "favorite books of the year" post, but I haven't gotten there yet. Suffice it to say that a few of these would (will?) make the list. I might even squeak in a final book or two before the start of 2022, but if so, I'll include those on January's roundup. I'm going to try to go back to monthly write-ups, as these are getting unwieldy again.

TW: Sensitive book topics include fictional murder, real murder, ableism, the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, weight loss, & sex trafficking. Also, reality TV (sorry).

Good Girl, Bad Blood by Holly Jackson

I was really enthusiastic about this second installment in the Good Girl's Guide to Murder series, & while I liked this book a lot, I just didn't like it as much as I liked the first one. Pippa has sworn off solving mysteries, but when her friend's older brother goes missing, she's back on the case. This one gets a little dark toward the end & creeped me out a bit in the dark of night. ★★★★☆

A Face for Picasso by Ariel Henley

I truly could not have loved this YA memoir more, about the author's childhood with Crouzon Syndrome. She & her twin sister are the first pair to survive the condition, which required them to need multiple facial surgeries as they grew up. Today, she's an eloquent storyteller & an advocate for people with facial differences & for people with disabilities in general. ★★★★★

Look What You Made Me Do by Elaine Murphy

Carrie knows where all the bodies are buried — like, really. has spent nearly a decade helping her sister Becca, a prolific serial killer, dispose of the bodies of her multiple victims. But when some of those bodies are discovered, they realize there must be another serial killer in town, too. And now he's after Carrie. This book was absurd & not written suuuuper well, but it was still fun. ★★☆☆☆

Say Hello by Carly Findlay

Carly, an Australian writer & another advocate for people with facial differences, has lived since birth with a skin condition called ichthyosis. Her skin is itchy, scaly, red & dry, & while it causes her a number of less-than-ideal issues (pain, soreness, mess), she also writes extensively about dealing with other people's ableism & their ingrained biases. ★★★★☆

Letters to My Palestinian Neighbor by Yossi Klein Halevi

I listened to portions of this book for a Black/Jewish fellowship I recently completed, & afterward, I was desperate to hear more. It includes the most well-written, cogent, powerful language I've yet read about Israel's right to exist & the antisemitism that pervades conversations about the Israel/Palestine conflict. I listened to it on audiobook, which I'd recommend if you're an aural learner. And in general, I'd recommend this book to everyone. ★★★★★

Diet & Weight Loss Motivation Secrets You Wish You Knew by Susan Albers 

I wish this one were titled differently because it sounds so fat-shamey as-is. Really, though, this book is about finding the motivation to make healthier choices (whether or not your goal is weight loss) & being kind to yourself along the way. It was a quick read, & while it wasn't quite as helpful or eye-opening as I hoped it would be, it was worth the insight. ★★★☆☆

Free Cyntoia: My Search for Redemption in the American Prison System by Cyntoia Brown

When I learned about Cyntoia Brown on a podcast episode, I knew I wanted to learn more about her & from her. Her memoir tells of a troubled childhood leading up to the night when, at age 16, she murdered a man who solicited her for sex. Once sentenced to life in prison, Brown was eventually granted clemency & is now an advocate against sex trafficking & for prison reform. ★★★★★

As Good As Dead by Holly Jackson

Wow, I hated this book, like, so much. I can't tell you why, exactly, without revealing an entire plot twist & a huge chunk of the story, but suffice it to say that this third installment in the Good Girl's Guide to Murder trilogy — in which Pip tries to figure out who's stalking her — went way off the rails & managed to make me thoroughly loathe its once-beloved protagonist. An enormous disappointment. ★★☆☆☆

That Weekend by Kara Thomas

When hikers discover Claire, bloodied & unconscious, on the side of a mountain, her best friends, Kat & Jesse, are nowhere to be found. They'd been spending a weekend together at Kat's family's remote lake house. But Claire can't remember what happened or even the last time she saw them. So what happened? This one had a big twist about halfway through that I really enjoyed. ★★★★☆

Don't Breathe a Word by Jordyn Taylor

I love a boarding school thriller, & this was a twist I hadn't seen before. Eva is thrilled to be invited to join The Fives, a secret society headed by the dean of students; her story runs parallel to that of Connie, a 1962 student who spends a week living in a bomb shelter with some classmates in a school-led simulation. What happened in the bomb shelter? And what role do today's Fives play? ★★★★★

God Bless This Mess by Hannah Brown

I long ago committed to reading every Bachelor Nation memoir, & I was surprised to actually enjoy this one. Brown's ghostwriter, who she openly acknowledges, did a great job of writing in her voice but not being cheesy or childish, as past contestants' books have been. She's open about struggles with childhood trauma, eating disorders, & mental illness, & she narrated the audiobook really well. ★★★★☆

The Murder Game by Carrie Doyle

Boarding school student Luke, a one-time kidnapping victim, sneaks out after curfew with friends. The next day, they learn of a murder — & one of them is the prime suspect. Luke sets out to clear his friend's name but puts himself in harm's way. This book was decent, story-wise, but the writing dry, with no real feeling or emotion behind it. And I don't understand its title or cover art, neither of which relate to its plot. ★★★☆☆

Little Monsters by Kara Thomas

With this novel, I've read everything by Kara Thomas... & am desperate for more. She is such a talented writer & detailed storyteller! In this one, Kacey's best friend Bailey goes missing after a night of partying, & people in town aren't being secretive about the fact that they think she had something to do with it. This story is beautifully & meticulously plotted, one of friendships & family & jealousy & teen angst &, you know, murder. ★★★★★

Alone in Plain Sight by Ben Higgins

Sigh. I knew exactly what this book, written by a former Bachelor lead, would be like, but I opted into it anyway. And look, it was... fine. It was very Jesusy. And most of it was just completely vague, like a pastor giving a sermon that doesn't include enough anecdotes or specificities to have an impact. He said a lot of things I really loved — & a lot that just seemed like word soup. ★★☆☆☆

Wilder Girls by Rory Power

My Goodreads friends didn't seem to like this one, but wow, I loved it so much. Raxter School for Girls, located on an island off Maine, has been quarantined for 18 months, cut off except for deliveries from the Navy. The Tox has done unheard-of things to their bodies — an extra spine, gills, silver hair, a scaled arm, a second heartbeat. They're surviving... until Byatt goes missing, & Hetty goes looking for her. ★★★★★

I Hate Everyone But You by Gaby Dunn & Allison Raskin

Written by real-life best friends, this novel is done in the form of emails back & forth & text exchanges between two BFFs who have left for their freshman year of college on separate coasts, their friendship tested across distance & tech. In Boston, Gen is exploring her queerness & trying not to fail her classes; in California, Ava is managing her mental illness & hating her sorority. I highlighted more passages in this book than in any other book ever. ★★★★★

Tell me what you're reading, then add me on Goodreads to keep in touch & see what I've read in months past. You can also follow my (sparsely updated) bookstagram account

My "What I Read In..." posts include Amazon affiliate links to the titles I discuss. If you buy a book using one of these links, I will receive a small percentage of commission. Please don't feel any obligation to use these links, but if you do, it will help me buy more books.

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