November Reading List

The Switch by Beth O’Leary

I found this book predictable on every level but I still enjoyed it. A young woman dealing (or not dealing) with the death of her sister and her eighty year old grandmother swap homes for eight weeks. Country grandma goes to London, city granddaughter goes to a tiny town in the country. Both meet with unexpected challenges. 

The Austen Playbook 2019 by Lucy Parker

Delightful little romance with engaging characters, but what I really enjoyed was reading about a world I know nothing about, i.e. the world of English theatre. Ms. Parker has a nice little sub-plot running through the romance that tied everything together nicely.

Tales From the Ant World 2020 by Edward O. Wilson

Pulitzer Prize–winning author and naturalist Wilson, professor emeritus at Harvard University writes about his lifetime studying ants around the world. This book touches on 25 species that stand out for him and was written for a layman like myself rather than scholars. Wilson shares a behind the scenes look at what it’s like to study a tiny insect that rules the natural world. Since I am fascinated with bugs, I really enjoyed this book.

Pretty Face by Lucy Parker 2017 

Another predictable but engaging romance set in the same theatre world as the other Lucy Parker book I read this month. The main characters are engaging and Ms. Parker’s writing brings us inside their heads and hearts while they work through their issues to the books HEA. After burning out on Regency romance I’m finding contemporary romance a nice change of pace.

Devil in Spring by Lisa Kleypas 2017 

Apparently I’m not as finished with Regency romance as I thought I was. I picked this up on a recommendation from a friend because I’m familiar with the author and have enjoyed other books by her. This was well written and had a decent plot. The likable-rake-gets-roped-into-marriage-trope is wearing thin for me so I didn’t enjoy this as much as I would have if I’d read it when it first came out. That said, Kleypas is a solid romance writer so all in all I’d give this a recommend if you enjoy Regency romance.

The Frangipani Tree Mystery 2017 by Ovidia Yu

Set in 1936 Singapore. A mission-school educated local girl becomes a nanny for the Governor-Elect after the first nanny dies suddenly. Although I guessed who the killer was early on, I enjoyed reading about a culture foreign to me. This is the first book in a series and I look forward to reading more.

Headliners 2020 by Lucy Parker

This book focuses on two people from the same series. I liked the other two books better than this one. And this has nothing to do with the writing, but the couple on the cover look nothing like I imagined the characters and that fact detracted from my enjoyment. Silly, but there it is.

They Never Learn 2020 by Layne Fargo

I almost deleted this book from my list because of the deep hatred of all things male that permeates the book. I decided to leave it because this is a serial killer story unlike any I’ve ever read before.

We know who the murderer is right from the start–a female English professor who chooses one man a year who preys on women and rids the world of him. She’s been getting away with it for decades, and then . . . I really can’t say more without giving away too much. 

Metazoa: Animal Life and the Birth of Mind 2020 by Peter Godfrey-Smith

The title says it all. This is a mix of biology and philosophy as the author traces the rise of sentient beings, or the evolution of subjective experience. What is consciousness and can it ever be produced in AI? Where and when is mind found in the world? The author relates fascinating stories about his observations (I especially loved the chapter on octopuses) as he tackles this most profound of philosophical questions. The bottom line is that we need to treat the world around us with more awareness and care than we do at present.

Generation Loss 2007 by Elizabeth Hand

When I started this book I almost threw it back on the pile. It’s dark and disturbing and not what anyone needs to read right now. BUT, after a while, the scene moves from NYC to Downeast Maine, an area I’m familiar with and love. It never lets go of the dark and disturbing and the plot held no surprises for me, but the author (who lives part time in Maine) absolutely nailed the downeast coast.

The main character is a photographer, something else I’m intimately acquainted with. She’s also an addict and an alcoholic. Lots of dark here. I stuck with it (although I never caught the “darkly funny” another reviewer cites), so the author did her job. She perversely kept me turning the pages despite my desire to stop reading and pick up something lighter.

Thieves 2020 by Kristine Katherine Rusch

Thieves is part of Rusch’s Diving series, one of my favorite SF series. I am always thrilled to see a new work from it and this one didn’t disappoint. This story centers around the Boneyard, a guarded scrapheap of abandoned ships and parts that the protagonist and her team are mining for ships to refurbish. The whole concept is genius, realistic, and highly entertaining. I don’t consider any of the books in the series as standalones and strongly recommend starting at the beginning with Diving into the Wreck.

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