Episode 35: Laura's November 2020 Reading


On this week's dose of book recommendations, library love, and literary enthusiasm, your host Laura shares about the 18 books she read in November. From non-fiction knitting books (love!) to contemporary romance (ugh!), from fantasy to historical fiction, there's a lot of interesting books in this episode. 

Check out all the books from today's episode at the Library Laura shop on Bookshop.org 

Find Laura on Instagram & Facebook! Let me know how YOUR November reading was! 

A stack of books in their "natural habitat" on my living room side table! This was a mix of reading, read, and yet-to-read...no staging required :) 

Reading Challenge Books: 

#TheUnreadShelfProject2020 November prompt - a book in your favorite genre. I read The Strangers by Margaret Peterson Haddix 

#MMDChallenge - read a book outside your (genre) comfort zone. I read Mrs. Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, which was slotted as Horror at my library (and I don't read Horror) but was glowingly recommended by Devin Joubert on her podcast episode. And with that I'm officially done with the MMD Reading Challenge for the year! 

My completed Modern Mrs. Darcy 2020 Reading Challenge checklist! 

Books Laura Read in November: 

The Good Lord Bird by James McBride: A historical fiction account of John Brown and Harpers Ferry, told from the perspective of a young black child who traveled with him. This was an odd book and I struggled to get through it, but persisted because I felt like I should be aware of the history. I believe this was recommended to me by Hannah Wright on her episode! 

Neanderthal Seeks Human by Penny Reid: I wanted to enjoy this one. It was promising and overall pretty okay. But too many red flags and secrecy in the relationship. Ugh. I was excited because the series covers members of a knitting circle, and Anne Bogel said she was enjoying the series. So, I might try one more book in the series before I give up.

Three Keys by Kelly Yang: The follow up to Front Desk, which was amazing. This follows our three kids through the the lead up to the passage of Prop 187 in 1994, which attempted to deny basic services like public education and emergency health care to undocumented immigrants. It was fun to see their relationship develop, and how the Calvista Hotel changed once Mia's parents were in charge. 

Chilling Effect by Valerie Valdes: This book came recommended to me by Jewel Gilbert. She loved it and the sequel, and I really enjoyed this first book. A girl-power space opera with psychic space cats. A wild ride and I really enjoyed it. Also, lots of cussing in Spanish?

No Offense by Meg Cabot: Ah, another contemporary romance that I had high hopes for and didn't love. Pro:A librarian! A really funny scene where in their passion they knock over a bunch of books and the neighbor knocks on the door to see what's going on. Apologies made with key lime pie. Cons: Weird other dynamics especially in terms of law enforcement and child abandonment... 

The Rumpelstiltskin Problem by Vivian Vande Velde: Recommended to me by Jewel Gilbert on her podcast episode, and she brought it with her when she came to visit! I loved all the different retellings of the Rumpelstiltskin tale. Humourous and creative. 

Dragon's Bait by Vivian Vande Velde: Who knew I needed to read a romance about a shape-shifting dragon and a human girl? But this was a fun, quick read. Also brought and enjoyed by Jewel.

We visited Prospero's Bookstore in Kansas City and it was super cool. 

Jewel and me with our bookstore finds from Prospero's. Car selfies = no masks necessary! 

Thrice Upon A Marigold by Jean Ferris: The last book in the series that started with Once Upon A Marigold. I'm glad I kept reading after the second book. This third book has a misunderstood dragon, a smitten elephant, a librarian, and a rescue attempt to recover a kidnapped royal baby. More jokes and humor too! I loved the first book, didn't love the second, and really enjoyed the 3rd. Thanks to Haley for telling me to persevere to the 3rd book. 

Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone by BrenĂ© Brown: I read this for book club and I'm glad I did. The author narrates the audiobook, which added to my enjoyment. An important book to read right now as political tensions are high and isolation is rampant. Thanks to all my friends and my husband who put up with me reading excerpts of this book to them. 

A Murderous Relation by Deanna Raybourn: The 5th book (out of 6) of the Veronica Speedwell series. This series continues to be more risque than I expect given the historical setting. But a riveting mystery nonetheless! I still loved the Stay at Home Book Tour interview with the Author that Anne Bogel facilitated this spring. Check that out here

The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow: I've been excited about this book since I heard the author of The Ten Thousand Doors of January was writing another book.  And...Wow. This book was amazing. Well written with a huge alternative history of women's rights and lots of witchy magic. Perfect November reading. 

The first note that Alix Harrow wrote on Goodreads about The Once and Future Witches. This made me love the book even more, and then reading through all the historical references she pulled from was incredible. 

Return of the Thief by Megan Whalen Turner: The fitting conclusion to the Queen's Thief series by Megan Whalen Turner. This is a great series and it's both exciting and sad to read the conclusion. I'm happy with how she ended it though. Hannah Wright also read this book recently and here's what she had to say about it: 


Mrs. Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs: Devin Joubert recommended this book on her episode, and I ended up really enjoying it. I was hesitant because my library had it slotted as Horror (and I DO NOT read horror) but the way the author used photos to tell the story was amazing and I wasn't too scared. This is my #mmdchallenge book for the month for the "a book from outside of your genre comfort zone."

Things I Learned From Knitting: ...Whether I Wanted To Or Not by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee: And...I wandered into the knitting section of the library and left with books :) This was a very humorous and lovely little book and I loved it. 

My most recent finds in the non-fiction knitting section of the library. 

One Day in December by Josie Silver: I really didn't like this book. I wanted to, but I came to it expecting a light, lovely Christmas romance, and got 10 years of lying, heartache and tragedy with a happy-enough ending and not enough Christmas spirit. Ugh. I guess the positive is that we might have a good book club discussion about it? 

The Miraculous by Jess Redman: This was recommended to me by Laura Stegman on her episode. A book about grief and healing. Laura Stegman talked about how she appreciates books that use magic, but ultimately help their characters and readers find reality-based solutions to their problems. This book is a great example of that. 

The Strangers by Margaret Peterson Haddix: This was my #theunreadshelfproject2020 pick for November, which was a book from your favorite genre. Three kids learn about the alternate world into which their mother disappears and must try to rescue her. This ended with such a cliffhanger that I immediately got the second book from the library and I finished it at 1 a.m. on December 1...so definitely compelling storytelling here. Can't wait for the third book to be released! 

Class Act by Jerry Craft: the next book after New Kid, which was the 2020 Newbery winner. This book focused more on Jordan's friend Drew, but was still told through the artistic eye of Jordan's comics. It jumped around a bit in the beginning, but I ended up really enjoying it's perspective on being a young black kid in school, navigating friendships, family, and more. I'll read anything Jerry Craft writes or draws. 

So...that's the wrap up for November!  

November Reading Stats: 

  • 18 books
  • 5,887 pages
  • 16 fiction
  • 2 non-fiction
  • 5 audiobooks
  • 5 ebooks
  • 5 library books
  • 2 borrowed from a friend
  • 1 owned


2020 Reading Stats: 

  • 177 books
  • 53, 819 pages 


How did November go for you? What did you enjoy reading? Tell me in the comments or on social media! 

With lots of literary love from my library to yours,

 ~Laura  


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Library Laura
Laura is an avid reader who is happiest when surrounded by books, tea, blankets and/or friends. Host of the Library Laura Podcast.

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