What I’ve Been Reading Lately: November 2022 Edition

Another day of catching you up on my recent reads! Over the two weeks, I’ve been delving into some adult contemporary – I guess some are considered women’s fiction, but I‘m not a fan of that label…and spoiler for a new-to-me author below, but I feel like Katherine Center is more contemporary, but on the edge of contemporary romance?? – my first holiday read of the season, a short story collection from my favorite beach read author, a new YA book, and an amazing graphic novel geared towards younger readers, but perfect for readers of all ages.

Just Like Magic by Sarah Hogle – I decided while giving out candy on Halloween that it was time for me to dive into holiday books this season, starting with Just Like Magic! Sarah Hogle’s Just Like Magic follows a woman, Bettie, whose life is not the one of luxury she previously had or promotes on her social media accounts. When she drunkenly plays Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas” on her vinyl, a mishap leads the holiday spirt, Hall, to appear and help Bettie get through the holidays with her family. Sarah Hogle’s books have this sense of quirkiness that I love – it did take me the first 50 pages or so to really settle into Just Like Magic – Bettie isn’t the most likable MC – but I love its humor and quirkiness, as Bettie spends the holiday with Hall and her over-the-top family. Overall, the book is unique but has many of the holiday tropes we’re all looking for this time of year.  My Rating: 4/5 Stars

Things You Save in a Fire & The Bodyguard by Katherine Center – Katherine Center is one of those authors that has been everywhere and I knew I would eventually read one day (I’ve had some of her books on my TBR for years).  I mentioned in my October Wrap Up that I had been watching some Goodreads Choice Awards predictions videos and her latest release, The Bodyguard, has been predicted by a few content creators to be in the romance category based on her past books being nominated. I thus read The Bodyguard, following a female bodyguard who is assigned to a celebrity actor that had been hiding from the press for a few years when visiting his family. I thought this book had a unique synopsis and I enjoyed it, but if there’s one Katherine Center book that I love now, it’s Things You Save in a Fire! Things You Save in a Fire follows firefighter, Cassie, who transfers from her progressive firehouse in Texas to a male-dominate, old school firehouse outside of Boston when her estranged & ailing mother asks her to move in. Again, another unique synopsis that I absolutely LOVED – I love Cassie’s job and its setting, her developing relationship with a rookie on her shift, and her relationship development with her mother. What You Wish For is on my TBR.The Bodyguard Rating: 4/5  | Things You Save in a Fire Rating: 4.5/5 

Endless Summer by Elin Hilderbrand – I thought about saving Elin Hildebrand’s short story collection connected to her books for the summer aka peak Hilderbrand reading season, but I couldn’t help myself! Endless Summer includes nine short stories connected to some of Elin’s books, including Golden Girl, Summer of ’69, 28 Summers, The Matchmaker, Beautiful Day, & more. I had already read the sequel stories connected to 28 Summers and Summer of ’69 (“Summer of ’79”), but I enjoyed re-reading them and then reading the second ’69 sequel, “Summer of ’89.” I also loved the prequel to The Matchmaker (one of my favorite Elin books) and the prequel to Golden Girl, based on Elin’s own days in writing workshops. Is this collection a necessary Hilderbrand book though? No, but super-fans will definitely enjoy. While I only own 2 or 3 of Elin’s books, I think this collection would be best to have on hand as you work through her books. She includes prefaces to each story, but I myself had to reread the synopses of some of her books that I didn’t totally remember, like Beautiful Day or even The Perfect Couple. My Rating: 4/5 Stars 

When Stars Are Scattered by Omar Mohamed  and Victoria Jameson – My students love graphic novels & I’m always on the hunt to introduce them to some new titles. When Stars Are Scattered is on so many recommendation lists for young readers, but after reading it, I firmly believe this book is perfect for all ages and so educational. The book is semi-auto-biographical, as it is based on Omar Mohamed’s experience growing up in Dabaab, a UNHCR refugee camp in Kenya, after escaping Somalia. This book was so fascinating and heart-breaking, and overall such a necessary read. My Rating: 5/5 Stars

If You Could See the Sun by Ann Liang – If You Could See the Sun was a recommended fall release from Becca Freeman of Bad on Paper Podcast. The book is a mix of an elite high school setting and sci-fi/fantasy, as the main character, Alice, suddenly begins to turn invisible and teams up with her academic rival in creating an app where Alice classmates have her uncover scandals using her skill. I liked the premise and the conversations surrounding academic pressure and class, as Alice comes from a low class family and risks having to transfer to a new school when her already expensive tuition increases, but the writing didn’t necessarily trap me in? My Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

What have you been reading lately? Have you read any of the books I shared? Share in the comments!

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