Everything I Read in November 2021.

Everything I Read in November 2021

This was a real unicorn month of reading – seven books and I truly LOVED everything I read. Like, LOVED. Probably because there was a lot of murdery stuff and thrillers, which is always my favorite. I guess I didn’t actually love If You Tell, as that was traumatically scary, but it was still a good book – well written, researched, etc. Everything on this month’s list gets at least an A-, which is pretty awesome as I consider anything on my lists B+ and above well worth reading. I highly, highly recommend everything on this list… though I also just really really want everyone to read Cultish – it was truly fascinating and such a fast read. As always, I really love your recs!!! In the comments, tell me what you’re reading / send any and all recommendations – it’s really, really helpful!

IF YOU’RE NEW HERE AND ARE LOOKING FOR A BOOK, DON’T FORGET THAT YOU CAN ALWAYS CHECK OUT MY BEAUTIFUL BOOK CLUB PAGE.

Every month I update it with everything I read – it includes every book I’ve read in the past seven years. The best part is that you can filter + search by genre. Now you can also filter by GRADE to find exactly what you’re looking for or just peruse my top picks. If you’re feeling like you need even more book recs, check out last month’s list. Also, my favorite books to give as gifts.

Everything I Read in November 2021

Some good Thrillers!

You'll be the Death of Me - Everything I Read in November 2021You’ll be the Death of Me, by Karen M. McManus

I am such a fan of Karen McManus’s books. They’re always about a group of high school students and tend to give me those nostalgic Breakfast Club (or in this case, oddly – Dawson’s Creek) vibes but with a side of murder and mystery. The best YA thrillers (and an author Becca and I tend to bond over – the books are twisty enough for me but not so scary that she won’t want to read them). This is her latest and it is such a fun read.

Three students (who were once thick as thieves but are now a lot less close) skip school for the day. While out and about, they spot a fellow student, also skipping. They follow him… to the scene of his murder! The rest of the book is spent figuring out who did it and working to clear their own names as now they were the only four seniors out of school that day. This was fast-paced and fun with a few good twists along the way. I really enjoyed it and read it in just two sittings. Order on Bookshop.org or Amazon.

  • Overall Score: A-

State of Terror - Everything I Read in November 2021State of Terror, by Louise Penny and Hillary Rodham Clinton

I wasn’t sure what to expect from a political thriller co-written by Hillary Clinton, but my net takeaway/one sentence opinion is that this is such a FUN BOOK. It is a fast read, too. It’s a big fat book (around 500 pages) and I have been in a more stressful state of mind where I am wanting lighter reads, so I put off reading it because for whatever reason I assumed it would be a more “serious” read. It’s not. If you loved Scandal or 24, you will love this!

It’s a new political administration after a very tumultuous time (seems familiar) and Ellen Adams has just been sworn in as Secretary of State. It’s interesting though, as she and the president do not get along. They’re sworn political enemies, actually. Shortly into the new presidency, things go belly up with a series of terrorist attacks taking place across Europe. Now, it’s up to Ellen to figure out what happens. A cat and mouse hunt occurs as she flies all over the world trying to catch who did this. But as with so many things, the problem is even bigger than she could have imagined.

I loved this. I thought it was fun and smart and read it in one day (I was sick that day so I had a lot of free time). And I also loved the Trump-esque character, he was fun. I highly recommend this book! Order on Bookshop.org or Amazon.

  • Overall Score: A

Non-fiction picks!

Cultish by Amanda MontellCultish, by Amanda Montell

This is hands down, the best book I’ve read in a long time. Sometimes I will struggle with non-fiction, either putting it down and then picking it up or just taking a really long time to read it!!! Not the case with this one. I packed it for my trip to LA and DEVOURED it on the plane. I usually nap or work on the plane but once I started this, I couldn’t put it down. It’s just so smart – and interesting. I learned a lot from it but also was very much entertained.

Amanda walks through more traditional cults like Heaven’s Gate and Jonestown while also teaching us about the language of cults (aka “Cultish”) and their charismatic leaders. Once we get through the more traditional cults she then takes us through more commonly accepted things that use this same language… MLMs, “cult” fitness studios, and social media gurus. I found the whole book fascinating but especially the chapter on MLMs. The language these founders use, and how they manipulate the lower tiers… just WOW. I can’t recommend this book enough, I can’t stop talking about it to anyone who will listen and want to give it to all of my friends! Order on Bookshop.org or Amazon.

  • Overall Score: A+

If You Tell by Gregg OlsenIf You Tell, by Gregg Olsen

I’m going to give this book a good rating because it IS perfectly researched, with excellent story telling (it reads like fiction), and the writing is great BUT I don’t know that I can actually recommend this book as it has pretty much every trigger warning I can think of (particularly child abuse, body shaming, torture, murder, I could go on…), leaving me really, really upset and a little bit nauseous.

This is the story of Shelly Knotek and her three daughters (+ random friends who joined the family at times but always somehow ended up disappearing). You can read more about Shelly/everything she did in this article… make your decision from there. The book is terrifying. I felt truly sick to my stomach by the end (though relieved as all three daughters made it out alive and seemingly have normal lives today). And I know I read a lot of books that are dark and twisty… but they’re all fiction. I think that separation between fiction and reality is what makes me love my twisty thrillers.

Knowing that this was real and actually happened to these girls (and the people who were murdered) was deeply upsetting. I read it as research for my friend Casey’s podcast. I’m excited for our episode to come out. If I hadn’t been reading it as research I probably would have stopped reading, instead I read it (all traumatic 400 pages of it) in just a couple days. Order on Bookshop.org or Amazon.

  • Overall Score: A-

We're Speaking, by Hitha PalepuWe’re Speaking, by Hitha Palepu

Proud friend moment: my incredible friend Hitha wrote this book, it’s amazing, and I really think that pretty much everyone that reads this blog will really love it!!!! Also, she wrote it very quickly and I have no idea how she did it… I bow down. This book is an absolute MUST for every woman on your list, especially a younger woman beginning her career or graduating from college.

This is a book about Kamala Harris, but it is not a policy book. It’s a book about Kamala’s life, and the lessons we can all learn from it… across family, relationships, work, and beyond. It’s part biography, part self-help/inspirational. And it’s a book about finding your voice, being more confident, and stepping into your power. No matter what your political views may be, I think that we can agree that Kamala is pretty awe-inspiring… and it’s pretty amazing to have a Black, Asian-American female VP in the White House. I loved learning more about her life and her career (especially her family life), there is a lot I didn’t know! Order on Bookshop.org or Amazon.

  • Overall Score: A

Coming Sooooon….

Fake, by Erica Katz - Everything I Read in November 2021Fake, by Erica Katz (out 2/22)

I absolutely devoured this book… reading it in literally one day. (I had the most delicious Sunday afternoon where I just read and read and read until it was dark outside). This is a thriller (maybe more of a suspense novel) set in the art world, about rich criminals… which basically is all about my favorite things to read about in one place.

Emma Caan is working as an art copier for a Manhattan company. This is a perfectly legal profession (copies are noted as such, and used by collectors, museums, etc. for when the original is being cleaned or to protect it when there is a party or event). One day, she catches the eye of Lenny Sobetsky, one of the agency’s biggest clients. Before she realizes it, she’s gotten a new job at the city’s best gallery, is traveling to Hong Kong (privately!), and living in a chic Soho loft. All for just a few strings and agreeing to help Lenny cut out the middleman and copy his works for less than he was paying the agency.

This was so fun to read. I loved the glamour and escapism (the art! Hong Kong! exciting parties and a meteoric rise for our protagonist) all while knowing it would eventually come crashing down. I can’t recommend it enough… pre-order it! Order on Bookshop.org or Amazon.

  • Overall Score: A

Greenwich Park - Everything I Read in November 2021Greenwich Park, by Katherine Faulkner (out 1/25/22)

I am calling it now, I think that Greenwich Park is going to be the Girl on the Train of 2022. If you like those types of thrillers (you know how much I love them!), you will not be able to put this book down… it is just so good. We have it all… an unreliable narrator, a potentially dangerous and destructive new best friend, erratic behavior, etc. There is definitely a content warning for infertility and also for rape/sexual assault so keep those things in mind… but this book is excellent!

Helen is living a perfect life. A baby on the way, a handsome architect husband, and a beautiful Victorian home in London’s poshest neighborhood that they are renovating. When she meets Rachel at a prenatal class, she’s a little bit caught off guard (Rachel is much younger, brash and unconventional… smoking and drinking even while pregnant) but the two women strike up an unlikely friendship. They’re both a little lonely, and soon they’ll both be new moms! As time goes on though, she begins to wonder what Rachel actually wants… and it seems like Rachel may actually be a huge danger to her family and everything they’ve worked so hard to build. I will say no more but this book is twisty and smart and totally unputdownable. Two solid thumbs up from me! Order on Bookshop.org or Amazon.

  • Overall Score: A+

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Comments

  1. mary says 12.1.21

    I can’t wait to read Cultish. I think the entire MLM/megachurch/anti-vax/pro-Trump overlap is fascinating. I hope to learn more about what and WHY??? Also, congrats to Hitha on her new book. She is the best, just so smart.

    • grace at the stripe says 12.2.21

      I agree! This helped me understand it all a little better! And I KNOW. Hitha is amazing!!!

  2. Briana says 12.1.21

    Have you read Louise Penny’s other books? If you loved State of Terror, you’d probably enjoy her Chief Inspector Gamache series. I’m a die hard fan (have read all 17) and they’re literally all five star reads. There was SO much of her smart, emotionally connected writing style in State of Terror. I’m thrilled that Clinton chose to work with her on this.

  3. Virginia says 12.1.21

    I’m so excited for the new Karen McManus! Added Cultish, Fake, and Greenwich Park to my list, thanks for the recs! I always love this monthly post.
    Two of my favorites this month were The Push by Audrey Audrain and Doctors and Friends by Kimmery Martin.

  4. Mary Beth says 12.1.21

    I know you try to balance our ARCs and current reads, but as a library lover I really appreciate getting the heads up on books months in advance! Already reserved “Fake” and “Greenwich Park” because of your rave reviews! Excellent month.

    • Julianna says 12.1.21

      Same! Especially because I get them from the library, so if they already have them on order then I can get my hold in before they blow up in popularity 🙂

  5. Laura says 12.1.21

    I assume you’ve already listened, but just in case you haven’t, Traci at The Stacks had an absolute GEM of an episode with Amanda Montell, author of Cultish: https://thestackspodcast.com/2021/11/17/ep-190-amanda-montell/

    http://www.areweadultsyet.com

  6. Mimi says 12.3.21

    I’m currently reading Gregg Olsen’s “The Hive” and I feel like it’s right up your alley Grace – murder, cult, beauty influencer. It’s super good!

  7. Elaine says 12.4.21

    Have you read Fifty Words for Rain by Asha Lemmie?

  8. Kate says 1.2.22

    Thanks for all of these recs! I love twisty thrillers too and recently read: A Familiar Sight (Dr. Gretchen White Book 1); by Brianna Labuskes. I had low expectations (because it was free on my Kindle unlimited), but it was excellent, with a different twist. I’m excited for the second one coming out this year. cheers!