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November-December Reading Wrap-up (+Did I Meet My 2022 Goals?)

NOVEMBER READS


1. Daisy Darker by Alice Feeney (Adult Thriller) (352 pages) (3.5)

Daisy’s family gathers at her grandmother’s house to celebrate her 80th birthday. When the tide comes in they are cut off from the mainland and someone is picking off Darker family members one by one. This book is inspired by And Then There Were None and it does a good job of making the story its own while still playing homage. The ending was pretty unoriginal and not my favorite.

Full Review: Coming soon to the blog!


2. The Family Game by Catherine Steadman (Adult Thriller) (336 pages) (3.25)

Harriet is marrying into the wealthy Holbeck family. After meeting the family, she learns of their dark holiday games and that her soon to be father-in-law might be a murderer. I love the idea of taking the cozy concept of a family Christmas and twisting it into something dark. There was very palpable tension but the ending was somehow both predictable and made no sense.

Full Review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/5093437105


3. The Vanishing Stair by Maureen Johnson (YA Mystery) (369 pages) (5)

This is the sequel to Truly Devious and continues the storyline of true crime aficionado Stevie Bell solving the murder that took place at her boarding school in the 30s. This was a reread for me as I’m rereading all the books in anticipation of the fifth installment which was just released. This book solves one of the two main mysteries of the series but nicely sets up the finale.

Full Review: https://www.haleysbookhaven.com/post/truly-devious-by-maureen-johnson-a-review


4. Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones (YA Fantasy) (436 page) (4)

Elisabeth’s sister is stolen by the Goblin King and she must travel underground to save her. This book reminded me of Beauty and the Beast. It has a fairytale quality and mixes enemies to lovers and friends to lovers. Elisabeth could be a frustrating character at times but I did like her. This book was recommended to me by my bibliologist and I’d say it was a successful recommendation.

Full Review: Coming soon to the blog!


5. You Had Me at Hola by Alexis Daria (Adult Romance) (365 pages) (3.5)

Costars on a telenovela, Ashton and Jasmine fall in love. I loved all the positive representations and conversations about consent in this book. I also really liked the side characters in this novel. I had mixed feelings about Ashton because of his ‘secret’. However, I did like him and Jasmine as a couple.

Full Review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3784251111


6. Kiss Her Once for Me by Alison Cochrun (Adult Romance) (345 pages) (4.75)

A year ago, on Christmas Eve, Ellie fell in love with a woman named Jack. A misunderstanding led to heartbreak but a year later Ellie finds herself engaged in a marriage of convience to be. She finds out that her fiance’s sister is Jack. This book combines Christmas cheer with romantic angst. There is amazing anxiety disorder representation in this book! Cochrun has become an auto-buy author for me.

Full Review: https://www.haleysbookhaven.com/post/a-christmas-romance-you-ll-remember-all-too-well-kiss-her-once-for-me-by-alison-cochrun


7. His and Hers by Alice Feeney (Adult Thriller) (305 pages) (5)

Ex-spouses Jack and Anna find themselves back in each other’s lives when a woman they both know turns up dead. This book is reminiscent of The Girl on the Train. It is dual perspective with Jack and Anna though it also has interludes from the murderer’s perspective. This was my third Feeney book but also my favorite by far. There were great twists and turns, characters, and atmosphere.

Full Review: Coming soon to the blog!


8. Marion Lane and the Midnight Murder by T. A. Wilberg (Audlt Mystery) (336 pages) (4)

Marion Lane works at Miss Brickett’s, a secret society of investigators located in underground London. This was another book recommended to me by my bibliologist. I loved the setting, the cool spy gadgets, and the genre bending. It was a tad slow in terms of pacing and the characters were a bit bland.

Full Review: Coming soon to the blog!

DECEMBER READS


1. Once Upon a December by Amy E. Reichert (Adult Romance) (336 pages) (4)

Jack works at a magical traveling Christmas market that guests always forget. Every year the market is in Milwaukee Jack is excited to see the girl he loves, Astra. Astra, meanwhile, is struggling to move on from a tricky divorce. Can she remember Jack so the two can finally have true love? This book is full of cozy, warm festivity to get you in the holiday spirits. Jack and Astra are cute individually and together.

Full Review: https://www.haleysbookhaven.com/post/it-s-always-christmas-in-once-upon-a-december-by-amy-e-reichert


2. You’re Invited by Amanda Jayatissa (Adult Mystery) (384 pages) (5)

Amaya is invited to the wedding of her ex-best friend who happens to be marrying her ex-boyfriend. She travels to Sri Lanka to stop the wedding but then the bride goes missing. This book is what I wanted The Guest List to be. There is a mixed media element in the form of interviews with the characters. Jayatissa does a good job of making you second guess yourself.

Full Review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/5134250074


3. Shadowsong by S. Jae-Jones (YA Fantasy) (379 pages) (2.75)

This is the sequel to Wintersong and follows the consequences of the event of that novel. I am glad I read it to be able to say I finished the story of these characters. However, I found the actual reading experience to be quite boring. There were so many interesting plot threads that could have been followed but weren’t. It was just underwhelming.

Full Review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/5135791373


4. Marion Lane and the Deadly Rose T. A. Wilberg (Adult Mystery) (293 pages) (3.5)

This is the sequel to Marion Rose and the Midnight Murder. It follows Marion has she tries to uncover who among the new Miss Brickett’s recruits is a Russian spy. Just like with the first book I enjoyed the setting and the plot. The novel does take a while to get going but the characters were more endearing and engaging than in the first book.

Full Review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/5135791129


5. Count Your Lucky Stars by Alexandria Bellefleur (Adult Romance) (384 pages) (4)

Olivia is a wedding planner who discovers a member of the wedding party she’s working with is her ex best friend whom she had a week long affair with (Margot). The plot reminded me a lot of People We Meet on Vacation except an LGBT+ version. I wish there was less of a gap in the time the characters spent apart but they do have amazing chemistry. I previously DNF’d one of this author’s books so this restored my faith in her and makes me want to try her books again.

Full Review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/5150701554


6. The Hand on the Wall by Maureen Johnson (YA Mystery) (384 pages) (5)

This is the final book in the original Truly Devious trilogy. I was rereading this series in anticipation of the recently released fifth book (it follows the same characters but solving a separate mystery). This was my second reread and third overall read of the series and I can easily see this becoming something I do every year. I consider these books to be my go to comfort books and they’re especially perfect for the fall and winter time.

Full Review: https://www.haleysbookhaven.com/post/truly-devious-by-maureen-johnson-a-review


7. Blackout by various authors (YA Romance/Short Story Collection) (256 pages) (4.25)

This is a series of short stories written by all black authors and featuring black love stories which take place during a blackout in NYC. There is variety in both the characters’ sexuality (we have straight and LGBT+ characters) and in the tropes seen. My top stories from this collection were Mask Off by Nic Stone and All the Great Love Stories and Dust by Donhielle Clayton but I wrote reviews for them all.

Full Review:https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/4745467212


8. We Deserve Monuments by Jas Hammond (YA Contemporary) (384 pages) (5)

Avery Anderson and her parents move to Bardell, Georgia to take care of her ailing grandmother, Mama Letty. This book came in at the last minute to become one of my favorite reads this year. I don’t often read YA contemporary anymore but this one was well worth the read. There was so much heart here and it tackles the issues of coming out, racism, grief and generational trauma.

Full Review: Coming soon to the blog!


9. A Thousand Miles by Bridget Morrissey (Adult Romance) (368 pages) (3)

Dee and Ben are former best friends who fell in love and then fell apart. They reunite years later to go on a road trip together based on a promise they made years ago. Friends to lovers is my favorite trope and I am a sucker for mutual pining. I really believed Dee and Ben as best friends but I just didn’t think they worked well as a couple.

Full Review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/4872912074


10. Reckless Girls by Rachel Hawkins (Adult Thriller) (320 pages) (1.75)

Lux and her boyfriend are hired to take two girls on vacation on their boat to a deserted island. When they arrive they find another couple is already there. This book sells itself as a thriller with a missing person and a dead body. However, for the first 90% of the book it is just shallow characters partying on a beach.

Full Review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/5135793611


11. Roomies by Christina Lauren (Adult Romance) (368 pages) (2.75)

Holland Baker develops a crush on a subway guitarist named Calvin who is living in the country illogically. To help him get a job working with her uncle they engage in a marriage of convenience. This is the type of book that is fun as long as you don’t take it too seriously. I think of the several books by Christina Lauren that I’ve read this one is the weakest. The main character is just kind of meh and there were too many third act conflicts. Full Review: https://www.haleysbookhaven.com/post/the-hawthorne-legacy-by-jennifer-lynn-barnes-book-review


12. The Hawthorne Legacy by Jennifer Lynn Barnes (YA Thriller) (352 pages) (3.5)

This is the sequel to The Inheritance Games and sees Avery and the Hawthorne brothers engaged in another game set up the late billionaire Tobias Hawthorne. This was a reread for me as I go the final book in the trilogy for Christmas. The sequel has all the fun, fast thrills of the first book, but Avery is sidelined too much and there were too many players.

Full Review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/5182792877


SOME STATS

TOTAL PAGES READ (NOV-DEC): 7,052 (avg. book length: 352.6 pages)

AVG. STAR RATING (NOV-DEC): 77.5/100(avg. rating: 3.88⭐)

TOTAL PAGES READ (JAN-DEC): 40,953 (avg. book length: 401.5 pages)

AVERAGE STAR RATING (JAN-DEC): 443.25/665(avg. rating: 4.35)

GENRE BREAKDOWN (JAN-DEC)

ADULT: 55/102 (53.9%)

AGE NA: 2/102 (1.96%)

CONTEMPORARY/ROMANCE: 20/102 (19.6%)

FANTASY/MAGICAL REALISM: 32/102 (31.3%)

HISTORICAL FICTION: 4/102 (3.9%)

HORROR: 1/102 (.98%)

MYSTERY/THRILLER: 40/102 (39.2%)

MIDDLE GRADE: 1/102 (.98%)

NONFICTION/POETRY: 2/102 (1.96%)

SCI-FI: 3/102 (2.9%)

YA: 44/102 (43.1%)


GOAL CHECK-IN


1. Post a blog every weekend unless ill.

I did a much better job these last couple months than I did in SEP-OCT. There was no blog last weekend but that was because of Christmas.

2. Read at least 90 books (UPDATED: original goal was 60)

I read 102 books this year!

3. Participate in Booksandlala's Buzzwordathon

The November prompt was words ending in ING. For this I read THE VANISHING STAIR. The December prompt was numbers. For this I read A THOUSAND MILES. I am proud of myself that I completed the Buzzwordathon though I don’t plan to participate in the coming year.

4. Read at least 3 nonfiction or poetry books (UPDATED original goal was 5)

I ended up reading only 2.

5. Read at least 1-2 adult books every month.

I accomplished this goal every month and read more adult than YA this year! I will say, though, that I’m a big supporter of reading what you want whatever your age since reading is a HOBBY and you should enjoy your hobbies.

6. Reread at least 8 books in 2022

I’d already completed this prompt prior to October but I also reread two more books in November and December (The Vanishing Stair and The Hand on the Wall).


2023 READING AND WRITING GOALS


1. Read 80 books

2. Complete my poetry collection

So far, I’ve completed 17 of the 30 poems I plan to include in this small, private collection. I may end up swapping the already included ones for ones I’ve yet to write – we shall see.

3. Work on my new YA fantasy manuscript

So far, I really only have some of the plot, world, and characters but nothing truly fleshed out. I plan to use The Storyteller’s Workbook by Isabel Ibañez and Adrienne Young for some assistance since I’m a tad rusty.

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