November was a great reading month for me—I hit my goal of reading 75 books in 2021! As such, I am going to try to finish 85 books by December 31—we’ll see if I can do it! Regardless, in next month’s on my nightstand post, I’ll definitely share my top books of 2021; I’ve read so many good ones this year that it will be hard to narrow it down.
In November, I read 13 books, which is more than I’ve averaged recently—I was able to do a lot of reading over the Thanksgiving holiday, and work slowed down a little for me, so I had more time to spend curled up with a good book. December is shaping up to be a busy month for me—isn’t it always because of the holidays?!—so I doubt I will read as many books this month, but I already have a few good ones lined up I am excited to share.
As is custom on these posts, I wanted to call out that I’m part of a program where Random House will send me some of their new titles each month. I’m under no obligation to post about any titles I receive, so I really can tell you my own opinion (good or bad!) about them. I’ve starred the books Random House sent me for free below. I’m so lucky to be sent books and that’s not lost on me.
Happy reading! x
YOU HAD ME A HELLO // MHAIRI McFARLANE
Ben and Rachel haven’t seen each other in a decade, when they were still university students. On a rainy day, they bump into each other, but life has certainly changed: Ben is married and Rachel just dumped her fiancé. Yet Rachel feels all those feelings she had for Ben a decade ago coming back.
What I think I disliked most about this book is that you have to root for someone’s marriage to fail for the couple you want to see together — and that just feels pretty blah to me!
Would I recommend it? I am working my way through Mhairi McFarlane’s books and this one wasn’t my fave. However, if you like Elin Hilderbrand or Christina Lauren, I think she is definitely an author you will love— start with Just Last Night, which is just really great British chick lit. (I like her writing style way more than Sophie Kinsella’s!)
AFTER HELLO // MHAIRI McFARLANE
Did I still go pick up the sequel to You Had Me at Hello that picks up where the last story left off? Absolutely.
Would I recommend it? Obviously, I would only read this one if you read the first book, and I think you should pass on the first book—like I said, it just feels icky to be rooting for a marriage to fail.
MOST LIKELY // SARAH WATSON
The book opens with the inauguration of our female president in 2040 and then flips back to 2020 when we meet Ava, CJ, Jordan, and Martha, who have been best friends since kindergarten. Now they’re seniors and facing all the emotions that come along with leaving high school behind. And one of them is destined to be the president we met at the beginning of the book — the mystery, though, is which girl ends up with the gig.
Would I recommend it? This book was SO cute — it’s written by the creator of The Bold Type and even though it’s about high schoolers (a group I can’t really relate to anymore), I couldn’t put this one down!
SWEET THING // RENEE CARLINO
Mia is 25, a brilliant pianist, an Ivy League grad, and a beloved daughter. She thinks she has it all figured out, and then her father unexpectedly dies, sending her world into a tailspin. As she flies to NYC to collect his belongings and settle his estate, she meets Will on the flight. He’s a guitarist and the pair become roommates, and as Mia is grieving, he begins to show her what a passionate world could look like again.
This is 100% a will they, won’t they story, but it is really well done!
Would I recommend it? This was the best Renee Carlino book I’ve picked up since Before We Were Strangers, which I think still takes the crown for me!
SWEET LITTLE THING // RENEE CARLINO
This was a novella length sequel that picked up where the story left off, and it’s super cute! I can’t really talk about the plot, but trust me, you’ll love it.
Would I recommend it? Yes! Just make sure you read Sweet Thing first.
THE CAVE DWELLERS // CHRISTINA McDOWELL
The Cave Dwellers is a look at several families who live in DC who’s lives are called into question when a family of their own is held hostage and brutally murdered.There are A LOT of characters though, and I kept referring to the family tree at the front of the book; it probably would have been a more effective story if there were less people to keep track of. If you live in the area, though, the author does a great job of infusing the history of DC and local landmarks into the story.
Would I recommend it? Overall, I did enjoy this one—but to my points above, I definitely think there are ways that the plot could have been simplified. It also looks a lot at race and privilege, so is a heavier read.
IT’S NOT ME, IT’S YOU // MHAIRI McFARLANE
Delia has been dating her boyfriend forever and decides to take charge by proposing to him. Only immediately after the proposal, he texts her a text that’s definitely meant for his mistress, and her life is thrown into a tailspin.
Would I recommend it? I love Mhairi McFarlane and her newest title Just Last Night is one of the best books I’ve read all year. But y’all, I just could not get into this one! It was also 500+ pages long and I feel like it could have easily been half that length—perhaps I would have liked it more if it was shorter!
WHO’S THAT GIRL? // MHAIRI McFARLANE
Edie kisses her coworker, Jack, at his wedding—and being the master manipulator he is, he’s able to make it look like it’s all her fault. Shamed online and in-person, she moves home for a sabbatical of sorts. While there, she’s assigned to ghost write a memoir for a hot shot actor who’s full of himself—and things take a turn.
Would I recommend it? This was another Mhairi McFarlane book that I was pretty meh on, but I did like it better than It’s Not You, It’s Me. I also think this one was a little too long!
THE BRIGHT SIDE OF DISASTER // KATHERINE CENTER*
Jenny always thought she’d fall in love, get married, and then have a baby — but then she and her fiancé, Dean, find out their pregnant. Jenny is excited, but then realizes Dean isn’t a great partner—he skips birthing classes, isn’t supportive, and still smokes, A LOT. They break up and the very next day Jenny goes into labor, unexpectedly finding herself in the role of single mother.
Would I recommend it? I read Things We Save in a Fire by Katherine Center earlier this year and was excited to come across another title by her. This was originally published in 2007, but it definitely holds up.
ALL TOGETHER NOW // MATTHEW NORMAN*
A 35-year-old billionaire, Robbie, finds out he’s dying. So he invites his three oldest friends, Blair, Cat, and Wade, to Fenwick Island, Delaware for the weekend to tell them. Each character is struggling with something different in their lives and it all comes out during the weekend they spend together.
Would I recommend it? This was such a cute read—I couldn’t put it down and would recommend it to anyone; it would be a great vacation read!
GOING THERE // KATIE COURIC
Katie Couric wrote this beautiful memoir about her life—she talks about her childhood, meeting and falling in love with Jay, her career rise, Jay’s battle with cancer, her dating life after, the whole Matt Lauer scandal. It is so vulnerable and honest, I felt like I really got to know Katie better by reading this memoir.
Would I recommend it? 100%—I finished this over Thanksgiving break and I laughed, I cried, and I was so sad when it ended!
CHRISTMAS IN PEACHTREE BLUFF // KRISTY WOODSON HARVEY
The storm of the century is heading towards Peachtree Bluff, just in time for Christmas—and other storms are brewing among the Murphy women.
Would I recommend it? Absolutely—just make sure you’re all caught up on the Peachtree Bluff series otherwise this book will definitely have spoilers for you. The Peachtree Bluff series is one of my all-time favorites; it follows a mother and her three grown daughters, and it’s just so well done—you fall in love with the family and the location.
AFTER THE RAIN // RENEE CARLINO
Avelina is a cowgirl and falls in love with a fellow wrangler; he has a terrible accident and ends up passing away. Meanwhile, Nate is an up-and-coming heart surgeon who loses someone on the table and decides to go visit his uncle on his cattle ranch while the malpractice suit is being settled. The pair meet and hit it off…
Would I recommend it? Renee Carlino books are really hit or miss for me; this one was more of a miss, but some of the best books I’ve read this year, she’s authored, so I will definitely keep reading whatever she writes.