What I Read in November 2020

grown review, ties that tether review, group review, in a holidaze review, everything i know about love review

That’s right, I’m trying to bring back wrap-up posts! For years I would do these posts on my blog for all the books that I read, but then I kind of fell off in the last two years. But I miss doing them (and writing for my blog in general), so here we are again.

I thought that November wasn’t going to be a good reading month for me what with the election madness taking up all my attention in the first week of the month. But then I checked how many books I finished and realized that I read 8 books last month, which is a very good reading month for me. It was mostly a mix of romance reads (one of my go-to genres when I need a comfort read), along with a couple non-fiction picks. Let’s dive right in, shall we?

Girl Gone Viral by Alisha Rai

This was an enjoyable and cute romance, although I did prefer the first book I read by this author, The Right Swipe. I thought Katrina was a really sweet character and Jas was great as well. I will say I was very distracted while reading this because of the election currently happening in the US, so that may have colored my reading experience somewhat. Still, this was a nice, light read and I definitely want to read the next book in this series!

My rating: 3.5 stars

Because You’re Mine by Lisa Kleypas

I love Lisa Kleypas’s books because I know exactly what to expect: a young woman of good breeding falls in love with a rakishly handsome bad boy. I mean, the back of the book describes the heroine as a “forward little minx” and I couldn’t help but laugh! It’s not my favorite out of her books that I’ve read because the female lead was a little too naive for me. This was like background television for me, something comforting and familiar to read in between doom scrolling during election week. 

My rating: 3/5 stars

Leave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam

Thank you to the Libro FM for giving me a free copy of this book! All opinions are my own.

Hmmmm, so this was an interesting reading experience. I listened to this on audio and for the first half of the book, I was pretty engaged because I was listening as I was knitting. The second half, not so much. I kept getting distracted (granted I was listening to this during election week) and I fell asleep a few times while I was listening and had to go back.

All that means I kind of found it hard to form an impression of this book and I wish I had read the physical copy instead. I do remember being curious to see where this would go, but at the same time, I wasn’t that invested. I felt that the adult characters were nicely fleshed out and I understood these characters; they reminded me of people in real life. 

So all in all, I’m not sure how to feel about this book, so definitely take my rating with a grain of salt!

My rating: 3/5 stars

Everything I Know About Love by Dolly Alderton

I’ve had this book on my TBR for a while and almost picked it up several times, so I’m very glad that I’ve finally read it. 

Dolly Alderton writes about growing up and falling in love and the messiness that your twenties can be. It’s very much a millennial book and I found it relatable and not relatable at the same time. I didn’t relate to much of the party lifestyle she described, but the way she wrote about being in your twenties and readjusting what you thought your life would look like- that struck a cord with me.

I think I liked the second half of the book more as it felt like she was growing up and focusing more on self introspection and examining her life choices. I also loved that she spent some time writing about how platonic friendships are just as valid and important (possibly more!) than romantic love.

Her essay titled “Florence” really moved me, and I loved the essay “My Therapist Says,” as well. She also included a few recipes throughout and I thought that was a fun touch. I always like when there are recipes in a book; it feels like a special bonus. I did feel like I might have gotten more out of it if I’d also grown up in the UK (some of the British references went over my head), but overall I thought this was an enjoyable read for millennial women.

My rating: 3.5/5 stars

Group by Christie Tate

Thank you to the publisher for giving me a free copy of this book! All opinions are my own.

Hmmmm, so this was an interesting read! My general feeling while reading was, “I don’t know about this one.” GROUP is about the author’s experience with group therapy and how baring her soul to those strangers week after week changed her life. 

So first of all, I want to add a disclaimer that I’ve never been to therapy (although I would do it), so I have no personal experience with it. I’m not 100% sure what therapy is supposed to be like, but some of the experiences she described with her group/therapist seemed unorthodox, like perhaps boundaries had been crossed. 

I do appreciate the author’s honesty and willingness to share all, even though it didn’t really paint her in a great light. Therapy methods aside, I thought it was an interesting look at one person’s experience with therapy and how it shaped her life. It was quite the journey, and I don’t know if I enjoyed it, but it was satisfying to see where the author ended up.

My rating: 2/5 stars

Grown by Tiffany D. Jackson

Wow, this book was SO good. I read it in a few days and I found it hard to put down. If I’d had the time, I would have read it one sitting, that’s how good this was. 

The story follows Enchanted, who meets superstar music artist, Korey Fields, at an audition. She’s an aspiring singer and he’s impressed with her talent, so he decides to take her under his wing. At first it seems like all of her dreams are coming true, but it’s actually a nightmare when Korey’s true colors are shown.

This was seriously so gripping and made my heart hurt. It’s heavy- everything that Enchanted goes through is difficult to read about. What struck me the most was the people that knew who Korey really was and either kept it a secret or turned a blind eye. Some did nothing and some even helped keep his secrets. It’s absolutely disgusting and it shows that these people don’t operate in a vacuum. They exist in a society that’s willing to turn a blind eye if you’re rich enough or charming enough or famous enough.

Some themes that Jackson writes about are the sexualization of Black girls, colorism, and racism. She points a light straight at the ugly truth: Black women are constantly disrespected, neglected, and unprotected. A Black girl is assaulted, and they say she asked for it and she knew what she was doing, or blame her parents, or say she’s making it all up. They will jump through hoops to do anything but believe Black women. I think the main message that Jackson was trying to convey is that we as a society need to do a lot more to protect Black girls because they are vulnerable. We need to protect them, support them, uplift them, because it’s not easy to be a girl, and it’s even more difficult to be a Black girl.

Ooof, as I said, this is a tough read, but an excellent one. Enchanted was such a compelling character, and I felt immersed in her world, which made it all the more difficult to witness when bad things happen to her. I thought this was really well-written and I thought the mixed media approach with the inclusion of some text messages worked really well. Also, I’m still not over the way that Jackson crafted this story. In the first chapter, I was like, “what the hell is going on?” and it’s clear straight away that something terrible has happened. And then there was the final few pages (!!!).

Now please excuse me while I go read everything else that Tiffany D. Jackson has written. 

[Including the content warning mentioned in the book: sexual abuse, rape, assault, child abuse, kidnapping, and addiction to opoids]

My rating: 5/5 stars

Ties That Tether by Jane Igharo

I wanted to read this book as soon as I heard about it and I’m happy to report that I loved it!

It’s about a young Nigerian-Canadian woman named Azere, who meets a man named Rafael Castellano and starts to develop feelings for him. There’s just one problem- he is not Nigerian and she promised her parents that she would marry a Nigerian man. As her feelings grow, she has to choose between love and duty, between following her heart or following her parents’ wishes.

I saw a lot of myself in Azere. She’s Nigerian (she’s Edo, but I’m Igbo) and she works in advertising. She’s a dutiful daughter. She loves rom coms and tends to bury her feelings and pretend everything is fine, when it’s not. It me!!! I don’t recall either of my parents ever saying that I had to marry a Nigerian man. But other members of my family have, so I’ve experienced that external pressure to some degree.

I really connected with the way the author wrote about some of the struggles of being an immigrant. I was born here, but I think some of the struggles of being an immigrant and having immigrant parents overlap. Igharo writes about how immigrants chase success, wanting to work hard in their new country to prove that they belong there, while also showing those they might have left behind that they made the right choice when they moved. 

She also talks about the struggle of growing up with multiple cultures and how Azere learned to fit into Canadian culture as a survival mechanism. I remember growing up and sometimes feeling suffocated by the Igbo ways that my parents were trying to teach me. I remember thinking, “Why did we have to do things differently? Why can’t we just be normal.” Now that I’m older, I have a better understanding and appreciation of what my parents were trying to do, but even now, my relationship with my Igbo heritage is complicated.

I didn’t mean to go that deep, but now you have a sense of some of the thoughts that surfaced as I was reading this book. The fact that I related a lot to the main character probably makes me biased, but I thought she was a great character and I really sympathized with her struggles. I also enjoyed the writing and how she incorporated some Edo phrases, and there were a couple good steamy scenes as well.

This is a story about love, family, being an immigrant, and choosing a different life than the one you’d envisioned or that was planned for you. I was thrilled when I heard about this romance written by a Nigerian author and for me, it was such a fun, relatable read.

My rating: 5/5 stars

In a Holidaze by Christina Lauren

Thank you to the publisher for giving me a free copy of this book! All opinions are my own.

I checked off my first holiday read of the season! I thought I was going to love this one just based on the cover, but it was middle of the road for me. I will say that I went into this completely blind, so I had no idea that time travel was a big part of the plot! 

I think the middle of the book was my favorite bit, when it focused more on the romance, but then I was less invested in the beginning and the end. I wondered about the time travel plot line and if it was really needed and how much it added to the story. I did love the cozy wintry setting and the descriptions of the Christmas traditions that these families have been doing for decades. Overall, I thought this was cute, but it didn’t charm me as much as I hoped it would.

My rating: 3/5 stars

What are you reading at the moment?

Disclosure: There are affiliate links in this post, meaning that I may earn an affiliate commission if you buy something through my links. Thank you for your support!

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I’m Nnenna and this is my online journal where I write about the books I can’t put down, my personal style, the places I’ve traveled to, the products I love, my favorite spots in NYC, and more!

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