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A (Late) Monthly Update
Hello, again! Welcome back to another edition of my Monthly Books and Blogging Chat Series! If you’re new to the blog, this wrap up series is something I do each month. I share books I’ve read, blogging updates, and any important personal experiences from the month.
I skipped the monthly wrap up last month so I decided to combine November and December into one big Life Update for you.
So, now, let’s get on to what the past two months have been like for me.
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- The Maidens • Alex Michaelides
- The Hunting Party • Lucy Foley
- The Wife Stalker • Liv Constantine
- Not a Happy Family • Shari Lapena
- Rock Paper Scissors • Alice Feeney
Between trying to write more blog posts, working multiple jobs, and planning my holiday time, I had a pretty hectic November. So, I wasn’t able (or, willing, I guess) to write my typical monthly wrap up.
I’m hoping this 2-month wrap up goes well, though. Because, it might be nice, once in a while, to combine these updates. Definitely let me know your thoughts about this idea in the comments!
My November Wrap Up
Well, I’d initially planned on doing NaNoWriMo this year…but, that didn’t exactly go according to plan. For those who aren’t aware, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month and it’s where writers all over the world attempt to write 50,000 words in the month of November.
It’s a great idea, in theory – a way to help jump start a daily writing practice. But, it also takes place in November – which, for most people, is already an incredibly hectic time of year.
I wanted to do it this year – I’ve been focusing so much on this blog that I haven’t written much fiction lately. But, then I ended up working on the blog instead. I did finish my Post-Breakup Recovery Guide Book in early November, though. So, I suppose that’s something.
Last Thanksgiving, I dined with my mom and brother and our “Thanksgiving dinner” consisted of meatloaf and mashed potatoes (from a box.) 😂 Luckily, I was able to get back to my typical Thanksgiving tradition this year.
Most of my family is in St. Louis, but I’ve got some extended members in Nashville. It’s become a family tradition that we all gather there to celebrate the holiday. We typically drive up on Tuesday or Wednesday and stay until Sunday. There are about 6 families that stay in one house. And there are over 30 people at Thanksgiving dinner.
It’s loud and chaotic and I absolutely LOVE it. So, I was extremely happy to be able to do it again this year.
My December Wrap Up
Another Year Older ♐
Yes, I am one of those people who HATES getting older. So, I didn’t really want to celebrate this one much. John and I did go out to dinner. He also got me a gift card for a massage, which I LOVE because I’ve got some neck and shoulder issues.
But still – all the massages in the world can’t make me feel happier about the new greys popping up daily. And, that’s about all I have to say about that.
We spent Christmas Eve with a large group of my family. Just like Thanksgiving, it was loud and chaotic. But, a lot of fun.
Christmas day was spent opening gifts, spending time with a few family members, and relaxing quietly. It was great to get back to the normal holiday traditions this year!
Reading Wrap Up
Now, let’s move on the the books I read over November and December.
But, first, I should probably give a teeny tiny disclaimer. I follow several bloggers who share book reviews and I’ve noticed that my ratings almost always tend to be lower than everyone else’s. So, I thought I should clarify just a bit about my rating system.
Anything above a 3-star rating is a book I would recommend. 3.5 stars or above is a book I considered good whereas a 4-star book is one I considered great. I almost never give a 5-star rating unless the book in question is so good that it’s now one of my favorite books ever.
You May Also Like: Autumn Reading List: Best Books to Read This Fall
The Maidens • Alex Michaelides
Genre: Psychological Thriller
I absolutely LOVED Alex Michaelides’ first novel, The Silent Patient, so I was incredibly excited when The Maidens was released. After reading the premise, it sounded a lot like one of my all-time favorite novels, The Secret History by Donna Tartt. Again, this only added to my excitement.
Unfortunately, it didn’t quite live up to either one of those other novels. It was a bit slower, especially at first. But, I will say that I genuinely didn’t expect the ending.
All in all, I liked this book, I just didn’t love it.
The Hunting Party • Lucy Foley
Genre: Psychological Thriller; Mystery
Lucy Foley is quickly becoming one of my favorite new authors in the thriller genre.
This book captivated me from the very first page. It has a fairly straight-forward “locked room mystery” premise. A group of friends gather together to celebrate the New Year in the Scottish Highlands. When one of them is found murdered, then, it’s clear that the killer is within the group.
As if that’s not enough of a mystery, the actual victim isn’t revealed until well past the halfway mark. Some people might not like that, but I think it gives the book an added flair.
The Wife Stalker • Liv Constantine
Genre: Psychological Thriller
This is another book that I picked up because of one of the author’s previous books (The Last Mrs. Parrish.) Again, though, it failed to live up to my expectations.
In fact, I’ve got a lot of thoughts about this one. Most of them not great.
For one thing, the writing itself seemed a bit juvenile. The dialogue, especially, didn’t sound authentic. Secondly, the story seemed very far-fetched and unrealistic.
That said, though, the ending does explain this. And, the twist was one I didn’t see coming.
Not a Happy Family • Shari Lapena
Genre: Psychological Thriller; Domestic Fiction
I really liked this book. It’s a psychological thriller/murder mystery with some aspects of domestic fiction thrown in.
The Mertons are an extremely wealthy couple who are found murdered in their home the day after Easter. Their three adult children all stand to inherit millions. And, if that weren’t enough of a motive, their family life was.
With all three of them having equal reason to kill and no alibi, it becomes a question of which one was it?
Even though there wasn’t a “twist,” (it was in fact one of the three) the book did keep me guessing until the very end.
Rock Paper Scissors • Alice Feeney
Genre: Psychological Thriller; Domestic Fiction
This was definitely a good thriller. Alice Feeney writes incredibly complicated and well-developed characters, which I appreciated. This one also kept me pretty hooked from the very first page.
However, the book left some unanswered questions and parts of the ending seemed either confusing or unrealistic.
Regardless, I’d recommend this to anyone who enjoys thrillers.
I really liked the idea of including some of my favorite items in this monthly wrap up post. I have an Allure Beauty box subscription, so I get to try out a bunch of beauty products each month. So, here are some of my November and December favorites:
First, this moisturizer by BeautyStat is probably my new all-time favorite product. I put it on nightly after a serum and wake up with impossibly smooth and soft skin.
Of all the books I read in 2021, The Push by Ashley Audrain was undoubtedly the best.
Next, these fun earrings are so cute and look like they’d go with almost everything!
John got me The Storyteller by Dave Grohl for Christmas and I’m SO excited about diving into it.
And, finally, this spray from Redken that seriously cuts your blow drying time in HALF!
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That’s a Wrap!
There wasn’t really anything new for November or December blogging-wise. So, that’s all I have for this monthly recap.
How was your Christmas holiday? Let me know in the comments below!
And, as always, thanks so much for reading.
That is a wrap! What a busy time. I think it’s funny neither of us read Christmas-y novels in November and December.
I’m so odd like that! I love watching Christmas movies, but I almost never read Christmas books
Happy belated birthday and a massage gift card is a great birthday present.
Thank you! I agree – I LOVE going to get a massage
Thank you for sharing about your couple of months. It sounds like a great Christmas to be able to spend it with your family. I hope you had a lovely New Years celebration. I hope you have a great 2022! Thank you for sharing.
I did, thank you! Thanks for reading and commenting!
I read Lucy foley’s book the guest list and loved it so I will def check out the hunting party! Glad you had a nice time spending the holidays with family – sounds like a blast with that many people! Lol
It is SO good! I liked it even more than the Guest List actually.