November was a quick month for me, most likely because I was so busy. The Thanksgiving holiday was wonderful, although it was colder than I would have preferred! After a brief warm-up, there is snow on the ground once again as we move our way into December.
But colder weather has its advantages…it means more chances to curl up by the fire with a book and tea or hot cocoa. I found myself doing just that a few times in November as I read my way through two book bucket list picks and discovered the magical world of Stephanie Garber’s Caraval novels. November was indeed a good month for reading.
Caraval and Legendary
My November reading kicked off to a strong start with the first two Caraval novels by Stephanie Garber, Caraval and Legendary. These were incredibly creative, magical young adult reads. Caraval is a game that takes place once a year on a mysterious island. Teenage sisters Scarlett and Tella are drawn to the game as an escape from their abusive father. The sequel, Legendary, brings the sisters back to Caraval and takes the game to a deeper level, revealing secrets about the elusive Caraval Master, Legend. Legendary also sets up the third book in the series, Finale, which releases May 2019. I loved these two books and am anxious for the next installment. The Caraval novels are great examples of everything I love about YA books.
Book Bucket List
After disappearing into the world of Caraval for a couple of weeks, I tackled some books from my book bucket list.
Wuthering Heights was one of my book bucket list picks from over the summer that time just did not allow me to get to. I was able to catch up on some reading this month and picked it up. I’ll be honest, and I know this will ruffle some bookish feathers, but I struggled with Wuthering Heights. As a Charlotte Bronte and Jane Eyre fan, I thought for sure I would love Emily Bronte’s gothic novel as well. But I found it to be confusing in the beginning, as there were multiple characters with the same name, and trying to figure out who was who and how relationships had unfolded was a bit of a struggle to keep up with. The romance definitely kicked into high gear as the friendship and love between Heathcliff and Catherine was revealed, but I still found myself struggling with it and forcing myself to pick it up and keep reading. I know so many people who love this book, so I’m disappointed that I didn’t connect with it more. I think I’ll pick it up again someday and give it another go. Now that I understand the characters and the story, I think a second reading will be easier to understand and will flow more easily. I’ve actually found that some books I enjoyed more the second time I read them, such as Jane Eyre. So hopefully that will be the case here as well.
As for Little Women, I had the complete opposite experience. I adored it! I’ve seen multiple movie versions over the years, and I have to say that most of them seemed to stick closely to the book. What I loved most about the book was getting the details about the characters and their stories. For example, in the movie versions, Mr. March always comes home from the war, appearing as a soldier. Despite his age, I never questioned this. But in the book, it’s revealed that Mr. March couldn’t serve as a soldier due to his age so he joined the Union Army as a chaplain instead. I also loved the way the March family’s faith is woven throughout the book, from their father chaplain to each of the girls receiving her own Bible for Christmas and being so excited to read it. The relationships between sisters were beautifully developed and totally relatable. Don’t we all drive our sisters crazy one moment only to be embraced by them the next? And of course, there’s Marmee. Mrs. March is one of the best literary moms ever written, in my opinion. What a strong female character. Marmee has the key personality traits of each of the March girls. Jo has always been my favorite character, since she’s stubborn (like me), a middle sister (like me), and wants to be a writer (like me). Needless to say, I could always relate to her. This book is a classic for a reason and will become a permanent member of my home library collection so I can re-read it in the future. If you enjoy historical fiction, family relationships, romance, coming-of-age stories, and strong female leads, you should most definitely pick up Little Women.
Mark of the Raven
Unfortunately, my November reading fizzled out a bit toward the end of the month. I finished off November with Mark of the Raven, a new release by Morgan L. Busse from Bethany House. While I was pleasantly surprised to find a new book crossing the fantasy and Christian genres, this book was a little slow for me and didn’t hold my interest that much. It also had some pretty dark scenes that involve using magical powers for evil instead of good that I found somewhat disturbing. However, the ending did pick up a bit, and I have read several positive reviews of the book. If you enjoy the fantasy or Christian genres, you might want to give Mark of the Raven a try.
I have a variety of books on tap for December. I do have a couple of review copies that I’ll be diving into this month, one a YA novel and the other Sophie Kinsella’s upcoming release I Owe You One. I’m also anxious to pick up a new cozy Christmas mystery by Barbara Early, the latest installment in her Christmas Toyshop mystery series. Also in line is my book bucket list pick for December, A Christmas Carol. This is another example of having seen multiple movie versions but having never actually read the book. Other than that, I’ll be doing lots of holiday shopping, gift-wrapping, baking, and events with friends and family. So I’m not sure how much reading time I’ll actually be able to sneak in this month.
How about you? Are you working toward a reading goal for 2018? What are your December reading plans?
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