books read and redviewed Nov2023

Books read and reviewed in November 2023

Another month of books and my reading has definitely slowed down. I’ve been much busier with work and training this month, so that’s left less time to read. But as we’re approaching Christmas, I’m moving back onto the Christmas themed books of which I’ve plenty to get through.

Books read this month – 11

I’ve also been quite lazy about not writing reviews this month, so I don’t have many to share. But here’s a few of the books I’ve been reading in November.

books read and redviewed Nov2023

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Holly Island by SJ Crabb

Well I certainly didn’t expect the ending of this book. Scarlett is lost in her life, with a lacklustre job and no direction, and about to be proposed to by her boyfriend she doesn’t really want to be with. But she spots an ad for a getaway over Christmas at Holly Island and decides to get away for the holidays.

Arriving by boat the hotel isn’t what she or the other guests expect as they arrive. There’s no staff, no power, and no options for early departure. Maybe it’s chance for the hotch potch of guests to pull together and make the most of their stay.

Finding one former staff member Marigold who is happy to help, Scarlett and the gorgeous Leo try to get all the guests set with jobs to get one couple married as they booked, and the rest to enjoy their holiday. Will Scarlett and Leo find their way together after they’re trying to escape potential marriages in their normal life.

Holly Island seems to bring the magic for all the guests, but what’s the history of Holly Island and why’s the hotel all closed down? It wasn’t the reason I thought, but everyone visiting got the magic touch on staying there.

Worth a read for a Christmassy hopeful story.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Other Bennet Sister by Janice Hadlow

Perfect for those Jane Austen fans who want to hear more about the how others in the Bennet family ended up after Pride and Prejudice. This is a modern update on Mary’s story, the plain middle Bennet sister with how she grows to like herself and open her straight laced serious character to feelings, with the support of her aunt, after moving to London.

While the story was obvious in how it would end up, it was interesting to see another sister’s view of Lizzy and Jane’s relationships and marriage compared to how we read it first hand in the original novel.

The book reflects well the era and the regency style of Jane Austen’s original book although it still feel like it dragged on a bit.

One to read if you’re after more Bridgerton and regency novels. It’s possible to read The Other Bennet Sister without knowing Pride and Prejudice, but I’d suggest reading the original first.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I owe you one by Sophie Kinsella

I do enjoy a Sophie Kinsella book, and this didn’t fail. Fixie’s family business is destined to struggle when her and her older brother and sister are left to look after it when their mum goes to recuperate in Spain leaving them in charge.

Fixie’s the one who works in the shop and actually works and understands the customers, wanting to keep the core shop offer as it is while working it harder to improve.
Brother Jake’s a wheeler dealer, always networking way above his means, trying to prove he’s as posh and well moneyed as his friends, and not really bringing in any money. He wants to expand the shop and sell to Harrods’ customers.
Vacant sister Nicole wants to turn the family shop (specialising in everything but particular cookware and homeware) into a place that offers yoga lessons and aspirational Instagram photos (of herself).
Fixie can’t get through to Nicole and gets scared of standing up to Jake, so the shop is suffering.

She’s still idolising childhood crush Ryan who’s back lording it from Hollywood, even though she’s met gorgeous down to earth Seb who she has a great connection with.

Can Fixie fix her family, her family store, and work out her blooming relationships before they lose everything.

This is a classic Kinsella style, some funny spots, good friendships and support for the main character, who has to find the best in herself to believe in. Worth a read.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Both of You by Adele Parks

Leigh has the perfect family life, with husband and 2 stepchildren she loves, and a management consultant job.

Kai is sleek and elegant, living the luxury life with Dutch husband Daan.

But when they both go missing, secrets are uncovered about the women, that throws both men and families into confusion and anger.

Her best friend Fiona’s there to step in, but what’s her link to both men, and will they ever find the women?

I did guess what was going on, and after one incorrect guess at the culprit, I got it spot on. It’s unbelievable that the secrets were kept up through life, but it’s an interesting story, and worth a read.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

From Something Old by Nick Alexander

Former nurse, now mum of 2,Heather is losing herself within her relationship with structured Ant. While quiet, laid back Joe is together with livewire, and never settled with one way of life, yogi Amy, and their son Ben.

Then Ben decides he wants his friend to come on holiday to Spain, so Amy decides to invite Heather’s family. The kids have a great time in the heat of Spain, but the old cracks in their parents’ relationships begin to widen. Joe and Heather wonder what’s going to happen in their lives after the holiday ends, because none of them are sure their relationships are how they want them to be.

A fairly obvious story line, and you’re always rooting for Holly to step out from Ant’s order, and for Amy to grow up and realise how great Joe and her life is.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

An Unusual Boy by Fiona Higgins

A heartstopping story told from 2 points of view – Julia, a busy wife and working mother of 3, and son Jackson, an 11 year old with undiagnosed differences. Julia’s struggling to juggle everything while husband Andy is away overseas with work.

Jackson’s in mainstream education and generally getting on well, playing for a football team, and getting involved with a dance show. But when his only friend Digby makes him play a virtual game, watching unsuitable violent acts, Jackson’s worried about what he’s seen. This leads to him being led to the school toilets where something happens that Jackson’s not fully aware of.

Everything crashes down from that point for the whole family. With Jackson being literal in answering the detective’s questions, it looks like he and his family are the ones getting hit with a crime.

This is such a heartbreaking book on so many levels. That Jackson’s diagnosis isn’t found for years, how a whole family are ostrasized due to misunderstandings, then how wrong his dance show goes. But the support Julia gives is there, his sisters also rally around along with his dance teacher, and older sister’s boyfriend.

I felt for Julia and Jackson throughout. It’s a book that makes you wonder how so many people can fail children who have different ways of acting and thinking to others, how the support isn’t there, and how communities jump to conclusions without knowing the facts. It wasn’t until I wrote this review that I realised the book wasn’t actually based on a true story, horrific as it was. Let’s hope those doing good can reduce the numbers of people being impacted in similar ways.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Spires by Kate Moretti

Penelope’s left her old life behind as she married and has her family with 2 teenagers. But when old friend Willa turns up looking for sanctuary, she can’t help but let her stay while she gets on her feet.

But Penelope doesn’t feel right about Willa. She’s crossing boundaries and it feels like she’s taking over helping out family, while Penelope copes with everything else that’s going on. Is she getting confused – things she owns turn up with Willa wearing them, but then they’re put back in place. Then her husband ends up in hospital, and Penelope tries to work out what’s going on while noone else believes there’s anything wrong. Instead, they’re making out it’s her lying or getting paranoid.

Willa’s even getting close to Penelope’s confidance Jaime, who she’s also got feelings for but is holding back.

How does their old life have something to do with why Willa’s turned up now. Penelope has to try and work out what’s going on, and how to set things straight.

I like the way this book dips back into their old life, a year after when 5 of them all lived together in a ‘cult’ like group who had never really grown up from their hold on each other. What happened when one brought a girlfriend into the group, and what happened in the fire that sent them all scattering across the globe.

I did work out who was involved, but not quite how, and there’s lots to unravel in their strange friendship. With their behaviour and way of living and behaving previously, I can’t say I warmed to any of the 5 friends, even Penelope for having tagged along in the excitement. But the plot was interesting and kept me reading.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

What have you been reading this month?

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