November 2023 Reads and Reviews

Tell all ya friends and neighbors!

november 2023 reads graphic


I was *finally* able to start reading real books again and not just relying on audiobooks like I have been since about late July/August.

However, I still didn’t get that many books under my belt because November and December are THE busiest months of the year for us with school functions, recitals, holiday trips – you name it.

Regardless, let’s dive on in my frands!

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november 2023 reads graphic

Her Dark Lies – J.T. Ellison

Amazon rating: 4.1 stars

Goodreads rating: 3.54 stars

How I read it: Audiobook

Read if you like:

  • Locked room thrillers
  • Multiple POV (including the bad guy)
  • Family drama

What I loved: My girl Brittany Pressley was the audiobook narrator

What I didn’t love: SO many characters to keep track of

Book Blurb

Jutting from sparkling turquoise waters off the Italian coast, Isle Isola is an idyllic setting for a wedding. In the majestic cliff-top villa owned by the wealthy Compton family, up-and-coming artist Claire Hunter will marry handsome, charming Jack Compton, surrounded by close family, intimate friends…and a host of dark secrets.

From the moment Claire sets foot on the island, something seems amiss. Skeletal remains have just been found.

There are other, newer disturbances, too. Menacing texts. A ruined wedding dress. And one troubling shadow hanging over Claire’s otherwise blissful relationship—the strange mystery surrounding Jack’s first wife.
Then a raging storm descends, the power goes out—and the real terror begins…

My thoughts

This very much reminded me of another book I read this year (and I can’t even remember the name of it) but it was very similar in that it was a wedding set on a private island and there was family drama and people died and the end.

I’m not saying this was bad, just unforgettable as I often say.

I was able to stay involved in the storyline pretty easily because I love Brittany’s voice, but in the same vein, it’s one of those that as soon as you finish reading it, it’s out of your mind.

My rating

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Uncultured: A Memoir – Daniella Mestyanek Young

Amazon rating: 4.6 stars

Goodreads rating: 4.06 stars

How I read it: Physical copy (that I borrowed from my local library)

Read if you like:

  • Memoirs
  • Escape stories from cults

What I loved: I think y’all all know how I feel about cults and how people get in/out of them

What I didn’t love: The military half of the book lost me big time

Book Blurb

Behind the tall, foreboding gates of a commune in Brazil, Daniella Mestyanek Young was raised in the religious cult The Children of God, also known as The Family, as the daughter of high-ranking members. Her great-grandmother donated land for one of The Family’s first communes in Texas. Her mother, at thirteen, was forced to marry the leader and served as his secretary for many years. Beholden to The Family’s strict rules, Daniella suffers physical, emotional, and sexual abuse—masked as godly discipline and divine love—and is forbidden from getting a traditional education.

At fifteen years old, fed up with The Family and determined to build a better and freer life for herself, Daniella escapes to Texas. There, she bravely enrolls herself in high school and excels, later graduating as valedictorian of her college class, then electing to join the military to begin a career as an intelligence officer, where she believes she will finally belong.

But she soon learns that her new world—surrounded by men on the sands of Afghanistan—looks remarkably similar to the one she desperately tried to leave behind.
Told in a beautiful, propulsive voice and with clear-eyed honesty, Uncultured explores the dangers unleashed when harmful group mentality goes unrecognized, and is emblematic of the many ways women have to contort themselves to survive.

My thoughts

Y’all know how I feel about rating memoirs. It’s very hard for me to “grade” someone else’s life experience, so I’m taking that element out of it and just focusing on the content.

I was just hoping for more in this.

Admittedly, the first half learning about the cult she was in (Children of God) was SO FASCINATING because oddly enough, it’s one I hadn’t heard much about and it was….WILD.

However, she hinted that when she joined the military she felt like she entered another cult, which I really wanted. to hear about because I have similar thoughts about that. While I was able to pick up on *some* of that, it didn’t hit like I thought it would and those chapters (which was almost half the book) was VERY hard to get through.

I guess I just wanted more from the cult aspect of things, more of her life after getting out of both the Children of God and the military and I just didn’t feel that.

I was able to find her on Instagram, though, and went down a huge rabbit trail of her posts which was really interesting to see as well if you’re up for that!

My rating

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Everyone Here is Lying – Shari Lapena

Amazon rating: 4.2 stars

Goodreads rating: 3.86 stars

How I read it: Audiobook

Read if you like:

  • Domestic thrillers
  • Multiple POVs

What I loved: Easy to listen to on audiobook

What I didn’t love: The overall story fell flat

Book Blurb

Welcome to Stanhope. A safe neighborhood. A place for families.

William Wooler is a family man, on the surface. But he’s been having an affair, an affair that ended horribly this afternoon at a motel up the road. So when he returns to his house, devastated and angry, to find his difficult nine-year-old daughter, Avery, unexpectedly home from school, William loses his temper.

Hours later, Avery’s family declares her missing.

Suddenly Stanhope doesn’t feel so safe. And William isn’t the only one on his street who’s hiding a lie. As witnesses come forward with information that may or may not be true, Avery’s neighbors become increasingly unhinged.

Who took Avery Wooler?

Nothing will prepare you for the truth.

My thoughts

Shari Lapena is one of my favorite authors. Her books are always a good time.

Unfortunately, this felt like a low rent version of one of my favorite books of the entire year, Local Woman Missing by Mary Kubica which may be why I didn’t love this as much as I could have.

The storyline felt just familiar enough, just with different characters and stories for each person, but it just didn’t have enough to grab my attention and fall in love with it.

I still love Shari. I will still read Shari. This just wasn’t my favorite of hers I don’t think.

My rating

Rating: 3 out of 5.

After That Night – Karin Slaughter

Amazon rating: 4.6 stars

Goodreads rating: 4.37 stars

How I read it: Audiobook

Read if you like:

  • Lots of characters
  • Multiple POV
  • Police/investigator trope
  • Dual timelines/revisiting the past

Content warnings: Suicide, se*ual as*ault

What I loved: There was tons of detail so it felt like you could really get engrossed in the story

What I didn’t love: It was a LONG listen

Book Blurb

After that night, everything changed . . .

Fifteen years ago, Sara Linton’s life changed forever when a celebratory night out ended in a violent attack that tore her world apart. Since then, Sara has remade her life. A successful doctor, engaged to a man she loves, she has finally managed to leave the past behind her.

Until one evening, on call in the ER, everything changes. Sara battles to save a broken young woman who’s been brutally attacked. But as the investigation progresses, led by GBI Special Agent Will Trent, it becomes clear that Dani Cooper’s assault is uncannily linked to Sara’s.

And the past isn’t going to stay buried forever . . .

My thoughts

This book was so super long and the chapters themselves were long too.

I will say this story is one that has stuck with me just because of its vivid detail and how crazy (and very believable) this story was.

It’s set in Atlanta with a bunch of rich white men and women doing incredibly shady things so you can imagine just how easy that is to follow along with because of…..*gestures widely*.

I don’t typically like the investigator or police type stories, but this didn’t center on that too much and instead focused on the characters and trying to catch some pretty terrible people red-handed.

Much like Shari, Karin is one of those authors that I love and who knows how to write stories with lots of detail that stay with you and this was one of those for sure.

My rating

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Quiet Tenant – Clemence Michallon

Amazon rating: 4.2 stars

Goodreads rating: 3.92 stars

How I read it: Audiobook

Read if you like:

  • Fast paced
  • Multiple POVs
  • Serial killers
  • Psychological thrillers

What I loved: Talk about a RIDE

What I didn’t love: Felt like I almost had to get on blood pressure meds lolz

Book Blurb

Aidan Thomas is a hard-working family man and a somewhat beloved figure in the small upstate New York town where he lives. He’s the kind of man who always lends a hand and has a good word for everyone. But Aidan has a dark secret he’s been keeping from everyone in town and those closest to him. He’s a kidnapper and serial killer. Aidan has murdered eight women and there’s a ninth he has earmarked for death: Rachel, imprisoned in a backyard shed, fearing for her life. 

When Aidan’s wife dies, he and his thirteen-year-old daughter Cecilia are forced to move. Aidan has no choice but to bring Rachel along, introducing her to Cecilia as a “family friend” who needs a place to stay. Aidan is betting on Rachel, after five years of captivity, being too brainwashed and fearful to attempt to escape. But Rachel is a fighter and survivor, and recognizes Cecilia might just be the lifeline she has waited for all these years. As Rachel tests the boundaries of her new living situation, she begins to form a tenuous connection with Cecilia. And when Emily, a local restaurant owner, develops a crush on the handsome widower, she finds herself drawn into Rachel and Cecilia’s orbit, coming dangerously close to discovering Aidan’s secret.

My thoughts

I can not believe this was a debut novel.

It was so good and bingeable on audiobook, but I have a feeling this being in book format wouldn’t have changed its bingeworthiness in the slightest.

Holy moly – this had everything that I love in a good psychological thriller. This felt very similar as the way I felt while reading The Last Thing to Burn by Will Dean. A woman held captive that you’re rooting for the entire time, but on the edge of your seat seeing if it will come to fruition.

I would pick up anything else she writes in a heartbeat and can’t wait to see more from her.

My rating

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Tampa – Alissa Nutting

*Available on Kindle Unlimited

Amazon rating: 3.6 stars

Goodreads rating: 3.4 stars

How I read it: Audiobook

Read if you like:

  • Single, first person POV
  • Female lead/villain

Content warnings: Child se*xual abuse with fairly descriptive sex scenes

What I loved: Ummmm……

What I didn’t love: VERY difficult to read

Book Blurb

In Alissa Nutting’s novel Tampa, Celeste Price, a smoldering 26-year-old middle-school teacher in Florida, unrepentantly recounts her elaborate and sociopathically determined seduction of a 14-year-old student.
Celeste has chosen and lured the charmingly modest Jack Patrick into her web. Jack is enthralled and in awe of his eighth-grade teacher, and, most importantly, willing to accept Celeste’s terms for a secret relationship—car rides after dark, rendezvous at Jack’s house while his single father works the late shift, and body-slamming erotic encounters in Celeste’s empty classroom. In slaking her sexual thirst, Celeste Price is remorseless and deviously free of hesitation, a monstress of pure motivation. She deceives everyone, is close to no one, and cares little for anything but her pleasure.

My thoughts

I’m gonna be honest – I have a strong stomach and have read a lot of books that other people would consider “tough”, but this was probably one of the most difficult books I’ve read.

There’s just something about how descriptive this book was about a woman who is preying on teenage boys; women are normally seen as nuturing and loving and she abuses that power and her position as a teacher to find her next victims.

It was just real hard. I kept finding myself looking at my percentage done to see how much more of it there was.

This book is (and will continue to be) incredibly polarizing and it’s very obvious why.

To be honest, I would love to know what drove this author to write a book like this and maybe that might make me”appreciate” it more, but as for now, it’s a hard pass. Yikes.

My rating

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Top Read of November

I didn’t want to do a top 3 this month since I only read so few books.

So for this month, my number one choice goes to:

The Quiet Tenant by Clemence Michallon, HANDS DOWN.



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