What We've Been Reading in November

What We've Been Reading in November - The Willoughby Book Club

Well, the leaves are falling, the clocks have changed, and the nights are long and dark. With the cost of heating on everyone's mind at the moment we'll have to create hygge at home with the soft glow of candles and a hot water bottle tucked under a chunky blanket.

We'll be warding off the darkness and fallow months by getting through some of the books we've stashed throughout the year, and maybe doing a little bit of catching up on those reading goals we set back at the beginning of the year!


Here's what we've been reading recently:


Once Upon a Tome: The Misadventures of a Rare Bookseller by Oliver Darkshire

I swooped on this book having enjoyed the wit and silliness of the Sotherans Twitter account for the last few years. Having been a bookseller for so long I've also got something of a soft spot for books about books, and this one was a real pleasure from start to finish.

A gentle meander through the eccentric world of rare bookselling, and the peculiar customers and circumstances that are encountered on a daily basis this is sure to raise a smile and a chuckle. A tonic of a book.




True Crime Story by Joseph Knox

Knox takes the crime genre and completely turns it on its head with this book! Positioning himself as a character within the pages of a fictionalised true crime tale, Knox uses emails, interview transcripts and newspaper articles to allow the mysteries at the heart of the investigation to unfold. The plot revolves around Zoe Nolan, a seemingly average first year student at Manchester University who went missing from their brutalist high rise student halls after a party in 2011. The writer of the book, Evelyn Mitchell, is trying her hardest to figure out what happened on that fateful night seven years earlier. It’s a playful, dark and twisty tale that will disorientate you and make you feel an eerie sense of paranoia. The characters are layered and complicated, so you’ll never be quite sure who can be trusted. Secrets are gradually revealed, motives explored and references to a mysterious ‘shadow man’ in Zoe’s life, all culminate in a mind-blowing revelation. If you enjoy original, well-written crime, check this one out!




The Night Swim by Megan Goldin

A thriller about Rachel, a true-crime podcast host, who is covering a rape trial that has divided the residents of the small town. A local golden boy, and future Olympic swimmer is accused of raping the granddaughter of the towns police chief. As Rachel is under pressure to make season 3 of her series a success, she starts to receive anonymous letters about an accidental drowning 25 years before. The sender believes it was a murder covered up which no one in the town is willing to talk about. As she tries to investigate further it becomes clear that the 2 tragedies could be linked.

I was gripped by this book from the first few pages. I enjoyed how the story was told in alternating chapters between the rape trial and events that happened 25 years before. I liked the interviews with the town's residents, and also how it was broken up with the podcast and the letters Rachel was receiving.




She Who Became The Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan

Set in 14th century China and a reimagining of the peasant rebellion against the Mongols, our main character starts off in the famine-stricken village with her dad and brother for company. A prophecy of greatness is told to her brother, whilst she is told she is nothing of consequence. When her brother dies after a bandit attack, she assumes her brother’s identity and starts her journey to become the founding emperor of the Ming Dynasty.

As a lover of Mulan this is right up my street! I enjoyed this so much and I’m really looking forward to read the next in the series. I loved the journey Zhu, the main character goes on, to believe in themselves and the lengths they go to, to become a leader. Highly recommend this to anyone who wants to read some historical fiction with a little bit of mystique thrown in!




The Atlas Six by Olivie Blake

The perfect soft fantasy for the dark nights of November. Six very different people find themselves caught up in an initiation for The Alexandrian Society, a secret society of magical academicians. With all the lost knowledge of the library of Alexandria, those within the society it holds vast power. At the end of the year, five may enter. That's if they survive.

The mystery and intrigue really sucked me into this book. It has full-on dark academia vibes and has a magic system which is surprisingly easy to grasp. But it's the characters who will make this one of my favourite reads for a long time. Blake is a master of writing believable characters. None of them are perfect and they all have their flaws that change the ebb and flow of their relationships. Yet whether you love to hate them or just hate them, you do leave this book still thinking about them.

The sequel has just been released, and I am eager to pick it up and get stuck back in!


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