November 2020 Wrap-Up || the one with brujos, goose girls, gangs, and a ghost band!

Hi friends, and happy December!

November was a Month. From election stress (we won!!) to general doomsday gloom, let’s just say that I’m more than happy to be moving into December. I’m also more than happy to start binging Christmas movies, baking an obscene and totally unnecessary amount of cookies, and constantly listening to Christmas music without being judged. Winter and Christmas is without a doubt my favorite time of year, and I’m ready for the magic of the season to hopefully wash away some of the dread the rest of the year plopped onto us.

I hope that you all are taking care of yourself, spending some time doing the things you love, and spoiling yourselves the way you deserve.

Even though November wasn’t the greatest, I found some incredible stories that instantly found a place in my heart. So, without further ado, let’s wrap up November!

Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas – ★★★★★. November started off really well reading wise, because I fell in love with Cemetery Boys within its first few pages and I’ve thought about those characters everyday since. To prove himself in his family of brujxs, Yadriel summons a ghost to help them cross to the other side. However, that ghost is very-annoying and always-sarcastic-and-stubborn Julian. Their adventures together then commence as they try to find a way to appease both of their needs while also hunting something more sinister. The story itself involves self discovery, topics of identity, and countless cultural references. If you haven’t picked this one up yet, you need to!

Instant Karma by Marissa Meyer – ★★★★☆. Instant Karma was a really interesting read for a few reasons. There were quite few portions of the book that moved really slowly for me, and the main plot of instant karmic justice seemed to sit on the back burner for majority of the time. I also didn’t particularly love Pru at the beginning, but her character arc made it all worth it for me. I’ve seen so many mixed reviews about this one, which is totally understandable and valid. If you are interested in reading it, I only suggest you go into it with an open mind! If you want to read more of my thoughts on Instant Karma, you can read my full review here!

The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale – ★★★★★. My journey with The Goose Girl goes back to two and a half years ago, when a very wonderful person named Margaret kept gushing about it nonstop. Her love for Shannon Hale’s writing and characters was so evident, and I knew I needed to read the book eventually. Fast forward to now, and the same wonderful Margaret gifted me a copy of The Goose Girl for my birthday! Not only that, but she filled the book with post-it notes on her favorite scenes and characters, ultimately outlining the things she loved so much about it. Reading The Goose Girl, alongside her notes, made me instantly fall in love with the story. It was plot-twisty and addicting, and Ani was so easy to love. Shannon Hale’s writing style was so perfect for the fairytale, and I cannot wait to continue with this series! I also want it to be known that I love Finn so, so much.

Pretty Little Wife by Darby Kane – ★★★★☆. This read was an absolute rollercoaster. To set the premise for you, and without giving away any spoilers, Lila kills her husband. She then drives his body to his workplace very early in the morning and sets up a whole crime scene to be discovered. But, the whole day passes by without anyone contacting her. That is until her husband’s boss shows up and asks where her husband is, as he never showed up for work…meaning that his car and his very dead body has gone missing. This is all laid out in the synopsis and happens within the first ten pages of the book, so I’m sure you can imagine just how wild the rest of the story is. It’s definitely not overly scary; it’s more of a mystery than anything! I will say though, the ending gets very dark. tw: abuse, sexual abuse, sexism.

These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong – ★★★★☆. Can we all just please take a minute and appreciate Chloe Gong? The girl is an undergraduate student and published a 400+ page retelling of Romeo & Juliet. Are you kidding me?! That’s actually insane and so beyond impressive that I cannot even begin to wrap my head around the idea. Just about everyone and their mother is gushing about These Violent Delights, and rightfully so, in nearly every corner of the internet. Not only did Chloe write a WHOLE BOOK while in college, but she retold one of the most well-known English stories, placing it in 1920s Shanghai and refocused the themes to feature capitalism, colonialism, gangs, murder, and cultural differences. She found ways to interweave the well-known aspects of the original, while completely and totally making it her own story. I really enjoyed this one, if that wasn’t evident enough already, and I would probably die for Juliette Cai (even though Roma would probably beat me to it).

I also recommend following Chloe on Twitter, because her tweets are fantastic.

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli– ★★★★☆. By this point in the month, my motivation for reading was really slowing down; I needed to revisit a book that I knew would take me out of my impending slump. Enter Simon Spier. Just like the first time I read it, I finished Simon vs. in one day, and I was reminded why it’s so well-loved. Simon’s self discovery is so heart wrenching and beautiful, and I was thrilled to jump back into the Simonverse. Even though there are moments that make me want fully sob, this book was definitely needed to close out my November.

Currently reading: I have two ARCs I want to be sure to read this month, one of them being You Have a Match by Emma Lord, which is my current read. The story itself is intriguing, even a bit addicting, but I do have some conflicting thoughts so far. I’m only about halfway through, but I will definitely share more thoughts in my full review!

Dash & Lily. I will forever be a fan of cheesy holiday-themed movies and shows. Even though I haven’t yet read the book it’s based off of, Dash & Lily checked all of those cheesy holiday boxes for me. The mini-series wasn’t earth-shattering or life-changing by any means, but it made me feel cozy and brought a smile to my face. It also made me romanticize Christmastime in New York, which I’m sure isn’t actually as glamorous as it looks. Nevertheless, if you’re in the mood for a Christmas love adventure between a hopeless romantic and a cynic, look no further!

Julie and The Phantoms, soundtrack and show. When the internet blew up with love for Julie and The Phantoms, I was more than excited to watch it. I mean, Kenny Ortega essentially directed my childhood with High School Musical, so I was excited to see what the guy came up with this time. Yes, I had an obsession with HSM (didn’t we all?), but I never expected to become so attached to Julie and The Phantoms; I’m an adult (or so they tell me), and JATP is marketed for teenagers. I actually started watching the show because I needed something mindless to numb my brain during the traumatic experience that was the Presidential Election, and it couldn’t have been more perfect. The characters are so easily lovable, and you are immediately intrigued to learn more about their stories—why Julie can see Luke, Alex, and Reggie all the time; how the boys are connected to Julie’s mom; and what the heck actually goes down at the Hollywood Ghost Club. And, unsurprisingly, the soundtrack is fantastic. I listened to the songs on repeat immediately after finishing the show. I played the soundtrack so often that it made it into my top 10 albums of the year on my Apple Music Replay, despite the fact that it had only been a mere three weeks since me discovering the show and when the 2020 Replay came out. I’ve since rewatched the show, and I’m already excited to watch it again. I’m really going to need for Netflix to announce a season two right this second.

’45’ and ‘chinatown’ by Bleachers. One of my all-time favorite bands finally released new music after three years! Queue me internally screaming. Bleachers has positively affected my life in ways I can’t even begin to explain, but two brand new songs from them instantly boosted my serotonin. And to top it all off, Bleachers collaborated with Bruce Springsteen? It’s everything I wanted. If you haven’t heard these two songs yet (or listened to Bleachers at all), I can’t scream about them enough. Jack Antonoff is a musical genius.

Marie at Drizzle & Hurricane Books shared an incredible post about why she believes book bloggers should get paid. While this is definitely a taboo topic, Marie brings up fantastic points and explains herself so unbelievably well. If you haven’t read her post yet, you certainly need to!

Erin from Rin’s Reads discussed what a new era of digital content means for the book world, including virtual book events. As Erin mentions, with all of the changes 2020 has brought, authors are still finding creative ways to engage with their readers, which is so great!

Krysta over at Pages Unbound Reviews posted ways in which libraries can go green! In a world where we seriously need to start reconsidering everything regarding the environment and shifting our focus to try to save it, I really enjoyed reading all of her ideas!

Sabrina from Wordy and Whimsical shared 5 signs you should take a reading break to avoid a slump, and boy oh boy did I need these this past month.

Lois at My Midnight Musing discussed how to motivate yourself to read. Again, this post was definitely needed this past month. I got distracted way too easily this past month when it came to reading.

CW from The Quiet Pond recently revamped her blog and shared beyond helpful resources, research tactics, and advice for your next blog revamp. I swear, this post is absolutely life-saving and makes me want to revamp my blog. Not to mention, The Quiet Pond is actually stunning.

So, what do you think? What was your favorite November read? Did you discover a new, binge-worthy show? Do you celebrate the holidays/are you excited for the holiday season? Let’s chat!

8 thoughts on “November 2020 Wrap-Up || the one with brujos, goose girls, gangs, and a ghost band!

  1. LAUREN!!!!!!!#*!(#) ok, we have a lot to talk about when it comes to julie and the phantoms. first, i need to know: who’s your favorite character & what’s your favorite song off of the soundtrack? likewise, i became absolutely obsessed with the show, and i am about to go for my 3rd rewatch of it. the one thing i loved the most about it was how this show, despite being targeted to young teens and having a lot of clichés, it also showed how tropes such as unnecessary competition, jealousy and toxic masculinity are NOT required tropes for YA fiction to thrive and i love that! it was such a fun show and absolutely did not have to overuse the most annoying tropes that i see so often in teenage media.

    i also loved dash & lily a lot. i feel like the show captured my entire aesthetic: christmas, new york, bookstores, even the jonas brothers! i know this is technically a book trilogy, and i would absolutely not be opposed to a season 2.

    i’ve heard SO much about these violent delights, but considering i have like 2 braincells, i think it will be too much fantasy for me to understand, lol. but the premise sounds fantastic, and i’m happy this book has been getting so much hype & love lately, as POC retellings of classics are very much something i want to see more of!

    i hope you have an amazing december & enjoy the holiday season, lauren!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. YES!!! I will gladly talk about Julie and the Phantoms any time, any hour. There’s definitely a Luke-shaped place in my heart, but I loved Alex from the moment I started, so I’ve got to say Alex is probably my favorite. His comedic timing is always on point, and his snark is always the best. And my favorite song from the soundtrack changes quite a bit, but right now I would say that it’s Edge of Great! What about you, favorite song and favorite character? A third rewatch sounds like an INCREDIBLE idea. Maybe I should follow suit, LOL. You said that so perfectly, Lais!! Those tropes are almost always included in YA fiction, and they’re totally unnecessary. I really love your point about not including competition or jealousy within the series, and I think that was done really well between Julie and Luke. I mean, I would think that Luke would hold some type of grudge against Julie because she’s essentially taking his place as lead singer. But he takes a step back and realizes that he had his moment and this is hers. It’s really so lovely, UGH.

      I definitely was not expecting the Jonas Brothers to show up in Dash & Lily, but I’m certainly not complaining. I didn’t realize the books are a trilogy – I’m totally up for a season 2!

      I honestly can’t even begin to tell you how much I relate to having two brain cells and fearing that I won’t be able to understand a fantasy. I will admit to you though, I still don’t think I fully grasped the fantasy elements of the story. There were some plot points I was able to understand easily, sure, but other times I had no idea how something connected with something else. That said, I still was able to understand the story as a whole and I still enjoyed it! If you are ever interested in picking it up, I think you’d be alright! I’m also so very heart for POC retellings of classics; we need more of them!

      Happy December and happy holidays to you too!!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. hahah, alex is an amazing character indeed! but my favorite would have to be julie: i found her entire arc so emotional and powerful!
        i love the edge of great performance (mostly because julie trying to avoid eye contact with luke was adorable), but my favorite song would have to be finally free! it’s been on repeat for weeks now!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Lauren I’m so, so happy that you loved The Goose Girl!! Finn truly deserves all the love and appreciation ❤ And you read so many other great books in November too!! Rereading Simon vs. is always a good idea, imo, and I’m very excited to pick up These Violent Delights after all the hype around it that I’ve heard.

    I haven’t watched Dash and Lily yet, but I’m definitely in the mood for lots of cheesy, cozy Christmas movies, so it’s on my list. I hope you have a wonderful holiday season full of cookies and Christmas music! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I really did love it! I’m really geeked to get to the second book. Finn really is an absolute sweetheart, and I could feel my heart swell each time his name came on the page. He’s so selfless and kind-hearted, AH! I also rewatched Love, Simon, and I will add that rewatching the movie and rereading the book is always a good idea. Although, I have been pretty obsessed with Oreos as of late, and I blame Simon. I hope that you like These Violent Delights!

      Cheesy and cozy Christmas movies really are the best, aren’t they. In no other situation would I accept the cheese-factor that comes in some Christmas shows/movies, but they just work for the holidays. And you are way too kind, Margaret – I also hope that you have a wonderful holiday season as well!


  3. I watched Dash and Lily recently too and I really loved it! The book was one of my favourites when I was younger so it felt really cosy and nostalgic for me. And I agree New York at Christmas time always seems so lovely and festive from how it’s portrayed in books and films. I’ve yet to go to NYC though so I can’t speak on whether its true or not unfortunately! Maybe one day haha.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m so glad to hear you loved Dash & Lily, Emme! It really was such a cozy show. I’ve been to New York a few times, but never during Christmas, and even just from photos it looks pretty magical. I hope you can visit some day!

      Thanks so much for reading and leaving a comment ❤️

      Liked by 1 person

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