We’re in the home stretch. There is now officially one month left in our 2019 Reading Challenge! And, I don’t know about you, but there is something very satisfying about getting these last few categories checked off.

With the release of the 2020 Challenge earlier this month, many of us are already eagerly planning out potential reads for the new year. (If you want to participate, be sure to join our Facebook group! It’s the perfect place for book suggestions, encouragement, and all-round “bookiness.”)

Until then, I have a few more categories left for 2019. Here are my November reads:

Branded Outlaw Review.jpgA Western
(Week 45: November 5 – 11, 2019) Branded Outlaw –  L. Ron Hubbard

The western category has proven to be a challenge for many participants this year. When I asked the Facebook Group which of the 2019 categories were their least favourite, “a western” popped up often. And to that, I say, “Me too.”

I’ve put off this category for a while now, mostly because I struggled to find a western that didn’t have a half-naked cowboy on the cover. I wanted to try an original style western, full of cattle and guns and shoot outs. While this is not at all what I usually read, this challenge is all about stretching yourself and trying new things. And that’s what I intended to do with this category.

Branded Outlaw is everything that I thought a Western would be. It had my prerequisite shootings and long horse rides and the saving of a damsel in distress. (Although, quite frankly, this story’s damsel seemed like she could have saved herself.) Still, it was clean and gave me all the Wild West moments I was looking for.

Would I grab another Western off the shelf during my next library trip? Probably not. But was this book an interesting foray into a previously unknown genre for me? Definitely! (To be honest, it did help that this was only a short story and not a full-length novel.)

As Western’s go, I’ll give this book 3.9 stars out of 5.

Under the Banner of Heaven Review.jpgA Book About A Cult
(Week 46: November 12 – 18, 2019) Under the Banner of Heaven –  Jon Krakauer

Jon Krakauer is still one of my favourite authors. His books feel intricately researched, without compromising on writing style or interest-levels for the average reader. Under the Banner of Heaven lives up to all that.

From the back cover: “… taking readers inside isolated American communities where some 40,000 Mormon Fundamentalists still practice polygamy. Defying both civil authorities and the Mormon establishment in Salt Lake City, the renegade leaders of these Taliban-like theocracies are zealots who answer only to God.”

The content in this book isn’t an easy read — particularly concerning the murders of Brenda and Erica Lafferty. But, having read numerous other memoirs from women who have escaped polygamist cults, I was interested to read Krakauer’s insights. The book also looks in-depth into the founding of Mormonism and it’s early days as a religion.

Given that this book was published in 2003, it did leave me wondering about the current situation within these communities. Overall, it was an intriguing read into a part of American history that I knew little to nothing about. 4 stars out of 5

Clockmaker's Daughter Review.jpgGothic Fiction Novel
(Week 47: November 19 – 25, 2019) The Clockmakers Daughter –  Kate Morton

This book has been on my list all year. Kate Morton is one of my favourite authors and I couldn’t wait to slot The Clockmakers Daughter in as a modern gothic fiction novel. With a several month wait at the library, I finally caved and purchased a copy for my reader. Morton’s books always hold massive re-read potential and I’m always happy to have them stock my “shelf.”

Admittedly, it took me a bit longer than usual to get into the story. Once I did though, I was hooked. Morton is an expert at weaving together multiple stories and points of view throughout time. It’s always a delight to see how each piece of the book connects and fits together.

This book is another example of what Morton does best and I leave it with 4.5 stars out of 5.

Geekerella ReviewA Fairytale
(Week 48: November 26 – December 2, 2019) Geekerella –  Ashley Poston

This modern-day fairytale is a spinoff of everyone’s favorite classic, Cinderella. The story is a sweet blend of a teenage love story and an ode to all-things nerd.

And I have to say, the book is cute. Light-hearted and easy to read, I enjoyed the unique aspects of this retelling: the fandom, the friendship, the pumpkin food truck. 😉 The step-family was as horrifying as you’d imagine and the romance as cheesy-adorable as it can get. And that’s what you want in a fairytale, isn’t it?

While this isn’t my typical read, I can say with confidence that it would have been an excellent read for my sixteen-year-old self. I give this charming retelling 3.5 stars out of 5.


What category are YOU most looking forward to in the new 2020 Reading Challenge?
Share in the comments!

November Reads 2019 Challenge.jpg

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