Starting off part two of my book digest for November is Concrete Rose by Angie Thomas. I wrote a whole review on it here. This book has really stuck with me. Mav’s story is very relatable and he is written so freaking well. Thomas just GETS it, you know? And don’t even get me started on how beautiful the cover is. Definitely worth picking up when it comes out. 5/5 10/10

I didn’t grow up reading Percy Jackson. I was a Harry Potter kid (unsurprisingly). About four years ago, I read the entire Olympians series and adored it. It’s endearing and fun and I really get why kids like it so much. Now, I do find bits of PJ very problematic, especially when it comes to how Riordan handles disabilities. However, unlike J.K. Rowling, Riordan has grown and learned how to properly handle things like sexual orientation and pronouns all while making it accessible to younger readers. So, I was very sad to see that The Trials of Apollo: The Tower of Nero was going to be the end of the Camp Half-Blood saga. I think it is a fantastic ending to the story that has been building for, what, 15 years now? It’s been fun to watch Apollo grow, come into his own as a mortal. 4/5, 8/10

Speaking of authors trying to understand basic concepts about humanity, we read a cozy mystery for the Freking Book Club called Turkey Trot Murder by Leslie Meier. When we chose it, my wife was concerned that it was going to be racist because of the Pilgrim’s foot on the cover. “Is that a PILGRIM’S foot?!” she exclaimed after we received it in the mail. Little did we know, yes, it was going to be about racism, but not the festive Thanksgiving kind. No, it’s about the murder of a woman and her incredibly racist father who is actively trying to keep a Spanish restaurant from opening in their small town because, you know, he’s a racist. This is a book in the Lucy Stone series numbering somewhere in the 20s. Lucy is a reporter for her small-town newspaper and she somehow solves all of these mysteries? I don’t know, I don’t care, it’s the worst book I’ve read all year. I’m gonna spoil the ending here so if, for whatever reason, you want to read this god-awful book, skip ahead. Lucy catches the murderer actively trying to murder a pregnant woman in a cemetery IN BROAD DAYLIGHT. Not only that, it was within view of the course for the titular Turkey Trot. COME ON. Oh, and there is some sort of Fentanyl subplot that goes nowhere, except Lucy gets to help the nice white kid get off drugs! Yay Lucy! 1/5, 1/10

Hi everyone, my name is Zach and I have discovered that I love romance novels. The Proposal by Jasmine Guillory is just a delight. Nic boyfriend of six months proposes to her at a baseball game. She (reasonably) says no. He’s upset and sends her mean texts. Suddenly, she is surrounded by people who want the story. Luckily, Carlos, a handsome doctor, comes to her aid and sweeps her out of the ballpark. I’m pretty sure you know where this goes. It was light, fun, funny, very enjoyable. Honestly, I was in love with the characters as much as they were in love with each other. 4/5, 8/10

Last month, I read Jonathan Van Ness’ memoir so I thought this would be a good month to read Tan France’s Naturally Tan. No, not really, I just say it was available on Libby so I checked it out. ANYWAY, I love Tan. He’s my number two favorite of the Fab Five (As a refresher: Bobby, Tan, Jonathan, Karamo, Antoni). He’s always so confident and funny and happy. So, imagine my surprise when he was speaking so openly about his depression and suicidal thoughts. “Oh my God,” I said to myself, “But he always looks so happy!” And then I remembered “Hey, Zach, you’ve been diagnosed with depression. You should know not to say shit like that.” Then I said, “Thanks, Brain.” ANYWAY, Tan talks a lot about growing up as a Pakistani during 9/11 and how that had affected him his whole life. It’s a really good, quick read and THAT TITLE IS GOLD. 3/5, 6/10

A Swim in a Pond In the Rain by George Saunders. I talked about it here. Read that if you want my thoughts (This post is getting too rambly and I have lots to say about my last book SO LET ME LIVE MY LIFE). 5/5, 9/10

The last book I read in November was On the Come Up by Angie Thomas. I don’t understand why I was sleeping on this book for so long because HOT DAMN it’s a good one. Brianna Jackson is an aspiring rapper from Garden Heights. The electricity is sometimes on, there is (usually) food on the table. It’s a rough life. After absolutely demolishing her opponent in her first rap battle in The Ring, her life changes. Then, at school, she is thrown to the ground by two white security guards for smuggling candy into the school. Candy. This inspires her to write an incredible rap about the incident that immediately goes viral… For all the wrong reasons. Emotional, powerful, beautiful. If you haven’t read this yet, get on it. It references a lot of stuff that happened in The Hate U Give and, honestly, it’s way better than that one. 5/5, 10/10

Whew. So that’s November. Will I have more content in December? Who knows!

All images via Goodreads