8 Books
I Loved In November

December 2023 Book Recommendations from the Charliemadison book club

When the busy holiday season rolls around, it’s hard to squeeze in some extra reading time, but I managed to fit in a few fabulous books last month. What made this month’s choices extra special were two books from my long-time favorite authors, Ann Patchett and Barbara Kingsolver. Their latest books are definitely on my all-time favorite reads list. If you have a book-loving friend or loved one and you don’t know what to get them for the holidays, I highly recommend Demon Copperhead or Tom Lake - such amazing works by these very talented authors.

I hope you find something that makes you want to rush over to your local library or bookstore and add to your Holiday Wish List!

XO, Wendy

Tom Lake


During the spring of 2020 when the pandemic is shutting down the country, Lara’s three daughters come to stay at their family’s cherry orchard in Michigan. As they help with the cherry picking, the girls convince their mother to retell the story of her romance with famous actor Peter Duke years ago during their summer production at a theater company called Tom Lake. With new pieces of the past unveiled and Lara’s decisions to keep some parts of her story a secret, the girls learn how their mother and father’s love story began and contemplate how they view their futures.

Oh my, where do I start with this one? I was excited to see a new book by one of my favorites - Ann Patchett. After reading her older book, Bel Canto, I was intrigued by this completely different story. But what absolutely sold me on this was the audiobook narration by Meryl Streep. I adored this book from start to finish, but I think the audio version made it even better. My favorite book this month, I highly recommend listening instead of reading this lovely story!

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Demon Copperhead tells the story of a boy, born in the mountains of southern Appalachia in a single-wide trailer to a teenage mother with an on again off again drug habit. Told by Demon, the story follows his birth through life in the foster system, child labor, horrific living conditions to athletic success, addiction, loves, and losses. 

Barbara Kingsolver is one of my all-time favorite authors - I've been reading her books for years. The story is tragic and heartbreaking - many times I found myself wondering how our foster system has let so many kids down. This book opened my eyes to the struggles and unimaginable conditions many find themselves stuck in, many times through circumstances beyond their control. This story will stay with me forever!

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Somewhere in South America, a group of dignitaries are gathered for a birthday party to celebrate Japanese businessman, Mr. Hosokawa. All the guests are mesmerized by the main event - a concert by Roxane Coss, the famous and beloved opera singer. What begins as the perfect evening ends in horror as a group of armed gunman take the partygoers hostage. As the situation spans over months, the horrific event is transformed into something of beauty with the terrorists and hostages - all from different countries and speaking different languages - live together and form bonds that nobody would have predicted.

After reading one of my favorite books ever - State of Wonder by Ann Patchett - I took a chance no one of her older books. This was a slow burn for me and took a while to be invested in the story, but it was an absolutely lovely and heartbreaking story all at once. Beautiful character development and a thought-provoking storyline about humanity and the bonds we form despite where we come from. 

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Five college friends, now in their fifties, reunite in Big Sur for another celebration to honor a pact they made while in college to throw each other “living funerals” to celebrate life and show their love for their lifelong bond. This reunion, however, is not like th last three - to support Marielle when her marriage fell apart, to lift up Naomi when her parents died, or to help Craig after pleading guilty to art fraud. This year, Jordan has a secret that could blow apart their pact.

A story of friendship, love, and the bonds that stay with us over the years. An honest look at how we come back to those that mean the most to us for support through the difficult stages of life. With interesting characters and a lot of humor tossed in the mix, this was such a great listen this month.

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Eliza Sullivan leaves her life in New Orleans and heads to the English countryside for an estate she inherits from her aunt. As she slips into polite English society and the suitors trying to court her, she’s drawn to the mysterious Lord Malcom Winfield of Havenwood. Eliza ignores the rumors and local lore surrounding Malcom and run-down Havenwood and marries Malcom, making her the Viscountess of Havenwood. Soon after she moves in, mysterious and ghostly happenings make Eliza wonder whether the rumors about Malcom were true. She must uncover the truth behind her husband, his past, and her home before something happens to her.

As we enter spooky reading season, this book fits the bill with ghosts, murder, and mystery. Plus, I love a story set during Victorian times. A change of pace from all the other genres I’ve been reading, this was a great read to add to your fall book list!

*Bonus if you have Kindle Unlimited - this one's included

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Dr. William Wooler appears to have it all - a loving family, house in a safe neighborhood, and the respect of his hospital co-workers. But William has been having a secret affair and his lover has just ended things between them. When William arrives home early in the day, he doesn’t expect to find his hard-to-manage nine-year-old daughter, Avery at home. They get into a fight and William storms out of the house. Just hours later, Avery is missing. As the police investigate Avery’s disappearance, talk to neighbors, and follow leads about who saw her last, secrets are revealed that make all the neighbors start suspecting each other.

My third book by Shari Lapena, this one kept me listening and guessing right up to the last page - or last word - this was another audiobook for me. Her stories always have a twist that you don’t expect and they leave you with an uneasy feeling and wanting more.

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As her wedding day approaches, Addison is getting cold feet. Her fiance is absolutely perfect, but it’s Addison’s past that has her worried - and her name isn’t really Addison. A few years ago, a trucker found her on the side of the road, bleeding, and unsure how she got there or who she was. A few states away, Julian is searching for his wife, Cassandra, who disappeared two years earlier, leaving him and their 7-year old daughter alone. As their lives intersect, Addison must decide which life she wants to live and discover why she left her previous life.

I picked this up after listening to The Senator’s Wife, which was a fabulous book. Liv Constantine did not disappoint with this one! Fast-paced, with lots of twists and turns. You may think you have this one figured out, but it will surprise you in the end. Absolutely diabolical!

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With lingering health issues and traumatic memories from the 2020 pandemic, Lucy Harper and her husband Reed, head to his family’s private island off the coast of Maine as a new virus threatens humanity several years later. As they’re tucked away with five of their closest family and friends, they feel safe from the virus until the island’s history as a quarantine hospital for typhus patients starts to make Lucy question the actions of her friends. As accidents start happening and mysterious sightings appear in the surrounding woods, everyone is on edge and wondering if the island is getting its revenge.

My third book by this author and another page-turner. I listened to the audio version and loved the mystery and the history interspersed among the current story. Although it still felt soon after the recent pandemic to think about another virus shutting down the world - I would still recommend this one.

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