Non-Fiction November Wrap-Up 2020

Saturday, December 05, 2020
November was non-fiction November so I wanted to read as many non-fiction books as I could in the month but sadly I only finished two (I've nearly finished my third); although I have been reading many each month throughout 2020 anyway. My favourite books of the month include: A Deal With The Elf King and Packing For Mars. Hopefully December will be a better reading month so I can end the year in a good reading mood. 

Grunt by Mary Roach (288 pages) ★★★

As I adored Bonk (the science of sex) and Stiff (cadaver research) by Mary Roach, I had to read more of her work during non-fiction November. I finished two more of her books in November so I only have two more to read until I've completed her current published work (apart from her articles). Mary Roach has quickly become my favourite non-fiction writer alongside Caitlin Doughty and Holly Tucker. 

Grunt looks into aspects of warfare that are often forgotten, misunderstood or simply aren't given media coverage such as hearing loss of soldiers exposed to gunfire and bomb blasts, life changing injuries and subsequent reconstructive surgeries, the detailed construction of military clothing, diarrhoea..., the dangerous and extremely difficult lives of submariners and much more. 

As with her other books I loved the combination of interviews/interactions with specialist individuals (doctors, military personnel, researchers), statistics and her own experiences and thoughts as well as expert opinions and dark humour. It is difficult to approach uncomfortable or taboo topics with a sense of humour and articulate discussion but Roach does it superbly. While I didn't love this read as much as her others, I still highly recommend it. 

Enola Holmes: The Case of the Missing Marquess by Serena Blasco and Nancy Springer (54 pages) ★★★

To break up all of the non-fiction I read in the month, I decided to read a short and beautifully illustrated YA graphic novel. We follow the young sister, Enola Holmes, of the famous Sherlock and Mycroft Holmes as her mother abandons her which leads to an adventure, travels and uncovering mysteries. It was a very simple and quick read but I loved the illustration style and I think it would make a beautiful graphic novel gift for older children or young teens this Christmas. It is currently part of Kindle Unlimited so if you have a subscription or free trial then you can read it for free. 

A Deal with the Elf King by Elise Kova (338 pages) ★★★ (3.5)

A very fast paced and easily consumable YA fantasy read next; I read Air Awakens by the same author last year and enjoyed it - thankfully I liked this latest read just as much. We follow Luella, a young but respected healer in her village, as the elf king arrives and sweeps her away to become the next human queen. What follows is a fast paced tale of angsty romance, magical powers, political disputes and a dilapidated castle. 

My main positives from this read have to be the fantasy world, the very quick pace, the easy writing style, the nature focused magic and I loved the romance between the elf king and Luella - I also loved the ending. However, it was a 'typical' YA fantasy and followed many generic tropes and plot lines. While I did enjoy it, it wasn't anything I haven't come across before in YA fantasy. Although it was entertaining and I would definitely recommend it if you have Kindle Unlimited or if you love YA fantasy. 

The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Anderson (96 pages) ★★★

Pushkin Press is one of my favourite publishers, along with Thames and Hudson and Quirk Books, so I had to read one of their beautifully designed childrens classics. We follow the classic Hans Christian Anderson tale of The Snow Queen which tells the story of two young friends and the struggle between good and evil. As with most childrens stories (as well as fairytales and folktales), they have a moral message which was the same within this read. I typically don't love folktales and fairytales as they are quite simplistic and have religious themes but I did enjoy this one to an extent. 

Monstress by Marjorie M Liu (70 pages) ★★★

The one graphic novel I read in November was free on Kindle so naturally I had to give it a go, especially as I've read had things about this series. Maika, a girl with psychic powers as she is captured and brought into a battle between humans and evil forces. Sadly, this was a bit of a flop for me as the story felt a little generic and very slow but I did adore the creepy artwork. 

Silver In The Wood by Emily Tesh (112 pages) ★★★

The penultimate book I finished the November was a novella that is categorised as fantasy, historical and LGBT, all of those are my buzzwords so I was happy to find it on Scribd. However, I think the categories on GoodReads are a bit misleading as it is more magical realism with folktale and fairytale elements with a minor MM romance (which could have been a friendship and the story would have been the same so I question whether it was included just to tick a box). As with The Snow Queen, the folktale elements (the greenman?) weren't appealing to me and the story felt very predictable and slow unfortunately. However, I did love the descriptions of the wood and it was a fairly entertaining read. 


Packaging For Mars by Mary Roach (336 pages) ★★★ (3.5)

The second and final book by Mary Roach that I finished in November focuses on the challenges of living in space, bizarre training for space travel, sex and body functions in space, the early space program in the US, food studies or space travel and much more. I highly recommend all of her books but I think my favourite has to be Stiff. 

As with her other books I loved mix of the dark humour, expert opinions, unusual topics and an easy to follow, quick writing style. I didn't know much about any of the topics explored so the information was all new, interesting and sometimes very unusual. I think it would make a great reading for those generally interested in non-fiction as well as space exploration. 

Have you read any of these books? 


  1. I managed to finish just one book, am a tad annoyed it wasn’t more x

  2. I haven't read any of these but always admire how much you read in a month! I don't know where you find the time x


  3. I loved the Enola Holmes movie. I’d like to read the book x

  4. I haven't read any of these before but Grunt sounds like an interesting book.

  5. Ooo I've heard good things about Enola Holmes! I still need to watch the film too xx

  6. Ahh I didn't realise Enola Holmes was based on a graphic novel - I've been meaning to watch the Netflix film for ages!

    Jasmine xx

  7. Packing for Mars sounds the one for me! X

  8. The Enola Holmes book sounds fab! I loved the film that came onto Netflix recently xx

    Tiffany x


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