book review,  Books

Books I Read in October

Yes, it’s November 6 already and here I am putting out an October list.

I have an excuse though – on October 31, Covid finally caught up with me. (So help me, I do not want to hear one more word of “Covid is still around?” because yes, dearies, it so is, and my doctor says this current strain is about as nasty as the old one. Believe me when I say I regret delaying getting the booster, because I would have loved for this to be an easier week.)

While I’m STILL testing positive, I’m feeling much better except for the cough (and I already have a chronic cough, so this is just more of the same), so I thought I’d take all this newfound time to sit down and share what I read last month, since this month reading is a tougher go with a headache and a lack of focus.

*This page contains affiliate links, so I may earn a small commission when you make a purchase through links on this site at no additional cost to you. All opinions are entirely my own.

October’s reads were ALL over the place. It was one of those months where all the books I had requested at the library, the ones with forever waitlists, still, showed up all at once, and so most of my planned reading list was shoved to the side so I could get through these before they were due – with the exception of Jessica Rosenberg’s delightful paranormal cozy mystery which was a much needed palate cleaner.

This isn’t a full list, so I could probably call this “The Covid Edition”, since I’m still freaking isolating and I know I’m missing two paperbacks, but my brain being what it is after six days on my own, I can’t remember what they are, which is MADDENING because they were really fun.

I’m sure I’ll kick myself when I remember the names about thirty seconds after I post.

Anyway, in no particular order, here are the books that I read and enjoyed* last month! Just click on “more” to read the full synopsis!

*I don't review DNFs and books that I would rate below three stars, ever. Just because I don't enjoy a book doesn't mean you might not enjoy it, and I won't pee in your cornflakes that way.

Books I Read in OctoberYellowface by R. F. Kuang
Published by HarperCollins on May 16, 2023
Genres: Fiction / Asian American, Fiction / Literary, Fiction / Psychological, Fiction / Satire, Fiction / Thrillers / General
Pages: 336
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INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • A REESE'S BOOK CLUB PICK

“Hard to put down, harder to forget.” — Stephen King, #1 New York Times bestselling author

White lies. Dark humor. Deadly consequences… Bestselling sensation Juniper Song is not who she says she is, she didn’t write the book she claims she wrote, and she is most certainly not Asian American—in this chilling and hilariously cutting novel from R.F. Kuang, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Babel. 

Authors June Hayward and Athena Liu were supposed to be twin rising stars. But Athena’s a literary darling. June Hayward is literally nobody. Who wants stories about basic white girls, June thinks.

So when June witnesses Athena’s death in a freak accident, she acts on impulse: she steals Athena’s just-finished masterpiece, an experimental novel about the unsung contributions of Chinese laborers during World War I.

So what if June edits Athena’s novel and sends it to her agent as her own work? So what if she lets her new publisher rebrand her as Juniper Song—complete with an ambiguously ethnic author photo? Doesn’t this piece of history deserve to be told, whoever the teller? That’s what June claims, and the New York Times bestseller list seems to agree.

But June can’t get away from Athena’s shadow, and emerging evidence threatens to bring June’s (stolen) success down around her. As June races to protect her secret, she discovers exactly how far she will go to keep what she thinks she deserves.

With its totally immersive first-person voice, Yellowface grapples with questions of diversity, racism, and cultural appropriation, as well as the terrifying alienation of social media. R.F. Kuang’s novel is timely, razor-sharp, and eminently readable. 

four-half-stars

Yellowface is sharp, smart, and satiric. There are some people who probably will NOT see the satire in this, and I guess that books means this one is NOT for them. I, however, could not put it down – despite a thorough jaw-droppingly brazen and unlikeable protagonist!

Books I Read in OctoberHere and Now and Then by Mike Chen
Published by MIRA on January 29, 2019
Genres: Fiction / Family Life / General, Fiction / Literary, Fiction / Science Fiction / Action & Adventure, Fiction / Science Fiction / Time Travel
Pages: 400
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He’ll go anywhere and any when to save his daughter

Kin Stewart is an everyday family man: working in IT, trying to keep the spark in his marriage, struggling to connect with his teenage daughter.

But his current life is a far cry from his previous career…as a time-traveling secret agent from over a century in the future.

Stranded in suburban San Francisco since the 1990s after a botched mission, Kin has kept his past hidden from everyone around him, until one afternoon, his “rescue” team arrives—eighteen years too late.

Their mission: return Kin to 2142, where he’s been gone only weeks, not years, and where another family is waiting for him. A family he can’t remember.

Torn between two lives, Kin’s desperate efforts to stay connected to both will threaten to destroy the agency and even history itself. With his daughter’s very existence at risk, he will have to take one final trip to save her—even if it means breaking all the rules of time travel in the process.

“Heartfelt and thrilling… Chen’s concept is unique, and [his characters’] agony is deeply moving. Quick pacing, complex characters, and a fascinating premise.”—Publishers Weekly, starred review

four-half-stars

Here and Then and Now was such an enjoyable ride! This is a story about how far one man would go to protect the daughter he loves after he’s broken all the rules about time travel. Entertaining and fast-paced and really well tied up. I just loved it.

Books I Read in OctoberWanderers by Chuck Wendig
Published by Rebellion Publishing Ltd on July 11, 2019
Genres: Fiction / Science Fiction / Apocalyptic & Post-Apocalyptic, Fiction / Science Fiction / General
Pages: 800
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A decadent rock star. A deeply religious radio host. A disgraced scientist. And a teenage girl who may be the world’s last hope. From the mind of Chuck Wendig comes an astonishing tapestry of humanity that Harlan Coben calls “a suspenseful, twisty, satisfying, surprising, thought-provoking epic.”

Shana wakes up one morning to discover her little sister in the grip of a strange malady. She appears to be sleepwalking. She cannot talk and cannot be woken up. And she is heading with inexorable determination to a destination that only she knows. But Shana and her sister are not alone. Soon they are joined by a flock of sleepwalkers from across America, on the same mysterious journey. And, like Shana, there are other “shepherds” who follow the flock to protect their friends and family on the long dark road ahead.

For on their journey, they will discover an America convulsed with terror and violence, where this apocalyptic epidemic proves less dangerous than the fear of it. As the rest of society collapses all around them—and an ultraviolent militia threatens to exterminate them—the fate of the sleepwalkers depends on unraveling the mystery behind the epidemic. The terrifying secret will either tear the nation apart—or bring the survivors together to remake a shattered world.

four-stars

Wanderers is a bit of an epic novel, so sit back and dig in. This story does NOT unfold quickly – we’re fed pieces a bit at a time and go on this slightly maddening journey across country. I confess, while I know there probably has to be a baddie in the story, I sure don’t like how the intensity of the dislike for the wanderers reflects the current response to others here and now who some perceive to be “different”. It’s a powerful reflection on society with a hefty dose of science fiction mixed in.
(And it wasn’t until I sat down to write the review that I even realized there was a part two – because the book wrapped things up pretty well – so I’m looking forward to reading Wayward next!)

Spelled with a Kiss Series: Wyrd Words & Witchcraft #2
Published by Blue Octopus Press on October 4, 2023
Genres: Fantasy & Magic, Magical Realism, Women's Fiction
Pages: 219
Format: Kindle, Paperback
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The stakes are higher in real life than fiction. Then again, so are the rewards.

Juliette just wants to run her bookshop, recommend great reads, hunt for treasures at estate sales, and savor quality time with her family and friends.

Her magic has other plans.

The emerging magical ability to return lost things to their owners has thrown her a curveball. She can’t communicate with someone who’s dead…or can she?

As she races against time to reunite lost loves and right tragic wrongs, Juliette is handed the power to finally overcome her chronic anxiety and debilitating panic attacks. But at what cost?

Will the help of a familiar fortune teller, her closest friends, and found family be enough for Juliette to battle the entity threatening her happiness? Or is she destined to be on her own forever?

Juliette once again dives into an adventure she used to only read about in Spelled With a Kiss. Book 2 in the Wyrd Words & Witchcraft Paranormal Women’s Fiction series is set in the same quaint beach town as Jessica Rosenberg's delectable Baking Up a Magical Midlife series.

four-half-stars

If you love a light cozy mystery and you love a witchy story, Spelled With A Kiss the book for you. (Actually, this is the series for you.) Rosenberg pens a delightfully fun and quick read. Her protagonists are a bit on the anxious side – which I can relate to – but they all seem to come into their own over the course of her series, and this one is no different. A magical building, new witchy powers, quirky characters – it has all the pieces for a delightful story. The lightest of this month’s reads and a nice change of pace.

Books I Read in OctoberDarling Rose Gold by Stephanie Wrobel
Published by Simon and Schuster on March 30, 2021
Genres: Fiction / Thrillers / Psychological, Fiction / Thrillers / Suspense, Fiction / Women
Pages: 368
Format: Hardback
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A dark, shocking, bestselling thriller debut about a mother and daughter—and the lengths to which a daughter will go to find independence.

Nobody wants to hear the truth from a liar.”

For the first eighteen years of her life, Rose Gold Watts believed she was seriously ill. She was allergic to everything, used a wheelchair, and practically lived at the hospital. Neighbors did all they could, holding fundraisers and offering shoulders to cry on, but no matter how many doctors, tests, or surgeries, no one could figure out what was wrong with her.

Turns out her mom, Patty Watts, was just a really good liar.

After serving five years in prison, Patty gets out with nowhere to go and begs her daughter to take her in. The entire community is shocked when Rose Gold says yes.

Patty insists all she wants is to reconcile their differences. She says she’s forgiven Rose Gold for turning her in and testifying against her. But Rose Gold knows her mother. Patty Watts always settles a score.

Unfortunately for Patty, Rose Gold is no longer her weak little darling…

And she’s waited such a long time for her mother to come home.

four-stars

Ok, I just have to say – Darling Rose Gold was unputdownable, despite nearly every single character in the book being pretty much unlikeable – even Rose Gold herself. This book is twisty and clever and dark as heck, and it was a LOT of fun.

Books I Read in OctoberThe Society for Soulless Girls by Laura Steven
Published by Random House Children's Books on September 19, 2023
Genres: Occult & Supernatural, Young Adult Fiction / LGBTQ, Young Adult Fiction / Thrillers & Suspense / General
Pages: 448
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads

A sapphic enemies-to-lovers retelling of Jekyll & Hyde, this dark academia thriller follows two roommates who must solve an infamous cold case of serial murders on their campus after an arcane ritual gone wrong prompts another death.

Ten years ago, four students lost their lives in the infamous unsolved North Tower murders at the elite Carvell Academy of the Arts, forcing the school to close its doors.

Now Carvell is reopening, and fearless freshman Lottie Fitzwilliam is determined to find out what really happened. But when her beautiful but standoffish roommate, Alice Wolfe, stumbles upon a sinister soul-splitting ritual in a book hidden in Carvell’s library, the North Tower claims another victim. Is there a killer among them . . . or worse, within them?

Exploring possession and ambition, lust and bloodlust, femininity and violence, The Society for Soulless Girls is perfect for fans of The Secret History, A Lesson in Vengeance, and The Grimrose Girls.

three-half-stars

Finishing up with an even darker story, The Society Of Soulless Girls is a dark, twisty story with a very supernatural edge. This was a quick, gripping read if you are looking for something truly dark and creepy, from the bejeweled statue of the nun that graces the campus to the locked up tower that’s tied up in deadly lore from the campus when it was previously opened. Definitely not for everyone, but I couldn’t put it down.

I feel like I need to go a little lighter in November, and I’m hoping to get some Christmas reads in to share with you for December! I’m 6 days late to starting NaNoWriMo – National Novel Writing Month – so I have a feeling this month, if I attempt, it will be a “gentle” NaNoWriMo, with a simple goal of writing something every day.

That said, my mom will be visiting for two weeks, and I haven’t quite figured out how you fit in a writing goal with a family visit. It remains to be seen!

Is there anything in my list of books I read in October list that sounds interesting? Let me know in the comments!

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