Hi! October’s been a fantastic reading month for me, but I didn’t realize how fantastic until I sat down to write this wrap-up and counted 28 books read. Which is why this post is a little later than I’d planned. So yeah, prepare yourself for a lot of opinions about a lot of books. I’m going to start with the books I enjoyed the least and finish with my favorites of the month.
Made You Up by Francesca Zappia – 2 stars
I read Francesca Zappia’s second novel Eliza and her Monsters earlier this year and absolutely adored it. So my expectations where high going into this one, I was so sure I’d love it. Unfortunately I didn’t like it at all. I had so many problems with it, not least of which was the portrayal of schizophrenia. I’m not qualified to point out the inaccuracies portrayed in this book, but if you want to know more about it check out this review written by a mental health professional.
Heartless by Marissa Meyer – 2 stars
I’m actually impressed that Marissa Meyer managed to make Wonderland so fucking boring. All our heroine, the future Queen of Hearts, does is think about what cakes she wants to bake and wallow in self pity because she doesn’t want to marry the king. Yes, there’s a boy and a monster and adventure, but I never cared about any of it. There were no real stakes. If the point of the novel is to explore how the sweet Lady Catherine became the cruel Queen of Hearts, I think it fails. Sure, we see the events that got her there. But the internal change was juts too extreme and sudden to be credible. This needed a lot more character development and a lot more wonder to wow me.
Pretty Baby by Mary Kubica – 3 stars
I read two of Mary Kubic’s thrillers this month and this one, about a woman who inserts herself into the life of a young, homeless mother she meets at the train station, was my least favorite. Which has more to do with my personal preferences than quality. This isn’t a bad novel, it’s just centered around themes that I personally don’t enjoy reading about such as child abuse and motherhood. That being said I really like a lot of things about this book. It’s slowly paced, but the tension never stops building until it reaches it’s breaking point. And once it does, it delivers.
The Butterfly Garden by Dot Hutchison – 3 stars
Our main characters is kidnapped by a serial killer who’s called ‘The Gardener’ by his victims. He tattoos butterflies on the girls he takes and keeps them trapped in his greenhouse for years of abuse before killing them. Obviously this was a very dark and disturbing novel to read. It truly creeped me out. But the ending didn’t live up to the beginning.
The Reapers are the Angels by Alden Bell – 3 stars
This is a book I read only because of Halloween. It’s a dystopian featuring zombies, which is really not my thing. This one also has some western vibes thrown in, which isn’t really my thing either. So no one will be shocked when I say this book wasn’t really my thing. It is however excellently written and probably very interesting if you’re into zombies or westerns or both.
It by Stephen King – 3 stars
I don’t like books with child protagonists, anything about the 80’s, clowns or Stephen King’s novels. So I decided to read It… and I kind of liked it??? This is so weird. Ben and Bev are my new OTP ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware – 3,5 stars
In this thriller a woman is invited to the bachelorette party of her former best friend, it ends in murder. I was surprised by how much I liked this book, it’s a fun and fast-paced thriller that keeps you guessing ’till the end. I’ll definitely be picking up more of Ruth Ware’s thrillers soon!
The Girl from the Well by Rin Chupeco – 3,5 stars
This ghost-story based on a Japanese legend is told from the perspective of the ghost herself. I love Rin Chupeco’s writing, The Bone Witch’s one of my favorite books of the year, so I was super excited to read this one for Halloween. The first part of this novel is set in America and follows a boy with a curse, his cousin and of course our ghost. In the second half the characters travel to Japan in hopes of breaking the curse, and this is really where the story got interesting for me. I loved exploring Japanese culture and mythology along with the characters, I just wish the whole book had been as good as the second half.
The Seafarer’s Kiss by Julia Ember – 3,5 stars
This is a F/F retelling of The Little Mermaids inspired by Norse mythology. I love mermaids and I love Norse myths – so I knew I’d enjoy this. Though 3,5 stars isn’t the highest rating, this is the best mermaid book I’ve ever read (Why is my luck with mermaids books still the worst???) There’s nothing about it I don’t like, the characters are great, the plot is great, the romance is great. There’s just not enough of it for me. I wish this book had been longer so I could’ve really immersed myself in it.
Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough – 4 stars
Thrillers always have blurbs that promise unexpected and shocking endings, but they rarely live up to the hype. This one left me gaping. It’s been weeks since I read it and I still can’t quite wrap my head around it. So, fair warning, this book requires some suspension of disbelief. There’s some weird stuff going on here. In a good way. I think.
Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton – 4 stars
This book is quite the mix of genres, a YA-fantasy-western inspired by Arabic myths and folklore. It might sound strange, but it works! Plotwise it’s pretty typical YA fantasy, but Hamilton’s created such an interesting world full of magic and danger that it stands out nonetheless.
Vassa in the Night by Sarah Porter – 4 stars
This is definitely the strangest book I read this month, if not this year. A YA Urban Fantasy set in Brooklyn, featuring Baba Yaga as the owner of the creepiest convenience store in town. I won’t even try to explain what’s going on in this one. If you like the dark and creepy weirdness of Russian folklore, you’ll love this.
Warcross by Marie Lu – 4 stars
I used to play Donkey Kong obsessively when I was 8 years old and that’s the extent of my gaming career. So books about video games aren’t something I’m usually drawn to, but this one caught my attention. It’s set in bright and neon-lit future New York and Japan and follows rainbow haired Emika as she’s drawn into a world of fame, danger and dark conspiracies. I got more and more invested in the story towards the end, so I’ll be checking out the sequel when it’s released.
Stolen Songbird by Danielle L. Jensen – 4 stars
For five centuries, a witch’s curse has bound the trolls to their city beneath the mountain. When Cécile is kidnapped and taken beneath the mountain, she realises that the trolls are relying on her to break the curse by marrying their prince.
I really enjoyed this book. I don’t think I’ve ever read a fantasy novel about trolls before, so that was really fun. I love seeing different kind of magical creatures in books, not just the typical fae, vampires and werewolves. I also really like the romance in this, it’s the kind of slow burn hate to love, I can’t resist.
Good Me, Bad Me by Ali Land – 4 stars
I’ve been on such a thriller binge this month and this is the book that started it. Milly’s mother is a serial killer. Now she’s in jail and Milly is the one who put her there. In this book we follow Milly as she adjusts to her new life without her mother, but with her mother’s voice always present in her head. I loved this book, it’s so different from any other thriller I’ve read. If you’re looking for a fast-paced page-turner – this is not that. But if you want a beautifully written and darkly fascinating character study, I recommend picking this one up.
Under the Pendulum Sun by Jeannette Ng – 4 stars
There’s a lot of books out there about the fae and this is the most stunningly original one I’ve read yet. It’s set in an alternate version of history in which English explorers have discovered the land of the fae: Arcadia. Our MC’s brother is a missionary who’s traveled to Arcadia to spread the word of God and save the souls of the fae. When she goes to visit him there she’s drawn into a mystery that gets increasingly dark and strange the deeper she digs. I really enjoyed this one. It’s such an interesting take on the Gothic novel and on the fae as well. It was a perfect Halloween read, so atmospheric and quite gruesome in parts. I just wasn’t prepared for how biblical it would be. There’s a lot of quite academic theology in here that didn’t exactly have me on the edge of my seat.
A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray – 4 stars
This YA Victorian boarding school novel is kind of like Jane Eyre meets Gossip girl, with some magic sprinkled on top. I’m usually not a fan of novels set in Victorian times, that weren’t written during that period. But this one really worked for me. It’s such a fun read, full of mystery, magic and intrigue.
Good Behavior by Blake Crouch – 4 stars
Good Behavior is my favorite tv-show and with season 2 around the corner – I finally picked up the book it’s based on. Thief and con-woman Letty Dobesh is an anti-heroine it’s impossible not to root for, as she lands herself in one sticky situation after another. All three of the interlinked novellas collected in this book are exactly what I wanted: fast-paced, wildly entertaining and full of unexpected twists and turns.
Turtles All the Way Down by John Green – 4 stars
It’s been 4 years since the last time I read a John Green novel, so I was equal parts nervous and excited to read his new release. YA contemporaries are not something I read as much of or enjoy as much as I used to, but I should’ve known this would be one of the exception. This was one of those slow burns for me. At first I wasn’t sure I’d enjoy it, but then it reached an unexpectedly emotional crescendo and I fell head over heels. I’m happy to say I still love John Green’s writing.
Dark Matter by Blake Crouch – 4 stars
This is one of those books where it’s best to go in knowing as little as possible and just enjoy the experience of having your mind well and truly blown. I know I did.
The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater – 4 stars
I FINALLY FINISHED A SERIES! I FINALLY FINISHED A SERIES! I FINALLY FINISHED A SERIES! I FINALLY FINISHED A SERIES! I can’t really say much about this book without spoling the previous books in the series, so I’ll just say that I really enjoyed it. While it’s not my favorite in the series, I think it’s a mostly satisfying conclusion to an amazing story. I’m really going to miss Henrietta!
The Good Girl by Mary Kubica – 4,5 stars
This is my favorite of Mary Kubica’s books so far and my favorite adult thriller of the month. It’s told in alternating chapters of the young woman who’s been kidnapped, her mother, the detective who’s investigating her case and her kidnapper. It’s also split into before and after, which made things a little confusing to begin with, (Especially since I listened to it on audiobook) but once I got into it – I loved this story. It might not have the most intricate plot (Even I guessed the ending, and I’m terrible at that), but the characters are so well-crafted and interesting, that it didn’t bother me one bit.
Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde – 4,5 stars
This YA contemporary about three bestfriends who spend a weekend at the con of their dreams really stole my heart. It’s told from the perspective of the two girls of the duo, Charlie and Taylor, in alternating chapters. It’s so full of friendship, romance and pop culture it’s impossible not to read it with a big, dumb grin on your face. It’s just so cute. But it also tackles some important themes and offer some awesome diverse representation. Thank you so much for recommending it to me, Winter!
Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman – 4,5 stars
Practical Magic was one of my favorite movies as kid, and one of the first DVD’s I ever owned – I used to watch it over and over again. But for some reason it took me this long to finally read the novel it’s based on. If you’ve seen the movie you know this is a story about two sisters with magical powers and their rocky path to true love. There’s a lot of differences between the book and the movie, perhaps the biggest being that the magic in the book is much more subtle. But I love both versions of the Owens sister’s story, and all the other strange and wonderful Owens women too.
An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson – 5 stars
This book was such a sweet and wonderful little surprise. It’s so beautifully written and utterly charming – I just adore it.
The fair folk are immortal, powerful and dangerous – but the cannot create without crumbling to dust. Therefore they desire and value human craft highly. Isobel is a portrait artist who’s highly esteemed among them. But when she paints a portrait of the Prince of Autumn she makes a mistake, one that sends them both on a wild and dangerous journey through the fae lands.
First We Were IV by Alexandra Sirowy – 5 stars
This novel about four friends who decide to start a secret society is everything I never knew I wanted in a YA thriller. It’s all secrets and mysteries and anger and revenge and murder. I was hooked on page one and my interest never waned. I kept turning pages as fast as I could, desperate to discover how it all would end. And damn, that ending ripped my heart out.
Invictus by Ryan Graudin – 5 stars
Farway Gaius McCarthy was born outside of time. The son of a time-traveling Recorder from 2354 AD and a gladiator living in Rome in 95 AD. He and his crew travel through time, plundering historical events for valuable artifacts. When they land on the Titanic to steal a book worth millions a mysterious girl is already there – waiting for them. She’s got a mission of her own, that’s about to change all their lives.
This is such a fun and entertaining adventure novel where the twists never stop coming. I love the future world Ryan Graudin’s created where time travel is a lucrative business, I love every single weirdo on the rag-tag crew of the Invictus, I love the historical settings we got to visit, I really, really love the red panda. I love all of it. A lot.
Spellbook of the Lost and Found by Moïra Fowley-Doyle – 5 stars
The highest compliment I can give a piece of fiction, whether it’s a book, a movie or a tv-show, is that it feels more real than real life. That’s the feeling I’m always chasing, the reason I love stories, the reason I’m a reader. This book felt more real than real life. When I finished it I had that feeling you get when you walk out of a movie-theater into bright daylight. Nothing I say about it will do it justice. Just read it if you want to believe in magic.
Have you read any of these books? I’d love to hear what you thought of them. And what were your favorite reads in October?