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  • Writer's picturehaleylynnthomas22

October-December Reading Wrap-up

OCTOBER

1. Lost in the Never Woods by Aiden Thomas (YA Fantasy) (384 pages) (4⭐️)
Wendy and her brothers went missing five years ago and only she returned. When kids in town start to go missing again she must team up with Peter Pan to defeat his evil shadow and save them. Autumn is the perfect time to read this book because of its dark and moody atmosphere. If you are sensitive to the topics of child abduction and death then I suggest steering clear of this book.

2. The Bullet that Missed by Richard Osman (Adult Mystery) (337 pages) (3.75⭐️)
The Thursday Murder club returns in this third installment to the series. While the club is solving the murder of a reporter, Elizabeth is blackmailed by a mysterious figure known as the Viking. This was probably the most convoluted of the Thursday Murder club books to date. I think I may have spread out my breading of it too much because when I'd pick it up it took me time to reorient myself. Even so, I do love the core cast, the humor, and the way I'm never bored while reading these books.

3. The Change by Kirsten Miller (Adult Thriller) (480 pages) (5⭐️)
When young women in a seaside town start going missing, three women (Harriet, Jo, and Nessa) band together to catch the serial killer. This is the kind of feminist book I wanted books like They Never Learn by Layne Fargo and The Last Housewife by Ashley Winstead to be. It's all about women working together and reclaiming their power.

4. Prologue to Murder by Lauren Elliot (Adult Mystery) (336 pages) (3.25⭐️)
This is the second installment in the Beyond the Page cozy mystery series about bookstore owner and amateur sleuth Addie Greybourne. In this one Addie is solving the murder of a local librarian. In terms of plot I liked this one better than the first one. We got to know more about the history of Greyboure Harbor and I had fun with the pirate aspect of the story. The characters, though, ran too hot and cold and an unnecessary love triangle is introduced.

5. Legends and Lattes by Travis Baldree (Adult Fantasy) (296 pages) (4.5⭐️)
Viv is an orc who was previously a mercenary. Longing for a more stable life, she starts a coffee business in the town of Thune. This is a cozy family with a found family. There isn't a lot of plot but reading it evoked a lot of emotions from me. The actual novel is just over 250 pages but the version I bought included a 33 page short story prequel in the back that offers a glimpse of Viv's life among her former crew.

6. Murder in the First Edition by Lauren Elliot (Adult Mystery) (320 pages) (2.25⭐️)
This is the third installment of the Beyond the Page cozy mystery series about crime solving bookstore owner Addie Greybourne. This one is set at Christmastime and sees Addie solving the murder of a charity coordination. This book was the worst of the three I've read so far largely because the love interests are insufferable and the plot was too reminiscent of the first book.

7. Thank You for Listening by Julia Whelan (Adult Romance) (432 pages) (4.75⭐️)
Sewanee Chester's acting career was cut short after she lost an eye in a horrible accident. She becomes an audiobook narrator and joins with fellow narrator Brock McKnight on one last job. I've listened to plenty of books narrated by Julia Whelan without ever realizing she was an author too! The romance in this novel was so playful and the female friendship was so supportive. The most compelling relationship in the novel, however, was that between Sewanee and her grandmother.

8. Proof of Murder by Lauren Elliot (Adult Mystery) (316 pages) (3.5⭐️)
This is the fourth installment in the Beyond the Page cozy mystery series about crime solving bookstore owner Addie Greybourne. This was is a locked room mystery set in a house rumored to be haunted. The mystery in this one was well executed but the way the love triangle 'progresses' in this book is quite confusing. Also, while this book was perfect to read it fall it's oddly set in the summertime.

9. I'd Rather Burn Than Bloom by Shannon C. Rogers (YA Contemporary) (320 pages) (5⭐️)
Marisol struggles with her grief after the death of her mother. This book explores the complicated grief of losing someone you had a difficult relationship with. Marisol's pain was visceral and cutting but the ending is hopeful. I think this would be a wonderful read for young readers who have lost a parent or guardian.
Full Review: Coming soon to the blog!

10. Once Upon a Broken Heart by Stephanie Garber (YA Fantasy) (403 pages) (5⭐️)
Evangeline believes her first love is under a spell so she makes a deal with the Prince of Hearts, Jacks. This was a reread for me in preparation of reading the final book in the trilogy. This book is like stepping into a sparkling fairy tale with the purest protagonist and a rogue of a love interest.

11. The Ballad for Never After by Stephanie Garber (YA Fantasy) (400 pages) (5⭐️)
This is the sequel to Once Upon a Broken Heart and was also a reread. This novel explores Jacks background and answers the question of what's inside the Valory Arch. The ending made the wait for the final book so painful but this book made me fall even deeper in love with Evangeline and Jacks. This novel feels even more like stepping into a fairy tale than the first book.

NOVEMBER READS

1. A Curse for True Love by Stephanie Garber (YA Fantasy) (381 pages) (4⭐️)
This is the finale to the Once Upon a Broken Heart trilogy and sees Evangeline and Jacks separated with Evangeline in the clutches of Prince Apollo. Can their love overcome all that aspires to ruin them? As with the first two books the writing has a very sugary fairy tale feel. Evangeline and Jacks are one of my favorite fantasy romance couples. Though this was my least favorite book of the trilogy I was pleased with how their love story ended.

2. A Very Typical Family (Adult Contemporary) (416 pages) (2.25⭐️)
15 years ago during a while party, Natalie Walker called the cops on her siblings. Present day she and her estranged siblings must gather at their childhood home to inherit after their mother's death. This was my 100th book of the year and I regret that. I should have heeded the other reviewers and DNF'd because it wasn't worth finishing. The characters are insufferable and there are plot points that make no sense. The idea had promise but the execution wasn't there.

3. Starling House by Alix E. Harrow (Adult Fantasy) (320 pages) (3.75⭐️)
A woman, Opal, gets a job as a housekeeper for Arthur, the warding of the mysterious Starling House. This book was the ideal autumnal read. I'd describe it as a haunted house story though ti's not horror - it's lightly spooky if anything. I liked both main characters but their relationship as a couple was lackluster.

4. Little Bookshop of Murder by Maggie Blackburn (329 pages) (1⭐️)
A woman, Summer, moves home to manage her mother's bookstore after her death. Believing her mother was murdered she becomes determined to find the culprit. This was one of the sloppiest books I've ever read as it was riddled with typos. The main character is profoundly unlikable and the mystery is way too easy to solve.

5. The Christmas Murder Game by Alexandra Benedict (275 pages) (3.25⭐️)
Lily returns to her childhood home of Endgame House where she and her cousins participate in a deadly game orchestrated by her late aunt. This book reminded me of The Family Game by Catherine Steadman. I enjoyed the way the clues were written as sonnets that were purposefully misleading but the writing may be too flowery for most mystery readers.

6. Murder on the Christmas Express by Alexandra Benedict (241 pages) (3⭐️)
Roz is a retired police detective on a train headed home to her daughter for the holidays. When the train becomes stuck because of the weather and a body is discovered Roz must solve the murder. This was obviously inspired by Agatha Christie's Murder on the Orient Express. There were bordering on too many characters and it lacks any real Christmas elements, the mystery had lots of twists.

DNFs

1.Murder and Manon by Mia P. Manansala (Adult Mystery) (read 100 pages)
This is actually the fourth book in a cozy mystery series which I wasn't aware of when I picked it up. It's about a woman, Lila, who is solving a murder that takes place in her godmothers' new laundromat. There were just too many characters for me to keep track of - maybe it would have been different if I had started from the beginning - and the mystery didn't really hook me.

2. A Page Marked for Murder by Lauren Elliot (Adult Mystery) (read 124 pages)
This is the fifth book in a cozy mystery series about a bookstore owner, Addie, who solves murders in her small town. I completed the first four books in this series but I finally had to call it quits with this one. I was growing increasingly frustrated with all the endless relationship drama in these books.

DECEMBER READS

1. Shadow of the Fox by Julie Kagawa (YA Fantasy) (454 pages) (4⭐️)
Yumeko is a half-kitsune who is charged with guarding part of the sacred Dragon Scroll. If all the parts are brought together they can be used to grant any wish. She must take the scroll to a faraway temple for protection. Accompanying her is a samurai with a cursed sword, Tatsumi. This novel is a folklore/mythology lovers dream as it's overflowing with Japanese folklore. The relationship of Yumeko and Tatsumi really tugs on my heartstrings.
Full Review: Coming soon to the blog!

2. Soul of the Sword by Julie Kagawa (YA Fantasy) (425 pages) (3.75⭐️)
This is the sequel to Shadow of the Fox and is the continuation of Yumeko and Tatsumi's journey. Also along are characters introduced in the prior novel; former samurai Okame, noble Daisuke, and shrine maiden Reika. This novel expands on Yumeko's magic and the group really starts to feel more like a cohesive unit. It definitely does feels like a middle book, though.
Full Review: Coming soon to the blog!

3. Night of the Dragon by Julia Kagawa (YA Fantasy) (355 pages) (3⭐️)
This is the conclusion to the Shadow of the Fox trilogy. This was the most action packed of the trilogy by far, so much so that I felt like I never had a chance to fully process what was happening before we were back into another action scene. I was not a fan of most of the characters' fates but overall I still liked the series and would recommend it.
Full Review: Coming soon to the blog!

4. Mangoes and Mistletoe by Adriana Herrera (Adult Romance) (3) (126 pages) (3⭐️)
Kiskeya and Sully are partnered up in a holiday baking contest in Scotland. Despite their conflicting personalities, I don't typically read novellas and while, for the short length the characters were well developed, it still left me wanting more. I think more time should have been spent on the romance and less on the spicy scenes. I also wish there was more Christmas magic to this story.

5. The Last Devil to Die by Richard Osman (Adult Mystery) (353 pages) (4⭐️)
This is the fourth book in the Thursday Murder Club series about a group of four elderly friends (Elizabeth, Joyce, Ron, and Ibrahim) who solve crimes. This was a lot more straightforward than the third book and thus easier to follow the plot. Joyce really stood out as the star in this one. It's undoubtedly the most emotional installment in the series to date.

6. A Cat Cafe Christmas by Codi Gary (Adult Romance) (375 pages) (3.75⭐️)
Kara runs a struggling cat cafe and marketing exec. Ben decides to help her with advertising plans. Both have been burned romantically before, but can they learn to trust each other? I wouldn't describe this as a fluffy romance, but there are LOTS of adorable cats featured! Ben and Kara's chemistry didn't wow me at first but as the novel progressed their romance improved.

7. One Dark Window by Rachel Gilig (YA Fantasy) (392 pages) (5⭐️)
Elspeth lives in a world where children struck with a fever gain dangerous magic and are hunted. Infected herself, she teams up with others to find a cure. This was my second read through in preparation of reading the sequel. This is a masterpiece of a YA fantasy novel. Everything from the characters to the world building to the prose itself is perfection.
Full Review: Coming soon to the blog!

TOTAL PAGES READ (OCT-DEC): 8,690
AVG. RATING (OCT-DEC)(⭐️): 89.75/120 (3.74 AVG.)

2023 STATS

PAGES READ (JAN-DEC): 40,542 pages
AVG. BOOK LENGTH (JAN-DEC): 365.24
AVG. BOOK RATING (JAN-DEC): 423.5/555 (3.90⭐️)

NEW READS: 95
REREADS: 14
PHYSICAL READS: 78
AUDIOBOOKS: 31
LIBRARY BOOKS READ: 49
ADULT BOOKS: 81
YA BOOKS: 28

GENRE BREAKDOWN:

CONTEMPORARY/ROMANCE: 23
FANTASY/MAGICAL REALISM/SCI-FI: 31
HISTORICAL FICTION: 8
MYSTERY/THRILLER: 48

2024 READING AND WRITING GOALS:

1. Complete my YA Fantasy Manuscript
2. Read at least 85 books
3. Post consistently on the blog



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