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September-October Reading Wrap-up

SEPTEMBER READS


1. The Overnight Guest by Heather Gudenkauf (Adult Mystery) (352 pages ) (3⭐)

True crime writer Wylie is working on her new book in a farm house where 20 years ago a family was murdered. During a snow storm she comes across a lost child. I can recognize the good aspects of this novel, especially the red herrings of who the antagonist is. however, I can't in good conscious recommend this book to anyone. It let me feeling genuinely disturbed and sad at the conclusion. I'm not going to link my review but if you really want I'm sure you'd be able to find it.


2. The Dead and the Dark by Courtney Gould (YA Fantasy) (368 pages) (5⭐)

Logan's travels around the country with her fathers who are the stars of a ghost hunting show. When they land in the small town of Snakebite, Oregon Logan and local Ashley try to solve the disappearance of Ashley's boyfriend. The titular Dark is the antagonist of the novel and it is insidious and a wonderful metaphor for prejudice and hatred. I couldn't put this novel down because of the sinister atmosphere and mind bending mysteries. Full Review: https://www.haleysbookhaven.com/post/i-found-the-perfect-read-for-spooky-season-the-dead-and-the-dark-book-review


3. The Magic Fish by Trung Le Nguyen (YA Graphic Novel) (256 pages) (4⭐)

Tiến helps his Vietnamese immigrant mother learn English via the sharing of fairy tales. Through these he also hopes to find a way to convey to her that he is gay. The illustrated format of graphic novels worked well with the fairy tales. This story is undoubtedly touching. Yet I never felt like I knew the characters quite as well as I wanted to.

Full Review: https://www.haleysbookhaven.com/post/delilah-green-doesn-t-care-briar-girls-and-the-magic-fish-tbr-co-review


4. Carrie Soto is Back by Taylor Jenkins Reid (Adult Historical Fiction) (384 pages) (5⭐)

Retired tennis star Carrie Soto returns to the game to defend her title from a rising player, Nicki Chan. This is my second favorite novel of the year so far. I'm not a sports fan but I am a fan of well written characters and Jenkins Reid knows how to write them. I highly recommend the audiobook because it has a full cast and sound effects during the sports casting chapters that really enhance the experience.

Full Review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/4955265120


5. The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches (Adult Fantasy) (316 pages) (4⭐)

Mika is a witch who lives in a world where witches are warning against gathering because their magic can become out of control and dangerous. She becomes a tutor for a home with three young witches. This novel reminds me a lot in plot and overall fuzzy feelings of The House in the Cerulean Sea. It's quite endearing but there is a weirdly dark, discordant twist late on in the story.

Full Review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/4973837876


6. The Drowned Woods by Emily Lloyd-Jones (YA Fantasy) (343 pages) (3.25⭐)

Mer is the last living water diviner and an escaped prisoner of a cruel prince. She, her former mentor (Renfrew), a boy indebted to the fairies (Fane), and several others join together to destroy the prince's magical well. I'm a big fan of Lloyd-Jones so this one was a huge disappointment and even more so for the long wait (it's been two years since her last YA release). The characters were flat and the writing wasn't up to par with what I've come to expect from her.

Full Review: https://www.haleysbookhaven.com/post/the-drowned-woods-by-emily-lloyd-jones-book-review


7. The Woman in the Library by Sulari Gentill (Adult Mystery) (250 pages) (5⭐)

Four strangers (Freddie, Marigold, Whit, and Cain) are in the library when a woman screams and is later found dead. Bonded by the experience they become close friends but soon one of them is suspected of the murder. Despite the limited cast the characters are charismatic and I was unsure til the end who the culprit was. It would be a great book to curl up and read in your local library.

Full Review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/4991605152


8. The Ballad of Never After by Stephanie Garber (YA Fantasy) (400 pages) (5⭐)

This is the sequel to Once Upon a Broken Heart and takes place in the first novel's immediate aftermath. We learn a lot more about Jacks in this novel and his and Evangeline's relationship continues to grow. This has all the spellbinding enchantment of the first novel with the addition of a lot more angst. After that ending I'm the one with the broken heart.

Full Review: Coming soon to the blog!


9. The It Girl by Ruth Ware (Adult Mystery) (423 pages) (3.5⭐)

10 years after the murder of her college best friend, April, Hannah learns the man who was put away on her evidence has died. It turns out he might have been innocent and she becomes determined to find out the truth. I'd rank this in the lower half of Ware's books. The novel is just too long and the plot read like others I've read before except a more boring version.

Full Review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/4985206339


10. Love on the Brain by Ali Hazelwood (Adult Romance) (354 pages) (2⭐)

Bee and Levi star in this enemies-to-lover romance where they are forced to work together at a job in NASA. It’s good to see more representation for women in STEM and I appreciate how Hazelwood brings attention to misogyny in STEM. I adored Hazelwood’s debut but this couple didn’t have the chemistry to sell the romance. Levi was too immature, there was an unnecessary late story villain, and emotional moments were ruined by constant sex scenes.

Full Review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/4676645892


OCTOBER READS

1. This Poison Heart by Kalynn Bayron (YA Fantasy) (370 pages) (4⭐)

Briseis Green has uncontrollable plant magic that comes from her biological family. After inheriting a mansion from her biological aunt she never knew she and her moms go to upstate New York where she learns more about her family history. This book has mystery and Greek mythology as well as lots of LGBT+ representation. It’s a little slow but the poison garden is a great setting for an urban fantasy novel! This was a reread for me.

Full Review: Coming soon to the blog!


2. Delilah Green Doesn't Care by Ashley Herring Blake (Adult Romance) (371 pages) (4.5⭐)

Delilah Green is hired to photograph her estranged stepsister Astrid’s wedding. While in town she develops a romance with Astrid’s best friend Claire. This book is very emotional and I was actually more invested in the complicated relationship between Delilah and Astrid than the romance. That being said, Claire and Delilah are very good for each other as well as on their own.

Full Review: https://www.haleysbookhaven.com/post/delilah-green-doesn-t-care-briar-girls-and-the-magic-fish-tbr-co-review


3. This Wicked Fate by Kalynn Bayron (YA Fantasy) (307 pages) (3.5⭐)

The sequel to This Poison Heart this picks up right where the first book leaves off. It’s much more faced passed than its predecessor and more focused on adventure than mystery. There’s also an expansion on the Greek mythology. I wanted the pacing to be slower especially since certain characters needed more development. It does resolve all the open plot threads from the first novel.

Final Review: Coming soon to the blog!


4. Beasts of Ruin by Ayana Gray (YA Fantasy) (461 pages) (4⭐)

The sequel to Beasts of Prey this sees Koffi has the prisoner of an evil god and Ekon’s journey to attempt a rescue mission. The pacing in this novel is perfect. Koffi’s chapters reminded me of a mix of Shadow & Bone and Forest of Souls. Ekon’s chapters added more adventure to the story. I thoroughly enjoyed all the new characters introduced into the story though it does seem some were added just for drama’s sake.

Full Review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/5032499538


5. The Dry by Jane Harper (Adult Mystery) (326 pages) (3.5⭐)

Aaron Falk returns to his hometown of Kiewarra to help solve the murders of his childhood best friend Luke, his wife, and his young son. This novel is incredibly dark and does feature the deaths and abuse of children though nothing graphic. The pacing is quite slow but I never figured out who the culprit was. If you like books about small town tensions then this might work for you. Overall it was fine but not as good as her second book in the series which I read first (Force of Nature).

Full Review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/5042574051


6. Kindred by Octavia E. Butler (Classic Historical Fiction) (287 pages) (4⭐)

Dana, an African-American woman living in 1976 time travels against her will to antebellum Maryland where she meets her white ancestor who is the son of a plantation owner. This novel is more historical fiction than sci-fi and it’s doesn’t gloss over the horrors of slavery. Despite being difficult to read at times the characters were strong, resilient, and inspiring. This isn’t an easy time in our country’s history to read about but it’s an important one because the day we forget our past sins is the day we inch closer towards repeating them.

Full Review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/5043734391


7. Into the Water by Paula Hawkins (Adult Mystery) (386 pages) (4⭐)

A single mother dies, seemingly by suicide, in a small town river with a legacy of tragedy. The woman’s sister moves back to take her of her orphan niece and relationships and secrets among the townsfolk unravel. I have really come to like small town mysteries recently and this one didn’t disappoint in that every character had a player on the board. The reveals kept barreling into me so that each time I thought I knew what was going on I was surprised. I do think it was excessive and confusing for each character to have POV chapters.

Full Review: Coming soon to the blog!


8. The Demon in the Woods by Leigh Bardugo, Dani Pendergast, and Kyla Vanderklugt (YA Fantasy Graphic Novel) (200 pages) (5⭐)

This is a prequel to the GrishaVerse novels that explores the origins of the villainous Darkling. Despite my love of morally grey characters I’ve always struggled to connect with this particular one. This graphic noel helped me to see him a new light. At the surface it’s a small story, but it has far reaching consequences for the GrishaVerse as a whole. The artwork here is beautiful and really brings the world to life.


9. Daughters of Nri by Reni K. Amayo (YA Fantasy) (321 pages) (2.5⭐)

Twin daughters of a goddess grow up separate and unaware of their origins. They must come together to save their world from its ruthless ruler. This was a recommendation by my biblioloigst and the premise was so promising. I was extra bummed then that I didn’t like it. There wasn’t a lot redeeming. One of the twins, Sinai, was the type of character who has things happen to her rather than being proactive. The story was slow and the twins don’t even meet until the end.

Full Review: Coming soon to the blog!


10. Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson (YA Mystery) (416 pages) (5⭐)

True crime aficionado Stevie Bell attends the remote Ellingham Academy where she attempts to solve the Truly Devious murders that happened at the school years ago. This was a reread for me and is a major comfort read for me. It’s the book that made me realize I actually like mysteries and has amazing anxiety disorder representation. I highly recommend it!

Full Review: https://www.haleysbookhaven.com/post/truly-devious-by-maureen-johnson-a-review


DNFs

1. Maggie Moves On by Lucy Score (Adult Romance) (Read 70 pages)

This is about the romance between a house flipper (Maggie) and a landscaper (Silas). I picked this up from the library knowing nothing about it because it sounded cute. I DNF’d it because I found Silas super cringey. He didn’t take a hint and was just overall unprofessional. I couldn’t see myself rooting for them to get together and so I saw no point in continuing.


SOME STATS

TOTAL PAGES READ (SEP-OCT): 6,961 (avg. book length: 348.05 pages)

AVG. STAR RATING (SEP-OCT): 79.75/100(avg. rating: 3.99⭐)

TOTAL PAGES READ (JAN-OCT): 33,901 (avg. book length: 413.43 pages)

AVERAGE STAR RATING (JAN-OCT): 365.75/565(avg. rating: 4.46)


GENRE BREAKDOWN (JAN-OCT)

ADULT: 42/62

AGE NA: 2/82

CONTEMPORARY/ROMANCE: 12/82

FANTASY/MAGICAL REALISM: 30/82

HISTORICAL FICTION: 4/82

HORROR: 1/82

MYSTERY/THRILLER: 30/82

MIDDLE GRADE: 1/82

NONFICTION/POETRY: 2/82

SCI-FI: 3/82

YA: 37/82


GOAL CHECK-IN


1. Post a blog every weekend unless ill.

I’ve been struggling a lot with my mental health this past month and a half and thus my blogs have unfortunately been rather inconsistent. I am aiming to get back on track.

2. Read at least 90 books (UPDATED: original goal was 60)

I read 20 books total in the last two months. I need to read 8 more books to meet this goal.

3. Participate in Booksandlala's Buzzwordathon

The September buzzword was LIGHT or DARK. For this I read The Dead and the DARK. The October buzzword was creatures/animals. For this I read BEASTS of Ruin.

4. Read at least 3 nonfiction or poetry books (UPDATED original goal was 5)

I honestly think I’m capping this off at 2 unfortunately.

5. Read at least 1-2 adult books every month.

I read 6 in September and 4 in October.

6. Reread at least 8 books in 2022

I already met this goal but I did reread This Poison Heart in anticipation of reading the sequel and am currently rereading the Truly Devious books.

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