Hi everyone! I think I’m finally getting all caught up on the blog posts that I missed writing for last month, so it’s time to do my October wrap up finally! I had a pretty good reading month, I’m still below average for the number of books completed but I enjoyed most of what I read so I think that’s a good trade off!
Before I go over the actual books, let’s take a look at my stats for the month. I read 7 books in October – 6 fantasy, and 1 horror with a page count of 2,578 pages. My format breakdown was 2 audiobooks, 3 eBooks, and 2 physical books. 5 books were adult and 2 were YA. My average rating was 4 stars, with my full breakdown being: one 5 star, two 4.5 stars, two 4 stars, one 3.5 star, and one 2.5 star.
From Below by Darcy Coates – ★★★★☆ .5
This was my first time reading a book from this author and I really enjoyed it! I’ve found that I really love underwater horror like this and Into the Drowning Deep. There were parts of this that really gave me the chills and couldn’t read it at night because I freaked myself out! I loved how well researched this book seemed, from diving to the real-life phenomenon of adipocere which just made the haunting so much more realistic and terrifying. The characters were okay, certainly not bad but it was really the haunting that was the star of the show. I do wish that in the flashbacks we got more of a reason for the haunting and how it all began, as that was the biggest part for me that seemed unclear. I can’t wait to read more from Darcy Coates!
Nettle and Bone by T. Kingfisher – ★★★★☆
This was my third T. Kingfisher book, and the first that was more in the fantasy genre (although it did still have plenty of horror). This follows Marra how wants to save her sister from the abusive prince she was married off to. This is very much a dark fairy tale, complete with fairy godmothers. While the writing and characters were whimsical, it covered some pretty serious topics like spousal abuse, arranged marriages, and objectifying women. The story does start off right in the middle of the action and then moves back in time and then tells the story up to that point, then continues from there, so the opening was a little confusing at first. I’ve always thought that it takes a really good writer to do novellas well, and I think I can officially say T. Kingfisher fits that description for me!
The Undertaking of Hart and Mercy by Megan Bannen – ★★★☆☆ .5
I listened to this one on audio to just help give me a breather from all the dark books I’ve been reading lately, and I’m really happy I picked this one up! This was a cute fantasy rom-com with some lightly spooky elements. However, I do wish that some things were more fleshed out. There was a LOT of different things happening and a lot of different plotlines, so there wasn’t enough time to fully explore all of them. There was a romance, a mystery, and a family drama happening, plus the setting was a fantasy world but with contemporary bits and pieces. This book was a wild combination of so many different things, and honestly, I’m not upset about it. It could’ve been a horrific flop, but with the rom-com style writing it worked pretty well! However, there were some things that weren’t explained enough for me to fully get an idea of what they were, like the equimare (maybe aquamare?) and autoduck (and I’m just guessing on the spelling, since it was the audiobook). An enjoyable read and definitely was the refreshing book I was looking for!
Empire of Exiles by Erin M Evans – ★★★★☆ .5
I was nervous at first going into this because it really gives you a lot of info and characters right at the beginning and it’s been a while since I read a fantasy like that, but I was pleasantly surprised by this one! I loved the magic system and how it has both benefits and a downside, and the way the system was structured was also really interesting as well. The mystery was fun to try to solve alongside the characters, although I must admit I still don’t understand the reasoning for the murders. There are still a LOT of unanswered questions, and when we did get some answers, it just led to even MORE questions! I’m hoping that the second book gives me more answers. That’s really the only negative that I have, is that I didn’t really feel satisfied with the answers (or lack thereof) that we got. Definitely looking forward to book 2 and learning more about this world!
Related: Empire of Exiles Review
Violet Made of Thorns by Gina Chen – ★★★★☆
This was a fun YA fantasy! I really liked Violet and how she didn’t do anything that didn’t benefit herself. She was the perfect morally gray anti-hero – she’s unapologetic about who she is and doesn’t care if people find her hard to work with. I loved that there was a little bit of a mystery to solve with where the beasts are coming from and how to stop them. And while I did like Violet and Cyrus together, I also found that I just wanted her to make a decision on if she hated him or loved him and stop waffling. While they did definitely have chemistry, they also irritated me sometimes with how they treated each other and how in denial Violet was. I did like the ending and what happened with Cyrus, as I think that will make the second book really interesting. I’m also kind of hoping that Violet will lean more towards a villain in the next book, but who knows if that will happen!
Juniper and Thorn by Ava Reid – ★★☆☆☆
I really enjoyed The Wolf and the Woodsman which I read in July 2021. However, Juniper and Thorn just didn’t work as well for me. I struggled to read this one, and in fact I put it down for months until I decided that I really needed to finish my ARC to finally write a review. This is a very slow-moving book, and looking back on it, I feel like there wasn’t really a lot of plot that happened, and I didn’t connect with any of the characters. The writing was also way more stylistic in this than in the first book, to the point where half the time I had no idea if magic was real or just a metaphor. In fact, there was quite a bit of this that was just metaphor. I know from browsing through Goodreads that the author took her experiences as an abuse survivor as inspiration, I just don’t think that the execution was the best and I just couldn’t get on board with this because it was so hard for me to follow along with. This just really was not a book for me and unfortunately, I didn’t enjoy reading it. I have a more in depth review available here on my blog for more thoughts.
Related: Juniper and Thorn Review
Belladonna by Adalyn Grace – ★★★★★
Another fantasy with a mystery to solve (clearly those are my favorites right now). This time we follow Signa who was orphaned as a baby and now has Death following her everywhere she goes. And yes, Death is a character in the book. She ends up at yet another relative’s house after being passed around from family member to family member, only to find a house in mourning and her cousin deathly ill. She quickly realizes that Blythe is being poisoned and sets out to save her and figure out who is doing the poisoning. This was really twisty, and I loved both the setting and Signa as a character. We always get the heroine who feels constrained by society, and here we have Signa who just wants to fit in and be a part of polite society, which was fun to see for once. This is the kind of gothic story I like, where it’s fun to read and the characters are interesting (I sometimes find other gothic stories to be a bit dry and boring). I loved the romance, the writing was so smooth, and the worldbuilding was good too! I can’t wait to see what happens with Signa and Death in the next book Foxglove (and maybe get my hands on the gorgeous UK editions).
What books did you read in October? I read so many good ones, I’d love to hear from you if you’ve read any of these!