October 2020 Reading Wrap-Up

I cannot believe that October is now over! While there have certainly been times during this pandemic that have felt endless, I think I’m more surprised at the fact that time mostly seems to be flying right along! Only two more months left of this awful year, and hopefully, we’re onto a better year with 2021. 🙏🏼

This was one heck of a reading month for me – 17 books, with a lot of memorable reads! It was hard to choose a favorite. I hope the next two months prove to be just as good for reading.

What was your favorite book that you read in October?

October By the Numbers:
  • Total Books Read: 17
  • Audiobooks: 0
  • Five Star Reads: 3
  • Unread Shelf: 2 (4 DNFs)
  • By Women Authors: 12
  • Nonfiction Reads: 5
  • Published in 2020: 15

Favorite Book of October:

Fiction: Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi

This was a super difficult choice because I read so many good books this month, but I got all the feels with this Freshwater! It absolutely stunned me – especially when I realized it was a debut.

Here are some honorable mentions:

  • *** A Knock at Midnight by Brittany K. Barnett
  • *** The Death of Vivek Oji by Awaeke Emezi
  • *** His Only Wife by Peace Adzo Medie (Read more below!)
  • *** A Witch in Time by Constance Sayers
  • *** Valentine by Elizabeth Wetmore

Heading into October, here is the TBR I set:

  • A Backlist Title: Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi
    • 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 I got all the feels with this one! It absolutely stunned me – especially when I realized it was a debut. It was my favorite book of the month! (See above for more.)
  • A BOTM Title: Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust
    • ⭐️⭐️⭐️ I wanted more from this one…something that more closely resembled my love for that cover! 😍 While fantasy can always be hit or miss for me, I saw so many rave reviews that I decided to give this one a shot. I read it at the beginning of the month and I’ve already largely forgotten what it’s about…never a good sign as far as book recommendations go. 🤷🏼‍♀️
  • A Nonfiction Title: *** The Address Book: What Street Addresses Reveal About Identity, Race, Wealth and Power by Deirdre Mask
    • 📖 I’m about 40% through this one, and try as I might, I just couldn’t get it finished in time for this monthly wrapup…look for it on next month’s wrapup!
  • A NetGalley/Edelweiss Title: *** Devolution: A Firsthand Account of the Rainier Sasquatch Massacre by Max Brooks
    • ❌ DNF at 32%. After trying this one in print and then reading others’ reviews, I think this one should be attempted on audio. Those reviews are over the top and I think I missed something by reading it instead of listening. (Also see below.)
  • A Memoir: *** A Knock at Midnight: A Story of Hope, Justice, and Freedom by Brittany K. Barnett
    • 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 Omg…this book! It’s probably the most important book I’ve read this year, and it’s definitely in the running for the best non-fiction book I read in 2020. Along with Barnett’s writing ability, this is a book I won’t soon forget. I have yet to read Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption, but this book made it apparent that I need to move it up on my TBR asap!
  • At least 2 physical ARCs:
    • *** His Only Wife by Peace Adzo Medie
      • ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ I loved that this was a contemporary fiction; the modern-day setting made it relatable. I was impressed with the author’s simplistic, but impressionable, writing and look forward to her future books! This one reminded me of Stay With Me – another book that gave me a glimpse into Ghanian culture and that has totally stuck with me.
    • *** The Lightness by Emily Temple
      • Didn’t get to this one!
I also read the following books:
  • The Death of Vivek Oji by Awaeke Emezi
    •  🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 After reading and adoring Freshwater (see above), I immediately picked this one up. It’s rare to read an author back-to-back for me, but I was so captured by Emezi’s writing that I couldn’t help myself. While it’d be tough to pick a favorite between their two books, the more important thing here is Emezi’s talent to create a story that ensnares not only your heart, but also your soul. I will never forget either of these stories, and I look forward to what Emezi writes next!
  • *** A Witch in Time by Constance Sayers
    • ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 Because of the cover, I was expecting something totally different than what I got, but nonetheless, I was totally captured and loved this book! Helen is part of a recurring curse that repeats itself every thirty-four years. There are three players to this curse, and they all seem to be caught up in love triangle. Ultimately, there are four separate stories within the story, and while I connected to two of the four more deeply, they’re all important pieces to the puzzle and I have appreciation for each of them. This was truly an enjoyable reading experience and it feels as if this book has flown under the radar a bit…I hope this convinces you to pick it up and give it a try!
  • *** Home Before Dark by Riley Sager
    • ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Sager always delivers creepy books that freak me out and Home Before Dark is no different! Not only will the story stay with me, but the house in this book will remain as one of the scariest I’ve ever read about. 🏚 #nothankyou
  • *** The Aftergrief: Finding Your Way Along the Long Arc of Loss by Hope Edelman
    • ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ A wonderful resource for those who want to understand their grief a little bit deeper. Edelman is an expert in the grief/loss category (especially for those that have lost their parents at a young age), and I appreciate her abilty to blend psychological science with personal stories to help the reader personalize the information.
  • *** Don’t Look For Me by Wendy Walker
    • ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 I mostly appreciated the way this story highlighted the bond between a mother and a daughter. It’s an unbreakable bond that explains the lengths a mother will go to so she can protect her child(ren). I also liked the grief aspect – I always gravitate to stories with this element. In the end, it was an enjoyable thriller for me…I read it quickly, but it won’t be something that sticks with me because it was fairly repetitve and predictable.
  • *** Smacked: A Story of White-Collar Ambition, Addiction, and Tragedy by Eilene Zimmerman
    • ⭐️⭐️⭐️ I think this memoir will show up on a lot of people’s Best of 2020 lists, and while I was fascinated with Zimmerman’s presentation of unrecognized drug addiciton among many white-collar workers, I found the story to be too straight forward – ultimately making it emotionless for me.
  • *** They Wish They Were Us by Jessica Goodman
    • ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ A well-done YA thriller that came at the right time for me. As a fan of Gossip Girl and that whole preppy, rich kids vibe, this book gives the reader that same glimpse into that very disconnected-from-true-reality lifestyle. These are the kids that think they can get away with murder (sorry for the pun), and that if they do get in trouble, their parent’s bank accounts can make the problem go away. I had fun escaping into the indulgence on this one and thought Goodman presented a well-told story.
  • Winter Counts by David Heska Wanbli Weiden
    • ⭐️⭐️⭐️ After so many reviews, I think I headed into this one with completely different expectations. I wanted something a little more intense and less predictable. I would have thought the familiar locations would be a bonus for me, but I mostly found it annoying. I did enjoy learning about reservation life a little bit more and the continual dismissal of the reservartions by the US Government.
  • *** Horrow Lake by Kat Ellis
    • ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 I enjoyed this YA thriller…it had all the creepy elements: an unsettled and atmospheric town with its own myths and legends to contend with, multiple whacked out characters that keep the reader guessing, and just enough mystery to keep the pages turning. It was the perfect Halloween Week read!
  • *** I’m So Effing Tired: A Proven Plan to Beat Burnout, Boost Your Energy, and Reclaim Your Life by Amy Shah
    • ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ For years now, I’ve stuggled with low energy and I have had a heck of a time trying to figure out why. I liked how Shah was able to outline a plan that feels doable and I look forward to trying it out in the future (probably once the holidays are over), though I am already implementing a few things into my daily life. This book isn’t out until March 2021, but mark it on your calendars if you struggle with fatigue and want to more about intermittent fasting!
  • *** The Midnight Library by Matt Haig
    • ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ I really didn’t know what to expect from this one, but I found it delightful and refreshing. Nora Seed, the protagonist, is done with life. She decides to commit suicide and when she wakes up, she finds herself in an “in-between” place. There, she is able to see how life would have turned out differently if she had made different choices…and she ends up realizing that life is about the small, seemingly insignificant, choices and that she’s actually not ready to die, but to LIVE. (Obvious content warnings: suicide, death.)
  • *** Memorial Drive by Natasha Trethewey
    • ⭐️⭐️⭐️ This book was personal to me as many of the themes were quite personal and reminicent of my own childhood. However, this felt more like a first draft than a final book. I wanted more – deeper, more emotion – and I say that realizing that it was a very tough book to write and may have stirred up a bit of trauma during the process. Maybe I’m a little numb to the horrors of this life because of my own experiences, but it just go deep enough for me and left me emotionally vacant.
  • *** Valentine by Elizabeth Wetmore
    • ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ When this one first came out, I felt like the reviews were all over the place. Because of this, I was deterred from picking it up and I wish I wouldn’t have been because this book was so good! A perfect slow burn with descriptions that stand off the pages, I read this one in less than 24 hours. I love a book with such a strong sense of place that the setting becomes a character itself…and Odessa is certainly a strong character in this book. I could feel the blowing red dust in my throat, making me reach for a cup of water to wash it down. Wetmore shows true promise as a writer and I was so impressed with this debut!
I tried but wasn’t feeling:
  • *** Devolution: A Firsthand Account of the Rainier Sasquatch Massacre by Max Brooks
    • ❌ First, I am totally burned out on horror books right now. It seems like all the books right now have this gore element and I’m just not into it. I also know this should have deterred me from attempting this one given that thought, but I also felt like this was the perfect addition to my October reads. Everyone is raving about this one as an audiobook so maybe I should have tried that route instead, but after reading 32%, I’m just not invested enough to continue.
  • *** Hollywood Park by Mikel Jollett
    • ❌ I’m sorry to say I DNF’d this one around the 25% mark. By then I felt like I had read this story a thousand times – a tough childhood where the author demonstrates some real grit and resilience. I’m not discounting Jollett’s experience – I just wasn’t in the right mindset to have my attention caught.
  • The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab
    • ❌ I know, I know! Everyone seems to be loving this one, but after I’d read almost half of it, I was so bored! It felt like a very long Groundhog Day with little to no plot. To be fair, I heard the second half was better than the first, but I just couldn’t bring myself to keep going. I DNF’d at 42%.
  • Mean by Myriam Gurba
    • ❌ After the explosion of controvery surrounding American Dirt and #ownvoices authors, I commited to reading more books by authors with a personal experience of which they wrote. Mean was added to my TBR list, and while I think I would like it fine, I’m just not sure it’s what I’m looking for right now. There is some strong language and opinions, and in the face of the biggest election of our lifetimes, I can’t do extremely devisive thoughts right now. I may pick this one up again in the future…

Unread Shelf Update:

I have two months left to really make a dent in the books on my #unreadshelf. Once the end of the year gets here, I’ll do one final BIG donation to my local library to start the year with a fresh start! (I can’t wait!)

As of the end of October, the total number of physical books on my shelves is: 232 (that’s 9 less than last month! 🙌🏼)

If you’d like to participate in the Unread Shelf Project, head over to Whitney’s blog for more information!

There you have it! What was your favorite read from your October TBR?

(#partner #freebooks: All books noted by asterisks (***) indicate I received the book for free from the publisher, the author, or another promotional company to review. All opinions are my own.)

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