Finally I had a month of really enjoyable reading! I hardly remember how hard it can be to make these monthly roundups because so many of the books were worthy of being in the top! This month was jam-packed with amazing books, and it was hard to rank them!
What did you read in October and enjoy?
October By the Numbers:
- Total Books Read: 11
- Audiobooks: 1
- Five Star Reads: 3
- Debuts: 2 (18%)
- Published in 2022: 7 (64%)
- Nonfiction Reads: 3 (27%)
- By Women Authors: 9 (82%)
- Books by BIPOC Authors: 4 (36%)
- Diverse Books: 5 (45%)
- Goodreads Challenge: 102/125 (82%)
- 12 Friends + 12 Books + 12 Months: 8/12 (67%)
- Nonfiction Challenge: 7/12 (58%)
- Unread Shelf: 9/24 (38%)
- EIWTB Challenge: 11/12 (92%)
- A to Z Challenge: 20/26 (77%)
Favorite Book of the Month:
Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver
The opiod crisis has hit the Appalachian territory hard, and that’s the inspiration behind this story. How the drug has broken families up and oftentimes leaving children parentless and stuck in a failing foster care system. Demon Copperhead is one of those children – born on the floor of their rented trailer house. He figures out real quick how tough life is and has no choice but to be resilient from the beginning. This book is magical in so many ways – the writing, the story, the attention it brings to a real issue that will have generational affects on Americans. For someone who hasn’t always been able to get into Kingsolver’s last books, this one grabbed me from the first pages and I just had to know how things turned out for this kid. I did find the cadence of Demon’s voice a little hard to grasp, but I eventually found my groove. Also, the audiobook for this one is amazing!!! I kind of went between the two formats but would absolutely recommend listening to it! It made the story that much more real to have a real voice behind Demon. Not only was this my favorite book of the month, I feel pretty confident in saying that this might very well be my favorite book of the year, too!
Hell of a Book by Jason Mott
This was a completely unexpected ride! Literally every description of this book is, “It’s a hell of a book!”, and since I don’t want to be left out – what a hell of a book! 😂 In all seriousness though, this was one of the sharpest books I’ve ever read. The reader is drawn into this story about a Black author who has written a “hell of a book” by humor and wit. I thought I was in for a light-hearted read. But as the story progressed, I realized something much deeper and profound was happening, and then I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough. I had to know where Mott was taking me! By the end of the book, I was gobsmacked. I really believe this book is best to go into blind and to trust the journey through to the end. It’s incredibly powerful and I will not forget this one any time soon! This will be a very strong contender for my Top 10 at the end of the year!
Mad Honey by Jodi Picoult & Jennifer Finney Boylan
Picoult always writes thought-provoking stories that challenge everything I think I already know. If I’m being honest, many of her most recent books haven’t worked for me – her writing has felt like it’s become formulaic and predictable – so I was excited, but nervous, to pick this one up. First of all, my fears were unfounded. This was the old Picoult I used to know and love. The writing was engrossing, the characters were fully developed and brought to life, and I was hooked from the first pages. I didn’t see the big twist coming (no spoilers), and unfortunately, it really didn’t work for me. I appreciate how Picoult always pushes boundaries and helps me see alternative ideas and viewpoints, but I just couldn’t find my way to common ground with the main idea of this one. I was absolutely confused about my thoughts and feelings – for that reason alone, I give this one a higher rating – but it still wasn’t a book I could fully get behind.
Spells for Forgetting by Adrienne Young
This was such an atmospheric and spellbinding book! Because of the witchy vibes and spooky setting, I couldn’t put it down. It had just enough mystery to compel me to keep turning the pages. I loved the writing and the characters and the underlying mystery. I have been to the islands off the coast of Washington state, so maybe that added to my intrigue, but it instantly transported me to those foggy, tree-filled ferry rides. (It gave me a longing to return so bad, too!) I loved the subtle witchy vibes, the dabbling in spellcasting, and the second-chance romance. This was my first introduction to Young, so I may need to pick up some of her backlist!
The Marriage Portrait by Maggie O’Farrell
Omg, I loved Hamnet so much so I couldn’t wait to read this one! Set in Florence in the 1560s, the book is about Lucrezia, the eventual Duchess of Ferrara. When she fails to produce an heir for the Duke, her situation becomes precarious. The story starts off with a bang – “Less than a year later, she would be dead.” – and I was immediately reminded of why I love O’Farrell’s writing so much. She is so descriptive that it totally paints a picture in the reader’s mind. She writes so beatifully that the story seamlessly weaves itself together. There were times in The Marriage Portrait that I was fully immersed and wanted to keep reading, but there were also times that the story drug on painfully slowly. I caught myself skimming sometimes and didn’t feel like I had missed much. I had to read the ending twice because the skimming finally caught up to me and I wasn’t sure how it concluded. Once I reread it, I must say that the story somewhat redeemed itself for me. Overall, I liked the story, but I didn’t love it. I think people that can handle a slower moving story will enjoy this one more than someone looking for a compelling, page-turning story.
The Highly Adored Lily/Atlas Duo
It Ends With Us (It Ends With Us, #1) by Colleen Hoover
In anticipation of the sequel to this one, I decided to reread it. I read it several years ago and it gutted me. Without going into too many details, this story cut me straight to the heart. I understand this book in ways I wish I didn’t, but for me, Hoover really portrayed the thoughts, feelings, and confusion behind domestic violence. I felt just as emotional reading it the second time as I did the first time. I was glad I took the time for a refresher with Lily, Ryle, and Atlas, so I was ready to dive into It Starts With Us the second it arrived on my doorstep (see below).
It Starts With Us (It Ends With Us, #2) by Colleen Hoover
This is a continuation of the story It Ends With Us (see above)…but this time, we get to hear Atlas’ side of the story. I started and devoured this story in less than twenty-four hours. I didn’t really know I needed to know the ending to this story, but Hoover made me realize that I did. Lily, Ryle, and Atlas have lived in my mind for years now, and as cheesy as it sounds, I have reflected on them often and wondered where they were and what they were up to. While I am completely satisfied with the ending, there will still be a soft spot in my heart for Ryle and his pain. I wanted more for him, and maybe after Lily’s ultimatums, he’ll finally get an ending he deserves, too.
* Solito by Javier Zamora
Wow. This was such a heartbreaking, but hopeful, book. Imagine sending your nine-year-old child off into the desert to travel over 3000 miles to fnd his parents already in the US. Zamora’s grandpa did just that – with prayers and love, but also a whole lot of uncertainty. His “trip” was supposed to take two weeks, but when it was all said and done, it had taken nine. During those nine weeks, he was abandoned by the man his grandfather paid and entrusted to take care of him. He was detained by Border Patrol and was deported twice. But through the kindness of strangers – who became another family to him – he finally completed his journey. This book is an account of that journey and it brought me to tears at times, definitely pulled at my mama heartstrings, and gave me so much to think about. Once I finished, I went to @readwithjenna‘s instagram page and watched all the interviews she had with Zamora, and I couldn’t help but smile that he made it!
The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together by Heather McGhee
First off, I must say that I was blown away by McGhee’s thoughtful, well laid out thesis. I am not well-trained in political discourse and find that so much of that information can easily fly over my head. But not the way McGhee lays out her thoughts and opinions. She took deep, hard, and controversial topics and made them easy to understand and digest. She backed up her claims with facts and statistics and she laid the groundwork for compelling calls to action. At this point in time, it’s just true ignorance to not understand how this country has been founded and built upon racism. McGhee takes that fact a step further by showing us how “zero sum policies” hurt US ALL…whether you’re Black or white, rich or poor, immigrant or born citizens. She argues over and over again that “a functioning society rests on a web of mutuality, a willingness among all involved to share enough with one another to accomplish what no one person can do alone”. This book is smart and timely and has information that we can all benefit from reading, digesting, and implementing.
The Book of Boundaries by Melissa Urban
I kind of happily stumbled across Melissa Urban’s instagram account and immediately appreciated her no nonsense advice about creating boundaries that keep you safe, happy, and healthy. Even more helpful is the fact that Urban provides numerous word-for-word examples to help you navigate tricky situations. There is even a green, yellow, and red example to help you when situations continue to escalate. Communication can be tricky – especially within a family – and Urban is helping break those walls down so that we may be able to experience peace within our lives instead of turmoil.
An Upcoming Title To Look Forward To:
* Maame by Jessica George
Maddie is ready to start her own life…while her mother is off in Ghana, Maddie is left to take care of her ailing father who has become debilitated from Parkinson’s disease. She’s twenty-five years old, never lived on her own, and hasn’t even had sex before. Her wings are itching to spread, so when her mom comes back to help with her dad, she takes the opportunity to move out. She is forced to figure out how she wants her life to look and quickly finds her voice. Not only did I love Maddie’s character development, I especially loved how George weaved in so many instances of the Black experience and how Maddie was expected to weave her UK identity in with her Ghanaian background. This was a strong coming-of-age debut and I’m looking forward to George’s future works! (This one comes out January 31, 2023!)
This month I attempted The Lonely Hearts Hotel by Heather O’Neill. It was my eighth book of the 12 Friends + 12 Books + 12 Months Challenge, and unfortunately, it wasn’t for me. I really, really tried because there are many rave reviews, and it was recommended by a reader I trust and align with a lot. But this one was just too vulgar for me (i.e.: child sexual abuse) and I couldn’t get passed it.