What I Read in October 2020
I finished 20 books in October, one of my highest months of the year! While composing this post, I considered how long it is and wondered if there’s a better way to go about this. My monthly recaps are lengthy and don’t get much engagement from readers. So I’ve decided I’ll try something new with November.
Starting next week, I’ll post a recap each Sunday with my reads for the week. Then on the first of the month I’ll do a review that covers only the best books I read that month.
So here’s one last long monthly review!
What I Read in October 2020
The Duchess War by Courtney Milan[block rendering halted]
Generally I don’t like historical romances nearly as much as contemporary. This one is an exception and I’ll definitely try more by this author! Minnie and Robert are both fabulous characters with strong back stories. I enjoyed watching the past and present come together. While the story does demonstrate some antiquated gender roles, they make sense in the time period without being forced on the reader. Over all it’s wonderfully sex positive, and their relationship felt realistic. Minnie is an independent minded woman with a painful past. Robert is open minded and willing to let go of societal expectations. I highly recommend this for readers of romance and historical fiction.
Dear Fang With Love by Rufi Thorpe[block rendering halted]
This author is one of my new favorites. Her writing is fantastic, she has incredible skill at character development and setting. I was drawn into this story from the start. Vera is a teenager who recently was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. Her father takes her on a trip to Lithuania to visit the home of his ancestors. It’s an interesting exploration of family history and inherited trauma. This novel is a blend of literary and historical fiction, so I recommend it for readers of both genres.
Kissing the Coronavirus by MJ Edwards[block rendering halted]
Yes, you read that right. This is Coronavirus erotica, and it’s terrible in all the right ways! It’s a short story, only 16 pages and definitely worth the 99 cents on Amazon for entertainment value. I co-read it with two girlfriends and we exchanged a lot of hilarious texts in the process. The story itself isn’t that far fetched for an erotica plot: a lonely, horny female scientist is turned on whenever she handles a vial of the dangerous Coronavirus. When a fellow scientist injects himself with the new vaccine, something goes terribly wrong and the virus takes over. Give this one a go if you’re into erotica and looking for a laugh.
The Haunting of Beatrix Greene by Rachel Hawkins, Ash Parsons, and Vicky Alvear Schecter[block rendering halted]
Advanced copy from NetGalley, publication date October 28, 2020 This is a spooky short story serving as an introduction to a series. Beatrix is a well known spiritual medium. James Walker is a scientist in town to expose those who are tricking the grieving. Though he’s not entirely a disbeliever, so he invites Beatrix to spend one night at Ashbury Manor, to either prove or disprove the rumors it is haunted. This is a great ghost story, and proof that things/people are not always as they appear. I recommend it for readers of paranormal fiction.
Engagement & Espionage by Penny Reid[block rendering halted]
This is book one in a new series that’s a spin-off from Reid’s Winston Brother series, which I read and raved about over the summer. Here w have Cletus Winston and his gal Jenn, right after their previous book ends (Beard Science.) The couple is desperate to find some along time, yet each time they try, another disaster happens! Together they can solve the mystery of who is wreaking havoc on the farmers who supply ingredients to Jenn’s bakery. I recommend this one for readers of Reid novels, and you absolutely must read Beard Science first!
My Eyes Are Up Here by Laura Zimmerman[block rendering halted]
This is one of the best Young Adult novels I’ve read. It strikes me as a powerfully realistic look into the mind and body of a teen girl. ≤≥ I appreciate how this book is honest about the fact that body conversations are tough for parents and kids both. It was especially eye opening to learn how large breasts can be a burden to a woman, physically and in regard to unwanted attention. The writing is sharp and there are funny parts. There are also lots of feelings and likable characters. There’s a romance aspect that’s quite sweet, but for me the most prominent thread in the book is Greer’s journey from being ashamed of her body. I highly recommend this one. I listened to the audio book narrated by Kristen DiMercurio, who does a fabulous job of capturing all the characters and particularly giving Greer a lot of personality.
The Lost Love Song by Minnie Darke[block rendering halted]
Advanced copy from NetGalley, publication date October 13, 2020 This is the story of a love song. It follows the song through conception and out into the world. It’s a powerful look into how music affects and influences our hearts and minds. We meet different characters as they encounter the song all over the world. The novel’s style is the same as the author’s previous and movies like Love Actually and Valentine’s Day. I enjoy this style a lot, especially as the different threads start to come together and we learn how the seemingly separate characters are connected. Besides being about the power of music, this is also a book about love and loss. It explores the ways grieving and healing are different for each person. I recommend it for readers of literary fiction.
The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer Smith[block rendering halted]
*Note: I listened to the audio book narrated by Casey Holloway. It was a fun, fast listen that had me engaged the whole time. *Hadley and Oliver meet on a flight to London and fall for each other quickly. Once they land, they each get caught up in their families and the reason each is on this trip. One thing I like about contemporary young adult fiction is that while the protagonists are teens, they often are dealing with family issues, which are relatable for readers of any age. Navigating divorce of parents, loss, grief, fitting in, all of these things are universal experiences. I recommend this one for readers of YA fiction and romance.
Black Witch Magic by Mila Nicks[block rendering halted]
Advanced copy from NetGalley, publication date October 30, 2020 Aiden is a paranormal investigator with a hit internet show. He’s the snarky skeptic to his best friend Eddie’s hopeful believer. They roll into Brimrock for the holidays to stay with Eddie’s family and investigate local paranormal rumors. Selene is a young witch whose family is the source of those rumors. When their paths cross, things are obviously going to get interesting! I recommend this one for readers of romance, especially paranormal ones.
The Switch by Beth O’Leary
Audio book from NetGalley, publication date August 18, 2020 This is easily one of my favorite reads of the year. I listened to the audio book narrated by Daisy Edgar Jones and Alison Steadman, who give the characters personality and add a lot to the story. After being forced to take some time off from work, Leena has the brilliant idea to swap places with her grandmother to give them both a change of scenery. This is story about family and relationships. It’s also about grief, and the struggle to find a new normal after loss. I highly recommend it for readers of literary fiction and romance.
You Had Me at Hola by Alexis Daria[block rendering halted]
While there wasn’t anything ground breaking here as far as plot of a romance novel, I appreciated the diversity in this book and attention to detail by the author to be inclusive. Jasmine is a soap opera actress wanting more out of her career and life. The two are cast as co-stars/love interests in a new show for a popular streaming platform. This is a novel about staying true to yourself, despite the expectations and opinions of others. Family is a strong theme in the story. I recommend it for readers of romance.
Sailing Alone Around the Room by Billy Collins[block rendering halted]
This was my first time reading Billy Collins and it was a thoroughly enjoyable experience. I like his writing style, the poems invoke strong imagery. He infuses humor in his writing, which I appreciate. This was an easy to read and understand collection, his style is straightforward. I recommend it for fans of contemporary poetry.
Escape From Mr. Lemoncello’s Library by Chris Grabenstein[block rendering halted]
I chose this for a reading challenge category of a book that revolved around a puzzle or game. I listened to the audiobook narrated by Jesse Bernstein. A group of lucky kids win an essay contest and get to stay overnight in the brand new fancy library before it opens to the public. Their town hasn’t had a library in 12 years so they’ve never experienced one. This fun event is sponsored by Mr. Luigi Lemoncello, the Willy Wonka of board games, so of course things get interesting quickly! I recommend this for readers of middle grade fiction, the audio book would be a fun listen for the whole family.
Neandrethal Meets Human by Penny Reid[block rendering halted]
Sabotage: How to Get Out of Your Own Way by Emma Gannon[block rendering halted]
Audio book from NetGalley, publication date September 29, 2020 This short book is absolutely packed with helpful advice. I chose it because I know I’m guilty of self-sabotage, but I had no idea how much I was truly doing it! I listened to the audio book read by the author. Her voice is soothing and listening was like getting a pep talk from a friend. Her writing is honest and straightforward. Because it’s so short, I think I’ll listen to it again soon to make sure it all sinks in. I highly recommend this book for anyone who suspects they need to make some changes in life.
Midnight at the Blackbird Cafe by Heather Webber[block rendering halted]
This is a magical story about the power of place, and how when we lose someone they aren’t necessarily gone forever. Anna Kate has returned to a tiny town to bury her beloved Granny Zee. It was supposed to be a quick trip, but she’s finding herself connecting with the cafe she inherited, this quirky town, and its kind-hearted residents. I recommend it for readers of magical realism and those who like stories about southern culture.
*Note* I suggest you skip the audio and experience it with a physical copy.
The Chronology of Water by Lydia Yuknavitch
This is one of the best memoirs I’ve ever read. It’s unique, honest and graphic. This is more of an essay collection than straight forward memoir. Lydia tells stories from her life, all are connected in some way to her relationship with water and swimming. This is also a memoir about what it’s like to live in a woman’s body. I highly recommend it for readers of memoir, especially women.
Boyfriend Material by Alexis Hall[block rendering halted]
I appreciate main characters on a journey to realize they are worthy of love and here we have two of them. Luc and Oliver agree to a fake relationship in order to benefit them both personally. They’ve both had terrible experiences with previous partners and neither believes they can be in a healthy relationship. Then they discover they are in one, it just isn’t real…or is it? This was an emotional roller coaster of a story, and I loved watching each man grown on his own. I recommend it for readers of romance and LGBTQ stories.
Agatha Arch is Afraid of Everything by Kristin Bair[block rendering halted]
Advanced copy from NetGalley, publication date November 10, 2020
I loved Agatha and enjoye being along on her journey. This is a fair representation of life with anxiety and intrusive thoughts. Agatha has been afraid of most things her entire life. Now she is suddenly on her own, adjusting to a new life and is at a loss on how to move forward. Her story is an emotional roller coaster, it’s funny at times then sad then scary. I recommend this for readers of literary fiction, women’s stories, and mental health issues.
Mesmerized by Violet Elizabeth Moon[block rendering halted]
Advanced copy from author, publication date October 10, 2020 This novella was a super fun read for Halloween week! It’s a interesting spin on paranormal romance. Madison has finally found the love of her life, then he vanishes. Months later, she is still trying to move forward when Gabriel returns. Except he’s not the same man he was. The concept is great. Gabriel’s transformation happens in present day and his human lover is a part of his choices. I liked that a lot. Plus, the writing is solid and the sex is steamy! I recommend this one for readers of paranormal romance.
What was your favorite read in October?