October 2022 Wrap-Up

October 2022 Wrap-Up

Welcome back to my monthly wrap-up! This month went by so quickly, and I didn't realize I read as many books as I did until I looked back at my Goodreads history. I know that some of these books may be listed for sale on the website, but I want to keep my reviews honest. We may not have the same taste in books and I encourage you to check them out regardless!

I read twelve (!) books this month: eight full length novels and four novellas. Let's go!

All of Us Villains - Amanda Foody & Christine Lynn Herman

⬤⬤⬤〇 | hardcover | purchase here

My Review:  I was all-in on the premise for this one and while I had a good time, I don't think I'm going to be picking up the sequel. Everything was okay or good, but not great. The characters were good, but a big cast almost always comes with a lack of depth, and I didn't feel like any of the characters embodied the villainy I felt I was promised. The magic system was unique and interesting, but I feel like it could have been described more. The worldbuilding was fine, but I would have loved for the authors to get into more of the politics and implications of the magical power system in place.

The end of this book happens in pretty much the middle of the plot, and yet I don't feel overly compelled to pick up the second book in the duology, so take that as you will. I think my expectations for books that get compared to The Hunger Games are just too high these days.

The Cousins - Karen McManus

⬤⬤⬤〇 | hardcover | purchase here

My Review:  This book was just super average. For a YA mystery/thriller, I think it was totally fine - I'm learning I'm not the biggest fan of the genre because it tends to be a lot tamer than some of my favorite adult thrillers. The mystery here was interesting and I enjoyed the relationships developed between our three protagonists even if the characterization of the cousins themselves was a little lacking. The pacing was slow but picked up towards the end, which I didn't mind, but the reveal(s) were a little out there for me. I guess this could be considered a spoiler, but I didn't like how each twist  was pretty much exactly the same device/style of reveal. THREE TIMES. Overall, it's kind of just another book in the YA mystery genre. Nothing egregious, but nothing to write home about either

The Dutch House - Ann Patchett

〇 | audiobook | synopsis here

My Review: This book unabashedly gets an extra star because of Tom Hanks's wonderful narration. I would highly recommend listening to this one on audiobook. Otherwise, this is a very well-written slice of life about two siblings and their lives and relationship after the death of their father. I just know people are going to knock this one for being slow or boring, and while I totally understand that, I think it was a fantastic character study of love and hurt. I do think the ending seemed a little rushed and arbitrary compared to the buildup of the plot, but I enjoyed myself nonetheless.

 

In the House in the Dark of the Woods - Laird Hunt

⬤⬤〇〇 | paperback | purchase here

My Review: This one was fine. It kind of gave off I'm Thinking of Ending Things vibes, which is one of my favorite horror books of all time, but instead of my mind being jelly I just felt confused. I think most of this one went over my head even though I consider myself to be a pretty attentive/clever reader. The prose was very pretty though and I did like the story, even if I'm not sure I could summarize it to anyone.

 

 

 

Hidden Pictures - Jason Rekulak

〇 | hardcover | purchase here

My Review: The worst book I've read of the year so far. I picked this one up before it got loads of hype on TikTok, but I should have taken that as my first red flag. The premise for this one was very interesting, albeit a little gimmicky. It reminded me of The Turn of the Key which was a good thing, and I liked the atmosphere. Seriously, for 75-80% of the book this was a four star read. And then it went entirely off the rails. Never have I seen a book botch an ending so badly.

I felt like it was nonstop reveal after twist after reveal and character development was totally discarded for the sake of surprise. My husband laughed as I recounted the ending to him. I see reviews on here that praise it for having an ending that they didn't see coming; like, no shit? Nothing in the plot was leading up to this and everything came out of left field in the worst way possible.

The writing was juvenile and (pet peeve) I really hate when authors use exclamation points in their narration. Anyways, this book was ultimately a massive waste of time, but I read it in under 24 hours so I don't really care. If you pick this one up, just stop reading at 80% and use your imagination. Whatever you come up with will be better than what's actually written.

The Test - Sylvain Neuvel

⬤⬤〇 | audiobook | synopsis here

My Review: I listened to this in one go during the work day last week while I was waiting for an audiobook I had on hold and I'm glad that I did! I hadn't heard of it prior to scrolling through Libby, but this is quite the little novella. I see a lot of reviews comparing it to a Black Mirror episode, and I think that's absolutely accurate. I really enjoyed the questions that this book posed and I'm still thinking about it despite its short length.

Props to the author for knowing what this book was about and cutting to it. The length was perfect and there were no unnecessary inclusions. I feel like this easily could have been a full length novel but believe that its impact is much greater as a novella. The narrator for this one was great too. Would highly recommend for a quick day's read/listen.

Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup - John Carreyrou

⬤⬤⬤ | hardcover | synopsis here

My Review: Girlies, 2022 has been the year of the nonficiton microhistory for me and I could not be happier. Right now, three of my seven top books of the year are nonfiction (also including The Code Book: The Science of Secrecy from Ancient Egypt to Quantum Cryptography and Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty), but I don't know if any of the books I've read this year have made my blood boil (unintentional blood puns) quite like this one.

This book is so well-researched and so readable that I'm surprised it can do both at the same time so masterfully. I never felt lost in medical descriptions or explanations despite not knowing much about the field prior to reading. Due to the exceptionally high turnover at Theranos, this book has a large cast of characters, but Carreyrou does a great job at guiding you along so you never have to backtrack through the book to remind yourself of a name.

I love so many of the nonfiction books I've read this year, but if I have to recommend any, especially to people who don't typically enjoy nonfiction, it would be this one

The Yellow Wall-Paper - Charlotte Perkins Gilman

⬤⬤〇 | audiobook | synopsis here

My Review: I listened to this one while waiting in an especially long Chick-fil-A line, and I think it was pretty good. I'm always especially interested in realistic horror and I think this novella takes an important look into mental health and the very real terror of losing your mind. It's more depressing than it is scary. I don't know if this story is going to stick with me for as long as I anticipated, but I would be interested in rereading it to see if I catch anything more the second time around.

 

The Darkest Part of the Forest - Holly Black

⬤⬤〇 | paperback | purchase here

My Review: This is very quintessential 2010s YA fantasy vibes which just isn't really my thing anymore (if it ever really was in the first place). The characters felt pretty flat and the writing wasn't anything special. I felt like the plot didn't even really start until we were 2/3 of the way through the book. I did appreciate the good diversity and representation, but that's probably my biggest praise for what's going on here. I think there are definitely better faerie books out there.

 

 

Every Heart a Doorway - Seanan McGuire

⬤⬤〇 | audiobook | synopsis here

My Review: This is such a fun little novella that I really enjoyed listening to on the way to work, and I'm looking forward to continuing with the series. I think the concept is so wonderful and can be taken and explored in so many ways and I can't wait to see where the author goes with the idea.

With that being said, this particular plot was not my favorite. I wasn't really invested in the mystery that took over the majority of the storyline as much as I was interested in learning about the different characters and the worlds they visited. I also thought that some of the writing, especially some of the dialogue, sounded unnatural and overly wordy. Other than that, I thought this was a short, fun listen that I would definitely recommend.

Comfort Me With Apples - Catherynne M. Valente

⬤⬤〇 | audiobook | synopsis here

My Review: This book was really cool! I listened to this one on my commute one day and I had a great time. At first I thought this was going to be in the vein of Don't Worry Darling, and I am so happy that I was wrong! It took me a little while to catch on to what was going on, but I thought the story was wonderful. I almost wish that the 'twist' hadn't been so explicitly spelled out for the reader; I liked the subtlety and slow burn of coming to the realization on my own.

Other than that, the prose was wonderful, the narrator was great, and I was very entertained.
 

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo - Taylor Jenkins Reid

⬤⬤⬤ | paperback | synopsis here

My Review: Dubbing 2022 the Year of My Discovery of TJR. I've had a number of her books on my shelf for a while now and, with the sheer number of titles on my TBR, have just never gotten around to picking any of them up. So when I pulled this one out of my TBR jar after having read Daisy Jones last month, I was so excited. And this book lived up to all the hype. The characters were real and flawed and wonderful, the prose was fantastic, the plot was engaging and this is the second time now that I've been in love with the way that TJR has framed/formatted her stories. I almost cried, which is a rarity.

I've read some low reviews on here that say that the relationships portrayed are unhealthy and toxic and not what love should be like and...that's the entire point. None of the characters (except Harry!) are super likeable, and that's the point. None of the relationships are perfect, far from it, and that's on purpose. I don't this this book was absolutely perfect, but I do think it has a strong message, great style, and an immersive atmosphere.

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Those are all my reads (so many!) for the month of October! Feel free to follow me on Goodreads to see my reviews as they appear during the month, or check back in at the end of November to see what I read!

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