I’m so late for this October wrap-up that I don’t even want to talk about it. In my defense, the end of October/beginning of November was crazy; I went on a trip to Morocco (which was great!) then got Covid (which was not great, but at least my case was mild). However, I refuse to miss a monthly wrap-up blog, no matter how behind schedule I am, so here we go:
Total books read: 8
2022 releases: 5
Cackle by Rachel Harrison (5 stars) – This was a perfect book for us witchy spinsters out there, but it’s hard for me to describe exactly what I loved about it. The author is apparently local to me, which made me want to love it, but I honestly didn’t expect to be giving it five stars. The ending went in a totally different direction than I’d expected, though, and I loved it, and that really cemented my rating.
The Golden Enclaves by Naomi Novik (4.5 stars) – The finale to Novik’s Scholomance series gave me what I was hoping for, but it also really made us work for it. I’d say that this is my least favorite out of the three, but since the other two were solid 5-star reads, that isn’t at all a bad thing; I think it’s hard to end a series well, especially one with this much worldbuilding and character-building, and this had most of what I could have wanted in a finale.
Comeuppance Served Cold by Marion Deeds (4 stars) – Definitely one of my favorite novellas I’ve read this year. It’s historical fantasy set during Prohibition in Seattle, with an interesting cast of characters including a thief in disguise enacting a plot, a city official and his son abusing their power to tamp down on the city’s magic practitioners, shapeshifters, and a speakeasy owner. I thought the pacing and plot were well done, leaving me with the feeling of a complete story but still leaving room for other possible stories featuring these characters.
A Dreadful Splendor by B. R. Myers (4 stars) – This book helped me break a mid-month reading slump, which I am very grateful for. It features Gothic vibes, a fake spiritualist protagonist grappling with potentially real supernatural occurrences, a murder mystery, and light romance, and was a great fall reading pick.
Season of Love by Helena Greer (4 stars) (ARC) – This was a perfect read for us Jewish folks who love a good Christmas romance. Since my family celebrates Chrismakkuh, the premise of a Jewish family who owns a Christmasland getaway felt very familiar, as did the blend of holidays that occur over the course of the book. Miriam Blum is an artist and influencer who’s been running from her abusive father for her entire adult life, and unfortunately that’s also caused her to distance herself from her best friend/cousin and her aunt’s magical Christmas tree farm/hotel that she grew up exploring. When her aunt passes away, Miriam is left a portion of the estate alongside her cousins and attractive farm manager Noelle. While Miriam has to face her past by returning home, Noelle grapples with her difficulty to trust in the pull she feels toward Miriam. This book has a fun, “we all need to band together to save Christmas (while still enjoying Hanukkah!)” plot while still managing to delve into deeper emotional issues. In that sense, I think it would work for those looking for a book that feels like a Hallmark Christmas movie but wanting more depth. Highlights for me included the side characters (will any of them be getting spin-offs?) and Miriam’s art; I did struggle somewhat with the arguments between Noelle and Miriam. While they eventually have really positive emotional discussions, I was frustrated by how often Noelle was willing to see the worst in Miriam. I received an ARC of Season of Love from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Lakewood by Megan Godwin (3.5 stars) – I primarily listened to this audiobook during Dewey’s 24-Hour readathon; it seemed like a good October read because it’s horror but not the keep-you-up-at-night-jump-scare type of horror. Instead, it’s horror that takes historical and contemporary issues related to racism and brings them into the present in an insidious way. I thought that the writing was very strong, but that the plot dragged a bit.
Silver in the Wood by Emily Tesh (3.5 stars) – Another Dewey’s read, this novella was one that I enjoyed at the time but didn’t leave a large impression on me. It’s historical fantasy, which is a subgenre that can be hit or miss for me, and I didn’t know going in that it has a sequel so the story isn’t fully complete. I probably won’t be picking the sequel up?
Go Hex Yourself by Jessica Clare (2 stars) – I…really did not like this book. I had high hopes because I enjoy both paranormal and contemporary romance, as well as witchy things in general, but the characters, plot, and writing style all really didn’t work for me. Cringey is probably the word that best describes this book overall.