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Read in October 2022

Eep, I’m running behind again. The end of the year is catching up with me on all sides! Anyway, this isn’t new for me for what this blog is concerned, so let’s just roll with it 😉 Hopefully I’ll manage to write out my October and November books in quick succession! Here’s the one from October!

In October I read a total of 11 books, amounting to 3717 pages. The average October book comes to 338 pages/book.

It’s been a pretty average month in terms of ratings, in the sense that no book was an outlier, either low or high, except for one DNF. All books read received either 2 or 3 stars, bringing the average October book to 2.6 stars, the lowest this year so far!

For the target groups I varied between 3 Young Adult books and 8 adult books.

In October, I mostly read on paper or through my ears, with 6 audiobooks and 5 physically owned books.

For the genres, I switched between 5 genres, namely historical (1), horror (1), thriller (1), mystery (4) and fantasy (4).

For the language I stuck to English again and did not read a single book in my native Dutch/Flemish.

Below is the list of books I read in October and my rating in stars.
Click the link to jump to the blurb and my review! As always, be aware that both blurb and review may contain spoilers, especially if they are sequels in a series!

  1. Barnes, Jennifer Lynn – The Hawthorne Legacy (The Inheritance Games #2) 🎧 ★★
  2. Dawson, Juno – Her Majesty’s Royal Coven (Her Majesty’s Royal Coven #1) ★★★
  3. Lim, Elizabeth – Unravel the Dusk (The Blood of Stars #2) ★★★
  4. Bannen, Megan – The Undertaking of Hart and Mercy ★★★
  5. Barnes, Jennifer Lynn – The Final Gambit (The Inheritance Games #3) 🎧 ★★
  6. Lovett, London – Murder at North Pond (Frostfall Island Cozy Mystery #1) 🎧 ★★★
  7. Healey, Jane – The Animals at Lockwood Manor 🎧 ★★
  8. DNF Spindale, Wendy – Everland (Everland #1) 🎧 DNF
  9. Henry, Christina – The Girl In Red ★★★
  10. Lovett, London – Death by Rocky Road (Frostfall Island Cozy Mystery #2) 🎧 ★★★
  11. Dean, Sunyi – The Book Eaters ★★
  12. Glass, Seraphina Nova – On a Quiet Street 🎧 ★★★

🎧 Barnes, Jennifer Lynn – The Hawthorne Legacy (The Inheritance Games #2) ★★

Genre: YA Mystery

BEWARE SPOILERS!

The Inheritance Games ended with a bombshell, and now heiress Avery Grambs has to pick up the pieces and find the man who might hold the answers to all of her questions – including why Tobias Hawthorne left his entire fortune to Avery, a virtual stranger, rather than to his own daughters or grandsons.

Thanks to a DNA test, Avery knows that she’s not a Hawthorne by blood, but clues pile up hinting at a deeper connection to the family than she had ever imagined. As the mystery grows and the plot thickens, Grayson and Jameson, the enigmatic and magnetic Hawthorne grandsons, continue to pull Avery in different directions. And there are threats lurking around every corner, as adversaries emerge who will stop at nothing to see Avery out of the picture – by any means necessary.

And the ridiculousness continues and I’m eating it up. This series does read like a telenovela: so stupidly over the top, but I just can’t look away. The characters are all over the place, the puzzles underwhelming and I care very little for any of the characters and plottwists. But yeah, I just keep reading and will read the last book just to finish off the series.

Dawson, Juno – Her Majesty’s Royal Coven (Her Majesty’s Royal Coven #1) ★★★

Genre: Adult Fantasy

A Discovery of Witches meets The Craft in this the first installment of this epic fantasy trilogy about a group of childhood friends who are also witches.

If you look hard enough at old photographs, we’re there in the background: healers in the trenches; Suffragettes; Bletchley Park oracles; land girls and resistance fighters. Why is it we help in times of crisis? We have a gift. We are stronger than Mundanes, plain and simple.

At the dawn of their adolescence, on the eve of the summer solstice, four young girls–Helena, Leonie, Niamh and Elle–took the oath to join Her Majesty’s Royal Coven, established by Queen Elizabeth I as a covert government department. Now, decades later, the witch community is still reeling from a civil war and Helena is now the reigning High Priestess of the organization. Yet Helena is the only one of her friend group still enmeshed in the stale bureaucracy of HMRC. Elle is trying to pretend she’s a normal housewife, and Niamh has become a country vet, using her powers to heal sick animals. In what Helena perceives as the deepest betrayal, Leonie has defected to start her own more inclusive and intersectional coven, Diaspora. And now Helena has a bigger problem. A young warlock of extraordinary capabilities has been captured by authorities and seems to threaten the very existence of HMRC. With conflicting beliefs over the best course of action, the four friends must decide where their loyalties lie: with preserving tradition, or doing what is right.

Juno Dawson explores gender and the corrupting nature of power in a delightful and provocative story of magic and matriarchy, friendship and feminism. Dealing with all the aspects of contemporary womanhood, as well as being phenomenally powerful witches, Niamh, Helena, Leonie and Elle may have grown apart but they will always be bound by the sisterhood of the coven.

Despite my initial reluctance to read this book, it managed to pleasantly surprise me.
You could already read my detailed thoughts and opinions in this post.

Lim, Elizabeth – Unravel the Dusk (The Blood of Stars #2) ★★★

Genre: YA Fantasy

BEWARE SPOILERS!

Maia Tamarin’s journey to sew the dresses of the sun, the moon and the stars has taken a grievous toll. She returns to a kingdom on the brink of war. The boy she loves is gone, and she is forced to don the dress of the sun and assume the place of the emperor’s bride-to-be to keep the peace.

But the war raging around Maia is nothing compared to the battle within. Ever since she was touched by the demon Bandur, she has been changing . . . glancing in the mirror to see her own eyes glowing red, losing control of her magic, her body, her mind. It’s only a matter of time before Maia loses herself completely, but she will stop at nothing to find Edan, protect her family, and bring lasting peace to her country.

I feel like I should have loved this but it just couldn’t draw me in emotionally, despite the seemingly high stakes. It was just so formulaic and predictable. Maya’s constant repetitive inner monologues got a bit on my nerve too.

All in all just an okay read. Don’t have a lot to say about this one. I’m glad I read it, now I know.

Oh, but I loved the little glimpse we got of the next duology “Six Crimson Cranes”. I am definitely still interested in reading that, despite my somewhat lukewarm feelings towards this duology.

Bannen, Megan – The Undertaking of Hart and Mercy ★★★

Genre: Adult Fantasy

Hart Ralston is a demigod and a marshal, tasked with patrolling the wasteland of Tanria. The realm the exiled old gods once called home is now a forsaken place where humans with no better options or no better sense come seeking adventure or spoils, but more often end up as drudges: reanimated corpses inhabited by the souls of those who’ve died in Tanria before. Hart tells himself that his job is simple: neutralize the drudges with a quick zap to the appendix and deliver them back to polite society at the nearest undertaker’s, leaving the whys and hows of the drudge problem for men without the complexities of a god in their family tree. But working alone, Hart’s got nothing but time to ponder exactly those questions he’d most like to avoid.

Too much time alone is the opposite of Mercy Birdsall’s problem. Since her father’s decline, she’s been single-handedly keeping Birdsall & Son undertakers afloat in small-town Eternity—despite definitely not being a son, and in defiance of sullen jerks like Hart Ralston, who seems to have a gift for showing up right when her patience is thinnest. The work’s not the problem—Mercy’s good at it, better than any other Birdsall—but keeping all her family’s plates spinning singlehandedly, forever, isn’t how Mercy envisioned her future.

After yet another run-in with the sharp-tongued Mercy, Hart considers she might have a point about his utter loneliness being a bit of a liability. In a moment of sentimentality, he pens a letter addressed simply to “A Friend,” and entrusts it to a nimkilim, an anthropomorphic animal messenger with an uncanny connection to the gods, (and in Hart’s case, a bit of a drinking problem). Much to his surprise, an anonymous letter comes back in return, and a tentative friendship is born.

If only Hart knew he’s been baring his soul to the person who infuriates him most–Mercy. As the two unlikely pen pals grow closer, the truth about Hart’s parentage and the nature of the drudges creeps in. And suddenly their old animosity seems so small in comparison to what they might be able to do: end the drudges forever. But at what cost?

A book that I enjoyed reading, but that had so much more potential.
You can read my full review here..

🎧 Barnes, Jennifer Lynn – The Final Gambit (The Inheritance Games #3) ★★

Genre: YA Mystery

BEWARE SPOILERS!

Avery’s fortune, life, and loves are on the line in the game that everyone will be talking about.

To inherit billions, all Avery Kylie Grambs has to do is survive a few more weeks living in Hawthorne House. The paparazzi are dogging her every step. Financial pressures are building. Danger is a fact of life. And the only thing getting Avery through it all is the Hawthorne brothers. Her life is intertwined with theirs. She knows their secrets, and they know her.

But as the clock ticks down to the moment when Avery will become the richest teenager on the planet, trouble arrives in the form of a visitor who needs her help—and whose presence in Hawthorne House could change everything. It soon becomes clear that there is one last puzzle to solve, and Avery and the Hawthorne brothers are drawn into a dangerous game against an unknown and powerful player.

Secrets upon secrets. Riddles upon riddles. In this game, there are hearts and lives at stake—and there is nothing more Hawthorne than winning.

Meh, glad I finished it and can tick off this series as completed, but overall not really good. Too YA for me, really

🎧 Lovett, London – Murder at North Pond (Frostfall Island Cozy Mystery #1) ★★★

Genre: Mystery

When Anna St. James graduated college with a business degree, she never expected to find herself running a boarding house on a small island off the east coast. But life throws a lot of curves and Anna has certainly had her share of them. Now, settled into life as owner and landlady of the Moon River Boarding House on Frostfall Island, Anna couldn’t imagine living anywhere else or without the unique and somewhat eccentric tenants she considers family.

Anna would be perfectly content baking and keeping house but Frostfall Island, lovely, remote and somewhat wild, always manages to throw a curve of its own. Most of the time, Frostfall is a charming island with a busy fishing boat harbor and town that attracts summer tourists. But occasionally, quite occasionally, if that’s a phrase, there’s an unexpected murder. Without a dedicated police force, the locals look to Anna to solve crimes. She’s not entirely sure how she landed the role of amateur sleuth but she takes her side job seriously.

When a man dies in a pirate battle reenactment, Anna steps into gear. Only this time, she has a parallel mystery to solve. Her newest tenant, Nathaniel Smith, is quite the puzzle, a puzzle who came with a piercing blue gaze and a trove of secrets.

Found by chance on Storytel by searching “cozy mystery”, after my previous mystery left a lot to be desired. And it really does fit this genre to a T!
Really loved this story and am thoroughly impressed how the author managed to make me instantly feel connected to the varied cast of characters! Will definitely be reading more of this author!
The audio did have a few mistakes (e.g. a second take while the first was still in the mix), but nothing too distracting.

🎧 Healey, Jane – The Animals at Lockwood Manor ★★

Genre: Historical

Some secrets are unspoken. Others are unspeakable . . .

August 1939.

Thirty-year-old Hetty Cartwright is tasked with the evacuation and safekeeping of the natural history museum’s collection of mammals. Once she and her exhibits arrive at Lockwood Manor, however, where they are to stay for the duration of the war, Hetty soon realizes that she’s taken on more than she’d bargained for.

Protecting her charges from the irascible Lord Lockwood and resentful servants is work enough, but when some of the animals go missing, and worse, Hetty begins to suspect someone – or something – is stalking her through the darkened corridors of the house.

As the disasters mount, Hetty finds herself falling under the spell of Lucy, Lord Lockwood’s beautiful but clearly haunted daughter. But why is Lucy so traumatized? Does she know something she’s not telling? And is there any truth to local rumours of ghosts and curses?

Part love story, part mystery, The Animals at Lockwood Manor by Jane Healey is a gripping and atmospheric tale of family madness, long-buried secrets and hidden desires.

Pff, disappointing. It wanted to be a gothic novel and it kind of used all the cliché tropes of one, but overall it was just boring. Nothing really happens and none of the characters had a distinctive voice.

DNF🎧 Spindale, Wendy – Everland (Everland #1) DNF

Genre: YA Fantasy

The only way to grow up is to survive.

London has been destroyed in a blitz of bombs and disease. The only ones who have survived the destruction and the outbreak of a deadly virus are children, among them sixteen-year-old Gwen Darling and her younger siblings, Joanna and Mikey. They spend their nights scavenging and their days avoiding the deadly Marauders—the German army led by the cutthroat Captain Hanz Otto Oswald Kretschmer.

Unsure if the virus has spread past England’s borders but desperate to leave, Captain Hook is on the hunt for a cure, which he thinks can be found in one of the surviving children. He and his Marauders stalk the streets snatching children for experimentation. None ever return.

Until one day when they grab Joanna. Gwen will stop at nothing to get her sister back, but as she sets out, she crosses paths with a daredevil named Pete. Pete offers the assistance of his gang of Lost Boys and the fierce sharpshooter Bella, who have all been living in a city hidden underground. But in a place where help has a steep price and every promise is bound by blood, it might cost Gwen more than she bargained for. And are Gwen, Pete, the Lost Boys, and Bella enough to outsmart the ruthless Captain Hook?

Had this book for years now, through my Owlcrate subscription at the time. A steampunky Peter Pan retelling revolving around a devastating virus… Looks like I’m digging up all my virus books this October, lol.
Unfortunately, this one was not for me (anymore). The dialogues were extremely wooden, the characters cardboard and the storyline overly ridiculous. I was annoyed with every page and saw no improvement. So I decided not to finish. DNF on page 118 (±40%)

Henry, Christina – The Girl In Red ★★★

Genre: Horror

It’s not safe for anyone alone in the woods. There are predators that come out at night: critters and coyotes, snakes and wolves. But the woman in the red jacket has no choice. Not since the Crisis came, decimated the population, and sent those who survived fleeing into quarantine camps that serve as breeding grounds for death, destruction, and disease. She is just a woman trying not to get killed in a world that doesn’t look anything like the one she grew up in, the one that was perfectly sane and normal and boring until three months ago.

There are worse threats in the woods than the things that stalk their prey at night. Sometimes, there are men. Men with dark desires, weak wills, and evil intents. Men in uniform with classified information, deadly secrets, and unforgiving orders. And sometimes, just sometimes, there’s something worse than all of the horrible people and vicious beasts combined.

Red doesn’t like to think of herself as a killer, but she isn’t about to let herself get eaten up just because she is a woman alone in the woods…

This started kind of meta, with lockdowns, a rampaging virus and stupid people being stupid. Luckily for us, the similarities end there. While we’re back to the order of the day, the world in the book entirely collapsed. TV is down, radio is down, no communication, no government instructions apart from being round up in quarantine camps.

Red is an overly pragmatic character and has been fully prepared for a situation like this since she was born. Unfortunately for her, her family is not. We follow Red on her journey to her grandmother, with poignant flashbacks to the days of that start of the crisis. She travels through barren lands and encounters more than only wolves along the way, as it seems that a deadly virus is not the only danger lurking within mankind.

I really liked this. It was wholly refreshing to read from a characters perspective that does not take idiotic decisions when the world seems to be ending. The author doesn’t shy away from gruesome scene’s and overall this was a compelling, interesting read. But even though the story moves along quite slowly, I feel like some more exploration of what was going on was missing. Yes, the story mainly focusses on Red, her thought processes and how she is getting to her destination, but I really wished we had zoomed out a bit more and learned more of the cause of the crisis and how it’s being handled. So yeah, even though the book does an excellent job of telling Red’s story, I can’t help but feel slightly disappointed about how this ended.

🎧 Lovett, London – Death by Rocky Road (Frostfall Island Cozy Mystery #2) ★★★

Genre: Mystery

Anna St. James is having a great summer. Her newest tenant is working out fine, the weather on Frostfall Island is fabulous and the tourists have returned. (Although Anna wishes there were a few less of them.)

The island is hosting a massive romance reader event complete with big name authors, cover models, enthusiastic readers and best of all ice cream sundaes. Anna’s sister, Cora, and their eccentric housemate, Opal, are anxious to attend so they can meet their favorite authors. Anna decides to tag along to see what all the excitement is about. And excitement is definitely not lacking. When one of the most popular authors winds up dead, it is up to Anna to find out which of her many enemies was pushed far enough to commit murder.

This certainly solidified this author as a go-to author for when I feel like reading cozy mysteries.
It has just the right balance between compelling characters with their overarching storyline drawing you back in, combined with a fun and entertaining mystery.
It’s a bit of a bummer there is not a bigger backlist for this series, cause I’m kind of invested in these characters.

Dean, Sunyi – The Book Eaters ★★

Genre: Adult Fantasy

Out on the Yorkshire Moors lives a secret line of people for whom books are food, and who retain all of a book’s content after eating it. To them, spy novels are a peppery snack; romance novels are sweet and delicious. Eating a map can help them remember destinations, and children, when they misbehave, are forced to eat dry, musty pages from dictionaries.

Devon is part of The Family, an old and reclusive clan of book eaters. Her brothers grow up feasting on stories of valor and adventure, and Devon—like all other book eater women—is raised on a carefully curated diet of fairytales and cautionary stories.

But real life doesn’t always come with happy endings, as Devon learns when her son is born with a rare and darker kind of hunger—not for books, but for human minds.

Ever since I heard about this book, I’ve been dying to devour it. A story about people who literally need to eat books to survive, what a neat and utterly fascinating idea!
Unfortunately, I don’t know if my expectations were just too high, but the predominant remaining feeling after reading is disappointment.

Marketing is definitely to blame for that. The way this book was promoted makes one really expect that the story will delve into the fascinating world and origins of the book eaters. Unfortunately, these remain largely unexplored throughout the story. Very superficial hints or casual information is shared, but everything remains very superficial. In retrospect, book eaters really didn’t need to exist for the author to be able to tell her story. Just replace them with any other strict hierarchical sect, and nothing in the story would have need to be sacrificed.
So yeah, I’m really frustrated that such a cool idea just got wasted.

The eventual story was ok, but not very original if you forgot that it was about book eaters, which was not difficult to do, since they had little impact on the story.
I could appreciate the themes and their exploration, even if I found them rather superficial and a bit overused.
The main themes I took from the story were how motherhood can change one’s perspective and how to become your own person despite what those around you expect of you. And sticking it to the man. That was obviously a theme too, lol.

All in all, even though I did manage to somewhat enjoy the story, the fact of the matter remains that this was not the story I was promised and disappointment is all I can manage to feel when I look at this book on my bookshelf, despite my stunning edition.

🎧 Glass, Seraphina Nova – On a Quiet Street ★★★

Genre: Thriller

The perfect neighborhood can be the perfect place to hide…

Who wouldn’t want to live in Brighton Hills? This exclusive community on the Oregon coast is the perfect mix of luxury and natural beauty. Stunning houses nestle beneath mighty Douglas firs, and lush backyards roll down to the lakefront. It’s the kind of place where neighbors look out for one another. Sometimes a little too closely…

Cora thinks her husband, Finn, is cheating—she just needs to catch him in the act. That’s where Paige comes in. Paige lost her son to a hit-and-run last year, and she’s drowning in the kind of grief that makes people do reckless things. Like spying on the locals, searching for proof that her son’s death was no accident. And agreeing to Cora’s plan to reveal what kind of man Finn really is. All the while, their reclusive new neighbor, Georgia, is acting more strangely every day. But what could such a lovely young mother possibly be hiding?

When you really start to look beyond the airy open floor plans and marble counters, Brighton Hills is filled with secrets. Some big, some little, some deadly. And one by one, they’re about to be revealed…

The beginning was a bit jarring.
The prologue was very strong, with a lot of intrigue and emotions, but this was then followed by rather banal reading chapters, in contrast to that first strong prologue.
So my intrigue took a dive at first, but the initial disappointment quickly ebbed away, once all the introductions were over and we got to really dive into the story

And lord, what a story! So much drama!
Behind closed doors, this street is anything but quiet! Reminded me a bit of Desperate Housewives at times.
There were some weird interludes and character behaviours, which weren’t properly followed up on, but for me that didn’t detract from the book as a hole.

Really entertaining and compelling domestic thriller, with shocking twists and a satisfying ending.

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