books i read in october 🍂

It's the month of Halloween and I truly did my part as a bibliophile to celebrate by reading an abundance of spooky, atmospheric books. Generally I seemed to either really love or really hate what I read, so without further ado here is my October wrap up!

No. of books read: 8

Pages read: 2956

Genres: 2 fantasy, 1 contemporary, 3 horror/paranormal historical fiction, 1 YA mystery, 1 poetry collection

The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert


I was so ready to love this book. I was all set to be whisked away into a world of gothic mansions and cobwebs and cults and witchy grandmothers in creaky rocking chairs writing dark fairy tales in leather-bound notebooks. Unfortunately, the truly stunning cover did not live up to the story it packages.

For me, not only was this book incredibly boring but I also feel it’s mismarketed as a YA fantasy. It takes us almost 250 out of 360 pages to even get into the fantasy aspect, by which time my expectations had been so betrayed and I honestly couldn’t have cared less about this counterfeit Alice in Wonderland. I was so utterly uninvested in the characters, but mainly Alice who was so unlikable that it was miserable being inside her head. She’s unnecessarily rude, self-centered, ungrateful, refuses to acknowledge her mistakes and unable to recognize her privilege just because she grew up poor. What I found truly problematic, though, was her treatment of Finch, the biracial side character who Alice spends most of the story with. Not only is she always interrupting and talking over him, but in a scene with a police officer when he tries to explain to her how he feels uncomfortable being non compliant around cops, she completely disregards his feelings by saying he’s rich and privileged. Like that negates the colour of his skin and the racism he faces every day because of it. It was not comfortable to read.

To top it all, the storyline just didn’t make a lot of sense to me and I found it fairly difficult to follow, constantly wondering how and why things were happening and who people were. I underlined so many passages and metaphors that were completely weird and nonsensical (not in a good way). The elements of magic in the last third or so were not in any way explained and so many things just so conveniently happened which is always frustrating.

The only thing I truly liked about this were the two chapters where Finch retold stories from Alice’s grandmother’s book, Tales from the Hinterland. These had just the chilling gothic atmosphere that I was expecting from the whole story, but ultimately this didn’t make up for how disappointing I found the rest of the book.

Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur


Image result for milk and honey

Rupi Kaur is, in my opinion, one of the most inspiring females of this generation. For being the first ‘Instagram poet’ and deciding to self-publish her book, which become a bestseller now sitting on millions of shelves and tugging on millions of heartstrings across the globe. For inspiring other poets to do the same, encouraging a new platform to emerge for poetry. But mostly for her talent in crafting the best and worst experiences of her life so far into beautifully written verse from which so much can be identified with and learnt from. It’s about abuse, heartbreak, isolation. But it’s also about feminism, self-love, healing. It will make you sob and uplift your soul all at once. It is everything.

Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor


I strongly believe that this duology honestly holds more beauty and wonder than most places in the world. To say I was nervous to read Muse of Nightmares would be a vast understatement, but I’m SO happy to report that every page of this book was infused with the same magic and heady emotion as the first, weaved into exquisite sentences that make you wish more than anything in the world that you could become part of the story. I still think about Lazlo Strange every day, the gentle dreamer whose nose is broken by fairytales and has the sun inside of his soul, and if nothing else this sequel served to confirm my utter adoration for him and I will continue to shield his vitality and kindness from the ravages of the world as long as I live. Every scene between Lazlo and Sarai made my heart implode with every emotion; their relationship is a precious reminder that happiness can never cease to exist, no matter how much shadow may loom, and that surrounding yourself with people you dearly love never fails to make you feel human again. I cannot get over how Laini Taylor manages to fill every one of her character, no matter how minor a role they play, with such heart and soul and you truly cannot help but fall helplessly for all of them. Minya, Eril-Fane, Thyon, Calixte, Ruza, Sparrow, Ruby, Feral… they all just feel like my family at this point and I would protect every single one of them at all costs. Overall I was split between both sorrow and elation after finishing Muse of Nightmares, but the way the myriad threads of this beautiful story were tied together was nothing less than a work of genius.

Jack of Hearts (and Other Parts) by Lev A.C Rosen


I skipped class for for this book. (That’s not something I do regularly). Read my full review here.

A Skinful of Shadows by Frances Hardinge


I loved this so much more than I expected to and I’m so happy about it. I had no idea that no only was it set during one of my favourite time periods - mid-1600 England under the reign of Charles I - but actually during the English civil war at the height of superstition, witch hunts, castles and, best of all, GHOSTS (who are right at the forefront of this gem of a story). Makepeace was a protagonist who I adored from the very beginning; raised in a Puritan community and later taken in by her formerly estranged father’s aristocratic family, she is rebellious and strong-willed and unwaveringly brave in the face of the unknown and if ONLY you could give physical hugs to fictional characters.

I couldn’t get over how innovative and original Hardinge’s story was; she creates such a richly enchanting atmosphere and brings the terror of the Civil War to life so vividly that I genuinely struggled to put it down. A perfect blend of historical fiction and paranormal, this was ideal to read in October and SO many more people need to read this strange and wonderful book.

The Girl Who Couldn't Read by John Harding


Another extremely disappointing read for me. I have this weird fascination with books set in mental asylums so upon hearing that this book was, I pretty much bought it on impulse and planned to read it in October as it seemed like the perfect creepy story. But while it was creepy in places - sometimes to the point of being difficult to read - most of it was just plain weird. I hated all of the characters, especially our narrator who is constantly repeating things he said only a page ago. The storyline lacked any sort of direction and I truly had to force myself to finish reading it because of how bland it was, and how little I actually cared about any of it. The only thing that kept me motivated to finish the book was to see if the reveal at the end would somewhat redeem some of the things I disliked about the rest it, but unfortunately I hated that too and it only ended up confirming my 2-star rating. I guess one good thing was that it’s pretty short, so if you desperately wanted a quick Halloween read then this would work. Other than that, though, I wouldn’t recommend.

Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson


Finally I got around to reading Truly Devious this month and it was so worth the wait. I loved Stevie so much; she was so self-aware and competent for a YA protagonist, and seeing a young female interested in true crime being represented was super cool. What was possibly even cooler was reading about a black girl who likes girls and specialises in STEM - we need more Janelles in media. And Nate… what an apathetic little cinnamon roll. I really hope he gets more development in the sequel because he was a sheer delight.

I loved the use of dual timelines in this book and it kind of felt like reading two mysteries unravelling at once. Ellingham Academy was also one of the coolest settings ever and I would (probably) give up one of my kidneys to go and study there. The pacing was a bit slow at times and the romance was a bit weird, but that doesn’t matter because I will not rest until I know what happens in the sequel after that cruel ending.

The Silent Companions by Laura Purcell


Now THIS was the ultimate definition of a deliciously spine-chilling gothic horror story, just in time to round out the month. I am warning you now not to read this book alone in a dark room at night because it’s highly unlikely that you will sleep, and if you do then you will almost certainly have nightmares of wooden painted figures leering at you from all directions. The Silent Companions is set in three separate timelines - one of which was again my favourite historical periods, the 17th century, and the other my second favourite historical period, the 19th century - switching between the two locations of St Joseph’s Hospital in London, and The Bridge, the eeriest Jacobean-style estate you could possibly imagine. The sinister, ominous atmosphere of this book honestly had my heart racing and made me genuinely VERY SCARED on many occasions. The way Purcell paces her story and intertwines the two perspectives/timelines was so well-executed - the less you know about this before you go into it, the better, because there are so many twists and turns and shocking character developments that I certainly did not see coming. Overall this is not a book for the faint-hearted - it’s gory, it’s incredibly sad, and the ending will curdle your blood. I ADORED IT.


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