02 November 2020

16 Books I Read in October

What to Read Right NowHappy November, my friends. If you haven't yet voted, please make a plan to do so tomorrow! (And wear your mask.)

I read 16 books in October, and most of them were audiobooks and almost all were for pure escapism. Maybe one of these days I'll return to books that make me think, but last month I wasn't in the mood. That said, I was surprised to find several 5-star reads/listens on my list. October was an awesome reading month.

Here are my brief thoughts. I wrote longer reviews for some of these over on GoodReads, where you'll also find my thoughts on the audiobook productions. Thanks to the publishers for print, digital, and/or audio review copies of the following books. Also many thanks to Libro.fm. My opinions are my own. Note too that I reviewed several of these for AudioFile magazine (indicated by "AFM"); my thoughts on the audiobook production can be found on their website.

What to Read Right Now
  • Prime Deceptions by Valerie Valdes (Harper Voyager; Sept. 8; AFM). This is book two of a series, which I listened to for a freelance assignment. An action-packed science fiction story starring a space smuggler trying to walk on the right side of the law; some romance, some LGBTQ+ themes. It was only okay for me.
  • Road Out of Winter by Alison Stine (Mira; Sept. 1) I'm still reading dystopian; maybe because I'm looking for survival tips? Anyway, this one is scarily realistic. Wylodine has a green thumb, but after climate change creates never-ending winter and the infrastructure begins to fail, she decides to risk a road trip from Ohio to the presumably warmer and better California. The world is a dangerous place, even for a smart young woman. I really liked this; see deeper thoughts on Goodreads.
  • And Now She's Gone by Rachel Howzell Hall (Forge; Sept. 22; AFM) This combination missing person investigation and domestic thriller was only okay for me. I liked the main character, Grayson Skyes, who is trying to solve her first case as a professional private investigator and liked that she made rookie mistakes though had solid instincts. A few side plots were a little confusing, but everything was clear by the end.
  • Troubled Blood by Robert Galbraith (Mulholland; Sept. 15) I thought I could rise above the controversy surrounding this title and the author because I really loved the first four Cormoran Strike books. Alas, I stopped reading about a quarter of the way in. I couldn't get over the issues and the book itself was not very good.
Books to Read Right Now
  • The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow (Redhook; Oct. 13) I liked this novel but not as much as I like Harrow's The Ten Thousand Doors of January. Still, this story of three sisters and women's power, love, independence, and knowledge was good and gave me lots to think about.
  • A Solitude of Wolverines by Alice Henderson (William Morrow; Oct. 27) I really liked this start of a mystery series starring wildlife biologist Alex Carter. When she gets the opportunity to take over a field research project in northern Montana to study wolverines, she doesn't hesitate, even though she'll be working alone. Someone, however, does not want her in the wilderness preserve. What are they hiding? Good in print or audio.
  • Silence of the White City by Eva Garcia Saenz (Vintage Crime; July 28; AFM) Unlike many published reviews of this start of a trilogy set in the Basque country, I have some reservations with the book. First, what I liked about this police procedural mystery: the plotting, the characters, and the details of the city and Basque culture and history. What I didn't like: the translation was not smooth, often using a clumsy literal translation when an idiom would have been better. Still, now that I'm on guard about the translation issues, I'm looking forward to reading the next book in the series.
  • Leave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam (Ecco; Oct. 6) Another dystopian, this one set in contemporary times in the Hamptons after an unexplained blackout leaves people without a clue of what happened or what may happen next. Two couples, one wealthy and Black and the other white and middle class, end up sheltering together as the new reality begins to settle on them.
Books to Read Right Now
  • The Killing of the Tinkers by Ken Bruen (Minotaur; 2005; personal collection) This was a reread via audio for me. I love the darkness of the Jack Taylor series, set in Ireland. After Jack returns to Galway after a stay in London he juggles his personal problems with trying to solve targeted murders.
  • Plain Bad Heroines by Emily M. Danforth (William Morrow; Oct. 20) I encourage you to read my thoughts on Goodreads, but I loved this book about a book about a movie about a book with creepy happenings and female friendship and love. If you listen to the very well done audio, don't forget to download the accompanying PDF.
  • The Bone Shard Daughter by Andrea Stewart (Orbit; Sept. 8) This is the first in an non-Western epic fantasy with several plot lines, a few surprises, strong women and no love triangle. It's set in an island nation with hints of the Pacific; perhaps Japan. Maybe not the best fantasy I've read, but I'm still looking forward to book 2.
  • Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse (Gallery; Oct. 13) This was a strong opening to another non-Western epic fantasy; this one set in pre-Columbian Mexico and Central America. Several plot lines, good characters, and great world building.
Books to Read Right Now
  • They Never Learn by Layne Fargo (Gallery; Oct. 13) An engrossing and well-plotted revenge thriller / female Dexter mashup set on a small college campus with #metoo and LGBTQ+ themes. Worth the read.
  • The Cold Millions by Jess Walter (Harper; Oct. 27; AFM) Set in Spokane, Washington, about 100 years ago, this is a story of two brothers who get caught up in larger sociopolitical issues. Read my review on Goodreads or in AudioFile magazine, but the short take is read this. A shoo-in for my top 10 list this year.
  • Goodnight Beautiful by Aimee Molloy (Harper; Oct. 13) If you read too much about this thriller before you start, it will be spoiled. Avoid reviews! Fun escape reading with a nod to a well-known thriller / light horror book.
  • The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V. E. Schwab (Tor; Oct. 6) This book about what happens if you make a deal with the Dark God deserves every single starred review and every second of buzz. Loved, loved, loved it. Trust me, you want to read this.


(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea 11/2/20, 8:27 AM  

Fantastic month! I've been eyeing Leave the World Behind but, not sure about the dystopian bend.

crackercrumblife 11/2/20, 9:02 AM  

Oo that wildlife biologist series sounds fabulous! I must look it up!! You have so many books that look good listed here. :)

Daryl 11/2/20, 9:31 AM  

love me a good dystopian novel .. love to escape .. so thanks!

Susie | Novel Visits 11/2/20, 9:48 AM  

Well, I'm intrigued by your thoughts on The Cold Millions. I read about 10% and was bored with the story. Maybe I need to give it a bit longer. I hope we ALL have a great week!

Kathy Martin 11/2/20, 10:25 AM  

Nice looking assortment of books. I'm intrigued by Adie LaRue and will have to add it to my stack. Come see my week here. Happy reading!

(Diane) bookchickdi 11/2/20, 10:37 AM  

You have so many great books here! The Cold Millions and The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue are also on my Top 10 for this year. Stay safe.

Amanda 11/2/20, 11:04 AM  

I managed to finish Troubled Blood but I felt squicky the entire time, and you're right, it just wasn't a very good book. Even if she'd taken out the one Issue, it just wasn't written well. :/

SO looking forward Addie Larue!

Yvonne 11/2/20, 11:09 AM  

You had a great month! I, too, am choosing escapism for my reading and I'm pretty sure it will be that way for awhile for me. Have a great week!

Deb Nance at Readerbuzz 11/2/20, 1:07 PM  

What a great reading month you had. I would anticipate a huge surge of interest in dystopias right now, and it looks like you have gotten to enjoy several of these. I think I will add Invisible Life of Addie LaRue, The Cold Millions, and The Ten Thousand Doors of January to my list of possible future reads. Thank you!

Laurel-Rain Snow 11/2/20, 1:10 PM  

I have been eyeing Goodnight Beautiful.

Enjoy your week and your books, and thanks for visiting my blog.

sherry fundin 11/2/20, 1:43 PM  

looks like you read some great looking books. happy reading
sherry @ fundinmental

Kathryn T 11/2/20, 2:34 PM  

Was interested to see what you had to say about the new Alix Harrow book, I have it on reserve at the library. I think from what you have said I should give it a good go.

fredamans 11/2/20, 3:42 PM  

Great job! A couple of those I'd like to read as well! Happy November!

JoAnn 11/2/20, 6:56 PM  

What a great month! I'm also reading primarily for escape these days... miss the books that make me think, but just can't get into them these days. Hopefully soon. The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue is near the top of my list!

Jen at Introverted Reader 11/2/20, 10:53 PM  

I felt like one of the few people who didn't love Jess Walter's Beautiful Ruins but you've intrigued me with your review of The Cold Millions. Goodnight Beautiful also caught my attention. Addie Larue was already on my radar but I think you've sealed the deal for me; on the list it goes.

I haven't had the attention for serious books this year either. I feel like my monthlong horror binge may have cleared the way for meatier books. I think that's dependent on the election though.

Enjoy your week!

Greg 11/3/20, 12:22 AM  

I'm all for escapism right now! And I've been wanting to try Roanhorse's work.

Hope your Nov is off to a great start!

Les in Oregon 11/5/20, 5:42 PM  

Wow! You had an amazing month! I can't wait to listen to The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue and Leave the World Behind. I was going to listen to the new Strike book, but will probably skip it now that I've read a bit about the controversary. Disappointing of Rowling, to say the least.

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