Monday, December 28, 2020

What I Read in October

I am a seasonal mood reader to the max, so I love to pick a mixture of spooky(ish), atmospheric fall, and interesting fantasy books for October. Some of them didn't fit the bill this year, but that's fine, too. There's no rules here, only a Virgo-inspired neurosis. 

So here's what I enjoyed this October:

Books I read in October |

Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia (4 stars)
I'd heard so much about this book over the years, and while it wasn't Halloween-ish in the least the whole "monsters" thing felt like a fitting start to October and I was anxious to read it. I loved the mixture of Eliza's real-life story mixed with the fictional internet comic story she writes. It was sad at times - complicated, full of real life themes, and just as her fictional story reveals itself to be about depression at its core, Eliza's story is, too. It's done beautifully and artistically (albeit with a couple of hang ups that bothered me - like when Wallace guilts her choices for his own personal gain). It was both playful and serious, sad and triumphant, and overall a quick and satisfying read. Definitely check it out!

How I Resist - Anthology, Edited by Maureen Johnson (4 stars)
This is a really great anthology of articles from writers, actors, influencers, and social activists of all kinds focusing on the topics of social issues, racism, and politics. It was written with young adult readers in mind, but that's really only evident in the opening piece. It's a great resource for any age! Each entry is done in the unique style and voice of its author - some reading like poems or interviews, others that read like a journal entry - even a song or two. There is so much to chew on in this book, and 2020 was a great year to digest it.

Invisible Ghosts by Robyn Schneider (4 stars)
I often find heavily discounted books through Book Outlet or other sales, and I never really have high expectations for them. Enough to want to read them, but I try to read them with a different lens. There's a reason they're so cheap, right? But every now and of them surprises me. This was one of those books. It had a supernatural element to it (one that was at times, a little cheesy), but it was full of real world struggles and the angst of unrequited love and unfinished business, and I loved it. These characters stuck with me. Rose has a secret - her brother, who passed away after a tragic accident, is her constant a ghost. Through the book, she juggles her relationship with her dead brother, her school commitments, chasing her own dreams, and rekindling a relationship with her childhood best friend. It's a great story, I loved it!

Undead Girl Gang by Lily Anderson (3 stars)
This was a really fun, perfectly Halloween-ish book. There's witchcraft, there's undead teenagers, and there's Mila - being a regular teenager while also mourning the loss of her best friend and her confusing feelings over the witchcraft she'd been practicing. I liked the story a lot, but there were some parts that I just could not get over. This is going to make me sound super crazy pants, but I literally deducted a star for a specific detail. A detail I could not believe went unmentioned in all the GoodReads reviews I saw! Mila and her friends cast a spell that causes someone to grow actual mushrooms on their body. The imagery of this was TOO well done. I was so so disturbed by it that my skin was crawling through most of this book, and I could not get it out of my head! So, kudos to the author for that, but...gross. I can't. If you don't want that living rent free in your head, don't read this one.


Gumption by Nick Offerman (4 stars)
So I picked this one on a whim with an Audible deal and I'm SO glad I did! I love Nick Offerman, so it was going to be good regardless. But I actually learned things about some major players in our country, and I did so while laughing (and adoring) the humorous way he presented their stories. This was so, so good. He has a voice and a vision that crosses the aisle while remaining true to his values at the same time. Such a great read, and if you can listen to the audiobook - do. It's great to hear his voice sharing these stories and delivering his own humor the way only he could.

The Bromance Book Club by Lyssa Kay Adams (4 stars)
This was a super enjoyable, satisfying story. It opens as a marriage (between Gavin and Thea) is on the rocks, and follows them through putting the pieces back together. Gavin facilitates this by joining a book club with his professional baseball playing teammates and reading romance books that help him patch up the holes in his relationship with Thea. It's heartwarming and cute, and yes....pretty dirty. Loved it.

Melania and Me by Stephanie Winston Wolkoff (3 stars)
I listened to this one just because I could - my mom had the audiobook and I was curious. Nothing in it was shocking - in the way that I wouldn't have expected anything else. It was interesting and enlightening in some ways, though - and I felt a lot of sympathy for the author. How you feel about this one is going to depend on your affiliations and morals, of course, so I'll just say that if you're interested in it, it's worth the read.

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab (4 stars)
Man. As time has gone on and I look back on this one, I wonder if I should up my rating. It's only sitting at a 4 currently because the first half of the book is sloooow. Full of details and a slow crawl through years and decades in European countries, centuries before our time. However, once you start dabbling in the modern day part of the story, it gets good. Not just good - incredible. This story is SO. GOOD. The main character, Addie is immortal. On the day of her arranged marriage, she makes a bargain with the devil (or someone akin to the devil) that gives her both freedom and immortality. In exchange, no one remembers her. And so, in an instant, her parents and neighbors have no clue who she is, and she has nowhere to go. We then follow her as she navigates her lack of home and identity - her only relationship with that of the dark god who granted her wish, usually on the anniversary of her deal. One day, though, she meets someone who remembers her face, and eventually her name. What ensues is beautiful and heartbreaking and gorgeous and incredible and so many other things! I can't describe it in any way that will do it justice. It's just, incredible. Read it read it read it!

Nothing Like I Imagined by Mindy Kaling (4 stars)
I loved this little series of audiobooks! I love Mindy Kaling. I love hearing her stories, and also believing in my heart of hearts that her children are also BJ Novak's and that they are secretly a family and not just BFFs. There was nothing particularly profound here - they were just funny, and witty, and entertaining, and so so easy to relate to - even without being a part of Hollywood. She's the real real, ya know? They're quick and adorable, and definitely worth a listen.

Aside from some super disturbing flesh mushrooms (shudder) October was a great book month. More soon!

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