October was possibly the best reading month of the year for me – not only I finished 10 books, but I definitely ventured out *a lot* of my comfort zone and picked up different titles outside of my typical YA contemporaries. Not all of them were hits, but the end of the month was certainly a lot better!
For the staple prompts:
While THE LEGEND OF SKELETON MAN is technically middle grade, it was certainly spooky and it left me scared while reading it. The edition I picked up was a bind up of the two books, and I think I liked the first one better. It has slight Series of Unfortunate Events vibes, with Molly’s parents going missing one night and a distant uncle she’s never heard of misteriously showing up to take her custody. I found that the pacing of the first book was perfection and I really enjoyed following Molly going through everything herself. In the second one, we have a few more side characters, and I found it to be more slow paced and not as scary, but I really enjoyed the setting of this old hotel in the mountains and the intertwining of other native folklore from other parts of the world.
TIM TE MARO AND THE SUBTERRANEAN HEARTSTICK BLUES was a lovely surprise! I had only heard Adri talking about it, but they convinced me to read it and I am ultimately glad that I did. The book is not perfect – I’m afraid some parts needed to be better edited, with more showing and less telling; the worldbuilding of this fantasy world is essentially non-existent; and the plotlines outside of the romance were never really concluded. Nonetheless, I had such a good time with this! The humor was on point, the characters are adorable, it has absurd moments like a full-on fanfiction and if you’re a fan of idiots-in-love as a trope, you can not go wrong with this one!
Trigger warnings: panic attacks, discussions of anxiety/PTSD
I think I mentioned in my initial TBR post that I was excited to read BET ON IT because it featured a bingo sex game and that sounded hilarious and steamy. It turns out that what the author meant by this was not “characters getting themselves in progressively freakier sex situations in order to hit a bingo” but rather “the characters get to have sex whenever they win at bingo” – and considering neither one of them is particularly good at it, you can sort of guess the level of steam with this one. I thought the discussions on anxiety/PTSD and the way it impacts peoples’ lives and also how the main characters grew in terms of their relationship with said issues was important, but I didn’t care for much of anything outside that. The relationship pacing and development was slow and too “realistic” and the writing was full of unnecessary details that made it boring to read at times.
And as for the prompts that were chosen for me through the TBR game:
READ A GOTHIC MOOD READ
Trigger warnings: drug use, discussions of sexual assault, suicidal thoughts and suicide attempt, loss of a loved one.
I picked up one of the most hyped books of last year – THE INVISIBLE LIFE OF ADDIE LARUE. While an overwhelming amount of readers I know gave this book 4 or 5 stars, I had heard negative reviews and was wondering where I would fall. Ultimately, I enjoyed it! It is true that nothing really happens for like, 70% of it, and it’s mostly the characters walking from different places in different towns, lol. But I think V.E Schwab is a very talented writer and I loved her descriptions and atmospheres. I also really, really enjoyed the characters: Henry was fantastic and deeply relatable; Addie had a beautiful journey that was remarkable to follow; and Luc was charming and haunting as I expected him to be. While I wouldn’t call this a new favorite, I did think it was overall a worthwhile reading experience.
READ A BOOK BY A COMFORTING AUTHOR
It might be considered cheating that I chose BETTER THAN THE MOVIES for this prompt, because I had never read anything by Lynn Painter before. But after reading it, I can attest this was the most comforting read of the whole month. Filled with rom com references, well known tropes and an indisputable similarity to the To All the Boys series, this one was definitely a fun ride. I appreciated our main character’s journey and the romance was super swoon worthy. However, the protagonist’s relationship with her best friend made me very mad – the best friend, Jocelyn, was never made responsible for judging and mistreating Liz which is why Liz feels like she can not tell her about what’s actually happening. Sorry, but if your friends can’t come clean to you about something they’ve done, it’s because you’re a shitty friend. Period.
READ A BOOK WITH A HIDDEN ANTAGONIST
Trigger warnings: drug use, violence, body horror, death of an animal, discussions of sexual assault.
I mostly picked out MY BEST FRIEND’S EXORCISM on a whim, as I am not a horror fan, but it seemed to have an interesting premise and I love all media set in the 80s. That aspect was definitely fun and it transported me very easily. I did find most of the writing to be very gruesome and gross, and the one thing that bothered me the most was how unnecessarily sexual it was – especially considering the characters were 15 and this was written by an adult man. I don’t think I’ll ever be reading by Grady Hendrix in the future, but I’m still glad I had this experience – mostly because it was totally out of my comfort zone and I was wondering if I’d be even able to finish it. But I did, so good for me!
READ A BOOK WITH WATER ON THE COVER
I ended up re-reading THE WICKED DEEP this month and I’ll never shut up about how this book really is perfect for this time of year. I don’t think it is a perfect novel by any means – the pacing of the relationship is very unrealistic, with the characters falling in love after two interactions; and a lot of the plot doesn’t make sense/is too convenient. However, Shea Earnshaw creates such an atmospheric and eeriee vibe with her setting of Sparrow. I love the flashback chapters where we get to read about what happened to the sisters 200 years ago and to other characters too. The writing is my favorite part and why I keep coming back to this one.
READ A BOOK WHERE YOU CAN’T TRUST ANYONE
Trigger warning: kidnapping, isolation, PTSD and panic attacks, mentions of sexual assault
DARK ROOM ETIQUETTE was a highly anticipated release for me and I still have no idea how to feel about it. I knew going into it that it was going to be a very disturbing and triggering read for me, as kidnapping is not something I can easily read about. Robin Roe is a very talented writer and it’s understandable why this book took her so long to write – how differently Sayers’ perspective feels from Daniel’s and afterwards too, when Sayers’ is processing his trauma, is honestly impressive. However, there are a lot that feels unrealistic and sometimes, underdeveloped. I wish we had given a bit more detail to what happened in the “outside world” immediately after Sayers’ kidnapping and after his return too. Nonetheless, as a story of hope, this book does the job, despite it being such a hard one to read at times.
READ A BOOK WITH A PLOT TWIST
Trigger warnings: self-harm, sexual assault, bullying and homophobia.
I think it’s funny that I chose this book for this specific prompt, because it barely had any plot whatsoever, moreover a plot twist. To be fair, I do think there is one small one, but THE CHANDLER LEGACIES took such a long time to happen – by the 75% mark, there was still no plot whatsoever, and the way all the perspectives intersect over the one conflict happens literally in the second to last chapter of the book. The resolution is rushed and the build up is so underwhelming. I feel like there was a lot of potential to show the different reactions over the “plot twist”, which centers on the mentor of the group being exposed, but even that happens so fast. It felt like the main conflict was an absolute afterthought, even though the author claims that was the message he wanted to convey the whole time. Most of this book is just the characters trauma dumping and going from one place to another. Not a good one, tbh.
Have you read any of these books? If so, what are your thoughts? Do you fall in the love Addie LaRue or hate Addie LaRue category? Do you read books even though you know they might be triggering? Let’s chat in the comments!