Wednesday, November 1, 2023

October 2023 Book Review

Happy Halloween Hangover! I hope you had a great time celebrating yesterday. It was a cold one in Texas, but we persevered and got lots of candy!

I read 10 books this month - a good mix of fiction and nonfiction, but my diversity was pretty terrible {as it has been the last few months}. It also wasn't a great month for awesome reads - I only had 1 5-star review!

Me by Elton John - I loved this memoir! Taron Egerton was the narrator, and he did a fantastic job {he played Elton John in Rocketman, so I love the connection back to Elton's biopic}. The book was very thorough about Elton's life but also very funny and insightful. My only complaint was I wish we'd had some music clips when certain songs were discussed, ha.

Mrs. Nash's Ashes by Sarah Adler - I had seen this one on Goodreads for a while and thought it sounded cute, and while I liked it overall, I felt 'meh' about a lot of it. It was fine. This follows 2 timelines - in the present, Millie is taking her elderly friend's ashes to her first love, and in the past, we see Mrs. Nash falling for her first love. This was largely a grumpy/sunshine trope, which I normally enjoy, but the plot was just a bit too cheesy for me.

Mrs. Porter's Calling by AJ Pearce - This is the 3rd book in a series about a wartime magazine writer, Emmy Lake, and each book just keeps getting better. It's such a heartfelt series with characters I genuinely care about. This book specifically was about their magazine switching owners and the new owner basically being an idiot, ha. It was such a good book and focused a lot on love, loss, and found families. I can't wait for more!

A Restless Truth by Freya Marske - This was the 2nd book in a magical trilogy, and it was not great compared to the 1st book. I LOVED A Marvellous Light, but I found this one largely boring. The end picked up, and I am relatively excited to finish the trilogy {the 3rd book comes out in November}, but I wish this one had been as good as the first.

The Secret Bridesmaid by Katy Birchall - I really loved The Wedding Season by this author and almost enjoyed this one as much. This author just really knows how to write a story with characters I care about and plots that are fun but also make an impact. Sophie is basically a wedding planner and this story follows her helping plan a society wedding for a bride who doesn't want any help. The hang-up for me on LOVING this book was that Sophie would be a 'secret' bridesmaid to do the wedding planning - and I just thought that was bizarre - why wouldn't you just be open that you have a wedding planner? There was a lot of backstory and explanations about it trying to make it feel plausible, but it lost it for me a little.

Will They or Won't They by Ava Wilder - Another 2nd read by an author whose first book and I loved, and this was another winner! Probably my second favorite read of the month. This story follows co-stars who went from lovers to enemies who are now having to act together again. It was a lot of fun, and I thought the author did a great job of showing the actors growth, and it also had good mental health representation.

Cultish by Amanda Montell - This was our BFBC selection of the month, and while I found it mostly was too long and tedious at times. It really studied the way language is used to connect people - for good {common language you might use in group fitness} or bad {Jim Jones, Heaven's Gate, Scientology}. Parts of it were really fascinating - I really enjoyed reading about the Christian buzz words that are prevalent through so much of our everyday lives, and I'm always down for cult stories, but this one felt like a long article gone wrong.

The Empire of Gold by S.A. Chakraborty - I read The City of Brass and The Kingdom of Copper over the last couple of years, and it is a super intricate fantasy trilogy. I don't even know how I would describe it. I'm really glad I finished the trilogy, and think the author did a fantastic job wrapping everything up, but this was LONG. I listened to this, and it was over 28 hours. By the end, I was listening to it at 2.5x speed! Glad I read it, glad it's over. {grin}

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles - This was on my oldest books TBR that I wanted to read or delete from my Goodreads list, and was book 8/10 for me to get to this year, yay. HOWEVER, this was beyond boring. Brent said he's never seen me take so long to get through a book, and he might be right! He actually bought this one a few years ago to read on a plane and thought the same thing and gave it up. Well, I stuck with it but zzzzzzzzz. It follows an aristocrat in Russia in the 1920s who is under house arrest in a hotel - it sounded like a really fun premise, but I can't recommend this one!

The Woman in Me by Britney Spears - Oh Britney. I have a fascination with her and have since she came onto the music scene. We're about the same age, and I can admit now that I was jealous of her - she was beautiful, had a rocking body, was rich and famous...but her story is so so awfully sad. Just about every adult in her life used, abused, and failed her. It's such a tragedy to see how she has turned out - I 100% think she is mentally ill, and I think her fame is to blame for it. With all that said, this is not a well-written book. It's very entertaining {although, again, so sad} and because of that, I enjoyed it. But she skims over large parts of her story - the entirety of her relationship with Justin Timberlake is like 3 minutes. So I feel like it could have actually been longer {the audiobook is 5.5 hours - that is REALLY short}. I wonder if it's short because she doesn't remember? Either way, it's an entertaining listen but don't expect great literature.

And that finishes my month! My average for the month was a 3.55 which I guess is pretty consistent with my year as my overall average is 3.66. A few good ones but more 'meh' than I'd like! Here's hoping November is great!