Looking for your next book? Check out everything I read in October 2023 ... from classic whodunits to thrillers and witchy fiction, there is something for everyone!
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October was such a fun month of reading. I'm not big on spooky books, but with Halloween on the horizon, I leaned into witchy novels and thrillers, and I have some really good ones to recommend to you!
This month, I read nine books, including two audiobooks. If you're trying to read more (or your to-be-read pile is getting ever longer), audiobooks are the perfect way to do it! I tend to listen to them while cooking, doing chores, or anytime I'm doing something mundane that doesn't require lots of concentration.
I have an Everand (formerly Scribd) subscription, which allows you to listen to as many audiobooks as you want each month. There are so many amazing books available! (You can get a free 60-day trial here.) And I check them out from my library too, using the Libby app.
My favorite book this month ending up being Weyward by Emilia Hart! The story follows three generations of Weyward women, and it's such an amazing read (or listen, in my case!).
Did you read anything worth recommending this month? I'd love to hear about it in the comments!
Books I Read in October 2023
I've included links for all of these books on Bookshop.org and Amazon so you can easily find them, as well as my ratings for each book (one star is lowest / five stars is highest).
Good Bad Girl by Alice Feeney
Good people are forced to do bad things in Good Bad Girl! Twenty years after a baby is stolen from a stroller, a woman is murdered in a care home ... somehow the two crimes are connected. Meanwhile, Edith was tricked into moving into a nursing home, but she's plotting her escape. Patience, a worker at the home, is Edith's kindred spirit, but she's lying to her about almost everything. And Edith's daughter Clio is barely speaking to her. The three women have many reasons to distrust one another, but they must work together to solve a mystery with three suspects, two murders, and one victim. When they do, they'll discover just what happened to the missing baby, the child's mother, and the connections that bind them.
This was such an enjoyable thriller! Good Bad Girl was somehow the first book I read by Alice Feeney, but it won't be my last. The writing reminded of Lisa Jewell (one of my fave authors) in that you really get to know the characters and that you think you can predict the twist. But then something (or multiple things) always surprises you in the end. This book is told from multiple perspectives, which I really enjoyed, and it's hard to know which character you can really trust.
The Kiss Curse by Erin Sterling
Competing witches must work together in The Kiss Curse! Everything is going well for Gwyn Jones. She's formed a powerful coven with her mom and cousin, her shop, Something Wicked, is a success, and she's begun mentoring a group of younger witches. There's just one problem: Llewellyn "Wells" Penhallow, who has just returned to Graves Glen. He's there to forge a new life for himself, and to re-establish his family's connection to the town they founded. But when Wells opens his own witchcraft shop across the street from Gwyn's, the competition between the two witches quickly heats up. After an unexpected (and very hot) kiss, Gwyn and Wells are determined to avoid each other. But when a new coven of witches comes to town, and Gwyn's power begins to fade, she and Wells must work together to restore her magic before it's too late.
The Kiss Curse is a follow up to The Ex Hex, which I read last year, and this steamy book was the perfect October read! This story has a fun enemies to lovers trope that kept the romantic tension high while the characters work together to solve a mystery. I also loved the cozy, small town vibes and the baby witches that Gwyn mentors. Fun fact: this book was written under a pen name by Rachel Hawkins, who is known for thrillers like Reckless Girls and The Villa (which is on my list for November)!
Acts of Violet by Margarita Montimore
A new podcast upends the life of a famous magician's sister in Acts of Violet! 10 years ago, magician Violet Volk performed the ultimate magic trick: vanishing mid-act. Violet craved the spotlight, and her responsible sister Sasha can't seem escape her shadow. As the anniversary of Violet's disappearance approaches, a new podcast dedicated to her life is launched. The host, Cameron Frank, knows that he must score an interview with Sasha to get his big break. And as the podcast's popularity grows, Cameron's pursuit of the reluctant Sasha becomes increasingly intrusive. Meanwhile, Sasha is pushed to her emotional limits after a series of disturbing coincidences and sleepwalking episodes, all leading back to Violet. Sasha must finally confront the painful truths about her sister or risk losing everything.
I loved the format of this book! It's told from different perspectives, and the podcast is woven throughout the story, as well. If you're interested in this book, I'd highly recommend listening to the audiobook ... the various narrators, along with the podcast episodes, really brought the story to life! The story itself was also unique, if a bit slow-moving. I didn't think the characters were especially sympathetic, but I definitely enjoyed the twist at the end. This book is perfect for fans of family dramas, especially stories involving difficult sisterly relationships.
Off Season by Jennifer Weiner
A frustrated writer will do anything to make in Off Season! Over the last 20 years, Sarah Vernon has written numerous novels, but none has sold more than 5000 copies. After Sarah's agent dumps her, she vows that she'll do anything for one more chance at the bestseller list. She reaches out to Will Presser, a star-making literary agent, and he invites her to a business dinner which ends with nightcap at his apartment. Sarah remembers nothing about the night, but the next morning, Will sends her to Elder Island (a wealthy summer enclave that empties out in fall) for a private writing retreat. Sarah packs her bags and boards the ferry without asking questions. Alone in the isolated mansion, the words flow from her fingertips as they never have before, but she's disturbed after waking from nightmares with dirt on her feet and blood under her fingernails. Sarah soon discovers that before making a deal, you should always read the fine print.
If you've read any Jennifer Weiner books before, Off Season will probably feel a little unexpected! She's known for writing women's fiction, but this short story has some decidedly spooky vibes. This is a quick read, and because of that, there's not a lot of character development. You know something is off from the start, but things get progressively darker as this deal-with-the-devil story progresses. Perfect if you're looking for a Halloween story, or for anytime, if you're a horror fan!
Order on Amazon | My Rating ⭐⭐⭐⭐ (4 out of 5 stars)
The Devil's Flute Murders by Seishi Yokomizo
Treat yourself to a classic locked-room murder mystery in The Devil's Flute Murders! Shortly after the death of Viscount Tsubaki (a famous composer), his daughter visits scruffy sleuth Kosuke Kindaichi and invites him to the grand Tsubaki house for a divination ceremony. The Viscount's feuding family hopes that the divination will conjure the spirit of their departed patriarch. Before the night is over though, death will visit their home again. In order to solve the case, detective Kindaichi must uncover the Tsubaki family's most disturbing secrets ... meanwhile, the murders continue.
If you like classic murder mysteries, then you'll love The Devil's Flute Murders! Seishi Yokomizo has been called "Japan's Agatha Christie", and the title fits. This book was originally published in the 1950s, although it was just recently translated into English. I loved the disheveled detective and the post-World War II setting was fascinating. The book's cast of characters was long, making them a little difficult to keep track of ... I wish I had kept a list from the beginning. This is one of those books where everyone is a suspect, which makes it super fun to read! After enjoying this caper, I'm looking forward to reading more books in the Detective Kosuke Kindaichi series!
Just Another Missing Person by Gillian McAllister
A by-the-book detective is faced with an impossible choice in Just Another Missing Person! Olivia was last seen on CCTV heading into a dead-end alley and not coming back out again. Detective Julia Day is leading the search for 22-year-old Olivia, but as she prepares for the long hours away from her family, she has no idea just how close to home the case will hit. The criminal at the heart of the case has something Julia never expected: her worst secret. And her family's safety depends on her framing someone else for the murder.
While I love thrillers, I'm not huge fan of detective novels (despite the book I read right before this one, lol). I really enjoyed this book though! This story combines a gripping moral dilemma with head-scratching missing person case. Along the way, there were lots of twists and turns ... some of which I guessed, but many that I didn't. I felt that parts of the ending were wrapped up a little too quickly and others seemed a bit implausible, but overall a great read!
Big Little Spells by Hazel Beck
A banished witch returns to her hometown in Big Little Spells! Rebekah Wilde was just 18 when she was banished from home and stripped of her magic. Years later, the powerful Joywood Coven forces her to return home, determined to prove that Rebekah, her sister, and their friends are a danger to witchkind. Facing an impending death sentence unless she can prove otherwise, Rebekah is forced to seek help from a ruthless immortal, Nicholas Frost. Before she was banished, Nicholas was her private tutor and secret crush, but he's as icy and remote as ever. It's impossible to tell if he feels anything for Rebekah, but he's her only hope.
This story is book two in the Witchlore series. I read the first book, Small Town, Big Magic last year, so I was excited to check out the next book in the series ... and I wasn't disappointed! The story picks up right where things left off in the first book. I loved the tension between Rebekah and Nicholas, the contrast between the rebellious Rebekah and her rule-following sister, as well as the over-arching story of the friends trying to prove themselves to the Joywood. I'm already looking forward to book three!
Western Lane by Chetna Maroo
A young girl comes of age while playing squash in Western Lane! Eleven-year-old Gopi has been playing squash for years, but when her mother dies, the game becomes her world. Gopi's father subjects her to a quietly brutal training regimen, and as her life is reduced to the sport, she slowly grows apart from her sisters. But she's not alone on the court. She's with her father and with Ged, a talented thirteen-year-old boy. And she's with the players that came before her.
I picked this book up on a whim after seeing it was shortlisted for the Booker Prize, and I ended up being super impressed. This is a fairly short book, but it's such a poignant / painful story with an over-arching themes of grief, family, and belonging. My heart really broke for Gopi, especially as the book progressed. The relationship between Gopi and her sisters was lovely, and while I know next to nothing about squash, the juxtaposition of the sport to character's lives was very interesting. Definitely worth a read if you're looking for something different!
Weyward by Emilia Hart
The lives of three extraordinary women intertwine in Weyward! In 2019, Kate flees London and her abusive partner for Weyward Cottage. She inherited the ramshackle cottage from her great aunt, and as she settles in, she begin to suspect that her aunt had a secret. In 1619, Altha is awaiting trial for the murder of local farmer who was trampled by his herd. She's been accused of witchcraft. Altha's mother did teach her magic, although it was rooted in knowledge of the natural world, not spell casting. But Altha knows that unusual women are considered dangerous, and it will take all of her powers to regain her freedom. In 1942, Violet is trapped in her family's grand, crumbling estate as World War II rages. She longs for an education and for connection to her mother, who died years ago and is rumored to have gone mad. The only traces Violet can find of her are a locket engraved with the initial W, and the word weyward scratched into her bedroom's baseboard.
I loved this book, and it ended up being my favorite this month! It's a testament to three women who survived (and thrived) against the odds, and I thought their stories (although difficult) were handled so beautifully. The author also did a lovely job of wrapping the three women's love of the natural world into the story. I listened to the audiobook, and the narrator did a wonderful job with the three characters. This was one of these books where I couldn't get enough, and I found myself looking for any excuse to keep listening!
And that's it for October books! It was definitely a good month of reading ... I hope you found ideas for something new to read! Have you finished any of these books, or did you read anything this month that you'd recommend? Let me know if the comments!