Looking Back at the Books I Read in October 2023

Another month has passed, so let’s take a look back at the books I read in October. This month, I also completed my GoodReads reading goal of 100 novels for 2023. Will I quit reading for the rest of the year? No. I’m going to continue pushing past that target because it was only a guess when I set it.

Also, I’m contemplating dropping the rating scale entirely when I review books starting in January. Instead, while discussing books, I’ll just say I don’t recommend, it wasn’t for me, I would recommend, or I strongly recommend. So many places have different rating scales, and I’m tired of mentally switching between them. Also, I believe this would be more comprehensive than 1–5 stars. Let me know what you think of this change in the comments, as I’m curious as to everyone’s opinion on this.

So, what did I read this month?

These are all the new books I read, not any that I decided to re-read along the way. If I did a review, I’ll share the link to those. Otherwise, I will do a quick review of the book or series (with the series getting the mini-review at the end of all the books in the list). Mostly, those will just be a quick blurb about what the book/series was about. Any book with a ♥ next to the rating are available on Kindle Unlimited. Not all of these I read through there but in case you have that subscription, I figured I would let you know.

  1. Slaying the Vampire Conqueror by Carissa Broadbent – 4 stars
    • This book is part of the Crowns of Nyaxia universe, but was written in collaboration with other authors as part of the Mortal Enemies to Monster Lovers series. Compared to Broadbent’s other novels the plot of this one is simpler and easier to predict, but there were still elements that took me by surprise. There were a few elements that didn’t make a whole lot of sense if you skip back to analyze the book, but as I was reading it they didn’t throw me off. The main element being how Sylina “sees” through threads/magic. She describes being able to navigate the world without sight clearly (including color and facial expressions), then randomly sometimes rocks are an issue when she’s also using those to ‘see’ where she’s going. Or she mentions crowds are a major issue, until she’s fighting then suddenly they aren’t a problem. It’s just not consistent in how her ‘sight’ is handled. Other than that, I didn’t really have a problem with the magic system or plot. I wouldn’t say this was the best book of Broadbent’s but I still really enjoyed it.
  2. Feed the Birds by Dakota Wilde – 3 stars
    • A loosely inspired retelling of Mary Poppins, where the governess comes to help a widow take care of his young children. But it’s dark as Mary Poppins (Marigold) commits murder with the help of her birds, has a twin sister called Bloody Mary (Marybeth), and is cursed to follow the winds as punishment for killing her father. The only way to break the curse is to receive untainted, true love then drink the blood from that individual. This is where Barrett, the father of the children comes in, he too has a dark past and is fighting his guilt of moving on from his late wife. Marigold and Barret fall in love with each other, finding happiness and peace for a brief period of time. I won’t spoil the ending but don’t expect this to end on a positive note as there is no HEA. Still, it’s an easy, short read with an interesting concept that has plenty of references to the original tale.
  3. The Pucking Wrong Guy (The Pucking Wrong Series, Book 2) by C.R. Jane – 2.75 stars
    • This book I thought was way better than the first book in the series, but it still had it’s issues. Yes, Ari has major possession issues and does a lot of similar behaviors as Lincoln (stalking, manipulating, etc.) but didn’t come off as creepy as the way Lincoln did those same things to Monroe. Maybe it’s the fact that Ari knew Blake when they were in a group home together as kids, and wanted to find his dream girl after years of being separated. And Ari never kidnaps the girl, he lets her decide if she’s going to stick around after learning everything he’s done (stalked her, blocked her then-boyfriend on everything, convinced her roommate to subtly kick her out, and a bunch of illegal things). While Lincoln really didn’t do that. Lincoln just forced everyone and everything out of Monroe’s life so she only had him. So, I’m glad that at least was an improvement between the first book and this one. However, while those darker elements didn’t bother me as much in this book, a good portion of the modern references were cringy. Also, the way that Blake’s mental health was handled at the end bothered me. She just suddenly decides the day her husband leaves that she’s going to be all better now and never has anymore issues with eating disorders, self-harm, etc. No, it’s a process. Yes, she starts therapy but it’s not one day you wake up and everything is cured. Especially not on a day could be argued as one of the worst days of your life. The love of your life is leaving states and sent a divorce lawyer to talk to you. Yeah, no.
  4. Throne of the Fallen by Kerri Maniscalco4.5 stars
    • See my review for thoughts on this book.
  5. Until The Stars Fall (Immortal Reveries, Book 1) by Vanessa Rasanen – 4.25 stars
    • I’m not going to be posting my review of this book until closer to the release date in February 2024, but I seriously loved this book and could not put it down. I can’t wait for the rest of this series to come out and to see if characters from the Aisling Sea make an appearance.
  6. Bride of the Shadow King (Bride of the Shadow King, Book 1) by Sylvia Mercedes – 3 stars
  7. Vow of the Shadow King (Bride of the Shadow King, Book 2) by Sylvia Mercedes – 2.75 stars
    • This series switches back and forth between Faraine and Vor, but as one chapter ends instead of going the POV of that other and continuing on it rewinds time a bit before reaching that point again. The development of the relationship between the two was instalove, with little to no depth beyond he saved her life and he happens to make her feel calm, when most interactions with people leave her in pain. It would’ve been nice if there had been more build up between them meeting and her taking her sister’s place in marrying him. I did DNF the final book Heart of the Shadow King, I just couldn’t get myself to finish this series as I was just finding myself more and move annoyed by the main characters.
  8. A Curse for True Love (Once Upon a Broken Heart Trilogy, Book 3) by Stephanie Garber4.25 stars
    • See my review for thoughts on this book.
  9. Surviving Skarr (Ice Planet Clones, Book 2) by Ruby Dixon – 3.5 stars
    • This newest installment in the Ice Planet Barbarians/Icehome/Ice Planet Clones sage follows Skarr (a snake-like gladiator) and Vivi (a clone with little memory of her past). Skarr only knows fighting and getting victories but never revealing weaknesses, so he’s a bit much and constantly says the wrong thing. Vivi, on the other hand, is shy and only has memories of camping with her father. So, Flor ends up naming her Vivian since they have to call her something, but she shortens it later to Vivi. The two are polar opposites on personalities, she hates being the center of attention while he carves it. But that is what makes them work as they learn to help each other out and become a team.

My Rating System

Check out this post to see how my rating scale works, but the quick version is:

  • 5 stars = Masterpiece. Nothing can literally be better than this. Not to mention, a major book slump happens afterward where I am unable to pick up another book for quite some time.
  • 4 stars = One of the best books I’ve ever read, I couldn’t put it down and found little fault in it.
  • 3 stars = A good book but there were some flaws, from editing to plot to you name it.
  • 2 stars = Liked the book, but wouldn’t say it was something that was memorable.
  • 1 star = Book wasn’t for me.

I almost never give a 5-star rating. Some books have come close, but something always held me back from giving it to those books. I also use .25 increments with the ratings, so there’s a range in each of those levels.

What is currently unfinished?

I figured I would add this section as these were things I started to read, but haven’t finished yet so I can’t exactly give them a rating quite yet. I am not DNF’ing these books. I will finish them at some point, most likely next month. I just have to get back to them. I got distracted or pulled away from them for one reason or another.

  • The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes (The Hunger Games, Book 0) by Suzanne Collins – I started this book, but got distracted and switched to reading other things as they were released, so it’s taken me almost the entire month to read. However, I’m almost done (a few chapters left) so a review should be up soon with my thoughts.

Love ya,

Mae Polzine

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