October 2019 Reads

In October, I not only met my (updated) goal of reading 52 books in 2019 — I surpassed it! I read several great books this month. Take a look at them in this post.

october 2019 reads honeybeejoyous

Stats

Number of books read: 8 📘📘📘📘📘📘📘📘

Print books: 2 📚📚

Audiobooks: 6 🎧🎧🎧🎧🎧🎧

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 5 star books: 0

⭐⭐⭐⭐ 4 star books: 3

⭐⭐⭐ 3 star books: 3

⭐⭐ 2 star books: 2

1 star books: 0

😍 Favorite book: Only Human

☹️ Least favorite book: A is for Alibi

Only Human by Sylvain Neuvel

only human by sylvain neuvel cover honeybeejoyous

4 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Read from September 28, 2019 – October 2, 2019.

I was ecstatic when I got the email from my library letting me know my hold on the Only Human audiobook was up and I was able to listen. I loved the other two books in Sylvain Neuvel’s Themis Files series and this one was no exception. I was so excited to get back into this world and keep hearing the stories of the characters I loved (and even meeting and loving new characters!). The story got deeper; the characters grew, changed, and developed; and we got new conflicts and new perspectives.

In some ways, all sci-fi books deal with ethics in some way, but Only Human (and to be honest, the whole Themis Files series) deals so heavily in issues of ethics and morality. I think these are topics that are hard to handle well without being heavy handed, but Sylvain Neuvel manages to explore complicated topics in funny, speculative, and thought-provoking ways.

Spoilers for the first two books below

I liked this story a lot and loved that we got to spend some time on the alien world we’d heard so much about. But, what made this a four-star instead of a five-star read is that I really missed the perspectives and voices of some of the characters from the first two books, namely Kara and the nameless friend. Also … for some reason Eva’s accent sounded kind of New York? I’m not sure if it was like that before, but it bugged me in this book. It should have been Puerto Rican or alien right?

Aside from those small qualms, this was a fantastic book and I highly recommend this series especially in audiobook form. Each character has a different voice actor and the series is so well-produced. I’m pretty sure it’s a trilogy so this would be the last book, but I definitely would read anything else Sylvain Neuvel put out!

**read as an audiobook**

Find my review on Goodreads here.

Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool

moon over manifest by clare vanderpool cover honeybeejoyous

3.5 stars ⭐⭐⭐💫

Read from October 4, 2019 – October 10, 2019.

I wish this book had been out when I was a kid because I would have loved reading it then. I went through a major historical fiction phase for quite a few years (once I realized that no fantasy book would live up to my Harry Potter expectations) and Moon Over Manifest would have settled in perfectly beside The Green Glass Sea and all the Dear America books on my shelf of favorites.

In Moon Over ManifestClare Vanderpool explores two timelines that weave together and unravel mysteries, secrets, and lessons. In the middle of the Great Depression, Abeline Tucker moves to Manifest, Kansas where she meets an eccentric cast of characters and starts to hear the story of Manifest’s past. Abeline’s search for her place in the world intertwines with the story of Manifest in 1918 — in the midst of WWI and the Spanish Influenza outbreak.

Both timelines have likeable characters, interesting plots, and good dialogue. I think I would have enjoyed this book more if I had read it as a physical book. The audiobook had multiple narrators, but not one for each character. The narrator who read the 1918 Miss Sadie stories was the same who voiced Abeline as she narrated her own timeline, so it was a bit confusing to keep track of what year it was and which characters were interacting. That kept taking me out of the story and it made it difficult for me to immerse myself as much as I’d have liked to. Overall, though, this was a good story and was very well-researched.

**read as an audiobook**

Find my review on Goodreads here.

The Six: Scarlett by Samantha March

the six: scarlett by samantha march cover honeybeejoyous

3.5 stars ⭐⭐⭐💫

Read from October 8, 2019 – October 12, 2019.

The Six: Scarlett is the second book I’ve read by beauty Youtuber and chick-lit author Samantha March and I’m looking forward to reading the rest of the books in The Six series when they come out. Like the first book (The Six: Kristy), The Six: Scarlett had likeable characters, realistic but ever so slightly over the top drama, and a good plot.

Find my review on Goodreads here.

Planet Earth is Blue by Nicole Panteleakos

planet earth is blue by nicole panteleakos cover honeybeejoyous

4 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Read from October 10, 2019 – October 14, 2019.

Only read Planet Earth Is Blue if you want to have a lot of feelings. And when I say a lot, I mean A LOT. Nova is a nonverbal, autistic girl who loves all things NASA, space, and space travel. For years, she has been in foster care with her protective older sister Bridget. Now though, just days before the Challenger space shuttle is set to launch, in a new foster family that’s starting to feel like it could be a forever family, and in a new school where they actually see some of Nova’s potential, Bridget is nowhere to be found, even though she promised she would watch the launch with Nova.

I knew this book would be sad when I saw it was about the Challenger, but wow did I underestimate the emotions I would feel reading this. It made me think about the importance of quality special education, about the fact that every single person has a story to tell (whether they can communicate in a way you understand or not), and about the finiteness of human life compared to the infiniteness of space. This book touched on so many deep and difficult issues and it’s a book I would definitely recommend, but not one I would recommend picking up lightly.

**read as an audiobook**

Find my review on Goodreads here.

Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes

evvie drake starts over by linda holmes cover honeybeejoyous

4 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Read from October 14, 2019 – October 18, 2019.

I’m not sure what genre Evvie Drake Starts Over is technically listed as, but it’s about as close to a romance novel as I’ve ever read. I wasn’t sure about it at first, but I ended up really enjoying it. It was a sweet love story with very real characters who I felt connected to and cared about.

Evvie is packing her car to leave her husband and the life she knows behind, when she gets a call that he’s been badly injured in a car crash. A year later, she’s wracked with guilt and discomfort when everyone sees her as a grieving widow of a beloved man, but she knows she was about to leave a harmful situation. Enter Dean Tenney, a former major league baseball pitcher who has lost his ability to pitch accurately and no one can figure out why. Dean rents out the apartment in the back of Evvie’s house and the two develop an unlikely friendship that looks like it might blossom into something more — if the two can get over the lies they’ve told themselves and everyone else.

Even though the specifics of this story were incredibly unlikely, Linda Holmes did an incredible job of writing realistic characters who deal with very real issues in ways that are both relatable and humorous. I genuinely cared about every single character in this story, which doesn’t always happen. This book made me smile a lot and I’m glad I read it.

**read as an audiobook**

Find my review on Goodreads here.

The Faith of Dolly Parton: Lessons from Her Life to Lift Your Heart by Dudley J. Delffs

the faith of dolly parton by dudley j. delffs cover honeybeejoyous

3 stars ⭐⭐⭐

Read from October 21, 2019 – October 22, 2019.

The Faith of Dolly Parton: Lessons from Her Life to Lift Your Heart was a step outside my comfort zone, genre-wise. If you follow me here on Goodreads, you know I usually read thrillers, mysteries, and various types of middle grade fiction. I usually do not read biographies, religious books, or self help books. This book was all three of those. With that in mind, I largely enjoyed this uplifting deviation from my norm.

I really love Dolly Parton and I’m a Christian myself so I was excited to read this book that combined those two interests. The way this book was written was a bit unexpected, but I ended up enjoying it. Author Dudley J. Delffs uses research about Dolly’s life, quotes from Dolly’s interviews, and personal anecdotes from his own life to deliver 10 life lessons along with questions for the readers to ask themselves and short prayers. There was a lot more of the author’s life story in this book than I was expecting, but I didn’t mind because his stories were interesting and served his points well. I learned a lot about Dolly’s life and faith that I did not already know and I thought about my own life and my own faith. This was definitely a different read for me, but it was quick, I learned new things, and I’m glad I picked it up.

**read as an audiobook**

Find my review on Goodreads here.

A is for Alibi by Sue Grafton

a is for alibi by sue grafton cover honeybeejoyous

2.5 stars ⭐⭐💫

Read from October 22, 2019 – October 25, 2019.

I remember hearing an interview with Sue Grafton on NPR a couple of years ago where she talked about her alphabet series. She talked about how she wanted to write typical mystery novels with a hardboiled private eye with the twist being that her investigator is Kinsey Millhone, a woman. I was intrigued by this interview and since I enjoy mysteries (and loved the A to Z Mysteries series by Ron Roy when I was a kid), I’ve had it in the back of my mind that I wanted to give these books a shot. However, I’m not entirely sure they’re for me.

In A is for Alibi, Kinsey is tasked with solving the almost decade-old murder of Laurence Fife. His wife Nikki was sent to jail for his murder, but she claims she is innocent and charges Kinsey with her task once she gets out from behind bars. Kinsey stumbles along the cold trail until she finds leads and her personal life gets entangled with the case — causing her to come dangerously close to the murderer.

I liked the storyline and the mystery itself in this novel. It was a straight-up murder mystery with many possible suspects, a cold trail, and dubious motives. I also thought the narrator of the audiobook had a great voice for this story. She was a bit husky and gruff sounding, just like I would imagine a private investigator who works alone to sound like. I wasn’t surprised by who the culprit was, but I was a bit surprised by how we got to that conclusion.

However, there were many things I didn’t like so much about the book. Some of them can be explained by its publication date (1982), like the many uncomfortable comments about characters’ weight and the weird acceptance and enforcement of gender roles even as the novel tried to subvert them. However, some of my qualms were simply with the writing style. I felt like there was a fair bit of filler and there were times I was zoning out and missed chunks of the story (but it didn’t matter because they were things like descriptions of Kinsey’s jog and didn’t advance the plot). I also wasn’t a fan of the very unsexy sex scenes in the book. I’m a firm believer that not all books need sex scenes or romantic plot lines and I could have definitely done without them in this book.

Despite this, I liked the character of Kinsey Millhone and I liked the mystery in this story. If the chance arises, I might try out another book in this series, but it will definitely be a letter further down the alphabet.

**read as an audiobook**

Find my review on Goodreads here.

Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson

nothing to see here by kevin wilson cover honeybeejoyous

2.5 stars ⭐⭐💫

Read from October 12, 2019 – October 30, 2019.

I had a hard time assigning a star rating to this book. I read the whole thing and I think I kind of liked it? But I think I liked the idea of the book more than the book itself if that makes sense? This was my October Book of the Month pick and I knew I was branching out when I picked something from the magical realism genre. In Nothing to See Here, Lillian is tasked with taking care of two children from her rich high school bestie’s husband’s previous marriage. That would be a difficult enough task on its own, but these children have some ~quirks.~ In addition to being just plain weird, the kids catch on fire when they feel strong emotions. Yes, that’s right, they catch on fire. The kids themselves remain unharmed but the fire is very much real. So, Lillian, who has never felt successful or responsible for anything, now has to care for two fire children while her best friend’s husband works to advance his political career. It sounded like a super cool story, but Nothing to See Here ended up not really being my jam.

This book was a great example of why I don’t generally read books with female main characters written by male authors (Riley Sager novels being the notable exception). The whole time I was reading, I couldn’t stop thinking about how Kevin Wilson doesn’t seem to have a good grasp of what women are like. In addition, Lillian’s obsession over her high school best friend Madison is quite creepy and made me feel uncomfortable throughout the book. In terms of the writing style, I didn’t enjoy the sweeping aerial view of the story that Kevin Wilson‘s style gives in this novel. I like to feel immersed in a story, not feel like a passive observer. Lillian seems to feel like a passive observer in her own life so I understand the style choice, it’s just not my thing and made it hard for me to enjoy the book. Overall, it took me longer than I was anticipating to get through this book because I found it difficult to feel invested in, relate to, or care about any of the characters besides the children. This book had an A+ premise, but in my opinion, the delivery was really lacking.

Find my review on Goodreads here.

I can’t believe I’ve already read more than 52 books this year and there are still 2 months left in 2019! What is your favorite book you’ve read this year? Do you have any suggestions I need to read before the year is over? Leave a comment down below and tell me!

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