If I were a little more organized, I would have made sure to have updated my October 2022 wrap up here on the blog like I did on my YouTube channel. (You can watch it here.) To be fair to myself, though, I’d just gotten off a heavy month of blogging and I guess my blogging spirit had burned out. However, the mere memory of the rush of Blogtober and the fact that I got through it, that I succeeded in posting on every day of October, puts a wide grin on my face. I had never expected that I would be able to put up 31 consecutive blog posts (33, if you include the intro and the wrap up) and to have done it has made me super happy.
So the tiredness told me that I had earned a leave of absence from here and helped me decide to combine my October 2022 wrap up with my November 2022 wrap up. I have done combined wrap ups before, so this isn’t some out of the box thing. The downside (or upside, depends on how you see it) is that there are 16 books that I need to be talking about in this blog post – 5 from October, and 11 from November. How did I end up here? We all know the answer to that! 😂
Since there are so many books and we know already that this is going to be a long blog post, let’s get right on with it and let me share with you all the books that I read in October and November 2022. Buckle up!
BOOKS I READ IN OCTOBER 2022
1. The Gods Are Not Dead by Abhaidev
This was a review copy for which I did reviews here on my blog as well as on my YouTube channel. Abhaidev has some really interesting premises on which he bases his stories and brings out different facets to the characters and as a result, to people and reality as well. This one was no different.
Here’s a little excerpt from my review of the book:
The Gods Are Not Dead is the story of Shaurya, an IT employee, who one day realizes that he has become indestructible. He now wants to do something good for the world and tries out multiple ways to build a following. But people are apprehensive to follow him because of various reasons. And then, Megha enters his life. She quickly helps him understand what he needs to do and under her expert guidance, Shaurya begins transforming into the change he wants to see in people. But will Shaurya find his true calling or will he lose himself in this huge undertaking? Will the Gods be in their favor?
Overall, I think that The Gods Are Not Dead is a fantastic book about philosophy, religion, human motivations, and morals. Some parts may be tedious and awkward to get through, but overall, it’s quite an informative read and has something in it for everyone. Would highly recommend it!
2. Her Body & Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado
Carmen Maria Machado is an author whose books I’d seen on social media and really wanted to read. So much that one of the first books I borrowed from the library here in Sydney, Australia, was Her Body & Other Parties. And what a decision that was!
Her Body & Other Parties is a collection of short stories in which the author talks about different women and their lives with a supernatural twist, be it exploring a woman’s sexuality in a dystopian world, or talking about writing about a woman writer who discovers things about herself and about writing in general, and so much more.
It is a tedious collection to read and exhausting because of the topics it deals with and it will take time for you to get through. A woman’s everyday life is not easy because of the sexism and the misogyny that we live with even in this time and age. And when it comes to queer women’s lives, it becomes even more complicated. But the author here has dealt with all of this fabulously well.
It does meander a little and becomes cryptic at times, but it is well worth it. This is a book that you should go into with all your senses. Give it your all. Invest yourself in it. I also kept my phone close because there were some stories I didn’t understand and I had to consult the Internet to understand what the author intended to say and if I had interpreted them correctly. And I realize that it helps to consume these stories like this, because then, you have a clear mind that you can continue the stories with.
But do read this collection. It is powerful, impactful, and sometimes horrifyingly realistic!
3. Tin Man by Sarah Winman
Ah, one of my favorite books of 2022! What beauty, what wonder this book holds! I’ve already done a detailed review / gush about this book here on the blog. Here’s a little excerpt from the review:
Sarah Winman is a master of quiet but impactful storytelling, like the childhood stories we listened to and learnt as children. The effect is such that I could hear a door slam shut in the story and flinched. I could almost hear the crackle of the fire. I could hear the traffic. I could hear Ellis’s gasp for breath and Michael’s angst. It’s a beautiful ode, a tribute to love, memory, loss, and hope. Of oblivion, of cluelessness – a story that meanders leisurely yet hopelessly through its own bylanes.
Tin Man is a quietly powerful book, rendering you emotional and speechless at the beautiful writing that’s like a breath of fresh air and a weight pulling you deeper into the innermost recesses of your mind to make you process everything. The balance that the author brings is delicate, like that last barrier that remains which, if broken, would destroy everything we ever really knew about humans and kindness and generosity.
Here’s the full review if you’d like to read it: Book Review – Tin Man.
4. Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
This is a scary, scary book that I did a full vlog for, where I read the book and recorded my reactions, my experiences of it. It was one big roller coaster ride, to be honest, veering from sweet to horrifying to disgusting and the whole gamut. It is a good horror story, I’ll say this, especially for a scaredy cat like me, who decided to finish the book at 2:30 AM. Yeah, I’m a genius, I know. 😛
If you’d like to watch my reactions, here’s the vlog: Reading Mexican Gothic for the First Time.
This is the story of Noemi Taboada who goes to her cousin’s house after receiving a letter asking for help. Her cousin says that her husband is poisoning her, the walls have voices, and many things which sound rambly. So Noemi now goes to help her and when she arrives at High Place – which is what the house is called – she realizes that her cousin hasn’t been lying and that there is something fishy going on. Some of the characters at High Place are so disgusting, you want to punch them in the face. And when they begin defining ‘disgusting’ in more ways than one, that’s when the horror intensifies. I was eating a cupcake at this point and let me tell you, it’s a bad, bad idea.
This is a good horror book, really, but towards the end, I felt that there was something missing. It was lacking that snap that makes an amazing horror book. I mean, the book is scary enough and creepy enough. But something was missing. And I can’t put a finger on it.
5. Less by Andrew Sean Greer
I finished this book just in the nick of time, just before November started. You know how I try not to carry over books and I counted this as yet another win.
Less is the story of Arthur Less, who finds out that his ex-lover is getting married, and that his publisher rejecting his latest manuscript. To avoid the whole situation, he sets out on a round-the-world trip, planning events so that he is nowhere in the vicinity when the wedding happens. He goes to New York, then to somewhere in Italy, then to India, and finally to Japan. Throughout this trip, he’s trying to do two things: keep his mind off his ex, and work on his manuscript. All this while, he goes to conventions and book signings and realize things about what he wants from life. How he puts these truths to use forms this whole story.
I had heard that this book is a laugh-out-loud riot, but even though I did chuckle at quite a few places, I didn’t find it very ground-breaking. It’s like when the author wonders why his book isn’t selling that much and someone says to him that he’s talking about a white gay man walking around America or California or whatever place it was, and he’s talking about his white troubles. At this, I was like, “You know what? This might be true of Less as well – in which I am reading the story of Less writing the story of a white man roaming around the USA. It felt like an inception of thoughts which told me that the book is good, but it isn’t the best. I will read its sequel, though.
BOOKS I READ IN NOVEMBER 2022
6. Frank Carter: Chapter 4 by Yashesh Rathod
The fourth in the historical fantasy series following Frank Carter through space and time, Frank Carter: Chapter 4 by Yashesh Rathod is another book that I’ve done a full review for on my blog. Here’s a small excerpt:
“The concept and the points that the author takes this story to are very interesting. He makes sure that Frank’s main goal is always in sight even while he’s saving people from night monsters. Be it the warrior he recognizes in the King’s ring or the realization he has about time and reality in the realm, there’s always a twist that you won’t see coming which will fit well into the story, even if it’s a little too fantastical to happen. Then again, this is a historical fantasy of sorts, so the surprise at these events is unfounded.”
Here’s where you can read the full review: Book Review – Frank Carter: Chapter 4.
7. Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Listen… Taylor Jenkins Reid is one of my favorite authors of all time. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo has had such an impact on me that I know I’ll always compare any TJR book to it. I know it isn’t fair, but it’s the way it is. But did Malibu Rising live up to it or not? That was the question that plagued me for days after I finished the book. It is nowhere close to Evelyn Hugo, I realized, and I know that my issues with Malibu Rising is more than just that.
Malibu Rising is the story of the Riva siblings and their mother, June. If you’ve read Evelyn Hugo, you’ll find the name Mick Riva (the father here) familiar because he makes an appearance there as one of Evelyn Hugo’s husbands. Here, we see his rise to stardom (ugh, the a-hole!) and his “family” life. Nina Riva is the oldest Riva sibling, a surfer model who is almost as famous as her singer father. She is the one who has held her family together, the anchor, the Rivas’ hearth. The Rivas, being famous public figures, are considered top tier celebrities and their annual end-of-summer party is a place where everyone wants to be.
This year, the party looms, none of them having any idea what it’s about to bring to them. The past, the present, and the future are all about to clash in ways that they didn’t think were possible. What secrets are about to come tumbling out? What choices will they make? And will they still have each other at the end of it all?
Okay, now. It might seem like an “innocent” enough historical Hollywood tale (set in 1983), but I assure you, your blood will boil. I hate it when infidelity doesn’t get its comeuppance and though this might not be it, really, it somehow left a bad taste behind. It was as though there was comeuppance and redemption, but there was also something about the whole book – maybe the roundabout descriptions – that had me fuming by the time the book ended. In hindsight, I know what the book set out to do and I know that it achieved it. But it just fell short, maybe because it wanders from the main characters so much that it became difficult after a point to actually keep up with who was telling the story. Even if it weren’t, the sole, single point that annoys me even now is the fact that the men in this book think it’s okay to treat women the way they do.
And that’s all I’ll say for it right now. I’ll be coming up with a detailed book review soon, hopefully this Monday!
8. Postscript by Cecelia Ahern
The sequel to the hit, tragic love story, P.S. I Love You, Postscriptis the story of Holly trying to move on from Gerry’s death, but not being allowed to. I mean, it might seem a little too rude to call it that, but there’s so many layers to this story, it made my head spin a little, given the different perspectives that people bring out.
It’s been years since Gerry’s death and Holly has grown. She works in a store her sister runs, is in a relationship with a wonderful man, and is finally ready to talk about her past without breaking down. She does this for her sister Ciara’s podcast, but this puts into motion several events, most important of which is the members of the P.S. I Love You Club approaching her for help in writing letters of farewell to their loved ones. These members are like Gerry, suffering from diseases that could take their lives at any point.
Now, Holly is faced with a dilemma: Should she refuse, given that her own mental health is just getting back on track? Or should she help these people? Will Holly be able to move past the pain and embrace the beauty of it all?
It’s a quick read, no doubt, but it has heavy meaning written all over it. Holly vacillating between decisions is almost painful to read, especially because that means we need to inspect our own perspectives, our own priorities. But it does get a little repetitive and preachy, although it isn’t that huge of a deterrent in the bigger picture. It’s still a beautiful reminder of the story that is P.S. I Love You. More than that, however, it’s the story of humanity and how one little thing we do to help another person can be so rewarding in more ways than one. Would recommend!
9. How We Love by Clementine Ford
Clementine Ford is a fiery feminist force to be reckoned with and her books, Fight Like a Girl and Boys Will Be Boys were two of my favorite books of 2020 and 2021 respectively. She has a fierce voice that will take no crap, especially not from the misogynist, sexist a-holes of the world. So when I learned that her memoir was coming out, I got super excited. Of course, it wasn’t available in India last year. So when we came to Sydney, it was the first book I bought.
In this memoir, Clementine Ford talks about love in her life, be it her relationship with her family – especially her mother, the love interests she has had, her son, and her friends. The section on her relationship with her mother is especially moving and I was in tears by the end of it. The rest of the book, however, meanders a little, even though it’s pretty clear what the subject is. It sometimes feels like it has no point, but then again, sometimes love doesn’t have a point. It just is. And that’s what How We Love is about. To know that you can be comfortable in your relationship without expecting fireworks every single time. For that, I’d recommend this one with all my heart.
10. All My Rage by Sabaa Tahir
If you didn’t know, Sabaa Tahir is one of my favorite authors of all time, one who I’d do anything for. And this came to be after I read her series, An Ember in the Ashes last year and went absolutely nuts over. There’s video evidence of me bawling my eyes out. So of course her first standalone novel, All My Rage, became one of my most anticipated releases of 2022. And what a book it is!
This is primarily the story of Salahudin and Noor, who haven’t been talking to each other for a while. But Salahudin’s mother, Misbah, is unwell and Noor goes to see her on her 18th birthday. Things become tougher as Misbah dies soon after and though Salahudin is trying to keep the motel up and Noor is keen on college, circumstances are obstinate and cruel enough that they threaten to pull them down. Be they Salahudin’s drunkard of a father or Noor’s savior complex of an uncle or their racist schoolmates, everything seems to be coming down on them. But things are about to get even worse and when they do, will Salahudin and Noor be able to pull themselves back up?
All My Rage, with its descriptions of a white-dominated society and entitled family, fills you with the rage that the characters feel. From Misbah’s flashbacks to Salahudin trying to stay true to his mother’s memories by doing everything he can to save the motel from debtors to Noor trying to stay sane and cling to the truths she knows instead of the truths that are – it’s a gut-wrenching book, a mirror, a portrayal of the various forms of love and what it can look like and make you do. It’s rage, it’s passion, it’s beauty, it’s determination – all of which you will feel as you read All My Rage. Please do read All My Rage!
I also did a review on my Instagram page if you’d like to go check it out: TMB Review of All My Rage on Instagram.
11. The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren
This is my first book by the writer duo Christina Lauren and I quite liked it, going by how I read a chunk of this book (295 of its 395 pages) in one sitting.
This is the story of Olive, who sees herself as unlucky while her twin Ami seems to win at everything. That’s how she ends up getting her wedding financed through winning Internet contests and giveaways. And that’s how the guests end up getting food poisoning. But now, Olive and the groom’s brother, her sworn enemy, Ethan, are the only two people who aren’t affected. Olive, because she has a shellfish allergy, and Ethan, because he’s very wary of buffets. Ami and Dane’s honeymoon – another giveaway win – is now up for grabs and obviously, they ask the only remaining healthy people to go on the trip, or it will all go to waste. Can Olive and Ethan stand each other for 10 days in exchange for a free holiday in Maui?
It’s an easy, breezy read, a good enemies-to-lovers meets fake marriage story that’s fraught with trust and character issues. I don’t like that somehow, the female protagonist isn’t believed at one point – a pretty huge one at that – but I understand that it had to be made for the sake of the plot, irrespective of how flimsy I found it. Just… The satisfaction that I got from watching other things pan out was enough to make me gloss over this. Overall, I really liked it and would recommend if you’re looking for a quick read or romance that has these tropes.
12. 84 Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff
84 Charing Cross Road is an epistolary memoir, the first half of which (of my copy, at least), is a series of letters that the author exchanged with a London bookstore called Marks & Co., and the second half is the author’s diary entries when she visited London in the early 1970s. And what a book this is! One of my few 5-star reads of 2022 and a nonfiction book at that! I don’t know why that’s relevant but please bear with me for a second as I bask in the reflected brilliance of this beautiful epistolary memoir that’s funny, emotional, heartwarming, and bookish.
It’s a book that I held out on for way too long and I’m now sitting here in the bubble left behind by it, soaking it in hours and days after I finished reading it. I have no idea how else to describe it. I could compare it to The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, but that would be a gross disservice to both books. For while Guernsey is an epistolary work of fiction, 84 is an epistolary memoir that is grounded in reality and hence, gives you that pang that comes with this realization. There’s so much to unpack in this book, even though it’s pretty straightforward, and the number of books mentioned in here that I immediately want to pick up and INHALE makes me seem like I’m off my rocker. But that’s the effect that Helene Hanff’s writing has on you. It fills you with this strange, inexplicable energy that lingers long after you turn the last page.
GO READ THIS BOOK! PRONTO! (Sorry, I’m not shouting at you. I’m just very passionately recommending this book to you. 👀)
13, 14, 15. Saga: Volumes 1, 2 & 3 by Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples
The story of a young family fighting for survival, this graphic novel series is literally graphic and sometimes explicit in its descriptions of war, violence, and even love. Two soldiers, one from the planet called Landfall, and the other from Wreath, the moon that orbits it, fall in love with each other, risking the wrath of their lands. Landfall and Wreath have been at war with each other for ages and now, they’re both after these two ‘traitors’, who are just two people in love, now parents, who are trying to give their family a calm, happy life.
As the story progresses through these volumes, things get super interesting and action-packed, although the timelines get a little confusing sometimes. It isn’t difficult to put together, though. It does get violent, gory, and explicit – as I’ve already mentioned before – but it adds to the intensity of the plot and to the characters’ emotions. It keeps you invested, like a cross between Star Wars and Game of Thrones. I’m definitely looking forward to reading the rest of the series!
16. An Arrow to the Moon by Emily X R Pan
I want to say that this book is a modern-day retelling of Romeo and Juliet combined with Chinese mythology, which pushes it into the intersection of the Venn diagram that consists of fantasy, young adult romance, and magical realism.
This is the story of Luna Chang and Hunter Yee, two teens whose families hate each other. But you know how the story goes. Luna and Hunter fall in love with each other. Obviously. However, their families’ pasts are about come to haunt these two teens. Luna, who has a strange healing power, and Hunter, whose aim with a bow and arrow is impeccable, must deal with their families and the universe as a whole. This potent combination has left a crack in the earth in the middle of the town they are in, intensifying their situation, even though it looks like just another detail in the background of Luna and Hunter’s story.
It’s a fast-paced, gripping story with short chapters. But somehow, the exact same things that are trying to add suspense and mystery to the plot are the things that you get frustrated by because they aren’t coming out in the open sooner. It may seem like a pacy read, but because of the aforementioned issue, the pace itself had me going, “COME ON!” Plus, that ending was way too abrupt and left too many loose ends for the side characters. No comeuppance or redemption or closure of any sort because of how abruptly it seemed to end. Yet, Emily X R Pan’s writing flows like no other. If not for anything else, read it for the Chinese mythology. Chang’e and Houyi will keep you invested!
So those were all the books that I read in October and November 2022. Which of these have you read? Which ones do you want to read? Which books did you read in October 2022? Which books did you read in November 2022? What were your favorites? What were your least favorites? Let me know in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you! 😊
I’ll see you in the next blog post.
Until next time, keep reading, keep watching, and add melodrama to your life! 😊