October Wrap-Up

It’s hard to believe that October is already over. The November chill is very much in the air in Connecticut and I am sad that Halloween and spooky season have come to an end. But … bring on the holidays! 🙂

Between work and (safe, vaccinated) visits at our home, I did not spend as much time reading as I anticipated. And now that I have only 10 books left to meet my Goodreads goal for the year (50 books), it’s time to hustle!

I read three books in October — two that were on my October Hopefuls list, and one baby book to prepare for our little one coming in February!

Here are the books I read this month:

The Nature of Witches by Rachel Griffin

The Nature of Witches

I enjoyed this one! This one left me pleasantly surprised. I haven’t been jiving with books lately, and this one was just what I needed. It was atmospheric with beautiful language and a sweet romance. You can learn more in my book review.

A Lesson in Vengeance by Victoria Lee

A Lesson in Vengeance

This one was tough. While I appreciated the atmospheric, witchy vibes, it left me feeling befuddled and wanting more. I did hear that it was more of a thriller than a witchy book from other readers, and they weren’t wrong, but that’s not why I struggled.

What I didn’t like about this book was that it was very similar to A Secret History by Donna Tartt. From the language to the plot, I felt as if I was reading a replica of the same story, except the author threw in witches and subtle paranormal themes. You can learn more in my book review.

The Happiest Baby on the Block by Harvey Karp

Future parents: Get this book. I found this book to be so helpful. I’ve been leafing through some baby books and have found that a lot of the advice is general/instinctive, but this book was a saving grace. It only makes sense that the doctor who wrote this also invented the Snoo, a bassinet that we plan to get for our little babe.

What did you read in October? Share some books below!

And, see what I’ve been reading this year:

January Wrap-Up

February Wrap-Up

March Wrap-Up

April Wrap-Up

May to September Wrap-Up

Book Review | A Lesson in Vengeance by Victoria Lee

Spine-tingling. Dark academia. Murder. Psychological thriller. A Secret History but make it witchy. Lots of layers packed in this one.

A Lesson in Vengeance

More about A Lesson in Vengeance: Felicity Morrow is back at Dalloway School.

Perched in the Catskill mountains, the centuries-old, ivy-covered campus was home until the tragic death of her girlfriend. Now, after a year away, she’s returned to graduate. She even has her old room in Godwin House, the exclusive dormitory rumored to be haunted by the spirits of five Dalloway students—girls some say were witches. The Dalloway Five all died mysteriously, one after another, right on Godwin grounds.

Witchcraft is woven into Dalloway’s history. The school doesn’t talk about it, but the students do. In secret rooms and shadowy corners, girls convene. And before her girlfriend died, Felicity was drawn to the dark. She’s determined to leave that behind her now; all Felicity wants is to focus on her senior thesis and graduate. But it’s hard when Dalloway’s occult history is everywhere. And when the new girl won’t let her forget.

It’s Ellis Haley’s first year at Dalloway, and she’s already amassed a loyal following. A prodigy novelist at seventeen, Ellis is a so-called “method writer.” She’s eccentric and brilliant, and Felicity can’t shake the pull she feels to her. So when Ellis asks Felicity for help researching the Dalloway Five for her second book, Felicity can’t say no. Given her history with the arcane, Felicity is the perfect resource.

And when history begins to repeat itself, Felicity will have to face the darkness in Dalloway–and in herself.

My thoughts

This has been a tough book review to write. I’ve composed three drafts of this post, and after deleting them, I’ve decided to just get it out and press on.

I will say that I did enjoy reading this book. I remember closing it thinking, “Wow! OK. I liked it.” But as time goes on, I am ruminating on things that I didn’t like about it — and they outweigh the very few elements that I did enjoy.

What I liked:

  • The subtle dark, witchy vibes.
  • The atmospheric setting: Intelligent girls at an all-girls boarding school in New England.
  • The twisted characters. Very. Twisted.
  • The author’s deep dive into the psychosis of the main character.
  • The ending (even though it was disturbing).

What I did not like:

  • The “too-muchness” of it all. I know it’s not an eloquent way to describe it, but honestly, this book was all over the place when it came to genres. If you are expecting to read a Gothic-like contemporary horror book, then you will close it disappointed. It went from coven-inspired, dark academic vibes to murder mystery/thriller/psychological thriller in an instant, and it left me (and a few other readers I talked to) feeling jumbled.
  • The author’s inconsistent narration. Felicity is an intelligent young woman. She is a senior in high school writing her thesis on horror lit and female representation (an interest of mine). So, clearly she’s bookish and uses impressive vocabulary. But, her vocabulary was too much during many moments of her narration. She went from “looking for libations” at a high school party (who even says that when you are 17? Or ever?) to everyday teenage colloquialisms. I found myself rolling my eyes a lot during this book.
  • The lack of uncanny and paranormal, particularly by the end. We don’t wrap up the Dalloway Five or any of the witchy elements.

I also realized, very quickly upon finishing, that this book is very similar to A Secret History by Donna Tartt — from the plot to the writing. I read that book last month and I refuse to write a review about it because I disliked it so much.

One of my biggest qualms about Tartt’s writing is what I refer to as the “writer’s flex.” We get it, you are smart. Do you need to use unnecessary vocabulary and showcase your knowledge about the Classics every page? No. You just come off as pretentious.

That’s the same vibe I got from Lee’s book, whose plot does not stray far from Tartt’s in A Secret History … except there are witches and an all-girls school. I get art imitates art, but I shouldn’t be thinking “I just read this book” while reading a new novel. There’s even an Bacchus in …Vengeance, which was a big scene in A Secret History. After reading that Lee is a big fan of Donna Tartt, I had my “AHA!” moment, and wish that the author had a little more ingenuity with this book.

Well, I got it out. It’s done.

Did you read A Lesson in Vengeance? What were your thoughts?

October Hopefuls

Spooky season is here! Well, if we are being honest, I have been celebrating spooky season for the past three weeks now.

It is October — one of the best months of the year. Leaves are changing, the weather is getting crisp, and fall cardigans are getting pulled out of the storage bins (*sneezes*).

And, spooky books are being read! I am excited to share my October hopefuls this year. Naturally, they are very witch-oriented, and I wouldn’t have it any other way! I love reading witchy books in the fall.

Here are the books I want to read in October:

The Nature of Witches by Rachel Griffin

The Nature of Witches

I started this book the other day and I am already enjoying it. It’s a new take on witchcraft and magic. I respect the author’s not-so-subtle nod towards climate change and how the witches must try to protect the world from our ever-changing climate. There is also LGBTQ representation and diversity, which I appreciate. I love the atmospheric language associated with each season, and the idea that individuals are stronger and more “themselves” in the seasons when they are born. As a November baby, I can relate to that.

A Lesson in Vengeance by Victoria Lee

A Lesson in Vengeance

This seems to be a dark, academic, witchy book that I can’t wait to pick up. I plan on reading this one next and I have a feeling it’s going to be good. I also heard it’s more of a thriller than a witchy book, so we will see! Also, the cover is really cool. I did judge the book by its cover for this one.

The Age of Witches by Louisa Morgan

The Age of Witches

A Secret History of Witches was one of my favorite books last year, so I really look forward to this one! Morgan’s books are all about sisterhood and feature strong, powerful women. I can guess that this one will be much of the same.

Hour of the Witch by Chris Bohjalian

Hour of the Witch

This one seems to be less magical and whimsical and more like historical fiction, but hey, I love historical fiction. It’s about a young puritan woman escaping a violent marriage in 17th century Boston.

Coraline by Neil Gaiman


This will be a reread with a buddy read group I am a part of on Bookstagram. For those who don’t know, Coraline is one of my favorite books and I reread it quite often! It’s frightening, eerie, empowering, and plain ol’ fantastic. I almost wrote my master’s thesis on Coraline, but I had to cut her from my list. I’m sure I will write more about her one day.

What are you reading this month? Share in the comments below!

And, check out these posts to see what I’ve read this year:

January Wrap-Up

February Wrap-Up

March Wrap-Up

April Wrap-Up

May to September Wrap-Up