October was a fantastic reading month and I definitely found some new favourite books. I also read so many books that felt perfect for October and helped me get into the Halloween spirit! I am going to attempt to rank these from my least favourite working up to my favourite, but I loved so many of these it is going to be a struggle.
Leviathan Fitness is known for monsters, muscles, and wolven who rescue damsels in distress.
After a wedding cake catastrophe, local decorator Tegan finds herself being helped by a solid wall of fur and fangs named Atlas. She’s never met anyone like him and finds herself enamored by his wolfish charm. After their sweet encounter, Atlas invites her to his gym anytime she needs his cake lifting services.
Tegan decides that instead- she wants to lift the cakes herself. She signs up for a membership with Leviathan Fitness, determined to build her strength.
Primal desires emerge as Atlas and Tegan test just how much their new love can lift— and if there are any limits to what monsters and humans can do.
Muscles & Monsters is book one in the Leviathan Fitness series. Each book will center around the gym and feature a different monster pairing.
I am on the hunt for books that remind me of the Mead Mishaps series by Kimberly Lemming and I really thought that Muscles and Monsters would be it! The cover is so cute and they are eating a cupcake so the vibes just felt right but I didn’t connect with this romance. The dialogue felt a little cheesy to me and not in a fun way. I also thought that everything happened too quickly and that while they had a sexual connection I didn’t feel like they had an emotional one. I also don’t think I am in to the whole tail wagging thing. I am starting to wonder if I don’t love monster romances and if the Mead Mishaps series just happens to be my exception. I am not ready to give up yet though!
The Woman in Me is a brave and astonishingly moving story about freedom, fame, motherhood, survival, faith, and hope.
In June 2021, the whole world was listening as Britney Spears spoke in open court. The impact of sharing her voice—her truth—was undeniable, and it changed the course of her life and the lives of countless others. The Woman in Me reveals for the first time her incredible journey—and the strength at the core of one of the greatest performers in pop music history.
Written with remarkable candor and humor, Spears’s groundbreaking book illuminates the enduring power of music and love—and the importance of a woman telling her own story, on her own terms, at last.
I am putting The Woman in Me here in my ranking simply because I didn’t rate it and I feel weird about rating memoirs these days. I was such a huge Britney Spears fan growing up to the point that my friend and I would pretend to be her and we particularly loved the song Lucky. If you have listened to that song you know how sad it is and I think even from a young age I understood Britney. That level of understanding grew deeper after reading her memoir. I was so angry for her but I am so happy that she now has the freedom to share her story. I will forever be rooting for her!
The first book in the Shady Hollow series, in which we are introduced to the village of Shady Hollow, a place where woodland creatures live together in harmony–until a curmudgeonly toad turns up dead and the local reporter has to solve the case.
Reporter Vera Vixen is a relative newcomer to Shady Hollow. The fox has a nose for news, so when she catches wind that the death might be a murder, she resolves to get to the bottom of the case, no matter where it leads. As she stirs up still waters, the fox exposes more than one mystery, and discovers that additional lives are in jeopardy.
Vera finds more to this town than she ever suspected. It seems someone in the Hollow will do anything to keep her from solving the murder, and soon it will take all of Vera’s cunning and quickness to crack the case.
Shady Hollow is your typical cozy mystery with the twist being that the characters are woodland creatures. We have foxes and bears and rabbits all coexisting in this world and it is kind of fun. It just feels like a small town cozy and I was into it! I think that this series is perfect if you need something lighthearted but there is still a mystery that you can hold onto and will have you turning the page. I will definitely be continuing on with the series!
For fans of Lovecraft Country and Candyman comes a witchy story full of Black girl magic as one girl’s dark ability to summon the dead offers her a chance at a new life, while revealing to her an even darker future.
Katrell can talk to the dead. And she wishes it made more money. She’s been able to support her unemployed mother–and Mom’s deadbeat-boyfriend-of-the-week–so far, but it isn’t enough. Money’s still tight, and to complicate things, Katrell has started to draw attention. Not from this world–from beyond. And it comes with a warning: STOP or there will be consequences.
Katrell is willing to call the ghosts on their bluff; she has no choice. What do ghosts know of having sleep for dinner? But when her next summoning accidentally raises someone from the dead, Katrell realizes that a live body is worth a lot more than a dead apparition. And, warning or not, she has no intention of letting this lucrative new business go.
Only magic isn’t free, and dark forces are coming to collect. Now Katrell faces a choice: resign herself to poverty, or confront the darkness before it’s too late.
Bad Witch Burning is definitely a witchy book but at its heart it is a hard-hitting YA contemporary. Our main character discovers she is able to raise people from the dead and does so in order to earn money to support her and her mother, but she does not consider the consequences. There are a lot of content warnings that I think are important to know about if this is something you plan to read. There is animal death as well as physical, emotional, and financial abuse all experience by our main character. I think that Jessica Lewis handle these themes really well and I felt like this was the perfect blend of fantasy and horror. I cannot wait to read more from her!
True love is at stake in this charming, debut romantic comedy.
Cassie Greenberg loves being an artist, but it’s a tough way to make a living. On the brink of eviction, she’s desperate when she finds a too-good-to-be-true apartment in a beautiful Chicago neighborhood. Cassie knows there has to be a catch—only someone with a secret to hide would rent out a room for that price.
Of course, her new roommate Frederick J. Fitzwilliam is far from normal. He sleeps all day, is out at night on business, and talks like he walked out of a regency romance novel. He also leaves Cassie heart-melting notes around the apartment, cares about her art, and asks about her day. And he doesn’t look half bad shirtless, on the rare occasions they’re both home and awake. But when Cassie finds bags of blood in the fridge that definitely weren’t there earlier, Frederick has to come clean…
Cassie’s sexy new roommate is a vampire. And he has a proposition for her.
You probably know by now that I love witchy contemporaries and My Roommate is a Vampire is like that but make the hero a vampire instead of a witch. I really hope that this is a new trend because I had so much fun with this. This book has been getting mixed reviews, which I understand, but I think you have to go into it with the right expectations. This is ridiculous and over the top and the ending made sense to me but is kind of silly. The hero is a vampire who has been unconscious for 100 years so he has some dated opinions but is open to learn about the modern world. There is a third act conflict but it is not necessarily a breakup, which was refreshing. I just thought that this was a fun time!
Vampires and vaqueros face off on the Texas-Mexico border in this supernatural western from the author of The Hacienda.
As the daughter of a rancher in 1840s Mexico, Nena knows a thing or two about monsters—her home has long been threatened by tensions with Anglo settlers from the north. But something more sinister lurks near the ranch at night, something that drains men of their blood and leaves them for dead.
Something that once attacked Nena nine years ago.
Believing Nena dead, Néstor has been on the run from his grief ever since, moving from ranch to ranch working as a vaquero. But no amount of drink can dispel the night terrors of sharp teeth; no woman can erase his childhood sweetheart from his mind.
When the United States attacks Mexico in 1846, the two are brought abruptly together on the road to war: Nena as a curandera, a healer striving to prove her worth to her father so that he does not marry her off to a stranger, and Néstor as a member of the auxiliary cavalry of ranchers and vaqueros. But the shock of their reunion—and Nena’s rage at Néstor for seemingly abandoning her long ago—is quickly overshadowed by the appearance of a nightmare made flesh.
And unless Nena and Néstor work through their past and face the future together, neither will survive to see the dawn.
Vampires of El Norte is the first book I have read from Isabel Canas and I definitely want to go back and read The Hacienda! There is something so beautiful about her writing. I think this is another one you have to go into with the right expectations. I thought I was getting a historical fiction novel with vampires and it is that but first and foremost it is a second chance romance. There is a lot of pining and angst and we even get a spicy scene, which was a pleasant surprise. The romance just happens to be unfolding as our characters are on the run from vampires. I thought this was super romantic and special!
Set in Colonial New England, Slewfoot is a tale of magic and mystery, of triumph and terror as only dark fantasist Brom can tell it.
A spirited young Englishwoman, Abitha, arrives at a Puritan colony betrothed to a stranger – only to become quickly widowed when her husband dies under mysterious circumstances. All alone in this pious and patriarchal society, Abitha fights for what little freedom she can grasp onto, while trying to stay true to herself and her past.
Enter Slewfoot, a powerful spirit of antiquity newly woken … and trying to find his own role in the world. Healer or destroyer? Protector or predator? But as the shadows walk and villagers start dying, a new rumor is whispered: Witch.
Both Abitha and Slewfoot must swiftly decide who they are, and what they must do to survive in a world intent on hanging any who meddle in the dark arts.
Slewfoot has one of the most satisfying endings I have read in such a long time. This was horror in the way that there are some really graphic scenes but you are rooting for the “bad” guys in this so the horror elements are so rewarding. Brom has this way over writing that makes you feel fully immersed in the story and I was able to visualize so many of the scenes, and there were some horrifying scenes so maybe that wasn’t always a good thing. Slewfoot reminded me how much I love historical witchy stories and this is up there as one of the best I have ever read.
Mary is a quiet, middle-aged woman doing her best to blend into the background. Unremarkable. Invisible. Unknown even to herself.
But lately, things have been changing inside Mary. Along with the hot flashes and body aches, she can’t look in a mirror without passing out, and the voices in her head have been urging her to do unspeakable things.
Fired from her job in New York, she moves back to her hometown, hoping to reconnect with her past and inner self. Instead, visions of terrifying, mutilated specters overwhelm her with increasing regularity and she begins auto-writing strange thoughts and phrases. Mary discovers that these experiences are echoes of an infamous serial killer.
Then the killings begin again.
Mary’s definitely going to find herself.
I have been wanting to read Mary but something about it intimidated me, which is ridiculous since I devoured this book and discovered just how readable Nat Cassidy’s writing is. Despite all the terrifying and disgusting things going on in this book, I never wanted to put it down. There was also some humour to it, which was a nice surprise. I honestly cannot believe that a male author wrote such an incredible book about a woman going through menopause. I am in awe! To the point that I have already read Nat Cassidy’s newest release, Nestlings, and will talk about that in my November wrap up.
A Black sheriff. A serial killer. A small town ready to combust.
Titus Crown is the first Black sheriff in the history of Charon County, Virginia. In recent decades, Charon has had only two murders. After years of working as an FBI agent, Titus knows better than anyone that while his hometown might seem like a land of moonshine, cornbread, and honeysuckle, secrets always fester under the surface.
Then a year to the day after Titus’s election, a school teacher is killed by a former student and the student is fatally shot by Titus’s deputies. Those festering secrets are now out in the open and ready to tear the town apart.
As Titus investigates the shootings, he unearths terrible crimes and a serial killer who has been hiding in plain sight, haunting the dirt lanes and woodland clearings of Charon. With the killer’s possible connections to a local church and the town’s harrowing history weighing on him, Titus projects confidence about closing the case while concealing a painful secret from his own past. At the same time, he also has to contend with a far-right group that wants to hold a parade in celebration of the town’s Confederate history.
I haven’t been much of a thriller readers these days, but S.A. Cosby is my exception. In a lot of ways, All the Sinners Bleed reads like your classic crime thriller but Cosby has this way of doing something unique with his stories. There are two content warnings I want to give before you read this. It starts with a school shooting and it might be difficult to read if you struggle with fiction that focuses on abuse of children. I could not put this book down but there were moments where it was too much and I needed a break. It is brilliantly done though and I am truly in awe of S.A. Cosby. An auto-buy author that is for sure!
Something has walked the floors of the Ormen for almost a century.
Something that craves revenge…
1901. Dundee, Scotland. Nicky wakes on board The Ormen, a whaling ship, attacked and dragged there, held against her will. With land still weeks away, it’s just her, the freezing ocean, and the crew – and they’re all owed something only she can give them.
Now. Skúmaskot, Iceland. The Ormen has been drifting across the oceans for decades, its crew inexplicably vanished, it’s stories still unknown.
But urban explorer Dominique has battled to reach Skúmaskot, an old shark fishing village on the northern tip of Iceland, just twenty miles from the Arctic Circle. A place where no one has lived for over forty years. And the resting place of The Ormen.
She thought it was deserted. But something is there with her. And it’s seeking revenge…
C.J. Cooke never misses for me and A Haunting in the Arctic was no exception! I am realizing just how many difficult books I read in October because I need to give you another content warning for this one. It is told in two timelines- one in present day and the other in 1901. The historical timeline is difficult to read as our main character has been kidnapped and wakes up aboard a whaling ship and is repeatedly assaulted by the men on board. It is truly horrific but felt realistic. The modern timelines feels super modern, so expect a lot of TikTok references, but I loved it. No one does atmosphere quite like C.J. Cooke does and it was so interesting to see how the two timelines parallel one another. I am just sad that I don’t have another book by her to read. She is an all time favourite author!
Olivia Atwater returns to the world of Half a Soul with “a sharp and beautiful gothic romance” (Alix E. Harrow). Dive into The Witchwood Knot, and enjoy a dark faerie tale set in a magical version of Victorian England.
The faeries of Witchwood Manor have stolen its young lord. His governess intends to steal him back.
Victorian governess Winifred Hall knows a con when she sees one. When her bratty young charge transforms overnight into a perfectly behaved block of wood, she soon realises that the real boy has been abducted by the Fair Folk. Unfortunately, the lord of Witchwood Manor is the only man in England who doesn’t believe in faeries—which leaves Winnie in the unenviable position of rescuing the young lord-to-be all by herself.
Witchwood Manor is bigger than its inhabitants realise, however, and full of otherworldly dangers. As Winnie delves deeper into the other side of the house, she enlists the aid of its dark and dubious faerie butler, Mr Quincy, who hides several awful secrets behind his charming smile. Winnie hopes to make her way to the centre of the Witchwood Knot through wit and cleverness… but when all of her usual tricks fail, who will she dare to trust?
Olivia Atwater is quickly sneaking up my list of favourite authors. I have read three books by her at this point and The Witchwood Knot is my favourite. It is set in the same world as Half a Soul, the book she is most known for, but it rather than being Regency it is Victorian, which means that it is darker and more Gothic, which is why I loved it so much. There is a moment early on where the house bites our main characters and that was when I knew I was going to adore this. I don’t think I have ever read a book where a house is haunted by fae instead of ghosts, but I loved that twist. Do not go into this thinking you are going to get the romantic banter that is in Half a Soul. There is a VERY slow burn romance but I was invested in it. I cannot wait for the next book in this series to come out, even though this first book isn’t technically out yet.