Thursday, November 3, 2022

Read-at-Home Mom Report: October 2022 Wrap-Up

My Month in Books

During October, my son stopped napping for a few weeks. This meant I was walking him in the stroller every morning and again every afternoon, and I listened to a lot of audiobooks. He has now resumed napping, so a month like this probably won't happen again for a while, but I read a whopping 30 books in 31 days. Because there are so many, this month I'm organizing this wrap-up according to genre just to make it easier to follow. 

Mystery and Thriller

The Plot and the Pendulum by Jenn McKinlay (5 stars)
This is the newest title in the Library Lover's mystery series, and it's set in the fall so it was the perfect choice for getting into the autumn mood. The portrayal of the world of libraries was spot-on as usual, and I was so impressed that this is the thirteenth book in the series and it still felt fresh enough to earn 5 stars. 

A Good Girl's Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson (5 stars)
Janssen from Everyday Reading selected this young adult title for her book club this month and I listened to it based on her recommendation. It was pretty clearly inspired by the story of Adnan Syed as covered by the Serial podcast, but after the initial set-up, it does become its own story with a unique plot. I liked that the audiobook was formatted like a podcast in some parts and that the story kept me guessing until the very end. 

Shady Hollow by Juneau Black (5 stars)
I kept hearing about this book in YouTube videos and ended up using an Audible credit left over from my free trial to buy the audiobook. I love the concept of anthropomorphic woodland creatures starring in a cozy mystery and zipped right throught it. It really made me want to write a story starring animals, which is saying a lot since I'm not really an animal person. 

In the Woods by Tana French (5 stars)
I found this book in a Little Free Library and when I mentioned it on Instagram, so many people said they loved it. A friend of mine had also read it and enjoyed it, so I decided to make it a priority this month. This is one of the few books in this post that I read cover to cover without listening to any part of the audiobook, and it was so worth taking the time to savor every single word. I raved about the book to my mom, and she kindly ordered me used copies of the rest of the series, which I want to continue ASAP.  

Killer Queen by Julie Mulhern (4 stars)
Night Moves by Julie Mulhern (5 stars)
Lyin' Eyes by Julie Mulhern (4 stars)
I thought I was a book or two behind in this series, but Julie Mulhern is so prolific, it actually wound up being five books! I listened to these three on Hoopla, one right after the other, and as with the Jenn McKinlay series above, I was glad to see that the humor and intrigue of the stories has not faded at all compared to the earlier books. I hope to catch up on this series completely by the end of the year.

One by One by Ruth Ware (4 stars)
A couple of bookish YouTubers I follow were hosting a Book of the Month read-a-thon this month. I don't subscribe to BOTM, but I have used copies of a number of books that have been BOTM selections so I joined in with a few of those, of which One by One is one. This isn't my favorite Ruth Ware, and I thought the ending dragged on a little too long, but I did still enjoy the story. 

Dust by Patricia Cornwell (3 stars)
This was another adequate but not exceptional title in the Kay Scarpetta series. I am still planning to finish the series even if not every book is a great read at this point. 

The Secret History by Donna Tartt (3 stars)
I didn't  think one lived up to the hype at all. I liked the writing at the beginning, and I thought it was very atmospheric, but it felt like there were long pointless lulls between moments of action, and I just didn't care that much about the characters. I think dark academia may just not be my genre. 


Mothering by the Book by Jennifer Pepito (4 stars)
In this book, the author reflects on lessons learned about parenting from the books she has read aloud to her kids. I originally had the e-ARC from Netgalley, but ended up listening to the audiobook on Hoopla. I'm considering including it in an article for Catholic Mom next year.  

Book Girl by Sarah Clarkson (4 stars)
This was a re-read for my 40 Re-reads Before 40 project, which I will also include in that article if I decide that's what I want to write.  

Writing Magic by Gail Carson Levine (4 stars)
I've had this children's book about writing sitting on my shelf for years and finally listened to the audiobook read by the author. Despite being geared toward children, it had some little nuggets of wisdom about writing that I found useful for myself. I also think it's a good, solid introduction to the writing life for kids. 

Romance & Romantic Comedy 

Husband Auditions by Angela Ruth Strong (5 stars)
I picked this up because it was the chosen book for Spark Flash Fiction's new reading community on Facebook. It's a Christmas romance with lovable characters, a fun premise, and a very satisfying and unexpected ending. 

Pumpkin Spice and Not So Nice by Becky Monson (4 stars)
I intended to read this book and its companion by Jennifer Peel, A Pumpkin and a Patch, but only got to this one. I enjoyed the setting of the family farm and the relationship between the main characters. 

Luck and Last Resorts by Sarah Grunder Ruiz (4 stars)
This was a different take on the fake relationship and marriage of convenience tropes. I didn't like this book as much as Love, Lists, and Fancy Ships, but I did root for the characters all the way through. 

Sleeping Tiger by Rosamunde Pilcher (3 stars)
I love an outdated Rosamunde Pilcher romance any day of the week. This one had some weird Daddy issues that gave me pause, but the writing was lovely as ever. 

Built to Last by Erin Hahn (3 stars)
This romance was pretty steamy, with multiple sex scenes that I kept having to scramble to fast-forward through. The surrounding story was good, though, and I really liked the characters.. 

The Kiss Curse by Erin Sterling (3 stars)
This didn't have as much sexual content as book one, but it also didn't have as many cozy fall vibes. I didn't feel like I got to know these characters as well as the ones in the first book either.

How to Marry Keanu Reeves in 90 Days by K.M. Jackson (2 stars)
This is another Book of the Month book that I didn't get from BOTM. Unfortunately, it was kind of disappointing. There was both too much and not enough Keanu Reeves, and I never felt the chemistry between the heroine and hero. I did really like the audiobook narrator, though!


Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury (5 stars)
This was a reread on audio of a book I read in print years ago. It's still the best book for this time of year, and it has so many great things to say about the nature of good and evil. 

Babe: The Gallant Pig by Dick King-Smith (5 stars)
I read this aloud to my 5 year old, but I didn't count it as one of my re-reads even though I've read it aloud before. She really enjoyed the story, though she didn't seem to understand it quite as well as her siblings at the same age.

The Edge of In Between by Lorelei Savaryn (5 stars)
This was recommended to me months ago and it took forever to find it. In the end, I wound up getting the audiobook from Audible with a credit I had from a free trial. It's a beautiful Catholic retelling of The Secret Garden that really resonated with me. 

Bunnicula: The Graphic Novel by James Howe (5 stars)
We don't really do graphic novels here as a rule, but I wanted to read this for my own enjoyment, and it didn't disappoint. It's a very faithful adaptation of the original and it made me laugh out loud several times.

General Fiction 

The Clock Winder by Anne Tyler (5 stars)
I decided I wanted to listen to an Anne Tyler novel and I selected this one at random. I really enjoyed the story of how a female "handyman" impacted the lives of a Baltimore family over a couple of decades. I was surprised to learn that this book didn't do very well when it was first published. I thought it was every bit as good as any other Anne Tyler book I've read so far.

Oh, Sal by Kevin Henkes (5 stars)
This realistic fiction book is third in the Billy Miller series, and such a delight. Yes, part of the plot does revolve underpants, but because Kevin Henkes is a gentleman, it's not handled in a gross way. Sal is a fully believable 5 year old and this was a take on the arrival of a new baby that feels both fresh and timeless. 

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens (5 stars)
This was a re-read of the book I have long called one of my favorites. I'm happy to say I loved it even more this time around than I did as a teenager. Dickens is such a great writer.

Room and Board by Miriam Parker (4 stars)
This is a very pleasant, uplifting story about a woman who becomes a dorm parent at a boarding school and reconnects with her own high school flame from her days as a student at the school. The reviews of this book on Goodreads are really unfair, and so undeserved. There's nothing wrong with a low-stakes feel-good novel now and then!

Historical Fiction

Dancing & Doughnuts by Rachel Kovaciny (5 stars)
The theme for #WorldFullofBooks on Instagram was fairy tales, so I took the opportunity to read another Western fairy tale retelling by Rachel Kovaciny. This one is based on The Twelve Dancing Princesses, and it was so much fun. I loved the main character's voice and the way he solved the mystery of who was bringing alcohol into the dance hall.

Sackett's Land by Louis L'Amour (3 stars)
I wanted to try this author, so I chose the first of this series at random. Because it sets up a longer series, I don't feel like I really got a taste of L'Amour's Westerns from this book and I think I need to read a few more.

As for the rest of the family's reading...

A. (girl, 2 years, 7 months)
  • Truck or Treat by Hannah Eliot
  • It's Pumpkin Day, Mouse! by Laura Numeroff
  • Little Excavator by Anna Dewdney
  • Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson
R. (boy 2 years, 7 months)Witches Four by Marc Brown
  • Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson
  • Boo Baa La La La by Sandra Boynton
  • Truck or Treat by Hannah Eliot
  • Monsters Play... Peekaboo! by Flavia Z. Drago
  • Monsters Play... Counting! by Flavia Z. Drago
E. (girl, 5 years old)
  • Happy Birthday from Carolyn Haywood
  • Away Went the Balloons by Carolyn Haywood
  • Halloween Treats by Carolyn Haywood
C. (girl, 7 years, 1 month)
  • Mossflower by Brian Jacques
  • Our Little Saxon Cousin of Long Ago by Julia Darrow Cowles
  • Viking Adventure by Clyde Robert Bulla
M. (girl, 8 years, 11 months)
  • You Choose: At Battle in World War I by Allison Lassieur
  • You Choose: The Sinking of the Lusitania by Stephen Otfinoski
  • You Choose: World War I by Gwenyth Swain
  • The White Nights of St. Petersburg by Geoffrey Trease
  • The Wild Children by Felice Holman
  • Small Acts of Amazing Courage by Gloria Whelan
  • The Night Run by Bali Rai
  • The Guns of Easter by Gerard Whelan
  • Three Investigators: Mystery of the Vanishing Treasure by Robert Arthur
  • The Great Migration: African Americans Move to the North, 1915-1930 by Monica Halpern
  • Some of Us Survived: The Story of an Armenian Boy by Kerop Bedoukian
My husband
  • Tank Commander by Ronald Welch

Up Next For Me

My local book club is reading The Long Loneliness by Dorothy Day. I'm also planning to read The Rose Round by Meriol Trevor as my final re-read of my 40 Rereads Before 40 project.

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