November 10, 2023

What I Read in October 2023

Seven books read in October is just a notch up from September’s six, but still only puts me at 66 books for the year. I am not making up ground, but I am really enjoying what I’m reading? So there’s that.

All fiction this month, and my three favorites were all very different from each other!

5 stars:

Love, Theoretically, by Ali Hazelwood: Elsie is an adjunct professor in theoretical physics who is barely making ends meet; she’s desperate for more money, health insurance (especially with her diabetes), and time to actually work on her research. She’s one of two candidates interviewing for a dream job at MIT, but she’s horrified to realize that one of the members of the hiring committee, Jack, is the older brother of the guy she’s fake-dating. And, he’s an experimental physicist, who years ago penned an article that created a massive rift between experimental and theoretical physicists – so, her arch-rival. Obviously sparks fly, but throughout the book, Ellie struggles to break from her extreme people pleasing ways. While I should have loved this part of the plot, it was actually the weakest plot point for me, because Ellie is SUCH a doormat that it’s a little bit unbelievable (e.g., her lifelong mentor actually thinks her name is Elise and she won’t correct him, even allowing her research to be published under the wrong name). Still, I really loved this look into the world of academia, and will definitely be looking to read the rest of Ali Hazelwood’s books!

A Court of Mist and Fury (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #2), by Sarah J. Maas: This is book 2 in the series – and while I loved A Court ofThorns and Roses, I found it SO violent that I was undecided if I wanted to read the second. The friend who recommended the series assured me this was more character-based and less war, and I’m so glad I chose to read it! It was really engrossing and I couldn’t put it down. Feyre is now an immortal faerie, living with her prince Tamlin – but he loves her so much that he’s imprisoning her to keep her safe, and she hates it. Meanwhile, she has to uphold her bargain to live with Tamlin’s enemy Rhysand one week a month – and she comes to love the freedom when she’s away, and feels like she’s two different people split across two worlds. The book starts to get foreboding with a greater threat than Amarantha, even as all the characters are still struggling to mentally recover from their trauma Under the Mountain, but it’s nowhere near as violent as book 1, which I really appreciated. Now I just need to decide if I can take the violence I know will be back in full force for book 3…

Yours Truly (Part of Your World, #2), by Abby Jimenez: Brianna is an emergency doctor who hits it off poorly with the new doctor, Jacob – but then agrees to start fake dating him so his family will lay off the concern when his brother gets engaged to his ex-fiance. Brianna has her own issues: her ex-husband cheated on her, and her little brother needs a kidney transplant. This was definitely a slow burn, but I loved the way the story came together, and I especially loved the depth of the characters. Abby Jimenez once again manages to weave serious issues (mental health) into a light romance, and while this is technically the second book in a series, it stands alone (as long as you don’t mind the spoiler of the couple from the first book being happy together).

4 stars:

Meet Me at the Lake, by Carley Fortune: Ten years ago, Fern met an adorable guy in Toronto, Will, and they spent a life-changing day together. But now, she’s 32 and had to leave the city to run her family’s lakeside resort – which she had sworn she would never do. And then all of a sudden, Will is back at the resort as a successful business consultant, helping her decide whether to sell it or stick around and run it. The first half of the book is really slow, with a lot of back and forth between past and present, but the plot picked up a lot in the second half, particularly as the author finally started revealing what happened ten years ago. I think this would have been much better if the plot had more details up front instead of the big reveal of what happened, but it still left me tearing up and happy at the end.

The Takeover, by Cara Tanamachi: Nami is running Toggle, a tech company she founded a few years ago, but she feels unsuccessful compared to her childhood nemesis, Jae, who she still contends unfairly beat her out for valedictorian. So Nami is devastated when her company seems about to be taken over by industry goliath Rainforest (a none-too-subtle dig at Amazon) – and the Rainforest takeover consultant is none other than Jae himself. Cue the sparks! Although I really enjoyed this fun read, I found Nami a little too childish in how hung up she was on her high school rivalry, and therefore hard to root for.

Expiration Dates, by Rebecca Serle: Every time Daphne gets into a romance, a mysterious piece of paper shows up with the guy’s name and the exact length of time the relationship will last. Some are “one night”, others are “two years one week”… but then she gets a piece of paper with the name “Jake”… and no expiration date. Her best friend (Hugo, formerly Mr. Three Months) is the only one she’s ever told about the notes, and the two of them dissect what this means. I loved that the plot reminded me of one of my favorite Black Mirror episodes (an electronic device decides how long you’ll be together as it gets closer to finding your perfect match). My only complaint would be that some of the characters felt a little bit flat at first, but some big twists throughout the plot made it a lot more interesting and helped flesh out the characters. The ending was rather open-ended, which is a style I don’t like, but it did fit this plot nicely and didn’t feel too unsettling.

Valley Verified, by Kyla Zhao: Zoe is a young fashion columnist in New York who’s unhappy with her lack of progress in progressing to editor, so she’s elated when she networks her way into a job offer to become CMO for FitPick, a fashion-focused startup in Silicon Valley. Most of the plot is career-focused, and sheds some interesting light on startup culture, but there is a side plot about romance that was fun and not too distracting. I thoroughly enjoyed this, and read it all in one night, but Zoe’s character was rather annoying in her immaturity and naivete, and I found that incredibly off-putting. (And frankly unbelievable that she could get a CMO gig with no real marketing / analytics experience… it reminded me of Elle Woods in Legally Blonde being hailed as a star lawyer for a few lucky insights.) Still a fun read though!

Any book recommendations for me? Follow me here on Goodreads to keep up with what I’m reading in real time.


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