October’s reading wasn’t as strong as I’d like it to be, only two out of the four books I picked up were books I thoroughly enjoyed and would recommend to a friend, which is a bummer. I started off the month with The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris, which was a book I had been looking forward to reading for months and it really just fell flat for me, and at some points, I was wondering why I hadn’t DNFed it yet. There was also the One More Page Book Club pick, The Reading List by Sara Nisha Adams. I wanted to love this one and while the beginning half was really slow, once I hit page 100-ish, I got a little more into it and even teared up at the ending. Here’s what I read in October.
What I Read in October
THE OTHER BLACK GIRL BY ZAKIYA DALILA HARRIS
Twenty-six-year-old editorial assistant Nella Rogers is tired of being the only Black employee at Wagner Books. Fed up with the isolation and microaggressions, she’s thrilled when Harlem-born and bred Hazel starts working in the cubicle beside hers. They’ve only just started comparing natural hair care regimens, though, when a string of uncomfortable events elevates Hazel to Office Darling, and Nella is left in the dust.
Then the notes begin to appear on Nella’s desk: LEAVE WAGNER. NOW.
It’s hard to believe Hazel is behind these hostile messages. But as Nella starts to spiral and obsess over the sinister forces at play, she soon realizes that there’s a lot more at stake than just her career.
My Review: When I first heard of The Other Black Girl, the description immediately caught my eye and after months of sitting in my TBR pile, I finally picked it up to read but was so disappointed. Between the plotline and the random characters mixed through, it’s hard to keep track of what’s going on outside of the immediate story. I found Nella to be a terrible narrator – she was all over the place and is obviously struggling with who she is a Black woman, both at work and in her personal life. As a thriller, this book read more like a workplace drama piece rather than a true mystery/thriller.
My Rating: 2/5 ⭐️⭐️
THE WIFE UPSTAIRS BY RACHEL HAWKINS
Meet Jane. Newly arrived to Birmingham, Alabama, Jane is a broke dog-walker in Thornfield Estates––a gated community full of McMansions, shiny SUVs, and bored housewives. The kind of place where no one will notice if Jane lifts the discarded tchotchkes and jewelry off the side tables of her well-heeled clients. Where no one will think to ask if Jane is her real name.
But her luck changes when she meets Eddie Rochester. Recently widowed, Eddie is Thornfield Estates’ most mysterious resident. His wife, Bea, drowned in a boating accident with her best friend, their bodies lost to the deep. Jane can’t help but see an opportunity in Eddie––not only is he rich, brooding, and handsome, he could also offer her the kind of protection she’s always yearned for.
Yet as Jane and Eddie fall for each other, Jane is increasingly haunted by the legend of Bea, an ambitious beauty with a rags-to-riches origin story, who launched a wildly successful southern lifestyle brand. How can she, plain Jane, ever measure up? And can she win Eddie’s heart before her past––or his––catches up to her?
My Review: If you’re looking for a quick and easy thriller that’s not *too* violent, The Wife Upstairs is such a great book to pick up! It’s hard not to get invested in each of the characters’ lives and their relationships. While some of the plot is predictable, there are twists throughout the book that keep you on your toes.
My Rating: 4/5 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
THE UNHONEYMOONERS BY CHRISTINA LAUREN
Olive is always unlucky: in her career, in love, in…well, everything. Her identical twin sister Ami, on the other hand, is probably the luckiest person in the world. Her meet-cute with her fiancé is something out of a romantic comedy (gag) and she’s managed to finance her entire wedding by winning a series of Internet contests (double gag). Worst of all, she’s forcing Olive to spend the day with her sworn enemy, Ethan, who just happens to be the best man.
Olive braces herself to get through 24 hours of wedding hell before she can return to her comfortable, unlucky life. But when the entire wedding party gets food poisoning from eating bad shellfish, the only people who aren’t affected are Olive and Ethan. And now there’s an all-expenses-paid honeymoon in Hawaii up for grabs.
Putting their mutual hatred aside for the sake of a free vacation, Olive and Ethan head for paradise, determined to avoid each other at all costs. But when Olive runs into her future boss, the little white lie she tells him is suddenly at risk to become a whole lot bigger. She and Ethan now have to pretend to be loving newlyweds, and her luck seems worse than ever. But the weird thing is that she doesn’t mind playing pretend. In fact, she feels kind of… lucky.
My Review: I am such a sucker for a good enemies-turned-lovers plot and Christina Lauren hit the nail on the head with this one – I couldn’t put it down! I loved the relationship between twin sisters Ami and Olive, and how their families are so involved in their lives. For a bit there, I thought it wasn’t going to work out between Olive and her new brother-in-law, Ethan, but I was mistaken and I was so happy I was! The perfect beach read.
My Rating: 4/5 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
THE READING LIST BY SARA MISHA ADAMS
Widower Mukesh lives a quiet life in the London Borough of Ealing after losing his beloved wife. He shops every Wednesday, goes to Temple, and worries about his granddaughter, Priya, who hides in her room reading while he spends his evenings watching nature documentaries.
Aleisha is a bright but anxious teenager working at the local library for the summer when she discovers a crumpled-up piece of paper in the back of To Kill a Mockingbird. It’s a list of novels that she’s never heard of before. Intrigued, and a little bored with her slow job at the checkout desk, she impulsively decides to read every book on the list, one after the other. As each story gives up its magic, the books transport Aleisha from the painful realities she’s facing at home.
When Mukesh arrives at the library, desperate to forge a connection with his bookworm granddaughter, Aleisha passes along the reading list…hoping that it will be a lifeline for him too. Slowly, the shared books create a connection between two lonely souls, as fiction helps them escape their grief and everyday troubles and find joy again.
My Review: When I first picked up The Reading List, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I always say that books about reading or writing are always a hit or miss. This one started off slow and I had a hard time getting into it, but once I hit page 100 (or so!) it started picking up. I loved seeing the relationships of each of the characters progress and strangers turn into friends but there were a lot of slow points, making it hard to read. Towards the end of the book, there is more of a climax (TW: suicide) and when I found out who wrote the list, I couldn’t help but tear up!
My Rating: 3/5 ⭐️⭐️⭐️