October 2022 Books

New Books Read

Siren Queen by Nghi Vo***
**Book Hangover Alert
Exquisite. I read Vo’s The Chosen and the Beautiful earlier this year and loved that as well. I love the way she crafts a dreamlike fantasy world that isn’t so far removed from our world. I feel like I could easily get lost in the worlds she creates, though they definitely have teeth. I loved that this story was set in the 1930s and 40s Hollywood scene, though a fantastical one. I liked that it still addressed race, gender, and sexuality issues of that time, while still being a fantasy.
4.5/5 movie monsters


The Marriage Portrait by Maggie O’Farrell
**Book Hangover Alert
CW: marital rape
I adored this. The story takes a true event–the suspicious death of 16 year old Lucrezia de’Medici shortly after her marriage–and gives us a fictional account of Lucrezia’s life and death. It so lushly recreates Renaissance Italy, and I adored the character of Lucrezia. O’Farrell’s tension building is perfection. Lucrezia also read to me as neurodivergent, though that isn’t explicit as that isn’t something we know about her historically.
5/5 tigers


The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta***
CW: homophobia, bullying
This is a lovely little novel-in-verse. I loved Atta’s style and how spare yet rich his language is. I know sometimes we can get a little tired of a coming out story, since sometimes it feels like that’s the only time LGBTQ+ people are represented in media, but I loved the way this story explored the intersections of race and sexuality and internalized homophobia.
4/5 feather boas

George Allen & Unwin

The Silmarillion by J. R. R. Tolkien
I tried to read this book back in high school or maybe middle school (?) but I only got about 130 pages in. This time I listened to it which is how I’ve gotten through all of Tolkien’s works that I’ve read. I liked learning more about Middle Earth and its origins and connecting that to what I knew from the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings trilogy and the new Rings of Power TV show. But I will admit that my mind wandered from time to time and I might have to re-listen to a couple of chapters.
3.5/5 ents


Life Ever After by Carla Grauls
This was an Audible original radio play, and I didn’t love it. I was really interested in the sci-fi world Grauls created, but instead of really getting to explore that world, we were stuck with a love story between two characters who were not that interesting. I also thought the dialogue was not very good; it tended toward circular arguments that got boring after a while.
2/5 upgrades

Penguin Random House

When Women Were Dragons by Kelly Barnhill***
**Book Hangover Alert
CW: misogyny
This book was just sublime. I don’t have enough words to sing its praises. I laughed, I cried, I cheered. Somehow it reminded me of Glennon Doyle’s Untamed, even though it was a fantasy novel. Highly, highly recommend.
1000/5 dragons

Wordsworth Classics

Persuasion by Jane Austen
Some books don’t deserve to be classics, but Austen’s books certainly earn their place in literary canon. I really enjoyed Persuasion. It’s not quite as good as Pride and Prejudice, but it’s still very good. I always love Austen’s heroines, and I love the way she creates tension and builds intrigue.
3.5/5 dashing sea captains

***This book is part of my Books for a Social Conscience series! Read Siren Queen for LGBTQ+ and Asian representation in old school Hollywood. Read The Black Flamingo for LGBTQ+ identity and representation. Read When Women Were Dragons for a look at women’s experience under the patriarchy, and LGBTQ+ representation.

Reads marked as part of the Books for a Social Conscience series will regularly address topics like race and racism, colonialism and post-colonialism, LGBTQ+ experience, feminism, BIPOC experience, social and political issues, history, identity, class, disability experience, immigration, gun violence, poverty, colorism, environmentalism, and more! The goal of these books is to diversify the stories we’re reading, grow our empathy for those who are different from us, and amplify voices who are often silenced.