It’s just half a day away from the Winter Solstice as I write this… time to wrap up my thoughts on what I read this autumn! This isn’t a full list of what I read this season but most of it, and the ones I felt like writing little reviews for. Overall I read some pretty good ones and discovered some new favorite authors.

Most of these were a great escape from the turmoil experienced these last many months.

The following mini-reviews are *mostly* spoiler-freeThis list does not include books I cast into the DNF (did not finish) pile. If the copy I read was an ARC (advance reader copy) vs. a finished copy, that’ll be stated.


The Bone Shard Daughter by Andrea Stewart
My rating: 4.5 stars
My thoughts: A close 5 stars on this one but this author is extremely talented. I could see the hard work that went into this one and really appreciated a well-done multi-POV. I was engrossed the entire time and did not want this to end (seriously looking forward to book 2!). I especially enjoyed reading the chapters of Jovis and Lin.

The magic system was truly unusual, bone shard magic, in which shards of living peoples’ bones are used to power “constructs” (gross) amalgamations of different human/animal parts mashed together. These were quite disturbing but I could also not look away. The mysteries entwined throughout the different POVs really kept me going. And the people, scenery, creatures (Mephi!), and spontaneously sinking islands were captivating.

The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow
My rating: 5 stars
My thoughts: The year is 1893 and witches are no longer a thing… but they will be, again. I loved every minute of this (though it did take me a bit longer to get through as I was reading other books at the same time). I’m so happy to have this in my collection of “witchy” books and will likely reread it someday. There were some really intense scenes, complicated relationships and the pulse of what it was like to be a woman trying to fight for any ounce of freedom in the late 1800s really bled through these pages.

These three sisters are not ones I’ll soon forget and I enjoyed reading each of their POVs. Also, it’s a talented writer that can actually make third person present tense work, but I thought it did in this case.

Magic Lessons by Alice Hoffman
My rating: 5 stars
My thoughts: A prequel to Practical Magic, set in the 1600s. My goddess, I loved this book. So. Much. I really didn’t want it to be over. I marked several passages with sticky tags and will definitely be rereading this one at some point. If I had to pick, I might say this is my favorite book of the year. I fell into this book as if under a spell, and as Alice Hoffman said, “Books may well be the only true magic.” Word magic is the most powerful magic and this book has it.

This book makes me love the movie Practical Magic (one of my faves) even more and now I REALLY want to read more of Alice Hoffman’s work. This really captured what it meant/means still to be a woman of independence, and also explored the themes throughout of finding one’s own wild and what love really is.

A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik
My rating: 4 stars
My thoughts: Overall very enjoyable and full of unique concepts, creatures, and magic. It was as if it had a touch of Stranger Things, a dash of Ghost Busters, a hint of Harry Potter (but darker), and maybe a bit of Mortal Instruments, but also memorable in its own right. The narrator was extremely sarcastic, pessimistic, and cynical, which is fun but overall became just a little too much for me after reading an entire book full of this stream of consciousness style with very long paragraphs. I enjoyed it very much but just had to take a few breaks instead of binge-reading it. I’ll definitely be continuing on with this series.

Piranesi by Susanna Clarke
My rating: 5 stars
My thoughts: This was wonderfully peculiar! Though it only took 4.5 hours to read I felt like I’d been on quite a deep/vast journey. It contained many layers and mysterious veils of perception. Also, the cover and naked cover underneath are stunning. This one is part fantasy, part sci-fi, part something entirely it’s own and unlike anything I’ve read before (though parts of it did give me a bit of House of Leaves vibes). I’d love to see this made into a movie. Themes of survival, human nature, and hope.

One to Watch by Kate Stayman-London
My rating: 4.5 stars
My thoughts: I read this one on NetGalley so it’s not pictured above. I don’t typically read much contemporary stuff but this was really fun and made me want to read more rom-coms. Fans of the The Bachelorette and The Bachelor (like me) will likely love this book. It was almost just like watching a season of the show, but beyond the fun premise, this one is different because a plus-size blogger is the star. It explores themes of body image, social stereotypes vs. truth, self-confidence, and “finding yourself” before you find love.

The Twelve Dates of Christmas by Jenny Bayliss
My rating: 4 stars
My thoughts: This was really cute. 12 blind-dates leading up to Christmas, some of which, you might imagine, go horribly wrong. This was predictable but that didn’t detract from how enjoyable it was to read and it was full of baking scenes (seems to be a trend with holiday novels and I’m not complaining) and was set in an adorable English village (one of my favorite types of settings).

Finding Love at the Christmas Market by Jo Thomas
My rating: 4 stars (maybe 4.25 for sheer cheeriness!?)
My thoughts: This was sooo Christmassy! But there were also really great characters and a great story! It’s about a 41 yr old single mum, searching for love and really trying to stick to her type-A “checklist” of traits she’s looking for because she’s been so hurt in the past (#relatable). But she discovers that love can’t be defined with a checklist. There’s gingerbread and a German Christmas market and a really memorable cast. I really like how she writes and would happily read more of her books. This one would make a good movie.

Christmas Ever After by Karen Schaler
My rating: 3.5 stars
My thoughts: I so wanted to give this a higher rating but there were literally grammatical errors or words missing entirely from nearly every page. I enjoyed the story, but especially as a copy editor, it was not as smooth of a read as it could have been had it been properly proofread. This was a fun story, though very predictable, and read very much like watching a Netflix movie in my head. No surprise seeing as this author wrote the Netflix hit A Christmas Prince!

The Christmas Invitation by Tricia Ashley
My rating: 4.5 stars
My thoughts: Noticing a theme here? I had a massive craving for light, fluffy, Christmas novels this season. They’re such a good reprieve from the horrors of real life. In this one, I may have actually found a new favorite author. I am really impressed with the writing style and depth of story that Tricia Ashley has created. I wasn’t expecting to find this quality of writing in this genre to be honest.

I became quite attached to some of the characters and appreciated how this was much more complex than a “Hallmark” style story. The ambiance of the house on the hill in the Lancashire Moors, paired with an endless supply of delicious food scenes, mystery, and humor was just what I needed.


Clanlands: Whisky, Warfare, and a Scottish Adventure Like No Other by Sam Heughan and Graham McTavish
My rating: 4.5 stars
My thoughts: Such a fun journey! Now, I’m not quite giving this the same level/type of 4.5 stars that I might give something like a 400-page fantasy novel, but for what it is — a humorous travelogue from two of my favorite actors. The banter between Sam and Graham is what really makes this enjoyable but I did also really find all the bits about Scottish history fascinating. Can’t wait for their accompanying show, Men in Kilts, to air next year!


The Girl and the Goddess: Stories and Poems of Divine Wisdom by Nikita Gill
My rating: 5 stars
My thoughts: What’s this? A book of poetry?! I know, this is not typical of me, and I didn’t think I was going to like this as much as I did. But I really did love it. Though made up of linked poems, it read very fluid and similar to prose to me. I also liked the sketches throughout. This is filled with a lot of Hindu mythology and a powerful coming of age story… a feminine story of becoming a woman and facing all the difficulties (and dangers) involved. The main character deals with mistreatment, violence, finding her strength and her wildness. It was really beautiful.

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