Reviews

Book Review | The Road to Woop Woop and Other Stories by Eugen Bacon

*Book given via netgalley in exchange for an honest review*

The Road to Woop Woop, and Other Stories

Description:

The Road to Woop Woop is a lush collection of literary speculative stories that lauds the untraditional, the extraordinary, the strange, the peculiar, the unusual that exist within and on the borders of normalcy. These tales refuse to be easily categorized, and that’s a good thing: they are dirges that cross genres in astounding ways.

Over 20 provocative tales, with seven original to this collection, and previous works, including: “A Pining,” shortlisted, Bridport Prize; “A Case of Seeing,” honorable mention, Ron Hubbard’s Writers of the Future Award; “Mahuika,” highly commended, Fellowship of Australian Writers (FAW) National Literary Awards; “Swimming with Daddy,” shortlisted, Alan Marshall Short Story Prize. –goodreads.com


What I Liked

This is one of the most interesting short story collections I have read. Each story is so different than the last and are so distinctive from one another and at times down right quirky. While there were some stories I enjoyed more than others, I really was drawn into these stories. They were out there, but in a wonderful way.

I really loved how unique these tales were, they were a combination of creepy, but thought provoking at the same time. I have a habit of putting down a short story collection between each story and taking forever to get back to it. Bacon’s writing pulled me in and I read quite a few each sitting and easily came back to it. I really wanted to see where the next tale would take us. Like I said each was so unique so it felt like I was going on an adventure with each one I read, but also a surprise.


What I Didn’t Like

As with all short story collections where are just some tales I don’t enjoy, but honestly there were not many I did not enjoy in this collection.


Overall Thoughts

Overall, I enjoyed this collection of horror/fantasy tales. They were imaginative, unique, and inviting as well as making you scared or creeped out. I felt myself reflecting on a deeper meaning of these tales often and it was exciting to read something that made me think on top of enjoying it. If you enjoy horror and want a collection of tales, I think you should look into it and see if it is right for you. I certainly enjoyed it and will be reading more from this author.


Author Links

Eugen Bacon

Book Information

Publication Date: December 1, 2020

Publisher: Meerkat Press

List Price: $16.95

ISBN:  9781946154316

Pages: 192 pages


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Wrap Up

Wrap Up | December 2020

Hello and welcome to the last wrap up of 2020. I am going to make this one short and sweet since we are already in 2021, but I wanted to share the books I ended up finishing and mini reviews for each of them. I am going to be posting a whole year post either tomorrow or in the next few days. I currently have some rare time off so I am really taking this time to relax and not put pressure on myself. I will be uploading more regularly after the first week of January.


The IncarnationsThe Incarnations by Susan Barker
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This novel was just something outside of the genre it was labeled as. It is a thriller, fantasy, and historical fiction all mixed into one. This book follows a cab driver in Beijing and the story goes through time as you learn about his past lives as he does. Each life had its own chapter where you explored the lives of these two souls, the lives they lived varied quite a lot and they endured a ton as well (violence, sexual violence, and suicide to name a few). The writing itself was beautiful, and the way the author organized the book was perfect. At no point did I think the pacing was off or was bored. I was glued to this book when I was able to find time to pick it up. Another aspect I enjoyed was the fact that the author intertwined these stories with Chinese folklore, classic, and history.

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An Orchestra of MinoritiesAn Orchestra of Minorities by Chigozie Obioma
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

So, this is a very imaginative story. I really loved the premise of the tale and I really enjoyed that it was narrated by a guardian spirit called a chi. The writing itself was really wonderful and I think the author has a gift for sure. Unfortunately, this book was filled with female objectification and I can only hope that the authors purpose in this is to bring light to this. The main character cannot take any responsibility and is pig headed. He commits a horrible act who hurts someone he is meant to “love”. I put it into quotes because it isn’t love. The women in this novel are nothing more than their use to the main character. I had such high hopes for this novel, while I did not like this tale at all I will be checking out the authors other work because their writing itself was done very well.

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Royal HolidayRoyal Holiday by Jasmine Guillory
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was a very cute read and a perfect little holiday book to read during December. When I picked this up I had no idea it was a series…oops! Either way I enjoyed it and the writing was good.

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Lovecraft CountryLovecraft Country by Matt Ruff
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A wonderful collections of historical horror/science fiction that show cases the “typical” horror and the horrors faced by American Americans.

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The Existence Of AmyThe Existence Of Amy by Lana Grace Riva
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A detailed review is to come, but this was a beautifully written novel that follows the main character through their personal struggles with mental health, specifically with OCD. I read this in a single day because the story itself was compelling, but also the writing was and methods used were perfect.

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December Stats: 9 books, 2868 pages, 8 fiction, 1 nonfiction, 3 ebooks, 1 hard cover, 5 softcover, 9 owned books, 1. 5 star, 6 4 star, 1 3 star, and 1 2 star.

What was your favorite or least favorite read of December or 2020 as a whole?

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To Be Read

To Be Read | First TBR of 2021

Hello and welcome to my January 2021 TBR. I hope everyone is having a wonderful start to their year and I wish every single one of you a safe, healthy and fun 2021. This TBR is going to be quite a few books, but I currently feel up to the challenge.


The Books

TBR books stacked on a carpet in front of a basket and a plant.

The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones, I had this on a TBR a few months ago, but sadly I ran out of hours in the month. I really want to read this horror for a few reasons. I am in the mood for some horror, I have read something else by this author and loved it and it just sounds amazing.

The Memory Police by Yoko Ogawa – I am aiming to pick up my first book of reading a book off of my 2021 shortlist challenge, if you want to read more about that you can check that out here: Reading Challenge | Reading a Shortlist 2021.

Flowers of Mold by Ha Seong-nan – I am picking this up because it is the oldest book on my TBR and I am still interested in it. This is a collection of short stories so I should be able to read it quickly and enjoy myself!

Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb, as started in my 2021 goals, which you can read in my post: Reading Challenge | 2021 Reading Goals, I want to read two of her trilogies this year, so I wanted to get a start on that. Especially since I have so many people telling me I am going to enjoy it.

The Office of Historical Corrections by Danielle Evans, this was one of my book of the month picks last month so I wanted to try and get to it this month. I look forward to reading this collection of short stories that touch on larger issues in modern day society.

Not Quite Out pictured amongst my plants.

Not Quite Out by Louise Willingham, I am so lucky to say I am on a blog tour for this book in February so I am planning on reading this gifted book in January so I can write up my honest review.


What are you planning on reading this month?

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Reviews

Someone Picks My Books | Erica @The Broken Spine | Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff

Hello and welcome to another installment of Someone Picks My Books! This month I am reading a book recommend by the wonderful Erica who you can find on twitter as @2020hines_sight or on her youtube channel The Broken Spine. I was so excited when she picked Lovecraft Country for me to read for a few reasons, first I have been hearing a ton about the adaptation and secondly, the book just sounds amazing!


Picture of book on pillows.

One Sentence Review

A wonderful collections of historical horror/science fiction that show cases the “typical” horror and the horrors faced by American Americans.

Description

Chicago, 1954. When his father Montrose goes missing, twenty-two year old Army veteran Atticus Turner embarks on a road trip to New England to find him, accompanied by his Uncle George—publisher of The Safe Negro Travel Guide—and his childhood friend Letitia. On their journey to the manor of Mr. Braithwhite—heir to the estate that owned Atticus’s great grandmother—they encounter both mundane terrors of white America and malevolent spirits that seem straight out of the weird tales George devours.

At the manor, Atticus discovers his father in chains, held prisoner by a secret cabal named the Order of the Ancient Dawn—led by Samuel Braithwhite and his son Caleb—which has gathered to orchestrate a ritual that shockingly centers on Atticus. And his one hope of salvation may be the seed of his—and the whole Turner clan’s—destruction.

A chimerical blend of magic, power, hope, and freedom that stretches across time, touching diverse members of one black family, Lovecraft Country is a devastating kaleidoscopic portrait of racism—the terrifying specter that continues to haunt us today. –goodreads.com


What I Liked

I have to say, I was looking forward to this book ever since Erica picked it for me and it did not disappoint. In fact, I liked it more than I thought I would. I typically love horror and read it all year, so that alone set this book up for being a winner in my book. On top of that I really liked how the author blended in historical facts. The author picked to follow an African American family around the 1950s. In doing this the author was able to bring attention to sadly very common racism that took place during that time, but also made this horror novel feel even more realistic.

The writing itself was done very well both from a grammar stand point, but it also had a very sturdy pace. Personally, pace needs to be consistent when it comes to reading. I don’t mind a slow burn book or a fast paced book, but I really dislike when it is all over the place. The author was able to keep it consistent and I actually ended up reading this book from cover to cover in a single setting. Not only that, I also enjoyed the nods to Lovecraft and how the author built upon them to build what this family goes through. On top of that I really liked how the author wrote all of the characters, they felt real.

What I Didn’t Like

Honestly, not a single thing and I feel like this is one I want to reread again in the future.

Overall

Overall, I feel like this is a really wonderful books that not only has supernatural horrors, but also real life horrors as well. I think if either of these topics are something you want to to read more about this is a book you should look into. The mixture of historically accurate context, great writing, and a great story really has a lot going for it. Now, I can finally watch the TV adaption!


Next month I am reading a book picked by Misty from Misty’s Book Space, you can also find her over on twitter @mistymichelle30. This is the second time Misty is picking a book for me and I am so excited because it went so well the first time.

Have you read this book before or is it on your TBR?

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Reading Challenges · Reviews

Reading Challenge | MyTBR.co Issue 1

Hello and welcome to a new quarterly series on my blog where I get reccomedations from mytbr.co and read and review them to see how well they can guess my reading tastes from me filling out a huge form non their website. I will not hesitate to say I got this idea from watching Books and Lala over on youtube and seeing her trying the same book service and I wanted to try it for myself.


This is to go over the first recommendation letter I received them from. In this letter I was recommended The Hunger by Alma Katsu, The Incarnations of Susan Barker, and The Changeling by Victor Lavalle. I will say that my first reaction to this recommendations were, “Wow, these sound amazing”. So far, this service is off to a really good start.

The Reviews

The ChangelingThe Changeling by Victor LaValle
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book ended up being so much more enjoyable than I thought it was going to be. It was beautifully written and surprising. I expected the story to be one thing, but it transformed into something magically different in the best way possible. I really enjoyed the rollercoaster of emotions this book put my through as a reader as well as a family legend that ties into myths.

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The HungerThe Hunger by Alma Katsu
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was a very intriguing, imaginative and haunting horror. Not only was this horror atmospheric, but it mixed “real world” horror and monster based horror. This mixed with history only made it just seem even more real. The writing was well done, the pacing, characters, and relationships were all done so well. I will be trying more books from this author in the future.

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The IncarnationsThe Incarnations by Susan Barker
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This novel was just something outside of the genre it was labeled as. It is a thriller, fantasy, and historical fiction all mixed into one. This book follows a cab driver in Beijing and the story goes through time as you learn about his past lives as he does. Each life had its own chapter where you explored the lives of these two souls, the lives they lived varied quite a lot and they endured a ton as well (violence, sexual violence, and suicide to name a few). The writing itself was beautiful, and the way the author organized the book was perfect. At no point did I think the pacing was off or was bored. I was glued to this book when I was able to find time to pick it up. Another aspect I enjoyed was the fact that the author intertwined these stories with Chinese folklore, classic, and history.

View all my reviews


Overall, I would say that this service did a really wonderful job in picking books for me for this round. I ended up giving every book a 4 or 5 rating and when I did get to pick up these books I tended to read them for long periods of time. I very much look forward to my next recommendations.


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Lets Talk · Lists & Recommendations

Let’s Talk | Wintery Books

Hello and welcome to a post where I talk about a few of my wintery themed books. I am not usually a seasonal reader, but I feel like there is nothing better than snuggling up next to a fireplace with a cup of hot cocoa with a winter read. It is just so relaxing during the long nights. Anyway, here are the books I think wold be great to read in the winter.


NOS4A2 by Joe Hill

While this is a horror novel, it has a large wintery and Christmas theme throughout. I mean it has a place called Christmasland in it, it doesn’t get more christmas-y in a horror novel than that. On top of this it really is a really enjoyable horror novel on its own that I recommend to quite a few to my friends to read this time of the year. I feel like the mixture of horror and the holiday season really is a great tie in between Halloween and Christmas.

One by One by Ruth Ware

If you are in the mood for a thriller and a wintry backdrop, this is a wonderful option. This thriller/mystery takes place at a ski retreat where the characters are trapped and cut off the from the rest of the world at the top of a mountain in the middle of a snow storm. This is a great option to read as soon as the temperature starts to drop.

The Widow of Pale Harbor by Hester Fox

Now, this one is a really atmospheric read. It is a really great thriller with a very big dark feeling to it that is hard to explain. It is not dark in a way that is evil, but the novel just reads like it takes place in the time of year where the nights are long. On top of that it takes place in a really small lovely town where everyone is really close, but also it a historical fiction. It has a lot going for it.

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

Does it get more wintry than a classic Russian novel? This novel is a classic for a reason, this book covers themes and such that are still relevant in todays world. While there is a lot of drama in this book, a lot of the issues the characters face are still feelings that a lot of us still feel during 2020. When I first read this novel I gave it 3 stars, but as time past I realized that I liked it more and more.

Royal Holiday by Jasmine Guillory

I just finished this very cute romance last night, I have not stayed up this late to finish a book in a while, but this book had me needing to know what happened next between the two main characters. The main character, Vivian, travels with her daughter, Maddie, across the ocean to spend Christmas with her while working for the royal family, then the story builds from there. It is an adorable setting, the characters were wonderful, and takes place the week surrounding Christmas.

Before the Coffee Gets Cold and Before the Coffee Gets Cold: Tales from the Café by Toshikazu Kawaguchi

These two collections of short stories that are about 200 pages are so wonderful and heart wrenching focus on making connections with those in our lives and celebrating and making the most of the time we have together. With all of the holidays where family is the main focus I feel like this really is a wonderful time to read both of these. Plus, a cafe where you can travel in time, I mean, this is just a great addition!


I hope you found a book that you might enjoy reading over the long nights this winter or holiday season!

Are there any wintery themed books you are enjoying currently?

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Wrap Up

Middle Mark | December 2020

Hello and welcome to my mid-month reading check in! While this post it a tad bit earlier than normal. I wanted to post it now so I can really focus on books I am writing full reviews on in the second half of the year. So far this month I have already read some pretty awesome books and I really can’t wait to pick up a few more before the end of 2020. Anyway, here are my mini reviews for the books I have read so far this month.


The Wedding from Hell (The Wedding From Hell, #1-3; Firefighters, #0.5-0.7)The Wedding from Hell by J.R. Ward
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As always, J.R. Ward is a great romance writer.

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The Blade BetweenThe Blade Between by Sam J. Miller
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

*Book given via netgalley in exchange for an honest review*

Overall, I think the author created a really rich history for this town that really lent itself to the plot and structure of the story. I think the author is a talented writer and I plan on giving his other works a try as well. I really enjoyed the use of the paranormal and really elevated this story into an engaging and unique horror. I feel like if this book sounds interesting to you, you should give it a go.

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You Can't Touch My Hair: And Other Things I Still Have to ExplainYou Can’t Touch My Hair: And Other Things I Still Have to Explain by Phoebe Robinson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Phoebe talked about many large topics such as feminism and race. This book is filled with wit, truth, and personal stories. The author is truly talented when it comes to talking about deep and complex topics, but balancing it with her sense of humor. Both I really appreciated. I need to find her stuff on a streaming service and also pick up her other book ASAP.

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The ChangelingThe Changeling by Victor LaValle
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book ended up being so much more enjoyable than I thought it was going to be. It was beautifully written and surprising. I expected the story to be one thing, but it transformed into something magically different in the best way possible. I really enjoyed the rollercoaster of emotions this book put my through as a reader as well as a family legend that ties into myths.

View all my reviews


As of right now I am in the middle of two books. The first is A Promised Land by Barack Obama and the second is Royal Holiday by Jasmine Gullory. I am 5% into A Promised Land and I am enjoying it, I am reading while listening along with the audiobook that is read by Obama, so it has a lot of his personality in it. Royal Holiday is also really good, I am about 10% into that story and I am really loving the set up for this holiday romantic story.

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Reviews

Book Review | The Blade Between by Sam J. Miller

*Book given via netgalley in exchange for an honest review*

The Blade Between

Description: 

Ronan Szepessy promised himself he’d never return to Hudson. The sleepy upstate town was no place for a restless gay photographer. But his father is ill and New York City’s distractions have become too much for him. He hopes that a quick visit will help him recharge. 

Ronan reconnects with two friends from high school: Dom, his first love, and Dom’s wife, Attalah. The three former misfits mourn what their town has become—overrun by gentrifiers and corporate interests. With friends and neighbors getting evicted en masse and a mayoral election coming up, Ronan and Attalah craft a plan to rattle the newcomers and expose their true motives. But in doing so, they unleash something far more mysterious and uncontainable. 

Hudson has a rich, proud history and, it turns out, the real estate developers aren’t the only forces threatening its well-being: the spirits undergirding this once-thriving industrial town are enraged. Ronan’s hijinks have overlapped with a bubbling up of hate and violence among friends and neighbors, and everything is spiraling out of control. Ronan must summon the very best of himself to shed his own demons and save the city he once loathed.


What I Liked

The first thing I have to say is I really liked the world building of this book. The author did a wonderful job of creating the town of Hudson. The main character really has bad memories tied to this place, rightfully so, he had endured quite a bit there. But, even with his memories he heads back to help his father only to face a place so different than he remembers, but hates. The world and environment of this story feel real, it has a feel to it even with the supernatural elements. There is a rich history of the town, which is not just there for the sake of being there, but plays into the plot.

The writing itself was interesting, the plot moved quickly even for a nearly 400 page novel. It was a book I picked up from time to time, but I always ended up reading for more than I originally planned on. It did talk about a lot of larger topics throughout this book like violence, gentrification, homophobia, drug use and more. I think this is one of the reasons I kept on reading this book, because it had a lot going on and was dynamic.


What I Didn’t Like

The major flaw of this novel is the first part of the book was difficult to get through. While I did say I always ended up reading more than I planned, this first part of the book was a bit iffy for me personally, but turned around for me as the book continued. Another thing that I wasn’t totally on board with is the fact that it could be really confusing at times and I had a hard time trying to figure out what this book was trying to be at first.


Overall Thoughts

Overall, I think the author created a really rich history for this town that really lent itself to the plot and structure of the story. I think the author is a talented writer and I plan on giving his other works a try as well. I really enjoyed the use of the paranormal and really elevated this story into an engaging and unique horror. I feel like if this book sounds interesting to you, you should give it a go.


Author Links

Sam J. Miller

Book Information

Publication Date: December 1, 2020

Publisher: Ecco

List Price: $26.99

ISBN:  978-0062969828

Pages: 384 pages


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To Be Read

To Be Read | Last TBR of 2020

Hello and welcome to the final TBR of 2020, it is hard to believe I am writing that sentence honestly. While this year has been very difficult, it has felt slow, but also really fast to me. But, here we are, tis the season to write an end of the year TBR. I am going to be keeping it quite small this month, but I still have a few books I want to get to before 2021 comes our way.

Book stack of Lovecraft Country, The Changing, An Orchestra of Minorities, The Incarnations, and A Promised Land.

Love Craft Country by Matt Ruff, this first book on my TBR was picked by Erica for the Someone PicksMy Books series I have on my blog. I have to say, it took a lot of self control not to read this book sooner. I have been eyeing it since she picked it for me.

The Changeling Novel by Victor LaValle and The Incarnations by Susan Barker are both horrors I wished I had gotten to sooner. I feel like in general this TBR should have the theme, “books Luna should have gotten to sooner” honestly. But, both of these sounded really fascinating and I really want to read already.

An Orchestra of Minorities by Chigozie Obioma is the last book I am reading for my reading a shortlist Man Booker challenge. I decided I am not going to be reading the sequel to the Handmaids Tale because I really don’t think she should have won. Anyway, I have been looking forward to An Orchestra of Minorities for a few reasons, the first being it is narrated by a guardian spirit and secondly a life changing event.

Lastly, I am planning on reading A Promised Land by Barack Obama. I had this book preordered at my local bookshop and did not get around to starting it in November, but I want to read it ASAP. I really loved his wives book and her story and I am interested in hearing his story in his won words as well.

There you have it, those are the five books I plan on reading before the end of the year. I am really hoping I am able to finish them all in time. I know my reading slowed down quite a bit the second half of November, but I hope this post motivates me a bit to get going and pick up a book!



What are you planning on reading before the end of 2020?

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Wrap Up

Wrap Up | November 2020

Hello and welcome to my monthly wrap up, can you believe that the 11th month of the year is already behind us? I sure can’t I feel like November went very quickly this time around and we are already getting reading for the last month of 2020. This past month I didn’t do as well reading wise as previous months, but still feel like I read some great books and found a few new favorites.


Decisions and Dissents of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg: A SelectionDecisions and Dissents of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg: A Selection by Ruth Bader Ginsburg
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A wonderful collection of RBG’s ideas and thoughts on major topics such as equal rights and womens rights.

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Venus in the Blind SpotVenus in the Blind Spot by Junji Ito
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Once again Junji Ito has made a wonderful collection of short manga horror tales. As always the art is great, the tales eerie and horrific and I read them quickly. I will continue to pick up more from him.

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Cemetery BoysCemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was just a wonderful read. I laughed, I cried, and a bunch of emotions in-between. I really loved Yadriel, Maritza and Julian as individual characters, but also how they interacted with one another. It really focused on acceptance, love, and family, blood or otherwise. It really was such an emotional read in the perfect way.

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The Nickel BoysThe Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Colson Whitehead has done it again, he has written another amazing book. He is certainly turning into one of my auto buy authors. This story was dark, raw, and emotional, but it was also beautifully told. Sadly, this story is based off of real events and many have had these experiences. I certainly is thought provoking and will be a book I think about in the future.

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What was your favorite or least favorite read of October?

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