October 2022 Book Reviews

three robert bryndza novels

 

Here are my October 2022 book reviews of the eight books I read this month.

October, although a very busy month for me, was actually pretty decent as far as my reading went. I read a couple of books that I absolutely loved, although I didn’t give any of them five-star ratings. They were good, solid books, but you’ll see in a bit why they didn’t wow me. 

These are my October 2022 book reviews.

 

1. Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt

remarkably bright creatures

Remarkably Bright Creatures

If you were wondering if this book is worth all the hype it got, I can assure you that it absolutely does. And it is a debut novel as well! I loved this book, so I recommend you pick it up!

 

Synopsis

Judging by the title, the book seems weird, if I’m being honest. But it is a beautiful tale of how a widow forms a connection with a giant octopus. Tova Sullivan, a seventy-something widow, gets a job at the local aquarium after her husband dies to pass the time. She’s used to keeping busy, it helps her cope with loss. When her son Erik was eighteen, he vanished while working on a boat. For over thirty years she’s been living with grief, but she has a group of friends and Marcellus, the giant octopus, to keep her occupied. Ever the bright creature, Marcellus helps Tova figure out the mystery behind her son’s disappearance.

 

Thoughts

The reason I didn’t give this great book five stars on Goodreads is that I find the author could’ve developed Cameron’s mother’s character a bit more. 

Another factor that made me bring down the rating is because the ending was a bit rushed in my opinion. The author lays out a great foundation but then speeds up the pace at the end, which I thought was a shame.

Nonetheless, I think it deserves all the praise it gets.  It’s a book I highly recommend.

 

2. Nine Lives by Peter Swanson

nine lives peter swanson

Nine Lives

This one would have probably been better as a physical book, but I listened to it on audio. It was still okay, just not my favorite from the author.

 

Synopsis

The book starts with a list of nine names on a sheet that all the people mentioned on it receive by mail. They are baffled, as they don’t know each other. Nothing else is written on the paper, just their names. Once the people mentioned on the list start dying, FBI agent Jessica Winslow starts investigating. What can be the link between these people? 

 

Thoughts

I decided to listen to it as an audiobook, and I must say I didn’t love it. Maybe because I couldn’t keep track of the characters, since it was on audio and I had to pay attention to my driving instead of the book. It could also be because it was meant to be a modern-day rendition of Agatha Christie’s “And Then There Were None”, but it somehow didn’t measure up to the Queen of  Mystery’s original version. The idea is good, but the execution is only three stars out of five.

Sorry, I usually like Swanson’s books, but this one just wasn’t for me. 

 

3. Dark Water by Robert Bryndza

dark water on gray blanket

Dark Water

The third Erika Foster book, this series gets better and better. I’m enjoying it very much, I cannot recommend it enough!

 

Synopsis

Detective Erika Foster got transferred to the narcotics team after events from her last case didn’t turn up how she expected.  While uncovering a stash of drugs in a quarry on the outskirts of London, her team also finds a body of a young child in the water. Jessica Collins disappeared more than twenty years ago, and the old detective who originally worked on the case, Amanda Baker, has been plagued by this case. Erika tries to piece together all the evidence in both the new and old cases, and the results are shocking. 

 

Thoughts

Just like in the previous novels, I did not see the end coming. A heart-stopping ending that took me by surprise with a cleverly structured plot and short chapters, I flew through it. 

I always enjoy Robert’s writing, and this book is no different. It offers just enough gore, but nothing that will disturb anyone. Unless you’re a very easily triggered reader, anyone can handle reading his books. 

While I love Erika, I find she was a bit more abrupt in her interactions with those close to her in this book. Although I must say, I find her sister to be a little pushy. But at least Erika is attempting to move on from the death of her husband, which she’ll never completely get out of her system. 

Because of the personal details about the characters’ lives, I suggest the books be read in order. But they can all be read as standalone.

 

4. Last Breath by Robert Bryndza

last breath on kindle

Last Breath

This is the fourth book in the Erika Foster series. Just like the previous ones, it kept me entertained from the first to the last page.

 

Synopsis

Erika Foster gets to the crime scene of the body of a tortured young woman. Although technically not her case, she is with her colleague while he receives the call. While she’s trying to get her place back on the team, she links an unsolved murder of another woman from four months before. Both victims were killed in the same way, and a third girl is abducted while Erika and her team try to race against time in order to prevent another murder. But are they too late? The killer seems to always be one step ahead of them. 

 

Thoughts

Another fast-paced, tense, and gripping story that’s hard to put down. You will either love or hate Erika, but I happen to love her brashness and edgy personality. She always gets herself into compromising situations at work, but her availability to solve murders always gets her back in her bosses’ good graces. 

The author made the killer known halfway through the book in this one, but it still gave the reader enough suspense. Another great crime thriller I highly recommend. 

 

5. In My Dreams I Hold a Knife by Ashley Winstead

in my dreams i hold a knife on bed

In My Dreams I Hold a Knife

I loved this psychological thriller/dark academia. Loved the setting and the storyline. A great debut by Ashley Winstead.

 

Synopsis

Six college friends reunite for their ten-year anniversary at Duquette University, in North Carolina. During their last year at college, one of the East House seven was brutally murdered, and the remaining six had something to hide. They feel like they were tricked into coming to this reunion by the victim’s brother, who did not accept Heather’s death going unsolved.

The friends all got on with their lives, but Jessica Miller, the victim’s friend, and roommate wants people to see that she turned out to be very successful.

During the Homecoming festivities, the true killer is revealed. 

 

Thoughts

I loved this dark academic, psychological thriller that takes place on a college campus. It felt also very appropriate for this time of year, making me reminisce about my University years. 

For a debut novel, it was excellent.  A fast-paced read, I enjoyed the character development and the dual timelines. This dark thriller made you suspect everyone, all the way until the very end. I love a “who did it” book, and this one surprised me. 

If you’re looking for a thriller that will keep you guessing, I definitely recommend this one. It does live up to the hype, in my opinion. 

 

6. Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner

crying in h mart with coffee

Crying in H Mart

This memoir will tear you apart with grief. Especially if you lost a parent or someone equally close to you. Written with raw honesty and full of gut-wrenching emotions, it will not leave you indifferent.

I find with memoirs there is no synopsis to give because they are books that talk about the author’s life. It’s not like a plot that develops, it is the person’s description of events in their personal lives they share with the readers. 

The story Michelle tells is a very sad one, and it was inspired by her mother’s death. She narrates the way her relationship with her mother developed, and the void she’s felt since she’s been gone. 

I listened to the book on audio, and the author is also the narrator. You can hear the anguish in her voice as she’s telling her story. While you’re listening to the story, you feel her pain, and at times you just want to burst into tears. 

Her connection to her mother and her Korean culture is the predominant focus of this memoir. I feel like the author needed to write this book as a form of therapy in order to deal with her loss. 

The best part of the book is all the food references. If you’re not familiar with Korean food, this book will definitely encourage you to give it a try. I know it gave me some serious cravings while listening to it!

 

7. Cold Blood by Robert Bryndza

cold blood on ipad

Cold Blood

The fifth Erika Foster book was a solid read! As per usual, the fast-paced thriller offers you plenty of action and degrees of chills. 

 

Synopsis

Erika and her team stumble upon a suitcase that was washed ashore, filled with the dismembered body of a male. Two weeks before, the body of a young woman was found in an identical suitcase not too far from the site of the first suitcase. 

Realizing they are after a serial killer, Erika’s own life is threatened in a brutal attack. And Commander Marsh’s twins are abducted. 

With high stakes at risk, will the team be able to catch this vicious killer couple before they strike again? 

 

Thoughts

For the duration of the book, I was reading with anticipation of where the author was taking the story. And he did not disappoint. 

Bryndza sets up the layout of his stories brilliantly, and he makes the plot unfold in a way that keeps you engaged. The short chapters read very fast, so you can get through the book fairly fast. I prefer books that are outlined in this way, as it makes the reading experience more enjoyable.

Overall, I gave this book, like all of his others so far, four stars.  I love this series and I cannot recommend it enough. If you’re looking for a fast-paced thriller filled with action, give the Erika Foster detective series a chance. 

 

8. An Honest Lie by Tarryn Fisher

an honest lie

An Honest Lie

I ended this month with a book that I originally started back in the summer, and to be honest, I was kind of disappointed. As my first Tarryn Fisher, I was not impressed. Although cult books rarely do, in the author’s defense.

 

Synopsis

Lorraine “Rainy” reluctantly agrees to a girl’s weekend in Vegas. The ladies who invited her are really her husband’s circle, and she’s not ready to open up just yet. She’s keeping her past life a secret, even from her husband, as she’s trying hard to forget it. 

At the end of this trip one of the girls, Braithe, doesn’t come back, and Rainy realizes her past caught up with her. Will she be able to save Braithe from her predicament?

 

Thoughts

Ugh, I don’t like cultish books. The heroine, Rainy/Summer, was an adult now, but the storyline is told from two timelines. Then and now. Then, when she was a child and living on a compound with her mother, and now, and her new life with her man, Grant. 

Although I didn’t dislike the writing, the whole vibe of the book threw me off. I liked Rainy and Grant, but I pretty much disliked all the other characters in this book. Whether it was intentional or not, it did nothing for me. 

Because I think the author did an okay job for three-quarters of the book, I gave it three stars, but I was tempted to bring it down to two. The ending was just a mess in my opinion, and I just wanted it to be over at this point. I invested a good amount of time into this book, and I was really curious to see how it ended. Surprise, surprise, it disappointed me!

 Ah, well, I can’t love them all.

 

Concluding Words

This sums up my eight October 2022 book reviews. I’m pretty happy with the way October turned out, even though I read two flops. The rest were very good, although not five stars. 

Until next time, my fellow bookworms, keep reading!

 

 

 

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