October Book reviews 2023

October Book reviews 2023

I was hesitant as I sat down to work on this post. I wasn’t sure I’d completed any books at all in October. It was a strange month, and I was neck deep in edits on a previous project so I could immerse myself into my next story. There was a lot of reading, revising, editing, and rereading. I even had my project read to me so I could see it from various angles. 

By the time I collapsed in the evening after dinner, I was a little washed out to do much more than pull my cozy Piggie & Elephant blanket over myself and hear about everyone’s day and discuss what we should do with our evenings now that the Aussie Rules season is over. 

I was so tired I returned three of my library holds before I’d even cracked them open. A fourth book I started but got lost in the explosion of character soup in the first chapter, and then it, too, was returned. I’ve had to borrow C is for Corpse three times, and I’m still not finished with it. 

One of my favorite things about using the Libby app is that when you open it, they will give you a summary of the books you’ve read for the month, week, or year. Much to my surprise, I’d forgotten about a book I had finished. And it was a delicious hard-to-stop read, too. So, without further ado, I present to you the two books I read in October.

Good Boundaries & Goodbyes by Lysa TerKeurst 

This has been on my TBR pile since before we left the island. I’ve appreciated the author’s take on many topics before and was intrigued to read this. I’ve had the Dr. Cloud book about Boundaries recommended countless times, and I even own two copies of it for some bizarre reason. Yet, I’ve struggled to delve into it. It’s difficult to place my finger on the exact hiccup, but I realized that just because he may be many people’s go to for boundaries, didn’t mean he had to be mine.

I chose two books in place of Dr. Cloud’s, and Lysa’s book is the one I finished first. As normal, Lysa presented advice on the topic with love and empathy towards the reader, with plenty of gentle reminders to take care of yourself and personal experiences on the topic.

In this book, her therapist weighs in at the end of each chapter on specific topics that were covered. Jim offers close-up notes on what to look for regarding the covered subject from each chapter. I appreciated this extra step, and professional insight.

While the overall theme of the book was boundaries, Lysa also discussed knowing when it was time to say goodbye to certain relationships. When you can’t trust people with your heart, it’s time to release them. I appreciated the discussion on this topic. It was nice to hear the reminder that choosing to let someone go was hard. As a person who has had to make the tough choice to say goodbye, it’s often frustrating when people think it was a gut reaction. It’s not a rash choice, and can be heart wrenching even when it’s the right thing to do.

Lysa talked about the grieving process of releasing individuals when they have repeatedly crossed our boundaries and we can no longer entrust them with our hearts. She had a line that took my breath away that goes like this: a million little funerals. It’s also the title of chapter 12 in the book, which is all about how to grieve, hold silent funerals for relationship losses, and how to truly mean, “Goodbye, goodbye, God bless, goodbye.” 

If you’re looking for a biblical view of boundaries, this is a fantastic book to start with. I’d urge you to have a highlighter and some sticky flags at the ready to mark all the beautiful parts. I’m almost done with a second book on boundaries that dovetails with this one. Perhaps I’ll finish it before the end of November and will share it then.

What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty

Remember, a while back when I mentioned that in the local writing group we’d had our writing compared to published authors? This was another author they compared my writing to, and one I wasn’t familiar with. I scanned the Libby App from the comfort of my recliner while hiding under that yellow fuzzy blanket and stumbled upon What Alice Forgot.

The story is about Alice Love, who is only twenty-nine years old and crazy in love with her husband. Except she’s not. She was at a gym, which is weird because Alice hates gyms, and she fell off her workout bike and cracked her head on the floor. She’s forgotten ten years of her life. The last thing she remembers is being pregnant with her eldest child, nicknamed The Bean. Being in love with her husband, and working on the beautiful Victorian home they’d purchased.

When she’s released from the hospital, she learns The Bean is almost a teen, she’s mother to three children, a workout fanatic, the home is renovated, and her marriage has dissolved into a separation headed straight for divorce. Her relationship with her sister isn’t quite what she remembered, and her best friend of all time has no interest in talking to her.

The person she thought she’d be, and who she turned out to be, aren’t adding up and she wonders where it all went so wrong. Alice makes a lot of fumbles as she tries to remember her past and make peace with her future. There are some comical moments when she’s certain the children are not being quite honest about what the family rules are, and there are some emotional lows as we learn what tore the family apart and shattered the relationship she once had with her sister.

As Alice puts her life back together, and flashes of her memory return, she has to decide if she’s brave enough to pick pieces from her past and from her present life to create the future she always dreamed of.

This book was a delight to read. Did I see my writing in it? Yes, and no. Every writer has their own voice, their own unique way of writing. It was certainly my kind of story, and the sticky real life stuff I enjoy writing about. Which, I suspect, is the biggest reason they compared me to Moriarty. Either way, I hope when the movie is made it sticks to the book!

Dear Reader,

I must confess I’m holding out on you. I read a third book, but that was the book I wrote. During the editing process, I read it front to back and back to front multiple times. And now that the current round of editing is done, I’m taking a much slower pace as I read through it and wait to hear from the Beta Readers it’s currently with.

I haven’t decided what the next course of action will be with that manuscript and have decided not to worry about it until January. Still, it would seem a little strange to tell you all about a book I wrote myself, and that you couldn’t read yet.

If you’re wondering why the line “a million little funerals” took my breath away, it’s because it was like someone finally understood the depth of pain in releasing relationships that aren’t beneficial or even safe for you anymore. There was no condemnation, just that simple line that showed the depth of understanding the author had with the pain of having to whisper goodbye to loved ones who are still alive.

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