wrap up: books read in October 2017

  • The End We Start From by Megan Hunter ★★★ + review
  • Miss Kopp’s Midnight Confessions by Amy Stewart ★★★ + review
  • The Book Collector by Alice Thompson ★★★★ + mini review
  • Dunbar by Edward St. Aubyn ★★★ + review
  • Sparkling Cyanide by Agatha Christie ★★★★★ + review
  • Bird Box by Josh Malerman ★★★★★ + review
  • War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy ★★ + review

Best: Bird Box by Josh Malerman
Runner up: Sparkling Cyanide by Agatha Christie
Worst: War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

OCTOBER TOTAL: 7 books
YEARLY TOTAL SO FAR: 85 books (goal was 60)

I feel like these star ratings don’t accurately represent my reading month, which was Not Great….. continuing from September I had a long streak of 3 stars, and then most of my month was spent reading War and Peace, which clearly I did not end up loving.  (Though I do feel a bit bad giving it the distinction of the worst of the month…. perhaps a more fair assessment would be The End We Start From which is one of the most unremarkable books I’ve ever read, but at least that held my attention – War and Peace was just a massive two month long struggle for me.)

In non-book news, it wasn’t a bad month!  I went on a road trip to Hartford and Boston and got to see some theatre and got to hang out with Chelsea and Steph, which was a lot of fun.  We saw the Les Miserables tour and then a sadly short-lived production of Merrily We Roll Along in Boston – review of that HERE.

Now the currently reading/TBR stuff… I’m in the middle of The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater (buddy read with Steph) and having a lot of fun with that!  Also reading An Arrow’s Flight by Mark Merlis and The Obelisk Gate by N.K. Jemisin, and I haven’t touched The Lesser Bohemians by Eimear McBride in weeks but now that I’ve finished War and Peace maybe I’ll have the mental energy to dive back into that.  Or maybe I’ll put it off for another month.  Anyway, November will also include a buddy read of Wuthering Heights with Hadeer, The Absolutist by John Boyne, The Chalk Man by C.J. Tudor, A Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzie Lee… and maybe other things!  We shall see.  I’m really excited about some of these.

Finally… follow me in various places on the internet if you want!

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What was the best book you read in October?  Comment and let me know!

18 thoughts on “wrap up: books read in October 2017

  1. I’m always so impressed when anyone finishes War and Peace, I’ve heard it’s a doozy. It’s been on my TBR forever because I loved Anna Karenina but I’m afraid I won’t like War and Peace nearly as much so I keep putting it off. I’ve also been wanting to read Bird Box for months, and your 5 star review is encouraging.
    I hope you enjoy Wuthering Heights! It’s been years since I’ve read it, and at the time I wasn’t impressed with the writing but some of the themes from it have really stuck with me. I’m also interested in The Gentleman’s Guide, hope you have fun with that one too!

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    • I haven’t read Anna Karenina yet but I hope to one day! I’ve heard it’s very different from W&P so you are probably wise to stay away… I mean, if you’re interested in Russian history then definitely go for it, but as I am not, it was a very long slog for me.

      Bird Box was EXCELLENT, I cannot recommend it highly enough. And I’m looking forward to Wuthering Heights, I’ve never read any of the Brontes other than Jane Eyre, which I loved, so it’ll be interesting to see how it the sisters’ writing compares. I’ve heard Gentleman’s Guide is fun and wacky, so I’m looking forward to that too!!

      ALSO what do you think of BOTM? I’m kind of disappointed with the selection tbh!!

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      • I do recommend Anna Karenina, although I understand not wanting to get to it in a hurry after a bad experience with War and Peace. :/ Anna isn’t a Gothic novel, but I do think especially if you liked Jane Eyre you could be the right audience for it.
        I should definitely look into finding a copy of Bird Box!
        And yes, I wasn’t as thrilled with the selections this month either. 4 of them I had already heard of, which I usually like to see, but none of them were books I wanted to own and read immediately. I think I’m going to gamble this month and pick the one I hadn’t heard of, Future Home of the Living God. What are you going with?

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      • I’d heard of the same 4 as you and I wasn’t happy about it!!! It kind of annoyed me that they’re doing two celeb authors in the same month… and the other two don’t interest me at all. I almost took a chance on Future Home as well especially because I’ve heard ogod things about Erdrich, but as soon as I saw it shelved as sci-fi/dystopia I decided to pass… I’ve been burned by too many dystopias lately so I’m just not in the mood. So for the FIRST TIME I am skipping a month! I guess this gives me time to catch up with The Power. Which I think is also dystopia. OH WELL.

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      • Dystopias are a tricky genre. It was the writing-within-the-writing that intrigued me: it sounded like part/all of the book was written as letters/journal entries, which sounded interesting. Last year around this time I was wrapping up Pierce Brown’s Red Rising trilogy, which is my favorite dystopia of all time and not at all trope-y, so I think I’ll take a chance again this year. But I know what you mean– I’ve just been mulling over the choices and not actually clicking the “ship my box” button yet. Catching up on The Power sounds like a good idea– but I can’t resist a new book. Even if this one is a gamble. :/

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      • That does sound interesting! And I couldn’t get into Red Rising unfortunately. I only read the first book but wasn’t crazy about it… I feel like for every good dystopia I read there are at least five I don’t like. I definitely think originality is the key to that genre. And Future Home sounds pretty original, so it’ll probably be good! I’ll be curious to see what you think – I may pick it up later at some point if it gets good reviews. I know, choosing my book is always the highlight of each month starting so it was a letdown… but I have no interest in the two celeb books, no interest in outerspace stuff, and magical realism is an automatic no for me… so I guess it was not meant to be 😦

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      • The Red Rising trilogy gets better after the first book (in my humble opinion) but a 1:5 ratio seems low enough that I won’t bug you about reading further! 😆 Originality is definitely the dystopian key, it’s the genre that feels the most to me like “if you’ve read one, you’ve read them all,” and after picking up Divergent in high school I’ve gotten a lot more cautious about which ones I choose. I think I feel the same about magical realism as you do about dystopia— a 1:5 ratio. Outerspace is usually a no-go for me too, and I rarely want to own celeb books. Sometimes I’m interested enough to crack a cover, but I never expect to find a favorite there. I hope next month’s selections will be more exciting! And I hope The Power turns out even better than you’re expecting in the meantime. I’m still hoping to get to that one soon, too.

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      • I’m going through my dystopia shelf and seeing what jumps out at me… I really like a lot of the classics (Brave New World, 1984, A Clockwork Orange etc) but a lot of the newer ones just don’t do it for me! Even some of the classics (Handmaid’s Tale tbh) I’m not crazy about… which is a shame because I really love the concept of dystopias! I think it’s an easy genre to get burnt out with, too, if you read too many.

        I’d say magical realism is probably my least favorite genre… every once in a while I’ll enjoy one but I usually don’t even attempt them in the first place. I don’t know what it is, I just don’t really jive with that genre at all.

        I hope The Power is good too!! I also got Dark Matter as an extra last month as I’ve been meaning to read it for ages and I’m really excited to get around to that one!

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      • Dark Matter is one of my favorite reads of the year! I went into it without knowing much so all of the plot twists really shocked me and I loved it. I hope you have a good time with that one!

        1984 is also one of my faves. Fahrenheit 451 was easier for me to get through than Brave New World, but I really liked the ideas in both once I got past Huxley’s writing style. I did also like Handmaid’s Tale, but I knew that I loved Margaret Atwood’s writing going in so I was predisposed to like it. I think you’re right, now that I’m thinking about it: it’s the newer attempts at dystopia that more often leave me unsatisfied. Although I did like most of Ready Player One.

        My problem with magical realism is that it’s often too episodic for my taste. A bunch of stuff happens and the usual structure of a story goes out the window and it just feels like a free-for-all. I can only think of two examples that I thought were well done in the genre, where the rules were different from reality but there were actually rules and a story: Fiona McFarlane’s The Night Guest, and Emily Henry’s A Million Junes. If you ever decide to delve back into magical realism, I would recommend those, in that order.

        I have cautiously high hopes for The Power. I really like the concept, so I hope the full result will be as good as the idea!

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      • Ahhh that’s great to hear about Dark Matter – I don’t know anything about the plot either so I’m excited!!

        I agree 100% about the lack of structure in magical realism – that’s definitely one of the things that bothers me about the genre. I also feel like the magic can easily just come off as a plot device… I feel like it has to be exceptionally well done for me to accept the magical elements. For some reason I find it a lot more difficult to suspend my disbelief here than with outright fantasy. But I’ll definitely look into both of those recs!!

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      • YES, magic as a plot device. Magic often seems to me like an excuse for writers to bend the rules without doing any heavy lifting. I think that’s the big difference between magical realism and fantasy– in true fantasy (wow, that seems like an oxymoron), worlds outside of reality still operate with coherent rules. I think that’s why fantasy is more believable for me, as well. Whereas in magical realism it feels like many authors use the genre as an excuse to throw in random “exciting” details without giving them a proper purpose or explaining why they’re there. What I like about The Night Guest and A Million Junes is that the magical details are crucial to the plots, but the plots are also crafted deftly enough to make a point beyond showcasing a bizarre skewing of reality. I hope you’ll enjoy them as much as I did!

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      • VERY well put, I agree completely! There’s often a distinct lack of world building to magical realism, and while I guess that whimsical element appeals to some readers, I’m really detail-oriented and it just doesn’t work for me. And I agree 1000% that the plot needs to be able to work on its own if you remove the magic, so I’m definitely looking forward to checking out both of those recs at some point!

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