Monthly Wrap-Up | October 2019

Happy Halloween, fellow readers and bloggers. 🎃 I hope you were able to read whatever scary, thrilling, mysterious, or non-spooky books caught your eye this month. I had quite a good reading month myself, which I hope continues through to the end of the year (because somehow we’re almost there!)

My most recently finished books were one-sitting books, because I read them for Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathon. It was the first time I participated in this readathon, and it was a lot of fun! I really enjoyed reading for 19.5 hours straight (no, I couldn’t stay awake the entire time 😛), and I’m going to try participating in the next one (April 25th, 2020).

Those books are also on my official Fall TBR, so I finally got an okay chunk of that finished – although I still have quite a few books left to read.

Anyway, before I ramble on any further, here is my October Wrap-Up. As always, I’m listing the books in the order of when I finished them, and if I reviewed or discussed any of the books at length in an earlier post, I have linked it below.

Books I Read

  1. A Spell of Murder by Kennedy Kerr – I read this NetGalley ebook pretty quickly, and reviewed it here. In short, it is a fine, recommendable book.
  2. The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware – My first Ruth Ware experience was not as satisfying as I expected/wanted it to be; I DNF’d this book around page 220. In my opinion, half of those pages could have been cut out because they were mainly full of the protagonist (Hal) being worried about being found out as a fraud. Sure, her secret identity (per the other characters’ perspectives) is part of what makes the story thrilling, but Ruth Ware made the constant worry and constant doubt such an unnecessarily big part of each chapter. Who is Hal, but a walking, worrying robot continuously reflecting on the trouble she would be in if the others find out her secret? The high stakes situation of the protagonist was clear from the very beginning; why the reader needs to keep being reminded of them is beyond me. Ultimately, I couldn’t shake my annoyance of the protagonist enough to focus on being suspicious of or spooked by the unfolding mystery. I know many of my blogger and bookstagram friends are Ruth Ware admirers, so to them I say that I’m just as bummed out as you are.
  3. Under the Udala Trees by Chinelo Okparanta – Stunning, heartbreaking, optimistic, honest; this novel needs to be on every bookshelf and in the hands of every reader. First of all, Chinelo Okparanta writes in a way that captures the gravity and importance of the story’s events and themes, while being so accessible to many levels of readership (in my opinion). She is a spectacular author. Second, the protagonist Ijeoma’s personal growth is so well presented through relateable topics – growing up/maturity, romantic and/or sexual exploration, “obligatory” roles and responsibility – and yet Chinelo Okparanta gives her such individualistic qualities that she and her experiences stand out and offer profound commentary on social and familial issues. I think the blurb on the Goodreads page describes this book satisfactorily, so I’m copying it down here:

    Okparanta’s Under the Udala Trees uses one woman’s lifetime to examine the ways in which Nigerians continue to struggle toward selfhood. Even as their nation contends with and recovers from the effects of war and division, Nigerian lives are also wrecked and lost from taboo and prejudice. This story offers a glimmer of hope — a future where a woman might just be able to shape her life around truth and love.

    This will definitely not be the last book I read by this author, and I urge you to seek out her books if you haven’t already.

  4. The Moon-Spinners by Mary Stewart – One of the books I finished for the 24-Hour Readathon, and a new favorite. I would describe it as an Agatha Christie mystery with a little more romance/romantic development; it’s smoothly written and exciting, and has sweet romantic tension that in no way overpowers the chain of events. Mary Stewart is a new author to me, but I’m certainly interested in reading more of her books.
  5. The Darkangel (Darkangel Trilogy #1) by Meredith Ann Pierce – This is an interesting novel. What I really want to describe is my reading experience with it, because it was sort of an experience I had never really encountered before. I’d say about halfway through the story I was feeling a little slumpy about it (this was another 24-Hour Readathon book), and maybe it was the readathon goal pushing me onwards, but I ended up finishing the book with satisfaction and an overall positive view. I realized that this story feels very much like a fairy tale, and unlike many modern fairy tale retellings, The Darkangel actually feels like it was written as a fairy tale. Meredith Ann Pierce presented a mode of transport through her story, and I think the difference between enjoying it and not, is if you just hop on and embrace every part of the ride. Go along with the plotting, believe in the elements of the world, and savor the simple yet impactful writing style. I will be seeking out the next book in this trilogy.
  6. The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle – My first Sherlock Holmes story, and certainly not the last. This was also a 24-Hour Readathon selection, and it was truly spectacular. I hung on every word, every action, and every bit of whimsy. I was a little surprised by Watson’s persona, because I feel like any interpretations I’ve seen (mostly on TV or in a movie) present him as more self-assured than he appears to be in the book. He doesn’t completely doubt himself in the novel, but he expresses surprise and admits to being puzzled like a typical detective/person would, I think, which works for maintaining the contrast between he and Holmes, who is nearly always right on track. And I know this isn’t the first Sherlock Holmes story – I just happen to have a great edition that has been calling me since I purchased it. Do you have any Sherlock book recommendations?

Currently Reading

  1. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou – Yes, still. And perhaps until the end of the year.
  2. Chocolate House Treason by David Fairer – Another one I’ve been reading for…two months now? It’s an ebook, and I have a tendency to fall into the “out of sight, out of mind” trap when it comes to my ebooks. I have enjoyed what I’ve read so far, though.
  3. The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar – Will I ever finish this book? Just do it, Kelsey!
  4. The Silver Witch by Paula Brackston – I started this book during the 24-Hour Readathon and didn’t finish it in time. However, it is spectacular so far. If you love natural magic, historical fiction, anthropology, geographical fiction, I recommend giving it a try.
  5. Dracula by Bram Stoker – I did not expect this book to be as creepy right from the start, and I did not expect to meet the Count himself right away. What else is this story about? What’s going to happen to Jonathan Harker? I’m looking forward to finding out.
  6. My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier – I started the audiobook version during the 24-Hour Readathon, and used it as a way to continue reading while I baked in my kitchen, ran a couple of errands, and took a nice walk in the sunshine. I have already read the physical book, and although Philip is grating on my nerves more than he did during my first read-through, I’m still enjoying the story (for the second time).

My habit of starting new books without finishing those I’m currently reading stayed out of control this month; if I don’t start any new books for the rest of this year (impossible if I want to finish my Fall TBR) I might actually finish the ones I’ve started.

Did Not Finish

N/A

NaNoWriMo Begins!

Well, tomorrow. I have not had much time to prepare like I wanted to this week, but since I’m building on my WIP from last year, I’m not starting with a completely blank slate. It feels a little impossible that a year has already passed, but here we are. You can read my introduction to NaNoWriMo 2019 here, and let me know if you’re participating. I’d love to be buddies on the NaNo site and/or cheer you on all month long!

In Other News…

The most significant life event of the month was getting a new job. Today will be day four, and I am already exponentially happier about simply going to work everyday. It was a long overdue change, and I’m finally excited for my professional future. It’s not copywriting or content management (social media, blogging), but the industry is the same and it’s a fast-moving, quickly growing company and I really can’t believe I get to be part of it. It’s really fantastic.

Now we are onto November. Since NaNoWriMo will be taking up a lot of my time, I am only committing to the update posts for my WIP – on the 8th, 15th, 22nd, and December 1st. That’s not to say I won’t be posting more – I wrote seven additional blog posts throughout November last year – but nothing else is set in stone.

I think that does it for my October Wrap-Up. If you wrote something you’re particularly proud of during this month, or are feeling especially excited about a readathon, a photo you took for bookstagram, or just a memory you want to share, leave a link and/or your thoughts in a comment below.

See you again in 2020, October. 🧡

Kelsey

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