I have been working working working and so this post is late late late! Ack!
October was a decent reading month with 5 books total. Two of them were shorter books but one was 771 pages long (and felt even longer) so I’m going to consider that a very good month. With one exception, this was a much more contemporary month than I’ve had in awhile.
And since this review is already late and I don’t seem to be getting much posting done besides these monthly recaps…
On to the books!
Everything I Never Told You – Celeste Ng – 4.5* – (Oct. 12):
In this book, teenager Lydia dies. Yet the book isn’t really about her death. It’s about how how those around her relate to each other in the “before” and “after” surrounding her death. The “before” of the story goes back as far as her grandmother, whose purpose in life was to be an amazing homemaker and devoted wife. Though her husband left her and her lovely daughter was more interested in education than catching a husband. But she did catch a husband – a Chinese professor. And while Lydia’s mother wanted nothing more than to become a doctor, she found herself instead playing homemaker and giving up on her dreams. Then there are Lydia’s siblings – Overshadowed older brother Nathan and forgotten little sister Hannah. The mystery surrounding Lydia’s death plays a part in the book but it’s much less about that and much more about the relationships of everyone else and how they related to each other through Lydia both when she was alive and now that she’s gone. Interesting read and I found the race component in the marriage very interesting (though I shudder that the author and therefore characters kept referring to people as “Oriental”).
The Goldfinch – Donna Tartt – 3* – (Oct. 24):
Ms. Tartt’s editor needed to make friends with the delete key. 771 pages when 500 would’ve been more than enough. On and on and on… But let’s discuss the story. Theo’s mother dies tragically in a museum bombing when he’s about 10, ruining his fabulous life with her in Manhattan. After a brief period of living with friends, his deadbeat father shows up and carts him off to Vegas, which is the beginning of the end. He becomes friends with Boris and develops a penchant for robbery and drinking and drugs. Oh, also in the museum explosion, he “saves” a painting and by the time he decides he should turn it in, it feels like it’s too late, so now by default he’s an art thief, leading to all kinds of issues. Without giving anything away, every time Theo has a chance to do something right and redeem himself, he pops more pills or screws up some other way. The end of the book made me want to stab him in the face because it was akin to the drunk driver who kills and entire family and their small children but gets off with just a scratch and time-served. This was for book club and we’ll discuss it next week. Should be interesting!
Orphan Train – Christina Baker Kline – 5* – (Oct. 28):
An unreserved 5* rating! After reading The Goldfinch for so long, I picked this up and read it in less than 24 hours. Sure, it was less than half as long, but also it was an amazing read. The characters were lovely, the story was compelling, there were people to cheer for along the way… A completely different experience. This is the story of 91-year-old Vivian, an orphan who lost her parents in NYC shortly after her family’s arrival from Ireland. She traveled to the Midwest on an orphan train and grew up in a string of homes that didn’t want a daughter so much as they wanted cheap labor. In present day, foster child Molly is cleaning Vivian’s attic as a community service project and asks about the elderly woman’s life for a school assignment. The two disparate women find they have quite a bit in common.
The Illustrated Edgar Allan Poe – Edgar Allan Poe – 4* – (Oct. 29):
I read this for “Poetober” – a little mood-reading for Halloween. I’ve always been a big fan of Poe and couldn’t resist picking up this illustrated pop-up version when I found it at CostCo over the summer. It includes only four of his short stories – The Fall of the House of Usher, The Tell-Tale Heart, The Pit and the Pendulum, and The Cask of Amontillado. The illustrations were dark and detailed and the perfect accompaniment to Poe’s words. This is a great addition to my Poe collection and it was nice to sit down with a bit of his creepiness leading up to Halloween.
Haunted Houses: Chilling Tales from 24 American Homes – Nancy Roberts – 2* – (Oct. 31):
I’ve had this book for a while (years) and to be brutally honest, it’s crap. It says it’s for adults but it feels like it’s aimed more at middle-grade students. Dumb ones. The stories are cheesy. I read it because it was part of my Halloween reading, it was short, and I was interested in some of the locations. I’ve actually read parts of this book before but I’ve been to several of these places now. The book does them no justice. However, exactly one story (the second to last one in the book) sparked a bit of an idea for something I could write about. And for that reason, I gave the book 2* instead of just 1*. Otherwise, I’d say skip these cheesefest.
When the month ended, I was at 41 books towards my adjusted goal of 45. But I finished a book last night and didn’t take a screenshot of the progress bar until today so that’s reflected in the total above. I’m not sure what this month will bring exactly. It’s already the 11th and I’ve just completed my first book, The Light Between Oceans , by M.L. Stedman. I plan to read Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson (for #jhbc). I may participate in the #24in48 Readathon this weekend that I heard about from Rincey Reads on YouTube. The idea is that you read for 24 hours spread out over a 48-hour period. Not sure that will happen but it’s going to be cold outside and might be a nice way to break up the novel I’m editing.