Hi, friends! Thanks for joining me today; I’m so glad you’re here 💙. Today I’m sharing my October 2021 Wrap-Up and my November TBR. Despite being behind on blog posts, my reading has been great. I even hit my reading goal in October (okay, technically November 1) by reading my 50th book of the year! 🎉 October was filled with spooky reads (and one non-fiction book), which was just the motivation I needed to finish the year strong. Now, let’s get into the wrap-up, shall we?
What I Read in October 2021
Almost everything I plan to read this year is part of my 2021 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge. You can check out the full list of prompts and my selections ･ﾟ✧here✧ﾟ･.
The Year of the Witching by Alexis Henderson
— 3.0 out of 5 stars
The first book I read in October 2021 was Alexis Henderson’s debut novel, The Year of the Witching. This Historical Fantasy follows a young woman named Immanuelle as she comes of age in a restrictive, conservative community called Bethel. Immanuelle never knew her mother — once accused of being a witch — or her father — who was executed for, you guessed it, associating with a witch. One night, Immanuelle encounters a trio of ancient witches when she takes a shortcut through the forbidden Darkwood forest. Here, the witches give Immanuelle a key to unlocking the secrets of the mother she never knew and a future she’s not sure she wants.
In The Year of the Witching, Alexis Henderson’s biggest strength is her world-building, with each of the locales in the story feeling like it has its own rich history. Like many neighboring communities, Bethel, the Darkwood, Ishmel, and the Outskirts share a common ancestor, but their inhabitants have their own lives and experiences. I wish I connected more with Immanuelle and that the writing was a little more focused. Still, this was an impressive story for a debut novel.
If you’re looking for a witchy Historical Fantasy with a twist on the typical colonial puritan setting, The Year of the Witching might be for you!
Support a local bookstore (and this blog!) by purchasing The Year of the Witching on Bookshop.org.
Frankenstein: The 1818 Text by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley
— 5 out of 5 stars
The next book I read in October 2021 was Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley’s 1818 genre-defining sci-fi horror: Frankenstein. This Gothic novel, to end all Gothic novels, tells the story of Victor Frankenstein. Victor is a university student who abandons his studies and attempts to create a nearly-invincible man out of the parts of already-dead men. To Victor’s detriment, he succeeds. He scorns his creature and, as a result, sets into action a series of unfortunate events for him and his family. These tragedies culminate in Victor telling his story to a stranger as a warning against defying the laws of nature.
This was my second time reading Frankenstein, and my love for this novel has only grown since my first read. The first time I read this novel, I had the probably not-unpopular misconception that this was a scary story. I enjoyed the book anyway, but I only rated it four stars. This time, I noticed and appreciated how every single scene in this novel is dedicated to painting more and more layers of foreshadowing, character building, and theming onto the story. It’s gothic, luxuriant, heartbreaking, and human. And now, it’s a forever favorite.
If you want to read a classic Gothic novel with timeless, human characters, then Frankenstein is definitely for you!
Support a local bookstore (and this blog!) by purchasing Frankenstein on Bookshop.org.
Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice
— 3.0 out of 5 stars
Next, I read Anne Rice’s 1975 novel and Vampire Genre game-changer: Interview with the Vampire. This book follows Louis, a vampire, detailing his life and times via an interview. Bet you didn’t see that one coming. The book covers all the events of Louis’s vampire life, from when he was turned by Lestat, the family they create with Claudia, to Louis and Claudia’s life in Europe. Much of the story is about Louis grappling with his loss of humanity as he slowly gives in to his “monstrous” nature. He attempts this through forming a family with Louis and Claudia, traveling the world with the vampire Armand, and, eventually, hunting down the ghosts of his past for, if not reconciliation, at least closure.
I had such a mixed experience with this book, as I thought the writing was so beautiful in some scenes, and the themes were very compelling. However, Louis was an irritating narrator and protagonist, and the characters I did like were shunted to the sidelines. I also didn’t feel that the interview framing device added much to the reading experience; Louis’s monologuing contributed to a sense of uneven pacing and a general lack of focus. You can read more of my thoughts in my Goodreads Review.
If you want to read a book that redefined the modern vampire genre and you don’t mind a slower-paced read, then Interview with the Vampire might be for you!
Support a local bookstore (and this blog!) by purchasing Interview with the Vampire on Bookshop.org.
The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins
— 3.5 out of 5 stars
The next book I read in October 2021 was Scott Hawkins’s 2015 debut novel, The Library at Mount Char. I’ll be repeating a lot of what I said in my Goodreads review, so apologies if you’ve already read what I wrote over there. The Library at Mount Char is a book that defies classification. It’s partly a mystery/thriller because most of the book centers around the main characters trying to find their lost father. It’s partly a fantasy because their father is a sixty-thousand-year-old deity. And it’s part horror because the magical rituals they have to do to bring him back involve some really fucked up shit.
My 3.5-star rating can be boiled down to subpar execution of highly unique and original ideas. No matter how frustrated I got with Hawkins’s writing quirks or how often the characters annoyed me, I couldn’t stop reading this book. I’ve never read anything quite like this, and I don’t know if I ever will again. Check the content warnings in my Goodreads review if you’re thinking of picking this one up.
If you’re looking for an incredibly original, richly-imagined, gritty adult fantasy/horror novel, can be patient with the writing quirks, and can handle those content warnings, then The Library at Mount Char is definitely for you!
Support a local bookstore (and this blog!) by purchasing The Library at Mount Char on Bookshop.org.
The Quiet Americans by Scott Anderson
— 4.0 out of 5 stars
The final book I read in October 2021 was Scott Anderson’s 2020 release. I think this book wins for the longest title on my list this year. Its full title is The Quiet Americans: Four CIA Spies at the Dawn of the Cold War — A Tragedy in Three Acts. This is definitely an intermediate-level Cold War history, so if you’re looking for something a little more introductory, this might not be it. Some key players come and go throughout the highlighted events, many names are dropped, and several entangled events are covered in a relatively short span of pages.
I thought this was a well-written and engaging read, especially when Cold War history can get a little dry unless you’re reading John le Carré. Anderson occasionally enters slight tangents, but these were all still fascinating anecdotes, so it’s hard for me to complain too much about anything here.
If you’re looking for a non-fiction book that gives you a new look at some of the most significant events in recent world history, then The Quiet Americans might be for you!
I couldn’t find a Bookshop link for The Quiet Americans, so here’s one from the publisher: Penguin Random House.
What I’m Currently Reading
Dearly by Margaret Atwood
This is Margaret Atwood’s 2020 collection of poems that won the Goodreads Choice Award for Poetry. I’m about halfway through the over fifty poems in the collection and… it’s fine, I guess. None of the poems have been bad or poorly written, but there has only been a handful of moving lines in the twenty or so poems I’ve read thus far. Part One seemed to focus on death and aging; Part Two had a lot of meditations on sexuality and gender. So, there are some worthy themes being explored here, even if the language isn’t doing it for me.
I will definitely be finishing this one, if for no other reason than that poetry is so easy to read. That said, unless Parts Four and Five knock my socks off, I don’t anticipate giving this book more than three stars.
The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty
This is S.A. Chakraborty’s 2017 adult fantasy inspired by eighteenth-century Egypt. The story follows Nahri, a con-woman who makes her living swindling the Ottoman Nobles who solicit her for healings and fortunes. Nahri accidentally awakens a long-dormant djinn who is assigned to escort Nahri across the dangerous desert to the hidden City of Brass: Davebad. The story also follows Alizayd, a prince of Davebad, who harbors secret objections to how his family uses their royal power and influence in the city.
I’m only about 100 pages in, but I’m enjoying this quite a bit so far (despite Nahri’s #2edgy4me dialogue). The world feels incredibly rich, and my interest has definitely been piqued by the political intrigue in Alizayd’s chapters. I’m definitely excited to continue reading this one!
What I Want to Read in November 2021
- The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty (continuing)
- Dawn by Octavia E. Butler
- Dearly by Margaret Atwood (continuing)
- The Guest List by Lucy Foley
- The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan (finished)
- The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers
Wrapping Up the October 2021 Wrap-Up
And there you have it! This is everything I have read recently, am currently reading, or will be reading soon. My favorite book I read in October 2021 was obviously Frankenstein, and my most disappointing read was probably Interview with the Vampire. If I had to say what book I’m most excited about reading in November, it would probably be Dawn by Octavia Butler.
What about you? Let me know your favorite book from this month and what you’re most excited to read in November.
I’ll be back soon with another blog post, so keep your eyes peeled for that! In the meantime, you can keep up with my reading on Goodreads, where you can find me at @tassara_txt, or follow my other social media: I’m on Instagram as @thepaladinpages, Twitter as @tassara_exe, and Pinterest as @tassara_jpg.
As always, thanks for reading, and I’ll see you soon. 💙
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