Hello everyone, I hope you’re all doing well. The last few weeks have strained my nerves and sanity in ways I have never experienced. Both the combination of a hectic workload from school, and the election madness, took its toll on me, and I just couldn’t focus on anything. Sadly, books went unread, post meant to be written stayed unwritten, and I retreated into my cave with only my dearest old favorites. I don’t mean to get political, but I feel any post, or anything I could write had to acknowledge the events of this election cycle. Anything else would seem frivolous. I am in a better place than a few days ago, and getting past the overwhelming grief not only my country is going through, but one shared by many in the world. All I can do is my part in bringing good energy, tolerance and love to those around me. We’ll be Ok.
On a positive note, I did manage to read and enjoy a few books in the beginning and middle half of the month. So, here is my very late Best of October wrap-Up
The Boy by Wytske Versteeg. Translated from the Dutch by Sarah Welling (Hope Road Publishing)
If you enjoy reading women in translation, here is a perfect one for you. The Boy follows the story of Kito, a young troubled boy. He is a dark-skinned, chubby, and awkward boy who is bullied relentlessly at school. He says nothing, however, to his adoptive parents, and although the parents know something isn’t quite right, they don’t pry too closely into Kito’s mental health and well being It isn’t until Kito is found dead that they begin to reflect on their son’s life. Distraught and full of grief, his mother is on a quest for answers and revenge, and she just might find them in Hannah, Kito’s old drama teacher who she suspects had a hand in Kito’s death. Hannah has decided to rebuild her life in Bulgaria, and Kito’s mother follows her there. The story unfolds against the stark cold Bulgarian landscape, which lends itself well to the dark tones surrounding the womens’ stories. Forced into each other’s company, the women finds that there is more than meets the eye when it comes to the other. Kito’s mother’s also realizes her own role in Kito’s suffering. The Boy is a dark read about death, mental illness, and societal pressures. It’s heartbreaking in it’s honest depiction of depression and the numbness that accompanies it. If you have ever suffered loss and grief, this one will resonate with you.
This comes out next week on November 24, so be sure to mark your calendars! In the meantime check out the first chapter!
The Fifth Season by N.K Jemison (Orbit Books)
Just.Wow. Was this ever the Fantasy/Sci-Fi book I needed to scratch my itch. Jemison rightly deserves her awards and accolades. To date, I have read all but the follow up sequels to The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms. I’ve loved all her books, so I wasn’t surprised to find myself enjoying this one. However, as good as the other ones were, this one is on an entirely different playing field. It’s always interesting to watch an author’s progress in her work, and N.K. Jemison keeps killing it. The story is difficult to explain, and I am not going to try to. I went in almost completely blind, and I can honestly say the story is so much richer because it of it. I will say the characters are complex and richly developed, the world intoxicating, and the writing is captivating. What more do you want?
The Winged History by Sofia Samatar.(Small Beer Press)
What more can I say about Sofia Samatar that I haven’t already said? Just read her books already if you haven’t. Her writing is so beautiful that it actually literally made me cry. The Winged Histories follows four women: a solider, a scholar, a poet, and a socialite’s life during war time. Not all women are on the same side, yet in some way each is linked to the other. In this brutal time time of war and death, each women confronts their past, present, and future, and their place in society. What it all means, and how do you love, and rebuild after war and destruction? I have completely fallen in love with Sofia Samatar’s work, and I cannot wait to read more from her in the future. I’ll also note that this is a companion novel to A Stranger in Olandria, so while you don’t need to read it to read this one, I still highly recommend it because it too is lovely.
We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson
I listened to this on audio in the last four hours of work one day, and I could not stop listening. I’d only previously read Jackson’s short stories, and it being Halloween season and all, I decided to give it go. I was not disappointed. It’s creepy and gothic and everything you expect and want from this genre. The story follows Mary Catherine (Merricat) Blackwoodand and her sister Constance and their life living in small town that hates them for a crime they believe Constance committed. The sister’s live with their aging uncle in a nearly reclusive state. Aside from grocery trips into the village, Merricat and her family don’t meet or mingle with anyone. That is until a cousin comes to visit, and threatens the foundation by which the Blackwood sisters live, and Merricat just can’t let that happen.She’ll do anything to stop that from happening…Super creepy. I just loved this one!
That was my reading month. I hope everyone has been well, and if you’re knee deep in school work like me, I wish you the best in your final papers and projects. Just a few weeks to go!
Thanks for reading 🙂