I shocked myself in October by reading more books than any other month of this year. I was still pretty busy, but I think I managed my time better this month in order to fit in more reading hours. I also went on a few long train journeys, which meant lots of additional reading time.
The total number of books I read in October *pauses to build up some semblance of suspense, even though you can just skip down to the next line and read then answer* is fourteen. 14. F O U R T E E N. I wasn’t really keeping track of my reading throughout the month, so I was shocked when I when on my Goodreads and saw the number. Pleasantly shocked though.
These were the books I read in October:
Not pictured here is Chains: Unheard Voices, a short story anthology I read in the middle of October that doesn’t have a cover on Goodreads.
Blue Exorcist volumes 7-11 // 3.5-4 stars // I started reading Blue Exorcist again after a break of a few months and it’s as addictive as ever. I finished the Impure King story arc, which was dramatic and set in Kyoto (my love), and started a new arc focusing on Izumo Kamiki, who up until this point as been quite illusive. The fight sequences and surprising twists keep this series fresh and a recent betrayal by one of the characters had be hooked.
Mage & Demon Queen // 3 stars // I usually mark web comics as ‘read’ once I’m up to date with them and then just keep reading as new chapters come out. I’m enjoying this f/f fantasy romance so far and the D&D/RPG inspiration adds an extra element of fun to the action scenes. The art style is pretty great and I’m a fan of the rustic style of clothes the characters all wear. Mal and Cerik’s friendship is sweet and funny but we’ve yet to see much magic from Mal, despite her (reputedly) being powerful, so I’m keen to see more in the coming chapters.
My only issue with this so far is the way Mal goes after the Demon Queen again and again in an attempt to win her heart. If this were any other story with a male character that would be seen as entitlement and condemned. I’m not sure how I feel about it in this story because it’s passed off as harmless by the narrative, but it’s still a little uncomfortable to read at times.
Vengeful // 5 stars // OH MY GOD THIS BOOK. IT WAS PHENOMENAL. There was revenge, angst, drama, new powers, explosions, feminism. Everything. It was the showdown between Victor and Eli that we’d all been waiting for and it DID NOT disappoint. I loved Sydney’s character development and the new main characters Marcella and June were brilliantly developed. The last 50 pages pretty much destroyed me, as I hadn’t been as tense and excited going into the finale of a book since A Conjuring of Light. How does V do it? The writing, characterisation, world-building, and dialogue all combine to make a stunning sequel.
Giant Days // 3 stars // This was a fun coming-of-age tale about three friends who meet at university. Inspired by the graphic novel series of the same name, Giant Days follows Susan the part-time PI, Ether the goth, and Daisy the yoga fan, as they form an unlikely friendship and try to cruise through their first semester of university. As someone who went to the University of Sheffield, where this is set, I found a few flaws and inconsistencies with the world-building (some of the geography/directions didn’t add up and the university gets called ‘Sheffield University’ all the way through the novel which irked me (it’s ‘University of’ and everyone who studied there knows that)), but overall this was a fun read, with some pretty quirky and humorous
If Cats Disappeared from the World // 3.5 stars // This is a sombre, existential story about a man who finds out he doesn’t have long left to live and decides to make a deal with the devil to extend his life. Although there are some intensely humorous moments, the overall tone of this novel is pretty sad, as our main character (whose name we’re never told) ruminates on the regrets he has over his life. He realises that he should have shown his mother more affection, stayed in touch with other friends, and spent his time differently with his ex-girlfriend. His journey from his refusal to die to accepting that everyone must leave the world eventually is a solemn one and the narrative serves as a reminder that we should be the best version of ourselves that we can be and find joy in the smallest things in life.
Easy Prey // 3.5 stars // Easy Prey is a YA high school mystery about Jenna, Mouse, and Drew, three teens who must work on a law project together. They all have their own issues to deal with – Jenna is trying to find out who leaked nude photos of her, Mouse is trying to get into MIT, and Drew is trying to remain on the basketball team – but they begin a combined effort to catfish their teacher. I was pleasantly surprised by this book, with it’s morally grey main characters and thickening plot. The pacing is good and the mystery deepens as each new piece of information is revealed. We’re never fully meant to like Jenna, Mouse, and Drew, and their actions serve as a criticism of catfishing and victim-blaming. The twist in the final third of the book takes this from a good book to a great one.
Empress of All Seasons // 3.5 stars // This story follows Mari, a yokai monster who must take part in a contest to survive the palace’s enchanted seasonal room to win the hand of the prince, and become the next empress. I loved all the Japanese cultural elements in this book. The character names were almost all Japanese in origin and the mythological elements were detailed and wonderfully expansive. But I felt the novel was lacking in other areas. The scene changes didn’t transition smoothly and the dialogue seemed to wander off on a tangent at times. Character motivations were also left unexplained, or they were explained too neatly in a way that made them feel staged, almost like a bridge strategy to move the plot to the next significant scene. Having said that, the author includes some brilliant magical concepts and from the first page she makes a move to place women at the fore. This book promotes empowering messages of women’s equality, strength, and intelligence.
The Girl in the Broken Mirror // 4 stars // The Girl in the Broken Mirror is first and foremost a tale of survival. It’s a story about one girl’s trauma and healing, and is likely one of the most powerful, heart-wrenching books you’ll read this year. Savita Kalhan intersects themes of family, identity, and cultural norms throughout the book, which is own voices and has British-Asian and Indian rep, and shows the incredible reserves of inner strength that women use on a daily basis. It does, however, come with trigger warnings for rape and attempted suicide, so if you don’t feel comfortable reading about these topics then this book might not be one for you. Read my full review here.
Fence volume 1 // 4 stars // Fence is the first volume of a graphic novel series about a Nicholas Cox, who joins a prestigious fencing school to compete with his rival. I’ve been waiting for so long to read this volume and I ended up loving it. The way the characters are introduced and the world is set up is great and I can’t wait to see how Nicholas and Seiji’s rivalry progress. I just can’t believe I have to wait until next February for volume 2 *cries*.
Chains: Unheard Voices // 4 stars // Chains in an anthology of short stories from marginalised authors. There are some really strong voices that shine through in these powerful stories. More serious stories are juxtaposed with humorous ones, creating variety and balance. The pacing and narrative of some voices work better than others, but overall I really enjoyed this collection.
In October I was part of two really exciting blog tours for What If It’s Us and The Girl in the Broken Mirror, and I really enjoyed writing two in-depth reviews of each book, as it’s been a while since I’ve spent so much time getting all my thoughts out on the page.
This month was not only a good reading month, but a blast in terms of events and outings!
- I visited Hollie @hollieblog in Bath and we had a brilliant weekend shopping, crying with laughter at Youtube videos, and going on autumnal walks. We also played games, took Instagram photos and spent at least two hours (cumulatively) staring at her beautiful book shelves.
- I went to two book events within three days in October. The first was Laini Taylor’s talk and signing event in Birmingham, where I met up with friends and we had a brilliant evening. Laini was so funny and wonderful to listen to, and she signed my copies of Muse, Strange, and Daughter of Smoke and Bone.
- Two days later I was lucky enough to be able to go and see Adam Silvera and Becky Albertalli in conversation. I also went to this with Hollie, so we hadn’t seen each other since YALC and then we ended up seeing each other twice in two weeks. The event was so much fun and it was amazing to hear Becky and Adam talk about how they wrote the book together. While they were signing our books, I also mentioned that we were on the blog tour for What If It’s Us and they were genuinely excited to hear that.
- I went to see Crazy Rich Asians with Jess @ABookAddict’sShelves and it was such a fun film. I was so happy when this film was announced, as it’s one of the first major Hollywood blockbuster’s in years to have a majority Asian and Asian American cast, and it didn’t disappoint.
- I went to another Midlands book blogger meet up in Birmingham and had a great day. As usual, we went to Pret for lunch, then heard to Waterstones to browse and chat (at length) about all things books. I treated myself to three books while we were there: Jady City, The Miseducation of Cameron Post, and Everything Leads to You. Jade City was the one book I’d promised myself I could buy, but I’d also been keen to get Cameron Post with the rainbow sprayed pages and Everything Leads to You had been on my TBR for about three years, so I thought why not?
- I was ill for about a week in October with some kind of flu/virus, which was the worst. I had no energy to do any sport for about seven days (that’s A LOT for me), and ended up having to take two days off work (which I don’t like doing). Thankfully, it’s passed now, but it wasn’t fun at all
- Halloween came around and I didn’t do much, since I was getting over being ill, but I carved a pumpkin into a cat face and put all our sweets in a bowl, ready for trick or treaters. And then the best thing happened. Two kids turned up dressed as characters from some of my favourite anime (Attack on Titan and Tokyo Ghoul). I told them how great their outfits were and one jumped around in excitement because I was the first person that night to actually recognise their costumes. We proceeded to bond over anime and I gave them extra sweets. All in all a good night.
What did you read in October? Did you go to any book signings or other events?