Books I read in October & November 2021

I have covid, woo! So I’m using this time to write a wee summary of October and November books, because whilst I was too lazy to write them as a went along, I’m also too fussy to not write anything because it will annoy me not having a post for each book of the year haha. So please feel free to read this strange mini thing, and I promise to write proper full posts again next year for the 3 people who want them haha. Please let me know what you’ve been reading, and if you have any recommendations going into 2022! I always like to try and start off the New Year with some good books.

Duck feet by Ely Percy (new read, physical book)

My favourite of the two months, I loved this book so much. It’s set in a town not too far from where I grew up, a few years before I went to high school, and it honestly brought back so much nostalgia- in the best and worst ways haha! I loved it! I’ll talk more about this in yearly favourites, but if anyone reading is Scottish, was your school also obsessed with the idea of being a VL?

The Norse Myths by Carolyne Larrington (new read, physical book)

I still know very little about Norse mythology, so I enjoyed this book! It was fairly easy to follow and it’s interesting, so I would recommend it for the genre (also got me excited about rereading A Song of Ice and Fire at some point. BTW, analysed Daenerys’s whole story and wrote about 12,000 words for a blog post which got deleted and can’t get back- still too sad to talk about it more haha!) I still think it’s going to take me a long time to properly familiarise myself with these stories, primarily because I sadly only speak English, and I struggle with a lot of the pronunciation of the names and places. I love the monsters and creatures in these myths!

Antigone Rising by Helen Morales (new read, physical book)

This book was an interesting non-fiction analysis of mythology and modern feminism. I naturally ended up comparing it to Pandora’s Jar which I did find more interesting, mainly because of the choice of topics, I think. I found the latter chapters and topics far more interesting than the first. I’d be interested in reading more books like this, I think I’d like any I read now to be written by more people of colour to allow me to gauge a wider perspective and learn more, particularly important when reading about feminism.

No one is talking about this by Patricia Lockwood (new read, physical book)

This was such an unusual book and for that reason I can’t decide how I feel, however, it was very moving. I would recommend reading the themes and warnings before deciding whether to read, as I think this is a very unique experience so I wouldn’t like to say too much, but I would like anyone reading to feel prepared.

Carmilla by J. Sheridan Le Fanu (new read, eBook)

I really didn’t know how to feel about this, it was a short book and gave the Halloween vibes I was looking for, however, probably due to the period it was written in, it had some very old fashioned or unusual metaphors and imagery, particularly surrounding homophobia. I can’t decide if this was a commentary on the time and purposefully written, or the authors own views. Either way, I always try and fail to find new Halloween books I like, so I think I’ll just enjoy binging the Vampire Diaries tv show every October.

The Illustrated Mum by Jacqueline Wilson (reread, physical book)

Back on my Jacqueline rereads, this is another great one- for slightly older readers, but saying that, I was probably about 7 haha, I think younger kids just tune out what they don’t understand yet. This one focuses on themes on mental illness in the family and the reversed parent/child roles.

Kiss by Jacqueline Wilson (reread, physical book)

Another of hers for older readers, this was always has a different feel for me but that’s maybe because it’s one of the last new books that I read by her, maybe aged 11. This one focuses on sexuality and puberty.

Twilight by Stephanie Meyer (reread, eBook)

Not going to give it more time, I had a low week and wanted a Halloween vibe hahaha.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J. K. Rowling (reread, physical book)

For this book, I want to talk a bit about the idea of separating the art from the artist. My views on this- which I’m not saying are right, and I sometimes waver on myself- are that I will reread but not continue to buy. Once I know that an author has done something wrong, I will never support their work again by buying future books etc. I will never buy another Harry Potter book or merch that will help she who must not be named to profit. However, I have loved Harry Potter since I was a wee girl and it holds so many special memories for me. These books remind me of my childhood and of my dad who use to read them with me. He bought me the first 5 and I can remember the excitement of holding one of these books new in my hands. I have always felt so nostalgic and at peace when I read this series, especially leading up to Christmas. So, I think that in a case like this, only where the book is incredibly nostalgic and one which I read in childhood, I will separate the art and continue to reread the books. However, I will reiterate that I do not condone the words of the author and will never buy from them again.

Weekly books June 22nd to June 30th

Again I am behind, I really feel like the lockdown lack of motivation has started- fair enough as it has now been four months hahaha. I hope you’re all doing well, how are other countries doing in terms of lockdown or getting back out and about?

An American Marriage- Tayari Jones (physical/audiobook, new read)

‘Newlyweds Celestial and Roy are the embodiment of both the American Dream and the New South. He is a young executive, and she is an artist on the brink of an exciting career. But as they settle into the routine of their life together, they are ripped apart by circumstances neither could have imagined. Roy is arrested and sentenced to twelve years for a crime Celestial knows he didn’t commit.’ (An American Marriage synopsis. I only took part of the blurb because the full synopsis genuinely ruined the entire story haha!)

I was really interested in the premise of this book, however, whilst this was a really interesting plot and had realistic, intriguing characters, I didn’t really enjoy it. I think this was partly timing as I’ve been in such a reading slump recently and finding it hard to concentrate (I’ve been half reading around six books at a time), and partly because I tend not to like books that fast forward large periods of time. I find it hard to really engage with the characters and get to know them due to the passages of time and rarely read books with this writing style. For this reason, I listened to the second half of the book on audiobook to help my concentration (the narrators were really good!) The message of this book is extremely important and there continue to be devastatingly similar examples of racism and prejudice in the world today. I would recommend this book and I’m sure that readers who do not mind time skips will find this an incredibly engaging and moving (I was moved by the characters and storyline despite my issues with the writing style).

Favourite/meaningful quote:

Much of life is timing and circumstance, I see that now.”

But how you feel love and how you understand love are two different things

Eclipse- Stephanie Meyer (physical book/reread)

Eclipse is the third novel in the Twilight Saga by Stephenie Meyer. It continues the story of Bella Swan and her vampire love, Edward Cullen. The novel explores Bella’s compromise between her love for Edward and her friendship with shape-shifter Jacob Black, along with her dilemma of leaving her mortality behind in a terrorized atmosphere, a result of mysterious vampire attacks in Seattle.’ (Eclipse synopsis)

When I said I was in a reading slump, I meant it. There’s something about the shockingly cheesy, ridiculous, at times boring and eye-rollingly bad Twilight series that draws me in when I’m finding it hard to focus, or when I’m feeling a bit stressed. It’s just the mixture of nostalgia, familiar (if ridiculous) characters, and the books ability to cheer me up by allowing me to laugh at Bella being ridiculous (although she deeply enrages me). I almost enjoyed this reread in a strange way, but not enough to relive it through a ‘review’. I think everybody knows what to expect and for anyone who has been spared in your childhood/teenage years, this delightful book involves an extremely whiney teenager who is obsessed with a lil 110 year old vampire, who as a couple are involved in an unnecessary love triangle with a wolf- and if you reach the exceptional conclusion in Breaking Dawn, said wolf later imprints with his ‘soulmate’ who is none other than the human/vampire combos baby.

Breaking Dawn- Stephanie Meyer (physical book/reread)

‘To be irrevocably in love with a vampire is both fantasy and nightmare woven into a dangerously heightened reality for Bella Swan. Pulled in one direction by her intense passion for Edward Cullen, and in another by her profound connection to werewolf Jacob Black, she has endured a tumultuous year of temptation, loss and strife to reach the ultimate turning point. Her imminent choice to either join the dark but seductive world of immortals or pursue a fully human life has become the thread from which the fate of two tribes hangs. Now that Bella has made her decision, a startling chain of unprecedented events is about to unfold with potentially devastating and unfathomable consequences.’ (Breaking Dawn synopsis)

There are no words. Somehow this is the book with the most interesting premise, but the one I struggle through the most.

Weekly books (15th April- 21st April)

Wide Sargasso Sea- Jean Rhys (physical book, new read)

‘’Born into the oppressive, colonialist society of 1930s Jamaica, white Creole heiress Antoinette Cosway meets a young Englishman who is drawn to her innocent beauty and sensuality. After their marriage, however, disturbing rumours begin to circulate which poison her husband against her. Caught between his demands and her own precarious sense of belonging, Antoinette is inexorably driven towards madness, and her husband into the arms of another novel’s heroine. This classic study of betrayal, a seminal work of postcolonial literature, is Jean Rhys’s brief, beautiful masterpiece.’’ (Wide Sargasso Sea synopsis)

I ordered this book a year or two ago because I loved the premise of a Jane Eyre prequel and I enjoy reading stories from different perspectives. This is a short book and is one that I enjoyed while I was reading, but for some reason I never felt like reading it again after a break. I did finish it and I think it was well written and very interesting. The writer also made me empathise with Antoinette and grow to hate Rochester, however, I sometimes felt distant from the characters which might explain my hesitancy to keep reading.  I do feel that this might be due to the writing style and a purposeful move, as Antoinette began to feel isolated and lose her sense of self which was reflected in the distance I felt whilst reading. I’m glad I finally read this (it can sometimes take years to read a book I own haha) and I’m happy that someone chose to create Antoinette’s story, however, in terms of books loosely based on Jane Eyre I preferred The Crimson Petal and the White– I sometimes feel that some of the themes in short literacy fiction books can be lost on me as my main reading aims are connecting with the characters I read about (although I don’t have to like the characters). I love the time that can be spent setting the scene and bringing the characters to life in longer stories such as The Crimson Petal and the White.

Favourite/meaningful quote:

‘You can pretend for a long time, but one day it all falls away and you are alone. We are alone in the most beautiful place in the world’

La Traverse- Bellindton Cayo (e-book, new read)

“La Traverse” is inspired by William Shakespeare’s “Venus and Adonis”. In Shakespeare’s story, the Goddess Venus was at a twist with love, while the brazen sportsman’s love for the game took some compromising turns. A dashing Adonis could not commit his time to beautiful Venus; instead, he preferred to hunt in the wild. In this separate story, it all begins with a separation between Venus and Adonis because of his premature death. After Adonis crosses unto the other side, will he adapt to the nature of the new world, or will he hold on to his past life? This story crosses many boundaries. Songs like “I Need a Spark” and “Lighter Fluid” complement Creole poem “Sous-Ivye(Winter-Spring)” and French poem “Prière Prométhéenne.’ (La Traverse synopsis).

I can’t resist a myth. I hadn’t heard of this play, but it was recommended to me on Instagram during one of my Greek mythology binges and I really enjoyed it! It’s an interesting retelling with different formats- the story is written as a play but includes poems and songs to move the story along. I enjoyed this story (although I do typically prefer books to plays) and I’d recommend it if you like mythology, particularly as it’s relatively unknown and I enjoy supporting new writers 😊. I do think I should have read up on Adonis first though, as I didn’t have clear memories of the myths surrounding this character.

Favourite/meaningful quote:

‘Persephone: Although your circumstance is a result of cause and effect, project your ideal reality from infinitely probable events simultaneously taking place.’

The Fellowship of the Ring- Tolkien (physical book/audiobook, new read)

‘Sauron, the Dark Lord, has gathered to him all the Rings of Power – the means by which he intends to rule Middle-earth. All he lacks in his plans for dominion is the One Ring – the ring that rules them all – which has fallen into the hands of the hobbit, Bilbo Baggins.

In a sleepy village in the Shire, young Frodo Baggins finds himself faced with an immense task, as his elderly cousin Bilbo entrusts the Ring to his care. Frodo must leave his home and make a perilous journey across Middle-earth to the Cracks of Doom, there to destroy the Ring and foil the Dark Lord in his evil purpose.’  (Fellowship of the Ring synopsis)

I have somehow managed to avoid reading or watching the Lord of the Rings until this month, partly accidentally and partly because they became so hyped that I was put off a little bit. I decided to finally read the first book with the aim of reading the trilogy over the next month. I enjoyed this book to begin with but over time I felt that it became a bit repetitive and it wasn’t really holding my interest. I listened to the second half of the book on audiobook but by this point I was honestly just finishing the book for the sake of it. I feel that the characters and the story don’t interest me at all for some reason, and I far prefer A song of ice and fire and Harry Potter– my two favourite fantasy series. In saying this, Tolkein’s writing is absolutely beautiful and I have to appreciate this series as it paved the way for fantasy and inspired a lot of the tropes and story in ASOIAF. I also noted a lot of the elements that inspired Harry Potter- Galdolf and Frodo discussing the quest almost exactly parallels Dumbledore/Harry and the horcruxes. It would therefore be incredibly unfair to say that this is a bad book and I recognise the importance of Tolkein’s books in influencing the fantasy genre; this is simply a story that I don’t find very engaging and I don’t think I’ll ever finish the trilogy.

Favourite/Meaningful quote:

It is not despair, for despair is only for those who see the end beyond all doubt. We do not.’

The Witches – Roald Dahl (physical book, reread)

‘Witches really are a detestable breed. They disguise themselves as lovely ladies, when secretly they want to squish and squelch all the wretched children they despise. Luckily one boy and his grandmother know how to recognize these vile creatures, but can they get rid of them for good?’ (The Witches synopsis)

This was the stage in the month where I went on a re-reading binge. This week I felt a little bit down at times, and I find something incredibly comforting and nostalgic about rereading books. I’m unsure how well known Roald Dahl books are outside of the UK, but I love them and they are definitely childhood favourites (I’d also love to read them to the children when I get a classroom😊). This book is incredibly funny, sarcastic and witty, and I love the relationship between the boy and his Grandmama. Roald Dahl’s books deal with dark themes in a touching and funny way, for example, loss and grief in the witches, and always offer an interesting perspective on the dynamics between adults and children. The end of this story is very bittersweet, and I loved the tone and themes throughout. I’d really recommend reading Roald Dahl and sharing the stories with any children in your life.

Favourite/meaningful quote:

“It doesn’t matter who you are or what you look like, so long as somebody loves you.”

Starcrossed- Josephine Angelina (physical book, reread)

‘When shy, awkward Helen Hamilton sees Lucas Delos for the first time she thinks two things: the first, that he is the most ridiculously beautiful boy she has seen in her life; the second, that she wants to kill him with her bare hands. With an ancient curse making them loathe one another, Lucas and Helen have to keep their distance. But sometimes love is stronger than hate, and not even the gods themselves can prevent what will happen.’ (Starcrossed synopsis)

This is an incredibly cheesy young adult book (with the worst cover I’ve seen hahaha, I hate covers with little quotes and photographs of people), but it’s also about mythology and was one of my favourite books when I first read it (I think I was about 14). Whilst that has lots of the angsty tropes of supernatural young adult, it has genuinely likeable characters- I particularly like Helen’s relationship with her Dad- and the supernatural elements incorporating mythology feel more interesting than some vampire/werewolf tropes (see my next read hahahaha). If you like young adult supernatural stories, this is one I’d recommend. I don’t think I’d like this if I read it now but it was really fun and comforting to revisit this story 😊

Favourite/meaningful quote:

‘It’s not our talents that make us safe or dangerous, it’s our choices.’ (this was the least cheesy quote to be found haha)

New moon- Stephanie Meyer (physical book, reread)

‘For Bella Swan, there is one thing more important than life itself: Edward Cullen. But being in love with a vampire is more dangerous than Bella ever could have imagined. Edward has already rescued Bella from the clutches of an evil vampire but now, as their daring relationship threatens all that is near and dear to them, they realise their troubles may just be beginning’ (New Moon synopsis)

Here we go. I probably reread twilight every couple of years when I’m a bit stressed or want a comforting, nostalgic read. I have a very complicated relationship with this series- I appreciate the memories from my preteen obsession days and the fun of discussing twilight theories with friends for hours a day, but I simultaneously cannot read these books without laughing at and making fun of every single aspect. Bella is exceptionally dramatic (and so mean to Charlie), and the way her relationship/obsession with Edward is depicted is incredibly unhealthy, particularly in New Moon. Edward is borderline abusive, Jacob becomes a manipulative psychopath by Eclipse (and that’s before he imprints on the new born baby), and majority of the characters are there simply to look at though there is some form of substance- Bella does not even like or speak to her ‘friends’ and I’m always very confused by their continued friendship with someone who puts in no effort. I also wonder about Bella’s life before Forks- she seems to have absolutely no friends, interests or idea of a future- I’m definitely not saying teenagers know what they want to do (I still barely know and I’m 24 hahahah) but it’s incredibly strange that she has no passions at all or considerations for a possible future.

I think Meyer can write well and I feel (my theory/opinion only) that she may have been trying to write in the style of Victorian novels such as Wuthering heights and Jane Eyre, therefore resulting in the ‘dramatic’, old fashioned characterisation- these characters resemble those of a different time period and the story would appear to fit in better in the Victorian age. I don’t, however, feel that this necessarily comes across or translates well- instead it makes the book feel very dramatic and makes Bella feel dramatic and a bit one dimensional. I don’t know why I went in such a rant hahaha, but this series brings it out in me. That said, I did enjoy reading this to break up some of the heavier new books that I’ve read recently (A little life and Wolf Hall particularly) and I might read Eclipse next month at some point.

Favourite/meaningful quote:

‘life, love, meaning… over’ (I think this sums up the problems with this book).

Before you, Bella, my life was like a moonless night. Very dark, but there were stars, points of light and reason. …And then you shot across my sky like a meteor. Suddenly everything was on fire; there was brilliancy, there was beauty. When you were gone, when the meteor had fallen over the horizon, everything went black. Nothing had changed, but my eyes were blinded by the light. I couldn’t see the stars anymore. And there was no more reason, for anything.’

(I wanted to put this in to be fair to Meyer, because she can write quite beautifully sometimes, it’s just all a bit dramatic and ridiculous)

Thank you so much for reading this, please let me know if you’ve read any of these 🙂 also please feel free to rant with me about Twilight, it’s honestly so fun