Reading Wrap-Up for October, 2021

I’m a bit late in getting my monthly reading wrap-up post out for last month. October was a great reading month. But I admit, by the time the 31st rolled around, I was glad for November to be here. I purposefully scheduled atmospheric reads because October is a month that just really lends itself to that. Creepy novels. Suspense novels. Apocalyptic and dystopian novels. All these fit really well during the month of October. I love a good atmospheric read; but I was absolutely ready to move on to different types of reading by the time November rolled around. 🙂 Here’s what I read in October.

Dracula by Bram Stoker

In his novel Dracula, Stoker transports you to a world of ominous, creepy, suspenseful crypts and castles and the supernatural. At the time it was written, I have no doubt this story would have been considered a horror novel. I really don’t feel it is scary for our times, but I’m pretty sure it would have been horrifying in Stoker’s day. Still, I think it retains that scary feel without being terrifying. If that makes sense. You can find yourself on the edge of your seat because you don’t know what’s going to happen next. The book has retained its staying power over the decades and has been made into film multiple times. Click HERE to read my review.

The Mystery of Black Hollow Lane by Julia Nobel

This was the read-aloud that my daughter and I read for the month. We both loved it. This has the feel of a dark academia story for the middle grade level. Emily’s mom is too busy with her job as a child psychologist. She ends up shipping Emily off to a boarding school in England. But what awaits Emily there is a mystery that she is bent on solving – what happened to her dad? I enjoy a good middle grade novel and this one certainly fit that bill! If you are a fan of The Mysterious Benedict Society, you will probably like this book.

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

The creepiness factor kind of builds slowly in this book and really kicks in once you get about halfway or so into the novel. In my review, I wrote that this book has the perfect blend of not overly scary moments, some creepy scenes, a bit of paranoia, and a few moments of edge-of-your-seat-got-to-keep-reading-to-find-out-what-happens. It’s got the classic elements of a gothic novel with enough creepiness to make you squirm but not be terrified out of your skin. Click HERE to read the rest of my review.

Beowulf translated by Burton Raffle

I am just going to say it right now – epic poetry is not my favorite thing in the world to read. Nonetheless, there are certain titles in this group of literature that I want to read because I feel it is good for me to have read them. Classics like The Illiad (which I’ve already read) and The Odyssey for instance. And Beowulf. Let me just tell you, translation can make a huge difference! I read a different translation of Beowulf a few years ago and I made it through it but didn’t necessarily love it. But this particular translation by Burton Raffle? I really liked it!!! To say I was surprised is an understatement. Raffle makes this epic poem not only accessible but engaging and enjoyable. If epic poetry intimidates you (as it does me!), I highly recommend this translation of Beowulf.

Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler

Y’all, this was a hard read. I have really struggled to even know how to write a review for this book. I will be honest, I didn’t love it. I think this book just wasn’t for me. Having said that, I do think that Parable of the Sower is highly discussable.

Shiner by Amy Jo Burns

This was a book that drew me in. I really became invested in some of the characters and wanted to keep reading to find out what happened. I thought the author wrote the characters well and the story is told in a haunting and heartbreakingly beautiful way. To read the rest of my review, click HERE.

The Vampyre by John Polidori

This short story was the perfect quick read for Halloween! It is atmospheric and very classically gothic. I didn’t like the ending but that doesn’t detract from the fact that it is a well-told story in my opinion. It is a quick read and can easily be read in one sitting. It is said that Polidori’s vampire ended up changing the way vampires were viewed. Are you curious? Click HERE to read my full review.

Highlights from My Instagram

Simply click on the link to visit my Instagram post. 🙂

In Which I Talk About Self-Care

I Found One of My Favorite Decaf Teas

Returning to a Favorite Book Club Community

Setting Up My Annotation for Tolstoy’s War and Peace

A Short Video Where I Share Annotation Examples from My Reading In Tolstoy’s War and Peace

Coming Up: Just a little side note to let you know that I am in the process of getting some book reviews I wrote on my Instagram this year posted over here on my blog. So you will be seeing some back to back book reviews getting posted. 🙂

I’m Linking My Post Up With…

A Look Back at February 2020 – A Month in Review

I’m a bit behind in getting my monthly review posted for February. But without further ado, here is a look back at my reading last month.

The Iliad Read-Along

The Iliad Read-Along

For awhile, I kept my determination to keep reading this epic poem. But honestly, I just don’t like it. I was hoping I would maybe enjoy it more reading it a second time around with this read-along, but I just didn’t. Cleo’s posts and the discussion in the comments were still helpful for me getting more out of the classic work; so that was good. But I was dreading having to pick up the book every day to read. So I decided it just wasn’t worth weighing down my reading time with re-reading a book I just did not like reading. So I bowed out of the read-along and am happy with that decision. 🙂

War and Peace Read-Along

War and Peace Read-Along

I mentioned last month that I am enjoying this book more this time around…but that I hadn’t quite gotten into the war parts of the novel yet. Well, I have entered into the war chapters of War and Peace now. And while these are not my favorite parts of the novel, I still am liking this novel more this time reading it. I haven’t decided for sure if the pace of the read-along (one chapter a day for the whole year) has contributed to that or not. I typically don’t like to spread books out over long periods of time. And I must admit, I have been feeling a bit like I don’t know if I literally want to be reading this all year long. But I’m not changing the pace just yet. I want to keep at it a chapter a day for now and see how it continues to go.

Deal Me In Challenge 2020

Deal Me In Short Stories Reading Project

I read five short stories in February. Here’s a brief look at what I read:

  • “Paul’s Case” by Willa Cather – I did not like this one at all. I was a bit disappointed too because I was looking forward to reading something by Willa Cather. I have the novel O! Pioneers on my TBR list. I am still looking forward to reading that novel though!
  • “The Failure of David Berry” by Sarah Orne Jewett – I thought this was a well-written short story that explores the topic of how people adapt to change, as well as exposing people’s tendency to remember the negatives over the positives. It also probes into the dynamics of generosity and selfishness.
  • “A White Heron” by Sarah Orne Jewett – I really liked this one! It is a quiet short story about the sanctity of nature’s life. The writing was excellent!
  • “A Retrieved Reformation” by O. Henry – This was the second short story by O. Henry I’ve read now. After having read “The Ransom of Red Chief” and not liking it, I was happy to find this to be one I really enjoyed. “A Retrieved Reformation” is a story of reformation and second chances.
  • “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County” by Mark Twain – I found this story to be mediocre at best. I felt it was a bit lacking in story-telling quality and had an unimpressive ending.

Japanese Literature Challenge

Japanese Literature Challenge 13

I kicked off the Japanese Literature Challenge in January by reading The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro. This was a re-read for me. You can read my review HERE. In February, I read the following:

  • The Book of Tea by Kakuzo Okakura – I found this book very interesting! You can read my review HERE.
  • Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro –  The only word that comes to my mind to describe this book is haunting. You can read my review HERE.
  • When the Emperor was Divine by Julie Otsuka – This book is about the experience of a Japanese-American family in the time of the Japanese-American evacuation to internment camps. It was a New York Times Notable Book and a San Francisco Chronicle Best Book of the Year. You can read my review HERE.
  • Journey to Topaz by Yoshiko Uchida – After reading When the Emperor Was Divine, I knew I wanted to re-read Journey to Topaz. This is a YA novel also about the Japanese-American evacuation to internment camps. I don’t often rate children’s novels that I read but this one is a solid 4 stars. It has a well-written, story-telling quality and it definitely pulls you right into the narrative very quickly.

Other Things I Read

Across Five Aprils by Irene Hunt

Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink

The Canterbury Tales Retold by Geraldine McCaughrean


Books In Progress

War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens

The Great Wheel by Robert Lawson

The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez

Mindfulness:  A Practical Guide by Tessa Watt

February Stats

7 Books Read
5 Short Stories Read
6 Books In Progress

Favorite Book Read in JanuaryJourney to Topaz by Yoshiko Uchida
(All my favorites were from the books I read for the Japanese Literature Challenge. But if I had to pick just one, Journey to Topaz would probably be it.)

Most Visited Blog PostA Look Back at January 2020 – A Monthly Review


A Look Back at January 2020 ~ A Monthly Review

I kicked off the year with participating in Cleo’s The Iliad read-along and the Japanese Literature Challenge 13. I also started a couple of year-long projects:  Nick’s War and Peace Read-along and the Deal Me In Short Stories project.

Also, I am trying to write more reviews about the books I read. And so I am happy to say that I wrote reviews for all the books I read in January except for one. For the most part, I typically don’t write reviews of children’s books I read. Mainly because I just read a lot of children’s books between pre-reading and reading aloud. However, every now and then, you might find me writing about them. 🙂 Anyway….I am excited that I did write 3 book reviews this month! Okay….now on to my January reading recap.

The Iliad Read-Along

The Iliad Read-Along

Welllll…… I guess this is going okay. I posted my thoughts on that so far HERE. I admit that things are running together at this point. But I am determined to keep reading and trying to work through this epic poetry work. I’m almost to the halfway mark!

War and Peace Read-Along

War and Peace Read-Along

This is a year-long project. It is a chapter-a-day read-along and my translation has exactly 365 days. I am on track so far with reading a chapter a day. So far, I am actually liking this novel more this time around. However, I am just now beginning to come across some of the war chapters. So……we shall see how it goes.

Deal Me In Challenge 2020

Deal Me In Short Stories Reading Project

I read four short stories in January. The one picked for this past week I actually read yesterday (Feb. 1st). So I’m counting it in February. 🙂 Here are the four short stories I read for January:

  • “Sieur George” by George Washington Cable – A man disappears then reappears. His landlord sees him initially carry in a trunk before his mysterious disappearance. When the man reappears, the landlord obsesses over what could be in that trunk. There’s a turn of events and then the story ends kind of abruptly. I thought the writing quality was good; the story was somewhat odd though.
  • “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” by Washington Irving – The classic story of Ichabod Crane and the headless horseman. I thought the writing was very descriptive and I wanted to keep reading it. This was my favorite of all the short stories I read this month.
  • “The Wife of His Youth” by Charles W. Chestnutt – A man is preparing to marry when another woman comes to him seeking her husband whom she hasn’t seen for many years. There’s a turn of events and it has an ambiguous ending. This story was just okay. But I really think another read of it would be beneficial. I read that this is Chestnutt’s most anthologized work.
  • “The Ransom of Red Chief” by O. Henry – Two men decide to kidnap a boy in order to get the ransom for money that they need. I didn’t care for this story at all. I thought the plot line was thin and it just wasn’t that good.

Japanese Literature Challenge

Japanese Literature Challenge 13

I kicked off the Japanese Literature Challenge by reading The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro. This was a re-read for me. You can read my review HERE.

I am currently reading The Book of Tea by Kakuzo Okakura and have just started reading Never Let Me Go by Ishiguro.

Other Things I Read

The Thirty-Nine Steps by John Buchan – Review HERE

Still Life by Louise Penny – Review HERE

Turn Homeward, Hannalee by Patricia Beatty

Books In Progress

The Iliad by Homer

War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens

The Book of Tea by Kakuzo Okakura

Never Let Me Go by Ishiguro

Across Five Aprils by Irene Hunt

January Stats

4 Books Read
4 Short Stories Read
6 Books In Progress
Favorite Book Read in January:  Still Life by Louise Penny
Most Visited Blog Post:  The Evolution of My Reading Journal

2020 Monthly Wrap-Up Round-Up Graphic

This is my first time joining in on this monthly wrap-up round-up. Nicole hosts the Monthly Wrap-Up Round-Up, which is a Month In Review Round-Up where you can link your monthly recap posts.