Reading Update: October

october-quote

Happy (belated) Halloween! I hope you all had a scary evening filled with more treats than tricks 🙂 I stayed in and watched Hotel Transylvania 2 with a friend (Halloween and ‘trick or treating’ isn’t widely practised here in the NL) and we spent the evening laughing our heads off instead of screaming in fright – definitely more preferable in my opinion.

October was a busy month for me but I managed to read quite a bit thanks (I guess?) to being stuck for a few days without internet access. It was a bit frustrating at first but then I started to enjoy being alone, in the middle of nowhere, with only my books to keep me company…

So here’s my reading update for October 🙂

  • Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling

I only managed to get up to book six in my attempt to marathon the HP series before I had to head back to Amsterdam. If I’m honest, I think that part of me didn’t want to read the seventh book because it’s just too emotionally draining. I know, I’m a coward. Anyway, despite it’s sad ending (I couldn’t help the tears leaking out, even though I knew what to expect) I love this book because it really cements the friendship between the main trio, especially at the end when Ron and Hermione vow to accompany Harry on his quest. Ahh friendship 🙂 5/5 stars

  • The Woman Who Went to Bed for a Year by Sue Townsend

This novel was such a random reading choice. I borrowed it a few months ago but didn’t manage to finish it before I went away for the summer. Once back, though, I managed to get through it fairly quickly because it was funny and entertaining, which made it a fast read (despite it’s 436 pages). I enjoyed reading about Eva’s mid-life crisis and her dysfunctional family. However, the plot itself was very simplistic, Eva started to get on my nerves after a while, and the ending left me rather unsatisfied, so…3/5 stars.

  • December Heat by Luiz Alfredo Garcia-Roza

This was one of the books that I picked up at the Jordanian book fair (see Reading Update: September ) and it was pretty great…in the beginning.  There were so many murders (it’s a crime novel, just so you know) which made it so exciting. I also loved that it was set in Rio de Janeiro, and was written by a Brazilian author. This was my first time reading a South American novel and I savoured being in a new and unfamiliar setting. The ending was such a disappointment though.  The novel built up suspense all the way through, and then the ending just fell so flat. I really hate it when that happens. I haven’t given up on Garcia-Roza just yet though. I’m hoping to find some more of his novels so that I can compare them to this one, before making a decision whether or not to axe Garcia-Roza from my personal library. But for now, this one gets 3/5 stars.

  • The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran

I found it a bit difficult to rate this one because I enjoyed it’s philosophical nature and the things it had to ‘teach’ me, but it wasn’t a completely absorbing novel in the traditional sense. Gibran’s protagonist, a prophet-like character, is leaving a city where he has lived for 12 years in order to return to his homeland. Before he leaves, he shares some wise words with the people he has lived with for many years. These words of wisdom cover everything from life and death, to love, family, agriculture, joy, sorrow and more. This is a book that I know I will keep coming back to because it had so much to say. 3/5 stars

  • The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness

I received the Chaos Walking trilogy for my birthday two years ago, and I’ve FINALLY managed to read the series! Two years later! Anyway, I decided to read the trilogy when I realised that I had no internet at the place I was visiting (the Dutch countryside: Beautiful surroundings, crappy internet connection). At first the whole internet thing was very, very annoying (because I had a lot of work to do, emails to send, things to sort out ect) but at the same time it was rather liberating. So, I had no internet, but I had plenty of books. I pretty much read this in one sitting. It was so engaging and fluid, plus, Todd and Viola are such compelling characters. The story is set on a different planet where settlers from Earth have tried to make a home for themselves. Inevitably there’s trouble when a brand new ship, containing Viola, crash lands on the planet. Todd, born on the planet to the first settlers, find her and they embark on a perilous journey which teaches them more about themselves than they ever thought possible. Such a great narrative! The whole internet situation, then, felt like a blessing in disguise because I’d forgotten what it felt like to just spend the entire day with your nose in a book. Yes, I had a lot of work to do, but when technology fails, it’s comforting to know that books never will (HA! sounds so cheesy, but it’s true!). 4/5 stars

  • The Ask and The Answer by Patrick Ness

This is the second book in the Chaos Walking trilogy and it was just as brilliant as the first book. This one focuses on pretty heavy themes: war, genocide, and sexism. This novel really shows the two contrasting sides of human nature, that it can be completely destructive, but also innocent and pure. 4/5 stars

  • Monsters of Men by Patrick Ness

Reading the last instalment in this series was bittersweet – I didn’t want it to be over! I loved seeing Todd and Viola develop throughout the series, seeing how much they learnt from each other, and how much they grew. It’s not often that a series grips me from start to finish. I usually find that the story becomes less interesting as the author starts grabbing at straws in order to fill a 500 page novel. Patrick Ness doesn’t need to grab at anything. He has a lot to say and he says it with eloquence and drama that kept me invested right to the last page. 4/5 stars

  • If This is a Man by Primo Levi

I read this during my holiday in Poland.  Whist there, I visited Auschwitz, where the book is set. Levi talks about his time in the concentration camp, the horrors that he witnessed, and the things he had to do to stay alive. I have to admit, it was a bizarre experience walking around the camp with his words ringing in my head, an experience that I’ll never forget. 5/5 stars

I noticed a few similarities between If This is a Man and the Chaos Walking series, namely the themes of genocide and war. It was both interesting and devastating to realise, reading these books, that genocide and war are universal and that history seems adamant to repeat itself. To me, this is why places such as Auschwitz are important. They stand as reminders of past tragedies to encourage us to be better people.

  • Alex+Ada (volume two) by Jonathan Luna and Sarah Vaughn

I read the first Alex+Ada volume in August and loved it. The second volume is a continuation of their story, how they deal with AI sentience and what that means in the eyes of the law. It was an addictive read and ended in a nerve wracking cliffhanger! 4/5 stars

  • Alex+Ada (volume three) by Jonathan Luna and Sarah Vaughn

The final volume in this sci-fi graphic novel series begins where the second volume left off: with Alex and Ada in trouble. It seems that time, lots and lots of it, is needed to allow humans to understand the true nature of AI and the potential that their sentience can provide. The ending is satisfying, if a little obvious. 4/5 stars

It’s clear that I didn’t read anything ‘Halloween-y’ this month so I’m curious to hear your recommendations for any books that I can start stockpiling for next October. Let me know in the comments!

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