October Reading Wrap-up 2018

Saturday, November 03, 2018
October is my favourite month of the year as it signifies the start of autumn, the lead up to Christmas and all the halloween readathons. I wanted to take part in a few readathons this month so I challenged myself to read much more to complete more of the challenges. I tried to take part in Victober but I wasn't able to finish Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte which did fit all of the challenges; however, I will finish it in November.

There was also the Hallowreadathon by Imogen and I finished two of the three challenges including read two books and to read a book set in a magical world which I read Eric by Terry Pratchett for. There was also Strangeathon and I read a couple of books for the challenges of: read a book you've been saving for autumn (Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman), read a book you've heard no-one talk about (Slothilda) and read a book from another TBR you didn't get to (The Bloody Chamber). The final readathon was Spookathon and I read two books for the challenges of read a book with pictures (The House With Chicken Legs) and read a book with a spooky word in the title (A Discovery Of Witches).

Within October I managed to listen to four audiobooks, read four e-books from Netgalley and nine physical books, one of which I was kindly sent by the publisher Walker YA so thank you! I'm so happy with the number of books I read which was definitely helped by the readathons I took part in as I wanted to complete as many challenges as possible and six of the books I read in October were less than 200 pages which makes them very quick reads.

A Discovery Of Witches by Deborah Harkness (610 pages) ★★★ (3.75)
If you've followed my blog or social media for a while, especially at this time of the year then you'll know that I adore halloween and I also adore halloween or witch themed books so this was the obvious pick for my big book of the month. In January I challenged myself to read at least one 'big book' each month which is over 500 pages and so far I'm on track for 12/12! This book has recently been made into a TV show and now I cannot wait to watch it as I throughly enjoyed this book. I have the second book thanks to Netgalley which I'm going to read but I think after that I'll just watch the TV show.

We follow Diana, a witch and gifted academic as she is studying the history of science and alchemy at Oxford university when she meets the handsome, enigmatic Matthew who happens to be a vampire. Witches, vampires and daemons aren't supposed to mix but Matthew becomes a more persistent presence in her life because Diana has discovered and unlocked a magical historical text that all of the witches, vampires and daemons want to obtain. What follows is an exploration into Diana's repressed powers, the mysteries surrounding her parents death and her family, an investigation into ancient manuscripts, the conflict between daemons/witches/vampires, Dianas DNA and the budding, dangerous relationship between Diana and Matthew.

I loved the incredibly quick, easy and engaging writing style of this book, it hooked me instantly and I didn't want to stop reading, despite it being over 600 pages. I loved the settings (especially Oxford and France), I liked the supernatural and almost folktale elements and the relationship between all of the supernatural creatures as well as the frowned upon relationship between Diana and Matthew. It was much more about their relationship that I thought it would be and there were elements of cheesiness and eye rolling at times but overall, I did like reading about their relationship and their journey.

I can see why some people utterly adore this book as it has a very mysterious, magical and engaging style that makes you want to keep reading but I can also see how it would appear as very cheesy, slightly Twilightesque and too long for others. I fall in the middle as there were definitely some cringey, cheesy lines and scenes through the book and it was a bit laggy towards the end but I throughly enjoyed the process of reading it, it was entertaining and I would recommend it as a great supernatural read (although it wasn't as amazing as I thought it would be).

Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman (448 pages) ★★★★
There are a few authors that are always associated with halloween, including Ray Bradbury and Neil Gaiman. I've had this gorgeous illustrated edition of Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman on my shelves for a while waiting for October to roll around. The edition I have also includes the novella 'How The Marquis Got His Coat Back' which I read too.

We follow Richard Mayhew who has had a bit of a rocky life until he moves to London, meets the girl of his dreams and is doing very well career wise until a chance encounter with an injured girl changes his life forever. The girl he helps, Door, brings him into the world of London Below which is filled with people who can speak to rats, bristly beasts, not so angelic angels, mushroom people and a whole host of eccentric, weird and wacky characters that are a wonder to meet.

Every writer has a certain style and one of the most whimsical, magical and eccentric as well as witty and intelligent is that of Neil Gaiman. His books have a particular feel to them and this one is no different. I've read The Ocean At The End Of The Lane, The Graveyard Book, The Sleeper and the Spindle and Coraline previously, all of which I liked but this one is definitely my favourite! The writing is instantly engaging, the story ticks along at a great pace and the tone, atmosphere and setting are ideal for halloween. The incredible illustrations definitely added to the story and I cannot recommend this specific edition enough - I also liked the extra novella at the end of the book! Out of all the books, e-books and audiobooks I've read this month, Neverwhere was definitely my favourite, closely followed by A Discovery Of Witches, Between Worlds and Carrie!

Eric by Terry Pratchett (155 pages) ★★★
Terry Pratchett is one of my favourite authors as the unusual world he has created is just incredible and gives me the same feelings I get when I read Harry Potter - it feels very special and cosy to me, although the Discworld is much more unusual, quirky and darkly humorous than the Harry Potter series. I've now read seven of Pratchett's books and I loved each one and this seventh book is no different. I'm reading the series in the mini series order but I think this one is a companion to the series, rather than being part of it.

We follow Eric, a demonology hacker and an acne prone teenager as well as the apparent demon he has summoned, Rincewind, who is actually a quirky wizard from the Unseen University. What follows is a tale of being careful of what you wish for, a historic adventure and some demons, naturally. It has the usual Terry Pratchett intelligent and dark humour, sarcasm and wit that I utterly adore! Eric was a very quick read and I really enjoyed it, as I do with every Pratchett book. I'd definitely recommend it but I don't think you should start with it - maybe start with Mort.

*Carrie by Stephen King (242 pages) ★★★ (3.75)
I have wanted to read some Stephen King for so long but his books are quite intimidating as not only are most of them very long but they are such popular books so they seem a little daunting to me. However, Carrie is one of his shorter books at less than 250 pages and it was a fantastic introduction to his writing.

Believe it or not but I only knew two things about Carrie before going into it: firstly, it's about a teenage girl at her prom and secondly, blood. That's it. I haven't watched any film adaptation and this is was my first read of the book and it was definitely eye opening, shocking at times and pretty fantastic. Although it has some definite flaws, mainly in terms of racial slurs, fat shaming and focusing on the more negative aspects of women bodies which I didn't appreciate but it does fit the story at times in terms of the awful bullying Carrie experiences which moves the plot along.

As I said, I knew nothing (pretty much) before going into it so I was a little shocked at the frankness of the realities of growing up, bullying, puberty and menstruation. I also didn't expect the religion obsessed mother which definitely made for a terrifying character! I really liked the intermittent newspaper articles, biography snippets and studies throughout the story about an event you don't know about fully until the end and about telekinesis.

Overall, I loved the story, the writing and the pace of the book as well as the snippets of articles etc, the frankness of it and the terrifying mother! The gore and more horror elements were fantastic and it was such an incredibly quick read for me - I finished it in a couple of days as I didn't want to put it down. If you haven't read Carrie then definitely do so this Halloween!
The House With Chicken Legs by Sophie Anderson (336 pages) ★★★
I bought this book a while ago as it had the most beautiful cover with it's rose gold foiling and stunning illustrations and I also purchased it because it's a middlegrade story which relies heavily on Russian folktales, particularly of Baba Yaga. We follow Marinka and her beloved grandmother as Marinka is being taught the ways of Yaga and how to guide the dead but Markina has other ideas for her future.

I utterly adored the illustrations and blacked out pages of this book along with the quirky settings and magical elements as well as the darker topics of death. I found the character of Marinka very annoying at times but overall I loved this whimsical and unique story with my favourite characters being Jack and the house itself. It's a lovely, magical read that I would recommend - now I want to learn more about the original tale of Baba Yaga.

*Between Worlds: Folktales Of Britain and Ireland by Crossley-Holland (326 pages) ★★★
The award for the most beautifully designed book of the month goes to Between Worlds as it has the most gorgeous cover and the naked hardback is stunning too - also I was sent a signed copy! As the title would suggest it's a collection of folktales from the UK and Ireland separated into various categories such as adventure and legends, love, magic and wonder, ghosts and many others. There are fifty stories in total which vary in length but they all feature wonderful illustrations from Frances Castle which suit the book perfectly.

I loved the tone of most of these stories as they had a very classic adventure or fairytale tone to them which is ideal for this time of the year. Some of my favourite stories include: Three Heads of the Well, The Dead Moon, Fairy Ointment, Yellow Lily and Samuels Ghost. All of the stories, and others of a similar nature, have a moral theme behind them. I liked some more than others but overall, it's a lovely collection of beautifully illustrated classic stories.

The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter (214 pages) ★★★ (3.5)
Last year I tried to read The Magic Toyshop by Angela Carter but couldn't get into it; however I wanted to try something else as her books seem like something I'd love! The Bloody Chamber is a collection of short stories which are reimaginings of classic fairytales but with a darker, gothic twist. The gorgeous edition I have was released on the 75th anniversary of her birth.

The first of the ten stories is the title story, The Bloody Chamber which definitely has an eerie, classically dark fairytale feel to it with some lines that definitely resonated with me. The second is a beauty and the beast retelling (which I loved) but the others were a little too long and I just didn't click with them, apart from a few of stories towards the end of the book, including the last one. However, despite not loving all of the short stories, I did utterly adore the eerie, creepy and classic tale feel of the stories. I don't have the words to describe how incredible Angela Carter is with words and descriptions of nature, women, intimate details and more as she's just wonderful in a deeply delicious way. This book is perfect for halloween as it features dark fairytale ideas, monstrous creatures, vampires and more. I will be picking up something from Angela Carter again, however just not her short stories as it's become clear that short story collections just aren't for me; although I do have her gorgeous collection of fairytales which I will be reading sometime soon.

Dolly by Susan Hill (153 pages) ★★★
Last halloween, or around that time, I read The Woman in Black and Printer's Devil Court both by Susan Hill so I had to read another couple this year. I have some of the gorgeously designed hardback editions of the books mentioned by Susan Hill and if you're going to get any of them, buy the hardback editions.

In Dolly we follow two cousins as they return to the grand but decaying home of their recently deceased aunt and we are told the story of the summer they both spent there which is filled with childhood impetuousness, storms and a rather creepy doll. Most of the book had an eerie feel, it is a ghost story after all, but it wasn't scary to me and it was quite mundane sadly; however the last third or so of the book was definitely creepy! Susan Hill is incredible when it comes to creating an eerie, tense and disturbing atmosphere, it's what she does best. Her books are very quick reads and eerily atmospheric so I think they'd be ideal for halloween night as I read this one in a couple of hours.

The Small Hand by Susan Hill (176 pages) ★★★
My second and final Susan Hill read for the month of October was The Small Hand which as with all of the other books I have by Susan Hill, it has such an amazing and creepy cover. In The Small Hand we follow an antiquarian bookseller as he discovers a decrepit house which he explores despite the unnerving feeling of a small hand within his own as he enters the house but that's just the start of the story and his ties to the house.

As with all of the other Susan Hill novels, it has the classic ghost tale feel to it with a rich and vivid setting which I loved but I had the same slight disappointment with this book as I had with Dolly - it wasn't creepy or eerie really until the last third of so of the book. Just a note, there are mentions of mental illness and suicide in this one. While I did enjoy the tone and atmosphere of the book, overall I was just a little disappointed. I don't know if any of her other books will live up to The Woman In Black for me.
*The Dreadful Tale Of Prosper Redding by Alexandra Bracken (362 pages) ★★★ 
The first e-book I started in October was one that I have heard nothing but great things about and it has been heavily associated with halloween reads so I had to read it in the month of October. The Dreadful Tale of Prosper Redding follows, Prosper Redding naturally, a teenage boy who discovers that his family holds far more secrets than he ever knew and there's a curse that was put onto the family hundreds of years ago which has grave consequences for him in the present day.

There are a few main points that I adored about this book, the first is the setting as it is partly set in Salem and there are so many mentions of halloween, pumpkins and autumn so it is definitely the one to read for the halloween period. Secondly, I loved the dry and sarcastic sense of humour from some of the main characters, especially Prosper which made for a fun read. I also loved the fiends point of view!

The story as a whole was interesting, entertaining and halloween filled but it was just too slow for me! The story ticks along at a leisurely pace and I just wanted to have some answers and a conclusion without the slow section in-between.  Overall, I did enjoy it and if it sounds interesting to you then you must read it for halloween (I loved the halloween vibes and I think it would make a perfect halloween film) but I think I had listened to too much of the hype and this book didn't fully live up to it for me sadly.

*The Twisted Tree by Rachel Burge (180 pages) ★★★ - publication date: 10th Jan 2019
As October is the spookiest month of the year, I wanted to read all *almost* spooky, gothic or halloween related books this month and this cover naturally made me want to pick it up for October. It's described as 'part ghost story, part nordic thriller' which definitely drew me in but since reading it I only really agree with the first part of the description as it is very creepy, eerie and ghost tale-like in parts but it is not really a thriller, in my opinion.

We follow Martha who has travelled from London to a remote Norwegian island to visit her grandmother but she discovers that something is wrong, there are creatures in the forrest and her long deceased ancestors are more than she bargained for. The main things I loved about this book was the cold, remote setting which is perfect for autumn/winter, I loved the countless references to norse gods/myths and I really enjoyed some of the very creepy and eerie sections of the book! The strength of this book for me is definitely the setting, atmosphere and the spookier elements.

However, I found the romance quite cliche and it was predictable from the beginning, I didn't really like the insta-love and I found some of the action or supposedly quite scary scenes towards the end of the book to be cheesy and completely unbelievable. I'm the kind of reader that when something doesn't feel believable to me, I find it cheesy or ridiculous and then I can't connect to the story anymore. It's not the magic, supernatural or mythology elements that I have a problem with, it's how it is told, in an unbelievable way - if that makes any sense at all. I did enjoy it overall, it was an extremely quick read and great for the halloween season but I don't know if I'd whole heartedly recommend it to everyone, if I'm honest.

*Slothilda by Dante Fabiero (128 pages) ★★★
I noticed this adorable and very short picture book/illustrated book on Netgalley and I had to request it as it looked so cute and fun...and it was. Slothilda is just the cutest thing ever and her dog is too. I have seen this character on instagram but I didn't know there was a book until I saw it on Negalley. I have to admit that I really relate to Slothilda and I definitely recommend this cute book as a stocking filler for christmas.

*The Monsters We Deserve by Marcus Sedgwick (152 pages) ★★★ 
I know that I shouldn't but I definitely judge books by their covers and this one instantly intrigued me; additionally, it sounded perfect for the month of October. I'm not quite sure how to explain this book as it is fairly unusual in it's timeline and structure but in essence we follow tormented author as he isolates himself in order to write; however, the ghost of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein haunts him.

I don't like to know too much about the book I go into beforehand and that was the case with this one - I had no idea that it was related to Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, her life and her writing process so that's something to take into account before picking this up. The day I finished the YA version of Frankenstein as an audiobook was the same day I started this book, without knowing the two are connected and I think the audiobook was a perfect choice to listen to beforehand.

The Monsters We Deserve is written in a stream of consciousness style which I'm not a fan of at all and I found it to be too abstract for my personal reading tastes. As with most books, they say more about the author than was intended and that's definitely the case with this as I presumed the writer within the book as Marcus Sedgwick which I found a little self-aggrandising, if I'm honest. I wasn't a fan of his blunt critiques of one of the most influential and famous books ever (I'm not denying it has some flaws though)! While I LOVED the eerie elements and some of the sentences throughout the book really resonated with me, overall I was left feeling a little 'meh' sadly.
*The Ravenmaster by Christopher Skaife via BookBeat ★★★ (3.5)
I'm always looking for fairly short but interesting audiobooks and this one instantly caught my eye on BookBeat because of the title and also because I've visited the Tower of London and I've seen the ravens up close! We are told snippets of the authors time in the military, his life and how he became the ravenmaster at the Tower of London as well as the myths and stories associated with ravens, the ravens themselves, their antics and his relationship with them - I enjoyed these elements much more than the military side of the audiobook. It was fairly quick, very easy to listened to and follow and it was very interesting. I knew some of the information as I have visited the Tower of London and went on a guided tour with one of the yeoman of the guard so this audiobook had a sense of 'ooh I've been there' to it but it was still interesting and entertaining. I'd definitely recommend it, it's one of the best non-fiction audiobooks I've listened to recently!

*Frankenstein by Mary Shelley via BookBeat ★★★ 
I studied Frakenstein very briefly in school but as it's the month for all things spooky and monstrous, I thought I'd listen to an abridged young adult version of Frakenstein to refresh my memory and to see if the original differs from the pop culture versions. We all know the story of Frankenstein so I'm not going to go into the plot but I will say that it's definitely a little different and more philosophical than I remember. The ending was a surprise to me as I had apparently completely forgotten how it concluded and overall, I liked it! If you want to listen to an 'easy' or quick version of Frakenstein then check out this edition on BookBeat.

*A House of Ghosts by W.C Ryan via Bookbeat ★★★ 
This book sounded perfect for October and while I was sent the e-book on Netgalley, I actually listened to it on BookBeat instead and I'm so glad I did as it was a much quicker read and the narrator made it even eerier. Set in a remote and eerie grand house with the backdrop of the devastation of the first world war we follow two British secret intelligence operatives who are invited to a spiritualist gathering by Lord and Lady Highmount. What follows is the uncovering of secrets which all of the guests seem to hold, an exploration of the spirit world, the aftermath of war, family ties, grief and a classic mystery in the style of Agatha Christie.

I'll admit that it did take a few chapters, at least, for me to get into this read so I'm thankful for the audiobook as otherwise I might have given up on the e-book before it started to get interesting. I liked the narrator of the audiobook as he definitely made it very eerie and it's already quite eerie in terms of the setting, mysteries and paranormal elements. I definitely enjoyed the paranormal elements, setting and atmosphere the most as well as the main characters of Kate and Donovan but as I've said it is a little slow to start. I can definitely see this is an Agatha Christie style TV mini series!

*Challenge Accepted by Celeste Barber via BookBeat ★★★ 
You may know Celeste Barber from Instagram and that's how I discovered her incredibly funny re-creation photos and videos but if you're from Australia then you might know her as an actor and comedian. I picked up her biography on BookBeat as I hoped it would be as funny as her instagram and while for me it wasn't laugh out loud funny, it was definitely interesting to learn more about the woman behind her hilarious instagram! It goes through the hard times in her life from the loss of friends, struggles as an actor, motherhood, growing up/school and her heart condition then subsequent surgery.

She's led such an interesting and somewhat difficult life at times which was humbling to listen to and she's very candid in her book which I loved! She also talks about her instagram, her husband and her experiences related to the #MeToo movement (I don't want to call it a movement but I'm not sure how else to describe it). I find it so difficult to rate biographies as it's someones life! I definitely enjoyed this audiobook (and I'd highly recommend it); however my only negatives were to the constant 'god damn it', 'hashtag sad face emoji' etc that was scattered throughout the audiobook but other than that it's a entertaining and interesting audiobook narrated by Celeste herself.

Have you read or listened to any of these books? Did you read anything spooky in the month of October?

16 comments

  1. I really want to try and commit more time to reading, it is something that I love so much!

    Danielle xx
    https://www.fashionbeautyblog.co.uk/

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  2. Carrie is one of the few books that I actually
    Preferred the film version too, much easier to follow x

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  3. Oooh these books sound absolutely amazing!

    Love, Amie ❤
    The Curvaceous Vegan

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  4. I am forever in awe of your reading skills. love how they are slightly spooky for halloween!:)

    Erin || MakeErinOver

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  5. Your reading lists make me want to read more! x

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  6. A Discovery of Witches sounds amazing. I'll definitely pick up a copy.

    Roxie | thebeautifulbluebird.com

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  7. So many books and they all sound like a worthy read.

    http://littlemissmelanie.com

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  8. I need to get back into reading! You've read/listened to so many x

    Joyce | http://www.joycelauofficial.com/

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  9. A Discovery of Witches sounds fab! 💜✨

    With love, Alisha Valerie x

    | BLOG | TWITTER |

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  10. I've read The Small Hand and The Woman in Black by Susan Hill and loved them both so I got Dolly from the library last month too. Can't wait to read it x

    Jenny
    http://www.jennyinneverland.com

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  11. I am honestly in awe of how many books you read in a month.. It's incredible! Slothilda sounds so cute xo

    Char | www.charslittleblog.co.uk

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  12. I wish I had more time to read but these all sound really good!

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  13. I NEED to read neverwhere, The Dreadful Tale Of Prosper Redding, A Discovery Of Witches by Deborah Harkness, and Carrie!! what a great reading month!!

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  14. I have just bought the new Jodi Picoult, so looking forward to that!

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