Not going to lie, I’m ridiculously sad that October is over. It’s perhaps my favorite month of the year, and Halloween has only a little to do with that (okay, more than a little). October’s that month where everything’s perfectly balanced. The weather is pleasant and wonderful, school’s in full swing but you’re not totally freaking out because finals are far, far away. AND some great books tend to release this month (idk why that is?) Despite not being my birthday month, October’s pretty great. And now I have to wait a year for it, le sigh.
School and Work
Nothing particularly spectacular happened this month- in retrospect, it was rather uneventful. I had a couple of midterms that I did really well in, and I spent a lot of time thinking about a research proposal I had to put in for one of my classes- which was also approved, so yay!
My internship offered me a position for next semester as well, and I’m still unsure about whether I’ll be taking them up on that offer. The thing with my degree at NYU is that I have to do two internships in the field of Psychology while in college, and because this is my second-last year, I’m hoping to get one out of the way next semester. If that’s what I end up doing, I won’t be able to work yet another internship. It sucks because I love working at Macmillan. Even though I’m not working with books, it’s still fun to be in the industry-environment and learn a little about the dynamics of the publishing world.
Author Events & Signings
I went to one author event this month, but it was a fantastic one. Tor Teen had gathered a wonderful panel of YA authors for an event at Books of Wonder, including Victoria Schwab. The others were Fran Wilde, Sarah Porter, Kim Liggett, and Erika Lewis. Schwab was the only author whose work I was familiar with, but the others were such lovely ladies and had great insight into the writing process, the YA genre and the power of storytelling. I’m trying to cut back on spending too much money so the only books I managed to get signed were Schwab’s, but I’m very interested in reading the others’ work too.
I also got rid of my OwlCrate subscription; I felt that their standards had rapidly dropped. I didn’t find any of the stuff in their previous two or three boxes worthy of spending $30+ on. I did, however, subscribe to the Book of the Month club service where you get to choose the books you want. For $16, you get a highly anticipated, critically-acclaimed adult hardcover, and you can add two more to your box for $9.99 each. Because I’ve been trying to expand my reading horizons, and am steadily getting into more adult and literary fiction, I think this box offers a better value for my money. And it ensures that I’m getting books that I’d actually like to read!
October was perhaps the best reading month of this year! I managed to get a lot of reading done, despite being super busy with school and work, and I enjoyed most of these books- some will most definitely make it to my yearly favorites list at the end of the year. I was having such a trash year all-in-all that my successes with reading this month have given me hope for the last two months of 2016. Here’s everything I read:
Crooked Kingdom (The Dregs #2) by Leigh Bardugo | 4.5 stars
Although I didn’t publish a full review of this book, I did put up a spoilery discussion along with some wallpapers I designed. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that I absolutely adored this book; it was a near-perfect ending except for a few things near the conclusion. I loved seeing our characters develop, particularly Matthias. I loved seeing how each person overcame hardship and obstacles, and the relationships particularly felt brilliantly fleshed-out. Bardugo’s one of my favorite writers, and I think with this duology, she’s cemented her position as a force to be reckoned with. I’m very excited to see what else she has in store for us.
Dark Matter by Blake Crouch | 4.5 stars
I hadn’t expected anything to come close to the magnificence that was Crooked Kingdom, but damn, this was one hell of a book. Blake Crouch tackles the difficult concepts of quantum physics, parallel universes and infinity with intelligence, applying them to a gripping, easy-to-read narrative permeated with discussions about topics that we can all relate to: family and love. I said this in my review too, but Dark Matter is science-y, sure, but at its core, it’s a beautiful love story about one man who will go to the ends of the earth to get back to his wife and son. Back to the life they created together. I can’t recommend this book enough; it’s near flawless. Please go read it.
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (the Illustrated Edition) by J. K. Rowling | 5 stars
This was obviously a re-read for me. I think Jim Kay’s illustrations add yet another layer to this beloved series. I’ve noticed that he spends more time illustrating the scenes and events that the movies either glossed over or skipped entirely, so many of the creatures and tidbits are fresh to my eyes. Not to mention that the fact that there’s an annual release gives me an excuse to re-read my favorite series. I’m super, super excited to see what he has in store for us in the future books, considering the first and the second are perhaps my least favorite.
More Happy than Not by Adam Silvera | 4.25 stars
This was a book I’d heart nothing but fantastic things about, and if you know anything about me, you’ll know that hype tends to kill a book for me. Not this one. Despite having gotten multiple warnings about how this book would tear me apart, I was not prepared. Told with such grace, poise and beauty, this book is gut-wrenchingly realistic, and it’s a tale that you’ll remember for a long, long time. I fell in love with all the characters, and I thought Silvera’s unflinching honesty with the thematic material fit the dreary and dazzling tone of the book well. This book also has a twist that you will not see coming from a mile away, and it will break you- but in the best way possible. Please note that very strong trigger warnings apply for this, and you can see these in my review which is linked in the title.
When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore | DNF’d at 55%
This was the first true disappointment of the month for me, and it’s unfortunate because it had absolutely nothing to do with the story itself. I’ve come to the conclusion that magical realism is just not for me. With the genre, I think it’s important to be able to suspend your beliefs and walk the line between fantasy and reality- I can’t seem to do that. My feet are firmly planted on either side of the line, which is no fault of the genre itself, but rather my own stubbornness to move. Another reason this book didn’t click with me was the writing style; those who enjoy dense, poetic, lyrical and flowery language will adore it. I, however, am a simple girl who likes to-the-point prose that doesn’t rely so heavily on figurative language and symbolism. So despite the great characters and the wonderful atmosphere, I couldn’t get past the 55% point sheerly out of personal preference.
Beast by Brie Spangler | 4 stars
Beast was a tale that took me by surprise. I picked it up on a whim, mainly because I think there is such potential in Beauty & the Beast retellings that is often left unexplored, and also because it promised a trans beauty. It took me a while to fully realize just how much I was enjoying this book. It explored the ugliness of human nature, the realities of prejudice and cruelty. It has some of the best character development I have ever come across where our protagonist (who is the beast) transforms from a cruel, judgmental, ignorant boy to an empathetic, genuinely wonderful man. The relationships in this book are beautifully nuanced; the romance is perhaps one of my favorites in any contemporary ever, and it’s a book I’ll be recommending for a long time. Please note that very strong trigger warnings apply for this, and you can see these in my review which is linked in the title.
Rani Patel in Full Effect by Sonia Patel | 1 star
I wanted to love this book because it had the formula. Written by a psychiatrist about a topic I’m very passionate about: childhood abuse and trauma. The protagonist has Indian roots- a culture almost identical to mine. And it promised women empowerment, the annihilation of the patriarchy and feminist themes. And apart from its technical failings, this book managed to offend me on all three of these accounts- on a very personal level. It read like a caricature of a victim of abuse, almost a dehumanization of sorts which contributes to a stigma of people with traumatic pasts. It portrayed Indian culture in a rather offensive, one-dimensional way, and there was so much internalized misogyny throughout the narrative that was never addressed and given due consequence that I couldn’t take it seriously. For more details, I’d ask you read my review.
Faithful by Alice Hoffman | 3 stars
From a storytelling and writing perspective, I thought this was a solid, solid book. It’s very dense in the way that Hoffman doesn’t beat about the bush; the pacing was strong. There was constantly something happening in the characters’ lives, something keeping their lives – and thus the narrative – going. Thematically, I thought it was a beautiful tale about love, loss, forgiveness and moving on. Hoffman writes with such precision that you can see the events unfold in front of your eyes, making this really great movie or TV material. But the main character was too much of a Mary Sue for me to take the novel seriously, and I felt that the tone of the beginning didn’t match the rest of the novel. Review coming soon!
Hello Me, It’s You by Hannah Todd and Anonymous | 2 stars
I feel bad giving this a low rating, but let me explain. This is an incredibly short book of several letters written by people suffering from mental illnesses to their sixteen year-old selves. For someone who’s going through a tough time, or for someone who is suffering from a mental illness, or who is lonely and needs support – even if it is from a stranger, this book is important. It is important, it is optimistic, it is hopeful and it is realistic. From a strictly literary perspective, however, it was repetitive. Yikes, I feel awful saying that, but I do think it’s an incredibly important collection that everyone should read.
October was a month of confusion in terms of blogging. I didn’t get many posts out – I think just 15 or so, but had the highest viewcount to date. Very amusing; perhaps it’s because I posted my Crooked Kingdom wallpapers on Pinterest, and I’ve been getting a lot of traffic from there. It sucks that I haven’t been able to post much or interact much with the community- at least on WordPress. I’ve been more active on Twitter just because it’s so much easier to use on the go. Do follow me there if you don’t already!
Here’s everything I posted this month:
Let’s Talk About: Literature Too Foreign – only posted one discussion this month, but one that I’m very passionate about
Diversity Spotlight Thursday
October 6: ft. fantasy with anti-heroes, a contemporary set in the Caribbean, and a B&tB retelling with a trans girl | October 13: ft. an urban fantasy set in Pakistan, a collection of short stories revolving around the India-Pakistan partition, and a light-hearted contemporary on arranged marriage | October 20: ft. a satirical contemporary-fantasy, a thriller-mystery, and a dystopian (I think) where two guys who’re competing for a girl end up falling for each other | October 27: ft. a heartbreaking contemporary about family and loss, a fantasy about overcoming hardship, and an immigration tale.
Top Ten Tuesday
Spotlighting the Non-Bookish
I came across some sick music this previous month, but I’d like to particularly bring your attention to Swet Shop Boys’ debut album Cashmere. This rap duo is comprised of an Indian-American and a British-Pakistani who write politically charged, deeply intelligent raps about important, relevant themes like immigration, racism, the refugee crisis, racial profiling, police brutality and Islamophobia. I get that their work may not be for everyone, especially because their material incorporates a ton of South Asian cultural references, but their beats alone are worth giving a try to. My favorite of theirs are Half Mogul Half Mowgli and Phone Tap, which you can play below via Spotify.
More music? Here are 5 of my favorite songs that I discovered in October: