Hello there readers! I am really really late in posting my October book reviews! I’ve been really busy lately, with the move and Kenneth and I both starting new jobs.
A quick little update on our move: we moved from the Cincinnati area to Miami County at the end of October. We moved on a Friday, the next day was the RIP Run 5K (Run in Piqua), which Kenneth and I both participated in (he ran, getting second place in his age group, my mom ran, getting third place in her age group and I walked with my dad). On Sunday we unpacked and did our grocery shopping for the week and we both started new jobs on Monday. I’d like to say that things have slowed down in the two and a half weeks since we moved into our new place, but it hasn’t.
I’m hoping to get a few posts up this month and next, but I’m working extra hours at two part-time jobs during the holiday rush. I’m working at my favorite coffee-chocolate shop and the pride of Piqua, Winans, as a barista and in the candy factory. I’m also helping with office work and making gift baskets in my mom’s office.
I’m still reading and writing though! I just submitted a story I wrote for an anthology about sirens and am itching to get back to my story about Halldora, the witch who steals children and then accidentally turns them into plants.
Even with the stress of the move last month, or perhaps because of the stress of the move, I managed to finish six books. Not bad for a very busy October.
The Ice Twins
I had a hard time putting The Ice Twins by S.K. Tremayne down. The story alternates between Sarah and Angus Moorcroft, parents of identical, blue-eyed and blonde haired twins, Lydia and Kirstie. The events in the book take place a year after one of the twins falls to her death off a balcony. The family resettles on a lonely island in Scotland’s Inner Hebrides in a now rotting cottage where Angus spent his summers as a child. The chilling climate matches the mood set when Kirstie, the surviving twin, says she’s not Kirstie, but Lydia. What follows is a fascinating thriller as Sarah tries to solve the mystery of her daughter’s tragic death and Angus struggles to keep his family together. At points the story takes on a spooky ghost story element when the surviving twin claims to see her dead sister. I love atmospheric thrillers and The Ice Twins certainly fits the bill!
I’m counting the The Ice Twins for the Let Me Count The Ways Reading Challenge and the Library Challenge.
My husband, Kenneth, and I listened to The Martian by Andy Weir on Audible as we drove to Michigan and then back home in September. If I had known beforehand how much math, physics and chemistry was involved in the plot of the book, I wouldn’t have expected to like it, let alone love it enough to give it five stars (math was always my worst, most hated subject in school).
Mark Watney is an astronaut/botanist/engineer who gets stranded on Mars when the mission his crew is on is cancelled due to a massive sandstorm. During the evacuation, Watney is struck by flying debris and his crew can’t find him in the storm. The debris also struck his bio-metrics monitor, so Watney is presumed dead. Watney is indeed alive and must “science the shit out of this” situation by growing potatoes on a planet where nothing grows, burning water out of hydrogen fuel and taking a part and rebuilding millions of dollars worth of NASA equipment.
The book and the film, which was released October 2nd of this year, remind me of Cast Away and Apollo 13, minus Tom Hanks. I really think Mark Watney should have been included in the obtuse math problems I had to struggle through in high school. I still can’t get over how much I enjoyed this book when it has so much math in it. It’s insane!
I’m counting this book for the Let Me Count The Ways Reading Challenge.
In a Handful of Dust
In a Handful of Dust is the sequel to Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis, which I read in August. The second book takes place ten years after the first, Lynn is now 26/27 years old and her adopted daughter, Lucy, is 16/17. An outbreak of polio in Lynn and Lucy’s community sends the two women west. There have been rumors of a town in California with desalination plants, a place that never has to worry about water. What follows is a beautiful, dangerous and gripping walk across the US. You can see the path Lynn and Lucy take, here on Epic Reads.
I loved seeing the journey through Lucy’s eyes. I have been to Colorado, once, and I flew in a plane so I’ve never seen the Midwest or the West in person and Lucy describes it in detail. From the sweeping plains of the prairie to the towering heights of the Rocky Mountains, I wanted to join Lucy and Lynn on their journey (I’d prefer to bring some fancy hiking gear though, they have it really rough for most of the journey). Hearing about the women struggle with hunger, altitude sickness, dehydration and the whims of mother nature and the weather was heartbreaking and fascinating. I hope to never experience their ordeal first hand. I think this quote from the back cover sums the book up perfectly:
“What Laura Ingalls Wilder might have penned if she’s traveled a frontier imagined by Cormac McCarthy.”
– Ilsa J. Bick, author of the Ashes trilogy
I listened to the audio book version of In a Handful of Dust and am counting it for the following challenges: the Let Me Count The Ways Reading Challenge, the Library Challenge and the Women Challenge.
The Lifeboat: A Novel
The Lifeboat by Charlotte Rogan was our October read for the book club my mom, sister and I have. The story takes place in 1914, two years after RMS Titanic sank after striking an iceberg in 1912 and just a year before the RMS Lusitania was torpedoed and sunk by a German U-boat in 1915. Grace Winter and her newly wed husband, Henry, are crossing the Atlantic to return home to American when an explosion causes the ocean liner they are on to sink. Henry gets Grace on an already full lifeboat, which she and 38 other people are set adrift in for twenty-one days before they are rescued. When Grace makes it to that States, she and two other women from her lifeboat are put on trial for murder.
I really enjoy historical fiction as well as mysteries so this book was right up my alley. Grace is young, just 22 years old, but she is definitely a survivor. As she recounts the events that happened in the lifeboat she also explains how she came to marry Henry, a rich banker, in order to avoid having to become a governess like her sister after her father’s business went under. Grace is also an unreliable narrator, even after finishing the book I’m not fully certain of her guilt, or innocence.
I read that Anne Hathaway is producing and staring in a film adaptation of The Lifeboat, which I would be excited to see. In addition to reading this book for our book club, I am also counting it for the Let Me Count The Ways Reading Challenge, the Library Challenge and the Women Challenge.
The Werewolf of Fever Swamp
I remember reading the Goosebumps series as a kid and thinking it was so cool that R.L. Stine is from Ohio. I can’t remember if I read The Werewolf of Fever Swamp before or not, but it was an enjoyable book to listen to about a kid, Grady, and his family after they move to Florida and weird things start happening in their swampy neighborhood. The book was a really quick read and it made me nostalgic for the books I used to read as a kid and excited for Halloween. I’m counting this book for Birthday Month Reading Challenge (R.L. Stine was born on October 8th, 1943), Let Me Count The Ways Reading Challenge, Library Challenge and the Monthly Motif Challenges (goblins, and ghost + ghouls theme).
A Madness So Discreet
I loved A Madness So Discreet by Mindy McGinnis! When I read that the author of Not a Drop to Drink and In a Handful of Dust was writing a book set in an Ohio asylum, I knew I had to read it. The asylum is based on the Athens Lunatic Asylum, which still looms over Ohio University where I went to college. I was so sure I would love this book that I went to Books by the Banks to get a signed copy and meet Mindy McGinnis!
The book follows a young girl, Grace, who has been institutionalized by her wealthy family to hide her father’s crimes. She’s not mentally ill, instead she’s incredibly intelligent and has a photographic memory. She is whisked away from the cruel Boston asylum to one in Ohio by a doctor who is studying the minds of criminals. Grace becomes his assistant, though she has to pretend to be ill in order to hide from her family. I read this book slowly, savoring the writing and thoroughly enjoying the descriptions of the Athens Lunatic Asylum. McGinnis did her research and paints a detailed portrait of a hospital that treated its patients well (based on the medical knowledge of the time) and allowed them to work and freely explore the gorgeous hospital grounds. I appreciated the way McGinnis respectfully wrote the characters with mental illness, she did not make fun of them or make broad generalizations. As a college student, I spent a lot of time exploring the asylum grounds, now known as The Ridges. The property is now owned by Ohio University, some buildings are now office space, one is an art gallery and others are closed to the public. When Grace describes the asylum as looking like a castle, she’s absolutely right – The Ridges are beautiful and I enjoyed getting to “visit” again!
I’m counting this book for the Let Me Count The Ways Reading Challenge and the Women Challenge.
Challenges worked on this month:
I unfortunately did not complete the Monthly Key Word Challenge for October, just could not fit another book in!
Since we are still in the process of unpacking and deciding where our books will live in our new place, I unfortunately do not have a group photo of the books I want to read in November. I have, however, gotten a library card for my new local library and have already finished two audio books for this month!