Hello, hello, people of Earth! Laura here. And before you ask, yes, I’ve been re-watching Avatar: The Last Airbender and yes I am loving every second.
I haven’t done a monthly review in many long months so here we are. Honestly, these are my main mechanism for keeping track of my reading (besides my glorious yet completely out-dated spreadsheet) so we shall begin!
I will freely admit that this year hasn’t exactly been stellar in terms of reading. I’ll normally read about 100 books a year and right now, I’m at a piddly 21. I know. I KNOW. This month has been better than the other months of the year (we won’t talk about those). You’ll notice there aren’t any review links because that’s another bit I’ve fallen massively behind on. In their absence, please enjoy my seedling-sized thoughts.
Listen to Your Heart by Kasie West
Thoughts (3 stars):
This book was something else. I liked it for the most part, it’s just that it was forgettable for me. I decided not to write a formal review because I just couldn’t think of anything to say. My biggest issue is the relationship. It’s great, until it shoots straight past typical high school romance to star-crossed lovers professing deep love for each other in a disturbing amount of time. Maybe it’s because I was never like that as a teenager but I just couldn’t take the book seriously after that point. Also, spoiler, there are no tubes in the actual book which was strangely disappointing to me. Makes for a cute cover, but still!
Now I Rise by Kiersten White
(The Conqueror’s Saga #2)
Thoughts (4.5 stars):
I loved this. So much. There will be a full review coming for this because there is so much to talk about! Murder! Deception! History! Religious conflict! Guilt! Cruel justice! Oh my! I’ll be honest, my reading experience would be much better if I had the physical book (I read this on my Kindle) so before I write my review I’m going to reread it like that. Is that just me or do you remember and comprehend things better when you’re reading a physical copy of something? Anyway, I am 210% ready for the next book in the trilogy!
I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga
(I Hunt Killers #1)
Thoughts (3.5 stars):
I have conflicted feelings about this so full review to come. Essentially, this book walks a fine line between sensationalizing serial killers and providing an interesting look into both the nature vs. nurture debate and how much our choices define us. There were bits of #menwritewomen which weren’t great but there were also excellent character development moments. Overall I liked it, but I have reservations. Currently undecided on whether I’ll read the next one!
Ten Thousand Skies Above You by Claudia Gray
Thoughts (4 stars):
This was… nice. No middle-book syndrome which was great and it had a perfect ebb and flow of action and quiet. No wasted scenes or page space here! I inherently dislike many books that hold romance as the central conflict, even while there are other, more interesting bits going on, and this is one of those books. I found it tolerable, though, because of how the romance also played into the main character’s view of herself. The discussion of the ethics of inhabiting another “you’s” body is definitely the highlight. Review to come!
A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi
Thoughts (5 stars):
This book is so, so powerful. The only other books I’ve read by Tahereh Mafi is her Shatter Me series which is more of a science fiction/fantasy/dystopia series. This book is in a completely different realistic fiction vein and Mafi’s style of writing and structuring novels works extremely well. So well. It provides the reader a glimpse into what it’s really like to live with daily explicit racism and the toll that takes on your sense of self and your view of the world. It’s devastating and gorgeous and heart-breaking and I urge you to read it if you haven’t already.
As our world is slowly turning toward an unrecognizable sun, I’ve been finding time for new shows!
Jane the Virgin
This is hilarious. I don’t know why I resisted watching it for so long but I love it. I’m usually not a fan of ‘realistic’ TV shows but this is great.
The Haunting of Hill House
Yes, I’m finally watching this after seeing that the companion series came out this year on Netflix. I went in not really knowing what to expect and holy moly is it creepy. I thought I’d be fine to watch it at night because usually horror types of media don’t really bother me (especially gore) but the psychological stuff is not good to sleep on! For those unaware, it’s basically 2% violence, 98% psychological, and 100% not good bedtime material. I deeply appreciate the writers and the thought that was put into it so I’m excited to finish (and find out what’s in that mysterious Red Room) and watch Bly Manor!
The Shannara Chronicles
I watched a few episodes of this when it was airing live a few years ago and I stumbled across it again on Netflix. I decided on a whim to watch it and while there are a few questionable decisions, I’ve been enjoying it.
Married at First Sight
There’s currently a season of this on Netflix and it is an amazing show to watch with friends. I’m actually part of a group that meets virtually every week to watch it together and it’s a great time.
This is also on Netflix and I love it for all the wrong reasons. The costumes are HORRENDOUSLY historically inaccurate and same goes for the speech patterns. Which makes watching it more entertaining. The actual plot points are vaguely accurate (it surrounds Mary Queen of Scots and her brief marriage to the Dauphin and later King of France, Francis II) and touch on some great historical (and somewhat modern) conflicts. It’s one of those shows that’s so ridiculous it’s almost good.
Where would we be without some good re-watches? Currently I’m re-watching the better seasons of The Great British Baking Show (aka before Channel 4 and Netflix brought out the worst elements of it) and Madam Secretary because goodness knows, with the current US election, I need some escapism in my life. Of, course, there’s also the continual re-watching of Avatar: The Last Airbender. What a gift from Netflix, honestly. What I need to do is get all three books on DVD so I never am without this show.
First and most obviously, I’m back! Yes, after two semesters of awful happenings and busy schedules I’m back again. I’m doing the best I can to keep up friendships in this time of plague which is mostly an effort that has been rewarded! I have ongoing appointments with different friend groups to watch shows together and my book club has moved virtually without a hitch as we’ve all departed to various cities to wait out the pandemic.
I started crocheting a ‘quarantine blanket’ when the US first shut down in March and I recently finished it! Essentially, I had a big mishmush of various yarn colors (all the same weight, though, thank heavens) so I decided to crochet a blanket with all of them to use them up. It ended up being a good throw blanket size and it’s lovely.
I moved into a new apartment and I now live with a dog, cat, hamster, and fish! Plus my 30+ plants and roommate, the apartment is pretty full. It’s been great for quarantine, though, because there’s never any chance of being lonely (my heart goes out to those who live alone).
Last but not least, I’m applying to graduate schools! I hope to pursue an MFA in poetry which is something I was not AT ALL expecting to say just half a year ago. I was won over by the overwhelming amount of people who told me “what are you even doing considering biology, no no no.” Upon reflection, I realized they were absolutely right. I double majored for my undergraduate degree because I couldn’t even begin to choose between the two and then it morphed into me wanting to do some kind of creative sustainability writing but the way forward on that path is a little more vague than most. So there I was, walking through the clouds obscuring my feet, not knowing if I would step into a river or not when the people who know me best told me I was being an idiot. I completely agreed. And here we are! I was watching Madam Secretary one night and the idea of doing something, making some kind of choice, is better than staying still stood out to me. Anyway, long story short, I’m doing the thing. Cue the frantic writing of letters of intent.
How was your October? Do you have plans for November? What’s your opinion on gore vs. psychologically scary shows? How do you feel about serial killers being featured in media? Are you a fan of ATLA (and if so, what kind of bender would you want to be)?