October flew by! I feel like just yesterday I put up some spooky decorations for Halloween, now I’m taking down the ghosts but leaving out the pumpkins for Thanksgiving season. I’m a little late posting my October Bookshelf since last week was a little stressful waiting for the election results! Now that the election is settled, I was able to sit down and focus on my October books. Next up, November, November always seems to go by quickly too so hopefully I’ll find time to read a variety of books. In October, I read a dystopian story and listened to one too, a romantic one (obviously), a murder mystery and a humor filled literary fiction that I got for free through Kindle.
The Testaments by Margaret Atwood
The Testaments by Margaret Atwood is the sequel to her original dystopian novel: The Handmaid’s Tale. The book opens up about fifteen years after the Handmaid’s Tale. Gilead is still in power but there are signs that it’s on the verge of collapse. The book follows three very different women and when their paths cross it’s remarkable. Two of the women were part of the “first generation” of Gilead girls and the last is a woman who is high up in Gilead and holds close many of the countries secrets. Told through the testimonies of the younger girls and the diary of the older woman, the reader learns about Gilead’s inner-workings and life on the outside of Gilead. Agnes is the daughter of a high up commander in Gilead, Daisy is an adopted daughter to two Mayday Operatives who live in Toronto (Mayday is the underground group trying to take down Gilead), and the Aunt is Aunt Lydia. Aunt Lydia plays a villain in the original novel, in The Testaments her character becomes more complex as you learn her history and how she rose to power.
The book took me a minute to get into but I feel like it picked up a few chapters in. Their plan that is described seems a little far fetched but it’s definitely entertaining. I liked how Atwood described growing up in Gilead and the Mayday operation. I read the first book a few years ago and I haven’t watched the show in awhile so I forgot a few things. I definitely think you need to read the first book before reading this one. I really enjoyed it and I think Atwood is such a talented writer. Apparently Hulu is going to create a series based off this book and I can’t wait!
The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins
I read the Hunger Games trilogy when they came out back in college. Thanks to the “Young Adult” genre I tore through them. I also saw all the movies when they came out in theaters and recently re-watched them during quarantine. Needless to say, I’m a fan. When I heard The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes came out and it was a prequel to the trilogy, I picked it up. I ended up downloading it on Audible and I thought I would listen to it this summer but kind of forgot about it….then October rolled around and I figured a dystopian prequel would be perfect for Halloween season. The book opens up on reaping day (the day the tributes are chosen for the games) for the Tenth Annual Hunger Games and 18 year old Coriolanus Snow is hoping to make his mark in the mentor program. Coriolanus is assigned to mentor the girl from District 12, District 12 is one of the poorest districts in Panem and Snow is disappointed in his position. His family has fallen on hard times so he’s determined to outperform all his classmates in order to have the winning tribute despite the odds that are stacked against him.
I really liked the story and the background it gave on Coriolanus. In the Hunger Games, Coriolanus Snow is the ruthless president of Panam. I really liked how Collins humanized Snow and gave background on why he was as evil as he was in the original books. He changes a lot throughout the story. There is adventure, a little romance and lots of interesting characters. There were parts of the story that were a little hard to read because some of the scenes were extremely graphic and gory. I’m sure the original Hunger Games were the same way but I read them so long ago I must have forgotten it. Also I felt like the end had a few parts that felt rushed. I also felt like one character’s story wasn’t really resolved. I would be curious what other people thought. Overall, I liked the story and I listened to it really quickly even though it was 16 hours long! It was fun being back in the world of Panam and I liked how she created the origin story of President Snow.
The Boyfriend Project by Farrah Rochon
The Boyfriend Project by Farrah Rochon was my romantic read of the month. I got this book back in July but I kept prioritizing other reads. Now that I’ve read it, it was definitely just okay. I thought it sounded like it would be similar to Jasmine Guillory reads and there were some similarities but Guillory is a better storyteller than Rochon. The story follows Samiah Brooks, a successful tech entrepreneur who works at an innovative company and has always worked hard. At the beginning of the story, Samiah finds herself at the center of a viral video in which her and two other women confront their three-timing boyfriend who had cat-fished them all! Samiah and the other two women (London and Taylor) become fast friends. The new friends decide to commit to themselves and work on their personal goals and put a pause on dating. Right as Samiah agrees to focus on herself she meets Daniel at work.
Daniel seems to good to be true and Samiah can’t decide if she should focus on her own goals or try to balance it all with a new man. I liked that the story focused on Samiah’s female friendships and her kicking ass at her job. The story also explored Samiah’s experiences as an African American woman in a predominately white-male filled field of STEM. Daniel’s story line seemed a little unrealistic but the author did a good job of making him intriguing. I think their chemistry was only okay but there were a few sexy moments. The author sped up the ending a little bit, all the sudden everything was resolved which I didn’t love. It did have a happy ending which is always nice in a romantic novel. The book has some good reviews and it made some lists for 2020 romance books to check out, it wasn’t my favorite but I would be curious what others thought.
The Night Swim by Megan Goldin
The Night Swim by Megan Goldin was another Book of the Month selection. This was the perfect whodunnit mystery novel for October. The novel is a thriller that incorporates a controversial trial and a brutal crime from 25 years prior. The story centers on Rachel, who has a highly successful true crime podcast that has built quite the following. For her third season, she travels to a small town that is being torn apart by a rape trial between an Olympic hopeful golden boy swimmer and the police chief’s granddaughter. The town is taking sides and Rachel attempts to get to the bottom of whether or not the swimmer is guilty or not guilty. As she’s covering the trial a note shows up on her windshield asking her to investigate a murder from 25 years ago. Being a podcast show host, Rachel has the advantage of people recognizing her voice but not her face which makes it all the more creepy that someone is stalking her asking her to investigate this murder.
The book is split into three perspectives: the podcast host Rachel, letters from Hannah (the sister of the murdered girl) and Rachel’s podcast covering the rape trial. I liked the format because the chapters were short and to the point. I read this book fairly quickly because I was anxious to see what would happen next. One thing to be aware of if you choose to read this book, it could potentially be triggering because it talks a lot about sexual assault and there are graphic scenes throughout the story. Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I’ve already recommended it to a few friends and I felt like it was the perfect October read.
Sorry I Missed You by Suzy Krause
Sorry I Missed You was my random free read of the month. Every month, Kindle offers a selection of free books, and you can choose one each month. I downloaded this read after reading the synopsis and thinking it sounded entertaining. It was not the best book I’ve ever read but it was quick, easy, with unique characters and a fun story. Mackenzie, Sunna and Maude move into an old house that has been converted into three rental units. The women don’t seem similar except they are all trying to recover from being “ghosted”. Mackenzie by her sister, Sunna by her best friend and Maude by her fiance. A damaged letter shows up in their shared mailbox hinting at a reconciliation of sorts, each woman assumes its for her. In the letter, a local coffee shop is listed. The three tenants start going to the coffee shop each day in hopes of getting closure.
As the story continues, the three grow closer after sharing their experiences and trying to feel comfortable in their new home that seems to be haunted by ghosts! Like I said earlier, it isn’t the most amazing book I’ve ever read but it was definitely a nice story. There are some definite plot holes and all the characters don’t necessarily get the closure you would expect. Each chapter follows a different perspective which keeps them moving quickly. It’s quirky and cute and I did enjoy the ending. For a free book, I can’t complain. I’m glad I stumbled upon it and it was a good fall read.
That’s all for October! I’ve already started two new books and I’m almost done with an audio book and we are not too far into November. With the weather turning colder and more rainy days in the Pacific NW, it’s always nice curling up by our fireplace with a cup of tea (or a glass of wine) and a good book. Hopefully you find one or two books that spark your interest. Until next time!!