This month, I’m shaking up my wrap ups. My monthly wrap ups are something I put together each month, and didn’t put much effort into (which is evidenced by the fact that last month’s wrap up took me about ten minutes). So, starting this month, I decided to share not only what books I read, but also what books I’m currently working on, if I did anything especially fun, if I watched any movies or shows that were particularly good, and if I have any favorites (books and otherwise). Let me know what you think of this new format.
Reading-wise, I October was a pretty good month. There weren’t any books I didn’t like, and I found a few new favorites, which is always awesome. I’m not sure how November will go, since I’m currently in a reading slump, have a lot of thesis writing to do, and need to deal with a lot of family stuff. But I’m still on track to finish all the challenges I wanted to complete this year, which is amazing. And this intro is long enough, so here is my monthly wrap up:
What I Read:
All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely – ★★★★★. I read this for Banned Books Week, and was amazed by how well it handled the issues of racism and police brutality that are prevalent in today’s society. The character’s reactions were genuine, and I love that it showed two different perspectives, and how these tragedies affect people differently.
Beast by Brie Spangler – ★★★★★. (Review) I received an ARC of this book, and ended up enjoying it a lot more than I thought I would. It’s a fantastic Beauty and the Beast retelling, told from Beast’s point of view and featuring a transgender Beauty. I thought it was really well done, and it’s a great contemporary young adult novel.
Habibi by Craig Thompson – ★★★★★. This was another read for Banned Books Week, and I loved it! It is easily the most beautiful graphic novel I’ve ever read, and the story was wonderful. This is one of those books that will stay with me for a long time.
Nutshell by Ian McEwan – ★★★★☆. (Review) I listened to the audiobook of this new release, which is a reimagining of Hamlet told from the perspective of a nine-month-old fetus who listens to his mother and uncle planning his father’s murder from inside his mother’s womb. Really unique, and incredibly well-written!
The Dispatcher by John Scalzi (performed by Zachary Quinto) – ★★★★☆. (Review) Audible released this as a free audiobook, so of course I jumped on it. I enjoyed the story and the characters, and thought the world was really interesting. I liked how it felt like a complete novel, but took me just over two hours to listen to.
Horns by Joe Hill – ★★★★☆. (Review) I really enjoyed this book, and am glad I finally read a Joe Hill book (after this book has been sitting on my shelves for like a year…) It was a great Halloween read, especially since I didn’t get to most of my planned Halloween reads.
What We See When We Read by Peter Mendelsund – ★★★☆☆. This is a short book about what we visualize when we read. I think the subject is interesting (and I like that it was coming from the perspective of a cover designer), but the book wasn’t as engaging as I’d hoped. If anything, it was a slightly educational read for someone who reads as much as I do.
The Hating Game by Sally Thorne – ★★★★☆. I felt my self starting to slide into a slump (which despite my best efforts is now in full swing), so I picked this up to try get my self motivated with a quick, fun read. It was definitely exactly that, and I liked it much more than I was anticipating. If you like contemporary romance, I highly recommend this one!
Misery by Stephen King – ★★★★★. I chose Misery for my annual Stephen King Halloween read this year. I mainly listened to the audiobook, but ended up finishing up the last few chapters in my physical copy. This was the best Stephen King I’ve read in a while, and I’m so glad I finally read it, since I love the movie. If you want to read it, I highly recommend the audiobook as well, since the narrator is fantastic.
What I’m Currently Reading:
Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng. My cousin asked me to read this one, because she just finished it and loved it and wanted someone to talk about it with. I’m only about a chapter in, but I feel like I’m going to like it.
Victoria: The Queen by Julia Baird. I have an ARC (advance reader copy) of this book, which comes out in a few weeks, and I’ve been slowly making my way through it. It’s a great biography of one of my favorite historical figures (Queen Victoria, in case you didn’t get that), so I’m having a lot of fun reading it.
What I Watched:
Amanda Knox (Netflix documentary). I watched a documentary on Amanda Knox a few years ago, but I thought this one was better. Her story is so interesting, and I enjoyed this documentary in particular because it showed Amanda’s point of view, and made her seem more overwhelmed and insensitive than guilty.
The Blacklist seasons 2 – current. I’ve been meaning to catch up on this show, so I started watching it during writing breaks, and I managed to get up to date (which is awesome, because I didn’t get much reading done while there were still episodes to watch).
The Good Place season 1. I love Kristen Bell, and this show is hilarious! I may fall behind on some shows due to homework and work and life, but this is one I’ve been good about watching every week.
American Horror Story: Roanoke. I’ll be honest, I stopped watching Hotel about halfway through the season. But I think this is one of the best seasons of AHS so far. The twist (episode 6) was one of my favorite TV episodes in a long time. Kathy Bates deserves ALL the awards.
Ghostbusters. I FINALLY watched the new Ghostbusters movie, and loved it. Kate McKinnon might be my new favorite person. Leslie Jones is a close second. And Melissa McCarthy. And Kristen Wiig. Can they just do a movie together every year? Because that would be great.
What I Did:
I took up knitting again after a long hiatus. I stopped because my current project seemed to be taking forever, but I’m making good progress on it, and I’m excited to wear it! (For those wondering, it’s going to be a big, cozy gray mohair scarf. I wanted it extra large, but not too heavy, so I’m knitting it out of lace – aka super thin – yarn.)
Turned in the first part of my thesis, and finished the first of two thesis writing courses! I officially have (less than) one class left before I’m done with grad school. Which is a terrifying thought. But it’s exciting! I won’t say the hardest part is over, because I still have to complete a novel by January, but finishing this part made me feel like my thesis is doable.
Memorized “Guns & Ships” from Hamilton. That’s right, I know Lafayette’s rap. And also the opening song, but that’s less impressive. I actually memorized the lyrics fairly quickly, but it took FOREVER to get my mouth to move that quickly. I am ridiculously proud of this achievement, which means I will probably never get the chance to show it off.
Frostbeard Studio’s Ghoul’s Gate Candle. I have a bit of an obsession with Frostbeard candles. They burn well (the wax melts are also great), and smell unlike anything I’ve ever smelled before. Their candles are mostly geared toward readers (the Oxford Library scent is like olfactory crack), and each month they put out a new, limited edition scent. For October, they went with a scent inspired by Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book. When I read the Ghoul’s Gate scene in the book, I could vividly imagine it, but I don’t think that included smell. The second I opened this candle, I immediately returned to that scene in the book. They must have used magic to create a scent that smells like a ghoul’s gate in an old English cemetery, but also just smells really good. I’m obsessed! (Today is the last day it’s available, so if you’re interested, grab it fast!)
EyeZen lenses. I recently bought a pair of glasses with EyeZen lenses, which filter out the blue light from electronic screens. I’ve been looking into computer glasses for a while, but hate the yellow tint that typically comes with them. EyeZen lenses are almost undetectable (the only tell is that the glare visible on the outside of the glasses shows up blue, because they reflect back most of the blue light), and the glasses I got are cute enough that I wear them even when I’m not at the computer (even though I got non-prescription lenses). More importantly, though, they stop the eye strain I get from hours at the computer every day, and I’ve actually been sleeping MUCH better. If you spend a lot of time in front of a screen, especially late at night, you need them. Trust me. (I bought my pair from EyeBuyDirect.com, in case you were wondering.) I’m tempted to get a second pair. They’re available in prescription, non-prescription, and reading glasses.
Neither of these things were sponsored, by the way. I purchased them with my own money and just love them enough that I wanted to share them with you!
Adventures in Writing | Advice. I’m so happy with how this post turned out, since I’ve been meaning to write it for a while. It took me a long time to find a good balance of professional writing advice and things I’ve learned while attempting to write my thesis, but I think I pulled it off. I also got a few more great tips while compiling this post, so it was definitely a win!
Book Review | Horns. I think this is the best review I wrote this month (and one of the best I’ve ever done). I overhauled my review format at the beginning of this month, and I think it’s much better.
Online Grad School: Pros and Cons. I’m at the end of my grad school career (sad face), so I thought it would be the perfect time to share my thoughts about going to grad school online (after having gone the traditional route for my undergrad degree).
Recommended Reading | Dark Children’s Books. It had been a while since I did a Recommended Reading post, and this one seemed to be a hit! I had a lot of fun writing it, since most of the books on the list are ones I actually read as a child, and it was interesting to look back on them as an adult and see just how dark they were.
What did you read/watch this month? Do you have any favorites you think I should check out?