The arrival of November brings another month of reading to an end. October was a semi-busy month but I did find a decent amount of time to devote to reading. Working my way through my TBR has been a huge aspect of my time, as it had gotten overwhelmingly large not all that long ago, but with dedication, I was able to reduce it by quite a bit. Reading is a favorite activity of mine. I get to explore new worlds, learn something new, and entertain myself for hours on end. As with other months, I will be sharing what I read in October. I hope It inspires others to pick up more books and set aside time to read. Without further ado, here is my October 2021 reading wrap-up.
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October 2021 reading wrap-up
Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao
I’m not sure if it was a mistake or not making this my first read of the month, because Iron Widow was so dang good that it set the bar really high for all books that came after it. Regardless, this is one of those books where I am still struggling to figure out how to express how much I enjoyed it. It was nearly impossible to put down. The world, characters, a smattering of Chinese history, and fantastic writing combined into a book that truly deserves all the praise it has been getting. The ending was phenomenal and thankfully promises more to come because I need more of this story in my life.
Much like the previous volumes, this one is a bit slow. It seems to be the theme of this series and yet I look forward to reading each and every one. The best part of this volume was Godai’s grandmother. She added an entirely new level to the already zany cast of characters. Whenever she was on the page, you knew something funny or outrageous was going to happen.
This volume was drastically different than the previous ones. We shift our focus away from Komi, though she is still there, and instead get a deeper look at some of Komi’s classmates. I really liked that we are getting to see more of the other classmates, along with their various quirks. That blasted threat of a love triangle is still present but I could mostly overlook it in this volume. All in all, this was a fun and quick read and I look forward to where things go from here.
At its core, this story focuses on Marla Wolfbalde, sister to the High Prince of Hythria. Her fate is, like many women in these settings, to be a pawn in a political marriage to further the kingdom. But fate, and perhaps a little bit of magic, has other plans for her. Marla herself was a bit of an annoying character for at least the first half of the book. She’s young, 16 at the start, and clearly still has a lot of growing up to do and a very limited knowledge of essentially everything. It was only in the second half that all aspects of the book got better. There was a good deal of action, Marla had grown quite a bit and was now a competent woman, though she still had her flaws – which honestly made her character more believable anyway, and the political intrigue ran strong. A decent read all around and I will continue on with the trilogy to see where it leads.
This book took a much different approach than most and it also felt very disconnected from the first book in the trilogy. The chapters jump between the past, involving Padme, Anakin, and Thrawn, to the present, now involving Thrawn and Darth Vader. The object that holds these two different sides of the story together is the planet Batuu. It was neat watching the two plots weave into each other, despite happening years apart. One aspect I didn’t enjoy was Thrawn’s “double vision” which was essentially describing the minute details as things were happening, it could be something as simple as a minor crease in someone’s forehead or the particular way someone was moving in a fight. It was honestly distracting most of the time and really interrupted the flow of the story. However, it also fits Thrawn’s character as he is extremely detail-oriented, picking up on those little things no one else does and those are often what allows him to be so successful in his missions.
This book was recommended by my husband, as he figured I might find it interesting and I did. If you have ever been curious about the items we find in our homes, the various rooms, along with inventions – from the small to large – that have helped society grow, then this is the book for you. From the history of each room’s name and purpose, why certain areas aren’t commonly found in homes anymore, to the importance (and annoyance) of the small creatures inhabiting our dwellings (think mice, rats, and mites to name a few), to the history of clothes, wigs, and paints. This book covers it all. It is very well researched and I really enjoyed listening to the author talk about each subject.
It also shows how crazy the Victorian era was. Sure, that time led to some inventions that truly changed the world and are still used to this day, though often in different forms from their original, but the people also have some very strange outlooks on life and habits as well.
I think it’s safe to call this book a cozy fantasy. It lacked the guts or heft that many fantasy novels have. The world-building felt minimal at times, I’m still left with a lot of questions about how things work, but as it’s the first book in a series I realize the author can’t give too much away initially. The characters have some development over the course of the book. I will admit, there were times I wasn’t sure what was going on. Whether it was an issue with editing or something else, things did seem to jump around a lot. There were many times when the two main characters are teasing each other, and I often couldn’t decide if they were trying to be legitimately rude/intimidating to each other, exude sexual tension, or if they were temporarily being bratty children in adult bodies.
The story also felt light, as if details were missing in order to get it published faster. I would honestly struggle to describe either main character. Oddly enough, there didn’t seem to be an antagonist either – or there was and he/she was simply not mentioned at all in the book – which in itself is weird. There was one small mention of someone who could prove problematic for the pair in the future, but I don’t know if that was a hint of the antagonist or something randomly thrown in.
While there was some odd editing, or perhaps lack thereof throughout the book, one that stood out to me at the end. It was such a confusing section to read that I am still not sure what the characters were meant to say. If you ignore the editing issue, then there does appear to be an okay story within these pages.
The best aspect of this book was the magic system, with it being tied into music. That was, in essence, the main reason I was able to finish this book. I still don’t fully understand how magic works beyond that, but it was certainly different than many fantasy books.
I picked this book up on a whim as I’m always looking for ways to increase my gardening knowledge and thus make my garden produce better. The title caught my eye in a way and that’s what prompted me to pick it up. The entire “when it counts” aspect was lost after the first chapter. Instead, it became a manual of general gardening knowledge with a sprinkling of the author’s personal experience throughout. As far as gardening books go, I didn’t love it. A lot of what was in it is things I already know and have been practicing for years. This would be a good read for those who are newer to gardening, as it does a great job of breaking down topics like compost, garden layouts, and so on. But for those who have a pretty solid handle on gardening already, there is very little to be gleaned from its pages.
October 2021 reading wrap-up stats
- Books read: 8
- Books purchased: 4
- Books purged: 5
- Books DNF’d: 1
I hope you enjoyed my October 2021 reading wrap-up. What books did you read in October?