Wrap Up | October 2017

Michaela

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A Discovery of Witches | Deborah Harkness-  Quite frankly, this book is a dumpster fire of bad writing, unfocused plot, and controlling alphas males. It's Twilight for adults, but somehow even worse, and I swear the "heroine" spends half the novel asleep. Literally napping. Or sobbing in a chateau for 200 pages. I just have no idea what people see in this book, it's so boring and so awful on so many levels. The only reason I finished it was because I got to the point where I was reading it just to see how bad it could get, and it got even worse than I thought it could. Skip it. Blargh.

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow | Washington Irving- A beautifully written, perfectly seasonal story. I really enjoyed the descriptions and writing in this 30-ish page classic. Well worth reading in October just for the seasonal connection, if you've never read it! I feel like it's always worthwhile to read the original texts of stories that have seeped into our popular culture, and this one is so short and enjoyable!

Reincarnation Blues | Michael Poore- This was sent to us by Penguin Random House for our bookstagram partnership (thank you!) and just delighted and charmed me from the first page. It almost reads like short stories, with all of Milo's varies lives, and the entire thing had me laughing out loud while also being wise and gory and fascinating and beautiful. I enjoyed this much more than I thought I would, and it was a great light read and just the kind of fun book that's also completely absorbing.

The Remains of the Day | Kazuo Ishiguro- I finished out my slumpy month with my first Ishiguro, and it did not disappoint. Basically the most layered, intense little book, told through stream of consciousness and memories of an old English butler. It's verrrryyy literary fiction in that there isn't a lot of "plot" or it's not plot-focused, but it packs a punch. After a particular chapter, I had to close the book and just sit and unpack and marvel. 

I also read a ton of graphic novels this month, which I put in a separate post for you all, so look for that in the next day or two!

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Rikki

Murder on the Orient Express | Agatha ChristieAlways a fun game of clue when reading Christie's mysteries. I've always admired her seemingly fiesty spirit given her time and to be so creative in her writing. Murder on the Orient was a convenient mystery that keeps you guessing and taking sides, which is what makes her novels so fun to read. Plus, you aren't stuck in suspense too long as you can easily fly through her page-turning stories! Already looking forward to the next one!

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban | JK RowlingIt took me awhile to get to the third book, as the first two were great, but didn't leave me in much anticipation. However, I finally made it to the third book in the series, and I have to say that I enjoyed this one immensely. As the books grow and the characters mature, you are really able to settle into the story and I felt like this one did that well. I'm looking forward to getting to the films as I read each one as well.

The Hummingbird | Stephen P. KiernanPicked up on a whim at my local library, I settled into this story quickly. This is such a unique tale, some parts including a non-fiction account of a rare part of WW2 history in the U.S, which I really loved (and can actually go visit things they talked about). The overall story felt a little bit like Me Before You meets A Man Called Ove. From a strong willed and disciplined hospice nurse narrating the story, navigating her marriage as her husband suffers from PTSD after deployment, and bonding with a cantankerous old historian in his final months of life, it was a book I couldn't put down and haven't stopped thinking about.

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow | Washington Irving This unique "story" was so fun to dive into in our current season. It was so fitting and quite interesting, while being full of great details that left me excited to put into our next dinner party. It's also super short too, so it's great to squeeze in right now!

The Woman in White | Wilkie CollinsI have been wanting to read this book since last winter, but at 500 or so pages, it's easy to pass by. However, I'm so glad I finally picked this up with M, because I devoured this one! I thoroughly enjoyed it. A late 19th century mystery that is a tad slow to start, but ultimately has you turning page after page to find out what will happen next. It's surprisingly complex, so pay attention. If you've read this, I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Coraline | Neil Gaiman - After reading a few rather big books these past few months, I was ready for something small, fun, and quick. I've been meaning to read Coraline and since the season is undoubtedly right for most any of Gaiman's books, I finally picked it up. Like most all of his books I've read, he brilliantly takes you out of the real world and into some fantastical place to ward off evil and peel back the layers of his excitingly complex plots. Never disappointed!

Anatomy of a Scandal | Sarah VaughnLet me start by being incredibly candid: I did not like this book. Around 100 pages in, I was ready to put it down for good. I figured I'd get to the climax to see if it improved, and while it did around the 200 page mark, it wasn't much. The basis of this story is around rape. It's not just a scandal, but an entire story revolving around a guy who's been a dirt bag all his life and gotten away with it. There was page after page of unnecessary dialogue and detail, and the first half of the book seemed to have a different style of writing than the second half. There is little redemption but a tiny plot twist later on added slight intrigue. Basically, this book just gave me anxiety and had me wish I'd been reading something else. Bleh.

We Bought A Zoo | Benjamin Mee - I watched this movie ages ago and just loved it. Such a charming and exciting story this family has lived, but not without its own fair share of heartache. After looking up the real Dartmoor Zoo, I found Mee originally wrote a book, so of course, I had to find it. It's much more in depth about how it all started and what it technically took to get the place going. It's much less story-of-our-lives driven as seen in the film, but it's interesting to say the least, and I enjoyed this rather quick read. What a fascinating life to lead!

*links are affiliate and you can read more about this in the notes below!

Featured Reviewer

Simone | @simoneandherbooks

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Hi everyone! My name is Simone and I'm the writer behind Simone and Her Books. I'm a customer service rep by day and writer at night. I've always had a love for books, but I didn't become a serious reader until I was in my mid-20s. Over the years, my love for reading has grown deeper and deeper and I can't imagine loving books as much as I do now. 

I studied Journalism in college and last year decided to start my own book blog where I share my thoughts on all the books I read. A friend of mine told me that books aren't fully finished with you until you've written about them. I couldn't agree more with those feelings. Thanks, Michaela and Rikki, for letting me share my favorite October reads. I hope you get a chance to read these as well

(Pssst you can go visit Simone, and see more of what she read this month right over here!)

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The Rules of Magic | Alice Hoffman- I just finished reading this book and my thoughts about it are still ruminating my mind. If you've seen or read the book Practical Magic, this book is the prequel to that story. It follow Frances and Jet Owens (the older aunts from the first story) and how they fell into the world of magic. You find yourself following along their journey through love and struggle and acceptance of who they are. I love books about magic and not just any kind of magic, but the kind that feels like it truly exists in this world. If you believe in signs and have that deep feeling in your gut that something could be wrong, then this book is for you. It's such a beautifully written book and so appropriate for this time of year. Wrap yourself in a blanket and have yourself a cup of tea with this one.

Turtles All the Way Down | John Green - I'm a huge fan of John Green and when I heard that he wrote a book highlighting the struggles of someone who has obsessive compulsive disorder, I was definitely preordering the book and reading it ASAP. While the story begins as if you're about to read a mystery on the disappearance of a billionaire, you soon find out that this book isn't about that at all. John Green uses the first person point of view to share with you how the main character, Aza, copes with OCD on an everyday basis. Everyday is different for her and her thoughts ranges on ups and downs. If you've ever wondered what someone suffering from mental health issues thinks about, then this book is a great representation of that. I couldn't be more proud of this novel and I thank John Green so much for bringing some light to this.

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe | Benjamin Alire Saenz - This is a story that has gotten a ton of buzz from people all around the world. It's won various awards and depicts the budding romance of two boys who discover the universes that live within themselves. My goodness, this book was so beautiful. It was like reading a Nora Ephron movie in book form and how subtle love tends to show its head. Aristotle and Dante are two boys that first become friends after attending a swimming class. Aristotle is a little more rough around the edges while Dante is free-spirited and a little careless. Throughout their friendship, they're faced with adversity, accidents, understanding their emotions, and clarity on their lives. It's truly that young love story that will make you remember what it was like to find the first person you fell in love with. I would highly recommend it.

Posts in September

Other Notes

We welcomed a baby girl into The Ardent Biblio family this month, so if the blog is a little slower in the next couple weeks, you know why! Also, with Rikki taking some time to focus on her new baby and settling into her new normal, Michaela is just going to be doing her best with photos, so bear with us. 

We started using Amazon affiliates, which means if you click an affiliate link, we get a small commission off any purchase you make, at no extra cost to you. Any posts with affiliate links are always clearly marked, and you can also view our disclosures at any time. Honestly, we're trying to get rolling so we can move our literary dinner parties into the next phase: opening them up to the public. We'd ideally like to be hosting public events sometime next year, but it takes funds to get started with that, so thank you so much for each and every click! If you're local to the PNW and would be interested in a ticket to attend an event, let us know; we're starting to gauge interest and looking into what's possible in the coming year.

On that note, our Etsy shop is now open, and we started doing customized literary dinner party in a boxes for book clubs or parties, or whatever! We, excitedly, sold our first one this month! Message us if you need something specific.

We've had a number of great features this month, from reposts of our photos by publishers on Instagram, to having our 10 Books That Feel Like Fall featured on The Modern Mrs Darcy! We love being a part of the literary community; it continues to be such an encouraging, interesting place to be. 

We also held our Brideshead Revisited literary dinner party earlier this month, and are really excited to start doing some more very soon, but again, new baby. Watch out for new dinner parties in a few more weeks, though; we have some big ideas coming up!

Thanks again, friends, for coming to hang out with us on our little corner of the internet; we are so excited to be building this community and look forward to connecting more with you all! Shoot us a message, e-mail, or comment any time, we're friendly (and love connecting with you), we promise!