Lol @ me making it a solid one book into my Halloween TBR, which was a preorder, and I only stuck on my TBR because I knew that I would end up reading it, and then completely abandoning everything else.

Legend
🌈 LGBTQPIA+ characters
πŸ”₯ BIPOC authors
πŸŒ‘ BIPOC characters

Mini Book Reviews

A Lesson in Vengeance | Victoria Lee πŸŒˆπŸŒ‘
(10/12-10/16) β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…

WOW, OKAY. I was not expecting this. I knew, on a surface level, what this was about, but I didn’t really know what I was getting myself into, which was just madness and murder and mayhem, and it was so damn good. The aesthetic of this book alone deserves one of those five stars, and it 100% shoved me out of planning my next novel and straight into writing it. This was so damn good. Even though we have suspicions for the whole book, actually seeing those suspicions be slowly unraveled and revealed was just phenomenal. There were so many aspects of this that I did not expect, and I was fully hooked by every single chapter. I kept honest to Satan gasping out loud, and even now, as I’m thinking back on it, I’m amazed by all that happened. This was a stunning read.

Into the Dying Light | Katy Rose Pool πŸŒˆπŸŒ‘
(10/18-10/21) β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…

My longer review of this can be found here, and let me tell you. That review was supposed to go up several weeks before it did, but I was so anxious about this book and it living up to the truly insane expectations that I had for it that I just could not fathom it not meeting them so of course it had to go and exceed them. This was perfect. It was exactly what I wanted out of the finale, and more. Those last few chapters, a slow lingering as each loose end and character arc was tied up, is exactly what I want in every book, and it’s how I end all of mine, and I know that people roll their eyes at Tolkien’s 52 endings in ROTK, but it’s so healing and satisfying to see everything quietly tied off in a bow, and I just appreciated those last few chapters more than I’ll ever be able to say. This trilogy has been a staple in my life for the last few years, and though I am bereft at it ending, I am so grateful for the way that it did.

The Two Towers | J.R.R. Tolkien, Narrated by Andy Serkis
(10/7-11/1) β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…

I finished this just in the nick of time for the month! I ended up listening to the last eight or so chapters in one weekend when I had a three hour drive up and back to Maine, and it just worked out perfectly. The drive flew by, and it wasn’t unpleasant at all, so I think I’ll have to start finding audiobooks for road trips since I go up to Maine about four times a year. This was truly delightful, as expected. I’d completely forgotten that it’s split into book three as Aragorn & company and book four as Frodo & Sam, and it was honestly so wonderful to just listen to Frodo & Sam for ten chapters straight. I’m going to take a bit of a break before I dive into ROTK, but hoping to have this trilogy wrapped up before Christmas!

songs on car stereos | Michael Mahin 🌈
(10/25) β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…

Keep an eye out for a longer review coming out next week, and if you’re looking for some heartbreaking poetry, stay tuned for Mahin’s new release on Halloween! This book absolutely wrecked me in all the best ways. I felt so seen by it in the ways that Mahin describes nostalgia and the awful uncertainty of passing from high school to college. There are moments of just deep sorrow that I know will come back to haunt me weeks later, and I can’t wait for the world to see the beauty and hope that’s in these words, too.

An Enchantment of Ravens | Margaret Rogerson (reread)
(10/26-10/28) β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…

Unexpectedly, this was delightful. I mean, I knew I was going to love it just as much the second time, particularly because I’ve just been daydreaming about Isobel & Rook for about a year now, and their romance was just as wonderful as it was the first time. This was the beginning of a totally spontaneous Rogerson readathon, too, and I think this may become a yearly thing for me? Her novels just pull you straight in, and they’re so gorgeously written that I felt myself getting lost all over again, as though I didn’t know exactly how it was going to end.

Witch Rising | Paige McKenzie & Nancy Ohlin 🌈πŸ”₯πŸŒ‘
(10/4-10/7) β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…

I definitely thought this was going to be a trilogy, so I was a bit surprised at the end, but you know what? Duologies are my favorite, and this works really well as one, and though I’m sad I won’t get more of these fantastic witches, I can’t wait to see what these authors do next. This was just as fun as the first one, if not a little more since we really got to dig into each witch’s individual kind of magic and see how it worked when faced with several different types of witches. And that’s one of the things that I love the most about these books, that the magic is so specific to the witch, and that things like PokΓ©mon cards can be as effective as tarot cards because why the heck not? If that’s part of someone’s daily life, it should have magical properties! Everything we use–crystals, tarot, herbs, you name it–have magic in them because we imbue them with magic through the importance we give them, and this book is such a celebration of that.

The Haunting Season | Various πŸŒˆπŸŒ‘
(10/17-10/25) β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…

I won’t lie, one of those stars belongs entirely to Natasha Pulley. Without her, this would probably have been a three star read. All of the stories were good, don’t get me wrong, there wasn’t a single one that I actively didn’t like, but they were just good. Aside from Bridget Collins, the rest of them were fine, and I had a good time reading them, but nothing to write home about. Still, this was a really fun collection of stories that gave me some gentle spooky vibes while it was raining and cold.

A Spindle Splintered | Alix E. Harrow 🌈
(10/28-11/2) β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…

This was really beautiful, and I’m so excited for the others to come in the series! I loved the illustrations throughout, though found it a bit odd that none of them actually referenced the story at hand. This strange, feminist, powerful retelling of Sleeping Beauty was so excellent, though, and way different than I could have possibly imagined. Like most people I’ve seen, I wish it was a bit longer with more of the technical aspects of it fluffed out, but I really did enjoy what we were given, and I can’t wait to see what comes next.

October Statistics

Books read: 8
Pages read: 2,408
TBR: 1/8
Great TBR Challenge: 10/72

Monthly TBR

Alright, it’s official. Like I said in my intro, I made it a grand total of one book into my monthly TBR before giving up, and I think that’s the vibe for the rest of the year. There are a lot of new releases coming out in the next few months, or already currently on my bookshelf making my head spin, and I just don’t feel like pretending that I don’t want to read them right now. Thus, for November & December, I’m just gonna do whatever the hell I want. My goal is to read all of my preorders before the end of the year, which currently stands at seven and will increase by about five or so by the end of the year. I’d also like to read the last two Clare books that I need to wrap up my Shadowhunters reading goal, as well as four books that are continuations in series that I still haven’t finished. (Yes, one of them is The Golem’s Eye, please keep calling me out until I finish this series that I actually very much enjoy.) All told, I’m looking at about twenty books by year’s end, many of which will not touch The Great TBR Challenge, but it’s been a tough year, and I’d like to go out with several five star reads.

Favorite Posts

Anna @ Reads Rainbow dropped their monthly list of LGBTQIAP+ releases, and I am living!

Though I did a lot of blog hopping this month, it was kind of feverish and more along the lines of must keep up not because I felt like I had to, but because I wanted to, and so much else was going on that I only read & commented, didn’t save anything.

Writing Updates

Well, this is a bit of a hilarious one. As you’ll see in my life section, I was teaching an extra class for the last ten weeks, and while I wouldn’t have changed it for a second, I also didn’t realize how much it was effecting me. I can confidently say that, as soon as I took on the extra class to help out, I stopped writing. It was like all of my energy was fine-tuned to literally just surviving. Twelve-hour days are nothing new to me, but three in a row is a whole different story, and it just wiped me out. And, what do you know, the week after I got back from California and wasn’t teaching the extra class anymore, I started writing again. It’s barely anything, just a paltry 5,179 words, but it’s a lot more than last month, and 935 of it was for Andrew, so.

What I’ve Been Watching

I was so exited about The Wind. It’s such a perfect concept for a horror film. Even now, after the prairie has been regularly settled, it’d still be the perfect setting for a horror film, but before? When it was just two people for miles and miles and miles? UGH YES! It’s so damn good. And it has so much damn potential, literally just by setting it on the prairie. But nothing happened. Literally nothing. I could have easily fallen asleep during this and not missed a single thing. It was so boring, and though there were a couple jump scares that got me, it was only because literally nothing else was going on that I was getting sleepy and then AH SCARY PERSON. Even my cat running across the bed would have startled me at that point.

Well, I convinced another person that King Arthur: Legend of the Sword was amazing, and everyone’s day was brighter for it. I’d waxed poetic about it enough that Sara was curious, and while I was visiting her in CA, we decided to spend our only chill night watching it, and it was fantastic. She’s a big fan of Transformers, so I knew that she would watch it with an open mind and recognize the wonderfulness of its absurdity, and that’s exactly what she did, so she loved it just as much as I do!

Season two of Gentefied comes out next month, so I’m preparing for the insane levels of screeching I’m going to be doing by rewatching the first season. I also made my parents sit through it because I knew that they’d like it, and they were invested by the end of episode one, so I’d say we made a good choice on this family watch.

Erin and I tried to watch I Am the Pretty Things That Lives in the House, we really did. We got an hour in, too, and it’s only an hour and a half! It was so bad, though. Literally nothing happened. I started falling asleep, and she started making fun of it, and then her Internet got disconnected, and I just could not fathom reconnecting the Netflix party and carrying on, so we stopped, which is the first time we’ve ever done that. Even if something happened in the last thirty minutes, it wasn’t worth it.

Instead, after an hour of complaining and doing other things, we put on a second movie, and wow. I’ve been eyeing The Devil All the Time for a while now, and the cast alone has had me intrigued, but I also couldn’t tell if it was a horror or a thriller or what, and I still don’t really know except everyone should watch it. Tom Holland’s performance was just phenomenal, and I want to watch it again just to watch him. I had such a big reaction of fear at the end because all I wanted was to wrap him up in a blanket and protect him. This was brutal and gruesome and awful, but so damn good.

Yes, I did snag a monthly Sundance membership purely to rewatch the first season of A Discovery of Witches so that I could finally watch the new season, and it was just as wonderful as I remembered, which I know sounds wild because I have so many negative feelings about the books, but the show is above and beyond so much better. It removes a lot of the misogyny and abuse that’s in the books, and it instead focuses on the romance and magic, and I just really love it.

There are two new Megan Fox horror movies on Netflix that I want to watch, but I’ll probably have to watch Night Teeth on my own, so we watched Till Death for our weekly movie night, and it was surprisingly good! I’m a little biased because I already love Megan Fox, but they really let her explore her character in ways that she hasn’t been allowed to in a while, and it was wonderful to see her digging in a little deeper. The plot was interesting, and, like everyone else in the world will, I absolutely adored Jimmy. I was shouting throughout the whole ending, and I was highkey impressed with many of the things that Fox’s character did throughout the movie. I definitely would have died hella early into the film.

I spent the weekend with Erin for Halloween, so we ended up watching a ton of movies. We kicked things off with Things Heard and Seen, which was truly amazing right up until that bullshit religious ending. Like, we were vibing hard core, super in love with it, and then that damn ambiguous over done ending. It didn’t quite ruin the rest of the movie, but it did definitely leave me with a very sour taste, and though I was originally going to read the book, I won’t now.

To make things better, we obviously rewatched The Nightmare Before Christmas. This is a time honored tradition for Halloween for me, and though it’s not Erin’s favorite, she knows how much it means to me on several different levels, so I was really happy to watch this. I was baking for most of it, but it’s just imprinted in my head, so I was also quoting the entire movie while I was in the kitchen.

We ended up not watching anything after we went out for our Samhain ceremony because we got back really late, but we were in the woods all day, so it was probably best that we saved the scary movies for Halloween itself. We started with Eli, which you can tell was produced by the people who did The Haunting of Hill House, just for how much they clearly loved filming the exterior of the house. And wow, but this movie is going to go down as one of my highly unexpected favorite films, and it was because of the ending. The rest of the movie was good, standard horror stuff–creepy mirrors, contorted people, suspicious adults–but the absolutely incredible twist that it took at the end had me shrieking by the time it was over. As the credits were rolling, I said, “Holy shit, I wrote that,” because it was SUCH Mary vibes, it was amazing.

The Hallow is one of my favorite horror movies for one very specific reasons–it’s honest about faeries! I wrote a post about the truth behind faeries way back in February 2020, but the tl;dr of it is that the Fae are not to be messed with, and it always drives me bonkers when they’re described as the good guys. Y’all. They will steal your baby and murder you, all while cackling gleefully. The Fae are spooky as shit, and we need to recognize that so we can respect them properly. And that, in its essence, is the entire plot of The Hallow. A family who has recently moved to a small village in Ireland doesn’t respect the sacred ground of the Fae, and guess what? Changelings and murder.

I’ve been wanting to watch Shirley for ages now, but watching with multiple people on Hulu is actually impossible, so I’ve had to wait until Erin & I were hanging out in-person again, and I’m honestly so glad we did wait. This was so much more fun together, particularly given that we’re both writers, and my goodness, but I didn’t know Jackson was half as monstrous as her books were. They portrayed what it’s like to be witnessing your story come to life in your head so well, and we were just entranced by the very real depiction of what feels like madness and chaos as you’re trying to dig into the nitty gritties of the story. This was truly superb, and it’s made me want to watch the Mary Shelley movie even more now.

LIFE

The end of September was such a beating that I was really looking forward to kind of taking a quiet departure from interacting with every single person in the world and overworking myself to the bone and just ughhhhhhhh all the time. At the very beginning of the month, I went to California to visit one of my best friends for the first time ever, and it was such a weekend of joy. I broke down the whole trip in a separate post, so I won’t rehash it here, but if you’re interested, check it out!

When I got back, the other yoga teacher was finally back, and my life just opened up. Suddenly, I wasn’t working three twelve-hour days with no free time to practice yoga on my own, and I honestly hadn’t realized how much that was effecting me. My mental health has been horrible for the last two months, and it’s just trashed every single aspect of my life. I haven’t been reading a lot, I haven’t written in almost that entire time, I was going through my best friend leaving work and a bunch of other really emotional bullshit, and I had no coping mechanism to help balance any of that out. And, what do you know, the second that I was able to drop that class, everything started changing. I started reading more than just a ragged 50 pages that I had to force myself through every day, I immediately got the urge to write again, and my energy started lifting.

And, overall, it’s ended up being a pretty okay month. I’ve had a lot of time to rest, to bake bread, to practice yoga on my own again, to start making amends with Andrew, to excitedly shout about my friend’s new book, and to just exist without too much fuss. This was originally going to be short because I was going to post it before the end of the month, but then I went up to Maine for the weekend and decided to postpone posting this right away, so we’ve actually got space to chat about Halloween!

It was mostly a lazy weekend away, which I really needed, though I am really glad to be back in my own bed with my cats again. I’ve been away from them so much lately, and I hate it. Other than watching movies and buying books I don’t have room for, we went to our mutual friend’s house for a Samhain celebration, and it was just magical. Cathrine lives on a farm, and she’s been working on leveling out a section of the forest behind her so that she could build a firepit and making it a safe, cozy space for ritual work. And wow, but she really went above and beyond. Not only did she create a path of torches and faery lights across the farm, she built cairns in the four cardinal points with more torches on top, and she had an altar laid out when we arrived. We flooded the table with different foods to feast on, overloaded on candles, and danced around the fire that we got rainbow packets for! It was exactly what I needed, and exactly how I wanted to kick off the winter season ahead. There’ll be many lonely snowy night walks through the woods in my future, and I’m glad for this last hurrah together with my coven before we tuck in for hibernation. And, for the first time in a few months, I’m actually excited to see what the next month has in store!

How was your October?

Posted by:Mary Drover

she/her | yoga teacher | Tibetan Buddhism | part-time witch | full-time author | astronaut in a previous life

2 replies on “October Wrap-Up

  1. So glad you had such a positive reading month! A Lesson in Vengeance sounds amazing, can’t wait to read it! & I also love watching movies, so now I’ll add the Megan Fox one to my list, I’ve never heard of it. 😊
    Hope you have a great November ❀️

    Liked by 1 person

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