Saturday, October 31, 2020

A Month In The Life: October 2020

October is my favorite is my birthday month, after all (and my husband's)! After a summer that felt like it lasted foreverrrrrrr, we're finally having some fall, so I'm enjoying the crisp in the air. Otherwise, we had some muted birthday celebrations and are looking forward to getting through the next two months and shutting the door on 2020.

In Books...

  • Adaptation: This YA sci-fi/fantasy is honestly pretty unremarkable but for its central love triangle. Teenage Reese and her debate partner/crush David are driving back from Arizona to San Francisco after a sudden crisis grounds air traffic, when they suddenly crash in the Nevada desert. They get treatment at a mysterious hospital, and find that they've developed strange new abilities. While Reese tries to figure out what happened, she meets pretty Amber on the street, and realizes she might not be entirely straight after all. Character development is weak and so are the story elements, but a sensitively handled bisexual first love(s) story is something pleasantly different. 
  • Michael Jackson: The Magic, The Madness, The Whole Story: This is a very comprehensive look at its subject, clocking in at about 750 pages. It's not a particularly good biography, leaning heavily towards a recitation of facts without much in the way of analysis. It did at least help give me some more context about the life of a figure who remains controversial even over a decade after his death.
  • Exhalation: If it's short stories, it's because it's a book club pick. I usually don't especially care for short story collections, as I find they have as much chaff as wheat. This one, though, was special. It's eight science fiction stories, one long enough to practically be a novella, and while not all were brilliant, they were thought-provoking and compelling. I really liked it!
  • A Bollywood Affair: My brain and my heart didn't feel quite the same about this one. I had some real issues with characterization, particularly of central character Mili, who is almost always either crying, blushing, tripping, or eating in an apparently especially sensual way. And I didn't love Samir either, finding his "bad boy cured by the love of a good woman" arc trite. But I did get swept up in it in the middle, before the ending lost me again. 
  • His Only Wife: I wanted to like this debut novel from Ghanian author Peace Adzo Medie more than I actually did. There are solid bones here...the story of a poor but pretty young woman, Afi, who is married to Elikem, the handsome son of a wealthy local family, in his family's attempt to break up his longstanding relationship with a woman they don't like. Complications ensue, of course, but Afi is often irritatingly naive and some of the side characters are honestly more interesting than the main ones. 
  • The White Princess: The Wars of the Roses in England were finally ended when the two skirmishing families were joined as King Henry VII wed Elizabeth of York. This book follows the story of the latter after the downfall of her uncle, Richard III and through much of the rest of her life, including her marriage to Henry and the birth of all but their last child. It's one of the weaker installments of this series, less because of Gregory's choices (though I definitely side-eye some of those) but because Elizabeth is a fundamentally reactive, passive character, which makes it difficult to get invested in her. 
  • Looking for Alaska: This book is hard for me to evaluate as a 35 year-old. On the one hand, it felt like it would be an excellent book to read as a teenager, full of making new friends and self-discovery and crushes on unattainable people and thinking about life and the world. On the other, I am a boring settled-down adult lady now and have a hard time connecting with that kind of intensity of feeling, and the characters felt more like collections of quirks than actual people.

 In Life...

  • I turned 35!: And so did my husband (our birthdays are two weeks apart). Like pretty much everyone else this year, I had a very subdued celebration...we ordered in from one of our favorite local restaurants and watched a movie, which was nice. And of course, I gave away a copy of my favorite book I blogged about in the past year, Exit West, to celebrate my fifth year of blogging, so congrats again to Savannah for winning it!

One Thing:

One of the categories I include for my lists and awards is the best-seller list from The New York Times. I actually don't use it at all to drive my book decisions (awards are much more enticing to me), but I always find it interesting to note which books I've read have been very popular. Well there was a study that cross-referenced those lists with the way readers actually reviewed the books, based on Goodreads ratings, and I found it very interesting! Maybe you will too, so I've linked to it here.

Gratuitous Pug Picture:

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