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2020 Activities and Challenges > 2020 Fall Flurry of Holidays Challenge -- October Reviews and Discussion

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message 1: by Nicole R (last edited Nov 01, 2020 04:10AM) (new)

Nicole R (drnicoler) | 7784 comments Please post reviews for any Halloween/fall/Canadian Thanksgiving/Columbus Day/etc. themed books that go along with the month of October here. If it is not obvious as to why you selected your specific book for October, please include a sentence or two about the connection.

Each review you post will earn you a participation point that can be used in future voting for the monthly tags.

Don't forget to also cross-post your review to the appropriate thread for books that fit or do not fit the monthly tag to rack up even more participation points.

Still struggling with deciding what to read? Check out our discussion thread.

message 2: by forsanolim (last edited Oct 01, 2020 10:24AM) (new)

forsanolim | 485 comments The Secret of the Old Clock - 4 stars

I needed something quick to read for the Banned Book Week prompt for Popsugar, and this fit the bill nicely! It was definitely huge blast of nostalgia to return to this book, and I had a lot of fun reading it and remembering the books I'd read (and been read--when I was really little, Nancy Drew books were some common bedtime stories for me and my siblings) a long time ago. It's definitely very very apparent that this is a book for children, and that it was written ninety years ago, but it was a lot of fun!

When I was little, the Nancy Drew series was really exciting and also quite scary to me. Granted, it wasn't very scary when I went back to read it this week, but I still feel like the mystery elements fit well for October. (If I manage to have time this month to get to any more books besides my animals read, I hope that I'll be able to get to another seasonally appropriate book, but we'll see if that happens.)

message 3: by Theresa (new)

Theresa | 7817 comments forsanolim wrote: "The Secret of the Old Clock - 4 stars

I needed something quick to read for the Banned Book Week prompt for Popsugar, and this fit the bill nicely! It was definitely huge blast of nost..."

I reread that a couple years ago after a friend gave me a copy of the new The Secret of the Old Clock (Nancy Drew, #1) by Carolyn Keene special edition. Thoroughly enjoyed it and yes, dated, too many exclamation points! and so clearly for tweenies.

message 4: by Amy (new)

Amy | 9056 comments Clean Sweep (Innkeeper Chronicles, #1) by Ilona Andrews

This was not my cup of tea. I might have guessed that from the rediculous cover. I'm not one that DNF's books, but this might have gone in that direction for me. There is a few more in the series, but I am happy to say I won't be continuing on.

On the bright side, it fits three challenges at once! Qualifies for animals, (many animals are also murdered in this short book, not to mention the alien strain of werewolf, and the magical doggie Beast by her side), it qualifies for extraterrestrials, and its witch, vampire, werewolf, magic angle qualifies it for fall flurries. It might have even qualified me for Book Bingo, except the number called was a year off from the one I need. It just didn't qualify for me.

message 5: by Theresa (new)

Theresa | 7817 comments Amy wrote: "Clean Sweep (Innkeeper Chronicles, #1) by Ilona Andrews

This was not my cup of tea. I might have guessed that from the rediculous cover. I'm not one that DNF's books, but this might have gone in that direction for me. T..."

Amy, in my book anytime it fits even 1 challenge, let alone 3, it's worth it -- even if I don't like it. And it was short, right?

Not my cup of tea either. I can tell.

message 6: by Amy (new)

Amy | 9056 comments Theresa, it might have had more appeal or us if it were set in Paris - lol!

message 7: by Theresa (new)

Theresa | 7817 comments Amy wrote: "Theresa, it might have had more appeal or us if it were set in Paris - lol!"


For sure!

message 8: by Karin (new)

Karin | 7301 comments The Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury
rounded up to 1 star

Until I came across this book, I had no idea that Ray Bradbury wrote any children's books. I don't remember which book of his I read first, but it was most likely one of his SciFi books and then later one or two of his horror/disturbing short story books such as Something Wicked This Way Comes.

Would I have liked this had I read it as a child? I could have--after all, I liked the abysmal A Wrinkle in Time when I was a child. But now I only finished, once again, for a reading game because it's not all that long.

This is a dark tale that combines a number of Halloween and other types traditions, such as Day of the Dead, from various and sundry places and times. You can tell this was written back in the early 1970s and not now because of the freedom the boys in the story had and also because of the way the weirdness is done. There certainly are plenty of weird newer books for kids, but not so much with boys travelling through space and time that also combines the supernatural (well supernatural plus space and time together still happens in kids' books) on the tail of a kite while a friend of theirs is fighting a life or death battle IRL that they don't actually know about.

If you love all things Bradbury no matter what and haven't read this, this book is for you. If you like dark children's books that fit the vague description I gave you, this book is for you. It was not for me.


message 9: by Sue (last edited Oct 04, 2020 03:14PM) (new)

Sue | 1287 comments Escape to Witch Mountain by Alexander Key 3 stars

I loved this movie as a kid. It was pretty darn scary for a G-Rated kid's movie!

A young brother and sister are in a sort of orphanage/juvenile detention home. They are different from the other kids - they can speak telepathically, can move objects through telekinesis, and a few other unusual skills. A long lost "uncle" turns up to claim them. They barely recall this "uncle", but they are so afraid - with good cause. So they decide to hit the road with the help of a priest.

As they make plans to escape, they start to recall bits and pieces of their childhood. A process that accelerates on their journey. They end up with a large number of people hunting them down leading to a very dramatic ending.

The book was good but the movie was a bit better. More than anything, this book was pure nostalgia. I recall being dropped off at the movie theater with my sister. Just enough money for tickets, popcorn and a dime to call home when we were ready to be picked up. Different times for sure!

message 10: by LibraryCin (new)

LibraryCin | 8813 comments Sue wrote: "Escape to Witch Mountain by Alexander Key 3 stars..."

I remember the name of the movie and I'm certain I saw it, but I had no recollection what it was about, nor did I know it was also a book. Makes me interested to read the book, too. :-)

message 11: by Linda C (new)

Linda C (libladynylindac) | 1132 comments Demon's Hunger (Compact of Sorcerers, #2) by Eve Silver Demon's Hunger (Compact of Sorcerers, #2) – Eve Silver (3 stars)

Review: The Compact of Sorcerers have been guarding the human world from the demon dimension for centuries by a wall of magic. A recent near breach revealed a sorcerer betrayer and uncovered a powerful new breed of sorcerer. Now a plot is brewing to try to bring the demons over again. Also a serial killer is sucking the life from mortal victims. Into this mess comes Dr. Vivien Cairn forensic anthropologist, sought out by the sorcerers to investigate the bones found in a collection of gris-gris bags. One sorcerer, Dain feels a dark pull from her and determines to keep her under watch. Vivien is strongly drawn to him but also feels she is going mad as chunks for her time seem to disappear. These two must figure out how to save the world and what is happening to Vivien. An action packed by gory story; a solid end to the series.

message 12: by SouthWestZippy (last edited Oct 06, 2020 02:26PM) (new)

SouthWestZippy | 982 comments It has a Wizard, vampires, magic and much more things that can be related to Halloween.

Peace Talks (The Dresden Files, #16) by Jim Butcher
Peace Talks by Jim Butcher
3 stars
Taken from the book. "Family: Can't live with them, can't live without them”. His brother is in trouble with a capital T; his grandfather, the wizard Ebenezar McCoy, is warning him that a faction in the White Council is maneuvering to kick Harry out; and oh, remember the Accords? The agreement that keeps all those supernatural nations playing kind-of-sort-of nice is under fire, teetering on the edge of destruction. And Harry's brother might have something to do with that. "

This is a hard book to review. Harry is dealing with family drama,meetings with old friends, foes, his Daughter Margaret and saving his Brother Thomas. The action packed fights are minimal but are there as well as Harry’s wisecracking humor. The book is missing the big picture story line. It was like little snippets of life going on here and there, I sure hope it all comes together in the next book. My favorite part in the whole book is the pancake breakfast scene. Deep talks and flipping pancakes, yep, makes the characters real.

message 13: by Jen K (new)

Jen K | 1502 comments In response to Columbus Day:

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West by Dee Brown- 5 stars

Through extensive, important and much needed research, Dee Brown documents the systemic subjugation and/or annihilation of the native people to the US, one tribe after another. The history is appalling and tragic as the white man lied, cheated, stole, instigated, patronized and killed these proud people who just wanted to live their lives in the land of their ancestors. They were open to sharing with the newcomers and just wanted to be left in peace. Instead they were moved and moved and moved if any white man wanted their land with broken promises of it being the last move or that they would be "taken care of" when really these proud people were treated as hostile children. If the people did not agree to the indignities, they were hunted, slaughtered and bad mouthed as savages to encourage fear and more killing. It was truly awful treatment justified by calling the native people less than human. Almost worse, though not discussed here, is the continued trauma of the native people in this country after generations of being moved to unwanted places and "civilized" in abusive schools and communities.

The history is hard to hear but important to understand and witness. The research and telling of the story is very well done with primary and secondary resources from both sides. It is truly heart breaking though.

message 14: by Ellen (new)

Ellen | 2258 comments Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs?: And Other Questions About Dead Bodies - Caitlin Doughty
4 stars

Author/mortician Caitlin Doughy owns a funeral home in Los Angeles and is the creator of a web series called "Ask a Mortician". In this book Caitlin answers questions about death posed to her by children who are unabashedly curious about the whole process. The questions are quite intriguing and the author answers in sometimes quite humorous but always unflinchingly honest ways. In answer to the title question: probably not. Fluffy will nibble at the lips and nose. Fido, however, will eat you. Other interesting queries include what happens if an astronaut dies in space; if I swallow popcorn kernels before I die will they pop when the body is cremated; can my body be encased in amber like prehistoric insects; can I keep my parents' skulls. Kids come up with some amazing questions. Doughty reminds me very much of another favorite of mine, Mary Roach. They both deal with scientific facts and make them easy to understand while throwing in a good deal of fun.

I decided this book was just ghoulish enough for an October read.

message 15: by Kelly (new)

Kelly | 830 comments Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman

The Rules of Magic (Practical Magic) by Alice Hoffman

4 stars

Hoffman’s prequel to her earlier book Practical Magic focuses on the sisters Franny and Jet Owens. They are part of the long line of Owens women who have special powers. In this story Franny and Jet have a brother Vincent. The three are aware of a family curse that will harm the person they fall in love with. This curse affects how they approach their relationships and they look for ways around it.

The brother, Vincent, was a good inclusion to the story. He has seen his future and is often careless with his present when he is young. Vincent goes places his parents would disapprove of; he also plays the guitar and naturally attracts people to him.

Hoffman’s characters struggle here with who they are and what they want out of life. The author has the siblings face real events happening in the world and this helps give them more depth. However, it is the Franny, Jet and Vincent’s everyday life and how they try to balance love that make the book.

message 16: by Johanne (new)

Johanne *the biblionaut* | 976 comments Hello notifications :)

A question: I never seem to be able to find the formal book requirements for this group. Are graphic novels ok? And the page minimum is 150?

message 17: by Nicole R (new)

Nicole R (drnicoler) | 7784 comments Yep, 150 for all books (that I can think of) including graphic novels! Sometimes we change that up for the big challenges (and if we do we make a clear announcement), but 150 is totally fine for monthly tags and stuff like Fall Flurries.

message 18: by Johanne (new)

Johanne *the biblionaut* | 976 comments Perfect! Thank you Nicole. I've been reading Locke & Key by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez that are horror graphic novels perfect for halloween. Reviews to come :)

message 19: by Cora (new)

Cora (corareading) | 1422 comments Scary Stories Treasury - Alvin Schwartz

3 1/2 stars

This was an omnibus edition of the three Scary Stories books that were popular when I was a kid (Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, More Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, and More Tales to Chill Your Bones). They are filled with spooky stories often based on urban legends and folklore. I have fond memories of reading these when I was a tween and thought it would be fun revisiting them as Halloween approached. I was surprised that I still remembered many of them (especially from the first volume). After a while though, they started to get pretty repetitive and they began to run together. Overall it was a great trip down memory lane, but in the future I might read a story here or there rather than reading the entire omnibus at one time.

message 20: by NancyJ (new)

NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 5770 comments The Case of Beasts: Explore the Film Wizardry of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by Mark Salisbury

This (very heavy) coffee table book is beautiful with incredible detailing both inside and out. This book provides hours of extra entertainment for avid JK Rowling fans, especially for older children and adults. The design is similar to the monster textbook in Harry Potter, but instead of a strap, it pictures two locking mechanisms, like an old fashioned briefcase. In actuality it uses magnets to keep the book shut. I suppose you could close it on little fingers (without hurting them) to keep them out of the book. There are many inserts that could be easily ripped out by small kids.

The inside is like a wonderful scrap book with pictures, playbills, ads, news clippings, keepsakes, passport, brochures, wanted posters, an application for a wand permit, and high security folders. There are many inserts and attached items to examine. It includes encyclopedic entries about all of the animals and creatures in the film with detailed renderings.

The full review is in the September - Animals folder.

message 21: by NancyJ (last edited Oct 10, 2020 01:38AM) (new)

NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 5770 comments Poor Unfortunate Soul: A Tale of the Sea Witch by Serena Valentino, 2 stars

Poor unfortunate evil soul. Ursula is the sea monster witch from the Little Mermaid. The villains series is a set of retellings that show us the backgrounds and perspectives of the villains in well known fairy tales. The first two books in this series made their villains look very sympathetic. We wanted to root for them. This story doesn't make Ursula look very sympathetic. The series has an overall story arc involving the odd sisters, evil witches that spend time manipulating other witches and victims to get what they want. I liked the first two books, but this one isn't as good. There are two characters that I really liked though - Nanny, and Phlange - the witch's cat who can communicate telepathically with witches.

message 22: by Nicole R (new)

Nicole R (drnicoler) | 7784 comments Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
3.5 (round down to 3)

This book has ghosts and general creepy/horror to go with Halloween. But, as an added bonus, it is Hispanic Heritage Month and this book is set in Mexico and was written by a Mexican-Canadian author!

Mexican Gothic has gotten rave reviews and gushing praise since even before its release date. Based on the blurbs I read, I was expecting a suspense novel in the vein of Rebecca--suspenseful, purposeful, and a bit creepy.

And, the first 70-ish% of the book was exactly that. Noemi is a young woman living in Mexico City in the 1950s. She is beautiful, rich, privileged, and a little insubstantial. But then she receives a cryptic letter from a favored cousin, Catalina, who had impulsively gotten married to the charming yet poor Virgil Doyle and moved to the countryside to live with him and his family. The cousin claims that her husband is trying to kill her and to please help her.

So, of course, our unlikely heroine packs herself out to High Place, the Doyle family manor, where we instantly know that creepiness abounds with this crew. The elderly Howard Doyle is on his death bed, his screams permeating his dilapidated home. Catalina’s husband Virgil is smarmy at best. A predator more realistically. Virgil’s cousin Francis is a pale shadow of his vital cousin, but seems to be the only person who Noemi can trust. And then there is Catalina, who exists in a frail, catatonic state. Suffering from an unknown illness, and closely watched over by Francis’s mother.

The first 70% of this book or so was wonderful! It was genuinely creepy, with reality and dreams merging together. With ghosts who witnessed cruel and violent acts seeming to walk amongst the living. The reader was deliciously disoriented, questioning reality at every turn. I had a thousand theories.

And then, the big reveal came at about 70% and all I could say was “WTF?!?” Y’all it was weird. Too weird for me. And, honestly, only kind of made sense. At that point, we totally lost the dream-like quality of the story to become firmly rooted in reality, but questioning the motives of every single character. It was exhausting. We finally get the big conclusion, and it wasn’t even a surprise. The author heavily tipped her hand chapters before, leaving no doubt as to what the resolution would be.

Going into this book, I thought it would suspense/southern gothic. It turned out to be kind of horror-light. It reminds me of how I felt about The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires. So, if that book was your jam, then I highly recommend this one! For me though, this one will quickly slip from memory and the last third of the book ensures that I will not remember it overly fondly.

Oh, and the narrator wasn’t great. She was better at 1.25x speed and I got used to her eventually, but I found her cadence grating. I have listened to other books she has narrated and didn’t have that sense, so I feel like perhaps it was her attempt at creating that Rebecca-esque vibe.

message 23: by LibraryCin (new)

LibraryCin | 8813 comments Nicole R wrote: "Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
3.5 (round down to 3)..."

Huh! I've certainly heard about this book, but I hadn't realized it was written by a Canadian! Good to know!

message 24: by Cora (new)

Cora (corareading) | 1422 comments Hollow Kingdom - Kira Jane Buxton

4 stars

Hollow Kingdom is a book about a zombie apocalypse told from the point of view of a domesticated crow named S.T. When all of the people (aka MoFos or Hollows) turn into lumbering monsters, S.T. and his fellow pet, Dennis the Bloodhound, begin a quest to save all the domesticated animals who, if they survived their owners transformation, are stuck inside houses and apartments with no way to get out for food once their bowl is empty. This goal is complicated by the fact that crows and bloodhounds do not have thumbs and cannot turn door knobs. S.T. does have a bit of a potty mouth and there is a bit of potty humor in the book, but once I finished a book the dominating thoughtI had was that it was a very sweet book that left me feeling hopeful and uplifted. I enjoyed going along on S.T.'s journey to save the domestics and find who he really is given that he is of two worlds - crows and people. If you are someone that is bothered by animal deaths or foul language, this book might not be for you. Otherwise, I recommend it for a different take on the zombie genre.

message 25: by Cora (new)

Cora (corareading) | 1422 comments Ghostsitter - A Crazy Inheritance - Tommy Krappweis

2 stars

Ghostsitter is a middle grade book about a boy that inherits a lot of money if he agrees to take over operation of his late uncle's ghost train carnival ride. When he arrives at the ghost train, he realizes that it is the home to a group of monsters that his uncle was looking after and he is expected to help them too. The story had a lot of potential, but I was really disappointed. It was pretty boring and I found it a chore to finish. The characters were not that developed, even for a middle grade book, nothing made much sense and not much happened. It is possible that younger kids will like this book, but there wasn't that much to it.

message 26: by forsanolim (new)

forsanolim | 485 comments First Frost - 3 stars

A return to Bascom, North Carolina, and the magical Waverley family. Nine years after the first book, Claire has begun a wildly successful candy-making business, Sydney is well-known for her hairstyles but craves a son, and Bay has entered high school and knows, in her special way, that she and Hunter John's son belong together. As the first frost and the blooming of the Waverley apple tree approach, the family's gifts begin to run a little wild, and a mysterious and almost ethereal stranger arrives in Bascom.

This was a nice and seasonal fall read. It was fun to return to the world of the Waverleys. It didn't blow me away, but I enjoyed the very mild level of tension and the look at each of these characters.

message 27: by Joi (new)

Joi (missjoious) | 3830 comments October
The Witches by Roald Dahl
4 Stars

What a fun little treat of a book!
I have never read this before, according to my mother- this book was deemed 'too scary' for me as a child, and I rejected it in fear. Lol. Sounds like me, I'm a whip when it comes to scary stuff. This definitely makes me want to read more Roald Dahl, and revisit some of his classics from childhood.

This follows an unnamed boy with his unnamed grandmother. Grandmother explains how REAL witches live, how to recognize them, and what their deal is. When on a visit to England, the hotel they stay at is ALSO having a convention for witches in disguise. Wackiness ensues! I loved the comedy in the writing- the straightforwardness, and the meta-ness of the reader/writer relationship.

I'm excited to watch the "old movie", and admit I picked this up in anticipation of the NEW HBO movie coming out later this month.

message 28: by Cheryl (last edited Oct 14, 2020 09:58AM) (new)

Cheryl Coppens | 372 comments Pumpkin Everything by Beth Labonte
Amy has called off her wedding to her cheating boyfriend, she has writers block, and her grandfather (who lives alone) has driven through a Dunkin Donuts and broken his wrist. Amy moves back to Autumnboro to care for her grandfather. This also means seeing her best friend and first love, Kit.
At under 200 pages this was a very quick read. It was one of those quick, fluff reads where nothing much happened and I didn't really care what happened to the characters. .

message 29: by Nicole R (new)

Nicole R (drnicoler) | 7784 comments Cheryl wrote: "Amy has called off her wedding to her cheating boyfriend, she has writers block, and her grandfather (who lives alone) has driven through a Dunkin Donuts and broken his wrist. Amy moves back to Aut..."

Is this Pumpkin Everything by Beth Labonte?

message 30: by Cheryl (last edited Oct 14, 2020 10:00AM) (new)

Cheryl Coppens | 372 comments Sorry Nicole. Yes it is Pumpkin Everything. I have fixed it.

message 31: by Book Concierge (new)

Book Concierge (tessabookconcierge) | 6166 comments October - Halloween
The final critical scene takes place at Halloween ... (I had actually forgotten that until I was re-reading it ...)

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee – 5***** and a ❤
My all-time favorite novel, which I re-read every few years. This is a singularly powerful novel that had a great impact on me when I first read it at age 13, and has never failed to move and inspire me as I’ve re-read it over the years. It’s a well-paced novel, a fast read with elements of suspense, family drama, humor and moral lessons.
My full review HERE

message 32: by NancyJ (new)

NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 5770 comments How to Twist a Dragon's Tale by Cressida Cowell, 3 stars

Hiccup is back with another scary and magical misadventure. The temperature is rising amid predictions of a disaster. (I wondered, could it be global warming?) No, a volcano is getting ready to erupt and with the heat, the eggs of the deadly exterminator dragons will hatch, threatening the whole tribe. A new Hotshot hero appears, and he inspires the men in the tribe to start bathing and grooming their mustaches into pretty little curls. My favorite part is the very end, when we discover Hiccups mother is strong warrior herself, with a mysterious past. I don't remember seeing anything about her in previous books, so I was pleased by this.

message 33: by Theresa (last edited Oct 15, 2020 08:31PM) (new)

Theresa | 7817 comments To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

For me, this is perfect October Flurries reading because the scenes that first come to my mind are always those at the end, with Scout in her Ham Bone costume and the events that happen at what is the climax of the book.

I have read this before -- maybe 2 or 3 times -- but it has been a couple of decades easily. I of course love the movie with Gregory Peck, which I recently watched again. After Go Set a Watchman was published, I intended to re-read this, even bought a nice new print copy a couple years ago, but it took my friend Book Concierge to suggest I listen to the audio sublimely read by Sissy Spacek to get me actually to pick it up, albeit in audio book form.

It was wonderful. Definitely a book that stands the test of time and is deserving of being a classic, on every must read list in existance. So much more than I remember, beautifully read. I have already recommended the audio to several people. For me, the part of the novel I most deeply remember, and which stood out for me once again (which does not usually happen on re-reads, especially ones where I am much older than when first read) is the plotline involving Arthur 'Bo' Radley. I always both feel the initial fear and discomfort felt by Scout et al. then acceptance and ultimately his participation in the finale, leading to a permanent understanding and bond that is never really expressed directly, but you know is there. Of all the many enduring and powerful themes, the one of tolerance and acceptance as necessary to one's life and interactions is always strongest for me.

But of course, the lawyer in me just loves, and puddles up, at "Stand up, Jean Louise. Your father is passing." A moment of respect any lawyer would be proud to achieve.

message 34: by NancyJ (new)

NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 5770 comments Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, by JK Rowling, 4.5 stars

I haven't read this book in almost 20 years though I saw the movie a few times since then. It's still amazing, but I didn't enjoy it as much as Prisoner of Azkaban which I read recently. I noticed several differences between the book and movie this time, especially relating to Ron, Hagrid, and how Harry got the clues for each challenge in the competition. Also, in the film, I think all the students from Beauxbatons were girls, whereas in the book there are boys and girls. The ending is still very powerful, and it marks a major tonal shift in the series, and perhaps the end of childhood for many of the characters - and readers. My son was one of the millions of readers who grew up along with Harry Potter.

message 35: by Jen K (new)

Jen K | 1502 comments Before the Devil Breaks You by Libba Bray, 4 stars

The third book of a 4 The Diviners series, Before the Devil Breaks You, finally brings all the Diviners together as they test their strengths under the guidance of Sister Walker and Uncle Will. Unfornately all of their own personal lies and secrets continue to plague the unity of the group and allow for informed or thoughtful decisions on moving forward. They finally meet the King of Crows and are more determined then ever to defeat him. However the Diviners are also falling out of favor as ghosts start to take over NYC and the country. Foes are arguing that being different is un-American and should be contained and destroyed as hate continues to reign under the King of Crows. We also learn more of Jake Marlowe and his secret tests which are as awful as expected.

The book focus of Conor Flynn at the asylum had great potential but felt rushed and fell a bit flat. There were so many storylines to be done well and felt a bit uneven as tension was created on various side plots and then were ignored or mostly dropped. I really do appreciate how Bray takes on social challenges of immigration, racism, sexism, eugenics, rights in general and just a hate for other and how the hate is what is destroying the country. There really is room for all with tolerance. I'm excited to read the fourth book and see how it all ends.

message 36: by NancyJ (new)

NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 5770 comments Belle: A Retelling of Beauty and the Beast by Cameron Dokey, 3.5 stars

This is a lovely and spooky retelling of Beauty and the Beast. It was very atmospheric at critical times. I wanted to find the original version of the story, but apparently there are many versions of the fairy tale going back 300 years or more. In this version. Belle is the daughter of a rich merchant who becomes poor when his ships fail to return from sea. She has beautiful spoiled sisters, and she is more humble, and hides because she doesn't think she is pretty. The family is forced to move far from the city, beyond the dark dangerous woods. The father becomes lost in the woods and takes refuge in the beast's palace, setting up the rest of the story. I read another story this year from the beast's point of view, which complements this one nicely.

message 37: by NancyJ (last edited Oct 19, 2020 10:58AM) (new)

NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 5770 comments The Witches by Roald Dahl

The Witches by Roald Dahl, 3.5-4.0 stars
This is a fun book for Halloween about Witches. This book was published in 1983, so it was available when my kids were the right age for it, but I don't remember ever reading it with them. I might have thought it was too scary when they were very young, because the key "facts" are:
*witches are real
*they're always women
*they look like normal nice women
*their favorite thing in all the world is to kill children.

Tip - if you ever read this book to a group of children, be sure to wear gloves, just to keep them guessing. I really liked the kid and his cigar smoking grandma from Norway. The ending was not the ending I would have expected, and that makes this book stand out from many others imo. It caused me to round up my rating to 4 stars.

message 38: by Barbara M (new)

Barbara M (barbara-m) | 2278 comments Dance of Death - 4 stars

From the Pendergast series, I listened to the audio. In the previous book, Pendergast had been killed. In this one, he seems to be back but then so is his equally brilliant but terribly evil brother Diogenes.

My full review:

message 39: by Barbara M (new)

Barbara M (barbara-m) | 2278 comments NancyJ wrote: "The Witches by Roald Dahl

The Witches by Roald Dahl, 3.5-4.0 stars
my kids were the right age for it, but I don't remember ever reading it with them. I might have thought it was too scary when they were very young ..."

So many of Dahl's books are scary! But fun.

message 40: by Joi (new)

Joi (missjoious) | 3830 comments October
Malorie by Josh Malerman
4 Stars

Just as creepy, eerie, and gripping as the first installment- Malorie is the sequel to Bird Box (Netflix powerhouse 2018 movie). When I found out there was going to be a sequel to Bird Box, I was like, "uh, why". But this story as a sequel really does make sense. I want to see the world that continues on when you can't see out of fear. I'm not a horror girl- but this suspenseful thrill/horror really does it for me. I loved the creepiness, the questioning, the allover vibe.

The large winning part of this was the kids- those little 4 year old's in the first book are now 16- and have lived their entire lives in a world where sight is dangerous. THIS IS SO COMPELLING. The kids are growing up, have their own personalities, and now have their own questions. Malorie has kept them protected- but is it too protected? Is barely living anyway to live your life? The chapters alternate between characters and their prospective, all in 3rd person.

The ending was a bit of a letdown for me. I honestly through halfway through that (view spoiler). That made me look forward to this, but then when that wasn't what happened- things started coming off the rails for me -and I had more questions and pieces of the full puzzle of the book that didn't seem to make sense.

message 41: by Kimber (last edited Oct 20, 2020 11:53AM) (new)

Kimber (kimberwolf) | 841 comments October Connection: Ghosts and ghost-like apparitions; supernatural aspects

The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel

The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel
★★★★ 1/2

Addiction, desire, secrets, and betrayal all play a part in The Glass Hotel, a complex and skillfully-written novel told from multiple points of view by a somewhat omniscient narrator. At the center of the tale is a major white-collar financial crime that takes a toll on all of the characters in different ways. As the story jumps between a remote spot on an island off the western seaboard of Canada and New York City, among many other settings, and follows different characters for different lengths of time, the reader does her best to hold on to the threads, which do come together in the end. Vincent, arguably the main character, had a story that stood out from the rest, and I wish I could have spent more time with her.

The subject matter of this novel is vastly different from St. John Mandel's Station Eleven, but the intricate and complicated style that takes distance points you can't fathom will come together and actually bringing them together in a meaningful way is here, the same as it was in her previous novel.

Ghosts and/or ghostliness, alternate realities and mental perceptions, and magical realism are recurring themes in this book, and add a dreamlike, ethereal quality to the story. I admire the masterful writing, although the story left me melancholy.

message 42: by Cora (new)

Cora (corareading) | 1422 comments This book was perfect for October 2020. It had zombies for Halloween, caused by a pandemic due to a virus, and the main characters were bloggers/reporters embedded in a Presidential campaign.

Feed - Mira Grant

4 stars

Feed is a book about our world in the future (2040s). The zombie apocalypse came and society got the disease under control and has learned to live with it. Although the zombie's are still out there, quarantining and testing has resulted in most people living normal lives. In this world, a group of bloggers is following and reporting on the campaign of a Presidential hopeful. Soon it is apparent that someone is trying to sabotage the campaign and they have put everyone in danger. The bloggers work to find out who is behind the "accidents" that keep happening before it is too late.

This was an interesting take on the zombie novel. While the zombies were in the book, it read more like a pandemic novel. You catch the virus that causes zombies much like you would catch rabies. Much of the care society takes in the book is more about controlling the virus rather than running away from gory monsters. The mystery was interesting, even if the resolution was mostly obvious, and the characters were great. I found the world that Grant created compelling and I would love to continue the series and see where she takes it.

message 43: by Theresa (new)

Theresa | 7817 comments Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling

Perfect for October - especially given the Halloween section.

Always lovely to spend time at Hogwarts with Harry, Ron and Hermione. I had actually forgotten bits here and there, but not a lot. Definitely an excellent pandemic insomnia listen. Enjoyed it so much I ended up listening to it at other times as well.

The audio is superb given the master Jim Dale is bringing it to gorgeous life. Won a few awards for doing so too.

message 44: by Cora (new)

Cora (corareading) | 1422 comments First Grave on the Right - Darynda Jones

3 1/2 stars

First Grave on the Right is about a woman, Charlie Davidson, who was born a grim reaper. She can see dead people and serves as a portal for them to pass over. Her ability to talk to the dead comes in real handy in her job as a private investigator. When a dead lawyer appears to her, she takes on a case of an innocent man in prison for murdering a teen boy.

I found the mythology of this book very interesting. I am looking forward to learning more about grim reapers and other supernatural beings as the series progresses. Charlie is a fun character - she has just the right amount of sassiness to do her job. The ghosts that she works with were all great characters and I hope that they appear again in subsequent books. Charlie does have a love interest in the book and there were a couple of steamy scenes - but I don't want to give anything away about his identity. I think that the mystery of who he is is the stronger of the mysteries presented in the book. The mystery involving the dead boy and the innocent prisoner seemed to go through the motions just to introduce the character and how she does her job. I liked how the book kept a humorous tone despite some heavy material. Over all it was a decent first book in a series. These types of series tend to get stronger as they go on and as the characters and larger story arcs become more developed. I will definitely continue this series when I am in the mood for a paranormal mystery.

message 45: by Amy (new)

Amy | 9056 comments Tidelands by Philippa Gregory -3.5

Tidelands (Fairmile #1) by Philippa Gregory

I love this author, but this one wasn't a favorite of hers for me. It has a sequel, or trilogy coming, and while I will probably pick it up sometime, I am just not psyched to. So spoiler alert, the story doesn't wrap up at the end, and you are left hanging - as if it should go on. It was unsatisfying.

I can see from scrolling through other goodreads users' shelves that it was fairly panned. I mean it wasn't terrible by any stretch, but the circumstances were terrible. Living in the tidelands is a horrible existence, and the people were largely horrible. For Alina and her children, their circumstances and social standing couldn't be worse, with no possibilities for escape, given the historical context. And then the threat of "witch" hanging over Alina's head. An impossible love story. An impossible political plot. Impossible land. Well lets just say the story was well depicted but less than inspiring. I'm giving it 3.5.

message 46: by Joanne (new)

Joanne (joabroda1) | 8079 comments I keep taking this one off the Tbr..then putting it back on. It is there right now, but you tempt me to take if off again.

message 47: by Amy (new)

Amy | 9056 comments Take it off... There was another book Joy D. wrote a recent review, and I was tempted to ask her if it should come off my TBR.... I think it was the Indigo Girl by Natasha Boyd. Forgot to ask. If its not stellar, why bother?

message 48: by Amy (new)

Amy | 9056 comments Also, the main character's name was Alinor. I messed that up in the review and realized it posting. I thought to myself, you have to be pretty unimpressed or disconnected to get the main character's name wrong after 450 pages..

message 49: by Theresa (new)

Theresa | 7817 comments Amy wrote: "Also, the main character's name was Alinor. I messed that up in the review and realized it posting. I thought to myself, you have to be pretty unimpressed or disconnected to get the main character'..."

Truer words, Amy. You get points for finishing!

message 50: by Nicole R (new)

Nicole R (drnicoler) | 7784 comments Magic Lessons by Alice Hoffman
4 stars

I would not be mad if Alice Hoffman continued to regularly write about the Owens family for the rest of her career.

Magic Lessons is Hoffman’s third installment (working in reverse chronological order down the Owen’s line), telling the story of Maria Owens, the originator of the dreaded love curse that plagues Owens women for generations to come. Maria begins her life in Essex, England, where she inherits her magical gift and then hones it over her young years. Love and fate drive her across the ocean to Boston and, from there, to Salem, where her life becomes entangled with the Hawthorne’s and the infamous witch trials.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book! It wasn’t life altering and it didn’t make me think too deeply about anything, but the characters were likeable, the story was interesting, and the writing was engaging. It was the perfect book for October.

Also, for audiobook fans out there, this one was PHENOMENAL. It was narrated by Sutton Foster of Broadway and Younger fame (sigh, how I miss Younger), and she was excellent. I love the tone and quality of her voice and I could listen to her read all day. I did a little Audible search, and it doesn’t look like she has narrated a ton of books, but I hope she starts to do more! I am a fan.

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