We’re well into autumn now! It’s my favourite season, and the perfect one for hunkering down and reading to your heart’s consent.
It’s been a bit of a barmy month for me in terms of work and other things, and a lot of big changes have happened! All good though. November’s proving to be the same, hence why my October wrap up is going up two weeks into November! Sigh.
How was your October? What was your favourite read? Anyway, less about me, more about books!
Books I read in October
The Butterfly Garden by Dot Hutchison
Themes: murder, kidnap, violence, fetishism
Mini review: I was somewhat on the fence about this book. It follows “Maya”, who has been kidnapped and renamed by The Gardener. He is obsessed with collecting butterflies, and turns the women he kidnaps into part of his collection, by tattooing their backs with the wings of one of the many butterfly species that exist in the world.
The garden itself lies around an isolated mansion, and the “Butterflies” have free reign until it’s time to preserve one of them. Since butterflies have short life spans, The Gardener kidnaps girls based on their beauty, and kills them when they reach 21, preserving them forever in resin, with their backs flayed to show their wings around them like a butterfly in flight.
The story is told through the eyes of “Maya”, and FBI agents Victor Hanoverian and Brandon Eddison, who are tasked with piecing together what went on in the Garden after its discovery. But Maya proves to be a puzzle herself, and every piece of information she hands over is wrapped in another puzzle. I found her somewhat annoying in some respects, and found certain elements of the book a little gratuitous. I thought it was a good concept, but needed refining a little.
Death Note: Volume 1: Boredom by Tsugumi Ohba (illustrated by Takeshi Obata)
Themes: playing god, “what would you do”, supernatural, justice, crime, punishment, myths
Mini review: So, you’ve probably heard of Death Note, especially with the Netflix live action movie being thrown in our faces every time we log on. I watched all the anime series of Death Note years ago, and I have to say, it’s tonnes better than the Netflix reboot, which I couldn’t even finish. The only good thing was Willem Defoe’s Ryuk – everything else was just weird and off-kilter with the characters and their reasons for doing what they do. Anyway, around the same time, I noticed the Death Note all-in-one edition, which had just come out, and decided to read that instead!
Volume 1 is kind of like a pilot episode, but that’s not to say it means nothing happens. It centres around Light Yagami, a straight-A student on his way to success, who finds a Death Note dropped by a bored and mischievous shinigami (god of death). Any human whose name is written in the book will die of a heart attack (unless another means of death is specified) and Light, bored of studying, decides to rid the world of evil. However, it’s not long until the police start to notice that criminals are mysteriously dying of heart attacks all over Japan.
Understandably, they’re at a loss as to how someone can engineer such a feat, and call in the legendary detective known only as L to track down the killer. L, a certified genius with hundreds of high-profile cases under his belt, is pitted against Light, equally genius, but with entirely opposing views. Needless to say, Light wants L out of the picture, and L wants to bring this mystery killer to justice – but who will win this game of cat and mouse, when it’s win or die? It’s so, so clever, and really makes you think – you find yourself understanding both, and there’s no clear good or bad guy. It’s a thought-provoking read, and I challenge anyone who says manga is just light-hearted picture books to read this and stick to that view!
Death Note Volume 2: Confluence by Tsugumi Ohba (illustrated by Takeshi Obata)
Themes: mind games, puzzle, thriller, whodunnit, crime, punishment, justice, playing god
Mini review: I don’t want to give spoilers, but at the end of the last volume, we see Light thinking he’s solved a growing issue in terms of keeping his identity secret from L, but at the start of this volume, we see his hand forced, and watch him trying to engineer a solution to an unexpected (and potentially disastrous) spanner in the works.
At the same time, L, who previously only communicated via a laptop with a voice changer, has emerged from the shadows to work with the Japanese police’s task force against Kira (a Japanese romanisation of “Killer”) – which happens to be led by Light’s father. Despite Light’s genius meaning he has left no possible link to himself and Kira, L’s genius has sniffed him out anyway. Under scrutiny, Light begins to second-guess himself, and work out a way to continue killing without appearing to do so.
I can’t quite put into words how clever these volumes are. The whole series centres around two geniuses pitted against each other, but I think the genius who wins is Tsugumi Ohba – how on earth he came up with so many twists and turns, mind games, and genius-level puzzles to solve is just beyond me. It’s one of the cleverest things I’ve ever read. If you’ve never considered manga but enjoy a good thriller, this is the perfect gateway for you.
The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
Themes: magic, folklore, clairvoyance, social classes, destiny
Mini review: So, this one was a pleasant surprise. I’ve said it before, but after a few overhyped YA book series leaving me feeling flat, I’m somewhat suspicious when it comes to trying new YA. I research it, I check reviews on Goodreads and Amazon, I ask people I know etc., all because I don’t want to pick up another load of piffle about love triangles and angst and being a hero. (See more of my moanings about YA here!)
The Raven Boys has proved a nice “see, I told you YA can be good!” after my recent let-downs! I should have known, since my friends Emily and Maraia, who have very similar tastes to me, highly recommended the series.
In a nutshell, The Raven Boys is about a girl called Blue, who is the daughter of a psychic. She lives in a home surrounded by her mum and her psychic friends, but she has no powers herself, save for amplifying other people’s abilities when she’s around them.
On St. Mark’s Eve, the spirits of the soon-to-be-dead walk the corpse road, and Blue goes along to help her mum see and record their names. Blue can’t see the spirits though, so she basically sits there in the cold whilst her mum frantically scribbles down names. However, this time is different. Blue goes with her mysterious aunt, and for once, she actually sees a spirit. He tells her his name is Gansey, and when she reports back to her aunt, she is told the only reason she’d see him is if he’s her true love, or if she killed him.
Inexplicably, Blue’s life ends up intertwined with that of Gansey and his inner circle of friends, who she calls Raven Boys, due to the logo on their fancy boys’ school uniform. Blue hates them for what they represent; wealth, snobbery, elitism, and never having to work a day in their lives, but it soon becomes clear that Gansey, Ronan, Adam and Noah are not just “Raven Boys”. Amongst a huge plethora of other things, they’re on a quest to find the Welsh king Glendower’s grave, as waking him gives the person an impossible favour.
The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater
Themes: magic, folklore, clairvoyance, social classes, destiny, lucid dreaming
Mini review: I enjoyed this one even more than the last – I’d say it’s a 4.5 stars actually, but I can’t find a half star symbol!
Whereas the first book focussed more on Blue, Gansey and Adam with Noah and Ronan more being seen through the eyes of others, the second book is very Ronan-centric. There are a host of characters who become more prominent, but we get to find out more about Ronan, and it’s just so good. I don’t want to give any spoilers, so I’ll just say there’s a whoooole lot more to him than meets the eye, and it’s not what you’ll be expecting.
What I like about Maggie Stiefvater books (and hate about them when it comes to reviewing!) is that there are so many threads to the story that seemingly run alongside each other, but ultimately build one brilliant tapestry. It makes it hard to tell you all the good stuff without giving spoilers, but good for you as a reader when you pick it up!
I also finished The Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll at the very start of the month, so I covered it in my last wrap-up since I did that a few days into October and read 90% of it in September. Thought it was worth mentioning here though, since I did read the very last of it in October. Long story short, I hated it!
Books I bought this month (aka Reasons I Have No Money)
- The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater
- The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
- Nevernight by Jay Kristoff
- Cinder by Marissa Meyer
- Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
- Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco
- The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo
- The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
- The Snowman by Jo Nesbo
- Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
- Dear Amy by Helen Callaghan
- The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
- Death Note all-in-one edition by Tsugumi Ohba
- Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne-Jones
Advanced Reader Copies I Received This Month
- The Last Mrs Parrish by Liv Constantine
- A Map of the Dark by Karen Ellis
- I Wore My Blackest Hair by Carlina Duan
- A Perfect Universe by Scott O’Connor
Bookish goodies I got this month
- 9 bookish candles from A Court of Candles
- Ron Weasley with Scabbers Funko Pop
- L from Death Note Funko Pop
- Rory Gilmore holding books Funko Pop (does that count?!)
- A lot of wooden bookmarks from Ink and Wonder!
- My first OwlCrate (which I looooved!)
- The Mexican edition of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince! I got it from a lovely girl called Pam that I met on Instagram. I now have the English editions, plus a Dutch edition from Amber, and a Mexican edition!