I know, I know. Reading wrap-ups need to happen at the end of the month or the beginning of the following month. Still, here I am in the middle of December, writing about the books I read in November while also discussing The Bloomin’ Readathon, which I also participated in. Last year when I heard about this readathon, it was too late for me to join in. Naturally, that meant it was on my radar for this year. The readathon presents twenty-four challenges; however, each read can double up for multiple spaces. The Bloomin’ Readathon is also offered as a BINGO card, which makes this readathon/challenge feel more like a game. And for us stubborn mood readers, this gives a bit of an extra challenge. This challenge was created by both Allison Paiges, and I believe, @krist.reads on Instagram.
The challenges were:
- Bee Space – Read a book that has a lot of buzz around it – everyone’s talking about it!
- Cloud Space – Read a book that is bound to make you emotional.
- Sun Space – Read a book that is bound to make you happy.
- Moon Space – Read a book that takes place in a country that isn’t your own. (We all sleep under the same moon.)
- Tree Space – Read a non-fiction book.
- Daffodil Space – Read a book that centers on non-romantic
- Cacti Space – Read either a short book (under 300 pages) or an anthology (collection of short stories.
- Variegated Space – Read a book that’s on the rarer side (no one is talking about it).
- Propagation Space – Read a book that has an adaptation. (Movie, Video Games, etc.!)
- Spider Space – Read a dark book. (Dark themes, dark academia, dark is in the title, maybe a dark cover?)
- Lotus Space – Read a book with disability representation.
- Succulent Space – Read a book that makes you hot (angry, sexy, etc.)
- White Lily Space – Read a book with death/grief as a theme.
- Snail Space – Read a book that’s a slow burn.
- Water Space – Read a book from an author that you’re thirsty for more of!
- Fertilizer Space – Read a book that will nourish your soul.
- Green Carnation Space – Read a book with LGQTQ+ themes/characters/author!
- Tulip Space – Read a book that enters romantic love
- Ladybug Space -Read a book with a cute/simple cover, but you know its pages will destroy
- Root Space – Revisit/Reread a book
- Earth Space – Read a book that was published/takes place before the 1990s.
- Ivy Space – Read a book that is highly rated.
- Dandelion Space – Weed that book from your TBR that has been there for too long!
- Mole Space – Read a book that features a strong antagonist.
My November Readers
Death in Her Hands
Written by: Ottessa Moshfegh
Published June 23, 2020
“Her name was Magda. Nobody will ever know who killed her. It wasn’t me. Here is her dead body.”
Death in Her Hands is the fourth Moshfegh novel I’ve read this year, and I wasn’t let down at all. There is a creepiness to this novel; however, I love it most because our narrator, Vesta, a 72-year-old widow, is so unhinged. She is so unhinged that I’m not even sure she’s a 72-year-old woman. Maybe she’s Eileen, who’s had a mental break-off in an asylum somewhere. Who knows? You can’t trust what she says or does, and she’s living in her little world.
Also, I’m baffled about Charlie. I got the feeling he was, in fact, a wild animal, not her beloved house pet.
While reading Death in Her Hands, I checked off the Spider space because it is dark thematically and the White Lily space because it is also about death and grief.
Taking Shape II: The Lost Halloween Sequels
Written by Dustin McNeill and Travis Mullins
Published: October 14, 2020
Between reading David Gordon Green’s trilogy novelizations, and the first Taking Shape, I have spent much time in Haddonfield, Illinois. For fans of the iconic series, this book is a must! There are so many untold stories of Michael Myers that were truly incredible. However, after reading this and the first book continuously, I felt like it got repetitive in places.
Here are a few takeaways:
- When I was young, probably in middle school, I voted against the Michael Myers vs. Pinhead movie in the poll. However, after reading what the story would have encompassed, I now realize that it would have been rad to see this story come to life. Also, it featured Jamie Lloyd as the lead!
- There was initially a Halloween 4 that had Laurie returning. She would have been a photographer living in Chicago stalked by the bogeyman. This story would have been great to see on film and a solid sequel.
- Halloween 3D, which would have followed the Rob Zombie timeline and been a sick twisted ride, would have been an epic conclusion to his series of films. Maybe because they would have kept aspects that I loved about his movies while eliminating aspects that I didn’t like at all… white horse…
- The Reboot Trilogy, initially penned by Stef Hutchinson, would have been a fun take on the story by having Annie lead the charge in the series. This trilogy would have also turned the story on its head. I would love to see this series come to life! Even in the form of a graphic novel… Just saying.
The only thing I found lacking in all these films, reboots, and reimagining was the TOTAL lack of Lynda.
Reading Talking Shape provided me with more Michael Myers and Haddonfield knowledge and allowed me to check off: the Tree space, which was to read non-fiction, and the Mole space, a book that features a strong antagonist. And I can’t think of a stranger antagonist than Michael Myers.
Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow
Written by Gabrielle Zevin
Published: July 5, 2022
Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow, the title taken from Shakespeare’s Macbeth, has become a new favorite of the mind. In the novel, the reader is introduced to Sam Masur, Sadie Green, Marx Watanabe, and Dov Mizrah, a group of individuals whose lives orbit around one another.
I found this story to be electric, spanning 30 years. There were even moments that felt reminiscent of, A Little Life, yet not as traumatic.
And now, I feel like I need to read Zevin’s back catalog of books.
Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow could be considered the holy grail for this challenge. In total, I checked off four spaces, but it could apply to even more if I’m being truthful. The Bee space, which was to read a book with a lot of buzz around it; the Lotus space, which was to read a book with disability representation; the Fertilizer space, which was to read a book that will nourish your soul; and finally, the Daffodil space, which was to read a book that centers on non-romantic love.
Into the Wild
Written by Jon Krakauer
Published January 20, 1997
I finally dove into, Into the Wild! The story of Christopher McCandless, aka Alexander Supertramp’s journey to Alaska. This is an incredible piece of journalism detailing what we know happened to McCandless and why he left while offering snippets to others who tracked similar journeys. That said, it made the empath in me incredibly sad and broke my heart several times, even though I knew what would happen! That said, I may return to this book to learn more.
Also, minor detail, but I had no idea Christopher went to Emory College in Atlanta. A campus I have visited several times while in Covington, GA.
Because this book had been adapted into a movie, I could check off the Propagation space and the Ladybug space to read a book with a cute cover that would ultimately destroy you.
The Secret Lives of Church Ladies
Written by Deesha Philyaw
Published: September 1, 2020
I wasn’t prepared!
Last year while watching a book-buying recommendations video on Youtube, Youtuber stated that The Secret Lives of Church Ladies was a great read. Especially for those who don’t read often but would like to get into reading. While I understand that, after all, the book immediately hooks you, I wouldn’t say this book is for everyone.
Storytime: For my birthday this year, a colleague gave me a card with a gift card to my favorite restaurant, so I wanted to return the favor. But I’m not particularly eager to provide gift cards. I like to gift books. While going through my TBR list, I came across The Secret Lives of Church Ladies and thought, “Well, I’ve wanted to read this one. I’ll buy her a copy and me a copy.” The books came in over the weekend, and I sat down to read them and realized immediately that I couldn’t necessarily gift this to her because of how salacious it is! So, I ended up buying a gift card anyway.
That said, this collection of short stories is a juicy read. It hooked me immediately, which says a lot because I’m not a massive fan of short story collections. But be warned, it gets very steamy at times.
The Secret Lives of Church Ladies was another holy grail read allowing me to check off four different spaces. The Cacti Space to read either a short book or an anthology. The Water space challenged the reader to read a book from an author you’re thirsty to read more of. The Green Carnation space promotes LGBTQ+ themes/characters/authors. And the Ivy space to read a book that is highly rated.
Anne of Green Gables: A Manga Classics
Written by Stacy King (Adaptor), Crystal S. Chan (Contributor), and Kuma Chan (Illustrator) original story by Lucy Maud Montgomery
Published: September 1, 2020
I read my first Manga! And let me tell you, it was tricky to navigate at times. But I managed. King, Chan, and Chan brought this beautiful story to life, and I loved every moment of revisiting this story within the confines of a different medium. My only qualm is that I wish it would have been in color.
Reading Anne of Green Gables: A Manga Classic allowed me to fill the Moon and Earth spaces. It’s fitting when you think about it.
Written by Alexis Hall
Published: July 7, 2020
With the recent release of Husband Material, and the follow-up to Boyfriend Material, I decided to return to the original text for a refresher; after all, the last time I read Boyfriend Material was November 2020.
In this queer haters-to-lovers rom-com, we are introduced to Oliver Blackwood and Luc O’Donnell. Oliver is a barrister, and Luc works at a not-for-profit to save beetles. Luc is also a target for the press, being the child of two musicians. Because of this, Luc needs to clean up his club-going image, while Oliver needs a boyfriend to take home for a family event. So, the two decided to pretend to be boyfriends. See where we’re going with this?
The first time I read this book, I found it magical; however, the angsty plot point that briefly breaks the two characters up was more annoying than anything. The plot point needed to be had because it follows every romantic comedy troupe but lacks any natural substance.
Reading Boyfriend Material for the second time allowed me to check off the Sun, Succulent, Tulip, and Root spaces.
The English Understand Wool
Written by Helen Dewitt
Published: September 27, 2022
After watching Ariel Bissett’s reading vlog around The English Understand Wool, I needed to know what this story was about. So, I bought it. It was delivered. And before I knew it, I was a chapter in looking up the translation for French words and phrases within this book.
The reader is introduced to Marguerite, a 17-year-old raised in Marrakech and taught the ways of elite society. Marguerite’s mother is a wealthy French woman, her father is English, and while abroad, traveling during Ramadan, Marguerite finds herself abandoned.
Now it would be mauves ton for me to give this novel away. After all, it is only 64 pages; however, like the cover, the book is a real treat.
The English Understand Wool is a part of the Storybook ND created and curated by writer and translator Gini Alhadeff through ND Books. On their website, they quote Alhadeff, “There’s nothing sweeter than to fall, for a few hours, between the covers of a perfect little book!”
I want to read 3 Streets by Yoko Tawada and The Famous Magician by Cesar Aira from the books already published in this collection.
The English Understand Wool might be the only book on this list that doesn’t make multiple boxes; however, it did mark off the Variegated space, which was to read a book that’s on the rarer side.
Written by Alexis Hall
Published August 2, 2022
Okay, WARNING there will be Spoilers.
After reading Boyfriend Material in 2020, its sequel became one of my most anticipated reads. However, in all honesty, it did not deliver.
Husband Material picks up two years after the original. Luc and Oliver are now in a healthy non-fake relationship, and all their friends, mainly Luc’s friends, are getting married, which prompts Luc to word vomit, asking Oliver to marry him.
Despite this book being written by the same author, it didn’t feel like Luc and Oliver’s voices. Scenarios just felt contrived.
Among the disagreements between the two characters, Luc was obsessed over the fact that Oliver wasn’t a typical gay guy who surrounded himself with gay culture or felt like he belonged in general. At one point, it even considered that Oliver had to come to terms with his internalized homophobia. I found this story element that continued to come up within the text toxic. And many ways, it says, “You think differently, well that and you are the problem” without saying it. Did I mention this NEVER really gets resolved? And this is the antsy part of the novel that continues to repeat itself. Facepalm.
The ending also was a bit much. The two decide not to get married yet run down the aisle holding hands, still in love but wanting to carve their path in the world because heteronormative structures don’t suit them.
This novel had its issues. I still rated it high because let’s support queer authors. But still. This was not it, sis. Granted, I will read the third novel if there is a third novel.
Last but not least Husband Material allowed me to fill the spaces for the Cloud and Snail.
Ultimately this ended up in a BLACKOUT! Challenge accomplished.
What did you read during the month of November? Let me know!