October 2017 Novel Ideas: Quick Reviews and Other Bookish News

October Novel Ideas is a round up of mini book reviews!

Welcome to the October Novel Ideas 2017 edition. Novel Ideas is a roundup of mini-reviews for books we read this month, as well as snippets of future posts and other bookish news.

Kirsten’s Stack

I had a quite a month! After September when I was in a slump, I read 12 books including Refugee by Alan Gratz which I reviewed earlier in the month. That was my clear favorite of the month, but here are mini-reviews for the others I read.

Fallen, Torment, Passion, and Rapture all by Lauren Kate – I picked up the first two books in this series after turning in a few books at Cathy’s Half-Priced Bookstore. I fell in love with the first book and the story of Daniel and Luce’s love. The second and third books in the series explored the folklore and backstory of their love and they kind of lost me a little, but I was pleasantly surprised by the fourth book in the series which finished strongly! It was twilight-ish enough but not my favorite YA romance series. I did rent the movie that just came out based on the first book though! I really liked that one and hope they make the rest of the sequels. Books range from 3-4 stars.

Sourdough by Robin Sloan – I adore Sloan’s book Mr. Penumbra’s 24-hour bookstore. I devoured in on New Year’s day 2015 on my way home from a family vacation. It was clever and unlike any story, I could remember. It perfectly paired technology with bookselling in an exciting new way that felt innovative to me at the time. I was expecting the same technology and cooking innovation in sourdough. And, while I got it, the story fell flat to me. I can’t put my finger on what it was, but I just did not love it and had to force myself to finish. – 2 stars.

Listened to:

Fall of Giants by Ken Follett – I don’t know what took me so long to listen to this story. It was absolutely captivating and could not stop listening. I eagerly checked out the other two audiobooks in the trilogy and am already halfway through the second book.  (no easy task as they clock in at over 25 hrs!) This dramatic story about 5 families before and during WWI was incredible. The way Follett wove all their stories together was dynamic and mesmerizing. The story was a little more battle and politics focused than most WWI stories I have read, but I loved learning new historical information. This is a story that would be EXCELLENT for the men in your life too. Now if only I could get my husband to read. – 5 Stars

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling – A classic that I love listening to this time of year. I am currently working my way through the whole series, but to be honest, this is my least favorite of the Harry Potter stories and the only one that doesn’t get 5 stars for me. 4.5 stars


Best Day Ever by Kaira Rouda – I can’t talk about what I loved about this book without giving away the plot. I will say that the narrator is unlike any I have read before and for all you fans of Gone Girl and Girl on the Train…this book is for you!



Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie and The Weed that Strings the Hangman’s Bag by Alan Bradley – I adore Flavia De Luce. I was introduced to her at the beginning of the month when I read the first story in this series. I quickly checked out the second book and devoured that as well. They are short and not too scary – perfect for the middle graders in your life just getting into mysteries but lovely for adults too. I just put a hold on the third book in the series and look forward to reading it.

Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clark – Ugh. This book. So many people recommended it to me because of my love for Harry Potter but I HATED it. Yep. Totally hated it. The writing style was Victorian, which fit the book’s time period but felt hard to sludge through. I ending up giving up halfway through and just watching the BBC series. I did actually like the show! So oddly enough, this was an adaptation that was better than the book in my eyes. 1 star for the book, 4 stars for the show.

Jackie’s Stack

I had another difficult month of reading and ironically, it started after I read two amazing books.  The War That Saved My Life and the War I Finally Won were so outstanding that the other books I picked up just didn’t compare.  I felt that the good books seemed mediocre.  This assessment is completely unfair; however, it was my predicament this month.  I found myself easily able to read the books that were lacking any real substance because I got what I expected. So with that said, I did listen to some great books.  I hope my reading predicament will be over starting in November.  I have high hopes.

The War I Finally Won by Kim Brubaker Bradley

What is there to say about this book.  It is so outstanding and beautiful.  This book is a true game changer for me.  I will never look at middle-grade fiction the same way again. 5 stars


Little Beach Street Bakery by Jenny Colgan

This book was the palate cleanser that I needed after my obsession with Kimberly Baker’s books.  It is just a sweet, silly enjoyable book that gives exactly what it promises (think rom-com in print). 3.5 stars


Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

I wanted to love this book and I thought I would love this book.  I did not.  When the plot is still being set up 100 pages in, it’s very hard to keep picking it up.  When is the thing that happened in the first 3 pages going to happen? I don’t want to have to read 200 more pages for SOMETHING to happen in this book. It is a well-written book with good character development.  I just couldn’t get into it.

All the bright places by Jennifer Niven

All the bright places is a book that is in our book to screen list.  That is my cue to read the book first since the book is always better. (Remember my shirt from target?).  The book will make a great movie but it feels a little too expected and nothing extraordinary.  Maybe The War That Saved My Life has ruined me forever but, this YA book doesn’t compare in my eyes.  That being said, the book was an enjoyable read.

Listened to:

Refugee by Alan Gratz

I started this story because of Kirsten’s review. I loved this story but I have to say that it was extremely difficult to listen to.  I was anxious the entire time.  It is so relevant and such an important topic.  Alan Gratz is a really wonderful writer who has a way of making very heavy and serious topics accessible to middle-grade readers.

My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante

This book is another one on our upcoming adaptation lists.  I had heard very mixed reviews.  The book was kind of blah.  I wanted to like it and there were parts that were very interesting but, it just didn’t move quickly enough for me.  I could relate to some of the feelings of being friends with a very strong character but it left me with anxious feeling of negativity.  It was not an uplifting book.

Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance

I read this on Kirsten’s recommendation and loved it.  It was a brilliant look into the lives of American’s who live in the Hillbilly culture.  It is like nothing I have ever read before.  J.D. Vance offers a poignant and honest look into Hillbilly lifestyle.


Books to Screen

How excited is everyone for Halloween? It is my favorite holiday and I’ll be hosting 33 people for trick or treating. Since my kids are still little, they will be asleep early and I’m planning to Practical Magic. I haven’t seen it in years but I realized it was on Netflix when researching our list for the Best Netflix Literary Adaptations. 

Jackie and I each read Murder on the Orient Express and have been DYING to see the movie. She’s going away at the beginning of next month, but we are planning to see it together when she gets back! What a star-studded cast – I hope its wonderful and not a flop like Valentine’s Day was… Sometimes too many stars in one movie is a recipe for disaster.