When No One is Watching by Alyssa Cole
- A thriller involving gentrification and the idea that it's more sinister than just upper middle class white people moving into a predominantly poor black neighborhood.
The book moves at a decent clip with all the writing conventions designed to keep you reading. The story wasn't fully that farfetched especially as more white people are becoming aware of the systemic racism that built, shaped, and continues to exist in our country. I especially liked the resolution and who was involved in helping save the neighborhood. I don't know that thrillers are much of my wheelhouse, but this was definitely a welcome read post the book I'd read before it.
A Night in the Lonesome October by Roger Zelazny
- I came across this title in late September on a reddit thread of all places. Someone mentioned they read it one chapter a night every October. I had no idea what I was in for, but I grabbed it all the same.
Told from the eyes of Snuff the dog, companion to Jack the Ripper, we discover a group of eccentrics living in the Victorian English Countryside participating in The Game. Will the Openers bring the Old Ones into the world, or will the Closers manage to keep them out? Each chapter takes place in the span of one day in October.
This book was delightfully quirky and perfect for Spooky Season. Recognizable characters such as Dracula and Frankenstein make an appearance. The Lovecraftian influence was perfectly creepy. There was plenty of humor in the right places. I particularly enjoyed how the story unfolded as each night progressed. Reading only a chapter a night was kind of fun. It really added to the flavor of the text with the beginning of the month being set up and then having things ramp up as Halloween was around the corner. I don't know that I'll read this every October as some do, but I could pick it up again.
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
While this probably should be its own review, it took me almost two years to read this book with some hefty breaks in between. It started out strong for me. I was invested in the characters and wanted to see what would happen. There was even some humor in the writing. But then we'd get to Levin's chapters and the treatises on Russian farming, and I found myself losing interest.
Levin's Arc: I felt that I needed a primer on late 19th century Russian history while reading his arc. Obviously there was a lot about tradition vs. modernization that played into his story, but knowing little about the politics and social climate at the time in Russia, I found myself just bored with the arc. But in the end, he found happiness, and I'm glad the book ended with his happy though a bit morally preachy story.
Anna's Arc: Ooof. So much drama! And so much hypocrisy. Seriously? Oblonsky can sleep with all the women and still be in society but Anna cannot! I know. 19th century and gender etc... But Anna. Oh my goodness Anna! It seemed like she chose the most self-destructive action at every turn to the point where she ended up killing herself. And boy did Tolstoy make her as unlikeable as possible.
In the end, I feel like this book would have gone better for me had I read up a bit on the time period, and if I had read it in a shorter time span. There was just so much information to keep up with! I didn't find any of the characters particularly enjoyable. And while that shouldn't be criteria for a book being good or not, it can make it difficult to enjoy the book.
Since reading it, I'm finding many mentions of how amazing this novel is. Much like Count of Monte Cristo and Wuthering Heights, I feel as though I'm missing something. Perhaps the issue really is that I just don't like reading unlikeable characters.
Up next on my nightstand are a couple fantasy books that I'm looking forward to. We'll see what comes of those!