Welcome to the October 2022 roundup!
If you read last month’s roundup, you’ll know I was heading off for the surgery I’d been waiting over a year to have. Unfortunately, for the fourth time since 2020, it was canceled while I sat in hospital admissions and I really began to question if the universe was conspiring against me.
It turns out that the hysterectomy I’d been told was the only option for my endometriosis was actually the final option that should have been offered, and long story short, the hospital wanted me to try less invasive options instead. With the endo and adhesions from previous surgeries making further surgery complicated and dangerous, I was happy to give these other choices a try, so that’s what I’ll be doing for the next few months.
Given the stress of more surgery upheaval, it was a crappy start to October for me and I did spend some of it wallowing, trying to emotionally work through the issues this ongoing drama has caused to my mental health, and the physical adjustments of recovering from a day procedure that I had instead of the major surgery. It was a lot, but I’ve come through the other side of it now and I’m moving on until I know more after my next specialist appointment in December.
As for the rest of October, this is what I got up to…
What I’ve Been…
Blackbirch 4 – Although I managed to add 7,000 words to Blackbirch 4 last month, October wasn’t as productive. I did outline the current 47 chapters, realized how much re-writing I’m going to need to do to the ending (it needs a new one), and broke scenes up into character POVs to check that I had a fair balance. It was one of those organizing and thinking months (i.e: Procrasta-Writing), which I’m sure is a part of everyone’s writing process (right?). Now that I’ve done all of that, I’m hoping for a more productive November and some decent re-writing/editing progress.
Hocus Pocus 2 – I love the original Hocus Pocus, so the sequel was an anticipated watch. While the cast of the young Sanderson Sisters was spot on, learning more about their backstory and how they came to have their spell book and powers was interesting, and the new crop of teens who set them free all did a great job, there was just something missing from this movie. It didn’t have the charm of the original, even in the parts that it tried to copy beat for beat. It wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t great either, and I think I’ll stick to the first movie from now on.
Luckiest Girl Alive – Based on a book that was part of the Gone Girl/Girl On The Train wave of storytelling, Luckiest Girl Alive centers on Ani, a writer working for a magazine and planning her wedding. When a filmmaker contacts her about taking part in a documentary about a school shooting she’d survived years earlier, Ani’s carefully created new life starts to fall apart. Through flashbacks, we find out the horrible circumstances leading to the school shooting, which includes gang rape and what Ani had to do to survive the killings. It’s graphic, and not part of any of the trailers, so if you didn’t know it going in (like me) it’s shocking. But it does start a dialogue on the importance of listening to victims and believing them, and I think Mila Kunis did a good job as the grown-up Ani.
Rosaline – This move was a fun take on a Shakespeare side character. Rosaline is Juliet’s cousin and the reason Romeo goes to the Capulet ball. When he can’t find her, he meets and falls in love with Juliet, leading to their tragic love story. Rosaline the movie, imagines what would happen if Rosaline tries to win Romeo back. It’s an interesting story to explore, and even though the costumes and set pieces are Shakespearean, the dialogue is modern, which actually works. Anchored by the awesome Kaitlyn Dever, it’s a playful rom-com that continues the humor right into the credits.
The Midnight Club – Having read the book this series was based on last month, the story and characters were fresh in my mind and it was nice to see them come to life on the small screen and the nods and easter eggs to Christopher Pike’s body of work. Thankfully, only one story from The Midnight Club book was kept as part of this series (The Two Danas), and the others were scrapped in favor of better tales by the author. Although some of the stories had the characters gender-swapped, and interesting story elements cut in order to cram everything in, the only misstep I thought was taking Gimme A Kiss, one of Pike’s classic detective/murder mystery novels, and making it a black and white gumshoe homage, which made the dialogue and acting come off as laughable.
The Midnight Club TV series centers on a group of dying teens in a hospice with a creepy history who get together at midnight to swap spooky stories. There are some genuine jump-scare moments and real heart to the characters who are all desperate to do anything that will stop them from dying, even an ancient ritual in the secret basement. While the TV adaption is better than the source material, the focus on some of the individual stories is not, so if you watch it and any tales spark your interest, check out the books they’re based on (the episode names will let you know what they are). The plot doesn’t wrap up completely, leaving things open for season 2, and there is one nice little twist at the end that will have you hoping Netflix gives it the green light.
Holding Up The Sky by Rebecca Alasdair – I loved this debut novel. Carter is in his senior year, the school captain, and working toward his goal of becoming a doctor. On the outside, he looks like he has it all. On the inside, he’s hiding the ongoing pain of losing his older brother and father in a car accident, a mother who abandons him for the bottle every night, and the pressures of trying to live up to the person he thinks his dead brother would want him to be. Carter also has another secret, one that becomes harder to hide when a new boy, Remy, joins the school and Carter realizes he is gay. This story deals with trauma and heavy issues, but is done so delicately and with care by the author. By the end pages, you’ll feel what Carter is going through, and the growth of his character and the others around him is a joy to read. The meaning behind the book’s title is a perfect summary of the story and the reveal of it within the final sentences just brings it all home. Highly recommended for YA readers who enjoy coming of age and coming out stories full of heart and life lessons.
Ghost Of A Life by Ruth Miranda – Beautifully written, this is a love story crossed with past life mysteries and possessive hauntings. When Andrej overdoses at a party, he’s clinically dead for 8 minutes, during a time when a car in another country leaves the road, killing Oliver’s stepfather at the exact same time. Oliver is also severely injured in the crash and needs to learn to walk again. 5 years later, his path crosses with Andrej and through an instant connection and their mutual attraction to each other, they begin to realize a traumatic event on the same night is not the only thing tying them together. Flashbacks to journals of Oliver’s distant relatives reveal a sordid family history of affairs and a murder that took place where Andrej overdosed, leading Oliver to suspect a vengeful ghost has possessed his new boyfriend and may be the very reason they met in the first place. The threads of the interconnecting stories and past lives are a real highlight of this book, as are the action-packed final chapters. The best part, however, is the twist at the end, expertly revealed in the final sentence by a talented writer.
What The Knocker-Upper Woke Up by Sarah J. Maxwell – Set in London, this fantasy mystery from Sarah J. Maxell is told in descriptive detail with an imaginative world that is both interesting and terrifying. When Tess’s little brother disappears one morning while they’re visiting their clock-maker grandfather, she ventures to an area behind his clock shop that has always felt strange and off-putting to Tess. What she had been sensing is Sideways, an unseen, gray world that pulls victims into it to feed the Sideways Lady. An entity born from a fire that ravaged a mental asylum many years ago, the Sideways Lady is attracted to shiny things and children, one of whom woke her up. Alice, a knocker-upper in Victorian London times, has been trapped in Sideways for centuries and helps Tess navigate it to find and save her brother. Changed by her visit to the horrifying place, Tess vows to defeat the Sideways Lady in a plan that is both brave and heartbreaking. A must-read for anyone who enjoys spooky stories, interesting characters, and well-written works.
Tricked In October (Pineridge, #2) by Starla DeKruyf – After losing her partner and the father of her kids, Kelsey has been having a rough time. The bar her partner ran is in financial trouble and she can’t get any help from the bank. Her best friend Davis could help. Now a semi-celebrity thanks to a renovating reality show with his twin brother, Davis is looking for an escape from his TV contract, and becoming a partner in Kelsey’s bar could help him do that. He and Kelsey have been friends for so long, however, that he knows she’d never take his help without some trickery. The trouble is, Davis’ feelings for Kelsey have changed lately too. He’s been seeing her in a different light, and can’t stop thinking about her in a way that’s deeper than their friendship, and he’s starting to think Kelsey might feel the same way. There are lots of will-they-won’t-they? tension in this book and both Kelsey and Davis are fun characters with flaws dealing with expectations, family pressures, and new feelings neither of them expected. They’re the kind of characters you want to follow to the last page to see how things work out for them, which makes Tricked In October an all-around fun read, especially for fans of best-friends-to-lovers tropes.
If you’ve got any good book recommendations, let me know in the comments, or be my friend on Goodreads and share your books/recommendations with me! You can also find and follow my reviews and book recommendations on Amazon and BookBub.
If you’d like to add the Blackbirch books to your Goodreads “Want to Read” shelf and/or check out the reviews, click the following links:
Taking Photos Of
Halloween. It gets bigger here in Australia every year and it’s hard to not be swept up in the spooky season when you see all the houses around you decorated, as I did when on my October daily walks.
On The Blog…
In case you missed any of my posts, or want to read them again, here are the latest blogs.
- September 2022 Roundup
- 3 Simple Ways To Make Readers Care About Your Characters
- Writing Delays: What You Can’t Control And The One Thing You Can
Writing Tip Of The Month…
#WritingTipWednesday posts are added to my social media feeds every week and here is the most popular tip for this month. It’s taken from my blog post, Blogging Tips.
For more tips, visit my Writing Tips Pinterest Board.
Blackbirch Review Of The Month…
This review is from Blackbirch: The Dark Half, and was the most popular review posted this month on my social media feeds.
If you’d like to read the books released so far or find out more about each novel, here are the links:
- Blackbirch: The Beginning (Book 1)
- Blackbirch: The Dark Half (Book 2)
- Blackbirch: The Ritual (Book 3)
If you’ve read any of my books—and haven’t done so already—please consider leaving a review or even just a star rating. It really helps indie authors get their books noticed, and also helps fellow readers find books they’ll like.
Quote Of The Month…
I hope you’ve enjoyed my October Roundup. What did you get up to this month?
— K.M. Allan