October Book Review Summary


October has flown by. We've been fortunate to have had some unseasonably warm weather this month, which made our fall camping trip that much more enjoyable. So, before I jump into this months summary of book reviews, here's a picture from one of the stops on our trip, the Seul Choix Point lighthouse on Lake Michigan:

Anyway, in between getting the gardens put to bed for the fall, entertaining friends on their fall color tour, and our own camping trip in the Michigan wilds, I've snuck eight books in this month. I'm counting the Forward Collection of short stories as one book, even though it's really six short stories that are sold separately on Amazon.

My reading was pretty concentrated on the nonfiction category this month, and that included a self-help style book. I really only make room for one or maybe two self-help books a year. You Brand scratched that self-help itch for me. Not knowing much about the subject or the author before diving in, it turned out that I really liked the book. I'm sure I'll be coming back to review some of it's advice as time goes on

Favorite book this month

I've had two Five Star reads this month, but for my favorite I am going to go with A Swim in a Pond in the Rain, just because it connected with me a bit more. I am trying to gather the motivation to start exploring my fiction writing abilities, and so I'm recently this book's target audience.

Book Formats

All of my books this month were ebooks, with the exception of The Sirens of Mars, which was an audiobook. For two months in a row I haven't read a single physical book, a situation that I will be sure to remedy next month.
Of note for audiobook fans is that Amazon Prime members can access both the ebook and audiobook versions of the Forward Collection for free. (I know I sound like a shill for Amazon this month, but that's not my intent and I am not being compensated in any way by Amazon. I just liked the stories and kept downloading until I'd read the entire collection. I guess I just needed a sci fi break from all the nonfiction!)


I've read two ARCs this month: The Gilded Page and A Brief History of Timekeeping. Both ARCs were provided through NetGalley and their respective publishers in exchange for fair and honest reviews.

Book Tours

One book tour this month, for You Brand, through Love Book Tours.

Summary Reviews

Summary reviews of each of my October reads are below. The links lead to my full reviews. And all of those full reviews include links to the author, the publisher, and to bookseller pages for each book. There are no affiliate links in my reviews.

Five Stars ⭐⭐⭐

A book about writing - specifically writing short fiction stories. Saunders, author of many short stories himself, as well as the Man Booker Prize winning novel Lincoln in the Bardo, has for 20 years taught a writing course built around the short stories of iconic Russian authors. He uses that classroom experience to bring us this book, a literary "master class" on what makes stories work.

Four Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Julia Goodman built a successful consulting practice by taking the tools of her acting trade and using them as a basis to teach people how to improve their communication skills. Communication is at the heart of everything we do in the working world, as well as in the other parts of our lives. As a result, Goodman's coaching consultancy, and this book, has something in it that can benefit everyone.

Four Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Mary Wellesley loves medieval manuscripts and that love, and her knowledge of these ancient books / art objects, shines through in this fascinating book. Wellesley, a Research Affiliate at the British Library, takes a tour through a number of these books while providing informative background on how manuscripts were produced. 

Four Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Sarah Stewart Johnson mixes memoir with a history of man's exploration of Mars in this well told narrative. She is a planetary scientist who works with NASA on missions to Mars, as well as a professor at Georgetown. She touches on her own life sparingly, while giving us enough about herself to understand how her love of geology / geochemistry led her to NASA. Her prose is really very good - verging on the poetic - and draws you in.

Five Stars ⭐⭐⭐

Who knew that the life of an astronomer was so much fun? In her 2020 book Emily Levesque relates amusing and amazing stories of professional stargazers. It's not a book about deep concepts of astrophysics, it's a book about how astronomy is actually done and a peek into the lives of astronomers. 

Rated each story -  ⭐⭐ to 

Forward is a series of six original science fiction stories from Amazon. While they may be short reads, these six stories are written by some of the best authors writing today. Not only that, but the Audible books are voiced by well known actors from such sci fi staples as Stranger ThingsStar Trek: Discovery, The Expanse and more. So, if you are a sci fi fan these stories are well worth your time.

Two and a Half Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐

An emotional but unevenly told true story of two brothers. One is diagnosed with ALS (called MND in the UK) and leaves a bucket list for the other to fulfill. The brothers are the great grandsons of JRR Tolkien (yes, that JRR Tolkien). An enjoyable enough read, but a bit to self-involved for me to get fully into it.

Three Stars ⭐

 Both history and science, this is the kind of book I  gravitate to. In general I found the book enjoyable, but I'm not too proud to admit that most of the chapter on Quantum Clocks was way over my head. My personal preference in a history of science book like this one is that the author go heavy on the history and keep the science to the "explain it to me like I'm a fifth grader" level. In this book the science throughout was a bit "heavier" than I would have liked.