The October Book Stack

Today, I am introducing a new feature at Perfectionist Wannabe.  I will be showing you at the end of each month the books I read that month.  At the beginning of each month, I’ll show you my To Be Read pile.

The To Be Read pile is usually advanced copies of books coming out that month I need to get through.  I try to read at least one classic and whatever looks good on my shelf I’ve been meaning to get to.

So let’s get to the current October stack.  I tried to read as many scary books as I could.  Six of the eight books featured are, at the minimum, about a ghost or a witch.

I did not include below “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” by Washington Irving, because the story is part of a collection of stories.  I will include that when I finish Irving’s book. 

The October Stack

The Air You Breathe

The Air You Breathe is my favorite book this month.  This is one of my Book of the Month subscription picks and I absolutely love it.  The story takes place in Brazil.

A young girl, Dores, is a kitchen servant on a sugar plantation.  She’s been there since she was born.  During the lean years, when sugar prices bottom out, she remains on the plantation with the head cook, when the sugar baron’s family leaves for the city. 

But then the next sugar baron in the family arrives with his family.  Their child, Graça, is around the same age as Dores.  They do not get along in the beginning, but soon Dores becomes Graça’s playmate.  They do everything together.  

Graça’s mother realizes that unlike her daughter, Dores is intelligent and absorbs everything she is taught. She offers Dores the same opportunities given to her own daughter, but with limitations. 

One day, she introduces Dores to music and her world changes. 

Music is what shapes this story of the two girls growing up together on a sugar plantation.  They later escape to Rio de Janeiro to try their luck at fame and fortune.  One girl is the beauty and the voice, the other has the smarts and the talent with words. 

Their story is filled with love, loss and obsession.  You’ll learn how these girls help make samba a revolution, and how Hollywood changes their lives forever.  This is a story that will whisk you away to a time before the great war.  You will fall in love in Brazil, and you will grow to appreciate the world of samba.


Hag is a witchy tale that starts off in Scotland and transports you to Colorado and then London as we follow Alice, the descendant of the Cailleach (an ancient witch who takes residence in the Scottish cliffs). 

As Alice grows up and tries to understand the weird things she can do, she has no idea her daughter will bring all of the Cailleach ancestors of witches together, bringing the story of the Cailleach full circle. 

What I liked about this story is that I saw a lot of myself in Alice.  For people that know me very well, they know there are a few things I can do that is just not explainable.  I used to tell my dad that if we were back in the 15th or 16th century, he probably would have had me burned at the stake for being a witch. 

After reading this book, I think I became a little more accepting of who I am.  Sometimes people have a better intuition than others, or as my friend says, I am better in tune to the universe than most people.  I think maybe back in the day, I would have been labeled a witch. 

In this book, I believe the author was well versed in the subject of witchcraft and what it has evolved into today.  Not all witches are brewing potions or practicing magic.  Some are just regular people living their lives, but are a little bit more in tune with the universe and the universe responds.

The Witch of Willow Hall

The Witch of Willow Hall is my favorite scary read this month.  Speaking of women trying to understand who they are, the weird things they can do and thinking that back in the day, they would have been burned at the stake or hung by the neck.  It is 1821 and right outside of Boston in a town called New Oldbury, Lydia and her family have relocated to Willow Hall to escape the embarrassment her family endured in Boston thanks to her older sister Catherine and brother Cyrus. 

Willow Hall is filled with ghosts and secrets, which makes it a perfect place for the Montrose family. 

Lydia and Catherine are always at odds.  When they lose Emeline, the youngest Montrose, the family begins to completely fall apart as Catherine’s sins unravel before them. 

Lydia is not aware she is a witch.  She can see ghosts and notices storms brew when she becomes upset.  It takes her mother being on her death bed to reveal Lydia’s true ancestry. 

For this story, it’s the ghosts that will scare you.  What will make your stomach turn is how evil Catherine can be and how she will do everything she can to destroy her sister’s happiness.  Oh, and there is a bit of a love story in there, blackmail, incest and scary dead witches…but damn, if this isn’t a great book.

The Clockmaker’s Daughter

The Clockmaker’s Daughter is a ghost story.  This book is a popular new release for the month of October.  I stood in line for a long time to get this book. 

I will warn you right now that I had a hard time getting through the first 60% of the book.  It kept putting me to sleep.  But the last part of the book, I could not put the book down.  I kept thinking…why in the world was I having a difficult time reading this book in the beginning?  Maybe because she saved the best part for last? 

This story jumps between the present and the past.  We follow the story of Elodie in the present day.  She discovers a leather satchel with a sketchbook and a photograph.  One of the sketches reminds her of a story her mother used to tell her before she died.  She becomes so obsessed with the picture that she starts to investigate the truth of its origins. 

We are then transported back to a different time…around 1862.  A group of artists spend the summer at Birchwood Manor.  What happens in Birchwood changes their lives forever. 

Over the next 150 years, a ghost haunts the old manor.  It is her story that is being told and it is up to Elodie to unravel the mystery of Birchwood Manor.  The ending is well worth it.


Violin is another ghost story.  This time it comes from the queen of vampires, Anne Rice.  Believe it or not, it has taken me a few years to get through this book.  I started it years ago and then put it to the side.  I decided to finally finish the last 150 pages. 

It was time to find out what becomes of Stefan, the evil fiddler and the woman he is haunting. 

I did not expect that Triana would become a world class violinist that mesmerizes her audiences with the haunting violin that actually does not even exist.  This violin was destroyed back when Stefan was alive, but in death, he took the essence of the violin with him and made it real.  He made himself (and the violin) real again to those who could hear his hypnotic melodies.  So when Triana steals it from his grasp, the violin transforms her world.  Stefan will do anything to get his violin back…but how far will he go?


Villette is a classic tale from Charlotte Bronte.  I love Jane Eyre  so when I got my heart broken, I decided to read this book.  It was recommended for people with broken hearts. 

This is a somewhat true story of Charlotte’s life…about unrequited love. 

It is funny how I saw the things happening in my life, as well as my friends, echoing what I read in this book.  Men act funny when they are in love with someone they know they cannot have.  It seems that things still have not changed 170 years later. 

One person on Twitter told me that she noticed there are a lot of people that have a difficult time with this book because of the ongoing misogyny.  But if you press on, you’ll really enjoy how the book ends.  I have to agree with her on that.  It was very difficult to not want to reach into the book and punch Monsieur Paul, but you’ll find as you continue that he has some redeeming qualities. 

Bronte is supreme at writing.  What I appreciate about Jane Eyre continues in her writings here.

Cirque du Freak: Hunters of the Dark

Cirque du Freak: Hunters of the Dark is a continuation of Darren Shan’s adventures as the Vampire Prince (book 7). 

The rise of the Vampaneze Lord brings Mr. Tiny to Vampire Mountain to issue a new prophecy and a quest for Darren and Mr. Crepsley.  They return to the Cirque du Freak to have their first of four encounters with the Vampaneze Lord. 

I’m probably going to spoil the next few novels, but my guess is that the Vampaneze Lord is Darren’s best friend from the time when he was still a mortal.  This friend is the reason why Darren became a vampire to begin with…to save his life. 

Don’t tell me…I want to figure it out myself in the next few novels.

Waiting for Tomorrow

Waiting for Tomorrow is a very sad tale about a family torn apart.  The story takes place in France.

Anita is an immigrant from Mauritius who meets her husband at a New Year’s Eve party in Paris.  They have a child together and decide to move to the country where Anita freelances as a journalist and Adam is an architect. 

When Adele, another Mauritius immigrant, enters their lives, she turns their lives around.  She helps care for their home and their daughter.  But she has this magnetic pull about her that inspires Adam to be the painter he always wanted to be and Anita to finally write the novel she’s been dreaming of.  But the strange thing is that the subject of their work is Adele. 

As the novel goes on, we find Adam is in prison and their daughter is in a wheelchair.  But why?  What happened?  I will say that I never saw the ending coming.  It was very surprising. 

This is a quick read.  Only 176 pages.

The Curated Collection

Each month, when I finish reading the books for that month, I try to decide which books will be curated into my library.  This month, I decided to keep Villette (I like to keep all classic novels), The Clockmaker’s Daughter (signed), The Air You Breathe and The Witch of Willow Hall (signed).  Generally speaking, if the book is signed, I will keep it.  For books not signed, it has to be an exceptionally good book in order to be placed in the curated collection.  The Air You Breathe was really that good and deserved to be placed on the shelves.