How fast is this year flying by? The witch’s broomstick is already in the distance, past Halloween’s moon.

This month I read another long book and a children’s story that I read to my third grade class. That counts too, doesn’t it?

503 pages in print = a zillion in Kindle

First up, The Widow Queen by Elzbieta Cherezinska, translated from Polish to English by Maya Zakrzewska-Pim. When I glanced at the reviews for this I was surprised by the number of men who had left comments, but as I started to get into it, I understood why.

Despite what might look like a historical fiction tale about a bold and beautiful queen, it’s actually so much more. It’s a detailed account of the Piast dynasty of Poland and the power struggles within and between Sweden, Denmark, and Norway with some English and Holy Roman Empire history weaved in as well, all taking place during the late 10th century.

Now I confess I love this genre, but have not read much from this part of the world, which is one of the reasons why I chose this novel.

Awhile back, I also shared that I was one of those people who didn’t like to know too much about a book before I read it. I’m the same with movies and series. And I believe most of the time this works in my favor because I don’t have a strong idea of what I’m diving into. Therefore, my expectations are quite low or nonexistent.

I’m beginning to realize how much this plays into whether or not we like a story. So, because I went in to it wanting to learn more about a part of the world that I previously knew little about, The Widow Queen delivered. But if you don’t like these kinds of details and are looking for more fiction rather than history, this one might not be for you.

But I’m looking forward to book two. I liked the author’s note at the end where she mentions how well known Swietoslawa’s father and brother are known in Poland, but not her or her sisters, and yet how she had led this incredible life. I’m also a sucker for family trees and lineages and maps, of which there are plenty.


My boys are obsessed with Dahl.

I debated whether or not to add this, but what the heck. It makes me look like I’m reading more, but let’s face it, I’m simply too busy to read like I used to. Cue sad, trembling violin music!

Before third grade started, I looked up all these books to read with my class, but I ended up pulling from our library (which isn’t too shabby for a small school!) Roald Dahl’s George’s Marvelous Medicine on the recommendation of a colleague who said he remembered it fondly from when he was a kid.

I’d have never guessed that they would like this absurd story of George making a magic “medicine” for his grumpy grandma, but they did, so we’re doing as a group read of Dahl’s Fantastic Mr. Fox — as well as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory per their request. So if you’re ever stumped for Christmas or birthday presents for first to third graders, Dahl’s your guy.


Happy October and Halloween! What did you read this month?

12 replies on “๐Ÿ“š Reading Roundup: October 2021

  1. October has also been a bit empty book wise for me! I finished a couple of books I started in September (the one about how books were invented and one about the history of breastfeeding) and a graphic novel from the library. Now I just started Water Margin, one of the Chinese classic novels.

    A couple of years ago I bought a Roald Dahl collection with 16 of his novels for children and reread some of my childhood favourites, and read for the first time Boy and Going Solo, his autobiographies (loved them).

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    1. Ahh, his autobiographies I think are in our library. That sounds like something I’d like too. Thanks — and glad to meet another Dahl fan. ๐Ÿ™‚

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    2. Water Margin is such fun! My daughter has my copy now. She’s been reading bits of it out loud to my other daughter.

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  2. My guys were never big into Dahl, though they read a couple of his. They’re up to about Gary Paulsen, who, sadly, passed away not too long ago. I’m back to my audiobooks for the car, because, with my work schedule, it’s the only way I can get much reading in. I read Mary Jane, a coming-of-age near-historical (1970s) set in Baltimore (just up the road from me). It was charming and unlike anything I’ve read in a long time. Sometimes coming-of-age novels are so salacious, but this one felt just right. (I also think it’s a comp for my latest novel.) And I just finished up The Girl from the Channel Islands, a WWII historical. I definitely like to get a little history lesson from my fiction! And I’m reading an adoptee’s memoir, American Bastard by Jan Beatty, who I heard read at the conference I attended last month. It’s experimental and super interesting. I guess I’ve been reading more than I thought! Now, I only need to be revising my novel, too! Hope you’re writing’s coming along in between all your busy-ness!

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    1. Thanks for remembering. Actually, since we moved and I started teaching full-time, I don’t have the energy or time, but on the weekends I’d do a little here and there. I woke up early on Monday to get to it. I’m trying, but it’s hard — my body and brain didn’t need any new excuses to work on it.

      But that being said, I’m going to keep chipping away at it and not get frustrated that I can’t work on it as much as I’d like. Trying to take it as an opportunity to step back, come to it with fresher eyes because getting upset isn’t going to help any.

      What about you? I know you’ve been busy, too.

      What kinds of salacious coming-of-age novels have you been reading??? Hahahaha. But I know what you mean, I like mine to be more PG than rated R.

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      1. I’m crossing my fingers you gain both objective distance and energy to make the most of work on your book. It’s just tough to find time, I know. Fresh eyes are great tho!

        You know, some coming-of-age just feels like putting the life experiences of a 30 year-old onto a 15 year-old. Or, maybe I was just slow–that could be it, too!

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  3. I can’t believe it’s already time for another “Reading Roundup.”

    I do have a 3rd grade nephew. I’ll check to see if he’s read all three of those Roald Dahl books. It’s one thing to learn the bare bones of history the way we do in basic history courses. Historical fiction digs so much deeper. There’s so much more to learn about the world and its history. I’m glad you enjoyed The Widow Queen.

    I just finished reading A PORTRAIT IN SEPIA by Isabel Allende. I loved it. But then, I’ve always been fascinated by the history of both San Francisco and Chile. Now I’m reading a yet-unpublished manuscript called THE SPY’S WIFE by Jan Elizabeth Hughes, another She Writes author. It’s an exciting story.

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    1. Cool. I hope he enjoys them. I found Dahl’s Going Solo in the library today and have started to read that while the kids were on the computers…

      Isabel Allende is great and the book sounds fantastic. I’ll have to remember that one. Glad you’re on a good reading streak – the best!

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  4. The Widow Queen sounds perfect to me! Thank you for the recommendation! Although I’m living much closer geographically to Poland than you, I can’t say I know anything about its history (apart from 2nd WW stuff). Looking forward to learn more!
    Hey! I’m currently reading Roald Dahl too!! La girafe, le pelican et moi – to improve my French! ๐Ÿ˜

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    1. Wow. You’re amazing, Sarah. So talented. Reading must be a great way to flex those language skillz. ๐Ÿ˜›

      And what a coincidence! Hope you like the novel. Hugs from Thailand. xo

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  5. I’m a big Roald Dahl fan, and love good historical fiction. So I will definitely have a look at The Widow Queen, as I need to read something apart from the other topics on growing fruit trees and soil I’m reading currently.

    I recently read Diary of a Young Naturalist by Dara McAnulty. Super young (born in 2004!) his words surprised me with their beauty and wisdom. It not just a beautiful insight into how he experiences the natural world, but also fascinating as he describes his autism so well.

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    1. Cool, thanks for the share. And yes, I’d imagine you are reading all you can about gardening and growing ๐Ÿ˜€

      Nice to meet another Dahl fan, I’m trying to crack into his memoir, but trying to read any book at work has been impossible. It might have to be a vacation read at this point. xo

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