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October 2018 Wrap-Up


Wow! October was a weird one. I had a huge stack of books I planned to read but I ended up only reading 4...okay 3 and a half.

The Readalongs: Rachael (@anovelfamily on Instagram) and I hosted 2 readalongs: Dracula at the beginning of the month and The Historian for the 2nd half. Thank goodness we were partnered on this because I was traveling to visit family during the beginning of the month and I was having a hard time getting my reading time in for Dracula. Then when I got home I got a cold that threw me even more off schedule. I kept at it as long as I could and made it about 1/2 way through but then I gave up. I wasn't loving it (even though I read it years ago and thought I did). She definitely carried the weight with the discussions on that one! Thanks Rachael! When we got rolling with The Historian (which I've also read before and KNEW I loved) she found that she didn't like it. It made for a perfect tradeoff. I liked talking to other readers during the readalongs and I learned a lot that I will take into account when I host my next readalong. Mainly, more planning ahead and reading ahead! 

The other 2 books I read were Who Cooked Adam Smith's Dinner by Katrine Marçal (which I have already reviewed) and Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield (which I will be reviewing in the next few days). 

Now I'm off to put together my November reading list. What was your favorite read last month? What are you most excited to read in November. 


Review: Who Cooked Adam Smith's Dinner? A Story of Women and Economics by Katrine Marçal

Who Cooked Adam Smith's Dinner? A Story of Women and Economics by Katrine Marçal


Goodreads Summary:How do you get your dinner? That is the basic question of economics. When economist and philosopher Adam Smith proclaimed that all our actions were motivated by self-interest, he used the example of the baker and the butcher as he laid the foundations for 'economic man.' He argued that the baker and butcher didn't give bread and meat out of the goodness of their hearts. It's an ironic point of view coming from a bachelor who lived with his mother for most of his life — a woman who cooked his dinner every night.


Nevertheless, the economic man has dominated our understanding of modern-day capitalism, with a focus on self-interest and the exclusion of all other motivations. Such a view point disregards the unpaid work of mothering, caring, cleaning and cooking. It insists that if women are paid less, then that's because their labor is worth less. Economics has told us a story about how the world works and we have swallowed it, hook, line and sinker. This story has not served women well. Now it's time to change it.


A kind of feminist Freakonomics, Who Cooked Adam Smith’s Dinner? charts the myth of economic man — from its origins at Adam Smith's dinner table, its adaptation by the Chicago School, and its disastrous role in the 2008 Global Financial Crisis — in a witty and courageous dismantling of one of the biggest myths of our time.



My Review:
This book has been on my list for a while and I finally got around to reading it. While I did learn several things from the book, I was expecting to find more information about the financial contributions that women's unpaid labor provides to the economy as a whole. There was a lot of introductory economic theory which was informative and easy to understand, but the focus was almost always on "economic man". I feel like this whole book was a great starting point, but it never really got to what I wanted, which was the second half of the title, the story of women and economics. I would recommend it to someone looking for an approachable intro to economics.

Review: Melmoth by Sarah Perry

Melmoth by Sarah Perry (published 10/16/18 from Custom House)

Disclaimer: I received a free copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Goodreads Summary:
For centuries, the mysterious dark-robed figure has roamed the globe, searching for those whose complicity and cowardice have fed into the rapids of history’s darkest waters—and now, in Sarah Perry’s breathtaking follow-up to The Essex Serpent, it is heading in our direction.
It has been years since Helen Franklin left England. In Prague, working as a translator, she has found a home of sorts—or, at least, refuge. That changes when her friend Karel discovers a mysterious letter in the library, a strange confession and a curious warning that speaks of Melmoth the Witness, a dark legend found in obscure fairy tales and antique village lore. As such superstition has it, Melmoth travels through the ages, dooming those she persuades to join her to a damnation of timeless, itinerant solitude. To Helen it all seems the stuff of unenlightened fantasy.
But, unaware, as she wanders the cobblestone streets Helen is being watched. And then Karel disappears. . . .

My Review:

I thought this would be a perfectly spooky read but I was so disappointed. I was actually so excited to read this that I read Sarah Perry's previous novel, The Essex Serpent, first (which I didn't love, but I know lots of people did). Melmoth had all the makings of a story I thought I'd love: dark legends, superstition, an immortal woman...but I felt like it was assigned reading in college (morality and conscience, all with a biblical undertone). 



The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova Readalong / Summary (#historianreadalong)



This month's first readalong, Dracula, didn't go quite as planned (I got a little and then a lot behind when I was traveling) so I'll be updating that blog post throughout the rest of the month. The 2nd readalong will be for The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova October 11-31. While I love Instagram, I also want a place where we can discuss the topics of each chapter in further detail and not give away any spoilers to readers who may be a bit behind. I will be giving my daily updates here and I am looking forward to hearing everyone else's comments, so check in often and let me know your thoughts (here and on my Instagram stories).


Day 11: Chapters 1-4
  • Before Chapter 1, we are given "A Note to the Reader" where the 52 year old narrator introduces us to her story, beginning when she was 16. This 2 page introduction sets the tone for the historical aspect of the story to come. We are also given a quote from Bram Stoker's Dracula, which was fun to read since it was the selection for our last readalong.
  • Chapter 1: We begin with the narrator's travels at 16, just as she first suggested in the note. She is motherless and her diplomatic father works late and travels often, leaving her in the care of housekeepers. The narrator finds an old book and envelope of papers high on a shelf in her father's library. The topmost letter is dated 1930, sent from Oxford, and addressed to "my dear and unfortunate successor". Something about this discovery shakes the narrator out of her constant obedience and causes her to insist on accompanying her father on his next trip.  --by train to the Slovenian Alps. Ducking out of the rain into a teashop, she asks her father to tell her a story and tells him about the book she found in his library. 
  • Chapter 2: The father (Paul) tells the story of how he came into possession of a book with a dragon on the spine and we are given a history lesson of Vlad III (Tepes) of Wallachia (1431-1476). He tells of his friend and mentor Professor Rossi who has a similar book and has already done some extensive testing and related research travel to come to the conclusion that Dracula--Vlad Tepes--is still alive. 
  • Chapter 3: The narrator and her father are back home in Amsterdam and then they take another journey.
  • Chapter 4: The father starts back up on the story where he left off with his daughter at the end of chapter 2. He tells of Rossi's studies in Istanbul and the strange occurrences in while he was there (the visitor, the maps, and his confiscated belongings at the hotel room).
My thoughts on this section of reading: I instantly love the 16 year old narrator and who can't empathize with her when she describes her fear of boys and girls her age and her annoyances with her father's habits? I am mesmerized by the descriptions of the castles and autumn arriving in the countryside and I instantly fall in love with the academic and library settings. I also love the concept of a story within in a story with the father telling one story to his daughter and we, as readers, receiving a larger overarching story complete with extensive historical data. Who the man was who visited Professor Rossi in the library in Istanbul? Where is the Unholy Tomb? Does everyone else feel like if history was presented in school like it is in this book that they would have been much more interested? 

Day 12: Chapters 5-8

  • Chapter 5: The narrator begins a bit of research herself and she and her father visit some of his friends, Massimo and Guilia, in Tuscany. Over dinner, Massimo comments on Professor Rossi's disappearance years ago. 
  • Chapter 6: Paul continues telling his story to his daughter, including all he knows about Rossi's disappearance and the contents of the envelope. 
  • Chapter 7: The narrator continues her research at the library and her father and her take another trip. The maître d' at one of the restaurants they stop at tells them a story about a young monk and an "alive, but not really alive" monk. 
  • Chapter 8: This chapter begins with a letter from Rossi, addressed to "my dear and unfortunate successor" which includes some of his research into the Order of the Dragon and Vlad Dracula. Paul meets a dark haired woman in the library as he is looking through Rossi's envelope of documents. She is reading Dracula and tells him she will soon be traveling to Istanbul. 
My thoughts on this section of reading: I am impressed by how Kostova is able to apply the push/pull of a father/daughter relationship to this story. The frustration from both characters is palpable and I'm sure the daughter is hanging on every word the father offers about the woman he met in the library. As a foodie, I'm also loving the descriptions of everything they eat and how and where they eat.

Day 13: Chapters 9-12

  • Chapter 9: Rossi tells more about his journey from England to Greece in another letter. He has great luck on his journey but then takes a jaunt to Istanbul (where the bureaucrat with the bite marks stole his map in the library) and everything starts going wrong. He's so shaken up that he vows to request to go to the States once he returns to England. 
  • Chapter 10: The narrator and her father are visiting Saint-Matthieu-des-Pyrénées-Orientales when she realizes she will have to begin searching for her own clues. 
  • Chapter 11: The narrator is back in the library in Amsterdam and her librarian friend is helping her find some great information. Her father and her take a trip to Venice where he accidentally let's the cat out of the bag that he has been to Istanbul. 
  • Chapter 12: Another of Rossi's letters tell of how he finally notices where the dragon's tail points and how his friend "Hedges" is found dead right outside his door.  The narrator and her father are approached by an artist who has painted them (and "someone/something else") as they sit at an outdoor cafe!
My thoughts on this section of reading: I had a bit of a hard time getting my timeline straight because the dates on Rossi's letters aren't the dates when the events he's describing happens. I had to reread to figure out when he went to Istanbul. I loved the first paragraph of Chapter 10 discussing seeking a place a second time when traveling and how it is never quite the same, and when the narrator said she would start searching for her own clues at the end of the chapter. Chapter 12 was a really good one! When Rossi figures out where the dragon tail points and when the narrator sees the dark man in the painting! Also, I'm craving orange soda. 


Day 14: Chapters 13-16

  • Chapter 13: Another trip, some more of the story, another letter from Rossi. Upon receiving his book back from testing at the Smithsonian, Rossi learns of a new map inside his book with his name replacing the previous name on the labeled tomb. 
  • Chapter 14: The narrator's librarian friend is killed while he is helping her with her research. 
  • Chapter 15: Paul sees the map with Rossi's name and his stray cat is killed and left on his windowsill. 
  • Chapter 16: Paul tells of how cards relating to Dracula were pulled out of the library's card catalog and of a strange professor being nosy when he tries to get information from the librarian. 
My thoughts on this section of reading: I didn't think these chapters were as exciting as some of the previous ones. 

Day 15: Chapters 17-20

  • Chapter 17: Another city (Athens) and another date (February 1974) from the narrator. Paul tells his daughter about meeting Helen Rossi for coffee, sharing their backgrounds, and going over their combined interest in Dracula. While Helen claims to be Professor Rossi's daughter, he claims (according to Helen) that he never traveled to Romania or met her mother. She has taken on the Dracula legend as a sort of academic vendetta against him. 
  • Chapter 18: Slovenia, then Emona, then back to Amsterdam. Touring a castle in Slovenia, the narrator believes a corpse smiles at her. Paul asks his daughter to begin writing down the stories he is telling her and he appears to be tiring, losing energy, or slowing down.
  • Chapter 19: Paul and Helen continue their discussion in the diner and make arrangements to meet in St. Mary's Church in 30 minutes so he can show her his papers (which he has in his briefcase but doesn't want to tell her).
  • Chapter 20: Paul arrives at the church before Helen. When Helen arrives she tells Paul that someone was following her from the library (where she went to check out his story about the missing card in the card catalog). Paul figures out that this must be the strange librarian he encountered when inquiring about the card catalog himself. The librarian enters the church. Helen and Paul are able to hide and an altar lady redirects the man. 
My thoughts on this section of reading: I still get confused with the dual timeline and order of events sometimes, but hello Helen! I'm ready for a female storyline (beyond the narrator's), but I'm frustrated by how much Paul keeps saying how "masculine" and "cold" Helen is, or making dismissive (derogatory?) statements about her clothing choices, i.e."mannish white blouse". We get it, she's not a silver screen siren who has you reeling with emotions...she doesn't seem too impressed with you either, Paul! 

Day 16: Chapters 21-24

  • Chapter 21: Helen and Paul grab 2 crucifixes as they leave the church and then use one against the librarian when he attacks Helen back at the library. They get some information from him but then he is killed when he runs into traffic leaving the library. 
  • Chapter 22: Paul and his daughter visit Oxford. Paul's contact, Master James, assigns Stephen Barley to show around the narrator while her father attends to his meetings. When she requests to see the Radcliffe Camera (a round room of books?) she finds her father studying the books there pertaining to vampire history and legends. 
  • Chapter 23: Switch back to Helen and Paul after the accident. Paul decides to take off for Turkey in the hopes of finding Rossi and while Helen knows it will be more difficult for her to travel, she states that she will be going with him. 
  • Chapter 24: During the night (at Oxford) Paul takes off and leaves a letter to his daughter with instructions about how to wear a crucifix and put garlic in her pockets. Stephen Barley is assigned to accompany her on her train trip back home. Upon her arrival back home she searches through her father's papers and finds that he has gone to search for her mother. 
My thoughts on this section of reading: Too bad about the librarian dying, I was hoping that Paul and Helen could have gotten some more information out of him. I'm hearing from a lot of people that they are not enjoying the book--I'm thinking they were expecting more action. I love this story so much because I swoon over each library, building, and trip and love the historical, anthropological, and architectural details.


PART TWO

Day 17: Chapters 25-28
  • Chapter 25: The narrator sets off by train from Amsterdam to Paris and reads more about her father's past adventure/research expedition from letters he has left her. He tells of him and Helen arriving in Constantinople and their initial search for a small mosque build by Mehmed II. They stop at a restaurant and (coincidentally?) meet a fellow historian, Turgut. Helen also gets "told off" by a Gypsy woman. Barley find the narrator on her train.  
  • Chapter 26: The narrator shares some of her father's letters to Barley in an attempt to explain why she is running away. Turgut reveals that his specialties are Shakespeare and vampires. Turgut shares some of his learned history regarding Dracula and tells of a library created to fight evil...created by Sultan Mehmed II. Something seems familiar to Barley about Paul's experiences in graduate school being something similar to something that has happened with Master James, but he can't remember just what it is. 
  • Chapter 27: Helen and Paul walk through the market and look at books before meeting Turgut. Turgut's contact in the library brings out a box of letters which has been locked since 1930 and contains Sultan Mehmed's documents from the Order of the Dragon. The narrator sees a suspicious woman outside of the train's window at the Brussels station. 
  • Chapter 28: The contents of the locked box are removed: a ledger of war expenses, a letter from the pasha of Wallachia to Sultan Mehmed promising to send any documents about the Order of the Dragon, scrolls listing trading transactions, a map, and a bibliography of the Order of the Dragon. After Turgut, Helen, and Paul puzzle over the strange list of books, Paul notices the name Bartolomeo Rossi on the map and when he cries out. Barley decides to accompany the narrator on her journey. 
My thoughts on this section of reading: I loved picturing Helen and Paul in the restaurant, their hotel, walking around the city, and sitting side by side in the library. Wouldn't you be creeped out if you went to research something and the librarian brought you a big old locked box? 😱

Day 18: Chapters 29-32
  • Chapter 29: Barley knows that the narrator is heading off for the monastery at Pyrénées-Orientales and happily agrees to not call anyone to alert them, but instead to tag along on her journey. Helen, Paul, and Turgut figure out that they all know (or know of) Professor Rossi. A little man with a white cap and gray beard was the last one to access the documents the three are looking at and was upset when with Mr Erozan when he found out that H, P, and T were all looking at them. Turgut invites H&P to his home to see his collected materials.  
  • Chapter 30: Barley heads to the dining car for tea and the narrator takes a nap in their train car. She awakens to a man sitting across from her who will not move his head out from behind his newspaper.  
  • Chapter 31: The man still doesn't move his newspaper, but asks her about her father. She runs to find Barley and with some help from a kitchen worker they are able to escape man hunting them by departing the train but leaving their bags behind. 
  • Chapter 32: Turgut feeds P & H and shows them his collections including a large painting of Vlad Dracula, Wallachian torture instruments, and a vampire hunting kit.
My thoughts on this section of reading: While Barley and the narrator may be young, I can't imagine either of them thought that she should be sleeping in a car alone. I love that the duo on the hunt for Professor Rossi has gained a new member to form a trio! 


Day 19: Chapters 33-36

  • Chapter 33: Barley and the narrator stay at a farm for the night. Helen thinks up a plan to get her and Paul into Romania. Paul sees the little man with the gray beard and white hat outside the Hagia Sophia, and he has the face of the dead librarian. 😱
  • Chapter 34: The bookseller from the market turns out to be Turgut's friend Selim Aksoy, who possesses a great knowledge of books and the history and legends of Istanbul. The creepy librarian shows up at the library again when they are all heading to see the collection and Helen shoots him. 
  • Chapter 35: The librarian gets away and the group discover that Mr Erozan has been bitten. Selim Aksoy takes over library duties for the day and Mr Erozan is taken to Turgut's to be cared for by him and his wife. 
  • Chapter 36: The narrator sees a dragon fly in front of the moon. There is some speculation about a lost work by Shakespeare which is based on Dracula. Turgut gives Paul his vampire hunting kit. 
My thoughts on this section of reading: I found the part about Shakespeare's lost work "The King of Tashkani" the most interesting and so I looked it up. Several books Kostova included in this novel are fictional. Click HERE and then scroll down to her name to see the full list. 

Day 20: Chapters 37-40

  • Chapter 37: Paul tours the Topkapi Palace as Helen rests in the hotel. Helen's aunt Eva arranges for Paul and Helen to get into Budapest by arranging for them to attend a conference (and for Paul to be the keynote speaker 😆). The narrator and Barley head out for Perpignan. 
  • Chapter 38: Helen and Paul attend the conference and meet Eva. 
  • Chapter 39: Eva, Helen, and Paul go to lunch, Helen translates (but Eva probably understands more than she lets on), and Paul and Eva get along very well 😊. 
  • Chapter 40: Helen tells Paul more about her mother and Eva. Helen tells Paul not to talk to Professor Géza József and Paul befriends Hugh James (who knows Professor Rossi and has received a book like Paul).
My thoughts on this section of reading: I love Eva and am very curious as to why Helen does not want Paul to talk to Géza József 🤔). 

Day 22: Chapters 41-45

  • Chapter 41: Paul gives his lecture. Helen and Paul tour another library and find a book with the lyrics to a folk song talking about monks riding up to the gates of a great city, an illustration of a tiny dragon, and the word "Ivireanu". After returning to the hotel, Paul finds his room ransacked. 
  • Chapter 42: It is implied that Helen's room was also ransacked (but it was also a bit unclear to me). Paul has dinner with Hugh (while Helen has dinner with Eva) and they exchange stories about their books, Rossi, and their personal backgrounds. Hugh says he has also come across the word "Ivireanu" recently, in a Romanian New Testament bible. A hotel worker tells Paul he has information about his room being tossed so Paul bribes him for the info and the worker points to the vampire librarian just outside. After Hugh and Paul try to chase him down, Paul calls to Turgut to give him an update. 
  • Chapter 43: The narrator and Barley make it to Perpignan. Helen and Paul go to visit Helen's mother, who gives Paul a stack of Rossi's letters. 
  • Chapter 44: Helen's mother tells her story of living in a village near Dracula's castle, receiving a gold coin from an old woman healer, meeting and falling in love with Rossi, and how Eva helped her to leave her village and care for her. She also gives Paul Rossi's ring. 
  • Chapter 45: This chapter is a series of letters from Rossi to his friend (Hedges?). He tells of being frightened in Istanbul but continuing his quest to find Dracula's tomb before he must be in Greece. Rossi heads to Lake Snagov and meets Mr Georgescu who helps him a bit with the local history, including the fact that Vlad Dracula was not buried there. Over dinner the two share a bit about their pasts and Georgescu offers to take Rossi to the ruins of Dracula's castle. 
My thoughts on this section of reading: Today's reading section was pretty long (almost 70 pages) so I'm glad I started a little of it on our catch up day yesterday. Since the dragon on Helen's mother's shoulder is a tattoo, I spent some time wondering how common tattoos were among Romanian villagers during this time period and how old she must have been when it was done because she doesn't seem to remember having it done, just that it's always been there. Also, I love that Eva and her husband helped to rescue Helen's mother. 

Day 23: Chapters 46-49:

  • Chapter 46: More of Rossi's letter(s) to Hedges about his travels with Georgescu to Vlad Dracula's fortress on the Arges. R&G examine the ruins and camp out there for the night. G tells Rossi some local myths, legends, and history about the castle and Dracula, including how the last of the last of Dracula's children with his second wife married into the Getzi family. During the night, Rossi wakes to find a huge wolf with red eyes staring at him and then it runs away. He looks over a nearby wall and sees lights in the forest. G wakes up and he and Rossi see a bunch of men (the Legion of he Archangel Michael/The Iron Guard) in suits saluting around a fire. Rossi sees a man in a cloak on the other side of the fire, watching the group and then returning to the trees. 
  • Chapter 47: R&G return to the village below Dracula's fortress. G heads back to Snagov and Rossi meets a peasant girl, Helen's mother. Rossi falls in love with Helen's mother and plans to return for her in one month so they can marry and move to England. 
  • Chapter 48: Paul and Helen return to their hotel and meet Eva for dinner. Eva tells them that Géza József sent a police detective to interrogate her about P&H. Helen tells Paul the GJ is a member of the Secret Police and that they had a "relationship" before she left the country. Turgut tells P&H to prepare for a new adventure in Bulgaria.
PART THREE
  • Chapter 49: The narrator shares a love letter that her father wrote to her mother about the early days of their relationship, although it was probably written "when it could no longer have been delivered to her." 
My thoughts on this section of reading: Chapter 46 was the creepiest chapter, right? We learn that Helen's mother is a descendent of Vlad Dracula, a scary wolf wakes up Rossi, and there is a Nazi ceremony happening near the castle ruins. In Chapter 48, when Paul tells Helen that she is a descendant of Vlad Dracula I couldn't help but roll my eyes. I mean, she's reading the letters right along with you Paul! Plus, I'm pretty sure she already knew. These chapters also had a lot of romance: Rossi's days with Helen's mother, Paul kissing Helen's neck on the bridge, and the love letter. 


Day 24: Chapters 50-54:

  • Chapter 50: Turgut and Selim Aksoy meet P&H at the Istanbul airport and they all go back to Turgut's. They tell H&P that Erozan has been attacked a 2nd time. Turgut translates how Selim found a letter in the archives from a monk discussing them going into infidel lands. Helen connects this to the folk song about the men of God from the Carpathians. Turgut suggests that H&P contact Anton Stoichev when they reach Bulgaria and Turgut and Selim reveal to H&P that they work for the sultan. 
  • Chapter 51: Turgut gives the history of the Crescent Guard and its relation to the Order of the Dragon. Turgut receives a phone call that Erozan has been attacked for the 3rd time.
  • Chapter 52: The narrator and Barley share a room in France. They make out a bit but Barley stops them from going further. 
  • Chapter 53: Turgut drives a silver stake through Erozan's heart and they all agree that H&P must leave for Bulgaria ASAP. 
  • Chapter 54: H&P are greeted at the airport in Bulgaria by an officer who appears to be amazed that they have been let in the country and then he calls their guide, Krassimir Ranov. Ranov doesn't seem to like H&P too much and while he first says that they can't see Anton Stoichev because he "is an enemy of the people", he quickly says that he can arrange it because he has been told to give them whatever they want. 
My thoughts on this section of reading: I do love the details of this book but all of chapter 53 was about killing Erozan and we are barely getting any info on the narrator and Barley. As for Ranov, we obviously know he is untrustworthy and it's pretty easy to see that he is monitoring H&P. 

Day 25: Chapters 55-58:

  • Chapter 55: Helen, Paul, and Ranov arrive at Stoichev's under the pretense of studying medieval Bulgaria and the pilgrimage routes of monks. Stoichev's niece Irina helps to distract Ranov so the 3 historians can discuss Brother Kiril's letters. 
  • Chapter 56: The narrator and Barley reach Paul's room in Perpignan and find it in disarray. 
  • Chapter 57: Stoichev also has one of Brother Kiril's letters. The three of them compare the letters and Stoichev invites them back the next day for a celebration. Paul and Helen figure out that Rossi must have had amnesia, which is why he doesn't remember Helen's mother and his trip to Romania 
  • Chapter 58: Helen, Paul, and Ranov return to Stoichev's for the celebration and find that he also has a dragon book. 
My thoughts on this section of reading: I loved the storybook setting of Stoichev's home and yard. Paul notes that if one would have to be exiled that this would be quite the lovely place. It is so idyllic and he has lots of reading materials. I think I'd like to vacation there for a month or two. 

Day 26: Chapters 59-63:

  • Chapter 59: This chapter is a "the 'chronicle' of Zacharias of Zographou, discussing a monk's (Stefan the Wanderer) travels (as told to Zacharias) about an interesting journey he took through Bulgaria and to Sveti Georgi.
  • Chapter 60: Stoichev tells the story of how he received his dragon book and Helen and Paul enjoy watching the singers and dancers at the celebration. 
  • Chapter 61: Helen, Paul, Stochiev, Irina, and Ranov go to Rila Monastery where Helen figures out that the monks were on a journey to bring Dracula's head back to Constantinople.   
  • Chapter 62: Paul asks Helen to marry him and she accepts.
  • Chapter 63: Barley and the narrator find some pictures and postcards from Helen to her daughter. 
My thoughts on this section of reading: Ugh. Chapter 59 had my head spinning. I had no idea what I was trying to figure out with the monks journeys. I thought the pictures and postcards from Helen to her daughter with sad but sweet. 

Day 27: Chapters 64-68:

  • Chapter 64: Paul sees Ranov talking to Géza József. Ranov, Paul, and Helen stay overnight in the monastery. 
  • Chapter 65: 3 more letters from Helen to her daughter. 
  • Chapter 66: Helen is bitten again while at the monastery, after ripping off her rosary. 
  • Chapter 67: Ranov, Helen, and Paul are off to a monastery at Bachkovo. One of the monks tells them a story and tells them about another folk song. They decide to talk to a lady who sings the folk song the next day. 
  • Chapter 68: More letters from Helen to her daughter. 
My thoughts on this section of reading: I can't believe that Helen was bitten again (at a monastery!) and I can't believe she ripped off the rosary. I like all the letters and I like knowing that Helen has enough money to pursue her journey and research. 

Day 28: Chapters 69-73:

  • Chapter 69: Helen, Paul, Ranov, and Brother Ivan travel to a village near Bachkovo to attend the festival and meet Baba Yanka. BY sings two songs, the second of which she is scared to sing. They all attend the festival where BY and her sister sing and do fire walking. H&P notice the dragon relic used in the ceremony. 
  • Chapter 70: More of Helen's letters to her daughter. She is researching and dreaming about what her daughter looks like. 
  • Chapter 71: H & P request a tour of the church by the priest and then H, P, Ranov, and Brother Ivan return to BY's house. H & P sneak out while Ranov and Brother Ivan discuss politics. They return to the church and open the tomb of a saint to find Professor Rossi. 
  • Chapter 72: Rossi remembers Helen's mother when he looks at Helen's face. Paul tells Rossi he's going to marry Helen. Rossi tells them he has hidden a book in Dracula's library. H & P drive a dagger through Rossi's heart. 
  • Chapter 73: Rossi has written a dairy of his experience being taken by Dracula and being kept as his personal librarian. 
My thoughts on this section of reading: Wasn't it weird that Helen and Paul are just chatting away with Rossi as he's chilling in his tomb? Chapter 73 finally gave us Dracula and let us know what the woodcuts mean and what he wants from Rossi (and the world). I know that it's evil, but I'd love to see that library! 

Day 29: Chapters 74-77:

  • Chapter 74: Paul and Helen find a latch in the wall/floor to gain access to Dracula's library, which is empty except for a sarcophagus. Géza József, Ranov, Stoichev, Brother Ivan and a "wiry little bureaucrat" who turns out to be the librarian vampire who keeps following them. This vampire bites Ranov. 
  • Chapter 75: Helen and Paul are safely back at the Boras. They let Turgut and Selim know that Dracula knows about the special forces looking for him in the Crescent Guard. Helen managed to smuggle out the jewel encrusted book that Rossi hid his journal inside of. 
  • Chapter 76: H & P move to NYC where Helen receives her doctorate and Paul completes his dissertation. They sell the Life of Saint George book and (after several miscarriages) have their daughter. Helen is happy with the baby but sad in general. A trip to France raises her spirits. They travel to Saint-Matthieu-des-Pyrénées-Orientales and Helen disappears in the night. After putting together a few clues about the monks keeping vigil in the crypt and the repetition of names, he asks to look inside the sarcophagus in the crypt and sees that it is empty. Blood is found on some rocks at the bottom of a cliff, and Helen is believed to be dead . 
  • Chapter 77: Paul grieves at the monastery and nearby Les Bains. 
My thoughts on this section of reading: Why are there always people like Géza József waiting for someone to do all the hard work so they can swoop in and take the credit? Does Helen have postpartum depression? 

Day 30: Chapters 78-Epilogue:



  • Chapter 78: Barley and the narrator travel to Saint-Matthieu, where they find Paul in the crypt. They again find the crypt to be empty, but Dracula appears out of the shadows. Helen and Master James also appear and Dracula kills Master James. 
  • Chapter 79: Barley, Paul, Helen, and the narrator gather in the parlor of the hotel in Les Bains. Barley is saddened by Master James' death, and we learn what Helen has been doing during the years she has been gone. 
  • Epilogue: During a conference for medieval historians in Philadelphia, the narrator visits a museum and upon leaving is given a notebook she forgot (but swears she placed in her bag) and a dragon book.  
My thoughts on this section of reading: We learn that Helen and Paul have both died and that now the narrator is one of the new historians. What happens to Barley, Ranov, and the Boras? Did Helen ever get to visit her aunt or mother again? Is Selim continuing the Crescent Guard's vigilant society? 




9 Days of Dracula (Dracula Readalong) INCOMPLETE--DNF


I'm co-hosting 2 readalongs on Instagram this month! We will be reading Dracula by Bram Stoker October 1-9 and The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova October 11-31. While I love Instagram, I also want a place where we can discuss the topics of each chapter in further detail and not give away any spoilers to readers who may be a bit behind. I will be giving my daily updates here and I am looking forward to hearing everyone else's comments, so check in often and let me know your thoughts (here and on my Instagram stories).

Day 1: Chapters 1-3


  • Ch 1: Jonathan is traveling from London to meet Count Dracula. Starting out by train, Jonathan stays at nice hotels, eats exotic dishes (paprika!), and sees new styles of dress...but as he travels on, his journey begins to get strange. From Bistritz Jonathan sets out with his fellow Bukovina-bound passengers to meet Dracula's carriage at the Borgo Pass (all these "b" places!). The passengers are totally freaked out (they keep blessing Jonathan with evil eye protection gestures and one of them gives Jonathan a rosary). The coachman arrives early at the Borgo Pass and hopes to convince Jonathan to just come along to Bukovina since Dracula's carriage isn't there, but then the carriage appears out of nowhere! Jonathan has a crazy ride in a calèche (which is a "light low-wheeled carriage with a removable folding hood, I had to look that one up). When he isn't surrounded by total darkness he sees blue flames and moonlit glances of the landscape...and a giant ring of wolves surrounding the carriage and horses that are somehow dispersed by a wave of the hand by the driver. They travel up, up , up to "a vast ruined castle".  
  • Ch 2:  Dracula welcomes Jonathan "Welcome to my house! Enter freely and of your own will!" Nope, doesn't sound sketchy at all! While Dracula has very luxurious furnishings (and an awesome library), doesn't smoke, and likes his guests to sleep in (so far, so good) he also has a unibrow, pointy ears and fingernails, hairy palms, and nasty breath (ew!) We learn that Jonathan is a solicitor acting on behalf of his superior, Peter Hawkins (who is Dracula's friend somehow?) to show Dracula all the information about a new house he has purchased in London. It's so lovely: medieval stone with iron barred windows and an oh so quaint private lunatic asylum right next door! Not seeing Dracula sneak up behind him (no reflection!) Jonathan cuts himself shaving. The Count grabs Jonathan's throat but pulls away from the crucifix. When Jonathan considers an escape he realizes he is a prisoner...all the doors are locked and bolted!
  • Ch 3: The Count supplies Jonathan with transparent paper and envelopes to write letters (since he will be staying in the castle for a month) and warns him to not sleep anywhere else in the castle (how will that happen if he is locked in?). Then he gives a long speech about his personal history/the military history of the country to imply that he was there to witness it all. When the Count leaves the castle (like a lizard down the outside walls) Jonathan finds a door to an area of the castle that is not locked and decides to defy orders of sleeping elsewhere. In his "dream" 3 women come to him and one almost kisses/bites him but the Count arrives and tells them that they can't have Jonathan but he's brought them a present...a child in a sack!
My Thoughts: Stoker's writing has me on the edge of my seat. My senses are heightened as I read each page. I love the details about the castle and am wondering how Jonathan plans to spend his month as the Count's "guest"? Will he be let go? I'm also wondering about all the solicitor talk in Ch 3. Is he feigning ignorance to pry into Jonathan's knowledge of the subject or is he truly wanting to know about modern legal matters and actions? 


Day 2: Chapters 4-6

  • Ch 4: Jonathan tried to send some letters to Mina and his boss by throwing them out the window to a "gypsy" in the Count's courtyard, but the Count returns with them and burns them. The following day Jonathan finds all of his paper, notes, his letter of credit, and his clothes are gone and later sees the Count set off for the village in his clothes--meaning any evilness he does will be attributed to Jonathan (talk about adding insult to injury!) Jonathan almost summons the women again by nodding off while watching dust in the moonbeams (C'mon now, Jonathan!), the Count brings another kid in a sack and after begging for the child's release the child's mother is eaten by wolves. Jonathan decides to scale the castle's exterior wall to the Count's chamber which is full of gold and has a lower level where he is "sleeping" in his "new" coffin (there are 50?) The next night Jonathan returns to the chamber and hits him over the head with a shovel. 
  • Ch 5: We finally meet Mina and Lucy. Mina wants to be a journalist and seems to be calm and collected, whereas Lucy gets 3 proposals for marriage on her 19th birthday, is fascinated with slang, and cries a lot. We also meet Lucy's 3 suitors (who are all friends?!): Dr John Seward (lunatic asylum owner who is performing an interesting experiment), Mr Quincey P. Morris (Texan), and Arthur Holmwood. 
  • Ch 6: Mina likes hanging out in a cemetery overlooking the town of Whitby and it's nearby docks while talking to the old men about tombstones. Dr Seward continues his experiment, a mysterious boat has arrived in the harbor, and Lucy is sleepwalking. 
Holy chapters of slang! Between Morris and Mr Swales I admit I skimmed some of their chatterings. Is the Count going to wake up with Jonathan in his room? Is Seward going to give Renfield a cat?! even after he ate the birds!?)

Day 3: Chapters 7-9

  • Chapter 7: A terrible storm off the coast of Whitby brings in a Russian ship with no other passengers besides a corpse lashed to the helm and a dog that jumps off the boat when it makes landfall. According to the ship's log men began going missing from the ship during their journey. Lucy continues to attempt sleepwalking but it caught by Mina each time and Mr Swales is found dead on their special seat. When a sea captain friend comes near Lucy and Mina on the seat, his otherwise obedient dog will not come close 
  • Chapter 8: Mina doesn't catch Lucy sleepwalking in time and Lucy makes it all the way out to their special seat overlooking the water. When Mina finds Lucy in the moonlight she also sees a dark figure standing over her. Mina fastens a shawl around Lucy and believes she pierced her neck with it. The following night Lucy impatiently returns to bed when she finds the bedroom door locked. Then one night she sits up in bed and points to a bat out the window and on another night Mina looks up to her window from outside to see Lucy "sleeping" on the windowsill with what looks to be a large bird next to her. Lucy begins to look pale and the wounds at her throat are not healing. There are letters between solicitors in regards to the movement of 50 boxes to a house in Carfax. Lucy tells Mina what she felt the night she was found on the seat by the water. Mina receives a letter from a convent where they are taking care of Jonathan and sets out to meet him. Renfield tells Dr Seward that "the Master is at hand" and he escapes to go to the house next door (where all the boxes have been delivered)
  • Chapter 9: When Mina arrives to Jonathan he says he wants to marry her right away and he gives her his book with his notes. They are married (between his naps) Dr Seward continues to watch Renfield (flies/no flies). Lucy writes to Mina about becoming more weak and pale and Mina writes to Dr Seward to look in on her. Dr Seward writes to Arthur to tell him of Lucy's health and that he has written to Professor Van Helsing to request him to come examine at Lucy. 

I like Mina's writing style. She makes statements to how she is trying to stick to writing habits and give detailed accounts, but she is also funny in her personal statements (women's appetites, relationships, etc.) Every time I read Carfax, my mind goes "show me the Carfax!" When Sister Agatha writes to Mina she tells of Jonathan running into the train station violently shouting for a ticket for home...and they just gave it to him? He has no money and is shouting and they said "let's stick him on this train"?

Day 4: Chapters 10-12

  • Chapter 10: Dr (John) Seward and Van Helsing are attending to Lucy when VH decides she needs a blood transfusion. Just as they are about to perform the transfusion from John to Lucy, Arthur arrives and gives his blood. Arthur goes home to rest, VH heads back to Amsterdam to gather some belongings, and John stays to sit up with Lucy. Except he falls asleep and Lucy loses all her blood again. Now VH takes a transfusion from John and John is upset that VH took more blood from Arthur than from him 🙄. VH gives Lucy a bunch of garlic to wear around her neck and place on her windowsill and her maids ask to stay up with her the next night. 
  • Chapter 11: VH and Dr S arrive to Lucy's the next morning to find that Lucy's mother came in and opened the windows and threw out the garlic in Lucy's room the night before, so now Lucy needs another transfusion, this time from VH. There is also section included here about a wolf escaping from the zoo. Renfield wounds Dr S and laps up his spilled blood from the floor. VH sends a telegram to Dr S to be with Lucy for the next evening but the telegram is delayed. Lucy's mother comes into her room in the evening, a wolf breaks in the window, and Lucy's mother rips the garlic from Lucy's neck and then dies. The maids come in to find Lucy's mother dead in Lucy's bed and become hysterical. Lucy dismisses them to go have some wine in the dining room but the wine was laced with laudanum and they all 4 passed out. 
  • Chapter 12: VH and Dr S arrive again at Lucy's to find her near death...again. VH gives Lucy a bath with her clothes on and finds a letter she stashed "by her breast" and he reads it. It tells her account of what happened the night her mother died. Lucy's in need of another transfusion when Quincey Morris arrives (all these suitors are working out well for Lucy) out of the blue. Later, she feels better and starts to sleep, then pulls the letter out and rips it up. Arthur arrives. Meanwhile, Mina and Jonathan move in with Mr Hawkins and then inherit everything that is his when he dies. Renfield goes crazy about some boxes traveling to the neighboring house.  Lucy awakens and beckons to Arthur but VH will not let him near. The next morning the holes in Lucy's neck are healed and she is "dead".
The zookeepers dialect was definitely not easy to read. I guess we are supposed to believe Dracula is controlling the wolf or he becomes the wolf? Who's putting laudanum in the wine? Dracula obviously but I'm missing the angle there. Is Dracula's body in the boxes that are moving to the house. Is Renfield upset because someone else is getting to serve his master? Why won't VH fill everyone else in on his theory? Also, Lucy's breasts were very prominent in these chapters. 


Day 5: Chapters 13-15

  • Chapter 13: Van Helsing places garlic in and a gold crucifix in Lucy's coffin and tells Seward he wants to cut off her head. VH gets Arthur's permission to read Lucy's letters and journals. Jonathan sees a man he believes to be a young Count Dracula when he is in Exeter with Mina and he has a breakdown. Arthur and Quincey go back to Ring. The Westminster Gazette runs two stories about the "Bloofer Lady" luring children away from their homes. 
  • Chapter 14: Mina invites Van Helsing (to her home?) to discuss Jonathan's "brain fever" and then later Jonathan meets with him and they agree to discuss Jonathan's Transylvania trip later. VH shows Dr Seward the articles about the "bloofer lady" in the paper and frustratingly tries to make Seward figure out what he is thinking about Lucy (rather than just telling him)
  • Chapter 15: VH and Seward break into Lucy's coffin and find her body not there. They see a white streak in the graveyard and then find a child. They decide to leave the child somewhere it will be found by a policeman so they don't have to answer any questions. They return to Lucy's coffin the next night and her body is inside. VH then leads Arthur, Seward, and Quincey in a strange roundabout conversation to get the point of telling them what he wants to do...cut off Lucy's head. 

Stoker sure laid it on thick with the Van Helsing broken dialogue and the whole "King Laugh" section just went in circles. When Mina finds out Lucy is dead she doesn't seem very distraught. She only writes 2 sentences in her journal! When Van Helsing visits Mina, why is she being silly/coy/flirting? Especially after he gives her the weird compliment: "Ah, then you have a good memory for facts, for details? It is not always so with young ladies." Screw you, Professor! And then she gives him Jonathan's transcribed journal after first presenting him with the original shorthand version? That whole scene was strange. 

and this is where I gave up. Maybe I'll pick this back up and finish next year? 

Day 6: Chapters 16-18 

Day 7: Chapters 19-21

Day 8: Chapters 22-24

Day 9: Chapters 25-28