October 2021–Part Two

Thank you for joining me here!   I hope you enjoy this series and I’d love to hear from you about what you are reading these days.

Book #1:

The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters (Length: 482 pages). I really enjoyed this very atmospheric Gothic thriller. It’s similar to Mexican Gothic, but with a more fleshed out (and creepy) plot. The house is also its own character in this novel. I found the character arc of the protagonist Dr. Faraday to be interesting. He goes from fairly unlikeable to worth rooting for, and then back to, OMG please stop being such as ass. I thought the writing here is beautiful. The pacing is a bit slow in the middle but I was able to easily keep reading, and I was happy to pass this one on to a like-minded reader friend knowing she would enjoy it as much as I did. Great reading for October!  

Book #2:

Jesus Land by Julia Scheeres (Length: 402 pages).  I’ve had this memoir on my Kindle for quite a while, and I don’t remember who recommended it to me. This is written by a woman with five siblings, two of whom are adopted and are Black. The younger of the boys, David, is who the author was bonded with (and whose photo is on the cover of the book). Their bond is due to extreme emotional and physical abuse by the religious zealot parents (the physical abuse was only inflicted on the Black siblings). The author and her brother are ultimately sent to a religious “reform” school in the Dominican Republic when they are teenagers. I found the author’s writing to be excellent . . . she tackles the hypocrisies of Evangelical Christianity (and its related racism) with clear eyes and a complete lack of drama, even while recounting graphic tales of incest and abuse. This is worth a read, and if your book club is sufficiently open-minded regarding organized religion, this memoir should generate some fantastic conversations.

Book #3:

Bookman Dead Style by Paige Shelton (Length: 303 pages).  This is the very first “cozy mystery” I’ve ever read, thanks to picking up a small pile of them at a used library book sale. The plot of this one is very cute. Set in a book and typewriter repair shop in scenic Star City, Utah, which also happens to be the home to an international movie festival (think Sundance), the character development here is not the star attraction. The mystery and the plot are why readers like these mysteries, and while this one is very basic (and free of violence on the page), it’s fun to try to solve. This is a super quick read, I appreciated all of the bookish talk, and I found the plot was moving along sufficiently enough to keep my interest. A fun diversion for sure, and I’ll definitely read some more in the future.

Book #4:

Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles (Length: 588 pages).  Since I’m obsessed with this author’s previous two novels (A Gentleman in Moscow and Rules of Civility both reviewed here previously), I was pretty nervous to read his latest novel in case it didn’t live up to his other books. I’m so happy to say that I LOVE this book! It’s similar to Rules in tone, and as with both of his other books, the character development is fantastic here. Even when I found myself not liking a character, I was able to understand WHY they were acting the way they were. The story arc concerns two brothers, Emmett and Billy Watson, who decide to travel along the Lincoln Highway in 1954, from Nebraska to California. Emmett has just been released early from a work farm for wayward boys thanks to the death of the boys’ father. Eight-year-old Billy wants to try to find their mother in San Francisco, and Emmett wants a fresh start, but they somehow find themselves in New York City along with a few other boys from the work camp. The tone of this novel reminds me of Of Mice and Men, for some reason–maybe it’s the journey. The cast of characters in this novel is delightful and the thread of the plot propels the story just quickly enough to maintain your interest. Billy captured my heart and I will absolutely count this gem of a novel in the top 10 books of this year for sure.

Book #5:

The Good Sister by Sally Hepworth (Length: 313 pages).  I adore this author–she is a fun follow on Instagram, and I will read anything she writes. This psychological thriller is a quick and fun read, and focuses on the relationship between Fern (who is on the spectrum) and her neurotypical sister Rose. Told in alternating chapters between Rose’s diary entries (flashing back to the girls’ childhood with their single mom) and in present time from Fern’s perspective, the plot is propulsive and I dare you to stop reading to find out what happens next. Fern is delightful, and I love her descriptions of working in the public library and her interactions with her coworkers and library patrons. She meets Rocco/Wally, who also may be on the spectrum, and her portrayal of one of her first adult romantic relationships is charming. The twist is fairly obvious early on, and the author comes right out with it about halfway through, but it’s still a great ride (and read). I hope you enjoy this one as much as I did!

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