Book Blog: October 2021 Favorites
This blog entry is again coming from my couch, a place that I have spent a lot of time again this month. Actually, it’s been a really tough month that ended with me applying for medical leave, but that’s a topic for another post.
Because I’ve spent a lot of the past month sick it was a smaller reading month with 10 books completed (I kept falling asleep while reading in a chair, something that is pretty rare for me!), but there were a few fantastic re-reads and a few new surprises.
So with no further ado, let’s get to my October favorites!
Moonflower Murders (Anthony Horowitz): I could not stop reading this book. The second of Horowitz’s Susan Ryeland books, again he plays with genre in fun (though sometimes irritating) ways. Susan, a former publisher, now runs a hotel in Greece with her boyfriend when she is approached by a couple whose daughter has disappeared. Why Susan? Because before her disappearance this daughter mentioned a book that Susan had edited some years ago and said it had a clue to a murder. Susan agrees to return to England for 10,000 pounds to find out what happened to Cecily, their daughter.
What makes this book different is that it contains a second book within its pages — the book that Cecily reads that makes her think she knows who committed a murder. I really enjoyed the book within the book, but I could not make the connection between the two (don’t worry, Susan does). I tend to like books that play with genre, but my one challenge with Horowitz is that he can be a bit too clever, and part of the joy of a mystery is having some chance to figure it out…
Note: Even though this is the second book in the series, you’ll get at lest 95% of if without having read the first book. I had read the previous book some years ago and forgot most of it but enjoyed the book all the same.
Hallowe’en Party (Agatha Christie): In one of her last Poirot mysteries (and appropriately themed for October) Christie tells the story of a 13-year-old girl found murdered at a Halloween party, drowned in the apple bobbing bucket. As Poirot begins to dig into the story, he finds a number of suspicious disappearances or murders in this small town, and, to make things worse, people speak ill of the dead child. A perfect chiller for October!
The Boston Girl (Anita Diamant): This book was a very pleasant surprise from the bottom of my to-read stack! The Boston Girl follows Addie Baum as she comes of age in a growing, exciting city. The book opens with her living with one of her sisters and her parents in a tenement, feeling out-of-place and judged by her family. By a few strokes of luck she manages to meet and make friends at a local library/community center, and as the read we watch Addie slowly blossom — finding her own jobs, meeting boys, developing her own opinions, and slowly deciding what she wants to do with her life. The writing was lovely without being too simplistic or cliched, and I appreciated that it made me feel like I was in Boston a hundred years ago. Highly recommend!
The Cold Vanish: Seeking the Missing in North Americas Wildlands (Jon Billman): If you enjoy true crime and the great outdoors, this is the perfect mashup for you! Billman tells the stories of missing people in American and Canadian parks. The main narrative follows Jacob Grey, a young twenties cyclist who disappears in Olympic National Park in Washington State. Billman weaves in other stories as he goes, sharing about the challenges of going missing in the wilderness, the challenges of search and rescue, and the pain of the families when their loved ones never reappear. He steers clear of the obvious cases (eg; murder or abduction) but of the odd cases where people seemingly disappeared out of thin air. The writing is a lovely balance of personal stories blended with the realities of getting lost and, possibly, getting found.
Forever Young (Hayley Mills): This was an extra exciting review to write because I won this book from a Goodreads Giveaway! I will never forget watching Hayley Mills in The Parent Trap for the first time and being filled with hope that I too might have a lost twin out there somewhere. So when I saw that Mills had a new autobiography focused on her child-star years I was excited to read it. I especially enjoyed the first half of the book detailing her rise to fame, her relatively normal life at home in England, and how she becomes one of Walt Disney’s sweethearts. The book struggles a bit as it transitions to her young adult life, in some ways mirroring her own struggles. If you are interested in old Hollywood or films or Mills herself, this biography is a good read!
The World Until Yesterday (Jared Diamond): Our bookshelf space has become limited, so now books need to pass my re-read test to maintain their coveted places. And, not surprisingly, this book earned its spot again! Diamond compares traditional society with industrialized, Western societies across several different topics (such as treatment of children and the elderly, diseases, war, etc.) which helps the reader understand a greater variety of societies as well as develop empathy for different ways that people must or choose to live. As someone who was raised in a very Western-centric way it was helpful to broaden my understanding of other peoples and not see their ways of living as worse or inferior but different. The book ends with a summary of which things we could take from each society to have ideal conditions.
Well, that’s it, my friends. I’m wishing you a safe and healthy November!