Thursday, October 30, 2014

What I've Been Reading: October 2014

I have to admit that a lot of what I've read this month has actually happened as audiobooks during my commute. In my defense, baseball playoffs and the World Series plus finishing two quilts in one month has really cut into my reading time--I expect my reading schedule to pick back up shortly, now that Game 7 is behind me and my evenings have freed up a bit! It also goes to show that even ravenous readers like this librarian have a little trouble finding time to read now and then. If you find yourself in that boat more often than not, I've talked about that in this post here. And if you're looking for a little inspiration for something to read, I've got you covered.

 Big Little Lies, by Liane Moriarty. If you're wondering what your friends and neighbors are reading, this is a very likely candidate, as here at the library it has been hugely popular among library staff and patrons alike. Here Moriarty (The Husband's Secret) introduces us to three very different women, all mothers of children in the same kindergarten class, and the different struggles each goes through even as their friendships strengthen. However, when a tragedy occurs at a school event, readers may be left breathless by what has transpired. A great page-turner, full of vibrant characters and a beautifully paced plot. I'm recommending this to fans of Moriarty's other work, obviously, but also to fans of JoJo Moyes (Me Before You, The Girl You Left Behind).

Under the Skin, by Michel Faber. In honor of Faber's upcoming new novel, The Book of Strange New Things (you might also know him for his excellent 2002 novel The Crimson Petal and the White), I decided to take a bit of a trip back into his work and stumbled across Under the Skin as an audiobook. Now, if the title sounds familiar, it may be because Scarlett Johansson recently starred in the film adaptation. Isserley drives countless hours in the Scottish Highlands scouting for male hitchhikers, the more muscular, the better. She is small and awkward and scarred, totally nonthreatening as she subtly questions her passengers to determine who might miss them if they disappeared. What happens next is both terrifying and intriguing. This is science fiction, technically, but reads more as a thriller. Absolutely haunting, and a terrific reading by Fiona Hardingham. I loved it.

The Ritual, by Adam Nevill. Keeping in theme with the season, I've been reading more than my fair share of horror novels. Here, a group of four men, friends in University and now attempting to keep that friendship alive after growing apart for years, goes on a hiking vacation to the Scandinavian wilderness. Tensions rise early on as the reality of just how different they are becomes more apparent, including the lack of certain members' physical stamina for such a vacation. Tempers flare when the party attempts to take a shortcut and the men become lost. Luke thinks things can't get worse, and then the group discovers an old abandoned cabin full of artifacts that seem to indicate something sinister lurks in the woods. What follows is absolutely harrowing. A little like The Blair Witch Project meets The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. I'd highly recommend it to fans of American Horror Story and of Rob Zombie's horror films.

Festive in Death, by J.D. Robb. The murder of a personal trainer with a penchant for drugging his clients isn't all that's putting a hitch in NYPSD Lieutenant Eve Dallas's holiday spirit. It's hard to get into the seasonal swing when you're hunting for the killer of a very unlikeable fellow. Harder still when you have to do things you dread, like host giant holiday gatherings, direct caterers and decorators, and shop for gifts. On second thought, catching bad guys is pretty appealing for Dallas and her team, after all. Light, easy reading for the season.

You, by Caroline Kepnes. I loved this twisted tale of obsession so much, I couldn't keep it to myself. You can read my full review here.

The Hundred Foot Journey, by Robert C. Morais. Hassan Haji's road from India to Paris is a long and twisting one. His earliest memories are from his family's Mumbai restaurant, full of fragrant steam and delectable meals. When tragedy strikes, however, his father uproots the family and brings them to London, then later to the small town of Lumiere in the French Alps. There, the Hajis open a new restaurant with Hassan running the kitchen and immediate begin to feud with the unhappy proprietress, Chef Mallory, of the renowned classical French restaurant directly across the street. It is only after Chef Mallory tastes Hassan's cooking that she relents, ceasing her protestations against the Haji's and instead offering Hassan an apprenticeship in her restaurant. This novel is so full of love and evocative images, from the exotic markets of Mumbai to the finest restaurants of Paris, that it should be required reading for everyone who considers themselves a foodie. Highly recommended, especially the audiobook.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. The story of a writer in post-World War II London who discovers the subject of her next book on the island of Guernsey--a club born as a spur-of-the-moment alibi after members are discovered breaking curfew during the German occupation. The novel is comprised entirely of letters, primarily between the writer, Juliet Ashton, and the members of the Society as they discuss the history of the island, their taste in books, the German occupation, and their lives. Heartfelt, funny and deeply moving. I'm anticipating discussing this with my book club in November.

So for my challenge to read 75 titles in 2014, that's 7 more for a total of 66, leaving me with 9 titles and two months remaining. I've got this, no problem!

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