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Fall is most definitely in full swing and before we know it we’ll be facing winter and then a new year. I’ll never get over how quickly time flies and I had to chuckle recently when my 7-year old granddaughter was making the same observation. I told her she didn’t know the half of it, which if you’re familiar with 7-year olds, you know that comment only led to more questions!
I feel like this year’s crop of fall books isn’t quite as good as in some other years, but I still have four October releases, I’m excited to share today. All of these are sort of under the radar gems, so hopefully you’ll find a book or two you haven’t heard anything about.
Three out of four of this month’s favorites are all from authors who are new to me and the other is from a trusted author who again did not disappoint. As always, you can follow me on Instagram @novelvisits, where I most often share books near their release date.
My Thoughts: 𝗧𝗛𝗘 𝗥𝗘𝗙𝗨𝗚𝗘𝗘 𝗢𝗖𝗘𝗔𝗡 by Pauls Toutonghi is not a book I’ve seen a lot of buzz about…yet. It’s not one everyone has been telling me I need to read…yet. In fact, it’s one I was made aware of by the publisher. I’m so thankful for that because I found it to be a beautiful story about the experiences of two very different refugees linked across the decades. Dual timelines followed the stories of its primary characters, Marguerite and Naïm. Marguerite was living in Beirut in the 1940’s when social pressures forced her to flee Lebanon and immigrate to Cuba. Many years later, in Aleppo, tragedy forced Naïm and his mother to also become refugees. For them, it was America.
Both backstories were touching and richly developed, but I was especially drawn to Naïm’s. His relocation was beyond his control, brought on by war and destruction in his native Syria. Other elements I loved about 𝘛𝘩𝘦 𝘙𝘦𝘧𝘶𝘨𝘦𝘦 𝘖𝘤𝘦𝘢𝘯 were how it brought history to life, had musical themes running throughout, and the resilience and resolve of its characters. I also loved its unexpectedly gentle ending. That ending might also have been a bit neat and tidy, but I didn’t care because regardless, this book was an absolute pleasure to read. Grade: A-
Thanks to Simon & Schuster for a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest thoughts.
My Thoughts: There’s nothing quite like a good literary suspense novel and I’m happy to report that 𝗗𝗜𝗦𝗧𝗔𝗡𝗧 𝗦𝗢𝗡𝗦 by Tim Johnston is exactly that. Plus, if you’re a fan of his debut, 𝘋𝘦𝘴𝘤𝘦𝘯𝘵, you’ll get the added bonus of a character from it resurfacing in this one. (No worries if you haven’t read 𝘋𝘦𝘴𝘤𝘦𝘯𝘵. It’s not necessary to know anything, but it had me extra engaged right from the start.)
This is the story of two grown sons, each emotionally distant from their families, though not fully estranged from them. Both men wind up in a smallish Wisconsin town and pick up some home construction work for a man with a dark past that neighbors are still whispering about. More than 40 years ago three young boys vanished from the town. They were never found and no one was ever arrested, but people talk. Also in the mix are a female detective, haunted by the case her father never could solve, a sassy bartender and the man who feels entitled to claim her as his own.
Similar to last month’s 𝘛𝘩𝘦 𝘙𝘪𝘷𝘦𝘳 𝘞𝘦 𝘙𝘦𝘮𝘦𝘮𝘣𝘦𝘳 by William Kent Kruger, 𝘋𝘪𝘴𝘵𝘢𝘯𝘵 𝘚𝘰𝘯𝘴 is simply a wonderfully told story. Johnston had me fully invested in the characters and the town right from the start. He masterfully wove together two distinct timelines and two completely different stories into one seamless gem of a novel that I highly recommend. Grade: B+
Thanks to Algonquin Books for a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest thoughts.
My Thoughts: I guarantee you have never read a book quite like 𝗢𝗡𝗘 𝗪𝗢𝗠𝗔𝗡 𝗦𝗛𝗢𝗪 by Christine Coulson. It is completely, totally, unquestionably unique. The story of one woman’s life, spanning the lion’s share of the 20th century, is told in a most unusual way: entirely through museum wall labels. You read that right!
Over the course of its roughly 200 pages the reader gets snippets of Kitty Whitaker’s life from childhood to old age, from the freedoms of youth through several marriages, and throughout, her wealth and privilege. This is not a character we get to know deeply, but in rapid succession, as each piece of art with her at the center is described, we come to know the trajectory of her life, who she was and what she accomplished. We learn less of her thoughts and feelings as that’s not the role of museum labels.
𝘖𝘯𝘦 𝘞𝘰𝘮𝘢𝘯 𝘚𝘩𝘰𝘸 was 𝐬𝐨 𝐟𝐮𝐧 to read. I’m a museum lover, so this unusual format really appealed to me. It’s also a book I flew through, probably finishing in under two hours. The book is short with a lot of blank spaces to boot. It’s the perfect book to read when you’re looking for something just a little different…an ideal palette cleanser! Grade: A
Thanks to Avid Reader Press for a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest thoughts.
Don’t you just love it when a book takes you completely by surprise? That’s exactly what happened to me with 𝗧𝗛𝗘 𝗕𝗘𝗥𝗥𝗬 𝗣𝗜𝗖𝗞𝗘𝗥𝗦 by debut author Amanda Peters, a Canadian writer with Mi’kmaq ancestors. Her book tells the story of one Mi’kmaq family beginning in the 1960’s and spanning more than 50 years. Every year the family of seven traveled from their home in Nova Scotia to Maine in order to pick blueberries. Theirs was a happy and close family, until the day the youngest child, 4-year old Ruthie, vanished. For years they search for her, but there are absolutely no clues and little help from the authorities. Everyone’s heart aches at missing Ruthie, but her brother, Joe, the last to see her, feels especially guilty. Joe narrates half the chapters in this book.
The other half of the book is narrated by Norma, a young girl adopted by parents, who never quite make her feel like she fits in. This is one of those stories where the ending comes in the prologue and the rest of the book shows the readers just how that ending comes to be. This is one of my favorite literary devices, a sort of deep look back that explains a lot.
Having no real expectations, I was completely wowed by this book. I deeply cared about the characters, longed for them to be reunited, and even shed a few tears. If 𝘛𝘩𝘦 𝘉𝘦𝘳𝘳𝘺 𝘗𝘪𝘤𝘬𝘦𝘳𝘴 is not yet on your radar, it should be. Put in a library hold, go to your local bookstore, download the audiobook. Just read it and thank me later! Grade: A
Thanks to Catapult for a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest thoughts.
What were your favorite books of October?
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