Hello friends! It’s time for Quick Lit, where, joining with Modern Mrs. Darcy, I share a few of the books I've been reading lately. I have a nice stack of spooky October reads to share today — it’s been a good reading month! Up ahead we have a dark fairy tale, peculiar children, cozy minimalism, mysteries and one very unusual bookstore.
And in other bookish news, my household has been very busy planning a Harry Potter halloween party — hence the Gryffindor banner and in-progress DIY chopstick wands pictured here (we used extra-long chopsticks, in case you’re wondering!). You can find some of the DIYs and ideas I’ve been pinning right here. Now, on with the list!
First, a pair of spooky YA titles perfect for getting in an October mood:
The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert
I’ll just say it: I didn’t want this book to end. The Hazel Wood is a dark and creepy fairy tale that begins in modern day New York, but soon detours into very strange country. This is officially YA, but it leans towards an older audience. The protagonist, seventeen-year-old Alice, and her mother have been on the run her whole life for unclear reasons — but having something to do with her grandmother, who authored a cult-classic book of very dark fairy tales. When Alice’s mother is kidnapped, she and a friend must travel to her grandmother’s fabled house, The Hazel Wood, to find out what has happened.
Library of Souls by Ransom Riggs
The third book in the Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children series, this picks up with sixteen-year-old Jacob discovering a new ability, and culminates with an epic battle to save his fellow peculiars. I’d had this title on my bookshelf for ages, and it felt just right picking it up in October. After diving in I found out that Riggs has just released book 4 in the series, A Map of Days.
If you’d like to catch up on the plot quickly, may I suggest screening the Miss Peregrine’s film on a stormy October evening with popcorn and apple cider? I really enjoyed the film — even though it takes some major liberties (main character and love interest Emma has a fire ability in the books, but she was swapped with a peculiar who floats in the film).
Next up, three mysteries for every taste…
Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan
This title has been out since 2013, but somehow I missed reading it when it was first released — so I was thrilled to be reminded to pick it up when it appeared on my library’s recommended books shelf. Set in San Francisco just after the Great Recession, an out-of-work graphic designer takes a job as a night clerk in a 24-hour bookstore in a seedy neighborhood.
Soon, Clay realizes that more is going on in those stacks than first meets the eye, and he follows a trail of clues that lead him into a secret bookish society that has spanned the ages. I was whisked right into the story, and especially loved reading about this particular setting because I lived in San Francisco during those years, and it was a treat to revisit places I know and love. Anyway, he had me at magical bookstore! :-)
The Lola Quartet by Emily St. John Mandel
I’ve been making my way through the Station Eleven author’s back catalog, and I loved this earlier work. Disgraced and out of work journalist Gavin Sasaki goes to stay with his sister in Florida, and ends up investigating the mysterious circumstances surrounding a child who turns up with Gavin’s ex-girlfriend’s last name and bearing a striking resemblance to Gavin.
The girl soon disappears again, and Anna, the child’s mother, is nowhere to be found. This novel was atmospheric and transporting in a way that reminded me of Station Eleven — next I’ll be reading Mandel’s The Singer’s Gun.
Not That I Could Tell by Jessica Strawser
I scooped up this Book of the Month Club pick at my local used bookstore and gulped it down in two nights. It’s a tense, slightly creepy domestic mystery that unfolds the night after a bunch of mom friends drink wine around a backyard fire pit — and in the morning, one of them is missing, along with her young twins. This wasn’t my favorite of the bunch this month, but it captured my attention while I was reading it.
Cozy Minimalist Home by Myquillyn Smith
I was lucky enough to be sent an advance copy to review of this lovely title — and since my full review is still coming, I’ll be brief here. Suffice to say, this is a beautiful, relatable decorating book that offers real, practical solutions for those of us who feel trapped between wanting to simplify our homes and also embrace beauty and objects we love. A must-have for home lovers.
I hope you enjoyed this little peek into my reading life as much as I enjoyed sharing it. Let's do it again next month! And please feel free to share a link to your own reading list in the Comments.