Looking Back: October Highlights

Fall is here in the mid-Atlantic with a vengeance. It's downright cold in the mornings and pumpkin spice everything is everywhere. I spent the majority of this autumnal month prepping for some upcoming gift issues of Shelf Awareness for Readers (which means I read a few more cookbooks and a few less novels), but that doesn't mean I didn't encounter some really great books this month:

Cartwheel, by Jennifer duBois: I read and loved duBois' debut novel, The Partial History of Lost Causes, so was absolutely stoked to be able to review Cartwheel. Her sophomore novel is inspired by the Amanda Knox trial, pitching a slightly off-base study-abroad student against the justice system in a foreign country after her roommate is found stabbed to death. duBois' skill with sentences and emotions keeps the story from ever feeling stale despite its ripped-from-the-headlines nature. Read my full review of Cartwheel.

Running Like a Girl, by Alexandra Heminsley: I'm a recent running convert, but since running two half marathons in May, I've fallen off the bandwagon a bit. Heminsley's account of her own experience working up to her first marathons is heartfelt, humorous, and just the motivation I needed to get my own running shoes back on my lazy feet. Can't recommend this one enough, for potential, newbie or expert runners alike. Read my full review of Running Like a Girl.

This House is Haunted, by John Boyne: Boyne takes on the classic Victorian ghost tale with This House Is Haunted. Eliza accepts a job as a governess in the country estate, hoping to get away from London after the death of her father, only to find the estate house occupied only by children and a few servants--no parents to speak of. Things only get stranger from there, as Eliza finds herself battling what feels like the house itself. Read my full review of This House Is Haunted.

Joyland, by Stephen King: I haven't read much King, but this was another shining example of King's power as a storyteller and crafter of characters. The murder-mystery-cum-haunted-amusement-park tale is just fantastical enough to keep you guessing from start to finish, and a likeable if sometimes thickheaded narrator proves the glue that holds the whole thing together. A must-read for fans of King and those new to his works (like myself). Read my full review of Joyland

Hyperbole and a Half, by Allie Brosh: Following in the tradition of blog-turned-book, Brosh's Hyperbole and a Half is a printed version of Brosh's blog of the same name. The chapters range from downright hysterical (her list of rules for her dogs, for one, had me crying I was laughing so hard) to more emotional (relating to her struggles with depression and anxiety). All are told with her same dry sense of humor, coupled with the bizarre type of illustrations seen on her site--combined, they make a strange but oddly compelling set of stories and anecdotes of her life. It's a quick, easy read, and worth picking up if you've ever enjoyed her blog.

The Paris Architect, by Charles Belfoure: This book hit so many of my literary soft spots, there was no possible way I could have missed it: historical fiction, detailed military history, World War II fiction, set in Paris. The story of an architect in Paris who crafts hiding places for the Jews, The Paris Architect is a chilling portrayal of the fear and betrayal that pervaded Occupied France during World War II, and the terror of never knowing who to trust. Stay tuned for a full review of the audio edition, narrated by the ever-excellent Mark Bramhall.

The Revolution of Every Day, by Cari Luna: I've been waiting and waiting for a sweep-me-off-my-feet kind of book lately, and this one hit the spot this month. The story of a group of squatters in the East Village mid-90's New York, The Revolution of Every Day manages to hit on city politics, real estate issues, the history of Manhattan, the power of friendship and love, the issues of homelessness and so much more all in one relatively short novel. Full review, with plenty more gushing, to follow.


  1. So many of these I really want to read! I think the Stephen King and This House is Haunted are the ones I will seek out first.

  2. Just finished the Hyperbole and a Half book, I think the story with her and the birthday cake was my favourite - I was at risk of choking I was laughing so hard!

  3. thanks. I need to read the Paris Architect. Here is my recap: http://wordsandpeace.com/2013/11/08/2013-october-wrap-up/


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