Books I Read in October

Kid Gloves by Lucy Knisley
I read Relish over the summer and really enjoyed it, but this book made me absolutely fall in love with Lucy Knisley! There were many parallels to my first birth story (preeclampsia and emergency cesarean), yet there is so much beyond birth and parenthood to identify with in this memoir. It may look like a book for expectant parents, but it is about so much more, namely the history of women’s sexual health and gender discrimination. I think it is recommended reading for EVERYONE - my husband would agree it's a great book, after I shoved it in his hands when I was finished. 

The Ten Thousand Doors of January of January by Alix Harrow
Well, this was a delightful book! A fun and unexpectedly romantic novel that is unlike any YA fantasy I’ve read before. In fact, I didn’t realize it was YA even while I was reading- I just happened to realize Book of the Month categorized it as such? Regardless, if you are looking for a refreshing fantasy to cozy up with this fall, I’d definitely recommend this one. 

Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston
This alternative version of American and British politics was as fabulous as everyone said it would be - a sweet, funny, and HOPEFUL contemporary romance. I loved the ridiculously fun banter between all of the characters. It does have a strong millennial vibe, but I could appreciate all of the references. And though the general outcome is predictable, there were some satisfying payoffs in the side plots. This was a breath of fresh air kind of read!

Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland by Patrick Radden Keefe
Listening to this audiobook was like drinking from a fire hose of information about the troubles in Ireland and the IRA, making it difficult to focus. But, these are my ancestors and I’ve heard stories about the times, so I may be biased in my fascination and love of the Irish brogue in which it is read. The horrors of that time and the level of secrecy was astounding. It's a harrowing account, as are most recollections of how humans find ways to end up in a quagmire of hate. It also makes me want to go back and watch some of the amazing films that came out in the 90s that center around the Irish: The Crying Game (mentioned in this book), Patriot Games and In the Name of the Father - a MUST WATCH, starring Daniel Day-Lewis. 

French Milk by Lucy Knisley
After enjoying Relish and adoring Kid Gloves, I decided I should start from the beginning and work my way through all of Knisley's books. French Milk is an illustrated travelogue of her weeks long sojourn in Paris with her mother and it was very evocative of being a young twenty-something, with all of her worries about jobs and relationships while away from home. I also related to this as someone who has traveled abroad quite a few times with her mother, and I could definitely see my surly post collegiate self in Lucy!

The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell
This was a compulsively readable thriller! Full review here.

Catch and Kill by Ronan Farrow
This one might be a little under the radar, right? Ha! Well, I finally listened to the audiobook and it's as nuts as everyone says. The lengths that Weinstein (and powerful men in general) went through to ruin all of these women's lives is unconscionable. Given that this book is getting so much buzz, and that Farrow is giving so many interviews, I felt as if I'd heard the meat of the story before I even started the book. That took away from some of the shock value, but it's such an important read, nonetheless. I also have a soft spot, as most everyone I know does, for his relationship with one of my favorite podcasters - and the epilogue is the cherry on the cake of this book. Now I must go read Kantor and Twohey's book, She Said!

The Brutal Telling by Louise Penny
It's always lovely to be back in Three Pines with Inspector Gamache, though this was not my absolute favorite. There were a lot of extraneous characters that I got jumbled in my mind, and this story didn't seem as infused with emotion as the previous books. I will say that I had zero clue as to how this murder went down, and that definitely kept me going, as well as all of the dry wit of our recurring characters. 


The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell (ARC Review)

The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell
Publisher: Atria (November 5, 2019)
Description from the publisher:
Be careful who you let in.
Soon after her twenty-fifth birthday, Libby Jones returns home from work to find the letter she’s been waiting for her entire life. She rips it open with one driving thought: I am finally going to know who I am.
She soon learns not only the identity of her birth parents, but also that she is the sole inheritor of their abandoned mansion on the banks of the Thames in London’s fashionable Chelsea neighborhood, worth millions. Everything in Libby’s life is about to change. But what she can’t possibly know is that others have been waiting for this day as well—and she is on a collision course to meet them.
Twenty-five years ago, police were called to 16 Cheyne Walk with reports of a baby crying. When they arrived, they found a healthy ten-month-old happily cooing in her crib in the bedroom. Downstairs in the kitchen lay three dead bodies, all dressed in black, next to a hastily scrawled note. And the four other children reported to live at Cheyne Walk were gone.

I'm always hesitant to say yes to reviewing a thriller. They are not my go-to genre, and I try to look for books that I'm probably going to enjoy: writing negative reviews is no fun. I did my due diligence on Lisa Jewell and realized that I seemed to be missing out on a beloved suspense novelist. There is so much love for her books out there! I figured that even if I didn't enjoy it, I could check her work off my list and see what all the fuss is about. And lo, this was one helluva entertaining read. 
Jewell alternates the perspective in each chapter, which is something I rather enjoy in novels. They are also rather short and conclude with a little cliffhanger, another device I appreciate that keeps me turning the pages past my bedtime. Oftentimes, with thrillers, things can get a little predictable. I'm sure the more voracious suspense reader could see the twists and turns coming in this book, but I sure didn't! The author is perfectly nuanced with her misdirection, and I absolutely fell for a few red herrings. 
One thing that leaves me wanting more after reading these types of books is character development. Jewell does not disappoint in this regard, and I felt that the players were well fleshed out, especially Henry. However, I had to suspend a pretty good deal of disbelief when it came to the couple from whom Libby inherits the mansion in Chelsea. There wasn't much explanation of 'why' when it comes to the disastrous decisions they made that set the plot in motion, especially on the mother's behalf. I suppose it can be chalked up to the magnetism of cult leaders, but I wanted a little bit more from Martina's point of view. On that note, trigger warning, there is a fair amount of child abuse.
Overall this was a great read, and I will definitely pick up more of her books - perhaps Then She Was Gone, which comes highly recommended. The Family Upstairs is perfect spooky read for curling up on a rainy (or snowy) fall day! It looks as if this is a November pick for Book of the Month, so if you're looking to sign up or give a fun holiday gift, here's my referral link for your first month for FIVE DOLLARS.
Many thanks to Atria books for the gifted advance copy!