October Book Reviews

An Offer From a Gentleman by Julia Quinn

Romancing Mister Brigerton by Julia Quinn

To Sir Philip with Love by Julia Quinn

I plowed through three Bridgerton novels at the beginning of the month, as it was kind of a crappy time around these parts. Reading during times of high anxiety is always difficult for me, but thank goodness for these novels! It’s rare that I go from one book in a series right into another, but after finishing An Offer From a Gentleman, I immediately got the next two in the series.
Julia Quinn makes these characters come to life in such endearing ways, her pacing is PERFECTION, the dialogue crackles, and I love that sometimes the central conflict isn’t so straightforward.
I completely lose all sense of time and my surroundings when reading these and always highly recommend.

My Monticello by Jocelyn Nicole Johnson

How the Word is Passed by Clint Smith

I HIGHLY recommend both of these books, and reading them back to back was unplanned but perfect pairing.
I’m so glad My Monticello was in my latest Third Place Books signed first editions box. A collection of short stories (finishing with the titular novella) that were lyrical, visceral and absolutely haunting.
Clint Smith’s How the Word is Passed (on the National Book Award long list for nonfiction) begins with his visit to Monticello. It’s beyond eye opening, heartfelt, and so necessary right now when such a loud minority of our great nation is trying to ignore learning from our past, or push completely false narratives (The civil war wasn’t about slavery! Enslaved people were happy!🤥🤬) And it is excellent on audio.

Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr

I finished Cloud Cuckoo Land over a week ago and have been struggling to find the words to describe why I loved it so much. I think that many book reviewers can agree, it is really hard to review a book that you love! (And pretty easy to explain why you dislike a book!)
If you want to read about why Doerr’s latest is well written and excellent, definitely check out the New York Times book review. It’s what convinced me to buy it, rather than waiting for my library hold.
I’m pretty sure this doorstop of a novel landed on my all time favorites because I am a sucker for interconnected stories that come together in a surprising and poignant way, recurring motifs, and secular musings on the meaning of life. It also came out came at the right time for me: when I was really wanting to sink my teeth into something after devouring a lot of romance, and feeling a little sad and lost - like each of the protagonists in the story. I found such lovely reassurance about the human spirit, of perseverance, of hope. I was reminded that pain and loss, our impermanence, are also what makes life meaningful. And books about the wondrous nature of the written word? Yes, please.

“By age 17 he’d convinced himself that every human he saw was a parasite, captive to the dictates of consumption. But as he reconstructs Zeno’s translation, he realizes that the truth is infinitely more complicated, that we are all beautiful even as we are all part of the problem, and that could be part of the problem is to be human.”

Displacement by Kiku Hughes

I stole this graphic novel from my 11 year old's school library pile and read it in an evening, and it it is a wonderfully told story based on Hughes' grandparents story of being sent to Japanese internment camps after WWII. The way she presents the harsh realities of this often overlooked piece of history is perfect for young readers, as the main character in present day is transported back in time and swept up into this terrible situation, forcing one to put themselves in the shoes of those who lost so much.

The Beautiful Mystery by Louise Penny

Slowly, but surely, I'm making my way through the Inspector Gamache books and I loved spending time with beloved characters again. This installment was a departure from most of the others in the series. Similar to Bury Your Dead, the setting was not in Three Pines, and it focused much more on the relationship between Gamache and his right hand man Beauvoir. A monastery of monks who have taken vows of silence was a fascinating backdrop for a murder mystery and Penny's writing was so atmospheric and immersive. Really liked this one and the ending was a bit of a cliffhanger, so I might move on to the next one soon!

The Seed Keeper by Diane Wilson

The Seed Keeper was my book club pick for October and would be an excellent choice for November, Native American Heritage month. This is a multi generational story of a Dahkota family and their enduring spirit despite the horrors of colonialism, past and present. It’s a beautifully told story about how our past affects our future and reminded me of of reading Barbara Kingsolver, with threads of historical fiction and current themes on environmentalism. My only critique was that I wanted MORE. More of Rosalie’s story in the present day, and more details of her great grandmother prior to their subjugation. Braiding Sweetgrass was mentioned in the author’s note, which is our nonfiction November book club pick, and I’m looking forward to reading more indigenous literature this month!