Monday 14 October 2019

Quick Lit: October 2019

Linking up with Modern Mrs Darcy as usual. Both August and September's reading total turned out to be modest. We are still dealing with having moved into a new house (five days before a trip to the UK!), plus back-to-school stuff which includes the inevitable first sickness going round the family. Add to that a slow read, and the fact that I just haven't found an audiobook to tempt me lately. But, at least this segues nicely into my feature for the month, in praise of the palate cleanser...

H.Y. Hanna - Deadhead and Buried (The English Cottage Garden mysteries, Book 1)
I don't know who coined the term "palate cleanser" for a choice of book, but I first came across it on Modern Mrs Darcy. After The Physician (see below), that was what I needed, so I snapped up this mystery from a favourite easy-reading author when it was on sale. You know the plot already: young woman dissatisfied with life gets an unexpected legacy (bonus, it's near Oxford, literary murder capital of the world) - but oops, there's a body...

I've got more literature degrees to my name than I need, and I love intellectually challenging books. But even nerds need a break, or something to wash down a less pleasant reading experience, and I don't think we should be snobbish about writers who dedicate themselves to filling that light-reading gap. Hsin-Yi Hanna may not be a high-brow author, but there is plenty I admire about her. Like many of us, reality made her shelve her early dreams of being a full-time writer, but, later in life, armed with experience and a new publishing scene, she embarked on a career writing cosy mysteries as an independent author, even learning cover design. Her work is professionally edited (which is more than I can say for e-versions of a lot of small press novels), and she works hard to build a community with her readers, using that relationship to make it to the USA Today bestseller list. I like her Oxford Tearoom series best - the other two (this and a paranormal cosy series) each have a comic character that annoys me.

There's too much doom and gloom in the world. Let's own those happy, tea- or coffee-time novels and thank the people who offer us a book we can read in a weekend, and make us smile.

Noah Gordon - The Physician
This is a saga set in the early medieval period, that sweeps you from the streets of London to the palaces of Persia as young Rob Cole risks everything to follow his calling as a physician. This is apparently a worldwide bestseller, but not for me. I like long books. I like slow books. But this was a looong, slow book (over 750 pages), with a lot of time devoted to painstaking descriptions that would have been highlighted by my critique group with comments such as, 'This is a novel, not a history textbook'. However, by the time I was seriously tiring of it, I was three quarters of the way through, and it seemed a waste to give up. But if you do love it, it's part of a trilogy.

Hiro Arikawa - The Travelling Cat Chronicles
It's always a good day when you find something on your TBR in a charity shop. In this bestselling Japanese novel, Satoru takes his beloved cat, Nana, on a roadtrip to visit old friends, one of whom he hopes will offer the cat a new home - of course, you can guess why. Sad and heartwarming at the same time, told from the cat's point of view.

I noticed in retrospect that all three of my novels for the month featured a pet cat. Maybe there was a message in the month after all...

I wore this sweatshirt until it fell apart
Hope you are fitting in some good reading around whatever life is sending your way this autumn!