Writings: October 2021 Reading List & Reviews by Beth Bowser

Novels by Randall Silvis, Patricia Cornwell, Louise Penny, Lauren James and TJ Klune October 2021 Reading & Reviews Click here for a printer friendly version of this page

October is apparently when I begin to get more reading done... The air is crisp, the garden is done growing and I bundle at home with a good novel or two! It's no surprise then that I finished five novels, two of which were suggestions, this month. I began with Randall Silvis' mystery thriller Two Days Gone (the first in the Ryan DeMarco Mystery series). Ryan DeMarco is the cop in this novel who is tasked at finding a professor and novelist, Thomas Huston, as his family is murdered and he's missing. Ryan knows Thomas and doesn't believe he murdered his family. The point of view varies between Ryan and Thomas, more on Ryan. This novel is Randall Silvis' first published book and it's a good debut! The author builds his characters well as we see read how everyone has both bad and good in them, which does make most of the characters unlikable. Maybe that says more about me than the author! Anyway, it's not very fast as it has many literary connections and at times, appears too descriptive, but it's a great read until the very end. That's not to say it's an unsatisfying end, but the mystery part left a little to be desired and was lacking in the thriller piece it's touted to be. If you like gritty noir mysteries, grab this book! If you are more of a cozy mystery reader, you may want to pass. Lastly, if you prefer literary fiction, give this one a try!

The second novel I picked up was the old crime mystery Postmortem by Patricia Cornwell, first in the Kay Scarpetta series. I wanted pick up an older novel and as I've read so many older science fiction novels, but more recently have been reading mysteries. So I looked for an older mystery and it surprised me! The science in this novel is laughable! If the same exact crimes in this novel happened right now, it would likely be an incredibly simple investigation. Additionally, the book details SQL and data protection efforts (and lack thereof) to a dizzying degree. It's much different now, of course, but I did get some small joy chuckling over what used to best practices at the time! I'm sure Cornwall didn't expect to have readers laugh over her intricate and painstakingly provided details, but at the same time, I'm sure she wouldn't have gotten upset on hearing someone did. She writes amazing so as long as you don't mind reading about the very old technology that she sometimes goes on and on about, you'll like this book! Great for those who love the old crime drama novels, especially if you like enjoy crime fighting duos of complete with the "will-they, won't they" tension! If you prefer literary novels, however, you may to give this one a pass. Similar to those who dislike heavily detailed police procedurals.

My third book of October was Louise Penny's Still Life, the first in the Chief Inspector Armand Gamache series. In this cozy mystery, we follow the villagers, including the victim, for a bit until death happens and the Chief Inspector is called out to discover if the death is murder or accidental bow hunter manslaughter. The tiny secluded village of Three Pines Quebec has a host of suspects, not the least of which are the hunters who come every season and rile up the villagers. The villagers have more than enough quirks, some fun, too many written so over the top to be not long fun, to add in visiting hunters as well! This cozy mystery is much slower than most as the author tends to write, musing, in a meandering way of the villagers thoughts. It was hard to capture any true details about the crime within the overlong descriptions of what food everyone was eating or how bows work. I'm sorry, but it lost my attention too often to say that I liked it. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't good either. I must not be the correct reader for this book. I generally love cozy mysteries, but this one is much slower than what I prefer. I understand that many people love Penny's novels and this series has 17 novels, so I must be an outlier. Pick it up if you like cozy mysteries, especially if you'd prefer your cozy to be slower!

The forth book was a suggestion, thank you, that of The Loneliest Girl in the Universe by Lauren James. The Loneliest Girl in Universe is a YA novel about a young woman who was born on a spaceship from the first two astronauts tapped to run the ship. Her parents die leaving her alone in her early teens and she connects with a YA TV show that is playing on Earth. It does set the stage very well, her wishful thinking and all. She converses with NASA, but there are long delays between sending and retrieving of messages until she gets NASA latest message that a new, faster, spaceship that will overtake her ship. She then begins getting emails from the captain of that ship, who is a boy and has the same likes as her, setting up for a romance in space! Let me begin by saying that YA is not my genre of choice because I cannot connect with the characters anymore, but Romy, the loneliest girl, was too gullible for my tastes. I can't of course say with any certainty that I wouldn't have been as trusting and gullible if, at 16, I was in her situation, but it bothered me. The novel was a fast read with short chapters! The first section of it, when you learn about what happened and all, was slower, but that was fine. Later, once we aren't thinking about what happened in the past, everything happens much faster and we get twists! I don't feel I can say anymore without ruining what happens, but it was a good and fast read! If you prefer YA or even only occasionally dip your toe into some YA, grab this book! Basically, as long as you aren't a hard science fiction reader who dislikes fluffier science, try this book out!

My final book for October, and last suggested read, was Under the Whispering Door by TJ Klune. If you read TJ Klune's previous novel The House in the Cerulean Sea, this novel is very similar to it in writing style and cast of characters. Of course, they are different, but similar enough you can easily see the connection. The subject matter is vastly different, however. In this novel we follow William, a high powered lawyer who dies from a heart attack. His reaper, Mei, deposits him at tea shop where the owner is his ferryman. This tea shop also has residents of the ferryman's grandfather and the ferryman's dog. As I'm sure you can imagine from this short layout, the plot line is to deal with death and that it's not depressing so much as a necessary counterpart to life. Klune was a little heavy-handed in his message which resulted in some preachy passages and reiteration. There were a few unanswered questions that both William and I had. If the only way to pass on after death is to be connected with a ferryman, how was his tea shop not constantly overrun? So many people daily, it makes no sense. To be honest, I did feel myself tearing up a bit as William grew. The ending was disappointing to me, but I won't ruin it for you! It was still enjoyable and another heart-warming and cute novel of the author's. Grab this novel if you like reading cozy-anythings or stories that leave you a little weepy and positive. When I first started reading it, I was dismayed as I have a short story that is kinda following the same plot as this novel, thinking I should give up on trying to sell it. Instead, I'm going to take what I've learned from this novel to apply it to my short story and attempt to sell it again!