Monday, October 19, 2020

It's Monday 10/19! What Are You Reading?

I had another long week of being stuck on the couch. My relapse of my immune disorder is continuing--almost two weeks now. I still don't know what triggered it; the most likely explanation is being exposed to some sort of virus even though I didn't "catch" anything. Luckily, the rest of my family--including my son who has the same immune disorder--are well and healthy. This is the most severe and longest-lasting relapse I've had in probably over a decade, so it is getting discouraging. There's really nothing to do but rest as much as possible (even slight exertion will make me worse due to my disease). So, I have not seen anyone but my husband and son in two weeks and just this morning left the house for the first time. I had an appointment with my massage therapist and didn't want to miss it since all this time lying down is messing up my neck and back. I'm glad I went, but now I am back in my spot on the couch.

Relaxing on our deck with my book

We've had some great weather, and I am really missing being able to take walks. Lying in a lounge chair out on our back deck really lifts my spirits: blue sky, fall colors, and sunny but slightly cool air all feels great!

View from our deck

And I've had lots of extra time to read! As always, books bring comfort, entertainment, and escape. Here's what we have all been reading this past week:

I finished reading The Witch Elm by Tana French, which was just what the doctor ordered for some sick day October escape! While my husband and I are both big fans of her Dublin Murder Squad series, this is a stand-alone novel, though still set in and around Dublin. It was named a Top Ten or Notable book by both the New York Times and NPR when it was released in 2018 and features French's outstanding writing, character development, and twisty plotting. Toby lives a charmed life. He's a confident, charismatic guy who works in PR, loves his job, has a nice apartment, and is in love with his wonderful girlfriend, Melissa. Toby's life begins to fall apart, though, when two burglars break into his home and beat him severely, leaving him for dead. Then, with lingering symptoms from his brain injury and other injuries months later, Toby gets the news that his beloved uncle, Hugo, is dying of brain cancer. Toby and Melissa move in to help Hugo--and that turns out to be good for Toby, too--when another tragedy hits. An unidentified skull is found in Hugo's back garden, where Toby and his cousins played as kids, as did his father and his brothers before them. The family home is upended as the police swarm in to investigate. As with all of French's novels, this one is twisty and immersive and compelling ... and very dark. No happy endings here!

Now, I am reading another dark and creepy book for the RIP XV Challenge, The Sense of Death by Matty Dalrymple. The author is from our local area, and I met her (and bought the book) last year when she did a book signing at our local indie bookstore. This book, the start of a series, is a mystery with a ghosty twist, so it feels perfect for the season! Ann Kinnear (star of the series) has been able to sense spirits since she was a little girl. She's not a psychic and can't talk to the departed, but she can sense sounds, colors, smells, and sometimes emotions that indicate a spirit is hanging around. Detective Joe Booth is working on a missing persons case in Philadelphia, about a young woman who disappeared and left her husband and daughter behind. By chance, Ann visits the woman's home to check it out for a prospective buyer and has a strong reaction to whatever spirit is there. Though he doesn't necessarily believe in such things, Joe contacts Ann, and begins to work with her to help solve this case. The reader knows "whodunit" from the beginning, but the suspenseful mystery revolves around Joe trying to figure it out, with help from the spirit world. I am loving this novel so far: it's very well-written, an intriguing and unique premise, and set locally, which is always fun to read about!

On audio, I just finished another dark and creepy choice, All Your Twisted Secrets by Diana Urban, a YA thriller. This one has a unique premise. Six students from the local high school all get letters saying they have won scholarships and inviting them to an awards dinner. When they show up at the designated time and place, though, no one else is there, and they get locked into a basement room alone. On the table is a bomb counting down, a syringe filled with liquid, and a note saying they have to choose one person to die (by injection) in the next hour, or they will all die from the bomb. They begin arguing over their options, while alternate chapters look back over the past year of their lives to fill in information about each of them. Besides the suspense, the story also delves into serious issues like bullying, drug use, and suicide. The teens are all very different--a star athlete, the valedictorian, an all-around over-achiever, a talented musician, a stoner, and a loner--but they all have secrets.  It's kind of like The Breakfast Club crossed with a high-stakes thriller! There are lots of surprises here to discover, including the ending.

My husband, Ken, finished another good RIP XV choice, From a Buick 8 by Stephen King. I had no idea that King wrote another horror novel about a car besides Christine, which was super creepy when I read it in the 80's as a teen! This one was published in 2002 and is about a State Police troop in rural Pennsylvania who discover an unusual old Buick Roadmaster back in 1979. Knowing that the car is dangerous, the troopers hide the car in a shed and attempt to discover its secrets over the years. In 2001, a state trooper is killed, and his teenage son, Ned, begins coming by the barracks to help out with small jobs around the place, to feel closer to his dad. The troopers understand this and welcome him, but once Ned discovers the Buick out in the shed, old secrets begin to stir. It sounds like classic Stephen King creepiness and perfect reading for the season!

Now, Ken is reading one of the birthday gifts I gave him this month, The Butterfly Girl by Rene Denfeld, the sequel to her hit thriller, The Child Finder. Ken and I both loved that first novel, about an investigator named Naomi who has a special talent for finding missing persons, especially children. This skill derives from a childhood loss that has haunted her for her whole life. In this second novel, Naomi turns her attention to her own personal tragedy and goes in search of a sister she can barely remember on the streets of Portland, OR, where scores of homeless children search for food, shelter, and love. The first book was superbly written, suspenseful, and compelling, so we have both been looking forward to reading the sequel!

Our son, 26, is still reading the epic fantasy series, Sword of Truth by Terry Goodkind and loving it! He is still reading book 3, Blood of the Fold, both of which he picked up at his favorite local used bookstore with a birthday gift card.  he tore through the first two books in the series. It sounds like the series is filled with murder, swords, treachery, and a unique magical world--yup, that ticks all his boxes! He has been powering through each long book, so they must be really compelling. He loves this kind of stuff.


Blog posts from last week:

Movie Monday: The Vast of Night - a classic sci fi movie set in the 1950's in the style of The Twilight Zone

Middle-Grade Review: The Door by Andy Marino - a girl searches for her mother in an imaginative fantasy world 

What Are You Reading Monday is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date, so head over and check out her blog and join the Monday fun! You can also participate in a kid/teen/YA version hosted by Unleashing Readers.

You can follow me on Twitter at @SueBookByBook or on Facebook on my blog's page.   

What are you and your family reading this week?


  1. I hope you feel better soon. You are certainly reading a nice assortment of books. Come see my week here. Happy reading!

  2. You are welcome to your dark creepy books, but so glad you are loving them. That spot on the deck sounds perfect, sunshine and autumn colours are perfect. Hope you'll soon get through this bout and be up and around again. A massage was not to be missed for sure.

  3. You're doing so well on the RIP challenge! I hope you're feeling better and have a chance to go for a walk soon; walks really are rejuvenating.

  4. I hope you feel better soon. Have a great week!

    Aj @ Read All The Things!

  5. I'm really sorry you're still not feeling well—that's as frustrating as it is miserable! I can imagine laying down for so long would definitely require a massage—I need one just from looking down an inch at my computer screen for Zoom calls! These books all sound excellent! Thanks for the great post!

  6. The upside of being ill is having time to read. I ended up with a bit of a cold and used the time to work on a quilt and knit. (While listening to audiobooks of course!)

  7. Oh wow, I LOVE that gorgeous view from your deck!! I've found my sweet spot for reading in our new house, but unfortunately it's been discovered by my children as well. HAHA! It's normally our front "sitting room" and pretty easily ignored by our children until it started getting cold. And now they want to all sit by the fireplace in there. Oh well... Your post reminds me that I have a 1-hour massage gift certificate that I need to find. It was moved here from our old house, so it might still be in one of my "office" storage boxes. Must find! Hope you have a great reading week, Sue!

  8. I hope you have started to feel a bit better by now, or that the scenes from your reading spot still bring you comfort. Lots of good reading there!