September days are here, With summer’s best of weather, And autumn’s best of cheer. ~ Helen Hunt Jackson

From the publisher: On a creepy island where everyone has a strange obsession with the year 1994, a newcomer arrives, hoping to learn the truth about her son’s death—but finds herself pulled deeper and deeper into the bizarrely insular community and their complicated rules… They wear outdated clothing, avoid modern technology, and, perhaps most mystifyingly, watch the OJ Simpson car chase every evening. When she asks questions, people are evasive, but she learns one thing: Close your curtains at night.

This was a fast-moving, fun novel, a bit like an R.L. Stine or Christopher Pike book, with some Mike Flanagan elements. It is both clever in its construction yet manages to maintain its heart. It is a great spooky Halloween read.

Her visit to the old schoolhouse spurred a new strategy. The structure was a cherished Clifford landmark, Willow had heard, just a ramshackle wood-frame schoolhouse on the island’s southeast side, not far from the rocky shore. Decorated in graffiti with the names of the kids, a person at the diner told her. The second she saw the graffiti covering the wooden siding, Willow felt reinvigorated by the spirit and creativity of youth. ~ Pg. 105

Thank you to Dutton for the review copy.

Publisher: ‎Dutton (June 27, 2023)
Language: ‎English
Hardcover: 448 pages
ISBN-10: ‎059347192X

From the publisher: In 1954, researchers at the newly formed National Institute of Mental Health set out to study the genetics of schizophrenia. When they got word that four 24-year-old identical quadruplets in Lansing, Michigan, had all been diagnosed with the mental illness, they could hardly believe their ears. Here was incontrovertible proof of hereditary transmission and, thus, a chance to bring international fame to their fledgling institution.

This is a fascinating look at both the science of psychology and the conundrum of medical ethics. There is no doubt these children were treated as lab rats rather than humans. But what is there to learn from the data that was collected? What are delusions and are they hereditary? Even if they hadn’t been the subject of studies, could they have any chance at a “normal” life as famous quadruplets? Well-researched and presented with a steady hand.

Their case was more useful for considering the relation between life experiences and outcomes where hereditary was controlled, and the types hereditarian or environmental factors that might be implicated. ~ Loc. 1560

Read via NetGalley.

Publisher: ‎Grand Central Publishing (June 13, 2023)
Language: English
Hardcover: 304 pages
ISBN-10: 1538724472

From the Publisher: Bob Comet is a retired librarian passing his solitary days surrounded by books and small comforts in a mint-colored house in Portland, Oregon. One morning on his daily walk he encounters a confused elderly woman lost in a market and returns her to the senior center that is her home. Hoping to fill the void he’s known since retiring, he begins volunteering at the center. Here, as a community of strange peers gathers around Bob, and following a happenstance brush with a painful complication from his past, the events of his life and the details of his character are revealed.

I absolutely loved deWitt’s The Sisters Brothers and I greatly enjoyed the first half of this book as well. It’s quirky and heartfelt without being sentimental. But then The Librarianist takes a turn and loses its verve. The electricity falters somehow.

There is such a thing as charisma, which is the ability to inveigle the devotion of others to benefit your personal cause; the inverse of charisma is horribleness, which is the phenomenon of fouling the mood of the coom by simply being. Bob was neither one of these, and neither was he set at a midpoint between the extremes. He was to the side, out of the race completely. ~ Loc. 954

Read via NetGalley.

Publisher: ‎Ecco (July 4, 2023)
Language: ‎English
Hardcover: 352 pages
ISBN-10:‎ 0063085127

From the publisher: It has been an eventful morning for Agnes Sharp and the other inhabitants of Sunset Hall, a house share for the old and unruly in the sleepy English countryside. Although they have had some issues (misplaced reading glasses, conflicting culinary tastes, decreasing mobility, and gluttonous grandsons), nothing prepares them for an unexpected visit from a police officer with some shocking news. A body has been discovered next door. With their plan sorted, Agnes and her geriatric gang spring into action. After all, everybody likes a good mystery.

I loved her debit novel Three Bags Full but I found this one more difficult to get into. The narrative point of view feels uneven making it hard to track. Give it a try but be patient wit it. The story is endearing and clever.

And as regards the problem in the shed…”
“She is not a problem!” interrupted Bernadette. “She’s Lillith!”
“Not anymore,” said Agnes softly. “That is the problem.” ~ Loc. 85

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Publisher: ‎Soho Crime (August 29, 2023)
Language: ‎English
Hardcover: ‎360 pages
ISBN-10: ‎1641294337

From the publisher: Mrs. King is no ordinary housekeeper. Born into a world of con artists and thieves, she’s made herself respectable, running the grandest home in Mayfair. When Mrs. King is suddenly dismissed from her position, she recruits an eclectic group of women to join her in revenge. Their plan? On the night of the house’s highly anticipated costume ball—set to be the most illustrious of the year—they will rob it of its every possession, right under the noses of the distinguished guests and their elusive heiress host.

This was a very fun read. Imagine the “downstairs” staff of Downton Abbey decided to pull off an Ocean’s 11 heist. A tightly-wound plan has to work just right in order for the theft to work and most importantly, for no one to get caught. The novel moves quickly and keeps the reader in suspense until the final chapter.

Plans, papers, schematics, diagrams, calculations, machinery, pulleys, inventories and ledgers. Hired hands and fences. Prices marked up in the ledger. Tricks, tales, lies, glorious acts of make-believe. Puzzle pieces, carved up and scattered by Mrs. King for them to piece together. Games for women. ~ Loc. 3278

Read via NetGalley.

Publisher: Graydon House; Original edition (July 4, 2023)
Language: ‎English
Hardcover: ‎368 pages
ISBN-10: ‎1525805002

What are you reading this month?