Sep 28, 2014

Dragging My Heels into Autumn

pile of pumpkins at a market stall
Dragging My Heels into Autumn
For the second year in a row I find myself facing the end of summer with a sinking heart. It used to be that by September I was more than ready to welcome autumn, but moving somewhere more northerly has made a lot of difference. Now the end of the months of long and occasionally even sunny days really gets me down. I think a September holiday in a warm place was a mixed blessing in this regard — on the one hand I clung to thoughts of Greece to help me ignore the first turning leaves, but on the other hand when I came back the turning of the season felt all the more abrupt. It’s taking a lot of happy, apple-y and pumpkin-ish thoughts to counterbalance that.

A part of focusing on the pleasures of autumn is of course making a list of suitably dark and spooky novels to enjoy throughout October. Unlike last year, I’m going to stay away from overambitious plans, even if sometimes they’re their own reward. Instead I thought I’d just share a brief list of mostly recent library finds that seem to fit the bill. It’s only looking at them now that I realise most of the covers have a similar sort of feel, which I think is a good visual representation of what I’m in the mood for around this time of year.


  • Midnight is a Place by Joan Aiken: I adore Joan Aiken, and this has been on my TBR pile for far too long. Here’s the publisher’s blurb:
    Lucas is lonely. Orphaned and sent to live with his formidable guardian in a vast mansion, he longs for a friend. Then Anna-Marie arrives. She's spoilt and wilful - and practically half his age. Lucas feels more alone than ever. But one night something terrible happens. Lucas and Anna-Marie face a terrifying and treacherous ordeal, alone in the hostile city streets. Together, they must fight to survive...
  • The Quick by Lauren Owen: I was seduced by the comparisons to Wilkie Collins on the back cover. It could go either way, but if it’s as good as I hope I’ll be so happy. Blurb:
    You are about to discover the secrets of The Quick –

    But first, reader, you must travel to Victorian England, and there, in the wilds of Yorkshire, meet a brother and sister alone in the world, a pair bound by tragedy. You will, in time, enter the rooms of London’s mysterious Aegolius Club – a society of the richest, most powerful men in England. And at some point – we cannot say when – these worlds will collide.

    It is then, and only then, that a new world emerges, a world of romance, adventure and the most delicious of horrors – and the secrets of The Quick are revealed.
  • The Language of Dying by Sarah Pinborough: The beautiful cover art is entirely responsible for my interest in this one. It was in our General Fiction section, but the blurb certainly makes it sound dark:
    A woman sits at her father's bedside watching the clock tick away the last hours of his life. Her brothers and sisters - all traumatised in their own ways, their bonds fragile - have been there for the past week, but now she is alone.
    And that's always when it comes.
    As the clock ticks in the darkness, she can only wait for it to find her...
  • In the Woods by Tana French: Finally? This has been recommended to me hundreds of times over the years, and all the praise The Secret Place received this year as a reminder that I ought to make time for it.
    When he was twelve years old, Adam Ryan went playing in the woods with his two best friends. He never saw them again. Their bodies were never found, and Adam himself was discovered with his back pressed against an oak tree and his shoes filled with blood. He had no memory of what had happened.

    Twenty years on, Rob Ryan - the child who came back - is a detective in the Dublin police force. He's changed his name. No one knows about his past. Then a little girl's body is found at the site of the old tragedy and Rob is drawn back into the mystery. Knowing that he would be thrown off the case if his past were revealed, Rob takes a fateful decision to keep quiet but hope that he might also solve the twenty-year-old mystery of the woods.
  • Lastly, The Mysteries by Lisa Tuttle: Another cover that drew my eye.
    Ever since his father disappeared when he was nine years old, Ian Kennedy has had a penchant for stories about missing people - and a knack for finding them. Now he's a private investigator with an impressive track record. But when a woman enters his office and asks him to find her lost daughter, Ian faces a case he fears he cannot solve.

    Laura Lensky's stunning twenty-one-year-old daughter, Peri, has been missing for over two years - a lifetime, under the circumstances. But when Ian learns the details of her disappearance, he discovers eerie parallels to an obscure Celtic myth - and to the haunting case that launched his career, an early success he's never fully been able to explain...

    A stack containing the books listed above

    How about you? Any October reading plans? And any strategies to stay cheerful during the cold, dark months?
  • 19 comments:

    1. Seattle's fall/winter/spring are similar to yours so I'm also really mourning the loss of summer. We're thinking about a warm vacation at the end of the year to break it up but it's definitely that mixed blessing of enjoying the brief warmth but then trying to come back and resign ourselves to the gloom again for 4-5 more months.
      I think I might spend this winter delving into rereads and series. I have so many books I love that I haven't read in ages. They should help pass the time (I hope!).

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    2. Ooooh "In the Woods" sounds brilliant! I just might have to get it for those autumn evenings that are just coming up.

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    3. Okay, you know I don't mind the cool of autumn or even the cold of winter, so I don't really need any strategies to get me through them. Nonetheless, I now want May to get here sooooooooooooooooo badly that I might just implode! :D
      My October reading plans are definitely of the RIP variety though. And now I'm tempted to add some of those titles to my pile. Like it's not already toppling as it is. :P The Language of Dying and The Mysteries both sound especially intriguing. Are you going to be doing Dewey's Read-a-Thon again? *fingers and toes all crossed that you don't work that weekend*
      I do so very much hope you find lots of things to enjoy this autumn, Ana!!!

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    5. I love fall, but we had a mild summer in DC, so I've not been craving it the way I usually do. However, today is much warmer than a late September Sunday should be, and that's making yearn for cooler weather. There's a short window of time when it's both cool enough and light enough for me to enjoy being outside a bit after work during the week, and I don't want the warmer weather to hang on so long that I miss that window.

      I have The Quick out of the library now. I read a review that compares it to Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell and The Historian. That has me half excited and half discouraged. (I didn't like The Historian much.)

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    6. I love these covers -- aside from Midnight Is a Place they share a certain style, don't they? The contents sound tempting too. As for Midnight, it's one of my favorite Aikens and a great choice for October. Enjoy.

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    7. Those are all gorgeous covers!

      I might give The Quick a go, although I agree w you it can go either way. They all sound great though.

      I don't have any seasonal advice, as I moved north specifically for the winters (and autumn and big trees, lol). Make lots of hot drinks? Get a fabulous vintage wool coat from ebay? Snuggle up w a hot water bottle while wearing cosy wooly things? These are the kinds of things I missed terribly in Texas.

      I also take cod liver oil for my fibro, but it has lots of vitamin d in it, so might help anyone in a sun deprived area.

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    8. Those are all gorgeous covers!

      I might give The Quick a go, although I agree w you it can go either way. They all sound great though.

      I don't have any seasonal advice, as I moved north specifically for the winters (and autumn and big trees, lol). Make lots of hot drinks? Get a fabulous vintage wool coat from ebay? Snuggle up w a hot water bottle while wearing cosy wooly things? These are the kinds of things I missed terribly in Texas.

      I also take cod liver oil for my fibro, but it has lots of vitamin d in it, so might help anyone in a sun deprived area.

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    9. I forgot to mention, I was underwhelmed by In the Woods. I liked The Likeness a bit more, but I think Tana French just isn't going to be a writer I click with.

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    10. aw I really need to read In the Woods as well.

      It's interesting what you say about autumn. I live in a place that is sunny most of the time and fall is something that doesn't really exist, we still have many hot days ahead of us. I think of it with a lot of nostalgia..of my childhood and young adulthood. But if I were faced with the actual change in weather nowadays I suspect it would be hard for me. I've lived here a long time now.

      enjoy your reading, friend!

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    11. The Quick arrived at our library the other day and I had to resist picking it up for a bit. I'm a bit overwhelmed by all the good books I'm reading (and want to read). Oh well, to the TBR it goes!

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    12. I've read all the TAna French books so far, so I'm curious what you will think of In The Woods. It was very well-written. I didn't like the ending, so I want to know what you think!

      I think I have the Joan Aiken on my shelf to be read! Her work is so fun and so under-rated, isn't it?

      I have Mayhem by Sarah Pinborough out from the library now. I hear it's good! lol

      You have some interesting books out, and as you say, sometimes the covers have a lot to say, too. I'm sorry you are feeling the drawing in of the day so difficult. So does my husband. He dreads November, that is the hardest time of the year for him. It's funny how the loss of light is so striking this year, isn't it? I'm really noticing the early sunsets now.

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    13. I have a similar dread of fall. The winters here are long and gray and what gets me through them is a plan for going away. This year my plan is to go to Orlando, FL in early March for a SF convention (Joan Slonczewski is guest of honor and asked me if I'd go with her, plus Eleanor is going again with her friend whose mom is an editor). Looking forward to that trip should help. I hope.

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    14. I haven't read French either! I love fall -- my favorite season. Hope you ease into it.

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    15. What a great list of books! My only spooky novel plan is to re-read In a Glass Darkly by Sheridan Le Fanu.

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    16. Well, my book club wants to read The Shining, and ... I am already pretty sure I'm chickening out? I'm just not capable of doing spooky without scaring myself silly.

      This year was the first year I can remember in a long time that I've really dreaded the end of summer. It seemed to hardly be here, and then it was gone. I love fall, with the blue, blue skies and the changing colours of the trees, and cool sunny weather, and usually think of myself as preferring them to the summer heat and humidity, but I'm not ready yet. Also got my first nasty cold, like clockwork.

      For me, sun is the key - on the sunny days I try to find as much time as I can to spend out in it, and because I like the cooler temperatures it's kind of perfect. And I do love the fresh produce at this time of year, so I go to the market and buy up as many cobs of corn and peaches and tree-ripened apples and tomatoes and sweet peppers as I possibly can eat, and just eat them raw (well, not the corn.) I love the *idea* of canning more than I love the practice, so I like to get out library books on preserving the harvest, and dream about how some day I'll actually make those chutneys and pickles...

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    17. I'm not ready either! I love summer and the change to autumn makes me sad, even though I suppose it does have its nice bits. It just never gets hot enough in the summer for me here in the UK, so I am never ready for it to get cool again.

      I haven't ready any of the books in your reading pile, but I look forward to seeing what you think of them! They do look suitably spooky, so I hope they get you in the right mood to enjoy some autumn reading and find the nice parts of the season!

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    19. We only have two seasons here in the Philippines, so I'm actually kind of jealous that you have fall in the US. Also, I'm currently reading In the Woods, so I look forward to your thoughts on that book.

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    Thank you so much for taking the time to comment - interaction is one of my favourite things about blogging and a huge part of what keeps me going.