If you're in the mood for a Halloween story, I recommend reading The House by the Cemetery by John Everson. It's the story of an abandoned house near the Midlothian turnpike by Bachelor's Grove, IL. Over many decades, teenagers have vandalized the old cemetery and have broken into the abandoned house to perform satanic rituals. Many residents in the area believed that there is a ghost of a witch that haunts the abandoned house. A young entrepreneur sees this as a business opportunity to create a haunted house (from an actual haunted house) for Halloween's month of October. He employs a carpenter, named Mike, to fix up the house. Mike soon discovers two trespassers who are eager to help him fix up the house. Many people are excited and are drawn to the house but many disappear. After the house is fixed and decorated for the haunted house, the ghosts are awakened. A few customers disappear during the haunted nights and the witch gets stronger as it gets closer to Halloween.
This is the story of young Allan Quatermain. He's in love with his childhood French language classmate Marie. But there's a problem. He's English and she's a Boer. It's something like Romeo and Juliet set against the backdrop of the Cape Frontier Wars in Africa. And another complication: Marie has a cousin that wants her for himself.
The characters in this book include actual historical figures and participate in some historical events of the war including the Weenan massacre. There's plenty of drama with a racial "I like you but stay away from my daughter" plot and plenty of exciting and sometimes distressing action with Boers and Zulus. Marie's family dislike any English but have to depend on Allan. He's a smart tactician and the best marksman on the continent.
Lillian and Madison have been friends since boarding school, continuing to keep in touch through letters that have gotten scarcer through the years. Madison has married a widely successful politician and keeps busy bathing in media spotlight, while Lillian's life has been... less grand. When Lillian receives a letter from Madison, begging for her help raising her newly orphaned twin stepchildren, to say she's surprised would be an understatement. Madison offers Lillian anything she could possibly need in exchange for this arguably straightforward task. She forgot to mention, however, that the children tend to spontaneously combust under stress. Thus ensues a wonderfully heartwarming tale of found family, coping with grief, self-acceptance, and fire children. Great for fans of The House in the Cerulean Sea.
At 85, Eudora Honeysett believes she is done living and wants to go out on her own terms. She starts to make plans to travel from her home in London to a clinic in Switzerland to make that happen. However, when 10-year-old dynamo Rose moves in next door, Eudora finds herself enjoying spending time with her. Another neighbor closer to Eudora's age, Stanley, also joins them on their adventures. Slowly, Eudora begins to question her decision to end her life.
Interspersed throughout the novel are scenes from Eudora's life--from growing up during World War II to the loves of her life and her relationships with members of her family. Despite the somber underlying theme of one's choice to end their life, the book is quite humorous at times.
The Brilliant Life of Eudora Honeysett (2020) by Annie Lyons is a great choice for readers who enjoyed The Story of Arthur Truluv and The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry. Check out eMediaLibrary to read the ebook and eaudiobook.
In this dark comic novel, widower Felix Pink is an "Exiteer." He, along with a partner, sits with someone who is terminally ill as the client takes their own life. It's all done within the law, but one day it goes horribly wrong as he and his colleague, Amanda, mistakenly aid the wrong person. Felix wonders what exactly went awry and if he'll be charged with murder. Exit (2021) recounts the tale of the police--specifically PC Calvin Bridge--unraveling the crime that was committed and arresting who's responsible. Felix, meanwhile, tries to make amends with the man mistakenly left alive. With its wide cast of characters and interesting puzzle, this book by Belinda Bauer was a real treat.
It's the 22nd century and the Pan American Navy aero-submarine Coldwater is in trouble. Coldwater's antiquated engines, anti-gravity screens, and communications have all failed. The vessel heads for the English coast for repairs. Devastating war has left Europe a forbidden zone for 200 years. Nevertheless, Lieutenant Turck and a few crewmen use a small boat to find food and fresh water ashore. Instead, they find civilization living in primitive camps and wild beasts, descendants of escaped zoo animals, prowling free.
This is classic Edgar Rice Burroughs. What makes this edition special is the narrator. Finn J. D. John teaches New Media Communications at Oregon State University. He begins The Lost Continent (1916, originally titled Beyond Thirty) with a foreword that sets the background for the book and a thumbnail biography of Burroughs. His organization, Pulp-Lit Productions, features annotated editions of Blackwood, Burroughs, Robert E. Howard, Lovecraft, and Seabury Quinn.
In present day England, Emma has been hired to revive the gardens at Highbury House that Venetia Smith designed in 1907 for the Melcourt family. Venetia Smith was quite famous for her garden designs, so Emma is thrilled to be working on the project and hopes that the current lady of the house, Sydney, can unearth some documents that will aid her in restoring the gardens to their former glory. A second storyline tells the story of Venetia and her time working at Highbury and falling in love while there. In addition, the novel recounts life at Highbury House in 1944, when the estate was used as a hospital for soldiers during the war. Specifically, it tells the stories of Beth (a Land Girl), Stella (the cook at Highbury) and Diana (Sydney's great grandmother). The Last Garden in England(2021) by Julia Kelly is an engaging story of several women's lives over a century. An added plus was all the descriptions of the flowers and creating the gardens.
Set in the near future, after an airborne disease has wiped out much of the population of the planet, Station Eleven (2014) follows a troupe of traveling musicians and actors as they migrate from town to town to put on shows. The plot bounces back and forth in time describing the first days of the pandemic then returning to the future, showing the evolution of the characters. Emily St. John Mandel skillfully brings these seemingly disparate storylines together as the main characters converge in the end.
Laura is a painter living in present-day Washington D.C. when she gets a call that her brother, Philip, missing since 1972, has been found. Philip disappeared when the family was living in Thailand for their father's job in American intelligence. Laura was the youngest child, Philip the middle, and Bea was the eldest at ten years old. After seeing him on a video call, Laura feels that it probably is Philip. Bea, however, is very skeptical. Laura then decides to travel to Bangkok and bring Philip home. A parallel storyline set in 1972 recounts the family's four years in Thailand--the children's everyday lives, mother Genevieve's affair with their father's boss, and the tale of Noi, one of the servants who accompanies the family back to the states.
Check out the eBook in Overdrive.
Government assassin Jessica Reel has gone rogue. Someone has to stop her, but no one can match her skill and resourcefulness, except maybe Will Robie.
The Hit (2013) has plenty of action and tension as Jessica and Will try to get the upper hand on each other.
In addition to the compelling story, I enjoyed the audiobook for its background music, sound effects, and dual narrators (Ron McCarty and Orlagh Cassidy).
This classic novel is a page turner from start to finish. The beauty of To Kill a Mockingbird (1960) is that it is told from the point of view of six-year-old Jean Louise Finch (nicknamed Scout), whose curiosity and confusion about the racial injustice she sees all around her serve to highlight and call into question these horrible racial biases. The main storyline follows Scout's father, Atticus, a lawyer who has been appointed by the judge to defend a black man accused of rape. The fictional town of Maycomb, Alabama, in the early 1930s serves as the backdrop with a multitude of characters, young and old, each with their own prejudices.
Beyond the major theme, the book is about growing up and parenting in a particular place and time. Harper Lee's novel explores the human condition exposing the flaws of even the protagonists, who have their own biases.
If you liked this book, check out our list of read-alikes.