Throwback Thursday 11.4.2021

I’ve been tracking my reading on the internet since approximately 2013 more or less continuously, and if you look on my sidebar, you will find 8 pages that are titled Book List with a designated year.

On occasional Thursdays I will use a random number generator to point me to three books from the lists (leaving out 2021), and then I’ll post about them – what I remember (if anything), whether I would recommend them – probably not, if I don’t remember anything about them – and if they have stuck with me in the years since I read them.

So, for my first Throwback Thursday post, the random number generator gave me: 2018, Book 116:

Wicked AutumnWicked Autumn
by G.M. Malliet
Rating: ★★★½
Series: Max Tudor #1
Publication Date: September 13, 2011
Genre: mystery
Pages: 297
Project: throwback thursday

Max Tudor, former MI5 agent, has adapted well to his post as vicar of St. Edwold’s in the idyllic village of Nether Monkslip. Wanda Batton-Smythe, highly vocal and unpopular president of the Women’s Institute, turns up dead at the Harvest Fayre. Peanut allergy looks accidental, but Max has many suspects for murder.

So, I read this in approximately December, 2018. I absolutely bought this book for the cover – I love seasonal mysteries, and at the time that I bought it, I think I actually picked it up for Halloween Bingo and never got to it. I don’t remember a lot about it, except that I liked it, although it was a bit cozy for my tastes. I’m not a fan of twee in my books, and this one had a bit of that, with the Harvest Fayre. Just the spelling of Fayre is twee. I also recall that Max takes up with a local Wicca, and there’s a lot of tea.

I liked enough to check out & read book 2 in the series, A Fatal Winter, but lost interest by book 3 and never read Pagan Spring when it came up on my library holds list. I may continue with the series, but probably not.

2013, Book 34:

Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour BookstoreMr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore
by Robin Sloane
Rating: ★★★½
Series: Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore #1
Publication Date: October 2, 2012
Genre: fantasy, fiction
Pages: 288
Project: throwback thursday

The Great Recession has shuffled Clay Jannon away from life as a San Francisco web-design drone and into the aisles of Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore, but after a few days on the job, Clay discovers that the store is more curious than either its name or its gnomic owner might suggest. The customers are few, and they never seem to buy anything; instead, they "check out" large, obscure volumes from strange corners of the store. Suspicious, Clay engineers an analysis of the clientele's behavior, seeking help from his variously talented friends, but when they bring their findings to Mr. Penumbra, they discover the bookstore's secrets extend far beyond its walls.

I am surprised by how little I remember about this book, because I do remember that I liked it. It was published in 2012 and I read it just a few months after publication, in 2013, at the time that it was everywhere. It’s also right up my alley. I recommend it, because I recall that it was delightful, but that’s basically all I recall and I’m wondering if a reread is in order.

2017, Book 148:

Down a Dark HallDown a Dark Hall
by Lois Duncan
Rating: ★★★★
Publication Date: September 1, 1974
Genre: fiction, gothic, horror, YA
Pages: 240
Project: throwback thursday

Kit Gordy sees Blackwood Hall towering over black iron gates, and she can't help thinking, This place is evil. The imposing mansion sends a shiver of fear through her. But Kit settles into a routine, trying to ignore the rumors that the highly exclusive boarding school is haunted.

Then her classmates begin to show extraordinary and unknown talents. The strange dreams, the voices, the lost letters to family and friends, all become overshadowed by the magic around them.
When Kit and her friends realize that Blackwood isn't what it claims to be, it might be too late.

This is a book with which I have a long history. It was published in 1974, and I probably read it as a twelve-year-old in 1978 or so. I remember that Lois Duncan was incredibly popular with the tween set back in the 1970’s and this book was always on hold in the school library. I waited for my turn to read it for months. When I finally got it, it scared the bejeezus out of me. I read tons of Lois Duncan, and I maintain that this is the scariest of all of her books. At least for me.

Kids today are much cooler than we were in the late 1970’s, and I’m not even sure that Duncan will scare them, but I know that my own daughter, also when she was about fourteen, went through a Duncan phase and spent a summer binging on a bunch of kindle reissues (which is how I came to own this, and 9 other Lois Duncan ebooks) in approximately 2012. I remember her coming to me all summer and asking if she could please by another one. I always said yes.



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