Since I did so well with last month’s book list, I thought I’d take another shot at this. It’s funny: I love making lists but I don’t always stick to them, which is why I haven’t done many of these “What I’m Reading” posts this year. Not only that, but life has dramatically changed with a new job and surgery. I took my two weeks off work to demolish the October reading list. Luck may not be on my side with November, but I’ll definitely give it a good ol’ college try!
The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe
I’m bringing back a classic this month with C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. I haven’t read it for many years and by Jove, I think it’s time that I do. Even if you’re not of the Christian faith (which Lewis undoubtedly was), you know the story well. It even gained a second “cult following,” for lack of a better choice of words right now, when Disney made their film versions of these beloved books. I could dissect the films, but that’s really not my forte. For now I’ll just stick with happily re-reading a classic tale.
The classic story of Narnia, the fantastic land that lies beyond an ordinary wardrobe door.
On the other side of that wardrobe door lies a world full of magic. A world frozen in the perpetual winter of the White Witch’s enchantment. A world where Christmas never comes. Would you have the courage to stand shoulder to shoulder with Aslan, the Great Lion, and fight the Witch to free the land of Narnia? Are you brave enough to share the adventures that change the lives of Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy forever.
This timeless novel provides many wonderful passages for the study of narrative, as well as complex characters and motivations ideal for class discussion.
The Lady and the Mountain Man
This is another book series that I have read before and would like to do so again. I don’t often read Christian literature, as I find a lot of it manufactured. The “come to Jesus” moments always seem to be too well-placed. “Well-placed” is not how it happens in real life. So I’m on the fence about these books, which is why I’d like to revisit them. We shall see.
Leah Townsend, a recently orphaned heiress, flees Richmond after discovering her fiancé’s plot to kill her after their wedding. Desperate for a safe place to hide, she accepts a newspaper proposal for a mail-order bride from a God-fearing young rancher in the Montana Territory. But when Leah arrives at the mountain ranch, she learns her intended husband was killed by a grizzly, leaving behind a bitter older brother and a spunky younger sister.
When Gideon Bryant finds an eastern lady standing in his log cabin, his first instinct is to send her back where she came from. He’s lost too many people to the wild elements of these mountains––his parents, his wife, and now his brother. His love for this untamed land lives on, but he’s determined not to open his heart to another person.
But when an accident forces Leah to stay at the ranch for seven more months, can Gideon protect his heart from a love he doesn’t want? Has Leah really escaped the men who seek her life? Will her presence here put Gideon and his sister in danger too?
Love in the Wager
Every once in a while I will absolutely indulge in a Victorian or Edwardian or Georgian romance, and this one does have a bit more potential than the others in this series. I gave up reading this genre for a while because, if I’m being completely honest, I became rather bored with them. Then there were the authors who tried too hard to become the next Pride and Prejudice. We’ll see if that trend continues with Love in the Wager.
When Lydia’s father tells her he’s obtained a husband for her, Mr. Thornton, she doesn’t know whether to laugh or cry. She’d only met the man once before, and he’d immediately left her stranded in a ballroom after asking her to dance. How could she marry a man who already deemed her forgettable?
Edward Thornton has succumbed to the allure of gambling one too many times, to the point where he loses his house in a game of cards. But when the man who won his house offers him a deal he can’t refuse, he agrees to marry the man’s daughter in exchange for a chance to redeem himself.
The newlyweds immediately travel to Thornton’s country estate. But when someone starts leaving threatening notes on their door, Lydia and Edward must work together to determine who is in danger. Can love thwart the evil that threatens to destroy their relationship?
The Haunting of Brynn Wilder
Now for something completely out of my wheelhouse: The Haunting of Brynn Wilder. Indulging in haunted houses and strange tales was a childhood favorite of mine. Heck, I even loved Disney’s So Weird and Nickelodeon’s Are You Afraid Of The Dark? It was super fun getting a little creeped out every now and then. In my adult years, however, I don’t reach for those stories often at all, so I surprised even myself when I chose this one. Just goes to show that I’m willing to try any genre more than once.
After a devastating loss, Brynn Wilder escapes to Wharton, a tourist town on Lake Superior, to reset. Checking into a quaint boardinghouse for the summer, she hopes to put her life into perspective. In her fellow lodgers, she finds a friendly company of strangers: the frail Alice, cared for by a married couple with a heartbreaking story of their own; LuAnn, the eccentric and lovable owner of the inn; and Dominic, an unsettlingly handsome man inked from head to toe in mesmerizing tattoos.
But in this inviting refuge, where a century of souls has passed, a mystery begins to swirl. Alice knows things about Brynn, about all of them, that she shouldn’t. Bad dreams and night whispers lure Brynn to a shuttered room at the end of the hall, a room still heavy with a recent death. And now she’s become irresistibly drawn to Dominic—even in the shadow of rumors that wherever he goes, suspicious death follows.
In this chilling season of love, transformation, and fear, something is calling for Brynn. To settle her past, she may have no choice but to answer.
The Unremembered Girl
And here’s another story that’s out of my genre “comfort zone,” but I really liked the idea of this tale. Has the potentiality for creep or thrill, and I’m feeling that combination right now for some strange reason.
In the deep woods of East Texas, Henry supports his family by selling bootleg liquor. It’s all he can do to keep his compassionate but ailing mother and his stepfather—a fanatical grassroots minister with a bruising rhetoric—from ruin. But they have no idea they’ve become the obsession of the girl in the woods.
Abandoned and nearly feral, Eve has been watching them, seduced by the notion of family—something she’s known only in the most brutal sense. Soon she can’t resist the temptation to get close. Where Henry’s mother sees a poor girl in need, his father sees only wickedness. When Henry forges an unexpected bond with Eve, he believes he might be able to save her. He doesn’t know how wrong he is.
Eve is about to take charge of her own destiny—and that of Henry’s family. As both their worlds spin violently out of control, Henry must make an impossible choice: protect the broken woman who’s claimed a piece of his soul, or put everyone he loves at risk in order to do the right thing.
There you have it: my November reads for 2022. I think it’s a healthy mix of classic and the unexpected. I just hope they live up to expectations.