21 October 2014

Reading on Topic: These Old Houses

In the department of random publishing trends for 2014, I've found a number of novels that incorporate the theme of fixing up an old house. It can be scary thing to renovate a home--and I'm not talking about costs and sawdust. Sometimes, however, if you enter such a project with your family, you may discover some peace and happiness at the end.

Today's Reading On Topic looks at old houses. Warning: You might think twice about accepting that inheritance from your grandmother.

Family Drama behind Closed Doors

  • Three Story House by Courtney Miller Santo (William Morrow; ISBN: 9780062130549; August 2014): Lizzy, Elyse, and Isobel--cousins and best friends--are reunited to save their late-grandmother's Memphis house from the wrecking ball. As the cousins learn the perils of renovation, they also learn some family secrets. In the end, will they find a future not only for the house but also for themselves? An engrossing contemporary novel told from three viewpoints.
  • Rooms by Lauren Oliver (Ecco; ISBN: 9780062223197; September 2014): Caroline and her children inherit their house not from Grandma but from Caroline's ex-husband. Although they can handle cleaning out decades of junk from the old place, they don't know what to do about the ghosts who use the house itself to communicate their feelings (hissing radiators, for example). Plenty of family drama on both planes of existence as all beings hope to be freed from their pasts.
  • The Hundred-Year House by Rebecca Makkai (Viking; ISBN: 9780525426684; July 2014): Although not really a renovation story, this novel is centered on an old house and includes family secrets. As the younger members of the Devohrs family uncover their home's deep history, they begin to gain perspective on their own privileged life. The novel starts in the 1990s and moves back in time, so the mysteries of the present are eventually revealed in the past. A quirky family drama with elements of suspense and hauntings.
Mysteries under the Rafters

  • The Hidden Girl by Louise Millar (Atria; ISBN: 9781476760094; August 2014): Breaking the mold, Hannah and Will Riley actually buy their rundown country house and set about getting it into shape so they'll be ready to adopt a child and start the family they've always dreamed of. All goes fairly smoothly until a major Suffolk snowstorm isolates Hannah in the house while Will is in London. With no electricity and spotty cell reception, Hannah is already a bit freaked out. But when she suspects that she's no longer alone in the house, she begins to fear for her life. This is a creepy psychological thriller.
  • The Qualities of Wood by Mary Vensel White (Authonomy; ISBN: 9780007523580; June 2014): When Nowell and Vivian Gardiner moved into his late-grandmother's country house, hoping to renovate it for sale, the couple was looking forward to a quiet life in a small town. What they found instead was the body of a 17-year-old girl and a whole lot of secrets. This character-driven mystery reveals its clues slowly, building the tension.
  • A High-End Finish by Kate Carlisle (Signet; ISBN: 9780451469199; November 2014): Jane Hennessey inherited her California Victorian from her grandmother and hired her best friend and contractor Shannon Hammer to help transform the house into a hotel. Ruining her manicure became the least of her worries when the body of a real estate agent is found on another job site and Shannon is accused of murder. This is a fun cozy mystery with interesting characters, strong women, and maybe even a little romance.


shelleyrae @ book'd out 10/21/14, 6:35 AM  

I have the first three on my wishlist

bermudaonion 10/21/14, 8:11 AM  

Fun post! I want to read several of those books!

Katherine P 10/21/14, 8:19 AM  

I have the Kate Carlisle on my TBR and and am adding most of these to my wishlist. Nothing makes me long to pick up a book more than a rambling old run down house! This is a trend I am fully behind! Great post!

rhapsodyinbooks 10/21/14, 8:55 AM  

I have a review of Rooms coming up for Halloween (ghosts and all). I don't think I've liked anything recent by her!

Debbie Rodgers 10/21/14, 10:06 AM  

I love reading on a theme - and this is a cool one. I've read The Qualities of Wood although I'm not sure how I made myself finish it - convincing myself that something must happen. Not so.

You might also want to look at the "Home Repair can be Homicide" series by Sarah Graves.

Laurel-Rain Snow 10/21/14, 10:29 AM  

I have Three Story House and I've been contemplating adding Rooms.

The themes of family drama behind closed doors and mysteries under the rafters interest me.

Thanks for sharing.

Heather 10/21/14, 11:49 AM  

Kate Carlisle is already on my list as I like another series of hers, but think I may be adding a few more to that list.

Greg 10/21/14, 12:57 PM  

Hm, these all sound interesting, I especially think The Hidden Girl and The Qualities of Wood sound good, and maybe a little scary- perfect for this time of the year!

Literary Feline 10/21/14, 1:14 PM  

The mysteries especially appeal to me. When I think of this topic, I especially think of Karen White and her House on Tradd Street series.

Unknown 10/21/14, 1:31 PM  

I have a couple of these books. I love this format how they are similar.

Beth Hoffman 10/21/14, 1:49 PM  

Several of these sound good to me!

Andi 10/21/14, 2:47 PM  

I love themed lists, and I love books about old houses! Wooo!

Melissa (Avid Reader) 10/21/14, 3:13 PM  

Fun categories! I bet you could add Rebecca and Sarah Waters' "Little Stranger" to the Mysteries under the Rafters one.

rhonda 10/21/14, 3:33 PM  

Adding to my wish list,love your blog your food essays your tech help found blue reader thanks to you.i love a variety of subjects.

(Diane) bookchickdi 10/21/14, 8:06 PM  

What an clever way to present these books.

Nise' 10/22/14, 1:46 PM  

Looking forward to reading a few of these books!

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