I know that I usually wait until after the month ends to recap the books I read but I’m off this week and seriously running out of things to do. I’m not a “lounger and binger,” no matter how hard I try! October has been pretty hit or miss for me, book-wise. But I guess that’s really been every month this year. Am I that picky? Are my standards too high? I just want to be entertained and I’m having a hard time finding books that meet my high levels of criteria.
I don’t even remember what I read so far. Let’s check Goodreads, hold please.
LOL OK yeah now I remember what I read. This was, um, quite the way to start off a month that’s synonymous with horror, that is FOR SURE. This novella is written in a sort of epistolary format, except that it’s set in the early 2000s so we’re reading email correspondence between two women, initiated by one woman’s personal ad in which she is selling an antique apple peeler. The two women hit it off and take their e-relationship to the next level: instant messaging.
It escalates rather quickly, as they develop “feelings” for each other and take on somewhat of a cyber dom/sub situation where the one woman is essentially paying her to be her to do whatever she says, and then the sub woman is like LET’S HAVE A BABY TOGETHER and you guys, I can’t say what this entails, but it was fucking disgusting and I was straight up gagging in bed while reading it.
There was only one chapter that I ended up having to skip and that was the “Salamander in the Park” chapter, and that is all that I will say. But I just had a creeping sense of unease and OMG WHAT WILL HAPPEN feeling through the whole thing.
I don’t even know how to rate this book because it was SO FUCKING WEIRD but also compelling enough that I couldn’t stop reading it. Maybe 3.75 overall, but a 4.5 for the FUCKED UP factor. And a 5 for the cover.
2. Where the Truth Lies – Anna Bailey
Ugh, a classic story of a missing teenaged girl and all the people in the small, super religious and oppressive town who may know more than they’re letting on. I didn’t really care too much about anyone in this book, least of all the girl who went missing, but I will say the reveal was pretty disturbing. Not the worst book I’ve read this year, thriller-wise, but also pretty forgettable. Lots of despicable parents doing shitty things, really.
3. Neverworld Wake – Marisha Pessl
Oh shit a book about sci-fi time bullshit that I ACTUALLY LIKED. Here we follow Beatrice and her four friends, still processing the death of Beatrice’s boyfriend a year prior, who get in a car accident and wake up in a thing called a “neverworld wake.” Essentially, they have to keep reliving the last day (not a full 24 hours though) over and over until they unanimously agree on JUST ONE OF THEM getting to live.
Eventually, they learn how to go back to different times, and they go on a mission to find out what really happened the night their friend died. I just thought this was really well-written and compelling, the characters were multi-faceted, and the sci-fi parts were actually interesting enough to retain my interest.
4. When the Reckoning Comes – LaTanya McQueen
Pretty creepy horror novel about a plantation-cum-resort & wedding venue, haunted with the souls of those people who were enslaved there in the past. This was a classic haunted house tale with extremely relevant social commentary woven in. The real horror in the novel is rooted in the history of the American plantations, because we all know that shit was real and more fucked up than any fictional scary story.
Anyway, the premise of this book is that Mira, a Black woman in her late 20s, returns to her segregated, racist hometown to attend her childhood best friend’s wedding. The friend, who is white, is getting married at the newly renovated and repurposed site of an abandoned plantation, where Mira once thought she saw a ghost when she was a teenager. Mira struggles with attending the wedding because of the super tone-deaf “yeah, but it’s not a plantation anymore” choice of venues, but guilt wins over in the end and she finds herself confronting not just real ass motherfucking ghosts, but also her past.
More books like this please.
5. White Smoke – Tiffany D. Jackson
This is the third book I’ve read by this author and I can now safely say that she is incapable of writing a bad book. This is YA urban haunted house story with Get Out vibes. I LOVED the main character and her younger brother, and rooted for them so hard – they are going through some major blended family growing pains on top of moving into a new house in a new state. Our main character Marigold (I believe she is 16 or 17) is a recovering addict obsessed to a debilitating degree with bed bugs, and add to that the stress of a manipulative younger stepsister, navigating a new school, and being FUCKING HAUNTED IN HER NEW HOUSE, and you have a girl on the motherfucking edge, being gaslighted at every corner.
At the heart of all of this is gentrification, and White Smoke does a great job turning this into an urban horror trope. Shit is fucked up.
UGH THIS BOOK CAN FUCK RIGHT OFF. ONE STAR ONLY BECAUSE GOODREADS WON’T ACCEPT ZERO STARS. The Ex Hex is everywhere right now: all over Booktube, all up in my grill on Goodreads, in sponsored Instagram ads. It is so fucking over-hyped. Oh my god, so much. First of all, I know you’re like, “But Erin you don’t even like romances” and while this is mostly true, I do love books set in quirky small towns in October, and I am not adverse to books about witches. But oh Lord, these characters are more cardboardy than my actual cardboard cutout of Lee Taemin. Zero personality, no depth, no distinct voice. I truly didn’t care about the main couple at all, or the “plot” (something about ley lines and it goes haywire and magic gets all screwed up in this small Georgia town), or the sex. It was…not hot. I actually listened to this on audio because it was available before the actual book and like I said, it was SO IN MY FACE that I actually felt excited to read it, but the narrator only made the book WORSE. Oh my god, I hated her voice SO MUCH. She sounded like if a young Sally Struthers was a housewife on Wisteria Lane and I literally couldn’t stand it.
I went into this thinking we were going to get cute Stars Hollow vibes, some adorably quirky side characters, and just an overall October immersion, but it missed the mark on every single target. I sincerely hated this book so much and will not be picking up any future book by Erin Sterling. Sorry, I like to support other Erins (ever since I found out that other Erins existed when I was little, watching the opening credits to SILVER SPOONS, what up Erin Gray??) but this broad needs to just…not.
OK! I’ll end here. Gotta go obsess over squirrels, laugh over all the Facebook drama (no regrets jumping off that sinking ship in 2017, lol! Zuckerberg is trash.) and finish watching Season 3 of “You.” I might even start a photo album of all of the photos I’ve taken at haunted houses! MY LIFE IS SO EXCITING! It actually is though, if you’re an Erin.