Jul 142023
  1. The Neighbors – Ania Ahlborn

My second book of hers and I just don’t get it. I gave this a 2. Completely unforgettable. No really – I can’t remember reading this AT ALL.

2. Ohio – Stephen Markley

Wow. Wow wow wow. My goodreads review:

I am going to need some to process this, but holy shit this was a crazy ride. Every time one chapter would connect to one from earlier in the book, I would gasp a little. I have been reading a lot of books lately where the characters are all written like effing Sims, the dialogue is cringy and unnatural, etc. I needed this book more than I realized.

The writing was SO GOOD that I had to skip over some of the more graphic parts because I was actually screaming out loud. (TW: cutting, among many other triggers – rape, drugs, war.)

I immediately made Henry read this because I needed to talk about it so badly that it made my stomach hurt. I don’t think I’ll ever forget this book. I fucking screamed at some parts and there were times when I was listening to it on audio while out on walks and would have to be extra conscious of the faces I was pulling – maybe this was too tense to read in public!

3. Where the Blame Lies – Mia Sheridan

This was a tough one for me because while I appreciated the plot, I really didn’t care for the writing style. Apparently this author writes primarily romance and that was pretty apparent. Corny AF dialogue and sex scenes. Flat characters. But the twist was interesting. Megan lent this one to me, and also the sequel which I haven’t started yet and am unsure if I am that committed.

4. The Couple at No. 9 – Claire Douglas

Pretty damn good. I rarely read a British thriller that I don’t like, is all I’m saying.

(I don’t know that I would go as far as to say that this is “hold-your-breath tense” as old Timmy Weaver says on the cover blurb, but it was definitely something different!)

5. Before She Knew Him – Peter Swanson

Peter Swanson is hit-or-miss for me, but this was a hit. I did guess the twist about halfway through but it was still enjoyable.

6. The House in the Pines – Ana Reyes

Reese’s Book Club pick, really? Someone’s Goodreads review for this just says, “Reese, you ok?” This was trash, a total waste of time. Messy plot, neither thrilling nor scary. How this got published is beyond me. I have nothing good to say about it.

7. Mouth to Mouth – Antoine Wilson

A pretty fast read. The whole book is just some dude running into an old college friend at JFK and then randomly telling him this long-ass story about how he once saved some man from drowning and then became obsessed with him, to the point of forcing their paths to cross again. It was…fine? The writing was fine. The idea was cool.  But it was also kind of pretentious, and I imagine this hits different for men of a certain ilk, men of a certain beard-length, men with Father John Misty records spinning on the player, men with brandy in decanters.

This just really felt like a man’s book. I don’t know how else to explain. Their were large swaths of it where I found myself drifting off, thinking about NCT Dream performing “Quiet Down.” Thinking about my squirrels. Thinking about what else I had in my TBR stack.

I didn’t hate it. Didn’t love it. Three stars because the writing was good.

8. Chasing the Boogeyman – Richard Chizmar

FIVE STARS. Good lord, the way I was sucked into this and kept forgetting it wasn’t real. It’s written like it’s real, like the author really grew up in a town where young girls were being abducted and killed. Each chapter even ended up photos of the town, the girls, the police involved in the investigation. IT FELT SO REAL. I loved it – it was chilling, entertaining, and HOW WAS THIS NOT REAL.

I went back and forth between reading the physical book and listening to the audio and recommend both. The narration was really great and conversational, like Chizmar was just chilling in my house, telling me all matter-of-factly about this serial killer targeting girls in his neighborhood. Oh, it was so good. It almost had a Wonder Years vibe to it, but make it dark and set in the 80s.

9. What Happened to Ruthy Ramirez – Clare Jimenez 

One star. This was AWFUL. The writing was sloppy. The whole thing was sloppy, really. Gratuitous swearing. The premise sounded so good: Ruthy Ramirez never comes home from school from day in the 90s. Fast forward to present day and her two remaining sisters are convinced that they found her on some trashy reality TV show and become obsessed with bringing her home. Sounds like it could be madcap, right?

NOPE. This was so goddamn boring and worthless. Didn’t like a single character. Didn’t care one way or another if Ruthy was dead or alive.

10. Local Girl Missing – Claire Douglas

When I saw that the audio for this was available on Hoopla, after liking her other book so much that I read earlier in the month, I thought WHAT THE HELL and gave it a go. It was OK! I didn’t like it as much as the other one but it was still a pretty decent thriller.

11. Love in the Big City – Sang Young Park

A series of connected short stories from the POV of being gay in South Korea? Yes please. I gave each story 4 stars, but the book as a whole was a 5 for me. The first chapter about Jaehee was my favorite. My least favorite was the one that focused mostly on caring for his mom while dating an older man. I was sobbing by the end of the book.

Also, I fucking miss Korea so much.

12. All the Dangerous Things – Stacy Willingham

Meh. My second Willingham book. It’s not that she’s terrible, but I think she tries to have too much going on. Also, this book has so many similarities to her first book, A Flicker in the Dark, which I did like. It was decent enough but the ending just didn’t feel satisfying. And I also didn’t really care that her baby was kidnapped, how awful am I!?!

But again, too much going on. Nefarious husband stuff, a super convoluted backstory with a murder/death?, suspicious detective, cold case podcast guy met on a plane and now suddenly lives with her? Just…so much was happening. Calm down, Stacy Willingham. Save some of that shit for the next book(s).


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