Mar 142020
 

Hello from Brookline. So far, there have been no reports of anyone testing positive with coronavirus in my neighborhood, big it was announced last Thursday that a student at Chooch’s school may have been exposed to it from a relative who had traveled out of state, so his school, along with 4 other schools in Pittsburgh, were closed yesterday as a precaution and so the schools could employ “electro-magnetic” sterilization, which sounds super space-y.

But then on Friday, the governor announced that all PA schools will be closed for at least two weeks, at which point they will reassess the situation. Chooch, being a kid, is excited because it’s like a snow day on steroids, except that some of us could die, but that’s OK: live it up, kids.

Because of this, our director at work gave us permission to work from home, so when Chooch found THAT out, the desirability of staying home from school was suddenly tainted, lol. MOMMY AND CHOOCH TIME. I’m going to make sure he has designated blocks of reading time, he’s going to do writing assignments, and he’s also going to watch some documentaries.

(“I’m watching one on Ted Bundy, then,” he said today, and that’s fine. He can help me design some new cards afterward.)

So it’s kind of like being quarantined, but not. Henry still has to go to work, but I am happy that I won’t need to be taking public transportation now during such uncertain, unclean times.

Then I got an email from the library, saying that after today, they are going to be shutting down until the 31st. I figured this was coming because Chooch was there on Friday and the entire children’s area was closed off, and that’s where he and his friend Markie have to go to use the computers because Markie isn’t 13 yet so he can’t use the ones upstairs. So last night, I frantically made a list of some of the books on my Goodreads “want to read” list that are available at the local branch of my library, leapt out of bed at 8am, got showered and dressed, only to remember that the dumb library doesn’t open until 10, ugh.

Anyway, I got there right at 10 and Chooch and I put on gloves that were available on a cart of sterilization products, and I acted like all those preppers hoarding toilet paper, except instead of Charmin, I had an armful of fiction.

I checked out 7 books, plus I still have 4 already checked out, so I’m hoping this will tide me over! Especially since I will have extra free time on Saturdays for a bit because Jiyong suggested that we hold off on meeting up for now, considering we meet in a perpetually-crowded Panera. Paneras are gross enough without a pandemic in the midst. Henry said he will help me practice my vocabulary though which scares me but we’ll see; maybe he will actually help.

But he will probably fall asleep.

Don’t judge me by YA/Teen Fiction selections, OK! Sometimes I like having something light to fall back on after reading something especially scary or ultra-literary.

I hope everyone’s staying safe, smart, and healthy out there and don’t forget to check in on your elders. It’s fucking scary, but we will get through this if everyone takes it seriously and stops doing selfish things.*

*(For instance, all of those idiot YouTube travel vloggers are still out there traveling for content and it makes me so angry. Especially when I see them getting all combative and responding to coronavirus-related comments with snarky slapbacks like “We’re healthy and not worried about dying from it but you do you #thumbsupemoji” NOPE. NOPE NOPE NOPE. That’s exactly what I was saying too A MONTH AGO when we started to consider postponing our trip that’s scheduled for April, except that MY sentence had a “but”: “…but I don’t want to risk contracting the virus and spreading it to those who are weaker/older/more susceptible than me, just because I wanted to go to some amusement parks and have fun.” That is the part that not everyone is grasping. We will go another time. Right now, the most important thing is to stay sanitary and informed. Fuck those people.)

UPDATE! I remembered that another library exists within walking distance so I ran down there and expanded my pile. Look, I can’t request books during this time so I need to be prepared! Worst case scenario, I start pulling from Chooch’s bookshelf. Minecraft 101, oh boy.

Mar 042020
 

Hey-o, the month is over and here I am with a run-down of the books that helped me pass the time & forget that it’s winter. Somehow, I started the month on a weird possession kick. I guess because I started watching these “Booktubers” (god, I hate that term, it’s so dumb, like me) talk about their latest favorite horror books because that is my genre of choice but I have been so far-removed that I needed guidance on where to start, who’s on trend, etc.

One interesting thing to note is that I read two books, by chance, that each referenced the Great Boston Molasses Flood of 1919 which I never knew about and I actually thought it was made up when I read it in the first book, but by the second reference in a different book, I was like, “HMM MAYBE I SHOULD GOOGLE THIS…” Oh, and also two books featured broads pissing on a grave.

(The weird coincidence for my January books was that two of them used the word “palimpsest,” what a random-ass word.)

The hits-n-misses were pretty even, I would say. As I did last month, I had hyper-linked the titles so you can get legit synopses, because my book summaries tend to be major mouthfuls – I have definitely bored Henry to tears on our walks around town!

1. Saturday Night Ghost Club – Craig Davidson

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I started off the month strong with this one. This is a collection of short ghost stories that the main character experiences as a kid in Niagara Falls (in the 80s, even!), but they’re all interwoven and has a bit of a twist at the end which was actually quite sad and did, in fact, make me cry. What I really liked about this was that it was written from the perspective of the main character as an adult. He grew up to be a neuro-surgeon, so each chapter starts out with an anecdote about the human brain, which all ties in at the end. It’s a smart book, and a very quick read; I read it in only two sittings. Highly recommend!
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This book came up in so many BookTube horror recommendation videos, and I picked it up because it’s an exorcism plot. I knew going into this that a lot of people were crying that it was an Exorcist rip-off, but to the author’s defense, it does clearly reference that in the book. I’m really torn with this one. It started out just fine and actually made me jumpy because, and here is where Henry will roll his eyes but he can cook on because he pointedly refuses to watch horror movies revolving around churches and exorcisms BECAUSE HE IS SCARED, I truly believe that people can become possessed. In fact, I went through a heavy phase in 9th or 10th grade where I actively tried to let the devil in. “I used to stand at my bedroom window at night, facing the woods and cry ‘HERE I AM DEVIL, I’M READY!” I guess I was too eager. Satan wants someone who plays hard to get. He wants the chase. When I told Chooch about this era of my life, he just murmured, “Wow. Good job.” He doesn’t care about my sordid past.
Anyway, back to this book. Overall, I didn’t like it and wouldn’t recommend it. I didn’t care about the family it focuses on, and the twist was kind of ‘…..’ What really ruined it for me, no spoilers, is that there are “blog posts” interspersed throughout the book and they were SO ANNOYING. Every time I read it, all I could think was, ‘God, this is probably what it feels like to read my own blog.” It was super obnoxious. Like this blog.
People on YouTube keep saying that this author is like the new horror king or whatever and if that is the case, I am clearly just not capable of being scared anymore, I guess.
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Oh man, this fucking trash book.  I was so excited for it. An exorcism set in the 80s? YES PLZ. But this book was not scary, and the writing was on par with like, RL Stine. Except that this was supposed to be for adults (am I wring about this? was this actually YA horror?! that would make a lot of sense). I didn’t give a single shit about any of the characters, and it reminded me of the dumb, bullshit, stream-of-conscious stories I used to write in my notebook in 7th grade, like the one where my best friend Christy married then-rookie Pittsburgh Penguin Jaromir Jagr and in real life my family hosted a foreign exchange from France that summer so I wrote him into the story too because he was in love with Christy and it was just the most indulgent, ridiculous story that I literally wrote in pencil and I would give anything for a copy of it today but I know it would make me cringe 3 pounds off my face to read it and that is how I felt about My Best Friend’s Exorcism.
I had two of his other books on my “want to read” list but now I’m nervous.
I always feel bad about ragging on a book though because I know that it’s like the equivalent saying someone’s baby is ugly, so I will end this with two positives:
  • I appreciated that each chapter was named after a song from the 80s;
  • The edition I got from the library was really cool because it was like a high school yearbook:
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THIS BOOK. It was one of my favorite books of the month, and year even though we’re only 2 mths in. I didn’t know much about it going in and I think that’s for the best because once…the thing…starts happening, I was like, “OK, we’re doing THIS? Let’s go.” The writing?
*Italian finger kiss, washing hands first though* The characters? LOVED THEM ALL. The dialogue? Yep, I can hear these bitches in my head. I was so excited about this book that I couldn’t even talk about it without getting choked up and it’s not a SAD book. It’s hilarious! It’s scary! It’s bizarre! There’s a crazy twist! This book was totally my style, from the writing to the plot. If it wasn’t a library copy, I would have kissed it with tongue.
I keep trying to get Janna to read it but I don’t think she has yet because this is the kind of book that you read and then immediately want to talk about as soon as you finish.
To give you a small taste, whenever I see stuff written about Bunny, people always say the same thing: It’s like Heathers meets the Craft meets Frankenstein.
100% accurate. The only synopses you need. Go read it. It’s fantastic and I want it to be a movie now.
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This is a possession story told from  the perspective of the woman who gets possessed and it is fantastic. Short and sweet. Some genuinely laugh-out-loudable (???) moments while also maintaining a certain amount of tension. It was so interesting to read a story from the possessed’s point of view, watching her marriage suffer as she slowly loses herself.
Super quick read. Would recommend if you like possession tales and, like me, are back to pondering how to let the demon inside. DOOR’S OPEN, MOTHERFUCKER.
Disclaimer: it didn’t legitimately scare me, but it was fascinating.
I picked this up on a whim from the teen section of the library, having just read a slew of horror novels and needing something light to carry me over until my new batch of book requests came in. Obviously the grilled cheese on the cover is what drew me in.
This was a great coming of age tale about a boy in high school whose family moves and now he’s forced to go to some Catholic school even though he’s atheist. He walks in with the worst attitude, not even bothering to make it work, because he figures his family is just going to move again someday anyway since his dad is always having to relocate due to his job, and who wants to make friends with Catholic school dorks anyway? Then he realizes that not everyone in that school fits perfectly into a Catholic mold and he’s invited to join the club for heretics, which is great until he decides that they should start making anonymous statements, which then end up going too far because what’s a teen novel without the dramz.
I dunno, man. I really liked it. The characters were likable, the writing wasn’t cringey, it was a bit different from your normal high school novels. I think this might be a series, and if that’s true, I will probably read on, motherbookers.
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UGH I hated this book. The writing was soooo annoying. The man dragged out the simple action of throwing another log on the fire into an entire paragraph. Just page after page of gratuitous descriptions, extremely unlikable characters (oh this person died? WHO CARES). The plot sounded so enticing too: several famous horror novelists spend a night in a haunted house, etc. The house itself did give me the creeps, but the book was so fucking boring and I figured out one of the twists very early on, however, I will give him props for the ending. The VERY end-ending.
I don’t recommend this.
Your House Is on Fire, Your Children All Gone
My friend Elissa recommended this to me and it was a fucking JOY to read after Kill Creek. The horror was so perfectly subtle, so real. Each chapter alternates between several children growing up in what appears to me a semi-rural German village…in the 60s? 70s? Did we ever really know? The cruel things that they do each other is scarier than any haunted house/possession plot, in my not-quite-obtained English degree opinion. Loved this one – thank you, Elissa!!
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Oh shit, my first Karin Slaughter! I kept seeing this pop up on BookTube and my favorite book reviewer, Kat, highly recommended it.. She has yet to steer me wrong – this was a GREAT thriller! I’m always so hesitant to pick up thrillers because sometimes the writing can be so basic and it turns into…reading just to read. But the main characters in this one were so fleshed-out, and I felt INVESTED. It was also truly scary because again – real life horror, man. However, maybe I’m just desensitized but everyone was like, “THIS IS THE GORIEST BOOK I HAVE EVER READ” and they were issuing trigger warnings for violence but, eh. I mean, the descriptions weren’t a walk in the park, but I didn’t need to keep a vomit pot  next to me (that was Sunday night, thanks stomach bug), if you know what I mean.
I can’t vouch for her other books, but if you’re looking for a good, chilling thriller with actual good dialogue and characters you can root for, try this one. But I guess, trigger warning for extreme torture porn?
The Perfect Nanny
This book is short, and I kind of wanted more, but I also appreciated the succinctness of it. It starts with the aftermath of children murdered by their nanny, not a spoiler, and then goes back in time to show, in short paragraphs, what transpired to get her to that point. It’s set in Paris, so if you’re a Francophile, definitely pick this up, perhaps in its original French format!
I devoured this, couldn’t wait to get to the end. I really started to fucking hate the parents of the kids, and it was all because of very slight and subtle things, so props to Leila Slimani for accomplishing that.
Nothing to See Here
AHH, TIED WITH BUNNY AS MY #1 BOOK OF THE MONTH. I cannot even explain this other than to say, it was my style. The plot was so nonsensical, but framed in a sense where it made just shrug and say, “I guess this isn’t really that big of a deal, OK, I’ll roll with it.” I had the biggest book-crush on the main character and wish she was real, and you know I’m usually *eye roll* when it comes to children, but the two little kids in this book stole my heart and they will fucking steal yours too and also the main character is always slipping in a “fuck” and “fucking” in every sentence to the point where I was actually reading the whole book in my own voice.
Oh, and you best believe I cried at the end.
Read this and tell me you didn’t also fall hard for Carl. I kept picturing Will Sasso.
The Haunting of Hill House
Literally a classic and I have shamefully never read it until now. I’ve seen the 1999 movie, and of course the recent series loosely based on this novel, so needless to say I was well past due. What a great book! I was so worried that it would be too dry but it was…moist? No seriously, the characters were so colorfully written and the house, just as it did in the series, gave me chills even while reading this in broad daylight.
Reasons She Goes to the Woods
This was hard to ingest at times because this girl was a real piece, but it’s essentially what Baby Teeth really wished it could be. Each page is a new chapter detailing some incident in the life of Opal, starting from when she was a very small girl all the way to her teen years, and she is pretty fucking messed up. I loved it. Super quick read too!
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This was the book that I got from that “Blind Date with a Book” thing at the library where the books were wrapped in paper so it was a real mystery. When I saw that this was my choice, I was like, “Oh.” Definitely not something I’d have chosen on my own and maybe a normal person would have just straight returned it, but now I felt invested. So I did eventually read it and it was…OK. I didn’t care much for any of the characters but the setting was so cozy and made for a perfect winter read, if you’re into choosing books based on that.
Basically, people get stranded in a countryside inn. Then people start dying. Oh no! I didn’t care when anyone died, to be honest, but I wanted to find out who did it which ultimately kept me from DNFing it. It was…you know…a’ight. It’s a book that you can read.
“The writing was very simple. Basically, it was like a book that you could read,” I explained to Henry.
“OK. I’m not illiterate!” he huffed.
It’s true though. This is the kind of book you give to an elder relative who you think should fuck off of Facebook and read a goddamn story. Will I read any of, what was her name? Shari Lapena? Would I read any more of her books? S’mrobly not.
The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle, #1)
OK am I dumb? This is a fucking YA book and I was so lost at times when it came down to the actual “WE’RE LOOKING FOR THE LEY LINES!” part of the story that the actual PLOT actually became secondary to me and instead I stayed for the characters. Wow. Love them. All of them. I would happily take any raven boy (I mean, if they were over 18) and could so vividly picture each of them in my mind (I mean, if I were under 18). Maggie Stiefvater wrote the Shiver series, which was a werewolf trilogy that I super-loved, I think it came out 10 years ago? Maybe more? So when I saw that in my reading absence, she wrote a new series, I had to check it out. I will definitely be moving on the book #2 as soon as the dumb library gets it for me.
Maybe by then I’ll start to understand what they’re doing?
The Devil Crept In
Fuck this book. BookTube is always going on about Ania Ahlborn, how if you love horror, you have to check her out. How she is this budding indie horror writer. Ania Ahlborn, Ania Ahlborn, Ania Ahlborn.
Ugh, I didn’t like it. I really wanted to, but it was so boring and I hated everyone in it. It’s told mostly from the point of view of this 10 year old boy who has echolalia? And maybe I’m an asshole for saying this but it was really trying to read his dialogue, and I would get so angry because he’d do this thing where he ended his sentences with rhymes but the words were kind of, advanced? So I would be like, “WHY DOES A 10 YEAR OLD FROM SOME HICK TOWN IN OREGON KNOW HOW TO RHYME LIKE THIS” and that just made me angry. Also trigger warning to child abuse and graphic animal stuff.
What I liked the least about this book was that there were chapters from someone else’s point of view which were interspersed throughout and they were dreadful. Also, a really horrible, small, bold font was used for these particular chapters and I was not pleased. Neither were my eyes. Ugh, I wanted this book to be so much more but instead I was left extremely frustrated.
Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory
Thankfully, I had enough time left at the end of the month to squeeze in one more, and this one was a gem. Some of my friends reading this might remember that I was actually offered a job at a funeral home, pre-Chooch, and I had to regretfully decline the offer because it interfered with my college classes at Pitt. I think about this all the time, and how I ended up not even finishing college anyway, and I should have just done it. And then I even considered dropping out of Pitt and going to actual mortuary school but the lady who gave me (and my friend Alisha) a tour basically discouraged us by saying that you essentially need to already have family in the business or else the odds of you running your own funeral home will be slim to none. Well, I wish this book was written before that because maybe I wouldn’t have been so quick to, uh, bury that dream.
So this book is different from what I expected: I thought it was going to be a straight-up memoir, but it’s so much more than that. Caitlin uses real-life anecdotes to teach us about a wide range of funerary customs, history, and her general disdain for the American death industry, and if you close this book without having a lot to think about, then are you already dead, maybe? Because I finished it and screamed at Henry, “WE HAVE TO HAVE A GREEN BURIAL. HENRY, WE HAVE TO. GOOGLE IT. FIND ONE NEAR US.”
Yeah so if you’re a cemetery frolicker like me, or maybe have seen a few seasons of Six Feet Under, you might like this book. Caitlin has a real “sitting down with a friend for coffee” writing style that I enjoyed very much. I will probably read more of her books.
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And that’s it – my February wrap-up! I fear that March will have much less books, but that’s OK. I started the month off with a real good one and have several other potential bangers in my stack, so we’ll see how it goes! I’m 2 away from smashing my 35 book challenge!
Feb 202020
 

Tonight, I marked “The Haunting of Hill House” as “read” on Goodreads and realized that I’m 22/30 into my reading challenge. What the hell. I think my brain was craving a return to reading more than I realized!

This month has been GREAT bookwise so far, although it started off kind of weak with a series of mediocre-to-bad recommendations. I’ll have a wrap-up of all I read at the end of the month, and I’m already dorking out at the thought of that blog post. My life is, um, super rich.

Chooch told me last week that our local library had a stack of paper-covered “surprise” books and at first I was like OK Way to rip off the Kdrama “Romance is a Bonus Book” because they do that as a marketing gimmick in one episode and I’m sure it’s not the first time that was done but I am super protective of my dramas because I’m a DRAMAMAMA.

Great, now I want to watch that show all over again. And also possibly get a temp job making copies at a small book publishing company and then amaze them with all my LOFTY IDEAS THAT I AM ABLE TO FLAWLESSLY EXECUTE AGAINST ALL ODDS BECAUSE I HAVE A SECRET MARKETING DEGREE AND YEARS OF EXPERIENCE THAT I PURPOSELY OMITTED FROM MY CV and then they’ll be all, “Why have you been over there refilling the coffee bar when you’re clearly a book genius, here have a promotion.” 

(I don’t get a sleep anymore. I can’t be held responsible for the cringe I generate on this website.)

(Yes, “a sleep.” I’m leaving it like that to ILLUSTRATE MY POINT ABOUT HOW I DON’T GET ANY.)

Wait, where were we? Oh! The mystery books at the library!

Chooch had to draw me a map of where these books were located, because he didn’t wish to accompany his dorky and extremely dependent MOMMY to the library. His map actually quite sucked, but I figured it out once I got there. It was right before Valentine’s Day, and they were calling it Blind Date with a Book, which I thought was so adorable and also kind of gross, but whatever. I wasn’t planning on picking one out, because I was really there to pick up another book I had requested, and I also had some others lined up at home, but like a Big Dumb, I chose one. 

Anyway, I already knew it what it was before I got it home, since I had to scan it to check it out: “An Unwanted Guest” by Shari Lapena. It seems like it will be an OK read! Just a thriller, probably nothing I would have reached for if the cover was available for some good ol’ judgin’. 

I have that one plus three others sitting here looking at me, and hopefully I’ll get them all read before the 2/29 so I can include them on my February Round-Up!

My favorite thing about this challenge is that my screen-time is waaaay down. Like, people online probably think I died. I think it’s been a week since I even posted on Instagram*, and I barely even look at my feed on there lately, which is insane because Instagram was the really my one big social media vice. I don’t want to quit that altogether, but it’s nice distancing myself and not being chained to my phone like usual! Although, I really just replaced with it obsessive scrolling through the Goodreads app, so…

*(And then I posted a picture of my cat 30 minutes later lol.)

I’m so neck-deep in this reading game that I’ve resorted to watching “books to read on flights” videos on YouTube. Henry, with glazed eyes, murmured, “omg” the other night when he realized what I was doing. Look, I want to be better prepared for our flight to Germany, unlike when I went to the library last summer and blindly checked out two books (using Chooch’s library card because I didn’t have my own yet, and so I had to pay his stupid fine while I was there too, thanks asshole) in preparation for Korea and the one was a big fat hate-read and the other one had me snoozing before the first chapter was over. I cannot let that happen again. 

So that’s where I’m at in life: watching people talk about books on YouTube.  

Jan 312020
 

I decided to re-activate my old Goodreads account in the beginning of January and start a 2020 Reading challenge in order to keep myself inspired and motivated to become a regular reader again. If I’m one thing, it’s super fucking competitive with myself, so this has been going swimmingly and I’m already a third of the way into my 30 book goal. It’s amazing how much time we actually do have when we put down the phones, turn off the Roku, etc etc.

As of January 31st, I managed to absorb 10 books. Granted, one was only like 90 pages,  (the first one on the list, I needed to ease myself into this!), but even nine books is pretty good for my first month back into the game, I think. One of my co-workers has also challenged herself so I got her to sign up on Goodreads and now we’re book-friends, so that has also been extremely helpful.

Also, I was excited to use the Haechan (from NCT127!) bookmark that my friend Veronica sent me, and true to Erin fashion, I lost it somewhere books 6 and 7, ugh.

So, let’s just jump right in. I’m no good with book synopses so I’ll get hyperlink each book title with its Goodreads page, ya hear?

  1. The Strange Library – Haruki Murakami

The Strange Library

I felt that this book would be a good start for my challenge because it’s an author I’ve been interested in reading but it’s also SUPER SHORT (like 90 pages I think? If even?) so it would give me a taste of what his writing style is like plus help me power through this years-long reading slump I’ve been in.

I…don’t really have much to say about it. I finished it the same night I got it out of the library (with my new card, look at me growing up!) and I liked the interesting design of the book itself, and the illustrations were fantastic. It was just plain old good. A good, short story.

2. Mrs. Everything – Jennifer Weiner

Mrs. Everything

This book was at its core a story about the relationship between two very different sisters growing up in the 1950s to present day. Both sisters were really well-written and anytime something bad happened to one of them, it felt like a personal affront. I really enjoyed the section of the book where it was the 1970s, and I will tell you now that I ugly-cried at the end. I get attached, OK?

I like Jennifer Weiner’s writing style. It flows, it’s easy to get hooked, it doesn’t drag. It was a good choice for where I am currently, in my head.

3. The Vegetarian – Han Kang

The Vegetarian

Ok this book is what made me decide to start using my eyeballs for intellectual things instead of YouTube videos of annoying couples traveling, rollercoaster reviews, or Koreans eating ramen. It’s #3 on the list though because I had to REQUEST IT on the LIBRARY’S WEBSITE! It was my first book request! Super exciting! Chooch wasn’t as enthused though when he was forced to accompany me to the library (“Go help her,” Henry said to him after work that day) to show me how to pick up my books haha.

Anyway, this was WEIRD. It’s broken up into three sections, each one from a different person’s perspective re: the title character’s journey into becoming a vegetarian and the effect it has not only on her but those around her because vegetarianism, while its becoming more accepted, is NOT a very popular lifestyle in Korea. Hello, Koreans fucking love their meat and meals can be very sacred and meaningful experiences for Korean families, so having a family member suddenly declare they no longer eat meat is a huge bombshell.

This book is actually considered horror I think, and it definitely felt like I was watching a Korean horror movie, which can be sooooo subtle in their creepiness yet leaving you feeling filthy afterward. That was how this was. I’m not sure I completely understood it, but it will certainly stick with me.

4. Nocturnes – Kazuo Ishiguro

Nocturnes: Five Stories of Music and Nightfall

This was a super fast & enjoyable read. It was recommended by this American ex-pat in Korea who I subscribe to on YouTube, and actually, it was her channel that inspired me to get back into the habit of reading after watching her “favorite Korean authors” video.

I’m not sure these stories are the kinda that will really stick with me, but the writing was very pleasant and I didn’t find myself losing interest at all, which is something that happens often because I’m basically a four-year-old in the body of a 40-year-old and am always ready to start moving again. Sitting still, ew!

5. Simon vs. The Home Sapiens Agenda – Becky Albertalli

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda (Simonverse, #1)

I have no shame in loving YA books. Sometimes I need something light and high school-y you know? I didn’t see the movie that was based on this book, nor did I know anything about it, so I pretty much went into this blind.

For the millionth time in my life, I felt so fucking thankful that social media, cellphones, the Internet’s prevalence, were not things I had to worry about when I was in school. Kids already found a myriad of creative ways to be fucking assholes to each other without the aid of technology. And that’s a big part of what this book is about: it’s a teenager’s coming out story. I loved the characters and apparently it’s book #1 of a series, so I will probably keep reading because I am always down for a good series.

6. Snap – Belinda Bauer

Snap

OK, I started out unsure of this one, like maybe I was going to give up early on, but then it reached a point in the story where everything clicked for me and suddenly I couldn’t put it down. It is a GREAT mystery/thriller and I fell in love with the cops and the teenaged protagonist, Jack. I think I’m going to go ahead and say that this my second favorite book I read this month. I kept trying to secretly read it on my lap at work in between doing actual work-things because I was obsessed.

7. Frankly In Love – David Yoon

Frankly in Love (Frankly in Love, #1)

Obviously I chose this book because not only is it written by a Korean American, but the entire story is based on the main characters parents and their unwavering policy of “must only date other Koreans.” It was interesting to me because there is a lot of Korean culture touched upon in this book, all of which I already knew so I just smiled all smug-like while reading the explanations, like how one of the dads calls the other dad his “hoobae” because when they were classmates, the friend was a grade below him.

There were parts that were straight too written in Korean too so I got to try out my translating skills and they were…a’ight. Lol. But a big theme of the book is how the Korean American kids in this group really don’t know much about their heritage, they can’t speak the language, they’re basically just…American. It made me think a lot about that, because we all came from somewhere, but for instance, my family didn’t continue speaking, I don’t know, Slovakian (is that even a language??) even though that’s what my great-grandmother spoke when she emigrated here.

But also, this is a love story and pretty predictable, but I thought it was overall a very cute and enjoyable read. I think this is also going to be a series so sign me up, I need more of Joy.

8. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine – Gail Honeyman

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine

GURL. THIS BOOK.

FAVORITE SO FAR.

It started out “eh…” for me, I didn’t know much about it going in and it just kind of…starts. And I didn’t like Eleanor AT ALL in the beginning because I kept picturing this dumb bitch that I used to be friends with (no, not my ex-BFF, this was just some acquaintance that I couldn’t shake for years until she finally tweeted a bunch of racist shit during the last Winter Olympics and I was like, “YEAH, YA BLOCKED, BITCH”). But, then Eleanor turned into this fucking endearing flesh-gem for me and her co-worker/friend Raymond was a breath of fresh air. I loved how literal Eleanor is, the dialogue was fantastic, and the storyline was just *ITALIAN FINGER-KISSING EMOJI*. I immediately texted Janna when I finished it and told her to read it. This was the only book from January that I flat-out highly recommend to one and all. Go read this. It’s great. I laughed. I cried. I cringed. I want more Eleanor. Give us more Eleanor, Gail Honeyman.

9. Permanent Record – Mary H.K. Choi

Permanent Record

I read another Mary H.K. Choi book last fall and I liked it–I mean, it was a good book to read during a road trip. I can’t remember which road trip I brought it on, but I pretty much finished it in two car-sittings. This one was also a super fast read, but it wasn’t really…I don’t know, meaningful? Basically, this college drop-out works night shifts at a health food/bodega in NYC and has a chance encounter with this really cool, pretty girl and they get all flirty over snacks and then he realizes that she’s some ultra-famous Disney actress/singer and then some crazy secret, whirlwind romance happens and it’s just kind of this meandering book that is entertaining but…it doesn’t really have substance and it’s just kind of all over the place and then eventually you get to a point where you realize the main character is kind of an asshole, but don’t worry, he realizes it too…?

Little bit of Korean stuff in here because the main character is half-Korean and there is a quick visit to Seoul at one point but it wasn’t enough for me. This is written with majorly casual slang-speak and it kind of gets grating but then, it’s centered around a bunch of 20-year-olds in NYC, so I guess it’s pretty accurate. But it made me feel old because there were times when I like, “The fuck does THAT mean.” But I have too much pride to invite my 13-year-old son to slang-splain, thank you very much.

10. The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle – Stuart Turton

The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle

I didn’t like this book that much. It’s kind of a bummer because this is the one that I ended the month with and it was a tough one to get through. I picked it up because I had seen some good reviews for it on Goodreads, and I thougt it sounded like something I would like, but it was dry. D-R-Y. I kept forcing myself to pick it up because I wanted to finish it but this is NOT the kind of book that you can fly through. I’m a pretty fast reader, but I had to make myself slow it down because there are so many details, confusing timelines, a bunch of characters with similar names making it hard to keep track of them….I struggled. I only just finished it today and kind of just feel numb and ambivalent about it.

It’s like a hybrid of Clue and Groundhog Day, which is how I saw it billed in a review and that seemed very appealing to me. But it’s just…kind of boring until very near the end, and even though there is a twist that I couldn’t have predicted, I didn’t feel satisfied.

Of course, I’m now up to my neck in the Literary YouTubers scene, so I watched several reviews of this book after I finished it and was relieved that A LOT of avid readers out there had the same opinion as me, so I’m not broken, dumb, and/or illiterate after all.

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The library had some books ready for me to pick up today, so I’m starting February with “The Saturday Night Ghost Club” by Craig Davidson and “A Head Full of Ghosts” by Paul Tremblay, because I’m ready to get back to my horror roots, you guys. This was my genre of choice when I used to read regularly and I’m ready to crack my knuckles and some…book spines, I guess. See you at the end of February with another book round-up! Feel free to let me what books you read for January that you really loved, hated, or just thought were whatever.

Don’t get any papercuts, ya booksluts! (That’s my official book blog post sign-off. DON’T STEAL IT.)