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
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!
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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!!
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?
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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?
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.
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.
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!