Apr 272020
 

Quarantine has really got me in a reading groove so I’m splitting my April recap into halves because I make the rules around here.

  1. I Let You Go – Clare Mackintosh

I Let You Go

This British thriller revolves around the search for the suspect in a hit-and-run case that kills a little boy and it’s told from various perspectives. I ended up liking it a lot more than I imagined and it evoked some strong emotions from me (domestic abuse trigger warning).

2. Sour Candy – Kealan Patrick Burke

Sour Candy

This horror story is short but definitely not sweet! It’s about a man who encounters a small boy throwing a tantrum in Walmart and, well, shit escalates. After striking out several times with horror books (I am really picky and hard to scare which is funny because IRL I’m extremely easy to startle and have a very strong deer-in-headlights visage going on most of the time), this one was just what I needed to save the genre for me. Quirky, twisted, and frustrating—I think I gave this a 4 and immediately put Kealan Patrick Burke on my NEED TO READ MORE list.

3. Sadie – Courtney Summers

Sadie

I’m not the biggest fan of audio books (I can’t listen to them unless I also have the print book in front of me as well) but I have found that they are a great coping mechanism while I’m working from home during quarantine so I’ve been trying to be more open-minded about it. Mostly, I have been getting ebooks through Libby, but I try to make sure that I can also find the audiobooks for some of them as well so that I can work my way through extra reading that way. A lot of them I immediately nix because the narration is just, ugh (I suffered through an awful one later in the month, which we will talk about in the second half of this book round-up). I don’t normally seek audio books out but I kept hearing about how phenomenal the audio book for “Sadie” is, so I figured, “What the hell, I’ll bite.”

Friends, listen to me. This was INCREDIBLE. The book is about a girl who is murdered and her older sister’s quest to track down the killer, but it alternates between that and a podcast about the murder and the now-missing older sister. It’s a full-cast audio book and the podcast chapters are so realistic, like, you can hear background noise when they podcast host is interviewing the owner of a diner, shit like that. It is SO ENGAGING. I was so upset when it ended. I highly recommend this, also though I will mention that the main character has a stutter, so if that bothers you, well, you’re a jerk, but still—just wanted to point that out.

4. Crazy Rich Asians – Kevin Kwan 

Crazy Rich Asians (Crazy Rich Asians, #1)

This is another one that I opted to go the audio-route with and I will always recommend that for books that steer away from your own nationality/ethnicity, because it’s always good to hear different languages spoken rather than just glossing over it with your eyeballs. The narration makes this so much more authentic and I learned A LOT about Singaporean/Chinese culture. There were some cringey parts where some questionable language was used, but overall, I really enjoyed this and thought it was way better than the movie mostly because I kept imagining Siwon as the main character, Nick, (yes, he’s Korean, but I still kept picturing him and really disliked the actual guy they got to play him!).

Also, hilariously this book was relevant a week later when we got this big project at work which involved searching Chinese names in our database and one of my work friends asked me how I would search this one particular name. I got to respond with, “Well, you don’t have to search ‘datuk’ because that’s a Malay title for royalty” I AM THE CHAMPION, MY FRIENDS.

5. See What I Have Done – Sarah Schmidt

See What I Have Done

This is a fictional account of the Lizzie Borden murders. The chapters alternate between Lizzie, her sister, the maid, and a man that the Borden sister’s uncle hired to kill Andrew Borden. It wasn’t as good as I wanted it to be, but the author really got those descriptions down good. The way she described the condition of the house in the summer heat, the mutton that the family ate for days, the pears…it made me so uncomfortable. It was also fun to read this because as I’ve mentioned a million times in this thing, I’ve been in the Borden house twice and I can only imagine how stifling it was to live there, especially in the sweltering heat, with a father you hated. It really puts you inside Lizzie’s head, but it also succeeded in making me feel especially sorry Lizzie’s older sister, Emma.

6. If We Were Villians – M. L. Rio

If We Were Villains

Yeah, I didn’t care much for that. It centers around a group of friends who attend some pretentious Shakespeare-centric art college and all these reviews I read beforehand were like, “If you don’t like Shakespeare, you will still like this book” and it’s not that I don’t like Shakespeare, but I only know the bare minimum of his work and am fairly uncultured in general when it comes to plays.

Well, all those assholes were wrong, because these idiot kids basically speak to each other in Shakespeare quotes throughout the entire book and I didn’t care about a single one of them.

Oh, there’s a murder. I didn’t care about the person who gets killed, nor did I even really care o know who did it. It was not great. Maybe if the character development had been better, I don’t know. Also, the guy who ends up in jail (the book starts out with him getting out jail years later, so this isn’t a spoiler) is a complete dummy. I’ll be damned if I take the fall for a murder, is all I’m saying. Janna, if you kill someone, you’re on your own, friend. I’ll send letters.

Until I get bored.

7. Gingerbread – Helen Oyeyemi

Gingerbread

My head spins every time I try to pull out a review. Right off the bat, I was going to DNF this. The style is fairly unconventional so it wasn’t holding my attention and then THIS HAPPENED:

If you know me, you’ll know what pulled me back in, lol.

There were other little Korean bread crumbs throughout the book and it made my head spin because even though it takes place in a fictional country, it’s implied that it’s some Eastern European area. It’s also disorienting because in the flashbacks, I had a very 1970s rural country image in my head, but then there are cell phones…I love/hate when books and film have that kind of ambiguity.

When we were in high school, Janna was dating this totally brainiac – the kind of genius whose mind was so brilliant that he was almost intolerable. Once, he wrote her this letter about thread that was so flooded with metaphors and symbolism that even when working together, we had a helluva time deciding it – and Janna and I were smart kids!

(Whoa, two Janna shout-outs in one blog post!)

That’s what this reminded me of. Helen Oyeyemi is a fucking genius. It’s the only explanation. At times, I hated this book and wanted to hurl it across the room because IT’S NOT EASY TO READ. It presents like a wall of text at times, with staggering chapters which left me feeling anxious and impatient because I needed to put it down for the night but at which point should I read to?! But then I finished it and instead of chucking it across the room, I picked it up again and admired the cover. Then I looked at the author’s picture. Then I googled her. Then I started watching interviews on YouTube and she is a fucking DOLL.

Also, it turns out that she lived in South Korea (and even visited North Korea!) while writing this novel, and she loves K-dramas, so it makes sense why, for instance, the fireflies in this book speak Korean and a Korean parent makes the main character danpatjuk when her daughter is in the hospital.

I would recommend this. It was a challenge for me to read because I get distracted easily, so I needed to be still and quiet while diving in, and I could only read so many pages at once before I needed to put it down, but it was so worth it. I still can’t stop thinking about it and I’m going to read everything by her. She is brilliant. I stan.

8. Final Girls – Riley Sager

32796253

This was my second Riley Sager novel and it didn’t disappoint. It’s about a girl who was the sole survivor when someone murdered the friends she was camping with and how she has since been labeled by the media as a “final girl.” I wasn’t like OMFG while reading this, but it was entertaining and I think it would be a great book to read in October.

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OK, that’s all for now. I have like 10 more that I need to recap – April was clearly a great reading month for me, can’t imagine why.

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