Like the title said, this is PART 2 of the August books. God, context clues, people! Pick them up!
9. Catherine House – Elizabeth Thomas
I gave this 1 star only because Goodreads doesn’t allow ZERO OR NEGATIVE STAR RATINGS. What a shit book full of insufferable human beings. I was led to believe this was going to be a thriller or have at least SOME horror elements to it but it was so fucking dumb and I think I will never give “dark academia” another chance unless someone I actually know personally recommends it to me because the last 4 books I’ve read from that genre have made me absolutely mad.
I wanted Suspiria vibes! Or at least a main character to root for! But instead I had no idea wtf was happening except that all the students seemed to subsist on desserts which was actually the only appealing part of this piece of shit stack of words.
The worst part is that I listened to this on audio while I was painting my front door so now every time I look at my door, I think of how shitty this stupid book was.
Shame that such a beautiful book cover was wasted on this junk story.
10. Follow Me to the Ground – Sue Rainsford
This (short) book is about a father and daughter duo who heal the people in their town. Doctors? Who needs ’em when you can go visit the creepy non-human family at the edge of the village and have them crack open your body and then bury you in the dirt.
The daughter, Ada, mostly goes through life not getting attached to the people in the village until one day she meets a boy, falls in love, and basically has to create a vagina on her non-human form in order to do the thing with him. And, as it usually does with LOVE, shit starts to get complicated.
I admittedly picked this up just because of the vagina part (it was talked about a lot on Booktube, OK?!) and to my surprise, I enjoyed this so much more than I thought I would. Every other chapter is a short little interview-esque thing from various villagers who have either been cured by Ada and her father, or are just generally suspicious of them.
Super bizarre and fun to read and wouldja get a load of that book cover!?
11. In the Miso Soup – Ryu Murakami
I was really afraid to read this because for one thing: Japanese horror scares me more than other kind of horror. I mean, I’m haunted by various scenes of Japanese horror movies that I watched 20+ years ago, but certain images are seared into my brain.
I think some parts of this book might be added to my nightmare mental vignette.
This book follows a young Japanese man who works as a red light district “guide” for foreigners. The book starts out with him being hired by “Frank,” an American businessman who is really trying to live his best life while in Japan.
I will admit, it takes A LONG time for anything to actually happen in this one, but that’s not to say it’s boring. The buildup is slow and steady, and it’s told from the perspective of the guide, and while there is dialogue and a small cast of characters that are introduced as the story progresses, most of the book is a running internal monologue. So if that’s not your thing, skip this one.
When shit finally hits the fan, the violence made me feel queasy. If this were a movie, I’d probably have had to look away and said, “tell me when it’s done,” to Henry, lol.
HOWEVER!!! This wasn’t *as* traumatizing or horrific as I had been bracing for. Still, it was a solid read for me and I got so attached to our main character and kept screaming, “RUN!! JUST RUN!!” I really love Japanese horror.
Oh, and when I realized why the book is called this, I was a full-blown version of the “hmmm” emoji.
12. Such a Fun Age – Kiley Reid
This has to be one of the most-hyped books of the year, and it took me forever to get it from the library. But, I will say it was worth the wait.
There is a lot of race explorations here and it was interesting to see how differently people reacted to the same situation, which was that a young Black babysitter is asked to come to the house of her employer relatively late at night because there was a non-tragic disturbance at the house requiring police assistance, and the mother doesn’t want her three year old daughter Briar to get upset, so she asks the babysitter to take her to the uppity grocery store down the street.
While there, another shopper (some dumb Karen) alerts the security guard that the babysitter may have kidnapped the kid, because *GASP* the kid is WHITE and the babysitter is BLACK. I actually thought the whole book was going to be about this, but as it turned out, it was just a quick scene in the beginning of the book, but it was interesting to see the domino effect it had on everyone. The babysitter just wanted to forget it ever happened, a (white) bystander recorded the whole thing on his phone and keeps pressuring her to sue, the mom of the little girl decides she needs to become BFFs with the babysitter after this happened and has major WHITE GUILT over it and does a whole lot of really cringey things throughout the book and honestly, I hated her. There was a lot of really questionable behavior going on under the guise of good intentions, and I kept getting a lot of secondhand embarrassment.
Like, the bystander at the grocery store? All of his friends are Black and he actually says the “n-word” out loud in front of his Black girlfriend, and like, I just can’t imagine EVER thinking it’s OK for me to say that word because I have some Black friends. This book is full of moments like this and maybe there are white people out there reading this book right now who never really thought about these things before – but now they are.
The one character that I REALLY LOVED and rooted for SO HARD was that damn little girl Briar. I mean, she was EVERYTHING. The relationship the babysitter had with her was so fucking wholesome and pure and if you think I’m sitting here tearing up while I write this, I will punch you in the nose, because ERIN DOESN’T CRY OVER CHILDREN.
But Briar, man. If she were my kid, I would never neglect her!!
Anyway, I went into this thinking that it was going to be some sweeping, pretentious literary fiction but it’s written with a very light, airy vibe. Which is deceiving considering it’s largely a critique of white savior complexes. Honestly, fuck that dumb mom.
13. The Vanishing Half – Brit Bennett
Unless you avoid anything having to do with books, you have probably heard of this book by now. It is follows, over several decades, twin sisters who are white-passing. They run away from from home together when they’re teenagers and then become estranged from each other. One lives her life as a Black woman, and the other marries a white man and proceeds to live her life pretending to be someone she’s not. I didn’t care for that twin much at all, but later in the book, they each have a daughter and I actually enjoyed their stories even more.
Brit Bennett is an incredible writer and storyteller. I was actually nervous to read this because I thought it was going to be super dry and pretentious for some reason but nope – these sisters will suck you right the fuck in.
14. Sleepwalking – Meg Wolitzer
Meh. Talk about pretentious. This is it. I couldn’t wait for it to end and don’t even feel like writing any more about it.
15. The Only Good Indians – Stephen Graham Jones
Ughhhhh this fucker. It’s a horror story about these 4 Native American friends who have an…experience 10 years ago and then revenge is sought.
I haven’t read many (if any??) books written by Native Americans and I really enjoyed the little nuggets of culture that Jones tucked in through this story, and while it didn’t really scare me, the animal parts made me extremely upset and queasy so does that count as horror? Definite trigger warnings for dog death, hunting, etc. I was traumatized. And there was a LOT of human violence and gore in this book that didn’t bother me at all, so you know where my allegiance lies!
While the story was kind of “Eh” for me, I did really enjoy the writing and I have another book of his waiting for me at the library so I’ll keep you posted!
Jesus I am so bad at reviewing books lol.