OMG it’s part 2, right on the heels of Part 1. I bet you didn’t see this one coming at all.
9. Lair of Dreams – Libba Bray
This is the second book in the Diviners series and I am so obsessed. I mean, sorry, I know I say that for like pretty much everything because I have a very obsessive personality, but I really am a huge fan of these books so far. There are still two more I have to read and I have high hopes that the series will end on a high note and end up being something I will never forget.
I have to say though that listening to audiobook while reading along is 100% the way to go with this series, because it’s set in the 1920s and the narrator (January Lavoy) does the best flapper accents. I never knew I cared about the roaring 20s until l picked up these books and now I have half a mind to start watching silent films or whatever was cool back then. Did “talkies’ exist yet, who knows, too tired to google.
If you’re looking for, say, Scooby Doo, but punt it back to the prohibition and add some psychic shenanigans, this could be the jam your book-bread is desperately seeking.
10. Tuesday’s Gone – Nicci French
While we’re talking about series, the Frieda Klein series is incredible! This one is set in 21st century London and it’s basically a cop procedural mystery/thriller doo dad thingie mabob (I’m really not great at genre-placing books, you guys) but our main character is Frieda Klein, a psychotherapist with a knack for solving crimes faster than the popo.
What I like even more than the stories/plots of this series, though, is the colorful character studies. These people pop right off the page, you can hear their accents, you can feel the coziness of Frieda’s home, you want all the good guys to find happiness. Especially Frieda, god love her.
What I also find intriguing is that these books are written by a married couple and like, I can’t even imagine co-authoring a yard sale flyer with Henry, let alone an entire book series.
11. Earthlings – Sayaka Murata
Shiiiit. I honestly don’t even know how to explain this crazy ass jaunt into literary chaos. It’s pretty fucked. If you have ever seen, say, Visitor Q, this is like the print version of that psycho Japanese movie. I read it in one day and was screaming, “OH MY FUCKING GOD ARE YOU KIDDING” while reading it in bed, which Henry super-enjoyed.
Just when you start to get comfortable, it takes a series of OMG turns and then you’re in squirmy territory and I was laughing really hard for pretty much the entire last quarter of the book but…it was pretty disturbing. I can’t really say too much else because giving it away would really take a lot of the shock value away, you know?
I’m…not even sure if I LIKED this book? But it took me places. And that’s really all we can ask for, right?
I saw this recommended in several thriller booktube videos and everyone said that even though it’s part of a series, you don’t have to read them in order. I mean, I didn’t feel lost, although there were some references to past cases but I felt like it was explained well enough that I was able to move on with my day and still get the same experience from this book.
If you’re into pretty gruesome murder cases, this is for you. There were parts where I was like, “To skim or not to skim” because I was getting a bit squeamish.
This was also adapted into a movie but I haven’t watched it yet.
13. More Than This – Patrick Ness
I have no idea what possessed me to order this from the library, but I should I have known just from the synopsis that it wasn’t the book for me. It’s borderline sci-fi, part post-apocalyptic, and it just left me feeling very uncomfy in general.
It starts with a teenaged boy dying, not a spoiler, and he wakes up in his old childhood home but everything is deserted and wrong-feeling. While he’s trying to figure out WTF is going on, we revisit the months and days leading up to his death in flash back chapters. This was the only part of the book I enjoyed – the flashing back.
14. I’m Afraid of Men – Vivek Shraya
Listen to Tegan & Sara – this is definitely 100% percent reading for everyone. I want every fucking straight white male to be required to read this. It’s VERY short so you could probably knock this out in one sitting and feel like you read something important. If we really want to call ourselves trans allies, we need to read more ‘own voices’ books like this one.
15. Hell House – Richard Matheson
Do. Not. Waste. Your. Time.
Talk about a book that doesn’t hold up. This is predictable, the writing was soooooo pompous. The characters were flat and I really didn’t care if any of them lived or died. I wasn’t creeped out, except for the times my mind started to wander down various optical malady paths on account of all the massive eyerolling I was doing.
I wish I had DNF’d this, if we’re being frank. I wanted a good haunted house book to read in October and this WASN’T IT, FAM.
16. John Dies at the End – David Wong
For the first 100ish pages, I was INTO THIS and really thought it was going to be a 4 star. The writing is quirky, witty, the characters full of life, and there were many times when I LOLd for real, but it doesn’t really work for the entire 466 pages. Honestly it was about 150 pages too long and there were entire chapters where I just felt bored and lost, just completely forgot what the plot was (was there a plot?). It’s actually pretty inexplicable that I even picked this up because I never even had any desire to watch the movie.
I was also not a fan of the incessant use of “retarded.” I mean, I was actually wincing every time it popped up, and it was a lot. I wish I had counted. Then the n-word & f*g was dropped several times too – that’s gonna be a big NOPE for me, Bob.
I want to give it a 2 because of the gratuitous slurs, but then there’s a dog side-kick who is so fantastic, that I have to bump it back up to a 3. Molly, you saved this book.
Honestly, could have been solid 4 and I’m actually depressed at how it unraveled for me.
Also, David Wong is the author’s pen name and he isn’t even Asian, so when I learned that fun fact, it um, really explained a lot
17. House at the Bottom of a Lake – Josh Malerman
I received an advanced reader copy of this through Net Galley. I haven’t read anything else by Jos Malerman but I know that he wrote Bird Box which everyone loves but I have only seen the movie so this was my first foray into the Malerman experience.
It’s about two teenagers who meet in a hardware store and just…you know, hit it off and then the boy takes the girl on a canoeing date, which is cool but then there is a secret lake that they access through some weird tunnel thing and I was fucking FREAKING OUT and feeling so claustrophobic.
Then it only gets worse when they discover that there is, as the book title totally spoiled for us, a house at the bottom of the lake. They become obsessed with it and start spending basically all of their free time exploring it, and then they start sleeping on a raft because they can’t even stand to be away from it.
There is a lot of suspenseful tension throughout the whole thing and I wasn’t bored, but I have to be honest and say that the writing itself sort of left something to be desired. It was very…cold and the dialogue was realllly short and not very meaty. We didn’t really get to know much about either person, and maybe that’s what Malerman intended, for the focus to be on the house.
I don’t know, it just kind of ended and I sat here thinking, “What did I just read….” It’s classified as horror and…I guess so? It was also kind of a coming of age story too, with these two kids falling in love, just in a very strange location.