August was a shit month as far as books went for me. I don’t think I read a single book that I actually REALLY, REALLY liked. And I definitely read at least one book that I REALLY, REALLY hated. Like, a lot. Like if it wasn’t a library book, I’d have turned it into real kindle.
Ugh. Let’s get this over with. I read 11 books. Here are 6.
People fucking LOVE THIS MIDDLE GRADE SERIES. I thought it was boring and stupid. Kids go through doorways into different realms and then when they get dumped back home, they have to go to the Home for Wayward Children in order to rehabilitate or something, I don’t fucking even know. I was bored and hated every character. It was stupid. Will 100% not be continuing this series.
2. Every Vow You Break – Peter Swanson
1 star. Every character is irritating. The plot is ridiculous. Hated it. Piss off, Peter Swanson.
3. For Your Own Good – Samantha Downing
OK. Things are looking up now, August. I didn’t enjoy it as much as her last book (He Started It), but this was fun and the characters were so over-the-top and ridiculous, but it worked in this setting and plot. It was actually pretty laugh-out-loud funny at times, for a thriller. It takes place in a prestigious high school and follows one super Type A teacher who truly goes above and beyond to make sure his students learn their lessons and stay on the right path. There’s lots of murder and mayhem in this one, which makes it super fast-paced. I gave it 3.5!
4. The Babysitter: My Summers with a Serial Killer: Liza Rodman & Jennifer Jordan
OK I didn’t realize when I picked this up that it’s actually both a memoir and true crime non-fiction. The chapters vacillate between Liza Rodman recounting her childhood summers growing up in Cape Cod, where her mom ran a motel and she was often left in the care of a handyman who worked at a neighboring hotel. She and her little sister would get in his truck and take trips through town and to the garbage dump. The other chapters are a compilation of facts pulled from interviews and other resources, detailing the life of Tony Costa, a man who would eventually be arrested for murdering numerous women in the 60s.
Even though I literally make serial killer greeting cards, I had never heard of Tony Costa, so this…dare I say “exciting” to read? He seemed somewhat Ted Bundy-ish, in that he was extremely charming. But also a bit of a Manson-type, accumulating small groups of hangers-on and acolytes.
Pretty entertaining and interesting, and also chilling for Liza Rodman, as she later realized what kind of man her mom was putting her in the care of.
Actually, sounds like something like my own mom would have done. Haha…ugh.
Oof. I don’t know what to say about this one. I fucking adore Mona Awad’s writing style – she is like no other. So goddamn smart and quirky, the dialogue is sharp-tongued and natural, her characters are always so interesting and flawed. But I had to be honest with myself and admit that I had reservations about this one when the plot was released a while back because it revolves almost entirely around a college theater, the director’s hell-bent desire to put on All’s Well, and the actors’ stubborn resistance. (They want to perform MacBeth that year.)
Well all of this is happening, the theater director – Miranda – is also suffering from chronic pain. And not just from the pain, but also from the frustrating doctors and her colleagues’ skepticism that her pain is real and not just psychosomatic.
The problem for me is that I am a Shakespeare dunce and am well-aware that a ton of references and allusions in this book were lost on me. I just didn’t care about the play at all. And Miranda was not a likeable character so there were times when I just didn’t care about her that much either.
We are VERY MUCH prisoners to Miranda’s thoughts and imagination for the entire duration of All’s Well and it was exhausting. While I still think that Mona Awad is a phenomenal writer, this particular subject matter just wasn’t for me. Man, I was really bummed about that too. I wanted to LOVE this book, but instead I just KIND OF LIKED it.
6. It Happened One Summer – Tessa Bailey
OK, I’m going to end it here on a good note and do the other half on another day so writing about THE WORST BOOK doesn’t ruin my day today. Because I’m already on the edge. I picked this one up because a Booktuber said that the main girl reminded her a lot of Alexis from Schitt’s Creek and that was enough to have me sold. Love Schitt’s Creek and Alexis was everything. Anyway, this is a light-hearted romance about Piper Bellinger, kind of a Paris Hilton-type from Beverly Hills who goes on a post-dumping bender and ends up in the slammer. Her step-dad is like SHIT’S GON’ CHANGE ‘ROUND HERE, LITTLE LADY and sends her to some small fishing town in Washington where her mom used to live with her fisherman bio-dad before he died at sea. Turns out, he owned a bar and the stepdad has been having it maintained (barely) all these years, and now he wants Piper to go there and prove that she can be a responsible adult by going there and actually running the place. Her younger sister accompanies her and of course everyone in the town is like WHO ARE THESE FANCY OUTLANDERS – some take a liking to them, and some definitely do not.
One of those who don’t is Brendan, some super surly fishing captain WHO I KEPT PICTURING AS HENRY because Henry has that fisherman and lumberjack aesthetic. Also, Henry is super low-maintenance and blue collar and while I’m certainly not cruising Rodeo Drive, I was definitely brought up with a silver spoon in my mouth so we have that RICH GIRL POOR MAN trope going on even though I’m not a rich girl anymore, sniff sniff.
So I definitely enjoyed this book but I didn’t like how quickly the “opposites attract”/”hate to love” effect happened. I wanted more tension. And I also hated how Brendan was like “Baby” this and “Baby” that, fucking constantly. It creeped me out. What I did like was Piper’s character growth. It happened naturally and fluidly, and I believed it! There are also several Town Elders who were absolutely adorable and I loved Piper’s relationship with them, A LOT.
I’m still not wild about romances in general, but I really liked Piper a lot. Also, I don’t care how much money those crab fishermen make, I’m glad Henry’s in the beverage industry and not out to sea for weeks at a time – who would make me my smoothie bowls!?