Jan 082022

Today we will be “chatting” about the first half of the books I read in December. We laughed, we cried, we wished some books weren’t owned by the library so we could burn them.

  1. You Should Have Left – Daniel Kehlmann

Loved it! I think this is translated from…German? I could look but, eh. I have January apathy. This book is very short and is a great take on the haunted house trope, which is my fave fave fave horror theme but also the one that gets ruined the most, IMO. For every great haunted house book out there, there are sure to be 500 shitty ones waiting in line behind it.

I actually saw a preview for the adaptation for this not too long, with Kevin Bacon. I mean, Kevin Bacon is IN it, I didn’t watch the trailer with him on my couch.

One of the booktubers I hate-watch totally bashed this book and was all, “Wah, I didn’t get it, this was dumb” but I thought it was great. The main character is an author who moves his wife and young kid to some semi-secluded airBNB situation so he can work on his book, parts of which are interspersed throughout. There are also sentences that abruptly cut off, and the booktuber was all THAT WAS SO ANNOYING I DIDN’T GET IT but it was pretty clear that the pages were suddenly (kapchugi) ending because something was going on in the house and the book was meant to be the writer’s journal.

If you like horror, and books similar to House of Leaves (which I never finished when I tried to read it years and years ago but now I own my own copy and am determined to try again this year!), then I think this would be a home run for you.

2. The Push – Ashley Audrain

If you like multi-generational takes on motherhood (pretty specific) then read this book. I had no idea what it was about when I picked it up other than it was considered a thriller (a little, sure) but it was riveting. It also contains a child character that I fucking despised about as much as the little bitch from Baby Teeth, the only difference being that The Push was a phenomenal read and Baby Teeth was trash.

OK, I just checked Goodreads and this is being touted as more of a psychological drama, and that I can get behind.

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I had so much empathy for Blythe, the mom in the present-day chapters, that it actually physically gave me a headache to read the bullshit she endured. There is some very uncomfortable honesty re: motherhood in these pages too and I am definitely looking forward to reading more from Ashley Audrain.

Also, I listened to the audio of this, which was narrated by Henry’s voice crush, Marin Ireland lol. But really, she is an awesome narrator and I wonder if I would have liked the book as much if I read it without the audio. I know a lot of people who say audiobooks don’t count as reading, and I think this is a huge slap to the face of the vision-impaired, and also sometimes, audio just makes a book pop.

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It’s comforting to have with me on my daily walks and I will continue to read books both ways.

3. Comfort Me With Apples – Catherynne M. Valente

This was OK. Very short and Stepford Wives-ish. A little bit of horror, and also gave me slight Alice in Wonderland vibes, where everything looks so shiny and perfect at a glance but is actually terrifying and uncomfortable and get-me-the-eff-out-of-here-y. I definitely didn’t get the hype though and just rated it a very pleasant and mediocre three-stars. Middle of the road for me, fam.

4. Nothing But Blackened Teeth – Cassandra Khaw

This is very short and not terrible, but not great. I would suggest just watching a Japanese horror movie if you’re looking for legit scares or even thrills because this was mostly just about a group of frenemies arguing and being jealous of each other..

Can you tell that I am burnt out from writing “reviews”? Lol.

5. The Good Lie – A.R. Torre

Real talk: I thought I would hate this based on the cover, lol. It just looks like something a housewife would buy in airport before getting on a plane to Orlando, you know?

But this hooked me straight from the first chapter. A great psychological thriller that kept me guessing. Two main characters (a psychiatrist who specializes in violent tendencies, and a high-profile defense attorney who has lost a son to a serial killer) who felt real and flawed and kept me totally invested in this story to the very end. This was my kind of thriller.

6. Build Your House Around My Body – Violet Kupersmith

Well. I’m impressed. Where to even start with this. It’s Vietnamese folklore, fantasy, horror, mystery, with a revenge tale woven in through it all. Officially a new favorite author.

The writing was graceful, witty, atmospheric, lush, and vivid. It was nearly impossible to not visualize every scene happening, and um, sometimes that wasn’t for the best, ha! It has some seriously creepy and gross moments too that had me shuddering (if you have a fear of snakes, pass on this one maybe).

I read this book and listened to it on audio simultaneously because it is really beneficial for me to hear how names are meant to be pronounced, and the narrator really did this story justice.

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Vietnamese is such a beautiful and intricate language and my eyes alone would never be able to replicate the full effect of actually hearing the words being said aloud. Yet another advantage of audiobooks!

It was such a great experience overall and I will be revisiting the characters in my mind for years to come. Every single character was fleshed out and popping with personality. I felt so immersed and couldn’t wait for the chance to keep reading.

Didn’t think I’d read another solid gem before the end of the year; love when a five-star read comes in at the buzzer! Highly recommend this!

7. Let It Snow – John Green / Maureen Johnson / Lauren Myracle

All I wanted was a Chrismas-y book to read in December and this one looked, dare I say, cute. I’ve read John Green before, and one Maureen Johnson book, and liked all so I thought this would be a good time. HA.

All three authors write their own story, and each are connected / have overlapping characters / same setting. The best story by far was Maureen Johnson’s. I’d give it a 3. John Green gets a 2. Whoever Lauren Myracle is gets a 1 because that last story was god awful, the characters were annoying AF and I have no idea what the actual point even was. Only the first story gave me even slight Christmas vibes and this story also had the most solid characters.

I heard that the book is way better than the Netflix movie adaptation, so we know what I will NOT be watching. Never ever ever. What a shitty time this was.


To summarize, I would recommend:

  • The Good Lie
  • You Should Have Left
  • The Push
  • Build Your House Around My Body

4 out of 7 ain’t bad! I’ll cover the remaining 6 sometime soon-ish. This weekend we are hopefully cleaning out the attic which is actually an entire third floor that could be used as an extra room which it was before HENRY MOVED IN and stored all his computer pieces and other assorted junk up there and then it just seamlessly turned into the room where things went to die. I just want to go up there with 89878678 garbage bags and throw everything out, to be honest. (Unless it’s something of mine, lol.)

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