And here is the last half of the books I read in December. I almost forgot to come back and do this. #ASeriousBlogger
Um, I could not for the life of me remember reading this at first, but then I read the synopsis and was like, “Oh yeah, that book.” Despite the fact that it’s apparently not very memorable to me, I’m pretty sure I found it to be at least somewhat decent. There were creepy moments for sure (um, an entire upstairs without electricity and a hallway of old family portraits? Yeah, eff that noise) and a cat that I was pretty invested in. It was frustrating the amount of times the main character, who had just moved into this haunted house, went into the attic like it was no big deal. (OK maybe only two or three but that was two or three more times I would have, for sure).
Wait, more things about this book is coming back to me now and I remember that it actually had a pretty decent back story and that I loved the ending. Yeah, this book was good. Lol.
Did I sell it? Lol.
I really liked this YA supernatural mystery. Great small lake town vibes, catchy dialogue between the characters, and an interesting mystery that held my attention during a month where a million different things were on the sidelines screaming LOOK OVER HERE! I liked that the main character had two dads, if that makes a difference.
I don’t really have anything else to say about this one. It was good. I would read more from Courtney Gould. The end.
OK seriously, the five-star reads came THROUGH in December, though. This book!!!!!!! It was exquisite. The chapters are split between two Nigerian twin sisters, and their mother, who is believed to be an Ogbanje (non-human spirit that brings the family bad luck). There is a lot of trauma-exploration in these pages, and it was quite painful to read at times. All three women are written with so much care and depth that I felt for each of them like they were my own family and just wanted them all to find peace and happiness.
It’s a real ride. I think Taiye was my favorite character to follow. It was fun to read about her culinary experiences in different countries.
I’ve read numerous novels now by Nigerian authors and I think this has become one of my favorite genres. I don’t know what else to say about this because it’s so layered and complicated, but just know that it is brilliant and will stick with you for a long time. I remember finishing it and just exhaling bigly and then of course I started to cry every time I thought about it afterward. Because that’s who I am!
I’m not some big diehard Seth Rogen fan by any means, and even for me, his memoir was wildly entertaining. Henry and I both listened to it on audio because it’s narrated by him and like, 100 other people. It’s not your standard “I was born in [insert date] in a small town in [insert country]” type of chronological bullshit. No, this is a collection of stories from his life, some from his childhood that have shaped him, some drug-related ones that make you wonder how he isn’t fucking dead, and some insider industry bullshit that definitely does not make me envy him at all. There were plenty of laugh-out-loud moments, but mostly, I was just smiling real big on my morning walks, feeling like I had friend along telling me outrageous stories.
Oh! I should note that the sole reason I was even inspired to pick this up was because MAGA freaks started leaving bad reviews on it before it was even published all because of his very public Twitter feud with Ted Cruz (lol) and his outspokenness about Trump. Had to give him my support, and I’m glad that I did because this was a real fun time!
First, let’s take a few seconds to appreciate this poppin’ cover. I want to decorate a room based on this palette.
Second, let’s remind this blog author that she should stop picking up short story collections because they just aren’t her cup of tea.
OK, only some of the stories weren’t for me this time around. The author has an MA in Russian and East European area studies from Yale University and a PhD in Slavic literature from Indiana University (per her Goodreads author profile) and you can reallllly tell. I do not say this in a bad way at all. There was a lot of folklore sprinkled in these pages, and those were sadly the ones that I liked the least which isn’t surprising to me because I generally just don’t like folklore all that much. I actually took an Indo-European Folklore class at Pitt because I thought it would be fucking cool, man, but it was kind of…not. Lots of boring-ass stories that all had the same meaning.
(I remember the first day of this class SO VIVIDLY because I had just super recently found out that I was pregnant and my friends were like, “OK but you are very early into the pregnancy so you shouldn’t make any announcement until you’re at least through the first trimester” and I was like, “Mmm, OK, I hear your sage advice” and then in my first class in the fall semester, when it was my turn to introduce myself, I was like, “HELLO I’M ERIN AND I’M PREGNANT” lol. My friend Sarah was in that class with me and was like, “OMG you did not. just….” lol. OH BUT I DID, Also, most of the students in that class were young – I was 25 – so they were like horrified and didn’t know if they were supposed to be happy for me or what. Say your name, but make it awkward, was the assignment right?)
So, there are some stories in this collection that have that same feel, but there were some that I was like, “WTF is happening, this is cray and I love it” like the very first story (The Head) had me laughing and also feeling disgusted at the same. I also loved “The Reunion,” which was a beautiful ghost story set in Poland, “Home Sweet Home,” about a couple who buy a haunted/cursed building, and the title story which was just a real solid revenge tale.
I had always avoided Tana French because I didn’t feel like getting involved in a series, which I think is what she normally writes, right? Anyway, then I found out that The Witch Elm is a stand-alone so I gave it a shot. Oof, this was a big boy! And DENSE. The thing that happens doesn’t even happen until like, page 150 or something so it’s a lot of wondering, “OK but where are we going with this?” However, Tana French has a way of writing characters and their conversations that made me literally not even care if the thing happened or not because I was just generally invested in everyone by this point.
This was a solid mystery but also a strong family drama. I came so close to giving it five stars but I felt the ending was just a bit too dragged out. However, I will definitely be reading more from her and I guess at some point will dig into that Dublin Murder Squad series that is so beloved by many.
OK guys. That’ll do it for 2021 (except for one more post about my faves of the year) but my resolution for 2022 is to do one book wrap-up a month with just my rating and only go into more detail for the ones I REALLY SUPER LOVED or had otherwise some type of strong feeling for. Because reviewing books is not my jam, but I do like to memorialize here the ones I read.
Now I have to go assist Henry, who is currently attempting to cover the ceiling above our staircase with iridescent cellophane, lol, pray for us.