Aug 012023

I wish I hadn’t read some of these.

  1. The Only One Left – Riley Sager

July started off so strong with this read!

My relationship with Riley Sager is COMPLICATED. The last two books were big misses for me (one was a miss right off the bat, the other one I LOVED until the WTF ending that made me hurl the book across our hotel room in New Hampshire) but this one 100% redeemed him for me. I actually found myself dying for free moments to pick this back up. Plus? That cover. Perfect summer horror-esque read. Lots of twists. Atmospheric. SET IN THE 80s. Dual timelines, too, if you’re into that.

Sorry, I was just staring lustfully at that cover again. Dayum.

Five stars, starting July strong.

2. Roomies – Christina Lauren

This was middle of the road for me. OK, pretty predictable, some strange storyline about a maybe-toxic best friend that I can’t remember if it even went anywhere? Not the meatiest, but it was a quick listen for my daily WALKABOUTS.

3. The Last House on the Street – Diane Chamberlain

OK, whoa. First off, I’m not a big fan of historical fiction and actually had no idea that this is what that was until I started reading it but it fucking TAUGHT ME SOME SHIT about the Scope Project in 1965 and got my blood boiling (I mean, if you read this and your blood stays at a cool temp, you might be a racist). I kept thinking that this was going to be some kind of thriller or have a supernatural bent, but when you base a story off of the sickening way black people were (ARE) treated in this country, you don’t need to deviate from reality, honey. Excellent writing. Five stars from me, Paul. I cried really hard.

4. Election – Tom Perrotta

I haven’t seen the movie adaption since the year it came out but I imagine the book was pretty similar even though I legit can’t remember anything about the movie aside from Reese Witherspoon’s character? It was OK. I was in between audiobooks and needed some AT THAT MOMENT for the walk I was about to take and it was fine.

5. Happy Place- Emily Henry

OK FOR GOD’S SAKE,  THIS BOOK FUCKING BROKE ME. Emily Henry can be hit or miss with me (never her writing!! But sometimes I just can’t connect to the actual story) but this was one grabbed me from the get-go, like a fucking hook in my heart, and never let up. I’m sorry, but she is so skilled at writing effortless, whippy, snappy dialogue to the point where I can watch these scene play out in my mind like Friends and Gilmore Girls merged to create one big epic world. My friend Megan said she thinks the writing is cheesy and I swear to god, it was the only time we have disagreed on books and I had to SMILE SWEETLY and politely disagree.

I am obsessed with Harriet and Wyn and need to read more about their lives. I need a spin-off. I need a TV series.

Also, the Last House on the Street also had a character named Win –  I can’t remember the spelling now but I thought it was weird that I was reading two books at the same time, each with a Wyn/Win.



6. Secluded Cabin Sleeps Six – Lisa Unger

This so bad, a real snooze. I don’t even want to recap it.

7. Chlorine – Jade Song

OK, this made me physically hurt. The gist is that a young swimmer is obsessed with becoming a mermaid and then eventually…well, just read it. This book was outstanding. And it’s Song’s DEBUT NOVEL, to boot. I’m excited to read her next one!

8. The One – John Marrs

This was all the rage on Booktube when it came out and I finally gave it a shot. Eh, overrated, in my opinion. Too many characters, and not a single one that I gave a shit about. I would cringe and groan out loud anytime a chapter featuring certain storylines would pick back up.

I just thought it was hokey.

9. Did I Kill You? : A Thriller Novel – Harper Shaw

OMFG can we start with the fact that “A Thriller Novel” is in the title? Scribd has this idiotic THRILLER NOVEL ranked high on some list, I can’t remember which list but I fell for it. OK, so tropey. It’s a story you felt like you’ve read 100 times. I just kept shouting, “WHO CARES.” Every character was fucking stupid. The MAIN CHARACTER was supposed to be some bigshot NYC detective but she was so clueless?!

Ugh, this was so bad.

10. The Spare Room – Andrea Bartz

Dude. After I read Bartz’s novel “The Lost Night,” I was so excited to read more from her. I checked this one and another of hers out of the library at the same, totally stoked, right? How is this same author. Was she struck on the head? In all seriousness, it felt like this was written by a completely different person and one with much less skill, at that. The story was sloppy, nonsensical, idiotic; but the writing was the worst part to me. I was cringing, I was eye-rolling, I was huffing in frustration. At one point, I started skipping entire chunks of chapters because it was tiresome.

The main character was P A T H E T I C. I hate that every chapter had a reminder OF THE PANDEMIC, FACE MASKS, QUARENTINE, PODS. Ugh, it was tacky and boring and I want my time back. I should have DNFd but I didn’t have anything else on hand to read at the time. I ended up returning the other Bartz book at the same time, without even bothering to glance at the first chapter. Byeeee.

11. Nuclear Family – Joseph Han

The son of Korean immigrants living in Hawaii returns to South Korea to teach, where he is then possessed by the ghost of his dead grandfather who is trying to use his grandson’s body to cross the border into North Korea.

There is a lot more going on than that, with a big focus on the family’s struggling deli, once made popular and famous by Guy Fieri. I loved this. I love when books written by Korean Diaspora authors include actual Korean words, and of course I love when I, as a non-Korean, recognize cultural references, etc. That being said, I saw that this book got a lot of mixed reviews on Goodreads, mostly from non-Koreans. I’m wondering if this is the sort of book that would appeal mostly to Koreans and that is why it was missing the mark for some. I kept trying to imagine reading this if I was not Korea-obsessed – would I still like it? I can’t be sure. Maybe not as much.

I did listen to the audiobook of this though and the narrator was wonderful. To me, it was a great book to cap off a month of rocky reads!


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