Dec 102023

I don’t have an intro unless you count this as an intro, if so, say hello to my intro.

  1. The Demon of Brownsville Road – Bob Cranmer

Ughhhh. Janna tried to warn me that this book is abysmal and she DNF’d it, but I am a stubborn ass and needed to see for myself. So yes, I knew going into this that the book had a bad rep but I was still interested since I have lived near this area all of my life. Just…wow. This book is TRASH. Terrible writing, boring, DID YOU KNOW HE WAS FRIENDS WITH MAYOR TOM MURPHY. He mentions it approx. 87 times lest we, the big stoop readers, forget.

I was totally rooting for the demon because this guy was so annoying not to mention a megalomaniac and Republican to boot. Literally the only characters I liked were the dog and cat. I can’t believe this book was ever published, it was so shittily written and had way too much information about Bob’s non-Brownsville house years that we were, for some reason, expected to give a shit about? I think this man just thinks way too highly of himself and somehow thinks the rest of us should too.

I should have listened to you, Janna. There, I said!

2. There’s No Way I’d Die First – Lisa Springer

2 stars. A bunch of shitty, rich high school kids are terrorized by a killer clown at a Halloween house party. Look, I get that this is YA but the assumption that a book can’t be good just because it’s YA is so incorrect. But this YA book definitely fulfills that stereotype. One-dimensional characters. Far-fetched but not in a fun way plot. I should have DNF’d this one but it was “morning walk audiobook.”

3. The Boyfriend Candidate – Ashley Winstead

3 stars. I loved how it started, the fake-dating trope worked for me here, but a lot of this was just plain boring. It was just like Winstead’s other romance, which centered around the main character’s older sister, so this is sort of like #2 in an unofficial series, I guess. Much like that book, this one was also super political, centered around a campaign, and it’s not even that I don’t like politics, but those parts were just very boring and drawn-out IMO.

What is up with Winstead writing great first novels–her first thriller was a 5-star for me, and the aforementioned first romance was a 4 I think – the older sister was a much more fun character to follow, honestly.

4. None of This Is True by Lisa Jewell

I really enjoy Lisa Jewell’s domestic thrillers. They’re twisty and entertaining, which is all you can ask for in a thriller, right? I thought that this one started out strong. I was into it – birthday twins who meet when they’re celebrating their birthday at the same restaurant. One is a put-together, successful podcaster and the other is a plain Jane married to a man double her age. Ugh, I hated her. She was insufferable. At some point though, I realized that I just didn’t care about any of these people and by the time the twist was revealed, I was just kind of like, “OK shrug.” I realize that a lot of thrillers require you to suspend disbelief, but for some reason, I just couldn’t do that with this one. The writing was fine, and from an audiobook POV, I enjoyed the podcast portions.

I gave it a three, which isn’t bad. It’s just that I’ve read better Lisa Jewell books.

5. Now You’re One of Us by Asa Nonami

This a pretty short Japanese thriller with Rosemary’s Baby vibes about a young woman who gets married and moves in with her husband and his parents and extended family. She can’t believe how lucky she is because his family so carefree and down-to-earth, but then a neighbor commits suicide by setting fire to his house and taking his whole family with him. The new wife starts to get suspicious when she COMES TO FIND OUT that there is a connection between him and her husband’s family. I thought it was ok! Not every groundbreaking, but it held my interest and these days, that’s all I can ask for.

6. Midnight Is the Darkest Hour by Ashley Winstead

OOF. I gave this a three now that I’m looking at Goodreads, but I think I needed to subtract a star in hindsight. I don’t even know where to start. I’m starting to think that Ashley Winstead isn’t one person, or she has multiple writing personas, because so far all three of her thrillers were seemingly written by different people. I can’t reconcile the fact that the same person who wrote In My Dreams I Hold a Knife also wrote this Twilight fanfic word-slop. And that ending. That ain’t it. I gave this a 3 because I somehow thought it was less-bad than The Last Housewife, but I’m going to knock off a half star after pondering it a bit more.

7. The Narrow by Kate Alice Marshall

OK now this is what I was talking about when I said “just because a book is YA…” earlier in this post. I really enjoyed this interesting, unique sapphic ghost story. I liked every character – they were well-written and came alive more and more in my mind as the story was told, and the boarding school setting was just the cherry on top.

8. The September House by Carissa Orlando

FIVE FUCKING STARS FIVE FUCKING STARS DING-DINGDING-DOO. A quirky, unique haunted house novel, hilariously written while somehow making me want to retch with some of the grisly descriptions. I…am smitten with this book, didn’t want it to end, am smiling right now in real time while thinking of some of the characters (Frederica!!). The quick rundown is that this book is told from the POV of a middle aged woman, Margaret who, along with her husband, finally move away from a lifetime of renting and purchase their first home, which upon first set seems like their dream house. Except that it’s a hotspot for hauntings, especially in September when shit really hits the fan every year. After three years, the husband is like, “I’M OUT” and leaves, so that’s where the story starts. Our main character is like, “No because look, this is my DREAM HOUSE and I am not going ANYWHERE” so she finds ways to sort of appease some of the ghosts (she can’t get the walls to stop bleeding though) and then when her adult daughter realizes that’s been a minute since she talked to the dad, she is all, “I AM COMING OUT THERE” and then hilarity ensues as Margaret practically barrel rolls through the house trying to keep the hauntings at bay, but then it inevitably turns into a bit of a Drop Dead Fred scenario once the daughter arrives. This was gold. About to see if Carissa Orlando is on IG so I can BE IN THE KNOW when she publishes her next book!

9. Gorgeous Gruesome Faces (Gorgeous Gruesome Faces, #1) by Linda Cheng

YA horror centered around several Asian American girls trying to become kpop stars. I wanted to like this way more than I did.

10. The Woman in Me by Britney Spears

Five stars for having the courage and strength to take back her life and put the truth out there. And she didn’t even go hard against her family and everyone else out there who screwed her over – that speaks volumes. My family better change their names if I ever decide to write a tell-all because I don’t think I could be that understanding and mature about it! I whipped through this entire book on Thanksgiving. I have loved Britney since her debut with Hit Me Baby and my love never wavered no matter how many of my friends made fun of me (I guess it’s supposed to be impossible to like goth music and also bubblegum pop, I dunno, that sounds like a rule to me and I don’t like rules) and will always have her back.

P.S. I know we all BEEN KNEW but man fuck her little prissy bitch ass sister.

11. Butcher & Blackbird (Ruinous Love, #1) by Brynne Weaver

Eh. I felt like a lot of this was ripped directly from the show Hannibal. Basically, two Dexters (one guy, one broad) are competing with each other to be the first to murder another serial killer. It’s supposed to be thrilling I guess (it was at times) and also a romance but I honestly was skipping over the XXX parts because it was so corny. It ended on a cliffhanger but watch me not pick up the next one.

12. Monstrilio by Gerardo Sámano Córdova

I really have nothing else to say about this other than it’s beautifully written and one of the more interesting takes on horror that I’ve read. Basically, a grieving mother “grows back” another version of her recently-deceased son by taking part of his lung and “feeding it.” I gave this a 4 only because it’s technically supposed to be horror but there was nothing about it that actually scared me.

13. The Night House by Jo Nesbø

Another interesting horror! The translation of this was great, the writing was great, the characters were great. Starts off strong with a kid getting sucked into and eaten by a telephone in a phone booth and the other kid who’s with him struggling to get the authorities to believe him about what happened.  This is my second Jo Nesbo and I’m down for more.



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