Feb 042024

I don’t know what happened in January but I blasted through a shit-ton of books. TWENTY to be exact! To be fair, one was a children’s book, but all the others were normal-length books. I was just on a roll, had some downtime, and the library was really coming through with a bunch of books that I had requested.

Here is the first half!

  1. Peaces by Helen Oyeyemi

My third Oyeyemi! I am going to be honest here, her books are a struggle for me to read because they are literary fiction for true academics. I am not an academic. But I appreciate Oyeyemi’s vocabulary, writing style, character creation, and world building. This book takes place almost exclusively on a magical train and centers around two guys on something of a honeymoon. I’m not sure that I fully understand any of her books, but I feel a certain way while reading them and I like it.

There. That’s my review.

2. What Red Was by Rosie Price

I believe I picked this book on a whim at the library, and I obviously liked it enough to rate it a 3.5. It wasn’t boring, it held my attention, it wasn’t poorly written. BUT I was a little confused about how the main character is raped by a relative of her best friend and it felt like we focused less on the main character and more on the family of the best friend.

And then there’s this strange scene where clues related to the rape and the rapist are displayed in a very public way, which at first I was like, “OH FUCK YEAH” but then remembered that the main character had not actually consented to THIS either. So, it just left me thinking about that for a while, how I would feel, etc.

Oh, my other gripe is that I believe we’re supposed to think that the best friend’s family is like, super interesting and well-to-do, Kennedys-esque maybe, but I just felt like they were whatever, nothing special, unremarkable.

3. Oksana, Behave! by Maria Kuznetsova

Oh, I really enjoyed this! Another one that I grabbed straight from the fiction shelf at the library, this one was based on that cutie cover, haha. This book follows the life of Oksana through a series of quirky and often poignant vignettes, starting with her move to Florida from the Ukraine as a young girl (7 I think?) with her parents and grandmother. The grandmother was the best part, IMO. Total spitfire!

4. Landline by Rainbow Rowell

Three stars. A failing marriage and magical landline to the 90’s. Sounds better than it was. I could have done without all the “talking to my two small daughters on the phone” moments. It got under my skin in a big way.

5. Several People Are Typing by Calvin Kasulke

Working from home and communicating with coworkers via Jabber all day, the concept of this book was appealing to me. But then the Slack messaging format just got reallllly old. There’s a quirky sci-fi element in that one of the coworkers gets stuck *inside* Slack somehow but no one believes him, and then a very unexpected romance develops.

I think this would have worked better for me if the blocks of messages were broken up but chapters of actual narrative too. Give us SOME non-Slack content. Character backstories. I DON’T KNOW, SOMETHING, ANYTHING!

6. I’ll Take You There by Wally Lamb

I thought that I had read something by Wally Lamb before but I guess not. This might not have been the best to start with, but I found the plot interesting – 60-year-old Felix gets visited by a ghost at the movie theater where he holds a movie night for the classics, is visited by the ghost of some silent film-era director and then replays some scenes from his past on the screen.

Through these visits and personalized films, he’s able to understand more of what his sisters went through back in the 50s as girls, and then later, as women. So, it’s interesting. It didn’t make me cry though so do with that what you will.

7. The Last Word by Taylor Adams

Dude. I didn’t like No Exit much at all—it felt like it was Christopher Pike book for junior high kids and not knocking that because I LOVED CHRISTOPHER PIKE BOOKS when I was in elementary school, but you know…I wanted a more mature book at the mo’. So it’s actually kind of nuts that I picked this one up but I’m glad I did because I really enjoyed it! Was the main character annoying? No. Did I feel tense? Yes. Do any pets die? NO.

This was a good, solid thriller. 4 stars. I even recommended it to Henry.

8. Natural Beauty by Ling Ling Huang

OK Ling Ling Huang. Thanks for making me legit gag numerous times with the body horror. Jesus. I really enjoyed this horror-twist on the beauty industry and beauty standards, what people will pay to cheat ageing and genetics, as well as the lengths corporations will go to profit from human vanity. Well-written, the visuals it gave me will haunt me for years.

9. The Skull by Jon Klassen

The aforementioned kid’s book. But to be fair, I used to read Chooch books illustrated by Jon Klassen but this was one was also written by him, it’s his retelling of a traditional Tyrolean folktale. Look at that cover!

10. Idol, Burning by Rin Usami

Just swap out Jpop with Kpop, introduce me to the stanning lifestyle when I’m 16, and I could have been the main character in this book. I think that’s all you need to know about this one, lol. I really enjoyed it.


So, there you have the first round of books I read in January.

  2 Responses to “January 2024 Books – First Half”

  1. I love Wally Lamb’s first book “She’s Come Undone.” Definitely try it out.

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