Jan 032021


I guess because I love to abuse myself, I decided that in lieu of just typing out the titles of my favorite books that I read in 2020, I would decorate cookies in the “likeness” (used very loosely in this context) of their covers. Because you know me and kitchen stuff. We go hand in ha—no, that’s  not the right saying.


Yes, that’s the one.

It seemed like a great idea until I remembered that I hate baking and suddenly found myself extremely exhausted just thinking about googling “Sugar cookie recipe” so Henry, who is only sometimes good at reading my mind and thankfully this was one of the few times, asked, “Oh for God’s sake, do you want me to make the cookies??”

Yes! Yes, I do!

So he baked the cookies and then I was like NOW WHAT so then he got all the icing ready for me too. But don’t worry, all of the actual decorating was done by me, no cheating. And I am CLEARLY not getting into the cookie icing biz any time ever! What a fucking pain in the ass! But after three separate icing sessions starting on Friday, I finished the last cookie today and am now ready for whatever because after three days of Chooch popping in to criticize and ridicule my progress, I’m pretty numb.

Because some of them (all of them?) are so bad, I thought it would be fun to just share them here at first with no corresponding book title to see who can get the most correct guesses. I’ll come back later in the week and update this with the answers! Maybe there will be a prize?! Like a surprise grab bag from me to you!? Full of Bit-o-Honeys and Whoopie cushions?!!?* oh em gee it’s like 2012 Blogging Erin is back.

*(It will be better than that, I promise.)

HINT: Not all of these books were published in 2020.

  1. I’m Thinking of Ending Things – Iain Reid

Pro Tip: The audiobook makes the ending EVEN BETTER and also, this is is way better than the Netflix adaptation which has mostly a completely different ending. Henry & I buddy-read/listened to this together, and some of it was in a cemetery which made it even more tense and atmospheric. This one got a lot of very mixed reviews and I know some people were like “I FIGURED IT OUT RIGHT AWAY” and like, OK, good for you. It’s still an excellent fucking book and it made me have legit chills and then when I finished it, I started furiously googling for explanations and reviews. Henry and I talked about it for quite some time after finishing it!

2. My Year of Meats – Ruth Ozeki

I think this is the oldest book on my list. It was published in the late 90s and I just randomly came across it, I think when I was compiling my TBR for Asian Readathon? As a vegetarian, this was definitely not something that sat well with me, since we’re literally following a woman on the production team of a reality show that details the meat industry and how important meat is for the American family. The whole purpose of the show is to get Japanese people on board with consuming more meat, as the meat industry is trying to break into Japan. Our main character starts to see the hidden horrors of slaughterhouses and the industry in general, such as inhumane treatment of livestock and the grotesque and harmful side effects of added hormones. Ugh, I just found it so engaging and compelling, and I LOVED the characters.

3. Girl, Woman, Other – Bernadine Evaristo

This book does so much. It was a solid five star for me, so fucking smartly written, you will fall in love with every character, gasp with excitement when you start to see various connections, and honestly if you don’t lose yourself in the lives of these characters, are you even reading it?

4. The Bass Rock – Evie Wyld

I cannot even describe how wonderful this book is and also, I just did a shoddy review of it last weekend and don’t feel like rehashing it again, lol. Just go read this book please. IT IS EXQUISITE.

5. Beartown – Fredrik Backman

Henry is currently listening to the audiobook and therefore felt that he deserved to eat this cookie, and he did so with a certain smugness that I did not appreciate. Anyway, I also recently wrote about this book too so I will just say that, even though the subject matter was difficult, heavy and maddening, it still felt like a comfort read to me because it’s set in a cozy small town where everyone knows each other and you just get that warm sense of familiarity while reading it, like you know all these people too, and maybe it’s just me but I really cared about a lot of them except for Kevin who can kindly go fuck himself.

6. We Ride Upon Sticks – Quan Barry

My #1 favorite of the year was We Ride Upon Sticks. It was just so witty, fast-paced, irreverent, quirky, flush with 80s references, and the writing was TOTALLY MY STYLE.

7. The Great Believers – Rebecca Makkai

I was on some very strange 1980s AIDS kick for a while and this book ripped my heart out. I promise you that my face was swollen from all the crying I did but I read it at a time where I really needed that – you know how sometimes a good fucking cry can just feel so cleansing? That’s what this book did for me. I’m getting misty just thinking about how much Yale (the character, not the university!) means to me.

This is supposed to be a “lite” version of A Little Life, which I keep putting off reading because I’m afraid it will kill me.

8. In the Dream House – Carmen Maria Machado

This is the one non-fiction that made the cut and it is a gem, an actual slice of the author’s soul, bound and presented to the undeserving us. Please read this. It’s beautiful, scary, painful, funny, creative, surprising – I promise it’s unlike any memoir you’ve ever read and it still visits me in my dreams, months later.

9. Luster – Raven Leilani

I had no idea what I was even getting into when I picked this one up but how is this a debut novel?? Raven Leilani can WRITE, yo. You will laugh, feel uncomfortable, learn some shit, feel your hatred of men increase a bit, all the while rooting for the damn girl to get her shit together and succeed. Also, this made Obama’s top 20 list of the year and it is a certain brand of glee to imagine him reading it!

I do think  this is a terrible book cover though (I mean, yeah, my cookie version of it is shit, but the actual cover didn’t give me much to work with! The UK version is much better but isn’t that usually the case?).

10. The Devil All the Time – Donald Ray Pollock

Um, this book fucked me up. It’s gritty and violent but there are also some incredibly bizarre and hilarious vignettes in here too which made me think about those dumb short stories I used to write and I actually felt inspired to start writing again for like 5 seconds until I got distracted by a new Kpop video. Henry and I buddy-read this together because we wanted to watch the Netflix adaptation and I am so glad we read it first. The movie was good but, as it is in most cases, the book is superior.

11. Bunny – Mona Awad

I read this is in the beginning of 2020 and while I was reading it, I kept thinking, “YES! THIS IS WHAT I MISSED ABOUT READING!” – that feeling of “I don’t want to put this book down, OMG what is going to happen, that was a perfect description!” It was just FUN. WEIRD. BIZARRO. I want it to be a movie but also don’t want someone manhandling it and snuffing out the magic within these pages.

But I will say, it’s probably not for everyone. People seem to either love it or hate it.

12. The Ghost Notebooks – Ben Dolnick

Chooch cracks up every time he sees this and I want to smash it into his face, if I’m being Honest Mother up in here.

Anyway, I think that I actually gave this book a 4, but when I was scrolling through my Goodreads list to get my favorites, I saw this one and immediately knew I wanted to include it. It was just so good, and I can’t really explain why, but it sort of felt like I was sitting with the main character as he was telling me, personally, about the time he moved to some small town in New York with his wife to live in some old ass house-cum-museum for an obscure writer because she got a job as basically a docent I guess? Anyway, it’s a slow burn, very conversationally written, emotional, tense, funny at times.

It’s one I need to read again.

13. Nothing To See Here – Kevin Wilson

First of all, this author has the same name as this mysterious guy I met over the phone in high school so that’s something. But anyway,  this book was so wonderful! Perfectly flamboyant characters with just the right amount of magical realism sprinkled on top of an endearing plot? I was all in.


Just leave your answers in a comment. I’m privatizing them for now so people can’t steal each others’ answers!


Here are the cookies I was actually moderately proud of:

Chooch was like, “can we please start eating these cookies now” so I made him eat the one he hated the most.

Plus, my #1 book of the year, which was probably the easiest one to make!

If I wasn’t making cookies, my list would have been an even 20 and these are the ones that would have made the final cut:

  • Kim Jiyoung Born 1982 – Cho Nam-Joo
  • Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine – Gail Honeyman
  • Death of Vivek Oji – Akwaeke Emezi
  • Queenie – Candice Carty-Williams
  • The Night Tiger – Yangsze Choo
  • The Diviners – Libba Bray
  • Sadie – Courtney Summers (THE AUDIOBOOK THO OMG.)

Anyway – congratulations to Janna who correctly guessed 6, woo hoo!

Jan 022021

We made it to December!! I have to hurry up and get this recap done because I want to do a 2020 FAVORITES list and two of my favorites actually came from my December reads!! Gonna try to bust this out into one post!! Let’s go, Lucy!

  1. Watch Over Me – Nina LaCour


Talk about starting the month off on a bad note. This book was pretty awful. Boring. Cold. Flat characters. The reviews I read were gushing over how no one writes sad girls like Nina LaCour, queen or emo and loneliness, etc etc. I got none of that. I got “try hard,” “disjointed,” “boring,” “what a gorgeous cover wasted on an empty book. I felt nothing and at times I even forgot what was happening. Hard pass.

2.  The Black Flamingo – Dean Atta

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Fuck yes – I love me some good coming of age / coming out books, add in some drag and I am there for it, Mary. I feel the most emotions when reading about marginalized people finding comfort in their skin and a community where they can spread their wings and really fucking fly. This was an exceptional journey through Michael’s life, starting from his joy of Barbies as a child to flourishing in drag as a young adult. Also, it’s written in verse so if you like Elizabeth Acevedo, why haven’t you picked this one up yet?

I feel like this should be required reading in school. Honestly, if I were a teacher, I’d want my students to read books like this.

3. The Graveyard Apartment – Mariko Koike 


Japanese horror movies are my favorites, so I figured I would enjoy this book. Typical with Japanese (and Korean) horror/thrillers, this one was slow and quiet. Basically, a young family moves to a new, luxury apartment complex across from a cemetery, but there are only a handful of other units occupied. It seems it’s because people just don’t want to live across from a cemetery, but then some spooky shit starts happening and our fam is eventually like “OK, UNCLE. WE’RE CALLING IT. UNCLE” and they decide it’s time to find new digs BUT WILL THE COMPLEX LET THEM LEAVE?!!?

There were some chilling moments but nothing that TRULY scared me. However, I really felt attached to the main family (the dog too!!) and rooted for them so hard to win at the end. And speaking of the end – I genuinely liked it but I wonder if that’s an unpopular opinion…

4. Real Life – Brandon Taylor


I had high hopes for this book because it seemed like something I would like based on the fact that I’m obsessed with books in the vein of The Great Believers, but ultimately it was just kind of a drag. We follow the main character, a gay Black grad student, who has some pretty dysfunctional and toxic relationships with a group of friends, and I just didn’t care about him nor did I care about any of his friends, and he becomes involved with one of the guys in his group who is kind of like his frenemy? And also straight?

Was this just too academic for me? Should I ask Alexa?

5. We Ride Upon Sticks – Quan Barry

We Ride Upon Sticks

It’s been several weeks since I finished this and I still can’t stop thinking about it. Is Quan Barry my new favorite author? Am I considering getting a tattoo to celebrate (and consummate???) my love of the words on these pages? Will I ever get over these characters? Am I currently listening to She Bop on repeat?


I wasn’t expecting to find what is I THINK the best book I read in 2020 so late into the reading year, but holy-fucking-shit this blew me away. It was also 100% NOT what I was expecting. The synopsis, no matter how many different ways I try to frame it, always comes off sounding like some cheesy young adult romp through an I Love the 80s VH1 special but it’s so much deeper and complex than that. First of all, it’s not YA. Second of all, the pop culture references don’t feel cheap but instead act as a warm fucking hug, like Jane Fonda leg warmers for the soul.

We follow a high school girls’ field hockey team at a New England high school in the 80s. There is some connection to the Salem Witch Trials to the town of Danvers, and so we get some witchy/magical realism action which flows seamlessly through the story so that it’s not hokey at all and only makes us question, “Wait, is this real life?”

We follow, individually and as a whole, each player of the field hockey team, and each one of these kids has a story and identity. There is also some BRILLIANT personification (ex.: one of the girls has stereotypical Aqua Net 1980s bangs with a mind of its own, and also a name of its own: The Claw) and the dialogue is SO SMART that I actually started crying several times not because the story was sad (it’s FUCKING HILARIOUS) but because Quan Barry DID THAT. This is the kind of book that I read and think, “I am never writing again. There is no point. There is only Quan Barry.”

I do not know how else to get you to read this book. But if you’re looking for PURE FUN that somehow manages to weave in social and racial commentary without hurting the flow, you have got to give this a chance. I would love to see this as a TV miniseries, only if it stayed true to Barry’s vision.

6. The Queen’s Gambit – Walter Tevis 

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After bingeing the Netflix series in November, I really wanted to read the book because I’m always curious to see how true to the pages adaptations stay. And it was PRETTY SIMILAR. A few differences but nothing too glaring.

So, I know very little about chess and I really had no desire to watch the show until my favorite YouTube couple, Sarah and Kyuho, raved about it. I decided to give it a chance and found it super compelling! I think the fact that it was set in the 60s really kept me hooked too though because I LOVE shows that are set in the 60s/70s/80s. I liked the book just fine, but I don’t think this would have ever been something I would have picked up otherwise. And yes, there were pages upon pages detailing chess moves which was like “zzzzz.” But goddamn, Beth is such an interesting character and I loved reading about her intellectually emasculating dude after dude after dude.

7. One By One – Ruth Ware

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I’ve only read one other Ruth Ware book, but there seems to be a common opinion in the book community where her books are very hit or miss. Everyone seems to really love some of her books and absolutely hate others. Having really enjoyed the one book I read of hers earlier in the year, I was curious to see if this phenomenon would be true for me, too.

YEP. This book was so bad. Boring. Predictable. Characters that felt like they were fleshed out by a middle schooler writing a “thriller” in her notebook during study hall which may or may not be something I’m familiar with. Waaaaay too much talk about the stocks of this dumb company that most of the characters work for. A truly lackluster climax. I literally couldn’t believe the same broad who wrote The Turn of the Key wrote this pile of drivel.

Skip this and go read an Agatha Christie novel instead.

8. With the Fire on High – Elizabeth Acevedo

With the Fire on High

Isn’t this cover beautiful?!!? I had a long time to admire it because I snagged this book from a local Little Free Library over the summer and then proceeded to drown in library books and was in a perpetually race against due dates so this lovely lady kept getting bumped back. But I finally had time in December to tackle it and it was wonderful, as are all of Acevedo’s books. Elizabeth writes characters who are so real, brimming with family values while also craving the independence and freedom to be their own person and follow their dreams, and you will CHEER THESE GIRLS ON.

In this one, Emoni is a teen mom who dreams of being a chef, but she’s trying to juggle the very real priorities that come with being a mom while also working a part time job in order to help her abuela with living expenses, and the stress is palpable.

I always get the audio books for Acevedo’s books because she narrates them herself and it’s just a real treat. I can’t wait for her next book!

9. The Bass Rock – Evie Wyld

The Bass Rock

I was kind of intimidated by this book, not gon’ lie. There are several British Booktubers that I love and have gotten some great recs from their videos but their book tastes can be admittedly way too…intelllectual? Advanced? Literary? for my pea brain to handle. But they raved about this book all year long and I finally took the plunge.

It was not what I expected! Admittedly, it was a bit difficult to get into at first because there are three different timelines but eventually it clicked in my college drop-out head. We follow three women: Viv, in present day, who is tasked with taking inventory of her step-grandmother’s empty house; Ruth, back in post-WW2 times, who has just remarried and has moved into a large possibly haunted (dot dot dot) house by the sea; and Sarah, who has been accused of being a witch and is running from townspeople in the 1700s.

Violence against women is the heavy theme of this book, but there are still some light moments and humor which really made this story shine. I don’t want to say too much more about it because I walked into this only knowing that it was a gothic novel with some witchiness and ghosts and I think I expected it to be super dry for some reason. I love being wrong in these types of cases! I tried to explain the plot to Henry and he was just like, “ew feminism, boys are best” j/k he didn’t say that but he also had the “Don’t care” glaze over his face so now someone (maybe YOU??) has to read this so we can talk about it and by talk I mean possibly have a comment exchange that goes like “that book was amazing” and “IKR?!?!?!”

This is why I don’t do book groups.

I will probably think about Viv and Ruth forever.

10. Don’t Look For Me – Wendy Walker

Don't Look for Me

This is a thriller. I have lukewarm feelings. Didn’t care much about anyone, all the men were sleazy, WTF was going on with the husband and was it ever explained or did I miss it, there is a small child that I absolutely hated and I don’t even feel bad about it. I’d recommend passing on this one, but it served as an OK filler while I looked for something better.

11. The Hollow Places – T. Kingfisher


WHOA another book that was not at all what I was expecting based on the cover! If you’re looking for true horror, probably skip this one because it’s actually more funny than scary. I heard someone say that the two main characters reminded them of Lorelai Gilmore and Michel and I would agree WHOLE-HEARTEDLY on the Lorelai front but if we’re going full Gilmore Girls comparisons with this, I would say that her sidekick reminded me WAY MORE of Kurt.

Basically, we follow a recently-divorced woman who moves back to her small hometown and moves into her uncle’s roadside attraction-esque museum in exchange for helping him inventory all of his wares. (Think: fiji mermaids, etc.) One day, she discovers a large-ish hole in one of the walls, presumably damaged by a tourist, and she enlists the barista at the downstairs coffee house to help her patch the hole. During this process, they discover that the hole actually leads to basically another dimension, and this part sort of reminded me of The House of Leaves, and I will admit that this part of the book started to lose me a little because it was just a bit sci-fi for me – I hate other dimensions/worlds/portals type of plots because my brain just don’t work that way.

But then as the book progresses, never losing the quirky and quick-witted banter, we come back to the museum and shit gets a bit Wonderfalls-y – do you guys remember that show?! IT WAS SO GOOD AND OF COURSE CANCELED AFTER LIKE ONE SEASON.

I would love to read more books with these characters, as long as it didn’t involve the exploration of parallel universes, lol.

12. Watching You – Lisa Jewell

Watching You

I typically enjoy Lisa Jewell thrillers but this one didn’t do it for me. Basically, we follow a bunch of shitty neighbors spying on each other and one of them is some 50-ish year old male teacher who didn’t seem all that heart-throbby based on the description but somehow young girls obsess over him and I just didn’t get it at all.

Super far-fetched and just didn’t really work for me.

14. Long Bright River – Liz Moore


Exceptional!! Major trigger warning for drug addition. We follow a cop, Micky, who is searching for her estranged, addict sister while a string of murders are hitting her childhood neighborhood in Philly. We get glimpses into the past too to help us understand how Micky and her sister ended up on different paths and it’s actually heart-breaking to see how close they were, to being nothing to each other because of drugs. Present-day Micky is doing all she can to juggle her job as a cop with being a single mom to a young boy, and when she goes rogue to find her sister, major feathers are ruffled on the police force. Fucking popo.

This isn’t just a thriller or mystery though – this is a literary masterpiece that explores how drug abuse tears families apart. Liz Moore’s writing is really unique, the way she writes dialogue really appealed to me, but above all that, if Obama tells you this was one of his favorite books of 2020, you fucking listen to him and open the damn book.

15. Grown – Tiffany D. Jackson


Be prepared to be ANGRY while reading this. Tiffany D. Jackson is the queen of writing about those hard topics and this one will make you see red. The author claims that this is not low-key about R.Kelly but the similarities are there: a successful Black singer (in his late 20s) takes a young girl under his wing, promising her a music career, and the grooming starts IMMEDIATELY. There’s abuse, rape, gas-lighting, kidnapping – you name it, it happens in this book and it’s sickening because you know this shit is real, this shit happens to girls every day. The most heartbreaking part for me though was how hard her father fought to get her back. (I’m getting choked up as I think about this!!)

The worst part #2 for me was that I could easily picture myself, at 16, falling prey to this same type of shit. If some singer I loved started texting me, are you kidding?? I’d be all over that without even thinking that it was wrong. These men have SO MUCH POWER because they KNOW that young girls aren’t going to think twice, that these girls THINK that they’re grown enough to consent to this thinly-veiled abuse, and I am actually so thankful, as I write this, that I don’t have a daughter but it just means that I have to put in the work as a parent to ensure that my SON doesn’t become a MAN who thinks this shit is OK. Especially when we see it time and time again on TV shows. Teachers and students, mostly. (It happens in the pilot episode of Dawson’s Creek, for god’s sake!) And yeah, we mostly see it happening between men and girls, but it does go both ways! I remember watching Pretty Little Liars with Henry and he was enraged time and time again by this.

“Grown” is an extreme case of this but we know that it happens, nevertheless. Tiffany D. Jackson is an amazing writer.

16. Alice – Christina Henry 

Alice (The Chronicles of Alice, #1)

A very (very!!) dark retelling of Alice in Wonderland. That’s really all you need to know. We have a world of murder, violence, and sex with some VERY DIFFERENT portrayals of familiar characters. For instance, the Walrus rapes his victims while eating them.

Definitely not a book to read your kids at night, but DEFINITELY a book for YOU to read if you love the Wonderland world and are looking for a much darker take on it.

I thought it was excellent and also a very quick read. Also, can we talk about that cover?!


So that’s it! All of the books I read in December! I ended the year having read a total of 204 books and while I’m always up for a challenge and that was a cool milestone, I am very content to going back to casually reading with no goal in mind!

Dec 222020

*because according to my housemates, I am apparently super snippy and mean while reading but ok then STOP BEING LOUD AND DISRUPTIVE AROUND ME AND MAYBE I WONT HAVE TO YELL AT YOU?!?!

You guys, I did it! I completed my 200 book challenge last night and wow it was anticlimactic. I mean, what was I expecting to happen though? G-Dragon knocking on my door with a bouquet of his coveted Paranoise Nikes? Publishers Clearinghouse rolling up with local news crews to present me with a gigantic Barnes and Noble gift card? My local library revealing their secret portal to South Korea for my exclusive use?

Chooch replied to my I DID IT text with “oml” and I’m sure he’s irritated because he’s the one who egged me on probably thinking I’d fail because he clearly has learned nothing about me in 14 years.

And Henry didn’t say anything because he was already in bed and wouldn’t care anyway because whut r bookz.

buy bactroban online buy bactroban generic

Was it rewarding? Sure I guess. I mean I read a lot (clearly) of really great books that I probably wouldn’t have otherwise. And what else would I have been doing anyway? I can’t go anywhere! But speaking of, I read a ton of books set in other countries and that sort of helped scratch the travel itch. I guess.

Will I do it again? Nope. Back to leisurely reading. I mean, I really am a fast reader but I was picking up another book as soon as I closed the one before it and I would like to have some free time back in case I choose to just lay on the floor and stare at the ceiling. And I have a ton of kdramas to catch up on now that I’m not too tired to read subtitles!

Some people I follow on Booktube read more than this every year, no challenge required, and those people are the real MVPs.

I’d like to round up my top 10 favorite books I read this year (2 of them are from this month!!) and perhaps bake book-shaped cookies and then decorate each one with its respective book cover?! SHOULD I? Henry and Chooch both emphatically said no because I hate baking and cookie decorating makes me angry, but I feel like that’s a level of Shit Show perfect for sending off 2020. Right?

(It might have to be a bakers dozen though because I’m having a hard time narrowing it down to just 10! I read some real winners!)

Dec 202020

Shall we continue onto the second half of November? YES, ME THINKS WE SHALL. (Books 1-7 can be found here.)

8. Sourdough – Robin Sloan


I watch a lot of different Booktubers on YouTube, which puts Henry and Chooch to sleep, but listen Linda: I have gotten so many good recs from watching these videos and also discovered that I actually things like, I dunno, historical fiction (some of it anyway). I have found also that I share similar likes and dislikes with some of these people. And this is how I learned about Sourdough, by watching Noelle Gallagher do a book haul in which one of her viewers sent her a copy of this book and said it was her favorite. Now, Noelle hadn’t yet read it, but the book itself seemed intriguing to me and I found it immediately on one of my library/book apps.

WHAT A FUCKING DELIGHT! Literally, the entire book is about a woman named Lois who works at some tech company that programs robots, and how she falls in love with the food from this clandestine sandwich shop which is take-out only. Turns out that it’s run by two Mazg brothers from their apartment but then they have Visa issues and have to return home, but they leave Lois with their sourdough starter and it unleashes some latent bread-baking passion in her, which leads her to eventually quit her job and join some avant garde farmers market where they strive for innovation.

You guys, I read a review that said this book felt like a friend and honestly I can’t argue with that.

It was such a comforting read! It was light-hearted and humorous, made me utterly craze fresh bread (Chooch, can you try your hand at that again?!?).

This book is adorable and also will make you want to drop your adult priorities and finally start molding those Danny Bonaduce beeswax candles you always wanted to get into what that wasn’t me that was you.

9. Tender is the Flesh – Agustina Bazterrica

Tender Is the Flesh

In this book, some type of disease has made the consumption of animals lethal so essentially all animals are eradicated and now humans are bred for meat-making purposes and honestly, I couldn’t handle this book at all.

It’s VERY cold. There really aren’t any characters to cozy up to, the descriptions of the various processes of the slaughtering industry are excruciatingly detailed, and I just hated the dry, dystopian atmosphere. Maybe I read this at the wrong time, or maybe it just isn’t the book for me. I also didn’t feel bad AT ALL that this shit was happening to humans, because hello card-carrying vegetarian here.

10. The Subtweet – Vivek Shraya

The Subtweet

THIS!!! Oh holy shit, I related to this on so many levels that it was actually painful at times. We follow two characters: one is an artist in the Toronto indie music scene, who is beloved and respected by her peers, but never really “made it.”

The other is a woman, Rukmini, who sings cover songs on her YouTube channel. When she covers a song by indie singer Neela, it takes off and obviously Neela feels a certain type of way about this. They end up meeting and developing a deep friendship, but that’s tested when Rukmini gets invited to go on a world tour with a super big white pop star.

So we have the exploration of selling out and catering to the white crowd (who attend the concerts and attempt to do various Indian dances along to the music) and leaving behind a friend in the process.

Meanwhile, Neela is like, ‘Fuck this I’m going to put out the best album of my life” and when she sends it to Rukmini, she doesn’t hear back from her. Of course Neela is like, “Wow, Rukmini is too good for me now” but really Rukmini is panicking because she listens to it and is crushed because it confirms the fact that she’s not the one with the talent, Neela is, and Rukmini only got where she did by riding on Neela’s coattails (ie. covering one of her songs).

It was very frustrating because I was so Team Neela and to watch her constantly get overlooked for something that was more marketable to the white people made me want to flip a table.

It’s interesting to me because I have felt a lot of these things over the years, especially back when I used to actually “write.” I would sit here and pour my everything into blog posts, essays, short stories, just to watch the MOST VANILLA and bland blogs take off and get tens of thousands of subscribers. I never wanted to change who I am, to become a basic bitch mommy blogger, or to start some dumb DIY or food blog, because what’s the point?

Also, I’m such a sucker for subtweeting. It’s so fucking immature and passive aggressive but I cannot break myself of it.

Yeah, this book is wonderful. Vivek Shraya is a superb writer!

11. Young Jane Young – Gabrielle Zevin 


I have never heard of Gabrielle Zevin or this book, but I was in-between physical copies of books from the library and was looking for an audio book to help coast me through a work day and this seemed like it was going to be good and fluffy.

GUYS. Do you like Gilmore Girls? Then this book might be for you. It was so much fun but also deep and I connected to every character and it’s also infuriating and made me scream, “WE HATE MANS IN THIS HOUSE, DON’T WE?!?!” to the cats and they were like *blink* (it’s not ‘men,’ it’s ‘mans’ but nice try).

We follow several women (each one gets their own section) who are all connected and it’s quirky and endearing and explores different mother/daughter relationships and there’s a teenager named Ruby whose entire chapter is told from her side of emails to her international pen pal….and, it’s everything. Read this book. I loved it. I’m definitely going to add more of Zevin’s books to my TBR!

12. Out – Natsuo Kirino 


Oof, this book was SO HARD TO READ. Don’t get me wrong – it was excellent. But the font was weird and my eyes had a really hard time with it, am I getting old?

I’m getting old, aren’t I?

Oh my god.

Anyway, it’s no secret that I love translated Japanese thrillers, and this one was no exception. We follow a group of women co-workers who become bound together via a murder and while it’s definitely dark and there are some very graphic and explicit scenes that were even a bit hard for this horror fanatic to handle, the interactions and quirky dialogue between the women sometimes added a much needed reprieve from the violence.

It was good but just a bit slow-moving (the character building was STRONG though).

13. Beartown – Fredrik Backman 


I stayed up until like 2am one night because I was so close to finishing and couldn’t bear to put it down for the night. I honestly can’t remember the last time this happened.

This book made me feel so many things. I loved everyone (well, the ones worth loving). Benji and Bobo forever! HOCKEY!!! (Even if you don’t like hockey or know anything about it, it won’t hinder your reading journey if you pick this up, trust me.)

Oh, what’s it about? The small Swedish town of Beartown lives and breathes hockey, and their high school team is LIFE for them. There is so much drama and politics surrounding the team, which is one big plot point. But when the school’s star player (literally is being scouted by the NHL) rapes the daughter of the league’s GM, the town is divided (to say the least). It was infuriating and heartbreaking to watch this play out, to see how the daughter was actually holding it together better than her mom, who is an attorney and struggling with the reality that she couldn’t protect her own child. And then the dad who has to choose between his family and the team.

This was so well-written, the characters were SO ALIVE, the town felt so real. My heart is aching just writing about it but it’s actually not some huge depressive missive: yes, it’s dark and dramatic, but there’s love and friendship too, and some big hero moments which made me gurgle on my own tears while I laid in bed reading it and then I couldn’t fall asleep after it ended and I think about it every day. Five stars. You’re my favorite.

Apparently, Nordic Netflix adapted it into a series, which was released last fall and some light (OK, obsessive) google searches have learned me that the US is picking it up sometime in 2021 and I hope that means we’re getting the original with subtitles, please god.

This is my first Fredrik Backman book, although I have definitely seen his other books around the block, and this will definitely not be my last!


So, November was pretty good for me! December is also going well (I’m currently reading my 200th book of the year!) and I have ANOTHER five star book that has completely taken over my mind and I can’t wait to tell you about it in my December wrap-up!

Dec 132020

Me: wow November was a bad reading month for me. I only read 13 books.

Henry, murmuring: ohmygod.

However! Most of the books I read ranged from ‘pretty good’ to ‘great’ so I’m not complaining.

  1. Beach Read- Emily Henry

Beach Read

I don’t usually gravitate toward romances but I had been hearing great things about this and honestly needed something that I could listen to while going on walks. I’m very particular on which kind of books I can listen to without also having the print copy, and this was one definitely falls into the easy to follow along category. I latched onto it immediately. The main guy had a very Luke (of ‘s Diner fame) vibe to him, totally surly but you know there’s gonna be a warm mound of cotton-candy mush inside of him.

Also, the premise was FUN: the two main characters are both published authors and happen to be residing in neighboring beach houses for the summer while writing their next books. January is a writer-blocked romance author, Augustus writes literary fiction.

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They challenge each other to swap genres and really that’s all you need to know.

The one thing I thought was ill-fitting was the cult sub-plot. Augustus had originally been writing a book about a real life cult and takes January on some investigative interviews with him but it didn’t really drive the plot.

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I dunno. I love cult shit but every time it went down that road it felt like I was reading an entirely different book?

Overall though I thought this was just a really sweet book and I LOVED the tension between the two!

2. Playing Nice – JP Delaney

Playing Nice

I had no idea what this was about when I ordered it from the library but it ended up being a really excellent domestic thriller about a couple who finds out their two-year-old was actually switched at birth with another couples’ and what ensues is a truly frustrating and chilling fight to keep their child.

I’m always down for a good thriller and this one did it for me.

3. The Night Swim – Megan Goldin


This book is set in a small east coast seaside town where a high profile rape trial is going on. A popular true crime podcast host travels to the town to record her podcast and while she’s there, she begins receiving anonymous messages asking her to help solve the 20-some year old murder case of another girl who was raped there.

The chapters go back and forth between real life and the podcast, which was cool. I thought this book was interesting and pretty well-executed but it left me feeling…empty. I didn’t really connect much with anyone and I don’t think this is a book I will remember. But! I never felt like DNFing and I was definitely interested.

4. The Kind Worth Killing – Peter Swanson 

The Kind Worth Killing

Oh shit this book was a real trip! Every character WAS SO UNLIKABLE but that was the point and it didn’t turn me off from the book at all.

Basically, some dude meets some broad at an airport lounge and after several drinks, says he caught his wife cheating on him and airport broad is like let’s kill her.

Tons of twists, perspective shifts, and wonderful pacing.

Also, a lot of REALLY SHITTY PEOPLE lol.

5. When No One Was Watching – Alyssa Cole

When No One is Watching

Ok listen. Alyssa Cole is a Black romance novelist and this is her first foray into the thriller genre, and let me tell you: I AM A FAN and I hope this isn’t her last.

In this book, we follow two alternating perspectives: one of Sydney, a young Black woman struggling to save her tight-knit Brooklyn neighborhood from the rapid onset of gentrification; and Theo, a white guy who recently moved to the community with his Lululemon-personified snob of a girlfriend.

Strange shit starts happening in the community, neighbors begin disappearing, and Sydney starts to investigate. It’s similar to Get Out in that it’s the very social commentary of the thing that makes it scary.

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I thought it was extremely smart and well-written, the psychological tension had me reading with my shoulders scrunched up, and I just wanted everyone to be OK. I loved that each chapter ends with transcripts from the community message board – it added a bit of levity while making me feel connected to the community.

Also, Theo’s girlfriend was a first class white cunt.

Before I picked this one up, I kept seeing people whining about how this was erroneously marketed as a thriller but guess what, it’s all white people saying that about a book that uses gentrification, racism, and prejudice as the driving force behind the plot, so I guess that went over a lot of heads…

I would 100% recommend this for any thriller lover who is looking for a fresh take. *chef’s kiss*

6. Shine – Jessica Jung



The premise isn’t really that ground-breaking – a Korean American teenager moves to Korea in order to become a kpop trainee at one of the biggest agencies and gets majorly bullied by the other girls. Jessica has definitely hinted that she used some of her own experiences in this and it really sounds like this was her way of getting to write her story without doing a full-blown tell-all, which she evidently is legally prohibited from doing. It was definitely a tea-spill hidden behind the guise of “fiction.”

Also? Jessica is a great writer! This looks like it’s the first book in a series so I’m definitely looking forward to supporting her future releases.

7. Goodnight Beautiful – Aimee Molloy

Goodnight Beautiful

One of my favorite booktubers did a reading vlog featuring this book and she was like HOLY SHIT THIS MIGHT END UP BEING A FIVE STAR READ for the first half of the book and then she quickly changed her tune and ended up giving it a very hateful 2. She kept saying that it blatantly rips off another, way more popular, thriller but she couldn’t name it because it would be a big spoiler so of course I was like WELL NOW I HAVE TO READ THIS even though she gave it a 2. Curiosity, cats, etc etc.

But yeah, the first half has a twist that’s like WTF and I was feeling it big time, but then the thing that the booktuber was angry about happened and I knew then exactly what she was talking about and I was like, “THIS IS REALLY DUMB AND LAZY.”

That first twist though, it really got me, and it’s shame that Aimee Molloy so freely used this other SUPER FAMOUS novel from a SUPER FAMOUS author to carry the plot. I mean, that book is even mentioned several times as a hat tip! So weird. Maybe it works for other people, but it just came off as so unoriginal (I mean, clearly!!!) to me.

That being said, I didn’t regret reading it. I still had fun with it for the most part until it got fucking dumb!


And this concludes Part 1 of my November recap. I still have an additional 6 books to shittily review, so brace yourselves.

Nov 232020

OMG it’s part 2, right on the heels of Part 1. I bet you didn’t see this one coming at all.


9. Lair of Dreams – Libba Bray

Lair of Dreams (The Diviners, #2)

This is the second book in the Diviners series and I am so obsessed. I mean, sorry, I know I say that for like pretty much everything because I have a very obsessive personality, but I really am a huge fan of these books so far. There are still two more I have to read and I have high hopes that the series will end on a high note and end up being something I will never forget.

I have to say though that listening to audiobook while reading along is 100% the way to go with this series, because it’s set in the 1920s and the narrator (January Lavoy) does the best flapper accents. I never knew I cared about the roaring 20s until l picked up these books and now I have half a mind to start watching silent films or whatever was cool back then. Did “talkies’ exist yet, who knows, too tired to google.

If you’re looking for, say, Scooby Doo, but punt it back to the prohibition and add some psychic shenanigans, this could be the jam your book-bread is desperately seeking.

10. Tuesday’s Gone – Nicci French


While we’re talking about series, the Frieda Klein series is incredible! This one is set in 21st century London and it’s basically a cop procedural mystery/thriller doo dad thingie mabob (I’m really not great at genre-placing books, you guys) but our main character is Frieda Klein, a psychotherapist with a knack for solving crimes faster than the popo.

What I like even more than the stories/plots of this series, though, is the colorful character studies. These people pop right off the page, you can hear their accents, you can feel the coziness of Frieda’s home, you want all the good guys to find happiness. Especially Frieda, god love her.

What I also find intriguing is that these books are written by a married couple and like, I can’t even imagine co-authoring a yard sale flyer with Henry, let alone an entire book series.

11. Earthlings – Sayaka Murata

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Shiiiit. I honestly don’t even know how to explain this crazy ass jaunt into literary chaos. It’s pretty fucked. If you have ever seen, say, Visitor Q, this is like the print version of that psycho Japanese movie. I read it in one day and was screaming, “OH MY FUCKING GOD ARE YOU KIDDING” while reading it in bed, which Henry super-enjoyed.

Just when you start to get comfortable, it takes a series of OMG turns and then you’re in squirmy territory and I was laughing really hard for pretty much the entire last quarter of the book but…it was pretty disturbing. I can’t really say too much else because giving it away would really take a lot of the shock value away, you know?

I’m…not even sure if I LIKED this book? But it took me places. And that’s really all we can ask for, right?

12. The Snowman – Jo Nesbø


I saw this recommended in several thriller booktube videos and everyone said that even though it’s part of a series, you don’t have to read them in order. I mean, I didn’t feel lost, although there were some references to past cases but I felt like it was explained well enough that I was able to move on with my day and still get the same experience from this book.

If you’re into pretty gruesome murder cases, this is for you. There were parts where I was like, “To skim or not to skim” because I was getting a bit squeamish.

This was also adapted into a movie but I haven’t watched it yet.

13. More Than This – Patrick Ness


I have no idea what possessed me to order this from the library, but I should I have known just from the synopsis that it wasn’t the book for me. It’s borderline sci-fi, part post-apocalyptic, and it just left  me feeling very uncomfy in general.

It starts with a teenaged boy dying, not a spoiler, and he wakes up in his old childhood home but everything is deserted and wrong-feeling. While he’s trying to figure out WTF is going on, we revisit the months and days leading up to his death in flash back chapters. This was the only part of the book I enjoyed – the flashing back.

14. I’m Afraid of Men – Vivek Shraya

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Listen to Tegan & Sara – this is definitely 100% percent reading for everyone. I want every fucking straight white male to be required to read this. It’s VERY short so you could probably knock this out in one sitting and feel like you read something important. If we really want to call ourselves trans allies, we need to read more ‘own voices’ books like this one.

15. Hell House – Richard Matheson 


Do. Not. Waste. Your. Time.

Talk about a book that doesn’t hold up. This is predictable, the writing was soooooo pompous. The characters were flat and I really didn’t care if any of them lived or died. I wasn’t creeped out, except for the times my mind started to wander down various optical malady paths on account of all the massive eyerolling I was doing.

I wish I had DNF’d this, if we’re being frank. I wanted a good haunted house book to read in October and this WASN’T IT, FAM.

16. John Dies at the End – David Wong


For the first 100ish pages, I was INTO THIS and really thought it was going to be a 4 star. The writing is quirky, witty, the characters full of life, and there were many times when I LOLd for real, but it doesn’t really work for the entire 466 pages. Honestly it was about 150 pages too long and there were entire chapters where I just felt bored and lost, just completely forgot what the plot was (was there a plot?). It’s actually pretty inexplicable that I even picked this up because I never even had any desire to watch the movie.

I was also not a fan of the incessant use of “retarded.” I mean, I was actually wincing every time it popped up, and it was a lot. I wish I had counted. Then the n-word & f*g was dropped several times too – that’s gonna be a big NOPE for me, Bob.

I want to give it a 2 because of the gratuitous slurs, but then there’s a dog side-kick who is so fantastic, that I have to bump it back up to a 3. Molly, you saved this book.

Honestly, could have been solid 4 and I’m actually depressed at how it unraveled for me.

Also, David Wong is the author’s pen name and he isn’t even Asian, so when I learned that fun fact, it um, really explained a lot

17. House at the Bottom of a Lake – Josh Malerman

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I received an advanced reader copy of this through Net Galley. I haven’t read anything else by Jos Malerman but I know that he wrote Bird Box which everyone loves but I have only seen the movie so this was my first foray into the Malerman experience.

It’s about two teenagers who meet in a hardware store and just…you know, hit it off and then the boy takes the girl on a canoeing date, which is cool but then there is a secret lake that they access through some weird tunnel thing and I was fucking FREAKING OUT and feeling so claustrophobic.

Then it only gets worse when they discover that there is, as the book title totally spoiled for us, a house at the bottom of the lake. They become obsessed with it and start spending basically all of their free time exploring it, and then they start sleeping on a raft because they can’t even stand to be away from it.

There is a lot of suspenseful tension throughout the whole thing and I wasn’t bored, but I have to be honest and say that the writing itself sort of left something to be desired. It was very…cold and the dialogue was realllly short and not very meaty. We didn’t really get to know much about either person, and maybe that’s what Malerman intended, for the focus to be on the house.

I don’t know, it just kind of ended and I sat here thinking, “What did I just read….” It’s classified as horror and…I guess so? It was also kind of a coming of age story too, with these two kids falling in love, just in a very strange location.

Nov 152020

Well, October was not a very fine month of reading for me. I DNF’d a bunch and even returned several to the library without even starting them because just seeing them sitting on my coffee table was the exact opposite of “bringing me joy.” I was really hoping to eye-swallow some good old-fashioned horror but…it didn’t play out that way, sadly. I read 17 books in October so let’s talk about the first 8 SHALL WE? (Now that I’m looking at my Goodreads, I see that I did have a good bit of 4s and 5s, but none of those were horror, really, I’m so sorry to let you down, October….)

  1. Mayhem – Estelle Laure


As soon as I saw that this was a retelling/twist on The Lost Boys (the vampire movie, not Peter Pan), I was like WHERE DO I SIGN UP which, duh, was obviously the library website.

Ugh you guys I had such high hopes for this and perhaps that’s where I fucked up. I know better! Low expectations or GTFO!

There were a few “Oh I see what you did there” moments that referenced The Lost Boys but I just wasn’t feeling this. There was some extremely weak plot line involving a serial killer on the beach but I felt that this book was such an unorganized mess that I kept forgetting there was even an end game.

And the writing was very…cold, like if this book was a person, they’d be stand-offish with resting bitch face. If that makes sense. It does to me, OK!?

2. The Patient – Jasper DeWitt

The Patient

This is mostly unrelated but the first thing I thought of when I was adding this book to the blog post was where I walked the day I listened to the audiobook of it (through Dormont) and that the new-ish restaurant in my hood unveiled a cauliflower and parsnip soup that day which I desperately needed to have so Henry got it for me after work and that’s what I had for dinner that day.

These two facts are more memorable to me than the book itself, of which I can remember the names of approx. zero characters.

The interesting thing about this about this  though was that it was supposed to be a collection of threads from some now-defunct Reddit-like medical forum, where a doctor detailed a really bizarre experience with a notorious patient at a psychiatric hospital. I was really feeling it for the first half but then it just kind of got really dumb and predictable. I think I gave it a three, though because the plot was relatively unique (to me).

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3. Mapping the Interior – Stephen Graham Jones

Mapping the Interior

This is my second book by this author and I think I sadly have to admit that he just sadly isn’t for me. I really want to like his books! They get such a great reviews. But his writing style just ain’t it.

This was supposed to be like a ghost story I guess but at the heart of it, it was a pretty solid coming-of-age story and I think I actually would have liked it better if it was just that and not also trying to be horror at the same time.

Also, this author really likes to kill animals in his stories and I’m not there for that at all, sorry. I won’t every tell anyone to steer clear of his books because I think he’s a great writer, but as I said – just not for me and I need to accept that and move on.

4. Pachinko – Min Jin Lee


OMG WHERE DO I BEGIN. This was a real fucking odyssey for me. I bought this book in winter of 2019, started reading it in spring of that year, got distracted, forgot to take it with me to read on the plane to Korea, came home and couldn’t find it for about 7 months and then found it randomly on Chooch’s desk, and then by then I had like 8892437982374 other books lined up to read. I kept trying to read a chapter here and there in between all of the library books that were ticking away like time bombs on my coffee table.

Finally in October I was like, “ENOUGH IS ENOUGH” and powered through it. THANK GOD I DID. This book is a beautiful, slow burn of a family drama spanning several generations, from the early 1900s to the 1980s, whether you’re interested in Korean/Japanese history or not. I will admit, the first quarter of the book is tough to get through; it was the driest part of the whole book for me, but I learned a lot of things that I didn’t already know about the strained relations between Korea and Japan (to put it into context, when we were in South Korea last summer, there were major protests happening that had something to do with trade relations with Japan).

It’s a real chunker of a book but I would consider this to be essential reading for anyone interested in historical fiction.

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I’ll be thinking about this family for years to come, I think.

5. Parachutes – Kelly Yang 


After reading Pachinko, I was looking for something lighter so I picked up Parachutes, which is named after the term used for children of wealthy Asian families who are sent to America, alone, to attend school. They live with host families (unless they’re SUPER FUCKING RICH and have empty family homes to live in alone, you know, as teenagers are wont to do) who receive money from whatever host program in exchange. Which is how Claire winds up living with Dani, a super-focused debate team star who is working her ass to get into Yale. Dani’s mom is a maid and agrees to host Claire because she desperately needs the money. Claire and Dani mostly avoid each other, but each of them are dealing with really traumatic and shitty things and don’t realize how much they need each other until the end.

To me, this wasn’t a typical YA book. It made me super emotional, especially Dani’s situation involving a predatory teacher. At the end of the book, the author wrote about her own experiences as a college student at Harvard Law School and how this book was based on that. I was fuming.

I gave this one 5 stars. I think this book could help, and likely has helped, a lot of young people feel seen.

6. Home Before Dark – Riley Sager 

Home Before Dark

Booktube freaking screams over Riley Sager and while the two books I have read of his have been enjoyable, I wouldn’t like, wait in line to meet him or anything, if you know what I mean. And it’s funny because his latest book, Home Before Dark, has gotten some mixed reviews, but this is the one that I really latched on to.

Is it original? No, not even slightly. Some may call it an homage, some may argue it’s pretty blatantly ripping off The Haunting of Hill House (the Netflix series, not the book) but I was really looking for a good haunted house book to read in October, and I’m sorry horror purists – this book was fucking fun.

It alternates between present day and chapters from the book that the main character’s dad wrote about the house they lived in for, like, a month when she was a young kid. (I can’t remember her name and don’t feel like looking it up although I guess in the time it took me to type this sentence, I could have.) Basically, the dad dies and leaves the house to her and she goes back for the first time in decades to fix it up to sell, and OMG shit starts happening! There were a lot of times when I was sure I knew what was going to happen, but I was wrong and that’s all I could ever ask for when it comes to a thriller.

If there’s one thing I could say about Riley Sager, it’s that his books definitely aren’t boring.

Also, I will associate this book with the day I went to the gum doctor for a deep cleaning, because that’s the day I read this and the whole time I was in the chair, I was like, “Would it be rude to put on the audio book for this right now?”

Final review: the perfect October book.

7. The Devil All the Time – Donald Ray Pollock 

The Devil All the Time

BITCH STOP. I LOVED THIS FUCKING BOOK SO MUCH, OMG. I had no idea really what it was about, just that there was a Netflix movie coming out based on it and people were freaking out and I wanted to watch it too but decided I should read the book first and Henry was also interested so I got the audiobook so that we could buddy read it together and it was an exceptional slice of literature pie

I can’t say enough good things about this book. Once I read the synopsis, I started to have doubts that this was the type of book I would like, but Pollock’s writing is…I mean, I can’t say anything else but MOTHERFUCKING CHEF’S KISS. There were moments where we were cracking the fuck up and not to sound like I’m tooting my own horn because trust me I am the biggest critic of my own writing, but there were moments that reminded me of some of the idiotic short stories I used to write, specifically the section of this book which takes place in a carny camp (woefully omitted from the movie, btw).

The characters felt so goddamn real to me, I laughed, I cried, I rooted for some, I wished death upon others. I cringed, I gagged. I ran the gamut of emotions, is what I’m saying. Henry and I exchanged many “OH SHIT!” looks throughout this journey.

I don’t even know how to summarize it, so click on the Goodreads link up there, but this really is, at the heart of it all, a family drama. With religious zealots and serial killers thrown in for good measure.

But oh my god, the writing. And this is why I will tell you now that while the movie is good, I don’t think I would have liked it if I hadn’t read the book first. So just read this damn book.

8. The Death of Vivek Oji – Akwaeke Emezi 

The Death of Vivek Oji

(My eyes started to sting with hot tears just from looking at this book cover again.)

I read Emezi’s “Freshwater” earlier this year and was blown away by their writing style. They don’t write books that are easy to read, but they’re worth the effort.

In this latest masterpiece, Emezi takes out our hearts and eats them, I fucking swear to god. It’s obviously about a person name Vivek, whose death sends their family spiraling and they eventually have to come to terms with the fact that they are mourning a son they didn’t even really know. We go back and forth between various narrators, and it culminates with the big reveal of how Vivek actually dies and HOLY FUCKING SHIT I was sobbing like a bitch with allergies trapped in a pollen storm.

The author is Nigerian and their books really have so much local flavor and atmosphere packed in those pages. To me, the best part about reading is when you accidentally learn about other cultures and heritages without having to be bored to tears in a dry, dusty classroom.

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Even though the book starts off with Vivek’s death (or, the immediate aftermath, I should say), Emezi gives us just the right amount of peeks into Vivek’s past to really flesh out the character and make us care so deeply about them. I am in awe of Akwaeke Emezi and urge—nay, IMPLORE—you to read this book. If you pick up anything I have listed here, let it be this one.

Oct 172020

Hello. Today we will be discussing the second half of the books I thumbed my way through in September. You’re welcome.

9. Allegedly – Tiffany D. Jackson

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OK listen Linda, for a fucking YA novel, this book fucked me UP. In in, we follow a 16-year-old girl, Mary, who has been in the system since she was 9 (I think?) for allegedly killing the baby her mother was caring for. Sprinkled throughout the book is information from her case files, interviews, etc. and it is so frustrating reading the trials and tribs of this clearly very intelligent girl who may or may not have killed a person, as she is clandestinely studying for the SATs while being knocked down every step of the way by the other girls in Juvie and also the fucking staff members who are, naturally, hateful and pathetic at their jobs.

This was actually more chilling than I imagined it was going to be and I found myself shouting ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME several times because Mary wasn’t likeable per se but she was written so well that I immediately felt super protective of her and was over here rooting for her until the end. This was a great, if not disturbing and depressing, book. BRB, I’m about to devour everything that Tiffany B. Jackson has written.

10. The Raven King – Maggie Stiefvater


I finished an entire series this year! I didn’t think I would, but the Raven Boys cycle was pretty damn good, you guys. I have a disclaimer though: I didn’t really understand the actual plot, lol. “But Erin,” you ask, “isn’t that the whole point?” You would think! But I was SO INVESTED in every single fucking character of this book, you have no idea how much I loved them. Not quite Harry Potter levels of love, but Maggie Stiefvater really wrote so much life into these people, and….there are several love interests and one of them just kind of quietly happened and I was THERE.FOR.IT. Like, full-blown crying and cheering.

However, I really did find myself drifting off from time to time whenever it came to the thing that they were all there to do. So, as a series whole, I have to give that a 3.5 but the characters? Solid fucking 5. I will stan Gansey until the day I die.

(If you want to know about the plot, please just click the link up there because I’ll just be like, “I’unno. Raven King and magic forest, etc. Dreams & psychics. Whatever a ley line is.”

11. I’ll Be the One – Lyla Lee


I mean, if you didn’t know who BTS is already, you sure will by the time you’ve made it past the first chapter. SO MANY BTS REFERENCES. Good lord.

All that aside, I thought this was a cute book with an important, body positive message, ESPECIALLY for Koreans. Man, have you checked out their beauty standards? Unattainable. So I loved that this book was about a Korean American who tries out for a kpop talent show in LA, like, “Look, I’m not skinny, but I can fucking sing and dance my ass off and you are going to give me a chance.”

I enjoyed it. And that cover gave me color palette inspo for the next room I redo in my house (sorry, Hen).

12. Luster – Raven Leilani

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OH SHIT this book was incredibly uncomfortable and made me so happy that I met Henry when I was 21 and settled down early because I can 100% guarantee my life would have been as sexually reckless and awkward as Edie’s, a young Black woman in between jobs and about to be homeless who becomes embroiled in a relationship with a man who is in an open marriage, and then accidentally becomes kinda/sorta friends with his wife and somewhat of a Big Sister to their adopted Black daughter.

There were times when I was actually cringing because it was SO UNCOMFORTABLE, I had secondhand embarrassment. But what I really want to remember about this is that Leilani’s writing IS SO GODDAMN BEAUTIFUL. It made me jealous. Every sentence has purpose and punch. Her prose is brilliant without an ounce of pretension. You will laugh out loud at times and also have your breath taken away by her effortless poignancy. Raven Leilani is the real deal, and it’s hard to swallow the fact that this is her DEBUT NOVEL.

Get ready to be uncomfortable.

13. Almond – Won-Pyun Sohn


I have read a lot of translated Korean books this year and I think it’s safe to say that Korean authors are my favorites (I know, you are shocked). Almond is mean to be a YA book but I really think by American standards, it would be more considered adult even though it does follow a young boy, Yunjae, who was born with a brain condition called Alexithymia, which prevents him from being able to feel or process emotions like fear and sadness. It’s a very cold and chilling book, really, but it’s told from Yunjae’s POV, so it really should come off with no emotion.

At its core, this is a very inspiring coming of age story, but it has some really dark elements that reminded me of Korean dramas like Come & Hug Me and The Smile Has Left Your Eyes.

Also, can we talk about how lovely this cover is?! I see all colors as potential wall hues now, sorry Henry.

14. I Remember You – Yrsa Sigurðardóttir


I hated this. Pure and simple. Not scary, it dragged, I hated the setting, everything was so cold and drab, blah blah, didn’t care a single speck about any of these goddamn insufferable characters except for the dog.

Oh, what’s it about? I don’t know, a ghost story, apparently. I wasted so much time reading it that I don’t want to waste another single second reviewing it. Go read Peter Straub’s Ghost Story instead. I just might do that as a palate cleanser.


And that’s it! My 14 books from September. October is half over and I’ve already devoured some real good ones that I’m excited to gush about on here!

Oct 042020

I had a slow book month in September, apparently – only 14! Here is how I felt about the first half.

  1. Then She Was Gone – Lisa Jewell


OK Lisa Jewell, I see you. My second book of hers and I am now fully on board. I’m always down for a good thriller, and she’s delivered 2/2 times for so far, so I’m gonna be adding more from her oeuvre to my TBR queue, for sure.

I don’t even know where to start with this but it starts with the disappearance of a teenage daughter, and goes back and forth between that timeline and present day. There are your expected twists and turns, as with all thrillers, but I think what really grabbed me was the way the mom was written. She was a solid character and I felt her pain.

This was just a great escapist read. Would recommend. I think I have it 4/5.

2. The Seep – Chana Porter


This book was so weird and made me feel so uncomfortable that I don’t even really want to recap it. It was VERY short though and that’s the only reason I didn’t DNF it.

I guess it’s sci-fi, sort of? An alien invasion had taken place and the survivors of the world’s population have kind of adopted the “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” policy by giving in to “The Seep,” which is what the aliens are called. It’s basically like doing psychedelics, where you let The Seep into your body and you can transcend to some bizarre utopia. For instance, the main character’s wife decides one day that, with the help of The Seep, she wants to be reborn again.

No, like literally. Reborn as a baby to a new family.

The main character, Trina, goes on a downward spiral after that, dealing with the loss of her wife. It’s just weird, but not the kind of weird I like, and not that I’m saying I wanted it to be longer because I honestly wasn’t into it at all, but it just felt like there wasn’t enough time in the pages provided to really hit the mark. I had a hard time even envisioning any of the characters or the world itself. I just kind of kept picturing Eisley Cantina for various scenes.

Even Henry was like, “This doesn’t seem like a book you would like,” when he read the synopsis inside the book. One of the many times Booktubers have lead me astray.

3. You Should See Me in a Crown – Leah Johnson

You Should See Me in a Crown

This was cute but not as great as everyone on the Internet was saying (but again, I’m not an LGBTQ+ teenager, so this book definitely probably hits harder for them).

We follow Liz, a Black queer girl in a small town, as she runs for Homecoming Queen strictly because there is a large reward (her town is REALLY into homecoming) that she desperately needs in order to attend the college she got into. Liz is an extremely relatable, likable character, and it was fun reading about her stepping out of her comfort zone, and then my chest tightened when she was outed, and my face got second-hand redness when she had confrontations with other classmates, because ugh high school kids amirite.

I dunno, I had fun with this one even though it 100% was not for my demographic.

4. Burn Our Bodies Down – Rory Power

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I picked this up because people kept saying it gave them Children of the Corn vibes. That would be a negative, pals. I think that Rory Power has an interesting writing style, which I really liked, but the story itself was like….I was really in it for a bit, pretty hooked after a certain point, but it just didn’t really take me there. I needed more. I mean, the “creepy small town holding secrets” vibe was there, the stern and overbearing grandma in the weird farmhouse was written well, the “OMG DO THESE TWO GIRLS LIKE EACH OTHER” tension had me flipping the pages…but Rory Power never really drove any of this home for me.

Also, I don’t even know how to explain it. Girl finds out she has a family outside of her mom and runs away from home to meet her grandma, even though mom has spent the girl’s whole life hiding her origins from her. OMG but why? I don’t know, read the book. It’s pretty fucked.

5. The Great Believers – Rebecca Makkai

The Great Believers

OK hold on. I just started spontaneously crying as soon as I saw this book cover.


SOLID 5/5.

Jesus Christ.

I know that I’m a pretty sensitive person in general, but I think even I wasn’t, I still would have full-on sobbed at times while reading this, and then I got all choked up while trying to explain it to Henry. I guess I have a sick fascination with reading books about the 1980s AIDS crisis, because that is LARGELY what this novel about and it is fucking heartbre—hold on, I’m crying again OMG.

In The Great Believers, we follow two separate timelines: one is in the 80s, where we meet Yale and his group of friends and watch as they navigate the murky waters in the beginning of the AIDS epidemic. At first, I was worried that too many characters were being introduced, but I felt that each one was so fleshed out, they practically jumped off the pages. I became extremely, uncomfortably, attached to Yale and rooted for him SO FUCKING HARD.

The second timeline is in the late 2010s, which finds us in Paris with the sister of one of Yale’s friends, as she tries to track down her estranged daughter. A lot of reviews I read said that they could have done without this timeline, and I can see that. I was definitely less into these chapters, but it does all tie together for one extra curb-stomp to the soul.

I have also seen this book likened to a lighter version of A Little Life, which I want to read but after how devastating THIS book was to me, I’m even more terrified of picking up A Little Life.

Earlier today in the car:

Me: I really want to read A Little Life but I’m afraid it’s going to make me want to die.

Henry: Then don’t read it.

Me: But I really want to read it.

Henry: Then read it.

Henry, being an ambivalent sounding board to Erin R. Kelly since 2001.

6. He Started It – Samantha Downing

He Started It

OH MAN this was a FUN THRILLER. A group of siblings can’t get their inheritance left to them by their recently deceased grandfather until they embark on and complete the exact same road trip he took them on as children, only this time he’s with them in the form of his ashes.

There are so many twists, so many laugh out loud moments, so many OH SHIT moments — I can’t stress how fun this book is. I mean, come on – a sibling road trip, and by the way, none of the siblings particularly like each other.

The ending is a little….controversial. I think I would have given this a solid 5 had it not been for that “huh” ending, but it was still good enough that I asked Henry if he wanted to read it before I had to return it to the library, AND HE DID. And he liked it too! Except for the ending. He was a little mad about it.

Man, this also made me REALLY want to go on a road trip :(

7. The Silence of Bones – June Hur

The Silence of Bones

I knew nothing about this going into it but wow, I really enjoyed it! It’s historical fiction, set in Joseon Dynasty-era Korea, about a 16-year-old orphan who is basically a servant to the police bureau, from what I understood it was so she didn’t have to live in an orphanage. She finds herself assisting the young police inspector when a noblewoman turns up murdered.

I’m not typically wild about historical fiction, but this was so dark and gritty, and I always enjoy learning more about the history of Korea (this one talks a lot about the persecution of Christians in 1800s Korea, which was scary & interesting). I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys learning about the history of Korea while also trying to solve a mystery.

8. The Wife Between Us – Greer Hendericks & Sarah Pekkanen

The Wife Between Us

OH.MY.FUCKING.GOD. This thriller is a motherfucking roller coaster track of twists and turns. My work friend Megan had recently read it and loved it so I was like OK I WILL READ IT TOO TWIST MY ARM. I kept sending her messages like “WTFFFFFFF I HATE RICHARD” and she would be like INORITE.

First of all, it’s always intriguing me to when a book has two authors. I feel like I would never be able to write a book with anyone because I’m one of those Type A megalomaniac people who will be like, “OK. I can see where that would be a great idea….but we’re doing it my way.”

Anyway, holy shit this book! Every time I thought for sure I knew what was going on, what people’s motives were, etc etc,. everything was turned on its head, giving me reader’s whiplash. Hopefully Henry never planned on reading because on one of our nightly walks, I asked, “Can I tell you about that book I just finished OK great here it goes…”

Read you a book that makes you excitedly vomit the plot all over the sidewalk.


On that note, I’m gonna go back to screaming at the news. FUCK TRUMP FUCK TRUMP FUCK TRUMP FUCK TRUMP FUCK TRUMP.



Sep 222020

Like the title said, this is PART 2 of the August books. God, context clues, people! Pick them up!

9. Catherine House – Elizabeth Thomas


I gave this 1 star only because Goodreads doesn’t allow ZERO OR NEGATIVE STAR RATINGS. What a shit book full of insufferable human beings. I was led to believe this was going to be a thriller or have at least SOME horror elements to it but it was so fucking dumb and I think I will never give “dark academia” another chance unless someone I actually know personally recommends it to me because the last 4 books I’ve read from that genre have made me absolutely mad.

I wanted Suspiria vibes! Or at least a main character to root for! But instead I had no idea wtf was happening except that all the students seemed to subsist on desserts which was actually the only appealing part of this piece of shit stack of words.

The worst part is that I listened to this on audio while I was painting my front door so now every time I look at my door, I think of how shitty this stupid book was.

Shame that such a beautiful book cover was wasted on this junk story.

10. Follow Me to the Ground – Sue Rainsford

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This (short) book is about a father and daughter duo who heal the people in their town. Doctors? Who needs ’em when you can go visit the creepy non-human family at the edge of the village and have them crack open your body and then bury you in the dirt.

The daughter, Ada, mostly goes through life not getting attached to the people in the village until one day she meets a boy, falls in love, and basically has to create a vagina on her non-human form in order to do the thing with him. And, as it usually does with LOVE, shit starts to get complicated.

I admittedly picked this up just because of the vagina part (it was talked about a lot on Booktube, OK?!) and to my surprise, I enjoyed this so much more than I thought I would. Every other chapter is a short little interview-esque thing from various villagers who have either been cured by Ada and her father, or are just generally suspicious of them.

Super bizarre and fun to read and wouldja get a load of that book cover!?

11. In the Miso Soup – Ryu Murakami 


I was really afraid to read this because for one thing: Japanese horror scares me more than other kind of horror. I mean, I’m haunted by various scenes of Japanese horror movies that I watched 20+ years ago, but certain images are seared into my brain.

I think some parts of this book might be added to my nightmare mental vignette.

This book follows a young Japanese man who works as a red light district “guide” for foreigners. The book starts out with him being hired by “Frank,” an American businessman who is really trying to live his best life while in Japan.

I will admit, it takes A LONG time for anything to actually happen in this one, but that’s not to say it’s boring. The buildup is slow and steady, and it’s told from the perspective of the guide, and while there is dialogue and a small cast of characters that are introduced as the story progresses, most of the book is a running internal monologue. So if that’s not your thing, skip this one.

When shit finally hits the fan, the violence made me feel queasy. If this were a movie, I’d probably have had to look away and said, “tell me when it’s done,” to Henry, lol.

HOWEVER!!! This wasn’t *as* traumatizing or horrific as I had been bracing for. Still, it was a solid read for me and I got so attached to our main character and kept screaming, “RUN!! JUST RUN!!” I really love Japanese horror.

Oh, and when I realized why the book is called this, I was a full-blown version of the “hmmm” emoji.

12. Such a Fun Age – Kiley Reid

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This has to be one of the most-hyped books of the year, and it took me forever to get it from the library. But, I will say it was worth the wait.

There is a lot of race explorations here and it was interesting to see how differently people reacted to the same situation, which was that a young Black babysitter is asked to come to the house of her employer relatively late at night because there was a non-tragic disturbance at the house requiring police assistance, and the mother doesn’t want her three year old daughter Briar to get upset, so she asks the babysitter to take her to the uppity grocery store down the street.

While there, another shopper (some dumb Karen) alerts the security guard that the babysitter may have kidnapped the kid, because *GASP* the kid is WHITE and the babysitter is BLACK. I actually thought the whole book was going to be about this, but as it turned out, it was just a quick scene in the beginning of the book, but it was interesting to see the domino effect it had on everyone. The babysitter just wanted to forget it ever happened, a (white) bystander recorded the whole thing on his phone and keeps pressuring her to sue, the mom of the little girl decides she needs to become BFFs with the babysitter after this happened and has major WHITE GUILT over it and does a whole lot of really cringey things throughout the book and honestly, I hated her. There was a lot of really questionable behavior going on under the guise of good intentions, and I kept getting a lot of secondhand embarrassment.

Like, the bystander at the grocery store? All of his friends are Black and he actually says the “n-word” out loud in front of his Black girlfriend, and like, I just can’t imagine EVER thinking it’s OK for me to say that word because I have some Black friends. This book is full of moments like this and maybe there are white people out there reading this book right now who never really thought about these things before – but now they are.

The one character that I REALLY LOVED and rooted for SO HARD was that damn little girl Briar. I mean, she was EVERYTHING. The relationship the babysitter had with her was so fucking wholesome and pure and if you think I’m sitting here tearing up while I write this, I will punch you in the nose, because ERIN DOESN’T CRY OVER CHILDREN.

But Briar, man. If she were my kid, I would never neglect her!!

Anyway, I went into this thinking that it was going to be some sweeping, pretentious literary fiction but it’s written with a very light, airy vibe. Which is deceiving considering it’s largely a critique of white savior complexes. Honestly, fuck that dumb mom.

13. The Vanishing Half – Brit Bennett

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Unless you avoid anything having to do with books, you have probably heard of this book by now. It is follows, over several decades, twin sisters who are white-passing. They run away from from home together when they’re teenagers and then become estranged from each other. One lives her life as a Black woman, and the other marries a white man and proceeds to live her life pretending to be someone she’s not. I didn’t care for that twin much at all, but later in the book, they each have a daughter and I actually enjoyed their stories even more.

Brit Bennett is an incredible writer and storyteller. I was actually nervous to read this because I thought it was going to be super dry and pretentious for some reason but nope – these sisters will suck you right the fuck in.

14. Sleepwalking – Meg Wolitzer


Meh. Talk about pretentious. This is it. I couldn’t wait for it to end and don’t even feel like writing any more about it.

15. The Only Good Indians – Stephen Graham Jones


Ughhhhh this fucker. It’s a horror story about these 4 Native American friends who have an…experience 10 years ago and then revenge is sought.

I haven’t read many (if any??) books written by Native Americans and I really enjoyed the little nuggets of culture that Jones tucked in through this story, and while it didn’t really scare me, the animal parts made me extremely upset and queasy so does that count as horror? Definite trigger warnings for dog death, hunting, etc. I was traumatized. And there was a LOT of human violence and gore in this book that didn’t bother me at all, so you know where my allegiance lies!

While the story was kind of “Eh” for me, I did really enjoy the writing and I have another book of his waiting for me at the library so I’ll keep you posted!

Jesus I am so bad at reviewing books lol.

Sep 202020

Halfway through September and it occurs to me that maybe I should do a book-dump for August in case someday in the future, I’m on a life or death dystopian THIS IS YOUR LIFE game show and one of the questions is NAME THREE BOOKS YOU READ IN AUGUST 2020 and I’m like, “CAN I USE THE ‘CHECK MY BLOG’ LIFELINE??” and they’re like, “No you already used that for the HOW MANY TIMES DID YOU AND HENRY FIGHT AT RIOT FEST 2014 question” so never mind, I’m dead. We had a good run.

Let’s get into it. (That’s what some of the Booktubers say! I’m a loser!)

  1. Black Flower – Kim Young-Ha


I wanted to like this so much more than I did. On one hand, I wonder if historical fiction just isn’t for me, but I don’t think that’s it. So this is a Korean novel about the emigration of 1000s of South Koreans to Mexico in the early 1900s, after being promised land and a better life.

First of all, I never knew that this happened, so I really appreciated that aspect of the book. And while I also appreciated what was clearly a lot of research and work by the author, a large part of this book just read like a textbook. There were times when I forgot that I had picked this up for pleasure and not because it was some course requirement. So by the time the ship transporting the Koreans reached Mexico, it had turned into something that I was slogging through. And that’s never a good thing.

However! I was pretty invested in quite a few of the characters (I will warn you that there are a lot of characters and it became hard to keep track of everyone, especially once they reached Mexico and became divvied up amongst the farm owners) so I pushed through.

I think I gave this a three because my takeaway was that I learned about a part of history that I definitely never learned in school and that was actually pretty fascinating. There was some war-stuff that happened once they were in Mexico and I am notorious to zone out when it comes to war of any kind. Even in Game of Thrones, I always had to ask Henry wtf was happening.

2. No Exit – Taylor Adams

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I left on one of the Booktubers I religiously watch one night when I went to bed, and Chooch migrated from the computer to the couch and got sucked into one of her videos where she talks about thrillers and the next thing I know, I’m getting this text:

So I requested it from the library and of course he never fucking read it so then I read it out of compulsion because I feel like a failure if I take something out of the library and don’t read it ugh. The whole thing takes place at a highway rest stop in a blizzard and I don’t really like…snowy books? Is that a thing? I mean, it was summer when I read this and it felt weird to read about people crunching around in the snow, and it also just made me miss rest stops which I never thought would be a thing I’d be typing since Henry has to constantly stop and pee on road trips and it’s so frustrating.

Anyway, it was fine. A thriller that was mildly thrilling.

3. Circe – Madeline Miller

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Circe is a retelling of, well, Circe. Man, I didn’t know anything about Circe going into this but hoo boy was she was treated like SHIT. I’ve never been much into gods and goddesses of any sort (Roman, Greek, Nordic, take your pick) but this was pretty interesting and entertaining. I listened to this on audiobook and the narrator had such a beautiful voice that I’m not sure the book would have really done much for me if I had just read it with my eyeballs (I was also anti-audiobook but this year has REALLY CHANGED me).

However! I did start to lose interest midway through. I think I ended up giving this a three?

The general consensus in the book community is that Song of Achilles is far superior so perhaps I will give that a try too. Otherwise, I think it might be safe to say that I should just go back to my cave of mythological ignorance.

4. Another Brooklyn – Jacqueline Woodson


I fell in love with this author’s latest book, Red at the Bone, and I powered through this one in less than a day. A really powerful coming-of-age tale, very short, written in elegant prose. I liked Red at the Bone a lot better, but I think that I need to keep reading more of Woodson’s work because her writing actually makes my eyes tear up.

5. Broken Things – Lauren Oliver


A YA mystery that I actually didn’t guess and was moderately captivating. However, there was this one character that just seemed to be “there” and she was so annoying and served barely any purpose. I kept waiting for some big reveal but it never happened. It kind of made me laugh a little though because it’s about this group of 3 girls who were best friends in middle school and so obsessed with this fantasy novel that they started writing their own sequel for it and I was definitely in a friend group back in middle school with these girls Kim and Kelli and we were really into writing stories but everyone knew that I was the best writer (lol) and Kelli and I had a huge fight because we just couldn’t write well together and then we didn’t talk for months and it all culminated into one giant blow-out in the girls locker in 8th grade where I slapped her across the face and knocked her glasses off and then a few days later, I was at the Halloween dance and some girl came up to me and asked me if it was true that I did that and I said yes and she said, “WELL KELLI IS MY FRIEND AND IF YOU EVER DO THAT AGAIN, I’LL KICK YOUR ASS” and then flash forward two years to when that girl threatening to beat my ass became one of my best friends ever, LISA. Lol.

I never talked to Kelli again though. I BET I AM STILL A BETTER WRITER THAN HER.

Anyway, this is one of those YA books that I think I would have enjoyed a lot more 20 years ago.

6. All Boys Aren’t Blue – George M. Johnson 

All Boys Aren't Blue

I am super into LGBTQIA+ memoirs. Even if you think you have an open mind and you’re a “friend to all,” reading stories about what LGBTQIA+ people have had to overcome and are still fighting for is really one of the only ways we can truly have their backs.

George M. Johnson is a fucking DELIGHT. What I really enjoyed about this one is his relationship with his family. They are so loving and supportive of him, and even admit to not fully understanding a lot of the times, but they have his back nonetheless.

I usually choose the audiobook route for memoirs and it was even more impactful to hear these stories and essays read my George himself.

I am really bad at reviewing memoirs.

7. The Guest List – Lucy Foley

The Guest List

This is one of those super hyped books for 2020 and even though I started to see some mediocre reviews, I was really excited to finally get my hands on it (well, virtually, anyway). It was…not really that great.  There’s a wedding on some island. The entire wedding party is made up of fucking douchebags. There’s the wedding planner/owner of the property where the wedding is taking place. The “plus one” of a dude in the wedding party. The bride’s little sister. The chapters alternate between the POV of various characters and they are all pretty unlikeable.

Anyway, someone dies, OMG. But you don’t  know who it is until the end because the timeline alternates between the day before the wedding and the moment the person is murdered.

It wasn’t very thrilling.

8. Sodom Road Exit – Amber Dawn 


I fucking adored this book. I don’t even know how to explain it but it’s a “going back home” story set in the late 80s about a Canadian girl – Starla – in her early 20s forced to leave Toronto because of debt and move back to her childhood home with her mom in a small town in Canada that happens to famous for its abandoned amusement park called Crystal Beach (IT’S REAL, I LOOKED IT UP AND AM NOW SO SAD THAT IT REALLY DID CLOSE IN THE 80S AND NOW I CAN NEVER EXPERIENCE IT).

She has a very strained relationship with mom and then starts being haunted by a ghost connected to the amusement park and now you’re thinking, “Oh OK this is a horror novel,” but IT IS NOT. It’s actually really dark contemporary, I guess? But also SO FUCKING FUNNY. Like, I should have counted the amount of times I said, “THE FUCK?” and laughed out loud, but I didn’t because I’m not a professional reader who takes notes, etc while reading.

Amber Dawn wrote the characters in this book so well that I felt a legit kindred with all of them. It’s the most rag-tag band of characters you can imagine, coming together in this fucking campground while the main character is being possessed by this ghost girl from a bygone era (some of the chapters are written from her perspective, too, and they are a real goddamn delight) and I swear to god, by the time I finished this, I hugged it to my chest and screamed, “WHAT DID I JUST READ?” and then laughed until I cried. I want a full series with these characters, do you hear me, Amber Dawn?

P.S. This book also taught me about Crystal Beach suckers which apparently is still being made from the original recipe!


And that’s the first half! I think I only have 7 more books to recap – August was a light reading month, apparently, lol. I’m always looking for some books to request from the library (still cheering about it being semi-open again!) so please leave a comment if you’ve recently read something I’d like! My work friend Megan gives me lots of thriller recs, but I need some good, sick horror and contemporary lit too so fire away!


Aug 242020

Yikes, I guess I better finish this wrap-up before it’s September!

9. The Grip of It – Jac Jemc

The Grip of It

This is a horror novel about a married couple who buy a house for dirt cheap in some small town and shit starts happening to both of them, an old neighbor stares at them from his window, etc etc. The chapters alternate between the perspective of the husband and wife, and I really liked that, but…I also didn’t really care too much about them and therefore I didn’t really care about what happened? I think I gave this a 3 on Goodreads, and I remember (because a month was so fucking long ago) that I was really feeling the ambiance of this one in the beginning but then it just kind of lost steam for me. I wanted too much, I guess.

10. Big Summer – Jennifer Weiner 

Big Summer

My second Jennifer Weiner book, and wow was this one a lot different than “Mrs. Everything”! This was pretty unexpected because I went into it purposely not knowing too much and I honestly thought it was just going to be a fluffy beach read about a girl who reunites with an emotionally abusive ex-BFF just in time to be a bridesmaid in her wedding. It is SO MUCH MORE. I really adored the main character, her parents, the REAL best friend. This was just…another winner from Weiner, I guess you could say? Great summer read!

11. The Memory Police – Yoko Ogawa

The Memory Police

This one gutted me. There is nothing feel-good or happy about this book at all, it’s pretty bleak. The memories of certain things are gradually taken away from the inhabitants of this small town, for example: One day, they wake up and it’s like “the fuck is that?” and it’s a bird, but then all of the birds have to leave the town and the Memory Police go house to house to make sure everyone has removed all traces of birds, be it a painting or a book about birds.

But there are some people who keep remembering, and the Memory Police are always on the hunt for those special individuals, so some people will hide them in their houses.

That’s the gist of this book. It’s incredibly well-written, I fell in love with every character, I cried. This book is incredible but I don’t recommend it if you’re looking for something to lift you out of a depression.

Also, can we talk about how stunning that cover design is???

12. Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead – Olga Tokarczuk

Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead

OK, OK, OK, listen. I was very on the fence with this book the whole time I was reading it. I kept losing interest and I think it’s because the main character was SUPER INTO astrology and I AM SUPER NOT so it would get way too detailed for me and I would be yawning into my palms. But then the book ended and I legitimately couldn’t stop thinking about it, for a good solid week I would say.

First of all, there is a great cast of characters here, and the main character herself, with all of her asides, observations, and palpable disdain for the local police (I feel ya, girl!), was SO LOVABLE and incredibly memorable.

Second of all, this is a quirky murder mystery that touched upon animal rights and vegetarianism, and ya’ll know I’m over here like “YES, TEAM ANIMAL!!”

I could see this being turned into a movie, with the Coen Brothers at the helm.

13. If I Had Your Face – Frances Cha

If I Had Your Face

I was on the waitlist for this Korean book for weeks upon weeks and I was getting so impatient, especially when a co-worker emailed me and said she was reading it and she thought I would like it and guess what? I FUCKING LOVED IT.

I mean, once I finally got it.

This book is about how much of an emphasis is placed on beauty in Korea. You know how much I love South Korea, but it’s 100% true and I can’t even white knight their society on that. I mean, as soon as you get off the subway in Gangnam, there are giant ads for plastic surgeons all over the place and people legit take “medical vacations” to Korea just to get some kind of cosmetic surgery done. Girls start getting eyelid surgery when they’re still in high school!

Anyway, this book follows a group of 4 girls in Seoul and shows how each of them struggle in different ways because of the ridiculous beauty standard. Each chapter switches over to a different girl and I really liked that, but only because each character was so interesting. Sometimes when a book does this, there always seems to be that one weak character whose chapters are a fucking drag to read.

I highly recommend this. I don’t think you need to be super into Korean culture or anything as prerequisite and just a heads up: anytime the book mentions a kpop star or actor, they’re fictional.

14. The Family Upstairs – Lisa Jewell 

The Family Upstairs

OK, Lisa Jewell. I see you. I love a good thriller and this one had me hooked pretty early on. At first I wasn’t sure I was going to like her writing style (it’s very much like “Karen sits down. Karen picks up the glass. Karen takes a drink.”) but it ended up not being as distracting as I thought it was going to be. This is another one where the chapters switch off and it also does a timeline jump too – I admittedly was way more invested in the “past” stuff that was happening.

Plus, there’s some cult shit going on in this story and I am all about cults, so my interest was piqued.

I’m definitely interested in checking out more of Jewell’s books, because I am so picky with thrillers and this gave me hope that maybe I actually haven’t grown out of the genre.

15. The Wicker King – K. Ancrum


MAJOR DISAPPOINTMENT. I picked this up because a booktuber raved about it and the pages themselves are so pretty with a little bit of multi-media action thrown in. It’s a (sort of love) story between two high school boys who have been friends since they were kids when one of them saved the other and they stayed friends even though they’re in two totally different social circles, but one of them has some sort of hallucinations about a wicker king and sees an entirely separate and fantastic universe layered on top of the reality and drags the other one down with him into a dangerous spiral.

I liked the concept of this book and it was certainly a quick read since so many pages were taken up with sketches and maps. But the whole thing left me feeling very empty. I didn’t really care about either of the boys. I dunno. Don’t recommend.

16. Like a Love Story – Abdi Nazemian 

Like a Love Story

Can I recap this book without crying? I don’t think I can. I really thought this was going to be some lighthearted YA romp but nope nope nope. This book follows three teens, one of whom is an Iranian immigrant and very much in the closet; one is extremely out and a huge AIDS activist; and one is the straight girl friend with a gay uncle who has AIDS and honestly he was my favorite part of this whole book.

It’s set in NYC in the late 80s, at the height of the AIDS epidemic, and honestly it shocked me how little I actually know about this. I think I have already touched on this in another post, but I was in elementary school when all this was going on and for sure didn’t know that protests were happening because of the pharmaceutical companies inflating the cost of the medicine that HIV and AIDS patients needed.

So the book focuses a lot on this, and how the Iranian character (Reza) is terrified of even riding the subway with a hangnail because what if he gets AIDS. I mean, it was heartbreaking.

Madonna also plays a big part in the book. Another thing I never knew back then is what a powerful beacon of hope she was for the gay community and how she had all gay dancers on her Vogue tour. I haven’t given a shit about anything Madonna has done since like the mid-90s but this book had me powering through all her old videos from the 80s and missing my childhood hardcore. It also made me feel like I would have been a big-mouth AIDS activist if I had been older in the 80s.

The day after my birthday, I went for a walk around my neighborhood and listened to the tail-end of this on Scribd. Yo–I was crying so hard that I had to duck into an alley to hide my open weeps. Goddammit for a YA book, this one got me hard. I wish that it had been out when I was a teenager. I think all teens should read this.

I’ll end this book recap of a picture of me from….1st grade? when I was Madonna for Halloween. Man, I didn’t appreciate that blazer nearly as much as I should have, that’s for sure. And you can’t really tell from the picture, but that’s def a giant crucifix on my chain. Also, fun fact: I HATED Jellies. All of my friends had Jellies in like every color but I hated how they felt on my feet, ugh.

I was obsessed with Desperately Seeking Susan. OK, I’m signing off now before I really row my canoe over Memory Falls.

Aug 092020

I feel like July was a slow reading month for me because of all of the house bullshit we’ve been doing but I just counted 16 books so I guess it still pretty literary, lol. Anyway — let’s talk about the first half SHALL WE.

  1. Patsy – Nicole Y. Dennis-Benn


I did not enjoy this book at all. I actually started it at the tailend of June but it wasn’t holding my attention enough for me to feel very inspired to power through it. It’s about a Jamaican woman who essentially abandons her small daughter (I think she’s 4? 6?) in order to go and start a new life in America. She leaves the daughter with her bio-dad and swears she’s going to send for her, but the real reason she’s gone off to America is to rekindle an old romance with her childhood best friend, who has moved on and gotten married and now Patsy has to start from scratch and newsflash, America AIN’T THAT GREAT.

The book goes back and forth between Patsy’s struggle in America and her daughter’s own struggles growing up in Jamaica with some major sexual identity crises. I wish we had gotten more from the daughter’s perspective because Patsy pissed me off and I truly didn’t care about her selfish ass.

2. Saints and Misfits – S.K. Ali

Saints and Misfits

I was excited to read this after buddy-reading the author’s latest book, Love from A to Z, with Henry last spring. This wasn’t *as good* but I still enjoyed it. It’s billed as a “modern day My So-Called Life, but with a Muslim teen” and I think that’s pretty accurate. The main character is all up in her head for the entire book and it can get tiresome at times, and there’s also a guy who sexually assaulted her but she won’t tell anyone and that was SO FUCKING FRUSTRATING to me because he was such a fucking creep and just kept appearing and I was like SCREAM IT LOUD, GIRLFRIEND.

I think I gave it a 4 but it’s definitely more of a 3 now that I think about it.

3. Rules For Vanishing – Kate Alice Marshall


Man, this book was SO TRY-HARD. I’m not even sure I would have liked it when I was a teenager. I picked it up because I had been reading some heavier subjects and thought this would be a nice light supernatural mystery because it’s supposed to be urban legend-y with a disappearing teenager, but it was so poorly written with way too many characters, none of which I gave a shit about, and there were entire chunks of chapters that I ended up skimming toward the end because I wanted to know how it was going to end which was the only reason I didn’t DNF it, but it was pretty bad, and it had an open-ending so I’m sure we’ll get a sequel at some point and I promise you I won’t be reading it.

I wish I had listened to my Booktuber friends who said it was dumb but I always get swayed by a gimmick!

4. Felix Ever After – Kacen Callender


This is another book that everyone has been hyping lately and while the main character was kind of unlikable (for me, anyway) I’m glad that I read it because I admittedly have not read many (if any) books with a trans main character and I actually learned A LOT about this, for instance: I never knew that calling a trans person by their old name is called Deadnaming and it’s incredibly offensive and triggering for them (that part I could have guessed, but I never knew it had a term).

Felix is already very much out but this book is more about the struggle they face with trying to bury the person they were before. For example, Felix goes through great lengths to hide all of their old photos, and confronts their dad at one point for consistently refusing to call them Felix.

So many things made me cringe and flinch though. I mean, there’s a HEAVY Catfishing plotline and Felix just makes so many shitty choices. I just really didn’t like them very much at all but I enjoyed the book? Just not as much as I hoped? I’m getting worse at book reviews, if that’s even possible.

5. Diary of a Murderer: And Other Stories – Kim Young-Ha


This is, as the title suggests, a short story collection. The title story was SO GOOD, definitely the best one. Though I wonder: would I have enjoyed this book as much if I wasn’t super-absorbed in Korean culture? I’m not sure. But the vibe I got from this was reminiscent of one of my favorite Korean dramas, “Come & Hug Me,” which is about a serial killer and made me feel so tense and uncomfortable, much like this book did. Well, the first story, anyway. I already forgot the other ones.

I’m just not a lover of short stories, I think. I’m learning things about myself this year.

6. The Ghost Notebooks – Ben Dolnick

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SHIT I LOVED THIS BOOK. It got very mediocre reviews though and I guess I can of understand because it’s not a ghost story in the traditional sense, but it’s very much an exploration of a deteriorating relationship. The atmosphere in this was thick, I felt like I was really in some New York farm town, but the best part was Ben Dolnick’s writing. This book is written from the POV of the boyfriend and I just felt so sympathetic toward him and, when shit really starts to unravel, I was rooting for him so fucking hard to prevail. When I’m that invested in a character, I don’t care about anything else. Honestly.

Anyway, Nick’s gf Hannah gets a job at some small-town museum called the Wright House, but the catch is that they have to live in the old-timey house-cum-museum. Everything starts out fine, they’re excited to start a new life away from NYC, but then Hannah, who has a history of mental illness, starts acting weird. Do not go into this expecting a traditional haunted house story – this is a slow burn, and it’s very focused on the relationship between Nick and Hannah, so we get a lot of flash backs into the beginning of their relationship, as well.

I just thought it was so well-written and beautifully layered. There’s another “ghost-y” book that I read later on in the month that was a bit similar except that I didn’t care about the couple at all. But this one was a full-on chef’s kiss for me – now granted, my palate is probably very different than yours, so if you read this and hate this, don’t come knocking on my (goodreads) door.

7. Sawkill Girls – Claire Legrand 

Sawkill Girls

Another YA book that is well-lauded throughout the Booktube community but just fell flat for me. I liked that it had very strong female leads and featured a sapphic romance, but the story just felt convoluted and am I dense or something because this book is literally for young adults and I had a real hard time following the plot.

I don’t feel like writing anything else about this one. I’m bored just thinking about it. tbh.

8. Clap When You Land – Elizabeth Acevado 

Clap When You Land

OK, can we give it up for Elizabeth Acevado? SHIT SON she is definitely one of my favorite writers, having read two of her books now. This one, like Poet X, is also written in verse, but here we have alternating perspectives: two girls who will come to find out after their dad perishes in a plane crash, that they’re sisters. It’s actually based on the flight from NYC to the Dominican that crashed in November of 2001, two months after 9/11. I truthfully do not remember this which makes me feel like an asshole but I was 22 and quite honestly was definitely not watching the nightly news and this was pre-smartphones so I was getting tragic news alerts every hour like I do now, fml.

Anyway, this book goes back and forth between the two teenage sisters, exploring how their dad’s death affects each of them and how very different their lives are, one growing up in NYC and one in the Dominican.

(I’m actually tearing up as I write this because this story really hit differently for me, because I went 19 years of my life not knowing that my birth dad had other children. He died when I was 3, so meeting them was something I had to do on my own, without him, and…it was strange. I do not have a relationship with either of them.)

If you’ve never read an Elizebeth Acevado book, I HIGHLY recommend listening to the audio because she does her own narration, and especially for Poet X, it just feels like a PERFORMANCE. I never thought I would like a book written in prose, but Poet X turned me into a believer, and this book sealed the deal. I just got her other book from a local Little Library on my lunch break walk with Chooch on Friday, so I am stoked to compete the Acevado trifecta and then patiently await her next book like a good little reader.

Jul 122020

Today I am going to talk about the second half of the books I read in June. You know, similar to what the title of this blog post suggests.

9. Costalegre – Courtney Maum

Costalegre: A Novel Inspired By Peggy Guggenheim and Her Daughter

Admittedly, I didn’t look too much into this when I started reading it, but somewhere along the way, I had added it to my TBR and the cover is gorgeous, so at one point I had some interest in reading it?

This is inspired by Peggy Guggenheim and her daughter, and follows the 15-year-old daughter of an eccentric American heiress and art collector and a group of artists she has brought with her to her…secret? home in Mexico in order to hide and protect them from Hitler, who has issued a list of “cultural degenerates” right before the start of the war.

Sounds heavy, but it’s actually pretty light for the most part. The artists are, as expected, totally wack and have bizarre and tense rapport with each other, but the main theme of the book if the isolation and neglect experienced by the daughter, who is trying to figure out her own talents.

I thought this book had a lot of potential but it just sort of fell flat for me.

But again, THAT COVER THO!

10. The Chestnut Man – Søren Sveistrup

The Chestnut Man

As expected, I really enjoyed this one! It’s written by the creator of The Killing, the American version of which was one of my favorite TV shows of all time, I’m not even being dramatic here. The first two seasons aired on AMC back in the early 2010s, and as so many good shows do, got canceled. AMC was like FINE and brought it back for a third, but then canceled it again! There was more outrage until Netflix picked it up, but only for one more season, sadly. (Of course, those seasons weren’t as good, but still, I love this show so hard and would sometimes play it in the background while I was working, just for the comforting vibes of it.)

But yeah, this a really great Danish thriller which follows several characters, including two police officers/detectives who are begrudgingly paired up JUST LIKE THE KILLING. Ugh, and I had the audiobook playing too and the narrative had a great voice and this book just flew by for me.

It was thrilling and also scary at times, and I wasn’t able to solve it which actually always pisses me off when I do! This is just a great book and I’m looking forward to reading more by him, and also trying to find the original version of The Killing, which I have been putting off for too long now.

If you’ve never watched The Killing, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND IT. I don’t think it’s on Netflix anymore, sadly, but I think Amazon Prime might have it? Fun fact: I automatically start crying when I hear the theme:

Oh for God’s sake, I just watched the last 4 minutes of the series finale on YouTube and I am full-on sobbing I hate myself.

11. In the Dream House – Carmen Maria Machado

In the Dream House: A Memoir

This was one of the most creative suckerpunch of a memoir, I swear to god. Carmen (who also narrates the audiobook and I HIGHLY RECOMMEND IT) uses a full arsenal of tropes and prompts to detail her years in an abusive same-sex relationship. There is even a Choose Your Own Adventure section of this book! It’s fun, which is strange to say given the extremely dark and triggering subject matter, but I kept finding myself doing the whole, “Just one more chapter. OK, one more” song-and-dance before bedtime, because I couldn’t wait to see what inventive narrative she was going to spring on me next.

I had a visceral reaction to this book, goosebumps through the whole thing. I bow down to Carmen Maria Machado. She makes me want to start writing again, and there is not much out there that does that for me anymore! All I could do was whisper “damn” when I read the last line, and then spent the next 30 minutes doing that post-cry body-racking sniffle.

Machado is a masterful writer, and I hate that she was exposed to such nastiness and abuse, but there was a moment toward the end of the book where I legit screamed OMG STFU and felt so goddamn happy for her. I can’t wait to read everything she writes.

Please read this. It’s, well, amazing. A solid 5-star for me.

12. Get a Life, Chloe Brown – Talia Hibbert

Get a Life, Chloe Brown (The Brown Sisters, #1)

No. Romances in general aren’t my cuppa, but I gave this a shot because I kept seeing great reviews and there’s good representation in it, plus it’s British so I thought that would help. But I just DIDN’T CARE ABOUT EITHER OF THESE PEOPLE. And maybe I’m a dick, but the constant reminder that the guy had a long shiny curtain of red hair.

I hated this book. But I liked the cat. I wish there was more about the cat.

13. Freshwater – Akwaeke Emezi 


Definitely not a book for everyone. I tried to explain it to Henry and he was like “………” It follows a young Nigerian woman with multiple personalities, starting from her birth. Ada’s story is actually told from the perspective of the others living inside her, the “brothersisters” called Ogbanje, which are reincarnating spirits hat causes grief or pain.

It’s eerie and sad, and I am so glad that I read it even though I’m positive that I didn’t actually understand a lot of what was happening, it was powerful and something that I’ll think about a lot.

14. Queenie – Candice Carty-Williams


YES QUEENIE. I wish I had skipped Chloe Brown and just read this twice instead. So, I didn’t know much about this at all, but then I saw that it was compared to Bridget Jones’ Diary and I was like, “Oh no, I might not like this.” But it is so much heavier than that and actually quite disturbing at times. It follows Queenie, a young Jamaican British woman, trying to get back on her feet after “going on a break” with her long-term boyfriend. Through a series of REALLY irresponsible sexual exploits, Queenie’s whole world starts to crumble and as a reader, you’re over here shouting, “QUEENIE, NO! YOU’RE BETTER THAN THAT! PLEASE RESPECT YOURSELF!” I actually saw a lot of reviews on YouTube calling this book problematic, but I thought it was kind of honest too. I mean, I can remember when I broke up with my first long-term boyfriend, Psycho Mike – I went wild, man. At the time, I thought I was filling a void, or “trying out what I couldn’t have before,” but looking back, I was like, “Shit, where was my self respect!?”

So I get where those people are coming from, but I also think that this kind of reaction to a huge life change is, well, not normal, but not uncommon and it shows that sometimes people truly need to hit rock bottom before they can begin their triumph ascent, and I felt that this is what happened with Queenie.

Sure, there were times when I wanted to slap her for being so obtuse and oblivious to her own well-being and the problems of her friends, but mostly, I loved her as a character and just wanted the best for her! And her friends (The Corgis) were all so different and hilarious, and they REALLY not only held Queenie up as a person, but also as a book. There is also a healthy dose of Black Lives Matter woven in as well, as Queenie’s ex-boyfriend is white and some of the interactions she had with his family…well. You can imagine.

I can’t wait for whatever Candice Carty-Williams does next!

15. How We Fight For Our Lives – Saeed Jones

How We Fight for Our Lives: A Memoir

I’ve been accidentally reading a lot of memoirs lately and I don’t know why! It’s hard to rate memoirs because it’s someone’s life, you know? But this was another really great and poignant read. Saeed Jones is a writer for Buzzread, I believe, and he details in this book what it’s like to not only grow up black in the south, but also gay. From the time he’s in elementary school to going off to college, you really get to watch him come out in increments. Definitely hard and uncomfortable to read at times as he details the ways he essentially seeks out derogation and abuse in the bedroom (he is nearly killed at one point), but the second half of the book focuses a lot on his relationship with his mother and BITCH I KNEW I WAS GONNA CRY.

Saeed Jones is a gift.

16. Black Girl Unlimited – Echo Brown

Black Girl Unlimited

Another book that I had no idea what I was getting into when I started reading it but was pleasantly surprised! I just thought it was a YA novel about a girl who was training to be a wizard but OH SHIT SON this book is apparently semi-autobiographical and it is at most times dark AF and hits HARD in nearly every chapter. At a certain point, you realize that the wizardry aspect of the book is how the main character, her mother, and several other female characters cope with trauma.

And there is a lot a trauma in this book. Drugs, sexual abuse, poverty. Echo spent so much of her childhood trying to keep her mom alive, protect her younger brothers, and maintain good grades—I rooted for hard for her. This book *might* be considered YA but I think it’s an important read for adults too.


Well that’s what I read in June. Sorry if these book posts are boring but I like to do this because I always forget what I read and if I liked it and for some reason I never feel like writing reviews on Goodreads, oh right, because I’m not good at writing reviews!

Jul 052020

Another month of reading, in the books! Hahaha, get it? IN THE BOOKS? Ok.

I didn’t join any readathons this time around because I wanted to have a more relaxed TBR and have a more leisurely reading month; Asianreadathon brought out my internal competitor and without even consulting with myself, I embarked on some frantic race to try and read as many Asian-penned books as possible and it was v. stressful….

  1. A Good Girl’s Guide To Murder – Holly Jackson

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Unfortunately, my first book of the month was just so-so. This was young adult murder mystery (I think it’s book one in a series?) about a girl who chooses to focus her senior project on a local murder that she believes was solved incorrectly. Some YA books, if written well, can totally be awesome reads for adults, but this is one that I think only really works for the demographic it specifically targets. I just kept saying, “Oh yeah, sure OK, mmhmm, just like that” through so much of it. Like when our protagonist tails a drug dealer to his house—AT NIGHT—and goes inside to interrogate him and she tells him that she knows he was supplying the murdered girl with drugs to sell at school and he better give her the info she wants or she’s going to expose him and he’s all, “oh no, OK teenager, I will comply” because that is EXACTLY how it would happen IRL.

I didn’t care about any of the characters except for the brother of the boy accused of the murder. And then when you finally find out what really happened, it’s like…oh.

2. The Diviners – Libba Bray

The Diviners (The Diviners, #1)

THIS BOOK. I kept hearing so much about this series but put it off because it’s set in the 1920s and for some reason, I thought I wouldn’t like that, but then I got the audiobook for it and HOLY.FUCKING.SHIT. What a wild ride. Apparently, I guess I do like the flapper scene? This is also considered YA and people kept saying it was “so scary” and it is pretty chilling at times, but if you already like horror, you’re probably not going to be sleeping with the lights on after reading this or anything. But the story is very compelling, entertaining, and historically interesting (it touches on segregation and prohibition, and has a moderately diverse cast of characters).

Speaking of the characters, this cast is so fleshed-out, well-developed, stuffed with personality, you will find it hard to pick a favorite. (I personally oscillated between stanning Sam and Jericho!)

But yo, the audiobook is EVERYTHING. It’s narrated by January LeVoy and can we start a petition to have her narrate EVERYTHING IN EXISTENCE? Holy shit, her voice is versatile and there are parts where she sings and, unlike Will Patton shitting the narration bed for the Raven Boys series, it was 100% cringe-free. Her 1920s accents and cadence made me tear through this book in no time, and the book itself inspired me to want to know more about that flapper life. I also learned new (old?) slang, like “Everything’s jake” and “I’m on the trolley.”

Libba Bray clearly did a ton of research for this series (I can’t wait to start book 2!) and getting January to narrate it was a real Smartee move.

5 out of 5 for me. I would recommend this one to everyone! Don’t let the YA label deter you!

3. Fake Blood – Whitney Gardner

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I thought this was an actual novel when I got it from Libby, but it’s a graphic novel. Which is fine, but I just wanted a little more from it because the synopsis sounded so cute! A boy likes this girl in his class who is obsessed with vampires so he starts pretending that he is a vampire only to find out that she’s a vampire hunter, etc etc. It’s pretty quick, and the illustrations are cute, but had I probably wouldn’t have read this if it hadn’t been accidental, lol.

4. Turn of the Key – Ruth Ware

The Turn of the Key

I was anxious to get back to the thriller game and there have been so many on my list. But I had been hearing so much about Ruth Ware’s Turn of the Key, that I bumped it to the top of my TBR, after putting it off for months. Literally every booktuber I follow salivates over this book so I was excited! I also listened to this on audio (it’s easier for me to listen to thrillers on audio while I work; literary fiction, not so much!) and the narrator was wonderful – she has a beautiful voice and since this book is written in epistolary-style, it felt like she was talking straight to me which I really enjoyed!

So, this is evidently a retelling of Turn of the Screw, which I have never read. And I was unsure about it at first because the setting is a “smart house” in some remote area of the Scottish Highlands. The setting was creepy AF and the smart house actually did add more to the creepiness factor than I anticipated (I couldn’t imagine how something “modern” could work in a haunted house trope because my imagination is a petrified walnut at this point in the quarantine).

But yes, the mystery kept me 100% invested — I couldn’t wait to get to the end and find out WTF happened, how the hell this woman landed in jail for murdering a kid (not a spoiler – it’s how the book starts and is all over the synopsis). I shed legit tears at the end and said, “OH DA-YYYYYYUM” when it was revealed. This book lived up to the hype, IMO, and usually I’m anti-hype.

I heard this is the strongest of all of Ruth Ware’s books, but I think I will still check out her older books and see for myself.

5. Black Chalk – Christopher J. Yates

Black Chalk

Yeah, I fucking hated this book. I hated every character. This is the second “dark academia” book that completely bombed for me so I’m starting to think that maybe this genre isn’t for me? It all revolves a group of college friends in the UK and they start playing some game which I never even fully understood, and basically it just seemed like truth or dare where there are no truths, only dares, and the dares involved doing something embarrassing/racist/provocative with increasingly higher stakes and one of them goes insane and the ending is just like “are you kidding me?”

This is a hot pile. Steaming. I wish I had a physical copy so I could have chucked it across the room when I was done.

6. The Unhoneymooners – Christina Lauren

The Unhoneymooners

OK OK OK, I don’t usually get down with romance but I always hear about Christina Lauren (who is apparently a writing duo!) and this one seemed cute because it’s hate-to-love which, if I’m going to read a romance, I’ll choose that trope, please. Plus, it’s a Hawaii setting and I needed an escape.

SHIT YOU GUYS. I liked this book so much more than I was willing to admit at first, lol. It was FUN and cute and I liked both characters so much and rooted for both of them so damn hard. It’s about the sister and brother of a bride and groom who can’t go on their honeymoon because they, along with everyone but the brother and sister, get horrible food poisoning at the reception (he didn’t eat because he’s adverse to buffets and she doesn’t like seafood, so they were unscathed). Anyway, the bride is like, “Look, you have to go on this honeymoon for us because I won it and they won’t let us change the reservations, etc” and the guy and girl are like UGH THIS SUCKS WE HATE EACH OTHER SO MUCH but they agree and figured that they’ll just do their own thing once they arrive, but then something happens that forces them to have to stick together, and sure it’s a series of ridiculous follies & coincidences that would never happen IRL, but sometimes we need this escape, right?

And I cried at the end. (Happily!)

This is a GREAT summer read. Sit in a sandbox with it and drink something tropical or whatever. It’s a sweet read.

7. Shelter – Jun Yun 


This was a carry-over from Asian Readathon and I was so excited when it was available on Libby, but it just didn’t really do it for me. It’s a family drama with a mystery element, but VERY QUIET and slow-moving, yet at the same time, it was very hard to connect to or really get to know any of the characters.

Or maybe I just wasn’t in the right frame of mind for this one at the time I read it. I didn’t think it was a bad book by any means, it just didn’t really have the impact that I expected it to have based on the reviews I read.

I do really enjoy books written by Korean authors though, and with this one, I liked that there was a bit of Korean culture strewn about even though the main character was American-born. I would give this author another try in the future.

8. Girl, Woman, Other – Bernardine Evaristo

Girl, Woman, Other

This was the best book I read in June (maybe even the whole year so far), I can’t stop thinking about it, imagining it in my head as a movie, trying to talk to Henry about it, reading reviews about it, recommending it….It was a journey. 

It follows 12 different people (mostly women, Black, and British) and I really have to tell you that there was not a single character I felt was empty, under-developed, or couldn’t get a clear picture of in my head. Evaristo is A BRILLIANT WRITER and there were numerous times when I was straight-up swooning at her turn of phrase. THIS is what I missed during the years I wasn’t regularly-reading. THIS is the stuff that inspires me to want to start writing again. THIS BOOK IS EVERYTHING.

Every time a character from earlier in the book showed up in another character’s chapter, I was so stoked and giddy!

I rooted for every character. I wanted them all to have the best lives ever. They felt so real to me and please please please please please can this be a movie? (The director better be a goddamned Black woman though!!)

Please, read this book. It’s incredible and there is no way for me to do it justice with my shoddy review skills. Just know that I will be buying a physical copy of this because I NEED IT and this author deserves to stuff my cash in her pocket.


This is the first half of the books I read in June! Pretty solid. I’ll be back later this week with the second half. Now I have to go and supervise Henry as he paints our kitchen and then pray some more that this project will be done soon-ish because right now our stove is living in the dining room and we have been eating pizza everyday. I can’t live like this. I mean, I love pizza, but I also love eating home-cooked meals and also we can’t go on the back porch because everything else from the kitchen is currently stashed back there and Penelope is very sad about this because the back porch is where she goes to sun bathe and she’s very confused about how it turned into a walk-in pantry in disarray overnight.

It will be worth it. It will be worth it. It will be worthit. It will beworthit. It willbeworthit. Itwillbeworthit. ITWILLBEWORTHITITWILLBEWORTHITITWILLBEWORTHIT.