Nov 162022
 
  1. Suburban Hell – Maureen Kilmer

Horror Lite. Like, the book equivalent of saying you want to watch a horror movie and then settling on Hocus Pocus. Good for people who aren’t really into horror but want something comfortably spooky to read in the fall. It was fine.

2. The Roughest Draft – Emily Wibberley / Austin Siegemund-Broka

Yeah, that’s what this book felt like, alright.

3. A Dowry of Blood – S.T.Gibson

Oh snap, I just realized this is #1 in a series! If you love anything Dracula-related, pick this up. It’s written from the POV of Dracula’s medieval peasant bride, as she’s explaining to Dracula why she…did what she did. I thought this was damn near perfect. I only wish I had been reading it under a tree in a cemetery. Yep, this was the perfect October read.

4. Her Majesty’s Royal Coven – Juno Dawson

HOLD THE PHONE. IT’S A 5-STAR READ. Phew, these come by so rarely anymore, so when I find one, I want to caress it tenderly and let it take Henry’s spot in bed. I can’t believe I almost returned this to the library before even trying it because I was overwhelmed with my TBR and didn’t “think” I would like this. OK, it’s about WITCHES. I was worried that it was going to be super dense with way too much world-building, but luckily, it’s similar to Harry Potter in that it takes place in the world as we know it, just….with witches existing.  The chapters rotate between the POV of a group of adult friends who all grew up together in witchdom or whatever, but as adults, we see that some of them have chosen different paths. There is a lot of LGTBQ+ discourse in this, gender identity, friendship, betrayal, BIG ASS PERSONALITIES THAT MADE ME FALL IN LOVE. I just loved it – it was exciting with biting dialogue and I actually understood the political shit going on. I can’t wait for the second book in the series!!

I could also see this being a really great TV series.

5. The Lost Years – Mary Higgins Clark

ONE STAR. It makes sense that I liked MHC’s books in middle school. But as an adult? No thanks. The way she writes, at least for this particular book, it’s like she assumes her readers are morons. Information is repeated OVER AND OVER. This book was lame & totally boring.

6. Daisy Darker – Alice Feeney

Oh wow, I forgot that I gave this 5 stars too! A 4-star for a thriller is usually very high for me, but there was something about this book that made me go all the way with it. The setting, the characters, the grandma, the VIBE. I kind of had a feeling about the twist but it was still a great time. It was cozy and perfect for October!

7. The Last Housewife – Ashley Winstead

Um, the fuck was that? I loved Ashley Winstead’s first two books with my whole damn heart and thought this was a shoo-in for the 5-star club. Wrong, bitch. First of all, it felt like someone else was writing this. I mean, it was borderline embarrassing to read at times. And the plot…no. It just didn’t work for me. I have this 3 stars but it was really more like a 2.5, Bob. I was not thrilled at all while reading this, and all of the characters were so painfully flat.

8. The Butterfly Garden – Dot Hutchison

…but then I read this one and it made The Last Housewife seem, you know, not so bad. Yeah, this was just so bad. I had a very hard time following the timeline, I didn’t care about the main broad/victim, the whole butterfly garden in general was like, “Wait, what? Huh?” No, this was trash. I should have listened to my favorite Booktuber Kat when I saw that she gave it a 2 and said “criminal minds s11e14 in a nutshell.” YES, THIS. GENERIC. And the parts with the cops were like, so stereotypical. This is apparently a series and I will not be reading any more, lol.

9. The Book of Cold Cases – Simone St. James

You know…I liked this. I wasn’t sure at first and thought I was going to be disappointed, but it was pretty interesting. I gave it a 4, maybe realistically it was more of a 3.5, but I was rooting for the main character pretty hard (she was a blogger lol) and the mystery kept me hooked.

10. We Spread – Iain Reid

OK. I went into this with the wrong mindset. I read “I’m Thinking of Ending Things” several years ago and love it so so so much, like, became obsessed with it and googled it and watched the movie (eh) so my expectations of We Spread was tainted. This isn’t horror. This was fucking sad. This is about aging, growing old, losing yourself. Iain Reid s a crazy-good writer, but I only gave this a 3 because this wasn’t what I wanted. This was definitely a “It’s not you, it’s me” situation going on here. I went in for the horror, thinking I was going to be scared to death, but instead all I got was….being scared of death.

***

So overall, not the best month for books. But hey: two 5-stars! That’s pretty fucking alright.

Oct 282022
 

Hello. Here is my run-down of the books I read in September. Apologies in advance if it feels rushed but I was entrenched in a war with a HAWK this morning and have yet to get my body to calm down. IF IT COMES AFTER MY SQUIRRELS AGAIN I WILL PUNCH IT IN THE FUCKING HEAD I DO NOT CARE IF IT’S FEDERALLY PROTECTED. (You know this has been an ORDEAL when my apathetic son is alarmed and says, “Jesus Christ, please don’t wind up in the fucking hospital because you made a hawk attack you.”)

  1. Book Lovers – Emily Henry

Cute, quick read. I liked the small-town location and the banter. Emily Henry is a pretty solid choice if you’re looking for a light romcom escape.

2. Things We Never Got Over – Lucy Score

First of all, did this need to be 568 pages? Probably not. I thought it was quirky and fun, the characters had personality. I hated that the kid’s name was WAYLAY!? And that the dog’s name was WAYLON. (Or something similar that made it super confusing.)

WAYLAY, THO??

I haaaaaaated that Knox eliminated “I” from every sentence. So he’d be like, “Need to…” or “Want to…” and maybe it was because I had the audiobook for this, but hearing the narrator actually speak this out loud was so grating. Very cavemannish. Maybe that was the intent??

Still though, it was entertaining enough. I’m not sure that I will continue along with the series, though I did give it 4 stars (probably more of a 3.5).

3. The Worst Best Man – Mia Sosa

Mediocre romance. It was fine. The audiobook kept me company on some walks.

4. The Lesbiana’s Guide to Catholic School – Sonora Reyes

A decent coming-of-age book for LGBTQ+ young adults. Lots of drama. Love the book cover!!

The only thing I have to say about this is that I was on my lunchbreak walk one day listening to this when I got stopped by two young guys canvassing in front of CVS for ASPCA. Usually when I have headphones on, people leave me alone, but the one guy was like HELLO WHAT ARE YOU LISTENING TO.

I paused the book and said, “Oh, it’s um, just an audiobook.”

“Oh? Which book?”

“Um….” AND FOR SOME REASON I FELT TOO EMBARRASSED TO SAY!? So I just stammered, “It’s just a young adult book….”

AND HE KEPT PRESSING ME SO I FINALLY FLASHED MY PHONE AT HIM. I DON’T KNOW WHY I FELT SO WEIRD ABOUT IT??

Oh I guess because I’m 43 and reading about a lesbian in Catholic School, lol.

Anyway, 20 minutes later and I walked away with the new title, Erin R Kelly, ASPCA Guardian Member.

Literally, I just can’t say no to animal stuff. I already make semi-regular donations to ASPCA but now I’m signed up to make monthly contributions to the legal team that helps prosecute animal abusers. I am such an advocate for this stuff that when I said I didn’t have my wallet, I promised that I would come back after work and finish signing up, but as I walked away, I thought, “WAIT A MINUTE…MY APPLE PAY!” So I WENT BACK immediately to finish signing up, and they were legit shocked at my honesty.

That’s what I will associate with this book now.

5. Bright – Jessica Jung

Dude, the sequel to Shine that all Girl’s Generation (or kpop in general) fans have been waiting for. The tea was SPICY. I love Jessica Jung and while we may never know what really happened between Jessica and GG, this book doesn’t really leave much to the imagination. It was entertaining and juicy. Would you like it if you weren’t already in the know about the real-life drama? Mmm, maybe! But probably not.

6. I’m Glad My Mom Died – Jennette McCurdy

Is it really shocking anymore to find out that a child star has suffered unspeakable levels of abuse? I guess not, but I was still so appalled and disgusted while reading this (Jennette narrates the audiobook btw). I was a huge fan of iCarly when it was on because it was the first show that Chooch REALLY LOVED. And we REALLY LOVED it together. I mean, I have an iCarly pocketbook and messenger bag for fuck’s sake. We lost our minds at the series finale.

Jennette’s character, Sam Puckett, was our favorite and you know, when you latch on to a TV show, the characters start to feel like family or friends. Knowing all these years later the disgusting sexualization, abuse, psychological control, and multiple eating disorders that Jennette endured while filming a show that so many children around the world loved…it makes me feel gross. This is why former child stars are on drugs or commit suicide. The industry alone is abusive and then when your own family isn’t protecting you, but contributing to the abuse themselves…well, it’s no wonder we see so many beloved stars take a turn.

I’m glad that Jennette was finally able to break free from the industry. Protect this beautiful angel!!

7. The It Girl – Ruth Ware

Ruth Ware is hit or miss for me, but I genuinely enjoyed this one. I love mystery/thrillers that bounce between present day and the past. This one is centered around the death of a man convicted a decade earlier of murdering an Oxford student. But there’s a reporter who doesn’t believe that he actually did it, and between the death of convicted murderer and this reporter asking those who knew the victim to sit for an interview, it’s forcing an old group of college friends to rehash the events leading up to the murder.

I thought it was entertaining! I liked the flashback parts the best. I kept picturing the “It Girl” as that bitch from the later seasons of Dawson’s Creek – Busy Phillips! Ugh, she’s so annoying.

8. Tripping Arcadia – Kit Mayquist

My Goodreads review: I was pretty bored throughout most of this, though it started off well enough to hook me. A big problem I had, and maybe this is me being a big dumb stoop, was that I had a difficult time really picturing what was going on and then it just got confusing as to who was doing what, re: the NYE party. I wish there had more to do with the aunt in Italy.

9. Good Rich People – Eliza Jane Brazier

That’s big NOPE from me, Bob.

I’m 0/2 with this author now so perhaps I will pass if/when she publishes a third.

10. The Surprising Power of a Good Dumpling – Wai Chim

Wow, this one was darker than I expected, and really very sad about a mother struggling with mental illness. I appreciated that it didn’t have a happy ending, but a realistic one. Also it made me want to go hog-wild on a bowl of dumplings.

(Specifically kimchi and dubu mandu.)

Sep 282022
 
  1. All I Want – Darcey Bell

All I Want

Henry and I listened to this audiobook on the drive home from New Hampshire after my birthday and it was dumb, not scary, had really stupid characters. 100% forgettable. I only chose it because it was relatively short and we wanted something that we could finish the day, and I thought the cover was snazzy.

2. The Weird Sisters – Eleanor Brown 

The Weird Sisters

The library’s recommendation service really did me dirty with this one. A trio of insufferable sisters, a cringey dad who speaks exclusively in Shakespeare quotes, no plot, messy narration. I truly didn’t care about any of these people except for the mom who spent the whole book in the background battling breast cancer.

What a waste of time.

3. The Last Guest House – Megan Miranda

The Last House Guest

This was OK but I think I need to recognize the fact that Megan Miranda books just aren’t for me.

4. The Summer Place – Jennifer Weiner

The Summer Place

My least favorite book of Weiner’s so far because the characters were flat but I still cried at the end. I’m not a monster, you know.

5. Just Like Home – Sarah Gailey

Just Like Home

What did I just read. This was fine, but not what I wanted and now that I’m recapping my August reads I’m just feeling depressed because did I read anything good and worth recommending to my bookish peeps??

Actually, this book was interesting and well-written, it just wasn’t what I was craving. I am SO PICKY with horror these days. It’s been a good long while since a book SCARED ME. Maybe I should just re-read Peter Straub’s books because barely anything compares to him in my eyes.

If you’ve read a really good horror novel recently, PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, tell me about it.

6. Memphis – Tara M. Stringfellow

Memphis

OK OK, finally, a 5-STAR BOOK in August. I love generational family sagas and this one was IT. Wait. What’s that burning sensation in my face – oh that’s just the tears springing up at the memory of the amazing women in this book.

It was good. Read it.

7. Hide – Kiersten White

Hide

…aaaand right back to a 1-star read! Why-o why-o why-o did I not DNF this trash book-o? Ugh. I was reading this on our trip to Wildwood too and it was so fucking bad. SO FUCKING BAD.

Well, let’s go with my Goodreads review: One of the most terrible books I’ve ever read. All the characters (too many, IMO) felt like SIMS. The plot was a cluster. The whole time, I just kept saying WHO CARES. This is supposed to be an adult novel but it felt middle grade at best. (Not to knock middle grade books – I’ve read books from that age bracket that are so much entertaining and compelling than whatever this is.)

8. Just Like Mother – Anne Heltzel 

Just Like Mother

Four stars! Not what I was expecting, but pretty fucking creepy, I’m not going to lie. I love cult stuff and this was actually a good one with a pretty original plot. (I’m not sure that I would consider it horror though? Thriller, yes.)

9. Black Cake – Charmaine Wilkerson

Black Cake

That’s another 5-star book for me, Stu. Drop what you’re doing and pick this up STAT. And bake me a black cake while you’re at it.

10. Vacationland – Meg Mitchell Moore

Vacationland

OK this is the book that I wanted that recent Jennifer Weiner one to be. 4 stars, maybe even 4.5 – I was invested in this family! The kids were GREAT – I loved the chapters that included the letters one of the young, elementary school-aged daughters was writing home to her dad. Hilarious and heartwarming. Everyone in this book had my whole heart. If it was turned into a TV drama, something along the lines of Brothers and Sisters (LOVED THAT DAMN SHOW) I would consider getting cable again.

I need to read more from this broad and see if she legit has the potential to be a new fave author or if it was just a fluke. I WILL REPORT BACK, MAYBE.

11. Mika in Real Life – Emiko Jean

Mika in Real Life

I really enjoyed this. I don’t know what else you want me to say. Mika was charming and lovable and the story was heart-warming.

12. The Pallbearers’ Club – Paul Tremblay

The Pallbearers' Club

OK Paul Tremblay. I see you.

While this wasn’t as scary (or scary at all) as I had hoped, it was actually a really good story about the relationship of the guy and girl that made up the very short-lived Pallbearer’s Club. I loved that it was written as a novel transcript from the POV of the founding member of the club several decades later, with “editor’s notes” from the other member scribbled in the margins in red font. It’s lowkey a vampire story but mostly just a really sentimental exploration into the friendship between two people.

I wish I was better at reviewing books lol.

One of the Booktubers I follow on Goodreads said it much better: “Imagine you’re in a movie theatre watching a lonely and slow little indie film following 2 unlikely friends throughout the years, but you think you can vaguely hear an epic vampire movie playing through the walls, three theatres down.

That about sums up the reading experience for this book (and the amount of horror it contains.)” – BooksandLala, 2022

13. Cult Classic – Sloane Crosley

Cult Classic

The fact that I was going to DNF actually scares me because this ended up being a solid 5-star read for me. OK listen, what happened was, I had the audiobook for this first, and I just couldn’t pay attention to it while out for a walk. In all honesty, this isn’t the type of book that can be “casually listened to.” It is SO SMARTLY WRITTEN and so BRILLIANTLY FUNNY, but it deserves your full and undivided attention. I’m glad I gave it another shot in physical book form because I became obsessed with it. It was so funny and weird and obscure, unlike anything I’ve read before.

It’s a fucking trip, and it was a great end to a subpar reading month.

That’s all. I read 13 books and only truly remember maybe half of them lol.

 

Aug 262022
 

(Except you’d have to go back in time to read them in July 2022.)

July was a strange month. Chooch left us for most of it so I was very disoriented and sad. I tried to drown myself in books but a lot of the books sucked, so that was a big backfire. I read 12. Here they are in the order I read them, as usual.

  1. The Summer Melted Everything – Tiffany McDaniel

SOLID FIVE STARS AND ONE OF MY NEW FAVORITE BOOKS OF ALL TIME.

I knew from the first chapter that this was going to shape up to be 5 stars, and one of the best books I’ve read. Ever. Period. It broke me. One of the most beautifully written coming of age tales ever. Every sentence is art.

It’s set in a small Ohio town in the early 80s and every last character is exquisitely crafted, the writing is — hold on, I’m crying lol. The writing made me feel like I was a part of something and I wanted to protect every member of the Bliss family until the end of time.

Please please please read this book. If you’re into audiobooks, the narrator of this one is exceptional.

2. All the Pretty Things – Emily Arsenault

Ssssssskip it.

3. Mrs. Caliban – Rachel Ingalls

This was written in the late 70s / early 80s I believe and it felt like something that would be assigned to read in college because it was so literary and full of meanings and allegory that I was definitely too stupid to understand, yet JUST SMART ENOUGH to pick up on. It was bizarre and I did laugh out loud quite a few times, but then by the end it got too soap opera-y. But I gave it a solid 3 stars for it’s weirdness.

4. The Scapegoat – Sara Davis

I low-key hated this book and every character in it, and also I had no idea what was going on for most of it because I didn’t care. I don’t want to talk about this book anymore because it was stupid. Read it if you want though, I don’t care.

5. A Certain Hunger – Chelsea G. Summers

Suuuuuper graphic book about a cannibalistic food critic telling her story from prison. Literally all you need to know. I found the writing to be an absolute delight though the book felt fairly dense and I couldn’t read it for very long lengths of time. The human parts didn’t bother me, but there were some parts that detailed animal butchering and processing that I obviously was not a fan of.

Overall, a pretty quirky and dark book from the POV of a female serial killer.

6. I Kissed Shara Wheeler – Casey McQuiston

I was really stoked for this because I loved One Last Stop and McQuiston writes some snip-snappy dialogue that would have been right at home on the old WB back in 2000. But this didn’t get it done for me. I just didn’t really understand why we cared where Shara Wheeler went (look, I cared so little about her that I originally spelled her name “Shari” in the title and had to go back and correct it. I don’t know, read this if you want. But it’s kind of dumb. Although I did cry at the end.

OMG what is the matter with me.

7. The Perfect Stranger – Megan Miranda 

I put this on for Henry and me to listen to on the way home from Waldameer and it was abysmal. I should have DNF’d it. It was so over the top, the characters were flat, the plot was confusing. The back and forth with the timeline was frustrating. Megan Miranda just kind of writes like an amateur, sorry, but THAT IS MY OPINION.

8. You Made a Fool Out of Death with Your Beauty – Akwaeke Emezi

Shit, I have loved every one of their books that I have read so my expectations were SOARIN’ for this. But this one just didn’t move me like the other books there. It felt just like any other romance, really, and speaking of romance, I DID NOT GET THE ATTRACTION BETWEEN THE TWO PEOPLE?? It just didn’t work for me. It didn’t even feel like this book was written by the same person who wrote The Death of Vivek Oji and Freshwater, to be honest.

There’re some REALLY VIVID food descriptions in  this though and I was there for that.

9. His & Hers – Alice Feeney

A pretty solid thriller with some excellent twists that I definitely did not see coming! I think it’s decided that UK thrillers are my faves.

10. A Touch of Jen – Beth Morgan

I knew going into this that a lot of people hated this book which is actually what inspired to me to read it. I needed to know for myself. The verdict is that while I didn’t outright it, it also wasn’t a very enjoyable reading experience because all of the characters were so unsufferable and the story itself was….I mean, I dunno, wtf was that?? Basically a couple are obsessed with this bitch that the guy-part of the couple (Remy) used to work with. He’s clearly infatuated with her and then his gf starts trying to be like her and they role play about her and it’s just all very uncomfortable. Then something happens somewhere past the halfway mark which actually made me scream and feel a little sad, and it just wasn’t a good time.

Even now, being forced to think back on it, I feel really icky.

Also I forgot that there was one good character and that was Jake the Roommate. Remy can get fucked with a rusty pole, honestly. What a cunt he was.

Um, I gave it three stars because it made me have feelings and the writing itself was actually pretty decent – I even LOL’d a few times. But there were a lot of chapters that were so boring and new-agey. Read at your own risk.

11. So Happy For You – Celia Laskey 

OH YEAH, BOY. This was the book. The thoroughly entertaining, super quick read, thrilling and delightful book that I had been looking for this summer. If you hate weddings and tradition, this is for you. This book was wild. I’ve heard a lot of booktubers say that main character was grating but I didn’t find her to be so at all – I thought she was a great character and I loved her ideals.

12. Promise Not to Tell – Jennifer McMahon 

I read one of McMahon’s newer books and absolutely hated it, but I still gave this one a whirl based on the library’s recommendation. It’s one of her older books (from the early 00s, I think) and I actually really enjoyed it. I listened to it on audio because I’m currently in the middle of a new gemming project but it’s a gift for a friend so more on that after the Pie Party, but this book was PERFECT to carry me through some lonely hours of gemming alone. It had a dual timeline but unlike dumb Megan Miranda, Jennifer McMahon made it work well here. I LOVED the earlier timeline with the Potato Girl character and commune life – it was all so creepy and made me so nervous even in broad daylight.

A solid summer thriller / kind of ghost story-ish.

Jul 252022
 

The month was June, and these books were read.

  1. The Family Chao – Lan Samantha Chang

The Family Chao

Leftover from Asian Readathon. Three stars. I only cared about the dog.

2. The Last Mrs. Parrish – Liv Constantine

55506946

Solid domestic thriller! I love it when a book blindsides me and this one definitely did.

3. Once Upon a K-Prom – Kat Cho

Once Upon a K-Prom

Nothing ground-breaking here, just a cute YA centered around Kpop – it was just the light, fluffy read that I needed, like a palate cleanser before moving onto meatier books. My favorite part about this is that each member of the Kpop group had their own page of member facts and it would list who their idols were growing up (G-Dragon was mentioned for one!) and who their friends are (NCT and Stray Kids came up a lot for this!). I loved also that BTS was not mentioned AT ALL but I did kind of feel like the fictional Kpop group was based off of them, except that one of the members was American which is not the case with BTS. I always appreciate when other Kpop groups are name-dropped because BTS is such an obvious, lazy, boring choice.

4. Yerba Buena – Nina LaCour

Yerba Buena

OK. Nina LaCour is like, the little fucking darling of Booktube, right? But I tried one of her other books and hated it so much. When I got this book from the library, I didn’t even realize it was hers. However, I believe this is her first foray into adult contemporary (she typically writes YA but it’s the super pretentious, navel-gazey kind that makes me roll my eyes). Um, ha. Whoa there. Consider my opinion changed BIGLY. This book was so beautiful, the characters were emotional in a way that they felt 100% real to me. I just wanted the best for everyone and I couldn’t wait to see how the two narratives were going to collide. The most sublime and believable Sapphic love story I’ve read in quite a while. I’m crying just thinking about it.

5. The Last Final Girl – Stephen Graham Jones

The Last Final Girl

When am I going to quit trying to love this fucking guy? Horror movies are my absolute fave so the references were not lost on me, but this book just wasn’t it. Written like a movie script, I get what it was trying to do but it was confusing and hard to follow. So fucking cheesy.

6. Greenwich Park – Katherine Faulkner

55905003

Really twisty domestic thriller – kept me hooked and entertained on my daily walks! I think I’m starting to prefer British thrillers over American at this point. Far less duds!

7. A Deadly Inside Scoop – Abby Collette

A Deadly Inside Scoop (An Ice Cream Parlor Mystery #1)

I apparently gave this book a four, but my knee-jerk reaction to seeing this cover was that I only moderately enjoyed it. Lots of over-the-top characters and suspects which I anticipated going into this but the thing that most bothered me was how many times people were like, “YOUR ICE CREAM SHOP IS OPEN IN THE WINTER?” Um, people eat ice cream all the fucking time, no matter what season, and also in the book I’m pretty sure it was only October?? I couldn’t get past that. It was so strange. Aside from that, it was cute. I don’t think I’ll be continuing the series though. I think what I’m learning about myself if that I prefer sinister, dark mysteries over the cute and cozy lot.

8. Version Zero – David Yoon

Version Zero

I hated this book so bad that I don’t even want to review it. But I will say that where I changed my negative opinion of Nina LaCour after reading her first foray into adult novels, my positive opinion of David Yoon based on his two exceptional YA books was tarnished a bit for me after reading his first adult novel. A caveat: I should have steered clear from the get-go because I do not like sci-fi / techy books and that’s exactly what this was. Also, the characters were very poorly written and I was stunned because typically David excels at character development. This just made me feel so uncomfy and bored.

9. Delilah Green Doesn’t Care – Ashley Herring Blake

Delilah Green Doesn't Care (Bright Falls, #1)

This romance was fucking presh. I loved the small town vibes, strained family dynamics, chaotic wedding planning, snappy dialogue. I WILL be continuing this series!

10. All the Wrong Places – Joy Fielding

All the Wrong Places

OK Joy, I see you, and I’m sorry that I never heard of you until last month when I snatched this book from a nearby Little Free Library. What a sick, fast-paced thriller about a serial killer who snags his victims from online dating sites. Seems like a tired concept, sure, but this one is very much focused on the relationships and lives of four women so you’re just waiting for the other shoe to drop the whole  time. I was pleasantly surprised with this one!

***

You have now finished reading WHAT I READ IN JUNE. Please enjoy the rest of your day.

Jun 262022
 

Blog, this was the worst / most disappointing Asian Read-a-Thon I’ve had since I started in 2020. I only read 12 books and a lot of those didn’t do it for me. I will make this quick.

  1. The Night Shift – Alex Finlay

The Night Shift

Right off the bat, the readathon was off on the wrong foot. I had run out of time in April to read this book and didn’t want to return it to the library so I flipped through the pages and saw that one of the characters was South Asian. Boom, Asian rep. A stretch, but I allowed it. (He was also pretty much the best character too, in a book full of cardboard cutouts.) The premise of this book sounded awesome (a thriller that starts off at a Blockbuster in the 90s) but the execution was just sloppy. Characters were flat, and I barely remember it at this point. I gave it a 3 on Goodreads but more like 2.5.

Blockbuster deserved better than that.

SO DID THE ASIAN CHARACTER.

2. Grass – Keum Suk Gendry-Kim

41940333

Growing up American with a shitty history curriculum, I didn’t learn about Korean comfort women until I developed my own interest in Korea as an adult and saw firsthand all of the memorials and statues around Korea when I visited. This graphic novel details the true experience of a woman who was sold into Japanese enslavement during the Japanese occupation of Korea and it is, needless to day, harrowing, graphic, infuriating, and nightmarish. The stories of these women need to be heard and this is a good starting point.

This is one of the comfort women memorials we saw in Paju, South Korea.

3. Fiona and Jane – Jean Chen Ho

Fiona and Jane

A series of vignettes about two Taiwanese American friends. I liked some stories better than others but I’m always here for a coming-of-age tale. I loved the cover a lot and of course was happy any time there were Korean references which is pretty much every book nowadays it seems.

4. Tokyo Ever AFter – Emiko Jean

Tokyo Ever After (Tokyo Ever After, #1)

Look, I needed a YA palate cleanser, OK? This book was a delight. Princess Diaries but make it Japanese. I LOVE books that are set in other countries, especially east Asia, and this delivered interesting cultural references and made me want to revisit Japan in a big way.

5. Arsenic and Adobo – Mia P. Manansala

Arsenic and Adobo (Tita Rosie's Kitchen Mystery, #1)

This was cute but too many characters that I couldn’t keep up with. Best part was the FOOD DESCRIPTIONS and recipes included in the back which I screenshot for Henry lol. I am a big fan of pandesal and it is referenced about a billion times in this book and I am currently craving it.

Also – too many love interests!!

6. An Emotion of Great Delight – Tahereh Mafi

An Emotion of Great Delight

I wish this had been written in chronological order and that we were in the main character’s head a bit less. I loved this author’s last book but this one was kind of a snooze (sorry!!).

7. Popular Hits of the Showa Era – Ryu Murakami

Popular Hits of the Showa Era

YES BITCH. Japanese horror is my jam and this was one of the best books I read in May, and the whole year. It was so gross and violent and HILARIOUS, the characters were wild, the whole book was a dumpster fire in the very best possible way. It was a fucking RIDE. I loved this so much, screamed, “OMFG” numerous times throughout, and then laughed like a maniac when I finished it, like I had just gotten done hanging out with the funniest friend I have. I really felt like I was in this book.

It is very graphic though and there were a few moments when I had to put it down because I was feeling it.

I’ve also read In the Miso Soup by this author which I really liked, and also one of the sickest horror movies I’ve ever seen was based off his book “Audition,” so I have a good track record with this guy and should really try to read more from him.

8. Dava Shastri’s Last Day – Kirthana Ramisetti

Dava Shastri's Last Day

OMFG die already. That’s all, that’s the review. One star, hated everyone.

9. Ayesha At Last – Uzma Jalaluddin

Ayesha at Last

Billed as a modern-day Muslim Pride and Prejudice and it’s exactly that. I really enjoyed. Main characters that you really felt good about rooting for, eye-opening cultural lessons, and just a GOOD love story. I needed this after that Dava shit show up there. (Also this cover is gorge.)

10. Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning – Cathy Park Hong

Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning

Solid five stars. This is a must-read. Part memoir, part history lesson, it’s a beautifully-written collection of essays that every American should read, regardless of race, to have a better understanding of the minor feelings that come with growing up Asian in America.

11. Joan is Okay – Weike Wang

Joan Is Okay

This was a weird, quirky little book. It’s weird to read books that are already referencing COVID, but I thought that this one did it well when that time came. I thought the writing was excellent and definitely need to read “Chemistry” soon.

12. Dial “A” for Aunties – Jesse Q. Sutanto

Dial A for Aunties (Aunties #1)

A bunch of high-strung Chinese-Indonesian aunties trying to cover up a murder, solve an un-related crime, and work a wedding all at once? This book was so slapstick, well-paced, with fleshed-out characters that pop off the pages. It’s so over-the-top and completely implausible, but that was the intent and it works. I will definitely continue on with this series because I need more aunties! (Highly recommend this as an audiobook – the narrator is excellent and brought the aunties to life!)

 

May 222022
 

Let’s barrel through this quickly. It was a very up and down month.

  1. Finlay Donovan Knocks ‘Em Dead – Elle Cosimano

Finlay Donovan Knocks 'Em Dead (Finlay Donovan #2)

OK, usually my the second book in a series, I start to lose interest, but Finlay Donovan and her sidekick Vero are hysterical and I love how over-the-top these books are. It has a very modern day Lucille Ball / I Love Lucy feel to it. So good. Light, upbeat, and entertaining. This would be the PERFECT beach/airplane read, too.

2. 5 Centimeters Per Second – Yukiko Seike & Makoto Shinkai

5 Centimeters per Second (5 Centimeters per Second, #1-2)

This was OK but I think I just don’t really like manga. Reading in reverse just isn’t my jam.

3. Such a Quiet Place – Megan Miranda

Such a Quiet Place

This was fine. I gave it a three. I wouldn’t recommend it but I also wouldn’t…NOT…recommend it. You know what I mean. A basic thriller. Cannot remember a single character but there also wasn’t anything “wrong” with this either.

4. Heartstopper: Volume 4 – Alice Oseman

Heartstopper: Volume Four (Heartstopper, #4)

You already know: FIVE STARS, A MILLION AND FIVE HEARTS. This graphic novel series has really touched in me and made me feel more emotions than most any other book I’ve read recently, so don’t get caught up in the YA-ness of it all. This installment deals heavily with eating disorders and mental illness and it was done in such a thoughtful and sensitive way.

If you haven’t watched the Netflix series, I highly recommend it. Especially if you particularly are looking for a TV show that doubles as a psychic bear hug.

Also? I read this in the car during our spring break road trip and that vacation was sooooo good so I will always associate these two things with each other now and that makes it even better.

5. How to Kill Your Best Friend – Lexie Elliott

How to Kill Your Best Friend

Very very very far-fetched but who reads thrillers for a dose of reality, you know? I thought this was a pretty entertaining book about a group of friends – who were all on their college swim team, this is somewhat relevant – reuniting at some South Asian island resort (Thailand, maybe? I can’t remember the exact location now) where threats and murder ensue. This was apparently the second book I read by this author, and I liked them both so now perhaps I should make a point of remembering their name.

6. Real Easy – Marie Rutkoski

Real Easy

This book was t-r-a-s-h. Entirely too many characters. Shitty dialogue. Predictable plot. Best thing is the cover but what does that even have to do with the book, you might ask? WHO KNOWS. I urge you to skip this.

Oh, apparently I actually wrote a review on Goodreads:

OK hear me out. The story itself was good, and the strip club setting was interesting. But the writing was unbelievably frustrating – it was jumbled and very “try-hard” at times. Like come on, I don’t give a shit that the Denny’s waitress had husky blue eyes flecked with gold. Get over yourself.

Also, so many damn characters, and most of them were strippers with two names (real and stripper name) so it was extremely difficult to keep them straight. Same with the cops. So many. Who even are you.

Yep. That sounds about right.

7. A Bad Day For Sunshine – Darynda Jones

A Bad Day for Sunshine (Sunshine Vicram, #1)

If Lorelai Gilmore was Star Hollow’s sheriff, but Stars Hollow was in New Mexico. That makes it sound like it could be better than it is. I mean, it wasn’t the worst book and I liked how every chapter opened with either a witty phrase from one of the town’s shops’ signs, or a blurb from the police blotter, etc. It really helped back up the “KOOKY TOWN” premise. I liked that it went back and forth between the mom, Sunshine, and her high school daughter who was finding it hard to adjust to a new school having just moved back to Sunshine’s hometown. The characters were quirky and the writing was good but I just wasn’t really into it enough to continue on with the series.

8. Reckless Girls – Rachel Hawkins

Reckless Girls

I gave this a three on Goodreads apparently but my initial reaction when it was time to review this here was one of annoyance and mild anger because I think I actually hated this. It’s an adult thriller but it came off as a bit Young Adult-y at times, like maybe I would have enjoyed this is high school. I was hoping that the secluded island setting would offer a bit of escapism but it just felt suffocating.

9. Fool Me Once – Ashley Winstead

Fool Me Once

Bro. I was a little disappointed when I saw that Ashley Winstead’s follow-up to her debut novel was going to be a romance.  I LOVED last year’s “In My Dream I Hold a Knife” so much, and that was a dark academia / thriller. I picked this up anyway out of curiosity and I am so glad that I did because it was fantastic. Laugh out loud funny, realistic/believable character dynamics and dialogue, and a story that I actually cared about. It was a wild ride and I was rooting for our main character the whole time, in both her romantic endeavors and professional growth. The side characters  were practically punching their way off the pages, the hijinx were hilarious and believable, and the feel good factor was off the charts. My face hurt from all the smiling I did while reading this.

SO GOOD and I am now anxiously waiting to see what Winstead is whipping up next. This broad has written her way into my heart. This was my second 5-star of the month! See?? I’m not *that* picky.

10. The Unsinkable Greta James – Jennifer E. Smith

The Unsinkable Greta James

Wow.  To think that I almost returned what ended up being my THIRD FIVE STAR BOOK OF THE MONTH back to the library before reading it because I was afraid I was running out of time before Asian Read-a-thon started. That would have been a fatal error because this book, despite being set on a cruise to my least favorite place in the whole world – ALASKA, literally cruised its way into my heart. Almost immediately, I had a feeling that this one was going to become a forever favorite and I was right. The writing was fresh, the dialogue was SNAPPY (clearly dialogue is super important to me), and the story itself was a heartwarmer but also a heartBREAKER.

Greta is a somewhat-famous musician, a fact that her dad can’t stand. Greta gets guilted by her brother to take her recently-deceased mother’s spot on an anniversary cruise that her parents had planned with two of their married couple friends. Now they have this floating prison to attempt to salvage their relationship, and it is an amazing process to follow. This book had me straight up laughing out loud on one page and then sobbing like a bitch five pages later. In fact, I kept getting a lump in my throat every time I tried to give Henry a synopsis.

I cannot recommend this enough. It’s fantastic. I need to add more books from this author to my TBR because her writing is totally my style.

 

Apr 072022
 

I don’t have an intro.

But I guess that was my intro.

  1. No One Belongs Here More Than You – Miranda July

No One Belongs Here More Than You

See last month’s review of the Miranda July book I read, but subtract one star because: short stories.

2. Inside V – Paula Priamos

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I had never heard of this book, nor this author, but I needed something to listen to while tromping around the ‘hood and this came up as recommended on Scribd. Dude, it was good! A domestic thriller/mystery, great pacing, kept my attention. Would recommend to you, just like Scribd did to me.

3. Lemon – Kwon Yeo-Sun

Lemon

You know I love me some translated-from-Korean thrillers and word about this one had been spreading like wildfire on the bookish webs because suddenly everyone is on my level now with Korean stuffs. This wasn’t bad, but also a tad disappointing I guess because of all the hype. It’s about the murder of a high school girl and at times I was kind of confused because the chapters switch narrators and timelines. I would say it’s more of like…suspenseful literary fiction. I gave it a three.

4. Grown Ups – Marian Keyes

Grown Ups

Also a three for me because it was UNNECESSARILY LONG – like over 500 pages with tiny type. It’s basically like reading an entire season of a dramedy about an extended family and honestly it was just too much. Too many characters. Borderline annoying dialogue. Only two characters in the book were even slightly compelling to me and I enjoyed the tension of their relationship but then the end is soooooo unsatisfying. And one of the characters had an eating disorder and I’m not going to lie, I was pretty triggered. This one got so much love and hype from some of my favorite Bristish Booktubers and I’m kind of shocked.

It was entertaining enough but I don’t feel inspired to pick up anything else by this author.

5. Reprieve – James Han Mattson

Reprieve

I thought I would love this. A haunted house/escape room in the 90s? Fuck yeah. But again, no compelling characters and I was kind of bored.

6. The Hawthorne Legacy – Jennifer Lynn Barnes

The Hawthorne Legacy (The Inheritance Games, #2)

The problem with me and book series is that by the time the next book comes out, I can’t remember anything from the first book. So, I was lost through nearly the entire first half. There are two many Hawthorne brothers to keep track of, and two of them are basically the same person in my mind. But it’s still a fun read, I like the mystery/puzzle-solving aspect of it, and there’s a love triangle that held my interest. But the real star of the show is that goddamn book cover. Ye-ow-sah.

7. All Her Little Secrets – Wanda M. Morris 

All Her Little Secrets

Dude. This was EXCELLENT. (OMG that’s literally what my Goodreads review was and I didn’t even realize that until after I typed this, lol.) And this was a DEBUT? 4 stars from me, Sam. Loved our main girl in this and was screaming at times. Trying to get Henry to read it – you should read it too!

8. True Crime – Samantha Kolesnik

True Crime

Trash. I gave it one star because Goodreads doesn’t allow for NO STAR ratings. This was just “how much shock value can I stuff into a novella?” and it failed. This was not interesting, entertaining, or even slightly well-written.

9. When I Am Through With You – Stephanie Kuehn

When I Am Through with You

Actually hated this. Not a single likable character and then it turned into a survival story which I dislike so I guess this is on me for not knowing more going in. It was so boring that I kept forgetting the main character’s name and then I couldn’t keep the other characters straight. Seemed like too many people and not everyone even mattered, so….if this hadn’t been an audio book, I would have DNFd it but I needed something to listen to on my walk(s) one day when I was off work and didn’t feel like looking for something else.

ALSO, I DON’T HAVE TO EXPLAIN MYSELF TO YOU, MOM.

10. Made In Korea – Sarah Suk

Made in Korea

Just the palate (eye ball?) cleanser I needed after reading back-to-back 1-star books. This was adorable, Korean, and straight-up fun. I wish someone was selling Korean beauty products from their locker when I was in high school! Also, I love reading books written by Korean American authors because they typically will throw in some Korean words and I always know what it is before it’s explained. That’s just a really good feeling. I can’t speak the damn language but I have at least learned some things!

11. House 23 – Eli Yance 

House 23

Did we ever learn why this was called House 23? Did we ever care? This was dumb. It started out intriguingly and I was in it to win it, but then it got real dumb real fast and ended up being so unsatisfying. Apparently, most people on Goodreads agree with me on this so I should have probably put some stock in the low ratings before diving into this.

12. Ain’t Burned All the Bright – Jason Reynolds / Jason Griffin

Ain't Burned All the Bright

Oof. This one hits hard. Beautiful art paired with poignant text about the last several years in America, during Covid and the BLM movement, my eyes were burning with tears.

This is from the synopsis because it explains it perfectly:

And so for anyone who didn’t really know what it means to not be able to breathe, REALLY breathe, for generations, now you know. And those who already do, you’ll be nodding yep yep, that is exactly how it is.

Yeah, this one really knocked something loose in me.

13. The Cartographers – Peng Shepherd

The Cartographers

Um hello, Peng Shepherd. This was MAGICAL and SWEEPING. I never thought I’d care about a book about maps but this had me thinking I was really part of the action. I was IN THIS STORY. I loved every fucking character. I loved the glimpses into the lives of the young Cartographers. I might actually want to learn how to read a map now. (Future Henry is reading this, choking on whatever Hostess product he inhales in the privacy of the FAYGO FACTORY, like “YEAH RIGHT.”)

Five stars for me, Mary.

OK BYE.

 

Mar 142022
 

These are the books I read in February. Wow, Lucy. Hold on tight-ish.

  1. My Lady Jane – Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, Jodi Meadows

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Historical retelling but make some of the characters able to change into animals. What a quirky little delight. Four stars, thoroughly entertained, laughed out loud numerous times.

2. The Girl In 6E – A. R. Torre

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Pretty interesting thriller mostly from the POV of a young shut-in / cam girl who purposely keeps herself locked away in her apartment to avoid any inevitable fall-out from her homicidal tendencies. While camming, she thinks she may have made contact with a pedophile about to take his fetish to the next level. The narration had a bit of a Veronica Mars-esque feel to it, and it really drew me in. Although, there was kind of  a lot going on / a bunch of jumping around with timelines and plotlines so it kind of a little confusing at times. But overall, I really enjoyed it and am actually surprised that I haven’t heard more about this, especially considering it’s apparently a series. I told Henry he should read it for the “explicit sex stuff” and he was like, “The what now? You have my attention.”

3. Migrations – Charlotte McConaghy 

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There’s a part about a girl getting attached to a murder of crows that was so relatable and now I’m pissed that my squirrels don’t bring me gifts.

But OK seriously, I almost didn’t pick this one up because it didn’t seem like the type of book I’d be into, but I am so glad I did. Yes, there were parts that supremely depressed the environment/animal lover in me, but the writing was so undeniably beautiful and the characters were well-crafted, that it was more rewarding than deflating in the end. It also had an underlying mystery running through it regarding the events that happened that lead to the main character to be tracking the migration of arctic terns in the first place.

Yeah, this book kind of gutted me but I’m glad I read it. (I literally just said “oof” out loud just now to my monitor as I looked at the picture of the book cover. Sigh.)

4. Five Tuesdays in Winter – Lily King 

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I didn’t know this was a short story collection when I picked it up, but I really love Lily King so I gave it a chance. I think I’d rate this 3.5 stars overall – some of the stories didn’t hold my interest at all – but there were two 5 stars for me: “Timeline” which was reminiscent of King’s Writers & Lovers, and “When In the Dordogne,” which I didn’t want to end – if this were expanded to a full-length novel, I’d be all in! “Hotel Seattle” was also so good.

But now I just want to read Writers & Lovers again.

5. The First Bad Man – Miranda July 

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OK OK OK OK OK OK OK OMG. The library recommended this book to me and I don’t know why I didn’t make the connection at first, but almost from the very first chapter, I was hooked through the lip for the irreverent, insanely inappropriate subject matter of The First Bad Man. Like, I was barking out HA!s by the boatload and then I said to Henry, “You know what this reminds me?! If someone took my old fake “pelv_exam” livejournal and made it into a full-length novel with better writing!” Henry’s response was a throaty, gagging back bile, “Oh….boy.”

And then it hit me! This was written by Miranda July! THE Miranda July who wrote a movie I was OBSESSED WITH  in the early ’00s – You and Me and Everyone We Know.  I excitedly told Henry and he was like, “I do not know wha—” so I cut him off and squealed, “WE CAN POOP BACK AND FORTH FOREVER!”

He just stared at me for a second, taking in my super attractive red and tear-streaked face, choking on a torrent of giggles at the memory of the best line from  that movie, and then he muttered, “Oh. Oh my god” BECAUSE HE REMEMBERED.

It was even my LiveJournal tagline!!!!!!!!

Oh holy shit. Miranda July. Could we be related, maybe? This book was so fantastic yet I don’t think I could recommend it to anyone I know.

Also, she narrates the audiobook and her narration just really adds that special nuance that no would else could master. I will be tucking parts of this book away in the most special folds of my mind.

6. Waiting for Wednesday – Nicci French

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I had really been loving the Frieda Klein mystery/thriller series but #3 left me a bit bored and lost.  That’s all. That’s the review.

7. True Crime Story – Joseph Knox

True Crime Story

Hey  this book was pretty interesting! I was invested until the very end. Cool cast of characters, set in a British college. Also felt a chill from time to time!! Just a real fun true crime mystery that had a great podcast-like audio book so definitely for fans of Sadie. 

8. Love & Other Carnivorous Plants – Florence Gonsalves

Love & Other Carnivorous Plants

The library recommended this to me and I have no idea why, to be honest. This book was low-key was pretty terrible. Also the main character had an eating disorder so trigger warning for that. An inexplicable death happens that honestly just felt hollow and did very little to drive the plot. Just a mess of a book, honestly.

You know what, the more I thin about this, the more I really hate it.

9. The Collective – Alison Gaylin

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Eh. Three stars. Started out OK and then I just got bored.

10. Winter in Sokcho – Elisa Shua Dusapin

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This book cover is everything to me. I love reading books that are set in South Korea because, as the tagline of this website states, my heart is in Hanguk. I could visualize everything in this book so vividly and it made my heart ache.

11. You Have a Match  – Emma Lord

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The “match” in the title is actually referring to a DNA testing site where you get put in the database and can be notified when you match with a relative. It was a pretty nice concept, two sisters are reunited and even though they don’t necessarily like each other, they join forces to find out why their parents kept them a secret from each other for the past 18 years or whatever. Even had a camp setting which was fun, but of course there’s loveline which I just didn’t really buy. I was actually more interested in the two sets of parents’ stories, and what happened to make them have a falling out. Which I guess is what happens when you’re an adult reading a young adult book. JOKE’S ON ME.

***

And that concludes my February book wrap-up! Not the best, not the worst. But HELLLLLOOOO MIRANDA JULY!

Feb 022022
 

Oh boy, a new year, new books! I set my reading challenge to 75 for this year. I have had less time to read lately and don’t want to add unnecessary stress to my life when reading should be about joy and enrichment and not meeting some arbitrary number, amirite.

I’m going to try to keep these book wrap-ups more succinct from now on because I really fail miserably at recapping and reviewing and unless I feel some strong emotion (whether bad or good), I’m just kind of going through the motions, you know? And is it even valuable to anyone? Smrobably not! So now I’ll just leave the link to the synopsis on Goodreads and drop my rating.

Anyway, I read 10 books. Some more enjoyably than others, for fucking sure.

  1. Black Girls Must Die Exhausted – Jayne Allen

Black Girls Must Die Exhausted

Four stars! This is apparently the first book in a series so I’ll probably continue reading as others are released. Good slice of life book and the ending provided the warmth I was looking for during these frigid winter mths.

2. Not a Happy Family – Shari Lepena

Not a Happy Family

ONE STAR, SK-SK-SK-SKIP IT. This is my second Lapena book and definitely MY LAST. I will not be swayed by Booktubers again! Insufferable, cardboard cut-out character. A cringefest in book-form.

Whodunnit? WHOCARES?

3. The Love Hypothesis – Ali Hazelwood

The Love Hypothesis (Love Hypothesis, #1)

Four stars. Um. Heh heh heh. Heheheheheehehe. Romance is hit or miss with me but this was a motherfucking DELIGHT. It was so smartly written and the characters WERE EVERYTHING. LITERALLY MELTED MY SOUL.  Also, even though I’m not a scientist (I mean, I just struggled to even spell it, so…) and not in academia, the main character Olive really resonated with me in a very deep and personal way.

I did find the SEX SCENES pretty cringey but I am super hard to please (lol) in that regard so do with that what you will. But overall, I loved the story and the characters felt real.

4. Just Last Night – Mhairi McFarlane

Just Last Night

FIVE FUCKING STARS. My only FIVE STAR read of the month, actually. And to think that I had DNF’d it several months ago, and here’s why: You know that I like to ping-pong back and forth between a physical book and an audiobook at all times right? Well, I had snagged the audio for this one on Scribd in the fall and thought it would be a good companion to take on my lunch time walks about Brookline. However! – and I feel like an asshole even admitting this – the narrator is Irish or Scottish, I dunno, and I had a really hard time understanding her thick brogue without also seeing the words in front of me. I really hate myself for saying that but there is something about all UK accents that just disagree with my brain. I had one chance in this lifetime to meet Robert Smith of the Cure, my #1 favorite singer of all time, and here I am in this small room doing a meet-n-greet with him, unable to understand anything he’s saying because of his accent.

Ugh.

But I wanted to give it another chance so I got the physical book from the library, and yo. YO. First of all, listen Lucy: any book that starts with a goddamn Pet Shop Boys quote is off to a grrrreat start. And, funnily, there were even several Cure shoutouts in this too!

I dunno how to explain what it was about this that stuck to my ribs like warm, gushy gobs of straight nostalgia, but the writing was chef’s kiss, the pop culture references were smart and snappy, the “Friend group dynamic” was everything I wish I had in my life right now. It made me think back to the days in my early 20s when I used to hang out at McCoy’s with the group of friends I had at that time (Janna is the only one of that group that I kept, everyone was all was TOXIC AF, no lost love there) but it’s not so much the memory of the PEOPLE as it is of that feeling of having somewhere familiar to go, where you walk in with all the confidence in the world because YOU’RE the regular, and these other people can step the fuck out of your way. I dunno, this book struck a chord with me and I rooted so hard for Eve.

Some of the lines in this book made me scream out loud, “I WISH I HAD WRITTEN THAT!” It’s almost like a giant long episode of Friends, but make it darker and British. I need to read every book this broad has written now.

5. Who Is Maud Dixon – Alexandra Andrews

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Two stars, and I’m being generous here. WTF did I just read?? This was so implausible and not even in an entertaining way. I was excited to read it because a large portion of it is set in Morocco but it might as well have just been Iowa because I did not get any exotic Moroccan flavor from this AT ALL.

Lame.

6. With Teeth – Kristen Arnett 

With Teeth

A 2-star snooze.

An aside: the main character’s name is Sammie Lucas, which made me picture Sami and Lucas from Days Of Our Lives, which is probably the only positive thing I have to say about this. I read some 4- and 5-star reviews on Goodreads and heartily disagreed with each one. Book, bye. I should have DNF’d this, honestly.

7. The Manningtree Witches – A.K. Blakemore

The Manningtree Witches

OK, puritan historical fiction, I see you! Four stars from me! My only issue was that I did have a hard time keeping up with all of the characters but I thought this was brilliantly written and a really solid 17th century witch trial reimagining (though loosely based on actual history). Rebecca West was such a strong and vivid leading character, and I would have definitely wanted to be friends with her had I lived back then and also, thank god I hadn’t lived back then because how fucking miserable. Ugh.

And this review wouldn’t be complete without a FUCK MEN tossed in for good measure.

Wait P.S. how wonderful is that book cover? I’d like to redesign a whole-ass room using that palette, honestly.

8. New People – Danzy Senna

New People

4 stars – strangely enjoyable yet extremely uncomfortable. Was recommended to me when I asked the library for personalized recs. Always ask your librarians, people.

P.S. This was set in 1990s NYC, which is evidently something I enjoy in books.

9. Where They Wait – Scott Carson

Where They Wait

3 stars. Started out very strong and I thought, “Oh goodie maybe I finally found a horror novel that unsettles me” but then it got really boring and stupid 2/3 of the way through. Interesting premise though.

10. The Guncle – Steven Rowley

The Guncle

2 Stars. I’m definitely in the minority here but this book just didn’t do it for me. I can’t really pinpoint where it flopped for me, but it felt directionless and kind of redundant at times. It wasn’t that the writing itself was annoying, and even the characters weren’t too bad but there was some disconnect between the story and me, and I really hate that. Really bummed though because this sounded like something that could have been quirky and feel-good, but as it was, I didn’t even cry once! “You can’t spell nemesis with me, sis” is the best thing to come from the whole book.