Jan 172024

Why does it seem like December was so long ago already? I legit can’t even remember the books I read now, without consulting Goodreads. December did a number on me. No five stars but some solid 4s. (You know what’s hilar is that I think somewhere along the line, I stopped putting my star ratings for each book, oh well, lol.)

  1. The Breakaway by Jennifer Weiner

4 stars. Not my FAVE Weiner (hahahaha) but I enjoyed this and the alternating POVs. Her books aren’t necessarily literary masterpieces, but they do entertain me and have just the right amount of drama and conflict without being too heavy-handed. I don’t want to say these are light and fluffy – this one has a teen pregnancy storyline – but I would still put these in the “beach read” category. Plus, a Jennifer Weiner book was one of the first ones I took out of the library in January 2020 when I pledged to read more, so there’s some FOND ASSOCIATION there.

What I enjoyed the most about this was that most of it takes place on the road as a group of bikers ride from NYC to Buffalo. Still being nostalgic and sentimental from our coaster trip, it had some relatable feels for me, being in a group and befriending people simply because you’re together, doing the same thing. Love that. Leave me alone.

2. Pride and Prejudice and Pittsburgh by Rachael Lippincott

4 stars. This was a cute time travel, sapphic twist on Pride & Prejudice. I wish there had been more Pgh parts but most of the book takes place in the past, in England. A quick, cute read.

3. To Sir, with Love by Lauren Layne

4 stars – maybe more like 3.5. Predictable romance but I genuinely liked the couple and that made it fun. Another cute, quick read.

4. His Black Tongue by Mitchell Lüthi

3 stars for the audiobook production. *shrugs* Nothing about this scared me. I’m glad I opted for the audiobook though because the production was excellent and included some creepy Gregorian (or similar?) chants. Very atmospheric. But the stories themselves didn’t really enthrall me. (Disclaimer: I was also listening to this the day before Chingumas and I was extremely stressed out so factor that in.)

5. Becoming the Boogeyman by Richard Chizmar

4 stars. Creepy, engaging, entertaining. Shout out to Megan for clueing me into this series. Chasing the Boogeyman was better, but this was a solid follow-up IMO.

6. The Block Party by Jamie Day

3 stars. Basically a season of Desperate Housewives with less compelling characters.

7. The Book of the Most Precious Substance by Sara Gran

4.5 stars. YES. Yes yes yes. A book dealer goes on a whirlwind, worldwide quest to procure this ancient witchy sex book for a mystery buyer. Loved it. Interesting, exciting, engaging, memorable. Kind of…OK hear me out…Dan Brown vibes but so much better and smarter.

8. Good Bad Girl by Alice Feeney

3 stars. Alice Feeney is so hit-or-miss. This one had too many women to follow and none of them were interesting. The twist was mid. The whole time, I kept thinking, “How is this the same author who wrote Daisy Darker?” One upside to this is that all of the chapters were relatively short and I do love me a book with short chapters.

9. Margarettown by Gabrielle Zevin

4 stars. I almost DNFd this after the first chapter or two and I’m really glad I stuck it out. I was weeping by the end. This line of the synopsis speaks volumes: “What he doesn’t know is that loving Maggie means loving many women at once.” This book read like a beautiful love letter to women. I felt seen. Maybe Henry should read this.

10. The Swallowed Man by Edward Carey

3 stars. A retelling-ish of Pinnochio from Geppetto’s POV. Not for me but I can see where this would appeal to others. Most of the book takes place inside the whale and it just felt a bit, you know, well, claustrophobic. I wish there had been more “outside of the stomach” flashbacks.

11. Nestlings by Nat Cassidy

4.5 stars. OK NAT CASSIDY CALM DOWN. You are already my new favorite horror writer, stop showing off.  I didn’t love this quite as much as Mary, but this was damn near flawless in my eyes. A modern take on Rosemary’s Baby and done beautifully. Ana is a fucking bad-ass main character and I rooted for her the whole way through. One thing to note with Cassidy’s books – ya gotta read the foreword and author’s notes. Ya just gotta. I am such a fan girl. I love him lots. His writing is chef’s kiss, his characters are so vivid, and his scene-setting is glorious.

I always say that when/if we ever buy a house and actually have room for a book shelf, I want to go back and buy physical copies of my faves and both of Nat Cassidy’s book will be on those supposed shelves, you can bet.

12. The Dead Romantics by Ashley Poston

4 stars. I needed this. A little magical realism, a little romance, a funeral home in a small town as a setting….this was precious. I cried, BUT I ALSO LAUGHED.

13. Nineteen Claws and a Black Bird by Agustina Bazterrica

3 stars. Short stories. Some are better than others. None were particularly scary/creepy/thrilling.  There was one I loved about a woman who wants her body to be a circle, though. Most of them made me extremely uncomfortable and that’s what I want horror to do, so this wasn’t a total bust.

14. Look Closer by David Ellis

3 stars. Long for no reason. The main character Simon was so milquetoast and whiny, I couldn’t stand him. What’s a synonym for “mid”?


OK, that wraps up my December reads. Read ’em and weep (I dunno why I said that, please don’t cry).

Jan 102024

I set a goal of 80 books for 2023 because I wanted to slow my roll a little and focus more on quality, etc. etc. But AS PER UJE, I got all embroiled in Booktube suggestions and hype and then started selecting random audiobooks to listen to on my walks (a lot of them were soooo bad too because I always tend to go for thrillers when it comes to audiobooks-for-walking) and somehow ended up reading MORE than the year before (only by 6 but still): 136.

I dunno, I think reading became my nervous tic since the pandemic.

Anyway, who cares. I did read a lot of great ones last year and here are some that I would whole-heartedly recommend and, as I always say, if I ever one day own a house and have room for a bookshelf (which I do not currently), these would be books I would definitely want to grace the shelves. (Cancel me if I ever start doing obnoxious ombre bookspine organizing or whatever).

I still have to recap my December reads, but here are my 2023 5-star faves in no particular order; click the cover to go to each Goodreads page:

Dec 102023

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

  1. The Demon of Brownsville Road – Bob Cranmer

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

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

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

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

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

3. The Boyfriend Candidate – Ashley Winstead

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

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

4. None of This Is True by Lisa Jewell

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

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

5. Now You’re One of Us by Asa Nonami

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

6. Midnight Is the Darkest Hour by Ashley Winstead

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

7. The Narrow by Kate Alice Marshall

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

8. The September House by Carissa Orlando

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

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

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

10. The Woman in Me by Britney Spears

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

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

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

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

12. Monstrilio by Gerardo Sámano Córdova

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

13. The Night House by Jo Nesbø

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



Dec 052023

Uh, somehow, I forgot to my October book recap, I can’t imagine why. #stress #changes #newneighbors #help

  1. Delicate Condition – Danielle Valentine

I gave this a 4 at the time based on peer pressure, but in hindsight this was barely a 3. Just go read Rosemary’s Baby instead.

2. Just Another Missing Person – Gillian McAllistor

I really enjoyed this multiple POV thriller. My second McAllister book – I think she’s going on the short list of authors whose new releases  I look forward to! This was a very twisty missing person (wow you don’t say) story and the only issue I had was that one of the POVs was kind of pointless and didn’t add very much to the plot, and she wasn’t even an interesting character.

3. Mary – Nat Cassidy

Yoooo, remember what I was just saying up there about Gillian McAllistor? Punt Nat Cassidy to the top of that short list because his horror-writing skillz made my heart swell. Interesting characters; biting, snappy, witty dialogue; actual well-written horror scenes that made me feel sickly and gave me chills even while listening to this audio book (superb narration BTW) in broad daylight on neighborhood strolls. I LOVED THIS BOOK. If I was backed into a wall to give a gripe, I guess I would just say that it felt a tad longer than it needed to be. But the characters! The ghosts! The story! M A R Y!! There were parts to this book that I felt under my skin. Loved it. His new book is currently waiting for me at the library so I will RUN NOT WALK there tomorrow after work to snatch it up!

4. The Family Game – Catherine Steadman

Eh. Writing was fine. Really unlikeable characters – some intentionally unlikeable, but I didn’t care for even the good ones. Unoriginal plot. Just eh. Mindless thriller.

5. A House With Good Bones – T.Kingfisher

This is my third or fourth Kingfisher book and I just adore their writing. Dialogue can break a book for me so easily, I don’t give a shit how well-built a world is or how brilliant the plot is. If someone can’t write natural discourse for their characters, then I am immediately taken out of the story.  But this was chef’s kiss, an original take on the haunted house trope, and honestly it was also a depressing and very real exploration into family dynamics and loss. I highly recommend this. ESPECIALLY the audio.

6. Burn the Negative – Josh Winning

See above re: dialogue writing because I’m sorry Josh but you ain’t Winning at that. This wasn’t even remotely scary, but actually so fucking stupid which sucks because the synopsis made it sound like something I would love.

7. Looking Glass Sound – Catriona Ward

I loved “Last House on Needless Street” by this author so I was stoked when this arrived at the library for me. Guys. I’m sad. It was FINE but it didn’t punch me in the face like her last book. Also it was kind of hard to follow and I’m still not sure I completely understood it so maybe this book is actually utterly brilliant and I’m just too much of a stoop.

However, I can’t deny that Ward is an incredibly gifted and smart writer. Maybe I just wasn’t in the right place for this one. October was pretty fucked up for me emotionally and mentally, so…let’s blame it on that. I might revisit this one day.

8. Lay Your Body Down – Amy Suiter Clarke

It was OK. If you enjoy religious coverups / church scandals / grooming / then you might like this one. I like all of those and in theory this book should have been super enthralling to me, but it ended up being just OK, fine. I think I’m just too hard to shock because when “the thing” was revealed, I was just like *shrugging unicorn emoji* Why am I so hard to please.

9. Death Valley – Melissa Broder

Oh how it pains me to say that I only gave this a 3. I loved Broder’s Milk Fed so goddamn much, it was a 5-star for me, so this one was highly anticipated. Oh, it still was packed with her irreverent asides and hilarious comedic writing, but it was the story itself that fell flat for me personally. I loved the first half. I loved her conversations with the desk people at the Best Western she was staying at, and her subsequent unhinged sexual fantasies involving them. But then she gets lost in the desert and the rest of the book is just a fever dream fuller of inner monologues and observations. I quickly grew bored, I’m so sorry Melissa!!

10. Black Sheep – Rachel Harrison

LOVE this writer so much. She is top tier with witty dialogue, and her ability to write…well, not really “horror comedy,” but maybe…”light-hearted horror”? Is that corny. That’s corny. That’s too Lifetime. Quirky horror. We’ll go with that. She writes the disgusting scenes, isn’t afraid to get bloody, but her books still have me cracking up bigly. I’m glad that I didn’t read much about this one going in because I had no idea what the actual plot was, aside from the fact that it’s about a woman who goes back home to the town she couldn’t wait to escape. And her mother is a great American scream queen, but I just kept picturing her as Elvira, lol.  This was a great read, perfect for October.

11. Cover Story – Susan Rigetti

I needed this book more than I realized after a month of horror and lots of misses. It was quick, engaging, set in NYC and partially revolving around an ELLE internship, turns into a caper. This was a lot of fun. And I liked that there were emails and text messages breaking up some of the chapters.


And that was October. I guess 5 “I really liked this” books isn’t too bad…?

Oct 292023

I read these during the 9th month of the year 2023.

  1. You’ve Lost A Lot of Blood – Eric Larocca

Short read, very graphic, a novella within a novella that, according to the Goodreads reviews, makes not a lick of sense to many others and not just me so I feel less dumb.

I didn’t hate it, but it also didn’t really do much for me. Read at your own risk.

2. Rosemary’s Baby – Ira Levin

Can you believe I have never read this?? Of course, I’ve seen the movie adaptation, but I wanted to give the book a whirl and see if it holds up. IT DOES. I mean, obviously not in the sense that a husband could essentially rape his wife back then and the wife will just shrug it off like, “Well, he IS the man of the house and this is what I signed up for, that reminds me, I need to check the answering service for messages and then finish clipping my coupons.” So, you know, you’re very aware of what decade this takes place. But as far as the horror-aspect, shooooooo. I was hooked. In this aspect, Rosemary’s Baby totally holds up and is just as suspenseful and effective in 2023. In fact, this was way better than probably 90% of the new horror I’ve been clawing my way through.

Now I need to revisit the movie. It’s been YEARS. Maybe since I was in high school??

3. Seven Years of Darkness – You-Jeong Jeong

YES. YES YES YES YES. Monica-Explaining-Female-Erogenous-Zones level of YES. FIVE STARS – chilling, atmospheric, suspenseful, terrifying, SO SAD. Just thinking about this has me filling up with body-shaking emotions. Highly recommend it. Memorable characters, unique plot, Korea please turn this into a movie. (NOT YOU, HOLLYWOOD. BACK OFF.)

4. The Borrowers – Rebecca Makkai

Another 5-star from Rebecca Makkai. After four 5-star books from her (IMO ANYWAY), I felt inspired to sign up for her newsletter like this is 2002. She is a queen at story-telling and the way she works with words makes me positively giddy. I appreciate her writing so much. And I love that this book is about a librarian!!! I LOVE LIBRARIES.

5. 6. and 7. The Summer I Turned Pretty series: Jenny Han

I devoured all three of these books. I LOVED the first one, REALLY LIKED the second one, and LIKED the third one which kind of went off the rails a little bit. Neither #2 nor #3 was able to fully capture the magic and vibe of the first in the series because that one was set fully at the beach in the summer with the full cast / families.

I started to watch the TV series and even though there are A LOT of differences between season one and book one, I still genuinely liked the show. I couldn’t get through season two though. Sorry.

Jenny Han is just so great though. I would love to see her try her hand at an adult novel sometime too!

8. The Invention of Sound – Chuck Palahniuk

I went through a Chuck P. kick when I was in my late 20s and back then I probably would have considered him to be one of my inspirations for the flash fiction I used to write. It’s been A LONG time since I read anything of his, and I grabbed this off a shelf at the library feeling real inspired to get back into it.

I HATED this book SO MUCH. I found the writing itself to be so tiresome and cringe, and the plot was like….what. I was bored, confused, annoyed, disgusted. These are not things that are conducive to a good reading experience. So now I’m wondering – was it just THIS book, or have I “outgrown” him?

The only thing I got out of this was learning that psychopaths lack whatever it is in our brains that make yawns “contagious” which is how I THEN learned that neither Henry nor Chooch are affected in the slightest at the sight of someone yawning.


I can sit here with my cat and we will yawn back and forth all day, I swear to god. I read the word “yawn,” and off I go. In this case, I just yawned until my eyes watered simply from typing the y-word.

But yeah, fuck this book hard into a garbage disposal though.

9. Bright Young Women – Jessica Knoll 

DUDE 5 STARS but possibly this is partially due to the audiobook because Sutton Foster is one of the two narrators. Still this is a super engaging and entertaining dual-timeline take on the Ted Bundy murders. If you like true crime, I highly recommend this. I appreciate that he is NEVER NAMED, not once, throughout the book but if you know even the most basic facts about him, you would be able to put two and two together. Instead, it focuses on several of the victims, and the people around them whose lives were affected for, well, ever.

10. The Shadow Cabinet – Juno Dawson

Another 5 star read! Four for the month of September? Is it true?? This is the second book in the Her Royal Majesty’s Cabinet series and while I tend to shy away from book series because, commitment, I am well, COMMITTED to this one. The characters, the action, the magic, the twists, the witty banter. I’m here for it. The sequel was JUST as wonderful as the first one and I cannot for the third installment. I have hopes that perhaps it will expand from just a “trilogy” though? Please, Juno Dawson?


And that’s what I read in September. Take it or leave it.

Sep 052023

Hi. I barely read in August. I think I went into it too cocky and brought three (3!!) books on vacation with me. OK, Erin. Calm down. I didn’t read AT ALL until the flight back to the States, and even then, it was only about 30 pages. I don’t know why I thought I was going to read on the bus during our vacation. Hello, I was too busy being practically cupping my ears so that I wouldn’t miss a single conversation around me!! The bus was so entertaining every day! (Henry and Chooch probably will say otherwise, but that’s because they’re not coated in nosiness and rolled in powdery FOMO like I am.)

Anyway, here are the very few books I did read!

  1. The Guest – Emma Cline

After checking this out of the library and realizing that I also read Cline’s other book, The Girls, I started to think it was a mistake, assumed there was a big possibility it could be a DNF, and almost didn’t even give it a chance. But then I started reading it and couldn’t stop. It does start out slow, like “Where the fuck is this going?” and it’s also one of those “cool hot Williamsburg girl” books that I usually “DON’T GET” because I’m too old and don’t wear, I dunno, corduroy pants and belly shirts. But I was invested in this bitch’s end of the summer saga, basically being homeless in some bougie area of Long Island after her sugar daddy kicks her out, dodging some dude who she owes a bunch of money to, and just basically using every motherfucker that gets caught in her human-hurricane path.

Somehow, for as little redeeming qualities as she had, I still found myself rooting for her and just eating up the words on every page with a fucking grapefruit spoon, mmkay. This book might not for you or you, but I bet it’s for you. Yeah, you. Over there.

2. Yellowface – R.F. Kuang

If you’re even MODERATELY into books, you have likely seen this on a bunch of best-of lists. Four stars for me, fam. The writing was smart, the plot was fresh, and it shone a spotlight on racism and appropriation in a unique way that challenged my way of thinking several times. I feel like when it comes to topics like these, we should never stop checking ourselves and allowing the discomfort to happen because that’s how we grow. And this book definitely had me tugging at my collar more than once. It’s not finger-waggy at all though – strip that all away and you’re still left with an entertaining and tense (and at times, funny) novel about the publishing industry and plagiarism. (JANNA, IF YOU ARE READING THIS, I THINK YOU WOULD LIKE THIS.)

I read The Poppy War by Kuang a few years ago but that was like, a 600-page fantasy – it blows my mind that this is the same writer. She is stupidly talented!

3. We Were Never Here – Andrea Bartz

Remember last month when I read another Bartz book and hated it so much? Well, I had also checked this one out of the library at the same time and returned it with the other book without even bothering to try out the first page. But then I snagged it on audio because I’m a sucker and needed something to listen to on my morning walks when we came back from vacation. Wow, this book was less bad than the last one of hers I read, but still not great. 2.5.

4. Dead Eleven – Jimmy Juliano

Oh, how I wanted this to be a 5-star read. I really, really did. The plot was great, I loved the writing, the characters were interesting. I loved that it was “set” in 1992. I loved the OJ and pog references. But I didn’t love that it didn’t scare me. I still think I would recommend this to anyone looking for a supernatural horror book because I feel like most people aren’t as picky as me when it comes to horror?? I want to have the “icy chills on a 90 degree summer afternoon” type of experience while reading horror. I LOVE horror books in the summer. But I just have a tough time finding ones that get under my skin. Please help me.

5. All-Night Pharmacy – Ruth Madievsky

I truly had no idea what was going on through most of this – lots of drugs, sex, people being shitty to each other. But when that shit wasn’t going on, there were moments of brilliance here. Basically, the main character has a very dependent and toxic relationship with her older sister, and then accidentally-maybe-on-purpose stabs her one night then spends the next two years somewhat-searching for her after she disappears. I don’t know, it’s a weird one. Not relatable for me AT ALL and I was bored for long swathes of it, but then somehow, the very last line of the book made me fucking laugh out loud. Three stars. Again, I feel like this is the type of book girls in their early 20s who dress like it’s 1995 and mommy bought them everything out of the Delia*s catalogue would devour on the bus to a rave in Brooklyn.


And that’s all from me for August. :( I usually average 10 books a month but sometimes you gotta take your nose out of the books and marathon roller coasters in Europe for 2 weeks!

Aug 012023

I wish I hadn’t read some of these.

  1. The Only One Left – Riley Sager

July started off so strong with this read!

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

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

Five stars, starting July strong.

2. Roomies – Christina Lauren

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

3. The Last House on the Street – Diane Chamberlain

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

4. Election – Tom Perrotta

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

5. Happy Place- Emily Henry

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

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

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



6. Secluded Cabin Sleeps Six – Lisa Unger

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

7. Chlorine – Jade Song

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

8. The One – John Marrs

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

I just thought it was hokey.

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

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

Ugh, this was so bad.

10. The Spare Room – Andrea Bartz

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

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

11. Nuclear Family – Joseph Han

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

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

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


Jul 142023
  1. The Neighbors – Ania Ahlborn

My second book of hers and I just don’t get it. I gave this a 2. Completely unforgettable. No really – I can’t remember reading this AT ALL.

2. Ohio – Stephen Markley

Wow. Wow wow wow. My goodreads review:

I am going to need some to process this, but holy shit this was a crazy ride. Every time one chapter would connect to one from earlier in the book, I would gasp a little. I have been reading a lot of books lately where the characters are all written like effing Sims, the dialogue is cringy and unnatural, etc. I needed this book more than I realized.

The writing was SO GOOD that I had to skip over some of the more graphic parts because I was actually screaming out loud. (TW: cutting, among many other triggers – rape, drugs, war.)

I immediately made Henry read this because I needed to talk about it so badly that it made my stomach hurt. I don’t think I’ll ever forget this book. I fucking screamed at some parts and there were times when I was listening to it on audio while out on walks and would have to be extra conscious of the faces I was pulling – maybe this was too tense to read in public!

3. Where the Blame Lies – Mia Sheridan

This was a tough one for me because while I appreciated the plot, I really didn’t care for the writing style. Apparently this author writes primarily romance and that was pretty apparent. Corny AF dialogue and sex scenes. Flat characters. But the twist was interesting. Megan lent this one to me, and also the sequel which I haven’t started yet and am unsure if I am that committed.

4. The Couple at No. 9 – Claire Douglas

Pretty damn good. I rarely read a British thriller that I don’t like, is all I’m saying.

(I don’t know that I would go as far as to say that this is “hold-your-breath tense” as old Timmy Weaver says on the cover blurb, but it was definitely something different!)

5. Before She Knew Him – Peter Swanson

Peter Swanson is hit-or-miss for me, but this was a hit. I did guess the twist about halfway through but it was still enjoyable.

6. The House in the Pines – Ana Reyes

Reese’s Book Club pick, really? Someone’s Goodreads review for this just says, “Reese, you ok?” This was trash, a total waste of time. Messy plot, neither thrilling nor scary. How this got published is beyond me. I have nothing good to say about it.

7. Mouth to Mouth – Antoine Wilson

A pretty fast read. The whole book is just some dude running into an old college friend at JFK and then randomly telling him this long-ass story about how he once saved some man from drowning and then became obsessed with him, to the point of forcing their paths to cross again. It was…fine? The writing was fine. The idea was cool.  But it was also kind of pretentious, and I imagine this hits different for men of a certain ilk, men of a certain beard-length, men with Father John Misty records spinning on the player, men with brandy in decanters.

This just really felt like a man’s book. I don’t know how else to explain. Their were large swaths of it where I found myself drifting off, thinking about NCT Dream performing “Quiet Down.” Thinking about my squirrels. Thinking about what else I had in my TBR stack.

I didn’t hate it. Didn’t love it. Three stars because the writing was good.

8. Chasing the Boogeyman – Richard Chizmar

FIVE STARS. Good lord, the way I was sucked into this and kept forgetting it wasn’t real. It’s written like it’s real, like the author really grew up in a town where young girls were being abducted and killed. Each chapter even ended up photos of the town, the girls, the police involved in the investigation. IT FELT SO REAL. I loved it – it was chilling, entertaining, and HOW WAS THIS NOT REAL.

I went back and forth between reading the physical book and listening to the audio and recommend both. The narration was really great and conversational, like Chizmar was just chilling in my house, telling me all matter-of-factly about this serial killer targeting girls in his neighborhood. Oh, it was so good. It almost had a Wonder Years vibe to it, but make it dark and set in the 80s.

9. What Happened to Ruthy Ramirez – Clare Jimenez 

One star. This was AWFUL. The writing was sloppy. The whole thing was sloppy, really. Gratuitous swearing. The premise sounded so good: Ruthy Ramirez never comes home from school from day in the 90s. Fast forward to present day and her two remaining sisters are convinced that they found her on some trashy reality TV show and become obsessed with bringing her home. Sounds like it could be madcap, right?

NOPE. This was so goddamn boring and worthless. Didn’t like a single character. Didn’t care one way or another if Ruthy was dead or alive.

10. Local Girl Missing – Claire Douglas

When I saw that the audio for this was available on Hoopla, after liking her other book so much that I read earlier in the month, I thought WHAT THE HELL and gave it a go. It was OK! I didn’t like it as much as the other one but it was still a pretty decent thriller.

11. Love in the Big City – Sang Young Park

A series of connected short stories from the POV of being gay in South Korea? Yes please. I gave each story 4 stars, but the book as a whole was a 5 for me. The first chapter about Jaehee was my favorite. My least favorite was the one that focused mostly on caring for his mom while dating an older man. I was sobbing by the end of the book.

Also, I fucking miss Korea so much.

12. All the Dangerous Things – Stacy Willingham

Meh. My second Willingham book. It’s not that she’s terrible, but I think she tries to have too much going on. Also, this book has so many similarities to her first book, A Flicker in the Dark, which I did like. It was decent enough but the ending just didn’t feel satisfying. And I also didn’t really care that her baby was kidnapped, how awful am I!?!

But again, too much going on. Nefarious husband stuff, a super convoluted backstory with a murder/death?, suspicious detective, cold case podcast guy met on a plane and now suddenly lives with her? Just…so much was happening. Calm down, Stacy Willingham. Save some of that shit for the next book(s).


Jun 292023

I read these in May and now it is almost July.

  1. A Visit From the Goon Squad – Jennifer Egan

If you give this anything less than 4 stars on Goodreads, people will tell you that you just don’t get it, you’re dumb, etc. (interesting that it appears to be mostly MEN leaving those types of bullying comments). I guess I’m a big dumbo who just doesn’t get it. I gave it 3 stars. The first chapter was wildly engaging to me, but I quickly got bored after that. The timeline jumping and, quite frankly, annoying cast of characters was a bit too tedious for me to keep up with and I wound up just not caring. People freak out over the POWERPOINT section of this book but that was probably the most boring chapter to me.

SUFFICE TO SAY I will not be continuing this series.

2. The Between – Tananarive Due

Four stars, a decent horror story with great writing and compelling characters. Creepy. I was sold pretty much from chapter 1.

3. Carrie Soto is Back – Taylor Jenkins Reid

DUDE. I was worried about this because I legit hated Malibu Rising and Carrie Soto is a character from that book (albeit a very small periphery character). But no, this book was just what I needed. Of course, I love tennis so the fact that this is about a tennis star coming out of retirement to defend her Grand Slam record was already appealing to me, but in true TJR fashion, she intersperses magazine articles, sports commentary transcripts, and flashbacks throughout the book to really keep it interesting. I should note that I ONLY “read”  her books via audio because she always gets a full cast to read. This one had Patrick McEnroe and Mary Carillo voicing some of the sports commentators. YES. I loved this goddamn book and it made me want to start playing tennis again in the worst way. (More on that later lol.)

4. The Writing Retreat – Julia Bartz

Eh. Three stars. Pretty lame. The beginning, before the whole “Writing Retreat” comes into play, was solid and made me think I was going to love it.  The worst part was the inclusion of the book-within-the-book. So, fucking boring and just not well-written at all. I started to skip those parts.

5. Lavender House – Lev Ac Rosen

Another three star but no strong opinions on this one either way. It was fine, a decent mystery, enjoyed the historical and queer aspect of it, but I likely won’t be picking up any more of the Andy Mills series.

6. The Swimmers – Julie Otsuka

Just depressing, honestly. And not very fun to read. I almost DNFd this numerous times but I had the audio and it was relatively short, and I needed something for my walks so I just dealt with it.  Here, pretend this broad is me, because I agree 100%:

7. Whisper Down the Lane – Clay McLeod Chapman

Satanic Panic? Sign me up. But only if it’s well-written. Which this was…not. I think this is my second book by this dude and that I disliked so we will officially put him on the DNR list. The writing was just bad in this one. The plot was lame. Goodbye.

8. The Only Survivors – Megan Miranda

Her books are neither good nor bad in my opinion. They just are. And the main character is always exactly the same, I swear to fucking god. I never noticed it until Henry pointed it out because he was on a M.Miranda kick a while back and was like, “I wonder if she is writing herself as the main character??” If so, she must have the personality of a paper bag. It was fine. I feel like this is a good “killing time on in an airport” read because if you get distracted, you can pretty much accidentally skip chunks at a time and not notice.

Three stars only because it didn’t piss me off.

9. The Hundred-Year House – Rebecca Makkai

YES. YES YES YES YES. Finally, a five star read. My third Makkai book, and all have been five stars. Stick her on my FAVE WRITER list. This book spans three timelines, starting with 1999. After reading that portion of the book – so quirky, Gilmore Girls-vibes as far as the dialogue goes – I thought that I would hate the subsequent sections of the book. I didn’t want to leave 1999! But yoooo, this book only got better the more “way-back” it got.  I immediately made Janna read it (JANNA DID YOU EVER FINISH IT Y/N. IF SO, DID YOU LIKE IT Y/N.)

You know how people will say things like, “I couldn’t put this book down! I devoured it in one sitting!” when they love a book? I think it’s the opposite for me, in a way. This book was so intricately and smartly written that it begs to be read slowly. I dragged it out for nearly 2 weeks. I would go back and re-read parts of the previous sections once I stumbled across an easter egg. I would luagh out loud – ACTUALLY – at the brilliance of this story. I felt like I knew all the characters by the end and wanted it to be a true story. NOW I AM CRYING. I want to read this again and I am usually not one for re-reads. I actually reserved the audio book on Libby because I want to see if this adds to the experience at all.

Makkai is a terrific writer. I think I might idolize her. I mean, I signed up for her newsletter and I hate newsletters, so that’s saying something.

10. Hamnet – Maggie O’Farrell

Totally on brand for me to think that a book that won awards is “just OK.” I felt like the writing didn’t do enough to make us give a shit about Hamnet so when the thing that happens happened,  I didn’t give a shit about the thing happening. One of the Booktubers that I follow on Goodreads said that they couldn’t stop crying and this book wrecked them. Am I dead.

It’s weird though because I wasn’t exactly bored while reading this. I was interested. Yet, I didn’t care. Explain that to me. I think I am losing function of part of my brain.


Wow, May was a shitty month for me, book-wise. Please someone recommend more books to me like The Hundred-Year House. Sigh.

May 072023

Books. Let’s get it:

  1. What Have We Done – Alex Finlay

Honestly? I didn’t like the other Alex Finlay book I read and this one was pretty much on the same level. In fact, I can’t even remember reading this now.

Oh wait, I do remember. There were some sincerely annoying characters in this bitch.

2. Funny You Should Ask – Elissa Sussman

Duuuuude. I had taken this out of the library several months ago, DNF’d it without even starting it, but then trying it out later when I saw the audiobook chillin’ on Libby. (Scribd, maybe? Can’t remember.) The premise is that a young writer interviews a famous young actor in a way that leaves the reader wondering DID THEY OR DIDN’T THEY DO IT.

Fast forward a decade or so and she’s asked to write a follow-up. I won’t get into too much but holy shit, I loved this book. It was funny, bittersweet, refreshing, and hopeful. Um, why are my eyes wet right now?!

(Also, can we talk about this cover? I am so hot for the red/pink color palette. If we ever buy a house, I 100% want a Valentine-themed room.)

3. Fantasticland – Mike Bockoven

OK. I liked this premise and REALLY liked how it was told via interviews for a documentary. I listened to this on audio and that made it even better. Basically, there is a huge ass hurricane that hits Florida and a bunch of employees at a popular theme park agree to stay behind for extra pay because the park was built to withstand catastrophes of a certain degree and because of that, rescue teams / the government make this is a low priority area to service. Shit goes awry and since the majority of the people stuck here are teenagers/young adults, it gets very extreme and violent super quick.

There were definitely a lot of body horror parts that made me blanche a bit, but I thought that the story itself was pretty decent. It did get pretty redundant at times though because various people were essentially telling the same story from different angles/perspectives.

I actually finished it in the car on the first leg of our drive to Chicago for NCT Dream so I will probably always remember it for that.

4. The Paris Apartment – Lucy Foley 

I think this is the third Lucy Foley book I’ve read and each one has been mid. What am I missing here? Lucy Foley is so popular on Bookstagram but I just haven’t been that impressed yet.

This was your typical “everyone in the apartment building is connected/fishy/sinister” whodunnit. Not the worst I’ve ever read but I also sincerely did not really care about anyone in this book or what the big reveal was going to be. The cover is nice though.

5. What Lies in the Woods – Kate Alice Marshall

I knew this author’s name sounded familiar and it’s because I read a YA novel of hers several years ago, which I thought was just OK. This adult thriller/mystery was much better. I cared about the main character and honestly, the plot can fall apart in a book but if I love the characters, I will still probably end up loving the book. That being said, this was KIND OF far-fetched but the writing was strong and the people felt real to me. Sometimes that’s enough.

6. Everyone in My Family Has Killed Someone – Benjamin Stevenson 

OK, this was pretty effing great. Sometimes I need a light-hearted, slap-sticky take on a mystery novel and this one did it for me. Charming cast of characters, loved the writing style, quirky and smart. Apparently, this is the start of a series and I think I will have to see it through!

7. Wrong Place, Wrong Time – Gillian McAlister

Typically, I don’t fuck with sci-fi / time travel type shit but this one was pretty compelling to me! The book starts in present day and goes back in time from there, with a WHY that needs to be answered. I was invested, buckled in for the ride. Did I understand all of the time shit? FUCK NO. But it didn’t frustrate me, because the characters and story itself were strong enough to carry me through. There was a solid A-HA moment for me too, which was satisfying.

I think one of the reasons I was felt connected to the main character was because her son reminded me of Chooch a little bit and I was desperate for his actions to make sense.

8. The Lost Night – Andrea Bartz

INTO IT. I really really really liked the flashbacks into the lives of a hipster friend group living in NYC in the early 2000s. The core member of the group kills herself and the rest of the book is about how, years later and after they all had drifted apart, the protagonist of the book starts to realized that she can’t actually remember key elements of the night their friend killed herself.

I loved the music references – it made me so nostalgic – but also this was just so wonderfully written, the story was compelling, there was some humor sprinkled in too so you didn’t get weighed down by the heaviness of the themes. I flew through it and then immediately recommended it to Henry who listened to the audio book in like, one day. He loved it too.

Highly recommend but if you hate it DON’T @ ME.

9. Remarkably Bright Creatures – Shelly Van Pelt

I read one chapter and the voice in my head screamed, “DNF THIS BITCH. THIS IS NOT GOING TO END WELL.” Because one of the characters is an octopus in an aquarium and the first chapter is him telling the readers what the lifespan of his type of octopus is, and how many days he’s been captive in the aquarium. So, you know where this storyline is headed.

But I forged on and I’m…..glad that I did because this was a very sweet story of found family but hoo boy, I finished it right before I logged on to work one day and couldn’t stop doing the “I HAVE BEEN CRYING” full-body shudder / breath hitching.

This was a nominee for the 2022 Goodreads Best Literary Fiction category and I get why.

Ow, my heart hurts just looking at the cover. Fuck.

10. All These Bodies – Kendare Blake 

Highschool boy in the 1950s tries to solve the mystery of a midwest murder spree. It was ok. I didn’t realize it was YA when I picked it up and it definitely read as such.

11. People Like Her – Ellery Lloyd

A thriller, at times tongue-in-cheek, about a UK Instagram influencer mom who finds herself on someone’s shit list, BIGLY. It was a fast read and I thought it was pretty OK and entertaining!

12. My Darkest Prayer – S.A. Cosby

Wow, what a disappointment, considering that Razorblade Tears was one of the best books I read a few years ago, a big 5 stars. This was like someone else had written it – or is this the same way Razorblade Tears was written!? I truly can’t remember but hoo boy, this was overloaded with extremely trite and eye-rolly similes. SO MANY WORDS for no reason. Cringey dialogue. Vulgar. Crude. Made me feel like I was reading a book for bros without permission.

The worst part though is that the plot wasn’t solid enough to make up for any of that shit. I TRUTHFULLY DID NOT CARE. There were chunks and chunks of chapters that I totally skipped over – not even skimmed, SKIPPED – because it was like, ‘Oh, OK. Another annoyingly descriptive fight scene.”

I think, no – I know, that I was just definitely not the target audience for this book. Your dad would probably like it. Me? DIDN’T IMPRESS ME MUCH.

Oh and also, it kind of felt like this was a second book in a series. There was one incident that was referenced numerous times throughout the entire book and it made me feel like there was another book out there that I should have read first, I don’t know. But yeah, just really not my cup of tea and also, AND THIS IS PROBABLY AWFUL TO SAY, I didn’t think that the “shocking discovery” was all that shocking? Am I just a terrible person? Maybe.

I was expecting to really like this because there was a funerary / church angle to it, but nope. Big fat nope. Did not enjoy this.

Apr 122023

And these were the books:

  1. All Hallows – Christopher Golden

UGH this was supposed to be “if you like Stranger Things” and like, the 1980s – I dunno. But I did not feel a single 80s vibe from this book, the characters were cardboard, and the writing was cheesy AF. Not scary.

2. The Villa – Rachel Hawkins

I didn’t realize immediately that I disliked another book I read last year by this same author, so I was nervous. However, this one was 4-stars for me. Two BFFs (the friendship is lowkey strained though) go to Italy for the summer to write their respective books and the villa they rent is the location of a very high-profile murder that took place in the 70s. I loved the 70s-throwback chapters so much, and I thought the characters in this one were better written than Reckless Girls (I think that’s what her other book is called – I don’t feel like looking even though in the amount of time it took me to type this, I could have checked lol ugh who cares). This is one of those times, though, where I wonder if I liked it because the audiobook was so well done, or if the book itself was just that solid? I dunno, it was different and I liked the main character. The ending was….I mean, it’s a bit outrageous but isn’t that why we read thrillers?

3. All Good People Here – Ashley Flowers

OK, does this borrow loosely (heavily) from the Jon Benet Ramsey case? Sure. But is it a motherfucking page-turner? EFF YEAH. I always bring a book with me when we road trip even though I barely end up reading in the car because I’m liveblogging or blabbing away into Henry’s shut-off ears, but this one had me so enrapt that I couldn’t put it down on the way to and from Toronto in March and then I stayed up late when we got home because I had to finish it before going to bed. This entertained me bigly.

4. You Must Remember This –  Kat Rosenfeld 

OK, I was super into this mystery / thriller. Loved the old family estate setting, the flashbacks to the grandma’s youth, the sardonic banter from the surly uncle. I was fully on board with this book, getting successfully creeped out here and there, until it all kind of unraveled for me at the end. I think I even said, “Really?” out loud. I still gave it a 4 because I really did enjoy my time reading it but the ending was hard for me to swallow.

5. Gothic – Philip Fracassi 

OK MUCH better than his other book I read, A Child Alone With Strangers. As I read this, it so vividly played out in my mind like a really classy horror movie from the 70s, something akin to The Omen. Basically, this struggling author is gifted an antique desk by his rich wife/gf but UNFORCH, the desk is fucking CURSED big time and all kinds of very violent chaos ensues, and believe me when I tell you that it was written with such intricate detail, that I could feel the pain in my bones. I listened to this on audio during my neighborhood walks and I was involuntarily flinching in public and sucking the breath between my teeth during some of these scenes.

But yeah, total 1970s classy horror movie aesthetic here.

6. A Flicker in the Dark – Stacy Willingham 

Megan lent this one to me and our tastes in thrillers are extremely aligned so I knew it was going to be good. She never lends me a dud!

This one was a page-turner and even though I sort of guessed the twist, there was enough other shit / red herrings going on that kept it fresh.

7. A Quiet Life – Ethan Joella

This was a very sweet character study of three extremely different strangers who each recently lost a loved one,  and how their lives end up intersecting. It was pretty maudlin, I’m not going to lie, there was no quirkiness, no comic relief really. But it was written beautifully and I cried.

8. I Have Some Questions For You – Rebecca Makkai 

FUCK YES. FIVE STARS. MY SECOND MAKKAI, AND BOTH WERE 5 STARS. This was excellent. Dark academia that I can get behind. If you’re an audiobook fan, I would definitely recommend going that route with this one.

One weird thing to note is that I read this right after a Flicker in the Dark, and both books had references to kids crushing fireflies.*

Anyway, don’t waste any more time reading this blog – just go and grab this book as fast as you can.

9. The Golden Spoon – Jessa Maxwell 

Eh. Very overhyped if you ask me. A light mystery. Didn’t really care one way or the other.

10. Shoko’s Smile – Choi Eun Young

Hello, this was fine but every time I pick up a book of short stories, I’m like, “Wait, I don’t like short stories.” Somehow I didn’t realize that’s what this was even though it literally says it in the title. Cook on, Erin.

11. Sign Here- Claudia Lux

Eh. I kept losing interest and couldn’t keep up. This had the potential of being so great and right up my wino-laden alley, but the delivery was kind of a mess and I cared about no one or nothing.

12. Episode Thirteen – Craig DiLouie

Another one that is best read via audiobook because it’s about a ghost hunting TV show, each character has their own chapters, and the background noise gave me goosebumps even when walking around the ‘hood in broad daylight. Also, there is a song that’s played several times that is FUCKING HAUNTING. It did kind of lose me toward the end because it became very sci-fi-y but I was overall thoroughly entertained and creeped out. No fucking way I could have listened to this alone at night.

13. London Seance Society – Sarah Penner

More like the London Snoozer Society.


OK, that’s all. Just wanted to give you a little break from the NCT Dream content (oh shit, there I go, mentioning NCT Dream again lol).

*(There were also two books that I was reading in tandem last month – one had a DAYS reference, and then as soon as I picked up the second book, THAT ONE ALSO HAD A DAYS REFERENCE IMMEDIATELY IN THAT CHAPTER. Also, two back to back books had a girl character named Riley. That’s all.)


Mar 222023

I have no original titles under my belt these days. Let’s just reminisce about the books my eyeballs drank in last month. If I remember correctly, it was a so-so reading month and some of these books I probably have nothing to say about.

  1. Everything I Know About Love – Dolly Alderton

I really loved this a lot. I pictured a British Jane Pratt throughout, it was like rolling around on a mattress papered with Sassy pages. A VIBE. My friend Sadi’s Goodreads review was “a beautiful love letter to female friendship” and I really can’t summarize it any better than that. It was entertaining and also taught me that there is a Windows hotkey that will change CAPSLOCK to lowercase and I was so excited about this that I wrote it down and then tried it at work the next day AND IT WORKED but now I’ve lost it. I cannot tell you how many times in the past I have been tippy-tap-typing away only to look up and realize I had CAPSLOCK on!!

 2. Just the Nicest Couple – Mary Kubica

Uh….I don’t remember reading this lol. I just read the synopsis a bunch of times and these names aren’t ringing any bells and the blurb is so vague. I gave this 4 stars though—but maybe I should knock it down to three since this clearly wasn’t very memorable.

3. Thank You For Listening –  Julia Whelan

Dude, I loved this and gave it five stars. In fact, as soon as I saw the cover again, I spontaneously smiled, bigly. This book was really cook because the author, Julia Whelan, is also one of my favorite audiobook narrators! And this gives some really cool insight into the audiobook narration and voice acting world. At its core, it’s a romance novel (and actually a really one too – I cringed not), but it also covered some serious issues too. The main character was a rising star, born to act, until a horrific accident (the details of which aren’t described until well into the book and it….it was unexpected) leaves her with a disability and essentially ends her acting career. The writing is snappy. The characters are full of life. This book was just so fun to read and yeah, I cried.

4. A Child Alone With Strangers – Philip Fracassi

I really want to find a horror author that I love. Please Lord, help me. This book was FINE. The writing was kind of cheesy (OK, very), it was about 200 pages longer than it should have been, and the characters felt like cardboard cutouts. The story itself was interesting but I wasn’t scared. It relied a lot on body horror and that’s just really not my thing. There was also a whole chapter involving stray dogs that I had to skip. I didn’t HATE it (I gave it 3 stars) but it’s not something I would recommend.

I will say that I only read this because the book of his that I wanted to read was just released last month and I was on the waitlist for it, so I chose this one to tide me over. DID I STILL END UP READING THE OTHER ONE? You’ll have to check back for the March wrap-up to find out, lol.

5. Tell Me I’m Worthless – Alison Rumfitt

NOW THIS WAS A GOOD HORROR BOOK. Shit, this actually chilled me.  I had this on audio and was listening to it in the attic while painting a mural on the closet door and then I would remember that I was in the attic and have to turn it off. It has pretty much every trigger warning imaginable. It has some GRAPHIC scenes. It made me feel uncomfortable, nauseated, disgusted. It was one of the best literary horror novels I have ever read. The most unique take on the haunted house trope. It delivered.

6. Mean Baby – Selma Blair

I like Selma Blair. I still say YOU ROONED IT!! instead of “ruined” because of her character in Kath & Kim, a short-lived sitcom the name of which I couldn’t even remember, but I will NEVER forget “ROONED.” I was obsessed with the old-ass WB show Zoe Duncan Jack and Jane. And obviously Cruel Intentions. But that’s about as far as I dug into her oeuvre. Yet something made me snag the audiobook of this (she narrates it) and now I can officially say that I LOVE Selma Blair and want only the best for her.

Yet somehow my main takeaway from this is that a HAWK ATTACKED HER DOG I HATE HAWKS SO MUCH.

7. Bad Cree – Jessica Johns 

This was terrible 1 star. The writing was so bad. The plot was a mess. The main character was boring AF. I wanted to LOVE this book. I really did. But I wish I could get my time back.

8. Someday, Maybe – Onyi Nwabineli

This, on the other hand, was a joy to read. OK also excruciatingly sad because the WHOLE ENTIRE BOOK is a woman trying to make sense, recover from, process, heal from her husband’s sudden and tragic death. This isn’t a spoiler, it’s literally in the blurb, but he killed himself on NYE and she is the one who found him. I know it sounds like this book probably needs to be soundtracked with a funeral dirge, but there are actually quite a few moments when I laughed out loud. It’s witty, poignant, bitterly sad, and just very memorable. I will definitely be on the lookout for more from this author.

(Also, reading this made me want to hug Henry. ‘Lil bit.)

9. Now Is Not the Time to Panic – Kevin Wilson

I really like Kevin Wilson. I didn’t love this as much as “Nothing to See Here” because the story itself just didn’t captivate me as much, but if you read this, DO NOT SKIP THE AUTHOR’S NOTE. I actually bumped this from a 3.5 to a 4 because of the author’s note.

I’ll just tell you that this about two teenagers in the 90s who become friends one summer and make some random poster, photocopy it a bunch of times, and then tape it around town. I know, what a plot, right? But …yeah, it gets weird, lol.

10. One Italian Summer – Rebecca Serle

I dunno, you guys. I had a hard time with this one. It didn’t really go anywhere? (Well, except to Italy lol.) I couldn’t relate to the main character and the grief she was experiencing because of my own weirdness with my family. The only think it succeeded in doing was putting me on an I WANT TO GO BACK TO ITALY kick. I dunno, it was fine. It would make a good airplane or beach read, I think, but was kind of not great for February at home.

11. No One Gets Out Alive – Adam Neville

Another horror novel over 600 pages! This one was way better than the Philip Fracassi one though. It actually scared me, and the violence was very well-written and so descriptive that I could EASILY picture what was happening even when perhaps I didn’t want to be able to! Again, I don’t think it was necessary for it to be this long! What is up with these giant tomes that horror novelists think that they have to write?

That being said, I need to read more from Adam Neville. I feel like back in 2020, I ordered one of his books from the library and panicked when I saw how large it was and ended up returning it because I didn’t want to have that pressure hanging over me – all of his books are probably chunkers!


OK that’s all for February!

Feb 022023

January was such a fantastic reading month for me. I can’t even get over it. It reinstated my bibliophile status, I think. Revived my love for BOOKSBOOKSBOOKS. Basically, I quit listening to Booktube. I pulled from various Best of 2022 lists from reliable sources like Time, etc. I think where I was being led astray with Booktube is that I was watching these channels because I liked the personalities, but then I started to realize eventually that my tastes just didn’t align with most of them. Like, I love Kayla from Booksandlala but what she considers horror and I what I consider horror are very different.  I have also found that I gravitate more towards literary fiction and less towards the magical realism shit that she is obsessed with.

Anyway, who cares. Here are the books I read in January, all 14 of them! They were mostly all 4 and 5 stars, maybe one or two 3-3.5 in there.

  1. Iona Iverson’s Rules for Commuting – Clare Pooley

Right off the bat – five star read. This book has humor, humanity, and the found family trope that I love so hard. Most of it takes place on a train / subway where a group of passengers become forced to interact with each other after one of them nearly chokes to death.  It mostly centers around Iona, a sort of “washed-up” socialite whose current employer at a magazine is beginning to find her to be irrelevant. Iona has a very strong, abrasive personality that makes the other passengers either despise her or admire her. I adored her. I adored all of them. I am crying right now as I remember how fucking precious this book is and how much it almost made me miss taking the T to work because now I want to actually strike up conversations with the regulars who I used to see every day and assign monikers to based on their fashion choices or whatever.

Well, anyway, this book made my heart grow a size or four. Then I’m sure I had the sound of a child screaming and it immediately shrunk again.

2. Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow – Gabrielle Zevin

Baby, believe the hype. Solid five stars and I am still thinking about it and getting choked up. I have read from  this author once before and genuinely liked it so I was excited to get into this one. However, and I don’t think this is just me because I read other raving reviews that agree, this book starts out slow. Like, not BAD, but knowing that this was on so many Best of 2022 lists, I was confused and really wondering if I was missing something. But then before I had a chance to DNF out of spite (I WON’T LIKE YOUR FAVORITE BOOK, AND YOU CAN’T MAKE ME), it hooked me. I can’t explain it, because this book is basically about two childhood friends who meet again when they’re in college (different colleges, same city) and decide to make a video game together.

The characters, their relationships, the blurred lines, their history…it was all so perfectly executed. There is a HUGE TRIGGER WARNING – I don’t want to spoil this book for anyone so you might want to look it up but there is a big traumatic thing that happens, and it wrecked me. I mean, I felt like I was being scooped raw by a melon baller, the pain was real. This will definitely end up being one of the best books I read this year, no cap or whatever Those Kids say.

P.S. Henry also read it and loved it, but he claims he didn’t cry. I mean, I SOBBED.

3. The Hero of This Book – Elizabeth McCracken

Sweet and oftentimes LOL funny, is this a memoir or fiction? Either way – it was a lovely read. 4 stars.

4. Vladimir – Julia May Jonas

This was a TRIP. The writing was so fresh, the characters beautifully-flawed. I laughed out loud numerous and could clearly hear the protagonist in my head, but my favorite part was the fact that Chooch had to pick this up from the library for me haha.

Anyway, 4.5 stars. Loved it and if this was Jonas’s debut novel, then I cannot fucking wait to read the next one.

5. Twenty Years Later – Charlie Donlea

This was recommended to me by my friend Eve – THANK YOU! What a unique thriller! Part of the plot revolves around an unsolved murder, the suspect of which is presumed dead after being in the WTC on the morning of 9/11. The other part follows a TV personality in present day, who resurrects this cold case while also trying to hide from her own unsavory past. I needed a good thriller, and this was it. 4 stars! Didn’t see the twist coming. (Either one!)

6. The Book of Goose – Yiyun Li

What an elegantly written, intriguing story of a childhood friendship between two girls living in rural postwar France. Honestly, Fabienne was a bit of a cunt and I wanted Agnes to haul back and clock her. But yeah, if you’re in the mood for something beautiful and literary, try this one – it’s another 4 star for me, fam.

7. Bad Dolls – Rachel Harrison

You know I tend to SORRY NEXT when it comes to short story collections, but I had to exception for Rachel Harrison, I just love her so. There were 4 stories in, one was a 3-star, 2 were 4-stars, and one 5-star about a bachelorette weekend. One of the 4-star stories was a SUPER RELATABLE tale about a savage diet app that actually had me wishing it was real because sometimes a bitch be desperate.

This was a fantastic, quick read and just what I needed  – something fun that I could listen to while taking my frigid winter morning walks. 4.5 stars overall (is that how averages work!?!?).

8. Perfect – L.A. Kessler

This one was also an audiobook, and I chose it in a whim through Scribd. I just needed something to listen to for when I walk and nothing was really looking too compelling to me. I haven’t heard of this author or this book before. It was fine! It was entertaining for sure but, and maybe this was because of the narrator, it kind of had a Christopher Pike feel to it, especially the scenes were people are killed. It’s like, “Oh OK, this person is dead now, moving right along.” Like I would have read this SO HARD in 9th grade and thought it was the coolest book ever.

It was actually pretty creepy, I’ll give it that much. Will I read the rest of the trilogy, probably not, doc.

9. Sophie Go’s Lonely Hearts Club – Roselle Lim

I was so close to DNF’ing this. I just could not connect with it and picking it up had become a real drag. But, just when I was telling myself, “Finish this chapter and then call it,” something changed. I can’t pinpoint it, it probably was a me-problem, something with my attitude, but I was suddenly ON BOARD and then the rest of the book was just a sheer delight (ok that’s not true, it had some sincere sad moments and the main character’s strained relationship with her mom stressed me out bigly). I also loved the tiny sprinkling of magical realism that was involved in that Sophie, a professional matchmaker, could see ribbons attached to peoples’ hearts and knew when there was a love connection by the way ribbons would react when two people were near each other.

Sophie moves into a new apartment building and immediately targets a group of elderly men, called the Old Ducks, as potential clients. Each Old Duck is adorable, even the one who is super grouchy. ESPECIALLY the one who is super grouchy – I actually pictured him as Glenn throughout the entire book. The Old Ducks and the FOOD were the real stars of this book.

4 stars, glad I gave it a chance! (I think this is another one that Eve suggested, so thank you, friend!)

10. All This Could Be Different – Sarah Thankam Mathews

Solid four stars, but dayum did it give me anxiety. There is A LOT going on here but in general, books about young adults out in the real world, trying to stay afloat and not perish financially, emotionally, and mortally, really makes me sweat. Our main character S is actually not very likeable but hoo boy did I feel for her. Her parents are back in India after her father takes the fall for a crime, leaving S behind in America as a teenager. Now she is out of college, being strung along by a boss who promises to sponsor her for citizenship, living rent-free in an apartment above the racist property manager who makes her life hell (this is where I was REALLY secondhand misery), becomes obsessed with and eventually starts a relationship with a girl she sees in a hardware store, but in the midst of all of this she is also developing beautiful precious friendships with some people who become her family. Love me a found family saga!!!

I can’t explain this book as well as it deserves, but I really fucking loved it and couldn’t wait to pick it back up every time I put it down.

11. Britt-Marie Was Here – Fredrik Backman 

My least favorite Backman book, but still better than most books I’ve read – that should tell you something. He has definitely become one of my favorite authors at this point. The way he crafts his characters! The dialogue! The SUPER DIFFICULT BUT LOVEABLE protagonists. The way he makes you want to live in a small town! From the telephone check-ins Britt-Marie forces upon a girl at the unemployment office to the begrudging companionship to finds in a rat, to the character in  wheelchair known solely as “Somebody,” to SAMI <3. This book gave me so much to think about, so much to love. 4.5 stars.

12. Signal Fires – Dani Shapiro 

Five stars, and I’m not ready to talk about this, I’m sorry. It got me good. Tears, lots. I love you, Ben Wilf.


13. The Me You Love in the Dark – Skottie Young / Jorge Corona (art)

Finally, a graphic novel/comic that I actually liked! The story was decent but the art was excellent. Artist moves into a haunted house, becomes close to the ghost that haunts it. 3.75 stars.

14. Kindred – Octavia Butler

I want to read more classics this year and this was an excellent start. I don’t really think it needs much introduction, and I’m just sorry it took me so long to read it because it was brilliant. This book is obviously a classic for a reason, extremely intense, emotional and throught-provoking. I wish I had been required to read it in high school, to be honest. Solid 5 stars, everyone should read this once in their lifetime.


k, bye!