Hey all! It’s been a while since we’ve done one of these. So long in fact that Emily is going to sit this one out. But I (Haley) had one of the best reading months I’ve ever had, so it would be unfair not to get to talk about it. Both the good and the less than ideal. Remembering to tell us all about your reading months in the comments!
General Reading Statistics
As we mentioned above, I had the best reading month I’ve ever had. I read 5 ebboks and 27 audiobooks- I did a lot of gaming which really increased my audiobook listening, It also helps that I can listen to audiobooks at work. I’m also glad that I get so many free audiobooks through my library, Netgalley, and the ALC program with Libro.fm (yay librarian powers). Semantics aside, I Had a great reading months and I can’t wait to get into some of the titles I read.
What I Loved
Give me a book set in the woods and I am here for it. Though not all are created equal. But I absolutely adored The Net Beneath Us by Carol Dunbar. I would describe it has a sad but hopefully. If you enjoyed These Silent Woods, but are looking for something a little more character driven and slower paced, this is definitely a title you’ll want to pick up. At the outset of the novel Elsa’s husband is involved in a lumber accident that leaves him at death’s door and now Elsa, a girl from the city, has to figure out how to survive the year with her two young children and an unfinished house. Its poignant, thought provoking, and perfect for cool Fall nights.
Okay, I’ll admit it, I still love a good werewolf story. But I’m picky about them. I really enjoyed Howl because Hutchison tied Virgil’s coming of age into his wrestle with what his run in with a monster one dak night has turned him into. Virgil is also a gay boy who has recently relocated to a small midwestern town where he faces plenty of people who don’t necessarily accept him for who is. Its a slow, character driven story about accepting every part of ourselves, even when the world tries us to reject. It packages complicated themes in a story with plenty of body horror, teenage angst, and growth. I highly recommend it for those looking for YA novel that tackles prescient social themes.
This book was a trip and not just because it was about a mushroom you can eat that helps you reconnect with loved ones who have passed on. Our main character is Erin, whose best friend Silas passes away at the beginning of the book and Erin is consumed by her grief and the thought that she could see Silas again. Its a page turner that looks at drug addiction, community trauma, and feels almost dreamlike in its style. It’s haunting and the metaphor is subtle enough that it’s not overbearing. Erin sees the ghosts of slaves, indigenous people and others everywhere she goes. The drug house she finds herself in contains elements of a cult and the psychological horror as Erin grapples with ghosts, both real and imagined, I could not put it down.
I’ve read some horror novels by authors that I have previously and just found myself so disappointed because my expectations were so high. But this coming of age horror novel, written partially in journal entries and from multiple viewpoints wrestles with issues of community trauma and mental health. The idea of being able to conjure an angry and murdering ghost is terrifying and I’m still thinking of the scene where Daphne beats a girl to death with her own arm. I can’t recommend this one enough.
I participate in a staff book club- imagine, a bunch of librarians who love to read. Our theme for September was nonfiction and I tried a handful of titles but In The Dream House, a fairtyale-ish memoir about domestic violence between the author and a girlfriend of many years, really struck a chord. Machado explored the complexities of not understanding or seeing the abuse when she was in the relationship, her gradual awakening to the issues and why she felt like she had to stay for so long. I cannot wait to discuss it with my book club.
Not For Me
By all accounts I should have loved this book. Plenty of body horror. A strange narrative style. Kind of weird. Most of the time, I can do weird. But for some reason, I just couldn’t do it this time. This might be a bit of a spoiler but our main character is a parasite that has infected a number of hosts throughout the centuries and whose latest body is a pathologist investigating a mysterious death inside the chateau of a reclusive baron. Honestly, after that point, it lost me a little and got really convoluted. I think part of the issue was I was listening to it on audio. I know I’m in the minority on this one. But yeah, it just wasn’t for me.
The Getaway is one of the horror novels that I really had high expectations for. I love good vacation horror and I’m always looking to support ownvoices horror. But honestly, the pacing was just off for me. I enjoyed some of the speculative elements and appreciated the thought provoking commentary. There are some truly horrific and haunting scenes. It might be a little heavy for more sensitive readers. I think I just wanted more from it than what it gave me. Most of the action happens in the last few chapters but the characters are rather compelling. I honestly think this was an instances of right book, wrong reader. I’m sure plenty of other people will like it much more than I did.
Okay everyone, buckle up. This is probably my least favorite book on the list for so many reasons. The premise was so promising. A group of friends reconnect at their high school reunion and decide to realize their “Voted Most Likely To-” goals. It was a solid set up. But the characters just felt flat. There were a lot of intriguing ideas presented including a character that likely had an eating disorder and a bi character that the author does very little with. There were some very serious issues that were treated so cavalierly and superficially. The resolution of each character was lacking. I won’t say much more, but if you did not enjoy this one, know that you’re not alone.
A small island community full of superstition. Our main character is Leigh, who left her childhood home to make a name for herself just after WWII. She returns at the beginning of October when her father experiences an accident. Every October raven-like creatures appear and haunt the villagers. But this time, Leigh is determined to discover the mystery at the heart of the island with some of her childhood friend. I didn’t dislike it as much as some of the other titles on this list. But I was not able to connect with the characters and the pacing was off, the first half of the novel was incredibly slow and I was so apathetic about everything by the last half, that it didn’t matter that latter half picked up. I hoped for an immersive, atmospheric and spooky read, and it just didn’t do it for me.
This book made me think of what it would be like if I wrote a book by throwing a dart at a board covered in key plot points from major YA series and then mixed them together. There was moments where I thought the book had potential- in its discussion of classism especially- but it never went anywhere. At one point I assumed that the author must be setting up the next book, but then it just ended and everything kind of resolved and that was it. It wasn’t terribly memorable. I think a lot of the issues stem from the author trying to cater to what were once popular YA trends. I’ll definitely read more from this author, but I hope her next book is a little more original.
Check out some of the posts we have coming up.
At A Glance Posts
What About You?
What did you read this month? Any favorites? Have you read any of the titles we mentioned? We can’t wait to chat with you in the comments!