Oh my. Indeed! This month I was all over the place with the kinds of books I read. And the results were definitely mixed, which saddens me but is the life of a reader. Some books simply don’t live up to expectations. It was also a strange month because it felt like I had read very little; but when I put this post together, there were more books to include than I expected. My mental calculation was likely off due to a few disappointing books. They make me lose interest in reading. Does that happen to you? The books were not an outright loathe, but not as good as I had expected either and sometimes that is worse. Oh well. There are always more books to be devoured. And loved. And loathed.
The Books I Loved, Liked and Loathed
There are books in every category this month. I’m not sure if that is a good thing or a bad thing. 🙂
Books I Loved
The book that made me do a happy dance.
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by JK Rowling
My Review: I love to read but not all books are created equal. There are some books that are special. They make you come alive and feel the magic. Life is better because these special books exist. For me, that special book is Harry Potter. And you likely have some book(s) or series that you feel the same way about too. Thus, you understand why I had to take a moment after I read the dedication to just breathe. To revel in the fact that I was about to dive into another Harry Potter adventure when I never imagined opening a new Harry Potter book again.
I did very much love this book, even though I wished it was a traditional book versus a play. I love the theatre but plays work best onstage. Still … there was plenty of Harry Potter magic to be found. Little Scorpius Malfoy was a delight (and apparently has loads of his Mom in him). Snape still made me ugly cry. And while the same themes of friendship, loyalty and love still existed, they were also tested, especially parental love. The sacrifice Harry’s parents made is well-known and without trying to minimize their actions, it’s also one most parents would make in a heartbeat. But what about those times when it’s not so easy to love our kids? When we don’t understand them? Or they’re getting on our last nerve? I love that Rowling explored this. I hope to some day see this onstage, but realistically, I’ll probably see it on a movie screen first. Not that I’m complaining either way.
To Read or Not To Read: Absolutely, if you’ve read all the books. Otherwise start at the beginning.
Books I Liked
These are the books I enjoyed overall, ranked from most liked to liked.
Girl Waits with Gun by Amy Stewart
Book Description: Constance and her sisters endure threats, bullets and bullies over a dispute with a powerful factory owner in 1914.
Book Review: I love Constance. Plain and simple. She is a kickass lady. She’d be considered a pretty ballsy lady today and I can’t even imagine what they would have thought of her back in 1914. Virtually all women (and most men) would have backed down, but she didn’t. She was scared but didn’t quit. She was resourceful and smart. It’s no wonder she become one of the nation’s first deputy sheriffs – IRL. This is a fictionalized story about her and real events. And the beginning of a series that I’m excited to continue reading.
To Read or Not To Read: Read it, if you enjoy strong female characters. Be prepared to grimace at some of the sexism Constance and her sisters face, then grimace even harder when you realize it is 100 years later and some things haven’t changed either.
Security by Gina Wohlsdorf
Book Description: Killers stalk the workers at Manderley Resort and pick them off, one-by-one.
Book Review: This was a strange book that kept me at the edge of my seat. The book is in first person, but we don’t really meet the “I” is until mid-way or more through the book. He or she, in fact, is barely mentioned for a long time. This makes it hard initially because the sentences are short, even a bit terse, and it is hard to connect to the characters. But you do gain insight and start to root for and worry over them. Wohlsdorf also does something rather unusual where she writes split screens of scenes, meaning there are columns describing simultaneous scenes. Eventually, I kind of liked it, although it could still be frustrating if the scenes were long. This is Wohlsdorf’s first book and I’ll be interested in seeing what she writes next.
To Read or Not To Read: Yes. The style is different, which I overall liked. Be aware that if this book was a movie, it would be a slasher movie and the book does depict multiple, violent scenes in graphic detail. I also think the columns may be harder to read in e-book format, so you may want to read this in hardback.
The Sex Lives of Cannibals by J. Maarten Troost
Book Description: Troost moves with his girlfriend to a remote South Pacific Island, full of bizarre characters and misadventures.
Book Review: Generally, I’m not a big non-fiction reader beyond self-help. But with a title like that, it caught my attention. I can’t say that I’m better informed about the sex lives of cannibals, unless it’s referring to dogs, but that is probably okay too. I like Troost’s writing style and sense of humor. And humor is so subjective, so you may find him immature, which he is. But so am I. His stories about life in Tarawa made me laugh, mostly. And decide to never visit there. Ever.
To Read or Not To Read: Sure. It’s a quick, fun read.
The Trap by Melanie Raabe
Book Description: Reclusive author Linda Conrads spies her sister’s murderer on TV and sets a trap for him with her new book detailing his crime.
Book Review: I picked this book because the description reminded a bit of the movie, Copycat, with Sigourney Weaver. They are really not similar though, the book is slow-paced and I expected much more tension. We spend a lot of time in Linda’s head and she is understandably messed up. But she also starts to annoy and bore me, which then made me feel bad for getting cranky with someone I should have more empathy towards. I then had to remind myself she doesn’t exist. 🙂 Still I wanted to tell her to be smarter and put on her big girl pants. The good news is she eventually does.
To Read or Not to Read: There is a book within the book and her agent tells her that she tricked him. That her new book is not a thriller but a romance disguised as a thriller. A part of me feels that is true about this book, even though the romantic element is not overt. As Steph would say, it passed the time just fine.
The Ice Twins by S.K. Tremayne
Book Description: A year after the death of her identical twin sister, Lydia, the surviving twin, Kirstie, now claims to be Lydia.
Book Review: I initially struggled to get into this book and actually put it aside for a bit, which I rarely do. It tried too hard to be like Gone Girl with unreliable narrators and twists without a lot of nuance. The puppet master’s strings were visible at times, if that makes sense. With that being said, it wasn’t a bad book, nor a great book but a decent thriller. I expected it to be more atmospheric and creepy, which it really wasn’t. But the ending was quite good. 🙂
To Read or Not to Read: Sure. It’s not a bad way to spend a few hours. The twins aren’t creepy, a la The Shining, which did strangely disappoint me. But my dreams are probably grateful to be redrum free.
Books I Wanted to Like But …
I didn’t dislike them enough to find the energy to loathe them either.
You by Caroline Kepnes
Book Review: I honestly never thought I would type this sentence: I did not like You and found Joe annoying. You and Joe seemed like a story and character that I would love. But I did not. I did not find Joe charming or funny. In fact, I sincerely question his taste in women because Beck is horribly annoying. After a few chapters, I was ready for him to kill her and put me out of my misery. I kept reading because this is a book that seems to be universally liked and I kept expecting it to get better, which it never did, for me.
To Read or Not to Read: Here’s the thing — I think it’s still worth a chance. You’ll know in the first few chapters if you’re in or not. And if you’re not, DNF that book like you’ve got a serial killer stalking you because it won’t improve.
Betrayals by Kelley Armstrong
Book Review: I didn’t necessarily dislike this book but feel rather meh about it. The initial premise of the series — a department store heir discovers that she was adopted and her biological parents are serial killers — is an intriguing set-up. I knew there were supernatural elements at play, which I like and the first books in the series were good. But then it goes from a supernatural thriller to a romance because the 3 main characters now have a love triangle. But not even a organic one, but one dictated from their past lives that has been played over and over for centuries and glerg, bleech, snog, glack. Love triangles are one of my least favorite tropes and not what I signed up for when I started the series. Plus, I hate it even more when it is “fate”, so they have no choice but to play this stupid thing out. Ricky, Gabriel and Olivia are hamsters, stuck spinning in their wheel and their love triangle makes me groan more than moan with anticipation.
To Read or Not To Read: If the idea of the love triangle/romance excites you, along with the supernatural or serial killer element, then you will probably enjoy this. Otherwise, if you don’t like love triangles, skip the whole darn series. Yup, still irritated.
Book I Did Not Finish
Could stop. Did Stop.
The Crooked House by Christobel Kent
Book Review: This book wasn’t bad but did commit the ultimate sin: it bored me. When I realized I was only a third through this boring thriller (two words that don’t belong together), I skipped to the last couple of chapters and patted myself on the back for being so super smart to skip all the blah, blah, blah in the middle.
To Read or Not To Read: The idea behind the book was good (sole survivor of a home invasion goes back to where it all began) but the execution was boring. Skip it.
TL;DR – My Recommendations for You
Okay, for those who went a little pale when you saw how long this post was, here are my quick recommendations: The Cursed Child is a must read for Harry Potter fans, although they already knew that. 🙂 Girl Waits with Gun and Security are also highly recommended by me. Please note again that Security is essentially a slasher book, which is not the kind of genre that appeals to everyone. If you do enjoy slasher books/films, then Security is right up your alley. Otherwise, I would probably avoid it. I would also avoid The Crooked House but suggest you try You, even though it didn’t rock my world. But dump it fast if you’re not hooked right away. 🙂
To More Great Books
I’ve already read two great books in September. YAY! I also have a small stack of books by my bed, although a couple I don’t really remember putting on hold. Sigh. Hopefully once I dive into them, I’ll remember why I put a hold on them. 🙂 As always, I’m joining the Show Us Your Books Link-Up, hosted by Jana from Jana Says and Steph from Life According to Steph. Be sure to check it out and see what everyone is reading!