My cat, Max, is harassing me as I attempt to type this. He believes it is lunchtime; I believe it is typing time. You can guess who will win this battle! 😀 To be fair, I appreciate a cat who values food as much as I do. Plus, I also appreciate Max’s fondness for reading time (aka nap and snuggles time) because I definitely hit the books this month. And overall, I did good!
The Books I Loved, Liked and Loathed in January
Last year too many of my books fell into the okay category, which displeased me. I mean — that’s time I could have spent reading other, better books! ? Thus, I’m trying to be more selective ongoing and perhaps, most importantly, be willing to DNF a book that isn’t working versus reading it to the bloody end.
The Books I Loved
These are books that made my book-loving heart sigh with satisfaction.
Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
Book Description: Eleanor’s precise, yet lonely life, is upturned when she and a co-worker rescue an injured, elderly man.
Book Review: Eleanor, oh Eleanor. How she made me roll my eyes at her literalness, obtuseness and oddness and grated on my last nerve. And also laugh out loud at her literalness, obtuseness and oddness and cheer her unintentional sass. But most of all, she broke my heart when I caught glimpses of what lie willfully forgotten in her consciousness became more apparent. Eleanor is not completely fine. But she will be.
To Read or Not To Read: Yes. It started a bit slow and sometimes I lost my patience with Eleanor, but she is worth it.
Look for Me by Lisa Gardner
Book Description: A family is brutally executed and survivor turned vigilante, Flora Dane clashes with Detective D.D. Warren as both women hunt for the missing daughter.
Book Review: This is part of the D.D. Warren series, although the person you really need to know is Flora Dane from Find Her as her backstory is critical and Warren’s is not (I have not read the D.D. Warren series beyond Find Her and it has not been an issue). Cop and survivor/vigilante still have a certain degree of distrust between them but also some begrudging respect too, which I liked. Gardner also has a way of writing where you no longer feel like you’re reading from safe distance, but you feel the pain and trauma as though you’re experiencing it firsthand, which can be disturbing.
To Read or Not To Read: Yes. But most definitely read Find Her first and gird your loins when you do because it is dark. Look for Me is more sad and tragic and left me broken hearted in a different way and also deeply humbled by the strength of survivors.
Note: I received an arc from NetGalley in exchange for a honest review. Look for Me is now available.
Sworn to Silence by Linda Castillo
Book Description: Sixteen years ago, a series of brutal murders forced Kate Burkeholder to leave her Amish family behind. Now back as the Chief of the Police, Kate must decide whether to keep a family secret when the murders begin again.
Book Review: This book fits my wheelhouse perfectly: a strong female detective pitted against formidable foes, but I allowed myself be distracted by other flashy, of-the-moment books instead and let this languish on my TBR. My bad. Overall I like Kate Burkeholder and John Tomasetti, both deeply damaged, and still fighting the good fight. I intend to continue with the series but plan to space out the books a bit. My tendency to get a little nitpicky would have me up in arms because poor Painter’s Hill is the Cabot Cove of the fictional world. Bonus points to those who get the reference.
To Read or Not To Read: You bet. People who enjoy female detectives (or in this case Chief of Police) and intense mysteries/thrillers (i.e graphic violence, this ain’t no cozy) will like this.
The Books I Liked
These are the books I liked, from most liked to liked.
Into the Black Nowhere by Meg Gardiner
Book Description: Women are disappearing on Saturday nights in South Texas and Rookie FBI Agent, Catilyn Hendrix and her team begin a dangerous game of cat and mouse with a charismatic serial killer.
Book Review: I enjoyed Unsub quite a bit, so I was pleased to see the series continue and quickly fell back into the world of FBI Agent Caitlyn Hendrix. Yes, that’s right — she’s no longer a Sheriff but now works with the FBI, specifically as a profiler, hunting another serial killer. The killer is inspired by Ted Bundy, but honestly Bundy would eat him up and spit him out. However, within the confines of the book and not comparing him to one of the most renown serial killers ever, the killer is brazen. I look forward to the next book, which appears to bring back the killer we briefly meet in Unsub.
To Read or Not To Read: Yes. A great series for fans of mysteries/thrillers, although start with Unsub first.
Note: I received an arc from NetGalley in exchange for a honest review. Into the Black Nowhere is now available.
Iron Gold by Pierce Brown
Book Description: 10 years of endless war after the Rising and Darrow attempts one last dangerous mission to bring lasting peace to the Stars.
Book Review: I really loved the Red Series, so I greeted the news that Brown was restarting the series with mixed emotions. On one hand, thrilled, while also nervous because did Brown actually have more to tell or did a Brinks trunk full of cold, hard cash sway him to extend his completed series? And I’m still not sure if I know the answer. It started a bit slow for me, partly because the world is so dense and enough time had passed since I read Morning Star that I didn’t fall back easily into the world, more like I crash landed. I spent the first 70 or so pages, going WTF? Who are you? What house? Etc. But eventually things began to click and I enjoyed it, although my previous deep affection for Darrow and the series isn’t the same. Darrow was more pig-headed, righteous and frankly, boneheaded than I remember. But perhaps that’s part of Brown’s point. War changes us and not necessarily for the better.
To Read or Not To Read: Sure. I do suggest if it’s some time has passed since you read the series, you find some recap (if even possible) because I was a little lost initially. 😀
The Chalk Man by C.J. Tudor
Book Description: The chalk man were the secret code used by Eddie and his pals until someone twisted their code for their own evil purpose. 20 years later, Eddie and his pals learn the horror of the Chalk Man is not over.
Book Review: A solid mystery/thriller that takes place in both the past and present. I also really liked how the characters felt real versus doing things that ring false just to move the story forward. Here, friends evolve and flounder in ways that felt like true responses to lost innocence and violent trauma. By the end, you’ll question the things you think you know and the consequences of our actions/decisions. Mostly, you’ll seriously wonder about all the secrets you’re friends are hiding. And maybe what secrets you’re hiding about yourself.
To Read or Not To Read: Sure. A good choice for fans of mystery/thrillers, particularly those who like stories that flip back-and-forth between past and present.
The Midnight Line by Lee Child
Book Description: After finding a West Point class ring in a pawn shop, Jack Reacher hunts down its rightful owner, never imagining the criminal enterprise he would expose.
Book Review: I read Jack Reacher novels because he pummels bad, despicable, horrible, no-good people into the earth, sometimes literally. He is pure escapism for me because while the story is grounded in reality, Reacher is not. He is pulp fiction. In his previous book, he beat-up/killed lots of Neo-Nazis, which I found almost obscenely pleasurable given the current state of the world, so imagine my surprise when I realized Reacher had killed NO ONE and I was halfway through the book. Sure, he hit a couple of people but I’m not even if sure they required hospitalization! I know this makes me sound bloodthirsty and violent, but, but, but, but where the hell is my Jack Reacher? I want him back, kicking ass and not bothering to take names.
To Read or Not To Read: If you’re a Jack Reacher fan, sure. Most diehard Jack Reacher fans still rated this book highly, while a few missed the Reacher from past books like me.
The Books I Loathed
None! Yay me!
TL;DR — My Recommendations to You
Okay, let’s do this! I recommend Eleanor Oliphhant is Completely Fine to those who don’t mind some darkness mixed with their lightness. Also be aware, Eleanor is either going to annoy the piss out of you or you’ll want to hug her nonstop. So basically she’s my cat! Mystery lovers can’t go wrong with any of the mysteries/thrillers I read last month. Red Rising fans should check out Iron Gold. But if I say Ash Lord, Outer Rim, Sons of Ares and Battle of Illium and they only ring dim bells, you may need a Red Rising refresher before tackling Iron Gold.
To More Great Books
Well, Max is back (technically this is a different day from when I started the post) and anxious again for lunch. Me, I’m anxious to read more great books, so of course, I’ll be participating in the Show Us Your Books Link-Up hosted by Jana and Steph. I can’t wait to see what great books everyone has read this past month. And okay, to see what books you hated too because that’s always fun! And fine, I’m pretty anxious to eat lunch too.?
What books will you add to your TBR? What great books should I add to mine?
I really enjoyed Sworn to Silence too and I also intend to continue with the series at some point but haven’t yet. Need to get on that. I’ve only read the first in the Red Rising series, so I need to get to the other two at some point before Iron Gold. I get a little bit lost in that world but I enjoyed the first one enough to continue.
I really enjoyed Sworn to Silence and I am looking forward to continuing the series. But I am definitely going to space them out a bit so I don’t get tired of Painter’s Hill either. I really loved the Red Rising series but it’s been almost a year and a half since I read Morning Star and I just couldn’t recall all the different Houses, alliances, etc so I was confused through so much of it, which really affected my enjoyment of the book.
I really liked The Chalk Man too – definitely makes you wonder what secrets people are hiding! haha I still need to check out Into the Black Nowhere as I really liked Unsub! Thanks for sharing.
Yes! That was my favorite part of The Chalk Man – how it kept me guessing on motives and what truths and lies people were telling. The things we do and how the consequences can be vastly different from what we intended. If you liked Unsub, you’ll definitely enjoy Into the Black Nowhere as well. It ends on a bit of a cliffhanger so I’m really anxious for the next book to come out!
I’m finally almost to Eleanor Oliphant on the wait list from the library and am so excited to finally read it– I’m a little bit worried because of how much it has been hyped up, but I’m really hoping I love it.
I always get nervous when I read a hyped book because my expectations are almost unrealistically high and that’s a heavy burden for book to bear. 😀 That said, I did enjoy Eleanor quite a bit and if you go in knowing that she is going both annoy and endear herself to you, you should be fine!
I’m laughing at you wanting Jack Reacher to really pummel the bad guys!! that’s funny! I have never read his books, but I can imagine Tom Cruise doing that.
Elanor was great!!
Seriously, I solely read Jack Reacher to live vicariously through his pummeling of bad dudes. And the lack of pummeling was depressing. 😀 Eleanor was great and it surprised me with its depth. I thought it would just lighthearted but there was a lot going on in Eleanor’s world.
Rebecca Jo says
Yahoo for no bad books!!!
I always love you have such a mix of books. So many options to choose from
I love a no bad books month! It seemed like I had too many of those last year. 😀
I like the title of this month LOL.
I don’t think I’ll go back to the Red Rising series. I’ll read a summation of the latest and leave it at that.
Honestly, I somewhat regret reading Iron Gold. If I was new to the series or hadn’t completed it yet, I would most definitely read it, but I was very content with how Morning Star ended and going back into that world wasn’t as much fun as I anticipated it would be. Plus, I was honestly confused through most of it because too much time had passed since I completed the series and I just couldn’t remember all the details.
i felt the same about Eleanor. she was so frustrating but i loved her.
i definitely need a recap of the red rising series before i read iron gold.
Sworn to Silence sounds good! adding it!
She was frustrating and annoying and I loved her too. I was a bit surprised by what was going on in her life because I thought it was supposed to a light comedy, which it was and wasn’t. Definitely find some sort of recap before reading Iron Gold because he jumps immediately into the story with no recap. I remembered the colors pretty well but the different houses and alliances and enemies and battles – nope.
I keep checking to make sure Eleanor is on my TBR and it’s been on there for a long time … I need to read it soon! Look for Me and Sworn to Silence are both now on my TBR.
All great choices and I hope you enjoy them!
Lol, the premises of some of these books, how did you sleep at night? 🙂
Eleanor Oliphant sounds interesting!
To be honest, sometimes I don’t sleep well. I have read too many thrillers in a row and been scared to leave my apartment. 😀 Eleanor was great, give it a try!
Eleanor is on my TBR and I need to get around to reading it. I had to laugh about what you said about either being annoyed or giving her hugs. Cant wait to see how I feel! The Chalk Man is already on my TBR so I am glad to see you liked it. I am adding Sworn to Silence, sounds good!!
Seriously, you’ll want to hug her on one page and on the next page she’ll drive you nuts. The Chalk Man was quite good. There were definitely some thing that I didn’t expect and it’s got good tension in it. Sworn to Silence was really good. Definitely my kind of book!
Jana @ Jana Says says
It’s such a comfort, knowing your literary wheelhouse.
I think I need to read The Chalk Man.
It is. I love my mysteries/thrillers but I do recognize now the importance of reading some other genres in between them because they start to feel repetitive/predictable or freak me out. Too many bad guys in a row can make me want to hide out in my apartment. 😀 I think you’d enjoy The Chalk Man. It’s messed up in ways I didn’t expect, which I don’t often say because I do read too many mysteries/thrillers!
It’s always a good month when you like everything you read!
I’ve got Eleanor on my TBR list so I’ll have to see if she’s like my dog (or your cat haha).
Agreed! I love it when all the books read are good ones. Oh Eleanor. She’s definitely got some cat (and maybe dog too) in her.
Sworn to Silence sounds like an interesting read!
It was! A bit dark and messed up but those are the kinds of mysteries/thrillers that I enjoy. 😀
My coworker loved Eleanor so I might give it a try (it seems kind of polarizing online?).
I’m reading Sworn to Silence now and it really pulls you in.
I would guess Eleanor is polarizing because she can really grate a person’s nerves. Also, I thought it was a light comedy type of book so I didn’t expect Eleanor to be hiding a dark past/secret. So I can see people who wanted some purely feel-good and fluffy may not have appreciated or wanted to go through some of Eleanor’s darkness to get to the lightness, although it made it a much richer story in my mind.
I’ve seen Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine popping up everywhere. I guess I never bothered to see what it was about because I just consulted Goodreads after reading your thoughts on the book, and none of that rang a bell. I added it to my list, though, because it sounds like my kind of book.
Also my kind of book: thrillers. I added the two thrillers you have in your “love” section as well as The Chalk Man to my list. I’ve never read anything by Lisa Gardner, but I know I have several of her books on my list. I think that means it’s time to give her a try!
I’m glad you didn’t read any terrible books last month. Good book months are always awesome! 🙂
I really enjoyed Eleanor. I liked the unexpected heft and depth to the book too. Thrillers are my favorite, Kristen! I’ve only read a few of Gardner’s book but I definitely recommend Find Her and Look for Me. But read Find Her first because you’ll need to know Flora Dane and she gets introduced in Find Her. Good book months are the very best!
Ericka @ A Quiet Girl's Musings... says
That’s great that you had a month with no books that you loathed!
Several years back, I discovered Lisa Gardner and I went crazy reading all the DD Warren books back to back to back. Then the inevitable happened – I burned myself out on them. I’ve considered picking it back up again, but just haven’t. You know how it goes, so many books, so little time. I enjoyed reading your thoughts on Look For Me.
I do that too – where I read/binge too many books in a series and burn myself out. If you decide to jump back into the D.D. Warren series, start with Find Her and then jump to Look for Me. Ironically, DD’s role is very minor in Find Her and more equal to Flora in Look for Me.
Nancy @ NY Foodie Family says
Wow you had a great reading month! I just finished Eleanor and will have it in next month’s link-up. I enjoyed it but didn’t love it. I’m listening to a Gardner book on CD in the D.D. Warren series, since I started the series years ago and stopped. I’m not ready to start any new series at the moment.
Eleanor surprised me a bit because I didn’t expect the dark past, which I liked quite bit. I honestly not super familiar with D.D. Warren because the two books I’ve read from her series, the focus was more on Flora Dane than DD. 😀
Confuzzled Bev says
Wow, a great reading month there.
I really want to read Eleanor Oliphant and The Chalk Man!
Give them a try and I hope you enjoy them!
Okay, so I read your reviews yesterday and totally thought I commented–so if I’m missing something and this is a duplicate I’m sorry! Maybe I got sidetracked at work… Anyway, I loved Eleanor Oliphant and I know she annoyed a lot of people but I thought she was the best. I could totally see how she could get on someone’s nerves though. I’m pretty hit or miss with mysteries/thrillers but I’ll have to look some of these up next time I’m in the mood for one!
Oh, been there, done that myself. 😀 Eleanor definitely annoyed me but I still loved her in the end. Well, when you’re in the mood for a mystery/thriller, I always have some to recommend!
That’s so great that you didn’t dislike any of the books you’ve read lately. I’ve been on a pretty good reading streak lately too. I’ve read a few that I didn’t love, but none that I really hated.
Good reading streaks are the very best. I’ve had bad reading streaks and those are killer. 😀
I’m a little unsure about Chalk Man after reading the book jacket. I enjoy mystery reads but not ones that keep me up at night, lol. I also have Eleanor Oliphant on my tbr and want to get to it soon. I need more days. Pam 🙂
I don’t have the book anymore but if I recall correctly, the book jacket made the book sound almost like a horror book, which it’s not in my opinion. Bad things happen but it’s not a boogeyman, supernatural kind of book. We all need more days, right? 😀
Ashley @ The Wandering Weekenders says
I’m a huge thriller lover too, so I’m definitely adding Sworn To Silence to my list as well! It sounds interesting with the whole Amish and family aspect of things. I still haven’t read the Red Rising series!
I’m fascinated by Amish culture too so I really enjoyed that aspect of the book as well, besides all the murderery stuff. 😀 I loved the Red Rising series and I likely would have enjoyed Iron Gold much more if I read it immediately after Morning Star when the world was still fresh in my mind.
Sworn to Silence sounds interesting. I live very close to Amish Country in Ohio so I think it naturally peaked my interest. Lol. I can’t decide if I want to start into the Red Rising series. It’s kind of strange to see an author restart a series!
If I recall correctly, which I may not be, you’re not a huge fan of more violent mysteries, which I would consider Sworn to Silence to be. I’d still say give it a try and if you’re disturbed by it, then quit guilt-free. I enjoyed the Amish snippets but I also like dark mystery/thrillers. 😀 It was odd to me too that he restarted the series too. I do believe my rating for Iron Gold would be higher if I had not forgotten so much of the story. I know you’re a big fan of Harry Potter, but Red Rising is more a kissing cousin of Hunger Games than HP.
I just finished that series by Linda Castillo! I loved the last 4 or 5 books the best 🙂 Looking forward to the 10th book!
I need to pick up the second book as I really enjoyed the first one!