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?