I really don’t care “who” writes the book I’m reading, although I am trying to make a conscious effort to read books by people of color. But mostly I just care whether or not they write a great story versus which bathroom they use (because who cares?). I have noticed, however, that books written by women tend to be favored, which made this month stand out a bit as the men dominated. And wrote some damn good stories too.
The Books I Loved, Liked and Loathed
Yippee! A month with multiple love books and no loathe books! Can I get a woot woot?
The Books I Loved
The books that haunt my dreams in good ways … mostly.
Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds
Book Description: After his brother was murdered, Will knows the rules. No crying. No snitching. Just revenge. But a 60 second elevator ride changes everything.
Book Review: I’m not really sure how to describe this book … it’s not really your standard novel as it’s written in verse. But not poetry, poetry either. So please don’t let that scare you away. It’s very accessible. Very beautiful. And heart-breaking. A lot has been made lately of police brutality and racism for good reason but this story is focused on black-on-black crime. And more importantly, how the need for revenge perpetuates this never-ending cycle of violence. The last two words haunt me because I don’t know what Will did and I hope he made the right choice because someone has to put their gun down first.
To Read or Not to Read: Yes. It really gives you a chance to walk in the footsteps of someone you likely bear nothing in common with and cannot relate to their reality and yet judgments about their lives are made all the time. Live in it a little.
She Rides Shotgun by Jordan Harper
Book Description: After his actions mark his family for death, Nate must turn his daughter into a fighter who can take a punch and rob drug-dealers and most importantly — stay alive.
Book Review: Ummmm … let me bow down. This is a debut novel and wow. Harper has a great voice and created a gritty crime noir with gangbangers, aryan asses (my name for them), crooked and good cops and a felon and his daughter. It moves at lightning speed and you keep praying that Polly and her father will survive, even though the odds are against them. You watch in both awe and fear as Polly transforms from sheep to killer-in-the-making or maybe just a true-blue, kickass girl (mostly the latter with a little of the former, probably) who above all learns how to survive.
To Read or Not to Read: Yes. I enjoyed this so much. It’s gritty, violent and excellent. Also, no unreliable narrator, just good ‘ol storytelling. Praise be, indeed.
Brief Cases by Jim Butcher
Book Review: This collection of short stories will only appeal to fans of Harry Dresden but if you’re a fan, grab a copy. All the short stories have been published, with the exception of The Zoo, in previous anthologies so be aware of that fact before you spend your hard-earned money if you already own many of his short stories. Fortunately (or unfortunately) I had only read one of the short stories, so they were all new reads to me and it felt so good to be hanging out with Dresden and Company again. Nope. Not bitter at all about my two year wait for the next book in the Dresden Files to be published. Not. Bitter. At. All. Umm … lies?
To Read or Not to Read: Yes, but only if you’re already familiar with Harry and his world. If you’re not, and you like snarky wizards, vampires, fairies and such, I highly recommend the Dresden Files series by Jim Butcher.
Note: I received an arc from NetGalley in exchange for a honest review. Brief Cases is now available.
The Books I Liked
These are the books I enjoyed, from most liked (4 stars) to liked (3 stars).
The Summer Children by Dot Hutchison
Book Description: An avenging angel is leaving abused children on the doorsteps of FBI Agent Mercedes Ramirez’s home after brutally murdering their parents.
Book Review: This isn’t an easy story because it involves crimes against children. Young children (mostly). Committed by their parents. I struggle with those stories so I am forewarning those of you who feel the same way now. This may not be your story, especially those with child abuse triggers. This is also my least favorite book in The Collector’s Trilogy. The previous books focused on a particular victim and their story with the FBI agents playing secondary roles. This flips the script, which I did not enjoy as much.
To Read or Not to Read: Sure, especially if you read The Butterfly Garden and The Roses of May as this concludes the trilogy.
Note: I received an arc from NetGalley in exchange for a honest review. The Summer Children is now available.
The Crooked Staircase by Dean Koontz
Book Description: Jane continues her fight against the terrifying conspiracy that threatens the free will of millions, while dangerous forces move closer to finding her hidden son.
Book Review: So … yeah. I like Jane. Really I do. She’s a badass, strong, smart and honorable. But we’re not moving forward here. Jane finds another co-conspirator who leads her to another … and rinse and repeat. She’s not really learning anything new or hugely revelatory. I also thought this was the final book and it’s not. From the ending, my guess is the next book will be the last but I feel like we’ve been in rinse and repeat mode for most of three books and my interest in waning.
To Read or Not to Read: Dealer’s choice. It’s not a stand-alone book so you really need to start at the beginning. To me, it reads a bit (a lot) slower than his other series.
Note: I received an arc from NetGalley in exchange for a honest review. The Crooked Staircase is now available.
TL;DR — My Recommendations to You
This was overall a great reading month for me and I recommend all the books I read and really encourage everyone to try Long Way Down. Don’t let the verse scare you. It’s an amazing book that I had to occasionally set down so I could ponder his words. Those who like gritty novels and don’t mind some violence should read She Rides Shotgun. For whatever reason, it reminded me of Sons of Anarchy. Fans of the Collector’s Trilogy should read The Summer Children. While I didn’t love it quite as much as I did the previous two books, it was still a great read.
To More Great Books
You may have noticed that I did not read one, single book with an unreliable narrator. And it felt so good. So very good. I may try to avoid them for another month because we still need a little space. 😀 As usual, I’m joining Jana and Steph for their completely awesome Show Us Your Books link-up, aka the day my TBR grows and grows. And I wouldn’t have it any other way. Be sure to check it out and see what great (and bad) books everyone is reading.
What great books did you read last month?