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?
Confuzzled Bev says
Long Way Down sounds so different to everything I’ve read that I feel like I have to try it!
It was different from my typical read too and I loved it. Hope you do too!
I still need to read Long Way Down, but hopefully soon. I actually love verse novels, but I’ve seen the way the book is written and I agree that people who don’t like verse should still check it out.
I didn’t realize it was written in verse when I chose it but it was so beautiful. I hope people give it a try because I found it to be gorgeous.
I agree with you about not thinking too much about the gender of the writer when I pick up a book, but like you I’m also trying to read more diversely. I’m excited to see that your first two books you loved are also on my TBR–this makes me want to get to them as soon as I can! Also, while The Summer Children sounds intriguing, I’m not sure I could get through it. I can do hard, but that may be too much for me.
I’ve been enjoying reading more diverse books as POC write some awesome books that don’t always get enough attention. Long Way Down and She Rides Shotgun were so good — at least to me. Hope you enjoy me! Summer Children was a hard read for me, harder than the two previous books.
I don’t know if I’ll read this Dot Hutchinson. I don’t think so.
It wasn’t my favorite. I don’t regret reading it but you’re not really missing anything by skipping it either. 😀
I’m adding Long Way Down to my list to look at, thanks!
YAY! Hope you enjoy it!
i don’t care ‘who’ writes my books either, but there is no denying i read way more by female authors. like, 98% lol. this could be because i read a lot of romance 😉 long way down sounds interesting, not really my jam but your review has intrigued me.
i loved the butterfly garden but couldn’t get into the second one, so i’ll be skipping the third especially thanks to your warning.
adding She Rides Shotgun!
Long Way Down was so good but yes, different from your typical reads. But it’s really good and a fast read because there are maybe 50 words per page. Summer Children was a hard read for me so I wanted to give people a head’s up because I can typically do violent books okay but it got under my skin at times.
Megan @ The Hungry Bookworm says
I heard of She Rides Shotgun a while back…and it may even be on my TBR. Glad to know you liked it! I’ll have to make it a priority to check out 🙂
Hope you enjoy it, if you give it a shot!
She Rides Shotgun and Long way Down both sound good!! Onto the TBR they go, somewhere 🙂
LOL! I hear you, I add so many books on SUYB day that it can get overwhelming with all these great books I want to read RIGHT NOW!
She Rides Shotgun sounds like a book I would love!
I hope you enjoy it! I loved it!
I am next on the wait list at the library for Long way Down and I am getting mad that I dont have it yet!!! What is taking the person so long? LOLI think I am going to add She Rides Shotgun to my list!
I hate waiting for holds to come in to because I am impatient. I hope you enjoy it. I thought it was beautifully done.
Jana @ Jana Says says
Since you’re reading Ohio, which I raved about, I’ll read She Rides Shotgun.
I DGAF who writes a book but I have noticed I’ve been reading a lot of female authors and POC lately. It’s not on purpose. They just write good, interesting books.
I think you’ll enjoy it! I definitely thought of you while reading, mostly because of feeling like Nate was a lot like Jax from Sons of Anarchy. 😀
Kasey Holloway says
Yay for only good books! That’s what you need in the summer time! I’ve read some Dean Koontz in the past and really enjoyed them. I just finished reading The Wife Between Us and really enjoyed it.
Right? I was so tickled by my good reading month because I haven’t really had a solid reading month in forever! Sighs dramatically! I typically like Koontz too so that’s why I’m surprised by his latest. It’s not bad but it moves much slower and is a bit repetitive. The premise is really good though. I really liked The Wife Between Us quite a bit.
lauren @ laurenalforddesign.com says
never heard of she rides shotgun, I love your review though. adding it to my TBR!
Hope you enjoy it!
Nancy @ NY Foodie Family says
Wow you had a great reading month! I just added Long Way Down and She Rides Shotgun to my to read list. I still need to read Roses of May.
I loved Roses of May. It’s not as good of a story as Butterfly Garden but it is full of girl power, which I loved. Hope you enjoy Long Way Down and She Rides Shotgun.
The TBR does grow and grow after this, lol! Requested She Rides Shotgun and will take a look at the Collector series. Thanks for the great reviews!!
It really does and I love it, except trying to figure out how to read all these greats books everyone recommends. I hope you enjoy She Rides Shotgun. I really loved it.
Adding Long Way Down and She Rides Shotgun to my TBR!
Yay! Hope you enjoy them!
I love reading your reviews (not sure if I’ve said that before or not) & great reading months are the best. I just added Long Way Down to my list!
Thank you, Carly! You made my day with your kind words. Great reading months are my favorites. Hope you enjoy Long Way Down!
I’m not a fan of unreliable narrators. They frustrate me. I like honest and straight forward, please and thank you 😉 You had a great reading month! I’m glad you liked most of your books! You tend to read heavier stuff than I do (which is great since you love it!) but I’m always interested in why people liked or didn’t like the books they read!
I actually used to like unreliable narrators but it seems like every book has an unreliable narrator and it’s become exhausting. I always love knowing why people like or don’t like books too. It fascinates me endlessly.
She Rides Shotgun sound really good – and a nice break from the psychological thriller/unreliable narrator that is so popular these days. Thanks for the recommendations.
I really enjoyed it. I’m so tired of the unreliable narrators that I long for straightforward narrators who tell it like it is. 😀
Glad you got in some good reads this month! 🙂
Most of the books I read are written by women. This isn’t done purposely, but after you mentioned it, I took a look back at what I read, and it is all women authors! 🙂