Hello, friends! I’ve been super busy lately and unable to to post full reviews as much, but I thought I’d post some super short and sweet mini reviews of some of the books I finished but hadn’t reviewed yet in January. So, let’s jump into it!
Down Among the Sticks and Bones
(Wayward Children #2)
by Seanan McGuire
I didn’t love this as much as the first book, but it was still 100% worth reading! It follows the stories of twin sisters Jack and Jill (whose parents never should have been allowed to name their own children) who readers will remember from book one of this series. this book delves into their backstory, so it technically takes place before book one, and can be read on its own. This has a very dark Alice in Wonderland vibe.
by Jess Lourey
I love true crime and this was loosely based on a real case, so I went into it with high hopes. But the only way I can think to describe this book is “needlessly dark.” The main conflict in the book has to do with young boys being kidnapped and sexually assaulted, so clearly I expected it to be dark. But there really isn’t a moment of light or hope in this book. The main character is a young girl whose father is such a creep that the reader is clearly meant to see him as a major suspect. All in all, this was just drudging and slow and I was just glad when it was over.
by Louisa May Alcott
I know this is a classic and some of you are probably ready to exit out of this post right now over my 3 star rating. And if you loved this book, I’m really happy for you. I wish I had read this when I was a little girl as so many people did; I never got around to it as a kid because I was thoroughly entrenched in my sci-fi/fantasy phase. Reading it for the first time as an adult, I had a hard time looking past how terribly dated a lot of it felt. The two words that kept coming to mind over and over were “aggressively wholesome.” Like, this book wants to smack you over the head with a brick of wholesomeness. That being said, this was one of the few times I’ve loved a movie adaptation more than the book. If you haven’t seen the Greta Gerwig adaptation yet, you are seriously depriving yourself.
by Christina Lauren
I loved this book from start to finish. It’s a YA romance with a bisexual teen boy as the protagonist; he’s struggling after his parents move to a highly conservative, Mormon area for his mother’s work. He ends up falling for the son of the local preacher. This obviously makes things complicated. I loved this book’s exploration of being closeted, especially since this was a huge change for the protagonist, who’d been open about his identity in the very liberal city where he grew up. (Note to other authors: “coming out” is not a singular moment. It’s a continual thing and sometimes life prompts people to take steps back into that closet for their own safety and well-being.) Watching Tanner adjust to life in the closet when he already had that basis for comparison made it more emotionally compelling. He knows exactly what he’s missing out on. And the romance was so sweet and well done!
A Woman is No Man
by Etaf Rum
This book explores three generations of Palestinian women living in the US. Fareeda, whose brusque demeanor comes from a traumatic background, came to the US as an adult and doesn’t seem to have adjusted to living in another culture. Isra moves into the household from Palestine to marry Fareeda’s son, who is older and practically a stranger to her. She struggles to gain Fareeda’s approval and has a difficult time meshing with everyone in the household, through no fault of her own. Finally, Deya, Isra’s daughter, has grown up in the US, but has been highly controlled and sheltered by her Palestinian family. She’s entering adulthood and wanting to shake off that control, but also feels like an outsider in the country who sees a girl with brown skin and a head covering and thinks “foreign.” The cultural aspects of this story were really engaging, but the dark family secrets take also take up a lot of the narrative, adding an element of mystery to the book.
by Tarryn Fisher
Spoiler warning for this one, because, lord, I have to talk about this. I’m so tired of mental illness as a plot twist. I just write a blog post about this issue a few weeks ago; funnily enough it was about an entirely different book, and then I stumbled across this one. The big plot twist in this book is that the main character is delusional, and a huge chunk of what she relays to the reader didn’t happen. I’m not opposed to unreliable narrators, but the way it was done here felt so cheap and cliche. The synopsis on GoodReads calls this “one of the most twisted, shocking thrillers you’ll ever read.” I’m sorry, but “Surprise, the protagonist was crazy and half of this shit didn’t actually happen!” is not revolutionary or shocking.
by Stephen King
Stephen King is such a hit and miss author for me, so I was wary going into this book, but it was such a fun read. Despite being a rather dark story, it has a little bit of a YA vibe to it at times, and I don’t mean that in a derrogatory way. It’s a dark story and there’s a lot at stake, but it feels like an adventure. The main character is a freakishly smart young boy named Luke. I think we’ve all read a lot of badly written precocious children that are basically mini adults, but Luke always felt like a kid to me, and I was so invested in seeing him make it through this horror story.
Thank you for reading! I’m going to try to make an effort to get back to posting super regularly again!
Do you have any thoughts on the books featured in this post? Let’s discuss in the comments!