Hey there! It’s Show Us Your Books day which means I’m taking a break from my break to talk books with all of you.
It’s been 5 weeks since our last Show Us Your Books so I have a higher amount of books on the list than usual. That also means I’m going to (try to) abbreviate my reviews. We all know I’m long winded and paring down the words is a challenge, especially when I’m talking books, but I’m going to try.
Also, don’t forget to visit Steph and some of the other bloggers who’ve linked up. As for me, I’ll be visiting all of you when I return from Phoenix (yes, this post is coming to you live from Phoenix!) since my computer access is limited and I’m also taking time to spend with the husband and some friends. If you’re following me on Instagram, you’ve probably seen some pictures already.
But today is not about that, it’s about books so here’s what I read:
Holding Smoke by Elle Cosimano–A NetGalley book! Given the hit or miss nature of ARCs, I was pleasantly surprised by this one. It was probably one of my favorites of the month, in fact. It’s a YA thriller that could easily be a non-YA thriller, if that makes sense. It had supernatural/sci-fi elements that worked rather than being distracting. Actually, it was sort of a YA Shawshank Redemption. That’s probably the best way I can describe it. Warning: there are some pretty graphic scenes of child abuse and if you’re planning on reading this book in public, prepare to choke back tears. I had to.
The Bed Moved: Stories by Rebecca Schiff–A perfectly adequate book of short stories, mostly about sex and relationships and honestly, it got repetitive after awhile. If you like short stories, you might enjoy this book since her observations are pretty dead-on and she’s funny but if you’re not a short story fan, go ahead and pass on this one.
The Girl from Home by Adam Mitzner–This was a standard thriller that started off strong and then tapered off, becoming pretty meh at the end. It had a predictable twist, basic characters, decent writing. I wanted to like this book so much more than I did. It’d make a good beach or plane book, though.
A Mother’s Reckoning: Living in the Aftermath of Tragedy by Sue Klebold–How do I even talk about this briefly? I had so many emotions, thoughts, and opinions as I read it (if you listen to The Armchair Librarians you caught a bit of this conflict). It was the most emotionally taxing book I’ve ever read. Not so much from the perspective of reading about a real school shooting (Columbine, which was essentially the watershed moment for planned school shootings) but because Sue Klebold is a fucking asshole. I seriously cannot figure out her motivation for writing this book. It felt like a defense of herself as a parent and there was a lot of “look at me! Look how great of a mother I was!” and blaming Dylan’s mental illness (which she calls “brain health”. That’s its own topic) and Eric Harris for what Dylan did and how she’s been victimized by Columbine. She tries to minimize his role in the massacre, which is infuriating, and constantly refers to Columbine as Dylan’s suicide. While technically true, it gave me all the rage because it ignores his actions. That said, she does raise some important points about depression and suicidal tendencies in teenagers and implores parents to be vigilant and pay attention to their kids. Side note: I watched her Diane Sawyer interview after I read the book since I didn’t want to go in biased. It did not help. The interview only confirmed that I think she’s an asshole.
American Youth by Phil Lemarche–Interesting choice to read on the heels of Sue Klebold’s book. This was another book (like 13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl) that I liked in concept more than practice. The writing was decent but the story was all over the place and rushed. Too much crammed into a short space with a reprehensible main character, which is fine, but the author tried to make him sympathetic and interesting and failed.
The Never-Open Desert Diner by James Anderson–Tied for Holding Smoke as my favorite read of the month. I can’t pinpoint exactly what it was about this book I liked so much. I just did. It was a mystery that was less thriller and more standard mystery. The characters were all weird and quirky, which you typically don’t get in this kind of book, and having a cello as a major plot point was unique and definitely drew me in. The writing was suspenseful without being overdramatic, and all the storylines tied together really well.
The Two-Family House by Lynda Cohen Loigman–Not a terrible book, not an amazing book. I liked it and read it fairly quickly because it’s a fast read. You sort of figure out what’s going on right away so the whole big family secret isn’t really a secret which, for me, hurt the plot a bit but knowing it up front made reading what happens to the families as a result different. Like, you’re not trying to figure it out but rather watching them unravel as a result. I loathed the ending, though. It was too simple and felt like a cop out. I wanted more drama, and there should have been given all that happened throughout the book, and there was just…nothing. It seemed fake, like the author wanted a happy ending for these miserable people to vindicate them for their suffering.
The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix-Sweeney–This book did what Fates and Furies did. It left me itchy with anticipation, I stalked it at the library and then…meh. I did enjoy the voyeuristic look at this highly dysfunctional family and it gave you pause to think about the things you take for granted and what family really means but there was just too damn much going on. So many subplots and side characters. SO. MANY. It became bothersome to read after awhile. And there was just one subplot that meant absolutely nothing and had zero contribution to the overall storyline (which, at the very least, the rest of the supporting characters did do). I liked the ending; I think she did a good job with that, it had a little surprise, and it remained true to the characters. Oh, and Cynthia? The Mets haven’t played in Shea Stadium since 2008.
The Wednesday Wars by Gary D. Schmidt–This was a middle grade fiction taking place in 1967-68 Long Island (I think near where I’m from but he never actually gives the town. He made one up), and the main character is a 7th grader dealing with not only his burgeoning adolescence but all the societal things like Vietnam and MLK’s assassination and atomic bomb drills. It’s all set against his relationship with his teacher, who, whether he wants to acknowledge it or not, has a tremendous impact on his life. There’s lots of Shakespeare references, which was kind of different and interesting.
TL;DR–add Holding Smoke and The Never Open Desert Diner to your TBR. The Wednesday Wars if you’re feeling it. The rest were just fine but definitely not priority reading. As for Sue Klebold’s, save yourself the time and energy and frustration and just watch her interview.
Now it’s your turn! Link up and show us what you read! Nonbloggers, leave a comment with your favorite read from the last month: