Book Review: The Merry Spinster by Mallory Ortberg

merry spinsterTitle: THE MERRY SPINSTER: TALES OF EVERYDAY HORROR
Author: Mallory Ortberg
Release Date: 2018
Pages: 190
Publisher: Holt McDougal
My Rating: ★☆☆☆☆ (1/5)
Goodreads

Oh my God, this was terrible. Awful. Horrendous. Never before in my life have I read something so utterly pointless. These are not short stories. These are not even complete thoughts. They’re just pointless anecdotes that aren’t interesting and don’t mean anything at all. And they’re boring.

Maybe three stories in this (“The Rabbit”, “Six Boy Coffins”, and “Cast Your Bread Upon the Waters”), were readable and had some semblance of plot (thought they were not satisfying plots).

Others, such as “The Thankless Child” and “The Wedding Party” were completely nonsensical.

Others, like the titular “The Merry Spinster” and “Good Fences Make Good Neighbors” were somewhat interesting to read but had no point whatsoever.

And there was one, “We Have Been Threatening Our Friend Mr. Toad”, that I skipped over entirely, because I just could not get through it.

I don’t get it. These “stories” have no climax, no payoff, no plot. What is the point of any of this? They’re supposed to be fairy tale retellings (the most interesting part of the book for me was the author listing the sources and influences), but what are they doing? Are they supposed to be dark and ~edgy? They’re not. Are they meant to be funny? Thought-provoking? What am I missing here? Is there something that I’m missing, or are these just words printed on paper with no purpose whatsoever?

I already know this is going on my worst books of they year list, and it’s only January.

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Book Review: Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor

days of blood and starlightTitle: DAYS OF BLOOD AND STARLIGHT
Author: Laini Taylor
Release Date: 2012
Pages: 420
Publisher: Little, Brown
My Rating: ★★★★★ (4.5/5)
Goodreads

I’m jealous. I’m jealous because I can summarize the entire plot of this book in one or two paragraphs, because not that much actually happens, and yet it’s 512 pages. This is not a complaint. I mean, could this book have been edited down to be much shorter? Sure. Do I necessarily want it to be shorter? No, not really. And that’s because I enjoyed every page of it, even the unnecessary scenes. Which is just so…stellar. As an underwriter, I’m so impressed with authors who can stretch out a basic plot into this kind of length and still make it enjoyable. While reading this I felt like so muchhad happened, but in reality the plot hadn’t really moved forward all that much. What had happened, actually, was character growth and development in character dynamics.

I apologize in advance for this review, which is not going to be a review so much as a summary of my experience reading this book, and oh boy, was it an Experience. I so rarely experience “book hangovers” but it’s happening to me right now. I even made a conscious decision to take a pause before reading the final book because I knew if I barreled through the entire trilogy I wouldn’t be able to read anything again for a while. There’s just…so much intensity here! Everything is hard and intense and cruel. Oh, and, to be honest, if we’re going by general standards of what makes a YA book, this is not a YA book. Maybe the first book was, but this one has veered into adult fantasy territory. I don’t even mean because of the graphic violence and darker themes, but also because of the slow-paced style and the occasionally-omniscient narration. Just my two cents on that, though it ultimately doesn’t matter.

I want to talk about Thiago, because, dammit Thiago, I was rooting for you. I found him an absolutely fascinating antagonist or maybe even antihero, and I enjoyed seeing Karou try to work with him – or around him, really. I really thought Laini Taylor was setting him up for a grand redemption arc, but then he went and ruined all hope of that. HIGHLIGHT FOR SPOILER[In hindsight, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that he tried to rape Karou. Looking back it certainly fits with the hints we had gotten about him in book one. And, duh, he had her beheaded. But still, I held out hope, because I’m trash and I love my problematic antiheroes. But alas. And what a horrific rape scene, by the way. That one’s definitely going to stick with me for a long time.]END SPOILER

The plot, after plodding along for about 400 pages, really sped up in the last 100. Things started happening, and happening fast, with twist after twist! It was fantastic. I almost missed my stop on the subway and the bus, and then I got home and curled up to finish it because I just had to know what was going to happen, and I was not disappointed with the direction the plot took! Common advice tells authors, think of the worst thing that can happen and DO that, and Laini Taylor seems to have taken that advice to heart.

Beautiful, beautiful writing! It just flows so well! I picked up another fantasy book immediately after finishing this and was stunned by how awkward and stilted and ordinary the writing was, in comparison with Laini Taylor’s lyrical, weaving prose. Her writing style is so well-suited to her narrative style, which is full of introspection. I honestly think that’s the majority of these 500+ pages, just characters and their inner lives, which I normally have little patience for when done in excess, but I didn’t mind it here. Laini Taylor makes it work, somehow. And she uses it to develop characters beautifully – Akiva and Karou both grow and develop so much.

Anyway, this series is probably gonna destroy me when I finally finish it.

Book Review: Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

daughter of smoke and boneTitle: DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE
Author: Laini Taylor
Release Date: 2011
Pages: 420
Publisher: Little, Brown
My Rating: ★★★★★ (4.5/5)
Goodreads

I think this is the book that gave me my Prague obsession. Laini Taylor’s writing is, of course, lovely, but there’s something especially lovely about the way she narrates Prague and brings it to life, with its cobbled streets and stone bridge and medieval charm. It is just so cozy, and simple things like Karou walking to her flat or having breakfast at a cafe become magical moments. I know the adage is that readers crave fantasy for escapism, but it’s some kind of talent that can make real cities in our world feel like escapism too.

Whilst reading Daughter of Smoke and Bone I felt such a strong sense of both wonder and whimsy. Which is not to say that this book is light-hearted fluff, far from it. It’s about an age-old war; it’s about racism and prejudice and morality and grief. It’s also about love, which, funnily enough, was the reason I rated this lower the first time I read it – I wasn’t a fan of the instalove. I’m still not a huge fan of it, mainly because it just doesn’t make sense to me that these two individuals are just inexplicably pulled to one another, but it bothered me less this time. I think I’ve lost some of my cynicism, which, frankly, I’m pleased about.

Anyway, I enjoyed the creativity here. Laini Taylor’s take on “angels vs demons” is wonderful. I still remember being delighted with the cleverness of the plot the first time I read this. While I was less impressed the second time around I still appreciated the intricacy of the plot, how it all fit together so perfectly. And, while I think this is the book that started this particular YA book title trend, it’s funny to note that the title actually holds a lot of significance to the plot in this case. Also, while Karou might at first seem like your run-of-the-mill YA Mary Sue, she’s so much more than that, and her idiosyncrasies are explained in ways that actually make sense! It’s like Laini Taylor is lampshading the criticism of female character’s Sue-ishness.

This is not a perfect book by any means, but it’s a delightful one. I enjoyed reading this so much; I couldn’t put it down. Reading it felt like coming home to something comforting and familiar. I’m so glad I finally decided to give this series another go!

Book Review: Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan

wicked saintsTitle: WICKED SAINTS
Author: Emily A. Duncan
Release Date: April 2, 2019
Pages: 400
Publisher: Wednesday Books
My Rating: ★★★★☆ (4/5)
Goodreads

I loved this book. It’s not a perfect book by any means, but it appealed to me on a spiritual level. It’s got that comforting vibe that lets you fall into it from the first page, and then once it gets going, it really gets going and doesn’t stop. I’m honestly just so pleased to have fallen in love with a YA fantasy again. I don’t think I truly enjoyed a single one last year, but Wicked Saints feels like something fresh. That’s not to say it doesn’t feature common YA tropes – it does – but it plays around with them in new ways.

Let’s talk about the romance first. I…adored the romance, which is monumental. But I shouldn’t have been surprised. After all, this is marketed as being perfect for fans who shipped Alina/The Darkling. Indeed, I love dark, angsty, twisted relationships, and Malachiasz gave me that; he’s so different from the usually bland YA love interest fare. His character is so fascinating. Don’t expect the Darkling – Malachiasz is his own creation. Equal parts awkward, anxious, ambitious, and a bit insane, he’s an alluring and enigmatic character who jumps off the page. Every scene he’s in is magnetic, impossible to look away from. But he’s not the only character who shines: the cast here is pretty large, but they all come to life in their own ways, even if they only have minor roles. There’s just something about the way the author has written them that makes them all endearing and charming.

The emphasis on gods and divinity is strong here, and if y’all know anything about me, it’s that I love stories that feature gods in any way, shape, or form. There are several fascinating discussions that take place about theology: the significance of faith, the meaning of divinity, etc. It’s very intriguing and plays into the mystery surrounding who the gods Nadya talk to actually are and where they came from. There’s an epic feel to all of this, with the promise of ancient mysteries to be revealed.

And that’s a good transition to my main issue with this book, which is that there’s too many unanswered questions. First, there’s the magic system, which is fascinating to be sure, but also somewhat confusing. It’s never very clear exactly how the magic works. This isn’t always necessary – there are plenty of authors, like N.K. Jemisin, who are adamant that magic systems don’t have to be scientifically broken down because they’re, well, magic, and they won’t always make perfect sense. That said, I would have liked a bit more elucidation because I wasn’t sure if I just didn’t understand how things worked, or if the magic system was purposely ambiguous and will be explained further as more of the world is revealed.

The ending also left me feeling very confused and frustrated. I don’t think I understood half of what happened in the last forty or so pages. There were so many events occurring one right after the other, twists and shocks and forward momentum without a second to pause and digest what was happening. When I finished I couldn’t be sure if I just hadn’t understood what happened or if the unanswered questions are meant to be answered in the second and third books. But even if that were the case, I would have still liked someanswers. I feel like we should have gotten at least one big, definitive reveal; instead the second half of the book simply asked a lot of questions and answered absolutely none of them.

That said, I want to emphasize again that I truly loved this book. It’s gritty and occasionally gory and has a certain Gothic flair that I think will make it a fandom darling (I can’t wait for the fanart and gifsets). Oh, and I love the Russian/Polish influence. I know Russia is common to see in YA fantasy, but I’ve never actually seen a strong Polish influence before, and that was very cool. And despite our main setting being these countries, the author still incorporates characters of color in meaningful ways, which was great to see.

A very enjoyable and memorable read! Can’t wait for the second book!

10 Series I Want to Finish in 2019

I have a short attention span, so it’s often difficult for me to finish series, or to read them in order. Unfortunately, I also have a really terrible memory, which means that if I don’t read it in order, I’ll forget about the first book and have to re-read it if I want to finish the series, which makes me even more reluctant to finish the series. It’s a vicious cycle.

I want things to be different in 2019! One of my resolutions is to read series in order if I’m going to read them at all. This means I will only read completed series. I also plan to return to several completed series that I started in the past years in an attempt to finish them, even if it means re-reading the first book in the series.

Before I get started, shout out to Susan Dennard’s Witchlands series and Libba Bray’s Diviners series, which were both initially going to be on this list because I thought they were trilogies, but it turns out they’re longer. Dennard’s series is going to be FIVE books with two still unannounced and the Diviners still has one book left in it, also unannounced. Guess I’m waiting a few more years before jumping back into these two.

Below are all the series I intend to finish up in 2019!

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The Queens of Renthia Trilogy

This is a series that flies completely under the radar for some strange reason. Maybe it’s the generic titles or the generic covers, but this series is far from generic. The Queen of Blood was one of my favorite books of 2017. It’s set in a world where everything in nature has a spirit, and these spirits are vicious and want to murder humans. Sadly I’ve forgotten all the major details so I would need to re-read the first book in order to continue (this will be a running theme), but I definitely want to keep going, as I’ve heard great things about the next two books.


The Queen of the Tearling Trilogy

This is a throwback. I don’t even remember when I read The Queen of the Tearling; it must have been whenever it was first published. I remember very little except for the overarching plot, which is about a young girl becoming queen after the death of her mother and figuring out how to shed her mother’s frivolous reputation and also how to deal with the warmongering neighboring kingdom. I’d really like to finish this series up, especially since it has one heck of a controversial ending! I’d like to see what all the fuss is about. Of course, I would have to re-read the first book.


The Winternight Trilogy

The Bear and the Nightingale was one of my favorite books of 2017. Thankfully I’m pretty certain I don’t have to re-read it to continue the series, but I think it would be helpful for me to skim the last few chapters. The third book is set to be published next month, so I’ll wait in order to read the last two books so that I can read them one right after the other.


The Elemental Blessings Quartet

Oh, these covers. I read Troubled Waters way, way back, but even now I still think it was a very original fantasy. Its worldbuilding is fabulous. The series is a bit heavy on the romance, but I recall that I enjoyed the first book very, very much. Again, I would have to re-read it because I remember very little, so I’m hoping that my tastes haven’t changed and I still enjoy it!


The Daughter of Smoke and Bone Trilogy

This is yet another series I started ages ago and completely forgot about! I recently read Laini Taylor’s newer series and adored it, so I think it’s high-time I go back and finish up her original series. I really liked Daughter of Smoke and Bone when I read it, so I don’t think re-reading should be an issue. And I hear the series gets better as it goes on, so I’m excited!


The Winner’s Curse Trilogy

Okay. Let me just say that I absolutely hate these covers. When these books were published, white girls in ballgowns were a trend for some weird reason. But anyway, covers aside, I keep hearing fantastic things about this series. Originally, I had set it aside as a popular series I would never read because it just didn’t sound that interesting to me, but I’ve heard some things that have changed my mind. I want to at least try it out; if I don’t like the first book, I don’t have to continue. But I want to give it a chance!


The Divine Cities Trilogy

So, there’s a very specific reason I stopped reading this series, even though I loved City of Stairs. The next two books feature different protagonists, and I was reluctant to part with the heroine of the first book, because I adored her. But I’ve heard the last two books are just as good, and I’d really like to round up this trilogy, because I enjoy the author’s worldbuilding. I would definitely have to re-read the first book.


The Raven Cycle

I just read The Raven Boys a few months ago; it was fine, it did not impress me. But I hear that the series gets better and better as it goes on, with books two and three being standouts. Regardless, this is such a popular series in the bookish world that I hate not having read it when it’s talked about all the time. I want to be in the know! I want to have an opinion on the controversial final book!


The Malazan Book of the Fallen Series

Oh boy. Honestly, this is just…wishful thinking, but I’ve been wanting to try out this series for years. I’m just intimidated because it consists of TEN books. Yes. TEN. On the bright side, they’re all published, so if I enjoy the books, that’s great, but it’s still super intimidating. They’re also not easy books to get into, from what I hear; they’re dense and full of hundreds of characters. I feel like I need to set aside a few months just for this series, if I intend to read it in its entirety. But perhaps I’ll give it a go?


The Farseer Trilogy

I will hopefully be buddy reading the first book in this series soon! I’m not sure when this book showed up on my radar, but recently it seems that everyone has been talking about it. I’ve been hearing the author’s name everywhere. This is such a classic fantasy series that genre fans all seem to have read, so I’d really like to see what all the fuss is about.


The Remnant Chronicles

This is another series that I see talked about all the time! The first book has an intriguing hook: the protagonist is running away from an arranged marriage and is being chased by her fiance and…an assassin, I think, but the reader doesn’t know who is who until the very end. I’m not sure how that’s going to work, but I’m definitely curious. People seem to really enjoy this series, so we’ll see!

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That’s it! Which of these series have you read? Which do you think I ought to start first? Let me know in the comments!

2018 Scrapbook

2018 Scrapbook

This is a compilation of all the things that I’ve enjoyed in my year, like music, television, films, and actors. Now that I have an entire blog dedicated to talking about books, I hardly need to include that in the scrapbook, but I still wanted to include my other new discoveries! I’m certainly not including every single thing I watched or listened to, only the things I want to remember. I always have such great fun doing this virtual scrapbook, and it’s nice to look back on it and remember what I enjoyed in particular years.Read More »

Best Books of 2018

I read 92 books this year, the closest to 100 books a year that I have ever gotten in my adult life!!! It’s been quite interesting, as I’ve tried several new genres and some of my faves are quite surprising! So let’s get started!

HONORABLE MENTIONS

Honorable mentions, in no particular order, include: Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli, Freshwater by Akwake Emezi, Give Me Your Hand by Megan Abbott, Foolish Hearts by Emma Mills, One of Us Is Lying by Karen McManus, Policing Egyptian Women: Sex, Law, and Medicine in Khedival Egypt by Liat Kozma, A Girl Like That by Tanaz Bhathena, and Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor.

And now for the countdown!!!

#10

spinning silver

Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik: This is a spellbinding, gorgeously written book that takes various elements of the Rumpelstiltskin story and weaves it into an enchanting winter tale. Though slow-paced, it is never dull, and is told in multiple different perspectives, each of which has its own unique voice. The romances in this book are subtle and oh-so-slowburn.


#9

sawkill girls

Sawkill Girls by Claire Legrand: This little horror story is written so viscerally that it will make shivers crawl down your spine. I couldn’t even formulate a proper review for this because I loved it so much. It’s incredibly atmospheric and does a superb job balancing cosmic horror with modern-day teen friendships. And it’s sapphic.


#8

the poppy war

The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang: This is one of the best fantasy books of the year. It features superb worldbuilding and a plot heavy on war and military drama, and yet it’s incredibly fast-paced. Its main character is one of the best female heroines (or anti-heroines) I’ve seen in a long time. The magic system is innovative. It’s a dark book that doesn’t shy away from depicting horrific violence and its effect on people.


#7

heart's invisible furies

The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne: This was such a surprise. I never expected to love this book, because it’s so outside of what I usually like. It’s a contemporary bildungsroman featuring a male character. But it turned out to be a darkly comedic and even absurd story interspersed with real tragedy. It’s also incredibly compelling despite its oddly episode plot structure; I couldn’t put it down.


#6

creatures of will and temper

Creatures of Will and Temper by Molly Tanzer: I’ll just quote from my original review: “This book cleared my skin, harvested my crops, nourished my soul, and added ten years to my lifespan. It simultaneously defied all of my expectations and yet gave me everything I wanted anyway.” It’s basically lesbians and demonic cults in Victorian London, superbly written and twisty. It’s so much fun and I absolutely adored it.  And that cover, Lord.


#5

silent companions

The Silent Companions by Laura Purcell: This book is everything I ever wanted from a neo-Victorian Gothic horror novel. It’s gorgeously written, atmospheric, female-led, truly creepy, and features witchery, semi-demonic entities, supernatural forces, gruesome murders, and shocking family secrets. And I couldn’t put it down.


#4

if we were villains

If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio: This was one of the first books I read in 2018, and that it’s stuck with me till now says a lot, especially considering this is not my usual genre. This is such an emotive book; it was definitely an emotional rollercoaster for me. The prose is gorgeous and rich, creating an autumnal, claustrophobic atmosphere that ensnared me. And surprisingly, it touches on the havoc wreaked by toxic masculinity and winds up subverting the reader’s normative expectations. It’s quite a delightful surprise.


#3

crimson petal and the white

The Crimson Petal and the White by Michel Faber: This gargantuan historical fiction tome is a neo-Victorian classic with an unusual narrative device that shatters the fourth wall. With a 19-year-old prostitute as its linchpin, it is brimming with period details; it mimics Victorian novels not only in its narrative form but in its style and content as well. 19th-century London comes roaring to life in this novel. It’s also surprisingly hilarious and compelling; it’s over 800 pages but I couldn’t put it down. And with so many hat tips and allusions to Victorian literature, it feels like a love letter to the entire period.


#2

home fire

Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie: For me, this is the biggest surprise of the year. I mean, a literary fiction novel coming in at second place?? But this book absolutely destroyed me. It made me feel so strongly in a way that few books do. A modern-day retelling of Antigone set in England with an all-Muslim cast of characters, it is a nuanced examination of the effects of Islamophobia, corrupt states, imperialism, and alienation. The writing is quietly beautiful. And then there’s the ending. The ending of Home Fire is probably the most memorable, tragic, beautiful, and fitting ending I’ve ever read. It fucking wrecked me.


#1

godsgrave

Godsgrave (and Nevernight) by Jay Kristoff: Do you know the sort of book that just makes you happy to read? Like you genuinely look forward to when you can sink back into the world because it just fills you with indescribable joy? That was Godsgrave for me; I legit looked forward to my commute and didn’t want it to end so that I could keep reading. This is such a strange fantasy series in many ways: it’s written weird, it has footnotes, and it’s really, really funny (and dark, too, quite dark, but also funny). But what sets it apart for me is its worldbuilding, which is so very dense and rich with minute details. Not only is our main character fantastic, but the series is full of minor characters with their own arcs and vivid personas, and there’s an amazing f/f relationship!!! Honestly, this is just such a thrilling book (and series) that I could just gush about it forever, but I’ll stop now.

Wrap-Up: December 2018

  • Sofia Khan is Not Obliged by Ayisha Malik (★★★★★)
  • Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead (★★★★☆)
  • Sawkill Girls by Claire Legrand (★★★★★)
  • Damsel by Elana K. Arnold (★★★☆☆)
  • Vengeful by V.E. Schwab (★★★★★)
  • An Unwanted Guest by Shari Lapena (★☆☆☆☆)

MONTHLY TOTAL: 6
YEARLY SO FAR: 92

Why is my monthly average petering out to six books or less these past few months? Anyway, I’ll keep this post short since I’ll be posting more end of year type stuff over the next few days.

I am currently reading:

Can I tell you how excited I am to be reading Wicked Saints, finally? I kept telling myself to hold off until it was closer to the release date but like…I can’t. I’m a few chapters in and like it a lot so far (and I ADORE the cover)!! Very excited to see what’s in store!! Hopefully this is a YA fantasy I will actually enjoy; I’ve not been having good luck with them this year. Virgins: A Cultural History will be my first nonfiction book of the year. I bought it in Burlington a few months ago and it’s been calling to me. It’s also quite short, so it’s a good way for me to ease back into nonfiction.

Mini TV + Film Update:

I binged season 6 of Elementary in like two days. I love this show so much and I’m so sad that the seventh season will be the final one.

I also went to the movies for the first time in months so I could watch The Favourite which has got to be one of the weirdest movies I’ve ever watched. I definitely enjoyed it but I’m not certain how I feel about it, overall. I think Emma Stone and Nicholas Hoult were absolutely brilliant and I loved the music and cinematography, but I found the pacing a bit choppy. It’s definitely a very memorable film, though.

Most Disappointing Books of 2018

For whatever reason, the books below just didn’t jive with me. Some I disliked intensely, some I was very meh about, and some I just expected way more from. And the countdown begins:

 

JANE EYRE

10. JANE EYRE by Charlotte Bronte: It took me months to read this book. I appreciate its literary significance and I liked Jane’s character, but I found it way too long and incredibly boring. I didn’t get any sense of Gothic atmosphere and there were literally only like (2) scenes where I felt genuine enjoyment. I also found the writing needlessly overwrought.

wicked cometh

9. THE WICKED COMETH by Laura Carlin: Ugh, I wanted so much more from this. It was one of my most anticipated reads of the year. It’s a neo-Victorian lesbian thriller and yet it manages to be one of the driest, most soulless books I’ve ever encountered. Neither of the heroines had any hint of personality and the plot was ridiculous. It was such a slog to get through.

children of blood and bone

8. CHILDREN OF BLOOD AND BONE by Tomi Adeyemi: I found this book to be aggressively mediocre. It’s got intriguing worldbuilding, but its plot and characters fell completely flat for me. I had a lot of issues with the way it incorporated trope after trope without doing anything new or different. It also read more middle grade than young adult, which was jarring when the themes were so adult. And the writing was…not great, to put it mildly.

stalking jack the ripper

7. STALKING JACK THE RIPPER by Kerri Maniscalco: I so wanted to like this purportedly Gothic YA thriller. It started out okay, but for a short book, it’s really slow-paced and could not hold my interest. And the heroine read like a college girl from 2018 inexplicably transported to the Victorian era.

the wicked deep

6. THE WICKED DEEP by Shea Earnshaw: This book was just really, really bland and utterly forgettable. What should have been a tense, creepy tale about witches turned out to be a sappy romance that I didn’t care about. It’s also very slow, with almost nothing happening for the first three-quarters of the book.

only human

5. ONLY HUMAN by Sylvain Neuvel: This is the conclusion to the Sleeping Gods trilogy, and I have to say that my reading trajectory for the series went totally downhill for me. I really enjoyed the first book, was lukewarm about the second, and really did not like the third. I feel like it went completely off the rails here, with the plot veering into really weird territory. And it was boring.

the pisces

4. THE PISCES by Melissa Broder: I enjoyed the merman storyline in this book but hated everything else. This is very much a “it’s me not you” situation, though. From the first page this book is viscerally crude and gritty. I felt like it was trying too hard to be lurid or ~edgy or whatever and in the end it just made my skin crawl with how deeply unpleasant and depressing it all was. Which is a shame, because I really enjoyed the mythological aspects, but in the end all the weird sordid details of the heroine’s life ruined it for me.

sometimes i lie

3. SOMETIMES I LIE by Alice Feeney: So many dream sequences. The heroine is in a coma for most of the book and so much of it is just nonsensical pontificating and dreams. The characters made no sense. The twist was cool, I guess, but it was overshadowed by a bunch of other really weird and ridiculous twists. In the end I was just really, really annoyed by this book.

we were liars

2. WE WERE LIARS by E. Lockhart: This is a book that relies entirely upon its final twist, so when that twist is ridiculous, the entire thing falls apart. Nothing happens in this book aside from the main character trying to remember what happened to her, with little plot or clear progression of events. The final twist was a complete disappointment. This book was a complete waste of time.

an unwanted guest

1. AN UNWANTED GUEST by Shari Lapena: I really hated this book, because it had the potential to be great! It’s a locked room mystery, but the writing is awful. This is some of the worst writing I’ve ever seen. It’s clumsy and awkward and stiff. The dialogue is corny and melodramatic. And it’s boring as hell.

Book Review: An Unwanted Guest by Shari Lapena

an unwanted guestTitle: AN UNWANTED GUEST
Author: Shari Lapena
Release Date: 2018
Pages: 312
Publisher: Pamela Dean Books
My Rating: ★☆☆☆☆ (1.5/5)
Goodreads

I enjoy a good locked room mystery, which is why I initially picked up this book, but from the first few pages I knew we weren’t going to get along. The writing is absolutely awful; it’s childish and clumsy and stilted, awkward and cliche. It’s like someone sat down and wrote an emotionless outline draft of what they wanted to happen but then forgot to actually edit it into a proper novel. It was so bad that it took me completely out of the story; I could not get past it. It also meant that the book utterly lacked atmosphere.

Added to the terrible writing is the terrible characters. They’re all wooden stock characters for the most part, and they’re all generically white. I couldn’t connect to a single one of them, even though we were in all of their heads at one point or another, which was another annoying facet of this book. Since I didn’t care about the characters, I really didn’t care about anything that was happening in the book, which, incidentally, was very little.

In between the few murders that occur, nothing happens except for these pointless characters pointlessly pontificating about who the murderer might be. It was exceptionally boring; the only reason I didn’t DNF is because I wanted to find out how it would all be wrapped up. The conclusion was…fine? Passable? But it also came way out of left field; there was no way for the reader to figure it out considering that the murderer’s motive and past were only revealed in the last few pages. And then another twist came way out of left field, and though it was certainly memorable, it just seemed so…nonsensical.

This was just a terrible reading experience. If this author’s other books are anything like this, I think she and I are done.