I’ve been agonizing over this for a while. And maybe I shouldn’t have been, because in the grand scheme of this thing called
a simulation life, it doesn’t fucking matter at all. I know that. I get it. I’m hip.
But, we’re in a pandemic and I’ve been essentially stuck inside my house since March 2020, so I need to keep myself busy somehow. Stressing out over shallow shit is the point I’ve officially reach to occupy my mind. And also, maybe I can’t help it because my mental health is in crisis and I snap at literally anything. Woo!
It’s been difficult for me in this disheartening, upside down multiverse timeline we find ourselves in, to work up the motivation and energy to write and post my backlog reviews. When I think about doing it, I just get so…
It occurred to me this might be because half of the backlog waiting for me is for books that didn’t really fire me up either way. One thing about me as a hobby-reviewer is that I need all the love or all the hate to enjoy writing a review. All these meh reviews are a damn slog to write.
But I still have to do them. This is a book blog. That’s kind of a large percentage of the point of this. But it’s also supposed to be a fun hobby, not work I dread. I have a job I’m late for every day already and I don’t need another. I’m making exactly zero dollars here, so this has to be a good time or I might as well delete this whole thing. And I’m not prepared to delete this site.
My solution – which came to me during my regular “stand in the shower and be depressed” morning ritual – is to just group together some books into one post of little baby reviews. It will be for meh reviews, short stories, novellas… anything that I don’t want to, or can’t, dedicate a whole post to.
Hopefully, I can make this post idea work and it doesn’t suck dick.
I’m still not sure about how to organize it or how to title it so you know what you’re getting, but I’ll work it out. Or I won’t. Who knows? Again, nobody is paying me so you get what you get.
So, I’ll stop rambling like a food blogger now and just get to the point.
🔪A Good Marriage by Kimberly McCreight
Harper | 2020
Filed Under: Not One Good Marriage in the Bunch
Nothing against the novel or the work McCreight has done, but I’ve had it up to my double chin with domestic suspense. Oooo did the husband do it? Of course, he fucking did (no spoilers.)
Did this totally keep my attention? Yes, I can’t lie about that. And I loved the overlap between the lawyer MC and her trash can client. Their lives were separate, but still intertwined with everything else going on, both past and present. McCreight killed that narrative style.
This has a lot of layers, a lot of tricks and twists and lies and rich assholes and conversations between spouses that hit the nail on the fucking head if I do say so myself. And McCreight’s writing is a whole-ass vibe. She really turns it up with character and setting and dialogue. But in the end, I’m still ugh with domestic suspense. Are these seemingly perfect couples actually full of shit? Duh. Are they keeping secrets and telling lies? Double duh. Is everything about to crack wide open and someone is going to get murdered? Duh. Duh. Duh.
For as clever and different authors keep trying to make the husband/wife thriller, it’s all basically the same to me so far.
This book comes with a slow-burn plot, multiple POVs (maybe too many,) time jumps in the narrative and an ending that might require more suspended disbelief than some readers have in them. But it also gives the reader a very honest look at how fucking terrible humans are without the over-the-top razzle-dazzle some other thrillers throw-in, and for that, it’s decidedly a little more sinister.
The vibe for this one:
Synopsis on Goodreads
🔪When No One is Watching by Alyssa Cole
William Morrow | 2020
Filed Under: Borderline DNF
I feel like I read a different book than everybody else because for me this was boring AF. Did it touch on big, important topics and social issues? Yes, 100%. But it’s marketed as a thriller? So I was expecting to be thrilled? This is not a thriller? Hello?? It reads more like a contemporary drama and a lot of it was very, very dry reading as the expectation of suspense, intrigue or thrills was hanging over the text the whole time. I kept thinking when will something happen? The answer is basically never.
There’s a bit of heat to the ending, but 85% of this reads as a commentary on social issues like gentrification and racism. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, and for sure if that’s the kind of substance you’re looking for in the format of narrative fiction, definitely read this. Just don’t expect it to be exciting. I don’t read contemporary novels for a reason. They are not for me.
I will take deep, complex, important topics in my thrillers all day long, but it has to all balance and the pace has to keep up. The complex issues need to be propelling the themes, not bogging them down. The thriller side of this was definitely sacrificed in order to speak on the issues.
It’s a great concept, but the execution is way off. It felt like I was reading two different novels mashed together, trying to force something that just wasn’t working.
I almost DNF’d this multiple times, but I stuck it out waiting for that shocking ending I’d heard so much about. The end did save this reading experience for me a little bit, but honestly, it’s like 5 hours of reading time for 50 pages of fun.
Not the book for me. Sorry.
The vibe for this one:
🔪Rewind by Catherine Ryan Howard
Blackstone Publishing | 2019
Filed Under: Press Fucking Eject
Again I’m in the minority with my review, but this was a fucking mess. Honestly, wtf. The concept is unique – all the chapters are Pause, Rewind, Fast Forward and Play, as direction for the fucking endless time jumps that are happening. So it’s kind of fun and different in one sense. But, fuck me, with the actual execution I could just not keep this shit straight. And I wasn’t even high. Maybe I’m just fucking stupid at this point. Who knows.
There is so much going on in this novel. The multiple POVs and the time jumps just left me feeling lost. I honestly couldn’t totally tell you what happened other than a bunch of unlikable, shallow characters wasted my goddamn time. And the ending fell flat for me.
It’s kind of a bummer because this was my first experience with Catherine Ryan Howard and right after I finished this, I received a delivery from Book Outlet. Turns out I bought another of her books. I saw it like, oh nooooooo. Really Rewind left such a bad taste in my mouth so it’ll probably be a while before I pick up that book I bought.
The vibe for this one:
🔪Come Closer by Sara Gran
Berkley Trade | 2006
Filed Under: A Lovely Day for an Exorcism
This is being included in the mini-reviews, not because I don’t have anything to say but because it’s a short story (only 190 pages) and so I just don’t have a shit tonne to say. But let’s start with this: Come Closer is a sinister little story about demonic possession and I actually really liked it. I need more of that in my life.
Not literally. I’m not open for business to demons, but this atheist lady (that’s me) loves stories about demonic possession. I don’t know why, but they’re some of my favourite horror fiction and movies. This genre scares the shit out of me and I live for it. (You don’t have to believe in the supernatural to be scared by good stories about it, thank you very much.)
This short novel really packs a punch, like enough to spin your head all the way around à la Regan MacNeil and maybe spew some green slime while you’re at it.
My only real issue is that it should have been longer, more robust. I wish Amanda and Ed – their characterization, their relationship and the deterioration of that relationship – had more space to be explored in-depth, and that Gran had really gone full-on with the creepy, crawly demonic moments to create more suspense and more unnerving scares.
It’s not exactly a “scary” novel, but it is chilling and captivating, a little sexy, and that ending was *chef’s kiss*
The vibe for this one: