July 24th – 26th
Horrorstör is the third novel that I’ve read by Grady Hendrix, and my favorite so far. I’ve previously reviewed We Sold Our Souls, and I read My Best Friend’s Exorcism back in 2017, prior to starting this blog.
This book is about weird happenings at an Orsk furniture store (like a knock-off Ikea). Every morning, couches are found with weird substances on them, wardrobes are broken, and glasses are shattered. Three employees work an overnight shift to find out what is happening, and the ride gets wilder from there.
One of my favorite things about Grady Hendrix’s novels are the simplicity of the horror. The underlying mystery is given a simple and satisfying explanation. The horror aspect of each of his novels mirrors the inner struggle of the main characters, and this book was no different.
Our main character is Amy. She’s been working at Orsk for a few years, and wants desperately to escape her clock-in/clock-out job and move onto something else. The problem is, she doesn’t know what to do with her life, or how to get it moving. After growing up through difficult circumstances, leaving college, and struggling to make ends meet, her biggest fear is losing her job at Orsk, as much as she hates it. When she’s asked to take the overnight shift, for double overtime, she begrudgingly accepts to help pay her rent.
Overnight, they find that the store keeps getting stranger. Meeting up with two other employees who are ghost-hunting inside the store at night, they investigate impossible graffiti, hallways that shouldn’t exist, and most of all the monsters that lurk in the shadows.
I loved this book. Grady Hendrix writes exactly the kind of horror that I love. I’m working through his older books (Satan Loves You is probably next), and recently received an advanced copy of his next book, The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires, which I’m beyond excited to have. (Thank you again, Quirk Books!)
Pumpkinheads is an adorable graphic novel written by Rainbow Rowell, and illustrated by Faith Erin Hicks. This is the fourth Rainbow Rowell book that I’ve read, and was definitely the youngest feeling.
Deja and Josiah are two seniors in high school who work at a pumpkin patch every fall together. Josiah has had his eye on Fudge Shoppe Girl, a girl who works at the Fudge Shoppe, for all four years he’s worked there. This is their last night at the pumpkin patch, and together he and Deja try and make the most of the night and accomplish everything they can before the end of their shift.
It’s a cute, quick read. I finished the full novel in about an hour. It’s not something that you’re going to get a lot of depth from, but it’s a cute story with these two seasonal best friends. The best part of the novel is the illustrations. Faith Erin Hicks’ art style is adorable and complemented the story very well. The illustrations did a lot to add to the atmosphere of the pumpkin patch, and Halloween.
I think that I enjoy Rainbow Rowell’s adult novels more than her YA novels, but I’ll still read anything that she puts out. I’m also going to be checking out Faith Erin Hicks’ other work in the future too.
August 6th – 7th
This book was a weird ride for me. I loved the beginning, thought it fell flat in the middle, and then picked back up towards the end. Most of my disappointment came from me having guessed a different first twist, and then being wrong when the twist was slightly more stereotypical than I was hoping for.
The Wife Between Us starts as a dual perspective novel. Vanessa is recently divorced, and isn’t dealing with it well. She spends most of her days recovering from the previous night’s bottle of wine, or taking more sleeping pills than she should to push away her insomnia. Her reactions only get worse when she finds out that her ex-husband is engaged to be married again. Nellie is a pre-school teacher who’s engaged to be married, but someone is calling and breathing heavily on the phone. Someone is following her, and she’s starting to get uncomfortable, thinking that it’s her husband’s ex-wife.
What’s interesting about the book is that Vanessa’s chapters are told in first person, while Nellie’s start as third person. I thought this book did a really great job using editing and perspective differences to tell the reader what was going on. Though I found the twists somewhat predictable, I thought that they were pulled off in a very clever way.
I found Vanessa’s character very difficult to relate with. There’s a trend that I’ve noticed in most domestic thrillers where the wife has an attitude that I find extremely off-putting. I’ve seen it in so many thrillers, Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train are other good examples of this, where the wife, or ex-wife has this “I’ll make him pay” mentality. Usually they’re women who used to be pretty, or used to be in shape. Many times they depend on drinking or overusing prescription medication to help them cope, but that mentality is very off-putting to read for me.
That being said, that mentality in this book was really only in the first half. After the first reveal, there was a lot more characteristics of a psychological thriller, which made me happy.
I’m definitely going to check out An Anonymous Girl, the other novel by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen later this year to see how I like it.
August 3rd – 5th
The Last Time I Lied is the second novel from mystery/thriller writer Riley Sager, and the second that I’ve read by him.
In this one, we follow Emma Davis, an up-and-coming painter in the New York City art scene. Fifteen years ago, Emma attended a sleep away camp called Camp Nightingale, where all three of the girls who shared her cabin vanished and were never seen again. Now, Camp Nightingale is going to be re-opening, and Emma is going back for answers.
Sager does a great job at depicting Emma as an unreliable narrator from the beginning. The reader knows she lies about some aspect of the case fifteen years ago, and feels tremendous guilt about it.
Emma sneaks around camp, discovering clues from fifteen years ago which could lead to answers about what happened fifteen years ago. But someone else knows that she’s lying, and knows what she did. Someone is spying on her, making her feel uneasy, and installing a camera pointed at the door of her cabin.
This book was great. I loved how it was written, since like Sager’s first book, it includes chapters of what happened in the past intermixed with what’s currently going on. My only complaints about the book include spoilers, so there’s a warning there.
My biggest problem was with the end of the novel. When the three girls go missing from Emma’s cabin (again) they’re later found in a house. We know that there have been search parties covering every acre of land, but when Emma calls out to them, they respond to her in the house. I suppose it’s possible that they hadn’t gotten to that area to search yet, but it felt like they should have been found.
In addition, at the very end we find out that one of the girls from fifteen years ago is responsible for the death of the other two, and that their bones are in an asylum that’s buried underwater. Again, this place is supposedly so secluded that no one knows it’s there, but the entire property has been searched.
Other than those two small complaints, I loved this book. The pacing was great, and I couldn’t put the book down from the halfway point until I finished it. I’m really excited to read Sager’s third book, because so far both of his novels have been really great thrillers.
I definitely redeemed my terrible September by reading five books during October. Two were thrillers, one was horror, one historical fiction, and one graphic novel. This month I had two five star books, which was amazing.
Pumpkinheads by Rainbow Rowell and Faith Erin Hicks – October 3rd
Horrorstör by Grady Hendrix – October 5th – 14th
Lock Every Door by Riley Sager – October 22nd – 23rd
The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware – October 24th
Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens – October 30th
And here’s the books I’d like to get to this November! We’re two months from the end of the year, and I have 5 more books to read on my Goodreads reading challenge.
Middlegame by Seanan McGuire
Bunny by Mona Awad
Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata
Now Entering Addamsville by Francesca Zappia
The Toll by Neal Shusterman
I’m also planning on taking part in the Buzzword Readathon, the next round of which will be November 18th-24th. The theme for this round is numbers, and I have a tentative list of books that I can try and complete to count for that theme
The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware
And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
Seven Brief Lessons on Physics by Carlo Rovelli
Gideon the Ninth by Tasmyn Muir
Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo
Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
July 28th – 30th
I can honestly say that I’ve never read a character as different from me as Billie McCaffrey. The tomboy daughter of her small Kentucky town’s preacher, she’s rebellious (something I am not) and religious (something that I am definitely not).
I thought that this was going to be a very typical “coming of age” story, and since I’m not usually one for YA contemporary, I really didn’t have high hopes. 40 pages in, I loved the group dynamic, and really enjoyed the plot itself.
Billie McCaffrey and her group of friends are trying to save her small town’s annual festival. That’s the basic plot at least. The book is more about Billie’s relationships with her friends, some of whom she wants more than friendship with, and how she loves all of them for different reasons. It’s about her growing up, becoming herself, and realizing exactly what that means.
This is one of those young adult books that I desperately wish I had when I was in high school. I’m so glad that I gave it a chance, and read in a genre that was outside of my comfort zone. I saw this book recommended on YouTube by booksandlala, so definitely check out her recommendations if you like spooky thrillers and heavy contemporaries.
I’m interested in Courtney Stevens’ other novels, and I hope she comes out with something like this again in the future.