Late August/Early September Reads

Wanderers by Chuck Wendig

I had a ton of fun reading this while on vacation visiting my sister in New York. We were together for eight days, which is a lot of time to fill, so we spent a good chunk of the week reading near one another and not talking, which is really the ideal way to spend a vacation.

I’ve seen this novel billed online as “The Stand for the Trump Era” and while I usually roll my eyes at the “X but Y” formula for marketing books, this one pretty well nails it. I loved this book. Sometimes I’m not totally sold on books that have a ton of different perspectives since some come out less well developed than others, but the length of the novel is an advantage here, since each perspective character is given a lot of breathing room. I really grew to care about the cast, and I genuinely did not see some of the twists coming, which is pretty rare for me.

This book is physically very large. Definitely not a comfortable read for airplanes or public transit. If you do a lot of reading on the go, this might be a good candidate to pick up as an ebook.

First Grave on the Right by Darynda Jones

Did you read the Harry Dresden novels and think “I want this, but with a lady grim reaper instead of a dude wizard”? This is the book for you.

This falls into the category of “I know this book isn’t good, but the audiobook keeps me entertained while I’m driving or doing the dishes.”
Which is one of my favorite categories of book. Definitely going to continue with the series, at least for a little while.

Beware that when I say this is just like the Dresden series, I really mean it. Complete with dorky sense of humor that doesn’t always land, and somewhat less than enlightened comments when it comes to race, religion, gender, sexuality, body type, and ability. The Dresden Files series makes up for it by being narrated by James Marsters. This lacks that redeeming factor. But I’m still enjoying it.

Perfect guilty pleasure read that I know most of my friends and family would hate. 3/5 star

Doll Bones by Holly Black

I don’t read enough middle grade! This was a delight.

Of course, Holly Black is one of the best middle grade and young adult authors active today, so it’s no surprise that this was great. She does a great job of capturing the anxiety and alienation of growing up, especially when you don’t want to.

This is a quick horror/adventure book about a tight knit group of friends who go on a quest to bury a doll and also fix their fracturing friendship. This would make a great present for the precocious elementary school kids in your life.

Goodbye, Vitamin by Rachel Khong

Goodbye, Vitamin by Rachel Khong was in the tournament of books a couple years ago and received a lot of critical acclaim, especially considering it’s a debut novel. I wish I had more to say about it than I do. I don’t understand the hype.

I liked Goodbye, Vitamin fine. It was a touching narrative about dealing with an ailing loved one, and some moments were genuinely moving. But I’m not going to remember anything about this book three months from now. I can already feel it sliding out of my brain as smoothly as it poured in.

Things We Lost in the Fire by Mariana Enriquez

I finished this short story collection last night and dear god, this book is a FORCE.

Set on the backdrop of post-dictatorship Argentina, this collection of short stories explores everything from negligent pollution to femicide to poverty and drug use to the horrors of simply being a teenager. Each story has a creeping dread in the background, an uneasy feeling emanating from somewhere just off screen. And Megan McDowell’s translation and end note are excellent.

This is Enriquez’s first collection translated into English, and I hope after the critical reception this received we’ll see more from her.

Author: jess

This is not one of the things I do professionally.

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