Flynn’s debut novel is a somewhat predictable thriller starring damaged narrator Camille Preaker, a journalist who returns to her hometown — and her even more damaged family — to report on a missing child and a recent child murder. Super dark and incredibly disturbing, Sharp Objects is not for the faint of heart. Trigger warnings for cutting, suicide, child murder, animal abuse, child abuse, and pretty much everything in between.
Vox by Christina Dalcher (★★★★☆½)
Described as The Handmaid’s Tale for a new era, Vox takes place in a horrifying near future where women are limited to 100 words a day. Similar to Atwood’s tale, Dalcher’s America turns downright dystopian when it’s taken over by an ultra religious political party, with women quickly losing the right to work, read, or own property. While a little rushed toward the end, I had a hard time putting down this cautionary tale, which draws very obvious parallels to our current political climate.
The third and final poetry collection in the women are some kind of magic series is here, and comes complete with individual poetry from 13 of Lovelace’s peers. While I enjoyed this collection — which once again delves into Lovelace’s painful past — I found it to be the weakest of the three, with the witch doesn’t burn in this one, followed closely by the princess saves herself in this one being my top two.Read More »
Somewhat reminiscent of You, Our Kind of Cruelty is told entirely from the male POV, and (spoilers), the boy is not alright. The story’s unreliable narrator is Michael Hayes, who pens the suspenseful tale of how he lost the love of his life, Verity, all while desperately trying to win her back. Written “in a mad spurt of anger at the continued injustices perpetrated against women in our so-called civilized society,” Hall’s compulsively readable thriller will have you screaming about the importance of actually listening to women.
I was super excited to dive into The Favorite Sister, which is a murder mystery/thriller that follows the stars of a reality show centered around successful businesswomen. Especially since I had heard such good things about Knoll’s debut novel Luckiest Girl Alive. Unfortunately what I got was frustratingly slow plot, extremely unlikable women with unbelievable secrets, and chapters that are way. Too. Long. Womp womp.
The third book in the Devil Wears Prada series follows fan favorite Emily — as well as two new POVs you’ll care slightly less about — and will have you wondering, “Why is there more than one book again?” This time around the action takes place in the suburbs of Greenwich, Connecticut, and seems to be under the misguided impression that all women only need two things to be happy: a slamming body and offspring. Emily deserved so much better.
Godsgrave by Jay Kristoff (★★★★★)
The second book in The Nevernight Chronicles takes the assassin school storyline to the next level, with plenty of assassinations and 100% more gladiator stuff. From a surprise LGBT love story, to a murderous antihero you can’t help but love, plenty of sexy times, all the revenge, and four amazingly huge twists at the end of the novel (only one of which I was able to guess), you are in for one wild ride. Who will survive? What will be left of them? And will we ever find out who is writing the hilariously sassy footnotes?
This prequel to the gorgeously written and plotted Every Heart a Doorway follows the story of teacher Miss Lundy, way back when she found her own door that took her to the magical world of the Goblin Market. A fun but sad tale, In An Absent Dream — the technical first book in the series chronologically — is beautifully written and heart breaking. Read: another great addition to this absolutely perfect series! Fifty more books in the Wayward Children series, please and thanks!
Cat Person by Kristen Roupenian (★★★★☆)
The short story Cat Person appeared in the New Yorker and went crazy viral, with women recognizing something of their own love lives in the story and men totally missing the point. Now featured in Roupenian’s brand-new short story collection, You Know You Want This, I figured it was the perfect time to see what all the buzz is/was about. While I enjoyed this short, I can definitely understand why this oftentimes uncomfortable read is so polarizing.
Taylor’s latest series follows Lazlo Strange, an orphan who wants much more than his provincial librarian life … and gets it when he’s whisked on an adventure to the great, wide somewhere. Lushly told and beautifully written, Strange the Dreamer is the super imaginative, incredibly romantic first book in the fantasy duology of the same name that everyone keeps calling “a must read.” Spoilers: they are not lying, it is a must read. One with an ending that will leave you screaming, “Xfhskfdhdfkshfkahsfk!”
We’re almost halfway through January 2019, and in true Cassie-la fashion I’m just getting around to posting my 2018 wrap up … because this is what happens when you work full time and freelance on the side.
2018 was another dumpster fire of a year — not to be confused with all those other dumpster fires (cough2016and2017cough), but that didn’t dissuade me from reaching my goal of 100 books!
Head below the jump to check out some statistics I pulled from my 2018 book spreadsheet, and head over to Goodreads to see a visual representation of all the books I read last year.
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The Dreamers by Karen Thompson Walker (★★★★☆½)
This super original novel — Walker’s sophomore follow up to The Age of Miracles — explores a mysterious illness that quickly infects residents of an allegedly cursed college town in California, trapping the infected in a perpetual state of sleep. With a premise that’s as intriguing as her first novel (if you’re not in the know, it’s set in a world where the earth’s rotation begins to gradually slow down), it’s no surprise that I was immediately hooked. Pick up The Dreamers for the unique story, stay for the beautiful prose.
Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson (★★★★☆½)
True crime enthusiast Stevie is determined to solve the decades-old murder and kidnapping at the prestigious Ellingham Academy boarding school. With a story that alternates between the present day and the events of 1936, when Albert Ellingham’s wife and daughter were kidnapped, Johnson’s new series is a fun-page turner full of a lovable cast of weirdos and several intriguing mysteries to solve. The only downside? The book ends on a major cliffhanger that will leave you wanting so much more.
Much like Hot Tub Time Machine, you know exactly what you’re getting with this graphic novel. Starring a cutesy girl named Nora who happens to be dating a bear, My Boyfriend is a Bear is a surprisingly adorable story with even more adorable artwork from artist Cat Farris. A little weird at times (for obvious bear on human reasons), this graphic novel may be a metaphor for prejudices and the way that opposites attract … but also might not be a metaphor at all? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
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I was not emotionally prepared for the conclusion of the Shades of Magic series, which features the darkest and most high-stakes story yet. In true book hangover fashion, my heart still aches over this beautifully written and perfectly plotted final book. Picking up where the cliffhanger in A Gathering of Shadows left off, A Conjuring of Light does not let down in the world- and character-building department. Read: you will not be disappointed. This book deserves all the stars, and has me even more stoked for the comic book spin-off series The Steel Prince.
I was very cautious (and also super annoyed) going into Tower of Dawn, because honestly, who wants an entire Chaol book? Thankfully, I was proven completely wrong … but only after I powered through the slow opening. After those first 200-ish pages, it was full stream ahead for the remainder of the novel, with the penultimate book in the Throne of Glass series even — dare I say it? — redeeming Chaol. The story’s success is due in large part to healer Yrene, who makes her triumphant return to the series, as well as some pretty shocking reveals that set the stage for the series conclusion (review below).
Monty, Percy, Felicity and their pirate friends return in this cute, fluffy follow up to The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue. Set before the events in The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy, Lee’s short story length tale follows Monty and Percy as they settle into their new relationship. There’s only one problem: despite Monty’s reputation as a rake, he and Percy have yet to be intimate with one another. With that knowledge weighing heavily on him, Monty turns to Felicity for help. What could go right?
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The suspenseful follow-up to Final Girls tells the story of Emma, another survivor of trauma (Sager’s forte). 15 years after the disappearance of her Camp Nightingale cabin mates, Emma returns to the hoity-toity summer camp to learn what happened to Vivian, Natalie, and Allison all those years ago. Perfect for fans of psychological thrillers, Sager’s latest novel will keep you guessing (and screaming) until the very last page. Adapt this for the big screen, please and thanks.
This debut collection from Claire C. Holland combines two of my favorite things: feminist poetry and fictional final girls. Written in response to the 2016 election and the #MeToo movement (among other unfathomable goings on in the world), Holland’s poems explore the perspective of 40 female horror film survivors throughout the decades. Deeply unapologetic, this debut collection is a fitting tribute to final girls and the society that shapes them.
You by Caroline Kepnes (★★★★★)
Kepnes’ debut thriller is an incredibly disturbing novel about obsession in the social media age, including the unhealthy fixation we have with curating our own online personas. Full disclosure, I should not have enjoyed this dark and deranged novel told in the second person as much as I did. And I especially should not have been rooting for the charming, literary loving stalker/kidnapper/murderer the entire time. But here we are. Insert Sorry Not Sorry joke here.
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