Most of the books I read in 2019 were unremarkable or just plain bad. I don’t even remember reading the first 10 or so because I was in and out of the hospital with my son and going through the postpartum haze. But there were a few notable ones (in no particular order):
- The Three and Day Four by Sarah Lotz. I cheated a little bit because these are two books in the same series, so I’m counting them as one. They were so absorbingly creepy, and the author had a different sort of writing style that sucked me in. I already wrote about them here and here.
- The Dogs of March by Ernest Hebert. I already wrote about it here. What else can I say? It’s a classic.
- Donnie Brasco by Joseph Pistone. This is a real-life account of an FBI agent’s undercover years as a member of the Italian Mafia. Yes, there’s a movie, but I highly doubt I ever see it. The book was fascinating from a psychological perspective. Pistone has balls of steel. Read the book to find out why!
- The First Confessor by Terry Goodkind. This one had its faults, but overall, it was a good solid fantasy novel. It is part of a series, but you don’t have to read the other books to understand what’s going on. Goodkind always gets hate from fantasy fans, and I’m not sure why. His worldbuilding makes a lot more sense, and his stories (to me) are much easier to get into.
- The Last Suppers by Mandy Mikulencak. Set in the South in the 1950s, this book was about a woman who works for a prison, preparing meals for the inmates. She’s got some crazy stuff in her backstory, but everything is resolved neatly and poignantly at the end. I can’t say exactly why I liked this book; it was just a good, entertaining story. The recipes and descriptions of food throughout will make you hungry, too.
More recent reads, so there will be spoilers!
- Love Lies Beneath – Ellen Hopkins. I read this book’s sequel first (by accident) and enjoyed it only because the main character is delightfully evil (so evil, in fact, that she doesn’t realize it). This book provided more backstory on the character, so some of her evil actions from the sequel made more sense in context. There’s nothing “intellectual” about this book; it’s all about pleasure and enjoyment. And that’s fine. My brain’s fried anyway.
- Love Is Red – Sophie Jaff. This book was pure awesome, and (but wait! there’s more!) it’s the first in a trilogy, which is even more exciting. The novel can best be described as a murder mystery mixed with fantasy and romance, but that doesn’t do it justice. Some parts of it were a little confusing because of the writing style, but I’m hoping that the next two books clear it up for me.
- Day Four – Sarah Lotz. The sequel to The Three and far better than its predecessor. Lotz’s style reminds me so much of Stephen King, and in a good way. This book is far less political than the previous one, the characters are drawn better, and it’s set on a cruise ship, which is never a good place to be when a norovirus outbreak happens or when little ghost kids start wandering around. You want horror? This is some pretty good horror. I wonder if there will be a next book…
Recent reads edition! SPOILER ALERT! I was in a rush, so I grabbed three random books out of the library, only glancing at the covers and blurbs for a quick second. Interestingly, all were part of a series (not the same series), but I didn’t know that when I picked them up.
- The Last Good Girl – Allison Leotta. Part of the Anna Curtis series, which centers on a lawyer working for the U.S. government. The book had an interesting premise: the dangers of the date-rape drug commonly used by unscrupulous people at college. Moral of the story: Men are evil. College boys, especially those associated with fraternities, are sex crazed and irredeemably evil, except when it serves the book’s plot for them to turn over a new leaf. All women are good, especially when they fight against injustices perpetuated by evil men.
- The Three – Sarah Lotz. There’s a sequel called Day Four. Both are horror novels describing an end-of-the-world scenario. Moral of the story: Fundamentalist Christians are evil. But then again, the entire human race, including gay people, little kids, the Japanese, and South Africans, is evil, and we deserve whatever apocalyptic terror we get. This book is much more like Stephen King’s novels than Bird Box because of its length and complexity, but the depth of characterization is just not there. At the point when I was getting to know and like the characters, the book was ending and/or said characters were dying or dead. This was a bleak one.
- A Sin Such as This – Ellen Hopkins.* This is the sequel to Love Lies Beneath, which most likely contains more of the main character’s morally disgusting sexual escapades (although she tries to justify it to herself) and unbridled arrogance. Moral of the story: Men are evil. Except when they can provide women with mind-numbingly good sex. Women’s moral failings can be attributed entirely to their parents and their upbringing; thus, women are blameless, even when they do the same morally reprehensible things as men. Because, wouldn’t you know, women are entitled to cheat on their husbands when they have been treated poorly!
Oh, the depth of misanthropy in these three books… will I read the others in the series? Maybe. All three books were entertaining and went pretty quickly, but I wasn’t particularly blown away by any of them.
*I’ve read a couple of Ellen Hopkins’ YA novels-in-verse, which are much more well known and greatly loved among teen audiences. She should stick to that genre. A Sin Such as This had a couple poems in it, and they just didn’t work for the book. It was like sprinkling powdered sugar over moldy cookies.