What I’m Reading

I won’t bore you with a lecture on how writers should be reading…

Here’s what I’ve got going on right now:

Currently reading…

Published 2019; Finished 6/4/21

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Steph Cha came onto my radar from an author I know who knew I was interested in great suspense writers. This novel tackles many of today’s issues almost as if Cha had a time machine to see what 2020/21 was going to bring us. Her insight into the communities in the book are so astute, honest, and feel incredibly tapped in, while creating a compelling mystery for the characters to unravel.

Published 2015; Finished 5/21/21

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Strap in, Mary, shit’s about to get REAL. I need several deep breaths just to write this review… Overall, this book is a master class on the deepest dive into character and narrative. I was vaguely familiar with the controversy around this book—its crazy length, the gargantuan subject matter—but never had picked it up. However, I’ve been on a mission looking for comps that tackle trauma as I prepare my manuscript for submission. I could write a critical paper on this novel, but I’ll simple say this: this novel kept me vacilating between extreme annoyance at the content that should’ve been edited out (everything I was told over and over again in grad school to do) and crying because I was so immersed in Jude’s story and worrying about his well-being. This book is gloriously devastating and I think Yanagihara probably took a year long nap after writing it.

Published 2021; Finished 4/25/21

Rating: 3 out of 5.

I’ve read The Boy From the Woods previously and was a fan of Coben’s writing along with the Netflix adaptations of his previous works, but this one fell flat for me. It takes a lot of work to make readers like an asshat of a character, and Coben’s attempt didn’t pay off for me in the end. I was left with hollow motivation for a character that introduces himself as obtuse, over-confident, and obsessed with winning (his damn name’s Win for crying out loud). Perhaps if the novel were in third person with a couple varying POV’s I would’ve been able to warm to this cold protag? Even the eventual appreciation of his daughter wasn’t enough. I won’t be back for the sequel.

Published 2017; Finished 4/5/21

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Every time I read anything Haig I know I’m going to be educated, moved, and inspired as a writer. This book had supernatural elements, as most of his fiction tends to do, in the form of time travel. (Obviously the title is quite literal, spoiler!) Though The Midnight Library remains my favorite Haig book, this novel upheld my adoration of him in this smart, thoughtful, and well-written book.

Published 2021; Finished 4/13/21

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I was eager to sink my teeth into another of Tudor’s books and this one really surprised me. It walked the line of just the perfect amount of suspense and an unusual plot line that kept me enthralled. I’m also a sucker for character with a tragic past and this one delivered.

Published 2021; Finished 2/24/21

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I was sent a galley copy of this book for a podcast interview (which you can find here) with the author. Naima is a former mentor of mine from my MFA program and I was honored to read this book and interview her in the height of her media storm. (After our interview she hit the NYT Best seller’s list!) I was so impressed with the depth of her characters, the way she is able to completely immerse the reader into the narrative and story. Loved, loved, loved!

Published 2018; Finished 2/7/21

Rating: 4 out of 5.

There were some mixed reviews on this book, but I went in hoping it would be good. And it was. I’m not sure how much the plot sold me in the end, but the author has an intriguing voice and I want to read more of her work.

Published 2018; Finished 1/4/21

Rating: 3 out of 5.

This novel had a great premise and concept, but unfortunately for, I think the hype—and there is a LOT of accolades for this one—didn’t live up to it for me. Without spoiling it, I’ll say that Turton laid out a great deal of work for himself with this novel; the story straddles the line between mystery and speculative fiction, in my opinion. All in all, where there’s hype, I will hold the standards incredibly high. Turton didn’t quite meet those expectations for me.

Published 2020; Finished 12/3/20

Rating: 5 out of 5.

“It is easy to mourn the lives we aren’t living. Easy to wish we’d developed other talents, said yes to different offers. […] We don’t have to do everything in order to be everything, because we are already infinite. […] So let’s be kind to the people in our own existence. Let’s occasionally look up from the spot in which we are because, wherever we happen to be standing, the sky above goes on forever.”

Coming off of reading and loving The Humans, I didn’t expect this novel to hit as hard. But Haig, as I’m convinced of it now, has this magical way of blending great writing with relatable characters; tragedy with hope. I was hesitant to read a book that, on the surface, was dealing with some dark stuff. But Haig didn’t disappoint. I let go enough to trust him to lead me down a hopeful road, and I’d do it again and again.
Published 2013; Finished 11/10/20

Rating: 5 out of 5.

This book… this is a special one, folks. I heard about Haig’s newest release, The Midnight Library, and then stumbled upon this one. The synopsis intrigued me and I’d been in a reading slump—not that I’d stopped reading, there isn’t a chance of that, rather I’d read book after book that had failed to meet my expectations, or connect me to a character or the author, for that matter—and then I came along this gem. I came for the aliens, marveled at the intergalactic hootananny and mathematical (Riemann Hypothesis) shop talk, but STAYED for—and I can’t stress this enough—the lessons I gleaned, the hope I found, the empathy that grew; the arms-length view I got of us, our planet, and humanity. Who knew it’d take an alien to get me closer to it? You, unnamed narrator, sir, are ONE OF US NOW. Welcome.

Published in 2007; Finished 10/25/2020

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

I hate to give this two stars, but I can’t start lying now. This thriller had all the ingredients I love, ones that usually make a good thriller pie: New York City, a serial murderer, cops/FBI, and a female MC. But sadly, I found myself not being able to connect to her, and that truly disappointed me. If I had to name the one thing that kept me from giving more than two and a half stars, that would be it. I had no real sense of her. Too bad, really. On to the next!

Published in 2019; Finished 10/1/2020

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I’d never read Unger before. I can see why she’s gotten the accolades she has. I wasn’t sure what to expect with this book, but I was pleasantly surprised. Unger chose to use dual main characters, alternating chapters between third and first person. While that might sound jarring at first, it ended up bringing the story to life in a way I didn’t expect.

Published in 2008; Finished 7/27/20

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

After reading In the Woods, French quickly became an author I knew I’d go back to again. The Likeness didn’t let me down. I was reading while watching Starz’s The Dublin Murders. The limited series came to life from plot points and characters from both Into the Woods and The Likeness. I’m going to take a break from French, but I know I’ll be back. Man, I love me an Irish mystery. 

Published in 2007; Finished 7/11/20

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

The opening pages of this book are so unique—French masters opens for me, period—and the twists and turns in this one never stop coming. I put this on my TBR list because it interwove backstory of a traumatized preteen, which I am also incorporating into my manuscript atm. 100% Recommend!

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