Tuesday, July 12, 2016

From the Bookshelf: Recently Read - July 2016 Edition

I've kind of lost my reading groove lately, and I think it really shows with this month's contribution to the Show Us Your Books! link-up with Steph and Jana.

Since the last link-up, I've only read four books. I've had slow book months in the past, but this felt really slow. (I think this was probably because I couldn't really get into the majority of the books I read.)

To be perfectly honest, I don't have a lot of good things to say about most of the books discussed in this post, so I tried to keep my complaints to a minimum reviews pretty short here. As usual, I'll be posting my more in-depth reviews on Sunday. 

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Forsaken by Andrew Van Wey - 446 pages - 2 stars

When art professor Daniel Rinehart receives a mysterious painting, he's determined to find the artist and uncover the secrets behind the unsettling artwork. But the more Daniel studies the painting, the more he realizes something is off ... And before long, he finds his family in danger and himself teetering on the brink of insanity.

I'll admit that I'm not a huge fan of paranormal horror. However, I do think that, on occasion, it can be well done. Unfortunately, this was not one of those occasions.

The reviews on Goodreads led me to believe that Forsaken would be a terrifying, nightmare inducing book. I know that for a lot of you, that would be a bad thing ... But I actually like really scary books (and movies). I wanted to be scared. 

As I'm sure you can probably guess from my low rating, I didn't find Forsaken scary. Not at all. Yes, the book started off strong and there were a few unsettling moments, but overall it was just sort of blah. I honestly had a hard time getting through it because it just couldn't hold my attention. 

The Silent Wife by A.S.A. Harrison - 326 pages - 4 stars

Jodi and Todd have been together for years, but lately they both just seem to be going through the motions. As their relationship continues to deteriorate, Jodi realizes the only satisfactory ending involves ending Todd's life. (Oh, and don't worry ... This isn't a spoiler. Every summary of this book tells you this right from the start!)

Reading The Silent Wife was kind of like watching a car crash in slow motion: you know something bad is going to happen, there's nothing you can do to stop it, and, although you can already predict the end result, you're still not exactly sure how everything will play out.

This wasn't a book that immediately captivated me, but as I continued to read, I suddenly found myself unable to put it down. I read most of it in a single sitting.

Hillary: Tail of the Dog by Angel Gelique - 251 pages - 3 stars

When 15-year-old Hillary wakes up naked and bound to a bed with no memory of who she is or how she got to this unfamiliar place, she's crippled by fear. Desperate to piece together her past and the reasons she's being held captive, Hillary waits for the perfect moment to escape ... And she'll do anything to go home.

I think by now many of you know that I like really dark, disturbing books. Well, let me just say this: there's dark and disturbing and then there's Hillary: Tail of the Dog

I can't pretend I didn't know what I was getting myself into before I opened this book. The warning is right there on the Goodreads page at the very top of the summary. I knew it would be gruesome and uncomfortable and intense. And I read it anyway.

Books like this are nearly impossible for me to rate. I mean, can I really say I liked it? (For the record, I got so queasy at one point that I thought I might actually get sick. Sick. From words on a page.) 

I'll try to explain my reasoning for the 3 star rating in my more in-depth review, but for now I'll just say that this book is very much not for everyone. After I finished it, I just kept thinking, "What the fuck did I just read?" And then I wished for some brain bleach.

Mister Sandman by Barbara Gowdy - 268 pages - 2 stars

The Canary family is an unusual and mysterious bunch, each eccentric member keeping secrets from the rest. That is until Joan, the youngest daughter, arrives. Although she ages, Joan never grows and never speaks. Each family member is inexplicably drawn to her, spending hours confessing their obsessions and secrets ... After all, Joan is the one person they're certain will never say a word. 

For me, Mister Sandman felt like it was haphazardly slapped together. There were moments of brilliance, but there were also pages and pages that were so dull I could barely stay awake. There were laugh out loud moments, and then there were racist "jokes" that really bothered me. (The novel is set in the 1950s-1960s, so maybe that was considered "okay" at the time ... But that kind of shit still gets under my skin.) 

And the sex ... Wow. I don't think I would be exaggerating if I said that a good 85-90% of this novel revolved around sex. Don't get me wrong ... I'm no prude. The sex itself didn't bother me. I think it was the fact that it was so prominent in a story about a family. It just felt a little weird, especially considering this isn't a story about incest. 

I was honestly very torn when it came to this book. The writing was lovely, there were some hilarious moments, and I love a good quirky, dysfunctional family ... But that just wasn't enough for me this time.


  1. I hate meh reading months. I've been in a bit of book fun too and it bites. Bummed to hear Forsaken didn't live up to the hype because I do enjoy a good scary book too. You have me really intrigued by Hillary: Tail of the Dog so I'm adding it to my TBR.

  2. By now, you know the type of books I read. And, we read some similar disturbing books. So, you and I need to chat a little more to see if I want to read Hilary: Tail of the Dog.

  3. Sometimes that just happens but I hope you get into some better books soon!! I had not heard of any of these books but they do sound intriguing...just goes to show you that everyone has different interests!!

  4. I had a meh reading month earlier this year. They're so frustrating!!!

    I don't enjoy paranormal horror either. I think it's why I really haven't read much Stephen King despite the fact that he's awesome.

  5. I liked The Silent Wife a lot. Slow at first but sucks you in.

    I hate blah reading months.

    Do you think I should read Hilary? You know I like fucked up books.

  6. I've been wanting to read The Silent Wife for a while, and I'll definitely have to keep in mind that it doesn't grab you immediately. Hilary: Tail of the Dog sounds interesting, but after looking at Goodreads I don't know if I could read it. It looks like it's probably a little too intense for me. I hope that you get out of your reading slump soon!

  7. I've been kind of stuck in a reading rut lately and it's so frustrating to keep reading books that I don't like or are only meh, but I guess it keeps you anxious for your next really good read!

  8. The Silent Wife looks interesting. Your description of the slow motion train wreck is awesome, by the way. I know exactly the sensation you are talking about. Have a good one!

  9. hmmmmm the silent wife sounds interesting, i feel like it used to be on my list but i must have removed it. added it back.
    i know you like disturbing books but i don't really, sometimes i do, very rarely, but i definitely won't be picking up the hillary one haha.
    i hope you find your reading groove soon :) sometimes when i pick up crappy book after crappy book it really ruins reading for me.

  10. I've had bleh reading months before. Hopefully you'll get your reading groove back! The Silent Wife is on my to read list. Haven't heard of the other books you read.

  11. Pretty sure I won't be picking up Hillary. You know how you can't unsee (or unread, as the case may be) something... I'd rather not get something burned into my memory I'd rather not have there!
    Have you read The Family Fang? That's a good quirky dysfunctional family novel. And it's coming out as movie soon with Jason Bateman and Nicole Kidman.

  12. "meh" books anger me. it's like you want them to get good but then it doesn't so when you're ready to give up, it pulls you back in. that's what happened with The City of Mirrors (Justin Cronin) :(

  13. The Silent Wife sounds interesting. I like disturbing books too, but Hillary: Tail of the Dog sounds super disturbing. Not sure I'm up for that.

  14. I hate blah reading months; I had a couple of books this month that didn't do anything for me, either...

  15. That is one serious warning on Goodreads for Hillary. And it's a trilogy. I like fucked up books, but ... wow.

  16. I will be avoided Hillary: Tail of the Dog. I really like horror movies and books sometimes, but I'm not into gruesome. I'm not interested in those movies that are gruesome as the main purpose, although I get that it is some people's jam. I love a good creepy story, though.

  17. Ok so like you I love messed up books so I'm really intrigued by your summary of Hillary. Should I read it?