Welcome back to my monthly wrap-up! Dude, this month was so slow. One of the ARCs I read was such a slog to get through and it took up most of my month, and now I'm BEHIND. I know that some of these books may be listed for sale on the website, but I want to keep my reviews honest. We may not have the same taste in books and I encourage you to check them out regardless!
I read six books this month: three physical books and three audiobooks. Let's go!
House of Salt and Sorrows - Erin A. Craig
Some of the characters felt a little flat and underdeveloped, and I wish there had been some more worldbuilding when it came to explaining the religion and beliefs of the island. I felt a little confused at the end of the book because I felt some tings could have been explained better about the world beforehand.
Overall, I enjoyed this read and I'm excited to read the sequel next month!
content warnings: child death, death of parent, grief
At the End of Every Day - Arianna Reiche
⬤⬤◔〇〇 | e-ARC | synopsis here
My Review: Thanks to Atria Books and NetGalley for providing me an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and feedback are my own.
This book felt like a fever dream, and I mean that in both positive and negative ways. I can see why the author is marketing herself to fans of Iain Reid (one of my favorite horror authors), even if I don't fully agree. I like the unsettling atmosphere, and I think theme parks are underutilized as horror novel settings. I also enjoyed the twist reveal at the end - I didn't see it coming and I thought it was clever. My favorite part were the letters included at the end of every chapter.
With that being said, I had no idea what was happening in this book about 70% of the time. I know the author was going for a surrealist quality to her writing, but I couldn't follow along to save my life. I didn't see the twist coming because I don't think there was any foreshadowing. I didn't care about the characters or their relationships. Everything felt very detached.
I would consider picking up another book by this author in the future, but this one wasn't it for me. If you're a big fan of surrealist horror, however, you might like this one!
Desert Creatures - Kay Chronister
⬤⬤⬤〇〇 | audiobook | synopsis here
My Review: This book was a creepy little thing, and for the most part I enjoyed it. I loved the setting and the premise: horror with a touch of classic Western. My favorite part, which I wish had been explored more, was the desert creatures. SO UNSETTLING! Especially to someone like myself who lives in a desert. I loved the idea of a religious pilgrimage through the desert, and the hint of magic lying underneath the surface was a fun touch. I also listened to the audiobook of this and really liked the narrators.
With that being said, I didn't really care about any of the characters. I felt like the most interesting aspects of the world and setting were overlooked. I thought this book was a 4 star read until about halfway through, but the plot started getting a little too repetitive. I'm already starting to forget a good portion of what happened.
Overall, not a bad read with some good elements, but not one I'd actively recommend.
Good for a Girl: A Woman Running in a Man's World - Lauren Fleshman
⬤⬤⬤⬤◕ | audiobook | synopsis here
My Review: This is one of my favorite memoirs I've read this year. The audiobook is fantastic (Fleshman narrates it herself), and I would highly recommend it. Fleshman does a wonderful job of blending personal anecdotes and memories with insightful statistics on sexism in sports. I loved learning about these facts despite the anger they instilled in me, and I appreciated how Fleshman follows up maddening information with steps on how to make things better, and hope for the future.
I think everyone should read this book: women who have participated in any sport will find Fleshman's story and statistics relatable. Any men with an interest in sports will gain insight into the world of female athletics and their unfair standards. This problem affects more than just than female runners, or professional athletes, and this book provides a great call to action.
Hey, Hun: Sales, Sisterhood, Supremacy, and the Other Lies Behind Multilevel Marketing - Emily Lynn Paulson
⬤⬤⬤◐〇 | audiobook | synopsis here
My Review: This is a very compelling book about a niche interest of mine, but I feel a little icky after reading it. I consider myself a pretty informed and avid consumer of anti-MLM content, and getting a first-person account of being in the top ranks of one of these schemes (Rodan & Fields, in her case) was wild. I enjoyed the stories and the insights. It felt like watching an episode of Toddlers & Tiaras or Dance Moms, where things are so terrible you can't look away. Juicy white women drama. I think this memoir does a good job of pulling back the curtain of high-ranking MLM individuals and showing the reality behind it all, and I hope this memoir can help open some people's eyes.
I did mention that I felt a little gross after reading it though, and that comes with how I feel about the author. I found it odd that Paulson mentions racism and white supremacy so often without actually getting to the implications or history of it and what that says about the industry. It felt a little performative.
I also couldn't help but feel like Paulson hasn't grown and learned as much as she says she has. Putting aside the concept of selling a book about you exploiting and preying on others and making a profit off of that as well, she now runs a sobriety coaching community that she charges a monthly subscription to access. It's pitched for the last several minutes of the book. And THAT feels wrong, especially concerning such a vulnerable community.
Looks like I had a lot to say about this one. I did really enjoy it...but maybe get it from your library.
content warnings: alcoholism, cancer
Silver Nitrate - Silvia Moreno-Garcia
⬤⬤⬤◔〇 | e-ARC | synopsis here
My Review: Thanks to Ballantine and NetGalley for providing me an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and feedback are my own.
I feel right in the middle of the road on this book. I thought the premise was super interesting and I really enjoyed the inclusion of real historical figures in addition to our characters, but this book took me FOREVER to get through. Normally I love a good slow burn, but I think there were too many information dumps that grinded the plot to a halt. I also didn't buy in to a lot of the plot: I wasn't overly attached to any characters, and the magic system was a little too soft and vague for me to latch on to.
Some positives! The best part of this book was certainly the relationship dynamic between Montserrat and Tristán; even though I didn't feel connected to either of them individually, I loved their relationship. I thought the setting was unique and well-described, and I greatly enjoyed the history woven into the plot even if I thought the execution was a little heavy-handed.
I don't know how many people I would recommend this one to, but I would definitely pick up something else by this author in the future (Mexican Gothic is still on my shelf)!
content warnings: racism, murder, car accident, alcohol, drug abuse
What was your favorite book you read this month? Let me know!