As I’ve mentioned in my last completed book post, I’ve been spending more of my time lost between pages. And when I mean pages, I mean actual, physical pages. Returning to books has rekindled a love of reading I never really thought I’d regain in my adult life. Who knew I just needed to set a little more time to read?
This year, in particular, has really boosted things, especially because I spent the beginning of this year pregnant and anxiety-ridden. Reading has really helped me hold a lot of my hormonal unease at bay. I actually started going back to the discount section at Chapters. I went to the local used bookstore. I delved outside of my usual taste and found some bloody good stuff.
So let’s get on with the list and on with all the books I’ve read in 2019 so far.
(Note: All my links will lead you to Chapters because I boycott Amazon and all of Jeff Bezos’ awful ilk. Any books not available at Chapters will link to Abebooks, where you can hopefully get yourself a thrifted copy on the cheap.)
The House Swap – Rebecca Fleet
I picked this one up new during my fall vacation in Whistler. It seemed intriguing at the time (because what domestic thriller doesn’t when you’re on vacation?) but once I got home I simply put it on the shelf and forgot about it. Enter January, when my ambition to get some resolutions made was high. I found myself digging through my shelf for reading material. I spent thirty bucks on this book so I dove right in. My verdict? It’s your typical domestic thriller plot in microwave dinner form. There’s a strange situation (the house swap), some lying (an affair), and some dark secret that turns out to be rather anti-climatic by the story’s end. There were parts that touched on drug addiction and the dissolving of the protagonist’s marriage pretty realistic. Surprisingly, the husband is actually the most likable character in this one!
The Water Cure – Sophie Mackintosh
I got my husband to buy this for my birthday when I found it at the grocery store while we were there to get my favourite sugar-free drumsticks. The synopsis devoured me and I devoured this book. It was definitely dark and different, something that strayed from the typical thrillers I’ve found myself gravitating to as of late. The story reminded me a lot of Shirley Jackson’s We Have Always Lived in the Castle. The tension built slow. The characters were always on edge. The prose was beautiful. This book really struck me in all the right ways.
Follow Me Down – Sherri Smith
Picked this one up as a discount book from Chapters. It sat on the shelf for a while (perhaps I’ve dulled myself to thrillers?), but I forced myself to plow on through. This plot is your standard “protagonist has to go back to the small town where she grew up after a murder happens” kind of tale. It gives off a lot of Sharp Objects vibes, but I found the plot took a long damn time to really get juicy. I enjoyed the ride through the middle of the novel. Even with all the buildup, I couldn’t exactly suspend my disbelief at the story’s end.
Bound in Moonlight – Louisa Burton
Shocked was I to discover that my local used bookstore had an Erotica section. Even more shocked was I to find that it wasn’t jam-packed full of 50 Shades and other such billionaire knock-off garbage erotica. This novel is actually the second in a series of four books (called the Hidden Grotto) about what is essentially a mysterious sex castle in France. The books aren’t so much novels as they are collections of stories that vary in short story to novelette-length about the castle’s guests and its mythical inhabitants (like, there’s a satyr and some succubus’ and vampires and stuff).
This second volume contains three tales, two of which were just my kind of erotic. The last was pretty tame. Nevertheless, if you like your erotica Victorian-era taboo and your characters realistic, the writing good and your plots solid, I’d recommend this series. This book alone is worth it just for the story, “Slave Week”.
Harmless – James Grainger
Another used bookstore find, marketed as a literary thriller. The book takes place over one evening as two fathers search for their missing teenage daughters in the woods. Much of the book examines masculinity in a way that I found refreshing. At times I wanted to laugh. At times I wanted to shake my head. The book starts out with a bunch of old school friends reuniting as adults on a rural farm property, and quickly builds to Netflix’s Murder Mountain levels of weirdness. There’s a pretty bizarre chicken murder at one point, so if you’re squeamish about animals dying, maybe stay away?
The Bricks that Built the Houses – Kate Tempest
Another discount buy. While the book was beautifully-written, (the author is a rapper, so the prose def has some chops!) I had a hard time connecting with it. It follows four different London Millennial’s through their young adult lives, while also delving back into their parents’ experiences. I think it was this back and forth narrative that made it hard for me to really care about the characters. (I was also reading this during the peak of all my pregnancy complications, so perhaps some of my mentality is to blame.) Still, there’s a lot here to like, and I wouldn’t be against reading more of Tempest’s work in the future.
The Vanishing – Wendy Webb
Seeing as my writing has strayed down the horror path, I figured I’d try out some not-so-scary Gothic fiction (because I’m a coward). The author exclusively writes “northern Gothic” fiction, which sounded right up my alley. The story takes place in a large estate manor around Lake Superior. It’s reads more genre than literary. I didn’t find it to be really impacting, but I actually liked burning through a book solely for story. I read most of it while I was doing my pre-surgical screening for my C-section at the hospital (an all-day affair!) and it was a nice companion to have during those long wait times. Can’t say that I loved it, but I can say that I’ll likely read more of what Wendy Webb has to offer.
House of Dark Delights – Louisa Burton
So after reading Bound in Moonlight, I literally went online and bought used copies of the other three books in the Hidden Grotto series. This one is obviously the first book, and while I didn’t enjoy it as much as I did Bound In Moonlight, I still enjoyed it, ya know? What really bums me out is that I only have two books left in the series and Louisa Burton hasn’t written any more smut that I can find. Where is she? What is she doing, if not writing erotica that I personally connect with? What am I supposed to do when there is no more?
When Everything Feels like the Movies – Raziel Reid
Picked this one up at a local book sale. It’s my first book by a queer author and I was excited to dig right in. The book is short and the prose is tight, vulgar, and sharp. It’s definitely been a while since I’ve read work this gritty. I’ve definitely missed it. Raziel Reid’s story is sad and tough at the same time. I love the main character and the attitude he carries through the book. I’d definitely recommend if you’re a Palahniuk fan who’s sick of Palahniuk, or if you’re simply trying to diversify your author range. If you like gritty prose and wanna read some queer fiction, here’s a great place to start.
What books have you been reading lately? Have your book selections ventured beyond your usual literary palette? Do you only read authors of your own sex/gender/race, or do you like to diversify? Do you read erotica and what kind of stuff do you like? Got any erotica recommendations for me?