Book Lovers by Emily Henry

Book Lovers by Emily Henry

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Why did I resist this one so much?! I feel like I’ve said that a lot this year (writing from 2022)…I’ve been pleasantly surprised by a number of bestsellers that I probably wouldn’t have picked up, if not for friends’ recommendations or local booksellers’ praise. Book Lovers falls squarely in that category. And I loved it!

Feeling that she’s losing a beloved closeness with her little sister, Libby, city-girl and shark-like literary agent Nora agrees to a month’s retreat to the small town of Sunshine Falls, North Carolina. The pair set out with a list, written by Libby, of things you do in small towns according to literature: save a small business, ride a horse, and date the locals. While she remains committed to working through the “vacation”, she endeavours to help with the list before Libby’s third child arrives…the last thing she’s expecting is cold and ruthless book editor Charlie to be in Sunshine Falls, too. And they just can’t seem to stop running into one another.

This book is, and somehow isn’t, what I was expecting. I don’t think I ever expected it to be a ~romantic comedy~ in its entirety, despite its Book Lovers title. However, there was *a lot* more romance than I thought there would be. I love Nora and Charlie’s dynamic. It feels both reminiscent of The Hating Game in its wit and simultaneously transcendent of it for how they fit together so well, so perfectly to serve the plot and their character growth. This isn’t wholly a romance, but it hits the mark for that as well.

I also love that, from the very beginning, Nora acknowledges that she will never be that small town girl people fall for, that she is cutting and calculating, loves the city, and is never going to soften for another person. She remains committed to that narrative and I love her all the more for it. Not everyone needs to get teary-eyed for small Christmas tree farms and towns where everyone knows everyone. City girls and hard-working bosses deserve love and happiness too! And not only do they deserve it, they can find it in places that aren’t those very small towns. I like the hopefulness of that message, and how surprising and refreshing it feels in the romance genre.

But the real reason I love this book all around is the storyline. There is so much more here than a love story. This is an awesome work of literary fiction, and while I may not have totally related to Nora, I connected with her, thought her story was well-composed and earnest. Her relationships with her sister and formerly her mother, her previous romantic entanglements, her clients – they were all very real and raw; even when things were bad you could feel every human reason why Nora was the way she was, as things slowly unfurled. I just really loved all of these characters, in their own way. Henry nails a small town-feel, but with a larger focal point: a bigger problem than that small town can solve. There’s a lot to love here.

Highly, highly recommend this one. Don’t be me, don’t resist. Just read it. ❤

Have a wonderful weekend!

From Bad to Cursed by Lana Harper

From Bad to Cursed by Lana Harper

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

This series continues to be quite good, and perfect to put you in the fall mood! While the writing and storyline in this one were, again, top notch, I dragged through this in comparison to the way I tore through Payback’s a Witch. It took me significantly longer and I’m hoping I figure out why in the process of reviewing!

At the Thistle Grove Beltane festival, Isidora Avramov witnesses an evil spell trying to take the power of one of the Thorn family girls as she competes to be May Queen. Being the daughter of an Elder, and of the house under suspicion for such dark magic, she is chosen to collaborate along with her arch-nemesis, Rowan Thorn, to investigate the incident.

Issa and Rowan are determined to be professional about their (ugly) history, but it doesn’t take long for the antics (and sparks) to start. To Rowan, it’s clear Issa has a lot more integrity and depth than he previously thought, and for Issa, Rowan’s good deeds might actually be just that: good deeds, and not the holier-than-thou attempts at the spotlight she thought they were. Through the investigation, they grow closer together, the closer they get to the answer: who cast that evil spell, and who has it out for the Thorns?

These books hit the perfect note for fall, even if this one is more spring-themed. Lana Harper, who, as it turns out, is actually Lana Popović (YA fantasy author), writes a great witch story. The magic is both in-depth and immersive while also remaining based just enough in reality that I, as someone who hates fantasy, still thoroughly enjoy it. I get into all of the Thistle Grove magic and history while I’m reading, even if that’s not usually my speed. She makes it easy to enjoy.

I really liked Issa and Rowan, but for some reason they just weren’t as magnetic as characters to me as Talia and Emmy were. I think there’s also something to be said about immersing yourself in a sequel, where the world has already been established and therefore doesn’t require further explanation. In Payback’s a Witch, we were learning of Thistle Grove for the first time, and therefore a lot of the content had to be directed at explaining that. There is less of this in From Bad to Cursed, so it seems as though the romance or mystery should be more present… but I think they were about the same, comparatively. Maybe I was more driven by the storyline of the first novel, whereas the mystery in this one is good, but not as high-energy. Sorry for all my rambling! Point being, I liked book one better, but this one is still really good and enjoyable.

I just got approved for Back in a Spell on NetGalley, so I’m sure I’ll be picking that up in the fall! I will definitely continue to be a reader of this series; I always enjoy them and I appreciate the diversity and inclusivity of the books, as well as the atmosphere of the setting and the magic.

Have a great weekend! 🙂

One Night on the Island by Josie Silver

One Night on the Island by Josie Silver

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Bleh. I actually really liked Josie Silver usually so this was kind of a huge disappointment. I think I was expecting the complete wrong thing, but on top of that, it wasn’t good at being what it turned out to be. I’m going to stop speaking in code now and just tell you what’s up…

As one of her writing assignments, journalist Cleo is sent to the remote island of Salvation, Ireland to “marry herself” on her thirtieth birthday. Already feeling annoyed and out of control, she’s even more upset to find that the cabin she rented has also been rented by American photographer Mack, who traces his roots back to Salvation and is here to see the land for himself. With neither budging or willing to leave, they share the cabin and continue to get on each other’s nerves.

Meanwhile, they’re both falling hard for Salvation. The tiny island of one hundred residents has a natural beauty and an incredible kinship neither have ever felt – Cleo lives in London with the hopes of making her dreams come true, and Mack has had his marriage on pause for over a year. What will the island teach them about what’s happening in their own homes?

So, based on the description of this book and the reviews I saw, I assumed this was romance. I guess I kind of assumed that about The Two Lives of Lydia Bird as well, but this one especially. I purposely wrote this description so you would not confuse it as romance. I definitely would not actually classify it as such. This is definitely more in the “contemporary fiction” side of things, and not good contemporary fiction either. The characters fell flat or were borderline annoying, and a lot of the plot elements were unnecessary to the story.

I immediately bristled when I discovered that Cleo was British. Every time I read a British book or it has British characters, I find myself increasingly frustrated by the frivolity and harshness of them. Especially in contrast to the nice, Irish folk who live on Salvation, Cleo really starts out hard to like. She snaps at Mack unnecessarily, and acts like a princess who cannot be bothered to do things for herself. I’m glad to see there’s some character growth by the end of it, which I think is due in part to the island changing and shaping her character. I think Cleo does go through a transformation, compared to Mack, but I think what Silver is not doing is drawing direct comparisons and lessons from the plot. That lacking component makes the book, and each little piece of it, feel near pointless.

This ending? Also sucks. I know I’m picky, but I can’t stand stuff like this. It reminds me of A Lot Like Adios and I’m not here for it. I get that life is messy, and life should inform art…but I like when there’s a clear direction and a happy bow to tie it all together when I read. I didn’t even know how I wanted this to end, as the reader, but this wasn’t it. It felt open ended and depressing; I would not be satisfied with it if I were the character, and shouldn’t you want the best for your characters?

The only bright spot in this whole book was the island. The landscape and the people of Salvation were the best part of this book. The supporting characters were lovely and warm, and I wish I could’ve read about them instead. Delta and Barney, especially.

I think this turned me off to Josie Silver in the future. While I loved Lydia Bird, both synopses have felt a bit like a bait and switch in a bad way. I’m all set with that.

Have an awesome weekend!

Secretly Yours by Tessa Bailey

Secretly Yours by Tessa Bailey

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Other Possible Prompts: 6. Household object on the cover, 11. A book with less than 2022 Goodreads ratings, 23. Author with an X, Y, or Z in their name, 38. Don’t judge a book by its cover!, 41. Involves a second chance, 45. A book with illustrated people on the cover

I think I’m in a challenge with myself to see just how much Tessa Bailey I can read in a single year. I’m killing it in 2022, and I’d be even one point higher if she released the sequel to this one as soon as possible because I need it.

Hallie has been pining for Julian Vos, heir to the local winery, since her freshman year of high school. When he returns to their town of St. Helena for the summer, Hallie finagles a gardening job at the Vos guest house so she has a front row seat for his return. When Julian can’t help but break his rigid schedules for the charming Hallie, and real sparks start to fly, Hallie realizes reality with Julian may be even better than what she’s been imagining all these years…

…if only she hadn’t written anonymous secret admirer letters to Julian at the same time – and he wrote back.

This is going to be the perfect Valentine’s Day read. It comes out right before Valentines 2023, and it’s a sweet-as-pie romance for the day. The whole “secret admirer” concept feels very Valentines-y, and I think this romance has less bite and more sweetness to it than the usual Tessa Bailey. It’s a little on the lighter side and I think the cover reflects that…

I hate the cover. I’m just going to come right out and say it. I don’t know who’s been doing the last few Tessa Bailey covers (except My Killer Vacation…that one was good actually), but they do not impress me. We’ve ventured far, far into the land of “borderline immature”, over the line of “looks like young adult but is dangerously not”. These literally look like kids cartoons, and it’s too far gone. Reel it in a bit, graphic design department. I can say *with confidence* if this had not been Tessa Bailey I just wouldn’t have picked it up.

I don’t think I’ve rated a Tessa Bailey this low in quite a while, and I think it’s because I just didn’t connect with this one in any way. I didn’t hate Hallie, but I didn’t love her. I liked her chaos, but I felt like she was making a lot of excuses for something and not a lot of progress. She should’ve been seeking therapy or grief counseling in the book, like she kept encouraging Julian to do for his anxiety. While his panic attacks were very legitimate, and his desire to keep things so regimented for management felt very real, I still didn’t really connect with him even as someone with anxiety. Beyond his mental illness, this guy just had a stick up his ass. At least Hallie was carefree and warm; no matter how much he tried to prove the contrary, I couldn’t see Julian as anything other than a cold and calculating rich dude in a suit.

I still think this lives up to the standard for her romance books, but I definitely didn’t connect with it or enjoy the tropes. She executes it well but it’s not a romance I would’ve picked to read if it hadn’t been an author that I loved so much. If you *do* like those tropes, I would definitely recommend as it is still quality romance! What I really can’t wait for is the sequel. Clearly, Julian’s sister Natalie has an enemies-to-lovers trope happening based on some of the scenes in this book, and I can’t wait for it.

A copy of Secretly Yours was provided to me by the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. It will be released February 7, 2023. Hope you all have a great week!

The Paris Apartment by Lucy Foley

The Paris Apartment by Lucy Foley

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Other Possible Prompts: 5. Chapters have titles, 22. An unlikely detective, 23. An author with an X, Y, or Z in their name, 25. A wealthy character, 33. A bilingual character, 52. Published in 2022

I finally got around to The Paris Apartment! I bought it on release day and my friends have been telling me to read it for months now, because they loved it so much. It doesn’t stand out to me as an incredible mystery/thriller, but it did have me constantly guessing and gasping out loud – so that’s a win in my book!

Jess arrives in Paris late one night to spend some time with her half-brother, Ben, at his apartment. As she stands at the gate, no one lets her in. When she finally makes her way into his flat, no one is home. With his keys and wallet left behind, Jess begins to feel something is off…Ben was expecting her just an hour before. Something is wrong. She begins to ask questions of the building’s other inhabitants – the rich woman in the penthouse, a lost and innocent young woman, Ben’s old friend, and an alcoholic – about his whereabouts, and ends up uncovering a mystery that goes far beyond her brother. Everyone has something to hide…no one is safe.

As many of the reviews say, pay attention to *everything* in this book. Every little detail is important, and you’ll find yourself going “OMG THAT’S WHY!!” over and over again while you read! That level of detail and craftsmanship in a novel is hella admirable, and incredibly difficult to find. Very, very well done on Foley’s part. Definitely makes me want to read another one of hers!

I couldn’t shake the feeling when I started this that it had Lock Every Door vibes, and the setting and the storyline actually do feel a bit similar even after finishing it. I actually feel like a lot of the books I’ve read as of late have that feeling about them, and that unmistakable feeling that it’s going to be a Murder on the Orient Express situation. When you can’t seem to pinpoint anyone’s innocence, you start to wonder if they might all be guilty. A lot of the thrillers I’ve picked up lately seem to be falling along those lines, but I thought this one was especially well done, even a cut above the others – including Lock Every Door. Her writing style and the mapped out storyline just feel more mature and thoughtful.

Jess is really the only character I genuinely liked, but I think I understood all of them in their own ways. It made the story all the more interesting when I didn’t really *like* someone, but I could understand why they were the way that they were. Jess was kind of a neutral, but I thought her sleuthing abilities were top notch. The story that unfolds will just keep on surprising you, and each character fits seamlessly into the narrative in their own way. Just don’t trust anyone.

The only thing keeping me from giving it five stars was the fact that it just didn’t totally wow me. Foley didn’t reinvent the wheel, but she wrote a damn good mystery. I want to read more of her books for sure, and maybe one of them will shock me so much it’ll earn my fifth star!

Have an awesome week friends!

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Other Possible Prompts: 5. Chapters have titles, 39. A middle-grade novel

I ran out of audiobooks this last week and decided to give The Hobbit a try. I’ve never been one for fantasy, but I enjoyed watching these movies with Nate last summer. I figured it was worth the try while I wait for something else to come available!

I’m sure this book doesn’t require much summarizing. Quiet, home-loving hobbit Bilbo Baggins is one day randomly greeted by Gandalf, a wizard, and promptly by thirteen dwarves. Slated to return to their homeland and retake their crown and gold, currently protected by dragon, Gandalf has selected Bilbo to be the fourteenth on their journey. In an epic tale of adventure, they make their way back to the Lonely Mountain, and Smaug the dragon that awaits them.

I need to immediately preface by saying that I think listening to this book may actually be very different from reading it. The audiobook I heard is just shy of four hours long, while the book is hundreds of pages. I can’t confirm whether this is an accurate retelling, however I would still like to review this version that I read. Mine was the BBC Radio 4 Dramatization production originally played over the radio in several installments. Like the name details, it is more a *production* than an audiobook.

As a result, while I really loved all the music and the multitude of narrators, the audio quality was garbage. I listened to it in my car on a superrrr long drive down to Boston, and I had to keep messing with the volume buttons to hear some characters, but then got the wits scared out of me by the loud volume of Gollum, per say. (He, in particular, did this loud breathing thing right into the mic that was killer on the ears) It was brutal. I liked the idea of it, and I think hearing it on the radio as it was originally intended may have been better, but I had a really hard time with it in execution. This was my biggest complaint and the biggest problem I had with the entire thing.

As for the actual book content, I really liked it. It brought me back to watching those movies with Nate, that cozy feeling of a marathon, and the adventure and warm friendship of the tale. It really is a good and fun fantasy story, and I don’t say that often. I think I would enjoy reading this a second time, in a different format. It’s a solid story and I think there’s a lot more to parse from it than I got in this sitting.

I like that even in this version of the story you can see character growth – the whole takeaway for me that first time I absorbed that story, was that great friends and great memories can come out of getting out of your comfort zone. I think you can take away that same exact lesson from the book and Bilbo’s adventure out of his hobbit hole. I also picked up on more of the characters purposes within the novel; I thought the plight of the dwarves was an interesting one, particularly Thorin. While at first I felt pity for these refugees and their desire to go home, the ending they get and the decisions made by Thorin specifically had me changing my tune. I don’t know. It’s fun to ponder, and it’s fun that an adventure/fantasy book for young adults has such depth.

I liked this quick read, and it kept me busy during my drive so that’s a win! Like I said, I think I’d need to read a full version, and not just the BBC broadcast, to give a full review and opinion.

I hope you all have an excellent day. 🙂

Carrie Soto is Back by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Carrie Soto is Back by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The 52 Book Club 2022 Challenge Prompt: 20. Related to the word “gold”

Other Possible Prompts: 12. Set on at least two continents, 23. Author with an X, Y, or Z in their name, 33. A bilingual character, 41. Involves a second chance, 50. A person of color as the main character, 52. Published in 2022

This book was simply stunning. I am on a wildly good streak of books as of late, this one no exception. Carrie Soto is Back is somehow even better than I expected it to be, as Taylor Jenkins Reid has a habit of doing to me!

Six years ago, Carrie Soto retired from professional tennis the world record holder for most slam wins, among other things. Obsessed with tennis since childhood, she made a career out of her incredible tennis ability and need to win. Now, as she sits in the stands in 1994, she watches her world record for wins get broken by Nicki Chan, and makes the decision to come out of retirement and get her record back. This is Carrie’s journey back into tennis, and to finding herself.

I don’t even like tennis, but I couldn’t put this down. How does Reid do that?! I don’t like band books, either, but Daisy Jones & The Six was easily the best book I read last year. Carrie Soto will definitely be in my top three this year. While tennis plays a big part in Carrie Soto, Reid finds a way to keep it completely captivating – and there’s a lot more to it than just the games. This is about Carrie’s identity, who she is with and without tennis, and what the definition of success really is.

I think a lot of type A ladies are going to see themselves in Carrie. I certainly did. I loved her ruthlessness and need to win, but also her drive and her innate sense of direction. Sometimes it’s hard to like Carrie, but I always loved her. She can be tough and a bit mean, but she’s never wrong. Her story and her sense of self just click, and I think the lesson she learns in her return to the courts is a good one for all of us to take in, in a world that moves so fast. Though I have to say, the whole time I was reading it, I kept thinking “I genuinely hope this book ends with Carrie getting some sort of help…” and, spoiler alert, it does not. I think Carrie displays some behaviors of OCD, and her brashness clearly derives from a discomfort with losing (sounds familiar!). I loved her but it couldn’t be comfortable to live in her head, with her insecurities, and I wanted better for her.

The supporting characters in this book were also AMAZING! I loved Carrie’s dad, Javier, and her tennis partner, Bo. Her agent was also wonderful. I liked all of them for supporting Carrie while also nudging her in a direction that was healthier for herself, her mind and her body. They help make this story the learning journey it is and should be. They soften Carrie, in contrast to the way tennis hardens her around the edges.

I have a hard time conveying just how much I loved Carrie Soto is Back. Sometimes, a book walks into your life at just the right time, and I think it sticks with you a lot more for that. I’m so glad I read this one.

Happy reading! 🙂

The Hating Game by Sally Thorne

The Hating Game by Sally Thorne

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The 52 Book Club 2022 Challenge Prompt: 51. The word “game” in the title

Other Possible Prompts: 9. A book that sparks joy, 18. Jane Austen-inspired, 23. Author with an X, Y, or Z in their name, 34. An author’s photo on the back cover, 41. Involves a second chance, 45. A book with illustrated people on the cover

Y’all are in for a real treat because I have, once again, reread The Hating Game. I got the urge to watch the movie again the other day at like, 10pm which is way too late for me, and I remain grateful that I had the foresight when it was released to buy it instead of rent it because obviously I was going to watch it over and over again. Well, naturally, like if you give a mouse a cookie, once I rewatched the movie I wanted to reread the book. I opted for the audiobook this time, my first time listening to this masterpiece.

Lucy Hutton and Josh Templeman hate each other. Every day, they sit across from one another in their glass walled office space at B&G Publishing, and play the hating game. Sometimes it’s the staring game, sometimes the HR game, sometimes the copycat game, but the object is always the same: make the other one crack first.

When Lucy and Josh have to compete for the same promotion, the tension reaches an absolute breaking point. The antics get more intense, and Lucy realizes that hating someone feels disturbingly like loving them…

I am very pleased to inform you that, upon a third listen, this is still the gold standard for romcoms. Authors, take note. We are all shooting for The Hating Game. I love discovering that time has not tampered the charm and warmth that this book holds; it is still just as good as the first day I stayed up until 3am devouring it.

I honestly forgot how laugh out loud hilarious this book is. The “word tennis” that Lucy and Josh play throughout is so smart and witty, and it happens so fast that you’re still cackling when the next punchline lands. It is hysterical, and it increases my enjoyment of the book 1000%. I couldn’t stop laughing.

One thing I did forget from watching the movie more recently than having reread the book was how mean Josh is! I think in the movie you can always tell that he’s flirting, but when you’re listening to Lucy retell it, there are times when it truly doesn’t come across that way. He is brutal. Knowing how it all turns out makes it easier to swallow or spin, but I forgot that I really felt that way as a first time reader. It’s hard to tell when he’s joking or messing with her sometimes.

Lucy and Josh just fit together perfectly. Everything about their romance makes sense. It is just too good. The gold standard. The only thing I’ve read that even came close to matching this wit and heart was You Deserve Each Other by Sarah Hogle, which also had me roaring laughing. I think if you can make me *actually* laugh out loud while reading, you’re doing something right. The rest will fit together fine if you can make your characters genuinely funny to the reader and the other character. This book is a perfect example of that.

So yes, obviously, I recommend The Hating Game. I have been for just about a billion years (I think Goodreads said I first read this in 2017 – so five whole years!), but now you have a full review for once!

Enjoy this fabulous week!

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

Rating: 3 out of 5.

The 52 Book Club 2022 Challenge: 16. A book you’ve seen someone reading in a public place

Other Possible Prompts: 5. Chapters have titles, 8. Involving the art world, 15. A five-syllable title, 37. Set in a rural area

In an effort to fulfill the ever-difficult prompt, a book you’ve seen someone reading in a public place, I finally cracked and read Where the Crawdads Sing. And I have to say: I did not get it. “It” being the seemingly mass appeal of this book, or what it is people seem to be getting out of it.

Abandoned by everyone in her life, one by one, Kya “Marsh Girl” Clark is on her own in the wild North Carolina landscape by the age of ten. She evades school, relies on the help of neighbors, and learns from nature. Dirty, unable to read, and completely illusive, she becomes a legend to the people of nearby Barkley Cove – and not a good one.

But in 1969, Chase Andrews is found dead in the marsh – and the only clues they have point to Kya. This story explores prejudice, community, and the true meaning of humanity by telling Kya’s story and investigating the murder that could finally trap her.

I think one of the absolute biggest problems going for this book is the hype. This firmly lands in the “doesn’t live up to it” category for me. When you read the synopsis of this book they literally make it sound like the greatest thing since sliced bread, like it’s going to forever change your perspective on life and love. Let me be clear: it does not do that. And the most important part of my review will be this – it’s not a bad book, but everything you think you know about it is going to ruin it. I did not dislike this book, but it absolutely did not meet my expectations. If you got this far into 2022 without reading this, wait another five years before picking it up, if at all!

I also don’t believe this to be anything profound. I got whispers of To Kill a Mockingbird and even The Island of Blue Dolphins while reading Where the Crawdads Sing. If you ask me, it’s borrowing lines and vibes from stories that have already been written. And further, what bothered me *the absolute most* was feeling that sense that I’d heard this story before, and knowing that we were definitely talking about racism without ever talking about racism. Ugh. The prejudice that Kya experiences throughout the book, the fact that she was put on trial because she was “the outsider”, the judgment of being dirty, or uneducated – we were talking about racism the whole freaking time, but Owens made Kya white. Further reading on Owens’ actual life and the portrayal of black characters in this novel only further my point. Frankly, it’s cowardly on Owens part and I don’t like how her life experiences play into this story, at all.

This, and a thousand other things, really ruined this book for me. I vaguely remembered talking to coworkers about it years ago, so I did know how it ended. As I was getting down to the very last pages, I thought I was mistaken, but no. I don’t really care for that ending either in the grand scheme of the novel’s larger importance, but as a story element, it felt just and right to me. Very, very odd, but justified. That’s a minor spoiler so I hope I don’t ruin it for you.

And again: I’m going to try to reel back here to remind you that I did not dislike this book in a literal sense. That’s what’s irking me the most, quite frankly. If I had read this with absolutely no knowledge of the controversy, the hype, or anything else about the book, I may have enjoyed it more. I know with 100% certainty though that I still would’ve seen the hints of the novel being about racism, though, and that does bug me. I cannot read this and not hear To Kill a Mockingbird, honestly.

So that’ll do it – I had a lot of thoughts. Evidently, not all good. I hope you all have a great week.

We Sold Our Souls by Grady Hendrix

We Sold Our Souls by Grady Hendrix

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

Other Possible Prompts: 5. Chapters have titles, 8. Involving the art world, 22. An unlikely detective, 23. An author with an X, Y, or Z in their name

This is not my favorite Grady Hendrix, not by a long shot. I knew it wasn’t going to be, but what a bummer! I just really, really hate band books I think. This was no exception.

Spurred by a gap in her own personal sense of time, Kris Pulaski embarks to find what’s left of her Dürt Würk metal bandmates from the 90s. Believing their former lead singer to have sold their souls to “Black Iron Mountain”, she endeavours on an epic road trip to find all her former bandmates and stop Terry “The Blind King” before his Hellfest ’19 music festival: which Kris believes will bring the end times.

If this synopsis sounds like a bad trip, that’s because it is. I love Grady Hendrix’ creativity, but this one was so far gone to me I couldn’t keep up. Whatever it was, it made a lot of sense to the characters…but I guess I missed that critical point where everything was supposed to click. I got the general idea of things, like “Black Iron Mountain = bad”. But it just took things a lot further than my mind was willing to go.

Good god, I have absolutely no idea why I still try to read books about bands. Excepting Daisy Jones & The Six, which to this day remains one of my favorites ever, I can’t think of a single book about a band that I liked or cared about. That atmosphere, those types of characters: I really dislike everything about them. I should’ve known to quit while I was ahead when it came to Hendrix and this novel. It doesn’t alter my opinion of Hendrix as a writer, because I cannot objectively say this a bad book. My judgments here are heavily based on my bias.

And speaking of Hendrix, his horror writing skills remain top notch. Nothing about the scenes of horror in here were bad, I just couldn’t be bothered to care if the characters lived or died through them. Is that bad? I’m also very curious where they all found their wills to live, particularly Kris: her life had gone to complete crap, she finds out her former bandmate sold her soul for fame and money, and she’s like… “better go round everybody up and stop him”. I’d just lay down and cry, frankly. Even so, Hendrix remains one of few writers who can unfold a jump scare movie in my mind. Even if I did not care for this story, I cannot deny it is written with giving the reader the creepy crawlies in mind – and succeeds.

This book really did just…bore me. I hate saying it but it’s so true. I couldn’t stop zoning out, and the only character I was really invested in was Melanie. I can’t go any higher than 2.5 stars for good horror, but a bad story. I just didn’t like it for me, and I don’t think I’m the only one…no one talks about this novel when they talk about Grady Hendrix.

So thus concludes my thoughts, of which there are few, on We Sold Our Souls. I won’t say it’s not up to his standard; I just really, really didn’t like it. I’ve used a lot of really’s and very’s…point being, not for me.

Have a great week, peeps!