Case Closed is a wrap up of the previous months’ reads, q+a’s, top 10s, and all things books.
WOOO it’s Friday and DOUBLE WOOO I’m finally making a post after MONTHS of hiatus. It’s seriously been so long since I’ve even written a Case Closed- definitely a pretty accurate reflection of the sad number of books I’ve been reading. I’m super behind on my Goodreads challenge for 2019 too, but hey, that’s why it’s called a “challenge” right? It isn’t supposed to be easy all the time, and that’s ok!
Since it’s been so crazy at work, wedding planning, and travel, July’s Case Closed is actually going to be more of an April-May-June-July Case Closed. That being said, these will be more bite-sized reviews, so I can fit in all my thoughts, especially since it’s been awhile.
My first April read was Bitter Orange by Claire Fuller. This was my first Claire Fuller read, and actually really loved it. I know some of her other books are more cult-classics on Bookstagram and in the thriller world, but I guess I’m just going to make my way backwards to those?
Anyway, Bitter Orange is not a thriller. At least, not in the traditional sense. I, for one, was certainly thrilled, but in more of a creepy, gothic, haunted house sort of way. In fact, the creepy house was probably my favorite character. That being said, this was definitely more of a character study I thought, and even a setting/house study, if that’s a thing. (And yes I know the multiple layers of symbolism of calling it a house study when that’s exactly what the main character is supposedly doing at the house- studying it.) The characters are weird, but you can’t help but want to know everything about them. Except Frances, tbh, I kinda want to know less about her and her weird thoughts.
Like I said, I loved this book, even though it was a really different type of book for me. I normally go for fast paced and un-put-down-able thrillers, and even though this was pretty slow paced, I still couldn’t put it down. I wanted to rate it 4 stars up until the very end, when one little plot piece threw me way into 5/5 territory. A subtle, simple twist that completely caught me off guard and made me suddenly want to write a graduate degree level thesis on the book (don’t worry- I won’t- for all of my readers’ sake.)
Even though I own Swimming Lessons, I have yet to read it, so we will see how that one compares! Maybe you dear readers will be seeing that one in a Case Closed to come. Until then- solid 5 stars for me for BO.
Although I promised all bite-sized mini reviews, I want to ~close the case~ on not just one book, but five at a time. This is a symbolic wrap up, actually, a metaphor for me closing the case on an entire sub-genre of thrillers I’ve noticed recently. Part of the reason I was in such a reading and writing slump lately was because I read so many vapid, boring, and pointless thrillers that I honestly didn’t even want to review or post about. These new types of twisty thrillers are just that- twists. No actual problem, no well written characters, and no plot to actually make me really care. I felt completely empty after I finished these five books that I didn’t even want to read anymore at all. Hence why I’m currently EIGHT (I know…) books behind on my reading challenge this year. I don’t want to even put that much energy into talking about the books, so these are even less than mini reviews, these will be more like crumbs of reviews. Crumbs of rants actually?
My first rant I want to go off on is A Stranger in the House by Shari Lapena. Even though I want to go off on this book, I honestly can’t because I can’t even remember what it’s about. Some trope about losing memory maybe? Who even cares. I don’t. Something about a woman losing her memory, a plethora of dumb red herrings, and an unsatisfying conclusion are the only aspects I can really remember. So, that’s number one, in no particular order, of my vapid thrillers I somehow decided to read the last few months.
Rant number two is going to be about the The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley. Actually, let’s go ahead and combine rant two and three into one here, and talk about In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware too. All I want to say about these is that they are the exact. same. book. Group of friends go into the woods after not talking for awhile, someone ends up dead, someone’s crazy, and everyone is on tons of drugs. These were the two most predictable books I’ve ever read, and that wasn’t even the worst thing about them. They were shallow and completely pointless on top of everything else. There, I saved you TWO reads in one. If you’ve read one, you’ve read the other!
My fourth rant is less of a rant and more of just a sigh: Behind Closed Doors by BA Paris. I know this is a bit unpopular in the thriller community, so I’m going to blame myself for this one. I try to never get sucked into reading hyped up books from Facebook comments, but this one totally lured me in. This book wasn’t bad, but it just wasn’t for me. It was more of a cat and mouse chase than a mystery, and that’s fine if you’re into that. Regardless of what you’re into, though, I still felt this book was shallow with no actual development or plot advancement, just a heart attack on the page.
My final rant is coincidentally my angriest rant of all, and the reason I’ve actually dropped psychological thrillers for the moment (hey don’t worry, I’ll always still be on the case!) This angering book is The Au Pair by Emma Rous. Sigh. This book was ROUGH for me. I’m actually getting angry again writing this out. Awhile back, I gave my first 2 star review. I gave it 2 stars because I figured, even if I DESPISED every single character, twist, and plot piece, at least I wasn’t bored. I gave it a star up from a single star just because it at least wasn’t boring, because to me, boring is the worst thing a book can be. Well dear readers, this is where I will give my first single star mini review for a book. The Au Pair is everything I just mentioned and it’s abysmally boring. I honestly can’t even believe I finished this book, when I was screaming in my car “OH MY GOD WHO CARES” every chapter. Just… skip this melodramatic, boring, soap opera of a book.
Anyway, I’m going to stop myself right here because I’m already taking up so much blog room on negative thoughts about my recent reads. Honestly though, it’s really important for me to wrap up these reads on paper/desktop screen so that I can really shift in a different direction with my reading challenge. I’m getting myself back on course by closing the case on psycho thrillers at the moment, and focusing on books with depth, lovable characters, and emotional story lines about something other than cheating or memory loss.
These books were all between 1-3 stars for me on Goodreads, so we’ll average that for 2/5 on these.
With all of that now behind us, I want to make a shout out to two books I read in June that are going to be some of my favorites for 2019: Miracle Creek by Angie Kim and Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng.
I know, I know, I’m a little late to the party with Little Fires but better late than never, right? Little Fires is a beautiful, moving, and insightful piece of literature that touched me in ways I didn’t know a book could. Like I mentioned (ranted…), I’ve been reading some pretty shallow thrillers, so going right into Little Fires was like a deep, dark plunge into some emotional caves.
I honestly think I’m still processing this book after a month, but I get why it was so popular now. It had everything I didn’t know I needed in a book: themes of motherhood and family, deep culture insights, and of course some small town secrets for good measure. The story telling and plot weaving was amazing in this book, all the characters were tied together in ways THEY didn’t even know they were, and that was a treat as a reader to watch unfold.
Besides the captivating and moving plot, I was so drawn to these characters and honestly, kind of miss them now. I wish I could hang out with Pearl and Mia, go shopping with them, and then give all of the moms a hug. Every mom deserves it for one reason or another.
I also loved how this book really made me think and really ask myself some hard questions. Without giving too much away, I will say that there are issues that come up in this book that no one should have to face, and that there is no right answer too. Who deserves to be a mother? What makes a good mother? What even IS a mother?
This book is incredible, Celeste Ng and I apologize for taking so long to read it. A re-read is definitely in the cards for me, as well as picking up Everything I Never Told You. A friend of mine said the characters are even MORE lovable in that one, so we’ll see!
The last book I want to wrap up today is Miracle Creek which was, again, possibly my favorite book of 2019 so far. I got this book in my BOTM subscription because it seemed like everyone was getting it. I loved the cover and the name, but wasn’t sure if I would enjoy a legal thriller that had a lot of medical terms in it. Boyyyy was I wrong. These themes were not only unique, but incredibly captivating and interesting. I learned about a whole new medical tech, while also learning insights into the immigration culture on the East Coast. Like Little Fires, I loved the themes of family- and all of the good and bad that goes into parenting.
For this mini review, I really want to focus on the characters. These characters are amazingly written. They’re raw and real, and they’re completely and fully human. I loved getting to know their inner thoughts and feelings (except Matt lol he really sucked) and their take on everything going on. Each character is flawed, but that’s what made them so believable and captivating. Each had a struggle I couldn’t even imagine, but was so well written that I felt like I was there with them.
I don’t want to give a single thing away about this plot though, because besides its rawness, it’s still a mystery, and still will keep you guessing until the very end. Go into this book knowing you won’t have a clue what’s the truth, but you will love every second of this gut-wrenching piece of literary magic.
Alrighty lovely readers! That’s all for this month, er, last four months. Hopefully you will see me in August for more reviews and bookish fun!