Books Read in July

Another month, another rundown of the books I read last month and what I thought about them.

Gillian Flynn — Gone Girl
Caitlín R. Kiernan — Agents of Dreamland
S.P. Miskowski — The Worst Is Yet To Come
Nicholas Day — Grind Your Bones to Dust
Jeff VanderMeer — The Strange Bird: A Borne Story
K.M. Alexander — The Stars Were Right
Emmanuel Carrere, Timothy Bent — I Am Alive and You Are Dead: A Journey into the Mind of Philip K. Dick
Scott Thomas — The Sea of Ash
Suzanne Collins — The Hunger Games
Kaaron Warren — Into Bones Like Oil

Gillian Flynn — Gone Girl

Gone Girl is a novel about when a husband’s wife goes missing, and the inside of their home reeks of kidnapping, and the husband’s desperate attempt with the police to search for and find his wife. However, it doesn’t turn out the way he, or the police, expect.

I saw the Gone Girl movie when it came out years ago and enjoyed it, so I decided to give the a book a go. It’s fast-paced, witty, and doesn’t let up even when there’s a tad more exposition than needed. And, that’s all I’m really going to say about it, because almost everything has already been said about Gone Girl by this point.

Pick it up if you want a who-dun-it, thriller novel with great characters and a satisfying ending.

Caitlín R. Kiernan — Agents of Dreamland

Agents of Dreamland is the prequel to Black Helicopters, and is a weird fiction/Lovecraftian novella about fungi spore from Yith being used to infect a group of young people and their leader out in a shack in the middle of the desert, and impending world-ending maelstrom that’s to come.

Overall, I enjoyed this, but not as much as Black Helicopters. This might be because I read the latter before this (and there’s a third book coming in October 2020!). It didn’t quite scratch the weird itch, but it at least calmed it.

It’s a quick read and if you’re a fan of Lovecraftian tales or Keirnan’s work, definitely check out Agents of Dreamland.

S.P. Miskowski — The Worst Is Yet To Come

The Worst Yet To Come is a novel about two families and their respective daughters, who hang out at an abandoned house with a ton of birdhouses and wild overgrowth, but weed’s aren’t the only thing living there, as two ghost children watch them from afar. Once the two girls leave, they follow the “bad one” home, which begins events that neither girl or their families expect.

This is a book I really wanted to be engrossed in, but couldn’t. The writing is great and reads easily, and the story flows from chapter to chapter. I’d start reading and half an hour later I’d realize I’m nearly 100-pages deep. But, the latter reason is primarily why I couldn’t sink my teeth into the story.

I felt like there was a lot missing, like this book was more of a summary of a story than a fully fleshed out piece of work. Maybe, if the story had been cut down to novella/short story length, it would’ve been a stronger read.

But, that’s just me. Many loved this book and It’s likely you will too, so check out Miskowski’s The Worst Is Yet To Come or her other works.

Nicholas Day — Grind Your Bones to Dust

Grinds Your Bones to Dust is a four-part, no-bullshit horror story about a family and a love triangle whose lives are flung across the country/state, but ultimately their lives come gruesomely intertwine and overlap.

Day’s writing is like fist wearing a rose-colored glove punching you in the gut. Each part is as dark and bleak as the last. Where the first section moves with the protagonist, the family he stumbles upon, and the four beasts from the woods; the second section slows with mad, philosophical rambling; but the third and fourth pick it back up with more bleakness, more gore, more death.

Despite all this, I wasn’t too engrossed by the novel. I’m not a fan of gore and violence, at least to the level Grind Your Bones to Dust provides, nor the philosophical parts that, I felt, went on a bit too long.

But, it’s one of those books that’s not a right fit for me, but surely could be for you. If the book sounds interesting from my description, purchase it!

Jeff VanderMeer — The Strange Bird: A Borne Story

The Strange Bird is a companion novella to Borne, and is about a biotech bird’s venture before, during, after the events of Borne. Her life is intertwined with the characters (the Magician, Rachel, Wick, Mord, etc.) from Borne, and affects her’s and their’s directly.

It’s a welcome, warm story that didn’t need to be written but I’m glad it was. It shows more of the Borne world, providing more backstory. But, it’s not needed to understand Borne, and you could read The Strange Bird without reading Borne, too.

It’s short and sweet and the only thing it did was left me wanting more work in the Borne universe. If you’re a fan of that, then read The Strange Bird.

K.M. Alexander — The Stars Were Right

The Stars Were Right is the first novel in the Bell Forging Cycle series, and is Lovecraftian noir/who-dun-it story about a caravaner who, upon returning to his hometown from a trip, is unsuspectingly thrown into a world of murder, betrayal, and loss, but with Lovecraftian overtones, characters, and elements.

Overall, I liked the book. It moved along with at a nice pace, and the tropes you typically would find in a noir story were at the minimum. The world Alexander built of the town was unique, and the Lovecraftian variety of races/species/people mixed with his own ideas were interesting. And, the revealing near the end was well done and clever.

Pick it up if you’re a fan of noir and was a fresh take on it!

Emmanuel Carrere, Timothy Bent — I Am Alive and You Are Dead: A Journey into the Mind of Philip K. Dick

I Am Alive and You Are Dead is a biography of science fiction master PKD.

While this dives deep into PKD’s pysche, life, and work, it was frustrating to read. Not because the book itself was poorly written, researched, or anything to do with the author himself, but because PKD was heavily paranoid, obscenely obsessive, extremely dependent, a woman chaser, a desperate love seeker, a man who was terrified of being alone, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

Reading about PKD’s life was like watching someone burn themselves, pull their hand away in pain, then do it again… And, again and again for years. It was tedious, grueling, depressing.

It was obvious he was mentally ill, and even though he was in therapy for seemingly all his life, it’s kind of wild to see his obsessive, destructive habits and other personas dwelling in his mind was never addressed by the therapists.

But, who knows, really what was said, what was done, and so on.

Overall, it’s just sad.

Scott Thomas — The Sea of Ash

The Sea of Ash is a Lovecraftian novella about a scholar/researcher who follows the path of an old doctor who found a strange, pale woman on the shore of the sea who unbeknownst to him is pregnant and, who, gives birth to a child with a trilobite face. This leads him down a weird path of spirits, endless depths, and insanity.

Mike Davis of Lovecraft eZine said many times on his podcast that The Sea of Ash is one of the best books he’s read, and I agree. This is the second time I’ve read this story, but it still remains a perfect blend of absurdity and weird, with a compelling story that makes you want keep questioning what’s going on and continue reading until the end.

If you want a Lovecraftian tale that moves, I recommend highly you purchase this book.

Suzanne Collins — The Hunger Games

I’m going to jump straight into my thoughts about the book, since it really doesn’t need a summary.

I’ve been in the mood for a series I can get into for a couple weeks (while The Expanse series’ final book hasn’t been announced yet), and I’ve always thought about reading The Hunger Games series and decided to pull the trigger.

The book was solid and fast-paced. There wasn’t much down time, except for some parts later on. You’re thrown right into the protagonists life before, during, and after the Games. It has action, character buildings, and loss. Basically all you need for a good start of a series, especially a YA one.

Overall, I liked it. I wasn’t blown away or entirely engrossed in the world, like Harry Potter, but enough that I picked up the next two books.

Kaaron Warren — Into Bones Like Oil

Into Bones Like Oil is a novella about a boarding home built from shipwrecked boats where people stay and are used as catalysts for ghosts to speak through while they sleep. It focuses about a woman who becomes desperate to connect with her two daughters again.

The premise of the story is what lead me to purchase it. Warren’s prose and the characters are what kept me reading. However, I wanted a lot more from the story. We only get hints of the full picture of each character, and the scenes move one to another almost abruptly to the point where I had to stop and re-read to not become lost.

Overall, I liked it, but I believe more could’ve been done with the premise.

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