I must say, January has started out with a bang in terms of reading. Compared to last year at this time, I’m feeling motivated rather than feeling bogged down. I hope to keep this streak going!
What I’ve Been Reading
Charcoal by Garrett Cook — 4.5/5 out of 5 stars
One of my January TBR selections. Art student Shannon finds her life turning inside out after using drawing charcoals rumored to have been made from the ashes of sadistic artist Thomas Kemp. Beautifully horrific are the first two words to pop into my head as I finished reading this. The writing is mesmerizing, the characters flawed, and the ending sent shivers down my spine. Highly recommend, especially for fans of “literary” horror.
The Book of Dead Days by Marcus Sedgwick — 3 out of 5 stars
One of my January TBR selections. The first in a series (or maybe only a duology? Not sure), this quick YA/middle-grade read mixes fantasy, magic, and a bit of horror. I know I’m not the target audience by a long shot, but I do think the characters could have been fleshed out a bit more as they felt flat to me.
Daphne by Josh Malerman — 2.5/3 out of 5 stars
I usually enjoy Malerman’s work, but this story was a swing and a miss for me. I can usually get over repeated sports references, and I’m familiar with the basketball game the girls were doing (basically Magic 8 Ball questions, only the answers come from making or missing baskets). But by the end, I just felt unsatisfied with the whole Daphne spectre, and I really didn’t care who lived or died in the final showdown. If you’re new to Malerman’s work, I suggest starting with anything other than this one.
Northwest Angle by William Kent Krueger — 2.5/3 out of 5 stars
It’s been a long time since I read the first book in this series (Iron Lake), and admittingly I haven’t read the nine books between that one and this. That being said, I don’t remember so much religion and misogyny in the first one that infiltrated this story. The first half was very good (Cork and his family caught in a deadly storm, Cork’s daughter, Jenny, stumbles across a dead woman and rescues her infant son), putting this on track for a good four stars. Then it just started to go downhill fast with the introduction of a doomsday cult and Jenny’s obsession with her instant motherhood status. When it was suggested that to be a real mother, one has to breastfeed the baby, I just about threw this into the trash. I did finish it, rolling my eyes the last twenty percent or so. If this is what the series has become, then I’m bowing out and donating my other Krueger titles to my local library book sale.
What I’ve Been Watching
American Horror Story: NYC (season 11)
I’ve been watching AHS since the beginning. Over the years, there have been some very good seasons, some “okay until the ending” seasons, and a small percentage that just simply sucked shit (season 8 Apocalypse, I’m looking at you). I went into season 11 not knowing what to expect, and I wound up binging all ten episodes over a two day period! Set in 1981 New York City, someone (or something) is targeting gay men. I can’t say much more about the plot without revealing major spoilers, but I will say this is the strongest season AHS has put out in a while. And a first for me with this series: I cried not only once, but twice!! The last twenty minutes just devastated me (and that’s saying a lot!). All the stars for this one, and here’s hoping they keep up the momentum going into season 12.
Stay safe, and Happy Reading!