Thursday, July 8, 2021

June 2021 Reading Reflections

This was not the easiest reading month for me. Because I knew I had a stressful work project coming at me towards the end of June, I wasn't really able to focus well on reading throughout most of the month. I also get a lot more fickle about what types of books I feel like reading when I know I'm going to be busy and stressed at the office, I'm not really able to handle anything that's too emotionally heavy or too complex in writing style. 

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Plus, I also didn't do a great job of picking books for the month either, so that sapped my motivation to read even more.  Like I suspected in last month's reading reflections post, I just couldn't get into The Push by Audrey Audrain, and as you'll soon see, I also wasn't able to finish two other thrillers I also tried to pick up for June. 

As usual, here are the books I read last month, in the order in which I completed them: 

  • Home Before Dark by Riley Sager - This is a very middle-of-the-road horror novel. The premise of the story is decent and the writing style is easy enough to get through, but the book just didn't stand out to me as being especially good. I've definitely read many better authors in this genre. For instance, Jennifer McMahon's writing style is significantly more suspenseful and engaging and Paul Tremblay also has a stronger writing style. Out of horror books I've read more recently, I'd also rank the C.J. Tudor novels I've read above Home Before Dark. So yes, this book wasn't anything to write home about, it's just a somewhat cliched haunted house story-slash-mystery. 
  • Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes - I also thought this book was just okay, it felt very underdeveloped to me, especially given how popular a bestseller it apparently was. The two main characters are both supposedly working through some pretty big emotional issues and difficult times, and yet it really felt like the author didn't do a great job "showing, not just telling" the reader that. It also felt like there were pieces of the story missing, scenes that should have been added to really flesh out the character arcs for both leads. I do appreciate that both main characters are likable and mature, they communicate about things like adults. This isn't one of those romance-focused stories where the drama or conflict between the main couple is artificial and contrived, and could easily be solved in a minute by just talking things out. 

Hah, I guess this reading reflections post is very dull and dour because I was not that satisfied with either of the books I managed to finish. I really did try to read more, sticking mainly to thrillers that wouldn't require too much of my brain power. I also picked up The Sanatorium by Sarah Pearse and The Wrong Family by Tarryn Fisher, but neither worked for me. The Sanatorium lost me in the first few pages, I just didn't find the writing style and first chapter that engaging.

I got a lot further in Tarryn Fisher's The Wrong Family, but the characters were exceedingly tedious and weird, and it was starting to look like the story was going in a direction that would get silly fast. I previously had a similar experience with Fisher's The Wives, except that I thought the characters were better. But again, that story also looked like it was moving in an extremely silly direction. It's a pity because I think Fisher has a good writing style for thrillers, she sets things up with the right amount of suspense and mystery that makes you wonder what will happen next, but the premises and likely endings of these books just don't work for me. (And yes, I suppose it's my own fault for not avoiding spoilers. When I confirm with spoilers that a story is moving in a foolish direction, it ruins my reading experience and I just can't finish the book.) 

Have you read anything good recently? Does anyone else find themselves unable to avoid looking at spoilers? I generally don't mind seeing spoilers for books, movies, or TV shows, though if I know the story won't end on a strong note, it can definitely harm the reading or watching experience to know what's coming. 

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