Benighted, by J.B. Priestley
Apparently, Priestley was a hugely popular author in the early/mid 20th century, so I wanted to read his stuff. I have seen the 1930s version of this book, and it follows it very closely. Several people show up at a remote, crumbling estate in Wales after the roads are washed. The manor house is filled with unfriendly, freaky people, and they keep a terrible secret. Not everyone will last through the night. This story was more psychological than thriller or horror. Very good, but a bit too much internal dialogue.
Together We Will Go, by J. Michael Straczvynski
This book. I’m not sure how much I liked it, but it left me thinking. Failed young writer, Mark, decides it’s time to end his life, but he wants to go out with a bang. He buys a bus, puts an ad on the internet advertising a cross country trip that will end with the bus going off a cliff. He gets a lot of takers—some chronically ill, some who are just done with life. His only request is that they keep a digital journal of the trip. Told through the journal entries, the reader gets to know these sad people and really feels for them. It is surprisingly funny in places and quite moving in others. I would recommend it, mostly because it is so unusual.
The Drowning Kind, by Jen McMahon
I’d been vacillating between listening/reading this one or not. It sounded like it could be an interesting horror-ish book. Finally, I took the plunge (drowning humor?). It was alright? There were two stories being told—one from the POV of Jax, a woman who returns to her childhood home after her sister dies, and from the POV of Ethel, Jax’s great-grandmother. Both stories surround their remote house in Vermont and the spring-fed pool that may have healing and deathly powers. Ostensibly about grief, it was just too long. When the twisty ending happened, I didn’t really care, I was ready for it to be done.
The Book of Living Secrets, by Madeline Roux
A very fun young adult horror with one of the best covers ever. Connie and Adelle have been obsessed with a romance book, called Moira, since forever. When the strange owner of their favorite macabre store offers to send them into the book to live it, they take the chance. The book takes place in late-Victorian Boston and is full of fashion and intrigue. The world they land in is very different. Something dire has happened to change the story. To get out they have to figure out what happened. I really enjoyed this one. It’s romance that morphs into eldritch horror.
The Last Chance Library, by Freya Sampson
This was a nice palate cleanser after some fairly heavy stories. June is a quiet librarian in her small village’s library. When the library is threatened with closure, she and the locals work together to keep the library. Lovely characters, a subtle romance, book lovers, and a main character emerging strong from her cocoon. What’s not to love?
Willodeen, by Katherine Applegate
Applegate is a beloved children’s author, but I have never read any of her books before. This was a good story, a bit saccharine, but filled with imagination and world-building. Willodeen loves the wilderness that surrounds her town and is a natural observer of the fauna that lives there. When a miracle happens and a toy turns into a real baby animal, called a screecher, Willodeen has to protect it.
All About Love, by bell hooks
Nonfiction this time. In this book, hooks delves into the layers and meaning of love from a wide spectrum of view points. Love is probably the most important thing humans need to thrive, so why is it so hard to find? From childhood to friendships to romantic relationships, hooks examines the different types of love and suggests ways in which we can find our way to it. The writing was a bit academic-dry, but her ideas were fascinating. Definitely worth a read.