Here's the challenge:
I arrived at my vacation destination and I realized that I forgot to pack books. One of my favorite vacation activities is reading by the pool! I'm also on a tight budget because this hotel was a little on the expensive side. What to do?
Hit up the local Goodwill Retail Store! (Any thrift store will do but Goodwill stores have sizable book sections) The most important part of this challenge is that it's February, Women in Horror Month so I also want to read in unity with the Horror Community. Let's see what I found...
SING, UNBURIED, SING by Jesmyn Ward
$12.39 hardback on Amazon | $2.00 hardback Goodwill
"an intimate portrait of three generations of a family and an epic tale of hope and struggle."
Why I would pick this: I have heard only good things about this novel. It has won several literary awards. I realize it's not horror but Jesmyn is a beautiful, African American woman who writes books that people talk about, so this book would get me through my vacation!
We Were The Mulvaneys by Joyce Carol Oates
$11.35 paperback Amazon | $1.50 paperback Goodwill
"In a tale told primarily from the point of view of the youngest boy, Judd, listeners learn how each of the Mulvaneys struggles with 16-year-old Marianne's date rape and her father's fierce reaction to it Mike Mulvaney bans his daughter from the house, ostensibly because she will not name her rapist. In her 26th novel, Oates once again shows her prowess as mistress of the macabre." -Publisher's Weekley
Why I would pick this: I love family drama and this one sounds intense. Bonus: It's written by "the Mistress of the Macabre" so, count me in. I'd read this poolside any day. Bummer about the Oprah Book Club logo in the right corner but for $1.50, who cares?
Bitter Harvest by Ann Rule
$12.45 hardback Amazon | $2.00 Goodwill Hardback
"Fans of Ann Rule will find much to relish in Bitter Harvest, the tale of a brilliant Kansas physician who holds herself together well enough to put on a decent show for the outside world, but in the heart of her horror-struck family is a violent and baffling monster. She drinks, abuses drugs, spews invective, and even lights fires."
Why I would pick this: Most true crime books are more screwed up than fictional horrors. This sounds bat-shit crazy and 100% binge-worthy. This would be one of those books you read without blinking and the whole day passes you by. I love Ann Rule.
Portrait of a Killer: Jack the Ripper Case Closed by Patricia Cornwell
$8.80 Hardcover Amazon | $2.00 Goodwill
"Jack the Ripper was renowned artist Walter Sickert (1860-1942) according to Cornwell, in case anyone hasn't yet heard. The evidence Cornwell accumulates toward that conclusion in this brilliant, personal, gripping book is very strong, and will persuade many. In May 2001, Cornwell took a tour of Scotland Yard that interested her in the Ripper case, and in Sickert as a suspect. A look at Sickert's "violent" paintings sealed her interest, and she became determined to apply, for the first time ever, modern investigatory and forensic techniques to the crimes that horrified London more than 100 years ago."- Publisher's Weekly
Why I would pick this: Well, first of all, I used to read all of Cornwell's books. I loved her Kay Scarpetta Crime Thrillers and I've read them all. Who wouldn't want to read Patricia Cornwell crack the Jack the Ripper case?? Um nobody should pass this up.
Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter
$18.18 hardback Amazon | $2.00 Goodwill
"Slaughter’s eye for detail and truth is unmatched. . . . I’d follow her anywhere.” (Gillian Flynn)
Why I would pick this: I've already read this one and it teeters on the edge of thriller and horror in my opinion. I'd recommend it to anyone on vacation who needs a binge-worthy, poolside read. The first half of this book is so compelling, there is no stopping point. Chapters fly by as you work your way through a thrilling mystery. Once things get insane, it dives straight into dark, dark, pitch-black horror.
The Brutal Telling by Louise Penny
$7.59 paperback Amazon | $1.50 Goodwill
"This series dominates best-seller lists and award lists for a reason. Penny tells powerful stories of damage and healing in the human heart, leavened with affection, humor and – thank goodness – redemption." ―Salem Macknee, Charlotte Observer
Why I would pick this: My mom has been recommending this author to me for an age! I've just been too wrapped up in my love of horror to venture off into 'cozy-mystery land' but these sound pretty compelling, I have to admit. If I was on vacation and stranded without any books, this would more than do in a pinch.
DON'T DO IT!!
You might be tempted to start reading Paula Hawkins or Ruth Ware but don't do it!! Both of these books were phoned in. I actually DNFd INTO THE WATER and here's my review (kinda spoilery) for THE WOMAN IN CABIN 10 HERE
"Well, if this were baseball, Ruth Ware would be at 2 strikes with one left but since this is not baseball and this is valuable reading time, Ruth Ware is out.
I'm going to try to review this book with as little to no spoilers as possible but I really, really wish I could take the plot holes and expose them--but I won't. So here it is:
Our main character, Lo, is UNRELIABLE (neon sign from the author) Her safety is violated in the first few pages and I have NO CLUE why that is unless it was just to make her 1. VERY TIRED (if you read this book, Ruth Ware is going to tell you at least 100 times how tired Lo is. She's very freakin' tired.) 2. She's going to reach for a drink almost as many times as she says she's tired and 3. All of this sleeplessness and drinking mixed with her antidepressants so we're making a very clear point that she is UNRELIABLE.
Basically, we don't like our main character because she's irritating. She's unnecessarily mean to her boyfriend, she's whiny and she's boring. Literally nothing she says is cute, funny, endearing, clever or hints at any personality whatsoever.
NOW, we get to the murder mystery!
Enter a cast of characters that don't have flesh on at all--just a lot of name dropping but hardly any interactions between our character and a third of the potential suspects. She has a few conversations with half of them but really only dialogs with three of the potential murderers/suspects.
Really narrows it down doesn't it? (I figured it out halfway through because Ware drops hints like bricks. BRICKS. ON YOUR HEAD) Now, I have no idea why Ware went for the low hanging fruit and did the whole tired, drunk, drugged protagonist route. Considering the plotline and what happened, she could have easily given us a very clever, no-nonsense, badass woman who doesn't put up with any shit, who figures things out and starts asking the wrong questions and gets herself into something she shouldn't. That would have made for a MUCH better read. But ah well, she didn't. and we suffer for it.
The ending was pretty terrible. There are plot holes big enough to drive a bus through and I just all around very much disliked this book--I only finished because I'm a glutton for murder mysteries sometimes, I gotta know the big reveal--even if it makes my eyes roll up in my head.
If YOU like murder mysteries, skip this one and read, Gone Girl or Girl on the Train or some Harlen Coben or Tana French."