Hi everyone! Today I’m sharing my July wrap up! I know I pretty much JUST posted my June wrap up, so I hope you won’t be too worn out on wrap ups! This was another GREAT reading month for me, so let’s cover some stats first before I start talking about the books!
In July, I read a total of 14 books, which makes this the second month where I’ve read more than 10 books this year! This ended up being a total of 4,727 pages and just slightly over 30 hours of audiobooks!
Things We Do in the Dark by Jennifer Hillier – ★★★☆☆.5
This was my first Jennifer Hillier book that I read in July, and I keep going back and forth on which one I liked more! I did actually guess the twist pretty early on, and I would say that this book was more of a mystery than it was a thriller. At this point, there’s a lot about the plot of this book that I don’t remember anymore, so I think for me, that means my rating of a 3.5 is fair. I really enjoyed it when I was reading it, but afterwards I don’t remember much. I found this one interesting enough that I wanted to read more from this author, and so the next book I read from her will be a bit farther down in this wrap up!
This Vicious Grace by Emily Thiede – ★★★★★
This is one of those books that I’ve known about for a while and read it as soon as it was released, and I’m very happy that I did! I loved the Italian vibes that this book gave, and the kind of dystopian based fantasy world was really interesting and I can’t wait to see how that is expanded upon in the next book! I enjoyed the characters, and I really felt terrible for Alessa and the way she described how she felt made me get a little emotional. I also really loved her relationship with Dante and how she wasn’t afraid to be her true self around him, and the character development they went through together was really heartwarming. I wasn’t as big of a fan of how quickly she forgave her brother, but at the same time I understand why she did.
Patient Zero by Nate Pedersen and Lydia Kang – ★★★☆☆.5
I listened to the audiobook for this non-fiction about different disease outbreaks and the first person to be recognized as the first patient, which is what the scientific community calls patient zero. It was really interesting and I loved learning about these diseases. I actually ended up quite a bit of the information that was discussed, but there was still a whole bunch of new things that I learned! Some of the diseases discussed were Ebola, COVID-19, Bubonic plague, polio, and so many others! The reason I didn’t give this a full 4 star is mainly because I listened to the audiobook and at times, I found it hard to keep up with the narration and what they were talking about and that I think is mainly due to the formatting.
Jar of Hearts by Jennifer Hillier – ★★★★☆.5
This was the second Jennifer Hillier book I’ve ever read, and this was I think my favorite out of the two I’ve read so far! I never saw the twist coming with this one, and the way everything worked out in the end was WILD! I loved the way that there was a murder in the past that our main character is now dealing with, and then suddenly very similar murders start happening and honestly, what happens after that is just a wild roller coaster. This story is unhinged, disturbing and will keep you guessing from beginning to end.
When the Reckoning Comes by LaTanya McQueen – ★★★★★
I listened to this book on audio, and it just really added to the creepy atmosphere that this book had! This book also had great discussion around why it’s incredibly inappropriate to use plantations as event spaces, which has been an issue for a long time, but even within the last few weeks I’ve seen videos of slave cabin BNB’s, and that’s just not okay. This book was tough to read, and even though there is some paranormal aspects to this story, what was more terrifying was how white plantation owners treated their slaves. This book doesn’t shy away from the horrific, gruesome truth, and the way it combines a ghost story with the horrors of history was brilliant.
We Can Never Leave This Place by Eric LaRocca – ★★★★☆
Since I started really getting into horror, I really wanted to read something by Eric LaRocca because I’ve heard its very much one of those reads where you get to the end and question what it was you just read, and that’s really what I want! This definitely had big ‘WTF’ energy, and parts of it were so disgusting! I’m not even sure I can accurately sum up what this book is really about, other than how depraved humans can really be. This book is also one big trigger warning for so many things, so I definitely recommend checking those out if you want to read this book. I’m actually looking forward to reading a few other books from this author, especially Things Have Gotten Worse Since We Last Spoke and You’ve Lost a Lot of Blood!
Malice by John Gwynne – ★★★★★
Wow, a 5 star prediction that ended up actually being a 5 star read? I’m not surprised it ended up being this book, because after how much I loved The Shadow of the Gods I knew this one would be in that same boat! This is pretty slow paced overall, but there were a lot of action scenes throughout and just the way that John Gwynne writes makes you just want to keep turning the pages to see what happens next! I think things are really going to pick up in the next book, and I’m really anxious to find out if my theories are correct or not! I’m hoping that I’ll be able to read Valor soon, probably after I’m done with my thriller/horror binge reading I’ve been doing.
Elevation by Stephen King – ★★★☆☆
It’s been ages since I’ve read anything by Stephen King, and I ended up unhauling all of his books that I had years ago because I just wasn’t interested in reading them again. I wanted to pick up something of his to see how I feel about him as an author now that I’m a bit older, because my memories of reading his books was that they were all just okay. I chose Elevation because it was fairly short, and I’ve seen some good things about this one. Ultimately, it ended up just being okay for me. I liked the premise, but I still really don’t like how King writes his female characters and how outdated people’s views are in his books, especially since they’re all pretty much based in the same location it just seems like no one ever gets with the times. This could’ve been super interesting, but ultimately was more boring than anything else. Maybe I’ll try one more King book to see how I feel, but I’m thinking he’s probably just not the author for me.
A Strange and Stubborn Endurance by Foz Meadows – ★★★★★
Moving away from that mildly disappointing book, I read and LOVED A Strange and Stubborn Endurance! Major trigger warnings, especially for pretty graphic sexual assault within the first few chapters so if that’s an issue, either skip over that scene or choose another book, as the rest of this book deals with the character overcoming the trauma from the assault. I did really like how the healing process was handled, and while there is a mystery plotline I feel like this book is really about healing, finding one’s self worth, and challenging gender stereotypes. There’s tons of rep in this book, and the main characters I really was rooting for the whole time! I feel like despite the darker aspects of this book, it really was an inspiring and uplifting story.
Nothing But Blackened Teeth by Cassandra Khaw – ★★★☆☆.5
This was another audiobook that I listened to in July, and I’m thinking that yet again, the format I read this book in impacted both my understanding and enjoyment of the book. I really struggled with following along with who was who. This is about a group of friends who go to an abandoned Heian-era mansion where two of the friends plan to get married. I loved the setting and the idea of the haunted mansion, but I think the characters is where this story lost me. These characters clearly have a lot of history with each other, but it’s all pretty vague and we just get dropped in the middle of it. I’m still not clear on why none of them wanted the MC there, and I struggled with figuring out everyone’s motivation for being there and their history with each other. I will say though that the ghost aspect was pretty spooky, but because I struggled with the characters it really dampened my enjoyment of this one.
Local Woman Missing by Mary Kubica – ★★★★☆.5
I’ve seen this book cover all over instagram, and again, since I’m on this thriller/horror kick I decided to give it a go! I never knew where this story was going to go, and trying to piece everything together was a lot of fun! I loved the way this author did the reveals, and the big one I never saw coming! This is one of those thrillers where ultimately, I feel like it’s a sad read because so many things could’ve been avoided. I won’t go into anything more specific than that, because I went in blind and I think that’s a great way to go into this book!
The House Across the Lake by Riley Sager – ★★★☆☆
I’ve never joined any sort of readalongs or book clubs, but I figured that if I was to join any, it would be the Literally Dead Book Club run by Booksandlala. The House Across the Lake was the July book, and I was able to also tune into the live show! I started with a 4 star rating on this, but after sitting with it for a while and then listening to the discussion, I realized that this is more of a 3 star for me. (although I’m leaving the graphic above as a 4 star because I can’t be bothered to update it). The main things that I didn’t like is how Boone was a cop but never acted like it, and seemed like he didn’t know what was illegal and what wasn’t. I’m also not sure how I felt about the twist centering on the lake (I don’t want to give too much away) because it kind of felt like a copout? This isn’t my favorite Riley Sager, but it’s also not my least favorite, especially since I still need to read Survive the Night and that seems to be everyone’s least favorite.
Wild is the Witch by Rachel Griffin – ★★★★☆
This was a great cozy, witchy story! I ultimately didn’t really see the chemistry between the love interests, and there were some aspects of the characters that I didn’t really like, but overall I did enjoy the story. I love the way this author mixes magic with environmentalism, which is why I loved the first book so much as well. I’m also a sucker for the setting in this one, I would absolutely love to visit the pacific northwest, it’s one of my bucket list places to visit! And as always, the writing was beautiful in this one as well.
Related: Wild is the Witch Review
Dark Roads by Chevy Stevens – ★★★★★
This is the first book from this author that I’ve read, and it certainly won’t be the last! I think the most heartbreaking aspect of this story is knowing that it’s inspired by real life events (make sure you read the author’s note if you read the book). I loved the characters, especially Hailey and Beth. Seeing how they handled surviving and finding out the truth about the murders was pretty intense, and I loved that we never really know who to trust just like the characters. I totally didn’t see the plot twist coming until it started happening, it was definitely one of those “oh shit” moments! I also absolutely adored Wolf, and I’m very happy that the author didn’t kill him off just to move the story along. I could NOT put this book down, and was thinking about it constantly when I wasn’t reading it! Highly recommend, and I can’t wait to read more from this author!
What books did you read in July? Anything we have in common? I’d love to chat!