I read 5 books again this month. This seems to be my norm now that I read slower and take at least a day between books. Here is my month.
1. My Best Friend’s Exorcisim by Grady Hendrix
Abby and Gretchen have been best friends since fifth grade. Everything is great until one night Gretchen disappears for a night in the woods at a friend’s summer house. After that night, Gretchen begins to change. Bizarre behavior, changes in appearance, and strange things happening around her. Abby is convinced she has been possessed by a demon.
I’ve liked every Hendrix book I have read. This one ranks up there with the best of them. It reminded me a lot of the latest season of Stranger Things. It is set in the 80s and there is a lot of talk about the growing fear of satanic worship. Even with those fears, Hendrix takes us down the more realistic road of adults refusing to listen to Abby, especially given her status as a scholarship student at a private school, and assuming drugs are the problem. It did slow down in places, but overall it was a very good book.
2. Sparring Partners by John Grisham
This is a collection of three novellas. The first one returns to Ford County and Jake Brigance. Jake is contacted by a lawyer who left his family and skipped town years ago. It was assumed he left with stolen money from clients. He now wants to return. The second tells the story of a death row inmate as his execution approaches. The final story, Sparring Partners, is about two brothers who are partners in a law firm and hate each other.
I thought the Jake Brigance story was the strongest of the three, but that might be because it was revisiting favorite characters. I wasn’t sure what the point of the death row story was. The third story was good, but also kind of had no real point. Grisham is still very good when he sticks to what he knows and isn’t writing very bad basketball books.
3. The Nineties by Chuck Klosterman
Essays from Klosterman on various aspects of the nineties – Clinton, OJ, pop culture, music, movies, etc.
I am a fan of Klosterman, and this is as good as the rest of his work. It was interesting to look back on the last decade before the internet was everywhere. I lived through the nineties and there was information here I had either forgotten or never knew. I kept bothering my family with the facts and opinions I found interesting. I don’t read a lot of non-fiction, but I would recommend anything by Klosterman.
4. We Are the Brennans by Tracey Lange
When Sunday Brennan ends up in the hospital and facing DUI charges after an accident in California, she reluctantly agrees to return home to her large Catholic family in New York. She left them and her high school sweetheart five years before with no explanation. Now, the secrets that drove her away, and their connection to recent family trouble, will be revealed.
It was a decent book. It was told in alternating chapters from the viewpoint of different characters. That helped to see the thoughts and motivations of each person. I thought the big secret was a little underwhelming and it was one of those books where the whole plot stems from people not talking to each other about things. I picked it for book club and I do feel like it is discussable.
5. Rivals by Katharine McGee
This is the third book in the American Royals series. It is set in a world where George Washington became King of America and revolves around the present-day American Royal family. In this one, Beatrice is at her first major event as Queen, Samantha is dealing with her royal status complicating her relationship with a future Duke, and Jeff is still just there to drive the drama between Nina and Daphne.
This series is basically a romance series. Most of the drama revolves around the love lives of the royals and how their royalty complicates things. The first book was very good. I liked the second one. This one does not measure up to those two. It is way too long(almost 400 pages). It has some emotional growth with some characters that McGee tears down at the end for the sake of drama. Characters make major life decisions based on who they think they love as teenagers. It ends with a cliffhanger in an obvious ploy to drive anticipation for the next book. I will probably fall for it and read the next one as well.
I would say that The Nineties is the book I would most recommend from my reading this month. The Royals I would only recommend to people who love the characters from the series enough to slog through a mediocre outing.