January 2020 Reads

Three solid-but-not-great reads and two DNFs.

The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware

I believe this was a retelling of The Turn of the Screw. At this point I am only one book away from having read all of Ware’s more recent books. Ware sets up a great atmosphere here as usual, using a luxurious “smart” home to set up the whole “looks can be deceiving” feel of the story. I love when authors start putting modern technology into their books and exploring how they can be used and misused. I did not enjoy this as much as Mrs. Westaway or The Lying Game, but this was still a good read. I don’t have anything great or awful to say about this really; just my constant reiteration that Ware is a good choice for anyone in the mood for a thriller.

Rewind by Catherin Ryan Howard

Howard is another thriller author I am working my way through. This was good, but not as good as her earlier work, in my opinion. It felt a bit forgettable and honestly stretched my suspension of disbelief a bit too far. I never really connected with the characters. It did include misuse of modern technology though, like The Turn of the Key, so it was somewhat interesting to read about Howard’s interpretation of hotel spying. True stories of AirBnB hosts spying on their guests is what inspired this book, which I know because I follow Howard’s socials, and it was fun to watch her talk about all these news stories online. (Maybe more fun than it was to read the book?) It sounds like I hated this, but I didn’t; just didn’t enjoy it as much as her other work. This is getting good reviews so still a good option.

Turtles All the Way Down by John Green

I had planned to avoid this one altogether, because while I loved John Green in high school and college, I have really shifted to prefer a different writing style. However, I can’t avoid great authors forever, I guess. I did enjoy reading this, and while I don’t have OCD or anxiety, it seemed like an accurate representation of both from what I have heard from readers who do have either of those and from my experiences with friends/family who have them. This is an important book just from that standpoint for sure. For me, Green really just gets way too existential and flowery with his language, but he is a phenomenal storyteller. (I do wish the book blurb was a little different too, because it reads like the search for the fugitive will feature more than it actually does.) If you’re even slightly interested in this one, it’s worth a read.

Words That Work by Frank Luntz

I picked this up partly because I enjoy books about language and partly because I was hoping it would help me in my marketing job. I’m aware I disagree with Luntz on many, many things, but when you’re good, you’re good, and who I am to turn down expertise? I did end up turning it down though, because ironically, Words That Work didn’t work for me. There are some great tips in there for sure, and I did learn from the 1/3 of the book I did read. I ended up DNFing because there were way too many long-winded examples that were too similar to each other, and I got sick of the sheer amount of ego Luntz injected into the text. I may try to skim the rest of this at some point, but I just couldn’t force myself to spend time on it.

The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

I knew this was a romance novel going in, and I really don’t like romance novels, so I should have known I would end up DNFing this. I heard a lot of hype about it, and it was an #ownvoices book, written by and featuring women with autism. But I’m sorry – I hated it. The love interest was super unbelievable, the epitome of the perfectly-imperfect trope. The plot felt really repetitive. And even the sex scenes (which, why so many? I enjoy a well-written sex scene but don’t need one every other page!) felt really unrealistic and eye-rolly. Other reviewers have also taken issue with the fact that the main character’s autism symptoms magically disappeared when she was with her love interest. I enjoyed all of about two scenes in this book, where the main character interacts with her boyfriend’s family. Those felt at least somewhat genuine and I would have enjoyed more of that. As it was, I couldn’t be bothered to finish it.


  1. I’ve never read anything by Ruth Ware, but you’ve gotten me interested! Also, good to see you at least somewhat enjoyed Turtles All the Way Down. :D It was one of my favourite books of the year it came out (2017?). Always love reading your thoughts on books!

  2. In the early years of cell phones, I’d constantly get annoyed when one showed up in a novel. They were becoming so omnipresent, it seemed like books were the one place I could escape them. No more. An interesting technology book (and quite well written) is the Feed by Nick Windo.

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