I was on a bit of a downward spiral this month (one that’s now been corrected, relief of all reliefs). Here’s what didn’t work:
“A Stranger in the House” by Shari Lapena
I read Lapena’s first book, “The Couple Next Door,” early in the year and thought it was a decent thriller. Granted, it took me two attempts to get into it because the writing was subpar, but once I did, I couldn’t put it down. I’ll pretty much always try the sophomore book, so of course I blew into the library hold line for “A Stranger in the House” the minute it became available.
I spent one night on it and managed to reach page 80 or 90 before calling it a day. The writing is painful, and I really really value beautifully written books that make you want to savor each sentence. I’d have even accepted marginally decent here if the story line made up for it. But nearly 100 pages in, I was not invested in the characters and couldn’t take any more.
However, I did skip to the end to find out how it all shakes out. I’ll tell you this. Shari Lapena knows how to execute one heck of a mind-boggling ending that does NOT go where you think it’ll go. No wrapping things up nice and pretty here. There’s a killer final sentence that’ll make your eyes pop out — but you won’t miss much if you read the first chapter or two and then skip right to it.
“See What I Have Done” by Sarah Schmidt
Ow, the disappointment of this one. I looked forward to it for months. So eager. I’ll generally read up anything and everything and all the things about the Lizzie Borden case, so this fictionalized retelling was right up my alley.
Then, when it finally landed in my hands, I just … couldn’t … get into it. The writing was stilted and didn’t suck me in, and the author didn’t offer much to entice me to keep turning the pages. So I didn’t. I called it quits around page 77, and I almost never DNF books. I found myself wrinkling my nose and had no motivation to continue, and when you’ve got a really long TBR list that won’t read itself — life’s too short, eh?