At first I thought this was a really eclectic assortment of books with nothing in common, but then I realized they are all about women and girls confronting a dangerous, deeply sinister world. So, that's intense.
Spooky scary illustrated short stories! The art is beautifully composed, with subtle but effective detail. One of them, The Nesting Ground, infected my subconscious to the point that I had an actual nightmare. It's about a little orphan girl whose brother's wife is not what she appears to be. One thing I loved about the telling of this story was that it wasn't until midway through that I noticed this very subtle detail that she wears a brace on one leg and has a walking stick -- probably she has had polio -- but it's never actually mentioned in the text.
The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne
My February assignment, turned in just a little bit late! What can I say, it still feels like an assignment to read this book, even though it's an undeniably sturdy classic. One source of resistance for me, I think, is that Hester is just so patient and long-suffering and reformed that she's too much a symbol and not enough of a person.
Rainey Royal, Dylan Landis
This book lives somewhere between an anthology of short stories and a novel. The narrative is loosely hung around the life of Rainey Royal as she matures from precocious preteen to young woman. In some ways, she's written after a stereotype -- damaged artsy seductress -- but the writing here is full of beautiful surprises, humor, fire-branded images, closely observed details, that it all added up to a totally compulsive read.
The Killing Lessons, Saul Black
Before premium cable binge-watching, this kind of genre fiction was the crack du jour. It's a total potboiler of a detective story, but nicely done (if you can stomach seriously disturbing serial-killer-related subject matter.) My husband and I binge watch miniseries like Top of the Lake, True Detective, The Killing, and this book is the exact same formula. Very dark. But thoroughly gripping.