Barbara the Slut and Other People by Lauren Holmes - A short story collection, Barbara the Slut tackles sex, intimacy, and relationships. Each story showcases a slice of the character's life, whether that is a trip to Mexico to visit their mother, or a quick-burn fling with a European who then takes over their apartment, or posing as a lesbian to get a job at a sex shop. I found each story smart, funny, and often painful in its honest look at relationships. The title story comes last in the collection and was my absolute favorite. I hope Lauren Holmes has novels in her future.
Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng - This was my book club's December selection (I joined a book club! It's great!) and luckily, it was a quick read in between all of the holiday insanity. The story surrounds a Chinese-American family living in Ohio in the 1970s. Each family member struggles with their identity as part of a mixed family in their own way. When teenage Lydia disappears and then turns up dead, the family is forced to confront these issues head on. Beautifully written and well-paced, this is definitely worth a read, even if there are some cliches. The characters are all flawed, but in realistic ways, so even though I didn't like any of them, I understood their motivations.
In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware - You know those books that would be good if they were 30% shorter? This is one of them. Nora gets invited to Clare's hen do, which is odd considering that they haven't spoken in almost ten years. After debating whether or not to attend, Nora makes the decision to go. The story splits time between the time spent at the party weekend and the time afterwards, when something horrible has happened. All of this is great. And then Nora's memories of the weekend stop and there is a huge chunk of the book that simply drags, with Nora trying to remember what happened. Also, I figured out the "huge" mystery almost as it was presented, which is never a good sign. Waiting for the characters to catch up seemed to take forever. Ultimately, a fun read, but could really have used another edit.