Haints Stay by Colin Winnette

I bought Haints Stay by Colin Winnette on my last trip to Brazos Bookstore on a complete whim. A gorgeous cover, a mysterious title, and a guy who looked like he’d give great book recommendations holding it in his hands left me with almost no choice; I HAD to read this book.

“Brooke and Sugar are contract killers without a contract. Bird is the 13-year-old who appears in their camp one night, with no memory and palms as smooth as stones.

Driven from town after a bathhouse brawl, it’s only a matter of time before the sheriffs will find them. Before the cannibals and stampedes and marauders will find them. Before the past will clamber up from where they buried it, covered in animal skins and teeth.

In Haints Stay, Colin Winnette breaks down the classic Western and builds a bloody lean-to from the scraps. Brutal, surreal, and darkly funny, this bold new novel follows an ever-expanding cast of characters—each in pursuit of their own brand of justice and belonging.”

Haints Stay feels less like a novel to me and more like a glimpse into someone else’s life. It doesn’t seem like Winnette has an agenda or a lesson to teach; he captures the spirit of his characters, shares what the extraordinary days in their lives look like, and then lets them go. It’s beautiful. His prose is crisp and powerful, his characters are nuanced, and the story he unravels is haunting (which is fitting considering ‘Haint’ is a colloquial term for a ‘spirit or lost soul’).

I’ll admit that it was initially very difficult for me to get into this book. I stopped almost every twenty pages because I was either falling asleep (something which is VERY rare for me) or I just felt like I’d had enough. It wasn’t until around the middle of the book that I felt the story actually pulling me along. I wouldn’t let this discourage you from reading this book, though, because so many of the books that initially struggled to grab my attention are now my favorite books. Haints Stay isn’t quite on my favorites list, but it is a book I’m extremely glad I read.

These are a few of my favorite quotes:

“You put your hand in a lake, withdraw it, and the surface moves for a bit,” said Sugar, “it snaps back into place or it ripples on an on. Your involvement ends the moment your hand leaves the water.” – 37

“'It’s a graveyard,' said Bird.

'You’ll find that’s always the case,' said Sugar, 'if you pay attention.'” – 38

“It was funny to him, to die in this way. Alone and for no good reason.” – 79

“There was no shame in collapsing. There was only shame in letting fear or uncertainty give you pause.” – 81

“Haints stay where and as they please,” she said. – 179


“Bird stubbed his cigar then, and lit out for territory.” – 212 (I love that he ends the book in the same way The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn ends.)

Anywho, keep an eye out for the follow-up post and let me know what you think if you've read Haints Stay or plan to!

Happy Reading,

Mallory

P.S I Still Love You by Jenny Han

P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han – the sequel to the New York Times Bestselling To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before – continues the story of Lara Jean Song and Peter Kavinsky’s…uhmm…pretend relationship/crush/break-up/real relationship, and as you can probably tell, it’s complicated. Not only does Lara Jean have to deal with Peter’s clingy ex, but when a boy from her past comes barreling into her life (and her heart!—Yes, I’m that cheesy.) she is forced to reevaluate everything.

First things first, this book is too cute. I read the entire thing in one day—although I did technically have to stay up until 2 AM to finish the job—and it charmed my socks right off! Lara Jean and Peter’s little fights are so sweet. However, I should add that it probably isn’t healthy to bribe your significant other with lemon cookies, regardless of how effective it is. Their romance doesn’t feel forced the way a lot of teen romances can feel, where the guy has perfectly tousled hair in the middle of a hurricane and always knows exactly what to say to make a girl melt. While I’m on the subject of melting, I love that Lara Jean doesn’t melt every time Peter (or anyone else) tries to sweet talk her. She is strong and seems capable to handle things on her own, which is something I admire about her. However, when it comes to admiration, Kitty has earned all of mine! I’d like to adopt her as my own little sister. She’s smart as a whip, she named her dog Jamie Fox-Pickle (hilarious!), and she knows how to get what she wants, whether it’s a dog or a ride in her sister’s boyfriend’s car. So many of the characters felt vibrant and real to me, especially Stormy Sinclair from the retirement community!

Now, as charming and all around heartwarming as PSISLY is, there are still a few problems for me. The biggest issue was an overall lack of tension. Even during the intense parts of the story, like when Lara Jean was being cyber bullied, I felt bad for her, but I didn’t pick up on the tension because it wasn’t clear to me what she stood to lose with the video going viral. Sure, her dad found out about it, but they had a brief conversation and everything was fine again. I like that Han didn’t get preachy and make her book into an after school special on cyber bullying or the dangers of teenage sex, but I did want to see some actual consequences for Lara Jean and Peter. I also needed to see more consequences for Lara Jean depending on which guy from her love triangle she decided to choose.

Overall, it was adorable and there was a general lack of consequences leading to a general lack of tension.

But, if you like romancey-funny-cutesy books, then give it a read!

Happy Reading,

Mallory