There were no tears. My heart felt as hard and dry as a salted apricot.
The ghost bride by Yangsze Choo
There were no tears. My heart felt as hard and dry as a salted apricot.
The ghost bride by Yangsze Choo
The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang
Well one I’m mad she got published before I did :P
Nah. Worldbuilding is amazing. She merges a Song dynasty level of technology with the events of the Second Sino-Japanese war to create a haunting setting. Unfortunately (and this is her biggest misstep), the plot is incredibly familiar. Peasant girl tries hard, goes to top military academy, gets bullied, finds an eccentric mentor, and goes to war. I’ve seen this before. But I don’t see it set in fantasy China--and that makes the difference.
Less a misstep, but for the final portion of the book, Kuang didn’t (yet?) have the writing chops to handle a POV character in the aftermath of an atrocity on the scale of Nanjing. The writing goes flat at the points when Rin is struggling the most, and it’s obvious because it’s set against the quality of the writing of the rest of the book.
ok can anyone in the dark academia community tell me if The Bellwether Revivals is one that many have read or not? Because it seems like an obvious fit and matches perfectly with the other DA books, but I never see it on like moodboards or analyses n shit? Haven’t finished it, but still feels odd that I haven’t seen it anywhere with the others.
I’m probably going to take some significant heat for this, but…I’m not a fan of this story. I love Tim Burton’s take on the story in the 1999 film starring Johnny Depp. I even liked the short-lived Fox television series that was based on this story. I just don’t like the original telling of the story. I don’t know why. It may have something to do with the fact that I intensely dislike Washington Irving for his part in spreading the heroic MYTH of Christopher Columbus discovering America *cough* BULLSHIT! *cough*.
So, because I may be biased based on principle, I won’t be rating this story thumbs up or thumbs down, to be fair.
Title: A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder Author: Holly Jackson Genre: YA mystery thriller My rating: ⭐⭐⭐
Synopsis: Andie Bell’s case was closed years ago. She was killed by her boyfriend, Sal Singh, who later committed suicide. For her senior project, however, Pippa Fitz-Amobi decides to start digging, not convinced that Sal is actually guilty. When she starts uncovering Andie’s secrets, though, she starts getting messages. Whoever really killed Andie knows Pippa is on the right path and wants her to stop digging. Or else.
Book Review: First, I read the US version, and apparently, the original takes place in the UK, whereas US publications changed it to Connecticut. Why??? There’s literally no reason to do that?!
Whatever. That’s a complaint about the publishing office, not the book.
I really like mixed media storytelling in books and wanted a bit more of it, like photographs and screenshots of posts when Pippa's cyber-stalking people of interest. It would have given the book more of a case log kind of feel, and it would have really fit with the mood and subject of the book, plus it would have helped to add to the feel of this case taking over Pippa’s life.
The story requires a pretty big suspension of belief, but when it comes to YA thrillers, it’s about having fun following the character along the journey and discovering clues. This book definitely was fun to read, and I liked that the twist didn't go in the directions I had feared they might in the beginning, like the dad being a racist and murdering both Andie and Sal when he found out they were a couple or the book turning into a YA version of Gone Girl.
On suspension of belief, though, the monologues from the perpetrators forced that suspension up too far for me, to the point of the tone sounding almost hokey, starting with the call Pippa made to 911. Soon as she told the dispatcher that she was outside that house and that Elliot had kidnapped Andie, I expected the dispatcher to dismiss her call as a prank. It started to feel like Jackson was either quickly approaching a deadline or realized the book was getting too long and decided to wrap things up as cleanly as possible. It was nice to see a YA book where the somewhat socially-awkward protagonist had more than one friend, but they made so little of an impact in the book, I forgot who any of them were other than Cara. I do wish we could have seen more of her and Pippa's relationship and how it changed after the truth came out. She felt more like a prop sometimes than an actual character, someone there to help Pippa with her investigation, and it’s hard to tell if that’s due to how the case is taking over Pippa’s life or if it’s an oversight on part of Jackson, since we don’t see much of Pippa’s life and routine before the project. Pippa herself also did not have too much personality outside of her work, though I did like that this was brought up, partly through her mom constantly wanting her to take a break and have fun. Overall, A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder was a fun and quick read, but the ending fell a bit flat, making me uninterested in the sequel.
RELEASE DATE: OCTOBER 20TH, 2021
AVAILABLE ON KINDLE UNLIMITED, KINDLE EBOOK, AND PAPERBACK
RATING: 5/5 STARS!!!
If someone dreamed up a romance novel (that wasn’t LGBT+ or a RH) that hit darn near close to all my buttons, it would look something eerily close to Sophie Lark’s “There Are No Saints”: a lot of build-up, both psychological and physical, thrills and chills that walk that knife’s edge of dirty and wrong and hot and twisted, two very different types of cats fighting over the same mouse, deliciously self-aware of how dark and morbid it is and not ashamed at all, characters who will literally kill for what they love, catastrophic levels of obsession, and a huge scene near the end that I could hardly breathe through while I was reading because it was so achingly beautiful to read (if you’ve read it, you know).
I didn’t stand a chance from the moment I read the first page of this book. I started reading and simply couldn’t stop. I soaked it up like it was the first full day of sunshine in spring. It was THAT good for me. It was a suspense-thriller. It was a suspense-romance. It was a suspense-thriller with some dark romance drizzled all over the top like dark chocolate syrup, flowing over the sides of the dish and flooding the table beneath it. It was decadent in its intent and execution and I loved every single minute of it. It was a top-notch effort from Lark.
To be clear: Be in a good head space when you start to read this, make sure you read any author’s notes or beware of trigger warnings. Take care of yourself during and after reading if you need to. This book definitely won’t be for everyone. But it DEFINITELY was one for me, and I’m excited as heck to read the next book in the duet, and these puppies are going to definitely be in physical copy on my shelf someday soon.
Laurus is a 2012 Russian novel by Eugene Vodolazkin set in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. This book relates the foreverness of true love with a story of timeless self forgiving, and spiritual understanding from the point of view of Eastern Orthodoxy. Arsany's journey takes you through time, tragedy, love, and forgiveness sa he tries to reconcile for his sins. This fiction novel pulls from the desert fathers in some of its philosophy and is so thought provoking and emotional it Brough me to tears. Despite the religious differences between a Catholic and Orthodoxy the truths of the theology and Gods eternal love shines through. Overall this is a 10/10 book and I recommend it to everyone regardless of their religious background.
Author: Carmen Maria Machado.
Publication Date: 2017.
Genre: Horror/literary fiction.
Premise: Ain't no party like a Carmen Maria Machado party, 'cause a Carmen Maria Machado party is weird. In eight stories, Machado discomfits readers with urban legends, fake (?) babies, shadow-selves, and Law and Order: SVU fanfiction. It's a good time.
Thoughts: The first story in this collection, "The Husband Stitch," is a retelling of "The Green Ribbon" (that story from In a Dark, Dark Room about the girl whose head is kept on by a green ribbon tied around her neck, which in turn is a retelling of Washington Irving's "The Adventure of the German Student," where the ribbon is black and the girl is a French Revolution ghost). Other urban legends of varying veracity are woven throughout the story--the famous Parisian hotel riddle, an account of a girl poisoned by her own dress, the eponymous "husband stitch"--to add to the heroine's sense of unease as she ages from bright, reckless young womanhood to weary, confused middle age.
This is a fitting introduction to the book, because all of Machado's stories seem influenced by the uncanny kid lit and playground lore that filled my own 1990s-2000s childhood: your Goosebumps, your Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, your garbled recaps of Candyman that another third grader related to you on the bus. These stories aren't generally celebrated for their sophistication, but they can tap into everyday fears in a powerful way. (The Curse of Camp Cold Lake, for example, is a decent ghost story, but it's an absolutely terrifying tale about being socially awkward at camp.) Machado draws on that tradition and adds her own more literary style, and the results are a lot of fun.
Some notes on individual stories:
"The Husband Stitch": again, a great introduction, although I liked the asides and the set-up more than the ending, which felt like more could've been done with it.
"Inventory": I didn't realize that all of these stories were going to be weird until the dystopian elements started creeping into this story about a woman's sexual history. The element of surprise made it extra chilling, but its elegiac tone would've made it really good even if I'd known.
"Mothers": I didn't like this one so much. The line between the literal and the metaphorical was blurred in a way that was more frustrating than unsettling.
"Especially Heinous": Law and Order: SVU fan fiction! I'd read this one before, and I liked it more this time around.
"Real Women Have Bodies": This story had my favorite setting--a dressmaker's shop in a dying mall in a world where women are randomly becoming incorporeal.
"Eight Bites": This reminded me of Kit Reed's "The New You," but sweeter, more grounded, and more mother/daughter oriented. Very good.
"The Resident": My favorite! A truly terrifying story about everybody hating you at camp.
"Difficult at Parties": I don't remember a lot about this one, but I remember it was pretty good and reminded me of "The Spray" by Jonathan Lethem and "The Enormous Radio" by John Cheever.
Hot Goodreads Take: "I prefer for the books and stories that I read to have meaning, plot, character development, some insight, new perspectives. I could not care less about sex." Too bad those things are mutually exclusive, I guess?!? Shout-out to the lady who didn't really enjoy "Especially Heinous" but wanted to rewatch SVU after she finished it, though. I also watched an SVU episode after I finished this book. It was bad!
Towers rise, towers fall: Sandfuture by Justin Beal @mitpress
The World Trade Center must have been climbing its way toward the heavens when I first visited New York City, my mother’s hometown, in 1969. However, at the age of nine, the tall building that caught my fancy was the Empire State. It made no impression on me that its record height was soon to be overshadowed—I best remember the imposing measures taken to keep visitors from plunging to their…
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Title: Sadie Author: Courtney Summers Genre: YA Thriller My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Synopsis: West McCray starts a new podcast and gets a call begging him to cover Sadie Hunter. He’s not sure there’s a story at first. She’s nineteen, and teenagers run away all the time. When he finds out she fled following the murder of her little sister, McCray decides to start digging.
Sadie is following what clues she can get her hands on in order to find her sister’s murderer. People like them don’t get to see justice, so Sadie needs to deliver it herself. She doesn’t know that McCray is on her trail now, starting to gain ground as Sadie gets closer to what she wants. Her journey brings her to Pandora’s box, though, and she needs to choose whether or not she should open it--or if she can survive the consequences of what she finds inside.
My Review: If I had not pulled this off a shelf clearly labeled "YA," I don't think I would have known it was YA. The ending is messy, where even the messiest and darkest of plots often get wrapped up in a nice, pretty gift. This book did not do that. It left questions, and the protagonist's choices left me squirming, wanting to argue, at times. And I absolutely loved it. It did not take me long into the story to get sucked in until popping back out into the real world just long enough to realize it was after 3AM. I also enjoyed both the podcasts' and Sadie's chapters in equal measure; usually with mixed POV books, I skim one of POVs to reach the other's more quickly. I loved the descriptions in Sadie's chapters, and despite the podcast chapters being transcripts, it was very easy to pick up on the speakers' emotions. Between transcripts, Sadie's narration felt like she was speaking to an audience, even though it was in present tense. This made me keep hoping that at the end, she'd get to meet West McCray, start telling him her side and fill in the blanks. Present-tense first person can be hit or miss for me; a lot of more recent books have read to me like the authors were hopping onto a trend rather than choosing it, because it fit the story. Here, it felt intentional, and I don't think the book would have close to hitting the ways it had if written in past tense or in third person. Sadie's voice is rough and dry; her voice reminds me of the quote "Speak softly but carry a big stick." (Or a knife in her case.) I've heard praises sung for this book and am so glad I decided to give it a read. It really lives up to the hype, and the preview at the end of my copy for The Project already makes me itching to grab that and sink into my pillows and get lost in Summers's beautiful writing all over again.
*me reading The Song of Achilles*
Oh yeah, Greek myth is severely effed up I momentarily forgot.
Marvel Knights: Jeph Loeb & Tim Sale: Yellow, Blue, Gray & White Omnibus
Title: Marvel Knights: Jeph Loeb & Tim Sale: Yellow, Blue, Gray & White Omnibus. Writer(s): Jeph Loeb & Tim Sale.Artist(s): Tim Sale.Colourist(s): Matt Hollingsworth, Steve Buccellato & Dave Stewart. Letterer(s): Richard Starkings & Comicraft.Publisher: Marvel.Format: Hardcover – Omnibus.Release Date: December 18th 2018.Pages: 664.Genre(s): Comics, Science-Fiction.ISBN13: 9781302914059. My…
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Ninth House Review!
This took me awhile to read. I read it during the summer, then school started. I was already most of the way through when the semester did start but still.
It’s pretty good. If I wasn’t too focused in school mode, I think I would say it passed the hype vibe.
There is some triggering in so to be aware for y’all. It does involve Sexual Assault and r*pe.
I did skim the last 200 pages because I wanted to finish it already, but was not in the pod for it. Some parts did catch me off guard from the skimming.
Now, the last 100 pages or so, now that was a doozy. Will I read this for spooky season again? Maybe.
I’ll give it a 8/10 rating. This just simply from being a reading slump and just wanted to finish the book. I will say I’m excited for the next one.
Title: The Art of Being Normal Author: Lisa Williamson Genre: YA contemporary My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐
Synopsis: After he started transitioning, Leo’s life at school took a turn for the worst at his school, so he was taken out and put into another school to start over in a safer environment. Leo is determined to be completely stealth, but there are people at his new school are are bent on digging up information on him. Kate is in the closet, scared of how her parents will react when she tells them what it is she truly wants, who she truly is. When she meets Leo, something about him draws her to him, and the two end up striking up a friendship.
My Review: My biggest gripe of this book: Kate constantly being deadnamed. In my edition, her name is already revealed in the summary on the back cover, and in the actual story, she tells Leo that she'd decided on Kate some time ago, after asking her mom what she would have been named, had she been AFAB. The timeline for that isn't specified from what I remember, but since the scene isn't in any of the chapters from Kate's POV, it sounds reasonable to believe this exchange happened before the main part of the book. It's understandable for people to deadname her before she tells them her name, including Leo in his chapters, but there is no reason for her to be deadnamed in her own chapters, when she’s already settled on her real name. Then, even after learning it, Leo continues to deadname her, despite knowing intimately how much that pain deadnaming causes.
Another gripe I had was that Leo being trans was kept a secret from the reader. In the summary of my edition, it was stated that he's trans, so reading and seeing that being kept under-wraps even when he was alone or with his sister confused me as to why even small details weren't brought up, like scheduling for his puberty blocker injection or swapping his binder for a sports bra when exercising (or being reminded about binder safety when his therapist or doctor hears he's been exercising in his binder). He's stealth, but since I already knew he was trans going in, it would have been nice to see hoops he has to jump through in order to stay stealth in a high school where gym class is a thing and everyone is nosy about the mysterious new kid. I think older editions didn't give away that he was trans in the summary, as I have a newer edition, but if that’s the case, I’m not particularly fond of transness being a “gotcha” or a mystery to reveal. I could nitpick about Leo saying, "I was born a girl," when he came out to Alicia, but considering I used “less-than-PC” language when explaining that I was trans and wanting to transition to my parents and aunt, I can understand wanting to use easily-understood language, even if it's not necessarily correct/feels correct. If you know the other person isn't knowledgeable about trans issues, it's easier to start with something like "I was born a girl but am transitioning/have transitioned to become a boy," instead of wasting energy teaching them about gender and various terms, if it turns out they don't care and don't want to support you. Once the support is established, education can come later. Also, Leo doesn't come across as someone willing to delve into the subject himself, anyway, and it looks like he stays distant from the queer community, so the wording fits his character. This shows his internal transphobia, but with how new Kate is to the community and how it’s her and Leo’s POVs running the book, I can see why this doesn’t get called out, but at the same time, it would have been nice to see another trans characters that is closer/more involved in the community to act as a foil for Leo, who goes through all these lengths to stay stealth. It would also help add to why being stealth can be necessary for some trans people while still fighting against the common notion that trans people simply want to be cis but “just the opposite sex than what they were born as.” While passing is very much a goal for many trans people, whether out of comfort or safety, there are trans people who either can’t pass or simply don’t care to.
In Kate, we see more of a celebration of who she is, rather than someone wanting to hide, but she’s still early in her journey throughout the book, so she doesn’t really feel like a character challenging Leo so much as a character helping him up. It’s a good part of her character and how she overall relates to the story, but I would have liked someone to fight Leo more. I really liked Kate and felt for her, soon as I saw that the bully character had gotten his hands on her journal, where she obsessively documented her body's changes. When she kept looking at her dad when he was reading the article about the trans girl homecoming queen, wanting to gauge his reaction as a clue as to whether she could come out, I saw myself. I enjoyed seeing her gain confidence over the course of the story, and I liked seeing Leo's and his mom's relationship get better. I also liked that while Alicia’s reaction was negative at first, she never outs Leo. We don’t get to see her thinking, since the book is from Leo’s and Kate’s POVs, but she comes around towards the end, likely after thinking and doing her own research. I also like that Kate and Leo stay as friends rather than being pushed together as love interests. While Kate is a good friend, Alicia felt more like someone willing to challenge Leo and bring out the best in him.
I think overall, this could have been a really cute and sweet story of them getting closer and helping each other, but the problems with Kate's deadnaming and the handling of Leo's ~Big Secret~ got in the way of that and just made it harder for me to enjoy it.
On the plus side I get to review No Straight Roads for my nonfiction assignment, so that’s going to be fun and I have some strong opinions I can write for. I’m glad to have something else figured out for the assignment that I’ve been stressed about.
Book Review Monday – Butcher’s Crossing by John Williams
Another book from my reading for school, this was one of my favorites. It wasn’t until I read it a second time that I truly understood the simplistic genius of Williams. Amazing book. Butcher’s Crossing is about a young man that comes west to discover who he is. He chooses to become part of an expedition to kill a herd of buffalo in Colorado and bring the skins back for money. He and the crew…
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Picture Book Review: Dulcinea in the Forbidden Forest
Dulcinea in the Forbidden Forestby Ole Konnecke5 out of 5 stars Dulcinea has been told not to go in the forbidden forest, because an evil witch lives there. But when the witch puts her father under a spell, Dulcinea goes looking for the witch to find a way to save her father. She journeys through the forest, and outwits the old witch! I loved this imaginative story so much! The creatures in the…
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every paycheck I buy a new book cause I have a problem, this time I bought 2 books :D
Book Review – Twenty-Four Seconds
First book review of my newest novella, Twenty-Four Seconds, by Tiffany C. Lewis!
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20 Blog Post Ideas for a Literature Blog
Looking for some inspiration for your literature blog? Here are some ideas to get you going. Forum Question Take a question that someone has asked you on a forum and write an article about it. For example, if someone has asked you “What is the importance of reading?”, “Did you ever have a teacher that encouraged you to read?” or “What’s a favorite snack to have while you’re reading?”, etc.…
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