Book Reviews, Bookworm Blogging

Carrie [review]

Carrie by Stephen King
Published in 1974
my rating: 4 stars
Goodreads avg:
3.98 (as of 2022-09-20)
Spoiler-free review
Goodreads

No one was there—or if there was, He/It was cowering from her. God had turned His face away, and why not? This horror was as much His doing as hers.

I’ve read this at least once before, but it’s been years so I figured I’d pick it up before Kayla’s community reads The Weight of Blood (inspired by Carrie). I’m happy to say this is probably one of my favorite books by King. There’s no unnecessary length (King does tend to be overly wordy) and while there is still some offensive content, it’s not as front-and-center as it is in some of his other works. Overall, the story and characterization were wildly compelling. I hadn’t remembered the epistolary aspect, which really added to the book. There were a few moments that had me rolling my eyes at King, but as a whole I do recommend this and I’m glad I reread it. I will be excited to pick up a retelling written by a woman, though.

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Movie Reviews, Not Books

Letterboxd Gems XV

Hi everyone! Time for another edition of Letterboxd Gems. As a reminder: every so often I’ll post particularly funny or entertaining Letterboxd reviews from movies I’ve seen recently. If you’ve never heard of Letterboxd, it’s like Goodreads but for movies (feel free to add me if you’d like!) and there are plenty of interesting reviews. I’ll usually sift through them after seeing a film, which is how I got the idea to share them! A lot of these reviews will have spoilers, so feel free to skip through only to films you’ve already seen if you’d like to avoid being spoiled.


Alien [1979]

if you are going into space i think that you should leave your cat at home, he does not need the stress

demiadejuyigbe

tag yourself: I’m the one who’s literally risking their own life to find a cat

leeyim

imagine a version of this where everything is exactly the same, except “the sound of silence” plays every time the alien appears

deathproof

The Thing [1982]

would i trust kurt russell with my life? absolutely
would i trust kurt russell with my dog? not a chance in hell

jay

my dog: *looks at me*

me: how do i know you’re not……… The Thing (1982)

ghouliasyelps

a bit of a downer to watch this before embarking on a trip to Antarctica with my boys tomorrow

kurstboy

Umma [2022]

Ra-ra-ah-ah-ah
Umma-umma-ma
Gaga, ooh la-la

jackbool96

I’m sorry but that was the longest hour 23 minutes of my life.

messiejessie

Traumatized horror movie moms be like I AM YOUR MOTHER!” *gets possessed by some evil manifestation of their trauma*

mahmus

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Book Reviews, Bookworm Blogging

Piranesi [review]

Piranesi by Susanna Clarke
Published by Bloomsbury Publishing on September 15, 2020
my rating: 4 stars
Goodreads avg:
4.26 (as of 2022-09-15)
Spoiler-free review
Goodreads

There is a thing that I know but always forget: Winter is hard.

What a bizarre little book. This is difficult to review without giving anything away, but I’ll give it a shot. I went into this pretty cold, knowing only that it was somewhat related to mythology and fairly fantastic. I honestly think that was best, it took me a bit to settle into the narrative style but witnessing the story unravel while trying to figure out what was going on was very satisfying. Piranesi is an oddly satisfying character to follow, I appreciated his emphasis on logic and his understanding of the world around him. Although his naivety could have been frustrating, I found it more sad than anything else and I found him very sympathetic. Clarke did an excellent job with this and I’m glad it was the Women’s Prize winner of 2021.

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Book Reviews, Bookworm Blogging

Just Like Home [review]

Just Like Home by Sarah Gailey
Published by Tor Books on July 19, 2022
my rating: 4.5 stars
Goodreads avg:
3.53 (as of 2022-09-14)
Spoiler-free review
Goodreads

This book is dedicated to anyone who has ever loved a monster.

I can’t seem to stop reading divisive books! This was my fourth Gailey read and I have to say that I am so impressed by their range. From historical fiction to thriller to horror, it seems like they can do it all. Just Like Home is about a woman named Vera who returns to her childhood home at the behest of her estranged dying mother. Vera’s father was a serial killer and her memories in this house are slowly revealed to us over the course of the book. There is also a horror element that readers seem to either love or hate — I loved it. There were just a handful of things I wish Gailey had done differently, but I found this so atmospheric. I had to tear myself away from the book at night because even though I was getting so spooked, I didn’t want to put it down. I found both the characters and the story itself incredibly compelling and really can’t wait to see what Gailey comes out with next.

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Book Reviews, Bookworm Blogging

The Perfect Nanny [review]

The Perfect Nanny by Leïla Slimani transl. by Sam Taylor
Published by Penguin Books on January 9, 2018 (originally 2016)
my rating: 4 stars
Goodreads avg:
3.39 (as of 2022-09-08)
Spoiler-free review
Goodreads

Already the rumor is spreading. Something terrible has happened to the children.

I picked this up after listening to a re-run of an interview with the author on the podcast Literary Friction. I was a little anxious seeing the average rating (apparently the last month or so has been me accidentally reading plenty of lowly-rated books), but decided to give it a go anyway. I’m glad I did. This is a book following Louise, a French nanny who seems perfect in every way. But the book begins with the death of the two children Louise has been nannying. This is a retrospective, more literary than thriller, giving us the greater context for this tragedy.

I could have easily read this in one sitting. I found the story and its characters utterly compelling, even if none of them were particularly likeable. Louise is outwardly perfect in every way, going above and beyond, but privately she is drowning in the debts of her late husband and is completely estranged from her daughter. I liked how we were exposed to voices from Louise’s past as we follow her in the very recent past throughout her career with these two children. The tone of this book was immaculate, with creeping dread building steadily as the family and the nanny become increasingly more codependent in their relationships.

This will be a particularly horrific read for parents and I caution you to make sure you’re prepared if you have or want kids. But Slimani is an excellent writer who is able to pack so much into such a slim novel and I will absolutely be recommending this.

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Book Reviews, Bookworm Blogging

Detransition, Baby [review]

Detransition, Baby by Torrey Peters
Published by One World on January 12, 2021
my rating: 5 stars
Goodreads avg:
4.00 (as of 2022-08-31)
Spoiler-free review
Goodreads

[…] her life as a woman arrived with pain; pain that had to be endured, withstood, pain that was the same as being alive, and so was without end.

This was really incredible. Torrey Peters is an incredible writer and I was constantly awed by how clever this was. ‘A whipsmart debut’ indeed. Reese is a trans woman living in New York who is figuring out herself and how to get what she wants in life. Ames is her ex-girlfriend, now detransitioned but not quite a cis man, trying to live a ‘normal’ life. Ames has gotten his current partner, his boss, pregnant and is frantically trying to decide what to do.

Before I knew this was authored by a trans women, the inclusion of detransition concerns me. I mean, we’re surrounded with right-wing rhetoric about how allowing trans children to be themselves will lead to all these horrible things, and how soo many people detransition. But Peters is trans and I felt that she handled this topic gracefully, emphasizing how so many trans folks are forced to detransition because it is so difficult to live in such a transphobic world.

While I am not a trans woman, as a member of the queer community I did find a lot of comfort and familiarity in this book. I’m also polyamorous and seeing the development of this triad warmed my heart — even if they have far to go when it comes to communication. But this book deals with a lot of dark topics, things that I don’t think could have been left out of a story like this. There is an interesting commentary about various forms of colonization and oppression; Ames’ partner Katrina is a cis woman but is biracial. Reese is used to viewing all cis women as privileged, but has to confront the fact that not all cis women are cis white women.

I also appreciated that Peters didn’t pause the story to introduce concepts of Gender 101; she used in-group language without explanation in a way that I found immersive and important. I appreciate when authors do this for any kind of culture — sprinkling in definitions often feels forced or pulls a reader out of the story. We all have access to Google and are able to look up anything we don’t understand from prior knowledge or context alone.

There were so many fascinating explorations of misogyny and transmisogyny and I’m excited to come back to this someday to pick up on more than can be processed via a first read. I feel like each page could spawn dozens of essays. Peters brought a remarkable book into this world and I’m looking forward to picking up her next one.


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Bookworm Blogging, Monthly Wrap-Ups

August 2022 Wrap-Up

August flew by. I did a little more dogsitting, and I worked a lot. I also had allergy testing done AND got my first allergy shot! I also got to play a super fun D&D one-shot and hope I can play more soon. This past week we went back to off-season hours at work, so I had a lot more time for reading and movies.

Books Read:

  • Mister Impossible by Maggie Stiefvater. DNF.
  • One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston. 3 stars, review.
  • Under the Whispering Door by TJ Klune. DNF.
  • Everyone in This Room Will Someday Be Dead by Emily Austin. 4 stars, review.
  • In a Garden Burning Gold by Rory Power. DNF.
  • The Odyssey by Lara Williams. 4 stars, review.
  • Dark Circles by Caite Dolan-Leach. 2 stars, review.
  • The Thief of Always by Clive Barker. 3 stars, review.
  • Detransition, Baby by Torrey Peters. 5 stars, RTC.
  • The Perfect Nanny by Leïla Slimani. 4 stars, RTC.

Books read: 7 books, 3 DNFs
Average rating: 3.57 stars (much better than July)

Other Media:

Short Reads/Watches:

My Month in Photos:

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Book Reviews, Bookworm Blogging

The Thief of Always [review]

The Thief of Always by Clive Barker
Published by HarperCollins on January 30, 2014 (originally 1992)
my rating: 3 stars
Goodreads avg:
4.20 (as of 2022-08-30)
Spoiler-free review
Goodreads

Harvey had climbed the porch steps by now, and stopped in front of the open door. This was a moment of decision, he knew, though he wasn’t quite certain why.

This was a quick little MG/YA fantasy read with a pinch of horror. Harvey Swick is a kid dealing with the dreariness of mid-winter who wants some excitement in his life. And he gets exactly what he wishes for — kind of. Harvey is whisked away to a magical house, where he can play with other children and where all his wants are met. But, of course, things aren’t quite what they seem. This wasn’t a new favorite, but it was a fun little novel to zip through. I definitely recommend it to those looking for some lighter horror


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Book Reviews, Bookworm Blogging

Dark Circles [review]

Dark Circles by Caite Dolan-Leach
Published by Ballantine Books on April 19, 2022
my rating: 2 stars
Goodreads avg:
3.41 (as of 2022-08-29)
Spoiler-free review
Goodreads

disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for review consideration. Quotes have been taken from the advanced copy and may differ from the final publication.

The stories told about us are not our own.

I had to pick this up because I really liked We Went to the Woods by the same author. I found it well-written and compelling at first, so the average Goodreads rating confused me, but We Went to the Woods also has a low average so I brushed it off. I really enjoyed the setup, meeting Liv and the House of Light. Olivia is an actress who had a recent public outburst that prompts her assistant slash best friend Jess to send her to rehab. The House of Light is more of a spiritual retreat and Liv thinks she knows exactly what she’s in for. Since this is a literary thriller of sorts, I think we all know that things end up taking a turn.

After the first third, this began to drag for me. I felt like the various elements didn’t quite mesh and some things began to get repetitive. It was just missing that something to make it feel compelling. It was a bit of a disappointment for me because I did like the concept of integrating a podcast into the narrative (which I think was done well here) but I struggled with the novel as a whole. I also found one of the final twists to be unsatisfying and wasn’t convinced by some of the character motives. I’m really hoping I get along better with Dolan-Leach’s next book.


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Book Reviews, Bookworm Blogging

Sorrowland [review]

Sorrowland by Rivers Solomon
Published by MCD Books on May 4, 2021
my rating: 2 stars
Goodreads avg:
3.83 (as of 2022-08-21)
Spoiler-free review
Goodreads

disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for review consideration. Quotes have been taken from the advanced copy and may differ from the final publication.

The forest didn’t mind illiterates and mad girls. Didn’t mind that screaming was sometimes a person’s only language.

This was my first Rivers Solomon and I hate to say it but I was definitely disappointed. I went into this pretty cold and wasn’t really expecting the extreme fantastical elements — which I’ll admit is on me. It’s definitely a book that some people will love, but it was a little too out there for me. I had difficulty following some things and just didn’t get along with the writing in general. I did appreciate how queer this was, though, as well as the messages Solomon was conveying. I have a copy of The Deep which I’ll definitely also be trying out.


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