Book Reviews, Bookworm Blogging

The Lost Village [review]

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The Lost Village by Camilla Sten transl. Alexandra Fleming
Published by Minotaur Books on March 23, 2021
my rating: ★★★ (3 stars)
Goodreads avg:
3.56 (as of 2021-10-27)
Spoiler-free review

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disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for review consideration. All of the opinions presented below are my own. Quotes have been taken from the advanced copy and are subject to change upon publication.

The comps for this were spot on — it truly is Midsommar meets Blair Witch Project, but somehow less compelling than either of the two. It was incredibly readable, but really fell apart in the last act for me. There was a hint of a paranormal element that just wasn’t fully explored in any way, and some plot points that I wish had been expanded upon were just glossed over. By the end, I just kind of felt like “that’s it?”

The treatment of mental illness in this was also… not great. I did like that the author addressed how draining it can be to be the sole support of a friend in the midst of crisis, but that was canceled out by writing off an entire character as psychotic and violent because they [checks notes] take abilify.

The concept itself was really interesting and could have turned out so much cooler with some more thought-out writing. I will say that I got pretty creeped out at some parts and it was an incredibly atmospheric read. This would be a fun horror read if you’re not looking for anything too well put together.

(SPOILERS HERE)
Side note — I got huge queer vibes between Alice and Emmy and was so disappointed when nothing happened between them. I thought it was obvious that they were in some kind of intense queerplatonic relationship with unspoken (or forgotten?) feelings between the two of them and can’t believe that wasn’t the case.


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Book Reviews, Bookworm Blogging

A House at the Bottom of a Lake [review]

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A House at the Bottom of a Lake by Josh Malerman
Published by This Is Horror on October 31, 2016
my rating: ★★★★ (4 stars)
Goodreads avg:
3.23 (as of 2021-10-26)
Spoiler-free review

Goodreads | Bookshop


disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for review consideration. All of the opinions presented below are my own. Quotes have been taken from the advanced copy and are subject to change upon publication.

I was nervous to pick this up after seeing so many middling-to-low reviews of it, but am glad my curiosity won out! I thought Bird Box was fantastic and had to pick up more of Malerman’s work.

The concept itself is so interesting – a mysterious house at the bottom of a lake! It took me a few pages to gel with the writing (it’s a lot of teenagers being teenagers), but I was both literally and figuratively at the edge of my seat the whole time. The plot itself is relatively slow-moving, but the tension really got to me. It felt like I was holding my breath through half of this book and I had to put it down a few times to take a quick breather here and there. I kept texting people to be like, “this book is freaking me out!!”

I tore through this in just one sitting and have already recommended it to several other people. If the concept interests you, give this a shot!


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Book Reviews, Bookworm Blogging

The Dead and the Dark [review]

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The Dead and the Dark by Courtney Gould
Published by Wednesday Books on August 3, 2021
my rating: ★★★★ (4 stars)
Goodreads avg:
4.00 (as of 2021-10-24)
Spoiler-free review

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this was so fun and spooky with a really nice sapphic romance! the small town energy was on point. i was really glad to see such an upfront portrayal of comphet and how easy it can be to lose yourself in others’ expectations. i didn’t realize this was a debut until i hit the acknowledgements and was really impressed with Gould’s writing. i think some things in the final act didn’t quite work for me, but this was still so compulsively readable that i tore through it in just a couple sittings. i’m so excited to see what Gould comes out with next (more lesbians, she’s promised) and have already decided that she’s an auto-buy author for me.

content warnings: Homomisia & homomisic slurs; Hate crimes; Death of a child; Murder & attempted murder; Gun violence; Attempted drowning; Vivisepulture (being buried alive) (per the Trigger Warning Database)

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Book Reviews, Bookworm Blogging

The Last Graduate [review]

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The Last Graduate (The Scholomance #2) by Naomi Novik
Published by Del Rey Books on September 28, 2021
my rating: ★★★.5 (3.5 stars)
Goodreads avg:
4.49 (as of 2021-10-06)
Spoiler-free review

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I definitely didn’t like this quite as much as the first book. The info-dumping didn’t get any better and, honestly, I felt like I ended up unintentionally skimming a LOT because we would go into pages of detail on how exactly the magic system works. It also felt like there was a lot of day-to-day slogging, following the characters way more closely than necessary. I felt bored for a lot of the first half.

The second half was much better, and I found myself much more invested in the plot even though it also struggled with some of the points noted above. I truly wish Novik would have spent a little less time cramming every bit of info she had about the magic systems into this and a little more time showing us more character interactions. It made the story feel a lot more at arm’s length and harder to get invested in when having information beat into my brain instead of getting to know the characters more.

Anyway, I did like this! I blew through the last third of the book (even though I think the end is mildly ridiculous) and am looking forward to the sequel. And I’ll probably preorder it so I have pretty matching books on my shelves.


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Bookworm Blogging, Monthly Wrap-Ups

September 2021 Wrap-Up

Books Read:

  • Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. 3.5 stars, review.
  • The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead. 2 stars, review.
  • Chemistry by Weike Wang. 4 stars, review.
  • Glamour Magic by Deborah Castellano. 3 stars.
  • A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J Maas. 5 stars.

Books read: 5 books
Average rating: 3.5 stars

Other Media:

  • Movies:
  • TV Shows:
    • Criminal Minds, Season 6 Eps 14-24, Season 7 Eps 1-4
    • Sparking Joy, Season 1 Ep 1
    • LuLaRich, Season 1
    • American Horror Stories, Season 1 Eps 1, 3, 6
    • Rick and Morty, Season 5 Eps 6-10
    • Sex Education, Season 1 Ep 1

Short Reads/Watches:

My Month in Photos:

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Book Reviews, Bookworm Blogging

Chemistry [review]

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Chemistry by Weike Wang, narrated by Julia Whelan
Published by Random House Audio on May 23, 2017
my rating: ★★★★ (4 stars)
Goodreads avg:
3.72 (as of 2021-09-23)
Spoiler-Free Review

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Reading this while on medical leave from graduate school and in the midst of a depressive episode (the very same school our narrator is attending, in fact) was… tough, to put it lightly. Wang succeeds in portraying the deep ambivalence and lack of motivation that mental illness and loneliness bring. The narrator’s history slowly unravels to the reader as we follow her through this breakdown. The daughter of two Chinese immigrants, she feels immense pressure to succeed in obtaining her Chemistry PhD and can think of little else. She avoids unpacking her childhood trauma at all costs and sees little value in looking backward, even when it keeps her from moving forward.

A short and sweet novel, I found this incredibly compelling and felt deeply for our unnamed narrator. I certainly see how this wouldn’t be for everyone, but highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys quietly introspective literary fiction.


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Book Reviews, Bookworm Blogging

The Underground Railroad [review]

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The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead, narrated by Bahni Turpin
Published by Random House Audio on September 3, 2016
my rating: ★★ (2 stars)
Goodreads avg:
4.04 (as of 2021-09-23)
Spoiler-Free Review

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I truly feel bad that I didn’t like this. There was not much with the book itself; Whitehead is an excellent writer who creates believable characters. I do wish the Railroad itself was featured more heavily or more creatively, as is this was really just an over the plate historical fiction where the Underground Railroad happens to be a literal railroad. The concept itself felt underutilized and I think the book would have had the same impact on me had Whitehead not changed this, which left me wondering why he did.

It feels wrong to say that I felt bored reading this, but I truly did. I didn’t feel attached to Cora or any of the other characters and didn’t feel very involved with the plot itself. I kept wondering where it was going to go. This is where I mention that I think it was my mistake to read this book — I rarely enjoy straightforward historical fiction and I read this thinking it was going to be something different because of the railroad. The fact is, this read like any other historical fic novel and it’s a me problem that I didn’t enjoy that.

I definitely recommend readers interested in historical fiction, particularly Southern history, pick this up. It’s well-written and is obviously enjoyed by many. Unfortunately I just wasn’t the right audience for this.


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Book Reviews, Bookworm Blogging

Outlander [review]

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Outlander (Outlander #1) by Diana Gabaldon, narrated by Davina Porter
Published by Recorded Books on July 13, 2006 (originally 1991)
my rating: ★★★.5 (3.5 stars)
Goodreads avg:
4.23 (as of 2021-09-17)
SPOILERS AHEAD!

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Wow, this is very much a product of its time. I’m going to be delving into some spoilers, and want to put a content warning up front for discussion of pedophilia and sexual assault. It took me a bit to settle into the writing style, which I found to be elegant if a little dry at first. I’m not sure I would have made it very far if I wasn’t listening to the audiobook. The narration was so immersive and really added to the experience. Once I got into the rhythm, I found that I really loved the book!

That wore off about halfway through. I know a certain amount of sexism is to be expected given that Gabaldon wrote this in 1991 and it takes place over 200 years ago. But there was a lot I really could not handle. At one point Claire leaves where Jamie has left her only to be captured by the Big Baddie and is saved just before being raped. Jamie then BEATS HER for disobeying his orders because otherwise the other men will be ~upset~, as if almost being raped wasn’t severe enough. I was absolutely livid and considered DNFing, but managed to keep listening and ended up enjoying the story again.

Lol, just kidding. I mean, I did manage to get back into the story but unfortunately it went way off the rails again. There are two gay men in this book and one of them is a pedophile. At least he’s portrayed as harmless enough… as harmless as a pedophile can be portrayed, I guess. The other gay character is a sociopath who tortures people mercilessly and literally rapes the male love interest. Again, I know this was written in 1991 but seriously? The rape plotline really soured the end of the book for me, and I couldn’t wait for it to end.

It sucks because the first half of the book had me expecting a 5-star rating and recommending it to my friends. The second half made it really difficult to decide on a rating and had me rescinding those recommendations. I don’t even know if I’m going to be able to continue the series and I really don’t know if I want to. I guess I can at least check out the TV series. I hate that I ended up being so disappointed by this after loving it so much. I’m not sure I can recommend this on good conscience without warning about everything mentioned in the spoiler brackets above; some of the content truly made me nauseous.

content warnings: sexual assault, pedophilia, domestic abuse, gore (graphic injuries), animal death


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Book Reviews, Bookworm Blogging

The Once and Future Witches [review]

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The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow
Published by Redhook on October 13, 2020
my rating: DNF
Goodreads avg:
4.08 (as of 2021-09-10)
Spoiler-free review

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There’s no such thing as witches. But there will be.

DNF @ 20%

This book was perfectly fine but just not for me, so take my DNF with a grain of salt. I honestly didn’t vibe with any of the sisters, I found Agnes boring and Juniper annoying. I did like Beatrice, but largely because she’s sapphic and seeing her relationship with [redacted] was so cute! I almost didn’t DNF just to see where their relationship went, but decided it ultimately wasn’t worth it. The concept was really neat, but didn’t hook me enough.

Hadeer’s review really covered a lot of the issues I had with this so I’m just going to direct you her way. I think if you’re interested in this, you should still give it a shot! But it didn’t work for me.


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Bookworm Blogging, Monthly Wrap-Ups

August 2021 Wrap-Up

Books Read:

  • A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas. 4 stars.
  • The Crystal Kingdom by The McElroys and Carey Pietsch. 4 stars.

Books read: 2 book
Average rating: 4 stars

Other Media:

Short Reads/Watches:

My Month in Photos:

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