Book Reviews, Bookworm Blogging

Strange Weather [review]

Strange Weather by Joe Hill
Published by William Morrow on October 24, 2017
432 
pages.
my rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Goodreads avg: 
4.01
cw: see below

Spoiler-free Review

Goodreads | IndieBound | Author’s Website

A collection of four chilling novels, ingeniously wrought gems of terror from the brilliantly imaginative, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Fireman, Joe Hill.

“Snapshot” is the disturbing story of a Silicon Valley adolescent who finds himself threatened by “The Phoenician,” a tattooed thug who possesses a Polaroid Instant Camera that erases memories, snap by snap.

A young man takes to the skies to experience his first parachute jump. . . and winds up a castaway on an impossibly solid cloud, a Prospero’s island of roiling vapor that seems animated by a mind of its own in “Aloft.”

On a seemingly ordinary day in Boulder, Colorado, the clouds open up in a downpour of nails—splinters of bright crystal that shred the skin of anyone not safely under cover. “Rain” explores this escalating apocalyptic event, as the deluge of nails spreads out across the country and around the world.

In “Loaded,” a mall security guard in a coastal Florida town courageously stops a mass shooting and becomes a hero to the modern gun rights movement. But under the glare of the spotlights, his story begins to unravel, taking his sanity with it. When an out-of-control summer blaze approaches the town, he will reach for the gun again and embark on one last day of reckoning.

As y’all may or may not remember, I went to Joe Hill’s release of Strange Weather a little while back and I finally finished this masterpiece recently. As the above blurb indicates, this is a compilation of four short novels written by Joe Hill. Each novel has an eerie twist to it — most are supernatural in some way and one isn’t.

This collection was an easy five stars for me. Each story blew me away in one way or another. Joe’s writing never fails to be any less than spectacular, he really is an incredible storyteller. Below I’ll go through and detail my thoughts on each story (and also share some of the relevant content warnings). They were all five-star reads for me, so ratings aren’t necessary this time around!

“Snapshot” is the first piece in the book and it reeled me right in. I had a visceral reaction to this one, it had me on the edge of my seat and I could actually feel the fear coursing through me. It was the combination of the tone of the writing and the content itself. The only cw I can think of currently is for memory loss, as it’s pretty heartbreaking in the context of this story. I may or may not have cried at the end of this one.

There was no obvious reason for caution — but a lot of our best thinking takes place well below the level of conscious cognition and has nothing to do with rationality.

“Loaded” was the second piece and it was an intense one, a take on modern gun violence and police brutality. This was also a very painful read, there are a few scenes that I wasn’t expecting and I damn near lost my mind reading them. I actually had to put down the book and message Destiny at one point because I knew she would wail over one scene in particular with me. cw racism, domestic abuse, suicide, alcoholism

“Aloft” was the third piece. I had heard an excerpt from this at Joe’s reading, so I knew a bit about the piece and where it was going. Where it went after that excerpt was kind of wild, though. It went in a direction I wasn’t really expecting, but I enjoyed that aspect of it a lot! This was probably the weakest story in the collection imo, but still very good.

It is odd how much we want to be in love when you think about how much anxiety comes with it, like a tax on money you win in the lottery.

“Rain” was yet another heart-wrenching story. But!!! The main character is a queer woman, so that’s rad. The concept here was really cool too, especially because there was a somewhat scientific aspect behind it (although I can’t speak to how accurate that actually was). cws for homophobia and animal death, there’s actually a somewhat graphic illustration on the title page (right after “Aloft”) that might startle or upset some people, so please keep that in mind!!

Overall, this was such a stunning collection and I can’t wait to get my hands on the rest of Joe Hill’s work, as there’s still some stuff I haven’t read yet!

Twitter | Goodreads | Instagram (Blurb courtesy of Goodreads.)

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Book Reviews, Bookworm Blogging

Where Am I Now? [review]

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Where Am I Now? by Mara Wilson
Published by Penguin Books on September 13, 2016
259 pages.
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
cw: 
maternal death, anxiety, OCD

Spoiler-free Review

Goodreads IndieBound Author’s Website

Mara Wilson has always felt a little young and a little out of place: as the only child on a film set full of adults, the first daughter in a house full of boys, the sole clinically depressed member of the cheerleading squad, a valley girl in New York and a neurotic in California, and one of the few former child actors who has never been in jail or rehab.

Tackling everything from how she first learned about sex on the set of Melrose Place, to losing her mother at a young age, to getting her first kiss (or was it kisses?) on a celebrity canoe trip, to not being “cute” enough to make it in Hollywood, these essays tell the story of one young woman’s journey from accidental fame to relative (but happy) obscurity.

But they also illuminate a universal struggle: learning to accept yourself, and figuring out who you are and where you belong. Exquisitely crafted, revelatory, and full of the crack comic timing that has made Mara Wilson a sought-after live storyteller and Twitter star, Where Am I Now? introduces a witty, perceptive, and refreshingly candid new literary voice.

I’ve been a fan of Mara Wilson for ages now. Like almost everyone else, I loved her in Matilda, but I kind of lost track of her after that. A few years ago, I ended up following her on Twitter and found myself deeply admiring the person she had grown into. She’s witty, deeply into social justice, and has a take-no-shit attitude that I love. So when I heard Where Am I Now? was coming out, I knew I had to read it. Of course, it took me a while to actually get to it, but I’m really glad I did!

Being a celebrity meant being vulnerable. It meant my face, my body, even my death were for public consumption — none of them was mine alone.

Where Am I Now? is a series of stories and essays about Mara’s life. Each chapter has a theme, usually one that revolves around something specific that she experienced. She covers everything from child acting, to high school girls, to the death of her mother. Somehow she’s managed to capture the perfect mix of humor and solemnity, speaking about grave topics with grace.

There must have been days when I did more, but I have no memory of them.

The sections that resonated most with me were about Mara’s experiences with mental illness, including depression, anxiety, and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. While I don’t have any personal experience with OCD, my depression and anxiety both began in childhood and while reading, I kept gaping at sentences that I felt described my past self perfectly.

This ended up being a very quick read for me (two or three days?) and I can see this becoming one of my most highly-recommended books. I think that Mara’s writing is very accessible, and that this is something that can be enjoyed by just about everyone. Definitely pick it up if you get a chance!

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(Cover and blurb courtesy of Goodreads.)

Book Reviews, Bookworm Blogging

Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance [review]

**Note: This book was received through NetGalley. Review was written May 12, 2017.


Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance by Ruth Emmie Lang
To be published by St. Martin’s Press on November 7, 2017
Kindle NetGalley Edition, 352 pages, ISBN-13: 978-1-250-11204-0

I downloaded Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance off NetGalley by chance. My account there had been languishing for, well, years. I decided to hop back on and see if I could find anything worth reading. And after just a few minutes, I stumbled across BoEC. I loved the cover and thought the synopsis seemed intriguing, so I downloaded my copy and set off.

To be honest, I didn’t really enjoy the book as I was starting out! It took me a bit to get used to the first-person POV and the writing seemed a little infantile. I did note that the characters we heard from at first were children, so infantile was realistic. And I’m glad I pushed through and gave it a chance, because it just got better and better.

BoEC is a story set in modern America about a boy named Weylyn Grey who has inexplicable abilities, namely communicating with animals and influencing the weather. The book is a story of his life, told almost entirely through the perspective of others. The POV switches frequently, and we get to see Weylyn through many different eyes, though almost never through his own. I don’t want to get too much into the plot because it’s easy to give things away, but I will say that it kept me interested and that I was never quite sure what was going to happen next.

There were a couple characters that I wish had been touched on more. First, Weylyn’s parents. They do come up, and we quickly learn that he’s an orphan, but they just sort of feel really hollow to me. It’s obvious that they were just killed in order for Weylyn to have this journey. They never really come up except when convenient to the plotline at hand. I also wish there had been more about Weylyn’s adopted mom and Mary’s dad. They both kind of just vanish after they serve their purpose, making them feel more like plot points than characters. This is true of some of the other secondary characters as well, but these folks feel like they should have been of more importance to both Mary and Weylyn’s lives.

Overall, though, I loved this book. Once I got into the rhythm of things, I didn’t want to put it down. I almost missed my T stop several times while reading. I really felt immersed in the world Ruth Emmie Lang created and sympathized so much with the characters. No spoilers, but the ending made me SO emotional and gave me so many goosebumps. Lang really knows how to thread an ending together.

Takeaway: This book is beautiful. Please read it. Please, please read it.

Rating: ⋆⋆⋆⋆⋆

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Bookworm Blogging, Monthly Wrap-Ups

October 2017 Wrap-Up


Books:

  • All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Steifvater. 3/5 stars, review.
  • Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman. 5/5 stars, review.
  • A Semi-Definitive List of Worst Nightmares by Krystal Sutherland. DNF.
  • Rednecks, Queers, and Country Music by Nadine Hubbs. DNF.
  • The Snowman by Jo Nesbø, translated by Don Bartlett. DNF.
  • At the Water’s Edge by Sara Gruen. 4/5 stars, review to come.
  • Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust. DNF.
  • Where Am I Now? by Mara Wilson. 5/5 stars, review to come.

Books read: 4
Books DNF’d: 4
Average Rating: 4.25

Movies:

  • Happy Death Day [2017] directed by Christopher B. Landon. 4/5 stars, review.
  • Professor Marston & the Wonder Women [2017] directed by Angela Robinson. 5/5 stars, review.
  • The Snowman [2017] directed by Tomas Alfredson. 1/5 stars, I was going to do a review for this but BRUNCH says everything I wanted to say better than I could, so go listen to this episode on it.
  • The Sixth Sense [1999] directed by M. Night Shyamalan. 4/5 stars, rewatch.
  • Teeth [2007] directed by Mitchell Lichtenstein. 5/5 stars, rewatch.
  • The Hallow [2015] directed by Corin Hardy. 3/5 stars.

Movies watched: 6
Average Rating: 3.67 stars

Other Posts:

Reading Goal Progress:

I only read four books this month, bleh. I need to start letting myself off the hook with DNFing again because I wasted a lot of time trying to push myself through FOUR(!) other books that I ended up tossing. Anyway, that puts me at 56 books, on a goal of 50. I am 15 books ahead of schedule, and at 112% of my goal. #nice

Nanowrimo Goals:

For those of you don’t know, November is National Novel Writing Month. Essentially, the goal is to write a 50,000 page novel in one month. This ends up being 1,667 words per day. I’ve participated in Nanowrimo a few times, but have never finished. This year, I’m gonna play it a little differently. I intend to write 50,000 words, but I’m going to do a mix of fiction and non-fiction pieces. It’s essentially going to end up being a short story collection and/or a set of essays. I’m just going to go with the flow and try to write 50,000 pages of whatever I can by the end of November!

You can join me on the Nanowrimo website and also on Twitter, where I’ll surely be livetweeting my adventure.

Notable Posts by Others:

Personal Highlights (aka a photo dump of things I did this month):








Thanks for reading! How was October for you? Let me know in the comments. 🙂

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Book Reviews, Bookworm Blogging

Fen [review]


Fen by Daisy Jonhson
Published by Graywolf Press on May 2, 2017
208 pages.
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️
cw:
eating disorders, pedophilia, incest

Goodreads IndieBound | Author’s Website

Daisy Johnson’s Fen, set in the fenlands of England, transmutes the flat, uncanny landscape into a rich, brooding atmosphere. From that territory grow stories that blend folklore and restless invention to turn out something entirely new. Amid the marshy paths of the fens, a teenager might starve herself into the shape of an eel. A house might fall in love with a girl and grow jealous of her friend. A boy might return from the dead in the guise of a fox.

Out beyond the confines of realism, the familiar instincts of sex and hunger blend with the shifting, unpredictable wild as the line between human and animal is effaced by myth and metamorphosis. With a fresh and utterly contemporary voice, Johnson lays bare these stories of women testing the limits of their power to create a startling work of fiction.

I saw a staff member recommendation in a local bookstore that this was similar to Karen Russell’s work. Vampires in the Lemon Grove is my favorite short story collection, so I was really stoked to get my hands on this! The library didn’t have a copy, but ordered it shortly after I sent in a request. I was delighted to get it. I think all of the versions have beautiful covers and I was contemplating buying one of each if this ended up being a 5-star read. As is, I still may end up picking up a copy of my own.

Watch out for the affection. It comes at odd, awful moments, mainly when he is not there: brushing your teeth, opening the door for a parcel, at the photocopying machine. There is nothing much about him you can see which would do this to you. Affection, you tell your housemates, is a sort of sickness.

Johnson has such a smooth, unique voice. Her writing is quite beautiful and her prose borders on poetry. Even when it comes to disturbing content, she writes with a soothing cadence. I have absolutely no complaints as far as her writing goes, but the stories themselves just weren’t for me. There were a few that I really liked, but most of them didn’t do much to capture me. Below, I’ve provided a list of the stories included and my rating for each:

Starver   ⭐️⭐️⭐️
Blood Rites   ⭐️⭐️⭐️
A Bruise the Shape and Size of a Door Handle   ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
How to Lose It   ⭐️⭐️
How to Fuck a Man You Don’t Know   ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Language   ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
The Superstition of Albatross   ⭐️⭐️⭐️
A Heavy Devotion   ⭐️⭐️⭐️
The Scattering   ⭐️⭐️⭐️
Birthing Stones   ⭐️⭐️⭐️
The Cull   ⭐️⭐️⭐️
The Lighthouse Keeper   ⭐️⭐️⭐️

If the blurb intrigues you, I would absolutely recommend that you read this. While it didn’t quite work for me, I think that this is a collection that is well-worth reading if you like the concepts hinted at. Although, do keep in mind the CWs I posted above, as there are some sensitive topics covered. If you do check it out–or if you’ve read it already–please let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

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(Blurb courtesy of Goodreads.)

Book Reviews, Bookworm Blogging

All the Crooked Saints [review]


All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater
To be published by Scholastic Press on October 10, 2017
320 pages.
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️.5
I would like to thank Scholastic for providing me an ARC of the book. This in no way impacts my review.

Goodreads IndieBound | Author’s Website

Any visitor to Bicho Raro, Colorado is likely to find a landscape of dark saints, forbidden love, scientific dreams, miracle-mad owls, estranged affections, one or two orphans, and a sky full of watchful desert stars.

At the heart of this place you will find the Soria family, who all have the ability to perform unusual miracles. And at the heart of this family are three cousins longing to change its future: Beatriz, the girl without feelings, who wants only to be free to examine her thoughts; Daniel, the Saint of Bicho Raro, who performs miracles for everyone but himself; and Joaquin, who spends his nights running a renegade radio station under the name Diablo Diablo.

They are all looking for a miracle. But the miracles of Bicho Raro are never quite what you expect.

I don’t think Maggie Stiefvater’s prose will ever fail to do anything less than stun me. In each of her works, she has such a beautiful, unique voice and I find myself scribbling quotes into my notebook at a rapid pace. All the Crooked Saints was no exception.

…the truth is that we men and women often hate to be rid of the familiar, and sometimes our darkness is the thing we know the best.

On the other hand, I’m fairly certain that if this hadn’t been written by Stiefvater, I would have DNFed it. In fact, I almost did, probably ~80 pages in. I typically give books around 50 pages to really pull me in, sometimes more if I’m really on the fence. And I was really on the fence here, but I kept telling myself, “Hey, this is Maggie! Ya gotta keep going.” Don’t worry kids, I’m glad I kept going.

…and he knew to search for her in all of the places you might hope to find a cat or a venomous lizard–on top of roofs, hooked on tree branches, stretched in the dust beneath trucks.

I think my biggest issue with this book was that I didn’t feel invested in the characters for quite some time. I thought the writing was lovely, but I also just… didn’t care about the plot. I felt like it was written so matter-of-factly that I found it difficult for me become emotionally engaged with the content. I mean it makes sense, considering Beatriz’ manner of thinking, but I just struggled too much to connect.

One compliments a man when one compliments his chosen home…

The last third of the book really pulled things together for me. I felt that things were tied up well and I liked everything that happened, I finally found myself drawn into the story. It just didn’t hook me deep like a 4- or 5-star book would, though. I still love Stiefvater’s work and I will absolutely pick up whatever she puts out next, but All the Crooked Saints just didn’t do it for me this time around.

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(Blurb courtesy of Goodreads.)

Book Reviews, Bookworm Blogging

The Raven Boys [review]


The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater (The Raven Cycle #1)
Published by Scholastic Press on September 18, 2012
409 pages.
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
cw: 
domestic abuse, self-harm

Goodreads IndieBound Author’s Website

So I am finally jumping on the TRC train! I first read The Raven Boys in late 2013, I believe. I had gotten it as a gift and was on winter break from college–winter break is such a good time to get reading done and I miss it so much–and I just remember devouring it. Quite a while later, I picked up The Dream Thieves and I just… couldn’t get it into it. Mostly because it had been so long since I had read TRB that I could barely remember a thing! So I DNFed it and haven’t picked up any TRC books since.

For a while now, I’ve been thinking that the series deserved another shot from me. My bff Grace mentioned that she wanted to reread the series (she adores it), so I suggested a buddy read! And here we are. I’ve completed the first book, and it will probably be a couple more weeks until we move onto the second. In the meantime, here’s my review!

I can’t believe I forgot how wonderful this book is. Everything Steifvater does in it is incredible. The prose itself, the dialogue, the characters, the settings. It all just comes together to create this beautiful experience. I tore through the book in just a couple days and loved every second of it.

Even when they were quiet, people really were the noisiest animals.

Okay, y’all know I’m not usually one to gush, but I neeeed to gush about these boys. Adam is honestly perfect and I want to shrink him down and put him in my pocket and keep him safe from literally everything in this cruel world. Ronan is a Bad Boy and sulky and dark and loves his baby bird and is basically everything high school me would have loved. Gansey is living in his own world and somehow manages to offend everyone while also being a precious angel. And Noah is darling and cute and sad and I adore him. (Sidenote: There is NO WAY Adam does not know how to drive a stick shift and I refuse to believe that he doesn’t.)

Sometimes, Gansey felt like his live was made up of a dozen hours that he could never forget.

Of course Blue is the best character out of all of them. Part of me is like “you should try to be critical, is she a Mary Sue?” and the rest of me is like “who cares, she’s awesome and we deserve more female characters like her.” I want to say Blue reminds me of me, but she’s like a way cooler version of me, kind of. Anyway. Blue. She’s great.

Gansey looked up to them, and she saw in his face that he loved this place… She recognized the strange happiness that came from loving something without knowing why you did, that strange happiness that was sometimes so big it felt like sadness. It was the way she felt when she looked at the stars.

I cannot recommend this book enough. Stiefvater’s writing is just gorgeous and even if the story isn’t your thing, I think anyone can appreciate the talent she has. It’s worth a shot, anyway. To be honest, though, I didn’t love the ending. It was too abrupt and a little confusing to me–and I think I felt the same way the first time around. But I’ll see how it ties in to the rest of the series before I make a full judgment.

Okay, TRC fans: please let’s discuss. I am all about this book right now. And people who haven’t read TRC: read it so we can discuss, okay?

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Book Reviews, Bookworm Blogging

Priestdaddy [review]


Priestdaddy: A Memoir by Patricia Lockwood
Published by Riverhead Books on May 2, 2017
336 pages.
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
cw: 
rape, victim blaming, suicide, pedophilia

Goodreads IndieBound | Author’s Website

The childhood of Patricia Lockwood, the poet dubbed “The Smutty-Metaphor Queen of Lawrence, Kansas” by The New York Times, was unusual in many respects. There was the location: an impoverished, nuclear waste-riddled area of the American Midwest. There was her mother, a woman who speaks almost entirely in strange koans and warnings of impending danger. Above all, there was her gun-toting, guitar-riffing, frequently semi-naked father, who underwent a religious conversion on a submarine and discovered a loophole which saw him approved for the Catholic priesthood by the future Pope Benedict XVI – despite already having a wife and children.

When the expense of a medical procedure forces the 30-year-old Patricia to move back in with her parents, husband in tow, she must learn to live again with her family’s simmering madness, and to reckon with the dark side of a childhood spent in the bosom of the Catholic Church. Told with the comic sensibility of a brasher, bluer Waugh or Wodehouse, this is at the same time a lyrical and affecting story of how, having ventured into the underworld, we can emerge with our levity and our sense of justice intact.

Let me start this off by saying: this is not a book I would have chosen to read on my own. My extended family is Catholic, but I have never had an interest in religion and this didn’t really appeal to me. However, I am in a postal book club (#5 on this list, if you haven’t heard of this concept) and this was chosen by one of the other members. And, to my surprise, I actually enjoyed it a lot!

Lockwood is an incredible writer. She has a unique, lyrical voice and a great sense of humor. This memoir covers a lot of difficult topics with grace. It made me experience emotions that cut me deep, but separated these moments with stories that made me smile and laugh.

How did I become a person who almost never left the house? Until I was twelve, I lived as an element of nature, tending to my untamed Rooms, wading through creeks and waist-high grasses, and bicycling diagonally across vacant lots after the sun had flared down.

Lockwood has a complicated relationship with her family, which I can appreciate. Her father is a conservative Catholic priest, who says and does an infinite number of absurd things. My father is a conservative atheist, who says and does an infinite number of absurd things. Some of the things he says are an insult to me and the things I believe in, but I love him anyway. That’s the way it goes with family sometimes.

You know it took me so long to write this piece because I kept trying to make it beautiful and finally I just had to shake myself by the scruff of the neck until a more natural sort of grunting came out. You can’t make something sound beautiful. It’s either beautiful or it’s not.

As an aspiring writer of sorts, this book was also inspirational for me to read. Every time Lockwood mentioned jotting down a quote from a family member, I yearned to do the same. I struggle with finding things to write about, but I think that’s because I haven’t figured out how to turn my observations into words. Carrying around a notebook like this was something I had heard about but for some reason, actually witnessing the practical applications of this finally flipped the switch for me and I’ve been scribbling things into a moleskine obsessively for the past few days.

Overall, this was a really nice read and I would definitely recommend it to aspiring writers as well as folks who like reading about dysfunctional families. Please let me know if you’ve read this, and what you thought about it, in the comments!

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(Blurb courtesy of Goodreads.)

Book Reviews, Bookworm Blogging

The Wild Girls [review]


The Wild Girls by Pat Murphy
Published by Viking Juvenile on October 18, 2007
288 pages.
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
cw: 
alcoholism, domestic abuse

Goodreads IndieBound 

It is the early 1970s. Twelve-year-old Joan is sure that she is going to be miserable when her family moves from Connecticut to California. Then she meets a most unusual girl. Sarah prefers to be called Fox, and lives with her author dad in a rundown house in the middle of the woods. The two girls start writing their own stories together, and when one wins first place in a student contest, they find themselves recruited for a summer writing class taught by the equally unusual Verla Volante. The Wild Girls is about friendship, the power of story, and how coming of age means finding your own answers rather than simply taking adults on faith.

Wow, I cannot even begin to recommend this book enough. I don’t remember how it made its way onto my TBR list, but all I can say is that I’m glad it did and that I’m glad my Down the TBR Hole posts led me back to it! I’ll definitely be pushing this in the face of everyone who asks me for book recs for a while to come.

They were shocked. They were angry. They were afraid.

We were the wild girls who lived in the woods. We had won a contest, we had put on our war paint and nothing would ever be the same again. We were the wild girls, and they did not know what we might do.

The Wild Girls follows the blossoming relationship between two girls, Newt and Fox (or Joan and Sarah). Although neither of the girls were canonically queer, I definitely read them as such and saw a lot of myself in both of them. They spend their free time getting muddy in the woods and writing stories and see no point in fawning over boys or trying to fit in.

The book really teeters between middle grade and young adult. The writing is simple in some ways, but not boring by any means. Joan is surprisingly mature, but still childlike. The issues that come up are realistic and complex. In my opinion, readers of all ages will enjoy the story. I found myself captivated the entire time and finished it in just a couple sittings.

There is a solid plot running through the book, but the focus of the story is really on the relationships between characters. We see not only Newt and Fox, but also the people that Newt and Fox interact with on a regular basis. We get to see how they all fit together and how they grow to learn more about each other.

There were a couple things that did rub me the wrong way. The “not like other girls” trope was present for a bit at the beginning, but luckily faded away after that. There was a lot of mentions of “war paint” which felt like cultural appropriation, as did the brief talk of “spirit animals” by the college student who had studied a Hopi tribe–it wasn’t extensive, but it seemed a bit troublesome. Those were really the only issues I had with it, though.

Maybe the best part to me is that Murphy manages to create a happy story. Although some deep stuff goes down, the characters manage to make it through these events with the support of their friends and families. This was a soft, nourishing read–and I don’t know if I’ve ever described a book as nourishing before. I wanted to curl up with it and let it lull me to sleep. This is a book I wish I had been able to read years ago, when I was growing up feeling outcast and lonely and not knowing how to make it through life’s curves. It was beautiful.

I truly recommend this book to everyone, but particularly writers and particularly particularly young writers. Please read this book, y’all. It is wonderful.

Thank you for reading! Please let me know if you’ve read The Wild Girls and what your thoughts were on it. You can also find me on Twitter and Goodreads.
(Blurb courtesy of Goodreads.)

Book Reviews, Bookworm Blogging

My Best Friend’s Exorcism [review]


My Best Friend’s Exorcism by Grady Hendrix
Published by Quirk Books on May 17, 2016
336 pages.
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Goodreads IndieBound | Author’s Website

Abby and Gretchen have been best friends since fifth grade, when they bonded over a shared love of E.T., roller-skating parties, and scratch-and-sniff stickers. But when they arrive at high school, things change. Gretchen begins to act…different. And as the strange coincidences and bizarre behavior start to pile up, Abby realizes there’s only one possible explanation: Gretchen, her favorite person in the world, has a demon living inside her. And Abby is not about to let anyone or anything come between her and her best friend. With help from some unlikely allies, Abby embarks on a quest to save Gretchen. But is their friendship powerful enough to beat the devil?

cw: sexual assault, parental abuse

I was anticipating this read a lot and it really let me down. Let me be clear, I wasn’t expecting it to be my new all-time favorite book, but I thought it would be a really enjoyable read. It started out well, I liked seeing the friendship between Abby and Gretchen develop. I found all the character dynamics interesting. For the first 25% or so, I was really into the story and got through it relatively quickly.

From there, it kind of devolved for me. Part of it was the frustration of all these bad things happening. EVERYTHING kept going wrong and it was painful to read through. But I also just didn’t find it interesting. I wasn’t scared at any point, if anything I was just grossed out. There are a lot of graphic depictions of gnarly stuff, and things coming out of mouths.

I’m also just suuuper over the catty teenage girl trope, which is what this entire book is about. Gretchen is mean and catty because she’s possessed, all of the other girls are mean and catty because they’re girls. It’s tiresome and annoying and I’m really over seeing girls depicted like this and talked about like this. Also also, there is a lot of casual homophobia, which I felt like didn’t have a place in the book. Besides some comments the girls make, Gretchen and Abby have this “no homo” thing that drives me out of my mind.

Anyway, overall it was just kind of meh to me. It wasn’t bad, it just pushed the wrong buttons for me. If you really, really want to read it, I think you should! But if you were on the fence about it, maybe lean the other way. It really depends on what you’re looking for in a story.

Have any of you read this yet? What are your thoughts?
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