Thursday, August 17, 2017

I JUST FINISHED THE ORIGINAL RUN OF THE X-FILES (and now I don't know what to do with my life)

Ahh! I've been watching X-Files since this past winter and I have finally finished all 202 episodes (and one film) in the original nine seasons! The first seven seasons of this show is the best T.V. I have ever seen! I was so consumed by this show and I loved every minute of it. If you haven't watched, please, please do. This post won't contain any spoilers, but it will contain a list of reasons why you should dedicate almost two hundred hours of your life to this show.


1. Scully is my hero.

Scully is the leading lady I have been searching for all of my life. She is tough, smart, dedicated to her job (and good at it), fierce, kind, and loyal. She is a pioneer for both women in science and the FBI, both male dominate fields, and she doesn't take crap from anyone. Her relationship and chemistry with Mulder makes the show, and the two of them have become my favorite T.V. characters ever. I would follow Scully anywhere. Side not: Gillian Anderson ages so beautifully over the nine seasons. 

Despite Scully's strong, leading role, there is no denying the differences in her character and Mulder's because of gender. You see this in the lack of romance or love-life for her character, as opposed to Mulder's flirtations and flings, and it is symbolically represented by her lack of desk and office. 

2. This show is so funny and self-aware.

The satire episodes are some of my favorites. I love that this show totally creeped me out and made me crack up, sometimes all within the same episode! Most of the episodes in my favorite episodes list below are the self-aware, satirical ones! I don't think this show would be as brilliant as it is without these episodes. 
3. Mulder is beautiful. 
Enough said there.

4. The themes reach far beyond government conspiracies. 

I love that this show tackles government conspiracies in a way that only a 90s show can, but it also deals with so much more. I loved that Scully's skepticism with the supernatural was mirrored with her skepticism and acceptance of her religious faith. I loved how the show reversed Mulder and Scully within the roles of believer and skeptic, and Mulder's journey for the truth and what the concept of truth really means. 

A Sampling of my favorite episodes:
Season 1 Episode 1: The Pilot (one of the best episodes of T.V. I have ever watched)
Season 3 Episode 4: Clyde Bruckman 
Season 3 Episode 13: Syzygy (Sure. Fine. Whatever.)
Season 3 Episode 20: Jose Chung From Outer Space
Season 5 Episode 12: Bad Blood
Season 6 Episodes 4 and 5: Dreamland Part 1 and 2
Season 6 Episode 6: How the Ghost Stole Christmas 
Season 6 Episode 15 Arcadia 
Season 7 Episode 13: X-Cops 

I already have a huge craving to rewatch the first seven seasons of this show, and I'm so sad that I have watched them all! I'm cheering myself up by reminding myself I have season X to watch yet, and soon there will also be a season 11. I have lower expectations for the reboot but I still think I will enjoy it. Have you watched the reboot yet? What did you think?

I can officially say this is my all-time favorite T.V. show and I'm so glad I finally made the commitment to watch it. It's so worth the time investment! I will now be forever trying to fill the X-Files sized hole in my T.V. watching soul. 

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Big Books on My TBR

I have a lot of large books on my TBR. Long books tend to sit on my shelves for a lot longer than short books as I am usually hesitant to pick them up. Being a college student, and now teacher, means I don't have as much free time to read as I would wish for, so when I do get free time, I feel like I should maximize it by reading a lot of short or medium length books rather than a few long books. That's something I'm working on talking myself out of. So, here's a look at what I have waiting for me on my shelves! Let me know what I should read first and your thought mentality surrounding large books. 

I've only read A Monster Calls by Ness, but I really think I would enjoy his works. This one particularly calls to me, and I've owned it for years. I think this one will be easy enough to read because it's YA, but the size always makes me hesitate. I've moved it to front and center on my TBR shelf though so hopefully I pick it up soon. 


This novel has a really engaging premise and I think I would really enjoy losing myself in this story. I just need to talk myself into picking it up and giving myself some time to get into it, as it has a slower start.

I have yet to read any Tart and although I also own The Secret History, the premise of this novel calls to me more. I really want to pick up her novels soon! 

A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas 626 pages
All of Maas' novels that I haven't read yet could be on this list, I keep getting more and more behind because her books are so long, and I feel like I need to reread most of the previous novels before starting the next ones because I forgot so much of what happens (Ugh, ugh). I'll get caught up though, probably on this series first, then Throne of Glass.

The Help by Kathryn Stockett 444 pages
I read the first twenty-or-so pages of this one a while ago and really enjoyed them so I know I'll love this novel, I just need to get myself to start it! I haven't seen the movie, so I don't know the story line of this one and need to read it before that changes! 

Monday, August 14, 2017

Recently Read: The Lottery and Other Stories

Author: Shirley Jackson
Genre: Classic/ Short Stories
Page Count: 302
Publication Date: 1949
Rating: 3.5/5

Add on Goodreads



Shirley Jackson is known for her mastery of unnerving fiction. The Lottery is one of the most often anthologized short stories, and one of the most infamous short stories of the twentieth century. This collection features some of Jackson's most well-known short works of fiction. 

This was my first experience with Jackson. As you have probably picked up on, I have been devouring anything slightly creepy that I can get my hands on, and Shirley Jackson is essential creepy reading. Since reading these stories, I have bought one of her novels, with plans to buy and read them all, and I have become extremely interested in learning more about her works and her life. 

Jackson lived as a typical suburban American women in the early and mid 1900s. She was married to a college professor/literary critic and the caretaker of her four children. Her writings were popular during her lifetime, and in fact, they created quite a stir. The Lottery was first published in The New Yorker in 1948 and caused quite the commotion. Letters of horror and complaint came pouring in as well as mass subscription cancellations. Jackson was very quiet, hardly ever did interviews, and suffered from extreme anxiety and fear in the final years of her life. 

What I loved about these stories were how simple yet unnerving they were. Jackson does not rely on the supernatural to make her reader feel uneasy. All of the stories in this novel take place in the real world, either a big city or the rural country, and involve everyday people, yet something is off. A few of the stories really stuck out to me including, The Daemon Lover, The Renegade, Of Course, and The Lottery. All of the stories in this novel sucked me in and had me on edge, but those stories in particular made me shutter. 

Many critics see Jackson's works as not a reflection of her own paranoia, but as a reflection of the Cold War paranoia and society she was living in, and I have to agree. Jackson's stories reflect the Cold War brilliantly, as in both settings, life continues normally on the surface, but there are small hints that everything isn't quite as stable as it seems. 

I'm really eager to read the rest of Jackson's works and learn more about her as I think she's brilliant. I highly recommend checking her out if you are into creepy reads. 

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

End of Summer Hopeful TBR

I'm pretty sure I make a post like this every year around the start of August, and I'm also sure that I never read all the books I feature before the end of the summer, but that's alright. Here's some of the books I would love to read before the end of the summer. It looks like I'm feeling creepy reads and historical fiction.





Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Recently Watched: Signs, The Others, and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

I've done quite a bit of movie watching lately. I've been wanting to get caught up on some thriller/supernatural movies that I haven't seen and so far, I've been really enjoying it, and of course, I love Jimmy Stewart so I am always up for watching his films.

Signs
Directed by M. Night Shyamalan
Released 2002
 
Signs is an alien classic, so of course I needed to watch it. I'm not sure if I have mentioned it on here, but aliens are one of my favorite supernatural elements to consume in movies, T.V., or books. I'm working my way through the classics, inspired by my love of The X-Files which I am almost done with and will be talking about soon. This movie was really enjoyable. It was a lot more than I expected it to be. It was the perfect mix of suspense, plot, and theme. I was pleasantly surprised by the strength of the religious themes and the motif of the "sign' through coincidence, symbol, or miracle.

If you are unfamiliar, Mel Gibson plays a pastor who has recently left the church after his wife was killed on a walk when she was hit by a driver who fell asleep at the wheel. He renounces religion and the idea of miracles or meaning in events, when one day he walks outside his house to see a crop circle has been left in his corn field and in other places all over the world.

One thing I love about 90s and 2000s supernatural is the lack of cgi and special effects that were available, because of this, movie makers and writers were forced to use the movie watcher's imagination and expectations to create suspense and "horror" rather than fancy cgi. This movie was funny, suspenseful, and entertaining. I highly recommend it if you have never seen it.

The Others
Directed by Alejandro Amenábar
Released 2001
The internet is telling me that this movie may or may not have been inspired by The Turn of the Screw by Henry James, but I have never read it so I'm not sure. I will have to read it to find out. 

I really, really liked this movie. I had no idea what it was about and had no expectations. My mom talked me into watching it on a whim and I'm glad she did. This one is a lot more suspenseful than Signs but still deals with some deeper themes rather than just suspense. I was pleasantly surprised with Nicole Kidman's performance. I don't want to talk too much about plot because it's really best if you don't know anything. 

What made this movie so interesting is the very small cast. There was really only four characters that carried this movie and I thought that was brilliant. I also found the lack of male presence in this movie interesting. Religion also plays an important role in this movie, and it was interesting to watch it so close to Signs and to be able to compare the two. This movie was one of the pioneer twist ending suspense and horror movies, and I think it's a super fun watch. You might be able to catch on to the end, but it doesn't take away from the watching experience if you do. 

I enjoyed this movie the most out of the three featured in this post. This is a movie that I can see myself rewatching even though I already know the ending. If you have any similar recommendations for me, let me know!

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
Directed by Frank Capra
Released 1939
 I love Jimmy Stewart and Frank Capra so it's really surprising that this is my first time watching this movie. Stewart plays a young man appointed to the Senate after the sudden death of a senator. He is placed there by someone he trusts, as he is believed to be gullible and a push-over, but of course, Mr. Smith is nothing of the sort. 

Stewart is a great actor, you believe every role he plays, and his voice makes it impossible for you to focus on anyone else while he is talking. I also loved the female lead character in this movie, Miss Saunders, and thought there was a lot being said about women's role in the political sphere for a movie made in 1939 that was not specifically about women's role in the political sphere. 

This is a feel good movie, where one golden-hearted man takes on the corrupt and cold political system in order to make a positive change, but for me, Miss Saunders was the real star of the show. She coaches Mr. Smith through his over 24 hour fillibuster and knows all of the legal loop-holes and protocols. The real message for me here was that Miss Saunders should have been appointed to the U.S. Senate, not Mr. Smith.

Regardless, this movie was charming and feel-good, and an interesting watch in our current political climate. I will say, that the whole time I was watching this movie, I was just itching to put in It's a Wonderful Life as that is arguably one of the best movies ever made, and Stewart's performance here just made me think of George Bailey. If you have never seen a James Stewart movie, you should rectify that ASAP! 
Mr. Smith preparing to filibuster. 

Monday, August 7, 2017

Recently Read: The Upside of Unrequited

Author: Becky Albertalli
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Page Count: 336
Publication Date: 2017
Rating: 4/5

Add on Goodreads

Also by Becky Albertalli:
Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda 



Molly has had twenty-six crushes and zero boyfriends. Her twin sister has no problem talking to crushes and is determined to find Molly a boyfriend. When Molly's sister Cassie falls head-over-heels for a new girl named Mina, Mina's friend Will seems to be the perfect candidate for Molly's first boyfriend, except maybe he isn't, and her nerdy but sweet co-worker Reid is. 

I really loved Simon so of course I was interested in checking out Albertalli's newest release. While I preferred Simon over this one, I still really enjoyed this one. Albertalli's humor is spot on, and she seamlessly incorporates diversity into her works.

I loved the natural diversity in this novel. While most of the characters were diverse, it never felt like any of the characters existed just to be diverse. Molly and Cassie have two moms and were born via invetro; one of their moms is African American; Cassie is gay; Molly is overweight; both are Jewish; and there is a pansexual character. All of these diverse elements are so natural to the story and handled perfectly. I particularly enjoyed the way that Molly's weight was handled as it is a part of who she is, but she never once mentions loosing weight or hating her weight. She is who she is, and she loves who she is. So refreshing! 

I found Molly's narration to be very natural. It really felt like a seventeen year old girl was narrating this story, which is both good and bad. It always takes me a minute to adjust to teenager thinking again when I read a YA book that is authentically teenager-ish, but once I adjusted, I really enjoyed it. Molly is funny and honest, and her views on love and romance are authentic. 

The characters are great. Reid was a sweetheart and a great YA male love interest. He was unique and authentically and apologetically himself. This novel dealt with a lot of themes central to YA, romantic love, sibling relationship, body image, and handling change. 

This is a YA novel that I'm really glad exists. Although it doesn't quite reflect my experience as a teenager, I know it reflects a teenage experience that is not uncommon, but that is not commonly represented in YA fiction. I will be picking up whatever Albertalli comes out with in the future; she has earned a seat on my list of favorite YA contemporary authors. 

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Weekend Reading Plans

I'm hoping to get a lot of reading done this month before I start my full-time teaching internship at the beginning of September. I'm feeling a little overwhelmed by how much reading I want to do in so little time, but I'm trying to be relaxed about it (easier said than done.) So here's what I will be reading this weekend!

The Rose and the Dagger by Renee Ahdieh

I'm listening to this one on audiobook, as I listened to the first one. These books are great on audio because the narrator pronounces all of the Arabic words so beautifully. These books are a little bit of a guilty pleasure for me. The romance is bit weird, there's a lot of drama, but the writing is so atmospheric and the story is addicting. So far, this one is going great. 

The Dumb House by John Burnside
I'm hoping to start this one this weekend as it quite a short read, and promises to be quite creepy. I've had this on my shelf for a while, and I've heard great things. 

Anthem for Doomed Youth by Wilfred Owen

I'm almost done with this small collection of poems, but it is not a happy read. and sometimes I can only read a poem or two before I have to put it down. I love Owen's poetry and you can read my Poetry Spotlight on him here. 

What are you reading this weekend? 

Monday, July 31, 2017

Recently Read: The Ocean at the End of the Lane

Author: Neil Gaiman
Genre: Adult Fiction/ Fantasy/ Magical Realism
Publication Date: 2013
Page Count: 181
Rating: 5/5

Add on Goodreads

Also by Neil Gaiman:
The Grave Yard Book



Sussex, England. A middle-aged man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. Although the house he lived in is long gone, he is drawn to the farm at the end of the road, where, when he was seven, he encountered a most remarkable girl, Lettie Hempstock, and her mother and grandmother. He hasn't thought of Lettie in decades, and yet as he sits by the pond (a pond that she'd claimed was an ocean) behind the ramshackle old farmhouse, the unremembered past comes flooding back. And it is a past too strange, too frightening, too dangerous to have happened to anyone, let alone a small boy.

Forty years earlier, a man committed suicide in a stolen car at this farm at the end of the road. Like a fuse on a firework, his death lit a touchpaper and resonated in unimaginable ways. The darkness was unleashed, something scary and thoroughly incomprehensible to a little boy. And Lettie—magical, comforting, wise beyond her years—promised to protect him, no matter what. Goodreads

This is my first adult Gaiman novel, and it was a great one to start with. My brother read this last year and lent my his copy and I finally decided to pick it up on a whim. I had no idea what I was getting into besides that this novel would fit in with my weird reads cravings, and I devoured this novel. After I finished it, I actually opened my notebook and wrote my thoughts about the book and the ideas it presented because they were bursting out of me; that's how I know a book is worthy of a five star rating. 

This novel is narrated by an unnamed man, but he is looking back on his childhood. This adds a layer of mystery and intrigue to the story as the narrator becomes some-what unreliable as time may have tempered with his memories. 

This novel fits in with the like of children's classics such as Alice in Wonderland and Peter Pan as it touches on growing up and the gap between childhood and adulthood. Just like those novels, the story seems simple on the surface but is so complex underneath. The idea of magic or "other-wordly-ness" in the gap between childhood and adulthood is common in classic children's coming of age stories and I loved seeing a modern author take on that idea. This book touches on the complexities of children and childhood experiences and puts words to the inexplicable experience that is growing up. Just like in Alice and Peter, you spend a lot of time off -balance or confused while reading the story, but that is the point that these novels try to make. Growing up is confusing and frustrating and it's an amazing feat that these novels can allow us to experience these feelings again as adults. 

The characters in this novel were super interesting. I loved the Hempstock women and how the setting becomes a character in itself. The way that the magical family of women are represented in this novel is great; they are powerful and wise but also kind and sympathetic. The supernatural elements of this novel are so unique and unlike anything I have read before. This was a world I didn't want to leave when the novel was over. I'm very surprised this hasn't been adapted as a movie yet, as Gaimen's writing is so clear, the novel runs as a movie in your head.

Gaimen is an amazing storyteller; my brother says he writes every book like the story actually happened to him, and I agree. I really want to get to Gaimen's back catalog of works soon. Let me know where I should start! 

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Books I'm Dying To Reread

Rereading is a topic I spend a lot of time thinking about every year. I LOVE rereading and yet I hardly ever do it because I have so many books I want to read for the first time. I always feel a pull to read my unread books before rereading, and of course, my shelves will never be empty of unread books, so rereading never happens. But I do want to make an effort to allow myself to reread more and not feel guilty about it. I've been itching to reread something lately, and these books are at the top of my list.

P.S. You are about to be linked to some very old reviews, so let's just take a moment to be thankful of how far my reviews and posts have come since staring the blog in 2014.

I LOVED this novel, but its emotional nature makes me hesitant to reread it. It was easy to convince myself to pick it up for the first time after reading and loving Code Name Verity when I knew it would be emotional, but was unsure of just how emotional it would be. Now that I know, I'm hesitant to do that to myself again even though I want to reread it in the worst way. I'll talk myself into one day. 

I want to reread this one for a couple reasons, the first of which is that I don't remember anything from it and I want to continue on with the series; the second reason is that I think I would like it even more the second time around than I did the first time because of my developed love for creepy and supernatural stories. The main thing keeping me from reading it right now is the size. This book is huge! Maybe when the third book in the series comes out, I will marathon all three starting with this one.

I will be rereading this one before the end of the year! I loved this novel so much and I've wanted to reread it ever since I finished it in 2015. This could easily be a book I reread every year. I'm a little nervous about not liking it as much the second time through, but I'm pretty confident that this book will hold up to the image of it I have in my mind. 

This book was strange and wonderful. I have never read anything else like it in YA, and I really want to reread it as I have been thinking about it a lot since reading it three years ago. This is a short read, so it should be a quick reread I can squeeze in before the end of the year. 


This is another novel I keep coming back to in my mind on a pretty regular basis. The atmosphere of this novel is amazingly developed and I think it makes a lot of really interesting social commentary on quite a few issues. I would like to reread so I can further develop my thoughts on this one, and I would love to experience this novel again, as it is an experience.

I'm not sure if I want to reread this one before watching the T.V. or after. I think I will go with after since I have heard that the show differs from the book quite a bit and I don't want to ruin the show by having the book too fresh in my mind. In addition to rereading this, I need to get reading some of Atwood's other works for the first time! See what I mean about prioritizing new reads over rereads?!

What books are you dying to reread? Any you reread on a regular basis?

Monday, July 24, 2017

Recently Read: Bellweather Rhapsody

Author: Kate Racculia
Genre: Adult- Mystery
Publication Date: 2014
Page Count: 340
Rating: 5/5

Add on Goodreads 



Fifteen years ago, a murder-suicide in room 712 rocked the grand old Bellweather Hotel and the young bridesmaid who witnessed it, Minnie Graves. Now hundreds of high school musicians have gathered at the Bellweather for the annual Statewide festival; Minnie has returned to face her demons; and a blizzard is threatening to trap them all inside. When a young prodigy disappears from infamous room 712, the search for her entwines an eccentric cast of conductors and caretakers, teenagers on the verge and adults haunted by memories. A genre-bending page-turner, full of playful nods to pop-culture classics from The Shining to Agatha Christie to Glee, Bellweather Rhapsody is a winning new novel from a writer to watchGoodreads

I heard about this novel in a haul video on Books and Quills Youtube channel and it sounded so perfect for my reading mood at the time. I just watching The Shinning a few months ago and really loved it, so I was interested in the comparison, and I've been craving creepy media to consume lately. I picked this up from the library and dove in not knowing much beyond that, and I really, really enjoyed this novel. 

This is an adult novel with teenage main characters as well as adult main characters. The mysteries of the hotel and the Statewide Festival weekend unravel slowly, and in pieces, as the novel is told through different characters. There are quite a few characters that play a role in this novel, but they were easy to keep track of and all had a distinct voice and personality. For much of the novel, I was really unsure of how it would end, and then when things began to clear up, Racculia surprised me a few times over. The end of this novel is action packed and surprising and very well done.

This novel was the perfect mix of creepy, quirky, mysterious, and funny. I loved how this novel paid homage to The Shinning and mystery classics, yet was its own unique story. The Bellweather hotel almost becomes a character itself in the novel, and the atmosphere is perfect for the characters and story. I enjoyed that this novel was told through so many perspectives and that they were all so different. The characters range from teenage twins to an eighty-year-old bellhop to a psychopath former music prodigy turned mom and Statewide director, along with a few others. This is a book I can see myself curling up with and rereading in the future, despite already knowing how it ends. The reading experience was so enjoyable.

I'll be keeping my eye on this author to see what she comes up with next, as I really like her style and humor. This is a novel I highly recommend you add to your reading list!  

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Recently Read: The Female of the Species (Read This Book Please)

Author: Mindy McGinnis
Genre: Young Adult- Contemporary
Publication Date: 2016
Page Count: 352
Rating: 5/5

Add on Goodreads

Alex Craft knows how to kill someone. And she doesn’t feel bad about it. When her older sister, Anna, was murdered three years ago and the killer walked free, Alex uncaged the language she knows best. The language of violence.

While her crime goes unpunished, Alex knows she can’t be trusted among other people, even in her small hometown. She relegates herself to the shadows, a girl who goes unseen in plain sight, unremarkable in the high school hallways. Goodreads

This book will stick with me forever. I went into this book totally blind to the plot, (I knew it was a contemporary that dealt with sexual assault and that was it) and I was floored. This book is so dark and captivating. I couldn't stop reading, and I had no idea how it was going to end. This book is full of so much violence and rage and it's so hard to read but impossible to look away.

This book deals with so much in such a brutally honest way. The main issue this book examines is violence against women. The things that happen in this book are horrible and real and horrible because they are real. The idea of rape cultural and the dangers of ignoring the small contributors, like the 'one-off rape joke' a friend makes or the sexist graffiti in the school bathrooms, are laid out so honestly in this novel. This novel does not let you look away from the reality of the fear of living as a female and it left an uneasy feeling in the pit of my stomach for the entire novel.

This novel and its characters are so complex. I enjoyed that this novel was told from three different perspectives (two female, one male) but the other two perspectives were just meant as another way for us to get to know Alex and the way other people see her. Alex is one of the most complicated characters I have come across in a YA contemporary and maybe even YA in general. She is capable of such violence and yet is so human. The two other perspectives are Peekay, (PK for Preacher's kid) who befriends Alex, and Jack, your typical popular YA male, who develops a relationship with Alex. I enjoyed both of these characters and found them likeable and fully developed, but Alex is the real star of the show.

I have a pretty low tolerance for violence. I do not enjoy action movies, I can't stomach war movies at all, and I struggle to understand humanity's tendency for violence. So while I was uncomfortable and shocked by the violence Alex was capable of, I had to ask myself why. Why would I be shocked at violence coming from a seventeen year old girl when I know the violence she has seen and been subject to? Alex's sister was raped and murdered- brutally murdered-;she sees violence towards women in her life outside of school (spend two seconds reading the news or social media and you can find at least as many cases of violence against women) AND she has seen the same violence her sister faced threatened on her friends. It's a sad reality when violence against women is not shocking, but a retaliation of violence is. Obviously, Alex is more a symbol for revenge and justice for violence against women, and the reaction I have had to her character will keep me thinking for ages.

This book deals with something that women deal with everyday, and Alex's existence forces us to ask how we can seek justice for these wrongs. This question is huge, impossible, and heartbreaking to think about, but it's there. I would love to say that this novel contains the solution to this problem, but it doesn't, as no novel ever could. All I know, is that I am so glad that this novel exists and that I have read it.

While this long post has been more a reaction to the novel rather than a review of it, I'm here to tell you to read this novel. You will have a strong reaction to it and it will make you think. It is dark, well-written, and captivating.

All we can do is continue to work everyday to end gender based violence in any way that we can.

If you liked this book, please check out Only Ever Yours by Louise O'Neill

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Just Added to my TBR (16): (Weird Reads)

If you have been reading anything I've been putting out lately, you will have caught on to my craving for weird and creepy reads lately. I've rounded up the last three creepy reads I've added to my Goodreads TBR.

Just Added (15)
Just Added (14)

Magic for Beginners by Kelly Link

Summary from Goodreads:

The nine stories in Link's second collection are the spitting image of those in her acclaimed debut, Stranger Things Happen: effervescent blends of quirky humor and pathos that transform stock themes of genre fiction into the stuff of delicate lyrical fantasy. In "Stone Animals," a house's haunting takes the unusual form of hordes of rabbits that camp out nightly on the front lawn. This proves just one of several benign but inexplicable phenomena that begin to pull apart the family newly moved into the house as surely as a more sinister supernatural influence might. The title story beautifully captures the unpredictable potential of teenage lives through its account of a group of adolescent schoolfriends whose experiences subtly parallel events in a surreal TV fantasy series. Zombies serve as the focus for a young man's anxieties about his future in "Some Zombie Contingency Plans" and offer suggestive counterpoint to the lives of two convenience store clerks who serve them in "The Hortlak." Not only does Link find fresh perspectives from which to explore familiar premises, she also forges ingenious connections between disparate images and narrative approaches to suggest a convincing alternate logic that shapes the worlds of her highly original fantasies.

Why I added It: Short stories can be a great way to get your creepy fix (think The Twilight Zone or The Outer Limits but in book form) and I saw this book on quite a few recommendation lists for creepy reads. Plus I love that cover! 

Alice and the Fly by James Rice
Summary from Goodreads:

A spellbinding debut novel by an exceptional new young British talent.

This is a book about phobias and obsessions, isolation and dark corners. It's about families, friendships, and carefully preserved secrets. But above everything else it's about love. Finding love - in any of its forms - and nurturing it.

Miss Hayes has a new theory. She thinks my condition's caused by some traumatic incident from my past I keep deep-rooted in my mind. As soon as I come clean I'll flood out all these tears and it'll all be ok and I won't be scared of Them anymore. The truth is I can't think of any single traumatic childhood incident to tell her. I mean, there are plenty of bad memories - Herb's death, or the time I bit the hole in my tongue, or Finners Island, out on the boat with Sarah - but none of these are what caused the phobia. I've always had it. It's Them. I'm just scared of Them. It's that simple.
 


Why I added it: I saw this one over on Mixed Margins' post about her top five books of 2017 so far, and it sounded perfectly weird and delightful. 

The Red Parts by Maggie Nelson 

Summary from Goodreads:
One day in March 1969, twenty-three- year-old Jane Mixer was on her way home to tell her parents she was getting married. She had arranged for a ride through the campus bulletin board at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, where she was one of a handful of pioneering women students at the law school. Her body was found the following morning just inside the gates of a small cemetery fourteen miles away, shot twice in the head and strangled. Six other young women were murdered around the same time, and it was assumed they had all been victims of alleged serial killer John Collins, who was convicted of one of these crimes not long after. Jane Mixer's death was long considered to be one of the infamous Michigan Murders, as they had come to be known. But officially, Jane's murder remained unsolved, and Maggie Nelson grew up haunted by the possibility that the killer of her mother's sister was still at large.

In an instance of remarkable serendipity, more than three decades later, a 2004 DNA match led to the arrest of a new suspect for Jane's murder at precisely the same time that Nelson was set to publish a book of poetry about her aunt's life and death - a book she had been working on for years, and which assumed her aunt's case to be closed forever.

The Red Parts chronicles the uncanny series of events that led to Nelson's interest in her aunt's death, the reopening of the case, the bizarre and brutal trial that ensued, and the effects these events had on the disparate group of people they brought together. But The Red Parts is much more than a "true crime" record of a murder, investigation, and trial. For into this story Nelson has woven a spare, poetic account of a girlhood and early adulthood haunted by loss, mortality, mystery, and betrayal, as well as a subtle but blistering look at the personal and political consequences of our cultural fixation on dead (white) women.

The result is a stark, fiercely intelligent, and beautifully written memoir that poses vital questions about America's complex relationship to spectacles of violence and suffering, and that scrupulously explores the limits and possibilities of honesty, grief, empathy, and justice.

Why I added it: This basically sounds like a cross of the last two documentaries I have watched and loved on Netflix: Packed in a Trunk and The Keepers. (Read more about these documentaries here.) It has the family mystery and detective work of Packed in a Trunk and the true-crime mystery element of The Keepers. Bonus: I live in Michigan and have never read a book about true-crime; I'm very intrigued!


Monday, July 17, 2017

Recently Read: The Women Who Got Away (Mini-Review)

Author: John Updike
Genre: Classic Short Stories
Page Count: 108
Rating: 3/5
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The Women Who Got Away is a collection of short stories by John Updike complied into this Penguin Great Loves edition. I picked up quite a few of these on Book depository a year-or-so ago because I loved the concept and the beautiful pocket size designs and I thought it was about time I actually read them.

This collection included five short stories by Updike that fit the theme of the title, women who got away. All five stories are told by a (usually) nameless male narrator lamenting on his mistress that has gotten away. I picked this up because A&P by Updike( you can read it here; it's very short) is one of my favorite short stories of all time, and one that I have studied and written papers on many times before, so I was looking to read more of his works. This was a quick read that I really enjoyed! I'm now interested in picking up some of Updike's longer fiction, but I'm not sure where to start. 

Despite these stories having very similar narrators and themes, the stories were not monotonous or boring. Updike is able to create such real and complex characters in such a short amount of words that even the shortest of his stories feel complete and complex. Updike writes about the mundane and the everyday, but he is able to capture humanity and emotion so well, that it feels like you are witness to intimate details and private moments in someone else's life. I would say that the title story was my favorite, but I enjoyed the other four stories as well. While I don't think these stories are Updike's best work, I do think this would serve as a good introduction to Updike's writing style if you are interested in jumping into his works. I would recommend starting with A&P before these stories though.  

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Recently Read: When the Moon was Ours

Author: Anna-Marie McLemore
Genre: Young Adult- Magical Realism
Page Count: 288
Publication Date: 2016
Rating: 3.5/5

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Miel and Sam are inseparable best friends. Perhaps this is because neither of them really feel like they fit in completely. Roses grow out of Miel's wrists, and have grown there since she fell out of the water tower and into town. Sam is hiding a huge secret about what's under his clothes, and Miel is the only one besides his mom who knows. When the mysterious, and somewhat magical, Bonner sisters decide they want Miel's roses for themselves, everything in Miel's and Sam's worlds must shift.

I knew pretty much nothing going into this book. I read the synopsis on Goodreads and then requested if from my library. By the time it came in, I remembered nothing about the plot so I just jumped in, and I'm glad I did. 

The writing is beautiful. The magical elements of the novel blend in seamlessly with the small-town atmosphere that McLemore creates. The existence of Miel's roses was so easy to accept and created a beautiful layer of magic in the novel. I also loved the diverse representation in the novel. Sam is a transgender boy whose family is from Pakistan and Miel is Latina. The after-note mentions that the author's husband is a transgender man, which is really great to know. It's great to see diverse characters in any novel, but particularly in genres where they don't often appear such as magical realism or fantasy. 

While the writing was beautiful, I had some issues with the plot. We seemed to be building and building up to something the whole novel, but I didn't really get the sense that that something ever happened. The end of the novel was good, but it felt quiet compared to all of the tension we were building in the novel. 

I loved Miel and Sam and their relationship with one another. Both characters grew together and independently, and I enjoyed their character arcs. The Bonner sisters were fascinating; they reminded me of The Virgin Suicides sisters, and I would have LOVED more on them, or something from their p.o.v. Perhaps this is why I felt a little unsatisfied with the ending; I wanted more from and about the Bonner sisters and the part they played in the plot. I was left with a lot of questions regarding the Bonner sisters. 

I used this novel to mark off the 'romance with a trans main character' square on my Diversity Bingo board and would recommend this novel if you're looking for a book that fits that bill or if you're a fan of magical realism. This book has a lovely reading experience, as the atmosphere is so magical and hazzy. I'll be checking out McLemore in the future! 

Monday, July 10, 2017

Book Outlet Haul!

I treated myself to a Book Outlet order the other day, as their recent change to free shipping on orders of thirty-five dollars or more to the U.S. sucked me in. It's so easy to load a chart full of books on there, and I managed to pick up some book I've been eyeing for quite a while now. Here's a look at what I picked up!

 

She is not Invisible by Marcus Sedgwick and The Rose and the Dagger by Renee Adieh 
Sedgwick is one of my all-time favorite authors, but his back log of books can be difficult to find in the U.S. so I always scoop his novels up when I find them. This one is about a teenage girl who is blind, and that's all I want to know.  I read The Wrath and the Dawn on audiobook last winter and really enjoyed it even though the romance was a bit odd and cheesy; it was so entertaining. I'm eager to see how the story wraps up, and these books are designed beautifully.

 

N or M by Agatha Christie and The Lottery by Shirley Jackson 
I have been devouring Christie's novels this year; they are so fast paced and quick to read. I've read one other Tommy and Tuppence mystery and enjoyed it, so I picked up this cute edition when I saw it. I featured The Lottery in my creepy TBR post and mentioned how I'm craving all of the creepy reads lately. This one is sure to deliver. I haven't read any Jackson yet, so short stories are the perfect place to start.

 Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Caroll illustrated by Camille Rose Garcia
Garcia's work is stunning. She has a few illustrated editions of fairy tales out, that I have been eyeing for ages. I couldn't pass up the beautiful hardcover of this one when it was like five bucks! Here's one of my favorite illustrations I saw as I flipped through.

 

I Shall not be Moved by Maya Angelou and My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante
Angelou is my idol. I love and respect her work and her outlook on life so much. I have read almost all of her autobiography series and a few of her poems, and it's safe to say she is one of the best American writers in history. This is a collection of her poems. Surprisingly, I do not own any of Angeou's works in physical copies, so I'm always on the look-out for them. My Brilliant Friend and Elena Ferrante are two of the most talked about topics in the book world right now, and I finally bought book one. I found book two for fifty cents in a library sale and snatched it up before I even had book one, because these books are rather expensive in the States, and I'm glad to have found book one for a bargain as well.

That's all for my Bookoutlet purchases! I always end up with a cart full when I browse that site!

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Creepy TBR!

I have been in the mood to consume everything slightly weird, creepy, and supernatural lately. Movies, T.V., books, you name it. I thought I would highlight some of the creepy and weird reading material on my TBR. Let me know if you have read any of these or have any recommendations. 

Paper Girls vol. 1 by Brain K. Vaughn, Cliff Chiang, and Matthew Wilson
From Goodreads:
In the early hours after Halloween of 1988, four 12-year-old newspaper delivery girls uncover the most important story of all time. Suburban drama and otherworldly mysteries collide in this smash-hit series about nostalgia, first jobs, and the last days of childhood.

This series is giving me Stranger Things vibes, but with a group of female pre-teens! I love, love the 80s style color pallet, and can't wait to breeze through this series. 

The Lottery and Other Stories by Shirley Jackson
From Goodreads:
The Lottery, one of the most terrifying stories written in this century, created a sensation when it was first published in The New Yorker. "Power and haunting," and "nights of unrest" were typical reader responses. This collection, the only one to appear during Shirley Jackson's lifetime, unites "The Lottery:" with twenty-four equally unusual stories. Together they demonstrate Jackson's remarkable range--from the hilarious to the truly horrible--and power as a storyteller. 

Jackson is essential creepy reading, but I have yet to dive into her works. I picked up this short story collection on Book Outlet, and plan to use it as an introduction to her works. I know I'm going to love her work. 

The Birds and Other Stories by Daphne Du Maurier
From Goodreads:
A classic of alienation and horror, The Birds was immortalized by Hitchcock in his celebrated film. The five other chilling stories in this collection echo a sense of dislocation and mock man's dominance over the natural world. The mountain paradise of 'Monte Verità' promises immortality, but at a terrible price; a neglected wife haunts her husband in the form of an apple tree; a professional photographer steps out from behind the camera and into his subject's life; a date with a cinema usherette leads to a walk in the cemetery; and a jealous father finds a remedy when three's a crowd . . .

I have yet to read any of Du Maurier's works, despite hearing nothing but amazing things about her works. I'm thinking I will start with this short story collection as I have been in the mood for creepy short stories lately, and I know she won't let me down. I have seen and loved Hitchcock's adaptation of The Birds so I am excited to read the source material. 

The Dumb House by John Burnside
In Persian myth, it is said that Akbar the Great once built a palace which he filled with newborn children, attended only by mutes, in order to learn whether language is innate or acquired. As the year passed and the children grew into their silent and difficult world, this palace became known as the Gang Mahal, or Dumb House. In his first novel, John Burnside explores the possibilities inherent in a modern-day repetition of Akbar`s investigations. Following the death of his mother, the unnamed narrator creates a twisted variant of the Dumb House, finally using his own children as subjects in a bizarre experiment. When the children develop a musical language of their own, however, their gaoler is the one who is excluded, and he extracts an appalling revenge. 

I really don't know much about this one other than it is supposed to be unnerving and disturbing. The synopsis sounds like an absolute wild ride.  

Other Voices, Other Rooms by Truman Capote 
From Goodreads:
Published when Truman Capote was only twenty-three years old, Other Voices, Other Rooms is a literary touchstone of the mid-twentieth century. In this semiautobiographical coming-of-age novel, thirteen-year-old Joel Knox, after losing his mother, is sent from New Orleans to live with the father who abandoned him at birth. But when Joel arrives at Skully’s Landing, the decaying mansion in rural Alabama, his father is nowhere to be found. Instead, Joel meets his morose stepmother, Amy, eccentric cousin Randolph, and a defiant little girl named Idabel, who soon offers Joel the love and approval he seeks.

Another novel that I don't know much about, but that gives off some creepy vibes. I think there is more to the mansion than meets the eye in this one. I have read Breakfast at Tiffanys and other short stories by Capote and was a bit surprised at how weird some of his short stories got. This is his debut novel and I'm really looking forward to it. 

A Love Like Blood by Marcus Sedgwick 
From Goodreads:
 In 1944, just days after the liberation of Paris, Charles Jackson sees something horrific: a man, apparently drinking the blood of a murdered woman. Terrified, he does nothing, telling himself afterwards that worse things happen in wars. Seven years later he returns to the city - and sees the same man dining in the company of a fascinating young woman. When they leave the restaurant, Charles decides to follow... A Love Like Blood is a dark, compelling thriller about how a man's life can change in a moment; about where the desire for truth - and for revenge - can lead; about love and fear and hatred. And it is also about the question of blood.

Sedgwick is one of my all-time-favorite authors. He constantly blows me away with his YA fiction. He is a master of time and the universe and using the inexplicable in our actual word to send a shiver down my spine. This will be the first adult book by him that I read, but I recommend his novels so highly if you are in the mood for a creepy read! 

I have so many more creepy books on my TBR that I might have to make a part two! Leave me some recommendations for your favorite creepy reads!