Monday, October 26, 2020

Malorie (Bird Box 2) by Josh Malerman (Book Review)

One of the biggest complaints I saw in the reviews was that there didn't need to be a sequel to Bird Box and this was just a cash grab. After reading this and seeing how the entire story ended, I disagree.  I think the ending justified there being a sequel to Bird Box and tied up a lot of loose ends the first book had about the world with the creatures.

The character development of the three main characters was done well too. Malorie is given a detailed backstory that the first book completely lacked. The teenagers are really likeable. It’s a coming of age story for the teens and a redemption story for Malorie. I think this is the best book on post-traumatic stress disorder I have ever read. And at times the book is even scarier than the first. There are also two major plot twists that I really enjoyed.

That said, it is a book with some flaws. The author repeats himself constantly. The book could have used more editing. This constant repeating is why I can’t quite give it five stars. Most of Malorie’s point of view is told via stream of consciousness and she’s constantly flipping back and forth between every thought and emotion possible. At times, she’s annoying AF and completely and utterly unlikeable. I did like her more towards the end though and you learn many of these unlikeable traits are part of her PTSD.

Another annoyance was that the creatures are described somewhat but never well. They are mostly face but not. They aren’t really creatures but something else. I know it may be petty but we’re never given a clear description of what they actually look like. Either describe them accurately or not all.

Lastly, 17 years has elapsed between the two books which makes it really hard to believe some of the advances took this long. That time frame seemed to be more a matter of plot convenience to make the kids teenagers.

I do hope Netflix develops this sequel into a movie. It has more action sequences than the first, great characters (even if Malorie was irritating at times), and the potential to be a great movie.

There was one line from the book that really stuck with me though because it reminds me of our world with covid-19 and wearing masks. It says, “It’s hard for Olivia to imagine a world where blindfolds weren’t central to a person’s wardrobe.” I think since the coronavirus pandemic is happening right now it made this book more scary than it would have been if it had been released prior to 2020. The idea that we’ll be stuck with this new normal for years to come is terrifying psychologically. Malorie repeatedly talks about “living by the fold” which makes me think of “live by the mask” so the book almost seems like a metaphor for the coronavirus at times.

My rating is Photobucket .

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Adding Sbooktober, Vampathon, and the Hocus Pocus Readathon

There are so many good readathons this month I can't choose. So I'm going to attempt to do more of them because the book topics just overlap so easily. These are all the month-long readathons. This doesn't even include the short term ones. (See my sidebar for the full list!)

First up is Sbooktober

There are a LOT of reading prompts. I'm still going to stick with my Gothtober TBR but many of those should fit these prompts. 

Next is Vampathon

I'm already have planned on a vampire heavy TBR so I will easily be able to cover these prompts.

1. Book you want to sink your teeth into 
2. Classic vampire 
3. Non-traditional vampire 
4. Old legends (short stories, novellas, anthologies, essays, etc.)

I've decided to join Team Undead. It just seemed fitting. 

Team Undead! 
Prompts Group Book: Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas (15pt) 
Binx: Read a book that has to do with family (10pt) 
Billy: Read a book with a morally grey character (10pt) 
Emily: Read a book about ghosts or paranormal (10pt) 

Team Undead! 
Strength: You are now the Ghost of Emily Binx. No one can see you, you get to be stealthy. You may double up on one prompt of your choosing. 

Weakness: Unfortunately, Billy only has 24 hours until he must go back to his grave. You must have a 24-hour readathon

This one is a little trickier because I don't have a book about ghosts and will have to add the group read to my TBR, but I already wanted to read The Shining by Stephen King and that would count for my ghost book.

As for a 24 hour readathon, I don't just have one. I have two! The Spooktober 24 Hour Readathon is October 10 and the Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon is Oct 24.

I know all of this is a lot but I've really barely read this year and I'm trying to make up for it. Most of my books are audiobooks now that I've discovered I can listen to a book up to four hours while at work. Hopefully this will motivate me to reach my reading goals!

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Bookish Quotes I Love

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme and blog hop hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl

The topic this week is ten favorite book quotes from books you love or about books in general.

1. This is my absolute favorite quote about books. 

2. This quote about reading is perfect for quarantining in 2020.

3. Any bibliophile understands this quote.

4. I've always loved this quote about death from Peter Pan. Death is probably my biggest fear and this quote gives me comfort.

5. This quote fascinates me because of how Roosevelt words it. He doesn't say books are part of him but the reverse of that. It makes me think of the relationship the author has with the reader.

6. This George R.R. Martin quote is another one of my favorites.

7. This Dr. Seuss quote says something similar to the last one. 

8. This is another quote only a bibliophile will understand.

9. Although sometimes the reason we're poor is because we keep buying books.

10. It's now sweater weather so this quote felt appropriate. 

Bonus Quote because I had to include this one.

Friday, September 25, 2020

Without Merit by Colleen Hoover Audiobook Review

It may come as shock to anyone reading this, but this is the very first audiobook I have ever listened to. Technically I do own a copy of The Celestine Meditations by Salle Merrill Redfield which I have listened to many, many times over the years but I don't really count this because it's never been in a hardcopy book form. I've never listened to an actual audiobook, fiction or nonfiction.

The worst part is, I have been working at Walmart doing a stocking job and have the ability to listen to an audiobook for about 5 hours a day. Most of my hours are after the store closes and I'm able to listen while I work. I've worked at Walmart since the Monday after Thanksgiving of LAST YEAR and am just now trying out audiobooks. Do you know how many books I could have finished by now? It's embarrassing.

I also decided to get a hardcopy version of the book and compare reading it to listening to it being read. What I found was that I read passages way different than they were read by Candace Thaxton. I often read the main character as being entitled and whiny but Candace read her thoughts and dialogue very differently. I found I liked the audiobook version of the characters much more than I liked the book version of the characters. Jokes were funnier. Lucky's accent could clearly be heard which was absolutely hysterical. And things just felt more...dramatic. Candace is a talented actress, which is something I never realized contributes greatly to audiobooks. I always thought someone just read the book. I didn't realize they act out the parts like they are reading a play or script.

The book blurb from Goodreads:

Not every mistake deserves a consequence. Sometimes the only thing it deserves is forgiveness. 

The Voss family is anything but normal. They live in a repurposed church, newly baptized Dollar Voss. The once cancer-stricken mother lives in the basement, the father is married to the mother’s former nurse, the little half-brother isn’t allowed to do or eat anything fun, and the eldest siblings are irritatingly perfect. Then, there’s Merit. 

Merit Voss collects trophies she hasn’t earned and secrets her family forces her to keep. While browsing the local antiques shop for her next trophy, she finds Sagan. His wit and unapologetic idealism disarm and spark renewed life into her—until she discovers that he’s completely unavailable. Merit retreats deeper into herself, watching her family from the sidelines when she learns a secret that no trophy in the world can fix. 

Fed up with the lies, Merit decides to shatter the happy family illusion that she’s never been a part of before leaving them behind for good. When her escape plan fails, Merit is forced to deal with the staggering consequences of telling the truth and losing the one boy she loves.

My review (may contain minor spoilers);
This story and characters was so unique. The Voss family is truly like no family you will ever meet or read about. Some of the characters were likeable and some were not. The main character, Merit, for the most part isn't likeable but this seems to be intentional by the author. Her likeablilty is actually a huge part of the plot. (You'll understand when you read the book.)

As someone who suffers from mental illness, this aspect of the story was dealt with realistically and respectfully. I'd share more details but those would be major spoilers.

Colleen Hoover also avoids overused, romantic tropes. This book absolutely is unique as a romance as well. This is incredibly hard to do in a genre that has thousands upon thousands of books. Don't let the fact that it's a young adult book fool you. It deals with adult themes at times. The book is about Merit having to deal with these themes as a teenager. (Actually, it wasn't even in the young adult section at my library so I'm not entirely sure it is a YA,)

The one thing I didn't like about the book was that there are so many subplots and backstories that often seemed even more interesting than Merit's story. I would love to read a book about Merit's mother and her life before and after the car accident (all backstory). I would love to read how Victoria and Barnaby ended up falling in love and getting married (all backstory). I would love to read about Lucky and his adventures working on cruise ships (all backstory). And I especially would love to read about Sagan's backstory which isn't even revealed until you're near the end of the book. Sagan's story is never wrapped up and actually would make an excellent sequel that I would love to read.

I also would love to see this book as a movie. Rarely do I read a book and think it would work great as a movie (maybe it had to do with it being an audiobook) but this book would. This book made me want to read more by Colleen Hoover. 

My rating was a solid  Photobucket .

Thursday, September 24, 2020

A Very Ambitious Gothtober TBR List

I look forward to Halloween reading every year but this year the Gothtober Readathon has me particularly excited. The readathon prompts cover books I planned on reading (some horror classics) but have me adding books that are diverse as well. 

At first, I had some of the books counting for double prompts but I'm someone who likes to have a lot of options. If I get behind I can always have some books count double. Especially with that Grey Morality prompt. It seems a lot of these books could count for that category.

As for choosing a vampire tv show or film, I chose one that I still need to finish. Honestly, I'd like to watch the film version of many of these books in October. How many Dracula movies are there? Oh only 60 as of 2017. He also lists 56 Frankenstein movies. And 10 Dorian Gray movies. 

Here's the announcement video and prompt lists for the Gothtober Readathon. 

Sunday, August 9, 2020

The Year of the Witching by Alexis Henderson Book Review

The first book I finished for my WitchyReadathon was The Year of Witching by Alexis Henderson. The genre is fantasy and alternative history. I was so excited to read this book. It promised to be "The Handmaid's Tale for a new generation." That's a lot to live up to.

In my opinion, it completely failed. 

Here is the book blurb from Goodreads:

The Handmaid's Tale for a new generation . . .

In the lands of Bethel, where the Prophet's word is law, Immanuelle Moore's very existence is blasphemy.

The daughter of a union with an outsider that cast her once-proud family into disgrace, Immanuelle does her best to worship the Father, follow Holy Protocol and lead a life of submission, devotion and absolute conformity, like all the women in the settlement.

But a chance mishap lures her into the forbidden Darkwood that surrounds Bethel - a place where the first prophet once pursued and killed four powerful witches. Their spirits are still walking there, and they bestow a gift on Immanuelle: the diary of her dead mother, who Immanuelle is shocked to learn once sought sanctuary in the wood.

Fascinated by secrets in the diary, Immanuelle finds herself struggling to understand how her mother could have consorted with the witches. But when she begins to learn grim truths about the Church and its history, she realises the true threat to Bethel is its own darkness. And if Bethel is to change, it must begin with her . . .

My review Without Spoilers:

How do I review this book without spoilers? That's next to impossible. Everything I liked about the book and disliked involves spoilers. So I'm including two reviews. One without spoilers and one with spoilers. 

What I can say about this book, without spoilers, is that you cannot call something feminist that has the climax of the book about women fighting other women because of men. The Goddess figure in the book isn't the heroine. She's the villain. Not the main villain, but a villain nonetheless. As a feminist, I was offended. As I pagan, I was indignant. If the whole point is that patriarchy makes women out to be evil when they aren't DON'T MAKE SAID WOMEN EVIL! I don't care how righteous their anger is, no feminist is so angry they are willing to kill other women and children because they're pissed at the men. That's not feminism. 

What I did like about the book is that the main character is a female of color. However, this book was a missed opportunity to write an allegory about racism and microaggressions. Instead, Immanuelle never seemed treated differently for being a girl of color, just for being a witch. That’s impossible for me to believe. I just find it impossible to believe this Puritanical community was so backwards about how it treated women and religion but was so progressive about taking in children of color and raising them like their own. 

Overall, this book just didn’t know what it wanted to be so it was trying to be everything at once. A witchcraft fantasy about warring witches? An allegory about being female, black, and lesbians in a patriarchal Puritanical society? A commentary on the war between sexes? A reimagining of the Burning Times? A satire of the Catholic religion? A reimagined mythology of the Dark Goddess? 

I’m giving the book three stars only because you can’t do half stars on Goodreads. My actual rating is two and a half stars. Photobucket

Stop Reading Now If You Don't Want Spoilers!!!

My Review With Spoilers:

I hated the first 100 pages and nearly gave up on the book. However, Emmanuelle being given her mother’s journal is what changed the story for me. It became more of a mystery and a search for answers. This part of the story I greatly enjoyed.

Some of the story seemed entirely too forced. The initial incident that unleashed the four plagues seemed so utterly contrived that it wasn’t even remotely believable. How would the Coven know that at precisely that time Emmanuelle would start her period? However, they also seemed to know when she would enter the woods to give her the journal so that seemed equally as contrived.

And what unleashed the fourth and most important plaque? Something that was supposed to do the exact opposite! What the actual hell? The worst part is the characters just seem to forget that this task was supposed to end the plagues. Vera and Emmanuelle just pretended like this didn’t even happen. Emmanuelle should have been livid at Vera! So you’re telling me the Coven somehow also knew that Emmanuelle would find out a supposed way to end it, would do that, and then once that was done then would be when they show up to unleash their revenge? If they knew that much then wouldn’t they know they were going to lose?

And the wonderful feminist aspects of this book are completely and utterly nullified by the idea that Emmanuelle has to fight Lilith the Mother in the end. If the point of the story is that patriarchy suppresses and hurts women why in Goddess name would the VILLAIN BE A GODDESS!? Why are women fighting women? Why the hell would the Coven want to kill everyone in the town and not just the men or the Prophet? You know what. Forget three stars. That final boss battle between two female witches pissed me off so much I’m tempted to downgrade my rating to two stars.

And can we talk about how some gay witches and being a girl of color had little bearing on the story whatsoever? Was Emmanuelle the only girl of color in the town? It seems so when she talks about finding her family that looks like her. Did it matter though? She never seemed treated differently for being a girl of color. That’s impossible for me to believe. I just find it impossible to believe this Puritanical community was so backwards about how it treated women and religion but was so progressive about taking in children of color and raising them like their own. As for the lesbianism, this Puritan sheltered girl just shrugs at the idea of women having sex together. Oh come on! And then in the end she lets A PEDOPHILE go because of mercy. A pedophile!!

This book just didn’t know what it wanted to be so it was trying to be everything all at once. A witchcraft fantasy about warring witches? An allegory about being female, black, and lesbians in a patriarchal Puritanical society? A commentary on the war between sexes? A reimagining of the Burning Times? A satire of the Catholic religion? A reimagined mythology of the Dark Goddess? The book was just an absolute mess. I’ll leave the third star only because you can’t do half stars on here. My actual rating is two and a half stars.