The Lady and Her Monsters by Roseanne Montillo – a Book Review

Still working through my reviews from 2021, I come to the Biography for the reading challenge. This is an interesting one in that, while it does surround the life of Mary Shelley, it puts a particular focus on the influences surrounding her creation of her most famous work, Frankenstein: Or the Modern Prometheus. In doing so, Montillo discusses the lives and work of notable scientists and doctors who were experimenting with electricity and reanimation of cadavers. Many people see Victor Frankenstein as a fictional character without realizing he was the embodiment of the vision of greatness in the minds of many a real man. He achieved in fiction what the most ambitious scientific dreamers were attempting, reanimating the dead.

This introduction of a rather odd period of scientific progress does two things for the book. It introduces a moderate amount of “Ewwwww” but also a little humor in a pretty twisted and sick way. I mean, science is a trial and error kind of thing. Will you successfully reanimate a body and bring a man back to life or will his head explode and splatter the rich people in the front row? NOBODY KNOWS!

There are serious overtones to this book. Number one, it brings to light some issues with the criminal justice system during this time period. Many of the bodies acquired by scientists for their experiments came straight from the gallows to the lab. This was a brutal time in which civil liberties weren’t at all considered. Men, sometimes mere boys, were hanged for crimes that would today receive not much more than a slap on the wrist. Often they were innocent. If not from there, they came through the lucrative and mafia-esque criminal enterprise of grave robbing. There was a very fine line separating the realm of science and the seedier shadow world of European society.

All of this historical scientific information was juxtaposed with the details of Mary Shelley’s life, which was far from a happy one. It was one full of loss and strife and containing blatant skepticism from male members of the scholarly community for her intellect and literary achievements. She was ridiculed and rejected by polite society for her bohemian lifestyle, just as her own mother was in her day. Sure, Frankenstein is a marvel of achievement in science fiction, but it’s also a novel rich with emotional depth. Scholars often only focus on the predominantly male aspects in the text, the creation through science, intellectual achievement, a piecing together of dead flesh and reanimation to something with breath and vitality. They often ignore the presence of the female, natural creation through birth, loss of the self, of the humanity of a nameless creature who will never experience love or the nurturing touch of a parent. I in no way mean to imply these two spheres exist solely within the realms of the two sexes, but merely that the scholarly thought at the time distinguished them as such.

Mary Shelley would give birth to five children. She would bury four of them and lose another to miscarriage that almost claimed her life. We’d be remiss to ignore the fact that Mary Shelley’s grief is a haunting presence in this story. Her nameless creature is a reflection of the nameless child whose birth and death preceded the writing, that the rejection of the creature is a manifestation of the motherly guilt that comes with not being able to follow your baby into the frightening world of the unknown. This guilt is totally unjustified, but any mother who has lost a child will tell you its presence is felt just the same.

When we focus on the creature as being a monster, we see him as a villain. I’ve never read the creature as a villain, but rather a lonely and desperate individual whose experiences with nothing but rejection pushed him further into despair. The torment Victor endures after rejecting his creation is a manifestation of the torment felt by a parent who loses a child. In many ways, it’s a novel about mental health, both that of the creature and the creator. It’s about loss and the fundamental change that a person experiences when living through loss so deep it alters every aspect of the self. This is something Mary Shelley understood far too intimately, and Montillo does delve into the depression that afflicted Mary Shelley’s years following the publication of her novel. This depression that was magnified every time she experienced the loss of yet another child.

Writing her masterpiece was a catharsis that could only have come from her own mind, despite the prevailing thought at the time that a woman couldn’t have penned such a work. It was originally published anonymously, nameless authorship in homage to the nameless tragic hero of its text. Many would assume her husband, Percy, was responsible for its writing. Well, the joke is on them, because the average person probably couldn’t name even one thing a bunch of those famous men of the time wrote, but literally everyone is familiar with the name Frankenstein in some capacity, even if they only know that stupid green Halloween caricature that bears no comparison to Mary Shelley’s tragic hero. Her revolutionary work was the perfect blend of the masculine and feminine spheres of society, thus proving that the human self is not complete without the merger of the two. Not to mention, she created a whole new damn genre. No man would be publishing science fiction today had a woman not paved the way for him. Take that, you sexist assholes of the 1800’s.

Ok, wow… I totally stopped talking about the book I’m reviewing and moved to Mary Shelley, because she’s amazing. Frankly, I wish Montillo had discussed her a lot more in this book and focused a lot less on her relationships with the men, like Percy and Lord Byron. Given the fact that we got very little information about Shelley’s writing process, the two parts seemed a bit disjointed. This is largely because much of the theory behind it is conjecture on the part of the author merely because it makes sense. Of course Mary Shelley was influenced by the work of scientists of the time, because her masterpiece reflects their prevailing thoughts and mirrors the experimentation that permeated the scientific community. However, from what I could tell there isn’t really a whole lot that we have to actually tie those two things together besides that conjecture. Perhaps there’s just not much in the written record showing that Mary Shelley actually communicated with or studied the work of scientists. In that respect this book felt a little bit like ping-ponging back and forth between the science stuff and the biography stuff and they didn’t really feel very connected unless you did some mental stretching.

This is an extremely fascinating concept and a very unique perspective on Mary Shelley’s life. For anyone with an interest in Mary Shelley and her most famous literary duo, this is a great start even if it could have been a bit more well executed. The research concerning the science at the time seemed a lot more thorough than the research into Shelley. The things I discussed here in my review were merely alluded to by Montillo and not actually discussed, which I feel was a mistake. Frankenstein is not just a novel about science, it’s a novel about what it means to be human. Overall, 3 stars for this one. Enjoyable but missed the mark in certain ways.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Published February 4, 2013 by William Morrow. Paperback published October 22, 2013. ISBN 006202583X. 336 pages.

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The Road Trip by Beth O’Leary – a Book Review

Still catching up on my 2021 reviews, so bear with me. This is one I finished back in November, I think. Yikes. Not long before that I read my first Beth O’Leary novel, The Flatshare. I positively loved its charm and wit. The characters were lovable. I expected the same here but really found it lacking, unfortunately. It is a short read, and it’s romantic and well-written in O’Leary’s signature style. In this case, however, neither the story nor the characters kept my attention.

Synopsis

Addie and her sister are setting off on a road trip to a friend’s wedding in Scotland when the car behind them crashes into them. Much to their surprise, the other car is also headed to the same wedding in Scotland. But to Addie’s dismay, one of the occupants in said car is Addie’s ex-boyfriend, Dylan, with whom she had a nasty breakup two years prior. With the other car totaled, the girls feel they have no choice but to invite Dylan and his annoyingly pretentious friend, Marcus, along for the journey. What follows is an often deeply uncomfortable but ultimately soul-searching journey that takes much longer than it should. As the story progresses, we flash back and forth from past to present to see the arc of Addie and Dylan’s relationship from beginning to end, providing the context necessary to understand how things became so sour between them.

Review

Ok, where do I start? I think I want to start with character. Honestly, this is a pretty promising premise, and I like the way O’Leary crafts the novel alternating flashback and the present. I also definitely enjoy her writing style. It’s engaging, polished, and meticulously layered. The problem is, I just legitimately didn’t like anyone in this book. I think partly it’s a generational thing. And partly it’s the fact that I am extremely vanilla as a person, probably so much so that it’s not to my credit. Even in my 20’s I never lived this lifestyle where male friends passed around their female friends for sex, and I certainly know nothing of what’s it’s like to go to posh parties with rich and beautiful people.

Don’t get me wrong, I will ever be in the corner of ring with the characters who you don’t necessarily like as long as they are compelling. In this case, however, they just weren’t. And that made it very difficult for me to root for Addie and Dylan as a couple. If you don’t care about the love story here, well… you aren’t left with much to care about at all. Even the peripheral characters were often creepy, weird, or utterly pretentious without even a glimmer of charm on their facade to make them passably likable.

Also, and this is probably one of the most important designations, with a love story I really enjoy seeing the development of the attraction, what sparks the chemistry. In The Flatshare, you don’t stumble upon characters who are instantly in love. There’s a slow and meaningful progression of feelings, and the reader can experience the shift in dynamic which improves upon the chemistry. In The Road Trip, two characters lock eyes, lust after one another immediately, have sex and then we miraculously find out they are in love. I’m an almost 40 year old woman, and I desperately want to tell these kids to cool their jets and get to know each other. That’s a recipe for disaster, and twenty years from now they’ll be wondering why the hell they jumped into a committed relationship so quickly with someone they really didn’t take time to explore on a more intimate level. Surface attraction only breeds future resentment and a feeling of being tied to someone you are incapable of loving deeply.

I don’t mean they shouldn’t have jumped in bed together. By all means, go for it, have fun! But where most people go wrong is they let their loins speak for their brains way too early. This book doesn’t depict a perfect love story. It depicts young people doing the things we all did as young people and pretending that it’s going to work long term. Those of us who are old and experienced can see the writing on the wall, and we’re cringing a little bit.

Overall, this book was pretty disappointing. Already just a couple of months after having finished it, I’m finding it to be rather forgettable. That’s a really bad sign. I give this one 2 stars.

Rating: 2 out of 5.
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The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty – a Book Review

This book was quite fittingly the October book pick for Read Between the Wines. Let’s face it, this is a classic horror novel. Though, if I’m being honest, I hear a lot more about the movie than I do the book. I feel like there’s a reason for that. Don’t get me wrong, there’s only one person to thank for what was, at the time, the most frightening thing anyone had ever seen. This story, loosely inspired by true events (a fact I find utterly terrifying) is the brain child of none other than Blatty. I’ve heard numerous people of that generation say that The Exorcist haunted both their waking and sleeping hours after having seen it. Perhaps it’s that hype. Perhaps it’s the fact that I expected so much that left me a little wanting upon finishing this book. So let’s get into it, shall we?

I don’t really feel the need to do much of a synopsis here. We all know the story. Little girl gets possessed by a demon and mother seeks the assistance of the Catholic church to exorcise the demon. Both expletives and pea soup are hurled, and the rest is history. I’m going to jump right into it and tell you why I think I didn’t really enjoy this as much as I thought I would. It all comes down to the fact that it’s a bit dated at this point in time. I found the dialogue a bit odd, almost hokey, and I was often frustrated by decisions made by the characters. Maybe it would be better to say I was frustrated by the reactions of characters over the course of the novel to events as they unfolded. I felt the medical portions droned on a bit. I mean, it was quite ridiculous at a certain point that they were still trying to find a medical reason for her floating on the ceiling and shit like that.

At the time this came out, I’m sure it was quite shocking to read. These days, however, people of my generation have been sort of desensitized to shock value. Graphic language? Have you ridden with me in traffic? Sex and violence? Turn on the TV even for a second and I’m sure you’ll find something that would have made your Grandma’s toes curl. True, in any era reading about a little girl masturbating with a crucifix is extremely disturbing, but it still doesn’t change the fact that the shock value in this has faded over the years. Take away the automatic visceral reaction to that kind of stimuli and you just find yourself a little bored. Add to that the fact that these characters aren’t really that likeable, and there’s not much to keep your attention. The only character I really felt a connection to was Father Damian. And that may only be because the mental image I crafted for him was my gynecologist dressed as a priest. He’s really quite a nice and endearing man, so it helped.

So, really, I’m not saying this a bad book. This is a classic story that will never fall out of the horror canon. It, in fact, revolutionized the world of horror and deserves an immense amount of respect, as does Blatty for its creation. Unfortunately for me, however, it just didn’t pack the same punch I expected, and this was sort of the general consensus among our members. I still give it 3 stars as a deeply original story for its time that is well written, despite the fact that I didn’t really draw much enjoyment from it.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

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Reading Challenge 2022 – 52 Books in 52 Weeks

This year I’ve decided to design my own 52 book reading challenge. I’m excited about doing this for multiple reasons. Firstly, it’s a great way to encourage myself to tackle some of those things I’ve been meaning to do for a while. And secondly, it’s a great way to push me out of my comfort zone from time to time. And thirdly, and probably the most important of the three, is accountability! Concrete goals are a great motivator! So without further adieu, here are my categories for my 2022 reading challenge. If you would like to join me in this, please do! If you do, leave me a comment linking to your post so I can check in with you as well.

Happy Reading in 2022!

  1. Celebrity Memoir
  2. Classic on TBR
  3. Horror Classic
  4. Book You Own but Haven’t Read
  5. 2022 Highly Anticipated Book
  6. True Crime
  7. Book Longer Than 600 pages
  8. Book One in a Series
  9. New Author Debut
  10. Book With an Animal on the Cover
  11. Book With a Number in the Title
  12. Coming of Age Story
  13. WWI Novel
  14. Book Set in the Great Depression
  15. Book With an Alliterative Title
  16. Bestselling Memoir
  17. Supernatural Horror Novel
  18. Bestselling Nonfiction
  19. Reread an Old Favorite
  20. Book Turned TV Show
  21. Popular YA Title
  22. Book You Previously DNF
  23. Book By a Favorite Author
  24. Short Story Collection
  25. Classic Russian Novel
  26. Book With a Color in the Title
  27. Own Voices Story
  28. A Random Library Grab
  29. Book With an Eye-Catching Cover
  30. Book With a One Word Title
  31. Dystopian Novel
  32. Classic Murder Mystery
  33. Book Published in the 1800’s
  34. Women’s Lit Title
  35. Science Fiction Classic
  36. Book by a New To You Author
  37. Book Borrowed From a Friend
  38. Book Recommended by a Librarian
  39. Goodreads Readers Choice Winner or Nominee
  40. Frequently Banned or Challenged Book
  41. Suspense/Thriller
  42. A Book From This List of 100 Books to Read Before You Die
  43. A Book by a Self Published Author
  44. A Book About Science or Technology
  45. A Book Set in Space
  46. Book by Author Using a Pseudonym
  47. A Psychological Thriller
  48. Fantasy
  49. Book Set in Scotland
  50. A Book About an Immigrant
  51. A Book That makes You Think
  52. A Cozy Feel-Good Read
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Final Reading Challenge Update – December 31, 2021

Well, while I definitely struggled and still haven ‘t gotten my reviews up, I did manage to complete my reading challenge. This week I will be quickly cranking out my reviews and getting started on my 2022 reads. I will also follow this post with my own reading challenge I’m designing for myself this year.

1. A Productivity BookStop Living on Autopilot by Antonio Neves – completed, UnF*ck Yourself by Gary John Bishop – completed
2. Book Becoming Movie in 2021 The Reincarnationist Papers by D. Eric Maikranz – completed
3. Goodreads Winner in 2020 – The Midnight Library – by Matt Haig – completed
4. Biography – The Lady and Her Monsters by Roseanne Montillo – completed
5. About a Pressing Social Issue – The Garden of Burning Sand by Corban Addison – completed, It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover – completed
6. A Book About BooksThe Bookshop of Yesterdays by Amy Meyerson – completed
7. Set in the 1920s – The Maid’s Version by Daniel Woodrell – completed
8. An Author Who Uses Initials – The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab – completed
9. Poetry – New Poems by Rilke – completed
10. A 2020 BestsellerAnxious People by Fredrik Backman – completed
11. Recommended by a Colleague – The Vanishing Half by Britt Bennett
12. With a Number in the Title – One Two Three by Laurie Frankel – completed
13. Bottom of Your To-Read List – The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
14. Reread a Favorite Book – Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling – completed
15. Own Voices Story – March by John Lewis – completed
16. Published in the 1800s – The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain – completed
17. Local Author – Drifting by Steven Cross – completed
18. Longer Than 400 Pages – The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow – completed
19. A Book Turned Into a TV Series – Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty – completed
20. A Book That Makes You ThinkAntkind by Charlie Kaufman – completed, Peaces by Helen Oyeyemi – completed
21. A WWII Story – The Willow Wren by Philipp Schott – completed
22. A Highly Anticipated Book – Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir- completed
23. Eye-Catching Cover – House of Hollow by Krystal Sutherlandcompleted, The Nature of Witches by Rachel Griffin – completed
24. A Summer ReadThe Flatshare by Beth O’Leary – completed, The Unlikely Adventures of the Shergill Sisters by Balli Kaur Jaswal – completed
25. Coming of Age Story – Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi – completed, The Facts of Life and Death by Belinda Bauer – completed
26. Bestselling Memoir – In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado– completed

27. Book Club FavoriteSouthern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix – completed
28. A Book About FriendshipThe Soul of an Octopus by Sy Montgomery – completed, How Lucky by Will Leitch – completed,Radiant: The Dancer, the Scientist, and a Friendship Forged in Light by Liz Heinecke – completed
29. An Audiobook – Walking With Ghosts: A Memoir by Gabriel Byrne – completed
30. Set in Australia – Apples Never Fall by Liane Moriarty – completed
31. By a Nobel Prize winner – I Am Malala by Malala Yousafszai – in progress
32. About an Immigrant – Daughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende – completed
33. Time Travel Novel – Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi– completed
34. An Author You Love – The Women of the Copper Country by Mary Doria Russell – completed
35. Childhood FavoriteTales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume – completed
36. Classic Read in High School – To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee – completed
37. Borrowed from the Library –Faye, Faraway by Helen Fisher – completed, Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson – completed, The Girl in His Shadow by Audrey Blake – completed, The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty – completed.
38. Nonfiction New York Times Bestseller – A Promised Land by Barack Obama – completed
39. From an Indie Publisher – The Enlightenment of the Greengage Tree by Shokoofeh Azar – completed
40. Fantasy – The Absolute Book by Elizabeth Knox – completed, Leonard: My Life as a Cat by Carlie Sorosiak – completed.
41. A Sequel – The Secret Keeper of Jaipur by Alka Joshi – completed
42. Recommended by a Librarian – My Heart is a Chainsaw by Stephen Graham Jones – completed
43. Psychological ThrillerIn the Garden of Spite by Camilla Bruce – completed, The Comfort of Monsters by Willa C. Richards – completed, Verity by Colleen Hoover – completed
44. Oprah Winfrey Book Club Pick The Sweetness of Water by Nathan Harris- completed
45. A Book About Technology – The Future is Yours by Dan Frey – completed
46. Title with Three Words – Home Before Dark by Riley Sager– completed
47. Debut Novel of Famous Author – The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie – completed
48. Genre You Don’t Usually Read – Code of the Hills: An Ozarks Mystery by Nancy Allen – completed
49. A Book Everyone Is Talking About – American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins – completed.
50. You Own But Haven’t Read – Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut – completed.
51. Borrowed from a Friend – The Hypnotist’s Love Story by Liane Moriarty– completed
52. A 2021 New Release – The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner – completed

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Apples Never Fall by Liane Moriarty – a Book Review

This was probably my most anticipated book of 2021. Moriarty manages to deliver effortlessly every time. While some of her books I didn’t like as much as others, there hasn’t been one I didn’t enjoy at least on some level. I especially like the way she builds complex characters that are both relatable and intriguing. Thankfully, this book did not disappoint on that level.

Synopsis

To some, Stan and Joy Delaney seem the perfect couple. Undeniable chemistry, an illustrious professional partnership in tennis that both supports and accentuates their personal relationship, and four strong and independent children who’ve grown up to be adults who make them proud. But when Joy Delaney goes missing and all signs point to Stan, fractures begin to form in the Delaney family. Two of the children believe their father could never do something so monstrous, but two believe there’s a dark side of their father at work that everyone has always ignored. As more time passes with no sign of Joy, secrets and old animosities begin to bubble to the surface. Sure to form, Moriarty keeps readers guessing until the very end.

Review

This book is told in alternating timelines. We get the present perspectives of the four Delaney children – Logan, Amy, Troy and Brooke – as well as the flashback perspective of Joy. Joy’s perspective is an important one. As a matter of fact, I oddly found her to be the most relatable character. While I don’t exist in the same sphere as Joy, for I’m not in my 70’s looking back on 50 years of marriage, I still can connect with that part of her that realizes she gave up a lot of her own personal accomplishments and dreams to build something with another person. There are a lot of women who sacrificed their own personal ambitions for the prospect of a successful family. It’s only natural to go through a period of mourning when you realize that what you’ve lost is no longer within reach. Seeing Joy through this deeply personal lens brings us closer to her, and it makes her matter to us. This, in turn, increases the suspense as we forge ahead to find out what really happened to her.

Along the way, Moriarty throws so much at us! The plot thickens so much it gets difficult to wade through, though in a good way that makes your head spin and makes you want to keep reading. And yet again, Moriarty delivers us quirky side characters who add a lot of authenticity and even some humor. They always serve as catalysts for more in-depth character development for any one of the main characters. There are actually a total of 7 extremely pivotal characters in this novel, and that’s a pretty difficult thing to successfully navigate without neglecting someone. But Moriarty proves she’s a master at character development, because all 7 feel solid and authentic. And no, I didn’t necessarily like them all, but I don’t like everyone I know in real life either. Everything is as it should be. A perfect blend of imperfections, meticulously crafted and leaving a wonderful feeling after you’ve closed the last page. 4 1/2 stars

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Published Sept 14, 2021 by Henry Hold and Co. ISBN 1250220254. 467 pages.

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My Heart is a Chainsaw by Stephen Graham Jones – a Book Review

I will try to do this review justice, as I read it back in October and then fell off the face of the Earth and made no progress with reviews. It’s not because I didn’t enjoy this book, because I really did. Probably because I have never really read a whole lot of horror in the past, Jones is a name in the literary world that was new to me. He visited the Springfield-Greene County Library for their Halloween horror series, so I wanted to make sure to read this book prior to his talk so I could be familiar with his work. And what a refreshing new-to-me author he is. It was a real pleasure getting to meet him and listen to him talk about his work, and I managed to pick up a copy of The Only Good Indians and get him to sign it. I look forward to reading it after the start of the new year.

Synopsis

Jade Daniel isn’t like other kids in her school. People see her as a bit troubled and weird, and she’s not just a fan of slasher films. Slasher films are her lifeblood. If she isn’t watching slashers, she’s writing about slashers, thinking about slashers, or talking about slashers. When bodies start turning up in her sleepy little town, Jade realizes she’s found herself in a slasher of her very own. Using her wits and extensive knowledge of the formula of the slasher, she will follow this real-life movie to its dramatic conclusion. Step #1, she has to convince the town’s archetypal final girl that she must embrace her role in the drama to come if they are destined to vanquish the evil forces at play.

Review

This is such a refreshingly unique piece of horror. It’s a celebration of a really popular genre of film, one to which I’m not incredibly familiar, but I still enjoyed the story. At times, the narrative is very twisty and complicated, and there’s always a pervasive psychological element. Jade is someone we want to trust, but we truly aren’t sure that we can. As the reader, I could tell Jade has a special place in Jones’ heart, because he crafted her with such depth and careful consideration. It’s pretty clear that there’s a part of Jade that IS Stephen Graham Jones, that he left a piece of his soul in the pages of her story. She’s just the right mix of imperfect human qualities to qualify as a perfect character. She feels real and raw, like honey fresh from the hive. You want to reach it, but if you try you might get a nasty sting. Underneath, though, is a sad little girl who was never given the opportunity to thrive, and she’s merely looking for her place in an unforgiving world. By the end of the book, if you don’t love her a little bit, there’s something wrong with you. But just like the people I love in real life, Jade’s obsessive nature could get a little annoying from time to time and I wanted to shake some sense into her.

The plot is quite twisty. The novel moves at a pretty rapid pace throughout. On audio, I sometimes found myself losing track of things, which I think was my fault more than the fault of the book, as I’m often trying to multitask. Don’t multitask with this one. Grab the reins and hold on for dear life, because your full attention is required. As far as the horror element is concerned, Jones does not hold back. This book is gruesome, gory, and at times just plain gross. Unless rotting elk carcasses are your thing, you might find yourself making the eww face more than a few times.

Frankly, there’s not a whole lot I can say about this book without giving away too much about the plot or the direction, so I’m really just going to leave it at that. If you are looking for a good horror novel with pretty superb writing and a fascinating main character, this is the book for you. And check out some more of Stephen Graham Jones’ work while you’re at it. He has a refreshing mix of eclectic literary horror from which to choose. Overall, I give this one 4 out of 5 stars.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Published August 31, 2021 by Simon and Schuster Audio. ISBN: 1797123327. Runtime 12 hrs 25 mins. Read by Cara Gee.

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WWW Wednesday – December 15, 2021

Wow, I’m sorry for such a long hiatus. I’m woefully behind on reviews, and things at home have been so crazy I simply haven’t had the time or motivation to work on my blog. Here’s a quick update for WWW Wednesday, because I’m wanting to get to a review pretty quickly so I can work on catching up.

WWW Wednesday is a weekly series hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. In it, bloggers share their reading progress and goals for the upcoming week.

The Three Ws are:

  • What are you currently reading?
  • What have you recently finished?
  • What will you read next?

What am I currently reading?

I’m currently just starting I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai and Christina Lamb. Looking forward to reading this one, and am going to try to get through it pretty quick so I can finish my reading challenge goals for this year. This one serves as my Book by a Nobel Prize winner category. I’m also listening to an old favorite, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by JK Rowling. I’ve never listened to them before, and I’m enjoying Jim Dale’s narration immensely.

What have I just finished reading?

I’ve just finished a sort of biography, The Lady and Her Monsters: A Tale of Dissections, Real-Life Dr. Frankensteins, and the Creation of Mary Shelley’s Masterpiece by Roseanne Montillo. Currently mulling over my thoughts about this one and will get a review posted soon, but I’m not sure how soon because I have several others to write as well. Ugh.

What will I read next?

I am on the precipice of not finishing all my categories for my reading challenge, but I’m hell bent on finishing. Next, I will pick up the Book recommended by a colleague: The Vanishing Half by Britt Bennett. And on audiobook I’m not sure, but I know it will come from my categories I have yet to finish. Wish me luck on getting everything complete in these final days while also juggling a holiday. Eek!

Feel free to leave a comment and let me know what you’re currently reading! Thanks for stopping by to visit. Happy Reading!

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Reading Challenge Update – November 1, 2021

With two months left to go, here’s where I stand on the challenge. While I do need to make sure I’m choosing books that fit into categories, I am sitting at a pretty good place. Without further ado, here’s my challenge update for the end of October.

1. A Productivity BookStop Living on Autopilot by Antonio Neves – completed, UnF*ck Yourself by Gary John Bishop – completed
2. Book Becoming Movie in 2021 The Reincarnationist Papers by D. Eric Maikranz – completed
3. Goodreads Winner in 2020 – The Midnight Library – by Matt Haig – completed
4. Biography
5. About a Pressing Social Issue – The Garden of Burning Sand by Corban Addison – completed, It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover – completed
6. A Book About BooksThe Bookshop of Yesterdays by Amy Meyerson – completed
7. Set in the 1920s – The Maid’s Version by Daniel Woodrell – completed
8. An Author Who Uses Initials – The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab – completed
9. Poetry – New Poems by Rilke – completed
10. A 2020 BestsellerAnxious People by Fredrik Backman – completed
11. Recommended by a Colleague
12. With a Number in the Title – Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut – completed. One Two Three by Laurie Frankel – completed
13. Bottom of Your To-Read List
14. Reread a Favorite Book

15. Own Voices Story – March by John Lewis – completed
16. Published in the 1800s
17. Local Author – Drifting by Steven Cross – completed
18. Longer Than 400 Pages – The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow – completed
19. A Book Turned Into a TV Series – Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty – completed
20. A Book That Makes You ThinkAntkind by Charlie Kaufman – completed, Peaces by Helen Oyeyemi – completed
21. A WWII Story – The Willow Wren by Philipp Schott – completed
22. A Highly Anticipated Book – Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir- completed
23. Eye-Catching Cover – House of Hollow by Krystal Sutherlandcompleted, The Nature of Witches by Rachel Griffin – completed
24. A Summer ReadThe Flatshare by Beth O’Leary – completed, The Unlikely Adventures of the Shergill Sisters by Balli Kaur Jaswal – completed
25. Coming of Age Story – Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi – completed, The Facts of Life and Death by Belinda Bauer – completed
26. Bestselling Memoir – In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado– completed

27. Book Club FavoriteSouthern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix – completed
28. A Book About FriendshipThe Soul of an Octopus by Sy Montgomery – completed, How Lucky by Will Leitch – completed,Radiant: The Dancer, the Scientist, and a Friendship Forged in Light by Liz Heinecke – completed
29. An Audiobook – Walking With Ghosts: A Memoir by Gabriel Byrne – completed
30. Set in Australia – Apples Never Fall by Liane Moriarty – currently reading
31. By a Nobel Prize winner
32. About an Immigrant – Daughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende – completed
33. Time Travel Novel – Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi– completed
34. An Author You Love – The Women of the Copper Country by Mary Doria Russell – completed
35. Childhood FavoriteTales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume – completed
36. Classic Read in High School
37. Borrowed from the Library –Faye, Faraway by Helen Fisher – completed, Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson – completed, The Girl in His Shadow by Audrey Blake – completed
38. Nonfiction New York Times Bestseller – A Promised Land by Barack Obama – completed
39. From an Indie Publisher – The Enlightenment of the Greengage Tree by Shokoofeh Azar – completed
40. Fantasy – The Absolute Book by Elizabeth Knox – completed
41. A Sequel – The Secret Keeper of Jaipur by Alka Joshi – completed
42. Recommended by a Librarian
43. Psychological ThrillerIn the Garden of Spite by Camilla Bruce – completed, The Comfort of Monsters by Willa C. Richards – completed, Verity by Colleen Hoover – completed
44. Oprah Winfrey Book Club Pick The Sweetness of Water by Nathan Harris- completed
45. A Book About Technology – The Future is Yours by Dan Frey – completed
46. Title with Three Words – Home Before Dark by Riley Sager– completed
47. Debut Novel of Famous Author – The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie – completed
48. Genre You Don’t Usually Read – Code of the Hills: An Ozarks Mystery by Nancy Allen – completed
49. A Book Everyone Is Talking About – American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins – completed.
50. You Own But Haven’t Read
51. Borrowed from a Friend – The Hypnotist’s Love Story by Liane Moriarty– completed
52. A 2021 New Release – The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner – completed

Total Books Read: 55. Total categories complete: 42. Books remaining to Read Toward Challenge: 10. In progress: 1

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

UnF*ck Yourself: Get Out of Your Head and Into Your Life by Gary John Bishop – A Book Review

I read this super short book in an afternoon on audio while I cleaned my house. Which is, interestingly enough, something I often need someone screaming motivational phrases in my ear in order to accomplish. How very appropriate was this book, in that case. This is a very simple book. Gary John Bishop, a personal development expert from Glasgow, Scotland, takes off the kid gloves and offers readers a very no-nonsense in-your-face approach to fixing your shitty life. In saying that, he’s really telling you to fix your shitty attitude. Frankly, this is a lesson I need on a pretty much daily basis.

Throughout the book, he introduces readers to seven “personal assertions” that every human should implement in their lives. Honestly, many of these were extremely important. Though the book is really not much more than a pep talk, it is very helpful to be reminded of such things as “I am not my thoughts: I am what I do.” That’s so true. How many of us want to accomplish something and know we CAN accomplish something, but we give up in the face of self doubt and wind up accomplishing nothing? Being able to do something and actually doing it are two different things. On the reverse of that, how many people are actually grossly incompetent but have the audacity and the relentless drive to… oh, I don’t know… maybe become President? I can name at least one of those. Though, maybe Bishop needs to write a new book telling those people to go back home and binge watch Criminal Minds and snack on cheetos to save the world a little headache.

Nothing in this book is revolutionary. It’s a helpful tool for motivation, but it’s not going to really provide anything truly useful by way of exercises or techniques. It is very helpful as a reminder to continually attempt to alter your thought process so that you aren’t your worst enemy, but it’s really up to you to take what you glean from this book and really put it into practice in a way that’s meaningful for you. I do recommend listening to the audio if having a frustrated Scotsman bootcamp-style yell in your ear is your jam. Trust me, it’s actually quite pleasant, because everything, even anger, is better with a Scottish accent. At times, I did sort of feel like the kid in detention for the 15th time while the teacher at the end of his wits rails at me about how he knows I can do better but I’m just not trying, and that’s ridiculous because I’m smart and worthwhile and… you get the gist.

Frankly, when it comes to self help books, I think each reader has a style that’s going to speak to them more. With this book, Bishop offers something fairly unique. It’s a tough love approach, and that works better with some people. For someone who just needs a little boost, this may be perfect for them. But I probably wouldn’t recommend it for someone with crippling anxiety and depression who needs real psychological help to pull them out of the abyss of self-loathing and personal stasis. It might be helpful as a supplement, but it would take a lot more than this book in such situations. And the tone might actually be off-putting to some. Overall, I say 3 stars for this.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Published Aug 1, 2017 by HarperAudio. ISBN: 0062819496. Runtime 3 hrs 24 mins. Read by the Author.

Posted in Nonfiction, self help, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments