If there’s a way into hell, someone will always find it: Reviewing The Hollow Places by T. Kingfisher

Hi everyone! I hope everything is going well for all of you. I’m still trudging along with books and music to keep me entertained in the meantime. In case you haven’t noticed, this is now the third book I am reviewing by T. Kingfisher so it is safe to say I’m a fan now. Feel free to check out my two previous reviews, both of which are novellas, if you are so interested. Now, let’s talk about The Hollow Places.

Kara has hit a low point. After a messy divorce, she is dreading having to move back in with her overbearing mother. She is released when her Uncle Earl calls and offers her a place to stay. Uncle Earl is a lovable eccentric who operates the Glory to God Museum of Natural Wonders, Curiosities, and Taxidermy in a quaint little town. Having spent many summers working there in her childhood, Kara decides to help her aging uncle. One night while she is closing, Kara finds a strange and impossible hole in the wall that leads to an entirely different world. She and her friend Simon decide to venture there and discover a horror with an insatiable appetite for the living.

Compared to the last horror novel I read (American Psycho), this one was genuinely fun and not too upsettingly creepy. T. Kingfisher does an excellent job creating atmospheric horror by utilizing natural settings, like a forest, to make a wonderfully creepy experience. I enjoyed Kara as she was a relatable narrator with a sense of self-awareness that made the reading experience all the more enjoyable. I would also argue that this novel had a sense of magical realism to it that added to the mystery at the heart of the plot. Overall, this was yet another great novel by T. Kingfisher. If you want a horror novel that is a little more PG-13 or is just looking for a good place to start in the genre, go ahead and start here then go read What Moves the Dead, a horror novella by T. Kingfisher.

No one is safe, nothing is redeemed: Reviewing American Psycho by Brett Easton Ellis

Hello everyone! I hope you are all taking care of yourselves. This review is going to be…a lot, needless to say. I have not seen the movie adaptation (which I’m sure many of you are familiar with) of the same name, so I won’t be referring to it or making any comparisons to the movie. However, I plan on watching it sometime in the near future just for the heck of it. Now, let’s (finally) talk about American Psycho.

MAJOR CONTENT WARNING: Graphic depictions of violence and torture, Misogyny and Misogynistic Violence, Racism and Racially Motivated Violence, Homophobia, Animal Death, Offensive Language, Graphic Sexual Content, Discussions of Self-Harm (Seriously, just be warned if you want to read this book)

To his friends, girlfriends, and co-workers, Patrick Bateman has it all. He’s handsome, charming, smart, and rich. At only twenty-six years old, Patrick Bateman is on top of the world. Unbeknownst to everyone around him, he is hiding a horrific secret and spends his nights acting upon his violent urges. Soon enough, Bateman thinks he is losing control of himself and finds himself face-to-face with the consequences of his actions.

Wow, I am genuinely shocked that I read this book all the way through. Despite this book only being 400 pages and most of the chapters being relatively short, it felt just so long. Now, I fully understand that American Psycho is meant to be satirical, and, while I did see elements of that, it was still so graphic and gratuitous in every sense of the word. This book made my stomach turn and, while I know my limits when it comes to horror, this was the book that hit my limit. It is just wild and incredibly jarring as it goes from Patrick monologuing about his favorite musicians to descriptions of some of the most horrendous acts of violence that anyone can fathom. I do, however, wish I could have a group discussion of some kind about this book as there is so much commentary to unpack. Am I going to tell you to avoid this book? No. I am going to say that if you do decide to read American Psycho, please take caution. I am sure that I am missing some content warnings. I am sure that if you are an avid horror reader then this one will certainly be on your TBR.

True gods have no beginning. True gods have no end: Reviewing Hall of Smoke by H.M. Long

Hi everyone! I hope you are all cozy and warm while the snow piles upon us. I know it has been a while since I posted last. I’ve been dealing with some things and my health has been a little wonky. It’s nothing that can’t be dealt with, but it’s just inconvenient. I want to feel good so I can continue reading, you know? Anyways, there’s nothing like a good book to make you feel better. Let’s talk about Hall of Smoke.

Content Warning: Graphic Depictions of Violence, Blood and Gore, Graphic Descriptions of Bodily Injury

Hessa prides herself on being an Eangi, a priestess of the Goddess of War. She is sent into exile by her goddess after refusing to kill a stranger. Upon returning to her village, Hessa discovers that raiders have destroyed her entire world and everyone she loved. She takes it upon herself to hunt down the stranger she failed to kill in the hope that her goddess might forgive her. On her journey, Hessa finds herself in the middle of a war between clans and gods. As everything Hessa once believed begins to fall apart around her, she must face a fate worse than death and battle against an ancient power coming to destroy everything.

Heavily inspired by Norse mythology and sagas, Hall of Smoke is an epic tale of revenge and war. I enjoyed the intricate mythology that H.M. Long creates and utilizes to drive the story. I don’t want to call Hessa a “strong female lead” because I know people tend to roll their eyes at that description but I do genuinely mean that she is a strong female lead as a compliment. I also appreciate when fantasy novels like this are still somewhat realistic when it comes to characters being tired while journeying or getting injured and having to recover. The pacing is steady and the plot has a great buildup. This is a perfect adventure fantasy for winter, so I would recommend Hall of Smoke.

We never stop. We never sleep. And now we’re in your home: Reviewing Horrorstør by Grady Hendrix

Hi everyone! I hope everything is going well. I’ve decided to unwind by reading horror novels and I really don’t know what that says about me (lol). As you all know at this point, I love books with weird concepts and plots. This one has been on my radar for some time now and I actually received it for Christmas. Now, let’s delve into the rather unique world of Horrorstør.

Trigger Warning: Violence, Gore, Torture, Claustrophobia, Body Horror, Graphic Descriptions of Bodily Injury

Amy Porter is just trying to get through another day working at Orsk, a well known Ikea knockoff. She’s been struggling for a while now and is trying to get transferred to somewhere other than Cleveland. One day, her uptight manager Basil approaches her with an offer: she and another employee join him to watch the store overnight. He suspects that someone is breaking into the store at night as weird messes are being found everywhere. For double overtime pay, Amy agrees, thinking it will be no big deal. As the night goes on, though, it becomes evident that something darker is happening in Orsk and Amy finds herself facing horrors that defy all imagination.

As someone who worked at a popular retail store for a few years, I knew I had to give this novel a read. I love horror that takes place in unsuspecting settings, like the one Hendrix creates for this novel. This fast paced, unique horror novel is certainly a standout. Hendrix creates a deeply unsettling atmosphere with details that will make you squirm. It actually got pretty intense towards the end of the novel. While survival horror isn’t necessarily my favorite subgenre, it worked really well in this instance. Horrorstør is a wild and chilling novel that will make sure you never look at a furniture store the same way again. If you do decide to read this novel, I highly recommend buying the physical copy as it is meant to look like an Ikea catalogue and it helps add to the experience.

And he paused, in the space between inhalation and exhalation, and invited the magic in: Reviewing A Marvelous Light (Book One in The Last Binding Trilogy) by Freya Marske

Hi there everyone! January is still drab and dull as anything, but I am managing. I don’t think anyone really enjoys January anyways. I did just get my copy of Hellbent so that review will be coming in the near future. Other than that, I don’t have much else to say. Let’s talk about A Marvelous Light.

18+ Readers Only! Adult content! Separate content warning for violence and strong language

Sir Robin Blyth is doing his best to manage his parents’ estate, support his sister, and be a good businessman. A clerical error, however, put him in the position of liaison to a secret magical society. With this new world comes new dangers. Robin becomes a target for dangerous people and receives a curse for his trouble. The only person who can help him is Edwin Courcey, Robin’s reluctant counterpart. The two men delve into mystery that throws into question everything they know. As Edwin and Robin find themselves caught up in a deadly plot, more secrets are unearthed that people died to keep.

I absolutely did not think I would like this book as much as I did but this was just about everything I look for in a novel. I loved Freya Marske’s writing and there were certain lines I re-read a few times because I was just so taken aback. The narration was just so lovely at times. The magic system is interesting and I wanted to know more about the lore that Marske introduced. Also, wow, this book was so spicy! I was not expecting that but I was pleasantly surprised by how well the relationship between Robin and Edwin developed over the course of the book. (Also the spicy scenes were so good!) This book also gets major bonus points from me for being historical fiction. I feel like this review isn’t super coherent but you all know what I am getting at. You should definitely check this one out if you want a unique fantasy with a great romance.

The king! In the form of man: Reviewing Birds of Paradise by Oliver K. Langmead

Hi everyone! January may be as dreary as ever, but I hope you are still doing all right. I have been on the lookout for this book for a while and finally managed to find a copy in Barnes and Noble’s. It seems like a lot of the books I want aren’t available in mainstream book stores. I have to turn to Amazon and I’d really rather not contribute to Amazon any more. I don’t about the rest of you, but I am looking into buying books from alternative places. If you have any online book retailers that deliver relatively quickly, I (and I’m sure others) would love to know. I did preorder Hellbent, the sequel to Ninth House, and will review that one in the near future. Now, let’s discuss Birds of Paradise.

Content Warning: Violence, Gore, Some depictions of racism, Some graphic descriptions of death, Loss/Grief

Adam, the first man, has been wandering the Earth for centuries up on centuries. He is tired and just biding him time with random jobs, among other distractions. He has seemingly found peace until another former resident of Eden, Rook, sends him on an investigation to find his brother, Magpie. When Adam finds Magpie, he also finds out that remnants of Eden are turning up all over the world and Magpie asks for help recreating the Garden. Thrilled at the thought of rebuilding his beloved home, Adam is thrilled at the opportunity. As he journeys across America and the British Isles, he, with the help of other animals, must work quickly to gather the last pieces of Eden before they fall into the wrong hands.

I honestly couldn’t think of what this book reminded me of until I found a blurb comparing it to American Gods, and that is when I realized why I enjoyed this book so much. Birds of Paradise has a surreal, dreamlike plot with plenty of poignant moments. Oliver K. Langmead introduces interesting philosophical quandaries throughout Adam’s journey. If you are a little concerned about whether this book is religious or not, it is not necessarily religious nor does it preach any particular message. Langmead focuses on an important, but often forgotten, figures in Biblical lore in a way that draws you and doesn’t let you go. I loved how wild this book was, while still having a well – structured narrative. This is a book made me wish I had some book club I could talk about this to. What I’m really trying to say is: absolutely give this book a read. It is unique, thoughtful, and profound in all the best ways.

Despite everything, there was hope: Reviewing Star Wars: Shadow of the Sith by Adam Christopher

Hello everyone! I know we are only a week into the new year, but I still hope that the new year is treating you well. I have definitely been in the mood for more Star Wars content lately. I will definitely do some research on which Star Wars novels I should read in the future. In the meanwhile, let’s go to a galaxy far, far away and talk about Shadow of the Sith.

It’s been twenty years since the Empire fell. Luke Skywalker is working tirelessly to build a future for the New Republic. The past, however, not far behind. Luke begins having visions of a terrifying and ancient on a lost world called Exegol. His fears are only confirmed when an old friend, Lando Calrissian, comes to him with news of a sinister plot by a new Sith Lord. Lando, having lost his daughter, believes her disappearance is tied to a plot to kidnap a young girl named Rey, led by Ochi of Bestoon, a Sith assassin. The two old friends team up on a dangerous journey across the galaxy to stop this deadly new force and save the galaxy.

Although I am not sure if this book is considered canon in the Star Wars universe, it very well should be. Adam Christopher does a great job filling in some of the blanks between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens. I am not Star Wars lore expert by any means, but I certainly enjoyed the lore that he incorporates in this novel. Luke and Lando make for a great pairing who were enjoyable to follow throughout this story. Though this novel is on the longer side, it is fast paced and has plenty of action. What is Star Wars without a great fight scene? This may be my new favorite Star Wars novel, next to Brotherhood. I would definitely add this to your list of must reads if you are interested in delving into the literary side of a galaxy far, far away.

There she is, a human being, diving into the unknown: Reviewing My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh

Hi everyone! In case you couldn’t tell, I got a bit of reading done on my “holiday break.” The “BookTok” girlies suckered me into this book as it had been making the rounds as a favorite for a couple of months. Mostly, I was sold on it being “weird” and I just love a book with a bizarre plot or writing style, even if it is not a genre I normally read. Now, if you are so curious, let’s talk about My Year of Rest and Relaxation.

Content Warning: Discussions and Depictions of Drug Abuse, Discussions and Depictions of Alcohol Abuse, Discussions of Grief and Loss of a Loved One, Sexual Content, Offensive Language, Depictions and Discussions of Self-Harm

Our narrator seems to have it all; she’s young, pretty, rich, and educated. Everything is falling apart for her, though. She lost her parents, her Wall Street boyfriend has serious commitment issues, and her best friend is becoming co-dependent on her. She decides to take extreme measures to get her life back into place. Her solution: she is going to “hibernate” for a year. It’s the year 2000 and the perfect time for new beginnings.

I am going to be honest right away and say that I do think that this book was somewhat overhyped. Not to a ridiculous degree, but still. I did, however, really enjoy how Ottessa Moshfegh made a mostly stream-of-consciousness novel actually very entertaining. The narrator is certainly a walking disaster in the most entertaining way. Her character voice was rather crude at times, though, so that might not fly with a lot of people. I do appreciate how well-rounded the narrator was, though. She walked a thin line between irredeemable and sympathetic. I personally enjoy unreliable or unlikable narrators when they are well-crafted. Also, let’s be honest, hibernating for a year isn’t the worst idea ever. My Year of Rest and Relaxation was certainly a thought-provoking read and I’m going to say that you should definitely give it a try if you want something that is unique and character-focused. (PS: If you love “Fleabag,” then I almost guarantee that you’ll like this book.)

Sister. Lover. Traitor. Hero: Reviewing Ariadne by Jennifer Saint

Hello and Happy New Years, everyone! May 2023 be the best year ever! I was not expecting to post a review so soon, but I’m trying not to let my TBR pile get out of hand. At this point, I just can’t bring myself to put down a book for anything. I also decided I wanted to commit to listening to more audiobooks this year. Though I don’t really believe in New Year’s resolutions, I do want to do more writing this year. Now, enough of my rambling. Let’s review Ariadne.

Ariadne is a princess of Crete, the eldest daughter of King Minos. Growing up, she had to deal with the curse that the god Poseidon had brought upon her family. Her brother, the Minotaur, is a blood-thirsty beast who Minos uses to terrorize Athens. When an Athenian prince, Theseus, comes to slay the beast, Ariadne decides to help him in his mission. Her decision will impact not only her future but the future of her younger sister, Phaedra. Time will only tell and the Fates have their own plans.

I am really loving this genre of mythology retellings, particularly Greek mythology. Jennifer Saint does an excellent job adding depth to this fairly extensive myth. My favorite aspects of this story are the way that Saint highlights the difficulties of motherhood and sisterhood. This novel has a strong feminist tone that really highlighted the way women in Greek myths were often portrayed unfairly. Ariadne was the perfect subject for such a tale. If you love Greek mythology then you will absolutely love Ariadne.

My Favorites of 2022

Hi everyone! I hope 2022 treated you well and that 2023 treats you better. I’m right back with my annual favorites list. I hope you all enjoy this list. It helps me remember everything I enjoyed and gives you all a short list of things you might want to check out in the future. I am wishing you all the best as we move into another new year,

Books

  • The Year of the Witching by Alexis Henderson
  • Mary B. by Katherine J. Chen
  • A Thousand Ships by Natalie Haynes
  • Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir
  • The Faceless Old Woman Who Secretly Lives in Your Home by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor
  • Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno – Garcia
  • The Death of Jane Lawrence by Caitlin Starling
  • The Dark Olympus series by Katee Robert
  • The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
  • Summer Sons by Lee Mandelo
  • Winter’s Orbit and Ocean’s Echo by Everina Maxwell
  • Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado
  • Star Wars: Brotherhood by Mike Chen
  • The Kaiju Preservation Society by John Scalzi
  • The House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune
  • House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski
  • The Wolf Den by Elodie Harper
  • The Locked Tomb Trilogy by Tamsyn Muir
  • What Moves the Dead by T. Kingfisher
  • The Daughter of Doctor Moreau by Silvia Moreno – Garcia
  • Alice Isn’t Dead by Joseph Fink
  • This Thing Between Us by Gus Moreno
  • The Woman in Black by Susan Hill
  • Horseman by Christina Henry
  • A God in the Shed by J-F. Dubeau
  • The Alienist by Caleb Carr
  • The Lights of Prague by Nicole Jarvis
  • Babel: An Arcane History by R.F. Kuang
  • Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel

Movies

  • Nope (dir. Jordan Peele)
  • Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (dir. Ryan Coogler)
  • The Batman (dir. Matt Reeves)
  • Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (dir. Sam Raimi)
  • Werewolf by Night (dir. Michael Giacchino)

TV Shows

  • Andor: Season 1 (Disney +)
  • Ms. Marvel: Season 1 (Disney +)
  • Obi – Wan Kenobi (Disney +)
  • Moon Knight (Disney +)
  • The Sandman: Season 1 (Netflix)
  • House of the Dragon: Season 1(HBO Max)
  • Our Flag Means Death: Season 1 (HBO Max)
  • Interview with the Vampire (AMC +)
  • Fleabag: Seasons 1 and 2 (Prime Video)
  • The Boys: Season 3 (Prime Video)
  • What We Do In The Shadows: Seasons 1 – 4 (Hulu)
  • Abbot Elementary: Seasons 1 – 2 ( Hulu)
  • Stranger Things: Season 4 (Netflix)

Music

  • Dawn FM by The Weeknd (album)
  • The Gods We Can Touch by AURORA (album)
  • Laurel Hell by Mitski (album)
  • Give Me the Future by Bastille (album)
  • Are You Happy Now? by Jensen McRae (album)
  • Dance Fever by Florence + the Machine (album)
  • Preacher’s Daughter by Ethel Cain (album)
  • PANORAMA by Hayley Kiyoko (album)
  • Hold On Baby by King Princess (album)
  • Unholy by Sam Smith feat. Kim Petras (album)
  • Swan Upon Leda by Hozier (single)
  • Midnights (3am Edition) by Taylor Swift (album)
  • Blood Upon the Snow by Hozier feat. Bear McCreary (single)
  • Mary On A Cross by Ghost (single)
  • MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT by Elley Duhe (single)
  • Mr. Morale and the Big Steppers by Kendrick Lamar (album)
  • Did you know there’s a tunnel under Ocean Boulevard by Lana Del Rey (single)
  • This Is Why and The News by Paramore (singles)
  • songs written for piano by Katie Gregson – MacLeod