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About Horror

Spoilers for the movie The Disappointments Room.  

 

Recently, I was thinking that to get into the Halloween spirit (because Halloween starts in mid July), I would start watching some horror movies.  So far, I’ve watched five horror/thriller movies, and I only really liked one of them.  One of the others was okay, but I didn’t really like it.  Anyway, I started to wonder if I even really like the horror genre.  I mean, earlier this year I was pretty into it, but, if you look back at those reviews, a decent number of them are negative.  

I started wondering why I don’t like horror, and I have a theory.

First, because I would love to see more of it, let me give you a little backstory of my own.  

Do you remember the Goosebumps TV show that came out in the late nineties?  With over the top horror and terrible special effects?  I watched every episode on television and Netflix when I was younger.  Most of the plots and monsters were so over the top that they were actually laughable.  But every now and then, you’d get one of the less over the top episodes that would be just a little too real.  Maybe when you first watched it you wouldn’t realize how unsettling it was, but that night, when you needed to go get a glass of water, or you think you might hear something outside your window, all the details would come back to you.    

Years later, when I found The Haunting Hour series on Netflix, I watched all of them, too.  Even though I am way older than the target audience, and it’s been a long time since I watched them, the episode “Scarecrow” still freaks me out.  Even though I haven’t seen that episode in years, I can still picture scenes from it, and, when picturing scenes from it, I feel the muscles in my back tense.  The idea of being entirely separated from all other humans, and possibly being the last human in the world is creepy enough.  But to know that you are not alone because some terrible, supernatural being is watching you, and that they killed all the other humans, is terrifying.  

Now nearly every horror movie, novel, and video game is entirely over the top, some as badly as Goosebumps.  It’s not just a monster, it’s that monster exaggerated until the suspension of disbelief is too great.  It becomes more ridiculous than scary.  

Take the new It movie, for example.  I haven’t watched the new one or the original, nor have I read the book.  I have, however, seen many discussions of it on tumblr, and the memes about it are literally everywhere.  They’re impossible to avoid, so I know a lot more about this movie than I ever cared to know.  

One of the complaints that I’ve seen several times is that the new clown is way over the top, and purposefully scary.  I agree with this.  The one from the original looked more like a normal clown, this clown looks like a mask from a Halloween store.  

Imagine with me:  I look out my window and I see someone dressed as a creepy clown.  That’s unsettling, but it’s clearly someone trying to be creepy.  Obviously, it’s worse for me because I live in the middle of nowhere, not some modern high rise, so it takes more effort to come out here to scare people.  Also, most of the people who live on my street are in their sixties or older, and they wouldn’t dress up and try to scare people.  If there was someone standing in my yard, staring at my window, it would be pretty obvious that it was targeted directly at me, which would make me kind of uncomfortable.  However, like I said, if I lived in an apartment complex and saw someone dressed as a creepy clown outside the building, I would assume that they were just trying to freak a bunch of people out.  I probably wouldn’t think about it that much.  It would be someone else’s problem (and if you haven’t read that book, you really should).  I would assume that someone else would have seen it and that they would deal with it.

Now that I think about it more, there are two people I know who would probably think it would be funny to dress as a creepy clown and try to freak me out.  So even though I live in the middle of nowhere, if I saw a creepy clown, I would assume it was one of them, and that the other one wasn’t far away.  

I would be much more freaked out if I saw a normal looking clown outside my house.  With a creepy clown, its entire purpose is to freak people out.  With someone who’s just wearing a normal clown costume, you don’t know what their goal is.  Maybe they’re here for a party (surprise!), maybe they’re just trying to freak you out, but maybe they want to break into your house and wear your skin.  With a normal clown, there are more things that you’re unsure of, so it’s creepier.  (I mean, really, he could just be there for the party, or the party could take a sudden and horrible turn.)  Also, in my opinion, after the whole creepy clown thing that happened last year, I’ve kind of gotten used to them?  I mean, obviously I don’t want to encounter one in a dark alley, but I don’t want to encounter anyone in a dark alley.  Preferably, I’m never even in a situation that ends with me being in a dark alley.  

Honestly, I’d be most concerned if I saw a middle aged man attempting to hide behind my mailbox because then you have no idea what his goals are.  With the other two things, there’s every possibility that they’re just trying to scare you, with a random middle aged man, his goal probably isn’t freaking people out, so what is he trying to do?  And what part of the internet will show the video?

I specifically say middle aged man because if it’s a guy in his teens or twenties it’s possible that he’s just trying to freak people out.  With a middle aged man, chances are he wasn’t dared by friends to do something stupid.  Is this fair?  Probably not.  But if you’re looking to freak me out, now you know.  That’s probably not smart to publicize, but here I am.  

 

Horror is so much scarier when it’s just a few steps away from reality.  Then it’s easier to relate the things happening to your own experiences, and you’re more likely to be freaked out.  A demon clown isn’t scary.  A normal clown that can move from the road by your house to right outside your door inhumanly fast is.  Even a normal person who can do that is scary.  Maybe it’s just someone who’s slightly creepy, maybe they have a certain look in their eyes or unnaturally long fingers.  Maybe you can explain that all away by saying that some people look strange, but then they also move inhumanly fast.  That’s harder to explain, at least before you are dead from sudden and unexpected creepy thing attack.  

You can’t explain a creepy clown.  I mean, you can say it’s a person in a mask, but it’s still a person (I refuse to even entertain the possibility that a clown is part of its own species.  It’s a human in a costume, and I won’t accept any other explanation).  Creepy things are creepier when you can try to explain them, but they defy explanation except as something supernatural.  

Let’s move back to my original complaints about the horror genre.  Not all horror can be realistic, I get that.  Vampires, zombies, werewolves, and demons are not realistic.  Some suspension of disbelief is needed to enjoy any horror novel, film, or game.  I’m not looking for realistic horror, though.  I just want it to be something that’s believable.  If the whole concept seems unbelievable and impossible, EVEN IN A BOOK WORLD WITH PARANORMAL THINGS, then the author owes the reader a good explanation in the end.  If you’ve followed me for any amount of time, you know that I love backstory, so GIVE ME THE BACKSTORY.  I love mythology about horrible monsters.  

My favorite of the horror movies I’ve watched recently was The Disappointments Room.  I liked it because it didn’t use normal horror movie cliches like jump scares or excessive gore to freak you out.  Instead, it had a character who was actually mentally ill.  You’re left wondering if what she saw was real, or if it was just in her own mind.  I’ve recommended that movie to pretty much everyone I know, and I would willingly watch it again several times.  Literally, my only complaint about the movie is that the cat died, but I’m a cat person, so you shouldn’t have expected anything more from me.  

This is the sort of realistic horror that I’m talking about.  Something like that could actually happen.  

Also, with all of the terrible things happening in the world today, I kind of feel like some horror just gets tedious.  I don’t need to watch a thriller to be freaked out, I just need to look at the articles my phone suggests to me.  I’m constantly bombarded with horrible things, so maybe some horror has just lost its appeal when one is living in the what is seemingly the end of days?  

I don’t know.  

I’m probably going to try to read some horror sometime soonish, just because it’s been a while, but I don’t know.  

If you know of any good horror that isn’t ridiculous and over the top, leave a comment and I’ll read/watch it.  

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A Review of Made For You by Melissa Marr

I’m going to write this spoiler free because if you knew the ending it would be ruined for you.  I do mention some things that could be considered spoilery, but they’re things that were mentioned in the book description, so I don’t consider them to be spoilers.  

 

I’ve had this book since it came out.  I tried to read it several times, but, for some reason, I always put it down.  I had actually convinced myself that I wasn’t going to like it.  I only picked it up because I’ve been nearly in a reading slump for two months (I think I blame Revolver), and, since this is nothing like anything I’ve read recently, I thought it might keep me out of a reading slump.  

I was so convinced that I wasn’t going to like it that, while reading the first fifty-ish pages of the book, I was trying to work out how I’d write the negative review.  

So now I have to say this, I actually really liked it.  

Don’t get me wrong, it had its bad bits, but I didn’t expect to like any of it.  

The book was engaging enough that it didn’t really bother me that I found the characters unrelatable.  Also, just because I didn’t relate to the characters doesn’t mean that they were poorly written.  They were interesting characters.  They had deep emotions, and they seemed like real people.  They just weren’t people I could relate to.  They’re preppy people from the south.  I’m a kind of goth Radiohead fan from the northeast.  Obviously, I am a very different person than the main characters in this book.  

I didn’t like that Eva literally admitted to dumbing herself down to appear attractive to guys.  I don’t get what kind of person would do that.  If a guy doesn’t like your intelligence he isn’t someone you want to date.  Who would go out with someone who liked them because they were dumbing themselves down?  Eva was entirely aware of the fact that she was doing this and didn’t stop until Nate told her to.  She didn’t even seem bothered by it.  Not even when it was pointed out.  I’ve been sitting here trying to expand on this paragraph, but the only thing I’ve done is make a lot of disgruntled expressions and run my hands through my hair in disgust so much that it is now sticking straight up.  Dumbed down female characters are never okay.  

I know I’ve mentioned this before, but that was about six months ago, and it applies to this book, so here it is again.  

I don’t understand why there’s such a focus on romance when so many horrible things are happening.  Someone attempted to murder Eva.  This person actually did murder three of her friends.  He attempted to murder another of her friends.  If this happened to me, romance would be the last thing on my mind.  To be fair, romance isn’t a huge concern of mine (even though I am a tiny bit worried that I’ll die alone with my tribe of cats), but even if it was a big concern of mine, I think I’d be more focused on the psycho killer obsessed with me.  Maybe I’m not a good judge of these things.  I’ve literally never acted on any crush I’ve had, and I would probably only go out with someone if they asked me first.  Maybe other people see romance as a pleasant distraction from whatever they’re going through?  If I were in this situation, it would probably just stress me more.  This is why I’m single.  

Even though I’m nothing like Eva, or any of the other characters, I still found the story interesting, and the characters were still interesting enough to read about.  

I really liked how the different perspectives were done.  Most of the chapters were from Eva’s perspective, some from the perspective of Judge, and a few from Grace.  The chapters from Judge’s perspective gave you just enough information about him to figure out who it was just before it was revealed.  I think that was the author’s goal.  Before, I only knew enough to be pretty sure it was one person from a specific group of people.  I was literally going back and forth between two or three people it could have been until Judge started talking to Eva and it all came together.  

I’ve read so many books where there’s a boring reveal, or too much foreshadowing so that you figure it all out a hundred pages before you’re supposed to, so this was just amazing to read.  It all fell into place so perfectly.  Most of the murder mysteries I’ve read recently have been kind of bad, but this was done so perfectly.  I may even pick up some other books by this author.  

A lot of people seem to think that this book is intensely creepy, but I didn’t feel freaked out.  I actually read the last seventy five pages on my back porch at night, and, to be honest, the giant moth that landed on my face freaked me out way more than the book.  Yes, it’s a creepy book.  It’s a creepy idea.  Eva can literally see people’s deaths.  There are murders which, while not explicitly detailed, aren’t leaving anything to the imagination, and there are crazy people.  All of that’s creepy, but, at least to me, it lacked creepy atmosphere.  It can’t be creepy if there isn’t atmosphere.  I kind of feel like the romance may be why it lacked the creepy atmosphere.  It’s hard to be a romance and a thriller at the same time.  Paper Valentine pulled it off pretty nicely, but there were other factors that made that book creepy.  

This book kind of reminded me of The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer.  I don’t know why, because there aren’t that many similarities other than a girl who’s in an accident and then gets supernatural powers, but there was something about that that just seemed similar.  Did anyone else see this?  

I think I’ll give this one four stars.  Not the rating I expected to give it, but it definitely deserves it.  

A Review of Indelible by Dawn Metcalf

All the spoilers!

 

I am so sick of reading about hot faeries.  Faeries are not hot or dateable.  They’re vaguely threatening and probably out to get you.  They’re not romantic and sweet, they’re malicious and mischievous.  Why are there so many YA books about dating faeries?  If I lived in a world where faeries existed, and if one wanted to date me, I wouldn’t fall head over heels with some gnome boyfriend.  I would be concerned.  I would think that they wanted to get me to fall in love with them, and then, after I fell in love, they would probably either murder me or imprison me for the rest of my life.  

Honestly though, the way the world is going these days makes being trapped in a faerie world sound cozy.  

I really wasn’t motivated to read this book.  Most of the book consisted of boring, plotless “adventures” with a sprinkle of instalove.  You could cut a hundred pages out of this book, and it probably would have been better.  This did not encourage me to keep reading.  And it wasn’t the only thing.

Even the premise for this story is kind of boring.  While reading it, I had several theories for what small changes could be made to make it better, but, now that I’ve finished it, I don’t think they’re enough.  

One thing that could have been improved is making the faeries really, really horrifying.  There were some bits about faeries with big, creepy teeth, but it didn’t go much further than that.  Why not have gruesome, horrible faeries?  That would have made it slightly better.  

Joy and Ink travelling around and marking people with Signatura got a little tedious after a while.  Obviously, some of it was necessary, but it got repetitive.  Why not leave some of those scenes out?  Or use them for character development?  Why not leave out the entire romance part and just make it about creepy faeries?  Really, we need more books about old style Celtic faeries coming for our pets and children.  

There were a few scenes with backstory, but most of them were one character explaining something to another character. Some people may consider them information dumps.  I was so desperate for backstory that they didn’t bother me, but, to be fair, I love any and all backstory, so that’s not a surprise.  

There was so little character development that it was impossible to feel for the characters or relate to them.  You get better character development in a Lifetime movie.  There was so little about the characters that I literally couldn’t tell you anything about them.  The only thing I remember is that Inq is goth, and I only remember this because she was referred to as the “goth girl” repeatedly.  You can’t just define a character by saying that they’re goth.  What am I supposed to assume about that character?  That they listen to The Cure?  That they have cool boots?  I don’t know.  I want to be able to write at great lengths about the character development, but that’s kind of hard when there was literally none of it beyond simple stereotyping for one charcter.  

Not only did this book lack character development and backstory, but it also had no world building beyond a few quick statements about place.  I imagined my own world for it, but I’m pretty sure I’m completely wrong.  Somewhere it mentioned where it was set, I think it may have been North Carolina?  I don’t know.  Somewhere in the south.  But that was mentioned maybe one or two times, so I was easily able to forget it, and, instead, imagined somewhere more like New York City.  Maybe because for the past two weeks I’ve mostly listened to Interpol’s song “NYC”?  I don’t know.  Normally when I realize that I’ve been imagining a world (or an aspect of a world) wrong, I get irritated with myself for not paying attention, and then I have to reimagine the whole thing.  With this book, I honestly don’t care that I imagined it wrong for the entire book.  It was better this way.  I think I liked the juxtaposition of faeries in the city than faeries in the country.  Faeries are expected in a pastoral setting.

I was really irritated by the lack-of-communication cliche between Joy and her friend.  I can’t remember her friend’s name at all.  See what I mean about the characters being so bland that they don’t stick with you at all?  Anyway, Joy and her friend had several fights because Joy just wouldn’t tell her what was going on.  Sure, dating a faerie sounds a little far fetched, but all Joy did was give vague answers to questions and unbelievable excuses for why she did weird things.  Miscommunication/lack of communication can be a great thing in comedy, but when writing about more serious things it’s just irritating.  

In my mind, I pronounced “Ink” and “Inq” the same way.  According to the book, “Inq” is pronounced with a clipped “q”, but that doesn’t really help much.  Try googling that.  You will get couponing tips.  Is there such a thing as a clipped q or is the author trying to make up her own language rule?  I kept trying to say it different ways, but whatever I tried still sounded like ink.  I can’t even imagine how confusing this would be as an audiobook.  

The ending seemed too easy.  Yes, Joy almost died, and Ink almost died, but then Joy just drew the symbols and everything worked itself out, and they were both healed, and happy, and in love.  

I find it kind of strange that for the entire story Joy couldn’t do anything, and made horrible decisions, and then, at the end, she can fix everything.  Why couldn’t she do anything earlier in the book?  Why can she do things now?  

It took me two weeks to read this book.  Normally, I read books pretty quickly.  I have a blog to write for, and, because of reasons I’ll reveal sometime in the next month, I have to do A LOT of extra reading.  This book reads pretty quickly, so I planned to have it finished in two or three days.  But no.  Two weeks.  For those two weeks, I was constantly trying to convince myself to not finish it, and to read better things instead.  Obviously, I finished it, but I had to force myself to.  

One and a half stars.  It would have been just one star, but I like the cover, so it gets an extra half star.  

A Review of Bone Gap by Laura Ruby

There are a few spoilers, but I have the paragraphs marked.  

 

I read this in early June and didn’t get around to reviewing it until now.  Somewhere I have detailed notes on what I wanted to write about, but I don’t know where they’ve gotten to.  We’ll see how this goes.  

It seems like everyone loves this book.  I can vaguely recall overhearing people talking about it, I’ve seen it at several bookstores, and most of the goodreads ratings are positive.  I don’t know how many positive, glowing reviews I’ve read about this book.  

This isn’t going to be one of those reviews.  

In an effort to avoid being to negative, not everything was bad about this book.  

I liked how the different perspectives were handled.  For a lot of the book it only had two different perspectives, and I expected it to continue to have just those two perspectives for the entire book.  About one hundred fifty pages into it, there started to occasionally be chapters from other character’s perspectives.  I liked that their perspectives didn’t come in until later, and then, after they did come in, didn’t come in a lot.  It just gave you a tiny bit of backstory for each of the characters, a little view into how and what they think.  I had already formed opinions of the characters, but, after seeing how they thought and some of the reasoning behind how and what they thought, my opinions kind of changed.  It didn’t take me long to decide that I didn’t like Sean.  I didn’t think he was nice enough to Finn because an older sibling’s job is to take care of their little sibling and make sure that nothing bad every happens to them.  I know that part of the reason I feel this way is because of the things I mentioned about my sister in my last review.  I know that a lot of older siblings probably don’t feel this way, but I can’t not think this, so, fair or not, I judged him.  I don’t want to give spoilers because I feel like you probably need to go into this not knowing much, but his chapter made me dislike him slightly less.  

I thought that this book was going to have a lot more magic in it.  The description I read online seemed somewhat magical, but when I actually got the book I started to wonder if it wasn’t going to be some dark contemporary.  There were some parts that were magical, but even the magic parts read like a contemporary.  Maybe the author’s goal was to write a magical realism novel for contemporary fans?  I don’t know.  It felt more like a coming of age romance than anything else.  If you normally read contemporaries, and you want to try magical realism, this would be a good book to start with; however, if you normally read fantasy, this will seem lacking.  

A lot of the praise I’m seeing for this book is how relatable the characters are and how easy it is to connect to them.  I didn’t relate or connect to any of them.  I was able to understand some of them better after reading the chapters from their perspective, but understanding them and connecting to them are two totally different things.  I didn’t feel their pain.  I didn’t think that the relationships were cute and shippable.  Honestly, I thought the characters were kind of flat, and I was surprised to find that so many people related to them.  The characters didn’t really show any emotion, and, being the overly emotional person that I am, I can’t relate to someone like that.  

The characters made choices that didn’t make sense.  Like when Petey decides to sleep with Finn AND THEN, AFTER THEY SLEEP TOGETHER, she asks him if he’s only dating her because she looks weird.  You’d think you’d want to get that dealt with before you sleep with someone because, if you genuinely think that someone might like you only for some shallow reason and if you’re actually right, you probably don’t want to sleep with them.  Is this supposed to make them more relatable because they make poor relationship decisions?  Also, as a side note, they slept together in a literal field.  They have ticks in places no one wants ticks.  Not ever.  Whether Finn is with Petey just for her looks is the least of their issues now.  This is your Lyme PSA for today.  

I felt like the plot twist with Finn was anticlimactic.  I don’t want to get into spoilers, but I don’t know how to avoid it here, so if you want to avoid this spoiler, skip the rest of this paragraph.  Finn can’t recognize faces.  I guess there were vague hints to this throughout the rest of the book but not in the way that you can figure it out before the big reveal.  I mean, I guess it makes sense with the book, but the way it was revealed was so weird.  I feel like the author could have done more.  

If you’re really sensitive about spoilers, skip the next paragraph, too.  Even if you’re only somewhat sensitive about spoilers, you should probably avoid the next paragraph.  

I wanted there to be more backstory on the man who kidnapped Rosa and his motives.  I love villains.  I want to know all their reasoning, what inspired them to become villains, and every single little bit of their backstory.  There can never be too much backstory for a good villain.  Why did he kidnap her?  Yeah, because he wanted to marry her, but go deeper than that.  Why her?  Where did he get his powers?  How does he use them?  He was interesting, but he could have been so much more interesting.  Maybe give a short chapter of backstory for him at the end?  I don’t know.  

On goodreads I gave this two and a half stars.  I guess I still kind of feel like 2-2.5 stars is reasonable.  

A Review of Cinder by Marissa Meyer

 

Spoilers.

 

For years I’ve seen things on tumblr, instagram, and pinterest about that relatable moment when you want to throw a book across the room.  I never really found those things that relatable.  Books have made me sob hysterically or made me go on hour long angry rants, but I had never been so frustrated with a book that I wanted to throw it across the room.  

Until now.  

I got second-hand cringe and second-hand embarrassment from these characters.  Which is a good thing-I was obviously relating to and connecting to the characters, but oh my god, it made it kind of hard to read sometimes.  While reading this book, I would get up to make extra tea, wander aimlessly around my house, or even do laundry.  I literally got up to do laundry to get away from the cringe.  Just admit that the two of you are in love.  Come on.  

Obviously, like I said, this just means that I was connecting to the characters, even though I didn’t realize I was.  I don’t necessarily relate to any of the characters, but they were written in a way that made them easy to connect to, and their emotions were very real.  That’s obviously great.  I’ve praised books in the past for having characters you can connect to without relating to, but I’ve never had a book that’s given me such horrible second-hand cringe.  

The foreshadowing seemed a bit heavy in some parts.  I suspected that Cinder was a lunar before they revealed it, and then I suspected that she was the lost lunar princess before they revealed that, too.  Maybe I just know what to look for because I read a lot?  Or maybe the foreshadowing was just that heavy.  

I just read some other reviews and a lot of them are saying that it was incredibly predictable, so I think it’s just kind of heavy on the foreshadowing.  

To be fair, I didn’t figure out everything before it happened.  I thought it was going to end like a normal Cinderella retelling-with a happy ending and people falling in love. Did I mention the expected happy ending?  I did really want them to have a happy ending.  For the entire book I thought they would, so it was a surprise when it ended the way it did, but I’m not unhappy about it.  Most Cinderella retellings end the same way the original did, and this is different, but not in a weird or forced way.  I don’t know what other way it could have been done.  

Even though the ending was good, and surprising, I’m not very motivated to finish the series.  For the first half of the book, I was ready to binge read the entire series.  I think I actually looked up how much the other books would cost, so I could figure out when I could order the rest of the series.  If I didn’t order the books, I would have at least gotten them from the library.  I was very serious about finishing this series as quickly as possible.  I don’t remember exactly what was happening when I decided that I didn’t want to binge read the series, but around two hundred pages in I lost a lot of my desire to finish the series.  I even lost most of my desire to finish the book.  

Maybe I started thinking this around the time that Peony died?  I don’t like it when the sweet, kind, lovable little siblings die.  When I was seven, my little sister almost died, and that’s made me really overprotective of her. It’s also made me really sensitive about anything where a little sibling dies or almost dies.  I’m literally almost in tears just writing about it.  I was only seven when it happened, so I don’t really remember what I was like before it happened, but I do think that it’s completely changed who I am as a person.  I don’t know if I would be as serious as I am now if this hadn’t happened.  

Obviously that’s something that’s very specific to me, so it won’t bother everyone who reads this, but it bothered me a lot.  If I had known that this was in the book, I’m not sure if I would have picked it up.  I mean, I probably would have because, other than that, it was a good story, but I relate way too much to these things, and it brings back memories I really do not want to think about.  

I like how all the information about cyborgs and the world building was handled.  None of it felt like an information dump, and the world building was detailed and interesting without being excessive.  It’s weird to be praising world building because normally I’m complaining that there was too much of it or that there was none, but this was a good balance.  I guess that since it was a four hundred page book, there was plenty of space for world building, and the author didn’t have to fit all the information about this futuristic society into a short story or a novella, so maybe that helped?  I don’t know.  I liked the world building.  Which still feels weird to say, but there it is.  

I don’t know if I plan on finishing the rest of the series.  On one hand, I think I should.  It seems like it would be good, and I’ve heard so many amazing things about this series, so why not?  But, on the other hand, I have a lot of other books I want to read, and I don’t know if I loved it enough to finish the series.  

All of that said, it was a good book, and it is a book I would recommend to people who are into dystopian novels or fairy tale retellings.  

3.75 stars out of five.  

Reviews of the memoirs/nonfiction I’ve read over the summer

This is more along the lines of my book recommendations post than the reviews I do, but I want to call them reviews, so I am.  

 

Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened by Allie Brosh

 

I know I’ve mentioned this book before, but I reread it for the fifth or sixth time in August.  Even though this is one of my most reread books, it hasn’t gotten boring.  Actually, over the years it’s only gotten more relatable, which probably says something not good about me, but I’m going to ignore that.  Anyway, I’ve never heard anyone say they didn’t like this book, and if you haven’t read it you’re missing out.  

Five stars.   

 

Let’s Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir by Jenny Lawson

I’ve mentioned this before, too, but I reread it, so here we are again.  This one was also more relatable than it was last time, but whatever.  I didn’t realize that I had forgotten probably half of the stories in this.  I remembered the dead squirrel in the cereal box and the bit about fighting off the birds who were trying to eat the dead pug.  Other than that, I didn’t really remember that much.  I’d only read this once before, so I obviously didn’t expect to remember it as well as Hyperbole and a Half (which I know so well I could probably recite parts of it by heart), but I thought I knew it a lot better than I did.  I think I’ll be able to obsessively reread this for the next six years, at least.  

Five stars.  

 

Me Talk Pretty One Day and When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris

 

I don’t know what to say about these books.  I have nothing I could criticize about them, I just don’t know what I could say.  The author has the ability to talk about literally anything and make it interesting.  He writes in a really engaging way that makes you want to see what else he’s published.  I went after When You Are Engulfed in Flames shortly after Me Talk Pretty One Day.  It’s that sort of writing.  You want more.  If you’re looking for good memoirs, read these.  

Five stars.  

 

People I Want to Punch in the Throat:  Competitive Crafters, Drop-Off Despots, and Other Suburban Scourges by Jen Mann

This was probably my least favorite of the five I read.  Not that it was bad in any way, I just didn’t find it relatable like the first two or just strangely intriguing like the other two.  I think I just might not be the target audience for this book.  There was far too much on parenting for someone who is only raising a cat.  It was still funny and definitely still worth reading if you’re into these kinds of books, I would just read the other books on this list first.  

Four stars.  

A Review of The Curiosities and The Anatomy of Curiosity by Maggie Stiefvater, Brenna Yovanoff, and Tessa Gratton

I decided to review both of these together because I don’t think I could get a full, four page review for them individually, and I care far too much about word counts and numbers of pages.  I know that there’s nothing wrong with having a short review, but for some reason, in my mind, if a review is under four pages, what’s the point?  

Anyway.  

This is the second time I read The Curiosities.  I read it last December, too.  Apparently, it’s so good that I couldn’t resist picking it up eight months after I read it last.  Even though I read it eight months ago, it didn’t feel weird or boring, and, honestly, I think I liked it a lot more this time.  Out of the two books, this one is definitely my favorite.  

I do prefer the Maggie Stiefvater and Brenna Yovanoff stories to the ones by Tessa Gratton, but her stories aren’t bad.  I didn’t really like the one about the ghost ship, but I’m sure there were some of hers that I did really like.  Her stories do have good world building, but I prefer stories with detailed characters or interesting ideas.  I do think that world building is important, obviously, and reading a book without world building is awkward and weird, but, like I said, there are things I prefer to read about than just world building.  No matter how good that world building is.  This is likely why I have not read The Lord of the Rings.   

After reading more of Brenna Yovanoff’s stories (or rereading them, I guess), I’ve decided that the way I feel about her writing is the same way I feel about Arctic Monkeys songs.  This sounds weird, but to me it makes perfect sense.  Let me explain.  I love Arctic Monkeys.  I fell in love with their music when I listened to the entirety of Humbug last January.  Since then I’ve listened to their music all the time, and I’ve obsessively learned their songs on guitar and bass.  The thing is, I don’t relate to their music at all.  Okay, a few of their songs are relatable.  The idea of “Do Me A Favour” is relatable on some level because that’s how I felt after leaving the band I was in.  But most of their songs are about relationships and love, and since I’ve never been in a relationship, or even had a serious crush, I can’t relate my own experiences to these songs.  But the lyrics are beautiful, and all the instruments fit together so well, and the songs have such an atmosphere to them.  Not to mention Alex Turner’s voice, which I think is one of the best voices in indie-rock music.  Also, the way the songs are written and performed, you can connect with them if you’ve experienced the things they’re talking about or not.  

In Brenna Yovanoff’s books, I can’t relate to most of the characters, I don’t really share any experiences with the characters, but I can connect to them.  They’re just such good stories, it doesn’t matter if you relate or not.  

Out of all the stories, I probably relate to Maggie Stiefvater’s characters most.  My personality could probably be describes as a mainly a mix of Adam Parrish and Ronan Lynch, but with a few of Noah Czerny’s sulkier traits thrown in for good measure (if I have the opportunity to bring The Raven Cycle into a review, I will.  Even if it has nothing to do with the book I’m reviewing).  That being said, so many of her characters have relatable personalities, and I can see myself in them easily.  

Every time I’ve read the story “Heart Shaped Box” I think it’s a Nirvana reference.  I know that it’s a reference to the boxes with the hearts in them.  But the story is about a band, which I assume is a rock band, because that’s the only good type of music, and there’s a Nirvana song called “Heart Shaped Box”.  What else would it be referencing?  Even though it doesn’t appear to be a Nirvana reference, I still really like this story, and I could probably say that it’s my favorite.  

In my review of The Poison Eaters, I talked about how I remembered it having a certain atmosphere and aesthetic, and how I wanted my instagram to have the aesthetic of those short stories.  I also talked about how I realized that I had imagined the entire atmosphere.  This short story collection actually has that aesthetic.  I want my instagram to look like “Heart Shaped Box”, or any of Brenna Yovanoff’s short stories.  It probably says something about me that I want my instagram to look like the dark, sad world of “Heart Shaped Box”, but I still want my instagram to look like that.  

Five out of five stars for this book.  I can’t say anything bad about it, and I think everyone should read it.  

 

I didn’t dislike The Anatomy of Curiosity, I just didn’t like it as much as the first one.  In this one, you only get three stories, where in the other you get many.  Plus, I had to sit through a hundred pages of Tessa Gratton’s world building, so there’s that.  

I loved “Ladylike”, and actually cried at the end of it.  “Ladylike” was specifically about characters, so going from an emotional story with very well developed characters to a story that was more about backstory and world building than anything else was weird.  It took me two tries to get through Tessa Gratton’s story, and, even though it was interesting and good, I just didn’t love it.  

I think I actually liked “Drowning Variations” more than I liked “Ladylike”.  It was just so good.  The characters were written like they were actually teenagers, instead of what an adult author thinks a teenager should or would be like.  I liked “The Drowning Place” a lot more than I liked “By Drowning”, but all of it was good, and I really liked how in-depth the stuff about the author’s writing process was.  

Five stars for this one, too.  

A review of the Asylum series by Madeleine Roux

Even though I didn’t like this series, it wasn’t a bad series.  I have an old review of this where I complain for four or five pages about things I didn’t like; however, I did keep coming back to it.  I’ve read the whole series, so I can’t complain too much.  Honestly, if another Asylum book came out, I would read it.  

It’s been awhile since I read the series, so some of my memories of it-especially the earlier books-are a little fuzzy, but this is the general idea of what I thought of it.  If anyone wants me to do an in-depth review for each book, leave a comment and I will gladly re-read and review them.

The novels and novellas in this series don’t all take place in the same time period or with the same characters.  It’s not weird, though, and it’s easy to get into.  Even if it’s been awhile since you read the last book in the series, you can pick up the next book and not feel like you might be missing something.  Even though you can go months between reading these books and won’t miss anything, if you wanted a quick reading series to marathon, this is it.  They read really quickly, and, even though I read each of them whenever they came out, I think it would be nice to be able to read the entire story in a few days.  Be warned, though, if you do this some of the flaws and plot repetitions will become more apparent that if you spaced them out.      

I was a little disappointed in the lack of backstory for the villains.  I say “villains” because I can’t think of a better word.  Villain sounds far too dramatic for these characters.  Just bear with me.  Anyway.  I love a good, well-developed villain, especially if their reason for being horrible isn’t any of the stereotypical reasons for villains being evil.  There wasn’t much backstory for any of the villains in the three main novels.  Since they focused on Daniel, and he didn’t know anything about the villains, I guess it makes sense.  I was very interested to read the novellas when they came out because I had hoped that they would give a lot more backstory for The Scarlets and The Bone Artists (the villains in the second and third books, respectively).  But they didn’t.  It gave a bit more backstory for some of the side characters who had been in other books, but I wanted to know the motives behind what the villains did.  The choices characters make that lead them to do evil deeds are often more interesting than the choices the heroes make.  Call me weird.  I really think I would have liked these stories better with better developed villains and rich backstories.  

It seems like each of these books has the same plot, just in a different place with a different frustratingly under-developed villain.  Literally the same plot points will happen in each novel or novella, and, if you’ve read two of the books, you can probably roughly predict what happens in the third.  Even the novellas are like this.  It’s not even a wild, unique plot to begin with.  It’s a normal young adult horror plot, over and over and over again.  If there had been some significance to the repetition, I would have been okay with it.  If there was some complex thing with the backstory and the villains doing the same thing, I would have loved it.  The least that you can do is have one of the characters mention that this happens to them literally every summer, and that it’s really weird how they always end up in the middle of this kind of thing, but the author doesn’t even do that.  

It’s been awhile since I’ve read these books, so I could be remembering incorrectly, but I think the prequel might have had a slightly different plot?  It still mostly followed the same plot, but there were slight differences.  I do, however, have some complaints about the prequel.  In this book there are two LGBT characters, which is cool, but the author doesn’t develop them much past the fact that they’re LGBT.  The main character was bi, but I don’t remember much development past that.  His love interest was a trans woman, but she isn’t developed much past that.  You can’t just say a character is whatever sexuality or gender they are and then stop their development there.  That doesn’t define their personality, or their interests, unless you assume that your readers will assume that every stereotype about that gender or sexuality applies to them.  Which obviously isn’t true, and a lot of stereotypes are negative.  But if I start talking about this I won’t stop talking about this, so I digress.  Let me just end this thought by saying this sort of writing is insulting to the reader who deserves well-developed characters beyond stereotypes.  

I wish that the pictures had more to do with the story.  Some of them will have something to do with it, but others are just random, creepy looking pictures.  I love books with creepy pictures, but if you’re going to have creepy pictures, please have a reason for them other than aesthetic.  I do plenty of things just for the aesthetic, so I’m not really someone who can criticize, but still.  Miss Peregrine’s School for Peculiar Children is an excellent example of an author using pictures to add to both the plot and the aesthetic of the story.  

There were some parts of the books where the author would bring in some interesting side-ghost and then completely drop it.  If I’m remembering correctly, there’s some ghost who gives them a spare tire in the third book.  They think he’s real until they get back to the diner and realize that he’s not there.  This is one of the few specific scenes that I remember.  Probably because I’m disappointed in it.  There could have been something about that ghost later, but he’s just dropped.  Maybe it’s to show that the world is full of ghosts, but you’d think that if that was the purpose there would be a lot more of them.  You can’t just drop something like that.  It’s bad writing to leave so many loose ends and unanswered questions.

While writing this, I’m realizing that the writing in the series is really forgettable.  I can remember specific parts of books I read around the time I read these books, but I can’t remember much from these.  I remember the one bit that I mentioned in the last paragraph, but not much more.  

These are about on the same level as a lot of the other horror that I’ve read since reading this series.  I’ve heard a lot of people praising it, so if you’re into this kind of thing, give it a try.  Binge read the whole series on Halloween.  I don’t know.  They read pretty quickly, why not give it a try?  

A review of Killer (Pretty Little Liars #6) by Sara Shepard

Again, spoilers.  

 

I’m going to finish the series, but I don’t really want to.  Part of me thinks I should get the rest of them from the library, put on some music I like, and then marathon the rest of the series.  But I don’t really want to marathon eleven books that I don’t really like.  If all I did was read them, I could probably be done with this series in a week.  But I feel like if I did that I would end up in an irritated reading slump.  

I really don’t like how many insignificant details are mentioned repeatedly.  I don’t need to know the brand name of a character’s shirt, or that they seemingly all use Neutrogena sunscreen.  It doesn’t add anything to the plot, and I’m starting to think that it’s not a bizarre form of character development and is, instead, just vapid.  I know that I said before that maybe there were different stereotypes for people who wear different brands, and maybe that’s true, and I’m just completely wrong.  But what kind of character development can you get from Neutrogena sunscreen?  Are there stereotypes for people who use it?  My grandmother loves it, but I doubt the author is trying to imply that the characters are like old women.  Unless she is.  Then I have to reconsider my entire understanding of the series and possibly life.  

I want to know more of the bands that the characters like.  Spencer likes Radiohead, so, according to google autocomplete, she’s pretentious, smart, and the worst (I typed “Radiohead fans are” into google.  These are actually some of the results).  In my opinion, you can tell a lot about someone from the type of music they like.  If you’re going to develop your characters without actually developing your characters, why mention sunscreen brands when you could mention a band or a song and have so much more development?  Emily relates to the Avril Lavigne song “Nobody’s Home”, and I think that that alone says more about her feelings than several books did.  I know that I’m a music snob, and I want everything to have something to do with music, but I think it could work here.  The author could have discussed their favorite books, but then I don’t think they’re readers.  

I wish that there was some other character development other than the brand names and the two mentions of songs/bands.  I can’t relate to any of the characters, and I can’t even really feel their pain.  Maybe if the chapters were done in a first person perspective?  Each chapter is about a different girl from the group, so I think it would be pretty easy to change it to a first person narrative.  I want to be able to get into the characters’ heads and see exactly what they’re feeling or thinking.  

All of the characters also just seem reckless, irresponsible, and impulsive.  Maybe I feel this way because I’ve always been the responsible, good influence in my friend groups?  But I don’t think that’s all of it.  I think these characters are just irresponsible.  

Maybe I can’t get into the characters’ heads because I’m not part of the target audience?  I’ve said this before, and I still think it.  I’m in the target age range, but, as far as my interests go, I don’t think I’m anywhere near the target audience.  

I don’t think there was anything about the flag thing until book five.  Or it might have come in at book six, I don’t know-they all blur together.  The flag thing seems to be such a big deal, and yet it wasn’t mentioned until now?  You’d think if it was such a big deal it would have been brought up much sooner.  

Spencer copying her father’s entire computer hard drive onto a CD is impossible.  A CD has significantly less storage than a computer, unless it’s a really old computer.  I doubt that Spencer’s father has a computer from the early nineties, though.  Also, it’s not like there’s some easy one click function to copy everything from a computer onto a CD.  Even if the CD had enough storage, it would take so long to copy each item and put it on a disk.  Also, why not use an SD card?  Even though they were expensive, you could get a thirty-two gig SD card back then.  

At the end of every chapter, there seems to be some surprise or drama that’s there just for shock.  Literally.  Every.  Chapter.  After six books of this, I’ve gotten kind of sick of it.  Sometimes it’s not a huge thing.  It’ll just be something weird someone said, but sometimes it will be entire savings accounts being emptied.  It’s just there to be shocking and to get you to keep reading.  

At some point I will finish the series, but not right now.  I need a break from it.  I’m too irritated with these books right now, and I’d rather be reading sci-fi and listening to Interpol.  

On goodreads, I rated this two stars, because I’ve given every other book in the series so far the same rating.  However, I did honestly consider dropping the rating to one star because I didn’t like it that much.  Unless the books get much better, I will probably give the next one one star.  

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