This month I only read three books but I also binged watched the last season of Doctor Who and finished Kingdom Hearts 2.
The first book I finished was Fullmetal Alchemist Fullmetal Edition volume Six by Hiromu Arakawa. I’m rereading the series as I buy and collect these editions. This volume starts setting up plot elements that will become majorly important later. I love Ling and how the character is introduced but this is a sad volume overall because of everything with Hughes.
Next I read Queen’s Shadow by E.K. Johnston. This is a young adult Star Wars novel that follows Padme as she first become a Senator. I loved getting to see more of Padme and learning how exactly the decoy system worked. I do wish we had gotten a little bit more of Sabe as I was interested in the work the character was doing. Overall, I glad that through Star Wars novels that some of the women of the series are being more fleshed out and given more attention.
The last book I read this month was Why the Titanic was Doomed by Bryan Jackson which is a nonfiction book about the Titanic. I received an early review copy through Netgalley. This book details all the circumstances that came together and caused the sinking of the Titanic. Most of this information was stuff I already knew as an avid reader of nonfiction Titanic works. However, I was a little surprised that there was no mention of the coal bunker fire that many believe contributed to the sinking. Overall, this is a good book for those interested in the Titanic.
The only thing I really watched this month beside YouTube videos was the last season of Doctor Who. Doctor Who Flux was the most recent series of Doctor Who. I generally wait to watch Doctor Who when the season has finished airing as I haven’t been a big fan of the stories being told the last several years and if I want to finish it I have to binge watch it. I wanted to like this season and I did like some of the ideas but overall it felt rushed and liked there were too many story lines. I also watched the New Years special which I liked the take on a time loop but one that get shorter each loop.
I also finally finished playing Kingdom Hearts 2 and was able to continue the story of Sora and his friends. I love how the game play took what worked from the first game and add to it. I have a full review that goes more in-depth but know that I love the series and I’m working trough the next entries.
In February I read six books, most of them eBooks and started working my way though the next Kingdom Hearts games.
The first book I finished was Boys, Beast, and Men by Sam J Miller. I received a review copy from the publisher. This is a collection of short stories of primarily queer speculative fiction that is loosely connected through brief interludes between two strangers. While the collection is well written I didn’t enjoy most of the stories. The two issues I had were I felt like I was being dropped into the middle of most of these stories which caused me not to connect to the story or the characters. Also I found most of the stories somewhat depressing which is not what I wanted.
Nightmare Fuel: The Science of Horror Films by Nina Nesseth is a nonfiction book about the science of how horror movies work and how they scare us. I received an early review copy through Netgalley. I found the book a little technical in terms of the scientific explanation at time but its a great book for those who want to know the science behind why they like or dislike specific horror films and why ones are scary and others are not. I loved the explanation on the how and why different horror movies effect us in different ways.
In Order to Live: A North Korean Girl’s Journey to Freedom by Yeonmi Park is the heart breaking true story of Yeonmi Park’s live first growing up in North Korea to her and her mother’s escape when she was just 13. This book takes us through everything that happen to Yeonmi and her mother in China while they where trying to not be sex trafficked and find a way to South Korea. The book ends with Yeonmi becoming a human rights activist and realizing that her story can help others. This book is one of those that because of the topic its hard to say that its enjoyable but I feel like this is one of those important books that many people should read.
The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea by Axie Oh is a young adult fantasy novel where every year a girl is sacrificed to the sea to be the sea gods bride in order to stop the storms. Mina decides to sacrifice herself in order to save the life of the girl her older brother loves. When she arrives in the spirit realm the sea good is in an enchanted sleep. Mina with the help of Shin and several other spirits, demons, and gods has one month to save herself, the sea god, and her village. However, there are those who don’t want the sea god to awaken. This story remined me of the movie Spirited Away and if you like that movie you will like this book. I did figure out the twist fairly early but I still liked the story and the characters. I received an early review copy through Netgalley.
Classic Monster Unleashed is a horror anthology that takes the stories of classic monsters and reimagines them and turns them on their head while also paying homage to them. I loved this collection overall though I didn’t want some of the stories to be longer but all of them had stratifying endings. Some of these stories make the monsters not all that monstrous but others take them to another level. Most of these takes were not one’s I was expecting which I loved and I loved how many of the authors gave voice to characters that didn’t have much agency in the original stories. I received an early copy though Netgalley but I plan of buying a physical copy as well.
The final book I read in February was Harry Potter A Magical Year by Jim Kay and JK Rowing. This is a collection of Jim Kay’s art work and illustration with quotes from the Harry Potter books. Each day of the year is given a quote and has some added information about characters such as birthdays. This is a book that I bought and read for the artwork as Jim Kay’s illustrations are wonderful.
I only watched one movie this month which was the 2021 Dune movie which I also have a full review posted. Dune is visually one of the best movies I seen lately but can be confusing for those who haven’t read the book. It follows the story of Paul Atreides, a young man whos family has been give control of the desert planet Arrakis better know as Dune. Dune is the only place where the spice that gives people different abilities can be found. However, Paul’s family is betrayed and he and his mother much escape into the desert to survive. I really liked this movie but I think it will be much better when part two comes out so we have the full story.
Hide by Kiersten White is an adult contemporary horror/thriller where fourteen people compete in a hide and seek game in an abandoned amusement park to win enough money to change their lives. Mack feels like she can beat the other competitors as hiding is what she is good at but when people start disappearing two a day it becomes clear that something else is going on.
The competitors are a cross between a group that might be on their way to the next best thing and a group that is stuck where they are but might be the best to survive in this game. Some of the characters are annoying and you don’t mind them disappearing but Mack and Ava are great and I wanted them to win.
When I read the description I thought the story would be a take on the tropes from some of the slasher movies, like Friday the 13th which its not. However, I enjoyed this and I’m glad that I was wrong in where I though it was going initially. The story is much more like Cabin in the Woods in that you can tell that something is not quite ring but what is really going on is not reveled until past the half way point. I loved the ending as it allows the few survivors to take charge of what is happing and make their own path while making sure that no one else will be forced into this game.
I received an early review copy of this book through NetGalley.
Siren Queen By Nghi Vo is set in the 1930’s Hollywood but in a world where the worst monsters are not on screen. Luli Wei is a Chinese-American girl who wants to be in movies but would rather play the monster than the maid. When the studios own everything, Luli is willing to do whatever in takes to become a star. I received an early review copy through NetGalley.
Siren Queen is an amazing critical and magical take on old Hollywood. Luli is one of those characters that you love and want to root for but in many ways she is not a good person. Near the end you have that feeling that things aren’t going to go her way which makes the ending much more satisfyingly. I love the fact that it takes a while for the title to real make since as it is a monster that make Luli famous.
My one criticism of the story is that the magic is never really explained however the writing sucks you in in a way that that doesn’t matter that much. I just would have like to see how everyone knows how the magic works. Also I do wish the book was a little longer just because I love the world that Nigh Vo crated and would love to see more of. This book made me want to read Nigh Vo’s other works even more.
So I haven’t posted in a while, mostly because I work retail during the Holiday season and we were very busy. I read a lot in November but barely anything in December so I decided to combine these wrap ups. As I read seven books in November but only one in December.
The Origins of Wizards, Witches, and Fairies by Simon Webb is a nonfiction book about the historical and cultural origins of wizards, witches, and fairies and how these ideas have changed over time. I received an early copy through the publisher on NetGalley. I was interested in this book because I’ve never read about this aspect of history. It was well written and explored how stories change but at times it did feel like the same information was being repeated. I also would have preferred the images to be in the text instead of just in the back. However, I do feel like any with an interest in folklore and magic would enjoy this book.
The Woman Who Would Be King: Hatshepsut’s Rise to Power in Ancient Egypt by Kara Cooney is a nonfiction book about Hatshepsut who became one of Ancient Egypt’s few female pharaohs. I’ve read some about Hatshepsut before but this book is much more detailed about her life overall and how she rose to power. I enjoyed this book for how readable it made history especially history at can often feel a little overwhelming with how different Ancient Egypt is to modern audiences. I feel that anyone with an interest in Ancient Egyptian history would enjoy this book.
Sabriel by Garth Nix is the first book in a young adult fantasy series that has ancient magic and dead that won’t stay dead. Sabriel is a reread for me but I still love the series and I have a full review posted as well. The story follows Sabriel who must travel through the Old Kingdom to find her father the Abhorsen who has disappeared and given his title to her. Along the way she must stop the dead from rising with the help of a young man who doesn’t remember his past and a magical talking cat.
Next I read the next two Fazbear Frights books Gumdrop Angel and The Puppet Carver by Scott Cawthon which are short story collections in the Five Nights at Freddy’s franchise. I don’t have much to say about either of these story collections as I wasn’t a big fan of them. I would say that they do have some very effective body horror but the characters where not very compelling. The best story was What we Found because of how much it connects to the third game. I do plan to finish these short story series but I don’t always enjoy the stories as much as I would like.
I also read two different nonfiction Titanic books, Titanic Destination Disaster: The Legends and the Realty by John P. Eaton and Shadow of the Titanic: The Extraordinary Stories of Those who Survived. Titanic Destination Disaster is an older book but I didn’t realize that when I started it. Because of this most of the information I already knew and I found the structure odd as it started with the sinking and then jumped back to when the ship was being built.
Shadow of the Titanic on the other hand focuses much more on individual survivors and how the sinking of the Titanic impacted the rest of their lives. Many Titanic books touch on what happen to different survivors but this book give an in-depth account of several of the more famous survivors and would be of interest to those who research the Titanic.
The only book that I read in December was The Museum: A Short History of Crisis and Resilience by Samuel J. Redman which is a nonfiction book about the many different crisis and upheavals that museums have faced throughout the history of the United States. I received an early copy from the publisher through Netgalley. As someone who has both studied and worked in the Museum field I appreciated the exploration of the many different crisis and issues museums have faced overtime. I also like that fact that the author tried to see what exactly happen and how that instance is viewed now with the advantage of hindsight. However, as the book discussed more recent issues I did feel like the author’s personal feelings came out more than was necessary.
TV and Movies:
I mostly have been watching Documentaries or Docuseries that I don’t have to focus much on. The ones I’ve watched recently where the second season of Tiger King and Tiger King The Doc Antle Story. I watch these types of show when I’m doing laundry and cleaning just to have something in the background. The only take way I have is that most of the people involved with these situations are awful and most of them probably deserve to be in jail.
The only movie I’ve watched recently was The Dead Don’t Die a zombie comedy movie staring Bill Murray and Adam Drive. I wanted to like this move but it was just okay. I thought it would be funnier but it was mostly slow and boring with many of the jokes just feeling awkward. If you like the cast you might enjoy it but I would keep expectations low.
Sabriel is the first book in a young adult fantasy series. Originally know as the Abhorsen trilogy the author has added to the series and it is now know as the Old Kingdom series. This first book follows Sabriel a young woman who is studying at Wyverley College that is close to a wall that separates the Old Kingdom, which is full of magic, from the rest of society in Ancelstierre. The Old Kingdom is more medieval with magic everywhere and often the dead don’t stay dead while Ancelstierre has a more early 20th century feel. When Sabriel’s father the Abhorsen goes missing she knows that she must travel into the Old Kingdom to try and find him as she now holds the title of Abhorsen which means that she is the only one who can keep some of the dead from rising.
Sabriel is a well written young woman who is trust into a situation that she doesn’t want to be in but will still do her best to make sure that evil doesn’t win and the people she cares about are as safe as possible. Thou my favorite character is Mogget a creature of magic that is a servant of the current Abhorsen who has the form of a cat that can talk. He’s one of those characters that helps the main character but is unhappy with his situation and feels like he could turn at any moment.
I originally read this series several years ago and when I saw that new books where coming out I wanted to reread the series and see where the new books went with this world. I loved the series then and so far I still love it. This series has some of my favorite tropes with the death magic/necromancy and while written for a younger audience I feel like this is one of those stories that many people will love.
In August I read four books and started playing the original Final Fantasy VII. So I had a fairly good month overall.
Something in the Blood: The Untold Story of Bram Stoker, the Man who Wrote Dracula by David J. Skal is a nonfiction book about Bram Stoker’s life and the different influences on the creation of Dracula. Contains plenty of general information the main focuses is on Bram Stoker’s relationship with the actor Henry Irving and his acquaintance with Oscar Wilde. This is a book that any fan of Dracula should read.
Desperate Measures by Katee Robert is the first book in a Dark Romance/Erotica series that focuses on different Disney characters mostly the princess having a sexual and romantic relationship with the villain. Desperate Measure is a Jasmin and Jafar romance. I call these a dark romance but it definitely is more an erotica as the sex is the main point. Very sexy and well written but does have a few kinks that are not my favorite personal. Also warning for consensual non-consent. Jasmin likes to act like she is being forced but she is consenting to everything that happens.
Harrow the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir is the second book in the Locked Tomb series. Set after the events Gideon the Ninth where Harrow has become a Lyctor and is now working for the Emperor. However, there is something wrong with Harrow and many secrets are being kept. Didn’t like this one as much as Gideon the Ninth due to the large sections written in second person and overall this is a very confusing book. I do have a full review for this book as well.
One Hundred and Sixty Minutes: The Race to Save the RMS Titanic by William Hazelgrove is a nonfiction book about the sinking of the Titanic. Tells the story through the network of wireless operators. It counts down to the sinking by looking at who got the information and where the ships were when they got the information about the sinking. Focuses on what the different wireless operators, ship captains, and others attempted in the race to save the people if not the ship herself. Also focuses on what mistakes were made and who is a fault for those mistakes which does make it feel a little biased against specific people.
Harrow the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir is the second book in the Locked Tomb series. Following the ending of Gideon the Ninth, Harrow has become a Lyctor and now works for the emperor. However, her health is failing and her mind is threatening to betray her. The mysteries of the Emperor and why he needs Lyctors begins to unravel but secrets are being kept and those who where thought dead might not be.
Harrow the Ninth is a hard book to describe or talk about. I think most people will either like the book or absolutely hate it. Unlike Gideon the Ninth, a large section of the book is told in second person. You are reading parts as if the reader is Harrow so her confusion and wanting to find out everything is deeply understood but makes for a very confusing and at times frustrating read. If you hate reading from second person mostly likely you will not like this book.
Honestly, I only kept reading because I like the characters and the world enough that I wanted to find out what happened. When you get to the twist near the end of the book things start coming together and I feel like I would understand much more on a second read through. But with how confusing it is I’m not sure how to even review this book.
I think the best thing to do with Harrow the Ninth is if you loved Gideon the Ninth is to give it a try and make your own decision. I would recommend to read the first three chapters and then make a decision but Muir writing style and structure is what is going to affect your decision one way or the other.
In July I read four books but I also watched a couple movies and finished Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order. So overall, this was a good month for me.
Fan Fiction: A Mem-Noir: Inspired by True Events by Brent Spiner is a novel that fictionalizes Brent Spiner’s life with an added murder mystery/stalker plot during the time that he played Data on Star Trek: The Next Generation. The plot follows the mystery around someone who is obsessed with Data and is sending Brent threating letters which cause many hijinks to ensue. As someone who has been in different fandoms and has a history of reading fanfiction I thought that I would really like this. However, I didn’t connect to any of the humor as it was fairly crude and I’ve never been a fan of Real Person Fanfiction which this very much reminded me of. You can tell the Brent Spiner does love the Star Trek fandom and I feel like this book in no way makes fun of that but I don’t think he understands completely. For major Star Trek fans some might like this more than I did but I can also see some people hating it.
The Real Valkyrie: The Hidden History of Viking Warrior Women by Nancy Marie Brown is a nonfiction historical book that focuses on the fact that new DNA evidence shows that the high status Viking warrior grave in Birka in fact belonged to a woman and many women during the Viking age where warriors. Brown weaves together archaeology, history, and literature to tell the possible story of this woman’s life and the other women who lived during this time. Viking history has never been a topic that I’ve read much about and most of the knowledge is more from popular culture. However, I loved how Brown wrote about these warrior women and what we can learn from both the archaeological/historical evidence as well as information pass down through literature and oral traditions.
Pomes for the End of the World by Katie Wismer is Wismer’s second poetry collection which has many of the same themes as The Sweetest Kind of Poison but also breaks away from relationships into becoming the person that you want to be. I’m not a huge poetry fan but I follow Katie Wismer on other platforms and want read both of her poetry collections. Overall, I like her approach and the topics that she focuses on.
The Night Country by Melissa Albert is the second book in the Hazel Wood series. This is a direct sequel that starts several months after the end of The Hazel Wood. Alice is back in the normal world and others from the Hinterland are here too. When something or someone starts killing people from the Hinterland, Alice must find a way to stop it and reconnect with Ellery who stayed in the Hinterland. Together they learn that often time worlds don’t end with a whimper. I almost considered not finishing this book for about the first half or so. I found the story very boring and I disliked most of the character this time. I liked the ending but overall did not enjoy reading this book.
I’ve started watching more shows and movies lately but haven’t finished much yet. The first movie that I’ve watched in a long time was Deep Blue Sea 3. This is the second direct to video sequel for this series. It’s a shark killing/eating people movie that would fit very well on the SyFy channel. In Deep Blue Sea 2, a pharmaceutical billionaire is genetically enhancing Bull sharks and making them smarter. Bella the main shark is found to be pregnant and has serval babies. At the end of Deep Blue Sea 2, most of them are killed but Bella and a few other escape. In Deep Blue Sea 3, we follow a group of scientist that are studying the effects on climate change on Great White Sharks when another group appears trying to find the remaining sharks that escaped in the last movie. From their is mostly bad guys trying to kill everyone and all the sharks and the sharks eat most of the characters. These are not very good movies however I like to watch these types of movies when I want something mindless where I don’t have to focus on a plot.
Resident Evil: Infinite Darkness is one of the animated Resident Evil movies that are connected to the events of the video game series. Though this was released on Netflix as a four part series it seem to me that it was originally intended as a movie. We follow Leon Kennedy and Claire Redfield after a zombie attack on the White House while the investigate who is behind the attack. I don’t want to go much more into the story as the show is fairly short. While not the best Resident Evil story, if your a fan its something that you should at least check out.
The only game I finished this month was Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order which I also have a full review already posted. Set five years after Revenge of the Sith and the rise of the empire the story follows Cal Kestis a Jedi Padawan who has been hiding from the empire. At the beginning of the game he is found and must travel through the galaxy while being hunted by the Inquisitors while also trying to complete his training and possibly rebuild the Jedi Order. Overall, I had fun playing this game but there are still a lot glitches in the PlayStation 4 version of the game.
In June I read seven books including two nonfiction and two manga. I also finished Persona 5 The Royal and the video game Journey.
Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo is the first book in duology set in the Grisha world that takes place after the events of the Shadow and Bone Trilogy but focuses on new characters and locations is this world. We follow Kaz Brekker a criminal in the trade hub of Ketterdam and his crew as they attempt a dangerous heist that could make them rich but also they may be the only ones who can stop the destruction of the world as they know it. In general while I love the Grisha world I heated where the Shadow and Bone Trilogy and with this series being so hyped I tried not to have too high of expectations. I loved all the characters but felt at times there was too much information about everyone’s backstories. Not my favorite but I do plan to continue with the series.
The Anthropocene Review by John Green is a nonfiction selection of essays that Green wrote reviewing different things and topics in the world. This includes both personal accounts and background on the history of the topic. I book that I find hard to review but one that I absolutely loved. For me I feel like I read this book at the right time and otherwise I might not have loved it as much.
Maiden Voyages by Sian Evans is a nonfiction book about the women who worked on the Ocean Liners traveling between Europe and North America. While this book is incredibly detailed I was expecting more about the individual women and their personal lives and less about the Ocean Liners and the general history of the time. I’m also surprised that a fellow historian who perpetuate misconceptions of the Titanic Sinking. Specifically, the reported 300 foot gash at caused the ship to sink. Though this was reported in newspaper after the sinking and believed by many, multiple Titanic historians and researchers, including Tim Maltin, have determined that the damage was intermittent. However, even with these criticisms I do see this book as a good starting point for someone who is interested in Ocean Liners and the women who worked on them.
Sailor Moon Eternal volumes 3 and 4 are the continuation of the Sailor Moon manga series. We start where volume 2 leaves off with a mysterious girl threating Uasgi which starts the Black Moon Arc where the Black Moon Clan from the feature is threating the world. Volume 4 finishes off this Arc which is not my favorite because of Chibi-Usa becoming Black Lady as I find this part of the story creepy and off-putting. Also I personal prefer the 90s anime translation where she becomes Wicked Lady as I feel it fits the story better. Overall this is still one of my favorite manga series which I plan to finish collecting in these editions.
The Ivies is a young adult thriller that follows a group of high schoolers at a prestigious boarding school that will do anything to get into the Ivy League Universities. When Olivia and Emma secretly get into Harvard while Aery who expects to but doesn’t is furious. The next day when Emma is found dead Olivia decides to investigate to find out who killed Emma. I love the premise of this book and the attention given to toxic friend groups. However, I didn’t connect with the characters of the story. I feel as a recent college graduate that I’m a little removed from the drama of high school but this would be perfect for students currently in high school or those that love the high school setting.
Skin Deep by Renee Miller is a short horror novella that follows Victoria MacDonald who wants to find a way to die beautifully and ends up becoming a murder. This wasn’t what I was expecting. Since the book starts out with Victoria’s mother selling her daughters soul to say beautiful and the obsession’s with dying beautifully I thought that it would become a story where Victoria has to kill to stay beautiful. The switch from her trying to die to get sexual gratification from murder is very fast and not something that the story gives enough time to the reader to understand. Also there is no reason to have the selling ones soul as an aspect of this story. Given the subject matter the book uses in the plot I’m surprised that there were no trigger warnings listed at the beginning.
This month I finished two video games, Persona 5 The Royal and Journey.
Persona 5 The Royal is a retooled version of the original Persona 5 with new story elements. The main plot is that you are a normal high school student that is now on probation after attempting to stop a sexual assault and the man got injured. You and your group of friend get pulled into the Metaverse where you awaken a Persona and fight against the corrupted cognitions of others. I love this game and also have a full review posted.
Journey on the other hand is a much different game. You play as a robed figure traveling through a desert trying to reach the mountains in the distance. This is a very visual and emotional game that doesn’t use any dialogue. A game to pick up on a lazy afternoon when one wants a game that is very different from others.