October 2021 Wrap Up

October ended up being a very good month for me I read six books, finished playing Final Fantasy VII, and watched a couple of movies.

Books:

For the Wolf by Hannah Whitten is the first book in an adult fantasy duology inspired by fairytales. In this world the ruling family that has two daughter the first will gain the throne but the second is for the Wolf in the woods. As the Second Daughter, Red is sacrificed to the Wolf in an attempt to save the captured gods that has not returned in centuries. However, the stories and everything she knows are not in fact true and with her sister trying to get her back Red must learn to trust herself and her magic to protect those she loves. I loved the characters and the fairytale feel of this book. It took me a while to finish this book but I’m looking forward to the sequel. I received a copy through NetGalley for review.

Shadow of the Moon by Zoe Marriott is a young adult fantasy novel inspired by Japanese culture and is a loose retelling of Cinderella. Suzume is a young girl who witnesses her fathers murder and finds out she has the power of shadow weaving/creating illusions. When she finds out her new stepfather was the one who ordered her fathers death she will do what ever it takes to get revenge. This is a reread for me as I read the book years ago though I don’t remember anything from that first read through. Its a good ya fantasy that for me now reads a little young but I still love the world building and the fairytale inspiration.

The Last Days of the Romanovs: Tragedy at Ekaterinburg by Helen Rappaport is a historical nonfiction book that is as the title say focuses on the last days of the Romanovs while being held in Ekaterinburg. As I’m read a lot about the Romanovs this book was not as interesting as some others I’ve read and contained more information about the politics and machinations surrounding the Romanovs than about the Romanovs themselves. However, Helen Rappaport makes even less interesting topic very easy to read about.

Slender Man by Anonymous is a horror novel that uses the internet creation of Slender Man. The story follows Matt who’s friend Lauren goes missing and the weird dream and events happening that lead him to believe that she was taken by Slender Man. The story is told through police reports, transcripts of audio logs, texts and other characters writings that allows that story to read very fast and plays with the idea that Slender Man get into your head. I didn’t find the story all that creepy but I was never into Slender Man when it was very popular online.

X-Men: Black is a collection of five X-Men issues that focuses on the more villainous characters. I bought this to read Seanan McGuire’s Mystique issue and while I like the stories overall as someone who doesn’t read many X-Men comics I was a little confused. This is best for fans but I did like the Mystique, Magneto, and Emma Frost stories.

Let’s Party by R. L. Stine is the first book in the Fear Street Senior series. I read this series when I was younger and when I came across this book again I decided to reread it and I would love to read the whole series. Not a lot happens with this book but you are introduced to many of the characters that will be focused on and the implication of what will happen in the future has it seems like the entire high school senior class is doomed. I didn’t love this as much as I remember but its not written for my age any more.

Movies:

I watched to horror movies this month Ouija and Slender Man which where both good teen horrors but I didn’t love either of them. Mostly near the end of both I was just a little board. Though I love horror and horror movies as I’ve gotten older I find that I don’t enjoy stories where the teenage characters that do something dumb are killed or harshly punished for doing things that they didn’t know would have consequences. I know that horror movie need something to happen to kick off everything but at the same time I would prefer that a least some of the characters had good ending. I think my taste in horror is changing but I haven’t figured out what I love just yet.

Video Games:

I finished Final Fantasy VII and have a full review posted as well. While I love this game, story, and characters I don’t think I will ever play it again since I finished and the remake is coming out. I look forward to what the remake will change and update but the original will always have a place in my heart.

September 2021 Wrap Up

In September I read four books which was a bit of a struggle as I’ve not been in much of a reading mood and have had trouble getting into different stories. However, I’ve been playing more video games and watching different shows lately.

Books:

After the Romanovs: Russian Exiles in Paris from the Belle Époque through Revolution and War by Helen Rappaport is a historical nonfiction book about the lives of the Russian Exiles in Paris primarily aristocrats, artist, and intellectual who escaped Russia during and in the aftermath of the Revolution. This book includes interesting information that focuses mainly on specific individuals with some information related to the exiles as a whole. As Russian history is not my main focus of study, though I do find it interesting, I had some trouble with names and who different people were but those with a better understanding of Russian history and culture shouldn’t have this problem. For me I prefer accounts about the Romanovs themselves. I received an advanced review copy through Netgalley.

The Final Girl Support Group by Grady Hendrix is a horror novel that follows a group of women who survived the monsters that came after them. However, someone knows about this group and is now threating to destroy the little peace they have gained. The story is told through Lynnette who has decided the best way to survive is to be very paranoid and have multiple escape plans in place which is understandable but I found her and most of the characters as unlikable. I love the concept of this story, the beginning, and the hidden references to real world slasher movies but I think I would have enjoyed this story much more as a movie or TV show. I received an early review copy through Netgalley.

Fazbear Frights #7: The Cliffs by Scott Cawthon is another collection of stories set in the Five Nights at Freddy’s world. This set of stories I found fairly boring overall though there is some very creepy body horror. Though no story in this series is very serious they are starting to get to the point that the ridiculous scenario are impacting my enjoyment. I feel that those who love horror and the series overall will still like this collection but others in the series have been better.

Lost Voices from the Titanic: The Definitive Oral History by Nick Barratt is a historical nonfiction book about the sinking of the Titanic. Combining archive material, eye witness account, and the inquiries into the sinking the author tries to get an accurate picture of the sinking. Unlike other books this one looks at the historical context of the world the sinking happened in and some information on the aftermath and consequences. Very well written but does cover information that I already knew and most works now cover.

Movies/TV Shows:

I have been watching more shows this month but due to several stressful situations I’ve mostly been watching documentaries as I feel like I don’t have to pay as much attention to these compared to shows is overarching plots. These documentaries include LuLaRich and The Vow: A NXIVM Story. However, I did watch the live action Dumbo movie which I found very cute and lighthearted.

I have also been working my way through the original Final Fantasy VII and I’m about half way done. I do plan to have a full review for this game once I have finished it.

August 2021 Wrap Up

In August I read four books and started playing the original Final Fantasy VII. So I had a fairly good month overall.

Books:

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.

Book Review: Harrow the Ninth (The Locked Tomb #2) by Tamsyn Muir

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.

July 2021 Wrap Up

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.

Books:

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.

Movies/TV Shows:

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.

Video Games:

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.

June 2021 Wrap Up

In June I read seven books including two nonfiction and two manga. I also finished Persona 5 The Royal and the video game Journey.

Books:

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.

Video Games:

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.

April 2021 Wrap Up

In April I read nine books including two short stories, two graphic novels, and one audio book. Besides reading I have been playing Persona 5: The Royal and got through about 60 hours by the end of the month.

Books:

Siege and Storm and Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo are the second and third books in the Shadow and Bone Trilogy. I’m talking about them together as I don’t want to spoil anything that is in these books. In Siege and Storm I like how Alina grew as a character, and loved Nikolai. However, I absolutely hated Alina and Mal’s relationship and that made me not enjoy the book that much. Ruin and Rising I liked more but hated the ending and what happens to Alina. I didn’t think she would or even want her to end up with the Darkling but I her and Mal’s relationship is still very toxic. Though Nikolai made the ending better. I haven’t watched the Netflix show yet but I hope that some of the issues I had with the books have been fixed.

The Tailor was a short story at the end of Siege and Storm that tells some events from Genya’s point of view. I liked being able to see the world through Genya’s eyes and why she works for the Darkling. The Demon in the Wood was a short story at the end of Ruin and Rising that showed us some of the Darkling’s back story. I know the Darkling is the villain but his reasoning for wanting to expand the fold do make more since after this story.

Labyrinth Coronation 2 and 3 are the last volumes in this short graphic novel series. I like how this series show how the Goblin King became who he is and how his story connects to Sarah’s. I loved the ending and how everything turned out all right in the end. If you are a fan of the Labyrinth movie I think you will like these graphic novels.

You are a Badass Everyday by Jen Sincero is a self help book companion to Jen Sincero other books and is more a set of tools to help you live your best life. I’m listened to this as an audio book and liked it well enough. After I finished it I felt more motivated to do some things that I’ve been putting off. Good for those looking for motivation or self-help books.

Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir is Andy Weir’s newest science fiction novel. I received an early review copy from NetGalley and have a full review posted. In Project Hail Mary we follow Ryland Grace the only survivor of a space mission that’s goal is to save all life on earth. However, he doesn’t remember that but he’s earth’s last hope. After gaining an unexpected ally, Grace might be able to figure out what’s going on and how the save everything. Great for fans of Andy Weir’s other work and those who love hard science fiction.

The Fork, the Witch, and the Worm by Christopher Paolini is a short story collection with stories taking place after the events of the Inheritance cycle. I liked being back in this world with character that I love but I do think that I would have enjoyed these stories more if I had reread the series first.

Book Review: Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir

Project Hail Mary is a new hard science fiction novel by Andy Weir the author of the Martian. I received an early copy through NetGalley. The story follows Ryland Grace the only survivor on a mission to save Earth and humanity and he is the worlds last hope. However, he doesn’t know that because he doesn’t remember his name or what he’s supposed to do on this mission. But its up to him and an unexpected ally to find the solution to an extinction level event that threatens all life on Earth.

Project Hail Mary is very had to talk about without spoiling some aspects of the plot and story. I really like book though most of the science went over my head. Ryland Grace is much more of a Mark Watney style character so if you liked the Martian I would recommend this book. At this point to say anything else I will be getting into spoilers so stop reading if you don’t want to know anything more.

The story is told through Ryland Grace’s perspective but switches between current events and the memories of his past that tells the read who he is and why he is on this mission. Because he doesn’t have his memories we are thrown into the story and learn with him what is going on. Through the flash backs we learn that something is causing the Sun of get dimmer and if not stopped then it will cause catastrophic problems on Earth. It is soon determined that this is happening because of an organism called Astrophage is feeding on the energy of the Sun. I’m not going to discuss any of the science of the book because that is one aspect that I had trouble understanding but I got the overall plot, relationships, and emotions of the characters. Grace determines that he is on this space ship because they were headed to the one location that the Astrophage do not seem to be affecting.

Shortly, after waking up and remembering what he is meant to do Grace sees another space craft that he knows can’t be from Earth. He ends up communicating with the other space craft and meets an alien life form that is very different from humans. Grace calls him Rocky. They learn how to talk to each other and together the figure out how the Astrophage work and how to stop them. As they figure out what they need to do Grace finally gets back all of his memories and why he is on the ship which he now knows is a suicide mission. I don’t want to spoil the whole ending but together Grace and Rocky save their planets and Grace gets to do what he’s best at in the end.

March 2021 Wrap Up

In March I read five books and only watch a couple of documentaries. I’m also currently playing Persona 5 The Royal but I know that it will take me a while to finish it.

Books:

The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz by Erik Larson is Larson’s newest nonfiction historical book. This time he focuses on Churchill during the first year as Prime Minster and the air attacks from Germany. Erik Larson is one of those historians that can write history like its fiction and he’s just telling a story which makes his book far easier to understand even if you don’t know much about the history he is writing about. Though this is very well written, to me it focuses on too many people at times which made me question why he was writing about them. Overall, a great book for anyone who loves history especially the history of World War II.

Chopping Spree by Angela Sylvaine is a short horror novel set in a 1980s style mall and is very reminiscent of the slasher movies from that time. I received a copy though NetGalley and have a full review posted. It very much reminded me of the teen horror books by R.L. Stine and Christopher Pike and I think that you would like it if you liked those. The main plot revolves around Penny and her friends as they run from a killer that they are trapped in a mall with but does have some twists. I only thing I wish is that it was a little longer as I think the twist would have worked better in a longer format.

A History of the Vampire in Popular Culture: Love at First Bite by Violet Fenn is exactly what it sounds like. This is a nonfiction book about vampires and how vampires are portrayed in popular culture. I received a copy through NetGalley and I have a full review posted. I’ve never read any books about vampires in popular culture but most of this information can be found in other places but as its newer there more focus on more recent movies and tv shows featuring vampires. I good book for those who love vampires and the many way that they are used in different mediums.

Velveteen vs. The Junior Super Patriots by Seanan McGuire is McGuire’s take on superheroes in a world that when a kid finds out they have powers a cooperation that controls most of the hero’s lives gets them to join one of their groups. We follow Velma, who has the power to animate toys and used to be a hero by the name Velveteen, as she attempts to drive from California to Portland for a job interview. As she travels though California she needs up using her powers to help several people and get attention from the marketing department of The Super Patriots Inc who she is trying to stay away from and then agrees to be a superhero for Portland. An interesting take on superheroes and the image of being a hero. Though this is all one connected story each “chapter” is more like a short story but they need to be read in order to be understood. I liked this and plan to read the rest of the series but not my favorite of Seanan McGuire’s works.

Monstress volume five by Marjorie Lu and Sana Taked is the next volume in the graphic novel series Monstress. I love this seires and the amazing artwork. This volume we follow Maika as she helps defend the Arcanic city of Ravenna from the war that is starting. The only thing that I didn’t really like is the fact that Kippa can be an idiot though I understand her reasoning behind the actions she takes.

Book Review: A History of the Vampire in Popular Culture by Violet Fenn

A History of the Vampire in Popular Culture by Violet Fenn is a nonfiction book about Vampires and how vampires are portrayed in popular culture through out history. As it comes out in May of 2021 there is a bit more focus on recent Dracula adaptations and other vampire stories in comparison to other books that discuss vampires and popular culture. I received a copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Unlike other nonfiction or historical books, this history of vampires doesn’t completely go in chronological order and focuses more on different types of popular culture, as well as the tropes and themes that the vampire represent or embody. This is the first book of this type that I’ve ever read so I’m not sure the best way to review it but my love of vampires and the different depictions of vampires throughout history is what intrigued me about this book.

This is a very well written and researched deep dive into many aspects of Vampires and how vampires are used in popular culture depictions. Personally, I loved both discussion on the historical vampire accounts and how vampires are used in movies and TV shows. The vampire mythos is constantly changing and there seems to be something for everyone even if you personally don’t agree with all of the depictions. I think this would be a great book for anyone that is fascinated by vampires and vampire fiction.