February 2022 Monthly Wrap Up

In February I read six books, most of them eBooks and started working my way though the next Kingdom Hearts games.

Books:

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.

Movies:

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.

January 2022 Monthly Wrap Up

In January I read four books and finished two video games. I haven’t been watching that much except for a few documentaries, The Return to Hogwarts Special on HBO was the only one that I loved.

Books:

The first book I finished for this year was Dune by Frank Herbert which I had started in October but it took me a long time to finish. I feel like Dune is one of those stories that you hear a lot about but is still kind of hard to explain. We follow Paul as his family is given control of Arrakis, a desert planet know as Dune. When his family is betrayed Paul and his mother escape into the desert a way from the cities and join the local inhabitants the Fremen. Paul becomes a chosen one/messiah know as the Muad’Dib and plans to take over the galactic empire. Dune is one of those books that can take a while to understand what is happening due to all the information that is parceled out through the story but its also very readable. Personally, I found the ending weird and somewhat confusing though I like the book overall. Dune is the first book in a series but it reads well as a standalone and I don’t plan on continuing. I feel like if you are interested in reading Dune you should give it a shot but its not this amazing must read and it might not be for you.

Next I read Greek Myths: Meet the Heroes, Gods and Monsters of Ancient Greece by Jean Menzies which is an illustrated children’s books about Greek Myths. I bought this primarily for the art and to support the author. Since its a children’s book I knew most if not all the information in this book but this one of those books that I wish I had as a kid.

Siren Queen by Nigh Vo is an adult fantasy novel set in 1930s Hollywood in a world where the worst monsters are not on screen and immortality can be gained by being in the movies. I received an early review copy through Netgalley and I also have a full review posted. Luli Wei is a Chinese-American girl who wants to be in movies but would rather play the monster instead of the maid. When the studios own everything Luli is willing to do what ever it takes to become a star. Siren Queen is an amazing critical and magical take on old Hollywood. Luli is one of those characters that you love but is not the best person. This book made me want to read more of Nigh Vo’s work.

Hide by Kiersten White is a contemporary horror/thriller where fourteen people are in a competition to play hide and seek in an abounded amusement park to win enough money to change their lives. The main character Mack feels like she can beat the others but when people start disappearing two a day it becomes clear something else is going on. I loved this book and it reminded me somewhat of the movie Cabin in the woods. I received an early review copy through Netgalley and I also have a full review posted.

Video Games:

I finished two video games in January Persona 5: Strikers and Persona 5: Dancing in Starlight which I have full reviews posted for both.

Persona 5: Strikers is a hack and slash Dynasty Warriors style fighting game that combines game play elements from Persona 5. The plot is set during the summer break after the events of Persona 5 where Joke and the rest of the Phantom Thieves are planning a camping trip but end up having to go back into the Metaverse to destroy newly created jails where the shadow of the jails ruler is stealing desires. This was a fun game that I loved but I’m not a fan on how the stealth works in the game. If you are a fan of Persona 5 you should give the game a try.

Persona 5: Dancing in Starlight is a rhythm dancing game that is very light on the plot. The twins bring the Phantom Thieves into the Metaverse through their dreams to try to win a dance competition between the siblings that help in the Velvet Room. This is one of those games that you will like only if you are both a Persona 5 fan and don’t mind rhythm games. I liked it but its one of those games that I don’t think I will ever play again.

Book Review: Hide by Kiersten White

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.

Book Review: Siren Queen by Nghi Vo

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.

November and December 2021 Wrap Up

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.

Books:

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.

Book Review: Sabriel by Garth Nix

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.

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.