Tag Archives: book blogs

Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado (Review)

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⭐ ⭐ (2.5 Stars)

I had high expectations for Her Body and Other Parties based on the blurb and reviews I’d seen floating around the internet. After I read it, all I could think was “meh” but no, I don’t think this is a bad collection of short stories. It just didn’t work for me. This book has elements of eroticism, queerness, horror, feminism, science fiction and magical realism – a seemingly perfect read for October… 

“Many people live and die without ever confronting themselves in the darkness.”

“The Husband Stitch” was my favourite story of the bunch. I didn’t know this but the story is based on a creepy story called The Green Ribbon. I interpreted this story as a feminist tale having interesting themes like body autonomy and self-worth. The second story “Inventory” is set in a dystopian world riddled with plague in which the narrator recounts her sexual adventures. “Eight Bites” and “Real Women Have Bodies” are horrific explorations of society’s obsession with thinness. Unfortunately, I didn’t ‘get’ or enjoy the other stories in Machado’s collection.

The women in these stories are multifaceted: some are beat down (literally and otherwise) and some rise above their predicaments. Some women encounter ghosts of their pasts or society’s present, and some women get consumed by their own madness. Carmen Machado is amazing at writing and writing ideas but I didn’t adore her plots. Her Body and Other Parties is shortlisted for the National Book Awards 2017, so it’s worth checking out if the blurb piques your interest.

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White is for Witching by Helen Oyeyemi (Review)

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⭐ ⭐ ⭐ (3.5 Stars) 

Helen Oyeyemi has me stumped for words. After reading Boy, Snow, Bird, I knew I had to pick up more of her works, and truly, each novel is like a little gem. My rating might not reflect that but I’ll explain why. White is for Witching is different from anything I’ve ever read (and will ever read). Let’s start with the weird narrators, shall we?

                                                           “Miri I conjure you”

In the beginning, our young protagonist Miranda Silver has gone missing. In the first few pages, we are introduced to the three narrators: her twin brother Eliot, her friend (and lover) Ore and her house (yeah, I know). After the twins’ mother Lily passes away, Miranda’s mental health goes berserk and pica (passed down to her, matrilineally) controls her life. Pica is an obsession with eating non nutritious food and in Miranda’s case: chalk and plastic.

To be perfectly honest, I didn’t like reading this book for the first 100 pages. It became a lot more interesting after that. To backtrack a little, the story is set in Dover where the Silver family own a Bread & breakfast. Grief and pain are visible and tangible elements present at the centre of it all. Miranda stops eating, there’s some weird stuff with her brother (not explained) and her father feels very much like an outsider. The house acts as a ‘protector’ to Miranda, it wants to shield her from things that can hurt her later on like love and attachment.

White is for Witching can certainly be interpreted in various ways, realistically or in a more paranormal sense. All the subtle fairy tale elements put a smile on my face. And racial issues are addressed too, but not in a huge way like in Boy, Snow, Bird. If you’re looking for a plot based narrative, steer away from this – the reason why I couldn’t rate this a 4 or 5 stars. Oyeyemi’s world building is interesting: she combines observations, psychology and magical realism in a compellingly sinister and dream-like tale.

Hello, October & a TBR list 🍂

The weather is perfectly chilly, my birthday is coming up soon and I’m super excited about all the books I’ll buy and read this month. As per the year long tradition, I will be reading spooky and scary novels (as expected) and thoroughly enjoying every minute of it. Here’s my list of books to read this October:

  • White is for Witching by Helen Oyeyemi
  • What is Not Yours is Not Yours by Helen Oyeyemi
  • The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory
  • Turn of the Screw by Henry James
  • Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
  • 1984 by George Orwell
  • Horrorstör by Grady Hendrix
  • The Haunting of Maddy Clare by Simone St. James
  • Her Every Fear by Peter Swanson
  • The Tidal Zone by Sarah Moss
  • American Fire: Love, Arson, and Life in a Vanishing Land by Monica Hesse
  • Gossip from the Forest by Sara Maitland

A little ambitious for me but a girl can dream! I’m also going to give a go at two reading challenges this month: a 24-hour Halloween readathon by Zoe from ReadbyZoe and the week-long #Autumnreadathon hosted by Mercy from MercysBookishMusings.

Happy reading! ☕📚

Final Girls by Riley Sager (Review)

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First of all, we need to talk about that cover. Dark forest or trees? Tick. Girl running away? Tick. Mist, dark colours, creepy atmosphere? TICKTICKTICK. I’m a fan of all the clichés. From what I gathered on the internet, Riley Sager is a pseudonym for a previously published author called Todd Ritter (don’t sue me if this isn’t true), and it’s interesting… because:

Aaaand suddenly: 

A little push from Stephen King is all that’s needed to create a bestselling thriller novel, apparently. Oh, and I bought into it. This book is fantastically entertaining. I knew this was a hyped up book and didn’t read the blurb. It’s best to get into Final Girls without any prior knowledge or anticipation of the story.

But if you’d still like to know more about it, well, keep on reading! If you’re a fan of compulsive thrilling reads or slasher films, this is for you. Personally, I’m not a fan of slasher films but I can see myself consuming books in this horrifying genre. For one, slasher stories are less scary on paper. But hey, it’s still creepy. 

So, a little bit about Final Girls: Quincy Carpenter was the sole survivor of a massacre when she was a teenager. All her friends died that night. The media calls her and women who went through similar experiences as ‘Final Girls’, named after the trope in popular horror movies. Lisa, the first Final Girl, is found dead under mysterious circumstances. Is Quincy next? Final Girls was simultaneously predictable and unpredictable. I thought the ending was satisfying, and one of the best I’ve read this year in thriller novels.

The writing isn’t too bad, though a little generic at times. Coming back to clichés, this novel is full of them. Just a few examples: good girl gone bad, sex hurts for her first time, girls with frenemies. Despite all the eye-rolls and thinking “this is clearly written by a man!” (no offence to men out there) I loved the plot and will look forward to reading Riley Sager’s future novels 😄📚

Tin Man by Sarah Winman (Review)

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⭐ ⭐ ⭐

(Mild spoilers)

I’m conflicted about my feelings for Tin Man. Whilst I’m glad I read it, the latter half of the novel frustrated me a little. Beyond that, Sarah Winman’s writing is exquisite and I felt deeply connected to her characters. Tin Man is about two boys, Ellis and Michael, who love each other. This love follows them into adulthood until Ellis meets and marries Annie. Friendship blossoms between the three but also distances Michael from Ellis.

Tin Man is a novel that tries to be about hope. Instead it is about angsty love, loneliness, and tragedy. I’m all for a sad & cozy read but I couldn’t enjoy Tin Man after a certain point. Some character arcs and motivations go unexplained. Also, other gripes I had while reading is there are no quotation marks in the entire novel and the different time periods (past memories and present happenings) are confusing.

Okay, final thoughts: it’s a beautiful tale about (un)requited love that was touching but I want to read happy lgbtq stories. The writing was absolutely poetic particularly the descriptions of landscapes. The metaphors and themes were enticing but couldn’t stay that way given the nature of the story. Would I recommend Tin Man? Yes, if you’d like to get your heart broken by a pile of pages! 

Banned Books Week: Some Reading Recommendations

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Think of your favourites books. Chances are some of them were banned in the past for various reasons, like the depiction of desire, or profanities. The act of banning a book is actually counterintuitive, if you think about it. It opens a dialogue and provides free publicity. 

Here are some recommendations for books that were challenged:

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

I read this for school when I was 15. Banned for depiction of rape and racial language.

The Colour Purple by Alice Walker

A recent read. Banned for sexual scenes, homosexuality, and profanities.

Every dystopian book you can think of (go figure): Brave New World, Fahrenheit 451, The Handmaid’s Tale, The Giver, and most importantly, 1984 which I have yet to read!

Dystopian novels are primarily banned for their criticism of capitalist and totalitarian governments, and the suppressing of human rights and liberties.

Lord of the Flies by William Golding

Again, I read this for school when I was young. Banned for profanities and violence.

Sons and Lovers by D.H. Lawrence

Banned for obscenity.

Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert

Banned for overt sexuality of an adulteress… Flaubert was put on trial on charges of immorality and obscenity.

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

Similarly, Wilde was put on trial. His book involved homosexuality and was described as being “vulgar” and dirty.

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

Banned for depicting sexual abuse and rape.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

Banned for including topics like drug use, masturbation, homosexuality etc.

Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi 

A graphic novel banned for portrayal of violence and radical islam.

————–

“It’s now very common to hear people say, ‘I’m rather offended by that.’ As if that gives them certain rights. It’s actually nothing more… than a whine. ‘I find that offensive.’ It has no meaning; it has no purpose; it has no reason to be respected as a phrase. ‘I am offended by that.’ Well, so fucking what.”

[I saw hate in a graveyard — Stephen Fry, The Guardian, 5 June 2005]”
― Stephen Fry


Banned Books I plan on reading soon:

  1. 1984 by George Orwell 
  2. Lolita by Vladamir Nabokov (yeah, i can wait for this one)
  3. Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D.H. Lawrence 
  4. The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy 
  5. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

Happy Reading!

Three Creepy Novellas (Book Reviews)

Such Small Hands by Andrés Barba (Translated by Lisa Dillman): ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

This is quite an unsettling little read! Life-like dolls and creepy orphan girls? Sign me up. Such Small Hands is actually based off a real life incident that happened in Brazil during the 1960s which is a complete spoiler so I’ll avoid mentioning those details for this review. The story follows seven year old Marina who loses her parents in a car accident and is put in an orphanage. She is bullied incessantly by the other girls, out of fear and envy (or both). The writing is very atmospheric and well done but confusing at times and I wished for a longer or a more fleshed out story from Barba.

You Should Have Left by Daniel Kehlmann (Translated by Ross Benjamin): ⭐⭐

Did I miss something? I’m sure that a re-read would help me understand the plot more but I’d rather not. From what I remember, You Should Have Left is about a writer and his family who are renting a house up in the mountains. And it was supposed to be Lynchian. The way this novella is set up is confusing – there are snippets about the writers life that read like a diary, and then the snippets about his screenplay with characters and scenarios that make zero sense.

He’s trying to salvage his marriage and has super weird dreams at night. He experiences some House of Leaves-esque things and shit hits the fan. Again, I wish this was longer!

Carmilla by J. Sheridan Le Fanu: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

Queer vampire classic set during the Victorian times? All the yes’s. I remember reading the “steamy” bits when I was younger and now years later, I’d say its hella cute 😂 Carmilla is set in Styria and is about Laura, a young woman, who meets and forms a romantic bond with Carmilla. Laura’s steadily declining health and vigour combined with Carmilla’s strange sleep routine raise some eyebrows. The novella peters out into a below-average horror film production but it was super entertaining nonetheless.

Audiobook link: https://tinyurl.com/y8vun397