Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman | Book Review

★★★★☆
March 1st – 3rd

This book is not at all what I was expecting. I had seen the ads and commercials for the TV adaptation on Amazon, and I knew nothing of the plot going in. My only frame of reference for this book came in my familiarity with Neil Gaiman, and even then I had only read one of his books before. American Gods, which I read in 2017 was not a favorite of mine, and I had been hesitant to pick up any other Gaiman books.

I happened to have access to the audiobook for this one, and was faced with a stretch of time doing work that I could listen to audiobooks in the background for. I picked it up on a whim, and was pleasantly surprised with how much I liked it.

This book is way funnier than I expected it to be. It has the same British wit that The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy does. On the surface, this book is about a book of prophecies, a set of swapped babies, a demon and an angel working together, and the New Spanish Inquisition. It’s also about global warming and climate change, hope in the face of destruction, unlikely allies, good friends, and dogs.

I really liked this book. It was a breath of fresh air between some heavier topics, and I’m glad I read it. I’d love to check out the TV show, and also look into other books by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett.

-Siobhan

Riot Baby by Tochi Onyebuchi | Book Review

★★★★☆
February 28th – March 2nd

This book is has a very dreamlike quality to it which I really enjoyed. The writing is lyrical and absolutely beautiful, but heartbreaking at times. I’ve really fallen in love recently with shorter fiction, mainly books which are around 200 pages. I have a lot of respect for authors who can show restraint and let the audience think for themselves, without spelling out every aspect of the story.

In this case, I think the medium really lent itself to the story that Onyebuchi was conveying. Here we follow Ella and Kev, a sister and brother both with extraordinary powers. They are measured and defined by the unfortunate systematic and structural racism that surrounds them, whether it’s in California or New York City. Kev is incarcerated at a young age, and Ella runs away from home. She is drawn to and molded by police brutality and events around the country, which only make her desire for change stronger as she fights to control her powers.

The way these characters, Ella especially, felt raw emotions was very prominent throughout the entire story. Her empathy was extremely strong, and Onybuchi’s writing did a great job conveying that same strength to the reader.

I think this book is the type to go into mostly blind. Reading too much about it will take away from some of its lyrical writing, and explain more than is necessary. I would highly recommend checking it out, especially with how short it is. I’ll be looking into more of Onybuchi’s work in the future. I love the way he crafts stories, and I’m excited to see what else he creates.

-Siobhan

April (Magical Readathon) TBR | 2020

My goal for this TBR has two parts:

  1. I want to read mostly books that I physically own already
  2. I want to complete the Magical Readathon

If you’re not familiar with the Magical Readathon, it was created by Book Roast on YouTube, and takes place over the months of April and August. Based on Harry Potter, April has the OWL prompts (named after the exams in the series). In the readathon, you choose a career you’re interested in which takes place in the magical world. From there, you’re given a list of courses you must complete, and therefore prompts to read. I’ll be doing the Mage of Visual Arts career, and will also be doing the Animagus training for a few additional books.

That brings us to what the actual TBR is, with the prompts they correspond to:

The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix (Astronomy)
A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab (Charms)
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger (Divination)
The Near Witch by V.E. Schwab (History of Magic)
Middlegame by Seanan McGuire (Arithmancy)
Beverly by Nick Drnaso (Potions)
Nimona by Noelle Stevenson (Transfiguration)

I’m really excited to take part in this readathon after watching countless videos of it last year. I’m really looking forward to reading these books, and I’m hoping that I like them!

-Siobhan

Paperbacks from Hell: The Twisted History of ’70s and ’80s Horror Fiction by Grady Hendrix | Book Review

★★★★☆
February 25th – 26th

What a wild ride this book is.

At this point it’s really no secret that I’ve fallen in love with the horror genre, and that the author who reintroduced me to it is Grady Hendrix. I’ve loved all of the fiction that I’ve read from Hendrix, but he’s probably just as well known for this non-fiction retrospective about horror from the ’70s and ’80s.

This book is full of crazy covers, convoluted plots, and horrific monsters. Hendrix breaks the era down by type of book, talking about demons, animal-related books, gothic horror, and more. He then further breaks those categories down, giving clear examples and excerpts of plot from some of his favorites.

One of the best parts of this book is actually the legacy that it left. In partnership with Valancourt Books, there’s now a run of Paperbacks from Hell favorites, reprinted with forwards by Grady Hendrix and Will Erriickson (author of Too Much Horror Fiction).

This book is a really great manual for people who are interested in horror fiction, and touches on books which got the genre started, as well as weird, out there books about evil babies and giant bugs. Luckily for me, there was no section on spiders in this book.

I really enjoyed reading about all of these books, and I loved seeing Hendrix insert his humor into his descriptions of the plots. I found it a quick and fascinating read, and it’s definitely one I’ll go back to if I want to check out older horror fiction. As with anything Hendrix writes, I’ll check it out as soon as possible, including his newest fiction title The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires, which came out April 7th.

-Siobhan

March Recap | 2020

I had another good reading month! I was able to get through nine books this month, and I’m still very ahead for my reading challenge.

Riot Baby by Tochi Onyebuchi – February 28th – March 2nd
★★★★☆

Good Omens by Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman – March 1st – 3rd
★★★★☆

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood – March 3rd – 4th
★★★★☆

Elevation by Stephen King – March 5th
★★★★☆

The Toll by Neal Shusterman – February 29th – March 12th
★★★★☆

You Are Not Alone by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen – March 12th – 14th
★★★☆☆

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson – March 19th – 26th
★★★☆☆

10% Happier by Dan Harris – March 26th – 27th
★★★★☆

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo – March 28th – 31st
★★★☆☆

One of the other things I did this month was clear out some books I’m no longer looking to keep, and then get together an inventory of all the books I own, and which ones I’ve read. It turns out I’ve only read about half of my owned books, which is much lower than I thought it would be! This totals about 90 books, which is absolutely banana to me. I’m going to focus on trying to get that number down over the next few months, so some of those will be on my April TBR next week!

-Siobhan

The Other People by C.J. Tudor | Book Review

★★★★☆
February 23rd – 24th

This was the February pick for the Literally Dead Book Club hosted by booksandlala on YouTube. I’m so glad that she picked this, because I’ve had my eye on trying a C.J. Tudor book for a while now. I wasn’t sure whether to start with The Chalk Man or The Hiding Place, so I was thrilled that this was the first pick for this horror/thriller book club.

The Other People feels like one of those books that starts with a bang and then keeps on going. It felt to me like the whole book flew by in an instant, and I’m still not sure if that was a good thing or a bad thing for the book’s pacing.

We start with Gabe, a man on his way home to meet his wife and daughter, who’s stuck in traffic. The car in front of him is covered in terrible bumperstickers, and through the back window, Gabe thinks he sees his daughter Izzy’s face. Gabe attempts to chase the car, but loses it in the traffic. He tries to call his wife from a service station, but a detective answers the phone instead.

Fast forward about three years. Gabe now travels up and down the highway looking for the car which he believes stole his daughter. We also get chapters from Katie, a woman who works at a service station, Fran, a woman seemingly on the run with a young girl named Alice, and intermittent chapters about a girl in a hospital bed.

I really enjoyed this book. I loved Gabe’s character, and I especially loved Katie’s character and her devotion to her kids in this book. The story really played on the relationship between parents and younger children, and it was interesting to see three different types of these relationships.

The best part of the book to me was the unexplained magical element which kept me reading from very early on. There were elements to this book which I was baffled by early on, and was unsure if it was meant to be magical or if there was going to be a real-world explanation. I tend to really like unexplained magic in books, but I mostly like it when it’s perceived as normal to the characters around it. The magic in this book is tied to Alice’s character, and because we don’t see from her perspective, I felt that the magic element in the book didn’t come across as intended. That being said, I enjoyed the type of magic and the additions it made to the story.

Without getting into spoilers, I found the explanation of The Other People as an entity to be interesting (and sometimes unintentionally funny). I liked the way this was presented, but I found it to sometimes be a bit farfetched.

I’m really excited to go back and read C.J. Tudor’s previous two novels, as well as their next book coming out in 2021.

-Siobhan