Lovecraft Country 📚 BOOK REVIEW

My review of Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff 📚

I read a paperback edition of Lovecraft Country.

Genre: Horror, sci-fi, fantasy

Publisher: Pan MacMillan

Originally published: February 16th, 2016

Pages: 384 (paperback)

Audiobook length: 12 hrs and 13 mins

Synopsis by the publisher:

Chicago, 1954. When his father Montrose goes missing, twenty-two year-old Army veteran Atticus Turner embarks on a road trip to New England to find him, accompanied by his Uncle George – publisher of The Safe Negro Travel Guide – and his childhood friend Letitia. On their journey to the manor of Mr. Braithwhite – heir to the estate that owned one of Atticus’s ancestors – they encounter both mundane terrors of white America and malevolent spirits that seem straight out of the weird tales George devours.

At the manor, Atticus discovers his father in chains, held prisoner by a secret cabal named the Order of the Ancient Dawn – led by Samuel Braithwhite and his son Caleb – which has gathered to orchestrate a ritual that shockingly centers on Atticus. And his one hope of salvation may be the seed of his – and the whole Turner clan’s – destruction.

My thoughts:

The thing that drew me to this book was the trailer for the HBO series that I haven’t watched yet), and I decided that I needed to read the book before watching it.

I’ve read quite a bit of Lovecraft, and I love the stories (not the white supremacist author), so I was intrigued to find out how another writer would incorporate Lovecraft’s stories into their own.
I thought Matt Ruff did an excellent job of making the story his own and giving it that Lovecraft vibe. I also think that it’s so wonderful how Ruff took inspiration from a racist author and made this story with such an incredible cast of black characters and also portraiting racism as the real monster of the story at the same time. I always appreciate it when our author reveals that the real monsters to fear are often the ones that live inside the people we see every day.

Lovecraft country follows a cast of fascinating characters but does an excellent job of giving them each a unique voice so that as a reader, I never got confused. That being said, I wish we would’ve had more time to get to know them all. With so many lead characters, I felt like I missed a bit of the depth that would’ve made me more invested in them. We also got introduced to some places and creatures that I would’ve liked to know more about.
But the story was fast-paced and action-packed. It was filled with mystery and well-developed characters.
It all wrapped up quite quickly at the end, and I felt like it left me with quite a few questions unanswered.

Lovecraft Country was a fun, dark, and interesting ride. And I’m keeping my fingers crossed that Ruby will get her own book someday!

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Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams 📚 BOOK REVIEW

My review of Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams 📚

I read a hardback edition of Queenie.

Genre: Contemporary fiction, romance.

Publisher: Trapeze

Originally published: March 19th, 2019

Pages: 400 (hardback)

Audiobook length: 9 hrs and 45 mins.

Synopsis by the publisher:

Queenie Jenkins is a 25-year-old Jamaican British woman living in London, straddling two cultures and slotting neatly into neither. She works at a national newspaper, where she’s constantly forced to compare herself to her white middle class peers. After a messy break up from her long-term white boyfriend, Queenie seeks comfort in all the wrong places…including several hazardous men who do a good job of occupying brain space and a bad job of affirming self-worth.

As Queenie careens from one questionable decision to another, she finds herself wondering, “What are you doing? Why are you doing it? Who do you want to be?”—all of the questions today’s woman must face in a world trying to answer them for her.

My thoughts:

When I shared pictures of me reading Queenie on Instagram, I got a couple of DM’s from people asking me if it was true that Queenie was a lot like Bridget Jones’s Diary. I wasn’t aware that the two were being compared before that, but when I finished reading it, I saw that mentioned more and more.
I have to say (even though I think Bridget Jones is good fun and all that) that to compare the two is incredibly unfair to Queenie and to Candice Carty-Williams. Why? Because the two characters are so different! And the two stories are so different! Just because both books are about single women in London, doesn’t make them the same kind of stories.

Queenie is such a complex character and what she’s going through in this book when it comes to mental health and racism goes far deeper than the struggles Bridget Jones was facing in the fear of becoming an old spinster. I’m not saying that loneliness isn’t a subject that can be complicated and emotional, but Bridget Jones is not a book about mental health, at least not in my opinion.
And the big difference between the two is also that in Queenie we have a story that goes to some quite dark places, and that was something that I really appreciated with this story.

Dating in this modern age, with people walking around with all their own kind of bagage and own sets of issues, it can be difficult, challenging, hearbreaking and just downright frustrating and (at times) impossible to wrap your head around.
I’ve been there, and I know a lot of people have, and that’s why I think so many fall in love with Queenie and relates to her character so much. Even though you haven’t gone through the exact same experiences as she has, it is still easy to fing emotions and frustrations to relate to.

Queenie and her friends will make you frustrated at times when you read about the choices that they make (like having lots of unprotected sex and choosing dating partners that clearly isn’t a good match), but that is also what makes these characters feel more real. They make mistakes, they are imperfect, and they are trying so hard to navigate through a complicated and weird time in this world and their lives.

Queenie is a book with lots of humor, cringe worthy moments, diversity, exploration of mental health, friendships, love, and relationships for good and for bad.
It explores darkness and brightness and is also extremely entertaining! You can’t help but root for Queenie!

I would highly recommend Queenie to those readers out there who likes more complex and complicated contemporary/romance fiction. But it is not for the faint of heart! It was quite sexually graphic, and as I mentioned, it does go some pretty dark places, so that’s something to be aware of when going into this story.

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The Uninhabitable Earth by David Wallace-Wells 📚 BOOK REVIEW

My review of The Uninhabitable Earth by David Wallace-Wells 📚

I listened to an audiobook edition of The Uninhabitable Earth.

Genre: Non-fiction, Environment

Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd.

Originally published: February 19th, 2019

Pages: 336 (paperback)

Audiobook length: 9 hrs

Synopsis by the publisher:

It is worse, much worse, than you think.

The slowness of climate change is a fairy tale, perhaps as pernicious as the one that says it isn’t happening at all, and if your anxiety about it is dominated by fears of sea-level rise, you are barely scratching the surface of what terrors are possible, even within the lifetime of a teenager today.

Over the past decades, the term “Anthropocene” has climbed into the popular imagination – a name given to the geologic era we live in now, one defined by human intervention in the life of the planet. But however sanguine you might be about the proposition that we have ravaged the natural world, which we surely have, it is another thing entirely to consider the possibility that we have only provoked it, engineering first in ignorance and then in denial a climate system that will now go to war with us for many centuries, perhaps until it destroys us. In the meantime, it will remake us, transforming every aspect of the way we live-the planet no longer nurturing a dream of abundance, but a living nightmare.

My thoughts:

I was equally intrigued as I was terrified of diving into this book. Being very environmentally aware and being told upfront that it’s even worse than we think, that’s enough to get my pulse rising.
But scared or not, I think it is so important to keep ourselves educated on what is going on around us, and climate change is happening to every one of us, everywhere on the planet. And even though some like to deny it (I’m not going to mention names, but I’m pretty sure certain famous faces pops into most people’s head when I mention this) we have come so far and know so much now that it seems like complete ignorance to face the other way. And after reading/listening to this book, the knowledge of what has already happened, and what the worst-case scenario might be in the future, ignoring climate change isn’t an option anymore.

The Uninhabitable earth is a very interesting read based on scientific research from multiple sources, and it is also terrifying! I like how Wallace-Wells tries to have a somewhat light tone to this heavy and dark subject because even though we are headed in a certain direction where even the best-case scenario looks pretty grim, there’s always hope. Hope and a possibility for change, but we have to acknowledge how big of a problem this actually is, and how much work that needs to be done for us to make it better.

I wish that this book would make it into school curriculums around the world. Exposing children to this kind of grim info might not be the way to go, but I think that young adults (and a lot of adults for that matter) could really benefit from having this knowledge when making the choices that they do in this world.

The Uninhabitable Earth is a book that needs to be read, and sooner rather than later! I will keep on recommending this book to everyone I know because I think it is such an important work of non-fiction that deserves and needs get more praise and attention!

If we are going to change the future we have to get as much knowledge of the past and the present as possible. It starts with knowing, and I think this book is one of many great options when it comes to acquiring knowledge about climate change and what it does.

Highly, highly recommend, even though it is an uncomfortable read!

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Night Film by Marisha Pessl 📚 BOOK REVIEW

My review of Night Film by Marisha Pessl 📖

I read a papberback edition of Night Film.

Genre: Horror, Mystery, Thriller.

Publisher: Cornerstone – Windmill Books

Originally published: July 16th, 2013

Pages: 624 (paperback)

Audiobook length: 23 hrs and 9 mins

Synopsis by the publisher:

On a damp October night, beautiful young Ashley Cordova is found dead in an abandoned warehouse in lower Manhattan. Though her death is ruled a suicide, veteran investigative journalist Scott McGrath suspects otherwise. As he probes the strange circumstances surrounding Ashley’s life and death, McGrath comes face-to-face with the legacy of her father: the legendary, reclusive, cult-horror-film director Stanislas Cordova – a man who hasn’t been seen in public for more than 30 years. 

For McGrath, another death connected to this seemingly cursed family dynasty seems more than just a coincidence. Though much has been written about Cordova’s dark and unsettling films, very little is known about the man himself. 

Driven by revenge, curiosity, and a need for the truth, McGrath, with the aid of two strangers, is drawn deeper and deeper into Cordova’s eerie, hypnotic world. 

The last time he got close to exposing the director, McGrath lost his marriage and his career. This time he might lose even more. 

My thoughts:

I’ve had Night Film on my shelf for a few years, and although I’ve always found the premise very interesting, I’ve been slightly intimidated by the size of the book. But from time to time I ask my son to pick out my next read for me and he finds great pleasure in picking out the chunkiest books on my shelves, so this time it was Night Film’s turn. It’s a good way for me to get a randomly selected book to read, as well as it is a way for me to finally get to the books that I keep putting off because of their size.

As I said, I’ve found the premise of Night Film interesting ever since it came out. It sounded very dark and mysterious, so definitely something up my alley. I’ve heard mixed reviews of Night Film over the years, but most of the reviews were on the more positive note, at least from reviewers who tend to like the same books as I do. So I wouldn’t say that I had super high expectations for this book, but I had a feeling that would like it before I even picked it up.

Night Film hooked me from the beginning. It has a very dark and mysterious atmosphere to it that I really liked, and I also really enjoyed the way the layout of the novel, specifically the added websites and files. It made it feel like I was a part of the investigation to find out what happened to Ashley.
The story has a really good pace, so even though it is a long book, I never got bored. I was constantly at the edge of my seat wanting to know what would happen next. The story also took quite a few twists and turns that I wasn’t expecting and that is always a big plus with a mystery novel like this one.

I really enjoyed the characters in this story as well, and the ones that I found to be most interesting was probably the most mysterious characters; Ashley and Stanislaus Cordova.
Reading this book made me wish that Mr. Cordova was a real person so that I could’ve watched his movies afterward. There was just so much history and mystery around these two characters, and even though I quite enjoyed getting to know Scott McGrath and his “team”, I was more interested in getting to know the Cordova’s and their story.
It also felt like McGrath and his “team” lacked a little bit of character development, and they ended up coming out a little bit flat for my taste.

Let’s talk about the ending (without spoiling you). Even though I didn’t predict the exact way that this story would progress and end, I had a gut feeling as to what kind of ending Night Film would have (if that makes sense), and on some levels I was right. When I turned the last page of the story I had conflicted feelings about it, and I still do. In one way I feel like the ending was perfect to the whole Cordova mystery of it all, but in another way I feel like it left me slightly unsatisfied.
Even so, I really enjoyed this book and I would recommend it to the horror lovers out there. It’s dark, eerie, and very atmospheric. When it comes to the ending I think it comes down to personal preference if you’ll like it or not. I’m somewhere in between.
The book felt a bit unnecessary long as well, even though I got through it pretty quickly. I still feel like it could’ve been condensed just a little bit.
But overall it was a very interesting and enjoyable read!

Would love to know your opinion on the book if you’ve read it💛

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Burned by G.K. Lamb 📚 BOOK REVIEW

My review of Burned by G.K. Lamb 📚

I read a digital edition of Burned that I received for free from Reedsy Discovery in exchange for an honest review.

Burned is the second book in the Great Society trilogy.

Genre: Dystopian.

Publisher: Monolith Books

Originally published: November 24th, 2019

Pages: 308 (Kindle edition)

Synopsis by the publisher:

Einsam burns.

Fowler’s coup against the Caretakers’ has plunged the Great Society into civil war. With the veneer of peace shattered, violence is spiraling out of control.

The Great Society teeters on the brink of collapse.

Fleeing Einsam with her surviving companions, seventeen-year-old Evelyn Brennan carries evidence of the Caretaker’s heinous crimes. If she can find a way of smuggling it out of the country, she may be able to rally the world to intervene and stem the violence.

But hunted by enemies and haunted by the blood on her hands, Evelyn must strike an unsavoury bargain to keep her and her friends one step ahead of the flames.

My thoughts:

I had the pleasure of getting to read Filtered last year, and I was really excited to see the second novel in the trilogy find its way to Reedsy as well. Filtered ended on quite the cliffhanger, and I needed to know what happened next!

As I mentioned in my review of Filtered was a breath of fresh air in the dystopian genre, but also one that hit quite close to home when it comes to politics and propaganda. Burned does the exact same thing, and might even feel more current now in this strange and uncertain time that we’re living in at the moment

Burned is action-packed, but also adds a lot more depth to the characters than the first novel did. We meet some new characters, and we’re reunited with old ones. I wrote in my review of Filtered that I wished I would’ve gotten to know a lot of the characters better, and Burned definitely delivered on that point. I felt a lot more invested in the characters that we got to follow in this sequel, and they sure go through a lot in this book.

Burned is a book that keeps you at the age of your seat from the very beginning and till the very end. And it leaves you just as curious as to what happens next as Filtered did.
I’m not going to say much about the storyline because I don’t want to spoil anything for those who haven’t read the first book yet, but I will say that so far, this series keeps getting better. I can’t wait to find out what happens in the third and final installment of the Great Society trilogy.
I’m impatiently waiting at the edge of my seat!

Click on the Reedsy Discovery logo below to get to know more, maybe get your own copy, and let me know what you think of it💛

Caterpillar Girl and Bad Texter Boy by SANZO 📚 BOOK REVIEW

My review of Caterpillar Girl and Bad Texter Boy by SANZO 🐛

I read a paperback edition of the manga Caterpillar Girl and Bad Texter Boy.

Genre: Manga, Romance, Fantasy

Publisher: Yen Press

Originally published: June 26th 2018

Pages: 192 (paperback)

Synopsis by the publisher:

When a beautiful girl asks her childhood friend out, his response is a shocker: “You’re too perfect.”

What’s a girl to do, except transform into a giant caterpillar and try, try again?

My thoughts:

While my good friend Alex was visiting from the States here in December, we did what fellow booklover often find themselves doing when they come together; we went book hunting in bookstores here in Oslo. While we were at Outland (which is my favorite bookstore in Oslo) Alex wanted to look for a couple of mangas, and that’s how I ended up feeling like Alice falling through the rabbit hole and discover something truly new and wonderful. I’ve always loved how the manga art style looks like, but I’ve never really given manga a chance, even though I’ve read quite a few comics and graphic novels over the last few years.
But going down into the manga section at Outland had me more curious than ever, and I ended up picking up a few mangas that I stumbled across that looked interesting.

“Caterpillar Girl and Bad Texter Boy” was one of them.
What drew me to this particular manga was the absolutely weird and intriguing title. And when I read the short synopsis, I was sold!
This story has an eerie and dark weirdness to it. I really liked the art style, and especially the way that the Suzume is drawn as a caterpillar. Who knew a caterpillar could show so many emotions?

That being said, I have conflicting thoughts about the story.
Akane is a character that’s extremely hard to like. He’s the guy that refused to see what he had before it was gone, and when it comes back as something different, he doesn’t really learn to appreciate it as love before Suzume is absolutely miserable and became his “property”. But Akane also struggles with anxiety and his self-worth, which makes him more relatable as the story progresses.

Suzume is easier to like because of the cute weirdness of her caterpillar appearance, and it is easy to relate to the struggle of wanting so desperately to be loved by someone that you would do almost anything to get there.
It’s a story that reminds us to be careful what one wishes for, and also be aware of other people’s feelings. One about acceptance and mental health, and how self-loathing and events from one’s past can destroy the good things in one’s life.

I thought the book touched on some rather deep and interesting subjects but could’ve dived even deeper into them.
It’s different and it’s creepily cute. I enjoyed it, but I didn’t fall in love with it.

But if you’re looking for something that stands out (both as a story and as a standalone in the manga world of series) then this might be something for you!

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Mila 18 by Leon Uris 📚 BOOK REVIEW

My review of Mila 18 by Leon Uris 📚

I listened to an audiobook edition of Mila 18 on Audible.

Genre: Historical fiction, WWII fiction.

Publisher: Brilliance Audio

Originally published: 1961 by Doubleday

Pages: 563 (paperback)

Audiobook length: 22 hrs and 58 mins

Narrated by: David deVries

Synopsis by the publisher:

It was a time of crisis, a time of tragedy – and a time of transcendent courage and determination. Leon Uris’s blazing novel is set in the midst of the ghetto uprising that defied Nazi tyranny, as the Jews of Warsaw boldly met Wehrmacht tanks with homemade weapons and bare fists. Here, painted on a canvas as broad as its subject matter, is the compelling story of one of the most heroic struggles of modern times.

My thoughts:

Mila 18 is one of those books that my dad has recommended to me over and over again. I’ve had it on my shelf for what feels like forever, but for some reason, I just never got around to reading it. But on the hunt for some new audiobooks on Audible it came up as a recommended book there as well (not surprising since I have listened and read my share of books about World War 2), so I decided it was time to finally read/listen to it. 

It took me a little while to get all the characters in order, but as soon as I did, I was very invested in their stories. 

Mila 18 is a slow burner, but the flame burns bright through the whole book. The audiobook is almost 22 hours long, but during these hours I never felt bored. 

The story of the Warsaw ghetto tells how war and despair bring out the very best in people, and the absolute worst. 

We follow struggling marriages, young couples in love, a resistance coming to life, German officers and families just trying to survive.

It is a heartbreaking story as much as it is one that makes you want to go utterly mad with anger. One of the things that always made WWII stories so fascinating to me, was trying to get into the minds of the people who drove the war forward and trying to understand how someone could be so cruel and act so cruel. But I have to say that for the most part, the more I read, the less I feel like I understand. I still can’t fathom how the Nazis could justify their acts, and I don’t think I ever will. 

But no matter how difficult it is to try to understand why people sometimes do the things that they do, books like Mila 18, and so many others, are so important. We need to remember. We have to remember. 

This book tells a story of immense bravery, love, and endurance. We get to follow the people in the ghetto as well as outside of it and see how they process the war and how it changes the city that they call home, as well as the people around them. 

The uprising in the Warsaw ghetto is a symbol of freedom. 

It is a powerful story, an important story, but not one for the faint of heart. It had me feeling angry, unwell and moved to tears. 

If you like historical fiction and especially historical fiction set during WWII, then I would definitely recommend Mila 18.

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Waste by K. Bevis 📚 BOOK REVIEW

My review of Waste by K. Bevis

I read a Kindle edition of Waste: A Dark Science Fiction Adventure that was given to me for free from the author in exchange of an honest review.

Genre: Science fiction, Erotica

Publisher: K. Bevis

Originally published: September 10th, 2019

Pages: 181 (Kindle edition)

Synopsis by the publisher:

A radioactive wasteland. A man who isn’t entirely human. And a powerful evil that wants her dead.

Ode isn’t having the best year and it doesn’t look like it’s going to get any better any time soon.

Something dark and twisted is prowling the landscape, attacking people and leaving their mutilated bodies behind. Not that things aren’t bad already. There is a cult obsessed with evolution. the world has been destroyed by nuclear war and mutated creatures lurk in the shadows.

But now, whatever is behind the carnage has fixed its sights on Ode and it will stop at absolutely nothing until she’s dead. That’s if her inherited powers don’t off her first.

Forced to partner with the enigmatic City leader Cain and having to reconsider everything she’s ever been told about her life and history, Ode must find the truth behind the creeping darkness before it destroys her already broken world.

WASTE is a dark science fiction adventure with a strong female heroine who isn’t afraid to get her hands dirty. It is twisted and weird and soaked in radiation. It is not for the faint of heart, but for the adventurer who likes their science fiction books to have a splash of horror, a dash of survival fiction and a streak of dark romance.

Go on, be brave, give it a try.

My thoughts:

One thing is pretty clear from the very beginning of this story, and that is that it’s a graphic story. So, if you’re not into stories containing sex and violence, this is not the book for you! 

Now that we’ve got that warning out of the way, let’s talk about the awesomeness of this erotic and action-packed science fiction novel.

As the author puts it, ever so accurately; It is twisted and weird and soaked in radiation.

We meet Ode, a strong and independent female protagonist, living in a radiated wasteland. She doesn’t mind getting her hands dirty and do so quite often to stay alive. Ode is not like the humans we know today, and whenever her bloodlust comes over her, the only way to not go into a killing frenzy is to have sex.

I really enjoyed getting to know Ode as a character. She’s such a strong female lead to this story, and even though she’s a sexually active and strong woman, we also get to see the softer side of her personality throughout this book. There’s a character development there that I feel like could have been explored even more than it was, but considering this is the first book in a series, I’m hoping to get to know more in the next book.

Ode’s past and the radiated world that she’s living in is soaked in darkness and mystery, and I really enjoyed exploring it and its characters, and seeing how the pieces all fit together, although it felt slightly rushed a couple of times. 

I can’t wait to find out what’s going to happen next in this series!

If you’re looking for something that’s dark, twisted and weird, with a dash of erotica and a whole lot of action, then I would definitely recommend Waste. 

But be aware, it is definitely not for the faint-hearted.

If you want to get your own copy of Waste, click on the Amazon logo below👇🏻

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