Book Reviews

Gabriel’s Inferno by Sylvain Reynard – Book Review

Gabriel's Inferno (Gabriel's Inferno Trilogy Book 1) - Kindle edition by  Reynard, Sylvain. Literature & Fiction Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com.

I’ve always had a terrible weakness for beautiful but sad things.

I watched all three Gabriel’s Inferno movies on Passionflix this month and they rocked my world. At the time, I had no idea that the one book had been turned into three full-length movies. Instead, I thought it was all three books in the series. You can imagine my excitement when I realized there was still so much content waiting for me. I rewatched the movies a good six times, and I now consider them some of my all-time favorite movies. They’re basically my new Twilight because just like Twilight, they’re absolutely ridiculous. After watching the movies I decided to pick up all the books, starting with this one.

Gabriel’s Inferno follows Julia Mitchell, a grad student in Toronto studying to be a Dante specialist. Julia’s professor, Gabriel Emerson, is a dark and mysterious man whose past is closer tied to Julia than he might know. Through a series of circumstances, the two grow closer and closer, until a forbidden romance ensues between the professor and student. And if you know me, you’d know I love a good professor/student romance. However, this book lacked all of the charm from the movie adaptations.

First of all, Gabriel is a total asshole in the book. Not only is he a terribly furious professor, often insulting Julia’s intelligence, he’s also possessive and nasty with her before they start dating. The movies edited out all that macho nonsense and made Gabriel a lot more likable, so you can imagine my disappointment when I read this and found myself hating Gabriel. Julia is also the most self-deprecating person I’ve ever read about. She’s a virgin–a fact that Gabriel is obsessed with the entire book–and she lets this detail rule her entire life basically. She puts herself down so much, and I get that she comes from an abusive relationship, but she gave me so much second-hand embarrassment.

I struggled finishing this gigantic book. I found some lighthearted moments from time to time, and I did laugh at other parts, but most of the time, I was rolling my eyes or just shouting in frustration at how absolutely stupid this book is. Sadly, I do own the rest of the books, so I plan to continue reading them. I also want to see the rest of the movies, which I’m sure will also surpass the quality of the rest of the books.

Do I recommend the book? No. Do I recommend the movies? Absolutely! They’re so fun and they never get old. The rating I’m giving it is only due to the nostalgia I already feel because of the amazing movies.

Uncategorized

Four Horror Movies I watched through the Texas Storm

I was very lucky last week through the winter storm that ravaged Texas. We had our power the whole time and only had to boil our water for three days. During that week I watched for movies (for me that is a ton), and I wanted to review them. But I did want to note many were not so lucky as I was, and they still need help. Any Texas can go here to ask for help rebuilding your home. Anyone else who wants to help. Here is a group called Feeding Texas. Here is another link for disaster relief. And here is a good page to find other places to donate to or if you need help whether it be needing food or water or a place to stay.

Antebellum (film) - Wikipedia

Antebellum is a horror movie released in 2020 featuring Janelle Monáe. It is hard to know how to summarize this movie without giving away spoilers, but even the official summary of the movie kind of does that. But the movie basically is centered around the idea that the past is never really dead, and it predominantly features slavery. As with all depictions of slavery, it can be hard to watch, but I wouldn’t consider it a on the edge of your seat/jump scare type of thriller. Overall, I would say it was a good movie. The twist wasn’t really a twist to me, but the acting was very good and engaging.

The Turning | Own & Watch The Turning | Universal Pictures

This 2020 horror film is based on Henry James’ novella The Turn of the Screw, which I had never read so I had no idea what I was getting into. Really, I found this to be a typical horror film with a disappointing ending. It is about a nanny moving into these two kid’s huge mansion and creepy stuff happens basically. Finn Wolfhard and Brooklyn Prince did a great job as creepy children, but I didn’t really enjoy Mackenzie Davis’ character. She would be following mysterious sounds/calls for help and have no expression or hurry in her step and it would completely pull me out of the story.

Watch The Haunting Of Grady Farm | Prime Video

The Haunting of Grady Farm is a 2020 is a documentary style horror movie. It follows a team filming for their show that shows haunted locations, but this time the place is really haunted. I always like the idea of these types of movies, but rarely enjoy the execution. The camera is always shaky from the running and constantly cuts out to show that it is spooky or whatever. It never is a nice watching experience. I don’t give this one any flowers.

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I think The Rental was my favorite of the 2020 horror movies we watched. It follows four people renting a house for the weekend and then they all get murdered. Pretty basic but I liked the execution of the film. It built up the tension slowly, but it really paid off well in my opinion. And I loved the ending.

Book Recommendations, Book Reviews

The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune – Book Review

Image result for the house in the cerulean sea

Sometimes our prejudices color our thoughts when we least expect them to. If we can recognize that, and learn from it, we can become better people.

This book is so stunningly beautiful. I finished it a few hours ago, but I feel like I haven’t finished processing all that it made me feel.

The House in the Cerulean Sea has been much talked about lately. It was released last year and it’s been well received. I ordered it months ago when I heard it had queer characters in it, but it wasn’t until recently that I realized I needed to finally pick it up. I’m so glad I did. This book follows Linus Baker, a government caseworker who is in charge of visiting orphanages to make sure things are running smoothly. However, he’s asked to visit a top secret orphanage hiding the most powerful and unusual children he’s ever met, and that is where the story picks up.

I had not been expecting to burst into laughter so much, but I had so many laughing fits while reading this. Sometimes to the point of tears. The six children were exceptional, intelligent, and incredibly endearing. I adored every single one of them. Their characterization was so well done that I feel like I miss them already. I also feel like I know Linus so well. He was so relatable. I’m not a 40 year old man, but I might as well be with how much I felt like him the entire time. But my God, I have to say, I adored Arthur Parnassus the most. Arthur is the man in charge of the orphanage, and he’s the sweetest man alive. Every character was charming and I found myself entranced by all of their personalities.

A home isn’t always the house we live in. It’s also the people we choose to surround ourselves with.

The way this book is written is like poetry. It isn’t exactly a lyrical novel, but so many passages were so quotable that I had to keep rereading them to really take them in. I felt like there just weren’t enough pages. The story was so fun and enjoyable that I didn’t want it to ever end, as much as I wanted the resolution to happen. It was the kind of story that I wanted to get myself lost in forever, to literally jump into in order to experience everything firsthand. I can’t say enough good things about this wonderful, clever, funny book.

Your voice is a weapon. Never forget that.

I have to, of course, mention that my lovely Linus and Arthur stole my heart as well. Not only individually, but together. I loved them both to pieces. I loved my sweet Lucy, who’s the son of the Devil, I loved Chauncy and his big dreams, I loved Sal and his great writing, I loved Talia and her garden, I loved every single one of these characters so much. They stayed with me, and I don’t think I’ll ever forget them.

This isn’t the type of book I’d ever pick up, and now it’s my new favorite, which just shows that this book is for everyone. Do yourself a kind favor to yourself and read it. You’ll get lots of laugh and love out of it.

Book Recommendations, Book Reviews

Concrete Rose by Angie Thomas

The cover of Concrete Rose by Angie Thomas. A black man in a durag is standing surrounded by falling rose petals.

“It’s kinda like how we have to do with ourselves. Get rid of the things that don’t do us any good. If it won’t help the rose grow, you’ve gotta let it go.”

Concrete Rose by Angie Thomas is a prequel to The Hate U Give, though I think that it isn’t necessary to have read THUG before Concrete Rose. It is a young adult historical novel set in the 90s as Maverick (Starr’s father) has his coming of age story. Maverick is seventeen, in the King Lords and is dealing drugs when he finds out he is a father. From that point he must decide how he is going to be a parent and provide for his family while figuring out what kind of man he wants to be.

This book is phenomenal. Angie Thomas is an amazing writer, and I’m convinced I will love everything she writes. I feel like usually I might not like a book like this with the plot kind of more internal and not quite slow paced, but definitely not fast either. But I loved every moment of this book, and wanted more (which doesn’t happen to me with contemporary books).

I loved Maverick as a character in THUG and I love him even more now. He is such a dynamic character that has you rooting for him every step of the page. I honestly don’t think I’ve ever read a book involving teenage parents before. So not only is it filling the needed void on black men protagonists but also teen parents. Maverick is a person who has been told who he is his whole life, not able to really dream of what he wants to do, and slowly he learns that he can make his own choices and dream for a better future.

The side characters were also great and dynamic. Dre, Lisa, Faye, even Moe and Adonis, I loved getting to know them, and see them all interact with each other. Thomas has a gift for writing families and having entertaining scenes where you feel like you are there in Garden Heights with the cast.

Representation: Almost every character is Black. And there is a f/f relationship.

Trigger Warnings: Gang violence, drugs, racism, murder

I would recommend this book to everyone. It is an amazing as a prequel or a novel as itself. It can be heart wrenching, but it ends in a hopeful note that I appreciated as well. Five stars easy.

Book Reviews, Uncategorized

A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

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“I apologize for anything I might have done. I was not myself.”

“I apologize for shooting you in the leg.” said Lila. “I was myself entirely.”

A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab is the first book in a trilogy. This young adult fantasy is set in a world that has four alternate Londons. Each of them of various amounts of magic in them and only an Antari can cross between worlds. They don’t have much to do with each other at this point in history due to a past grisly war. But when Kell, Red London’s Antari comes across a piece of the destroyed Black London, he must do all he can to return it, lest the world ends. Lila, a Grey London thief, happens to save Kell’s life, and forces herself on this world saving journey.

I’ve read two other books by Schwab, Vicious and A Savage Song, and I would say that this has her signature pacing. For most of the book it is a slow slog , laying down the foundations of the plot, explaining the world, introducing characters and their motivations, and then in the last 100 pages or less everything comes together. It turns quick and exciting and all my previous thoughts of DNFing disappear because it is so good. But I’m always left wondering if all that build up, all of the time I’m not interested was really worth those last pages.

I did really love the characters in this novel. Kell is so sweet and loyal. I loved his story arc. I liked Lila as well. I was nervous before starting this book because I had heard Lila described as the epitome of “not like other girls.” I see where they are coming from because she acts like she is the only woman to want to wear jackets or pants, but I also feel like there can be room for characters like this when to their own knowledge they are the only one like that. Though I guess that is more the authors fault for making their world like that. I don’t know. Just thinking. But I think she is interesting. Lila is hardened because of her circumstances, but she still is soft inside and we get to see it a couple of times. I also think Holland (White London’s Antari) was really interesting. I wanted to get to know him more. Rhy (Red London’s prince) is the typical arrogant young royalty character to me. Not that interesting (or important) in this novel, but I think he takes a bigger role in later books. Hopefully he also becomes more interesting.

Representation: I’ve heard that Rhy and the royal family is Schwab’s only POC in all of her books, but in this one they are only described as tanned. Not sure if they are described more in her other books or if it ends at being called tan and having official artwork of them have a darker skin tone. Rhy is also bisexual or pansexual. It simply says he is with men and women. Lila also has one glass eye.

Trigger Warnings: Lots of blood. Violence. Death. Attempted Rape. Self Harm (Antari must cut themselves and use their blood to do magic).

At the end of the day, I did enjoy myself. I always find different magic systems interesting to read about and this one combined blood magic with elemental magic and parallel (alternate?) dimensions. I can easily see how this series can become more complicated and entertaining in the series. However, I do also see some things hinted at that I usually don’t like in books. Like a love triangle. And I know the end pairing, but that includes a trope I don’t like. So, I’m kind of iffy on finishing the series. The ending wraps itself up pretty well, so it isn’t like I am left wondering if I don’t continue. So, I guess we will see what happens.

The cover of A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab. A illustrated man in a long, red coat is crossing two circled maps of London. The top circle is black and white. The bottom on red and white.
Book Reviews

Sheriff’s Secret by K. Webster – Book Review

Sheriff's Secret (Brigs Ferry Bay Book 1) - Kindle edition by Webster, K.  Romance Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com.

I really loved this one.

So, maybe not a lot of people know this, but I love sheriff books. Ever since I read Point Pleasant back in 2013, I haven’t been able to move past them. Of course, the only ones I’ve found are those cheesy Harlequin versions, so I was very surprised to find this beautiful queer romance one. 

It took me some time to get into this story. It follows Jaxson Bell, the young sheriff of Brigs Ferry Bay, a small town that only has two cops, him and his deputy. Jaxson has been in the closet all his life, and is terrified of ever coming out. When a rich New Yorker, Dante Kincaid, moves into town intending to open a B&B, Jaxson has decided to hate him for it. This, of course, turns into an enemies to lovers romance far quicker than I had imagined. 

There were two downsides to this book. The first one being that the book started off being super shallow, and it kind of stayed that way despite the character growth. Everyone just kept focusing on how hot Jaxson and Dante were. They were just so beautiful and gorgeous and of course there was attraction. It just felt so superficial. Their relationship did deepen past looks and such, but it left kind of a sour taste in my mouth. And the second downside was the amount of homophobia, harassment, and hate crimes caused to LGBT people in this book. Dante and his entire family got attacked several times due to their sexuality. I get that this is a small town, but it was severe attacks that twisted my stomach. I hated reading about it and it just crushed me.

Despite all this, I really did enjoy this book. The romance had a lot of sweet moments, and Dante stole my heart. I also enjoyed the whole family dynamic aspect. And so many characters were queer in this story, which was a plus.

If you’re not like me and are not obsessed with sheriff books, I think you’d still enjoy this queer romance.

Book Reviews

Wayward Son by Rainbow Rowell – Book Review

Amazon.com: Wayward Son (Simon Snow Series, 2) (9781250146076): Rowell,  Rainbow: Books

I started this book soon after its release in 2019, and I just finished it at the beginning of 2021. I felt bad at the time I put it down because I didn’t hate it, but it just didn’t grab my attention. Then, I fell into a terrible reading slump, and it took an audiobook for me to actually finish this book.

First, I should say that I wasn’t completely sold on Carry On. I liked it, but I didn’t love it as much as I’d expected. That being said, Carry On completely captured me from start to finish. I think I read it in three days. I enjoyed the entire thing. The sequel, Wayward Son, was kind of torture to read. I struggled from the beginning, and I couldn’t believe it because I love road trips, especially road trips set in America. I’ve been on my own share of road trips for this reason. But man, this book was all over the place.

There was absolutely no plot for the majority of the book, and I’m usually more than okay with slow paced stories. But this one was slow to the point of it being painful. Unnecessary detail were thrown in that seemed to be added in to increase the word count. The whole thing just felt uninspired. When there finally was some sort of plot, it wasn’t a great one. I was very uncomfortable by a certain vampire character who showed up near the end, who was incredibly old, trying to charm Baz. I’m not even sure how old Baz is, but to me he’s a child, and this thirty-something (hundreds in vampire years) man got a little too friendly with him. I felt sick to my stomach. Why was that included at all?

I didn’t realize I had a full rant inside of me. I have to say, I enjoyed some bits and pieces of the book. They were few and far in between, but they were enough to keep me reading. Simon and Baz were adorable when they were together, but they lacked so much communication that it was absurd. Penelope was fantastic, but even she felt odd and out of character. I don’t even want to get into Agatha. 

All this to say that I am still a huge Rainbow Rowell fan and will most definitely read everything else she writes, including the third book in this series which comes out this year. I’m a sucker for Rowell’s books, and I don’t plan on giving up on them. I’m holding out hope that Any Way the Wind Blows will actually blow me away and I will love the entire trilogy because of it. Either way, the book is pre-ordered, and I’m eager to read it.

Book Reviews

Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo – Book Review

Amazon.com: Clap When You Land (9780062882769): Acevedo, Elizabeth: Books

The body is a funny piece of meat. How it inflates and deflates in order to keep you alive. But how simple words can fill you up or pierce the air out of you.

I went into this book almost blindly. The only thing I knew about it was that it’s a story about sisters, and I don’t remember ever reading a story where the focus is on the siblings. I love my sister, and I figured this would be a sweet, wholesome read. And while it is very sweet and wholesome at times, it does deal with a lot of heavier topics.

Clap When You Land is the story of two sisters, one living in New York and the other in Dominican Republic. The two share the same dad, but he kept them a secret from each other their entire lives, up until a tragic plane wreck ends his life and all the secrets come out.

I enjoyed the main characters, Camino and Yahaira very much. They each had very unique voices and they were relatable people. As a Mexican woman, I saw myself in them and their heritage. I loved learning more about the culture. I especially loved the beautifully sweet and queer romantic subplot Yahaira had. I loved so many things about this lyrical novel, but my favorite was seeing the sisters grow closer and closer.

I was genuinely concerned for both of these girls and I just wanted everything to work out for them in the end. It was interesting reading about all the family drama in their lives because that also felt relatable. Every family has drama. It was just a very genuine and realistic story about family and loss and tragedy and, most importantly, love. The love between sisters, the love between a mother and daughter, the love between a father and daughter, the love you have for those who raised you no matter who they are. It’s a really well-written, deep story that I will keep close to my heart.

Book Reviews

Wranglestone by Darren Charlton – Book Review

Wranglestone (Wranglestone, #1) by Darren Charlton

I have to thank Wranglestone for breaking me out of my very long, very annoying reading slump of 2020. If it wasn’t for this book, I wouldn’t have rediscovered my passion for reading. This isn’t to say that I adored the book or thought it was perfect, far from it, but it was an exciting story that motivated to get back into reading.

Wranglestone is a YA post-apocalyptic zombie book with a sweet love story between sixteen year olds Peter and Cooper. Peter has lived in the Wranglestone community all his life. All he’s known is a world filled with zombies. For years, he’s watched Cooper, who’s the opposite of Peter when it comes to dealing with zombies and the outdoors. Peter is more of a homebody who loves to make quilts, while Cooper hunts and wrangles zombies off the land.

I thought the world building was great. I liked discovering more and more details along the way. The zombies were all very interesting to read about. Peter was a delightful main character, and so was his supportive, kind-hearted father. Cooper was a total sweetheart who stole my heart from the start, and I loved him so much. I had such high hopes while reading this book. Zombies are one of my favorite things to watch and read about because I find them absolutely terrifying. I didn’t particularly fear them in this book, but that didn’t take away from it.

The parts that bothered me about the story was how fast paced it was. This isn’t to say it was bad, but I prefer stories that take the time to process information, preferably stories where nothing really happens and characters just talk to each other. I know, I sound so boring but I just like slower paced stories. I like love stories. I was expecting a big romance with zombies in the background. Instead, I got a zombie story with a romantic subplot that I keep wanting more and more from. It just never felt like enough focus was given to Peter and Cooper, and I really wanted more of them.

I also wasn’t into the sudden route the book took halfway through. It went in a totally unexpected direction and it made me not super excited about it anymore. I had to rant to my therapist about it for an hour and take some time to make my peace with it before I could pick up the book again.

This was a quick read and I was never bored. I would recommend this to other zombie fans, or anyone who doesn’t mind long action sequences and fast-paced plots with a bit of romance thrown in the mix. I know there’s a sequel in the works, which I definitely plan to read.

Book Reviews

Birthday Girl by Penelope Douglas – Book Review

Birthday Girl - Kindle edition by Douglas, Penelope. Contemporary Romance  Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com.

Birthday wishes don’t always come true, so I don’t waste a chance when I blow out a candle.

I should preface this review by stating that I’m not a big new adult reader. The genre has never really interested me, but this premise was very intriguing, so I decided to give it a read, and it was exactly what I expected it to be.

Birthday Girl follows Jordan, a nineteen year old girl who’s very self-assured, but she’s in a difficult financial situation working as a bartender. The story sets off on her birthday, waiting for her flaky boyfriend to pick her up after work. When he doesn’t show up, she goes to a midnight showing of an 80s horror movie–it’s her favorite decade–and she meets Pike, a handsome older man who peaks her interest. The two hit it off, and there’s a spark between them neither can ignore. However, it turns out that Pike is Jordan’s boyfriend’s father. Yeah, big yikes.

Due to Jordan’s boyfriend, Cole, being constantly irresponsible, they end up having to live with Pike, which only brings Jordan and Pike closer. I was so fascinated to see if the author could pull off a romance that seemed so forbidden. The age gap didn’t really bother me because I personally have always had a thing for older man, and Pike is thirty-eight so it’s really not that bad in my opinion. But the fact that he’s Jordan’s boyfriend’s dad just heightened the tension.

I have to say, Jordan and Pike had great chemistry, and the way this story was written didn’t make me hate them for their feelings. My issue lied with the way Pike treated Jordan. I mentioned the age gap not bothering me, but it was somehow a big issue for Pike, and he never failed to treat Jordan like a kid, even when they got together. That was really uncomfortable to read, and it even disturbed me at times. Some might call it kinky, but I just felt squeamish during those scenes. The strange thing about this book is that it wasn’t consistent with the way it was written. It tried to be kinky, then it was pure vanilla, so I’m not sure what the author was going for here.

Despite all my critiques, I did enjoy reading this. I was never fully invested in the characters, but I was here for the drama. I loved the drama. It was a fun read that went by pretty quick. I’m a sucker for forbidden romances, so if you are too, give this one a try.