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  • Book Review #30: There There by Tommy Orange (2018)

    Rating: 4 out of 5 ⭐️
    Title: There There
    Author: Tommy Orange
    Published: 2018 (Vintage Books, Penguin Random House, New York)
    Pages: 292 (Paperback)
    Genres: Literary, Fiction, Adult, Native American, Contemporary
    CW: violence, sexual and reproductive topics, domestic violence, strong language, alcoholism, guns
    Link Here

    My used copy of There There sitting outside on my coffee table in the early morning

    I wanted to read this book two years ago, I remember when it first came out. Looking back, I have no idea why I didn’t read it. I remember hearing such good things about this book across the board. When I saw it in one of my favorite used book/movie/record stores last week, I knew I had to buy and read it. And I definitely was not disappointed! Now I’m more mad at myself than anything that I didn’t read this one sooner.

    ‘You know what Gertrude Stein said about Oakland?’ Rob says…. ‘There is no there there’, he says in a kind of whisper…. Rob probably didn’t look any further into the quote because he’d gotten what he wanted from it. He probably used the quote at dinner parties and made other people like him feel good about taking over neighborhoods they wouldn’t have had the guts to drive through ten years ago… He hadn’t read Gertrude Stein beyond the quote. But for Native people in this country, all over the Americas, it’s been developed over, buried ancestral land, glass and concrete and wire and steel, unreturnable covered memory. There is no there there” – Tommy Orange, There There

    There There is by what I can tell the first book by MFA graduate and writer Tommy Orange. This book is the story of 12 different fictional persons, each chapter in their own perspective, all eventually gathering in Oakland, CA for the Big Oakland Powwow, a large gathering of Native Americans from different communities. Each person’s story reflects a reality of Native American life, and their own personal struggles and backgrounds. This book was beautiful, and I was blown away by the writing and the stories. By the climactic end, I was a fan.

    I’d clicked to download ‘The Lone Ranger’. Everyone agreed on how bad it was, in so many ways. But I was excited to see it. There’s something about seeing Johnny Depp fail so badly that gives me strength” – Tommy Orange, There There

    Sometimes I forget how powerful stories can be, especially ones that are truly well-written and told from the heart. Any reader can tell Orange’s story and dialogue is told from a personal place, which made this book all the more special. The stories themselves were not depressing (though at times this book is very sad), but real perspectives based on fact to take in and digest. From what I can tell, this book was hopeful in the best sense, and was meant as a way to inform, and to keep alive Native stories. Orange has a unique voice, and really did an amazing job keeping this in a Native voice, and honing in on identity issues in Native communities. This book is definitely a worthwhile read, and I definitely recommend this one. It’s not only because of the subject that this is a great book, I believe it’s also in Orange’s passionate and observational way he tells the story.

    If you were fortunate enough to be born into a family whose ancestors directly benefited from genocide and/or slavery, maybe you think the more you don’t know, the more innocent you can stay, which is a good incentive to not find out, to not look too deep, to walk carefully around the sleeping tiger. Look no further than your last name. Follow it back and you might find your line paved with gold, or beset with traps” – Tommy Orange, There There

    The setting and focus is not something I expected. Orange kept the focus on Natives, not in a reservation setting, but in the urban setting of Oakland, CA and other locations, even before the powwow. He covers many, very real topics such as cultural and ethnic identity, family, addiction, tradition, violence, disadvantaged youth, and community. And this is only by what I can tell, by the way. Orange’s writing, dialogues and interludes of information were eloquently told regarding a complex topic and history. Honestly, besides being great fiction, if you’re looking for a really good book told in a Native perspective that makes you think, and evaluate what you know about Native American history in the US, this is the book for you. I recommend this book for everyone (well at least over 16+ because of certain subject content). Go into this one with an open mind, and learn. And get your own opinion on this one.

    There’s a secret war on women going on in the world. Secret even to us. Secret even though we know it” – Tommy Orange, There There

    I give this book a 4 out of 5! (I thought about giving this a 5 star rating, but as you all who regularly read my blog know, I’m picky about book ratings)

    _Elizabeth


    But how do I rate the books I write about? Click here

  • Short Review #17: A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay (2015)

    Rating: 3 out of 5⭐️
    Title: A Head Full of Ghosts: A Novel
    Author: Paul Tremblay
    Published: 2015 (William Morrow, HarperCollins, New York)
    Pages: 286 (Hardcover)
    Genres: Horror, Fiction, Thriller, Suspense, Supernatural
    CW: violence, religious motifs, sexual content
    Link Here

    My borrowed copy of A Head Full of Ghosts next to a cup of coffee

    Hello! To continue my tour into spooky novels since it is spooky season, I read A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay this week. It has finally cooled down weather-wise at the moment in Arizona, which is a miracle at this point… So now I can finally say it’s starting to feel like fall, which equals spooky season!

    Ideas. I’m possessed by ideas. Ideas that are as old as humanity, maybe older, right? Maybe those ideas were out there just floating around before us, just waiting to be thought up. Maybe we don’t think them, we pluck them out from another dimension or another mind” – Paul Tremblay, A Head Full of Ghosts

    I saw a lot of mixed reviews about this novel before I went into it. I knew I wanted to read a book by the horror author Paul Tremblay, who has won the Bram Stoker, British Fantasy, and Massachusetts Book awards, because I’ve been hearing about him a lot. But honestly, I couldn’t decide which one to read. I went with A Head Full of Ghosts, because it seemed to be one of his higher rated ones and it looked good. Side note: I might read The Cabin at the End of the World one day by Tremblay, but I’m not sure yet. I was between that one, and the one I’m currently talking about.

    A Head Full of Ghosts is a novel about a dysfunctional fictional family who went through an exorcism that was filmed for a reality TV series for their oldest daughter, Marjorie. The story is mainly told in the perspective of the younger sister, Merry, looking back on the circumstances of the events. Marjorie was suspected of having schizophrenia when she starts to display bizarre behavior at age 14, which soon led to the family believing she was possessed by a demon and needed an exorcism. As Merry comes to terms with what happened as an adult after she agrees to sell her story to a publisher that will be turned into a book, her story becomes a lot stranger and will have you second guessing.

    I enjoyed this book for the most part. The story was creepy, and entertaining as hell. But I was not a fan of how the blog portions of the book were written. It was kind of difficult to get through at times, and the writing was jumbled and manic. I imagine that was maybe done on purpose for character development (maybe), but it was still hard to read through, especially since it went on for multiple pages at a time. I loved the suspense elements, and the storytelling itself was well-done.

    Why should you read this book? If you’re looking for a spooky supernatural horror novel that reads like reality TV and leaves you guessing the character’s motivations, this is the book for you.

    I give this book a 3 out of 5!

    _Elizabeth


  • Book Review #29: I’m Thinking of Ending Things by Iain Reid (2016)

    Review: 4 out of 5⭐️
    Title: I’m Thinking of Ending Things: A Novel
    Author: Iain Reid
    Published: 2016 (Gallery, Scout Press, New York)
    Pages: 211 (Hardcover)
    Genres: Fiction, Thriller, Horror, Suspense, Contemporary
    CW: sexual content, violence
    Link Here

    My borrowed copy of I’m Thinking of Ending Things next to a vase of fake tulips

    This. Book. I can tell you right now this book is a wild, and unnerving ride. For anyone who is considering reading this book, do not go into this thinking you understand the ending. I heard a lot about this horror/thriller on Instagram. And this was before announcements of the upcoming movie of the same title directed by Charlie Kaufman based on this book, reached me (the movie comes out tomorrow, 9/4 on Netflix, by the way). Honestly, at certain parts I was not sure I liked the book, but other parts confirmed I was a fan overall.

    Seeing someone with their parents is a tangible reminder that we’re all composites” – Iain Reid, I’m Thinking of Ending Things

    The story starts out unassuming; a girlfriend and her boyfriend named Jake drive out to Jake’s parent’s farm in order for her to meet them for the first time. A lot of the story is the girlfriend’s internal monologue, she is ‘thinking of ending things’ with Jake. From there, the story builds into an unsuspecting display of awkwardness. And I do not mean awkward in a negative light by any means, I refer to the unsettling feelings as the situation developed and became, essentially and predictably, worse. The story flow, at first confusing, ended up becoming one of my favorite parts about this novel. I can hopefully say without spoilers, that even though this book was not particularly gory or action-packed, the creativity executed and build up to create dread was very well done.

    Even considering the data that shows the majority of marriages don’t last, people still think marriage is the normal human state. Most people want to get married. Is there anything else that people do in such huge numbers, with such a terrible success rate?” – Iain Reid, I’m Thinking of Ending Things

    I’m Thinking of Ending Things was full of quipped quotes, very dynamic characters, and eerie moments. By seeing my review history on this blog, I’ve only begun to get back into reading horror novels so by no means am I an expert. But I really think this is a horror and suspense novel that should be celebrated. If I was a writer, I wish I could write like Reid to create the same feelings of intensity from beginning to end. He really knew how to exploit the unknowns of suspense.

    Sometimes a thought is closer to truth, to reality, than an action. You can say anything, you can do anything, but you can’t fake a thought” – Iain Reid, I’m Thinking of Ending Things

    Why should you read this book? I recommend this book simply if you’re a fan of psychological horror novels with a contemporary twist. Also so, if you’re curious to see if the book is better than the upcoming movie. I’m not sure yet if I’m going to watch the movie after it comes out. In my opinion, there seems to be some obvious differences than in the book by watching the trailer (I’m definitely not the first person to say that phrase..). But I think the movie looks like it will be good, or at least well done in a cinematographic way. On another note, spooky season is almost here, and I’m hoping to read more spookier novels. Comment below if you have any good horror/thriller/mystery/suspense book suggestions 🎃

    Just tell your story. Pretty much all memory is fiction and heavily edited. So just keep going” – Iain Reid, I’m Thinking of Ending Things

    Overall, I give this book a 4 out of 5!

    _Elizabeth


    Curious how I rate the books I write about? Click here to find out.

  • Short Review #16: Pizza Girl by Jean Kyoung Frazier (2020)

    Rating: 3 out of 5 ⭐️
    Title: Pizza Girl: A Novel
    Author: Jean Kyoung Frazier
    Published: 2020 (Doubleday, New York)
    Pages: 198 (Hardcover)
    Genres: Fiction, Contemporary, Coming-of-Age, Humor
    *Disclaimers: contains sexual content, strong language and references to alcoholism
    Link Here

    My borrowed copy of Pizza Girl next to a slice of pizza (the book was better than the pizza)

    Happy almost Friday! I read the oddest little book this week. At first, I was probably more attracted to the cover of this book more than anything else. Just look at it! (pictured above) I love the retro cover art, especially the colors. Anyways, this week on my reading list was Pizza Girl by Jean Kyoung Frazier. This is Frazier’s first novel.

    I think about life as one big Laundromat and some people have just one little bag to do – it’ll only take them a quick cycle to get through – but others, they have bags and bags of it, and it’s just so much that it’s overwhelming to even think about starting. Is there enough laundry detergent to get everything clean?” – Jean Kyoung Frazier, Pizza Girl

    I found this book charming, a little weird, and overall a thoughtful read. The story is narrated by an 18-year-old pregnant, pizza delivery girl in Los Angeles who goes unnamed. She just graduated high school, and is quirky, a little lost and grieving over her somewhat recently deceased father. Our protagonist becomes obsessed over one of her customers, a tired mom, newly moved to Los Angeles named Jenny who orders a pickle covered pizza every week for her homesick son, Adam. As her fascination with Jenny grows, the narrator comes face-to-face with her own dissatisfaction, and we get to know a weirdo who is still trying to figure out life.

    I wished stained-glass windows were everywhere, not just churches. How lovely a McDonald’s would be if you could order a Big Mac while being surrounded by stained glass” – Jean Kyoung Frazier, Pizza Girl

    This book was a pretty quick read at only 198 pages. I found the main character unsettling at times, but I think that’s pretty much the point. The narrator’s observations were penetrating, and I enjoyed the writing and how Frazier details the flashbacks. Pizza Girl is a contemporary novel and coming-of-age story about an outcast. Why should you read this book? Read this book if you enjoy literary fiction novels about a flawed and complicated character who finds herself in a tough predicament, while dealing with family, pregnancy and discovering herself. Plus there is a little witty humor thrown around as well.

    I would have found something else to lose myself in. If you were pushed off a cliff, you’d grab hold of anything resembling safety” – Jean Kyoung Frazier, Pizza Girl

    I give this novel a 3 out of 5!

    _Elizabeth

  • Short Review #15: The Party Upstairs by Lee Conell (2020)

    Rating: 3 out of 5⭐️
    Title: The Party Upstairs: A Novel
    Author: Lee Conell
    Published: 2020 (Penguin Press, New York)
    Pages: 309 (Hardcover)
    Genres: Fiction, Contemporary, Literary Fiction, Adult
    *Disclaimer: Recommended for 18+, contains strong situational content, sex and harassment

    My borrowed copy of The Party Upstairs by one of my windows, by stairs

    Hello everyone! I’m typing this as it rains on a dark and stormy summer night here in Arizona. There isn’t a lot of rain this time of year so that means it’s monsoon season! As you can probably tell, I’m excited. This weather was much needed during this tough week. And reading the book I’m about to talk about provided a much needed break too. This week I read The Party Upstairs by Lee Conell.

    Their relationship had been like one long mutual unpaid internship. They had each felt slightly exploited, but they’d also each hoped the experience would help them achieve something greater in the future” – Lee Conell, The Party Upstairs

    I heard a lot of mixed reviews about this book. But when I read the synopsis, it sounded right up my alley. The novel centers around young liberal arts college graduate, Ruby, and her hard-working apartment building super father, Martin. Ruby grew up as the super’s daughter in a fancy Upper West Side apartment building living among some of New York’s wealth, but their class differences couldn’t be further apart even living among them. Now as an adult, Ruby moves back home with her parents in her childhood basement home after breaking up with her boyfriend, and having no job. The novel takes place over the course of a certain day where Ruby’s privileged childhood best friend, Caroline, throws a party in her childhood penthouse home in her building, and a series of events lead to a tense climax.

    She had instead changed into an oversize sweater and long spandex skirt with plaid print… She looked like how Ruby must have looked in her interview outfit, except Caroline was wearing this outfit because she had a choice. She was demonstrating to the world all the ways she was empowered in her rejection of the feminine norm. Or something” – Lee Conell, The Party Upstairs

    I really enjoyed this one. The main relationship of the novel between father and daughter was introspective and gripping. The novel’s repeated commentary on class and privilege was also fascinating. It was definitely a little slow in the beginning, but by the end, I was glued to the story from the tension. The narrative throughout the course of a day perfectly built up the surrealness and suspense felt between the reader and characters. The way Ruby and Martin interact with the other characters in their own points of view were meaningfully conducted, and attributed to the personality of the novel. Why should you read this novel? If you enjoy literary fiction taking place in New York surrounding class privilege commentary and tense situations, this is the book for you.

    I give this a 3 out of 5!

    _Elizabeth


    How do I rate the books I read? Click Here.

  • ARC Review: Grown Ups by Emma Jane Unsworth (2020)

    Review: 2.5 out of 5 ⭐️
    Title: Grown Ups: A Novel
    Author: Emma Jane Unsworth
    Published: 2020 (Gallery/Scout Press, New York)
    Genres: Fiction, Contemporary, Adult, Women’s Fiction, Humor
    *Disclaimer: Highly recommended for ages 18+

    My ARC copy of Grown Ups with a pin the publisher sent me (this was screenshot from my IG story… which explains the hearts)

    ~This book is available in the US on August 18th, 2020~

    This is my first Advanced Readers Copy review! I got this book in a giveaway on Instagram, and was sent a copy (along with the pin pictured above) by the publisher, Gallery/Scout Press an imprint of Simon & Schuster. The pin is pretty cute, by the way. I received this book closer to the publication date than I thought I would, but I wanted to talk about this book before it came out anyways, especially since this is my first ARC review. I have no idea why I was asked to read this, because my blog is not that successful. But I figured I’m probably among their target audience too – female, millennial and I am a fan of Fleabag and Normal People.

    I should clarify – this novel was already published in the UK titled as Adults in January 2020. Grown Ups will be published in the US and released on August 18th. So there was already a lot spoken and circulating about this book. I added this book to my Amazon wish list a long time ago, and then forget about it until I saw it pop up on my Instagram feed a couple months ago.

    Emma Jane Unsworth’s newest and biting fiction novel is about a woman named Jenny McLaine, a 35-year-old Londoner who writes for a magazine, owns a house, is reluctantly going through a bad breakup with her longtime partner Art, and has a social media addiction. This novel is mostly a mix of internal, agonized thought, text/email conversations, and rough drafts by the main character. I really wanted to love her new release, I did. But I did not. The writing was not terrible, some of the jokes were well executed and hilarious, and I found some of the story and dialogue compelling. But the characters felt one-sided and vapid. The main character Jenny’s story was relatable, but it lacked a certain something, including organization. Maybe I had too high hopes for this book. I felt like I was reading a choppy script for a TV sitcom.

    This book is specifically targeted for some millennial and mainly Gen-X women, who enjoy dark humor. She covers difficult and unspoken topics that women go through in their personal and professional lives. I think the reader will only understand, and even enjoy the book, if they’re in Unsworth’s target audience. It was like heterosexual chick-lit, but with more coke. At certain parts of this book, her writing made me feel something. It almost triggered some negative emotions in me from some difficult moments and reactions Jenny goes through. But that was just my experience.

    Why should you read this book? If you enjoy women’s literature about relatable life experiences surrounding a sassy and self-sabotaging British woman, this is the book for you. But in the end, the book felt like it was trying too hard to be like some other work in pop culture, like Fleabag (some of the plot was set up similarly too). And I felt oddly uncertain at some moments.

    I give this a 2.5 out of 5! (I was tempted to give it a 3, but I just couldn’t. I would not read this book again, ever)

    _Elizabeth


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  • Short Review #14: The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones (2020)

    Rating: 4 out of 5 ⭐️
    Title: The Only Good Indians: A Novel
    Author: Stephen Graham Jones
    Published: 2020 (Saga Press, New York)
    Pages: 310 (Hardcover)
    Genres: Thriller, Horror, Fiction, Native American
    *Disclaimers: Recommend for 17+, strong horror themes and commentary

    My borrowed copy of The Only Good Indians on top of a pillow

    Today is National Book Lovers Day! I didn’t know about it until I looked at Instagram today. Still, I’m happy to spend this time talking about a great book by a new author for me. And it was a bone chilling one indeed. I heard a lot of good things about this new release since it came out last month. The premise of The Only Good Indians sounded mysterious, and it had been awhile since I’ve read a horror novel from a new author. Also, the title was a little alarming, and caught my interest.

    The ladder tilts the opposite way, like it doesn’t want to be involved in anything this ugly, and all of this is in the slowest possible motion for Lewis, his head snapping as many pictures as it can on the way down, like they can stack up under him, break his fall” – Stephen Graham Jones, The Only Good Indians

    Native American author, Stephen Graham Jones, has written 15 novels and is a fan of the horror/slasher genre. After reading his newest book, I may have to read some of his others! He comes highly praised for his writing and stories, and I couldn’t agree more. The Only Good Indians is a novel of revenge and suspense surrounding four close friends – Lewis, Ricky, Gabe and Cassidy- who grew up together on the same Blackfeet reservation. After an ill fated elk hunting trip in their youth, the four become literally haunted by their past mistake, and are hunted down by an unknown entity one-by-one.

    Jones does a wonderful job building suspense and setting the scene through his writing. He also integrates commentary on Native cultural identity and tradition in between his character’s interactions and internal struggles. Jones definitely has a different voice when it comes to creating horror, and there were certain moments where I felt the hairs on the back of my neck raise. The story was fairly original, perfectly executed, and definitely unexpected. Why should you read this book? If you’re looking for a thrilling, horror novel binding together supernatural revenge and cultural identity, you have the right book.

    I give this book a 4 out of 5! (Because honestly, I couldn’t see why not. I love a well-done horror novel)

    _Elizabeth

  • Book Review #28: Death in Her Hands by Ottessa Moshfegh (2020)

    Review: 4 out of 5 ⭐️
    Title: Death in Her Hands: A Novel
    Author: Ottessa Moshfegh
    Published: 2020 (Penguin Press, New York)
    Pages: 259 (Hardcover)
    Genres: Fiction, Literary Fiction, Suspense, Thriller, Adult
    *Disclaimer: Contains sexuality and strong language/themes, Recommended for 17+
    Link Here

    My borrowed copy of Death in Her Hands in my (her) hand

    Hello! First of all, another thing you need to know about me is that I love Ottessa Moshfegh’s writing. I loved her writing before I started this blog. The first book I read by her was Eileen, and the story has haunted me ever since. This is my first review on the blog regarding a work by Moshfegh, and I cannot communicate how excited I am to be talking about her newest release. Moshfegh is a fiction writer from New England who has written two novels, a novella and a book of short stories. She has been nominated for, and a winner of, literary awards and grants.

    It’s very stressful to be plucked from one world and plunked down in another. One loses her roots, no matter how hard traditions are clung to. I’d seen it in my parents – traditions change. Food, holidays, modes of dresses. One assimilates, or forever lives as though in exile” – Ottessa Moshfegh, Death in Her Hands

    Now, back to Death in Her Hands – a book with a literally haunting cover. I saw there were more negative reviews than I thought there would be. But I was not entirely surprised. Death in Her Hands is a novel narrated by an elderly woman named Vesta, who just lost her long-time husband Walter, and moves across the country to a small town and buys a cabin remote in the woods to start over. She lives alone, almost in complete isolation, with her dog, Charlie. Vesta lives for her routine until she comes across a mysterious note in the woods that says, Her name was Magda. Nobody will ever know who killed her. It wasn’t me. Here is her dead body. This note begins a spiral and adventure for Vesta as she investigates this supposed murder, and tries to solve the mystery behind the note and its author.

    There is nothing more heartbreaking than a squandered opportunity, a missed chance. I knew about stuff like that. I’d been young once. So many dreams had been dashed. But I dashed them myself. I wanted to be safe, whole, have a future of certainty. One makes mistakes when there is confusion between having a future at all and having the future one wants” – Ottessa Moshfegh, Death in Her Hands

    This book left me asking a lot of questions and evaluating every hint, every word. Honestly, I loved it. Despite already being bias towards her writing, this novel was well-written, insightful, and penetrating. Moshfegh dives into Vesta’s inner most thoughts, and invades a vision of the comfortable American rural life. Vesta faces challenges, interruptions and recalls her days with Walter in her grief. This novel was also suspenseful, and the mystery kept me on my toes at every page. I can see how redundant and almost too confusingly ominous the novel could be, but I think it was the author’s intention to make the reader uncomfortable and keep them guessing about Vesta’s state of mind.

    It was enough for me, I’d thought, but I didn’t know what I really deserved. I’d deserved what any nice young lady deserves” – Ottessa Moshfegh, Death in Her Hands

    Why should you read this book? This novel is fascinating, personal and a captivating mystery and thriller. The concept was fairly original, or if anything, it was unusual and there are not many like this. Through Vesta, Moshfegh dives into feelings kept private in day-to-day life, such as feeling like an outcast, insecure, and being obsessed over coincidental details. Prepared to be challenged, and pay attention to the details if you, reader, dive into this book. This story is not for the faint of heart.

    I give this book a 4 out of 5!

    _Elizabeth


    Click here to read about how I rate the books I write about on this blog!

  • Book Review #27: Home Before Dark by Riley Sager (2020)

    Rating: 3 out of 5⭐️
    Title: Home Before Dark: A Novel
    Author: Riley Sager
    Published: 2020 (Dutton, Penguin Random House)
    Pages: 384 (Hardcover)
    Genres: Thriller, Horror, Mystery, Fiction
    *Disclaimer: Recommended for ages 18+
    Link Here

    My borrowed copy of Home Before Dark on top of my dining table

    I was excited to finally have the opportunity to read Riley Sager’s fourth and newest release, Home Before Dark. I read all three of Sager’s previous novels, Lock Every Door, The Last Time I Lied, and Final Girls. I wrote reviews for the more recent two around when I first started this blog, and I definitely enjoyed his campy thrillers. So when I heard his newest book was being released, reading this one was a must! There were many and mixed reviews online about this book. Many 4 and 5 star reviews, but quite a few negative reviews. More negative reviews than what I expected from one of his books. I went into this novel with an open mind, and tried not to compare it to other similar horror/mystery plot lines, like the synopsis reveals. The more famously mentioned ones that I found are: The Haunting of Hill House (TV series/book) and Amityville Horror (book/movie).

    Every house has a story to tell” – Riley Sager, Home Before Dark

    The plot centers around Maggie Holt, a troubled and willful designer and home renovator, whose life is made famous by her father’s book called ‘House of Horrors’. The book reveals the supernatural horrors Maggie’s father Ewan, mother Jess, and 5 year-old Maggie experienced inside their home, Baneberry Hall, a Victorian estate in Vermont. When Maggie’s father passes away, she discovers he left her Baneberry Hall, the place that caused the book that ruined her life. When Maggie goes to Vermont to renovate and eventually sell the estate, a turn of events lead Maggie to start asking some bigger questions about what exactly happened at Baneberry Hall 20 years ago.

    This book was basically as expected, and entertaining as hell. I heavily enjoyed this spooky novel, and the only major problem I had with this book was the ending (which will not be spoiled in this review). I felt like this book differed from Sager’s typically novels with more suspense and horror. Even more than Lock Every Door, which also had a little more of a supernatural element. Some moments in Home Before Dark put you on the edge of your seat. The dual perspectives between the protagonist, Maggie, and chapters from her father’s book regarding the haunting flowed, and were refreshing to the story. I probably would have considered giving this one 4 stars if the ending was better and not so rushed.

    Few things in life are more disappointing than knowing your parents aren’t being honest with you” – Riley Sager, Home Before Dark

    Definitely give this one a chance. It was a quick read, spooky and kept me guessing at every turn. Sager uses all the typical haunted house tropes, which made this book appear cheesy. But if there is any indication the story seems copied from another book/movie/TV show, I think it’s purposefully done as a homage, and not to steal from another author. Why should you read this book? Read this one if you’re looking for an easy, supernatural haunted house thriller with a lot of campy lines and situations. This is typical Riley Sager, but in a haunted estate.

    Overall, I give this a 3 out of 5!

    _Elizabeth


    How do I rate the books I write about? Click here for more details.

  • Short Review #13: Sudden Death by Álvaro Enrigue (2016 English Translation)

    Rating: 3 out of 5 ⭐️
    Title: Sudden Death: A Novel
    Author: Álvaro Enrigue, Translator – Natasha Wimmer
    Published: 2016, English (Riverhead Books – orig. 2013 Anagrama)
    Pages: 272 (Hardcover)
    Genres: Literary Fiction, Latinx, Historical, Postmodern
    *Disclaimers: Novel contains sexual content and strong language
    Link Here

    My borrowed copy of Sudden Death next to succulents

    Good evening and maybe good morning to some of you! I have not posted in a while, because I started working again (Yay! I was so not getting stir crazy…). So I have a little less time for reading, blogging and reviewing. But here I am, because I finally got through the crazy, surreal book called Sudden Death by Álvaro Enrigue. This one was a trip to read, indeed.

    Maybe all books are written simply because in every game the bad guys have the advantage and that is too much to bear” – Álvaro Enrigue, Sudden Death

    I had mixed feelings about this novel. It was difficult for me at first, but once I understood how the author was telling the story, I appreciated it more. The author jumps through different exaggerated and almost truthful moments in 16th century history, while breaking the fourth wall it seems sometimes to this century. He reflects on using history and literature to better understand the world, and dove into some audacious historical figures. I also never understood how complicated the history of tennis was until I read about it in Enrigue’s novel. His writing is emotion-driven, filled with dry humor and bordering the postmodern. I would have loved to read this book in the original Spanish to understand the author’s true meaning, but unfortunately, my Spanish understanding is pretty bad. The author was even hilariously bias of translation in the novel.

    The sole duty of a writer is to minister to his readers: to liberate them from inexactitude out of respect for the mysterious and touching pact of loyalty that they make with books” – Álvaro Enrigue, Sudden Death

    I would only read this book if you can get past the punching style, and backwards way he tells the story. It is not a traditional beginning-middle-end kind of novel. The story in itself is unique, at least to me. I would have given it a higher rating, but some of the story is rather slow and dense. And it was not even the philosophical elements that made it slow for me. I would say if the synopsis sounds good to you, reader, give this book a chance!

    Overall, I give this book a 3 out of 5!

    _Elizabeth

    P.S. Here is part of the synopsis from Goodreads anyways:

    “Sudden Death begins with a brutal tennis match that could decide the fate of the world. The bawdy Italian painter Caravaggio and the loutish Spanish poet Quevedo battle it out before a crowd that includes Galileo, Mary Magdalene, and a generation of popes who would throw Europe into the flames. In England, Thomas Cromwell and Henry VIII behead Anne Boleyn, and her crafty executioner transforms her legendary locks into the most sought-after tennis balls of the time. Across the ocean in Mexico, the last Aztec emperors play their own games, as conquistador Hernán Cortés and his Mayan translator and lover, La Malinche, scheme and conquer, fight and f**k, not knowing that their domestic comedy will change the world. And in a remote Mexican colony a bishop reads Thomas More’s Utopia and thinks that instead of a parody, it’s a manual”


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