MadgeWhitlin

The Little Mermaid

The Little Mermaid - Hans Christian Andersen, Christian Birmingham, Naomi Lewis This was my first reading of this fairy tale, and I don't know what to say about it. I mean, I knew it was very different from, say, the Disney movie, and I knew it was kind of awful, but damn. I don't know what to think about it because I kind of hated the mermaid and the prince, and just kept scoffing at the pages while I read. And that ending, ugh. What was that? Was it happy? Was it terrible? Both? I haven't read many Andersen fairy tales, and I'm thinking that they're not really my thing. I'm more a fan of the Grimm brothers, I think.

The Little Mermaid

The Little Mermaid - Hans Christian Andersen, Christian Birmingham, Naomi Lewis This was my first reading of this fairy tale, and I don't know what to say about it. I mean, I knew it was very different from, say, the Disney movie, and I knew it was kind of awful, but damn. I don't know what to think about it because I kind of hated the mermaid and the prince, and just kept scoffing at the pages while I read. And that ending, ugh. What was that? Was it happy? Was it terrible? Both? I haven't read many Andersen fairy tales, and I'm thinking that they're not really my thing. I'm more a fan of the Grimm brothers, I think.

Exit West

Exit West - Mohsin Hamid Review to come

The Hunted

The Hunted - Cassie Alexander Full review of this one and the first book, [b:The Haunted|24322124|The Haunted (Sleeping with Monsters #1)|Cassie Alexander|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1420550687s/24322124.jpg|41682019], on my blog.

First, I got both of these books ages ago and they were lost in the abyss of my Kindle. I can't remember how I got them, but I think it was through an even thing in a group here on goodreads a couple of years ago. So, because of how old my copies are, some complaints might not be valid anymore (I'm not sure if the books have been edited again).

I lowered my rating of this one from 3 to 2 stars(rounded up, then down from 2.5). I definitely liked the first book more. (This is a companion series, so you can probably read any of them in any order.)

This book had a lot of time jumps and POV switches that were not fluid and made it difficult to follow the story. It took over half the book for me to kind of adjust to them. I also didn't like how the POV change didn't really add anything. It was just the first POV repeated, sometimes almost exactly, so the repetition got annoying.

Like the first book, I didn't really care about the characters in this one. And I'm kind of over shifter PNR/erotica where there's some kind of weird mate-bond thing. It creeps me out and seems like something I read about in almost every shifter book.

This one also suffered from a lack of explanation for some things. I really wish there'd been more descriptive terms used for the knot thing, because what I imagined was kind of gross and seemed horribly painful.

I just really didn't care for this one. Maybe it's me and I'm just not a fan of shifter erotica or something.

The Haunted

The Haunted - Cassie Alexander Full review of this one and the sequel, [b:The Hunted|24322196|The Hunted (Sleeping With Monsters #2)|Cassie Alexander|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1420550937s/24322196.jpg|42251669] on my blog.

I can't remember how I acquired this book, but I think it was from a group here for an event I participated in. The book was lost in the black hole that is my Kindle until this summer when I looked up the description and thought, "What the hell, I haven't read any ghost-y erotica before." So, there's a good chance some of my issues have been corrected because I did have an old copy of this book.

So, there's a young, desperate housewife, all alone in her gigantic new home, while her husband is away on business. All the time. What's she going to do to occupy her time and relax? Well, let the resident ghost (known only as "The Master") have his way with her, of course!

I do have some complaints, but I actually kind of liked this. I probably wouldn't recommend it to many people, but I don't regret reading it and it was a (mostly) fun, quick read.

Despite the amusing/interesting premise of this book, I didn’t love it. Maybe because my copy is so old, it’s since been updated and edited, but my copy needed a bit of work. There were some errors, maybe some typos, and a lot of sentences that just didn’t make a lot of sense without reading them multiple times (and some that never made sense). I found misused words a few times, too.

There were things that weren't explained (I'm ok with minor things, but not something really important for the plot). How the hell did The Master even know about the ritual thing? Seriously, I need to know. It's been 2 months since I read this and I'm still mad about it, ugh. I think there were other things but I've forgotten now. And there were things that...just...didn't make sense. What was up with the threesome with the wife, the husband/ghost of the Master?, and the husband's mistress? That just came out of nowhere and I think I actually yelled, "What the actualfuck?!"

I didn't like the characters. At all. I am also really not a fan of books in which the wife is desperate for a baby and hangs on to their asshole husband just to get pregnant, with plans to leave them immediately after. Lady, dump him and go find someone better. I can deal with unlikable characters, but I wanted to hop into the book and kill these characters.

Slammed: A Novel

Slammed: A Novel - Colleen Hoover This isn't really a review, just word vomit of my current thoughts immediately after finishing the book.

Contemporaries are not my thing, in general. I've loved a few, but mostly they bore and/or irritate me. This, and probably all the rest of Colleen Hoover's books, was seriously hyped for a long time, at least on tumblr (and maybe twitter?), and a lot of people I generally have similar tastes in books with seemed to love this, and recommended it. A lot. So, I bought it because the library doesn't have any of her books and it was on sale.

I probably should have loved it, or at least liked it a lot (and I wish I had), because of the slam poetry aspect. But that wasn't really a very big part of the story, so it was kind of like reading the YA(ish) equivalent of a Lifetime movie. That's not necessarily a bad thing, it's just not something I usually enjoy.

Layken annoyed me a lot, but I get it. She was dealing with a lot of crap, life sucked, etc. Will, though, ugh. I know he had his own life baggage to deal with, but there were a few points when I hoped someone would punch him in the face it happened, but not at a moment I was hoping it would happen, and I hope the other guy came out worse than Will because he was an ass and deserved a beating. Basically, I didn't really like either of the main characters. I liked Eddie, though.

Insta-love I'm kind of used to in books, but very much over at this point, so that didn't excite me at all. There was just a lot going on, a lot of drama, and I think I need to stop reading books like this because I just don't like them very much. (No offense meant for people who do like book like this, it's just not something that works for me in most cases. I kind of wish they did, though.)

Slammed: A Novel

Slammed: A Novel - Colleen Hoover This isn't really a review, just word vomit of my current thoughts immediately after finishing the book.

Contemporaries are not my thing, in general. I've loved a few, but mostly they bore and/or irritate me. This, and probably all the rest of Colleen Hoover's books, was seriously hyped for a long time, at least on tumblr (and maybe twitter?), and a lot of people I generally have similar tastes in books with seemed to love this, and recommended it. A lot. So, I bought it because the library doesn't have any of her books and it was on sale.

I probably should have loved it, or at least liked it a lot (and I wish I had), because of the slam poetry aspect. But that wasn't really a very big part of the story, so it was kind of like reading the YA(ish) equivalent of a Lifetime movie. That's not necessarily a bad thing, it's just not something I usually enjoy.

Layken annoyed me a lot, but I get it. She was dealing with a lot of crap, life sucked, etc. Will, though, ugh. I know he had his own life baggage to deal with, but there were a few points when I hoped someone would punch him in the face it happened, but not at a moment I was hoping it would happen, and I hope the other guy came out worse than Will because he was an ass and deserved a beating. Basically, I didn't really like either of the main characters. I liked Eddie, though.

Insta-love I'm kind of used to in books, but very much over at this point, so that didn't excite me at all. There was just a lot going on, a lot of drama, and I think I need to stop reading books like this because I just don't like them very much. (No offense meant for people who do like book like this, it's just not something that works for me in most cases. I kind of wish they did, though.)

Hideous Love: The Story of the Girl Who Wrote Frankenstein

Hideous Love: The Story of the Girl Who Wrote Frankenstein - Stephanie Hemphill DNF at page 125 and I had to skim about 50 of those. I wish I hadn't been in a rush when I found this, so I might have read a bit before buying it, and therefore saved myself some money and a migraine. I don't think I paid more than a couple dollars for it, but it was not worth it. I honestly feel like I should have been paid to read as much as I did, and it's painful for me to say that. I like (or at least did like) novels in verse, I like Mary Shelley, I liked Frankenstein, I thought I would like this. At least I'll be gaining space on my bookshelf by unhauling it. Unfortunately, reading as much of this as I did has made me never want to pick up another novel in verse ever again.

La Douleur Exquise

La Douleur Exquise - J.R. Rogue Review to come

Every Heart a Doorway

Every Heart a Doorway - Seanan McGuire Full review on my blog.

I loved the concept of this book. I've always wondered what it would be like for kids like Alice or the Pevensie kids who fell/stepped/whatever through a doorway to another world, but then came back here, and I think this book did a nice job with that.

I liked a lot of the characters, and related (possibly a little too much?) to Jack the most, I think. But for a novella, I was surprised by how well they were fleshed out. I was in a fantasy slump when I read this (actually, I still am at the time of this writing, ugh), but this book was so great I still made it through it, and even wanted more when I finished reading. The writing was great, and I can't wait to read more of Seanan McGuire's work in the future. I'm really looking forward to reading [b:Down Among the Sticks and Bones|31450908|Down Among the Sticks and Bones (Wayward Children, #2)|Seanan McGuire|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1473685781s/31450908.jpg|47411892] ASAP because I need more from this universe!

Fates and Furies: A Novel

Fates and Furies: A Novel - Lauren Groff Review coming soon...probably.

Throes

Throes - Kat Savage Review to come

Good Bones and Simple Murders

Good Bones and Simple Murders - Margaret Atwood I think it's a curious coincidence (and also quite fitting) that I started reading this right about the same time I (finally) started listening to the podcast Welcome to Night Vale.

It's been over ten years since I first encountered Atwood's story "Happy Endings," and it has stuck with me. It was actually one of the things my husband and I had to talk about when we first met, and it's something we still frequently talk about now (also more than ten years later). That story was almost my only motivation for seeking out a copy of this book (the other strong influence was my desire to start collecting more books of short stories by individual authors, and Margaret Atwood was at the top of my list for that). I think it might have appeared in other collections of her short stories, but I was hooked by mentions in reviews of this entire collection being strange and experimental. Well, those people are certainly not exaggerating.

The stories are short, and the collection itself is short (just over 150 pages), but I doubt many of them will soon leave my mind. I found myself smiling and relishing the humor as well as the often darker themes. Not many books succeed in satisfying my craving for some unnamed thing that this collection of stories delivers, so I have a feeling this is a book I'll be thumbing through often.

I expected a bit of a feminist tone (for whatever reason, because I'm actually not very familiar with most of Atwood's work, having only read these stories and The Handmaid's Tale), and I was not disappointed. Sometimes it seems obvious, sometimes a bit cloaked. I think many of these stories, if not all of them, deserve more than one reading. I've already re-read a few of them and each time I noticed something else, or a different feeling or image was conjured.

This collection was brilliant and unique, and I highly recommend it.

East of Eden

East of Eden - John Steinbeck This isn't a review, just my rambling thoughts immediately after finishing this book.

Finishing this book feels like An Accomplishment, if you know what I mean. I don't know what it is about Steinbeck's writing--which I love, or at least I've loved his writing in [b:The Pearl|5308|The Pearl|John Steinbeck|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1437234939s/5308.jpg|195832], this one, and [b:The Grapes of Wrath|18114322|The Grapes of Wrath|John Steinbeck|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1375670575s/18114322.jpg|2931549]--but it seems like it always takes me about a third of the book to really find a rhythm and become invested. I'm not uninterested before that point, but around there I usually go from casually reading a bit here and there to devouring the remainder as quickly as possible.

Steinbeck's writing is, in my opinion, beautifully evocative. I sometimes become frustrated with wordy writers, but his always brushes against that line without actually crossing it. I enjoy "seeing" everything, and really getting inside the characters while reading his work, even when I dislike the character. He had a way with really painting a picture of the world in which his stories are set that makes me feel like I could smell, touch, hear, and taste everything.

I feel like I shouldn't have enjoyed this or The Grapes of Wrath nearly as much as I did, because I have not generally been a fan of family sagas. Having read both of these, I'm starting to reconsider that opinion and might seek them out intentionally to see if my tastes have changed.

This is a family saga, following the Trask family, but with many other fairly major characters tangled up with them. I loved Samuel, Lee, and Caleb, I think, most of all. With Adam, I sometimes wanted to protect him, and other times I wanted to give him a good smack to the head to knock some sense into him. Thankfully other characters kind of did that for me. Kate was...well, she was interesting. She was awful and I kind of loved her for it. The parts with her fascinated and sometimes repelled me. I think she might be one of my favorite antagonists (if you can call her that) from literature. I loved that she was so independent of pretty much everyone,
a law unto herself. She didn't really need men, she didn't really need anyone. She was smart and cunning, vicious and selfish. Maybe Steinbeck was horribly misogynistic, and that's why he made her character so vile, I have no clue. I haven't looked into it, and I didn't know the man, but I thought it was a bit refreshing to read about a villainous female character who was so well developed. I'm still not sure how I feel about Aron. A bit sorry for him, maybe. I do wish Abra had a bigger part, because I was just starting to like her when the book ended. (Not that I disliked her at first, she just got more "on screen" time toward the end, so I was just beginning to get to know her.)

I think I don't enjoy books like this often because the characters start to blur together for me, and I can't keep them straight. That wasn't a problem for me with this one, though. All the characters were so distinct I only found myself a little unsure of who was who a few times with characters that were only around for a few moments.

I could babble about this for quite a while, I think, but I'll wrap up by saying that I'm glad I waited so long to read it. I think younger me, even just a couple of years younger me, wouldn't have enjoyed this as much as I did.

If We Were Villains: A Novel

If We Were Villains: A Novel - M. L. Rio Full review on my blog.

I won the audiobook of this in a goodreads giveaway, but I'll definitely be buying the hardcover. (And probably also the UK edition because I love both covers.)

I’m not much of an audiobook listener because my mind tends to wander, and it’s so easy for the narrator to annoy me, but Robert Petkoff did an excellent job, in my opinion. I’m not sure I would recommend this as an audiobook, though, because there are multiple characters to keep track of and it took me quite a while to keep them all straight in my head while listening. Petkoff did different voices for each, which would normally irritate me because it usually sounds so silly, but I think he pulled it off nicely.

The. Freaking. STORY. Holy crap, this book is my life right now and has left me haunted by The Bard. (I seriously can't escape Shakespeare since I started reading this. It's getting a little creepy and out of hand.) I don’t think I’ve stopped thinking about this book for more than a few minutes since I started it, and I’m pretty sure I’m going to end up re-reading it at least once this year, after I buy a hardcover copy. I wouldn’t be surprised to find myself re-reading it more than once this year, though. I just freaking love it.

I can’t say that I saw the end of this one coming, like I usually do with mysteries. Oliver is the main character and the story alternates between his memories and the present day, and I never once guessed this one particular big thing that’s revealed toward the end. I kind of guessed part of what happened, but not the whole thing. I guessed that he would be blamed for the murder, because it felt like he was being set up to take the fall, but omg I did not expect him to confess like that. It floored me and I had to pause the book, screech into a pillow, walk around and pour myself a drink, then gulp down most of it, before I was ready to hear the rest of the story. I then repeated the screeching, walking, and drinking at the very end. I desperately want more, but I’m glad the book ended where it did. It’s an open ending, which I’m not always a fan of, but I think it was done so well in this case. (It isn’t a true cliffhanger, if you’re opposed to those as I am. There are just any number of possibilities for what happens next.)

Rio’s writing was absolutely stunning, and this book, her debut, has landed her on my “auto-buy” list of authors. That’s a very, very short list (there are like two other authors on it, maybe three). If I didn’t know this was a debut, I would have never guessed it. Her ability to weave so many threads of story together, conceal things so masterfully, and transport the reader to this little world she’s created is breathtaking.

Every single character that had more than a passing mention was so fleshed out and real. These people didn’t feel like mere characters in a book. It was like Rio plucked living people out of the world and found a way to bind them in ink. I actually forgot a few times that this was fiction. It reached a point for me that I kept expecting to look up and find myself surrounded by them, and I feel like I know each of them now.

I would give this book all the stars, all the awards, and I can not wait to get a non-audio copy to re-read. I’m pretty sure it’s going to be one of those books that has about a million sticky flags marking every other line because it’s brilliant. I absolutely recommend it.

love, and you

love, and you - Gretchen Gomez Full review on my blog.

This was an emotional read that reminded me a lot of how I felt the first time I read the princess saves herself in this one. Do you ever read something and feel the words echo through your soul because they could be about you? I won’t say I felt that way about every poem in this collection, because I didn’t, but there were several that squeezed my heart and brought tears to my eyes.

I love that it isn’t broken up into sections, but still reads like a journey through different phases. The earlier poems had my heart breaking, but the ones toward the end patched me up, and might have left me in better shape than before I started the book.

One of my favorites that I’ve read several times was this one (pg. 117 in the paperback):

don’t waste time
regretting the
time you wasted

you
can
never
take
back
time

make time for
yourself now

rub self care on like oil




By the end of this book, I wanted to hug Gretchen and thank her, and maybe pour both of us a drink. It was painful and beautiful and brutally honest, and I wish younger versions of me had been able to read this book. Maybe I would have felt stronger sooner, learned to love myself a little earlier, and possibly avoided making some mistakes with my heart.

It’s not a light and fluffy read, but it ends with some empowering poems about self-love and taking care of yourself, and remembering that love isn’t supposed to hurt.

This is one I’ve already been recommending to people, and I’m sure that will continue. I can definitely see myself re-reading this a lot, and I’ll possibly be gifting it to people eventually. (I only say “possibly” because I don’t have many reader friends, and even fewer who enjoy poetry.)

If you like poetry that’s accessible (not overly steeped in metaphors and the like), but can punch you right in the feels with the emotions the words evoke, you need to read this.

Currently reading

Buzz: A Stimulating History of the Sex Toy by Hallie Lieberman
Life, the Universe and Everything by Douglas Adams
Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly
Progress: 153/368pages
The Trumpet of the Swan by Karen White, Fred Marcellino
The Poetic Edda by Lee M. Hollander, Anonymous
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling, Mary GrandPré