A Smattering of Mini-Reviews

How in the heck is the first month of the new year already almost over?? Where is the time thief that is responsible for this madness? I demand answers! Seriously, though, every year that goes by makes me feel like time just keeps slipping by quicker and quicker.

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I noticed that I’ve been slacking a bit in posting reviews for some of the stuff I’ve been reading and watching lately. Time’s really been getting away from me with everything that’s been going on, but I still want to shine a little spotlight on some of the stuff I’ve been enjoying in the past few weeks, so I bring you this post of mini-reviews! πŸ˜€ It’ll be like a little sampling rather than a full course of reviews, but I think it’ll certainly get the job done. πŸ˜‰

The Plucker, by Gerald Brom:

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This illustrated novel was a real treat. I’ve been a fan of Brom’s work for quite some time. Growing up, my mom had multiple books featuring his artwork and I was hooked from a young age. I loved the dark and twisted aesthetic he had going on. One of the things I like about Brom’s novels, is that he carries over his wonderful artwork and includes tons of illustrations, sketches, and paintings to accompany the story he is telling.

When a young boy’s father unwittingly brings him a gift containing an evil spirit known as the Plucker, it quickly makes itself at home and decides to claim the boy’s life for its own. It begins its reign of terror by going after the boy’s toys, the very things the child has poured so much of himself and his love into. Thus, the toys in this book have a life force all their own, one the Plucker is keen on taking to build up the needed strength to claim the soul of the boy and take over his body. What the Plucker has no way of realizing, is that aside from his toys, the boy also has one badass little old lady for a nanny. One who knows some things about magic herself. It’s a good story with fantastic artwork. I gave it 4/5 stars.

Stranger Things 2, on Netflix:

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Remember when I mentioned how busy I’ve been and how fast time has been flying by? That’s the only explanation I have for why it took me sooooo long to finallyΒ  finish watching the second season of Stranger Things. I (and countless others) love this show and the awesome 80’s dose of nostalgia it’s been rocking. Season 2 was awesome. We met some new characters, got to see older characters continue to grow, and learn some more about “the Upside Down”. The horror element of the show continues to grow in a really satisfying slow-burn sort of way, but it never feels dull and boring because you love the characters so damn much. This was a solid second season to a great show, and I may have even liked it more than I liked the first season, which is really saying something. I would give it 5/5 stars. Can’t wait for season 3!

Phantasmagoria and Other Poems, by Lewis Carroll:

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One of my reading goals for this year is to read more poetry books since it isn’t really something I’ve read a whole lot of. Since I have always been a fan of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass, I definitely wanted to check out this book of poems from Carroll. I’ll admit, I wasn’t as smitten with this as I thought I was going to be. I liked the titular poem Phantasmagoria the best of the lot, finding that it had the most character to it. It tells the tale of a little ghost who has mistakenly come to haunt the wrong house. Carroll has a certain easy-to-read quirky charm to his poems, but this book wasn’t my favorite of his works. 3/5 stars for this one.

Milk and Honey, by Rupi Kaur:

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Another book of poems! πŸ™‚ This was a quick and moving read. I admire Rupi Kaur’s ability to pour her soul out onto the pages of this book. Divided into different categories, the poems contained cover topics like love and loss, surviving after trauma, and the power and unity of femininity. I think many of us will be able to find something they can identify with or relate to somewhere in Milk and Honey. 4/5 stars.

The Bear and the Nightingale, by Katherine Arden:

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I can’t believe I somehow never got around to reviewing this one. I read The Bear and the Nightingale with my book club ladies in December, and it made for the perfect winter read. It was both enchanting and addicting. Much like how the main character Vasilisa is enthralled with the fairy tales she is told growing up, you will become enthralled by the one she winds up living. Russian folklore and mythology enrich the story, and the backdrop of winter is capable of being both cruel and kind, with moments that are cozy and heartwarming, and others that are harsh and bitter. 4/5 stars.

 

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The Language of Thorns (No-Spoiler) Review

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“Love speaks in flowers. Truth requires thorns.”

I don’t even know where to begin with this dark and enchanting little book. ❀ Collecting six different tales taking place in the mysterious world of the Grisha, it’s a great read for fans of Leigh Bardugo’s Six of Crows duology and/or her original Grisha Trilogy. Even if you haven’t read Bardugo’s other works and simply enjoy dark fairy tales and folklore, this book is for you.

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I swear, Bardugo’s books just keep getting prettier and prettier. Each page of this book features an ever-expanding illustrated border with lovely artwork relating to the story at hand. As the tale progresses, the border reveals more and more clues relating to it, and each tale is followed with a beautiful two-page illustration to wrap things up. So no peeking at those pictures before you read the actual story, guys! πŸ˜‰

If you’ve read your fair share of folklore, myth and fairytales, you’ll no doubt pick up on the many inspirations for the stories contained in this book. With several nods toward Greek myth, fairy tales of the Grimm, Anderson, and Perrault variety, along with a hint of Aesop’s fables, you’re bound to feel some sort of nostalgia while reading. I know I sure did. πŸ™‚

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Another nice point in this collection of stories is the diversity, along with the many strong female characters. Bardugo manages to create a variety of characters and tell compelling stories with each of her tales, despite some of them only being about 50 pages, give or take.

Fun Fact: For those of you who have read Bardugo’s other works, you mayyyy just pick up on a certain character in one of the stories that we’ve seen before. I’m not gonna say anything specific here because spoilers, but I see what you did there, Leigh Bardugo. πŸ˜‰

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The six tales included in The Language of Thorns: Midnight Tales and Dangerous Magic are as follows:

Ayama and the Thorn Wood

The Too-Clever Fox

The Witch of Duva

Little Knife

The Soldier Prince

When Water Sang Fire

I really enjoyed reading each of the tales along with their accompanying artwork. Bardugo’s writing shines as she lends her voice to such a classic form of story telling all while putting her own fresh spin on things.

Werewolf Movies

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Werewolves just may be my favorite sort of monster. I’ve been a fan of these primal shapeshifting beasties for as long as I can remember. Unfortunately, even I must admit that not all werewolf movies are up to snuff. In fact, there are many more bad ones than good ones it would seem. I decided to share some of my faves with you guys, though. These of course aren’t ALL the good werewolf movies out there, but they’re just a few of the ones I find myself watching again and again.

Dog Soldiers (2002)

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A routine military exercise turns into a nightmare in the Scotland wilderness.Dog Soldiers is basically an action film blended with a horror movie with a touch of comedy thrown in just for kicks, and it’s fantastic. Also, I just love the design of the werewolves in this film! Holed up in a Scottish farmhouse, the military trained characters must do everything they can to survive the flesh-hungry pack of werewolves roaming the surrounding forest.

Ginger Snaps (2000)

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I actually really like all three movies in the Ginger Snaps trilogy, but we’re just gonna talk about the first one here because it’s my absolute favorite. πŸ™‚ The story follows two incredibly close (and very morbid) teenage sisters, Ginger and Brigitte Fitzgerald. Most werewolf movies involve the characters undergoing major physical and emotional transformations, but Ginger Snaps takes that concept and effortlessly weaves in the parallels between lycanthropy and puberty in a way that brings both horror and humor to the table. The movie’s got a lot of snark and angst to it, but it’s one I’ll always love watching. Katherine Isabelle (Ginger) and Emily Perkins (Brigitte) are fantastic as the Fitzgerald sisters.

The Company of Wolves (1984)

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Okay, I’ll be the first to admit: this movie is weird as hell. But something about the eerie dreamlike quality of it appeals to me. It’s basically a surreal retelling of Little Red Riding Hood with lots of extra werewolf goodness thrown in. Some moments seem very much a fairy tale, others like something out of Hellraiser.

An American Werewolf in London (1981)

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How could I make this list and NOT include An American Werewolf in London? πŸ™‚ It’s a great werewolf movie, and one of the most notorious. The makeup and practical effects are a real treat, and like most of the werewolf movies on this list I like the humor that accompanies the horror.

So, there’s some of MY favorite werewolf movies. How about you guys? I wanna hear what ones you personally enjoy, or even the ones you think are terrible or cheesy.

Wytches, Vol. 1 (No-Spoiler) Review

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Happy October, everybody!! ❀ This is my favorite time of the year, so expect plenty of horror and Halloween related posts this month. To kick things off, I figured we’d start with a review of the first volume of Wytches. I’d heard some really good things about this comic and it did not let me down. In fact, it wound up being even cooler than I expected, with some really interesting twists on the conventional “witches” of some of our darker fairy tales of old.

The way this story beautifully unfolds the further you get into it kind of makes it hard to gush about without spoiling anything, but I’ll do my best. Although this is definitely a gritty horror story, the heart of it revolves around family, specifically the bond between a father and his daughter. It’s great because it doesn’t try to present a “perfect family”, but rather one with flaws but where there is genuine love. They definitely have their ups and downs. It made the characters and the world they live in feel more genuine, despite the supernatural hellish nightmare going on all around them.

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This is, in my opinion, a really creative spin on witches (or “wytches” as they are called in the story) and witch hunting. It isn’t just a “burn the witch!” sort of thing, with the story even addressing some of the all-too-real witch hysteria that plagued our own history. The way these ancient wytches have managed to survive all these years was pretty interesting, too. You can tell Scott Snyder put a lot of thought into this when coming up with and writing the story. I want so badly to go into all the little details that I enjoyed, but I feel it’s better for people to learn them as they go along. I’m just a sucker for all those cool little tidbits authors come up with when worldbuilding.

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All in all, volume 1 was a great introduction to the story and I really wish there was already a volume 2 out so I could read that as well. This was a solid horror comic and one I look forward to reading more of one day. πŸ™‚

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Looking forward to sharing lots of horror/Halloween posts with you guys this month, and talking about tons of beasties and things that go bump in the night! πŸ˜€