Review of “Tender is the Flesh”

“Tender is the Flesh can be found on Kindle

This book was never intended to grace the premise that is my Kindle library. Not this on early in our relationship, anyways. Typically, it takes a while for me to warm up to a novel so quickly; especially when I’ve seen “Tender is the Flesh” by Agustina Bazterrica talked about across the internet. I’ve relied heavily on Book of the Month and the aisles of department stores in person and online for my self-assigned reading list. My shopping list is easy, it’s accessible, and my spending problem also includes never cancelling subscriptions once I buy into them. If I hear about a book online, it will typically hibernate on some wish list until one day I add it into a shopping cart. I read too slow for libraries and spending sprees at bookstores I keep for rare occasions and mental health days.

On social media my timelines would be swarmed with divided opinions of this book. Everyone was reviewing this book, and some claimed that it was too mature for human consumption. The boundaries this book was said to push was going too far…so of course I had to read it. How could I say no?

First Impressions

The cover of the copy I downloaded is visually split vertically with a sepia portrait on the lower half of the novel and a red outline of a bull on the top half of the book. The cover is black, and there is a quote alongside the novel’s title by an author proclaiming this to be her newest novel of the year. On the top half of the book behind the red bull is black, which is a stark contrast, and the sepia portrait on the bottom half is offset by pink. The pink could be contrasted against the sepia, but it is not as stark as the contrast between the red and the black up top.

It is a bit of an eerie front cover, but it looks like a horror paperback book that I’d find at a used bookstore. The title makes the book standout for me because readers wouldn’t know what sort of horror genre this is just based off the title. Let’s be real, “The Haunting of Hill House” is probably a great book, but we know what it’s about. “Tender is the Flesh” let’s the imagination wander until you read the back cover.

Once you read a back cover summary for this book it’s game on.

During Reading

This book is horrifying and repulsive. I would love to compare and contrast this book to another dystopian novel one day, perhaps George Orwell’s “1984” because there’s a lot to unpack here.

There are reasons why I cannot see how an entire society would resort to cannibalism if we were no longer allowed to eat pork/beef/poultry, but a horror novel doesn’t have to make sense to work. With that being said, this book still made my skin crawl.

This book may be too disturbing for some to finish. It’s a very visual book and the narrator gets lost within his own train of thought a lot. There were some points that I had to read slower than others to really process what in the actual eff was happening. Some of the content was very graphic and because there’s jargon being used that I’m not familiar with I had to slow down.

After Reading & Star rating

I read this book within a day. Yes, it was disturbing but it was a fantastic dystopian horror novel. The author had a message they needed to convey about society, and they did so masterfully. This book will make the reader think about the darker side of humanity and about the meat processing industry. It’s meant for the reader to feel uncomfortable about these topics.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

My first 5/5-star rating in 2022 belongs to “Tender is the Flesh“. If you’re a reader with a vivid imagination you may have some trouble getting through this book because the material is very graphic at times. However, if you don’t mind the subject matter then I highly recommend this book.

Review of “The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires”

It’s that time of the year again.

It’s spooky season.

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays, and this year it holds extra special sentimental value. This time a year ago, I was preparing to launch this blog. Even though it was a soft launch and even a softer year as I don’t post much, this blog has brought me back to reading. It has helped me carve out a space on the internet where I can write what I think to my little hearts content and that’s something to celebrate.

As a form of celebration, I finally sat down to share with you guys one of my favorite books from this year. It’s the perfect book for October, and I’ve been recommending this book nonstop online. “The Southern Book Clubs Guide to Slaying Vampires” by Grady Hendrix is a contemporary masterpiece.

There, I said it.

Do not get me wrong, he has a few authors he holds the spotlight with this season. Sophia Moreno-Garcia is another exceptional horror writer I’m recommending this season and Ali Hazelwood knocked it out of the ballpark with her academic romance novel. But Grady Hendrix brought vampires back for me, just as “Midnight Sun” was prepared to crush my hopes and dreams.

First Impressions

I picked this book up when I was shopping at my local Barnes & Noble. What attracted to me first was of course the name. I love a chunky name if done right, and something about “The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires” had my curiosity peaked. The book cover was a close second.

The southern peaches with blood dripping from gaping bite wounds was a “hidden between the lines” temptation for me. This book was daring me to imagine what it was trying to say by just the cover. Was a handsome vampire going to swoop into a southern belle’s heart (and bed…) while the reader begs her to understand what he truly is? Was the book club a clan of hardened criminals living on the edge of society and slaughtering vampires while reading smutty fanfiction?

During Reading

This is the first book I’ve read by Grady Hendrix, although I’ve had “My Best Friend’s Exorcism” in my mental TBR reading pile for a couple of months. I’ve heard this book is pretty mild as far as his other works are concerned, but I cannot attest to that. I do enjoy the book clubs reading lists for the timespan taking place in the book, and I do enjoy the rudimentary maps that were included in my copy as well. I am a visual person, and I always love when authors include extra materials in their books to help the readers better disappear into their world.

This book follows a group of 90s housewives as they find out the mysteries surrounding their neighbor and fellow book club member, James Harris. What follows is some female badass-ery as these housewives navigate the dark waters of what happens behind the closed doors in a sleepy Southern town. I don’t want to get into too much detail because I know I’ll end up spoiling something, but this book is going to be great for someone who:

1.) Doesn’t mind dark themes including – child murder, rape, suicide, kidnapping, domestic abuse and violence.

2.) Graphic content being drawn out figuratively across the page

3.) Likes novels with contemporary historical themes (it takes place in the 90s)

4.) Dislikes complex plots; this book is pretty clean cut, and is not for someone who likes longer length narratives.

Honestly, to me this book was pretty mild as far as language goes and content, but I would say it does have some pretty mature content that wouldn’t be suitable for younger readers.

After Reading & Star Rating

I really liked this book. The author tackled pretty hard hitting topics such as classism and sexism, and overall Grady Hendrix did a great job. I never thought I needed a book where housewives take on a creature of the night, but lo and behold here it is.

My biggest gripe with this book would be that we aren’t introduced to some of the background characters as much as I would have liked to be. Most of the book clubs family members are just mentioned in passing, and much of the husbands characters can be summed up in a descriptive word or two. I think if he had made these characters more complex he could have expanded further on sexism. Where it stands, most of the husbands I could either cared less about or they were just so self-centric it was easy to hate them.

Rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Overall I give this book a 4/5 stars and highly recommend you reading this book during the month of October.

Review of “The People We Keep”

I know I haven’t really been around recently on my blog, and I wish I had a better excuse behind my absence. No, I haven’t been working on an elaborate project lately. I haven’t gotten married or have given birth to any offspring. But I have been reading some pretty decent books that I wanted to share with you guys and talk about.

“The People We Keep” by Allison Larkin was my nominee for this year’s book in my Book of the Month app. Yes, I feel in love with it that hard and that deeply. Have I read most of the other nominated books on the list? Not yet, but I’m slowly getting there. Do I believe this book generally deserves the nomination and potentially winning the award? Yes.

This book is an emotional roller coaster. You follow the life of April Sawaki, a vagabond who moves up and down the East Coast following a series of unfortunate events that leaves this young woman believing she is not worthy of being loved. This book tackles deep topics such as family dysfunction and mental illness. It really goes in deep about the scars everyone carries based on the people we have loved and harmed in our lives, and those who have harmed us as well.

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As a really reflective person who didn’t grow up in the best of situations, I can relate to this character. I can relate to her on a deeper level and on an introspective level as I’ve watched a lot of people grow and come out of really crummy situations, thanks a lot in part both to the individual and the great support system they surround themselves with.

The story takes place in the 90s. Hello. The 90s. As a millennial I have an unnatural obsession for the decade I started grammar school in. The author leaves little nuggets of nostalgic joy into the story line. April has a Ren and Stimpy flashlight and a potential dislike for Pearl Jam. I enjoy whenever writers put time pieces into their stories, but I do know a lot of people believes it distracts from the overall plot or that it’ll just age the book that quicker. I read out a passage to my boyfriend and he literally cringed that they were hinting at a song on the radio mentioning to not call him daughter. He just thinks it’s unnecessary and the author is just trying to be cool.

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Whether you think it’s cute or cringe, that’s up to you.

If you ever sometimes feel like you are not loved, this is a great book to pick up and remember that you are deeply loved. It’s not always about the people we interact with every single day, but it’s about the people we keep and hold to us most in the darkest times of our lives.

Rating:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

5/5 Stars

Originally I thought about giving this book 4.5/5 stars because let’s face it, I can be a hard ass. It’s hard for me to find a story that I believe cannot be enhanced in any way, but this story deserves all the stars I have in my box. This book was thought provoking, it was easy to read and get through, and the characters were well thought out.

What did you guys think? Have you read this book yet? What would you consider the greatest book to come out in 2021?

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“Midnight Sun” and Then Some

Okay…

The moment we’ve been waiting for since the beginning of December has finally come. I have completed Stephanie Meyer’s book “Midnight Sun” and I can now check this book off my February Reading list…

Ha. Right.

So I ended up not finishing this book, ya’ll. Perhaps maybe one day I’ll eventually finish this book, but now that I have tried countless of times I’m still just going to mark this off my list and leave it incomplete because I think I’ve made a strong enough opinion on it already.

We all know it’s not a good sign when a reader doesn’t want to finish reading a book, and a short list of the reasons why a person may forgo finishing includes:

1.) The book is a yawn, personified.

2.) The book’s plot is hard to follow, muddled, isn’t thought out, etc.

3.) The book is outdated.

In this case, I would like to say it was perhaps all of the above. I am not dragging Stephanie Meyer’s by any means because I really liked her series when I was a teenager. But I am now a twenty-six year old woman, and this book had a lot of moments early on that were hard to get through.

So let me count down the things I disliked in the story…

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First Impression: Book Cover

From the moment you lay eyes on the cover, you can tell it’s another book in the “Twilight” series. There’s just a distinct look these books have–the clean black background with the simple image contrasted on the cover always makes me do a double take in the bookstore to see if it’s another book from Stephanie Meyer. I can appreciate what they were trying to do with a pomegranate, since Edward refers to Bella as Persephone in the story. But honestly I dislike having the fruit sloppily cut open on the front. I feel like having a whole pomegranate sitting on the front cover like the original books always have a whole apple on their front cover (unless it was the version used to promote the movie series) would have been a better design.

I already knew what the book was going to be about, so I can’t really make a unbiased first impression on my thoughts going into this book. I have an expectation that this book is going to be Edwards point of view of Twilight. I figured my impression was going to be generally more focused on whether or not Meyer decided to add something crazy into it that wasn’t included in the first book.

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Going in, I’m feeling pretty open minded. I have read the twilight books since graduating high school. They are not that bad structurally compared to the House of Night series where I couldn’t get through the series based on how the author wrote her sentences. There’s some moments that used to make me swoon as a teen that as an adult make me laugh (the Bella-Jacob in a sleeping bag scene for one) but overall, I pulled through the series in the matter of days.

I expect this book will take about the same amount of time to get through, and will be the generally the same tone as the Twilight saga was.

Impressions After Reading

Oh, how wrong could I be.

Stephanie Meyer didn’t add any scenes, so that problem was easily laid to rest. However, she surely doesn’t do much for making Edward’s character less creepy than people had originally thought for him to be. This definitely is not a romance book now reading back at it from an adult’s perspective. This is a bit more horror-like now after binge-watching “You” on Netflix for hours on end in my adulthood.

Edward Cullen is fuckin’ creepy.

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He talks about killing his entire biology class in a moment’s notice just so he would be able to kill Bella the moment he’s hit with her scent. He mocks his science teacher’s intelligence level because he has two doctorate degrees. He follows her everywhere and listens into every person’s thoughts nearby. This guy is an absolute killer, and a stalker to top it all off.

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I think if this book had been published before we were adults it would have perhaps landed a bit differently, but that ship has sailed. Maybe I’m not the intended target audience, but this book series came out when I was a teen, so this was the audience it ended up being for. Why Stephanie Meyers waited so long to publish this book after a chapter was leaked back in 2008 is beyond me, because I really do think she missed her window on when this book would have ended up on the bestseller’s list.

Rating

Rating: 1 out of 5.

Overall, I give this book a rating of a single star. We have the Twilight Saga. We didn’t really need the first book retold in Edward’s voice. It came out way too late to make an impact, and Edward is a creeper.

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“Happy & You Know It” Book Review

Ah, yes. The book has been sitting on my shelf since I started my Book of the Month Club membership over a year ago. Why had I not ever picked this book up before? To be quite fair and honest, I had picked this book up multiple times over the past year, even going as far as to reading the first few chapters or so before putting it down and picking up another book. It seems almost a typical case of literary abandon where you pick out more books than you ever could possibly finding yourself reading and throwing them down to the back depths of your closet until you decide to pick it up again months after. 

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Review of “Normal People”

Going into this book, I didn’t have much idea as to what I was expecting. Last year I had heard about “Normal People” quite a lot, with a fair share of mixed reviews going both this way and that on whether this book was absolute garbage or it was a literary masterpiece.

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My Thoughts on “The Midwife Murders”

At the beginning of the month of January, I created a reading list to finish three books by an author I dislike, James Patterson. It’s now a little halfway through the month, and I have now just completed “The Midwife Murders”. This is the second book I’ve completed a review on, and if you want to hear my thoughts on “Hush” I’ll link that here for your merriment as well. 

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Why I Dislike Stephen King

Since I’ve been on a roll this month with controversial topics, I figured I’d go into a little more detail on my dislike primarily on the known King of Horror, and that’s Stephen King. Most people find this the most shocking about myself personally because I am such a horror buff, one would automatically assume that my love for the horror genre would just automatically translate to the book world. In most cases I’d say you’d be correct, however not in all cases, as I have a love/hate relationship with this author. 

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I cannot remember the first horror movie I ever watched, but I’m sure it was probably a movie based around a Stephen King book. I can say this with almost positive certainty because my parents VHS tape collection is vast, and one of the movies I remember them both jointly liking in my younger years was Stanley Kuberick’s “The Shining”.

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Believe it or not, this version of “The Shining” is extremely different from the book and highly saturated with content that was made up for your viewing pleasure. A lot of scenes from the book has been left out in the movie version or has changed to be more exciting for visual purposes. If you’re planning on watching a better adaption from book to movie then I’d recommend getting your hands on the 90s television version of “The Shining”. My parents had a bootleg copy of this version on VHS at one point, and it was so uniquely different from Kubrick’s version that I had to read the book after watching both screen adaptations.

So I started to read “The Shining” when I was probably around 12 (parents didn’t care what I read, yes they owned bootlegged VHS tapes, let’s continue) and the book most closely identifies with the TV series. I ended up not being a fan of either the book nor the movie, and both will eventually give us the dumpster fire that Doctor Sleep is many decades later, I’m sure.

Even though I didn’t like The Shining”, I decided to try and start reading other books by Stephen King because I had liked most of the movies I was watching. I have tried to read “Christine”, “It”, “Firestarter”, “Pet Semetary”, “Salem’s Lot”, “Doctor Sleep”, “Duma Key”, and “The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon”. To this day I can say I successfully have finished one of his books and that was “On Writing”, which ironically is one of my favorite books. 

When I picked up Firestarter, it had me interested until about the last quarter of the book where the one guy droned on about his military knowledge for the next six pages. Sometimes I feel as if his writing gets sidetracked and he spends the next five pages talking about a tree, and that loses it’s charm easily. 

Most of Stephen King’s books to me are very bland and have been an outdated concept by the time I’ve begun to read them. Nothing in his books pull me in or decidedly give me chills, and I expect more from a horror novel than what Stephen King’s books deliver to me. Perhaps it’s because his books have been over done by everyone else in the horror genre by this point, but I’m pretty certain a tale such as Cujo isn’t just an original thought he came up with (Old Yeller) and don’t get me started on Salem’s Lot (vampire weirdos living in crawlspaces? Yeah okay). 

However, despite my harsh criticism thus far of his work, I hold a certain respect and admiration for Stephen King. Even though I have not been able to find much enjoyment in his books, I cannot deny someone who has talent when I see it. There is a reason everyone knows his name, and knows some plots as being associated with his name. All I have to say is “kids battle an evil clown. Name that title,” and arguably everyone who is reading this will automatically assume I’m talking about “It” by Stephen King. The fact that he has full plots that we associate only as being a Stephen King novel says something, especially when a rare few contemporary novelists have reached the same height in recent decades.

Photo credit here.

There is no denying that Stephen King is truly a master when it comes to his craft, even if his craft is not necessarily my cup of tea. A few contemporary authors have created works of fiction that will withstand the test of time as his work surely will. However, it’s still going to take some time for me to get into reading another book of his.

January Reading List: The Christmas That Was Patterson

Hey guys what is up? I figured we’d start off my first reading list of the new year a bit differently compared to what I’ve posted before in the past. The past few monthly reading lists I had made felt really scattered and thrown together; mostly in part because I was just finding myself again on a writing platform (this blog) and I wasn’t exactly sure what I was doing. I also just started getting back into my love of literature and books, so I was just reading and posting about books that I thought would be interesting to read or ones I had started off earlier in the year I had intended to finish reading.

Although I still have a few books even on my December reading list I would like to finish off in 2021, I want to make these reading hauls a little more interesting and cohesive by creating a theme each month and focus my reading around said theme. 

This month I decided to start off January on a good note by reading books by authors I dislike, because I figured that would be a good way to start off the New Year on a positive note. 

For this Christmas, my father decided to buy me a bunch of James Patterson books. My father is not a very bookish man and had no way of knowing that I’m generally not a James Patterson fan and the gift was all around sweet and very thoughtful so I’m still planning on reading the books he gave me. 

Hush

Oh boy, okay. So right off the bat, my first impression is the usual ones I have whenever I see a James Patterson cover. There’s my boy James’s name almost as big as the title and then his co-writer’s name is stuck on the bottom as an afterthought. The cover is pretty simple paperback cover with what looks to be a woman standing down the end of a dark tunnel facing a light. 

The back doesn’t tell me much in the way of the story except James Patterson’s review of his own book and USA Today and TIME telling me this book is not one you want to miss out on. It looks like this may be an installment in a series, so I may have to get a few other books before reading this one. It appears to be a thriller about a detective who’s trying to right a wrong by proving the innocence of a woman who’s been wrongfully jailed. 

Revenge

My first impression is still the same as the first book when it comes to the font. James Patterson’s name is listed at the top in large font just as big as the title, and then another author thrown in there below. I turn it over and the back isn’t a quote he has written instead of a synopsis so that is good. Instead we do have a small synopsis about the presumably main character David Shelley and his background. It appears this will be another suspenseful novel. Shelley is a former SAS soldier and bodyguard, and the daughter of the family he used to bodyguard for has presumably committed suicide. The family have a hard time believing their daughter would do such a thing, so they ask their former bodyguard for help in finding out what really happened.

I’m curious as to why a family would ask their bodyguard for help in doing investigative work. Obviously Patterson isn’t above a detective story, so there has to be a reason behind it. I’m hoping it’s not just because he wants a bodyguard in place of a detective because it’ll make it more fun to read. 

The Midwife Murders

First impression: his name for once doesn’t appear to be as big and flashy as the book title. Perhaps because the blood red title finally contrasts from Jame’s silver name title just above it. The paperback cover is blue, with a woman wearing a dark blue coat running down a flight of concrete steps. I cannot tell which era she is from, although I’m pretty sure I’ve never read a historic James Patterson book as of yet, although I’ve only read one of them. 

The back synopsis I had to read a couple of times because it just sounds like gibberish nonsense. Lucy Ryuan is a senior nurse who doesn’t see pregnancy as a condition but her life’s work. Yet, when two kidnappings and a viscous stabbing happen on her watch, she decides to be the one to try and change things. 

The wording just sounds really awkward to me, and at this point I wouldn’t put it past whoever does these back synopsis on these books just going “what the hell? Let’s write out whatever we feel like! Nobody cares, they’ll just read whatever we print out.” 

Okay, so it appears I have my work cut out for me this month. I would honestly hope to be surprised, but I know we’re just going to have to wait and see. I also have “Doctor Sleep” by Stephen King that I will like to be reading as well this month, but I have a lot to say about Stephen King so that’s going to be its own kettle of fish. 

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