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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.

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“Blue Lagoon” Did NOT Age Well

Whats up everyone? Today while I was home and bored I decided to watch this movie on Netflix. I had a deeply unlocked memory of Brook Shields playing in it during the infancy of her career, but I had never watched it. What I wasn’t ready for was a 1980 film portraying a couple of Victorian era children being stranded on an island and having a sexual awakening for an hour an a half of run time.

Before Watching

As aforementioned, I had a bit of background knowledge going into this movie, but not by much. I knew Brooke Shields had played in this movie, and I vaguely remember a sequel/remake coming out of this movie a few years ago. I had never watched the remake of the movie. My mother I remembered mentioning how she hated that all of her era movies were being rewritten for the big screen once more. Due to that, I knew this movie probably dated somewhere in the 70s-80s; my mother is a boomer and will go absolutely rabid for remakes of movies during this time.

During Watching

For all intensive purposes, the background to this movie is as follows: Ship gets shipwrecked, two children and the ship cook Paddy survives. Paddy dies and leaves the children to fend for themselves on an island only inhabited by a tribe on the other side of the island. There’s not much to know there, except that Paddy forbids the children from going to the other side of the island, claiming that it is “by law” they cannot ever go join the tribe. I sort of wish there was more to the tribe than that, but all you’ll really see is a couple minutes of screen time of the tribe as they kill someone.

So the movie ages up the two children, Richard and Emmeline pretty quickly after the cook dies. Not too weird unless you were prepared to watch “Lord of the Flies” — but they decide to age the children up to puberty and then decide to ditch the clothes for the majority of screen time.

Which is only made more awkward by two actors that are teenagers themselves. Upon googling I realized that Brooke Shields herself is 14 and Christopher Atkins is 19.

Weird. Talk about very weird and uncomfortable.

I know it’s a different time, but even then I still feel that unless I was a teenager myself this would’ve made me feel a bit uncomfortable back in the 1980s as well. This movie really likes the idea of sexualizing innocence. This was seen in many different scenes and scenarios throughout the movie. For example, Emmeline gets her period in one take and doesn’t know what’s happening. Richard wants to come closer and to take a look at where she’s bleeding from and then Emmaline shies away from him before he could get any closer. The way the characters talk to each other is very child-like. I know that they are portraying two children that had grown up outside of society and social norms, but some scenes are uncomfortable to get through because of this. Then to top it all off they are scantily clad the entire time.

The worst part of all was when they ended up conceiving a baby and then they had no clue what to do with it/him. I thought perhaps survival instinct would take over in these sort of scenarios, but that isn’t the case as they try feeding him coconut water as opposed to breast milk. After they seem to figure out how to feed them all seems well again, until they end up on a lifeboat they had and drift too far from shore after fighting a shark.

Yes they had a lifeboat. Yes they fought a shark.

I could go into an entire rant about the 70s fetishising young teenage girls and hatred of sharks as shown by Jaws– but thats an article for another day.

Final Thoughts

When this movie had came out in June of 1980, it was met by mixed reviews by critics for an array of reasons; Brooke Shield’s performance, the overall movie and execution being called out in the process (source). But it was a box office success, so make of that what you will if you’re planning on watching it. I will give the Blue Lagoon this: it took risks. Were the risks worth it? Up to you. For me I’m not the biggest fan of the movie.

Rating:

Rating: 1 out of 5.

Overall I give this movie a 1/5 stars. I didn’t like the oversexualization of teen actors. The premise of the movie didn’t make sense as there was multiple chances for the children to get off the island to the point it was almost comical. This movie didn’t feel romantic and it didn’t feel suspenseful. It just felt…wrong.

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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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The Colour Purple

No, I’m not about to discuss to you about the book “The Color Purple” by Alice Walker (an exceptional read), but instead I’ve learned recently a lot about the history and origins regarding the color purple, most importantly the history of dyeing this color, and I wanted to share what I’ve learned about with you.

So the following is a short fact list of what I learned regarding the brilliant warm color.

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1.) Tyrian Purple is the first dyed color purple

This specific dye was found in the Phoenician era and was created out of the mucus of mollusks–yes, you heard that right. We can thank snails for the color we know and love today. In ancient times, they would extract the mucus from the snails and boil it with the cotton fabric that was popular at the time. (source)

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2.) Synthetic Purple was Found While Looking for Quanine

William Henry Perkins was busy trying to make quanine at an at home chemistrry lab, he rediscovered the color purple in the form of synthetic dye. What is quanine? Quanine is a substance typically used to treat chlorea in the 19th century, and was expensive at the time. (source)

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3.) Tyrian Purple was renamed “mauve” in 1836

While he was busy patening his new synthetic color, he decided that Tyrian purple just wasn’t catchy and Perkins Purple didn’t quite have the ring it needed. To attract the fashion audience, Tyrian purple was renamed “mauve”. Henceforth, the color mauve was born. (source)

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4.) Purple Becomes Royal

During the Byzantine empire, the color purple takes a giant leap for mankind–becoming the color known for belonging to nobility. This color became hard to come by and readily sought for during the 14th century, and thus was worn as a status symbol. (source)

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Times Space Made Us Feel…

Well, maybe not the greatest about our human condition, but made us at least feel something. There are moments in everyone’s life where you look up in the sky, and you feel with wonder. “I wonder what’s up there?” This list isn’t composed of those happy moments of wonder. These are those moments that made you say “Carpe Diem motherfucker” as you chugged a beer and mattress surfed off your roof into a pool below.

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1.) The Curiosity Rover would sing “Happy Birthday” on Mars every year by itself. Alone on the red planet, stuck in isolation. It’s just a robot, right? (source)

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Still hurts.

2.) Pluto was disowned by science. That hurt everyone right in the ego, and everyone just decided to not acknowledge he wasn’t a true part of the Planet Pals in the Solar System Family (yes I said Planet Pals. It’s late.)(source)

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3.) There’s literally a stream of garbage floating up in space. This isn’t because we’re now launching our landfill garbage up in space, but more like we don’t pick up after ourselves so it just stays stuck in outer space. Floating somewere. (source)

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4.) Stars burn out. Yes some will grow into gorgeous supernovas and others will become black holes. Yet others will become white dwarfs and just…burn out. If that doesn’t feel like an epiphany for my life, I don’t know what else is. (source)

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Speaking of…

5.) The sun is going to destroy Mercury, Venus, Mars and Earth…someday billions of years into the future. Even though I won’t be around to see it, something about the planet being destroyed just makes me hold my blanket around me just a bit tighter. (source)

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Gossip Girl 2.0

A Gossip Girl Reboot appeared on HBO Max this morning for those of us in the United States–

https://www.hbomax.com/

The trailer for the show premiered earlier this year, and looked to be the next generation has finally graced the halls of Constance Billard. I had grown up watching Gossip Girl when it had first premiered in 2007, so I was of course a bit more reserved about this next generation. However, I can appreciate that my Gossip Girl I grew up with was tailored towards a millennial audience whereas this new show will be more than likely fit for viewers of a Gen Z audience.

But there’s a few moments of the new Gossip Girl that had me going “What the hell?” and here they are…

For those of you who don’t want to find out what happens…SPOILER ALERT!

Gossip Girl is Not Unknown to Viewers – and It’s Creepy

Gossip Girl is not unknown to viewers in this new reboot. Which is fair, since Gossip Girl was exposed at the ending of the old series. However, the direction the writers decide to take with the new Gossip Girl is…questionable.

Why would they choose the teachers to be the new face behind Gossip Girl? Just why? Why are grown adults this involved in the inner workings of the student body? The fact that they’re doing it as a form of “teaching their students a lesson” is a little more than veiling the true malice beyond their actions.

We get it, teachers of Constance. They’re spoiled and self-entitled brats and you don’t want them to become “the next Brett Cavanaugh” as one of the faculty members put it. But I don’t think standing outside their homes taking candid photos of students really is going to send them the right message, thanks.

So the teachers are actively trying to protect their crummy, underpaid jobs as academics by giving those snotty, power-wielding shitheads a complex and turning them against one another. Okay, got it.

Missing the Soundtrack

Where is the music? From the starting sequence of Serena Van Der Woodson on the train back in ’07, Gossip Girl had a great soundtrack for the time. The first premiere episode was lacking in this category.

Remember when Serena crashed Blair’s party? Yeah, you wouldn’t remember that scene if “What Goes Around…Comes Around” by Justin Timberlake wasn’t playing in the background.

Fashion, Fashion, Fashion

The reboot had some great fashion choices again, and that’s what’s held true throughout both shows. This reboot was much bolder and more daring with the fashion choices in a very fashion forward and feminine and powerful way. Shaved heads, bright colored hair, bold neon dresses and stunning heels, this premiere really stepped up to take the fashion choices to the next level.

The fashion show during A and Z’s stand-off was eye-catching, and is probably the only post on Gossip Girl that would have really made sense on an Instagram timeline. The show-off was a powerful landing.

Diverse Characters – Let Me Love Them

Contrast to it’s 2007 original show, the new version of Gossip Girl would feature a much more diverse cast. It’s 2021 and it’s about time we’re starting to see representation of all communities and backgrounds in shows. There’s no reason why Gossip Girl would have reasoning to pick a cast type based off of any certain background, since the most important background of these characters are the same–Upper East Side (at least part time).

The cast of the new show are newcomers to Hollywood, and I would really like to see their acting potential. However this dialogue is about as dry as a bottle of champagne, with some moments making me cringe. I really hope the next episode does this group justice.

Random Sex

I know there was talk about this show being more risque than it’s original– but come on now at least make the sex scenes make sense. There is a total of at least four sex scenes, with one even in the middle of a very crowded party. Come on now, even Chuck Bass is jealous of the amount of time these teens have just to get it on. It would make much better sense if the sex was at least being used as a plot device, but so far it doesn’t seem to make much sense beyond trying to grab an audience and drag them in.

Gone are the days of Virgin Queen B.

So far, this just seems like it’s going to be a corny one season run-off of an otherwise great show if something doesn’t change. If you haven’t watched it yet, I’d suggest passing up on it to watch the original.

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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. 

Continue reading “Happy & You Know It” Book Review
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Wildling, the Underrated

Photo taken from Wikipedia

One of the movies I watched while being snowed in during February was “Wilding” an IFC Midnight Film that can currently be found on Netflix in the United States. Originally I wasn’t even going to touch this movie, but it honestly had me taken by surprise so I felt like I would cover it in one of my posts before I forgot about this movie all together.

I watched this movie last Saturday when Kevin and I were both bored and searching for things to watch on our streaming services. Kevin’s a bit fickle when it comes to shows, but I’m not picky and it was my time to pick so I just randomly picked this Netflix movie. If you guys have ever wondered where most of my content comes from, this is my method for picking content typically. This very crucial bored moment of “I dunno. Let’s go with this because the title sounds good I guess.” And I’ve honestly found some cool hidden gems by using this method.

I fell asleep midway through the movie as I sometimes have a bad habit of doing and then…waking up feeling very confused and wondering for a good ten or fifteen minutes if I was still watching the same movie.

So for those who are going into this like me and who have literally no idea what this movie is about…if you go in thinking this is going to be about a child being abducted by her forlorn and vengeful father who lives off the grid and you wake up to…well….a human boy having sex with a werewolf in the woods, you’re going to be very confused.

I had to watch this movie twice just to figure out what the hell had just happened when I was knocked out, and it honestly wasn’t that bad of a movie. For those of us who have yet to be able to endure watching “Splice” by themselves, this movie is probably not going to be for you since it has something of a similar theme and fashion as that movie had, minus of course with this movie working from a $2 million budget as opposed to a $30 million budget, and still doing awful.

This movie I wouldn’t be disappointed in if they decided to do a Netflix sequel, and perhaps it’s because my standard for Netflix movies has a bar set so low sometimes that I’m beyond ecstatic when it’s not a total miss on everyone’s part. This is an IFC Midnight movie, so I was expecting a little bit weird and out there, which this movie was able to provide. I feel like perhaps this was a prequel to an even bigger plan, and I’m a bit upset that it leaves off with an ambiguous ending since I haven’t read where there’s a sequel out there somewhere. I feel like I was left in a class with a mediocre anthology story that left off partially through a chapter book.

That being said, I would definitely give this movie a watch if you haven’t done so already. I don’t think you’re going to be disappointed, especially if you’re at the bottom of the barrel looking for movies on Netflix to watch as well like the rest of us.