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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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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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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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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. 

Photo credit here.

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”.

Photo credit here.

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.

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The Bomb of Drugstore Beauty Balms

Hey guys! So I wanted to talk to you this week about a beauty product I had used many times in the past that seemed to work really well for me in taking care of split ends and fixing my hair after I had used boxed dyes on my hair. 

I have been in love with this balm since I had started using it back in 2012 when I started dying my hair black for the first time. This balm always helped me combat the dryness that comes with the out of the box amateur hair dyes we all seem to use at one point or another in our lives. This damage erasing balm is recommended for use in placement of your usual conditioner. You want to work this at the ends of your hair where most of the damage is going to be, and then spot treat any other dry spots you have in your hair. 

For women with curly hair, I have been told this product works best on top of your usual conditioner, although I would warn you to watch out for weighting down your hair or your hair drying out too much. 

This balm is going to be really easy to use, and as soon as you get it out of the container you can feel the luxurious, silky smoothness. I’m not a big fan of the color or the packaging, like so many other people have mentioned before in the past I do wish this product came with a pump as opposed to just staying loosely in the jar, but I’m not going to beat up a product over something as simple as that. The smell is so good, especially if you like the smell of most L’Oreal shampoos and conditioners.

 

I hope I supplied at least a little more information for you to make a decision today on whether or not this may be a good product option for you. I know that it’s an uphill battle sometimes when it comes to dry and damaged hair, especially if you live in a place with a dry climate. 

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An Honest Review of “Hush” by James Patterson

“Hush” by James Patterson

Okay, folks. The moment I think we’ve all been waiting for has come to an end. I am a quarter way through my January Reading list, which means I have now read my first book by James Patterson for the year 2021. For this month I had decided to read the books my father had gifted to me at Christmastime by an author whom I don’t typically enjoy the writing style of. 

My first impressions of the book prior to reading was that he is a attention whore on the front of the book. He takes all of the attention off of his co-writers and it seems to be all about him. On the inside of this book, I quickly catch onto the rhythmic format that is the chapter layout. Chapters are very short, about 1-3 pages long with the longest chapter being 6 pages in length. It’s almost as if someone in his public relations board said “hey, the span of the average reader is about seven minutes long. We have seven minutes to write something important before the reader loses interest.” Which I guess would make sense for the mass publishing industry, but this is what I think before I’ve researched anything about James Patterson’s publishing company or writing style. 

I did a little research into looking into Patterson’s history in an attempt to explain his advertising campaign, and it’s just as I expected. Patterson was a advertising executive for J. Walter Thompson until 1996 when upon retirement he became a full-time writer. This makes me understand a little bit more of his background, and it gives me a bit more respect for his advertising campaign for his book since he knows what he is doing when it comes to marketing.

This book is not the first one in the series, but it was easy to follow as just a book I happened to read on a random whim. The main character, Harriet Blue, is a rogue detective with her partner Whitt and other partner Tox. This tagalong team is asked by a county commissioner who despises them to find his missing junkie daughter and his granddaughter. This trope feels very overdone to me in the detective mystery genre. I do not like the county commissioner always being talked up as being this biggest tool and then asking the rogue cop baddies to halp him out because the bad guys have captured AB or C from him. The entire rogue cop detective thriller is overdone for me, but once again I’ll admit up to this genre not being my biggest cup of tea. 

Harriet Blue decides once she’s out of prison to continue helping her cellmate Dolly from the outside when Dolly is wrongfully accused of the murder of a beloved prison doctor, Dr. Goldman. This happens to take place the same day Harriet is being discharged from the prison, so they do not come into contact with at all. How very convenient. 

Harriet has to go live with her retired chief detective Pops because she has no place to go. Pops owns a at home gym where he trains troubled youth, and I get a whole Rocky’s mentor from this guy. Harriet’s first thing she does outside of meeting up with her old crew is get laid. One thing that is inked through this book quite heavily is the romantic partnerships of the ragtag team of main characters, which you don’t see build up much in this book. Tox is seeing a doctor whom has saved his life in one of the previous books. Whitt has a thing for Harry, and Harry is out getting dick like a champ right out of prison. 

There is a plot twist mentioned at the beginning of the book, but honestly there’s a very short list of suspects and a few automatically stand out the moment they are introduced to the audience, at least in my opinion. The build up fizzles out quite quickly with the most suspenseful part being Tox jumps off a highway bridge to save two little girls out of a car. There is a lot of running around for clues and a few suspenseful moments, but that’s just about it as far as this book goes. 

I think what makes Patterson’s books so enthralling to read are his short chapters. Having chapters so short made it easy for me to get reading done in multiple sittings since I usually like to read whole chapters in a sitting. I feel like he sums up what he’s getting across in just a single chapter here and there, so all of the other chapters came across as fillers to me. I would have appreciated a more suspenseful punch from the world’s best selling author, but in some cases I think we’re going for quantity instead of quality and I believe this goes in the case of James Patterson’s writing. 

I would question whether or not Patterson writes any of his own material at this point or if he just has a board of writers that sit down and do the dirty work for him underneath his pen name. He has been criticized many times by others within the industry considering the short span it takes for him to come up with a new book as well as his habit of reviewing his own literary fiction. How can you give an honest review of your own fiction if you were the one who supposedly wrote it?

Overall, I give this book 3/5 stars, and I’m going to say this book was a job done okay by Candice Fox, surely the unsung hero behind the computer screen. This book was impressively easy to follow despite being in the middle of the series, and I do like Harriet Blue as a character despite how generic this book was feeling to me at the start of reading. There was a few spelling errors like a misplaced ‘S’ here or there which I’m disappointed wasn’t picked up by the editing team, but I’m sure it’s more to do with the need to meet a deadline as opposed to anything really wrong within the editing process.

Rating:

Rating: 3 out of 5.

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“The Star-Crossed Sisters of Tuscany” Review

What’s up my friends? I have some exciting news to tell you!

Over these past few days I was able to cross “The Star-Crossed Sisters of Tuscany” off of my December reading list. Let me just say this book was an emotional trip for me. I laughed, I cried, I had to take a few breaks during reading just to contemplate over scenes, and there was a moment when I was ready to throw the book across the room if someone mentioned the “Fontana Second-Daughter Curse” one more time...

I started reading this book blindly the last week of November, and I had some very low hopes going into this novel. From the jacket I read about a family who has a generational belief in a curse that the second daughters of every family would not be able to find true love. Okay, this trope has been played quite a few times over the centuries, and I just figured that this was going to be a generic romance book in which a pair of sisters travel to Italy. With this knowledge, I figured the sisters would travel to Italy, the second born daughter would have trials and errors on finding love before finally realizing that love has always been about your family all along.

If you go into this book thinking any of the aforementioned, you’re going to be wrong and in probably the most pleasant way of all. Within the first chapter we are introduced to the members of the Fontana family living in New York City, and I will say that this family will have a dynamic shift by the end of the book. Yes, this dynamic shift will be due to Emilia Fontana and what she learns from her adventure in Italy with her aged but spry Aunt Poppy and her spunky cousin Luciana. This dynamic shift will be at the core essentially related to how Emilia finds herself, and about how the two other Fontana women find their selves as well.

Additionally I’d like to point out that I had originally pictured this to be about a sister’s journey to Italy to break the Fontana curse. I would say that during the first few chapters of the book I was mentally preparing myself for a story about Emilia and her sister Daria. I’m happy with the author’s choice in not using this choice across the board, because it’s what I had been expecting within the first few chapters. Plus, I just really enjoy Poppy and Luci as characters. Poppy is such a sweetheart and Luci is my lovely smartass.

Overall, I give this book a rating of 4 out of 5 stars,

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Anytime a book makes me cry and smile is going to get my blessing. This book was very honest, and I am happy to have read it through to the last page. I am happy with the characters and how they progressed by the end of the story. I am satisfied with how the story ended, and I’m sure Emilia will hold a special place in her heart for Poppy for as long as she lives.

That’s my review for this week guys. I wanted to keep it short and simple. I hope to be able to post at least a few more times before the end of the holidays, but if we don’t communicate until after New Years: I wish you a safe and happy holiday, whether your holidays have just passed or haven’t happened yet. Please cherish the ones that you love, and I look forward to seeing everybody in the New Year!

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Words in Review : November

It’s almost the end of the month and I’m almost ready to complete my reading list for the month of November and to tell you what my thoughts were on these five books. 

Untamed 

I am still reading this book but I’m about 75% of the way through the book with plans of finishing it off this weekend. This book is technically a biography by Glennon Doyle, but it’s so much more than that. This book speaks to the core of different beliefs and views women struggle with daily — feminism, aging, parenting, etc. 

Each chapter introduces a new thought into the reader’s view and I find it most helpful to read it in small doses and reflect upon it later. Glennon Doyle does go into some political viewpoints midway through the book which I know may be off putting to some readers, but I find it good to read even if you don’t disagree with her views consistently. 

This book is unique, and for that I will give it a rating of 4 of 5 stars. Yes, I would recommend this book, no matter where you are on the political spectrum. 

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Mexican Gothic

I wrote up a full review on my blog already of this book, which I hope you’ll read if you’ve already read this book. But if you haven’t read it yet…what are you waiting for? This book is a gripping page turner of a horror novel.

I rated it overall 4 of 5 stars as well.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Girl On the Train

I wrote a full review of this book earlier this month. The Girl On the Train was the highest anticipated book on my list, and with that I was slightly dissapointed it didn’t live up to my expectations. This book is mediocre at best, and for that I rated it 3 of 5 stars. 

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Everything I Never Told You

This book was good. It follows a broken family healing after the sudden death of their eldest daughter/older sister. Through each family member the reader gets to see a more broader life than what was always depicted of their eldest, and through this readers delve deeper into understanding that everything isn’t always as it seems.

Overall, I say this book was a solid read and I rated it 3 of 5 stars.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Into the Wild 

This book is the biggest yawn on this list. Of course, I half expected it to be so from the beginning because it’s a biography in subject matter I didn’t have a lot of interest in before reading it. I happened to read this book after saying that it was dumb for a guy to venture out into the wilderness underprepared and someone suggested that I read this book for better understanding on why Chris McCandless did what he did.

The author of the book was very dry in his narration. I guess in some cases that’s great, because at least in this way he presented Chriss McCandless in a most unbiased way. However, I still have not changed my mind. As someone who enjoys hiking and camping, I still think it was an awful decision to trek through Alaska without much in the way of provisions. 

I give this book a 2 out of 5 stars.

Rating: 2 out of 5.
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Destiny’s Review: Mexican Gothic

What is up my dudes! I hope you are having a lovely day.

Whew, this week was emotional for me. On top of completing my manuscript for National Novel Writing Month this week and testing Negative for COVID-19, I crossed this book off of my want to read list of November.

This book…wow you guys. I burned through this book within a few days. Yes, it was one of those books that you get hours lost wandering through the pages wondering what’s behind every door you pass. I do want to warn you guys, there are spoilers ahead! These are my thoughts after I have finished reading the book. I also would like to take this chance to warn you that there’s sexual assault and rape in this book, and some explicit content that may be triggering to some readers.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

“Mexican Gothic ” is the second book by Silvia Moreno-Garcia. I believe this book came out June of this year. I had received it as a part of my Book of the Month subscription box, but didbn’t get a chance to read it until now. Going into this book, I didn’t know much about it. My first impression from the front cover was that some sort of horrific event was going to happen. The woman on the front cover is in a burgundy dress with a bouquet of roses in hand and a glowing green backdrop is behind her. The burgundy dress and the bouquet of flowers had me infer that some sort of wedding was to take place. The contrast the green background surrounding the woman in red had me relating it to some sort of toxic relationship or toxicity when it comes to the woman.

Now, let me get into what I liked and disliked about this book, starting from the top.

CHARACTERIZATION & THEMES

Two things that I enjoy immensely of this book is the characters and the themes the author has going on in her book.

Usually novels in which the author feels the need to include a description of what our main characters are wearing almost each and every time we see them are not the novels you want to be reading. This is not the case in this book. Naomi will know what she’s wearing every day when she gets up because she wants you to notice. She notices every character by what they are wearing because she is Naomi Taboada.

Every character has a purpose, and every character is motivated by different things. Even though Catalina isn’t a character that is seen through most of the story I still know what purpose she has to the plot.

We need to also talk about Howard.

Wrong Howard. But holy hell 80s. What kind of drugs were these producers on?

Howard is the epitome of social darwinism and what happens when you keep on forcing marriages on your neices and other relatives multiple times and expecting that they won’t grow to hate you as you continue to shove your indoctrination down their throats. That is not how science works, Howard; it just makes talking at the dinner table very awkward.

However, Howard still plays a role to the plot. There are different themes to cover in this book, and one most importantly is colonization. Moreno-Garcia uses all of the reader’s senses to delve deeper in using metaphors to represent colonization; from the musky smell of sports mushrooms growing on mildew-laden portraits and buzzing of bees the reader is surrounded by a colony at all times.

I would go into the deeper themes and topics covered throughout this book, but I don’t want to be writing this blog entry too much like a book report. But this book covered a lot of current topics in regards to women’s rights and racism. There is also a lot to be said on how “Mexican Gothic” could be compared to “Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gillman.

SETTING

The setting is of High Place and its grounds for the majority of the story. Everything the author talks about she brings to life. She makes the pathway to High Place foreboding, and the mansion has me trying to guess what’s going to happen next without getting the twist right in the end.

ROMANCE

The romance between Francis and Naomi is on the cutting edge of acceptable to me in the way of character motivation. Naomi at first likes both Virgil and Francis for very separate reasons at one point. This, and her mentioning her other gentlemen suitors back at home tells me she likes attention moreso than genuine feelings towards any of these men. I expected she would have left sooner if it wasn’t for her wanting to protect Francis so I do find it more believable that this relationship was meant to tie her to High Place for a longer period of time.

END THOUGHTS

This book is definitely worth a read as long as you have enough time to finish it within a few days. It is just the right amount of dark and the underlying romance wasn’t distracting to me whatsoever.

RATING

Rating: 4 out of 5.

4/5 Stars

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