To Read or Not to Read?

Because You Love to Hate Me: An Anthology

Because You Love to Hate Me is a YA anthology book all about the villains of literature and pop culture. And it was a pretty good anthology. Unfortunately I was also reading it at the same time as I was reading Slasher Girls & Monster Boys which is a similarly themed anthology with considerably stronger entries. (Special Note: these short stories appear to be responses to prompts posed by Booktubers and what not.)

Here’s what I thought of the entries in Because:

  • The Blood of Imuriv by Renee Ahdieh
    • A little science fiction tale of sibling rivalry and with mentions of past family mental disorders.
    • It was somewhat interesting and I liked seeing into the mind of the narrator who is a male who has been passed over for the throne because their society is ran by females. But even though there was a mention of violence being in the family the ending seemed sudden.
    • Very rough around the edges and the science fiction elements seemed out of place.
  • Jack by Ameriie
    • What if Jack from Jack and the Beanstalk made his way up into the castle in the clouds because of a lonely giantess? What if they became friends? Can they become friends?
    • The build up in this story was very nice and the ending was so very creepy.
  • Gwen and Art and Lance by Soman Chainani
    • King Arthur and the whole love triangle set in a modern high school which isn’t the worst idea but it was told only through emails and text messages and I just didn’t like it.
  • Shirley & Jim by Susan Dennard
    • A modern day boarding school with a female Sherlock Holmes and Watson and a male Moriarty. While hanging out in the library Shirley Holmes makes friends with Moriarty and so begins a tangled web of lies and deceit and manipulation.
    • It felt rather weird and like the feelings Shirley ended up with were rather abrupt as was Jim’s actions at the end.
  • The Blessing of Little Wants by Sarah Enni
    • Witches trying to save magic because it’s dying.
    • It was kind of weird and confusing at the end with hallucinations/projections or something. Not enough was explained!
  • The Sea Witch by Marissa Meyer
    • I’ve recently read another retelling of Ursula’s story called The Sea Witch. This story of a little mermaid who just wanted to belong was so much better. It had some dark elements and betrayal and I would have been pleased for this to take up far more space int he anthology.
  • Beautiful Venom by Cindy Pon
    • Medusa retelling where the villain isn’t who you might think.
    • Warning: it does contain a rape and a discussion of rape culture with one character thinking another got what she deserved for leading on a man/god. But Medusa had the exact right response.
  • Death Knell by Victoria Schwab
    • Oh, this was a good one. A boy is Death and attempts to take a girl down the well with him and she tries to fight back only to have a great twist ending.
  • Marigold by Samantha Shannon
    • The Fae queen takes little girls in nineteenth-century London. It sounds like she’s the villain here but then we hear back from Marigold, one of the girls who was taken.
    • Good discussion of gender politics in the time period.
  • You, You, It’s All About You by Adam Silvera
    • Teenage crime lord and drugs with weird effects. Personally I didn’t like it.
  • Julian Breaks Every Rule by Andrew Smith
    • I actually really liked this one. It’s about a boy named Julian who never gets in trouble for anything even when he tries. Oh, and whenever he wishes someone would die they end up dying in some strange, crazy way. Except for in the case of one guy.
    • It was kind of fun to see this character deal with life and wondering why he can’t get rid of someone he really wants to get rid of. It was funny and interesting more than creepy.
  • Indigo and Shade by April Genevieve Tucholke
    • What if Beauty is the Beast? And what if the Gaston character isn’t the villain we all made him out to be?
    • Very well down and interesting.
  • Sera by Nicola Yoon
    • Creepy children are super creepy. And then they grow up to be creepy adults.
    • Interesting and well written with fun flashbacks explaining the character.
Literary Musings

Trusting Recommendations

Blog post idea taken from “Lit Chat: Conversations Starters About Books & Life,” a book/game/ice breaker box produced by Book Riot. The question was: “Have you ever read a recommended book that you didn’t enjoy? Do you still trust your sources?”

I will often take book recommendations from my fellow librarians/friends and while we typically know enough of each other’s tastes to keep the recs on point it doesn’t always work out.

Case in point. I’ve had The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams on my shelf for years but hadn’t’ really ever found the urge to pick it up and read it until several librarian friends told me how much they loved it. Additionally, I’d been looking for a new audiobook to try and I was told that the audiobook was well done so I gave it a try. I ended up not really liking it at all. It wasn’t necessarily a bad book and I could definitely see why it has a cult following but I just didn’t like the style it was in.

And the same thing has happened with books I’ve chosen because I’d read a truly awesome review of it on Goodreads. I’d see one or more trusty reviewers with similar tastes to mine just love a certain book and I’d try it only to not understand the hype at all. (Though on the flip side, I’ve seen books with generally negative reviews and ended up loving them so to each their own.)

However, just because I’ve struck out with a few recommendations it doesn’t mean I won’t listen to a person’s reviews ever again because sometimes they’ll suggest something that I end up loving. Plus there’s a bonus to recs by people I talk to on a daily basis: we can get into in depth discussions about why we did or didn’t like something and maybe make points that we hadn’t thought about in the heat of the initial response to the read.

To Read or Not to Read?

Slasher Girls & Monster Boys anthology

Even though I absolutely hate horror movies, every September and October I start looking for creepy books to read. Last year I checked Slasher Girls & Monster Boys, an anthology with selections written by a whole slew of Young Adult authors (most of whom I’ve already read novels by and loved) but I never got around to reading it. So this year I made sure it was one of the first creepy reads on my autumn list.

Overall, I freaking loved it! There were a couple misses but most of them were well-written, super interesting, and definitely creepy either in a horror or just general suspenseful way. And there was so much feminism and girl power and revenge which is kind of awesome since it seems that this type of movie often places the girl in a victim/idiot role.

Now here’s the breakdown.

  • The Birds of Azalea Street by Nova Ren Suma
    • This was a tale of a creepy neighbor and the teenage girls who inadvertently get their revenge on him in the form of a bird/girl.
    • It was a little rough around the edges but was definitely a nice start. Creepy because of the whole realistic aspect of a neighbor who likes the teen girls who live around him far too much.
    • Loved the girl power aspect and how they were looking out for one another and supporting one another.
  • In the Forest Dark and Deep by Carrie Ryan
    • An Alice in Wonderland retelling where the White Rabbit is crazy, murderous monster with an odd fondness for the Alice character.
    • Super creepy and disturbing with multiple horror movie style murder scenes and an unreliable narrator who, after having read the story, I’m still not sure how much of a hand she had in the murders.
  • Emmeline by Cat Winters
    • A historical ghost story that is vaguely creepy but is almost more sad than horrifying.
  • Verse Chorus Verse by Leigh Bardugo
    • The tale of a starlet child and her overbearing mother with the added features of a mental institutions and possession.
    • It definitely had a creepy vibe but it was very vague, so much that I’m not sure I really understood what was going on.
  • Hide and Seek by Megan Shepherd
    • This one was a tale of playing a game with Death so as to try and cheat it for awhile.
    • It was more suspenseful than full on horror with a Final Destination feel.
    • Death’s Harbinger Crow Cullom was actually kind of nice and cool? It was weird.
    • I liked the kind of twist at the end.
  • The Dark, Scary Parts and All by Danielle Paige
    • The tale of a girl who understands literary monsters because she’s always been made fun of and then she meets one in real life.
    • Kind of an introspective feel on what makes one a real monster.
  • The Flicker, The Fingers, The Beat, The Sigh by April Genevieve Tucholke
    • Most of the short stories were influenced by movies and songs, etc. but most didn’t make it as obvious as this one which was a combination of Carrie and I Know What You Did Last Summer.
    • I did like that although really bad things happened to the people around him, the horror for the narrator was all psychological.
  • Fat Girl With a Knife by Jonathan Mayberry
    • Zombies!
    • I loved that the narrator Dahlia is a “fat girl” that doesn’t give a damn and she realizes that it helps give her strength to combat the zombies. She’s kind of a badass.
  • Sleepless by Jay Kristoff
    • Super creepy because this had more of a real life horror vibe than some of the others with supernatural tinges. Think online predator with mental issues.
    • The hints throughout made me question everyone’s real identities which made the reveals even creepier and gross.
    • Twist ending that I didn’t see coming right away!
  • M- by Stefan Bachmann
    • This one features Misha, a blind woman who lives in the attic of the house. I felt like the fact that she was blind added an additional level of suspense when the murders in the house started.
    • It was a little too long and too slow for me.
  • The Girl Without a Face by Marie Lu
    • Psychological haunting with mirrors and closets and all the standard hautning elements.
    • I like how it made you feel for the narrator at first but then you come to realize that he is not the victim he makes himself out to be.
  • A Girl Who Dreamed of Snow by McCormick Templeman
    • This was more of a historical other worldly story of curses and sacrifice.
    • Not especially scary or compelling.
  • Stitches by A.G. Howard
    • Very Frankenstein-esque with a man trading body parts to try and change himself.
    • Odd, with a very gory feel and some fun twists.
  • On the I-5 by Kendare Blake
    • The story of murdered girls along the highway who don’t stay dead. At least not until they’ve taken their revenge.
    • Kind of sad as well as creepy.




Library Life · Literary Musings

Finding Book Recommendations

Blog post idea taken from “Lit Chat: Conversations Starters About Books & Life,” a book/game/ice breaker box produced by Book Riot. The question was: “Where do you get your book recommendations? Bestseller lists? Magazine and newspaper reviews? Old-fashioned word-of-mouth?”

A lot of times I read books that I just come across on a library cart of books I ordered for my library Young Adult collection. Many of those books are ones I chose to purchase based on reviews I read on Goodreads though other books I toss into my online shopping cart based solely on the author or the book blurb alone, just because I know said author or style of books is popular.

What I’ve found that works best for me is following a handful of certain reviewers on Goodreads, ones that write very thoughtful and well-written reviews, often rating books similarly to how I do. So when I actually need a recommendation and don’t already have a huge pile of books already checked out then I just scroll through my Goodreads updates to see what those reviewers have been reading.

But, every so often I will choose a book based on word-of- mouth, usually when I hear a couple of library patrons just raving about something or when one of my fellow librarians mention something that sounds interesting.

Literary Musings

Pen Names

Blog post idea taken from “Lit Chat: Conversations Starters About Books & Life,” a book/game/ice breaker box produced by Book Riot. The question was: “What would your pen name be?”

I honestly don’t think I would choose a pen name if I were to finally get my books published but that might be because I don’t really expect to reach the level of famous as say J.K. Rowling or James Patterson which I think are really the only authors I might recognize if I were to come across them in public. (Rowling because I’m a huge Harry Potter fan and Patterson just because I see his face on the backs of his books all the time.) I just think authors have quite a bit more anonymity than other people who are in the public sphere since, even though their pictures are usually readily available, they’re usually tucked away at the back of a book or under a book flap and aren’t something we look at a lot.

I could see potentially using my initials along with either my current last name or what will be my married last name next year. But I know a lot of people do this so as to disguise their gender, especially if they are branching into a differing series or style of writing that doesn’t sound like something they usually do. (For example: Nora Roberts is used for romance novels while the same author uses J.D. Robb for mysteries.) However, as of right now, I would find that unnecessary because everything I’ve written is very female character centric and so I wouldn’t see the need to make it look like it was maybe written by a man.

Short Stories

Stranger Things Fanfiction Preview

Here’s a little preview of my yet-to-be-named Stranger Things fanfiction, the idea for which I came up with last month while rewatching seasons one and two and longing for three. For now I’m just limiting the preview to a hang out scene within my story without really sharing the full gist of what it’s about because why not?

January 12th, 1985

“Who’s turn was it to choose the video?” Joyce asked as she carried the final bowl of popcorn into her crowded living room. (They’d been meeting at her house for movie nights every couple of weeks since El had closed the Gate a few months earlier. Her sons, Mike, Lucas, Dustin, and El were always in attendance with Max, Nancy, Steve, and even Hopper sometimes joining them when they could. That night everyone but Steve was there so the room felt especially full.)

“It was my turn!” Dustin chimed as he bounced up from his spot on the floor and rifled through the backpack pile in the corner of the room, finally coming up with a rented VHS tape. “And here it is! Carrie, starring Sissy Spacek!”

Nancy’s jaw dropped, Jonathan snorted, and Hopper’s face went white in shock and then flushed red with anger. “No! Absolutely not!”

Dustin’s face fell. “I know it’s rated R for some violence and nudity and stuff but we’ve all seen rated R stuff before.”

“I don’t think that’s the reason Hopper is against this,” Jonathan muttered.

“Then why? I heard it’s good. And mom even came in the store with me to get it and everything so…” Dustin’s pleading voice trailed off.

“I just think it may be a little insensitive,” Joyce said, her eyes quickly darting to El and then back to Dustin.

El, who was getting better and better at picking up on things during social interactions, realized that the problem had something to do with her. “Why insensitive?”

The adults shared a look but it was Nancy who answered. “Carrie is about a girl who ends up with powers kind of like yours and she uses them to do some pretty bad things.”

“Don’t spoil the whole movie!” Dustin cried, throwing his hands in the air in frustration.

To be continued on my fanfiction sites soon.

To Read or Not to Read?

Sea Witch by Sarah Henning

As a Young Adult Librarian I often pick up books to read because I order them for the library collection, our library processes them, and then I usually get to look them over before they go out onto the shelves. So since they’re brand new and all ready to go I figure that is a good time to grab a whole bunch and then slowly read them over the course of the loan period. That’s what happened with Sea Witch. I looked it over again before it was to be put on the shelves and I thought “hmm, this looks interesting. I should read it.”

Sea Witch is a loose retelling of the story of Ursula, the antagonist of the Little Mermaid tale. It is set inĀ  19th century Denmark and starts out with three friends. A witch named Evie who of course has to hide her true nature in fear of persecution, a prince named Nik, and their friend Anna who drowns within just the first few pages.

After this opening we switch back and forth between the “current” time and the past. In the current Nik nearly drowns but is saved by a mysterious stranger who later shows up and introduces herself to Evie. And the weird thing is that the stranger looks very much like their lost friend Anna, just a little older. Evie quickly latches onto her friendship, as does Nik, but the stranger turns out to have so many secrets.

This book was far too slow moving for me, some chapters and sections just flying by while others slowed the pace far too much with most of the action in the last fifth of the book. The revenge plot line seemed kind of weak and the friendships and relationships were stilted and some of the reveals felt kind of out of nowhere.