Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Book Review: My Best Friend's Exorcism

I wanted to like this book, I really did. I've heard nothing but great things about this one and it has been sitting on my shelf since the paperback came out. This is one of about twenty books I brought with me from California when I moved to New York. And not to mention, the cover is STUNNING! That is probably the main thing that attracted me to this book in the first place.

In My Best Friend's Exorcism we are thrust into the lives of Abby and Gretchen who are popular girls in the South at the end of the '80s. In the summer of 88' Gretchen gets possessed by the devil and Abby does everything in her power to save her friend.

Being born in 1988, I had the privilege of growing up in the '90s, so I have a special place in my heart for the '90s, but there seems to be this overwhelming obsession with the '80s and everything that comes with it. From the music, to the cars, to the hair, it was a special era. I mean we see it everywhere, from Ready Player One (which I loved) to Black Mirror. Even though I'm not a huge fan of the '80s I did appreciate all the '80s songs that were used as chapter headings in the book.

I also really liked the female friendship that this book is centered around. These two girls had a special bond that no one could break, not even the devil himself. What really brought it all home for me was the ending and their life after everything happened. How they drift apart because we all know life happens, but how they are still in each others lives in some way or another. How in the end after everything, Gretchen was right by Abby's side. 1/4 of that half star I'm giving this book is from the end journey of their friendship, while the other half goes to that outrageous exorcist.

With all that said, I did have some issues with the book. This book did not blow me away. Half way through I almost found myself asking if I even wanted to finish it. It was a slow paced book, with a lot of 80s' cheese, and it wasn't scary or grotesque until maybe the last 100 pages (I will never look at a vanilla milkshake the same again). Also, the whole exorcism at the end that Abby performs is a big cringe worthy and I didn't feel myself throwing my fist up in the air like at the end of The Breakfast Club.

The biggest problem I had with this book is the use of race, specifically with the mention of black people. We know we are in the South in 1988 and racism is something the characters wouldn't even think twice about as it is ingrained in their everyday lives. But did we really need the use of racist terms and events to accentuate the time period? Did we need descriptions like, "the la-di-da part of Mt. Pleasant where all the houses were dignified and either overlooked the water or had enormous yards, and if anyone saw a black person walking down the street who wasn't Mr. Little, they would pull their Volvo over and ask if he was lost." Or mentions of blackface, events like "Slave Day," or telling someone they look like an Ethiopian if they are skin and bones and had a protruding stomach. I personally don't think the book needed to use these racist terms and events to drive home the point that we're in the South in the 80s.

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫

Happy Reading!

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Book Review: Maybe in Another Life

Wow! This book killed me. If you've been following me for awhile you know that this is my second Taylor Jenkins Reid book. My first by her was Daisy Jones and the Six and that one also blew me away. It was such a quick read and I felt like I was watching a VH1 rock doc. Anyways, I've actually had Maybe in Another Life sitting on my shelf for awhile and still hadn't picked it up. I have no idea why I waited so long to read anything by her honestly. 

Maybe in Another Life follows 29-year-old Hannah as she moves back to Los Angeles after living in NYC for some time as well as traveling around the US. Hannah is staying with her best friend Gabby and her husband Mark when upon her return they all go out to meet with some friends. One of those friends happens to be Hannah's high school boyfriend who has always been kind of lingering in the picture, but the timing was never right. At the end of the night, Hannah must choose between going home with Ethan and just going back home with her best friend and the consequences of both of those decision. 

What I love about Taylor Jenkins Reid is her writing style and how she toys with the conventional linear storyline and format of the stories she writes. I've only read two of her books, but both of them have been written in completely different styles. With Maybe in Another Life, Reid gives us two different story outcomes woven together to make one narrative with the same essential themes. She does it in a beautiful way that doesn't confuse the reader and keeps us engaged throughout the whole story. Oftentimes with multiple narratives, one falls short of the other, but Reid does such a good job at writing both stories that I didn't know which outcome I wanted more. What I loved the most is that there were bits and pieces of the same ideas and themes in both storylines. Little hints that tell us these certain elements were meant to be part of our protagonists journey, and part of our supporting characters journey's as well, no matter how heartbreaking the outcomes are. 

One theme that really stuck out to me was the bond of female friendship. Hannah and Gabby have been friends since high school and no matter what happened in each others lives, they were always there for each other. In both storylines, when something bad or hard happened, the other was standing right there supporting her friend no matter what. Either lying on the floor with her or telling the other to "divide the pain in two, and give half of it to me." The bonds of their friendship outlasted everything, and that to me is a triumph.

This book was a beautiful exploration of the "what if's" of the multiverse and I would recommend it to anyone who likes a little romance and drama told in an unconventional way. 

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Book Review: YOU

Wow! Can I just say wow! YOU by Caroline Kepnes blew me away. I had only heard good things about it and it had been calling to me lately, so I finally decided to pick it up and I'm so glad I did. If you've seen the show or read the book, you already know what this is all about. Girl walks into a bookstore, boy falls in love, boy turns into a stalker and does everything her can to be the most perfect boyfriend, which includes the occasional murder.

I'm a big fan of the show but I had never read the book before and I get worried that when I read the book after watching a show/movie that it won't be as surprising, but this book does not disappoint. From watching the show I already know there are some real differences but the craziest thing is the mind games this book plays on you.

While reading the book I realized that we never get an actual physical description of Joe. Since I had already watched the show, I of course pictured Penn Badgley as Joe. In the book, Joe is a lot more sexually explicit and makes us feel like he is only obsessed with mainly having sex with Bec or doing sexually explicit things to her. Without this physical picture of Joe, it is easier to be grossed out or discussed by him or feel that he is not a likeable character. Even though as the reader I know the things that Joe is doing are wrong, there is some part of me that still found myself rooting for him in certain situations. I realized those situations were only when he was pit against another less likable character, such as Peach, who is pretty annoying in a self obsessed, aloof kind of way. There are even situations with Bec where she definitely does something wrong and as the reader I kind of felt for Joe in those moments. I'm not the biggest fan of Bec to begin with and I usually find myself being overly critical of her and the choices she makes as a 24 years old single white woman. I just wanted her to make better choices and stop being so self absorbed.

In my opinion, the show really brings out the shallow side of all human beings and points to the fact that if you're good looking, you can get away with almost anything. In the show, Joe is just as creepy, but because his creepiness is paired with the good looks of Penn Badgley, we have an easier time excusing his obsessive behavior. Whenever I watched the show I always found myself addressing how "charming" Joe was when in reality he's a sociopath and is just doing a good job at "acting" charming. With the addition of Paco, the young boy who lives in the abusive home next door, we are meant to see another side of Joe, a more compassionate and caring side. Without Paco, Joe is just a single man living alone in NYC with nothing better to do, who begins obsessively stalking a young girl in order to become her everything.

This book reminded me a lot of Bret Easton Ellis' American Psycho. In particular, Joe reminded me a lot of Patrick Bateman, who is basically a "grown up" version of Joe. American Psycho is such a fucked up book and YOU is honestly just as fucked up.

I'm blown away that this is Caroline Kepnes' first book and I can't wait to read more by her.

If you love unsettling modern day thrillers then this book is for you!


Thursday, April 2, 2020

Magical Read-a-thon: OWLs 2020

Happy OWLs! Today marks the first day of the month long magical readathon hosted by @book_roast. This year I chose to go after two different careers: Mind Medic and Seer. For a Mind Medic I have to complete eight OWLs: Ancient Runes, Arithmancy, Charms, Defense Against the Dark Arts, Herbology, Muggle Studies, Potions, and Transfiguration. For Seer I only have to complete three OWLs: Ancient Runes, Astronomy, and Divination. That means I have to complete a total of ten OWLs to officially become a Mind Medic and Seer. 

I don't normally choose TBRs each month but this one just kind of magically fell together.

Ancient Runes(x2) - Heart Rune - Book with a heart on the cover or in the title - The Wedding Date/The Honey Don't List

Arithmancy- A book outside your favorite genre - Beartown

Astronomy - Night Classes - Read majority of this book when it's dark outside - Where the Crawdads Sing

Charms - Lumos Maxima - White Cover - Parable of the Sower

Defense Against the Dark Arts - Grindylows - Book set at the sea/coast - Beach Reads

Divination - Third Eye - Assign numbers to your TBR and use a random number generator to pick your read - Social Creature

Herbology - Mimbulus mimletonia - Title starts with an M - My Year of Meats/Maybe in Another Life

Muggle Studies - Book from the perspective of a muggle (contemporary) - Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine/Beartown

Potions - Shrinking Solution - book under 150 pages - Elevation

Transfiguration - Animagus lecture - book/series that includes shapeshifting - A Court of Mist and Fury/A Curse so Dark and Lonely

Happy Reading!