My Continuing Book-ish Affair with the Owens Family

The Rules of MagicThe Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I didn’t love this one *quite* as much as I loved Practical Magic, but honestly, given how much I loved that one, that’s a pretty high bar. At any rate, this book has a lovely beautiful and believable backstory for the aunts, and I understand more why they are as they are in the original book. I think I would’ve liked to have seen more peripheral story, because this story does take place r an interesting time in history, but where history does enter, it’s always very meaningful and deliberate. I’m looking forward to rereading Practical Magic sometime with my new knowledge.

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More and More Fairy Tales

The Merry Spinster: Tales of Everyday HorrorThe Merry Spinster: Tales of Everyday Horror by Mallory Ortberg
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I wish I’d had read this all in one sitting as opposed 2 sittings with many months between, but this was a lovely book regardless. The stories manage to capture the vagueness and peculiarity of classic fairy tales while still turning the narrative on its head. It’s fascinating to see the varied sources that inspired each story.

I’ve been thinking about the concept of “remixes”, especially as it relates to visual media, and reading this book while keeping remixes in mind made for a different, more critically engaging experience. I would say this is an example of a high art remix vs. the kind of remixes I’m used to thinking of like fanvids and fanfiction.

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Critical Essays from Pop Culture…

Buffy Goes Dark: Essays on the Final Two Seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer on TelevisionBuffy Goes Dark: Essays on the Final Two Seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer on Television by Lynne Y. Edwards
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This collection of essays was well-worth the read! Obviously, I’m a literary nerd, so my favorite points of entry revolved around literary points of entry — oh my god, the Yeats essay was phenomenal. But this opened my eyes to so many different readings of BtVS, and I love that the editors weren’t afraid to include contradictory essays within this collection, sometimes even right next to each other. Overall, I think this collection is at its best when delving into character analyses, but all parts of it were interesting.

As someone who is interested in analyzing television and movies in this way, I feel like I’ve learned so much just by engaging with this text.

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First Book of 2019

Fist of the Spider Woman: Tales of Fear and Queer DesireFist of the Spider Woman: Tales of Fear and Queer Desire by Amber Dawn
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

In an effort to be less precious with my words, I’m going to start posting reviews even if they are less intellectual and more my impressions of books. So, here goes.

This collection was a little darker than I expected — somehow, I wasn’t expecting actual horror stories, and I thoroughly regretted reading some of these at night. While it wasn’t quite my cup of tea, I really appreciated the fact the queer content in here was expansive in its definition of “queer.” Whereas other collections I’ve read focus very narrowly on the individual letters of LGBTQIA+, a good portion of these explored varied kinds of relationships and kinks as well. That’s not something I see very often, and it was kind of refreshing, even as I wanted to pull the covers over my eyes because I was scared of ghosts.

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The Rending and The Nest

The Rending and the NestThe Rending and the Nest by Kaethe Schwehn
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What a strange, wondrous book. A blurb on the back cover draws attention to its post-apocalyptic literary cousins, Oryx and Crake and Station Eleven, and those comparisons ring true. While The Rending and the Nest is less interested in the why and the how of the apocalypse, there is a similarity in the quiet pace and menacing atmosphere. The few possible explanations that come out of this book are tempered by reader interpretation; this is not a story to be passively read. The lingering message of the book is that Mira and the other survivors will never know why the Rending happened or why their Babies are not flesh-and-blood children, and it doesn’t matter why. All that matters is the stories they choose to tell themselves about what happened.

Something that struck me at the end of the book is the respect with which the women of Zion are treated after giving birth to their Babies. In an impossible situation that no one else understands, other characters still respect the love and attachment that Zion women feel for them.

This is definitely a book I will want to read again. Another win for my post-apocalyptic shelf.

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War Story, Glazed with Glitter

A History of Glitter and BloodA History of Glitter and Blood by Hannah Moskowitz
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I finished this book not even five minutes ago, and already I’m writing a review. My reviews are never written so quickly, and sometimes they never get written at all, which should tell you something about the depth of my feelings toward this book.

One review here on Goodreads described this book as a gorgeous mess, and you know, that’s totally accurate. Reading this was an incredible amount of work; I wrote in the margins, highlighted bits, and left sticky notes all over this thing. In short, I treated this book pretty much the way I treat the books that get read for my lit classes, and that’s mostly because a book filled with this much attention to detail deserves to get reviewed by someone who loved it so very very much, at the very least. This was not the book I expected. This takes the whole fairy-fantasy genre thing, runs with it for a little bit, and then immediately creates something that feels really new.

Two quotes from the jacket feel super relevant — “this is not a love story” and “this isn’t a fairy tale; this is war.” I am not a fan of romance in books, really, but this book was not about ships or true love or any other tropes that dozens of other books have used and re-used. Don’t let the glittery cover fool you, because this is a violent book. We follow a band of magical teenage creatures who have survived a brutal war, and who now have to navigate the complex politics of a city that is still anything but peaceful. Online, I’ve seen this listed as being for teens 14 and up, and that just blows my mind, because this was such a heavy book. It didn’t shy away from the realities of war — violence, prostitution, grief, PTSD, and racism (there was the whole ethnic cleansing subtext (or maybe it was just text)).

The whole thing was just phenomenal. The unreliable narrator, the way it moves throughout time, even the prose. Just read this: “Another smile from him, this one a little sad, and a word, not for the first time, flashed in Beckan’s mind: disarmed… This, not the bomb site, was where the war first affected Beckan. She was a little fairy who could barely read and the war wormed its way into her words.” This book was just astonishing.

(Also, the epilogue is hilarious and amazing.) (Especially that moment where Beckan speaks for herself at the end.) (Oh, and there is LGBTQIA+ rep in here, and it’s adorable.)

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