My Worst Books of 2020

Wednesday, 20 January 2021

This was a really weird year for me. Two of my favorite series released books that made it onto this list and two books that I thought I was going to like also made it on the list. 2020 was a weird year for many reasons. If you check out my Top Ten Books of 2020 post, you'll see that I read some amazing books last year, but the bad ones are still worth talking about.


5. Peace Talks by Jim Butcher


This hurts my heart. The Dresden Files is my favorite book series of all time. It got better and better with each installment. Then Skin Game came out in 2014, which was a great book, but it took 6 years for the next book to come out. Unlike Patrick Rothfuss, Jim Butcher made it clear he had good reasons as to why it took so long but when two books were announced in one year, I was so happy.  Then Peace Talks came out and I picked it up and.... almost put it down.

Here's what I think. I think Jim Butcher wrote one big book. He wrote one book that was over 700 pages and either he decided or his publisher decided to break it into two books. Because when put together Peace Talks and Battle Ground make for one epic book. But when you separate them Peace Talks is a boring mess with no point to it and Battle Ground is exciting but mostly all action. Peace Talks is the literary equivalent of Ben Stein's voice while Battle Ground is a coked up Tasmanian Devil.

If Butcher had released Peace Ground or Battle Talks in one big volume, we wouldn't have having this conversation. But two separate books were released and Peace Talks was not only the lesser of the two, but it was slow, boring, and pointless. 


4. The Genesis Game: Vol 1 by Andrew O'Kelley


I love LitRPG books. They're my guilty pleasure. They're so nerdy that even I hesitate, briefly. Then I own it. I also love Net Galley because thanks to that service I've read a lot of books for free before they even come out! This was one of those books.

This books is about Seraph, a tyrant known as the Angel of Genocide. He is the strongest person in the world dungeon, a powerful place that's coming marked the end of humanity. Seraph finally reaches the Altar of the End but is cursed and sent back in time with his powers sealed away. This time he's forbidden from hoarding the power for himself and must help humanity survive.

I wrote a full review on Goodreads but to give you the Cliff Notes version, this book had terrible pacing. The story moved so fast that it felt like O'Kelley was too excited to get to the next part that he rushed the plot. A downside of everything moving faster than The Flash with his ass on fire is that you don't get to know the characters so I didn't care about a single person.  To quote my review: “Seraph is supposed to come across as some dark and broody bad ass but he's just an a-hole. We meet his father but we get so little of their relationship that I think the Lindbergh baby would have been closer to his father than Seraph and his dad.”

Seraph and his dad's relationship is supposed to be his only hope to not turn out like the villain he was. But I never once cared. This book was bad.


3. My Best Friend's Exorcism by Grady Hendrix



Talk about a bait and switch. If you look at the cover of this book it sets you up for something light hearted or even comedic. If not that, then it hints that it's not super serious, something along the lines of Stranger Things. But no, this isn't a comedy, this isn't even slightly humorous. It's considered horror fiction and not only is it not scary in the least, it's so slowly paced that it could be cut down by half and it would only make it better.

Almost every character is unlikable and the two main characters Gretchen and Abby, are idiots. Gretchen is possessed for most of the book, so she mostly gets a pass, but even before she's possessed, she's simply boring. Abby is an idiot who has less personality than Katniss Everdeen. 

This book is boring and a waste of time.


2. The Land: Monsters  by Aleron Kong


This is another one that hurts my heart. The Land is another one of my all time favorite series. I stumbled upon the first book thanks to a sale on Audible and fell in love. The Land: Founding is a great book and a wonderful introduction to the LitRPG genre. If you like the first one, then dive right in because the first seven books are great and the 7th book is epic and is 2202 pages long (or 48 hours for the audiobook) but the 8th book is when it hits it's first hiccup.

There was no point to this installment. Nothing really happens. It's pointless and you hardly see any of the side characters as it mainly follows Richter as he tries to escape the underworld or wherever he is. But it feels like Kong took what could have been 2 -3 chapters and turned it into it's own book. 

You know what this felt like? This felt like something mindless Kong wrote that should have been released as a freebie to his fans or as a reward on Patreon. That would have been fine. I wouldn't have minded this if it was sold to me as a mindless add on and not an actual part of the story. But for the 8th book in a series I loved? It's terrible.


1. The Frame-Up by Meghan Scott Molin.


I hated The Big Bang Theory. It was just a group of aholes who were gross stereotypes of nerds. MG, the main character of this book, could have fit right in with that group of dicks. 

This book follows MG, a comic writer who realizes a recent string of crimes are just copies of crimes from her favorite comic series. So she takes it upon herself to help the cops track the killer, but can a geeky comic nerd really help stop crime

The story for this was more basic than a “ripped from the headlines” episode of Law and Order. It's a story that's been done before and done by better writers. Also, MG was horrid. She hates it when people put her in a box and assume they know who she is but she turns around and does the same thing to most people she meets.

What's worse is that there's at least one “nerdy” reference on each page and even worse than that, they're not all correct. I really should have written down some examples but at the time I was too pissed off to care, but there were quite a few times that  the nerdy stuff Molin was referencing, was completely wrong. Also, the constant nerdy references got super old. 

I also feel like Molin must have some huge chip on her shoulder because it came across in the book. MG is one of the most hateful and judgmental characters I've ever read and it feels like Molin was using her book as an outlet. 

This was a true waste of time. This is the first book in a series and if I ever read the second one it's because someone paid me a lot of money to do it OR my life was threatened.


So there you have it. My worst books of 2020. There were others that I didn't like but these were the ones that actually got a reaction out of me. What books from last year did you hate? And if you're not the type to hate, which books did you seriously not like? Let me know by leaving a comment!

The Anti TBR Tag

Monday, 18 January 2021

This blog has been sitting in my drafts for an embarassing amount of time. My wife has already published hers which you can find here. But thanks for taking time out of your day to check out my answers to this and if you have done this tag or plan on doing it, let me know and I'll check it out!


. A popular book EVERYONE loves that you have no interest in reading.



I hate to copy my wife's answer for this question, but I will anyway. Game Of Thrones was not only a very popular TV show, but a massively popular books series as well. There are a few issues I have with this series after watching a few seasons of the show. It's too grimdark for me. I stopped watching The Walking Dead as well because it was just too grim.  Hell, Supernatural isn't nearly as dark and one character went to hell and another was trapped in a cage with Lucifer. 

There's also the question of the future of the series. The last GOT book came out in 2011. 2011! The man has had 9 years to write a follow up. But instead he's working on other series and writing the history of GOT families that only hardcore fans would ever care about. And finally I just don't want to read about things like rape and incest. 

George R. R. Martin is just like Patrick Rothfus he can't finish a damn series. True, the third book in the Kingkiller Chronicles is supposed to come out in 2021, but I'll believe it when I see it.

So not only do I have no interest in the series, I don't want to read something that may never be finished.


2. A classic book (or author) you don’t have an interest in reading?  



Franny and Zooey by J D Salinger.  I hated Catcher in the Rye with every fiber of my being. It's not a good book. I'm sorry if you liked it when you were an angsty teen and thought that it was written just for you. But Holden Caufield is a horrible character who has no redeeming qualities, no growth, and nothing about him that's worth a damn. No wonder he thinks everything is the worst. It's because he a waste of good oxygen. Because of this, and the fact that my wife hated it, Franny and Zooey will never be picked up by me unless it's to use it as kindling. 


3. An author whose books you have no interest in reading?

Robert Galibraith / J K Rowling.

Yes, this answer is, in part, because J K Rowling (aka Robert Galibraith) is a dirty TERF who I regret ever giving money to. But there's more to it than that. This might have been my answer even if she didn't hate the Trans community. It's because she got lucky with Harry Potter. They were very well written books and a truly well thought out series. But anything else she's done since has been awful. Every time she tries to add on to the Harry Potter universe, she only screws it up. 

The Fantastic Beasts franchise had hope but she's already screwed the pooch on that one. Not only was the last movie one of the worst I've seen in a long while, but she's already messed with already established HP mythos. She got the continuity of her own series wrong! 

Add on to that the fact that there's problematic Trans representation in her latest Robert Galibraith book and I'm officially done with her. She could write a new HP series where it's a new generation at Hogwarts and I wouldn't even think of picking it up. She did one good series and anything else she touches is crap.


3.2 A problematic author whose books you have no interest in reading?



Rainbow Rowell, author or Eleanor & Park. I don't know how popular this book really is as Fangirl and the Simon Snow series really are her more popular works. But I'm counting this because she's a popular author and this is one of her books.

I have no interest in this book because of the very problematic Asian descriptions in it. An article from the Northeastern University Political Review called The Problem with Eleanor & Park goes into more detail about her problem filled book.  In her defense it seems like her transgressions come from a place of ignorance rather than purposeful racism, but I'd rather not support someone who could make such obvious mistake and never own up to it.  The only thing Rowell has ever done was defend the use of Park as a first name and how she, a white woman, can have an Asian character. As far as I can tell she never apologized or addressed the issues.

She could write the next great book that wins each and every prize and I wouldn't care because I don't want to support someone like her.


4. An author you have read a couple of books from & have decided their books are not for you?

Patrick Rothfuss. Apparently you have to like him if you like fantasy books, but I disagree. I find The Kingkiller Chronicles to be a painfully slow and uninteresting series.  It has a lot of promise but Rothfuss is so long winded that I stop caring about anything. Kvothe could have been a very good character and the story could have been really good, but it goes on for so long that by the end, I just want it to end so I can move on with my life. 

Also, Rothfuss has spent so long writing the next book in the series (7 years) that if I did care enough to read it, I'd feel like I have to reread the first two books just to read the new one. Also, he wrote a novella about a side character and I fully DNFd it because it was too painful to read.

Patrick Rothfuss seems like a nice guy, but I'll avoid any future books by him. 


5. A genre you have no interest in OR a genre you tried to get into & couldn’t?

Classic Cyberpunk. I've read Neuromancer by William Gibson. I've tried to read Idoru and few short stories of his as well. I also tried to read Snow Crash but I just couldn't get into it. I'm almost 100% done with this genre. Next year I plan on reading the last book I have any interest in. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep by Philip K Dick.

I was specific when I said “classic” cyberpunk because there are quite a few more recent books that I think I may like. Warcross by Marie Liu is on that list as well as The Windup Girl by  Paolo Bacigalupi. Just older Cyberpunk is too boring and hard to follow.


6. A book you have bought but will never read? (this can be a book you have unhauled/returned to the library unread)



The Broken Empire by Mark Lawrence.  I bought the books because my group of friends loved them. We have very similar tastes in terms of Fantasy and Sci-fi.  I saw these books at a library book sale and got them. Before I could pick the first one up, I found out that he's a very problematic author. He apparently has been very mean towards women on book tours and on twitter and he hates booktubers and book bloggers as well as not caring about any opinions on his book except from actual book critics. Overall he's just a huge ass. 

I have so many books on my TBR that I don't want to waste time with someone like him. I couldn't find evidence to substantiate all the claims I've heard about him, but a simple google search showed me more than enough to know I'd rather not support him.


7. A series you have no interest in reading OR a series you started & have dnf’d?

Easy. The Wayward Children series by Seanan McGuire. I tried this series out a couple years back and I was so sure I was going to like it that I took the first three books out of the library and even considered buying them before I even read them. Then I read Every Heart A Doorway and it was one of the worst books I ever read.

Seanan McGuire isn't a good author. The only thing that she did well was come up with a very good idea that I'd rather someone else write (like Rebecca Mead maybe?). Her characters were mostly forgettable. They made very weird choices and said odd things that didn't seem to further the plot or serve as any kind of development. The pacing of the story was horrid and it all seemed to end out of nowhere.  The ending was also awful and happened in the stupidest of ways. 

My wife wants me to read the third Wayward Children book because it's her favorite but I don't want to because I'd rather rinse my eyes out with bleach.


8. A new release you have no interest in reading?



A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor by Hank Green.  I feel bad. I like Hank Green as a person. He seems super nice, super smart, and like a genuine good person. But the first book in The Carls series An Absolutely Remarkable Thing was a test of my patience.  April May is a worthless tryhard piece of literary garbage and the only reason I would pick this book up is if she died a horrible death and even then I would only read that part just to make me smile.

Hank Green is pretty damn great and I feel bad for this. I love him on YouTube and TikTok. I think he's very smart, funny, and nice, but his books are just not for me.


My Top Ten Books of 2020

Saturday, 16 January 2021

2020 allowed for a lot of reading for most of us. Can't go out because of a pandemic made worse by idiots not following the rules? Then stay inside and read a book instead! So since I've read more books than ever this year, narrowing it down to a ten could have been hard, but I've read some pretty outstanding books this year, so it wasn't a difficult decision. Here's my top ten which I painstakingly put in order. Some of these have been around for a while and others were released this year, so you'll find a nice mix here. Enjoy!


10. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak



This is a heavy book that follows young Leisel Meminger who has a history of stealing books. It all started when she steals the Gravedigger's Handbook at her brother's funeral. Leisel then goes to live with the Hubermann family, but not all is well as WWII is in full swing and Leisel and the Hubermann's don't drink the Nazi Kool-Aid but must survive by pretending they do.

I listened to this as an audiobook and I can't imagine it any other way. It's narrated by Roger Allam and he did a fantastic job. The narrator of the story is Death and Allam's smoky storyteller voice was perfect.

The Book Thief was everything I expected. You don't go into a WWII book expecting things to be happy. But what I didn't count on was being charmed by the characters, especially Liesel's foster father Hans Hubermann and his ornery wife Rosa. The characters are what set this story apart from others like it. It took me a while to read it and I'm glad because 2020 needed to be a good reading year.


9. Red, White & Royal Blue



This was a popular YA book from last year the follows First Son Alex Claremont-Diaz and his relationship with Prince Henry of Wales. The two met once and Alex has considered them mortal enemies ever since, but after a snafu at a White House Christmas party, the two are sent on a PR tour to fix it. But what Alex doesn't know is that his feelings for the Prince are going to grow.

I love love. You've heard the saying “Love is Love” and it's true. I love love stories. I love romance be it straight or any color on the LGBTQ+ rainbow, I can dig it and I'll get all sorts of warm feelings reading it. But it's more than just romance. The book has to be well written too. It needs characters who have more than one dimension. It's needs to have a realistic relationship even if the circumstances are extraordinary. It needs to be exactly what Red, White, & Royal Blue was.

If you're in the market for a solid romance with a touch of politics, this is for you. This may be labeled as YA, but like a lot of YA books, it's for everyone.


8. The Voting Booth by Brandy Colbert



This was published back in July and it's about two high school students, Marva and Duke. Marva is very passionate about politics and voting as she understand People of Color need to vote if anything is going to change. After she votes for the first time she runs into Duke who is having trouble voting. So she takes it upon herself to ferry him around town, skipping school, to get his vote to count. Marva is having some relationship issues but will Duke be the answer.

I expected a basic YA romance book. Something good. Something fun. But also something I've read before. What I got instead was a YA romance that was perfectly balanced with commentary on important political issues. Brandy Colbert expertly discussed these issues while making it part of the story. The book does stand on a soapbox at times about issues like the systematic inequality for African Americans in the American political system and it does so while never letting the story of Marva and Duke get lost in the process.

Brandy Colbert's expert touch is what set this book apart from other YA romances. 


7. Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse



Xiala is a captain who is promised a ship of her own if she completes one job. She's tasked with ferrying a young man named Serapio to the holy city of Tova in time for the Winter Solstice. In the holy city the Sun Priest, a woman named Naranpa, prepares for the solstice celebration but finds that some of her so called political allies may be plotting against her. 

I had read Rebecca Roanhorse's Sixth World series and loved it. So when I heard she was starting a new series I preordered the book. But lucky me, I got an ARC on NetGalley and got to read this before my physical copy came.

Rebecca Roanhorse is a fantastic world builder. I had no trouble understanding the setting, the politics, and the magic of this new series. It's a vast world that doesn't get too confusing. The characters are all unique and as the story jumped between the two (3 at times) points of view I never once felt lost.

The story was enthralling and Roanhorse as an amazing way with words.



6. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern



The Night Circus is a magical thing. It appears without warning, capturing the imagination of all the locals and then disappears just as fast. Celia and Marco were both trained by famous magicians and are pitted against each other in a very odd contest and the circus is the stage.

If you've heard about this book and you think it's about two magicians doing battle, I'm going to have to put a stop to that. This isn't a battle. There's no magic duel. Whoever wrote the premise to this wanted to try and make it sound more epic than it is.

What this book really is, is a beautiful story that revolves around the setting. The characters are still very important but the main character is the circus. Erin Morgenstern used some beautiful flowery language and if you listen to the audiobook you have the benefit of Jim Dale's voice which makes the whole thing feel like a bedtime story.



5. Becoming by Michelle Obama



I shy away from books about politics. But here's the great news, this isn't a political book. This is the life story (so far) of former First Lady of the United States Michelle Obama. It follows her from her upbringing on the South Side of Chicago and follows her up and up and up all the way to the White House. 

This book showed that she's more than just the wife of a president. She is a powerhouse of a person who uses her abilities and fame to advocate for women and people of color. This was also an entertaining memoir full of anecdotes that made me smile, stories that made me cringe or get teary eyed, and it was a wonderful way to relive the historic moment Barack Obama was elected.

What's more is that I put the book down and felt hopeful. Even if the last four years have been bad, there's hope that good people are out there who want to help.


4. Anxious People by Fredrik Backman



To shamelessly steal the first paragraph of the synopsis: A poignant, charming novel about a crime that never took place, a would-be bank robber who disappears into thin air, and eight extremely anxious strangers who find they have more in common than they ever imagined.

I had no idea what to expect with this book. But that's just Fredrick Backman's style. He is a true master of characterization. This was full of characters who shared the spotlight equally and not once did I get confused because I knew who everyone was.  This was a page turner but not because it was exciting or fast paced. It was a page turner because I cared about what happened to everyone and I NEEDED to know how everything went down. 

Each character had their own wonderful arch and by the end I liked everyone. Even the people I started out hating, I even grew attached to them. Is this the reading version of Stockholm syndrome? Or is Fredrik Backman a master at what he does? Or maybe it's both.



3. The Only Good Indians By Stephen Graham Jones



Four American Indian men made a horrible mistake when they were but young boys. Now, decades later, those boys are men and that event is coming back to haunt them in the form of an entity bent on revenge.

Writing a premise for this book wasn't easy. I know. It was only two sentences, but I read the official premise and it's just not quite right. I think the official premise is slightly misleading. 

Enough about that though. Jones is an amazing writer. I would compare him with Stephen King, not because they both do horror, but because they're both masters of the written word. But Jones has the benefit of getting to the point, which King can sometimes forget to do. The Only Good Indians is an amazingly written book. This is the only book of his I've ever read so all I can say is this book, at least, is a masterpiece. This is also an own voices book as Jones is Blackfoot. 


2. Punching The Air by Ibi Zoboi and Yusef Salaam



2020 was a very volatile year. The Black Lives Matter movement exploded onto the tips of everyone's tongues due to the demonstrations caused by the rampant police violence. Due to that, Punching The Air was an unfortunately perfect timed YA Fiction piece loosely based on real events. Yusef Salaam of the Exonerated Five (aka The Central Park Five) used his own life experience to help Ibi Zoboi craft this truly powerful story.

This revolves around Amal Shahid, a young artist and poet who was on the wrong end of a biased system and the victim of systematic racism. Due to events that wouldn't have happened had he been born White, this sixteen year old is convicted of a crime he didn't commit and sent to prison. But can he make the best of a horrid situation or will he fall victim to a system designed to make him fail?

I say this book is powerful. That's not just some meaningless critic buzzword that can be slapped on the cover of the book. It's the truth. This is a fictional tale with it's roots based in horrifying reality. But this story isn't just doom and sadness. There is hope. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. But it's going to be a fight getting there and Zoboi and Salaam were the two best authors to tell the tale.


This next book needs a trigger warning for sexual assault. There's no graphic detail but it is discussed. 


1. Know My Name by Chanel Miller



This is a story of survival and about the woman formerly known as Emily Doe, now openly known by her true name of Chanel Miller. She was made famous by her victim impact statement that went viral after the trial of convicted sex offender Brock Turner. This book shines a light on not only Miller's experience but how the horrors of sexual assault continue even after the heinous act is committed. 

I'll be honest. I was going to let this book pass me by. I was familiar with the Brock Turner case and followed it as it was going on. I, along with the rest of the world, was left dumbstruck by the light sentence the judge gave as well as the horrid statements made by Turners parents.  I read the impact statement by Miller written when she was still keeping her identity a secret. So I knew this wasn't going to be like any other memoir I've read. I tend to read memoirs by comedians and actors, people who tell funny stories and make me laugh, but after my wife read it and loved it, I new I had to read it too.

I'm so glad I did. It's a super tough subject but it's so very important to read. It's very eye opening to the court process and how unfair it is. How Miller had to defend herself even though she was the victim. She had to prove that she didn't want it or deserve it which is outrageous. Also, if her family wanted to testify they had to put their lives on hold and risk their education and jobs. It'd disgusting and Miller's story helped bring light to something I never knew.

A bonus to this book is that she has an amazing way with words. She's a fantastic writer, but even if she wasn't, this was still an important and necessary story to tell. 


So what were your favorite books of the year? Let me know! 

The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones | Book Review

Thursday, 12 November 2020

I have a friend named Figbar who is quite awesome. (He has a store on Tee Public which can be found here.) He introduced me to an author by the name of Stephen Graham Jones who wrote a book called Mongrels. While that book, which he so kindly gifted me, is still on my TBR, I jumped at the chance to listen to Jones's newest book called The Only Good Indians. This book has been making the rounds on booktube and bookstagram so I figured I'd join the fun. What did I think? Here's my review.




First lets go over the premise. The Only Good Indians follows four Native American men (Blackfeet) who have known each other since childhood. When they were young men they made a mistake and years later that mistake has bread an entity bent on revenge for what the young men, now adults, did. 

This is a horror book so it's only natural to want to compare Stephen Graham Jones to the juggernaut that is Stephen King. I do compare the two, but not because of the chosen genre, but because of their mastery of the written word. I've never found King's work to be scary. I've never found books to be scary at all. But what has kept me going back to King time after time is his amazing way with words. Jones has an outstanding way with words as well, though he doesn't get as long winded as King can get. Also, I believe that Jones's book is scarier than anything King has ever written. That is to say, I actually felt a little tense reading The Only Good Indians while I never once felt anything close to fear while reading King. (Please don't misunderstand, I LOVE Stephen King. But it's just not scary)

I mentioned that Jones isn't as long winded as King can get and I find that this is both a bonus AND a place where this book could have been improved. It's a bonus in the sense that the story stayed on track. There wasn't a huge aside just to tell us the life story of some character that doesn't really matter (I'm looking at you IT). But there were times when I wanted more. 

Since this is a spoiler free review I won't go into too much detail, but I will say that there are three main acts for this book and near the end of each act, everything seems to speed up. It reads like Jones was just too excited to get to the next part so he left out bits a pieces just to jump to the end. If you've ever read one of my book reviews before you'll know that pacing is a big deal for me and unfortunately pacing was my main issue with this book. Characters jumped to conclusions or had quick reactions that seemed extreme and if there was supernatural encouragement to push them to these acts, then it wasn't made clear enough. It just came across like things went from fine to panic worthy in the blink of an eye.

But that aside, this was a great book. The pacing is my only real issue. The characters were all (mostly) likable and each had their own unique voice. This book was about four men, but there were good female characters as well. There was also social commentary placed throughout the book. Not as blatant as a character soapboxing, but it was still there for anyone who paid attention. All the social commentary revolved around the treatment of Native Americans which is a woefully underrepresented group in mainstream pop culture. The bonus is that Jones himself is a Blackfeet Native American making this is an own voices book so you can read this without the fear of cultural appropriation! 

Let me wrap this up by saying I loved this book even with the pacing issue. I believe if the end of each act was fleshed out a bit more this would be an amazing book but instead it has to settle for simply being great. I was sucked in from the very first moment until the very end. I listened to this as an audiobook that was narrated by Shaun Taylor-Corbett, an actor of Native American decent, who helped bring this work to life. If you're a fan or are interested in horror fiction, you should read this book. It's great.

Now if you'll excuse me I'll be picking up Mongrels now, which I should have done when Figbar gave it to me.

The Only Good Indians gets a 9 out of 11


We Have Always Lived In the Castle by Shirley Jackson | Book Review

Wednesday, 11 November 2020

 

    Shirley Jackson is a legend in the literary world. She's also considered a classic horror and mystery novelist, predating modern masters like Stephen King and Ruth Ware. But how well does her work hold up? Here's my review.





    Lets start with the premise. Mary Katherine Blackwood (Merricat) lives with her sister Constance and their ailing Uncle Julian. Constance hasn't left the house in six years traveling no farther than the garden on the estate. Merricat only goes into town once a week for supplies and deals with the hostility from the townsfolk. Years ago everyone in the Blackwood family died by poisoning except Merricat, Constance, and Julian and the three live their sheltered existence until one day their cousin Charles shows up and everything changes. 

    I hated everyone. No I'm not just being dramatic. There were no characters I could even pretend to like. The towns people were awful  in the now stereotypical way of "old timey ignorant folk who hate anything different or spooky." The uncle was senile so he gets a bit of a break but his character just got old by the end of the book. He's like that person you know who only has one story to tell and tells it over and over and over again. Constance had something like anxiety with a side of agoraphobia so she kind of gets a pass except when it comes to Merricat where she's the pure definition of enabler. Charles was an ahole and has a lot of nerve just showing up and trying to take over and that leaves us with Merricat. The most annoying, airheaded, foolish, character I've ever read. Any one of her aspects could have made for an interesting character but everything combined was just too over the top. Her use of "sympathetic magic" could have been cute but instead it was annoying. Oh no! The hat I nailed to a tree fell off, now we're no longer safe! I better burry some silver forks in the garden if we're going to make it through! I think if I had read this when I was younger I would have liked it more. I think I would have found Merricat to be quirky and cute but adult me just sees her as a brat who is never called on her crap. 

    I'll be honest, I would probably have DNFd this book if it wasn't so short and it would count towards the Halloween readathon my wife and I were doing. This wasn't a bad story at all. In fact I liked certain parts of it. The main downside was that I didn't have a single character I liked that kept me coming back for more. The mystery was the only thing that kept me opening the book again and again and even then I was pretty sure I knew what had happened. I was right, but there was always the chance that all the signs I picked up on were just red herrings, which would have been very exciting. But alas, it wasn't.

    

    The next paragraph has some spoilers so I'll give you a chance to skip it just in case you're worried about spoilers for a book published 57 years ago. Just scroll passed the second gif.



The story was also pointless. Even though a lot of stuff happens, the characters wind up right where they started. The towns people were kinder, but mainly out of fear. The two sisters just live in the now dilapidated house where Merricat continues to live as a spoiled brat. She killed her whole family because she was acting like a child and was sent to her room without dinner. God only knows what would have happened if they were the type of family that spanks their kids. Merricat is a psychopath and a murderer and she never gets what she deserves. In fact, she gets her dream come true. Just her and her sister, alone. So the story had no point and Merricat is awful. The end.



Okay, spoilers over.

    I can see this being a very interesting book back in 1962 when it was published but now it only survives on the name of Shirley Jackson. She's known for The Haunting of Hill House which has spawned various movie retellings and this sits as her second best known work, maybe third if you count The Lottery. But it just doesn't hold up. It's not bad, but this should only be read by people who are huge fans of 60's gothic fiction fans. This book has nothing going for it and I really wished I liked it. I had been wanting to watch the movie with Taissa Farmiga, Alexandra Daddario, Crispin Glover, and Sebastian Stan, but now I'll only watch it if my wife wants to.

We Have Always Lived In The Castle gets a 4.5 out of 11

The Horror Movie Tag

Saturday, 31 October 2020

 1. What is your favorite scary movie?

That's a really tough one. I have a lot I watch quite a bit. I think The Conjuring is my favorite because it was the first movie to actually scare me in my adult life. Most horror movies scared me as a kid. But as an adult I could go back and watch anything that scared me as a kid, and be perfectly fine. The Conjuring was the first one that scared me in a long, long while.



2. What is the 1st horror movie you ever remember watching?

My earliest horror memory was one day when I was but a child and my mother thought I might like the movie Alien, the sci-fi horror film from 1979 starring Sigourney Weaver. I loved it. It didn't scare me, but it was 




3. What type of horror films are your favorite?

Seeing as The Conjuring is my favorite horror film, it may seem obvious that my favorite type of horror film is paranormal. That can encompass ghosts or demons. I find those the scariest because I believe ghosts exist. I've had a few paranormal experiences and I almost copied my wife and wrote a blog about it but I decided against it. Instead, I'll share Anne's with you, which you can find here.

4. What type of horror film do you not like?

Revenge style films based on rape. There are many reasons to not like a movie like that. The first and most obvious is that it's a horrid topic and a traumatic event is being used for shock value. Also, it's lazy writing. It's like killing a character when it doesn't serve the plot somehow. It's used to get a cheap emotional response. So not only can it be potentially triggering, not only is it a awful topic, but it's just plain lazy. 

5. What movie has given you nightmares?

The 1986 version of Invaders from Mars. Scared the hell out of me. The idea that all these people were getting taken over by Martian invaders and no one could tell was what really scared me. Especially the end of the movie when David wakes up and finds out it's all a dream and then sees the alien ship land just like he did when he was dreaming. THAT scared me. 



6. What is the last movie that actually scared you?

Annabelle Creation scared me. Best of all, it did it without a ton of jump scares. The first Annabelle movie was one of the weakest in the Conjuringverse but they really brought it back with the good sequels.





7. Who is your favorite horror movie villain, why?

Michael Myers. Easy peasy lemon squeezy. He's the most bad ass. He keeps coming back and he's not some dream monster like Freddy or some undead killing machine like Jason. He's a real dude in a mask and even though it may be far fetched, the ways they kill him are survivable.



8. Who is the worst horror movie villain, why?

I almost said The Babadook or The Entity (It Follows) but those weren't bad villains, their movies were just awful. I also almost said Chucky because come on! He's a doll. Kick him in the face and get the hell out of the house! It wasn't until my wife reminded me that we saw a film called The Bye Bye Man from 2017 that I had my answer. She was the real one with the answer, I'm just copying her homework.

The Bye Bye Man didn't actually do anything and he wasn't scary. Look at those jackets hanging on the wall. Guess who's going to show up there? The Bye Bye Man! Not only is the name stupid, but The Bye Bye Man doesn't really hurt you. He just makes you go crazy until you kill yourself and sometimes take others with you. 



9. Worst horror movie you've ever seen?

If I wanted to tease my wife I'd say Treehouse, a film from 2014 that was bad in so many ways, but the title of "the worst" should take more into account. So instead of some straight to DVD d-list horror, I'm going to name a popular one that didn't deserve the hype.

The Babadook was an awful film. I know, I know. I get what the film was trying to be about. It was trying to be about a mother dealing with an autistic child while working with dementia patients and how it all affects her mental state and how her mental state affects her child. But that's not what was promised by the trailer AND the kids mental illness was really just used for uncomfortable outbursts to add to the mother's depression. Couple that with the horrid ending and you get the worst film I've ever seen. I know the film was supposed to stand for more, but that doesn't make it good.





10. Favorite horror movie series

I kind of already answered this one so I'll just reiterate and say The Conjuringverse. Not only does my favorite horror film belong to the franchise, but there was only one movie out of the six (so far) that I didn't like. And it's not like I hated The Nun. I've seen worse horror films. But overall The Conjuringverse was the best. 

11. Which horror film do you think is underrated?

This was probably the hardest question of the bunch. So many movies that used to be made fun of or hated because they were bad or cheesy are no loved by film nerds because more and more people are realizing that you can like films that aren't "good." 

My answer is House on Haunted Hill from 1999 with the stacked cast of Geoffrey Rush, Famke Janssen, Taye Diggs, Ali Larter, Peter Gallagher, and Chris Kattan. It was a critically panned movie, but remember that critics are movie hating jerks. This was a fun 90's horror that was over-the-top and tryhard at times, but it was enjoyable. It was also hated because it was a remake of a Vincent Price film from 1959, but we can love both!



12. What scenes have grossed you out the most?

Anne just made me watch a film called Would You Rather and there's a scene where a dude has to cut his eye with a razor blade. That was super SUPER hard to watch.



13. If horror movies were real, would you rather be in a zombie apocalypse, an alien abduction, or a haunted house?

Easy! Haunted house! Zombie apocalypse would just mess up the whole world. Alien abduction you have the worry about how to get back home if they take you back to their planet. But with a haunted house you have many ways of making it out alive. First and probably easiest, you can leave. If it's a localized hunting the ghosts won't follow you. If it's demons or something a church and an exorcism sounds right up your alley. Either way it's a lot more promising than either of the other two options.



The Ghostbusters' Real Enemy

Tuesday, 20 October 2020


The following blog is a repost from a piece I did for somewhatnerdy.com. Be sure to stop by SomewhatNerdy to keep tabs on our podcasts (including mine: Future Flicks with Billiam) and check out our old blog posts. The reason I'm reposting this is because I'm working on a part 2 for this one and if I'm going to post part 2 on my blog, part 1 should be there too. So enjoy!



We all love Ghostbusters. It’s a classic. It’s a great movie. Many of us nerds could recreate the movie from memory. But I ask you this question. Who was the main villain? The main antagonist in Ghostbusters? If you said Gozer the Gozarean, you’re not wrong, but you’re also not right. The true villain, the true evil, is Walter Peck.


If you haven’t watched the film in a while you may be wondering who I’m talking about. I’m talking about Walter Peck from the Environmental Protection Agency. That’s right. The pencil pusher from the EPA is the biggest bad guy in the first film. Allow me to explain.





Two things made me want to write this blog. The first is that this last Halloween, my wife and I rewatched Ghostbusters 1 and 2 as well as the reboot. And yes, I’ll still defend the reboot as a good movie until the day I die. But during the original I noticed a few things that Peck said that I had never noticed before. So afterward, I googled him to find the quotes and found a blog some random person wrote about how Walter Peck was the true hero of the film. I read the blog, keeping an open mind, and the conclusion I came to was that not only was the author wrong, but Walter Peck is the true villain of Ghostbusters.


We all love the environment, right? It allows us to live. Trees give us oxygen, water falls from the sky, and the animals and vegetables we eat need the land to grow. So people who help protect that are our friends, right? Well, maybe some. But not Walter Peck.


Here’s what happened if you look at it from just the surface. The Ghostbusters had been open for business for a while when they get a visit from Walter Peck of the EPA. He has terrible bedside manner, but that doesn’t necessarily make him a bad guy.  The right off the bat, Peter Venkman is mean and won’t even listen to what Peck has to say. So if we look at just that part of their interactions, Peck was wronged and Venkman is the bad guy. Here’s exactly what Peck said when voicing his concerns to Venkman.





“Well, because I’m curious. I want to know more about what you do here! Frankly, there have been a lot of wild stories in the media and we want to assess for any possible environmental impact from your operation! For instance, the presence of noxious, possibly hazardous waste chemicals in your basement! Now you either show me what is down there or I come back with a court order.”


So from this alone, Peck’s only crime was being standoffish. He didn’t offer any proof that there were environmental risk, but it’s better to be safe than sorry, right? The court order could be for a basic search, an investigation, right? Sure.


So here’s what should have happened. Peck would have gone back to his office and reported to his superiors, got a court order to search and evaluate the property and equipment the Ghostbusters use and then decide if anything needs to be changed or fixed to help lessen their impact of the environment.


Instead what he does is he does get a court order, but it’s to shut down the power grid to the containment unit. First off, what kind of judge would sign that without any proof. He said that the Ghostbusters were using dangerous chemicals but where were they? If they really were in the basement then that should be easy. Warrant for to search for dangerous chemicals THEN take the next steps. But no. Peck returns just as Egon and the rest of the team were starting to understand the Zuul and Gozer situation and shuts off important equipment that he admits, and the Con Edison (a power company in New York) worker also admits he has no idea what could happen if it’s turned off. Not only that, but Egon Spengler, the man who created this whole system, tells the it would be a bad idea.


So let’s go over what we have so far. First is that Walter Peck was wronged by Peter Venkman and instead of coming back with a court order for an investigation, comes back to shut down delicate technology that he doesn’t know A: Its purpose, B: how it works, and C: the ramifications of turning it off. Are we all caught up? Good.


So what happens as a result? All the ghosts that the gang has captured are released in an explosive event that takes the top off their building. The released ghosts just don’t go back to their old haunts. They all go to Dana’s Central Park West apartment which just happens to be where Zuul the Gatekeeper is waiting. So the ghosts and their spiritual energy are loose but to top it all off, the Keymaster Vinz Clortho (in Louis Tulley’s body) got away from Egon and now knows where to go to find the Gatekeeper and summon Gozer the Gozarean.




What would have happened if Peck had never turned off the containment unit? We may never know the whole story, but here’s what we can assume based on where the story was headed. Vinz Clortho was under the care of Egon in the Ghostbusters HQ. He was being studied and kept safe. Dana Barrett, having been taken over by Zuul the Gatekeeper, was in her own apartment awaiting the Keymaster. Gozer had to be summoned at 550 Central Park West (where Dana lived) because the building was designed by Ivo Shandor, the leader of a Gozer cult who was obsessed with summoning Gozer into our world. The Gatekeeper and Keymaster had to meet and it had to be in that building because the building was built very specifically and made out of a magnesium-tungsten alloy which was chosen to aid in the summoning of Gozer. So they had to meet and they had to do so in the apartment. Egon was watching Vinz and even says that the two meeting would be a bad idea. So we can assume that Egon wouldn’t have let Zuul and Vinz get too close to each other. Would Gozer have eventually been summoned? Maybe. We don’t know what other tricks the Sumerian god had up its sleeve. But what we do know for a fact is that the return of Gozer would have been delayed. Maybe, just maybe, Egon and Ray could have figured out a way to prevent Gozer from coming. Maybe he could have figured out a way to extract Zuul and Vinz Clortho from Dana and Louis. Could the Ghostbusters have put Zuul and Clortho in the containment unit?


We can assume they had to meet while possessing humans. Why can we assume this? Because when they initially broke out of their dog statues on top of the Shandor building, they were already together. If all they needed was to be next to each other then Gozer would have been summoned right there. But no. They needed to possess humans and then get together and they were able to get together thanks to the actions of one Walter Peck from the EPA.


So is that all Walter Peck did? No, not at all. It doesn’t stop there. Like a true villain he was only getting started. If we wanted to be generous we could have written off his previous actions as momentary weakness. Being caught up in the moment. He felt disrespected and embarrassed by how Venkman treated him and shutting off the containment unit was the culmination of that embarrassment. But then we get to the post explosion fallout.


We see Walter Peck a few more times during the film. In fact, we see him again right outside the firehouse when Peck and the Ghostbusters (mainly Egon) are arguing and the Ghostbusters are sent to jail. Peck tells the cops that “these men are in direct violation of the Environmental Protection Act and this explosion is a direct result of it.” Egon, instead of defending himself using science, just says “Your mother!” and attacks Peck. So the cops, who don’t know any better, who are just doing what a representative of a government agency is telling them, arrest the Ghostbusters and take them to jail. So Peck lied to the police. We all know that the explosion is his fault for turning off the containment unit. Let us move on.





We see Walter Peck next in the Mayor’s office after he summons the Ghostbusters because no one knows what’s going on. Peck arrives at this time too and tells Mayor Lenny what he thinks is going on, and what he says reveals a lot about his character. He says:


“I am Walter Peck, sir, and I’m prepared to make a full report. These men are consummate snowball artists! They use sensitive nerve gases to induce hallucinations. People think they’re seeing ghosts! And they call these bozos, who conveniently show up to deal with the problem with a fake electronic light show!”

Here we catch Peck in another lie. There was no nerve gas. Peck had only been on the Ghostbusters property twice and neither time did he find anything. If he had some other proof, like proof that Egon or Ray purchased the chemicals to make nerve gas, then that would be one thing. But Walter Peck doesn’t offer up anything to back up his argument. He just claims the Ghostbusters are frauds.

So he didn’t believe in ghosts and thought the Ghostbusters were con artists. That’s fair. If you’re not one of the people who actually saw a ghost and needed their services, then you may be a naysayer. But that still doesn’t excuse his actions which, thanks to my flawless logic, we now know caused the coming of Gozer.  

This is all why Walter Peck was the true bad guy. If he didn’t do what he did, then Egon and Ray would have had more time to study Vinz and Zuul. They may have thought of a solution and could have saved lives. Even though we didn’t see it, I refused to believe that no one died that day. The ground was cracking, pieces of the building were falling off and crashing down on the onlookers below. The Stay Puft Marshmallow man stepped on a church! You know that during and event like that there would be people in there praying.





Walter Peck caused massive destruction which resulted in the loss of lives all because he had a vendetta against the Ghostbusters and decided to jump to conclusions without any proof. We know, thanks to the first thirty minutes of Ghostbusters 2, that the Ghostbusters are blamed heavily for what happened. Not only that but they are the victims of many lawsuits and they disband after they’re banned from busting ghosts by the court.


Walter Peck not only caused the nearly cataclysmic events of Ghostbusters but also destroyed the livelihood of the four heroes who saved New York and this is why he’s the true villain of the first movie. The repercussions of his actions reach far beyond the first movie and are felt up until the Ghostbusters judicial restraining order is dropped by Judge Stephen Wexler in Ghostbusters II. Gozer’s evil stops at the end of the first film but Walter Peck’s evil lasts much longer. Walter Peck, ladies and gentlemen. Your true villain.

Hubie Halloween | Movie Review

Monday, 19 October 2020

 Adam Sandler comedies are like marmite. They're an acquired taste. Netflix made that huge deal with him a while back and they seem to be just throwing stuff at the proverbial wall to see what sticks. This time around we have a family comedy centered around Halloween. It this one a winner? Here's my review.




Despite his devotion to his hometown of Salem (and its Halloween celebration), Hubie Dubois is a figure of mockery for kids and adults alike. But this year, something is going bump in the night, and it's up to Hubie to save Halloween. (Premise from IMDB)


So was this a winner? Short answer? No. It's not a winner. Long answer? It's complicated. There was a lot I liked about Hubie Halloween. It oozed with Halloween spirit from the very beginning which is a true bonus while we're in the season. If you're anything like my wife and I, you watch a lot of horror movies around Halloween, but sit back and think of how many of them are actually based around the holiday and out of those, how many actually make you feel the Halloween spirit.  Off the top of my head I can think of Hocus Pocus, Halloweentown, Trick r' Treat, maybe a few of the Halloween films. But that's when my memory starts to wane and I'd have to rely on google to think of more. So this film has that going for it.





It also has a good cast. Adam Sandler, Julie Bowen, Kevin James, Ray Liotta, Steve Buscemi, Rob Schneider, Maya Rudolph, Tim Meadows, Michael Chiklis, June Squibb, George Wallace, Kenan Thompson, Shaquille O'Neal, Ben Stiller, Noah Schnapp, and a handful of current SNL players.  That's a good cast right there. Not really an A list, but a list that's perfectly set for a fun movie. But there's a catch. For a fun cast to make a fun movie, you have to have a fun script.


That's where Hubie Halloween fell short. It wasn't a bad idea, but there was so much hate and negativity in the film that it kept me from really enjoying it. The townsfolk hate Hubie. They hate him with a passion. He's weird and they hate him because he's weird. That's it. It's the classic story that's been told for years. The popular people hate and ostracize those who are different. Don't misunderstand, I'm not jumping on a soapbox here. While bullying IS wrong, that's not the point of this blog. It's just an old plot told without a speck of joy in it with so much negativity that it holds the film back. The towns people of Salem are horrible in this movie. There are only a handful of characters even worth a damn. If this was a slasher film, most of that cast would be dead at the end because they deserve it. 





The other issue I have with this movie is Sandler's Waterboy style of comedy. If you look at his comedies, they can be broken down into two main categories. He's either a screaming asshole, or a mentally slow moron. Hubie is the latter of the two. And since we're now in the woke year of 2020, we have an important question to ask. For his characters like Bobby Boucher and Hubie Dubois, are they mentally handicapped? Is that why they have that affected voice and act so weird and don't understand social norms? If so, isn't that not okay? 


This is running long so let me wrap this up. The biggest and most blaringly unforgivable issue with this movie is the fact that it's just not funny. It tries to hard to tell boring and rehashed jokes, there's nothing original, and there's not even enough to enjoy to make the lack of originality ignorable.


There was a good idea in this film but it's beyond saving. The only reason to watch this is because of the over abundance of Halloween spirit. That's it.


Hubie Halloween gets a 4.5 out of 11


Special Note: I wanted to love this film. I wanted to love it because the young actor Cameron Boyce from the Grown-Ups movies, was supposed to play the role of Mike Mundi but passed away just days before filming. Boyce's parents asked that Karan Brar be cast in the role as Karan and Cameron were best friends. I wanted to love this movie because of that story that's equal parts sad and uplifting.

Net Galley Wrap Up #4

Sunday, 18 October 2020

It's time for another Net Galley Wrap Up! Yay! This time, instead of audio book or graphic novels, we're talking about regular books. So check it out and you may just find a fun future read.


Coffee Days Whiskey Nights by Cyrus Parker



This is a collection of poetry, prose, and aphorisms that juxtaposes the hopefulness a brand new day can bring with the lingering thoughts that keep us up into the late-night hours. This book takes a look at the way a single day can change our outlook on everything from relationships with others, to our relationships with ourselves, and everything in between. (Net Galley Synopsis)


I didn't expect to be blown away. I didn't expect to love it. I expected to read a bunch of lofty poetry that I'd only understand a smidge of but I got it as much as someone who is not Cyrus Parker can get it.  It was beautiful. It was sad. It was happy. I related to some of it while I can never understand some of it but I can still appreciate the words and emotions. 


This is my first modern poetry book and it will be on my favorites list. 


This was great. I didn't expect to love it as much as I did.


Coffee Days Whiskey Nights gets a 10 out of 11


I Hope This Helps by Tommy Siegel



Tommy Siegel's debut book collection includes 200+ pages of comics, essays, and extremely helpful guides to coping with 21st-century panic. With comics titled “Choose your social anxiety coping mechanism” and “What your coffee drink of choice says about you,” I Hope This Helps offers clever and sardonic commentary on our phone-obsessed, social media-driven culture, as well as a series of devastatingly funny relationship comics starring his popular Candy Hearts characters. (Premise from Net Galley)


I had no idea what to expect going in as I had never heard of Tommy Siegel before. But I like comics so I figured, why not. This is a collection of 


The full title is I Hope This Helps: 500 Days of Comics and Extremely Helpful Guides. The comics were hit and miss. Some made me laugh so hard I was shaking. Others just missed the mark.


An ongoing theme is the difference between younger and older millennials as well as social media and phone addiction. The goal felt like it was aiming for sarcasm but it comes across as super cynical. 


This was going to be a 3 star book but a handful of comics really made me laugh. A great honest belly laugh that just makes you smile and that alone upped the rating by one.


If you're a fan of comics like The Oatmeal or anything with a vague resemblance to old Far Side, than this is for you.


I Hope This Helps gets a 7.5 out of 11


Dead Dudes by Christopher Sebela



Dead Dudes by Christopher Sebela and Ben Sears is a goofy little graphic novel about paranormal investigators that become ghosts and want to prove to the world that ghosts exist when their rivals show up to the place their haunting. 


The Ghost Bros, which is what the protagonists call their team, are quite clearly modeled after the Ghost Adventures crew while the rivals give off a Ghost Hunters vibe.  


The art is just okay. Not great but not awful. It seems to be purposefully messy. The plot is interesting but gets a bit too odd and convoluted at the end. There's no character growth. Everyone stays the same. The author has bleeps instead of actual swearing which gets quite annoying. Either swear or don't swear. Don't try and be cute and live in the middle. 


This was fun but could have been a lot better. The story tried to do to much and it didn't have enough going for it to make up for the shortcomings.


Dead Dudes gets a 3 out of 11


Guantanamo Voices: True Accounts from the World's Most Infamous Prison by Sarah Mirk



This is the heaviest graphic novel I've ever read. I've always known that Gitmo was just one gigantic war crime, but the stories of those involved were shocking, i think this graphic novel attempts to bring to light some of the stories that people need to know. 


Sarah Mirk and the various artists who worked on this did a fantastic job.  The art was good and the stories ranged from intriguing to horrifying and it captured my interest right away. 


I think this should be required reading in high schools and even in college because I never knew a lot of this stuff. Even some of the facts like there are 40 inmates still there was completely new to me. This is something we should know. Since this is all from first hand accounts the stories bypass the talking heads and spin doctors who always make things all muddled. 


I'm glad I read this and I'll recommend this to anyone willing to read it.


Grumpy Cat Awful-ly Big Comic Collection by Various Authors





This collection of Grumpy Cat comics would be great for kids.  This isn't one of those all ages comics where the parent would get just as much enjoyment as the child would. The jokes were basic, perfect for someone young. But for anyone able to tie their own shoes? This is an easy one to skip. Grumpy Cat, may she rest in peace, had her moment of fame and was a funny internet meme for a while but the fad is over. Sure, a good grumpy cat meme is still fun, but this doesn't feel like it's trying to capitalize on Grumpy Cat herself as opposed to just a cute topic for a kids book.


So if you want something fun for a child in your life, this could be worth a look. If not, skip it. My friends and fellow adults, we are not the target audince.


Grumpy Cat Awful-ly Big Comics Collection gets a 5 out of 11



The Secret Garden Argo Classic Audiobook | Book Review

Saturday, 17 October 2020

 The Secret Garden is a classic book. A great children's book that can still be read and enjoyed by adults. This review is for the audio book narrated by actress Glenda Jackson which was originally released 1975 on Decca Records (formerly Argo). This is an abridged version of the book that has the occasional musical accompaniment and odd sound effect.


This was given to me for free as an advanced listening copy by Net Galley and the publisher Harper Audio in exchange for an honest review.

I do plan on giving this five stars, but that doesn't mean I didn't have any issues with it. I think this audio book is perfect for someone older who had the record as a child OR for someone who is looking for something to play for children of their own. This could be good for an adult as well, but the fact that it's abridged may turn some avid readers away.


The story is great. We know that. This is a story about growth. The characters of Mary Lennox, Colin Craven, and Archibald Craven each go through a change in the book. The Garden itself grows and it seems that even Misselthwaite Estate grows as well. This is a charming tale that doesn't have any problematic elements to hinder it's enjoyment over time. That, to me, is a key part of enjoying old books. Reading (or watching) anything old in our more woke times is a risk but The Secret Garden is risk free.


I mentioned that I did have issues with the audio book. Those issues weren't big enough to lower my overall score. I found some of the background sound effects to be annoying. When the children sang it was just cringy and when the bird was chirping it was recorded too loud and was a bit uncomfortable. But other than that, the sound effects added a bit of flair to an old recording. Each character had their unique voice so I never got confused and Glenda Jackson had a very motherly delivery in her performance. 


This is a good audio book that's perfectly suited for a child or for an adult who wants a bit of nostalgia. If you've read The Secret Garden before, this version could be a wonderful revisit to a true classic. If you have never read it, this isn't a bad way to start. 

The Secret Garden 1975 Decca/Argo Recording gets a 9 out of 11

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