The Shining

For my cheerful, light-hearted, postpartum reading, I decided on The Shining by Stephen King.

As my husband and I like to joke with each other, compared to the existential horrors we now call reality, nothing is scary anymore. LOL

In fact, the weird part is how open and honest the characters are about their dysfunctions, and no one calls social services on them or prescribes anti-psychotics. WTF?

This is the second Stephen King novel I’ve ever read (the other being Misery, which is also set in snowy Colorado), and I have to say that he knows how to suck the reader in; I don’t have to force myself to pick up the book. On top of that, he uses enough run-on sentences, interrupted paragraphs, and other random grammatical weirdness that I don’t find myself spacing out and skimming over the words without really understanding them.

The dialogue is corny at times, but since the book was written in the 1970’s, I think it’s more a reflection on that particular decade than anything else. It also annoys me that none of the characters seem to have any sense of self-preservation. It’s hard to feel bad for them when they were very much asking for it.

I know enough about violence that the climax is too unrealistic to be remotely scary.

Because of those existential horrors we now call reality.


Throwing in the towel

I’ve given up on reading Outlander for the time being.

The novel was getting to be genuinely nauseating for me — it was like a super concentrated form of Boomerisms, to the point that I was starting to expect the book to tell me to “just get a job” during a massive economic crash with skyrocketing unemployment rates.

And by the way, I didn’t understand when I became a parent. Quite the opposite.


Aside from the blatant Mary-Sue main character and the woobie-love-interest, the whole story has been thus far told with rampant hubris and condemnation. I’ve read other highland romance books that didn’t treat the period or the culture with so much disdain, and I honestly wasn’t expecting it. Why write a historical book when you hate absolutely everything about the past?

At one point the reader is informed that the Laird’s wife is cheating on him with every **** she can get her hands on, as if we’re expected to believe that all the clansmen are eagerly insulting their Laird’s honor and authority while simultaneously respecting him. Yeah. Sure. If you’re a Boomer.

And we mustn’t forget the bit about pennyroyal being regularly used to induce miscarriages. While it technically can be done, the amount necessary is darn close to being lethal, and it comes with nasty side effects — it’s not something that any sane woman would gamble with unless she was desperate enough to die. It wasn’t the historic form of The Pill.

What makes the author so certain that all women hate the idea of being mothers? Oh. Right. Boomers.

I just can’t keep reading that book anymore. Like I said, it’s actually getting nauseating.


The Woobie

I’m currently forcing myself to read Outlander for research purposes. Not doing a real review on it given that I’m not remotely the target audience for the novel, but I do enjoy ranting about it.

The love interest, Jamie, is way too much of a woobie for me to like him on any level. He shows up injured, proceeds to get shot, then is given a good thrashing — all within a few chapters. In the meantime, his dialogue seems to revolve entirely around some horror story from his past, with plenty of scars covering his body to prove it (naturally the main character is there to tend to his wounds and listen sympathetically).

A story with the Woobie allows the audience to vicariously experience relief from some pain by fantasizing about relieving the Woobie’s pain. … Woobification can also tie into a disturbing hurt/comfort dynamic, in which fans enjoy seeing the Woobie tortured so they can wish the hurt away.

TV Tropes

Not my cup of tea.

On any level.

I actually find it a little sickening.

Perhaps it’s a generational thing, given that Outlander was originally published in 1991, but I can’t help but look at Jamie and think that he’s so pathetic, he wouldn’t do anyone any good in a post-2020 world. Like, if there was only one package of toilet paper left in the entire city, and Jamie had a family counting on him to come through for them, he’d probably get hit in the eye and be left completely incapacitated, thus failing miserably. Ain’t got time for that sympathy crap in this society. Toughen up, dude, and learn how to take care of yourself.

I prefer men who are capable of protecting babies against hordes of zombies during the apocalypse. Just sayin’.


The Beauty and the Beast

I decided to read The Beauty and the Beast by Madame de Villeneuve, originally published in 1740.

I suppose my background is different than average for my age, because instead of growing up on Disney movies, I had a complete collection of fairy tales by Hans Christian Andersen, and I spent a lot of time pouring over the book and rereading my favorites. They were a far bigger influence on me than any movie.

Heck, one of the reasons why I hate Disney so much is because they took these wonderful, complex stories, and turned them into shallow caricatures with a marketing scheme that led most people to believe they were the original source. Nowadays when people say “fairy tales,” they’re referring to the Disney movies, not the original texts.


Anyway, The Beauty and the Beast is one that I’ve never read before, so I figured, “Why not?” Call it research.

The initial characterization of Beauty is charming. She belonged to a large and wealthy family, but after some spectacularly bad luck, they end up losing everything — Beauty is the only one who handles the change in fortune with grace, and she is clearly intended to be just as beautiful on the inside as she is on the outside.

Then, her father travels in an attempt to regain some of his lost wealth, discovers that it was a fruitless expedition, and is caught in a nasty blizzard while returning home. He stumbles across the Beast’s enchanted palace, and consequently gets himself in trouble after picking a rose from the garden. Beauty sacrifices herself to save her father’s life, and goes to live in the Beast’s palace instead.

In my opinion, this was the weakest part of the story. The descriptions of the sheer materialistic opulence of Beauty’s life in the enchanted palace really cheapened her character. I can’t help but wonder if it’s a difference in generations, given that this was originally published in the 1700’s, but c’mon … surely there was more to life fulfillment than clothing and jewelry, even back then?

The part that I outright hated was when Beauty went back to visit her family, and the suitors of her five older sisters were all immediately smitten with her and promptly abandoned their original girlfriends. I couldn’t help but feel sympathetic towards the jilted sisters, while Beauty was reduced down to nothing more than a Mary-Sue.

Then, as we all know, Beauty breaks the curse on the Beast by professing her love for him, and he turns back into a handsome prince.

Interestingly enough, this happens only halfway through the book, despite the fact that this is where all the movie versions of the story end.

The second half was the part that I genuinely enjoyed the most, and definitely made the book worth reading. I can’t help but feel like I’ve been let in on a little secret, since even wikipedia failed to summarize the second half. Tee hee, how fun.

And by the way, the Disney version doesn’t even come close.

Alice and the Warden, Books

Alice and the Warden Pre-order

Coming September 22nd!

Available for pre-order from:

Barnes & Noble

And more!

Act now and don’t miss out!

Because after September, this story will be dead to me.

At least until it’s time to write the sequel. I’m one of those sorts.




I will be discussing spoilers in this post. Consider yourself warned.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with video game culture, there was a series that started clear back in the 80’s called Castlevania. Many people consider the 1997 release, Symphony of the Night, to be the best game in the series (phew, exposition).


I confess that I have never played Symphony of the Night. All I know is that Alucard is the ultimate gothic pretty boy vampire character.

Anywho, the creator of Castlevania got fed up with video game companies, struck out on his own with Kickstarter, and developed Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night as a spiritual successor.

We played Bloodstained because I was in the mood for something gothic, lol. I’d rate it 4/5.

All right, now here are the spoilers: your character wakes up after a ten year long nap, and discovers that her bff is the villain. He is later revealed as being mind-controlled by a demon, and the excessively helpful blonde woman is outed as being the one who is actually evil. She summons the ultimate demon that you have to fight and kill as the final boss of the game.

And, well, I thought that the story line was the weakest part of the game. It was too obvious and predictable, but teased just enough that I kept hoping it would try something new. It didn’t.

The mind control shtick has passed its sell-by date, in my opinion. Whenever characters act like, “You used to be sooo good, but now you want to kill everyone. What’s going on?” you can bet that it’s because of MIND CONTROL.

I dunno, maybe they were abused and damaged beyond what they could handle. Maybe they realized that society is irredeemably corrupt. Maybe, just maybe, something happened that made them change their mind. Characters are allowed to evolve, and it doesn’t always have to be for the better. Even good characters can have a dark night of the soul.

And the main character… she’s allowed to change too; she doesn’t have to statically believe in black and white forever and ever. Wouldn’t it be wild if, halfway through the game, the main character has an epiphany about pursuing the wrong goals, and forms an alliance with the antagonist? No one would see it coming!

It feels like there’s a big, gaping hole in the middle of storytelling that no one acknowledges, ideas that are never explored because we’re too accustomed to stereotypes.

In this day and age where indie is becoming more and more accessible, what are we afraid of?


Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier


When I was in middle school, a friend excitedly told me about a book titled Rebecca, and recommended that I read it because the main character was a lot like me. I’m still not convinced of the similarity between me and the main character, but I definitely liked how dark and gothic the story was. Rebecca became one of my favorites.

A few years ago, my copy was stolen out of our car by a pot-head, who probably thought that the red satin cover meant it was a trashy sex book. Hopefully, she enjoyed it anyway.

I decided that it was time to get around to replacing my copy, and picked up something else by Daphne du Maurier in the process. Despite how much I liked Rebecca, I had never felt any interest in reading any of her other books before now.

I settled on Jamaica Inn.

The horror and suspense are very well written; subtle and unrushed, which gives the reader time to properly appreciate the dark situation the main character finds herself in. I think that the impact of the BIG REVELATION was a bit lost on my modern Millennial mind, given that we currently live with mass murder being a depressingly common thing and all, but it wasn’t hard to appreciate it in the context of the book.

However, the romance was the weakest point, and the overall story would have been improved if it had been left out all together. It came across as a strange mixture of Mary-Sue fantasizing and self-loathing, and didn’t feel natural in the slightest. Every mention of love could have been blacked out and the plot would have remained entirely unchanged.

There was a very bad attempt to hand wave away a glaring plot hole two-thirds of the way in, and the story never quite recovered afterward.

My favorite character was the vicar, and I wish that he had more “screen time” so to speak. This probably attests to how weird of a person I am, but his lines were the ones that made my heart quicken with excitement, and I would ravenously devour any book that was written all about him. Unfortunately, he only appears a few times, and serves as a handy prop to make the ending more DRAMATIC. Still, I liked him.

The ending was not what I would have written, and I personally found it unsatisfying. While I am mindful of the fact that this book was published in the 1930’s and society was different back then, I still think that the choices the author made were lackluster and cowardly. Why does fiction have to be so black and white all the time? Real life sure as heck isn’t.

Finishing the book left me feeling disappointed and morose.

My rating: 4/5


Stranger Things 3

I adore the first season of Stranger Things.

I wasn’t looking forward to season 3. WAY too much time had passed since season 2, and I had stopped watching Netflix entirely ever since they killed member reviews (I like to have an idea of what I’m getting myself into, especially when the kids are around (which is almost always)). But, as my husband and I were browsing through the new releases on our Nintendo Switch, we saw that a game had been based on season 3, and we asked ourselves, ‘When was that supposed to come out anyway?’

Apparently, July 4th, so we slogged our way through it. ‘Slogged’ is really the best word, since season 3 was terrible.

The general overview is that the characters were turned into bland props, all of the quirky nerdiness that made the show so appealing in the first season was gone entirely, and there was a heck of a lot more cussing all around in lieu of intelligent dialogue. Instead of existential Lovecraftian horror, the main focus was on everyone breaking up with each other for the sake of relationship drama. Gag me.


My review, full of spoilers:

Continue reading “Stranger Things 3”


Mythago Wood

My kids very generously soaked my copy in water, but thankfully I didn’t have the dust jacket on at the time. You can barely tell that the cover underneath is warped.

This is a novel about two brothers, and a magical forest where the mythological figures of the collective consciousness literally come alive.

The first half of the book is a fairly exhaustive explanation of the forest and its magical inhabitants, named ‘Mythagos’, which feels fairly slow paced. It takes place primarily on a homestead on the edge of the forest, and the main character makes a point of avoiding going too far into the woods. The reader is also given quite a bit of background on the main character, his brother, and their father who had dedicated his life to studying the forest, but whose death serves as the catalyst for the events in the novel. There’s also a woman Mythago, the manifestation of the warrior princess archetype, who captures the main character’s heart and sends him hurtling helplessly into love.

The second half, which takes place in the forest itself, feels dissociative and confusing at times, heavy with mythological references and metaphors, turning this book into a very slow read for me.

However, I have forgiven all of that.

The author was seriously “tuned in” with the subject matter, and the book has a lot of metaphysical depth to it, which makes it good ‘thinking’ material. I have no doubt that this novel will leave a lasting impression, and I’m interested in reading some of the other books about this forest.

The villain is the most cold hearted bastard I’ve ever encountered in a story, and he uttered an absolutely amazing line (which won’t make any sense without context) that had me giggling with sadistic glee. His inevitable defeat came about in a way that was, frankly, unexpected.

Happy ending for most.

I feel bad for the mother, who is mentioned in passing as having committed suicide long before the events in the book take place. Poor woman.

My rating: 4/5


Southern Cast Iron


I like to (semi)jokingly refer to myself as a fairy, given my penchant for wild mushrooms and secret acts of mischief kindness. I also have what I refer to as a curse when it comes to cast iron. Ergo, I am a fairy. QED. My logic is flawless.

Cast iron cooking is really yummy, so I’ve decided to make peace with my skillet. Yes, I know, I gave up on you and put you away in storage for a long time, but I couldn’t figure out why your seasoning kept flaking up. No, we aren’t going to talk about what happened to your predecessor.

I settled on this book, because I LOVE Southern cooking. I learned how to cook in the South.

The intro gives a basic rundown of cast iron care, and might have said some other stuff that I didn’t read, because nobody reads the intros. I found all of the recipes to be approachable as an amateur chef, though they definitely require more investment than mixing frozen foods with pre-made sauces.

I made the chicken pot pie.

I didn’t follow the recipe exactly. I brined my chicken before baking it, then used the meat drippings in the gravy. It turned out exquisite, but I definitely used a skill set that was not discussed anywhere in the book.

My complaint is that, although it’s supposed to be heirloom cooking, it calls for shortcuts like using frozen pie crusts. I would have liked to see recipes for pie crusts, biscuits, etc., considering that these are essential elements and have a huge impact on flavor. Seriously, pie crust only takes a few minutes, and Southern cooking is about feeding the soul. You don’t want a frozen soul, do you?

The desserts are even worse, using boxed mixes in lieu of any actual recipe at all.

3/5 starz

At this point, it’s still up in the air if I’ll manage to get along with my cast iron.

[Ed. note: the curse appears to be very real – somehow the contents of this (scheduled) post were transplanted onto a preexisting post, and retrieving it became quite the adventure.]