Tag Archives: reviews

Breathe: A Ghost Story by Cliff McNish

Teen Picks: Breathe by Cliff McNish

You know those book fairs that your school hosted back when you were a kid? That’s where my little sister and I stumbled upon a book called Breathe. We were suckers for ghost stories like books by Mary Downing Hahn, and this seemed like it was right up our alley. We stole it away into our bedrooms and read it under the blankets late, late into the night using flashlights. I still have the original copy we shared. I can honestly say that it is one of my favorite ghost stories. Not only is it easy to read, it is fantastically vivid and well written.

It follows the story of Jack and his mother, Sarah, a mother and son who move into a haunted farmhouse where the souls of four children are being held hostage by what is known as the Ghost Mother, a spirit that feeds off of other souls to prevent being taken away by the Nightmare Passage. The Nightmare Passage is an Inferno-esque plain of ice where a constant wind beats and batters its residents. It is where the souls of those who refuse to go (or are kept from going) to the Other Side eventually are taken.

The book is full of metaphors for abusive behavior, rape and sacrifice. The Ghost Mother tortures these poor children’s souls, feeds off of them, and even forces one of them to try to behave like a daughter. It is disgusting. Disturbing. And it’s not hard at all to hate her. The children, who are put through so much pain and suffering, do eventually find redemption and get a happy ending, thank goodness. As does Jack and Sarah. For most of the book the Ghost Mother possesses Sarah and actively abuses Jack, emotionally and physically. It’s gut wrenching to read as Jack desperately tries to save his own mother.

All in all, it is an incredible story about loyalty, fighting for the one’s we love, about the acceptance of death, and how death is not the end. I reread this book every once and a while, because boy-howdy is it a doozy. Talk about heavy. And reading it as a twelve year old? You can bet that my sister and I had some nightmares after the first time. Sheesh. But we still love it, and in fact, it still comes up in conversations sometimes. The deep and complex issues of abuse and consent, as well as life after death, the different afterlife planes, the inspiration from Dante’s nine circles of Hell inspiring the landscape for the Nightmare Passage. It is a really fascinating read. I highly recommend it. I give it a 4/5, just because it does have some pretty sensitive topics it covers.

The Woman in Black by Susan Hill

Book Review: The Woman in Black by Susan Hill | The Book SmugglersThe ...

I first saw The Woman in Black in theaters, when it first came out. I own it and watch it on a regular (at least once or twice a year) now. It is a very, very, very creepy movie. And I purchased the book not long after I saw the movie for the first time. Say what you will about the movie OR the book, but one thing is very true about both: they are very, very creepy. There is just such an eerie way that the story is told and presented. Its just anxiety-inducing and frankly, a little jarring. I reread the book for what I think is the third of fourth time to do this review, so it would be fresh in my memory, and I had forgotten how many differences there were to the movie.

First of all, Arthur Kipps is a VERY different man in the book than he is in the movie. He isn’t struggling, and hasn’t lost his wife. In fact, he is not even married yet and he’s practically a partner at the law firm he works at. He starts the book off telling the story from his perspective as an older man, not ‘old’ persay, but older than the events of the movie. Before the whole ordeal at the Eel Marsh House, he is a cheerful and happy person. Another key difference is that the innkeeper, the coach driver and Mr. Jerome are all very kind and polite to him in the book, whereas in the movie they are all…well…rude and cold. I think this made a pretty big difference. And while Mr. Jerome’s attitude towards Arthur does change, the others don’t. Also, Mr. Daily is actually kind of distant and cold in the beginning and then they slowly become friends.

One of the biggest things that is downplayed in the movie that is actually really important in the book is Spider, Mr. Daily’s dog that becomes Arthur’s companion in surviving the horrors of the Eel Marsh house. He becomes very, very attached to her (not in a weird way. like in a cute loyal way) and actually risks his life to save her. In fact, Mr. Daily says that he will give Arthur one of her puppies as soon as she has a litter. It is not until after Arthur leaves Crythin Grifford that he gets married and has a son (and makes Samuel Daily the godfather. Awwwww.) that tragedy strikes and his wife and son are killed due to the Woman in Black returning for revenge. Arthur, however, lives to remarry and be a father to several step children. Unlike in the movie, where Arthur dies with his son.

So, yeah, in short the movie is really good, AND the book is really good but there are definitely some huge differences between the two, to the point to where the kind of paint a different story. I think that the book had more of a slow-creepy-eerie-unsettling feeling to it, while the movie was definitely more jump-scary. I definitely recommend the book to any horror fans out there, however, especially those who like British Period Horror pieces. It’s very well written, and while it does have some slow parts, its still a fairly enjoyable and easy read. Overall, I give it a 4/5.

Son of Rosemary by Ira Levin

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I am such a huge fan of the first book, Rosemary’s Baby, that when I stumbled upon a copy of the sequel, my curiosity forced me to buy it and read it straight away. Judging from the first chapter, I thought that I would be really disappointed, as it starts out with Rosemary waking up from a coma in 1999, about 28 years after the events of the first book. But, that’s only really the first chapter, and you should never judge a book just by the first chapter, and the writing was fantastic, so I continued on.

Son of Rosemary focuses on Rosemary Reilly (yes, she divorced Guy back in 1966) as she wakes up from the coma and reunites with her son, Andy, who is now running for president. Throughout the book, we really get into Rosemary’s head, and she still thinks like a 31 year old. There’s a wonderful sense of  ‘something isn’t right’ over the course of the middle of the book and in the end, we find out why. The last two pages have a gigantic twist that I honestly did not see coming at all, and it was oddly satisfying. I really liked that it ended the way it did.

Ira Levin, as always, is an amazing writer and his depiction of Rosemary’s charming inner dialogue in the first book carries over flawlessly into the sequel. She is such a good, well written, relatable character that I had no problems whatsoever becoming emotionally invested in her and her story. The book, overall, is amazing. I don’t think it’s quite as good as the first one because Minnie and Roman and Guy were such wonderful characters and they are dead in the second book, but I would still give it an overall rating of 4/5.

The Murmurings by Carly Anne West

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After reading Carly Anne West’s incredibly unnerving novel, The Bargaining, I decided that I definitely wanted to read the book she had released prior to that one, which is The Murmurings. The back of the book summarizes it as the main character’s sister is institutionalized for hearing voices and then is later found dead, presumably from suicide, but then the main character starts to hear the voices herself. I honestly wasn’t sure I was going to like the book from this summary, just because I have a lot of history with suicide and such and it’s kind of a touchy subject. However, after finishing the book I realized that that summary is incredibly misleading. It makes the book out to be kind of like a  psychological thriller, when it reality it falls more into the same category as Stranger Things, as a Sci Fi Horror.

The main character is Sophie, a girl grieving for the loss of her sister, Nell. She begins to hear and see the same things that her sister did and ends up being hunted and tormented throughout the whole book, and eventually checked into the same mental institution as her sister was. That’s probably about the time that I realized that the back of the book did not do justice to just how incredibly tense and nail-biting this novel was. I chew my nails chronically, but nothing could prepare my more fingers for this book. Ouch. I was so anxious through the second half of the book that I found myself having to take breaks just to give myself a breather. That’s how well it is written. You get very attached to Sophie as she goes on this amazing and terrifying adventure to unravel the conspiracy around her sister’s, and many others like her and her sister, wrongful death.

This book is chock full to the brim of twists and surprises, as well as lovable characters and well written dialogue. That’s one thing I really loved in The Bargaining and noticed was also present in The Murmurings, is that West has a very fluid and whimsical writing style. All of her dialogue and descriptions flow so naturally, so realistically, so vividly, that you feel as if you are actually present for the events taking place. If I had to rate it, I think I would give it a 4/5 or a 5/5. The only reason I would give it a 4/5 would be because I, personally, can’t reread more often than once every few months just because it does send my anxiety through the roof, hah. I like my books to have reread value. But other than that, this book is amazing and I can’t find a single thing wrong with it. A+ story telling!

Crystal Deodorant Stone Review 

This is a crystal deodorant stone! I first found out about this amazing product through my herbalism course and I purchased the above brand from my academy’s shop here.

I was skeptical at first, but I suffered from an awful underarm rash which consisted of hundreds of extremely  painful sores and boils on my armpits, and every commercial deodorant I had tried only activated the condition. So, I was pretty much willing to try anything, and this little guy was only 8 dollars. What did I have to lose?

I can say with zero reservations that this is one product I will use for the rest of my life. I purchased mine in August of 2015, and a month later I also got one for my spouse. We have not bought a single stick of deodorant since then. Not only have I been rash free, but also body odor free for over a year now!

It is a safe, natural, eco friendly  alternative to chemical commercial deodorants that produce plastic and harmful chemical wastes.

It can last anywhere from one to three years without replacing, and to use it all you have to do is run it under cold water and rub it on your armpits.

Instead of just treating the symptoms of body odor, the Crystal is an antibacterial and anti-fungal, so it actually completely removes the bacteria that causes body odor, as well as exfoliates the sensitive skin of the underarms.

I have worn one application of the stone to a manual labor job where I would swear like crazy for hours on end and I still didn’t smell! It’s also held up to running, walking, outdoor labor, intensive housework and cleaning. It’s seriously awesome and I am so thankful for it!

It has saved me a lot of money and a lot of pain in the last year. I highly recommend it and give it a 5/5. 

Short Reviews of Popular TV Shows

This is just a short post about all the shows I’ve binge watched on netflix and their pros and cons, taking racism, sexism and heteronormality into account. As you can imagine, I have some words to say and stuff to warn people about. I will be adding on to this list as I watch more.

Hemlock Grove

Pros: Werewolves, Lots of cool Roma culture, Genetic Experiments, the actress who plays Destiny is Mohawk Native American and Bisexual.

Cons: Pretty sexist, Heteronormative, Only really good female characters are portrayed as freaks, bitches or sluts, Racism towards the Roma people. All white cast except for Dr. Pryce, who is portrayed as the stereotypical ‘genius Asian doctor with little to no actual personality’ and the Rumancek family, who are Roma, but the actors who play the Rumancek family are not actually Roma.

 

Stranger Things

Pros: Great plot, Monsters, Sci Fi, Horror, Cute kids being badasses

Cons: Only one POC character who is portrayed as a huge jerk, Only 3 female characters and all of them are portrayed as either ‘insane’ or slutty. Creepy stalking is justified and viewed as ‘okay’ by one protagonist. Abusive relationships are romanticized.

 

The Almighty Johnsons

Pros: Awesome Norse mythology come to life, It’s about New Zealanders, Cool Maori culture stuff in the second season.

Cons: Super sexist, views women as either ‘fuckable’, ‘bitches’ or ‘useful’. Only 4 POC characters, and 3 aren’t introduced until season 2 and are only in a few episodes. All main characters are guys, the goddesses get way less screen time. The Maori people in the show are portrayed as potheads, rude and disrespectful to women. The one POC girl in the show is treated like shit, repeatedly. In one episode one of the characters participates in the racist act of Redface.

 

Lost Girl

Pros: PANSEXUAL POLY AWESOMENESS! Lots of magic and mythology. All about the Fae. Takes place in Canada. Has two female leads. Has kickass dwarf representation (seriously, Trick is so hot and buff!) and POC representation in Hale (who is an awesome Siren from one of the most important Fae families, who are all also POC)

Cons: Only like…one POC character. On more than one occasion they take native and indigenous cultural stories and write them off as ‘fae stuff’ (at one point there’s an Ixtab (which is a Mayan Goddess) and she is portrayed as a ‘suicide fae’ who is a white girl.) Not a lot of diversity, 9/10 of the characters are white.

 

X Files

Pros: Lots of cool supernatural stuff, good humor, awesome plot. Scully is kickass.

Cons: Pretty sexist, Scully often treated badly, Super racist in regards to disrespect and portrayal of Native American cultures and traditions. No POC characters, except for minor characters that get zero screen time.

 

Supernatural

Pros: Awesome special effects, Good plot, Easy to get attached to the characters

Cons: Pretty negative portrayal of Native American cultures and traditions, Super Heteronormative, No female main characters, No POC main characters except for Kevin, who is a minor character that is promptly killed after like one and a half seasons and very little screen time.

 

Salem

Pros: Awesome kickass female leads, Woman power, Cool magick

Cons: Heteronormative, White cast, Only one POC character, Racism and violence towards Native American tribes in the area, Portrayal of the Natives as ‘wild animals’ and ‘savages’.

 

American Horror Story

Pros: Awesome plot, Cool characters, Positive Down Syndrome Representation

Cons: Abusive relationships are romanticized, Heteronormative, The only gay couple is murdered and raped in season one, Lots of Racism and violence towards POC peoples, Lots of rape, Pretty much a fully white cast until Coven, and then only two main POC characters and both are portrayed as ‘bitchy’, are treated violently and ultimately killed either in that season or in Queenie’s case, the next season in Hotel. The actress with Down Syndrome who appears as a regular in every season is almost always killed off.

 

Penny Dreadful

Pros: Cool main character with psychic powers

Cons: Extreme violence and racism towards Native American peoples, All white cast, Heteronormative, Boring plot

 

Doctor Who

Pros: SPACE! TIME TRAVEL! Cool female supporting characters.

Cons: Pretty much an all white cast, except for the occasional one episode appearance and Mickey and Martha’s short time as companions. Heteronormative, practically no LGBT representation.

 

Sherlock

Pros: Awesome mystery stuff, Great plot, Awesome characters

Cons: All white cast except for the one episode minor character appearances, Heteronormative in canon story (fandom is pretty much set on sherlock and john being a couple, and there are very not so subtle undertones, but nothing ever officially announced or portrayed in the show). Only one or two female characters and are only minor and have very little screen time.