The After-Word: Grotesque

Hello Good Readers!

I was going to do three posts this month. But then I read Grotesque by Natsuo Kirino. I won’t lie – this one got to me. It made it hard to read anything else, both because it was so so good and because it was so so sad. For as much as I read, it’s actually pretty rare for a book to really affect me in the way that Grotesque did. In fact, I can only think of a few off the top of my head. Grotesque sticks with you; it stuck with me for weeks after I finished. Grotesque is a profoundly sad story filled with broken characters and the worst of human ugliness. It is unrelenting in its fatalism, ferocious in its criticism of male dominated society and classism, and it doesn’t shy away from showing humanity at its lowest. (In fact, the English translation had some sections removed because of this which I only just now found out about and am now very angry about – don’t censor my shit publishers!)

Continue reading “The After-Word: Grotesque”

Character Crush: Susannah Dean from the Dark Tower series

Salutations, beautiful people! It’s ya girl Nikkie, and I see you’ve come back for seconds of my femme-filled Character Crush posting. Well, who am I to disappoint?

The answer is someone who frequently disappoints but is trying really hard not to!

Today’s helping of fictional women’s history is brought to you courtesy of my rereading of the Dark Tower series in preparation of the movie coming out this summer. As far as I know, she’s not appearing in the movie (which raises a lot of questions; I will hold my tongue until an official trailer comes out), but she’s a big part of the novels.
That’s right. I’m talking about Mrs. Susannah Dean, formerly Odetta Holmes/Detta Walker and one of the last gunslingers.

Let’s palaver.

Continue reading “Character Crush: Susannah Dean from the Dark Tower series”

The After-Word: The Vegetarian

Everyone, I have a confession to make. Try not to let what I’m about to tell you color your opinion of me. I know you all come here looking for a certain…refinement; a certain elegance of language and deep knowledge of all things literary. I know you think of us as experts, paragons of knowledge and thought. But I’m about to peel back the curtain a bit. You see, I’m not a connoisseur of horror fiction. In fact, I have to look up recommendation, just like you. So sometimes when I’m late making a post I’ll Google “top 10 horror novels [insert year]” and just pick whichever one has the most interesting cover. It may not be classy, but it’s effective at least 62% of the time.

This is how I found The Vegetarian, a Korean surrealist drama novel by celebrated author Han Kang about a woman who may or may not be becoming a plant. Continue reading “The After-Word: The Vegetarian”

Eleanor and Park: A Love for the Ages

Happy Valentine’s Day, you heart-eyed lovelies. I’ve come to you on Cupid’s favorite day—or is it his least favorite because he has to do a lot of work?—with a post that’s about two years in the making. That’s right, y’all. It’s Eleanor and Park time!

As you may or may not remember (or be aware of), a few years ago, I started working on posts dedicated to my love of the four Rainbow Rowell books as I enjoyed my first time rereading them; her latest book, Carry On, hadn’t been published yet. Going in reverse chronological order meant that my favorite YA book of hers, Eleanor and Park, would be the last one I discussed in the series. However, shenanigans ensued. I lost the notebook where I had taken extensive notes during my rereads, and I wanted there to be some semblance of order while I vomited my immense love for E&P. Then too much time passed, and I felt I’d missed the window to talk about it.

I started my second reread of the book late last year, and I figured I’d give blogging about it another shot. I didn’t have a good notebook for keeping track of my thoughts, so I decided to do the unthinkable . . . a close reading (wherein you write notes INSIDE the book). I know! I’ve only done it one and a half times before, and it kills me a little on the inside each time. I just can’t support it, and I also feel like I don’t get much out of the experience (that’s a story for another time)! But knowing I had two other copies of E&P made it semi-okay.

♦  ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦

Naturally, while unpacking, I found the notebook with my original reread notes . . .

♦  ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦

Anyway! Being distracted by the other books I’ve blogged about in the past two months ended up being a blessing in disguise because now I get to talk about my favorite romantic coupling for the year’s most romantic holiday. Yaaaaaaay!!! You ready?

Continue reading “Eleanor and Park: A Love for the Ages”

The After Word: Three Dark Crowns (SPOILERS)

My, my, my. Look who we have here.

It’s me. Nikkie. Silent but watchful owner (let’s be real; Super Hubs is just along for the ride) of Married with Bookshelves. Emphasis on silent.
I could offer you a bunch of excuses, but you can come up with one on your own. Suffice it to say: We’re all adults here, and sometimes life gets in the way.

The point is that I’m back! Not only am I back, but I’ve brought SH with me! Say hi, Lawrence. Olo ya’ll! On a recent trip to Target—coincidentally, the same trip where SH picked up The MercilessI acquired Three Dark Crowns, written by Kendare Blake. The name rang a bell for me because she wrote one of the short stories that was in Slasher Girls and Monster Boys, and I felt like I’d seen some good things around the Internet about this book. So I figured, What the hell? Let’s see where this goes. I didn’t have high expectations . . . which meant I was lowkey blown away by how much I liked this book.

But let’s not spoil the meal by skipping to dessert (even though that’s its own kind of fun). Let’s get into it!

Continue reading “The After Word: Three Dark Crowns (SPOILERS)”

The After-Word: The Merciless

I’m going to say this upfront: were it not for the last 40 pages, this review would be much more positive.

The Merciless by Danielle Vega (actual name Danielle Rollins) is billed by several dozen reviewers as Mean Girls meets The Exorcist and while the Mean Girls comparison is more than deserved – the main character even drops a line about making a Burn Book at one point – the comparison to The Exorcist is a bit more spurious. Yes, there is an “exorcism” in the book but it’s not a professional one and it’s more violent than they’re supposed to be. A more appropriate description would be Mean Girls meets The Girl Next Door.

The story follows Army brat Sofia Flores after she moves to a new town in Mississippi and gets caught up in the weird schemes of a group of popular girls who want to ‘help’ the weird girl  stop being so weird with the power of Jesus. Also Sofia’s mom is an atheist and this annoys her because Sofia wants to be religious and go to church. Now I know I’m a godless heathen and everything but this seems just…so unrealistic to me. Even the religious teenagers I knew never wanted to go to church. It was around this time that I thought the book was going to wind up being religious propaganda under a thin veil of horror – sort of an anti-Footloose horror if you will. Having finished the book…I’m still not sure if this is the case. It sort of fluctuates wildly between the two extremes. I guess it’s possible that Danielle Vega was just writing a story with no agenda, but where’s the fun in that? Suffice it to say…Spoiler Alert. Continue reading “The After-Word: The Merciless”

Backlog: What I Didn’t Talk About in 2016

Happy between holidays, everyone. Christmas is over, Hanukkah has a few days left, and soon it will be New Year’s Eve (which is one of several high holy days for alcoholics). It’s ya girl Nikkie here, pausing all the commotion of a year-end move to bring you a year-end post. Yes, Super Hubs and I are moving into a new apartment, within our current complex, over the weekend. So as you can imagine, it’s a mess over here.

In fact, this month has just been a bit of a mess, which is why I’ve been (noticably?) absent from MWB. I started a new job at the beginning of the month, this semester of grad school was winding down, so I had final projects to take care of. Thus, while on my mind, blogging found itself at the very end of my priority list. My apologies! I’m here now, semi-ringing in the new year with you. (For actual NYE camaraderie, meet us here Saturday afternoon!)

Anyway. Today’s post is going to feature a lot of the books I read this year that I didn’t share with you lovely people. Some of them were good, some weren’t; all passed before my eyes at some point in 2016.
Let’s jump in! Continue reading “Backlog: What I Didn’t Talk About in 2016”

A Bite-Sized Review for Christmas: NOS4A2

Merry Christmas ya filthy animals!

My favorite Christmas movie is Die Hard. I know a lot of people say that now and they tend to say it with a smug smile as if they’re the most clever boy to ever live even though pretty much everyone thinks of Die Hard as a Christmas movie now. But lemme tell ya, I’ve been doing this shit for probably 20 years now. So if anyone deserves to have a smug smile it’s me. I’m the trendsetter!

All of this is to say my holiday entertainment can be pretty non-traditional. I have my normal Christmas fare (Muppet Christmas Carol, Nightmare Before Christmas, Love Actually, those sorts of things) but my favorites are all more Christmas adjacent than Christmas themed. Die Hard, Gremlins, Batman Returns. I also tend to watch Lord of the Rings around Christmas because they were each released in December and I can’t help but associate them with the season. Continue reading “A Bite-Sized Review for Christmas: NOS4A2”

The After Word: Slasher Girls & Monster Boys

Howdy ya’ll! Super Hubs here with another short story anthology review. Today we’re talking Slasher Girls & Monster Boys, a YA collection edited by April Genevieve Tucholke. The stories in this one are of a darker variety, with many of them having an outright horror bent. Each of the stories is based on either a movie, a song, or another short story—though mostly they’re inspired by movies. Part of the fun, at least for me, was trying to figure out what each story was inspired by, so I won’t be spoiling that for you (and they list the influences at the end for your convenience)! We’ll be going through the stories one by one and giving a brief synopsis/review. S’gonna be fun!


“The Birds of Azalea Street” by Nova Ren Suma: A group of teen girls plots how to take revenge on a neighborhood pervert. Their parents don’t believe them when they try to tell them how uncomfortable the guy makes them, and when he all but molests one of their friends, they decide something has to be done. When the man comes home with a shockingly gorgeous woman, they think she’s been kidnapped or is a mail-order bride being held against their will. They break into the house to rescue her, but things take a supernatural turn. There’s a subplot about all the birds disappearing from the neighborhood and it’s heavily implied that the man has been killing them. The story is predictable but good, and the ending was interesting. I would give it a second read at least. It was one of the easiest to figure out the inspiration for. Continue reading “The After Word: Slasher Girls & Monster Boys”

The After Word: Jess, Chunk, and the Road Trip to Infinity

Bienvenidos, my lovelies. Nikkie here with another After Word, this time talking about a book that is coming out TODAY. That’s right, y’all: I got my hands on an ARC. I have my gig with the Barnes and Noble Teen blog to thank for that, so hooray for free books!

Since this is a new release, I will try to avoid as many spoilers as I can. This will be a little difficult because I didn’t actually care for the book, and some of my issues with it relate to plot. So it will be lightly spoiler-y.

You ready?

Continue reading “The After Word: Jess, Chunk, and the Road Trip to Infinity”