The After Word: Clarissa Should’ve Stopped Explaining

Hello, my lovelies! Ya girl Nikkie is back with some not-so-sweet bookish babbling today. That’s right, friends. Today, I bring to you the ever-elusive NEGATIVE review of a book.

Try to compose yourselves. I know that I’m typically an easy person to please, so you’ve probably retired to your fainting couches now, processing this news. But the truth of the matter is that even with my open-minded, “Well, they tried their hardest!” demeanor, I come across something that I consider just straight-up garbage. See: my review of Gilmore Girls. And that extends to books.

The book in question? Things I Can’t Explain by Michael Kriegman. This book, sweeties, is written by the creator of the ‘90s staple/launcher of Melissa Joan Hart’s career Clarissa Explains It All. It is a look at Clarissa in her twenties. And

I know what you’re thinking. I’m just being hyper critical because I don’t want my childhood to be tarnished. But, I was actively excited to read this book! I was so ready to see what kind of cool shit Clarissa was up to and whether her wacky fashion sense was going strong (it is, but it’s still in the “bad things” column). So, imagine my utter and complete horror when I start reading this book and find that it is GOD AWFUL.

Let’s dig in. (And as you should’ve assumed: spoiler alert) Continue reading “The After Word: Clarissa Should’ve Stopped Explaining”

The After Word: Isobel

Friends and readers it has been a while! Super Hubs here with my first book review in months! Game of Thrones and a very busy movie/Netflix season kept me from reading as much as I’d like but now it’s time to get back into the swing of things. It’s Halloween season ya’ll, the only season where I’m truly alive. And to kick the season off I have a very…interesting book to review. So sit back all you oiled up witches dancing a fierce bacchanal, today I’m reviewing Isobel! I have to warn you, this is going to be a long one. I mean, pretty much everything I write is long so you should be used to that by now.

To begin, no mention of this book can be made without first talking about Rowena Morrill. You may not recognize her name, but if you have even a passing interest in…well any kind of genre fiction then you definitely know who she is. Rowena Morrill more or less defined the look of sci-fi and fantasy covers in the 70s and 80s. She’s an incredibly prolific artist and she has done paperback covers for some of the biggest names in fiction. These include H.P. Lovecraft, Isaac Asimov, Madeleine L’Engle, and Arthur C. Clarke. It’s only because of her that I ever even heard of Isobel.  Continue reading “The After Word: Isobel”

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”

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”

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”

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”

Halloween Month: How Have I not Read This #2 – The Halloween Tree

Howdy ya’ll! Super Hubs here again with another entry of How Have I Not Read This! Today we’re talking about something that I’m legitimately angry I’d never heard of. See, for the first ten or so years of my life I, like everyone else, was a stupid child with practically no say in what books were presented to me. I relied on my parents to make sure I experienced the best possible entertainment for my growing mind. I trusted them. They were all I had in life…and they betrayed me.

See, there’s a book, a wonderous, magical book written by one of the greatest authors of all time. A book that is a celebration of all things Halloween. And I had never heard of it until just a few months ago. It’s a book called The Halloween Tree written by Ray fucking Bradbury! Take that in. Read that sentence. Read it again. Read it eight times. Take in every single word and realize just how much of an outrage it is that I had never heard of this book or read it. Worse, it’s a children’s book which means my parents should have read it to me. They should have made it a yearly ritual. Instead they shoved the fucking Great Pumpkin down my throat and made me think THAT was the best Halloween had to offer. That notion was eventually destroyed when I saw Garfield’s Halloween Adventure but that special didn’t get much play in my home.

Written as a direct response to Great Pumpkin and it’s distinct lack of an actual Great Pumpkin, Ray Bradbury wrote this book to celebrate all its many flavors. It’s a magical time-travelling adventure that explores the origins of Halloween (some origins may be less factual than others) while a bunch of kids say weird things and hope their friend isn’t dead. It’s pretty weird.

This will, by necessity, be a pretty short little post since the book is a children’s book and very very short. I won’t call it a review because it’s a book called The Halloween Tree written by Ray fucking Bradbury. If that doesn’t sell you on the book, nothing will.

So the main character is a boy named Tom Skelton who is dressed as a Skeleton because of course he is. He’s meeting up with some friends to go trick ‘r’ treating. They’re waiting for their friend Pipkin who the book goes to great lengths to paint as the greatest little boy to ever live in all of time ever. He’s fun and smart and awesome and strong and cool and everyone loves being around him. Basically he’s a big hit at parties and he’s awesome at Halloween. So when he doesn’t show up to meet the rest of the group they’re all understandably distressed. They go to his house and he seems down in the dumps. He tells them to meet him later at the big ol’ haunted ass house that everyone knows is haunted. They do this – after trick ‘r’ treating of course – and they meet a weird old dude named Carapace Clavicle Moundshroud and he shows them his Halloween Tree which is just a big ass tree covered in thousands of jack o’ lanterns. He talks to them about Halloween and how awesome it is then they see Pipkin disappear.

Being a responsible adult, Moundshroud tells them to rip up the side of his house and make a kite out of it, also the side of his house might be made of dinosaurs. So they make a kite and Moundshroud uses it to take them through time and explore the dubious origins of Halloween. Each time period is relevant to one of the children’s costumes and it all basically boils down cavemen were scared when the sun went down and when it started to get cold and that fear stuck with us as we evolved. It gets pretty weird and I love every page of it.

In the end they find Pipkin in Mexico being held prisoner by a bunch of mummies and the only way they can save him is if each of the children gives up one year from the end of their life. This is…very troubling but they agree and Pipkin is saved! In the end, it turns out that Pipkin had appendicitis and was at the hospital getting an appendectomy. Which…makes me feel like Moundshroud didn’t need them to give up a year from their lives to save him but oh well Halloween is great and everyone loves it. Moundshroud communicates with Tom Skelton telepathically and is like “yo bro, I’m Death btw lol byeeeee!” All the people extinguish their jack o’ lanterns and the Halloween Tree goes dark and the story ends.

This book is amazing and I can’t wait to read it to my children every year. And possibly every day. Shut up and go read it. You have no excuse. It’s 144 pages and the font is big and it’s written by Ray fucking Bradbury. Shut up and read it!

Happy Halloween! Only 365 days to go before it comes around again. Go forth and be spooky my friends.