Mexican Gothic, Full Review

I was engulfed by the pages of this book. Completely captivated by the imagery, the characters, the eeriness of the setting. The vividness of the passages was so intense, that when I was disturbed during my read I felt as though reality were a mere illusion. It created a haze, like a wonderfully, haunting daydream…and it lingered.

Over the years I’ve longed for a book like this. A book that made me want to devour every word. Where each sentence was worth losing sleep over…was worth losing track of time for.

The characters and setting felt real. I could see them, feel them, smell them. I got lost in this world which only existed for them, and I, merely a spectator was granted the opportunity to be invited inside.

It was dark. It was dark and yet, somehow as I read I begged for some way to illuminate it. For the glow to be a way out. For hope.

It’s hard to explain that last sentence without spoiling the book, but I truly believe this novel is worth reading.


The Characters

Naomi was an excellent leading lady. She was smart, witty and extremely fashionable. She never bowed her head, always staying true to herself. Thinking through each of her actions as she tried to figure out how to both help and protect her cousin Catalina, and later Francis.

I also adored the strong bond between Catalina and Naomi. Being able to see Catalina through Naomi’ eyes, and how living with her husbands family had changed her was heartbreaking. To be able to see this beautiful, kind soul, withering away like that…I truly felt Naomi’s pain as she interacted with her cousin.

Francis surprised me. He appears weaker and more timid than Virgil, almost like if one were to compare say the classic trope of the jock and the nerd. I immediately liked Francis, mainly because of his name and the fact that he spends much of his time reading or drawing. His quietness was a comfort, which is strange because the silence in this house is so eerie. It was his small gestures that really made him stand out. Subtle actions, like lending Naomi his sweater, or driving her to town. Little things that truly showed the depth of his character.


I purchased a copy of The Gods of Jade and Shadow before I reached the conclusion of this book, and was again immediately drawn in by the passages. I may have found a new favourite author, which is a wonderful feeling. I love that these books are also #ownvoices and written by a fellow Canadian author. Initially I was drawn in by the title of Mexican Gothic, as I do enjoy gothic literature and thought it might be nice to read a modern take on the genre. I’m so glad I did because if I would I would give this book a 10 star rating. It was perfect. I wouldn’t change a thing.

To keep with the usual 5 star rating though, it gets a full 5 star from me. Well done.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Somethings Wrong With Us – Manga Review

The other day I finished reading the first three volumes of Somethings Wrong With Us by Natsumi Ando. I picked up the first volume after looking it over a few times. I thought the cover was beautiful, and the blurb on the back was intriguing.

From Goodreads: A spine-chilling and steamy romance between a Japanese sweets maker and the man who framed her mother for murder–Something’s Wrong With Us is the dark, psychological, sexy shojo series readers have been waiting for!


This series has gone above and beyond my expectations. That’s not something I usually say when it comes to shojo. Most are predictable and follow the same set of rules, but this one reminds me of thriller series like Monster or Blood on the Tracks. It still encompasses shojo elements and tropes, but there is so much more to this story than two characters who seem drawn together. There is an eeriness…or a loneliness that lingers in the text. It’s almost worse than a cliffhanger. This is one of those series that I couldn’t put down. I had to know what was coming next. I needed to see how this mystery unravels.

Surprisingly…at least to myself, I don’t read a lot of mysteries. I enjoy them immensely, especially when I watch them. I read more of them as a kid but for some reason as I got older I strayed away from the genre. These types of books are always so much fun. I love trying to guess whats going to happen next. I love the how high the stakes are raised in these types of stories! It’s exciting!

This series blends genres so well, and on top of that the artwork is gorgeous. I can also tell that a lot of research went into this series. I’m not a confectioner or anything, but I’ve really enjoyed learning about how much work goes into creating sweets and the amount of attention to detail confectioners have. This really adds something to the characters…and although the two leads have this in common, their approaches to it are vastly different.

The leading lady of this story is Nao. It’s hard not to connect with her off the bat. She’s determined, thoughtful, and passionate. She seems like the type of person who would be a very loyal and compassionate friend.

Tsubaki on the other hand is difficult to read. His character is a puzzle itself, especially to Nao who knew him when they were children. His actions often don’t reflect what he says. The one thing that is clear about his character, aside from his disciplined actions is that he’s lonely.

I like that Nao and Tsubaki both contrast and compliment one another. Their dynamic is interesting. Nao seems to have a push and pull method to their relationship. She’s constantly fighting herself internally, as she doesn’t want to get close to him, while Tsubaki’s intentions are often confusing.

Personally, I think that he feels drawn to her but doesn’t know if he can trust her. He can’t even trust his own family members…which is sad. It’s as though both him and Nao are orphans, despite Tsubaki’s mother still being alive.

I’m very curious to see what’s in store for these two in the next volume!

My rating:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Reading and Writing

Oddly enough, every book I’ve read/purchased within these past couple of weeks has a pink and blue cover. Perhaps it’s my brain reminding me that spring is coming or my love for cotton candy ice cream?

Either way, each of these books have been fantastic and engaging. I’m thrilled every time I pick one up.

A lot of the ARCs I’d been reading/was interested in came out this month so I’ve been making a list of which ones I definitely want to check out.

Editing has put me a little behind in my reading schedule. If only reading your own work over and over counted towards your reading goals for the year. Oh well. I enjoy the editing process. I continue to learn new things about my own writing and how I can improve the development of my characters and stories. It’s almost like when you’re studying a text but instead of doing a single scene analysis, you’re analyzing it as a whole. I hope that I can apply everything I’ve learned to my other projects.

Reading books within my genre also assist me when I’m editing. They provide examples of different things that I may be trying to improve upon in my own work, which is wonderful. It also allows me to see how others go about conveying certain elements of their story, such as feelings of loss or frustration.

There are times when putting certain emotions to paper is difficult. Mainly because it is so easy to say that a character is feeling uncomfortable versus showing that discomfort within a scene. It’s something that takes a lot of practice and I truly believe that part of that practice does come from the books we consume as authors.

I’m curious to see what types of books I consume the most this year and how that reflects my writing.

BookTuber’s to Watch

BookTube makes me so happy. It’s comforting…it completely contrasts those drama channels I end up binging. I mean, yes there is of course drama IN the books themselves and like all YouTube communities there has been a bit of discourse in the community over the years.

However, BookTube is a special place for me. I’ve seen favourites of mine cry during live stream discussions, or crack jokes about their favourite scene in a book. I’ve grown found of certain reviewers, whether it be the way they aggressively unbox things during a haul, or wrap themselves in a blanket and drink coffee while gushing over their latest read. I also love the rants and the unhauls. I didn’t even realize unhauls were a thing until recently…and I’ve been binging those too.

For this post I thought I would share a handful of BookTuber’s I enjoy.

Big City Bee

Bee has the cutest videos! I love her blooper reels and how she teases the books in her thumbnails. This here is her latest video, which is Valentine themed. She even wore read!

I like Bee’s videos because they’re just…warm and fun. I also like that they’re not too long. Bee also includes music in their videos which I love! A lot of the BookTuber’s I watch don’t include music. I find the music Bee uses really compliment the video style, and Bee’s personality! Bee also has a fantastic editing style! I’m honestly jealous of how good it is!

I also recommend checking out their bookstagram and twitter!

The Bookish Realm

The Bookish Realm is my go to for overall BookTube community discussions. Also, every time I watch one of their videos, they are sporting a really cute lipstick! I know lipstick seems like a weird thing to mention in regards to books…but I love how every booktuber I watch has this little thing that shows off their personality.

The Bookish Realm reviews a bunch of books across the board, from Middle Grade to General Fiction. I love their fantasy and YA recommendations. Especially for series. They’re also a librarian, which I think might be another reason why I love their discussions so much. They are so thoughtful and insightful when it comes to critiquing books as well as talking about ways we can improve the BookTube community! I highly recommend checking out their channel!

Connor Stompanato

The first video I watched of Connor’s they were baking a book cover inspired cake. I thought this was so cool and subscribed automatically.

I like when they do vlog type videos and also the fact that they review both classic books and books by indie authors. I don’t know a lot of BookTuber’s that highlight Indie books like Connor does. I think this is great because there is still a divide between traditional publishing and indie/self publishing. Connor highlighting indie books in his videos while also talking about traditionally published literary classics is the contrast we need!

I also recommend checking out Connor’s instagram for more book related content!

Pygmy Puff Reads

Like Bee, Pygmy Puff tends to review one book at a time. Something that I really like, as it keeps the videos a bit shorter. I recently found their channel and the first thing I noticed is that Pygmy is bubbly and fun and gives such thoughtful reviews!

I also like that they try to keep their reviews spoiler free and aren’t afraid to discuss books in relation to what’s going on in the world today.

The Redhead Reader

Sasha is The Redhead Reader, and has a cat! If you love cute little balls of fluff that is just one of the reasons you should check out their videos! I also really like how when they talk, it’s very conversational. Their reviews aren’t very long and their hauls are always fun! They’re also sweet, honest and funny.

Breakeven Books

I really love how Eric/Breakeven Books reviews Graphic Novels, which is why I selected this video. I don’t follow many BookTuber’s who recommend them as well as reviewing novels.

I also read both, so it’s refreshing to find someone else who does too.

Breakeven Books is kind, funny and gives thoughtful honest reviews on everything they read. I’ve loved watching their channel grow.

Rue’s Reading Corner

Rue also reads graphic novels and manga. As I mentioned before, I don’t find many BookTuber’s who review both so I’m always happy when I do.

Rue is bubbly, warm and enthusiastic, especially in their hauls. I’ve said this about other BookTuber’s on this list, but I like that Rue’s videos aren’t too long. I think the reason I enjoy the shorter videos is because I can watch them when I’m on break during work.

If you’re into manga and anime I definitely recommend checking out Rue’s channel!

Myonna Reads

Myonna is extremely fashionable and fun. I love her unhaul videos as much as her hauls. She’s a book collector as well as a reader and reviewer.

I like how her book space looks. It gives off a warm, comforting feel. Her videos make me want to redo a ton of my book spaces around the house. Mine are usually very messy…

Myonna’s novel reviews are really lovely, bubbly and honest.

Little Wolf

Little Wolf or Tish’s videos kind of give off this academia vibe. They remind me of when I used to sit and read in one of the campus pubs between classes while I was in university. It’s comforting…familiar.

They do more than just reviews but also have discussions on their channel, and do some themed videos as well. In this video, which was released back in June, they discuss the BookTube community. Much like Bookish Realm, they do these thoughtful video discussions with their subscribers and speak truthfully about their feelings toward the overall community.

I’ve also seen Myonna do discussion videos like these as well, which I’m truly grateful for. These discussions are important, as I believe Pygmy mentioned in their video review about Sun About Age.


I hope you’ll check out some of these BookTuber’s and take the time to check out the bigger discussions that the BookTuber community has been having, especially the discussions regarding the treatment of POC on the platform.

I want to encourage everyone to not only seek out POC voices during Black History Month and when BLM is trending, but year round. These issues and discussions are apart of peoples every day lives! Continue to seek out BIPOC authors, support BIPOC creators, businesses. Expand and educate yourself.

Novel Update

It’s been a while since I’ve post a writing update vlog/blog. Today I spent the afternoon writing, after watching Netflix for an hour. I binged two different shows in January and am pretty bummed out that I’ve finished them. I’ll probably check out a few different shows on Netflix until I find something new.

I’ve been going back and forth between two different writing projects, the first is the sequel to my debut and the other a novel that I’ve been working on since last summer.

I wouldn’t recommend working on several projects at once. It can get kind of hectic…then again I find that multi-writing occasionally works for me. If I’m stuck on a scene in one book, I’m able to work on something else while I brainstorm. As long as I’m still writing I don’t get writing block, which prevents me from feeling stressed or burned out.

This was something a professor of mine recommended and it’s probably some of the best writing advice I’ve ever received.

Anyway, I’ve made good progress on my sequel so far. I’m currently on chapter six. As for my other project, I’ve been editing and rewriting a few scenes. That’s actually been going fairly well. I definitely want to set a completion deadline for both. Setting a deadline is a good habit. It keeps me on top of my work, while also managing my other jobs.

I ordered pizza for dinner, which I’m definitely looking forward to. I ended up moving my laptop onto my vanity since the mirror isn’t finished yet, and am going to try writing from here for a bit today while I wait for my laundry to finish. I figured I’d be less distracted sitting on a stool versus laying on bed, wrapped in my fluffy red Indigo blanket. I’ve also got some stuff in my sketchbook to finish colouring…so I think I’ll do that after I post this.

I’m pleased with how my writing has evolved since going through the editing process. It’s kind of weird writing after doing so many edits…and editing for others. I can’t stop thinking “Oh this words one of your crutch words. Change it!” or thinking about better ways to have my characters interact with their surroundings. I’m applying so many different things that I’ve learned from reading and writing and studying the craft all these years, which feels…really nice. It’s just nice to see my own growth. It’s not something I usually pay much attention to unless I decide to revisit my older work.

I’m hoping to post a writing vlog sometime this month. I’ve got a lot of books to read on top of work, so I’m praying I can get to that soon. In the meantime, I’d best get back to work. I want to start colouring before my pizza arrives!

5th Grade Challenge Audio Book!

All the chapters for The 5th Grade Challenge are up on YouTube! I had so much fun recording this audio book for Jamaal Fridge. He’s created a fun cast of character’s, I definitely recommend checking out his work!

I think my favourite scenes were between Amber and James, but I loved voicing everyone equally.

Stories like this are fun, exciting, and filled with a wave of emotions! Working on The 5th Grade Challenge reminded me of why I love to read so much! Voicing these characters rekindled that initial joy books used to bring me!

My rating:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

You can check it out on Goodreads as well!

Reviewing a book I auditioned for!

I decided to request an ARC copy of a book I auditioned for earlier this month and was accepted. I loved the passages for the little sister that I got to read for my audition.

I love audio book auditions because I get a sneak peak at new books before they’re even offered as ARCs and before I unbox them at work. One of my favourite things to do at my part-time job is unbox the new releases. It’s so exciting seeing that final cover design, and…the new book smell. It is a thing! It is so comforting. Old book smell is its own comfort, but to me the most comforting thing about an old book is the bends in the spine, the gently crumbled pages and the slight browning of the paper.

I’m so excited to read this book. I was actually going to buy it when it released and review it anyway! It was already on my TBR.

I was also accepted for a bunch of other ARCs, but I’m currently reading the one and am hoping to finish it by the end of the week so that I can post the review. I’m going to be reviewing the Anne of Green Gables manga sometime this month as well, since I was accepted for that.

Fun fact: I’m that typical Canadian who loves L.M Montgomery. Anne, Emily. My favourite adaptation of Emily was the anime actually! I liked the live action show and I’d actually love if Netflix picked it up and revamped it…but they should definitely do it the way the anime was done because it followed the books. No one was turning into a kelpie. I mean, yah I’m Scottish on my Dad’s side but like…the random Scottish folklore being thrown in during those later seasons was…out of genre for how the series started. If they’d always talked about her having second sight and such earlier on, it wouldn’t have been so random. I liked it, but the genre switch was completely random.

Anne with an E was definitely well done in my opinion. I know of a handful of people who didn’t like it because it wasn’t as light and cheery as the previous adaptations (I own a bunch of those on VHS). I have yet to see a version of Anne that I can say I absolutely hate. The films and Anne with an E in my personal opinion, captured Anne, Diana and Gilbert well. Actually, I’ve found that the show versions of Diana truly grasp how important her friendship is to Anne in a way that the films (mainly because of the time length) aren’t able to capture.

Well, that’s enough about Anne.

I’m looking forward to reading these ARCs! I have high hopes for several of these books, but I’m also a bit nervous. I’m always open to reading new authors but I’m not always open to delving into new genres. I read a fair amount of different ones and will read anything ranging from Middle Grade to General Fiction. I love comics. If I’m being 100% honest, I adore them. Still, for me its all about the authors writing style and how quickly I connect with the characters. The plot draws me in and entices me to read but the character’s are what keep me invested.

Fingers crossed I like them all! I’ve already had one disappointing review for this year and I definitely need to read something to make up for it!

Absolutely Delightful…

Have you ever been so immersed in a book it’s almost as if you were in a dream? I love when that happens, that moment you escape. I’ve read a lot of different books lately and with each one I’m praying for that experience of being drawn into the pages and disappearing inside them for hours.

I’m not sure why books induce this almost dream-like state but I feel well rested after as well. Writing about this now, I’m a bit embarrassed because I can’t help but think “this sounds insane” and yet I know there are people who’ve experienced this same thing.

Reading to me is no different than when I used to play dolls. Letting your imagination take charge and creating and exploring (sometimes the impossible!) in your head. It’s like the perfect balance between fiction and reality because you know in fact that it’s all a play but you engage with it because it’s absolutely delightful…or disturbing if you’re reading a horror novel…but then again some books (and films) can be disturbingly delightful.

In my last post I felt almost betrayed by what I’d read. Books for me have always been my favourite place…not just thing…but a place, because every book has a new setting, a new set of character’s to meet and new things to discover along the way. I love that about them. I like to venture into spooky old mansions, or travel across space…just from the comfort of my bedroom.

Each time I read a good book, it’s like being in a long dream. A good dream. A dream that keeps you guessing. A dream that gives you a warm feeling. A dream that lingers with you after you wake up. Books are beautiful in that sense.

Absolutely beautiful.

Upcoming Reviews

2021 is here and I am pumped about all the books on my TBR! I have high hopes. I was accepted for 2 arc reviews that I’m looking forward to reading. Along with that I’ve decided on the books and series that I’ll be starting the year off with!

Manga:

Marmalade Boy:

I’ve already read and reviewed the first volume in this series. I’m currently on volume 6 now…and yes I’ve only been reading it for a few days.

Do I sleep? Ha…not since I started reading this.

That aside, I plan on doing a full series review once I get through each and every volume of this series. I can’t wait!

I might also review the anime after I finish the series!

Ultra Maniac

I’m familiar with this series but haven’t read it, so I thought “Hey, I’m on an 90s early 00s manga binge right now. Why not go for it!”

It sounds really cute. I can’t wait to review it!

Fever

I know very little about this series. I judged it by it’s cover. I know…bad…but it’s a book, we do that sometimes.

I also read the synopsis and it sounded kind of interesting. I’m taking a risk giving this manwha a chance.

The cover art for the series is gorgeous.

Lovely Lesson

Lovely Lesson is another series that I’m not very familiar with but I thought it might be interesting to read.

This one I judged by the synopsis and the cover.

Who knows maybe it’ll be a fun read?

Perfect World (Vol 1 – 3)

This is a series I picked up on a whim. I was given the first three volumes from Book Santa. Yes, there is such thing. Book Santa is the Santa that gives you books. It’s the same as regular Santa but…you get BOOKS! Isn’t that awesome!?

Anyway the series looks really good and I’m looking forward to reading it!

Blood on the Tracks (Vol.1 and 2)

The first book of this series had me shooketh to the core. Like whoa…

Anyway no spoilers! This is the only horror on my list for as you can see the others are all shojo, romance types. This however was dubbed by one YouTuber as “the series that breaks people” and so I totally had to read it.

I actually stumbled upon it by accident. See, first I saw it at the store and was like “I wonder what that’s about” and then I went home and finished watching a YouTube video that was talking about the history of Horror and how the Horror genre’s book covers have lost their identity. Immediately after that video finished another began to auto-play, featuring Blood on the Tracks.

The following day I bought volume 1.

Then volume 2 was given to me by Book Santa!

I can’t wait to review these.

Comics

Jughead’s Time Police:

If you weren’t aware, I’m a big fan of the Archie comics. I’ve been reading them for as long as I can remember. My mom had a bunch and so did my great-uncle. In university I started adding my own books to the collection, especially after my great-uncle passed away.

My only comment about this franchise is that I wish they would watch out for spelling errors. I’ve purchased several in recent years that had at least 3 mistakes each. I’m not usually this picky about print errors and things but 3 or more mistakes becomes distracting to the reader. I also feel that with such a large company, this really shouldn’t be happening as frequently as it does. If I find any in this comic, I will comment about it in the review and it will probably taint the overall rating, because as I mentioned this wouldn’t be the first time.

That aside, the Jughead comics in these past few years have been really fun! I loved the Sabrina cross overs as well. Jughead’s Time Police covers all the variations of Jughead throughout the comic (and Riverdale’s) history. Basically I’m hoping this comic has the character poking fun at himself. It’ll be fun to see a bunch of Jugheads going head to head…get it? Head to head. Yah…it’s not that funny but I tried!

Novels

As mentioned I’ve been accepted for 2 ARC reviews! One of those is a novel. I’ll be sharing what book it is at a later date but I’m fairly excited to read it as I’d heard rumours about it circulating Bookstagram and got to see the cover reveal a little while back!

As for other novels, I’m still undecided. I’ve got some ideas in mind but because of the lock down I don’t currently have access to those books.

I may however, reread and review an old favourite of mine or even a few of the novels I was forced to read in university and high school…to see if my poor opinion of them changed.


I just want to finish off this post by saying a fly just flew into my cup and I am very sad. Just…why? It didn’t have to drown. It didn’t. But it did. In my drink. I am. So. Upset.

R.I.P Fly McGuy, Jan 4th, 2021