It feels so strange to be compiling all of this, but also so good? It’s been a long damn time since I wrote mini reviews for books, and I really enjoyed getting back to collecting my thoughts on them. It’s also been a long damn time since reading felt like anything but a chore, and it’s nice to see how much I’m getting back to enjoying reading itself without any of the weird rules and parameters I put on it before. So, hi! This is fun.
Mini Book Reviews
🌈 LGBTQPIA+ characters
🔥 BIPOC authors
🌑 BIPOC characters
Jurassic Park | Michael Crichton
I can’t get over how much I loved this. It’s been a time and a half for me with reading lately, and I really think this did the trick. I’ve been looking forward to reading every night because I’ve just had the absolute best time. And sure, it’s Jurassic Park, so I was bound to love this, but it was even better than I was expecting because Crichton put so much research and effort, and the world building was phenomenal because of that. I am so excited to rewatch the movie this weekend and get cracking on the second book, though I’m sure I’m going to be bereft that there’s only two.
Mysteries of Thorn Manor | Margaret Rogerson
Oh, this was just everything. Everything and more, truly. This is the fluffiest thing I’ve ever read–nightmares and comforting, proposals and magic, angst and romance and ughhhhh. It was so good. I want to reread this seventeen times. I want to reread the actual book and then read this, just over and over, for the rest of my life. I don’t want a sequel at all because this was everything. There’s really nothing else to say because I just loved this so much.
The Lost World | Michael Crichton
I don’t know why I was expecting these books to not be as good as they were, but I read the last 200 pages in one sitting because I well and truly could not put this down! Lately, every time I’ve been reading, I get about fifty pages into a book, consider that my due diligence, and go do something else. I didn’t even kind of think about doing that with this, and it was fantastic. I wanted to read all the way through, which was definitely helped in part by the fact that I remembered absolutely nothing of the plot right up until Sarah’s stuck in the trailer as it’s going over the cliff, and I had this sudden oh it’s THAT movie moment. I’m honestly really sad that there aren’t more books after this. I’d read about Crichton and dinosaurs for the rest of my days.
Waypoints: My Scottish Journey | Sam Heughan (audiobook)
This was so damn good. Audiobooks usually take me a few weeks to listen to, but I just could not stop listening to this. I kept thinking about the next time I would be able to put in my headphones and keep listening, and I bought Heughan’s other book, Clanlands, only about an hour into this one. I’m so glad that I listened to them, too, because Heughan is not only a fantastic writer, but an outstanding narrator, and I was actually laughing out loud in the middle of grocery shopping. This was just A++++, and it’s making me want to binge watch the rest of Outlander and immediately start his other audiobook.
Dark Rise | C.S. Pacat 🌈
Honestly? Ten thousand stars, this was truly fantastic. Like, I knew it was going to be good because one of my good friends recommended it highly, and I trust their taste, but I was not expecting it to be that good. There’s so much Tolkien imagery wrapped up into this, but in a way that feels inspirational rather than thieving, and it ended up making those scenes even more powerful. Like, actual goosebumps, multiple times. The writing was next level, and now I want to read Pacat’s other books because the characters were also yes and thank you and more please, and that plot twist? I should have seen it coming so much sooner, but I’m so glad I didn’t because I loved watching it unfold so much.
The Hobbit | JRR Tolkien, narrated by Andy Serkis
This was so good. I’m still docking it a star because I still have the same complaints about introducing Smaug for the entire book only to kill him immediately after finally seeing him, and that the Battle of Five Armies is a single chapter long, but the audiobook itself was fantastic. The Hobbit is pretty low on my list of Tolkien books, but Andy did such a wonderful job with the narration, as always, and I am just over the moon that he’s going to be doing a Silmarillion audiobook, too.
From Blood and Ash | Jennifer L. Armentrout
(1/1-1/8) DNF @ 250 pages
I tried so hard to like this book. The MC’s name, Penellaphe, really gave me a big ole halt because wow what a “this is my first fantasy novel ever in the history” vibe, and that’s not a bad thing, but I left stupid names like that behind me literally years ago because stupid fantasy names usually equal a meh quality book. It’s just math. The writing in this was pretty atrocious in an early fanfiction sort of way, but I was willing to look past it for the sake of vampires, but then I was halfway into the book, and there were still no vampires, and I could see the plot “twists” coming a mile away, and the vampires were probably going to be the villains, and I just kept not wanting to read this and then being bored while I was, so. That was that. I can understand why others love this, but it’s not for me.
I can’t believe how truly bad Don’t Worry Darling was. Like, I knew it was going to be bad, and I’d prepared myself for just being there to sigh over Harry and Florence, but wowza. That was one of the worst movies I’ve ever watched, and it started that way. Right from the beginning, it was just terrible. If Wilde hadn’t already dug a hole for herself over the DWD drama, the movie itself certainly did the job for her.
I’m still steadily making my way through Outlander, which seems ridiculous since it’s been probably three or so months, and I’m only on season two, but TV is hard for me to prioritize, so I tend to binge a bunch of episodes on a random weekend and then not again for a few weeks. Either way, I’m really enjoying it still! I’d love to be able to finish it off before I go to Scotland, and it’s definitely making me yearn for Scotland while I’m watching it, so the two suit each other.
Erin has apparently been trying to get me to watch The Trouble With Angels for ages, though she kept pitching it as a private boarding school with nuns, and that really did not do it justice. It was really cute and fun, and I loved the queer undertones in it. This was a huge step up from having watched the travesty that is Don’t Worry Darling, too.
I don’t think I’ve seen Jurassic Park since I was a child? I don’t even know how I saw it then. We probably rented the VHS from the library, and my mom was probably mad about it because it was definitely a scary movie back then. It was so good to return to it, especially after having read the book, and I really can’t wait to watch the second two in the original trilogy because I don’t remember them at all.
Erin & I were on two totally different vibes when we watched Summerland, but since she’d gotten her way recently, I got my way this time, and we were both pleased about it. This definitely felt like it was based on a book, and I’m honestly pretty bummed that it wasn’t because I’d read the hell out of this. It was like a queer historical Hallmark, but with better writing and acting, and while the ending was a little too good to be true, I absolutely adored every second of this.
Erin watched The Menu three times in one week, so we obviously had to watch it for our weekly movie, and damn. It was a wild cross between the beauty of the Hannibal Lecter TV show and that book that I can’t remember that’s about people being hunted on an island and Midsommar. It was freaking amazing even if it was absolutely horrific, and I was pleasantly surprised by the ending. I’d definitely watch this again and love it just as much.
It’s been a really slow start to the year, which I’m pleased about because February is going to be absolutely bonkers. I started the year out with my annual 108s, and they kicked my ass. I kept reflecting on how 108s five years ago was a much different experience than right now. 25-year-old Mary went about her day and hung out with her friends after doing 108s. 30-year-old Mary took some Ibuprofen and laid down on the couch for a few hours.
I’ve been getting back to climbing now that Ryan is back from Indonesia, too, and really trying to push myself. He was gone for a month, and I only climbed twice during that month, so my ability to climb hard just floated down the drain, so it’s been a bit of a wake-up call these first few times back with him. I’m getting there, though, and I’ve been able to yell through a few 5.9s again.
I also, um? Got bangs?? I don’t know who I think I am, but I freaking love them, and while I may not keep them past this haircut (I really haven’t decided), I’m so glad I finally did it. I’ve been thinking about doing it for months now, and I’m really enjoying how godsdamn cute they make me look. And yes, that is a crushed velvet forest green cloak that I got from Nocturne in Salem that I’m wearing in the snowy woods across the street from my house, and I feel magnificent.
I also got a new tattoo! It’s incomplete, so I’m not sharing a picture of it, but I’m really pleased with it. I’ve been trying to get this tattoo since November, so the fact that it’s finally happening, and it’s so much more than I was anticipating, is just wonderful. We got about half of it done, and the next session is in a few months unless she can sneak me in sooner, so I’ll have a picture of it eventually. We managed to get the entire outline of the dragon done, though, and about half of the shading, so all that’s left is the other half of the shading, the fire & smoke, and Elwing in bird form, and then I’ll have the complete scene of Ancalagon vs Eärendil. Which, now that I’m typing this out, I lowkey want to get Thangorodrim and maybe Angband quietly chilling at the base of them with Fingolfin riding in his for his single combat against Morgoth?? Let’s gooooooo.
Overall, it’s been a quiet month. I’ve got no goals set or deadlines or things I have to do, and I’m really enjoying it. I’m excited to see what this year brings, but in a gentle sort of way.
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