Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Book Review: Escaping from Houdini

Ya'll, I cannot even tell you how disappointed I was in this book. I devoured Stalking Jack the Ripper and Hunting Prince Dracula, because this was YA I could get behind: young woman learns what is, essentially, early forensics, accompanies her uncle solving gruesome mysteries, exchanges sexy banter with said uncle's apprentice. This is everything I want in books: murder, female agency, Victorian times, gothic stuff, sexy-witty times (with no actual sex. Almost every book needs more murder and less sex). 

I waited a year for the next book in the series to come out, stalking the author on Goodreads and Insta and everything for each little update. 

What this book didn't need: gratuitously gory murders to the point of humor, and a love triangle.

You know what the world of books needs less of? LOVE TRIANGLES. Especially in YA books. No more poor plucky girls rising up to overthrow Patriarchies, either. I dislike YA books, by and large, because of their sameness. What made this series unique was how un-YA it was. The stories are tropey, sure, but I felt like Maniscalco was being authentic--telling a fun story and being lighthearted in the places where she fell too far down the trope hole. They were cleverly unpolished, which made them seem more genuine. I mean, let's be real: no young woman in the Victorian was cutting open bodies. It's not a realistic series, but it was a damn good time. 

This last book was ridiculous. It's like her publishers gave her a list of terrible YA things to include and wouldn't publish the book without it. 

This book was long-winded, the edgelord murders dull and almost comical, the new characters unrealistic, flat, and unnecessary, and the existing characters extremely OOC. Not to mention, the book is named after Houdini and I'm not sure he says more than like, a sentence. 

Cannot recommend, and can't really say I'm excited about Book #4. I'll give it a glance over to see if Maniscalco (who seems like a really good, cool person I'd like to be friends with) redeems herself and her characters, but I'm not hyped like I was for this one. Most people seem to disagree with me, though, as the reviews are overwhelmingly positive.

I do recommend Stalking Jack the Ripper, though, which was a fun ride from start to finish even if it was a little predictable. Hunting Prince Dracula teetered on the line of where I was willing to suspend my disbelief (a co-ed forensics school held inside Dracula's castle? REALLY?), and was also gratuitously gory (there's one scene that features a LITERAL bathtub full of blood), but the character development and relationship between Audrey Rose and Thomas kept me going. Also Dracula. Anything with Dracula is probably better than things without Dracula. 

Houdini made me want to exsanguinate myself. No, thanks. 

Monday, October 15, 2018

Do come across.

This is our song this week because I've been listening to it pretty much nonstop for the last 4 or 5 days. Also, this version is better than the studio recording because Floor > Annette, come at me. 

Also I really want to go to Wacken.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Something wicked this way SMELLS.

I'm a pretty olfactory person--I can pick out different smells and notes, and "scent memory" is my strongest. So of course, I have to have special smells for HALLOWEEN. These are my favorite "spooky perfumes," almost all of which are from an Etsy shop called Red Deer Grove and its sister shop, Anam Cara Gifts

By and large, I dislike mass-produced fragrances. They all end up smelling the same with slight variations ("all florals smell like this!") and have really poor staying power (that said, I have a few favorites, of course). I've come to enjoy buying fragrance from smaller places that use higher quality ingredients. They're more unique, last longer, and I'd rather give my money to hard-working perfumers than the latest celebrity poptart, anyway. 

Halloween smells exactly how you'd imagine (pumpkins, spices, a little smoky) and one from Amazon (of all places) called "Majickal Moon" combines pumpkin and lavender. Which sounds bizarre but is actually one of my favorite scent combinations. 

I could not possibly resist either of these. Poe smells amazing...I can't really describe it other than "leafy and spicy." I like to imagine this is how Edgar Allan Poe's jacket might have smelled. It's lovely and complex, just like the author. 
And Morticia is a gorgeous smell I wear year round. It's mostly floral, but it's also...cold? It smells icy, somehow, and I like that. 

And lastly, because Dracula is possibly my favorite book of all time, I am an absolute sucker for these Stoker-themed perfumes. Mina is very complex...it's sweet and floral but really dark and woodsy at the same time (kinda like Mina?). 
Vampire Suicide smells like a burning church--I have no other way to describe it. Just really smoky which makes it inappropriate for work, but I like to layer it under other things. 
And lastly, Van Helsing may well be my favorite out of the whole lot. Kind of like Poe, I like to imagine this is what Van Helsing's study smelled like: clean cedar, smoke, bergamot, clove. It's warm and comforting and spicy and I love it. Another one I wear all the time even if it's not SPOOKYTIME.

(Side note: it is always spookytime.)

The good news is most of these are unisex, and a lot of them are more "masculine" than feminine. They come in small bottles that are either spray bottle or rollerball (your choice), and at $9 a pop, it's an affordable addiction to have. If you want to try a dark, complex, non-commercial fragrance (also if you like dragon's blood, there's a lot of dragon's blood), I can't recommend them highly enough!

Monday, October 8, 2018

Show me your precious darlings, and I will crush them all.

I took a hiatus, but I'm back! For this metal mixtape Monday, enjoy my favorite, Marco, guest starring with Delain, a Dutch symphonic metal group similar to Within Temptation (I think they share a keyboardist? Need to fact check.). 

Have a great week!

Monday, September 10, 2018

As the day turns into night, the windows become mirrors and I am left with myself.

This is a deep cut, one that I'm pretty sure made it onto all the actual mixtapes I made my friends in high school. Enjoy this strange electro-opera offering. 

Saturday, September 8, 2018


I wanted to do a really quick-n-dirty review of Marco Hietala's book Stainless, mostly because I said I would on Monday but also because it was a really interesting read. 

So first of all, the book is only available from Finland (link below). Second: IT'S SIGNED and I totally freaked out when I opened it. YAY!

For anyone who doesn't know, Marco is the bassist and vocalist of the bands Nightwish and Tarot (though Tarot hasn't done a lot lately, which, personal opinion, is okay, because MOAR NIGHTWISH). This book is basically a memoir, Marco's retelling of his life up to this point. 

Of course, there's the typical sex-drugs-rock'n'roll stuff, but even those parts aren't totally salacious. If you're looking for a gossipy tell-all, this isn't it (he also glossed over the Nightwish drama, which is fine. You can read about it in Once Upon a Nightwish, a must-read for fans). It is, however, a really interesting look at a dude who's been in the business of metal since Black Sabbath first came out, who's still making excellent music, and some of the things he's learned along the way. 

I feel like nothing got lost in translation with this book. Marco's extremely fluent in English (he talks about how it was his best subject in school, and in person he speaks with almost no accent at all), so getting to see his eloquence shine was lovely. Although I don't agree with his philosophies 100%, I loved getting a peek inside Marco's mind and reading his opinions on various institutions, people, and historical events. I liked that he took us basically from birth to present and that I wasn't bored at all during the journey. I especially love that a badass Viking-looking dude opened himself up and was honest about his personal struggles with relationships, alcoholism, and depression. The Finns are a notoriously introverted people, so I can respect the amount of strength it takes to make yourself publicly vulnerable like that. 

Overall, nothing but respect for this guy. He's a living series of contradictions, and I always love those people the best. He's the badass with a heart of gold, a closet intellectual that people would write off as a metalhead know-nothing, and a sweet guy who growls his lyrics ferociously. The day Nightwish was in St. Pete and I went to see them, he canceled his meet and greets because he was sick. Having seen him absolutely shred on stage later that night, I would never have known it. He's a consummate professional (aside from the hotel trashing, whoops), a deeper soul than he appears, and a reminder that there's beauty in the beast.

Also: best hair and beard ever, the end. 

Enjoy my favorite excerpts below, and order the book here. 

Monday, September 3, 2018

Now his love's a memory, a ghost in the fog...

Today's song is The Islander, written and sung by Marco Hietala  whose biography I'll review later this week (click here to read the review). 

Even though I personally don't love the Annette era of Nightwish, this is an excellent song. I wish the albums featured more songs written by the other band members, especially if they're churning out this level of magic. 

Sunday, September 2, 2018

I collect broken things:

Broken dolls, broken dreams, 

Paper doves with broken wings,

But in my collection my favorite parts

Are broken people with broken hearts. 

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Book review: Return to Fear Street--You May Now Kill the Bride

This book was really good--I devoured it in a night. 

Without spoiling anything, it starts in the 1920's with a Fear family wedding. Fast forward to the present day, and Harmony Fear is preparing for her sister's wedding. As the ramifications of that day almost a hundred years ago loom over another Fear family wedding, can Harmony break her family's curse? And solve the mystery surrounding her family's past? 

Overall, it was the quick "cheap thrill" kind of read that Stine is known for...nothing too graphic or horrifying. Would definitely recommend to my YA readers. 

What interested me most is Stine's portrayal of sisters. I don't have one, so I can't say this with authority, but he seems to write the nuances of sisterhood really well, capturing both the closeness and the competition/jealousy that so many sisters seem to share. Would be interested to hear what others think.

Also, the cover art is amazing. Everything down to the worn-out edges to the font to the colors is absolutely perfect. 

Anyway, 4/5 stars, do recommend (especially if you like tropey light horror).