House of Names by Colm Tóibín

House of Names

(Caidyn)

4.5/5

I said this in a First Lines Friday a while ago, but this author is quickly becoming a favorite of mine. Now that I’ve read three of his books, I really think he’s a fantastic author.

But this book is very different than what I’ve read of his thus far. It takes place in Ancient Greece, piggybacking off of a myth that many are familiar with. The Illiad showed the murder/sacrifice of Agamemnon’s daughter, Iphigenia, to start the wind. It recounts that story from the perspective of her mother, Clytemnestra, along with her siblings, Electra and Orestes.

What I found most amazing about this story was how it seamlessly told the aftermath (also recounted in mythology) of this death, and Toibin did so through those three very different perspectives. The mourning mother who wants nothing but revenge. The confused brother who was too young to understand. The sister who was left behind and only heard rumors, left to make her mind up about what happened.

More than that, it shows how we can all be haunted by the past, the echoes of other people running up and down the halls, full of things you wish you hadn’t done to them. I found it beautiful, despite it being full of murder and death sparked by a father’s decision and a mother’s choice following it.

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First Lines Friday

First Lines Fridays is a weekly feature for book lovers hosted by Wandering Words. What if instead of judging a book by its cover, its author or its prestige, we judged it by its opening lines?

  • Pick a book off your shelf (it could be your current read or on your TBR) and open to the first page
  • Copy the first few lines, but don’t give anything else about the book away just yet – you need to hook the reader first
  • Finally… reveal the book!

Chantel will be in purple.
Caidyn will be in blue.


The end of our final winter break seems almost like the beginning of a victory lap. We’re seven semesters into our high school career, with one last – token, honestly – semester to go. I want to celebrate like your average guy: with some private time and a few mindless hours down the Youtube rabbit hole. Unfortunately, neither of those things is going to happen. 

Because, from across her bed, Autumn is glaring at me, waiting for me to explain myself. 


Okay, this is a book I have been wanting to read since I heard about it. For some reason it’s one that I’ve never picked up despite having it checked out from the library for at least a few months. Every time I look at it I want to read it, but that hasn’t translated to any actual reading. Actually, today is the first day I opened it up and read anything out of it, the first lines that is. 

So what book am I ashamed to admit I haven’t read yet?

Autoboyography by Christina Lauren

Autoboyography cover

I am hoping to start this book really soon because it’s a queer book from last year I still haven’t gotten to. I don’t hear this one talked about very often but I’ve heard good things from what I have heard. 


The moth makes Evie laugh. It lands on her bare forearm and she brushes her index finger lightly across the brown and gray waves that color its wings. “Hello, gorgeous,” she tells the moth. It lifts away. Upward, upward, and upward the moth goes, and is swallowed by a slice of the sun tangled amid the glossy green leaves twenty feet above Evie’s place among the roots on the ground.


That was pretty, wasn’t it? I wanted to do the whole opening passage, which was around half a page, but I decided it was a teensy bit too long and I’m feeling lazy this fine afternoon, so I’m not. You can have the first paragraph.

This is by one of my favorite authors, one he co-wrote with a relative. He’s a prolific horror writer. I mean, I think that should be more than enough hints for you all.

It is…

Sleeping Beauties by Stephen King and Owen King

Sleeping Beauties

I got this book as an add-on through Book of the Month a while back. (I’m not even going to try to look exactly when it was.) But, it’s gorgeous and tops out at a little over 700 pages. A proper tome. Now, I love Stephen King. I can probably name the duds I’ve had from him on one hand.

And, this book is no different. I’m only 80 pages into it and it’s fantastic. The crafting of it is gorgeous, something I have more of an appreciation for thanks to reading On Writing. Characters are fun, the plot is super interesting, and I can’t believe how much I just wanted to read it and curl up with it for a long night.

Black Mirror – Season Four (Part 1)

black-mirror-logo

Black Mirror – Season One
Black Mirror – Season Two + The Christmas Special
Black Mirror – Season Three (Part 1)
Black Mirror – Season Three (Part 2)

Welcome, folks! This is our continuation of reviewing Black Mirror together. There might be minor spoilers below, so be careful with reading it if you want to honestly go in blind to the episodes like we’ve been.

Caidyn will be in blue.
Chantel will be in purple.


USS Callister

We can both agree that this was the standout of the bunch. Usually, we judge that by how much we chat during the episodes. And this one had a lot of chatter for things that were good. And it’s an odd episode that really makes you see things from all sides, not only tying in the tech in past episodes and the implications of the tech.

I think what I enjoyed most about this episode was the way your perception is turned on its head. This is something that happened in “Shut Up and Dance”, one of our favorite episodes, where everything you thought you knew was wrong. I loved seeing that unfold throughout the episode. It questioned technology’s impact on morality and people’s role in it.

The comparison you brought up about “Shut Up and Dance” is apt. At the end of “Shut Up and Dance”, we discover that things weren’t what they led us to believe. In this, you find out pretty early on. You’re drawn to Robert Daly, the main character, as a sympathetic figure and then it slowly changes.

Largely, this episode deals with AI through technology that was introduced to us in White Christmas. When do these intelligent things we create become human? One day, maybe, AI can be called human because it thinks like we do, we can’t tell it apart from humans (i.e. The Turing Test), it feels genuine emotions, it can use/make tools, etc. I really just loved how this episode was crafted, from the characters to the funny one-liners and to that unsettling knot I got in my stomach as I watched the story unfold.

I think there are a few episodes we’ve seen thus far about what is AI and what is human and I think it’s a fascinating question. Are they human when they are self-aware? Or is it more than that. There was a lot of humor in this episode as it’s an homage to Star Trek. I’m not a big Star Trek fan, all I know is mostly from the J.J. Abrams movies but Star Trek is something that is ingrained in American culture. I’m sure that most people know about Kirk and Spock and their dynamics. There are moments of Star Trek that were pivotal to what could be done and shown on television back in the 60’s. So, even if you aren’t a Star Trek fan I think the episode stands on its own.

Chantel and I are different with our experience of Star Trek. I tried to watch the first of the new movies and meh. But I love the old, 60s TV show. Love it. It’s my shit. And this definitely had the 60s feel to it while also being very modern. It was a lot of fun and this probably is in my top three favorite episodes because of the dialogue they created about humanity.

Arkangel

This is the episode we disagree on. In short, this is about the dangers of helicopter parents, which is how I think the past couple generations have been raised. Personally, I haven’t been raised that way to the fullest sense, but I certainly didn’t have the freedom to run and figure out life like other generations did before me.

And this takes that to an extreme. In this episode, a mother gets her daughter fitted with technology that allows her to see her daughter’s life. No joke. She can actually see what her daughter sees. She knows what she’s eating. What she’s doing. Where she is. And on and on. Because of that, she failed to actually parent her child. She constantly did things for her child rather than let her fuck up and figure things out on her own, leading to a child who was extremely ill-equipped for reality.

I think that the way we disagree on this episode is that I thought it was okay and Caidyn thought it was good. I found it a bit boring at times and unrealistic. For example, there is a scene where the daughter does cocaine. She’s fifteen years old. I would’ve believed pot, but cocaine? I thought that was a bit extreme, however, this episode shows what the extreme of overprotectiveness can do to a child.

Throughout the episode, Caidyn and I were scolding the mother for everything she was doing because she was doing everything wrong. She had to raise a child on her own and she wasn’t prepared in the slightest, so she had this device implanted into her daughter so that she could protect her from everything. From the beginning, she blocks her daughter from anything that raises her cortisol levels, basically anything that causes her stress. This starts from a barking dog to violent videos.

At times, it does get a bit unbelievable, I agree with you there. But, then again, there were rumors about people doing meth when I was in middle school. Yay for small towns where there’s nothing else to do. We definitely had an issue with the overprotectiveness of the mother and how it could be interpreted as an issue against single mothers/parents. That they’re incapable of doing the hard things and need someone else there. But that’s just not true. It’s that this specific parent was incapable and they showed that from the beginning of the episode, being unable to even give birth. In the scene, she barely looked flustered or sweaty or like she had been at all.

But I think we differ with this episode because I was able to take away my dislike of the characters and their choices and found it an interesting meditation on helicopter parents. That’s what made it good to me. I enjoyed how that was finally addressed since it’s so prevalent as the younger generations grow up.

Yes, throughout the episode I felt like someone could watch this episode and take away the message that single parents have a negative effect on their children. As a child of a single parent who mostly has her shit together, I strongly disagree with that argument. I’m not sure if that was the intention of the writer, but it can be interpreted that way. That’s not to say that my mom wasn’t overprotective because she was.

I don’t know if anyone else remembers those “Stranger Danger” videos in elementary school, but I do. I’m only a few years younger than you and I remember a cop coming in about it, but I, apparently, didn’t think it was important enough to fully remember the message. Everyone was afraid of kidnapping when I was young and I get it. I get the desire to want to watch over your kids and make sure they don’t get hurt, but when you try to control what they do it’s not going to work out. Hopefully, they aren’t doing cocaine, but as a teenager, you want to experiment and try different things. I can only imagine how difficult that is as a parent.

Overall, I think the episode provided an interesting commentary on parenting but I thought it was a bit weak with the execution. Sorry, Jodie Foster.

Crocodile

This one really bored me. Straight up bored me. I mean, I can barely remember the plot I was bored so much.

Basically, it was about a woman who was involved in an accidental death and her and the other person involved hid the body. Then he wants to come out and say what happened while she’s become a highly successful person. It devolved from there into madness and pointlessness.

I agree. This one was dullsville. I kept shaking my head at every moment because I felt it was very stupid. I didn’t understand the main character’s actions and I didn’t care. She was stupid. This episode was stupid. I didn’t like it.

And that ending? It was so stupid. There were characters that had no point and then the end. Ugh. It could have been a lot better if handled a different way. And that’s literally all we have to say about this.

Our ratings

Caidyn’s ratings:

  1. USS Callister
  2. Arkangel
  3. Crocodile

Mine are the same. I felt pretty underwhelmed with the episodes except USS Callister.

And, I think we disagree there. For me, Crocodile was the least interesting and the other two came up with good commentaries, although I’d only really want to rewatch USS Callister.

The Brotherhood of the World Award

BHOTWA

So, we got awarded this in December. And it’s February. Oops. But, we’re close? Kind of? Just go with it and suck it up. We’re getting it done.

Like usual, it’s Emma from Thoughts of a Brown Eyed Girl who nominated us. Caidyn is the one who killed her because, apparently, he’s hilarious. And the way she phrased it made it seem like he killed both her and Chantel, but who knows. Last he checked, Chantel was alive.

But, a huge thanks to her! We always appreciate how she thinks of us for these things. It’s always sweet and they’re fun to fill out.

So, these are the rules for this thing:

  • Thank the blogger who nominated you and link back to their blog.
  • Answer the questions sent to you.
  • Nominate around ten bloggers. We probably won’t follow this one.
  • Create your set of questions for your nominees.
  • List the rules and display the Brotherhood of the World Award logo in your post.

Caidyn will be in blue.
Chantel will be in purple.


1. Last book you read that lived up to the hype?

NONE OF THEM. But, seriously, IT and American Gods are the two I can think of. They both have tons of hype around them and I think they deserve it.

Caidyn and I are both jaded when it comes to hyped books, however, I read The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid last month. Geez, what a fucking mouthful. I can’t even contain myself when talking about this book. I’ll just link to my review where I gush about my Cuban, bisexual goddess. 

Also, I think Caidyn is planning on reading it soon so don’t be surprised if he hates it. 

I don’t hate everything that you like.

2. First thing that comes to mind when you hear the word “love”?

Family. Is that weird? Maybe. But when I hear love, I think of family since anyone I love is automatically in my family.

This isn’t a loaded question at all. Anyone else feel like they are being interrogated? For me, the first thing that comes to my mind is the people that surround me and support me. That doesn’t mean those are the only people I love, just the first thing that comes to mind. 

Also, Watson.

But Watson wants to kill you.

Maybe. 

3. A book that you think deserves a better movie/TV adaptation?

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. That movie sucks ass. It left out so many important things that carry into the next movie and then it was the worst.

Goblet of Fire was so much worse. THE FUCKING HAIR. Ugh. I can’t get into it. Yeah, this hard for me because I don’t really have any issues with adaptations. I guess if I had to pick one it would be A Monster Calls because I was really disappointed with the movie. It didn’t even have close to the same impact despite having Felicity Jones in it. 

THEIR HAIR WAS GLORIOUS AND AWKWARD IN THAT MOVIE.

Image result for harry potter goblet of fire hair gif

Bask in the gloriousness.

Image result for harry potter goblet of fire hair gif

Thank you for agreeing, Harry.

 

Nope timon

Harry looks a bit unsure. Maybe he’s being coerced. Well, Cedric/Edward is there soooo…

Feel free to let us know in the comments who’s right and who is clearly wrong. 

She’s wrong.

4. Favorite holiday?

Halloween!!

Image result for halloween gif

I wish I could say this is me in the gif, but it’s not.

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Yeah, this would be me, tho.

Thanksgiving. Because food. 

5. Favorite badass male protagonist?

Dumbledore.

Image result for dumbledore gif

He totally counts.

Why it gotta be a dude? Is it bad that I can’t think of anyone other than Evelyn Hugo? Okay, let me think…Thomas Lynch. There, done. 

Because poor men feeling bad about not being included.

Image result for dwight crying gif

Male tears

Hermione punches Draco.gif

That’s all I have to say about that.

 

Q&A Questions Request

Hey everyone! This is going to be a short post, but it would mean the world to us if you’d read and comment on it.

March 26th is our 1-year blogiversary!!

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I know, I know. That’s crazy, right? It doesn’t feel like a year to us at all. And we appreciate every single one of you for following us, liking our posts, commenting, and generally interacting with us.

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And we want to put together a Q&A post. However, we can’t do that without your questions for us. They can literally be about anything. How we met, why we started the blog, food, animals, the esoteric meaning of our name, etc.

Feel free to comment here or to message us on Goodreads if you want it to be a bit more private. You can find Caidyn’s profile here and Chantel’s here.

Thank you all so much for following us and making this first year great!

Podcast review: Serial Killers by Parcast

Image result for serial killers parcast

(Caidyn)

1.5/5

Much like with my review of Lore, I have a history of loving dark things. Serial killers are among them. Once upon a time, I wanted to be a criminal psychologist and perhaps a profiler. Those days are long gone. But, my interest in them still remains to an extreme.

However, this podcast… No. I wouldn’t do it.

For one, they’re speculating on the mental state of these serial killers without being trained in psychology. That’s not always a knock. There are people out there who know their shit about the topic without being trained. But when they’re relying on outdated beliefs and not using the correct definitions that anyone who was trained in the area would, it’s a problem.

Such as, psychopathy (a topic that most serial killers fit into) is not synonymous with sociopathy. Sorry guys. They kept using the words interchangeably.

Another point that pissed me off was the case of Donald Gaskins, which was actually the last one I listened to before I called it good and decided to be done with it. Gaskin was a serial killer who had a rough upbringing, much like most serial killers did. His mother was an alcoholic. His father was not around. His mother had a revolving door of boyfriends who abused him. His mother sexually abused him by making him watch her have sex with those boyfriends.

Yet, the hosts of this podcast had the gall to suggest that Gaskins was the way he was because he lacked a strong father figure. I’m sorry, but are you seriously suggesting that a lack of a father figure causes people to go and commit the horrendous crimes that he did? I’m friends with people who were raised by single parents and turned out amazing.

There were more comments like that where I found myself frowning and scratching my head because they were literally talking out of their asses about things they obviously were parroting. Not only that, but there was no bibliography — trust me, I searched around online — where you could follow the sources they used to see the faulty trail.

In short, if you love learning about serial killers and want to do so through a podcast, don’t choose this one. For all the things I agreed with, there were times where I was literally frowning because what they said was so wrong. And that makes everything they said suspect to me.

February Recommendations

Another month, another set of recommendations prompted by the Goodreads group Monthly Recommendations. February’s recommendations are graphic novels/mixed media!

Caidyn will be in blue.
Chantel will be in purple.


Chantel, being the way she is, actually banned me from choosing a book. Thanks a lot, Chantel. So, here are my recommendations.

1. The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick

The Invention of Hugo Cabret

Yes, I know that this has been made into a movie. But I don’t like the movie and have no plans of watching it all the way through. This book follows a boy who has been orphaned and his job is to wind the clocks at a Parisian train station. He has to find his own way in the world, really.

This story is such a touching one and one of my favorite quotes comes from this book:

“I like to imagine that the world is one big machine. You know, machines never have any extra parts. They have the exact number and type of parts they need. So I figure if the entire world is a big machine, I have to be here for some reason. And that means you have to be here for some reason, too.”

Now, it might not be immediately clear why this is a mixed media book if you don’t know the book. Basically, Brian Selznick illustrates his books. Hundreds of hand-drawn pictures that he made especially for the work.

2. The Marvels by Brian Selznick

The Marvels

Yes, another book by Selznick. See a theme appearing? I just love him and this book is no different. It covers the journey of a family from 1766 through today. Another gorgeous one, that also has HIV/AIDS and gay relationships. And, even better, the book just shows how accepting kids are. As I put in my review of this, you don’t have to explain gay relationships to kids. They get it.

3. Hark! A Vagrant series by Kate Beaton

Hark! A Vagrant

Step Aside, Pops (Hark! A Vagrant, #3)

I’m choosing a whole series. Sue me. Please don’t. I’ve read the book Hark! A Vagrant! and Step Aside, Pops. The former actually has pictures that I took of the comics in the book that I loved. The other one has just me describing it.

But, they’re really just comic interpretations of history, literature, superheroes, and anything else that Beaton thought would be hilarious. Really, I loved them all. Perfect coffee table books, tbh.


I would just like to state for the record that I did not ban Caidyn from anything. I simply called dibs. By the way, I absolutely loved all three books I picked so I would highly recommend them. If you know anything about me, you will not be shocked by the recommendations.

  1. A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness & Illustrations by Jim Kay

A Monster Calls cover

This is the book I called dibs on when Caidyn and I were talking about this topic because Patrick Ness is my favorite author and this book is amazing. I’ve talked about this book multiple times and Caidyn is the one who told me to read it. The premise of this book is there is a young boy named Conor whose mother has cancer. Yeah, pretty heavy but it’s so good. The book also features illustrations from Jim Kay who also illustrates the Harry Potter illustrated editions, this guy is talented. If you haven’t read this book already, what are you doing with your life?!

2. Honor Girl by Maggie Thrash

Honor Girl cover

Last October, I participated in my first readathon called GetGraphic Readathon which took place over a weekend. This was the first and best book I read during the readathon. It’s about a girl who goes to camp and has a crush on a camp counselor. It’s really a great memoir and maybe I liked it more because I had crushes on camp counselors when I was young, but you know, it’s really good.

3. Blue Is the Warmest Color by Julie Maroh

Blue is the Warmest Color

Okay, so I know that the movie based on this graphic novel is controversial. I get it. I think I’m in the minority as someone who really enjoyed it. Despite being three hours and entirely in French. I digress. However, if you want to read a story about two girls who fall in love when they are young and discover as they get older that they may not be the best for each other but does not include long sex scenes directed by a man that goes on so long it becomes hilarious, then this graphic novel is for you. It’s really good and if you didn’t like the movie, I think you’ll like the graphic novel.

First Lines Friday

First Lines Fridays is a weekly feature for book lovers hosted by Wandering Words. What if instead of judging a book by its cover, its author or its prestige, we judged it by its opening lines?

  • Pick a book off your shelf (it could be your current read or on your TBR) and open to the first page
  • Copy the first few lines, but don’t give anything else about the book away just yet – you need to hook the reader first
  • Finally… reveal the book!

Chantel will be in purple.
Caidyn will be in blue.


A demon was knitting outside the hospital. 

Dee Moreno froze. The smokers’ area was where she always took her lunch break; she didn’t smoke, but it made for a good place to eat – at least, when it wasn’t already occupied. 

If she returned indoors, she would have to eat her lunch with the other high school volunteers, and that thought made her stomach shrivel up. It was the kind of afternoon one could only find in Oregon – grass still doused with last night’s rain, lit up by what sunlight managed to escape the cloud cover. 


This is a book I hope to read this month. No promises, but I will definitely try. I’m slowly getting back into reading after taking a bit of time off. It’s better not to dive in too quickly. I immediately got more excited about this book when I found out it took place in Oregon. I’m totally biased against books from my home state by that I mean I usually love them. I hope this book is no different. 

Have you figured it out yet? 

Probably. 

It’s…

The Hearts We Sold by Emily Lloyd-Jones

The Hearts We Sold cover

When I got this book in my first Owlcrate, I hadn’t heard of it. As a result, I wasn’t too enthusiastic about it. However, now I know it takes place in Oregon and I’m definitely more excited to read it. I hope it’s good. 


I have been acquainted with the smell of death. The sickly, sugary smell that wafted in the wind towards the rooms in this palace. It is easy now for me to feel peaceful and content. I spend my morning looking at the sky and the changing light. The birdsong begins to rise as the world fills with its own pleasures and then, as the day wanes, the sound too wanes and fades. I watch as the shadows lengthen. So much has slipped away, but the smell of death lingers. Maybe the smell has entered my body and been welcomed there like an old friend come to visit. The smell of fear and panic. The smell is here like the very air is here; it returns in the same way as light in the morning returns. It is my constant companion; it has put life into my eyes, eyes that grew dull with waiting, but are not dull now, eyes that are alive now with brightness.


I’ve actually started reading this book a long time ago. Sometime mid-January, but I sort of got burnt out on audiobooks and made the switch to podcasts. Since I was absolutely loving the book, I very quickly got on the hold list for a physical copy and it just came in. The writing is gorgeous. The story is amazing. And it’s by an author who might become one of my favorites.

So, what is it?

It is…

House of Names by Colm Tóibín

House of Names

Tóibín is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors. A couple of years ago, I read his book The Blackwater Lightship, which was about a family in the 1990s struggling through a death in the family due to AIDS. I was impressed by how he balanced the harsh reality of the final moments of AIDS with the compelling family story. Then, this year, I read Brooklyn, which was a glimpse into the struggles of immigration. Another one I was super impressed by. 

This book is a different one for him. It’s a retelling of a Greek myth, one we know the beginning thanks to The Illiad but not one we would know the end to. I don’t want to give too much more away than that since I have a review yet to write, but I haven’t touched this book in weeks and I still remember it vividly. That says something about the author. He made me remember it by how beautifully the story was told.

Lore – The Podcast

(Caidyn)

4/5

Image result for lore podcast

When I was a kid, I always found a way to convince my parents to let me sleep downstairs in the basement. Now, we never had a TV in our living room like most families. We keep ours in the basement. So, Fridays or Saturdays, I would convince them to let me sleep down there so I could watch one show.

What was that show?

Truth or Scare.

You don’t have to watch the whole thing, just around 30 seconds of it. This show was my shit. It basically took scary stories — haunted castles, weird creatures, hotels, etc — and had creepy music that combined with Michelle Trachtenberg’s really (to kid me) freaky voice. My mom remembers, to this day, me bursting outside and shouting about how I watched it all by myself and didn’t get scared.

There were more things like this, too. I also loved the shows Mystery Hunters (which Discovery Kids also did), Martin Mystery (a TV show also aired on Discovery Kids), and basically anything else. If you want links to some of this stuff, hit me up. I was young when I first watched a horror movie. I was around nine when I convinced my parents to let me go to The London Dungeon. If you don’t know what that is, Google it.

So, when Amazon came out with Lore last year, I got excited. But, I watched some of it and found it kind of dull and campy. Last month, I got bored of listening to audiobooks at work since I split my attention and find it hard to write meaningful reviews for all of you. Now I’m listening to podcasts.

Let’s just say I binged this podcast within three weeks. Over 80 episodes. And I binged it all.

I loved Aaron Mahnke’s voice. It was super soothing despite the creepy topics that he covered. Haunts, creatures, werewolves, animals, etc. Even though I loved his voice, I knew a lot of the lore he brought up because of my weird childhood interest in those things. That or just random research I did when I was curious after drinking a teensy bit too much and thinking of the fae or mermaids.

The music attached to the podcast really enhanced everything. It was beautiful music and fit with the soothing theme so well. It never got too creepy, although there were a few times where I felt sick to my stomach over something or had a chill go down my spine. Certainly doesn’t help that I work in a cave and have fears that he brought up.

Overall, I really enjoyed the podcast and can’t wait to listen to even more of it.

 

Making the Monster: The Science Behind Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein by Kathryn Harkup

Making the Monster: The Science Behind Mary Shelley's Frankenstein

(Caidyn)

4/5

I was provided an ARC in exchange for an honest review. This did not influence my rating. Thanks to NetGalley and Bloomsbury for the advanced copy!

When I saw this book on NetGalley, I basically jumped at the chance to read it because I, admittedly, really enjoy Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. I wasn’t raised watching the original Boris Karloff movie, but I loved Young Frankenstein and anything horror related. I was in high school by the time I read the book and was very impressed by how much I could still feel the impact of it.

In short, I love Frankenstein. So I had to read this once I saw this book was a thing.

The title, in a way, is a little misleading. It’s not just about the science that was going on at the time Frankenstein was written. That is a huge part of the book, don’t get me wrong, but it’s also focused on Mary Shelley’s upbringing, her affair and later marriage to Percy Shelley, her miscarriages, the political upheaval going on around her, and, of course, Enlightenment ideals with personhood and the advancement of the sciences. It’s quite a dense book, one that weaves in a very close look at the text and what Victor Frankenstein did with Mary Shelley’s life and the scientific advancements around her.

With all of those things going on, it could have come off as very dull and hitting me over the head with dates and people and facts to the point where I went cross-eyed and wanted the pain to end. But, I didn’t. I never felt too overwhelmed with names and dates weren’t a huge focus for me.

Harkup wrote this book to provide context to a story that is very well-known in today’s culture. She does that in many ways and you can see how they link into the story very easily. All in all, a well-done nonfiction book that accomplished what it aimed to do.