March Recommendations

Another month, another set of recommendations prompted by the Goodreads group Monthly Recommendations. March’s recommendations are duologies!

It’s just me doing it this month, so let’s go!

Admittedly, I don’t read duologies. They’ve been a recent thing. The ones I’ve tried, I DNFed. Then, I also haven’t read Six of Crows (which is what we’re reading in April, actually). I have one recommendation and that is…

The Shining/Doctor Sleep by Stephen King

The ShiningDoctor Sleep (The Shining, #2)

Admittedly, I don’t even consider these a duology since they’re completely separate entities. Anyways, I love both of these books. I love Stephen King and this is a great duology that follows the evolution of Danny Torrence, from when he was a young boy to becoming an adult that’s eerily like his father.


Hades by Candice Fox

Hades (Archer & Bennett, #1)



A while ago, I read this book as an ARC before it became available in the US. And I remember really liking it. There’s a review of it on Goodreads, but I know I’m going to be replacing it. But, I gave it a nice review and rated it at four stars. Luckily, that didn’t change for this reread!

The book has two stories that eventually meet up. The first is about the past, going over how Eden and Eric grew up. Victims of a senseless crime, orphaned, and raised by a man good at crime, they aren’t exactly set up for good. But they end up detectives in Australia.

The other story is in the present, mainly told by Frank, Eden’s new partner. Day one and he’s thrown into an insane case that involves tons of missing bodies being recovered. And then he starts getting suspicious about Eden and Eric.

Really, I thought that Frank was a character anyone could like. He was personable and kind, then he had a wicked sense of humor and a history that isn’t great. Eden was also an interesting character. I thought she was the one that as most relatable to, even though you don’t get a great sense of who she is. But you know enough that you can understand her despite how different she is.

Fox is a great writer. The book is easy to read and follow. She also wove a great story. However, I had an issue with how the two stories came together in the end. It didn’t work for me. It felt too contrived. Then, the romance that was injected into the story didn’t work either. Another part that I thought was unneeded in the end.

Other than those two areas, the book was great. I enjoyed it quite a lot and I’m very excited to continue the series.

Daughters of the Winter Queen: Four Remarkable Sisters, the Crown of Bohemia, and the Enduring Legacy of Mary, Queen of Scots by Nancy Goldstone

Daughters of the Winter Queen: Four Remarkable Sisters, the Crown of Bohemia, and the Enduring Legacy of Mary, Queen of Scots



I received this ARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review! This did not influence my opinion.

I requested this ARC because this basically lines up with Tudor history. Mary Queen of Scots was a big name during that time, so I thought it would be interesting to read about her continued line. It’s something I’m vaguely familiar with, after all.

The story really focused on her granddaughter, Elizabeth. She married the man who would later become the King of Bohemia and had a lot of kids. Like 13. That’s a whole lot of kids. Four of the ones that lived to adulthood were girls. Elizabeth, Louise Hollandine, Henriette Marie, and Sophia were her four daughters, all of them impressive in their own right. Two never married and were abbesses, one died young, and the last lived to a ripe old age and almost became the next Queen of England, her son becoming George I.

I learned a whole lot from it, as I usually say from nonfiction books. I found it fascinating, easy to follow, and fun to read. You don’t have to know much about the history of this time because Goldstone explains it as she writes. She goes into it assuming that you don’t know a whole lot, which worked for me since I didn’t know a whole lot. But I enjoyed making connections to what I knew. It was a whole lot of fun.

Something that I didn’t like, though, was how the book is supposed to be about the daughters of Elizabeth of Bohemia, also known as the Winter Queen. But most of the book focused on Elizabeth herself. From her childhood and upbringing, through to her death. After she died, it talked about the daughters and focused on them. The focus of the book lacked in that way. While I found it interesting, it focused more on people other than her daughters, which was a shame since I felt that I got an abbreviated history of their lives in the end.

That’s a minor thing, though. It didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the book, but it made me wonder when we would exactly get to them rather than getting context for their lives.

Lear: The Great Image of Authority by Harold Bloom

Lear: The Great Image of Authority


1.5/5 – DNF at 59%

Thanks to Netgalley for a review copy. This did not affect my opinion.

Last year, I read Cleopatra: I Am Fire and Air, an analysis of Antony and Cleopatra by Shakespeare. That was the first time I had ever heard of him. Everyone calls him a renowned Shakespeare expert. It just didn’t feel like this book was his finest piece on Shakespeare. I got more out of reading the play myself (which I did in prep for this book) than reading it.

While this says the book is about Lear, it felt like it was about everyone but Lear. There was more time spent on Edgar, the legitimate son of Gloucester who was being plotted against by his half-brother, than anyone else. I expected this book to be a very close analysis of Lear’s character since he is such a unique one. The slow devolution into insanity and madness, which he already had a thin grasp of already.

The most I got out of this was that the use of “nothing” is very purposeful in the play. And that everyone else has a real role and uniqueness that Bloom focused on rather than the titular character. Even with that, the book felt jumbled and without a thesis whatsoever. It starts off with a comparison of Hamlet and Lear (which did nothing) and moved onto completely rehashing the play. There were more quotes pulled from the play than actual analysis of what was taken out.

Overall, this didn’t feel like an expert telling me about Shakespeare and giving me the hidden meaning of the play, but an overlong essay that I could have written back in my AP Lit class that earned me a barely passing grade.

Red Adam’s Lady by Grace Ingram

Red Adam's Lady


2/5 – DNF at 24%

I was given a copy in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion.

Chicago Review Press approached me last month about reading this book for review. While romance isn’t usually my genre, I thought the reviews I read for it were good and it was historical fiction set in a period that I’m very familiar with.

What it came down to, for me, was that it was very slow. I could read a paragraph and nothing could happen. Then, my eyes would glaze over and suddenly I’d miss everything. Which is what I don’t like. I hate it when I can’t read a book because I’m getting too bored with it.

However, the writing was well-done — it definitely felt like a medieval story with how people were being addressed — and I thought it was rather period accurate. It’s definitely a different sort of romance, starting it off with an attempted rape of the heroine, Lady Julitta, by the “hero”, Red Adam. They marry to protect her honor, even if she beat him up. Lady Julitta is a heroine that someone can get behind and understand. She was interesting and, if the pacing had been different, I likely would have finished it and liked it.

Simply put, a book that just wasn’t for me.

What Happened by Hillary Rodham Clinton

What Happened



When I picked up this book, I wasn’t quite sure how I’d react to it. From what it looked like, it was going to be a pity party about why she lost and where she’d put the blame on everyone else but her.

I also would have preferred Bernie Sanders. Since I’m registered as an independent, I can’t vote in the primaries in my state. However, when it became clear that she was the Democrat nominee, I 100% changed and knew that my vote was for the most competent person running. It was also a vote against Trump as well. Because there was no way I was having a racist, misogynistic, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, rapist asshole as my president. It was also a vote for history, for a woman who knew what she was extremely competent.

Yet, I didn’t think she had a strong platform because I never heard anything about it. It was all about her damn emails. And what you heard about it, it sounded like another four years of the same old, same old. While that sounded like bliss to me, it wasn’t what others wanted. And there was Trump, spouting his racist rhetoric about how all immigrants are rapists, murderers, drug dealers, or terrorists.

What Clinton did in this book was lay out what happened and what her platform was because the news focused on her emails and the circus Trump was running to confuse everyone. It was doable. It had clear solutions rather than grandiose ideas that Trump (and Bernie) spouted off. And while she did some blaming, she explained what was going on for her to say this AND took a whole lot of responsibility.

The end of the book stuck with me the most. It called for empathy. For kindness and loving people. For understanding people even if you don’t agree with them. It was basically the same message of One Nation After Trump, a book that I loved because of that message of spreading empathy rather than hating and shouting at people. And, sadly, people ignore that message. Yet it’s one I stand by and agree with wholeheartedly.

Even if you didn’t vote for her or hate her guts, I highly suggest you read Clinton’s book. It was enlightening and heartfelt down to its core. It almost feels like required reading for everyone who watched the 2016 election happen.

Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire

Every Heart a Doorway (Wayward Children, #1)



Chantel read this last year, so check out her review!

“For us, the places we went were home. We didn’t care if they were good or evil or neutral or what. We cared about the fact that for the first time, we didn’t have to pretend to be something we weren’t. We just got to be. That made all the difference in the world.”

A long quote, but a lot of my review is going to focus on that and, more or less, examining why I enjoyed it so much. But, first I want to talk about the things I didn’t like so much.

  • The various worlds needed more work done. I wanted more on the page about them.
  • I felt like I got to know the side characters more than I did Nancy or Kade, although I liked them both.
  • I wish that Nancy’s asexuality and (possible) anorexia had been touched on more.
  • The general plot could have used a bit more development.
  • It could have been longer to fix most of these problems.

Those are my main critiques, something that I thought about a few times as I was reading it. What it boils down to, for me, was that this could have been a full-length story. It would have been a fun one, too. You learn about everyone’s worlds and you watch a slow development of the plot and characterization. It felt a bit tossed together in the end, even though I still really enjoyed it.

What I really loved was how the story was easily constructed around the quote I opened with. I’m trans, so I really understood how Kade felt. Deeply so. He’s a transman who (unlike me) has no support from family and is openly discriminated against. Yet, it was still beautiful to see how that quote shows you need to find a world where you can be your own.

Growing up, I really read a lot of books that were more male-focused. My parents didn’t care. They let me read/wear/watch whatever. No shits were given so long as I was happy. I loved Captain Underpants and my dad and I read them together. Harry Potter was my jam and I always connected with the male characters more. Anything by R.L. Stine was a fave.

I have a great memory of one of my friends in school, Tyler, wearing the same sweater as me and we were so fucking excited about it. This was when I was around nine, so not realizing I was trans but so damn happy about wearing the same shirt as a friend of mine and proclaiming we were twins. (It didn’t work. He was blond with freckles. I had long, dark, curly hair.)

Anyways, you find that world you can escape to. Kade found it in his Goblin Prince role after his world figured out he was a boy. Nancy was allowed to fully embrace her stillness and lack of food, along with that she didn’t have to actively pursue anyone sexually like she was expected to in her other world. Her real world allowed her to be who she was.

People who have been rejected by society for whatever reason can really relate to that quote, which was how I took it. It nearly got me tearing up because it was just so damn good at pinpointing exactly how the outcasts feel.

And this story, with the more thematic vein that runs through it, is focused on outcasts. Even in a world full of outcasts who found other worlds that fit them better, Kade and Nancy are the outcasts. He’s trans. She went to the Underworld, somewhere not many go. I just wish that they were better-developed characters. While I connected with them — for being, respectively, trans and ace — I also didn’t feel like they stood out. There were more interesting characters around them that I was more interested in knowing about.

Still, I enjoyed the book. It connected with me on a deep level and the plot that follows dark happenings (which I can’t touch on since they happen too late into the book and I don’t want to spoil things) was intriguing to follow. My main critique is that it could have been longer to fully expand on everything rather than split it up into novellas.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid




Chantel also read this earlier in the year. Go check out her review!

I haven’t devoured a book like I did this one in a very long time. And it’s probably thanks to Chantel. She loved this book and it put her in a complete book slump because nothing else could measure up to it. And, when I told her that I was going to read it next, I got the reaction of: If you don’t love this, it might break my heart.

No pressure, right?

By the time I got to husband six or seven (I can’t remember which), I told Chantel that I loved it. And I got as a response (and I’m not being exact with it because I can’t count how many letters she used): “YAAAAAAAAAAAASSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS YOU HAVE SEEN THE WAYS OF KWEEN EVELYN”

Needless to say, I made her day.

The first thing that stood out to me was that there were so many great, insightful quotes from a woman who was almost 80 and had been in the acting business since 15, making it through it by lying and cheating and having sex to the top. I mean, Evelyn was the epitome of a Slytherin. But I loved her. I adored her, much like I adore all of the older actresses like Joan Crawford, Elizabeth Taylor, Marylin Monroe, Bette Davis, etc.

It was frank and honest, exactly how a tell-all should read.

Next, the characters were fantastic. I loved Monique, the person writing Evelyn’s memoir. Then I loved Evelyn. I even loved all of her husbands and the relationships she had with them, from actual love to just using them. Celia St. James was also amazing, someone I could connect with. Everyone felt so real, like they were taken from the headlines without being able to put an exact name to them.

Then, I loved how it showed and challenged the industry, mainly how women were used back then and how it was a part of the culture. Now, the culture is being challenged even more. Actresses were always about who they were with, what they were wearing, and what they were doing, not about who they were as a person. And, there’s been a slow change for it.

Finally, I loved the multiple expressions of marriage shown in this book. Marriage doesn’t have to be about passion and sex to be a loving, fulfilling relationship. And you don’t have to be legally married to be married. It was wonderful.

This was, to date, the easiest five stars I’ve given so far this year.

Caidyn has an announcement


I’ve had this draft around here for months. And I’ve sat on it until today.

Basically, in March, I’m going to be absent from here. I’m going to likely have things in drafts or maybe do little things. Right now, it’s all on the fence about what I’ll do. Chantel knows it, too.

But, why am I going to be gone? I’m sure those who are reading this are wondering.

I’m going to have a surgery.

I’m open on here about my gender, so most of you all know I’m a transman. In short, I’m having top-surgery. My surgeon told me that the whole thing’s going to be pretty minor, but I don’t know how my body will react.

So, I’ll be gone a lot in March. I know you all will miss me and my annoying ways. Maybe. Maybe you won’t miss me at all.

After March, I’ll be back like my old self, liking and annoying all of you!

TV review: The Young Pope

Image result for the young pope



Sometimes, I get little trials for a weekend of different networks. A couple of weeks ago, I got HBO. Like usual, I scrolled through what they have available to watch and I found this one. And I suddenly remembered that I had desperately wanted to watch it when it was airing and now I had the chance to watch it.

Boy was it fun.

It follows the story of Lenny, a man who becomes Pope Pius XIII. He was abandoned as a child at an orphanage, something that haunts him his whole life. Sister Mary is the nun who took care of him. She’s his most trusted advisor and a woman he sees as a mother.

The plot was a bit thin at times and I found it difficult to follow (probably because I was doing other things while watching it) but I still found it fun. The scenes were hilarious. The cinematography was great. The costumes were amazing. It really felt like I was in the older days where the pope really ran the world. Lenny/Pius was trying to get back to those days through his papacy.

And he’s doing it in style.

Legit, yo.

As I said, it was funny. I was cackling at the opening scene with Lenny’s first speech to the Catholic nation. Then, it was just a gorgeous show with rich scenes. I can’t picture anyone but Jude Law playing Lenny. Same with Diane Keaton as Sister Mary.

Her sleeping shirt.

While it’s not a show for everyone, I think it’s worth a try. There’s not a lot of sex in it, surprisingly, and it really follows the internal journey of Lenny. And his move in what many of us would see is a bad direction.