Culture Consumption: November 2021

Hi, lovelies. Here’s my month in books, movies, television, games, and podcasts.

Books

Nothing But Blackened Teeth by Cassandra KhawIn Nothing But Blackened Teeth by Cassandra Khaw, a group of old thrill-seeking friends decide to host a wedding at haunted Heian-era mansion in Japan. As the night of drinking, food, and old memories and rivalries are consumed, events slowly start to go terribly, terribly wrong. The house is more haunted than they realized, having been built on the bones of a dead bride, who wanders faceless through its halls. KI love the way Khaw draws on historical Japanese folklore to present a wonderfully creepy and unsettling take on the haunted house genre.  A great read for horror fans.

What drew me into Brenna Thummler’s graphic novel Sheets was the gorgeously detailed pastel art work, which is combined with a charming story about a young woman trying to hold it together, going to school and running her family’s laundromat. Meanwhile, on the other side of the reality, a young ghosts slips away from the afterlife to explore the human world, leaving a uncleaned sheets and other havoc in his wake. I love that the author leans into the idea of ghosts wearing sheets because it gives them form. It’s adorable all around.

Sheets by Brenna Thummler

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Culture Consumption: September 2021

Hi, lovelies. Coming in late again. Here’s my month in books, movies, games, and podcasts.

Books

Cover of Circe by Madeline MillerA friend loaned me a copy of Madeline Miller’s Circe, offering high praise for the book and its feminist take on the ancient Greek myth. Once I opened the first page, I was immediately immersed in the mythological worlds of Ancient Greek gods and goddesses with all their politics and family drama. Reading this book reminded me of how much I loved learning about these myths when I was in school, and I loved the way Miller portrayed Circe and the other gods, illuminating the a sense of magic and power. Some of the gods feel alien and dangerous in how disconnected they are from mortals, while Circe has an inherent sense of humanity in her longing to feel connected with them. I loved the ways in which Miller weaved various classical stories and tales into the text, and I especially enjoyed her feminist take, which presents a more complex view of a powerful woman.

The Final Girl Support Group by Grady HendrixAnother great read this month was The Final Girl Support Group by Grady Hendrix. Inspired by the slasher films of the ’80s, the story takes place years after the women’s confrontations with brutal murderers. These final girls have faced death and fought off their killers, surviving into middle age while carrying ongoing ailments from their injuries and trauma, including anxiety, PTSD, and other issues. Bound by their shared trauma, the women attend support group meetings, a tether that slowly frays as some members attempt to move on. Things get incrementally worse, however, when it appears that someone is out to kill them.

Hendrix is fantastic at creating fast-paced, action packed stories that leave me wanting to consume a book all in one go. I also like that these women are rough-edged, hard, and strong-willed, with all the complexities that comes with having survived terrible events.

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Culture Consumption: December 2020

Hi, lovelies. Here’s my last culture consumption of 2020, with all the books, movies, television, games, and podcasts that I consumed in December.

I’ve shared my favorite books and media from the year in separate posts.

Books

The Hollow Places by T. KingfisherT. Kingfisher is a fantastic writer, taking fantasy tropes and turning them into pure horror. Portal fantasies tend to lead to wondrous worlds filled with fantastical creatures and adventures. However, in The Hollow Places, when Kara and her friend Simon (both of whom I love) discover a hole in the wall that leads to an abandoned bunker in another world, their curiosity quickly leads them into terrifying danger.

Kingfisher’s characters always seem so well wrought, with the way they dress, talk, and react to situations feeling so real. I believe that these two would make the choices and mistakes they make. In fact, I could almost see myself making the exact same mistakes, which only adds to the horror.

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Culture Consumption: November 2020

Hi, lovelies. Here’s my month in books, movies, television, games, and podcasts.

Books

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia - gothic horror novelThe standout read of the month was most definitely Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia — a book that has received well deserved praise since it’s publication.

When Noemi Taboada receives a frantic letter from her newly-wed cousin describing some terrible doom and begging for help, she travels to High Place, a house located deep in the Mexican mountains. The site of once booming silver mining community, High Place and the surrounding community is now run down and giving in to decay. The family themselves are for the most part cold, distant, and strange — and hiding some dark secret.

Mexican Gothic is a masterfully told story, building an unsettling tension into every moment that Noemi is in the house. Noemi herself is also a new favorite heroine. As a debutant accustomed to attending glamorous parties in the city, she’s caught off guard by the remoteness of the house. In addition to the glamour, though, she brings wit, intelligence, and determination. However cold or controlling the family may try to be, she matches them with her own will, not allowing herself to be overcome by them or anything else. A genuinely fantastic book.

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Culture Consumption: July 2020

Hi, lovelies. Here’s my month in books, movies, television, and games.

Books

The Good House by Tananarive DueThe Good House by Tananarive Due is an utterly fantastic horror novel. Angela Toussant inherited the Good House from her grandmother, a woman well known in the small Sacajawea, Washington, community for her “healing magic.” When Angela returns with her son for summer vacation, she hopes to draw on some of that magic to heal her broken marriage. Instead, a surprising and violent tragedy strikes, driving her into a deep depression. Years later, she returns with the aim of healing her own emotional wounds, only to instead begin to notice a pattern of tragedies that may all be connected to something restless living within her old family property.

The Good House is multi-layered in nearly every aspect of its depictions — from the characters to the world building to the writing style to the cultural context. Although primarily focused on Angela, the story jumps between timelines and perspectives, providing an added nuance to events. And importantly, the horrors are truly terrifying. Due is a masterful writer, and I’ll definitely be reading more of her work in the future.

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