Pandemic reads

For my first blog post, I wanted to cover a few books that I recently read that I could actually get through. The pandemic hindered my ability to really sit down and read. All I could consume was COVID-related news triggering my anxiety going through the roof (and it still does) which turned into a  rinse and repeat cycle. But there were a few titles that I was able to get through that I absolutely loved, and I think they’re definitely worth checking out (in no particular order).

A blonde girl with red eyes staring and white text "My Best Friend's Exorcism"

My Best Friend’s Exorcism by Grady Hendrix

As a person who has been genuinely scarred by the feature film adaption “The Exorcist” by William Peter Blatty, I was intrigued but insanely hesitant to pick this up. As I was about to shelve this back, the cover art and the 80s inspired ads reeled me back in (I love when books get immersive like that). Throwing you in the prime of 80s satanic panic, we follow two teen girls as they embark into high school. As one of them starts to act very strange… I mean, the only answer for this is demon possession? Right? With some laugh-out loud and eerily creepy moments, I didn’t expect to love this one.

Two peaches with one with two holes with blood dripping down with white text "The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires"

The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix

So, of course, after loving My Best Friend’s Exorcism, I had to pick up his latest critically acclaimed novel. So set in the same universe as MBFE (love already), we are thrown into the lovely suburban white woman’s life. The protagonist, Patricia, starts to rethink her housewife role. Her husband is a  true trash “workaholic”. Her teen kids don’t really care for her, so she finds some reprieve in a community book club (with other fellow white women). And their choice of books? TRUE CRIME. Cause, of course, their lives lack a little somethin’. UNTIL a neighbor’s fine-ass nephew moves into the neighborhood, things start to shake up a little bit. Homie only comes out at night, he drives a large white van, and kids begin to go missing? Sounds like a case for Patricia. As she begins to unravel who this devilish creature is, she also starts to solve her own case of affliction.

A beige cover with black text 'Scale".

Scale by Keith Buckley

Keith Buckley is a vocalist, lyricist, novelist, and indeed a fan of his work, and I feel like he can do no wrong creatively. I have been a massive fan of Every Time I Die for 15 years now, and to see how his art has evolved is really something. His debut novel “Scale” is no exception to that. Loosely based on his life, it follows a musician as he stumbles and fumbles to rock bottom. Ya know the saying you genuinely don’t know what you have until you lose it? Well, Ray learns that in very weird, selfish, sometimes twisted, and funny ways. What I do love about this novel the most is the non-linear storytelling and how you follow these two timelines as they converge and leave you with what Ray’s life is and was.

A brown boy with a crown of flowers on his head with the text "Felix Ever After"

Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender

One author I have come to love is Kacen Callender. The first title I read from them was “Hurricane Child.” I was blown away by the story, the writing, everything, especially for it being a middle-grade book. In Felix Ever After, we are introduced to Felix, who is navigating teenage life as a trans boy. But the label of being a boy doesn’t really sit right with him. Sometimes he doesn’t really feel like a boy. While trying to navigate these feelings of identity, he kind of sort of catfish’s someone who he’d never thought in a million years he’d talk to. And all at the same time trying to juggle his relationship with his best friend. Before ya know it, things get MESSSSSY. But that’s being a teenager, and that’s OKAY. Kacen does it again and eloquently writes a heartful, funny, and engaging novel on identity and love.

Cover of the novel 'In the Dream House" with rainbow waves on two opposite corners.

In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado

After reading Her Body and Other Parties, I was done. Like homegirl is the best writer. Done, ya vamanos. Then she came out with her memoir, In the Dream House, which highlighted domestic abuse she endured. She dives deep into the trauma that can occur in queer relationships. The way she weaves in cultural narratives, her childhood, and stereotypes is so haunting you find yourself holding your breath. The way she guides the reader through this labyrinth of stories is truly remarkable. At some points to she makes it an immersive game (i. e. skip to page # to see what happens) GIRL, I AM NOT SKIPPING NO PAGE. I swear you will not be disappointed with this storytelling.

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