Watching BoJack Horseman: Season 1, Episode 3

I’m back at it again to talk about another BoJack Horseman episode! I am so excited! There’s so much nuance to this show and it is so worth exploring as much detail as possible.

Opening Scene: BoJack is on the set of ‘Horsing Around’ he’s doing a scene with Sarah Lynn. The family is having pancakes for breakfast and Sarah is hiding under the table. At first it starts out fun and Sarah makes a funny tv show joke about being afraid to pop from a pop quiz. Then the scene ends and BoJack gives a pep talk. It’s happy at first, but then it grows darker and the little girl looks horrified. This was the perfect way to showcase ‘Horsing Around’ and Bo Jacks headspace at the time. Also, to introduce his dynamic with Sarah Lynn as a very warped role model.

Favorite Part of the Episode: The whole episode and how it’s themed. This is introducing Sarah Lynn. It gives her background with BoJack. Deep nuances to their relationship and the tragedy that ‘Horsing Around’ caused her to become. All that in the third episode and in around 20 minutes. This show is art and so well written I am in awe every second I watch it.

Best Lines: “Well those boobs and jerkwads are the best friends you will ever have. Without them you are nothing. Remember that. Your family will never understand you. Your lovers will leave you or try to change you. But your fans you be good to them and they’ll be good to you. The most important thing is you got to give the people what they want; even if it kills you, even if it empties you out until there’s nothing left to empty. No matter what happens, no matter how much it hurts, you don’t stop dancing and you don’t stop smiling and you give those people what they want.” -BoJack to little Sarah Lynn opening scene

“But I do wonder as a third way feminist, if it’s even possible for women to reclaim their sexuality in this deeply entrenched patriarchal society, or if claiming to do so is just a lie we tell ourselves so we can more comfortably cater to the male gaze.” – Diane to BoJack (God, just God. This show it gets so deep and this is simply a quick quip and you could easily go past it and just enjoy the episode, but it says so much. Do women claim sexuality for themselves or is it truly for the male gaze? To me I think we can, but still this is such a deep thing that could be discussed, yet the line lasted a few seconds.

“You are not her father and you are not doing her any favors by refusing to set boundaries.” Diane to Bo Jack about Sarah Lynn taking advantage of him. God finally the truth. Someone said it! This show always does a great job at not condoning behavior and giving the facts even if it goes to that dark place there is always consequences, but also a sense of hope.

“I’m at a place right now where I never need to grow as a person or rise to an occasion, because I can constantly just surround myself with fans and enablers till I can die tragically young.” -Sarah Lynn to BoJack

Highlights:

Sarah Lynn is on the news. 12 years after being on ‘Horsing Around’ Sarah released a music single about being sexy and loving sex. Cut to 12 years after that and she is no longer relevant. Instead it’s all about Sextina Aquafina who is talking about how Sarah Lynn should go to the place famous people go where no one cares if they live or die.

BoJack and Todd are at the furniture store. Todd had broken Bo Jack’s bed and these girls come up freaking out, but not about them, about Sarah Lynn and Andrew Garfield who are also in the store. Of course hurting Bo Jack’s already bruised ego. They start talking and Andrew breaks up with Sarah and she starts taking way too many pills. The little girl from the tv show has definitely grown up and her mental health has been ruined from her time on the show. Then she ends up stabbing herself. It’s in public and Andrew didn’t want her to make a scene which of course makes it bigger and she ends up taking a dump on a sofa. It’s over the top dark humor and a really sad tragedy already. Sarah Lynn’s life is already feeling so far gone.

BoJack talking to Diane about the incident with Sarah. He says after seeing her crazy reactions he checked her into rehab. Diane talks about him seeing Sarah again and he says he is more of a before rehab friend, which really tells you all you need to know about him. He’s not a good influence on anyone. Then, Sarah reappears at his door. She talks to him about not needing rehab and then snorts pills in front of him. Instead of helping her and taking her back to rehab like a good friend and role model he lets her hide out with him. He’s even excited about it. I can’t help, but think about what’s to come later. Sarah Lynn’s story is only begun.

Sarah’s subtle manipulations. Sarah knows exactly how Bo Jack is and what she means to him. She is a memory of his fame. She wants to have him there because he’ll give in to anything she wants. At this point in her life she wants drugs and to party all the time and BoJack doesn’t have the sense to stop her and get her to get clean. He enables her and she comes back to him because she knows that. He never tells her no and it sucks cause it feels like he may be the one person that could.

A mini joke. At the party Sarah throws a group of guys passes carrying boxes that saw chips dips and then chains and whips. A super subtle very easy to miss joke, but in this show there’s so much of that. It’s so nuanced and I love it.

Introducing Sarah’s dream. From little Sarah wanted to be an architect. A dream that was immediately shut down by her mom and ignored by Bo Jack. It is the hope and the line that could be used to save Sarah.

BoJack spends the day with Sarah. It seems fun and wholesome for the most part. As the sun sets Sarah tell BoJack that Herb has butt cancer which upsets him. He looks guilty and later on in the show we find out why. He ends up distracting himself and Sarah by giving her his tv award. He says he would have given that to his kid if he had one, but he wanted Sarah to have it. Then he starts singing the end credits to ‘Horsing Around’. BoJack is using Sarah too. She’s there to feed into his memories and feel like he’s on that wholesome show again. For him to feel like a good father figure, but he isn’t and he never was.

BoJack’s final straw is Sarah pawning the tv award he gave her. Only time he stops things is when his ego gets hurt. It’s not about helping her, but soothing his ego.

BoJack kisses Sarah. Not only that, but he has sex with her. They may both be adults, but that was the last thing either of them needed. They both need help and instead they turn to drugs and sex and bonds that aren’t healthy and it only unravels them both further. Todd and Diane try to give Bo Jack reason. To be true friends to him, but he doesn’t listen. Yet they stay friends anyway. Diane tells Bo Jack that he’s now taking advantage of Sarah. She has substance abuse problems and Daddy issues and he knew that and still had sex with her. Again, this show always sheds that light that this is not good for anyone. It’s not even remotely about humor, but laying out mental illness and drug and substance abuse does and how it can be so destructive to peoples lives.

End Scene: BoJack finally says he will take Sarah back to rehab and instead she leaves. She doesn’t want to grow anymore. She says that it’s already too late. As she leaves she says her new catch phrase “Suck a dick, dumb shits” and walks out the door. BoJack takes advice Diane says as it being societies fault for the tragedy of Sarah’s predicament. That he’s not to blame for any part. He holds onto that deeply because to face the truth would be to face that he isn’t a good person and that he isn’t just a victim. So he does what’s easiest and that’s even sadder.

Turns out reporters were outside and they got pictures of the two having sex. The beginning of more pain later. And so it ends.

All In All: This episode was so powerful and good just on its own. It says a lot that you could watch this episode and know so much about BoJack and one of the biggest story lines in the show just on its own. This is BoJack and Sarah Lynn and their spiral into darkness together. This is one of the most important early episodes of BoJack. Also, one of the saddest, but it still is only the beginning.

THANK YOU ALL FOR READING! Let me know your thoughts down in the comments below! 

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Watching BoJack Horseman: Season 1, Episode 2

It’s time to continue the wonderful saga and watch BoJack Horseman: Season 1, Episode 2! It’s been a wonderful morning so far and I am so happy to be writing about one of the most impactful tv shows I’ve ever watched.

Episode 2: BoJack Horseman: BoJack Hates the Troops

Opening Scene: BoJack is sitting depressed in a bar. The Pelican bartender pours him a drink and tells him to say when and he says it after much of the drink is spilled all over the table. a blonde girl makes fun of him as she recognizes him from his show and sees how sad he looks. He confronts her and tells her how horrible she is, but later ends up sleeping with her. It’s very clear that BoJack has trouble making good decisions for himself.

Favorite part of the episode: BoJack talking to Diane about having a “Normal Childhood” and starting to show signs of discomfort and panic telling immediately that his childhood was not so great. Then, Princess Caroline calls and tells him to watch the news because they are talking about him and he runs from Diane immediately as he’d rather not face his past. Of course the news about him is terrible. The seal from earlier is a veteran and apparently “Just wanted his favorite muffins” and BoJack didn’t care and didn’t respect his dibs.

BoJack calls in on the news story to “set the record straight” and ends up sounding way worse. He ate all 12 muffins because he is sad and hates himself and admits it on live tv. Somehow this show perfectly captures that line of hilarity and deep sadness. Looking from the outside you can sense just how far removed from a sense of joy BoJack is. Even so soon you feel a way to recovery may not even be possible for him. As much as it is wished for.

Best Lines: “For to me, there is nothing the least bit funny about stealing a meal from Neal McBeal the Navy Seal.” (Whale blows water out of his blow hole in anger)-Whale news anchor

“I’m sure a lot of the troops are Jerks! Most people are jerks already and it’s not like giving a jerk a fun and telling them it’s ok to kill people suddenly turns that jerk into a hero!”-BoJack on the news

“BoJack Horseman makes me sick. He voiced his opinion even though it was unpopular and that’s the most cowardly thing a person can do.” A bear on the news

“Troops are all hero’s. Every single one. And I don’t believe saying that cheapens the word and actuality disrespects those we mean to honor by turning real people into political pawns. Also, I am not deeply ambivalent about a seemingly mandated celebration of our military by a nation that claims to value peace, telling our children that violence is never the answer, while refusing to hold our own government to the same standard. Furthermore, I do not find it unbelievably appropriate that this conversation is taking place on reality television. A genre which thrives on chopping up the complexities of our era into easily digestible chunks of empty catch phrases!” -BoJack

Highlights:

The email BoJack writes to Diane. He asks her to come to the apartment early saying he’s on horse tranquilizers and he’s drunk and alone and ends up falling asleep. She still comes in spite of how much of an obvious mess he is.

Little joke insert. Two dogs talking about loving chocolate even though it could kill them.

Beef between BoJack and an Seal over apple muffins. A seal makes a big deal about how he had dibs and just left the muffin in the produce aisle because he needed to go to the bathroom. Just the childishness of the fighting here brought me a sense of laughter and joy.

BoJack once again treating Todd like he doesn’t matter. Todd talks about how well his online date from earlier on went and BoJack completely brushes him off. If BoJack was a good friend, Todd’s comment about this foreign girls interest in American bank routing numbers would have been a huge red flag to tell his friend that maybe this girl isn’t someone he should get involved with. Especially once he’s only known her twelve hours and she wants a framed picture of his mother’s maiden name.

BoJack being a good friend to Diane. When Diane talks BoJack relaxes and listens to what she has to say. They have a genuine conversation about Diane enjoying going on the roof with her dad to see the stars. Sadly, BoJack remembers a time with his father and takes off again.

BoJack somehow saves himself. On Mr.Peanutbutter’s reality show the seal comes to meet BoJack to receive his apology. An apology that BoJack somehow makes up well when Todd gives him state hamburger buns to give to the seal. But, then backpedaling with facts.

End Scene:

BoJack takes on the roof again with Diane and finally decides to open up about his real childhood. His dad was a drunk and a failed novelist and his mother an heiress to the sugar cube fortune. Finally Diane is getting information to start writing a proper memoir about BoJack.

All in All:

I am amazed with how deep the show goes to discuss the flaws of the military in such an early episode and as a major sub-plot in the story of this episode. Even the minor sub-plot of Todd being scammed was amazing. There is so much amazing detail in this story and I adore it.

THANK YOU ALL FOR READING! Let me know your thoughts down in the comments below! 

Places to donate to Trans communities:

Trans Equality 

The Trevor Project

Transgender Law Center 

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Watching: The Harley Quinn Show: Season 1

I watched The Harley Quinn Show season 1 a while back and enjoyed the hell out of it. It’s fun and dark, but also a bit crazy in a good way. I adored every moment of watching it!

The trailer for your viewing pleasure:

https://youtu.be/mT7A5-oxR3o

What I love most about The Harley Quinn show is that even with the bit of gore that it has it has this humor that is based in very mundane day to day things. Harley and Ivy argue over stupid little things about living together while beating the hell out of people. The contrast along with the gorgeous art made me smile the whole way through!

What I’ve enjoyed so much about the show is that it’s really about Harley getting over a sucky relationship with The Joker who doesn’t care about her or her well-being whatsoever. Harley had been drawn to him again and again and it’s only when she realizes that she’s the one who created herself and gets to create herself everyday that she sets herself free. It’s this awesome storyline that follows the entire season. She learns to build her own friendships and her own unique empire and strength and it’s amazing! It was super awesome!

I’m so in love with this Walt little family that works together to help Harley claim her personal power. I felt so strong and joyful watching it. I just remember how happy it made me with every episode. I highly recommend it!

I also greatly loved Kite Man. He has this humor and sense of clumsiness that made me laugh every moment he was on screen. He was hilarious. I think this photo alone tells you all you need to know about him.

All in all, I love this show. It was a delight to watch and raised my mood immensely. It’s one of those things that I feel I’ll love to go back and watch just to feel good. It’s so great!

THANK YOU ALL FOR READING! Let me know your thoughts down in the comments below! 

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Watching Bojack Horseman: Season 4

I watched season 4 of Bojack in a blink of an eye. I’ve become so enamored in the story I’ve been like a kid who can’t wait to see what’s next. And so, very shortly after I’ve written about Season 3 I get to discuss season 4 with all of you… and what a season it was.

The whole first episode took place without Bojack. It felt strange and yet it felt right since he had disappeared himself from everyone else’s lives. Mr. Peanutbutter gets a visit from his ex-wife and she leads him to run for governor. This drives Diane crazy and she tries often to call Bojack and tell him what’s going on and figure out what happened to him, but he doesn’t answer. So for a while she just continues working and deals with her marital issues on her own.

Then Princess Caroline decides she wants to be a mom and so she starts trying for a baby with her boyfriend Ralph. This is one of the first really great relationships for her and while there were things that showed they weren’t quite a match I enjoyed seeing them together. It was sweet to watch and it showed a lot of growth on Caroline’s part. She’s such a strong character. The one I look up to the most on the show.

In season 4 we also get a lot more Todd. I loved that he got his own episode. Princess Caroline asks Todd to help her out by having him be seen dating celebrity Courtney to help give her a more relatable image.

For Todd this season has been about discovering himself. Having him find his identity and starting to be open about it. I loved the ace rep in the show. It was so open and easy and how it should be accepted out in the world. I especially loved Bojack’s reaction. Although his and Todd’s relationship has been particularly hard. Where Todd has felt used and unappreciated and so theirs a lot of distance between the two, Bojack’s reaction to Todd’s identity is super chill. Such a great thing to see.

Todd is shown to have grown quite the backbone this season and starts creating the life that he wants for himself. He doesn’t see Bojack in the best light and takes steps back from their relationship in this season and honestly I don’t blame him. Todd hadn’t been treated the best by Bojack and Todd got tired of feeling like a doormat and as sad as it is he needed distance from him for the betterment of himself.

After the events and pain from the ending of season 3 Bojack finds himself back at his old childhood home. Here he stays inside and does little things to fix up the place after it had been abandoned for so long. However, nothing really gets done right until Eddie the next door neighbor comes and helps Bojack.

This period of time in Bojack has been one of my favorites to watch. Bojack’s relationship with Eddie is one of two people recognizing each other’s hardship and simply working together through that. I love that Eddie has a past that caused him to recognize what Bojack was going through and for him to have the will to be a friend to him anyway.

Yet it doesn’t end well. They finish the building and Bojack brings people to tear it down. We don’t know what happens with Eddie after that. Especially, after his heartbreak from flying to save Bojack after he jumps from the roof of the house. Eddie hadn’t flown in years after his wife’s passing. It’s one of those stories that captures you with both it’s odd reflects of beauty chipped in with the lumps of sadness.

Season 4 shows a lot of Bojack’s past. Particularly his relationship with his mother, but also his mother’s own experiences growing up. Beatrice is a difficult woman to say the least. She destroyed Bojack’s sense of self-worth from the start. She is manipulative and arrogant. Yet seeing her start of life and knowing that she’s know aged and suffering from increased dementia it’s still sad to watch. She’s an example of someone whose experienced trama and turned it into something that makes it ok to her to treat other people like crap. It’s the saddest thing. There is no good excuse to be a terrible person.

Then Bojack meets Hollyhawk a young girl that believes that she is his daughter. It is quite possibly the first really good relationship I’ve seen Bojack have with anyone. Yes he takes off and does his own thing stemming from his depression, but he genuinely cares about her and does everything in his power to find her mother.

What I loved most about Hollyhawk was how much she brought out the compassion in Bojack. Especially towards his mother. She’s a sweetie pie. She listens to Bojack when he says how horrible his mom is and how he’d been treated, but also gets him to see that he should treat her better. I love her. She makes him a better person.

One of the saddest parts of the show is when he finds out that his mother was giving Hollyhawk diet pills to the point that Hollyhawk needed to be rushed to the hospital. This causes him unable to see her anymore and he frantically goes and takes his mother to a nursing home more angry then he’d ever been at her. His mother ruined the one good relationship that he’d had. A relationship he’d not ruined himself and he was rightfully terribly upset.

When he walks away and leaves her there she remembers who she is and instead of telling her off he gives her something beautiful to think about and it is one of the most beautiful scenes I’ve seen of Bojack so far. Makes me tear up even now. He chooses to be kind to the one who’d been so cruel to him. It’s the sweetest thing I’ve ever seen.

The ending of Season 4 is my favorite. It’s so positive and happy and it made me feel so good inside. Hollyhawk accepts Bojack into her life as her brother and the look on Bojack’s face said it all. It’s one of the most beautiful moments on the show. It made me feel hopeful about Bojack’s future. He’s grown and learned to put someone before himself and healed so much of the past that haunted him. God I loved this season so much.

I’m excited to finally watch Season 5. (I had no real reason to put off writing this other then just not feeling like doing it sadly) However, I’m excited to finally be able to continue watching Bojack’s story. It’s a beautiful one. A sad one, but a wonderful one too.

THANK YOU ALL FOR READING! Let me know your thoughts down in the comments below! 

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Watching: Bojack Horseman Season 3

Season 3 of Bojack Horseman was a whirlwind. It has my favorite episode of Bojack so far, a look on some more background of Bojack and the gang, and some of the darkest most intense moments of the series so far. This is the season where I have found that I am completely in love with this show and I can’t wait to talk about why.

First of all, I want to talk about my favorite episode.

Episode 4: Fish out of water

This episode is an art piece. The sound of it. The way that everything is visual. How it’s basically silent storytelling. It’s gorgeous. It’s also one of the happiest episodes of Bojack. As a seahorse gives birth and Bojack ends up taking care of the little one and taking him back to his home.

I loved it so much I even drew my favorite moment:

I made a bit of a mess of the proportions, but I’m still happy with the result. It was a fun thing to draw. This is the happiest I had ever seen Bojack and Bojack has done so many things that have been sketchy in his life, but seeing him happy is the way I wish I could always see him.

A big part of season 3 was showing the past. The time after Bojack was a star on Horsin’ around and when he stared on a new tv series “The BoJack Horseman Show”. A show that was said to be terrible. In these episodes of Bojack Horseman we see younger versions of everyone and get a sense of how they’ve grown and developed to the people they are later on. Mr. peanutbutter in a bad marriage, Princess Caroline not yet an agent and barely developing her on again off again relationship with Bojack, Todd being young and discovering who he is, Diane working in a coffee shop just starting to write on the side. It’s so cool to see that part of these characters I have come to love. Gives each of them an even deeper characterization and all of them feel even more like people.

A big aspect of season 3 is Diane gets pregnant. Diane does not want a child and so she decides to have an abortion and being the social media coordinator for Sextina Aquafina she accidentally tweets about it and Sextina becomes a face of the pro-choice movement. It’s a unique perspective because I feel like Diane learns a lot about herself through this time and what it means to her to be a feminist. She gets confronted by her own biases and understands that the way she had been viewing Sextina was in a way that didn’t value her for who she truly was. It was a fascinating part of season 3 for me.

Another thing that happens is Todd meets up with his old friend Emily and they make a business together. Emily likes Todd, but we find out that Todd is asexual and just having that shown in a show like this was really cool. Todd ends up carrying on the business with Mr. Peanutbutter and it becomes the opposite of what it was meant to be originally and even though for me it turned into something I didn’t care for it ended up being a good thing later on.

A big part of season 3 is Bojack creating a campaign in hopes of being an Oscar winner. He and his friends go into meetings and set up places for him to show to create a new image for him to get picked. A lot of it goes great and a lot of it doesn’t, but that’s sorta how everything always goes for Bojack.

Bojack develops an interesting relationship with his publicist Ana. She thinks she can win him an Oscar for his role in secretariat and it ends up not happening and so she leaves him. This starts the unraveling that later turns into the most heartbreaking series of events in Bojack so far.

After years of Princess Caroline being Bojack’s agent he fires her for good. At that point he had all his hopes in Ana and Caroline had seemingly ruined two new opportunities for him and he felt fed up. It really wasn’t her fault, but it didn’t matter. Thus, began the beginning of the end.

Bojack gets announces as an Oscar nominee and so he throws a party. He gets majorly drunk and when he tries to kill himself by driving his car into his pool. He then gets saved by Mr. Peanutbutter only to be told that his nomination was a mistake. Then, Bojack has a convo with Todd that is the most intensely sad convo I’ve heard in all the series. Where Todd tells him that he’s the problem. The reason he is the way is is because of himself and no one else and it’s both so cruel and so hard-hitting. Bojack then goes on the deep end.

Then we get to the saddest part of the show. After months of sobriety Sabrina goes on a bender with Bojack and it’s terrible and heartbreaking to watch. Showing such darkness and pain in a tv show like this hit me hard. Both of them become lost.

And then as sometimes happens after taking too many drugs Sabrina dies and Bojack realizes her loss was his fault. The body isn’t meant take that much poison. Then the art of it, the way that they portray her death is haunting and beautiful. Yet not at all glorifying the moment in anyway. It felt like a knife in the gut to watch.

At the very end, Bojack tries to kill himself once more and ends up watching a group of wild horses just running and it stops him. Then the season ends on a moment of hope. It’s such a dark season and yet beautiful in its way. The writers and artists create a both real, bleak, and yet hopeful picture of what living life is. It’s glorious. It’s a show well worth applauding.

On the heels of my favorite season so far I’m excited to continue on the series and see what more Bojack has in store for me. I’m now halfway through his journey and so far I’ve loved each and every moment. Can’t wait for what is next.

THANK YOU ALL FOR READING! Let me know your thoughts down in the comments below! 

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Checkout The Book Raven Poetry Instagramand Twitter

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Watching Bojack Horseman: Season 1

This show is one of those shows that you watch and it changes you. It’s so real. Hits so hard with what actually happens in real life yet with such absurd imagery that you can’t call watching it any sort of form of escapism. If your watching this show your facing some hard truths. That’s all I can say.

Bojack started his career on a show called Horsin’ Around. One of those adorable family tv series we’ve all grown up watching. After that Bojack lost his way. He hasn’t done much since then and he fills up his emptiness by keeping around him a few people that he cares about.

For one princess caroline his agent. She is his on again off again girlfriend, but most of all she’s always there and does what she can to further his career.

There’s Todd, Bojack’s roommate and closest friend. Bojack tries to keep him a bit codependent which isn’t healthy, but the show really isn’t about showing what a healthy relationship looks like.

Then there is Diane, the girl Bojack loves. She’s in a relationship with a guy he really doesn’t care for Mr. Peanutbutter. Yet, they spend a lot of time together because she becomes the ghostwriter to write about Bojack’s life.

A part of the show is where Bojack is trying to get Mr. Peanutbutter and Diane to break up. Instead his antics end up pushing them further together.

But, the show is about Bojack. The life he’s created for himself and his inner struggle with being a man who isn’t happy and isn’t who he wants to be. He is a portrait of depression. What it does and the actions we take as humans when we are doing are best to take steps away from it. But, also the steps we take under its influence.

One thing I do have to say though is that while living with depression it is all of that. It colors everything in a way that isn’t what it really is. Who Bojack has become because of his depression isn’t all he could be. Yet sometimes, when your stuck and that’s all you see you can’t step away from it enough to acknowledge that. Then the problem perpetuates.

This show is brilliant. Incredibly well styled. Dark in great ways. Yet, it shows that bit of hope that Bojack carries with him. I’m excited to watch the next season and see where the story goes. It is quite the story.

THANK YOU ALL FOR READING! Let me know your thoughts down in the comments below! 

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Passing Strange: A Review

Passing Strange by Ellen Klages

My Rating: 5 stars!

Cover Rating: 10/10 especially after finishing the novel this is the perfect cover for this book. It seamlessly ties into the story and it’s absolutely stunning!

Publisher: TOR

Publish Date: January 24th, 2017

Number of Pages: 131

Received: the Tor kindle book club!

Purchase: Amazon

Synopsis:

Inspired by the pulps, film noir, and screwball comedy, Passing Strange is a story as unusual and complex as San Francisco itself from World Fantasy Award winning author Ellen Klages, and a finalist for the 2017 Nebula Award for Best Novella

San Francisco in 1940 is a haven for the unconventional. Tourists flock to the cities within the city: the Magic City of the World’s Fair on an island created of artifice and illusion; the forbidden city of Chinatown, a separate, alien world of exotic food and nightclubs that offer “authentic” experiences, straight from the pages of the pulps; and the twilight world of forbidden love, where outcasts from conventional society can meet.

Six women find their lives as tangled with each other’s as they are with the city they call home. They discover love and danger on the borders where magic, science, and art intersect.

Opening Sentence: “On the last Monday of her life, Helen Young returned from the doctor’s and made herself a cup of tea.”

Musings:

Passing Strange is short, but quite beautiful. There was an elegance to it and I also learned a few things about the 1940’s. I would have loved to live in the world of it a little longer, but it was a perfect length for the story told.

What I Loved:

The subtlety of magic. The magic in the book isn’t the most important thing. It’s a part of it, but deep down it’s a tool and nothing more. It’s unique and beautiful in its own way, but it isn’t what makes the novel and I love that!

What it is to be a woman who loves a woman in the 1940’s. I don’t know much about lgbt history. It’s not really taught in school or anything you have to look for it. I love the historical elements in this book. Women in a club entertaining as men. A small safe place for women to be themselves in a society that would never accept them. That regardless of time the lgbt community is as large as it always was. Not a phase. Not a trend. Something that always was and always will be.

Helen Young. Helen is a woman who is dying. She has one last task and at the beginning the reader doesn’t know exactly what that is. She is a witty woman and an all around interesting character and I liked her immediately.

Diego Rivera and his wife Frida. In the book, Haskel is casually friends with Diego Rivera and his wife Frida (yes THE Frida and Diego Rivera). She even slept with Frida once. Anyway, I didn’t know Frida and Diego were really married? I learned about both is school, but this was never told to me and I was shook!

Haskel. Haskel is an incredible pastel artist that gets paid to create horror pulp covers. Yeah those old ones with a very scantily clad women as the focal of it. She’s talented and full of surprises. She is also bisexual and has a husband who she never sees because he couldn’t take that she made more money then him and supported herself (which causes him to go into debt).

Emily. Emily is Haskel’s love interest and confidant. A singer at one of those safe clubs for women who perform as men. She performs as Spike and everyone loves her. Her attraction to Haskel is immediate and I loved their banter and ease with each other.

All in all:

This 1940’s snapshot of women’s friendships, relationships, and deep love is a story I will forever keep close to my heart. It was beautifully written and well researched. I loved every second of it!

About the Author:

Ellen Klages was born in Ohio, but has lived in San Francisco for more than forty years. Her first novel, The Green Glass Sea (2006), won the Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction, the Lopez Award for Children’s Literature, and the New Mexico State Book Award for Young Adult Literature. It was a finalist for the Northern California Book Award, the Quills Award, and the Locus Award. A sequel, White Sands, Red Menace (2008), won the California and New Mexico Book awards in the Young Adult category.

Her novelette, “Basement Magic,” won the Nebula Award in 2005, and her novella, “Wakulla Springs,” (co-authored with Andy Duncan) was a finalist for the Hugo and Nebula awards and won the World Fantasy Award in 2014. Many of her other stories have been on the final ballots for numerous awards, and have been translated into Chinese, Czech, French, German, Hungarian, Japanese, Polish, and Swedish. The first  collection of her short fiction, Portable Childhoods (2007), was a finalist for the World Fantasy Award.

In addition to her writing, she is a graduate of the Second City Conservatory, the Clarion South Workshop, and served for twenty years on the Motherboard of the James Tiptree, Jr. Literary Award. She lives in a small house full of strange and wondrous things: lead civilians, odd toys, postcards, and other bits of whimsy that strike her fancy.

Thank you all for reading! Let me know your thoughts down in the comments below!

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Checkout The Book Raven Poetry Instagram and Twitter!

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Dream Waters: A Review

Dream Waters by Erin A. Jensen

My Rating: 2/5 stars

Cover Rating: 5/10 stars, this kind of cover isn’t typically what attracts my attention. The color is pretty, but otherwise it’s a pretty standard cover. It’s also a little misleading. I thought this was a ya book when I first saw it and didn’t realize it was adult till a ways into the book.

Publisher: Dream Waters Publishing

Publish Date: April 4th, 2016

Number of Pages: 418

Received: Giveaway

Purchase: Amazon

Synopsis:

A contemporary fantasy that blurs the lines between dream and reality, fairy tale and history, love and obsession, Dream Waters is the first book in the Dream Waters series. 

All his life, Charlie Oliver has watched the people around him morph into creatures that no one else sees. Unlike the rest of the world, Charlie remembers the Waters that transport him to the Dream World each night. And he sees glimpses of people’s Dream forms in the waking world. Condemned to spend his waking hours in a psychiatric facility because of his Dream Sight, Charlie doesn’t expect anything to change. But everything starts changing the day Emma Talbot walks through the door in the middle of a group therapy session. 

Haunted by memories of the events that led to her admission, Emma plans to end her life the first chance she gets. But something about Charlie stops her. From the moment they shake hands, his friendship feels safe and familiar. As Emma begins to let down her guard, Charlie catches a glimpse of the fiery-eyed dragon that lurks behind her Dream form. Each night, as Emma dreams of the man who’s been banned from visiting, Charlie searches the Dream World for the monster that shadows her. But when Emma’s suppressed memories begin to surface, Charlie finds more monsters than he bargained for.

Opening Sentence: If anyone had told me when I woke up that morning that my life was about to change forever, I’d have said they were crazy and considering the fact that I woke up in a psych ward, odds are I would’ve been right.

Musings:

So, there are a lot of things about this book that felt odd to me. The first being that I didn’t get the fact that this was an adult book until later as ages aren’t given till a bit into the book. The relationship between Emma and her husband which is one between a man who was an adult when she was a child and knew her all during that time and took her to his bed by the time she was 16. Which is something I’m not sure is properly reprimanded in this book. However, as I have not read any of the next books in the series I’m not sure how it will be handled in the future.

In general, while the concept was interesting, I felt it wasn’t fully realized in this book. It felt like an early draft of something that could have been much better, but never quite made it there.

The psych ward itself didn’t feel like a true representation of one, but more of a movie like idea of one with rules that made the plot fit.

Then there were the secrets that we never learn about Emma’s husband. Like, did he kill the girl that told Emma she was having an affair with him. Or why the hell no one went after him when Emma’s father found the two together before she was an adult.

There’s a lot of things in this book that makes me raise my eyebrow wondering why it’s even a thing. Especially after the ending. The ending made me question if they would ever properly reprimand the husband for grooming Emma to be his wife, because they give rights to have her under house arrest and then he gives Charlie a job.

I know this review is all over the place, but this book makes me go: ????

Charlie was the only thing I liked about this book and still even the way he was written still didn’t feel fully fledged.

All in all:

There are a lot of things I wish were different about this book. I wanted to like it, but I simply didn’t. It was entertaining at times, but there was too many things that felt unfinished and some things that was ended up completely up in the air. This book was not my cup of tea.

About the Author:

Erin Jensen is the Amazon International bestselling author of The Dream Waters Series. She was awarded the Bronze Medal for fantasy fiction in the 2018 Readers’ Favorite international book award competition. She also received Honorable Mention for fantasy fiction in the 2018 Writer’s Digest self-published e-book awards. A part-time pharmacist and a full-time daydreamer, she resides in upstate New York with her ridiculously supportive husband, two teenage sons–who are both taller than her–and a Yorkshire terrier who thinks he’s the family bodyguard.

Thank you all for reading! Let me know your thoughts down in the comments below!

Check out my Instagram and Twitter!

Check out The Book Raven Poetry website!

If your interested in a personalized poem about whatever you’d like check out my Etsy listing here.

Checkout The Book Raven Poetry Instagram and Twitter!

Check out the Wolfe Creek Candle website and Instagram!

The Ballad of Black Tom: A Review

The Ballad of Black Tom by Victor LaValle

My Rating: 4/5 Stars!

Cover Rating: 9/10 Stars! I love this cover! I love the nods to Cthulhu in the tentacles. I love the contrast of the art piece. It’s just Tom holding his guitar looking like he’s about to go do something intense. The only word to describe this cover properly is badass.

Publisher: Tor

Publish Date: February 16th, 2016

Number of Pages: 149

Received: Through the Tor monthly sci-fi/fantasy book club

Purchase: Amazon

Synopsis:

“People move to New York looking for magic and nothing will convince them it isn’t there.

Charles Thomas Tester hustles to put food on the table, keep the roof over his father’s head, from Harlem to Flushing Meadows to Red Hook. He knows what magic a suit can cast, the invisibility a guitar case can provide, and the curse written on his skin that attracts the eye of wealthy white folks and their cops. But when he delivers an occult tome to a reclusive sorceress in the heart of Queens, Tom opens a door to a deeper realm of magic, and earns the attention of things best left sleeping.

A storm that might swallow the world is building in Brooklyn. Will Black Tom live to see it break?”

Opening Sentence: “People who move to New York always make the same mistake.”

Musings:

The Ballad of Black Tom is a wonderful nod to one of the greatest horror writers of all time H.P. Lovecraft. I haven’t read much of Lovecraft’s work, only The Call of Cthulhu, but I really enjoyed reading that story. It’s a good one. Lovecraft had a talent and passion for horror like no other. Even so, I could recognize the nods to Lovecraft’s style in the way the story was approached. Something not quite fantasy or sci-fi, but could only be explained as otherworldly. Even as it is very much set within the world we live in.

What I Loved:

The writing. Victor created atmosphere with the way he choose his details. He brought you into New York of the time period and it felt like you could smell the smoke. You could imagine the stares. The many white folk growing uncomfortable in the presence of a black man.

The places. I could imagine each place things occurred in my head. It wasn’t too much description, but just enough. When places were revisited more then once you could imagine that place again and it felt like the same place. The description was very well handled.

The story took after Lovecraft in a great way. This story was all it’s own, however it felt like a Lovecraft story. The way the horror was woven in. The way things go from kinda off to very wrong. It felt very much within the brand of Lovecraft and I really enjoyed that.

It kept me in the halloween mood. Even if this story didn’t creep me out. It did feel very horror-esque. It reminded me of what I love most about the season. What horror does. Tom is a man fighting to stay a good man. Just trying to survive, but when someone gets pushed too far you have to wonder what they’ll do when they just don’t care anymore.

Grey morality. I love books where morality isn’t black and white. In life morality isn’t black and white. Humans are the most terrifying of creatures. That is something I will always keep in mind. It isn’t just the actions Tom takes. It’s the actions of others that lead him to make the choices he did. We all like to think we are completely independent, but how you are treated in life is often majorly impactful on how you choose to act. Even that thought can be terrifying.

The guitar case. For some reason the simplicity of Tom carrying this guitar, the mystery of it made me more and more intrigued by the story. It’s not anything grand and yet the connection between it, Tom, his father, and magic is undeniable. I really loved that about this book.

Final Thoughts:

The Ballad of Black Tom is well worth the read. It’s perfect to put you in the mood for this dark holiday season. It’s fantasy, sci-fi, and horror all rolled into one. I think Lovecraft is smiling in his grave with the thought of inspiring such a atmospheric horror novel written in his honor.

About the Author:

Victor LaValle is the author of the short story collection Slapboxing with Jesus, four novels, The Ecstatic, Big Machine, The Devil in Silver, and The Changeling and two novellas, Lucretia and the Kroons and The Ballad of Black Tom. He is also the creator and writer of a comic book Victor LaValle’s DESTROYER.

He has been the recipient of numerous awards including a Whiting Writers’ Award, a United States Artists Ford Fellowship, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Shirley Jackson Award, an American Book Award, and the key to Southeast Queens.

He was raised in Queens, New York. He now lives in Washington Heights with his wife and kids. He teaches at Columbia University.

He can be kind of hard to reach, but he still loves you.

Thanks for reading! Let me know your thoughts down in the comments. Let me know any horror recommendations you may have for me. I’d love to put together a list.

-Till next time!

Black Diaries: A Review

Black Diaries by Robert Their

My Rating: 5 Stars!

Cover Rating: 7/10 Stars! The cover really fits everything about the novel. Those cartoon heart eyes over a very real very dead skull truly captures what this book is about. I love it!

Publisher: Robert himself on wattpad!

Synopsis:

INGREDIENTS FOR A HAPPILY EVER AFTER:

1. One feisty heroine (That would be me. Hi, I’m Cassy.)

2. One deliciously hot hero (I prefer them fresh, not frozen.)

3. Passionate love (and a big fat pinch of lust!)

4. Oh, and don’t forget the “Till death do us part!”

Please leave stewing for 10 minutes in deadly intrigue, stir, and then serve with hot chili sauce.

See? A very simple recipe. Nothing can possibly go wrong, right…?

Opening Sentence: “My first husband died when I was twenty-three.”

Musings:

Dear reader,

I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I began reading this. From the man that brought you Storm and Silence you get this sarcastic, deranged, loving serial killer named Cassy. I was not expecting this. Yet I am so glad this was written.

I don’t know where Robert was suppressing this novel in his mind, but wherever this came from it was brilliant. It brought a smile to my face. The implications of a animal loving serial killer bringing a smile to my face is a fact that I’m going to have to deal with. Either way this book is amazing and I’m going to tell you why.

What I Loved:

The hilarity of it. Some things in this book are so outlandish that while it makes little sense it then makes a lot of sense. Cassidy has such a luck with finding unique, interesting, and gorgeous men that it is insane. The fact they all end up dead is beside the point.

An animal loving, cat caring, martial artist, veterinarian, happy go lucky, and quite lucky, serial killer. Cassidy is something else. I admire her. Thinking about all the things that makes Cassy…. Cassy is a mind bender. She is oddly justified in everything she does. You root for her. Wish that you were her. Yet the ease in how she kills starts to grow on you. It’s kinda alarming.

I’m simply in awe at this story. It’s one of those books that makes your mouth hang open the entire time. Sometimes your thinking WTH did I just read? Other times your so into the story that anytime Cassy does something you feel like you have to shout into the world “HELL YEAH!”

Oddly seem-less. From one odd situation to the next the way Cassy progresses through her life and becomes who she becomes is seem-lees and at the same time a whirl wind. You look back on it and think how did we get from here to here, but when you slow it down and see the play by play it makes sense and I admire this book for that.

The romance is great! You root for Cassy and every single guy she falls for. You want them to have a perfect romance and you want the guy to not cheat and keep his vows. The wooing parts of this book are like mini fun adventures. So well done!

It’s not repetitive. You would think a story that falls on a pattern would be repetitive, but it’s not AT ALL. It’s always exciting and fresh. It always gets your heart pounding. There is always something to love. Plus it has enough twists along the way to always keep you on your toes. That’s just how well written this book is.

All In All:

Reader,

I can’t really explain how much this author’s works mean to me. I can’t explain how many days have gone by where one of his chapters has brought a smile to my face. I may have not expected Black Diaries to have ever existed, but it achieved so many smiles to come across my face and I think for a book like this, that is what is most important. I hope you take on Cassy wacky and incredible story. It’s a free read. So please. Check it out!

With love,

Tiana Wolfe

About the Author

Sir Rob at a Window of the Castle of Rechberg

Robert Thier is a German historian, lover of old books and award-winning writer, whose novels and stories encompass the historical, satirical, and fantastical. For the way he manages to make the past come alive, as if he himself lived as a medieval knight, his inventive fans have given him the nickname “Sir Rob.” All of his stories are characterized by his very own brand of humor that has gained him a diverse readership ranging from teenagers to retired grandmothers.

For Robert, becoming a writer followed naturally from his interest in history. “In Germany,” he says, “we use the same word for story and history. And I’ve always loved the one as much as the other. Becoming a storyteller, a writer, is what I’ve always wanted.”
Besides writing and researching in dusty old archives, on the lookout for a mystery to put into his next story, Robert enjoys classical music and long walks in the country. The helmet you see in the picture he does not wear because he is a cycling enthusiast, but to protect his literary skull in which a bone has been missing from birth. Robert lives in the south of Germany in a small village between the three Emperor Mountains.

Thanks for reading! Let me know your thoughts down in the comments below. Have you ever read one of Robert’s works? If you have I would love to discuss it!

-Till next time!