Merry Fishmas, Bookwyrms! It’s been a quiet few months here in La-La Land, for which I am ex-stream-ly grateful. 😁 I’ve been focusing on my other art-sea pursuits (including my new zine, Siren Says, the December issue of which is available in the Siren Says menu tab ☝️😃).
I’m not sure how much that will change in the near-ish future, but I did want to close out the 2022 Sea-son with my traditional (if, like last year, more
phoned in simplified) Reading Review.
So! Let’s dive in with some Monday Minis! Here are the books on NeriSiren’s 2022 ✨Nice List✨:
Sweet Valley University Super Thriller #16: Killer Party.
6 out of 5 suspiciously trippy cyberpatterns dancing across the ballroom as guests mysteriously disappear from Lila Fowler’s epically extravagant Y2K Bash.
When Sorrows Come, by Seanan McGuire.
4.75 out of 5 impossibly harmonious layers of pure chaos in Toby and Tybalt’s wedding cake. One of which, I’m sure, is comprised of raw, maple-infused amethyst crystals soaked in Tim Horton’s coffee.
Northwind, by Gary Paulsen.
5 out of 5 dancing whales that hopefully won’t stage-dive onto that small human who just entered their bay. Kid’s been through a lot. Like, a LOT a lot. Like, nearly died about ten different horrifyingly Natural deaths and would really just like some Good Soup and a century-long nap.
Sweet Valley High Super Edition #1: Perfect Summer
5 out of 5 sadly non-euphemistic clam bakes enjoyed by a bunch of angst-ridden 80s teen self-caricatures and their estranged OTP chaperones while speed-cycling up the California coast with an energy level that would make an entire peloton of Pelotons short-circuit.
Babysitters’ Club books 13-15 and 44
5 out of 5 chill pills the Netflix BSC would suggest if they saw their 80s/90s counterparts trying to Cease and Desist a pair of sixth-graders who are watching their own siblings, while Season 1 Dawn frantically waves a picket sign at Book Dawn and her beauty-pageant-obsessed kid clients, who are also sisters. Competing against each other.
Can we get Bizarro Barney to chase her with a spray bottle of tie dye?
Also, Stacey moves back to New York.
BAD Best Babysitters (Ever), by Caroline Cala.
5 out of 5 cats named Taylor Swift even though they technically belong to your barely-toddler sister, who insists on calling them Chocolate Pudding or something equally undignified, which maybe your parents will finally do something about once your new and definitely-not derivative babysitting business earns enough money to hire the actual Taylor Swift for your epic birthday bash.
A few books I didn’t get a chance to review in full, but which I also highly recommend:
A major Thank You to Chammy for alerting me to the fin-tastic new Field Guide to Mermaids!!! It’s part fantasy, part environmental lesson as Emily B. Martin takes you through various watery habitats—from the open ocean to the Great Lakes to the Prairie Potholes of South Dakota to the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool in D.C. (seriously!)—across and around the U.S.
And her illustrations—both simple sketches and vivid watercolors—show what the mermaids of each habitat would look like, using the real-life fish and other local creatures for reference.
Another shout-out goes to the Allen County Public Library’s Georgetown Branch for creating a holiday version of the Blind Book Date. I chose a package labeled “Adult Nonfiction,” delightfully wrapped in cozy red-and-green plaid paper…
…and discovered Amanda Lovelace’s memoir-in-verse/twisted fairytale poetry collection, the princess saves herself in this one.
She begins with a very much appreciated list of trigger warnings (the poems cover subjects from child abuse to eating disorders to bullying and intimate partner abuse) and the promise of a happy ending (the ultimate deal-maker for me) and then guides us through her survival story.
She rejects the sugar-coated trope of reframing trauma as a cosmic/spiritual test of character and calls abuse exactly what it is. Then she takes us through her radical self-care journey to her self-coronation and her discovery of a love interest who recognizes and genuinely honors her goddess energy.
For the 90stalgic or 90sCurious Bookwyrms, I HIGHLY recommend the Sweet Valley High Prom Thriller miniseries, starting with A Night to Remember and ending with the amazingly batsh*t teen horror masterpiece that is The Evil Twin.
Basically, the Sweet Valley gods decide to implement the Dark Timeline, spiking Jessica’s usual levels of psychomaniacal narcissism to Actually Gets Someone Killed levels, and then introduces us to actual Evil Twin…MARGO.
Then (or at the very least), go listen to the corresponding @svhpodcast episodes (Evil Twin Part 2 drops this Thursday) because Anna’s impression of Margo’s inner voice is the greatest gift you will ever receive. Tell them NeriSiren sent you. 😉
Finally, I’m still dipping my secretly-webbed toes in the modern witchy waters. For the equally magick-curious Bookwyrms, I recommend starting with Witchcraft Therapy, by Mandi Em, and Basic Witches, by Jaya Saxena and Jess Zimmerman.
These very laid-back, down-to-earth, and even sassy beginner guides are as much about practical self-care (take your meds and keep your doctor/therapy appointments) and feminism as they are about candles and moon water (which are totally optional and YMMV; I’m not quite in that zone myself, tbh).
And if you’re a fan of Northern European history and mythology, check out Francis Melville’s Book of Runes, which, to cycle back to the 90stalgic zone, are basically what Secret Path stones were! Also, crystals. Obviously.
A very Mer-ry Fishmas and Happy New Year to you, Bookwyrms! May your days be faery and the stars shine sprightly on you!