Review: Reunion of the Good Weather Suicide Cult by Kyle McCord

Book Review, Uncategorized

*I have received this book from the publishers via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*

Cults. I’ve read and listened to a lot on that topic. I know things that my mom considers creepy to know. But I can’t help it. I’m absolutely consumed by intrigue. When I saw this book on NetGalley, it was an instant request. And I was checking my inbox regularly to see if they’d accepted me, not expecting them to. I was elated when they responded.

This book follows Tom Duncan, who is the only person at the Good Weather cult camp that survived the night of their mass suicide. Unfortunately, these things don’t just go away. A Netflix documentary is made about that night that includes Tom’s interviews with a detective who believes Tom masterminded that whole thing. The documentary gains traction, and suddenly people on the street feel like they know him, and they don’t like who they know.

After being told by his daughter that she needs space and he needs to leave, Tom finds himself at a reunion of other people who had been a part of Good Weather at one time or another but were not there that night. All of whom have had drastic differences in how they experienced the camp. There are laughs, shared secrets, and heartbreaks.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐(3 stars)

I was worried because I’d never read about a fictional cult before, only true crime stores. How would it compare to all of the information stored in my mind? I was pleasantly surprised. McCord knows his stuff about cults. How they operate, what type of people lead them, etc. Good Weather felt like a place I could easily hear about on one of the podcasts I listen to. I was ready to hear the sordid details and feel all of the feelings.

Unfortunately, the only real feeling I felt was solemnity. There wasn’t much in the way of happiness, or horror, or awe. There was some sadness and the rest an even-keeled solemnity. I wanted to feel more; I wanted to be more surprised; I wanted a bigger reveal. 

Tom was likable, and I wanted him to get off well in the end. But there was no significant character growth. His daughter once mentioned therapy for him, and he never even considered it. He didn’t seem to get over any of the crucial problems that ailed him. We never saw him do anything for those issues aside from reconnecting with others from the cult.

Lastly, a tiny thing seemed to be an inconsistency to me, and that just bugged me. I wished I could ask the author to explain it to me, but it will always bug me now.

The book was well written and an easy read. But it wasn’t anything too exciting. However, I commend McCord, and I’ll keep an eye out for other books.

Review: Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir

Book Review
Book, Gideon the Ninth, open to title page.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐ (3.75/5)

I remember where I was when I first saw this book. I was standing in Schuler’s when my fiance came up to me, book in hand. He showed me the statement that appears on the bottom of the cover, “Lesbian necromancers explore a haunted gothic palace in space.” I laughed. There’s just so much going on there, and I said that it couldn’t possibly fit all of those things together. I wrote it off and bought something else.

Then I saw it again, and again. And almost a year later, I relented. I needed a grand adventure and I hope this would be it.

Gideon is an indentured servant on the ninth planet who desperately wants to escape and fight in the army. But her nemesis, Harrowhark, is determined not to let that happen.

However, Harrowhark craves nothing more than to work alongside the emperor as a lyctor (an advanced necromancer). She strikes a deal with Gideon. If Gideon accompanies her to the first planet as a badass sword fighting cavalier while Harrow completes her necromancy training, then Gideon can go free.

I enjoyed this book a lot, and I wish I could give it five stars. I’ll start by saying that the second book is already out, and I can’t wait to read it, so none of the issues I had with it were too damaging. It was enjoyable but not quite a masterpiece.

Gideon was a lovable character. Her voice was distinct, and I found her charming and funny. The way she’s written won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but she was mine. If ever there was a relatable character who I wanted to pal around with, it would be her. Other characters in this book had moments that touched me, but Gideon was clearly the star of the show. And I wanted more of her.

The first hundred to two hundred pages went by at a snail’s pace. I was interested, but it felt like we weren’t going anywhere. Then we hit a point somewhere in the middle, and BAM, interest intensified. At that point, the book became a mystery/thriller, and I turned up the audiobook speed from two to two and a half to get answers quicker. And by the time we were at the climactic end, things were going too fast. I slowed the speed back down, and the pages were still dwindling at too quick a pace. These pacing issues knocked off a star but didn’t deter me.

Tasmyn Muir knows about worldbuilding, and I have a feeling she knows more about this world than she’ll ever be able to tell us. While I wished the glossary had broken tradition and been put at the beginning of the book, I spent every moment excited to find out what it all meant and how it worked.

Another quarter of a star was knocked off because of the romance. I have mixed feelings about it; it fell a little flat for me. There wasn’t enough time building up the romantic part of the relationship. I think I would have loved it and shipped it, but there needed to have been more.

Another thing that contributed to that quarter-star knockoff was a few background tidbits that we’re thrown in. They did not allude to them enough and did not give them the full gravity they deserved.

I do recommend this book. While the cover promises so many things, it somehow managed to deliver them all. I can’t wait to read the second book, and I hope it only elevates my feelings for the first.

Thank you to all of you who found your way here. Have you read this book? What did you think?

Your friend,

Baylee Jean, aka The Blushing Book Girl

Review: Nowhere Girl by Magali Le Huche

Book Review

I received this book from NetGalley for an honest review.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

This book was a relatable coming-of-age story about a girl with severe anxiety. She has what her therapist describes as “school phobia” and turns to a reclusive homeschooling life while diving into an obsession with The Beatles.

I, too, had a bit of a Beatles phase growing up (though not quite to this extent) and still love listening to their music to this day. I’m still thrilled to no end that I got to see Paul McCartney play ONE song live. I understand her hype.

But more importantly than The Beatles, I understand anxiety, and I know clinging to an obsession to feel less alone. I think about Harry Potter when I was younger and how I would make long stories in my head about being Harry Potter’s secret sister and marrying Draco Malfoy. It was more than just an interest. It was a chunk of my life. So, when Magali holds so tightly to them and uses them as an escape, I understand. And I felt for her. I could feel how lonely and confused she was.

The only reason I give this four stars instead of five is because I feel like it ended a bit abruptly. I would have liked to see her progression into “normal” life a little more fleshed out.

I want to thank the publishers for allowing me to read this book. I really enjoyed it and it gave me a lot to think about. Not to mention, I now really really want to watch Across the Universe.

Review: God I Feel Modern Tonight by Catherine Cohen


“some of my closest friends have/ chosen to go to weddings/ instead of hanging around the city/ listening to me complain about someone I kissed in 2012/ when someone is married I do take that personally”

Catherine Cohen, God I Feel Modern Tonight

Everyone needs a little something to give them deep belly laughs from time to time. After all, they say laughter is the best medicine. This book had me reading almost every poem aloud to my fiancé because I just related so hard and wanted to share the amusement.

Catherine Cohen is a comedian and that side of her really shines through in this book. Not just that, but the experience of living in the modern world. She feels like someone I want to have a conversation with, someone who would understand all that I hold true. It felt like listening to an old friend.

It was too quick of a read. I finished up the 69 pages in less than an hour and wanted more. I’m probably going to read it over again before I return it to the library, and I will be buying it at my earliest convenience.

This book gets 5 stars, purely for being enjoyable. I suggest if you need something to cheer you up after a depressing read that you pick this one up.

Book Review: Not Quite Out by Louise Willingham

Book Review, Uncategorized

I’ve been trying to get back into my reading routine after a couple of years of burnout. Not for lack of effort, it wasn’t working for me. I would pick a book off my shelf and read three or four pages, and then it would sit there for weeks. Something had to change. Despite resolving not to get any new books this year, I decided the only way to combat my stump was to buy a new book I was really excited about. Now, was that the best decision? No, probably not, because now I want to buy more. But did it work? Yes, I’m happy to say it did.

I follow a writer on Twitter who kept mentioning her book, and every time I heard her say something about it, I wanted to know more. Then I saw the cover. A love affair began between me and that cover. The color scheme, the simplicity! My brain was sold. I used my first payment from freelancing to pay for this book, and I’m glad I didn’t spend it any other way.

The book was ‘Not Quite Out’ by Louise Willingham. The story follows William and Daniel, two men with vastly different experiences of life, who you can’t help but root for. William is bi, but he hasn’t told anyone yet. He’s decided it doesn’t matter anyway because he doesn’t plan on dating anyone right now. Daniel is gay and out but is battling addiction and a breakup with an abusive ex. They meet by chance, but their worlds change from that moment on as they grow closer and closer together.

Stars: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ (4)

My god! The amount of romantic tension in this book is perfectly unbearable. The noises I made while reading it were not voluntary. This book features all of the romantic intimacies that aren’t sex, and it made me swoon. It’s so refreshing to see physical touch that doesn’t always lead up to an orgasm. There’s nothing wrong with sex, but all other forms of intimacy are often glossed, not just in books but in society in general. I think everyone will be able to enjoy this and not just people who are on the ace spectrum like me (Dan and Will are not aspect.) They experience such a genuine love for each other; it will sound ridiculous, but my heart was seriously sighing with joy.

Let’s not even mention the number of times I made my fiancé toss in bed by accidentally screaming, “JUST TELL THEM. TELL THEM, NOW. DO IT!” It was a page-turner because I just needed to find out when, how, and if Will was ever going to tell someone that he’s bisexual. It propelled me forward even long after I should have gone to bed.

I thought there were a few odd things thrown in at the end, but they didn’t exactly take away from anything I loved about this story. It’s not because they were things that I didn’t like, but things that just appeared to be thrown in quickly with not enough time spent focusing on them. Their relationship is toxic, but I think the side characters address this and make it apparent throughout the story. The story features a lot of significant, scary issues that I wish could have been delved into a little deeper and would have brought this up to a 5-star read for me.

All said and done, this story was precisely the book I needed to read right now. And even though I had hoped to finish it in June, because you know Pride month, I’m just happy it was good enough to get me to finish it at all (not to mention we should have Pride every month.) I recommend it to everyone looking for a lovely little romance.

⚠Trigger Warnings: drug abuse/recovery, abuse, self harm, abortion.⚠

The Importance of Insignificance

Flash Fiction

The El thunders by; this is his train. He should get on, but he doesn’t. Twix candy wrapped in a caramel gold package sits in his lap; his hands fiddle with it. They used to split the Twix; even though it was already divided into halves, they’d split it into fourths and share. Her fingers unfailingly dwindled atop his when she passed it to him, and she’d smirk. God damn that smirk! Then they’d chew it fast, to share in a delectable chocolate caramel kiss.

           The next train whizzes by; it stops, he stands. He should get on, but he doesn’t. A polka dot dress. They used to go dancing, and she’d wear flowing, flowery dresses in all sorts of colors. His favorite was red with white polka dots. The woman at the station wore a dress, a dress she would have twirled around in, giddy as she watched it fly away from her body in an elegant circle. And maybe now she was wearing it, somewhere. The woman scolds him, “Do you mind?” His concentration is hardly broken; she struts away, mumbling about perverts.

           Another train passes- it’s getting late. He should get on, but he doesn’t. The bright lights form a halo around the city she loved so fiercely. She would prance down Michigan Avenue, depriving his wallet of money that he didn’t have to waste. But, even with dollar signs in her eyes, he couldn’t say no to the way her lips parted to make way to her smile or the way her hands clasped together, begging without words. She would kiss his nose and beam up at him; “thank you,” and it made him feel like a hero. No, a god. He turns away from the city, but that won’t erase the memories nor change the feelings.

           A person starts playing a beat-up guitar across from him. It’s slightly out of tune. His foot starts to tap, but he quickly realizes it’s a cover of one pretentious love song or another. As the guy sings, he wonders if he can pay the man to stop playing. He decides it better not to cause a scene.

            It had been something minor, like the way his hand was too high up on her leg in public or that he hadn’t bought her flowers in too long. It had been something so insignificant he’d forgotten, so insignificant that it still slips his mind. He should have expected nothing less; she had always lived for insignificance. It had been a huff of her breath that escalated into poisoned words and raised voices. Which ended in a slamming door that she never opened again.

           He throws the two remaining halves of the Twix onto the El tracks. If she wants them, she can go down there and get them. Another train screeches to a stop in front of him, and he boards triumphantly while the speaker announces that “this is a red line train to Howard.”

            Who needs handwritten letters when there’s instant messenger? What kind of sadist constantly needs flowers dying on their dining room table? Who expects “thinking of you” gifts when they’re continually draining you of every last dollar? She had been the selfish one. Hell, when did she ever do any of those things for him? He stood, firmly assured that he was not at fault; clearly, he’d gotten the better end of the deal out of the whole affair.

           The train rolls into motion. She used to stand, even when there were plenty of seats. She would grab one of the poles and let the nauseating rhythm of the train swing her to-and-fro, giggling the whole time. He would shake his head with a smile.

           He sighs and plays with the ring on his finger, one that she’d given him, promising she’d love him forever. Forever was shorter than intended. The ring felt like it was a part of his skin, something that would be a part of him forever. Then again, so had she. It’s going to be a long ride.

Did You Know There Are Different Types of Bipolar Disorder


[This is comprised of my experiences, not one story is exactly the same, my story is not an absolute]

In 2019, I found myself in partial hospitalization. After a journey of cognitive tests and questions meant to summarize “my story”, I was narrowed down to a diagnosis I hadn’t heard before: Bipolar II. Of course Bipolar slipped off tongues easily; I only just started to learn what it really meant. My mom and I’d discussed the possibility that I was Bipolar, but it didn’t fully fit me. One eyebrow raised and head tilted to the side, “What’s that?”

Honestly, I won the psychiatrist lottery, this doctor was one of the brightest I’ve ever encountered; I nodded along while he drew diagrams and explained. By the end of the conversation, I had to agree. I had Bipolar II. My shoulders dropped away from my ears and I sighed, finally the proper treatment could begin. 

Let me try to explain. First, there’s the misconception. A large population seem to think Bipolar means acting out the chorus of Hot N Cold by Katy Perry (excuse my outdated reference). Essentially, a sharp and constant shift between positive and negative. I see where they’re coming from, I really do, but the gaps in knowledge create crucial differences in understanding. If we make the mistake of taking every word at face value we end up missing the nuances that come with it. 

Bipolar I is what most people think of when they hear the word, so I’ll start there. Bipolar I is less about feelings (but they’re still an important factor) and more about energy. Not so much yes and no, as slow and GOOOOO. Bipolar I is most often characterized by Mania. Mania is not being able to sleep, loss of impulse control, delusions of grandeur, and sometimes even hallucinations. This can also mean spending all your money, traveling across the country on a whim, putting yourself in unsafe situations. Etc etc etc. It’s not just feeling hyper. It’s an irrational, intense loss of control.

I’ve never experienced full blown mania, that’s one of the big differences between the two. People with Bipolar II experience hypomania. It’s more of a “dulled down” mania. It’s still hard to sleep, you try to do do do everything, you get sudden interest and hyper fixate until you realize you’ve read 20 books in a month and made at least 5 youtube videos about it and spent all your money buying more books when you already have hundreds unread and a library card. Okay, that may be a little specific, but I think it makes the point. It’s not always positive. Sometimes it’s throwing shit and screaming at the smallest slight- even the sound of someone’s breath could be the trigger. 

In general however,  it feels good when I’m hypomanic. I finally feel like I can do something. That’s because the biggest characterization of Bipolar II is incredibly low lows. After you read all those books and do “all the things”. Suddenly you’re frozen. I don’t just mean I’m sad. It’s being curled up on the couch all day either sleeping or staring eyes glazed over at the ceiling. It’s not showering for weeks or doing laundry until a rank odor emits from you making family and coworkers gag. It’s tripping over shit when you walk to the bathroom because there isn’t an empty space on the floor, your room has become a sty of trash, and dishes, and moldy food, and laundry. And occasionally it’s passive suicidal ideation: What’s the point? Why bother?

Some people mistake Bipolar II for the lesser version of Bipolar I. I wouldn’t say one is more or less than the other, they’re just different. I flunked out of college. I quit going to school. I got fired from my job. I self harmed. I don’t function “properly”. I once read that people with Bipolar II spend an average of 37 weeks out of the year, depressed. I can’t back up that statistic, but it sounds right. 

A year and a half has passed since that doctor said those words. I’ve done a lot of work: testing out different meds, learning how to do therapy, finding a therapist I love, experiencing group therapy, discovering that other people are like me, going to partial hospitalization again. It’s still a continuous process. I’m not cured (there isn’t a cure). But, I only scream when I’m hypomanic, I know the signs and have a safety plan, I’ve educated my loved ones so they can help me through it and know what’s happening, and I’ve drastically dulled my reactions to anger. 

It’s painful when I see people stereotype Bipolar people. So often someone will have conflicting thoughts and laugh “haha I’m so Bipolar!” I don’t know that I believe in Mental Health Awareness month, I think we need something different. (But that’s a different article for another day.) However, today I thought it was important to push those thoughts aside and share a small fragment of my experience. I thank you for giving me the time and your openness to gain some knowledge. 

[There’s also Rapid Cycling Bipolar, but I don’t know enough about that to speak on it]