March Wrap-Up

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Hello everyone!

It is that time of the month again, and I cannot believe that I am already writing my second monthly book wrap-up! This was a better month than I thought. I read four novels, six novellas (five of which are contained in the same book) and four graphic novels (always grouped in the same book). Rating wise, it was a pretty good month, averaging around the 3.75/5 stars. Unfortunately, I don’t think I will read as much in April, because I have many exams and essays coming up, but I will try and do my best.

Without further ado, let’s get into the books that I read in the month of March, in date-read order.

  • IMG_4438The Grownup, by Gillian Flynn. This is a novella written by the author of Gone Girl. It is a dark mystery that unfolds in only 60-ish pages, but nonetheless grips your attention until the last word. I had never read any other fiction work by this author, and I liked what I read here, so in the future I might pick up one of her longer novels. If you want to find out more about my thoughts on this novella, click here for a full review. I rated this 4/5 stars.
  • Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit, by Jeanette Winterson. I read this novel for my Feminist Theory class, and I had mixed feelings about it. While the topic was extremely interesting – it talked about a young woman who is a lesbian, raised by an extremist Christian family, – the writing style did not grip my attention, and at points I found the book to be tedious. I really enjoyed the autobiographical note though, and for this reason I gave it 3/5 stars. Let me know if you would like a full review on this.
  • Heir of Fire, by Sarah J. Maas. Oh boy, here we go. This book was amazing. It is the third installment in the Throne of Glass Series, and I thought it was absolutely genius. The characters’ development was the element that stood out the most, and now I am waiting for the exam season to be over so I can just curl up with a blanket and read the sequel in one sitting. If you want to find more about my thoughts click here, and you won’t be surprised to know that I gave this book a 5/5 stars.
  • Persepolis, by Marjane Satrapi. I read this graphic novel for my Feminist Theory class as well. I found it extremely interesting and highly informative. It is the autobiography of Marjane, a young woman born in Iran in the 70s, and her story of culture and self emancipation. Fascinating. You will find a review here. I gave it 4/5 stars.
  • Me Before You, by Jojo Moyes. Yes, I read this book because the movie is coming out. I have to say, I did not cry nearly as much as I thought I would, knowing that it is supposed to be the heart-wrenching love story between a carer and a quadriplegic. I will write a full review on this book soon, because I believe that some issues must be addressed. Overall, I rated it 4/5 stars.
  • 9780804139021The Martian, by Andy Weir. Since this is a heavily science-based book, I did not enjoy it too much. It recounts the story of a man stranded on Mars, and his struggles for survival. I heard amazing things about this book, but I mostly found it tedious and boring. I ended up giving it a 3/5 stars instead of two because of the final message of the book, and because I appreciated the research that went behind it.
  • The Assassin’s Blade, by Sarah J. Maas. This last book includes five novellas that are a prequel to Throne of Glass, and disclose some details about the life of Celaena Sardothien before she was brought to the Salt Mines of Endovier. I am not a huge fan of novellas, however, this set flowed extremely well. The tales were organized in chronological order, and reading it after Heir of Fire, I thought I got so much out of them, that it actually made me extremely excited to read the next book in the series. I rated it 4/5 stars.

So that’s it, these are the books that I have read in the month of March! Let me know if you have read any of them and what you have read during this month.

Until next time,

Keky

 

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BR: Persepolis, by Marjane Satrapi

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Title: Persepolis

Author: Marjane Satrapi

Genre: Autobiographical graphic novel

Published: 2003, 2004, 2005

Pages: 343

My Rating: 3.75/5 Stars

 


Synopsis From Goodreads:

Persepolis is the story of Satrapi’s unforgettable childhood and coming of age within a large and loving family in Tehran during the Islamic Revolution; of the contradictions between private life and public life in a country plagued by political upheaval; of her high school years in Vienna facing the trials of adolescence far from her family; of her homecoming–both sweet and terrible; and, finally, of her self-imposed exile from her beloved homeland. It is the chronicle of a girlhood and adolescence at once outrageous and familiar, a young life entwined with the history of her country yet filled with the universal trials and joys of growing up.


Hello everyone,

today I will review Persepolis, by Marjane Satrapi. I am currently taking a Feminist Theory course, and this text was the weekly reading for that class, since we were talking about Islam and the Feminist movement. This graphic novel was a 3.75/5 stars read for me. So, without further ado, let’s get into the review.

SPOILER-FREE SECTION

  • Plot: this is an autobiographical text recounting the history in Bildungsroman style of Marjane Satrapi, a now grown Iranian woman, and about her struggle with her cultural identity. Her country was struck by a civil war that saw Iran and Iraq combating against one another. Marjane’s main concern is to maintain her Iranian identity while she is sent to Austria to have a better future, and to detach herself enough from her Western traits once she goes back home. The plot is straightforward, and it tells a real story. However, I did not give this graphic novel 4 stars because it dragged at some points, and, despite the extremely interesting themes the story discussed, I found it boring in more than one section. I don’t think all the scenes were needed.
  • Characters: one of the things that I liked the most was how genuinely the main character was portrayed. I found myself sometimes disliking Marjane, and I realized that this showed how well her figure was described, as well as how honest she is at portraying both her qualities and her faults to the world. I really appreciated this. When I finished the graphic novel, I found myself sharing Marjane’s struggle to fit in a society that is new to her, and a society where she returns. Her situation was obviously different than mine, because we come from two completely different cultures and we have different histories, but when I go back to Italy I sometimes feel like it is harder to fit because I have been gone for so long. Another character that I really appreciated was the grandmother. I liked how she was able to conciliate her humor with her strongly ethical ideas, without fearing anyone’s judgement. The last characters I liked were the parents. Both her mother and father deeply love their daughter but at the same time let her become the young woman she wants to be.
  • Version 2Writing: being a graphic novel, the style of this text was extremely interesting. Images had as much importance as words did, and sometimes even more. Words were able to give me the outline of the story, while the images narrated the feelings, the horrors and the joys. Smaller images were alternated to bigger ones, sometimes unexpectedly, and the power of the visual impact was definitely a major part of the whole experience of reading and learning from this graphic novel. In this case, images are a positive aid to the whole narration, clarifying both the political and the social themes explored in this graphic novel.

 

In this review, I will not have a Spoiler Alert section, I don’t think it is needed. Overall, I really enjoyed this Graphic Novel, and I think it is a great way to have a general idea of the life in Iran especially from a woman’s point of view. I decided not to get into ethical and or moral debates in my review because this is a space for my opinion on the text as a whole. If you have read it or watched the cartoon, let me know in the comments!

Until next time,

Keky

25 Bookish Facts About Me

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Hello Everyone,

Today I am sharing with you 25 bookish facts about me. Once I started jotting these down, I had a hard time stopping. The ones listed below are the first 25 that came to my mind, without any particular order.

  1. I judge books by their covers. When I am in a bookstore I am always attracted to books that have nice covers, if they do, then I will read the synopsis. The only books I purchase without looking at the cover are ones that are recommended to me or books that I have previously heard about.
  2. When I read, I love complete silence.
  3. But I can also read in public transportation, and if I do, I zone out and when I get off the train and look back to the journey, I realize I completely forgot about it.
  4. I like to read by myself because I love crying reading books. If a book makes me cry I love doing so alone, because I almost never cry in front of people.
  5. My favorite place to read is the upstairs bathroom at my parent’s house back in Italy because it had a glass door that looks over the park and because I love wrapping myself up in the warm and fuzzy towels. Weird, I know.
  6. If I like a book, it is easy for me to start it and keep reading it until I am done. Many times I ate in my room reading and my parents would not see me for 24 hours.
  7. I got the 7th Harry Potter book at 10 am on the day it came out. I got home and did not get out of my bed and out of the bathroom, where I read it, for a day and a half. My mother brought me food upstairs. And yes, I finished the 7th HP book in my bathroom, which was convenient because I did not waste any tissues; I had toilet paper right there.
  8. In seventh grade I read an adult book because a boy I then fancied and was older than me, liked it. So I read it to talk about it with him, just to realize that what I had to say was more interesting than what he had to say about it. I am so mean.
  9. I never wish for a character to kill someone or to be killed. Punished, yes, killed, no.
  10. I love drinking tea or coffee when I read.
  11. My favorite type of day is a weekend day, where I just stay at home and read all day long. I did it on Saturday and it was amazing.
  12. I hate when people interrupt me reading on public transportation, but I am the first one who interrupts a reader on the train who is reading a book I have previously read.
  13. When someone tells me something negative about a character I love, I will do anything in my power to change their mind, as if that character was a real person.
  14. I always need to carry a book with me. It makes me feel more at home and secure.
  15. I always have to have a book near me when I go to sleep. For some reason, I think it will keep nightmares at bay.
  16. I hate when people buy me books as a gift, unless they are 100% sure I will like it. My mother and my sister are the only people who have bought me books that I had not heard of, that I actually read. I won’t read a book given to me unless I previously knew about it and I know I will like it. I don’t know why.
  17. I love paperbacks. Way more than hardbacks.
  18. I love the smell of paper, it makes me feel calm.
  19. My favorite genres are fantasy (all kinds, and favorite by far), historical fiction, contemporary novels (but only occasionally), thrillers, gothic novels, classics (not all of them).
  20. I love when characters curse in books. I do it all the time, and if they do it, it means they are more real.
  21. I collect bookmarks, I love them.
  22. I get most of my reading done at night if it is a school day. Otherwise, I read at random times.
  23. I cringe when someone asks me to lend them a book. I actually do.
  24. When I read eBooks, I retain less information
  25. I hate the library. If I read a book, it has to be mine. I understand I am spoilt saying this, but there is just something about owning your own book that is special. I know that when I will have my own apartment I will definitely have a library, so there you go.

This is it, these are 25 bookish facts about me. Let me know some bookish facts about you and if you share any of the ones I have reported above!

Until next time,

Keky

BR: Heir of Fire, by Sarah J. Maas

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Title: Heir of Fire

Author: Sarah J. Maas

Genre: High Fantasy

Published: 2014

Pages: 576

My Rating: 5/5 Stars


Synopsis From Goodreads:

Celaena Sardothien has survived deadly contests and shattering heartbreak—but at an unspeakable cost. Now she must travel to a new land to confront her darkest truth…a truth about her heritage that could change her life—and her future—forever.
Meanwhile, brutal and monstrous forces are gathering on the horizon, intent on enslaving her world. To defeat them, Celaena must find the strength to not only fight her inner demons but to battle the evil that is about to be unleashed.


Hello everyone,

welcome to my review of Heir of Fire, third installment in the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas. In case you did not know, the series tells the story of Celaena Sardothien, a fierce assassin who, after winning a competition, has become the king’s champion. This book continues the narration of Celaena’s adventures. I cannot say much more than this without spoiling any plot happenings, so let’s get into the spoiler-free section of the review. Of course this book was a 5/5 stars for me.

SPOILER-FREE REVIEW

  •  Plot: I thought that this book was a little bit slower than Crown of Midnight, but I also think that the slowness of the plot was needed, and that is why it took me longer to finish. This is the middle book to the series, and there was a necessity for the author to explain several things that had been lingering for the two previous books. This installment is heavily based on world building, both from a historical and political point of view, as well as on character development, especially for Celaena and Rowan. I loved how towards the last third there are several plot twists that blow your mind.
  • Characters: if there is anything that Sarah J. Maas knows how to do brilliantly is the construction of her characters. I thought that Chaol, Dorian and Celaena grew so much in this book, both as people and as social beings. The introduction of two new characters was also amazing: I loved both Rowan and Manon, and how different but at the same time similar they are.
  • Writing: I love Sarah’s writing, it keeps you gripped the whole time, and her novels are written in a way that you can be reading for hours without realizing it. Sometimes she is cold, sometimes dramatic, and I love how she can mange different tones for different situations, thus rendering the whole reading experience even more rich. She also has a particular ability at making me cry. Sniff, sniff.

I cannot say much more without spoiling everything unfortunately. If you have not yet read this series, just go and pick it up because it is amazing. I am so excited for the fifth installment to the series to be released in September, and its title will be Empire of Storms. I am beyond excited to read it! If you have read this series, please let me know in the comments!

Until next time,

Keky

**SPOILER-ALERT** SECTION – Do not read further if you do not want to be spoiled!

Oh my god. Oh my god. There is so much I need to say about this freaking book. Let’s start form the beginning.

  • IMG_4481I couldn’t believe that Chaol trusted Aedion enough to say that Aelin was alive. Even though in the end he made the right choice, on the spot I thought, what the hell. I like Aedion, even though I don’t know where Sarah wants to go with him… is he going to be a fanatic follower of Aelin? Would he do something stupid for her? I am excited to see.
  • Alright, I hated Rowan for the first half of the book. Then he told his story and how he lost his mate, and I found myself crying. I have loved Rowan since then. Have you felt the sexual tension between him and Aelin as well? I did, and sometimes it made me feel uncomfortable I don’t know why… even though a part of me likes them together.
  • I cannot believe that the king sent the Valg to Wendlyn, and I can’t believe that Aelin managed to kill them! The whole battle scene was amazing, and it was so good to see a different part of Aelin’s past. I really loved how she has grown out of her fears and her guilt, and has finally managed to be the heir of fire. Her powers enthrall me, and the historical construction was amazing. Now what I am worried about is Maeve: what is her role going to be if she wants the Wyrdkeys for herself? I really don’t know what to expect.
  • I cried two other times. During the battle, when Aelin was being sucked away by darkness, and she saw her beloved smiling at her… Gosh, that was so beautiful. I loved how the scenography played out in that scene, I could actually see all of the smiley faces endearingly looking down at Aelin. Another beautiful scene was a few pages after, when Rowan and Aelin bonded because they were carranam. Just beautiful.
  • I loved how Dorian developed in this book. I really do like him more and more as time passes, and I think his magical abilities are so so hot. When he stood in front of his father and froze the room I could not believe it. At the same time, I am so worried about him. What is going to happen now? He cannot become a Valg, they have to save him. He is the only decent person in that court! As long as Chaol is concerned, I really had a problem with how he handled the rebel situation until the end. Hopefully now he will be a bit more courageous and do the right thing for his kingdom and not for himself.
  • OMG I cannot wait for Aelin to face Arobynn. Some stuff’s about to go down! I just want to read it all. Know it all. Arrgh.

London Book Haul 1

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Since I have been here in London this semester, I have found out that the school system is completely different. This difference’s main characteristic is that it lets me have more free time, and for the first time in two and a half years, I can actually read for fun – a lot. Obviously I went a little crazy with my book purchase impulse, since there are so many series that I want to start and finish this summer – I will soon upload a blog post with my TBR (To-be-read) summer list.

Here are the books that I have collected in the months of February and March. There are 12 novels and 1 non-fiction historical book.

PS: these books do not include course work novels. If you want to see what I am reading for class, let me know in the comments.

  • Throne of Glass Series by Sarah J. Maas: I have purchased all the novels published so far in the series, which are: Throne of Glass (4/5 stars), Crown of Midnight (5/5 stars), Heir of Fire (currently reading), Queen of Shadows. The novellas collection, the Assassin’s Blade, I will get for sure before going back to Italy. I am so glad I picked up this high fantasy series: it is fast paced, action packed and the world/character development is amazing. I am so excited to continue reading it!
  • Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen: this novel I read in February and it was a 4/5 stars for me. Erika’s style of writing is definitely different than Sarah’s, and even though Erika’s book is a high fantasy one as well, it is more slow paced, and it is more concerned with the main character’s psychological development. An extremely interesting read.
  • Me Before You, by Jojo Moyes: This book I will read as soon as I will be done with Heir of Fire, and it is the only contemporary in my list – whoops. On the one hand, I know I will love it and I will probably read it in one sitting; on the other hand I am scared I will cry for 24 hours. This book will scar me, and I will have to take an emotional break after reading it.
  • Six of Crows, by Leigh Bardugo: I am so excited to pick up this one, I have only heard amazing things about it. I have not read the Grisha trilogy by the same author (even though it is in my TBR list), and this novel is supposed to be set in the same world. All I need to know about this new series is that it follows six characters. I do not want to know anything else, I just want to read it!
  • A Darker Shade of Magic, by V. E. Schwab: I am SO excited to pick up this one. All I need to know is that it’s the story of a magician that can travel between 3 (maybe four…..) different Londons… WHAT? Give it to me now please. The sequel has just come out to, and I am a binge-reader, so I will purchase the second one as well and read them one after the other. I have heard amazing things about this book.
  • An Ember in the Ashes, by Sabaa Tahir: I am planning on reading this one in the summer, after the second book in the series is released. This is another book that has gained a lot of popularity among YA readers, and it is also a debut novel. I am excited to read it.
  • The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern: I finally got this book. It has been on my TBR list since my freshman year of college, and I have finally decided to get it. This has gotten such great reviews, and it is a stand-alone novel, which, for a fantasy, is not very common. From what I know, it talks about a magical competition between two wizards. YES!
  • Clockwork Angel, by Cassandra Clare: guess what. I have tried reading The Mortal Instruments series and I left it there. I know, I am the only person on earth who did not get into it. When I saw the Infernal Devices Trilogy, and learned that it was set in 19th century England, I thought about giving the Shadowhunters world another shot. I have only heard good things about this trilogy, so I have to admit that I am excited to read it.
  • The Magician’s Guild, by Trudi Canavan: just like The Night Circus I have been eyeing this book for years now. I now have it. I will read it, and see if the series appeals to me. Usually, when there is magic, I nerd up and love it, in case you did not already notice. We will see.

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  • The Witches, by Stacy Schiff: this is my historical non-fiction book. It is an account of the Salem trials of 1692, and I find the topic extremely intriguing. I saw that it was being released last fall, and when I went to Barnes and Noble to get it, I saw the price: nope, I did not get it back then. Interestingly enough, last month I went to visit Shakespeare’s birth place, and I found this book for only 6 pounds, and since it was a completely new copy, I had to get it!

Here you have the books that I purchased so far. If I like the novels that are part of a series and are the first release, I will definitely get the other ones. Books are cheaper here in the UK than in the US and in Italy, so I will make most of my time here. I hope you enjoyed and let me know if you read any of these books down in the comments.

Until next time!

Keky

Why Do We Read?

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I was sitting in class today, listening to my professor explaining the importance of authorship and reception in literature. In this class, we study the birth of the English Novel, and its evolution throughout the 18th century; a very interesting class, which poses the question: why do we read novels?

I can only answer for myself.

I have always been a dreamer. I would find myself flying over the clouds or fighting a battle in my mind during school, so much that sometimes the teacher would have to call me out on it. When I discovered books, I understood that I could flee the material world. I could hide between the pages and immerge myself in someone else’s story.

I think we read books because we like to be deceived in the belief that magic exists. When I was little I read about fairies, witches and dragons because a part of me wished magic was real. Yes, I was one of those kids who built a wand from a tree branch. The exhilaration I get when I read about a dragon slayer, or a trained assassin makes me forget about all joys and sorrows, because in that moment I cease to be in this world, and I start being somewhere else. My sensitivity lets me get completely emotionally involved with the characters and their destiny, as if they were real people. That is why, if a book is good, when it ends it takes some time for me to recover from it.

I will try to outline 8 main reasons for why we read:

  • Escapism: this is the most obvious one, which I already mentioned above. We try to escape our everyday life and live the magical adventures we won’t be able to live in the future.
  • Wanderlust: yes, I think the two elements are intertwined. When you read you are automatically traveling. I have been in so many places through books, a personal favorite of mine being Hogwarts.
  • Therapy: reading is sometimes therapeutic. When the bustle of the everyday life crowds your thoughts, or when you feel lonely and sometimes sad, reading a book works as a suppressor for those emotions, taking your mind to a completely different place.
  • Catharsis: when we read we sometimes have cathartic experiences. Being social animals, we are forced to suppress our impulses and conform to the norm; we have to follow rules, they are necessary to a peaceful living. At the same time we might be blinded by rage or passion: that is when a good book comes handy. Having a heroine that beats the crap out of an enemy might give you that cathartic experience that helps you liberate all of those violent emotions.
  • Understanding: reading about hundreds of different people and experiences makes us understand what we really want. It is inevitable to react to a scene: “I would have done the same” or, “I would have done something completely different”. These choices that we make when we read make us understand something about ourselves and about others.
  • Reflection: each story is a reflection of a particular situation in real life, and a reflection of humanity. No matter how many talking animals and magical realms there are in a book, the core is always human, because the voice that recounts those stories is human. The compassion we find in a science fiction novel is the same type of compassion that moves us everyday.
  • Ethics: as Oscar Wilde said, “there is no such a thing as a moral or an immoral book”. I would quite agree with him. At the same time, the lesson learned always depends on the personal ethical system of the individual. We understand that killing someone is wrong: but sometimes, when books talk about this matter, they take it to an extreme. Was it right to kill the bad guy? Is it right to kill a despot who has taken thousands of lives? These are matters that we face every time we read.
  • Entertainment: we also read because it is undeniably entertaining. We laugh, we cry, we scream, we get upset, we gasp, we hide. It is entertaining to always be somewhere new and always meet new people.

So this is it, these are some of the reasons why I love to read so much. We love to read because we like to disappear and reappear at the same time, and at the end of the day, because we are romantics at heart, even though we do not want to admit it aloud.

If you have any other reasons why you love to read, please let me know in the comments.

Until next time!

Keky

BR: The Grownup, by Gillian Flynn

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Hello Everyone,

and welcome to my first review. First, a couple of words on how I would like to set up my reviews. I will have a Spoiler-Free section, and then a Spoiler-Alert section in my review. I will also divide my thoughts on the book in three main categories: plot, characters, writing. These three categories will mainly apply to the Spoiler-Free section of my review. Alright, without further ado, let’s get into the review!

Today I am reviewing The Grownup, by Gillian Flynn. This is a short novella written by the author of Gone Girl. I have not read that novel, but as I was browsing the shelves at Waterstones, I thought to myself, why not pick up this short story. After all it will give me a taste of Flynn’s writing. I was right: I really liked this novella. My overall rating for it was 4/5 stars.

SPOILER-FREE REVIEW

This is the story of a young woman who is trying to earn a living by faking her psychic abilities. She is very good at telling people what they want to hear, but when she meets Susan Burke and the woman asks her to practice an exorcism to her house – where she lives with her husband and her stepson Miles – everything is about to change…

  • Plot: the plot is twisted. This is a mystery/paranormal thriller, and I really enjoyed the way Flynn managed to build the suspense to the action. When I read a book I love to try to disentangle the mystery behind it, and I have to say Flynn did a pretty good job at preventing that from happening. Parts of the plot were a bit cliché, but I think that’s due to the fact that this is a short story, and the author did not have the space to develop the plot too much.
  • Characters: I loved the main character. I liked how she did not care about what people thought of her. Even though a little selfish, she only lived for herself; I think sometimes we forget about ourselves too much, and it is a good thing to think about our well-being every once in a while. Susan on the other hand, I could not really figure out until the end. Flynn did a very good job at rendering Susan’s scattered-ness. She appears fearful and always alert. Finally, Miles is just a creep. He is this skinny, short, ghostly-pale teenager, and every hunted house has one.
  • Writing: the writing was very fluid and raw, which I loved. I particularly enjoy novels written in the first person that present a language that is not restrained; when the author gives free rain to the psychology of the characters without any filter the novel comes to life. I think it makes it more real, in fact, I read this short story in one sitting, and when I put it down I just wanted more. I guess that’s a good sign!

So this is it for the spoiler-free section. I hope you guys enjoyed. If you have read this novella, or have read any other Gillian Flynn novels, please let me know in the comments down below, along with what your thoughts on the novella were. Also, if you have any suggestions on how you would like me to do any reviews let me know!

Hope you have a good one,

Keky

**SPOILER-ALERT** SECTION – Do not read further if you do not want to be spoiled!

Okay let’s take a moment and appreciate Miles’ creepiness. At the end, when they are in the car and he is saying how in reality it was not Susan, and there is the third twist, my mind was spinning. I think Flynn did a flawless job at portraying Susan as the psycho first, just to have Miles disrupting that theory in the end as well. He is a mastermind and I would love to see him in action in a longer work. I felt like this novella had an open ending, I want to know more!