Sarah O'Connor

Writer – Playwright – Cannot Save You From The Robot Apocalypse

I received this book from Playwrights Canada Press in exchange for an honest review.

“Creative, enterprising, and technologically savvy, millennials have produced a proliferation of images of themselves that complicate demographic analyses and challenge widely held assumptions. These films, television series, digital representations, and, of course, plays, offer complex insights into a much-maligned demographic and deserve serious attention,” (MacArthur xii-xiii).

Voices of a Generation: Three Millennial Plays does an excellent job showcasing a variety of different millennial voices by three talented playwrights. I loved how varied each of these works were from one another, and really appreciated the introductory essays at the beginning of each play. They each analyzed the work in a way that made me appreciate each of the plays more and brought me back to my student days when I’d be researching articles for an essay. That may not sound like a compliment, but it’s one of the highest I can give. I love learning, and I felt like I learned so much from these essays and these plays. I’d love for more collections of plays to be formatted like this, that offer new reading material as well as intelligent analysis of each of the works inside.

Even if you’re not a millennial, there’s so much to love in this collection! Don’t miss out on Voices of a Generation, these are voices you’ll be eager to listen to!

Read my thoughts on all of the plays below: Continue reading

“It’s possible to feel the horror of something and to accept it all at the same time. How else could we cope with being alive?” (Ward 138).

Rob is desperate for a normal life, and on the surface she’s achieved it: a husband, two daughters, and a nice house in the suburbs she’s renovated to her liking. But she worries about her oldest daughter, twelve-year-old Callie who’s obsessed with true crime, talks to people that aren’t there, and collects the bones of small animals. When her younger, fragile daughter Annie is targeted by Callie, Rob can think of no better place to take Callie than her childhood home Sundial which lies deep in the Mojave Desert. Meanwhile, Callie’s worried about her mom. She’s been looking at her strangely, and while she likes Sundial she doesn’t know why her mom wants to bring only her along for the trip, and why she keeps talking about secrets. Rob and Callie take a journey to the past through memories, forcing themselves to confront the darkness in both of them in hopes they can find light in the future. Continue reading

“One of the hardest things about recovery is coming to terms with the fact that you can’t trust your brain anymore. In fact, you need to understand that your brain has become your own worst enemy. It will steer you toward bad choices, override logic and common sense, and warp your most cherished memories into impossible fantasies,” (Rekulak 5).

Mallory Quinn is eighteen-months sober and finds herself a babysitting job in the privileged neighbourhood on Spring Brook, New Jersey. Ted and Caroline Maxwell seem like kind and doting parents who will do anything for their five-year-old son Teddy, who takes an immediate shine to Mallory, and she loves her job. The neighbourhood is safe for her nightly runs, she enjoys the cottage pool house that she lives in, and she loves looking after Teddy, and Teddy loves showing Mallory the pictures he draws. They’re the sweet sort of drawings one expects from a kid: a rabbit, a balloon, of Mallory herself. But then one day Teddy gives her a picture of a woman’s body being dragged through the woods, and then the pictures get more disturbing and far more detailed than a five-year-old is capable of drawing. But when Mallory finds out that a young artist was murdered in the cottage she now calls home years before, she wonders if Teddy’s drawings may be a message from the young woman. Mallory sets out to find out what the spirit wants from her and Teddy before it’s too late.

I have a lot to say about this book, so spoilers ahead! Continue reading

The first episode on my short-lived podcast was all about Barb Holland, so it only made sense to make her my first post for What Girls Do. I don’t know what it was about Barb Holland, but I like oh so many Stranger Things viewers fell in love with her.

It should go without saying, but I will be spoiling Stranger Things and Barb’s fate in this post, so if you’ve somehow avoided both in the seven years that it’s been out then kudos to you, but that time ends now. Continue reading

I received this book from The Next Best Book Club in exchange for an honest review.

“Her blood ran red like any other warm-blooded American woman, but Bunny knew her insides were inky black, a mixture of oil and water she’d never be free of. Oil tied her to Texas, to her oil baron family, to her husband, a barrel-chested man as big as the state itself. Water tied her to her mother. And the two co-existed inside her like a quiet disease,” (Stewart 3).

Bunny lives in her gorgeous Dallas home as the perfect housewife, making pot roasts for her husband and that the home is fit and perfect as everyone else’s on the street. Actress Jessica moves to Dallas hoping to escape the LA life, and perhaps cause a little drama and excitement in the process. Amanda buys the old house as a contestant on a new house-flipping reality TV show. All three women are from different times, living very different lives in the same house in the American south. Continue reading

“Self-sacrifice remains the only fate imaginable for women. More precisely, it is a self-sacrifice that operates by way of abandoning one’s own creative potential rather than it’s realization,” (Chollet 83).

Feminist writer Mona Chollet explores which type of women were accused of witchcraft in history and how that has adapted to the modern world. Looking particularly at independent women, childless women, elderly women and the different way society villainizes and attempts to control these women.

I did think there would be more about witchcraft and witch trials in Chollet’s book. Based on the title and cover, I definitely had a different idea for what In Defense of Witches would be focusing on, but I was happy for the read nonetheless. Instead of focusing on witch hunts from the past that were common in Europe and America, Chollet draws parallels on what makes a woman a witch. What is it that society deems scary or incorrect that women do that makes them seem unwomanly? What choices do women make that don’t follow the status quo that makes them a threat? Continue reading

“Some families are lucky enough to never experience a single tragedy. But then there are those families that seem to have tragedies waiting on the back burner. What can go wrong, goes wrong. And then gets worse,” (Hoover 31).

Things aren’t looking good for Lowen Ashleigh. Her mother died a few months before, her books aren’t selling, and she’s about to be evicted from her apartment. But after a strange meeting with her agent, Lowen learns she has been hired by Jeremy Crawford, husband of bestselling author Verity Crawford, to finish writing the remaining books in her series after Verity is injured in an accident and unable to finish them. Lowen goes to stay in the Crawford house for a few days, looking for notes and outlines in Verity’s disorganized office, and instead finds Verity’s unfinished autobiography that details the deaths of her twin daughters and other disturbing truths. Lowen knows she shouldn’t read it, but she can’t stop herself, and as she grows more disturbed by Verity’s confessions, she wonders what she should do with the manuscript, keep the truth hidden or tell Jeremy?

I have things to say, so spoiler warning because my review of Verity will spoil parts of the book. If you don’t want that skip this, and come back after you’ve read it.  Continue reading

I received this book from The Next Best Book Club in exchange for an honest review.

Historian and author Leah Angstman’s newest book, Shoot the Horses First follows a variety of character from different historical times, showing their struggles and the time they live with care and realism. From a young boy being inspected on the Orphan Train, a wife caring for her husband suffering with PTSD from the Civil War, the yellow fever, cowboys, a woman botanist looking for the same respect as her male colleagues, a disabled woman hidden away by her wealthy family, and many more stories that tell these characters truths and bring reader’s into their lives.

Do I think it’s funny that the first book I reviewed in 2022 was by Leah Angstman and that I’m following that trend in 2023? Yes. It’s even better to be continuing the pattern and enjoying both books immensely!

I’m not very familiar with American history, so there were times some of the stories confused me based solely on my own lack of knowledge, but I still learned a lot from Angstman’s short story collection. You can tell she’s passionate about history and the stories she’s telling. I appreciated the context she gave for each of the stories at the end of the book. Angstman is also willing to write the cold, hard truths about what life was like for these people. She doesn’t romanticize things, doesn’t turn people into caricatures or make life for these characters look more beautiful than it was. It’s real, and sometimes it hurts, but it’s necessary to know the truth. It’s a truly remarkable collection that any history lover would love to have on their shelves!

I was amazed that Angstman had not one but two stories which featured disabled characters and handled them both with great respect. It’s rare to read about disabled characters in fiction, it’s even rarer for these stories to be told with respect and care and Angstman handles both these stories wonderfully. It filled my heart to see her do this and I hope we see more historical fiction (and fiction in general, honestly) write disabled characters with the same respect, care, and love that Angstman has done.

You can read my thoughts on each of the stories below: Continue reading

I could think of no saint more appropriate for the first post on Surprising Saints then the one and only Saint Guinefort (Geen, as in green, four), who was in fact a dog.

Yes, a dog. A greyhound to be exact!

An illustration done in a style like stained glass. A brown dog stands on four legs in the centre of the picture with a yellow halo over his head. The dog, St. Guinefort, stands on green grass and below his two front paws is a dead snake. The sky is blue behind him.

I first learned about Saint Guinefort from artist Jessica Roux’s Woodland Wardens oracle deck in which the twenty-third card, which signifies loyalty, shows a hound dog and a pear. In her description of the card, Roux tells the story of Saint Guinefort, and I was stunned to be hearing about a dog saint for the first time. Stunned, but I also couldn’t stop laughing. I mean, it’s a dog saint! I then started thinking of an alternate universe in which I had chosen Saint Guinefort as my Saint’s name instead of St. Joan of Arc (not that I actually regret choosing her, you’re the real MVP Joan!). Continue reading

Nowhere, really I’ve been here. Unlike some times in the past, I’ve actually been doing a good job of keeping this site active. I changed the layout colours this year to something more me (though I do wish WordPress made it easier to customize colour themes. I pay for this domain, why can’t I customize them myself instead of using the pre-determined colour codes?), and I made this site look more like a Portfolio than a blog. I always wanted this site to look professional, to showcase my writing past, present, and current and I think it finally looks the way I want it to. And of course, the blog is important, it’s what directs most of the traffic on this site.

So what’s my issue? Continue reading