The Reading Sparrow Episode 2 | Reading Nook: Villò

This month I discuss current and next reads with Villò. The books we talk about include Things Have Gotten Worse Since We Last Spoke by Eric LaRocca, Inheriting Her Ghosts S.H. Cooper, Iron Gold by Pierce Brown, The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan, and more!

Listen to the Episode

Read the Transcript

[The Reading Sparrow theme]

Sarina: Good morning, friends and bookworms, and sparrows. [laughs] This is Episode 2. It’s the 28th of May, I think, 2021. You can tell I have no idea what I’m doing because this is only the second episode, first one after the introduction. It’s the first reading nook chat with Villò this morning. Hi, welcome.

Villò: Glad to be here.

Sarina: Thank you so much for effectively being my guinea pig. [laughs]

Villò: Love being a guinea pig.

Sarina: [laughs]

Villò: That’s sounded wrong, didn’t it?

Sarina: [00:01:00] Not as wrong as what I thought in my head because I was thinking, I always had guinea pigs when I was a child. So, that was going in a darker direction, I feel. [chuckles]

Villò: All right. [chuckles]

Sarina: Let’s not go there. See, it’s totally already not weird. It’s only been two minutes and it’s totally not weird already.

Villò: Yeah, that’s totally normal.

Sarina: Yeah, I feel like for us, it kind of is. [laughs]

Villò: Yeah. We usually go right back into the dark things anyways. [laughs] 

Sarina: Yeah, it happens a lot when we talk, doesn’t it? Yeah, the idea for this chat is that we’ll basically just talk about the books that we’re reading at the moment, the books that you’ve read last, what do you think you might read next. It’ll be very chatty. Pretend we’re in a coffee house or something. Let’s dive in.

As I said, I don’t really have a plan for this, but I don’t think we really need one because we’re literally just talking about books. [00:02:00] What are you reading right now?

Villò: Well, I just finished reading– well, actually, I finished reading it last week. It’s a horror novella called, Things Have Gotten Worse Since We Last Spoke.

Sarina: Oh, that’s a great title.

Villò: I know. This guy– It’s written by Eric LaRocca. He just is a master at coming up with titles. Just everything he does. His other really short novella– Or, I think it was novella though, that had titled Starving Ghosts in Every Thread.

Sarina: Wow. Okay.

Villò: I know. You hear those titles, you’re like, “I really need to read this.”

Sarina: Yeah, I think I really need to read this.

Villò: Yeah, definitely. His prose is so poetic, and how it mingles with the horror element [00:03:00] is just so fascinating. I was just blown away.

Sarina: See, I always thought I couldn’t really read horror because I’m actually a massive coward, so it’s not normally my kind of thing. But since I have joined the wider reading community, on Instagram especially, I’ve read a lot more out of my usual genre, which is epic fantasy. So, horror is quite far away from that, really, but I actually quite like horror.

Villò: It is. There’s so much you can explore through it.

Sarina: And there’s so many subcategories. I always thought when I was younger, that horror had to be basically really gory and terrifying, because it’s really gory and brutal. And it doesn’t have to be that at all. I’ve really come to enjoy it. So, I might just check this out.

Villò: Yeah, I would definitely recommend you if you start with Starving Ghosts in Every Thread. It’s just really short read. I think it’s about I think 60 or 80 pages.

Sarina: Oh, great.

Villò: Yeah, so it’s really short. [00:04:00] But the prose just really drags you along, and you just are lost in this world that he creates. It’s just a short, short world, but afterwards, you’re like, “Whoa, that guy can write.”

Sarina: That sounds like my kind of book. I’m really excited about that.

Villò: This latest book, Things Have Gotten Worse Since We Last Spoke, it just completely blew me away. Again, it’s a novella, so short. I actually now tend to prefer novellas because I’m working full time and I’m writing, and I want to read as well. So, if it’s a novella or maybe a short story collection, I can just breeze through them whenever I want.

Sarina: Maybe that’s what I’m missing right now in my reading because I’ve been really struggling through my current reads and I’ve been struggling through them for a little while, to be honest.

Villò: Yeah, it’s the same with me. If I stumble upon a book that is maybe 400 to 500 pages, I [00:05:00] will procrastinate with it.

Sarina: Yeah, I think one of my current reads is more than that.

Villò: Oh, wow.

Sarina: I’m reading it on Kindle, so I’m not 100% Sure. I’m reading two fairly big books at the moment. One is The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan, because it’s epic fantasy. It’s one of those big ones that you think everyone who likes fantasy has read this. It felt like it was weird that I still hadn’t. [chuckles] I tried it once some years ago, for some reason I didn’t quite get into it, and then I just stopped, and I thought I should try again. And now weirdly, I go through phases with it. I either sit down, and I really love every word, and I feel like I could just make a note of any sentence, and it’ll inspire me to write at some other points, whenever I can come back to it. Then other days, I sit with it, and I’m really struggling to focus on any one sentence, like I just can’t make proper progress with it. I don’t know [00:06:00] what it is, but maybe as you said, it’s because we just need shorter reads right now.

Villò: Yeah. I think definitely, you should add like a mixture of things into it.

Sarina: Yeah, maybe I should. Well, I have considered starting something shorter, because I’ve already stopped reading it once, I’m worried that if I set it aside now, I just won’t come back to it. Just for the record, I do like it. I do kind of enjoy it, I know on those days when I really am loving it, but I cannot– I also still like it on the days when it’s a bit of a struggle. But I’m really having a hard time with it and I don’t feel like that’s very fair, because it is a very excellent book.

Villò: But at the same time, you shouldn’t have to press yourself or just force yourself to try to read it if you’re not really in it, you what know I mean?

Sarina: Yeah, I do. That’s normally exactly what I would advise people as well. [00:07:00] And that’s, I think, where I’m torn. I’m over halfway through with it now, so I don’t want to stop reading it because it is very, very good. Maybe it’s just because it’s just so massive and there’s like 12 books in the series and they’re all bigger than the last.

Villò: Oh, my.

Sarina: Yeah, it’s a big thing. I think they’re doing a Netflix adaptation, all of it, I want to say. It might not be Netflix, I need to check that. Because, as I said, it’s just one of those really massive epic fantasy things you know that every epic fantasy writer has probably read at some point, because it’s just so big, it’s a popular and so well known. I do like it. I’m just struggling with it, I don’t know why. [chuckles]

Villò: Yeah, I think at that point, you might want to take a break, maybe read something else.

Sarina: I’m just worried I won’t come back to it if I do. [00:08:00] That’s the only thing.

Villò: That’s why it’s always good to have it like where you can see it, so there’s a constant reminder. [laughs]

Sarina: Yeah. Well, that’s why it gets difficult because it is on Kindle, you see.

Villò: Oh, eBook.

Sarina: So, I can’t just have this massive doorstopper of a book next to my bed.

Villò: That’s true.

Sarina: If I close that, and I open a different eBook, I’ll possibly never see it again. [laughs]

Villò: Yeah, that’s true. I have so many books on my Kindle I need to get on.

Sarina: See, I’ve made a list recently of all the unread books that I’ve got on my Kindle and I think it’s over– this isn’t going to be as big a number as some of our listeners are probably used to. I think I got roughly 40 or maybe slightly more books than that on my Kindle that I haven’t read. I know some of you probably have hundreds, but for me this seems like a lot.

Villò: Yeah. I think I have about maybe 30-40 books or something. [crosstalk]

Sarina: It gets out of hand so fast. [00:09:00]

Villò: It really does, especially when you see all this like, “Hey, there are free books here.” I’m like, “Woo.”

Sarina: [laughs]

Villò: And then, I download them and I’m like, “I’m going to get to them at one point, eventually, hopefully before I die.”


Sarina: Yeah, I know the feeling. Look, we’re all buying books that we don’t read right away, don’t we?

Villò: Yeah. There’s probably not a soul here who can’t admit that.

Sarina: Yeah, I think. If you are listening and you think you’ve never done that, you’re lying. We’re onto you, we don’t believe it.

Villò: You’re a filthy liar.

Sarina: [laughs] Yeah, no offense, but probably.

Villò: Yep. [laughs]

Sarina: Well, before we completely offend most of our listenership anymore, very sorry, I’m sure you’re lovely. The other book that I’m reading and also kind of struggling with is– [00:10:00] Oh God, where is it? It’s next to the bed. I think it’s– Oh bloody hell, is it Morning Star? No. It’s the next one after that. It’s Iron Gold by Pierce Brown.

Villò: Oh, yeah. Those series are a tearjerker, is it?

Sarina: Yeah. Yes, they are. They are very painful. [chuckles] The first book in particular. I think the reason I’m struggling with this one is– well, two things. I kind of binged the first trilogy and if you’ve read the Red Rising saga, you will know just how hard it hits your emotions, it’s very painful series to read. Very excellent, also very painful. I think my feelings possibly just needed a break. I am slowly coming back to it now and I am enjoying it. At the moment, I also think I just don’t read paperbacks as much.

Villò: Hmm, I see. [00:11:00]

Sarina: But it is excellent. If you love sci-fi, then I can massively recommend the entire series. I think he’s currently working on book 6.

Villò: Okay, wow.

Sarina: Yes. There’s lots of potential to get your heart broken very badly.


Villò: Oh, God. That’s the thing. I try to avoid those books because even though I love having emotions toiled and just wrapped around your finger, but I don’t like the feeling afterwards when you’re ugly crying after you finish the book, and then you feel empty inside.

Sarina: [laughs] Oh, I was absolutely ugly crying with the series at several points. If you want to make it any worse for yourself, you can get them in audio format, and there is a song in the first book.

Villò: Oh, no.

Sarina: Oh, yeah, it’s very early on, that’s in Red Rising. [00:12:00] When you hear the song or when you read it in paperback or hardcover or whatever, you know exactly what this means at this point in the story, you know exactly what will happen next. I kid you not, the narrator sang it, and he sang it beautifully.

Villò: Wow.

Sarina: But I was on the bus when I listened to it, I was not prepared for it, and it was the most awkward bus ride of my life because I was just sitting there– It was a full bus too, and I was just sitting there thinking, “Oh God, this is horrible. I’m going to cry so hard, so bad.” [laughs]

Villò: I hate that. This is why I don’t– I mean I love listening to audiobooks. This is what I do, usually what I do when I’m going to work, but exactly, when I when it comes to this, I’m like, “No, I don’t want to cry in the fucking bus.”


Sarina: It was really horrible, but he sang it so well, it just hurts how much. I still have the [00:13:00] melody for it stuck in my head. So, every time it comes up, or just any part I just mentioned throughout the series, I sing it again, it just hurts me much more. But, yeah, if you already like really painful books anyway, why not go one step further, make it more painful and listen to the audiobook?


Villò: If you’re feeling masochistic enough, you know.

Sarina: Yeah. I mean, we’re all bookworms, so I think we all have a little masochistic streak for that anyway. If you really want your heart just torn to shreds, go for the Red Rising audiobook, and if you like sci-fi, because if you don’t like sci-fi, I’m not sure how much you’d like it.

Villò: True.

Sarina: Yeah, just very good.

Villò: Okay. Well, it’s going to be interesting with the book that I finished, Things Have Gotten Worse Since We Last Spoke. I think it’s going to be interesting that they’re going to turn it into an audiobook. I don’t know if they have any plans for it because the entire format of story is put through [00:14:00] emails.

Sarina: Ooh.

Villò: Emails and also an instant messenger chat.

Sarina: Oh, I like things like that. I was talking about that the other day with someone else, but getting carried away again, go ahead.

Villò: It was so refreshing, because you’re always used to this straightforward narrative, either with a third-person point of view or first-person point of view or something like that. But there, you get into these dual point of views one from a person called Agnes Petrelli, I think she’s called and the other, Zoey Cross. You can definitely see, even just from the emails and from the instant chat that there is a distinct age difference between them. Agnes seems to be a little bit younger, and Zoey is a little bit older, you can kind of see how they write each other.

Like I told you, [00:15:00] his prose is so poetic, and he also continues that with this book. It’s just so interesting how it started. It started like an innocent friendship between two women. And then, it becomes more serious. They pursue a relationship together, and then things get dark so fast. It just gets so dark and so disturbing. And you’re just like, you’re glued to the screen, you’re like, “Oh, my God, I need to know what’s happening here. What’s going on?”

Sarina: You’re really selling it. [laughs]

Villò: It’s so good. I think I had the exact same reaction and emotion when I was doing my YouTube review. I still haven’t, I have to edit it. I was swearing, and I was like, “Oh, my God, this guy, you guys, you have to read it, it’s so good.”

Sarina: I’ve just made a note of the title, so I will definitely be getting to that. [00:16:00]

Villò: If you look it up and you see the cover, the cover is going to draw you in instantly.

Sarina: I’m very much looking forward to that. You know how much I love a good cover.

Villò: I know. And this one, oh my God, it’s so hauntingly beautiful.

Sarina: Sounds like my kind of thing.

Villò: I know. Like I said, it’s so good. I can definitely see this book being nominated for the Bram Stoker Awards for this year, it’s just that good.

Sarina: I know what I’m buying after this chat. [laughs] But let’s move on to what we might read next. Do you have any plans?

Villò: Yeah. There are two novellas that I need to get into. One is called Salvation Spring, and it’s a western horror.

Sarina: Ooh, okay. I think [00:17:00] I’ve only very recently heard about western horror for the first time.

Villò: Yeah, same here. I just recently got into– I read a book that is in the Splatter Western series.

Sarina: That’s the genre I first heard of, I think, only a few months ago.

Villò: Yeah. They have really started kicking up right now. Splatter horror as it describes is, a lot of gore. When I read this book, the Splatter Western book, it reminded me of The Hateful Eight.

Sarina: Okay.

Villò: The Quentin Tarantino’s movie?

Sarina: Oh, yeah.

Villò: Yeah. It really delivered on the gory part, so I really enjoyed it. Salvation Springs is supposed to be a little bit more just focused on the horror, and kind of on the weird horror.

Sarina: Ooh, I like a bit of weird horror.

Villò: It’s also, I think, she says it kind of leans towards [00:18:00] cosmic horror in the end.

Sarina: Wow. Okay, this sounds very fascinating.

Villò: I know. It’s a novella as well. I’m really excited to go into it. I think I might actually start this today. The other one, Salvation Springs, is by T.C. Parker, so I definitely recommend checking out her other books. She wrote a book called Saltblood, which is folklore that happens in the British Isles, like above Scotland.

Sarina: Okay.

Villò: I really enjoyed it because she added a little bit of language that was similar to Icelandic.

Sarina: Oh, all right. Just a quick side note there for anyone listening, Villò is Icelandic.

Villò: Yep. It really, really hit my roots when I was reading it. There’s some of the words that I’m like, “Hey, that’s similar [unintelligible [00:19:00] [00:19:00] Icelandic.”

Sarina: I suppose you wouldn’t see that too often.

Villò: No, I wouldn’t.

Sarina: Every now and again, when authors make up their own language, you might see maybe things that are similar to, I don’t know, Russian.

Villò: Yeah.

Sarina: One of the larger countries. And obviously, Iceland is relatively small to begin with and it’s such a– I don’t want to call it a niche language because that sounds weirdly mean and wrong.


Villò: It was more connected to the Old Norse, which Icelandic is derived from. So, it was nice.

Sarina: Yeah. I can imagine.

Villò: Yeah. I’m looking forward to what she’ll bring with this western horror that she wrote. The other one is called Inheriting Her Ghosts, and it’s a gothic novella.

Sarina: God, all these titles are really getting to me.

Villò: I know. People have really upped their title games here. [00:20:00] And then, there’s me with nocturnal something.

Sarina: [laughs] I like your titles though because I think they get the idea across just sign[?] off on what you write. But clearly some people are just really gifted.

Villò: Oh yeah, they are. It’s a gothic novella. It’s about this, I think– I love that, that made me so happy, the main character is 40 something and she’s, I think, just a bachelorette or something. She inherits this manor from her cousin or aunt or something like that. She has to deal with the manor, but something is in the manor that doesn’t want her here. She has these two or three big dogs that always know what’s in there. She’s like, “You’re not getting my dogs.”

Sarina: [laughs]

Villò: And she goes warrior type, like, [00:21:00] “I’m going to fight these ghosts.”

Sarina: [laughs]

Villò: But in a gothic, quiet, horror kind of theme. I’m like, “Oh, I’m so into this.”

Sarina: [laughs]

Villò: I’m probably not selling it correctly, but this is the vibe that I got when I was reading the blurb.

Sarina: Well, I feel like you’re selling it really well. I mean, I want to read it now. So, there.

Villò: Yeah, these are the ones I’m probably going to tackle this weekend.

Sarina: That sounds great. I think I probably just need to read a few shorter reads as well, maybe as a palate cleanser, I don’t know. I had my eyes on my First Reads by Olivia Wildenstein for my next books, because I have a feeling I’m going to need something really light, something that’s more fun after reading Iron Gold. And I’ve had my eye on a book for a little while anyway. I did an interview with her [00:22:00] and Katie Hayoz on my other podcast, The Writing Sparrow, about writing a duology– not a duology, just generally co-writing a book. They were both really lovely, and I really loved the book that they had written together, which is Of Wicked Blood. It’s fantastic, if you love a bit of sort of urban paranormal fantasy.

Villò: Ooh.

Sarina: Oh, yeah. It’s very fun, too. There’s lots of swearing and sarcasm in that. Very hilarious. I laughed a lot.

Villò: Okay, I need to check that one out. I love getting this kind of sassy, sarcastic, snarky things.

Sarina: Yeah, I think you’ll love this one. So, yeah, I thought I might try one of her books that she’s written on her own because I love this one so much. And, yeah, I think anything that’s going to make me smile again after Iron Gold is a plus. [laughs]

Villò: Yeah, definitely. I forgot to mention actually the one I’m actually listening to, audiobook at the moment, I hadn’t done that [00:23:00] before, but I kind of feel bad that I shouldn’t have started at the beginning. Have you watched the Netflix series, You?

Sarina: No.

Villò: Oh, you definitely should check it out.

Sarina: Okay.

Villò: It’s actually adapted from a book called You by Caroline Kepnes. It’s about this guy, his name is Joe Goldberg. He’s this– I don’t know how to describe him. He’s a stalker, for sure.

Sarina: Oh, great.

Villò: He gets obsessed with this woman called Beck in the first book, or in the first series that I watched. They have two series right now on Netflix. It’s all through his perspective, and it’s just so hilarious to listen to him, because it’s written like he is right, everything that he [00:24:00] does is right. He basically tells, “Oh, you should love me. I’m the best. We’re so perfect for each other.” It’s so fucked up and it’s so disturbing, but the way it’s written, you can’t help but laugh because you’re like, “What the fuck, man? You’re such a creep. You’re so disgusting.”


Villò: Yeah. It’s so funny. He’s so charming. At the same time, you’re like, “I’m not supposed to be charmed by you,” but you kind of make your way into this and I get this kind of like, “Ugh, go [unintelligible [00:24:41] go away. This is nasty.”

Sarina: This is where the horror comes in. This is why it’s terrifying.

Villò: Yep, exactly. And it’s so funny because, he doesn’t always get the girl right away. There are always obstacles, her friends or [00:25:00] something like that, which he never likes. He’s like, “Oh, I have to get rid of them somehow,” and he does that in such a funny way.

Sarina: Such a hassle.

Villò: It is. I remember in the first series, Beck’s girlfriend, like best friend, she loves to do jogging, and he wanted to gain more information on her. So, he starts stalking her a little bit and started jogging as well. In his mindset, he was like, “What the fuck is wrong with you people? Why do you like jogging? It’s like puking your guts out.”

Sarina: Well, that point I could totally agree on. I don’t understand how people go jogging. I hate running. [laughs]

Villò: Yeah, but it was so funny, because he’s supposed to be like this sewn-down guy but then suddenly you get these snippets where he’s like, “Oh, my God, I hate this. Why am I doing this?”

Sarina: Well, when you started describing this book to me, I wasn’t sure if I would like it, or how I felt about it, but actually, now it sounds really funny. Funny in a really fucked up way. [00:26:00]

Villò: It is. I’m listening now to the third book, because I felt like I’ve seen the first two series, I don’t have to read the books, but I think my friends are going to pull me back and like, “You need to read books.” Which I probably will at some point, but I’m like at chapter 20 on the third book, and I’m like, “I can’t really go back into the first book right now. I need to finish this, because this is pure gold. This is so funny.” The guy who is narrating the book, he does it in such a great way. He has a really nice voice. It’s definitely a voice that you would definitely connect to a guy who’s charming and is trying to be your friend and stuff like that. But then, when he gets annoyed, it’s so funny. He’s like, “Argh, this guy, this person, I hate him.”

Sarina: Well, you have [00:27:00] certainly sold that to me, I will have to check it out.

Villò: It’s so good. If you can’t find the time to read the book, I definitely encourage you to check out the Netflix adaptation, because it’s really good.

Sarina: All right, I will add that to our ever-growing list of things to watch that we don’t have time for. [chuckles]

Villò: Oh, yeah, I get that.

Sarina: Well, thank you so much for stopping by and talking to me about what you’re currently reading. This has been very fun, and totally not fucked it up at all. [laughs]

Villò: No, we didn’t. We didn’t go into the dark stuff, so this is good.

Sarina: Apart from the stalkers and the possessed houses and all that, we did go a little bit into that. [chuckles]

Villò: No, it’s perspective.

Sarina: Yeah, perspective. Exactly. So, yeah, thank you so much for stopping by. And I will let you get back to reading your fantastic books.

Villò: Thank you.

Sarina: Also, thank you so much for everybody who has been listening. [00:28:00] If you’ve enjoyed this, you can actually support this on Patreon if you search for Sarina Langer. It’s also going to be in the show notes anyway, so you can just click the link. Thank you so much, everybody for listening. If you would like to tell us what you’re currently reading, get in touch on Twitter, on Instagram, or wherever you like, and we can discuss what you’re reading as well. So, yeah, thank you so much. Have a fantastic day, everybody. Have a great weekend, and happy reading. Bye-bye.

Villò: Bye.


Sarina: If you’ve enjoyed this episode, let’s connect on social media. You can find me on Instagram and Facebook @sarinalangerwriter, on Twitter @sarina_langer or, on my website at And if you really enjoyed this episode, you can also support my podcast at and get lots of awesome [00:29:00] exclusive content while you’re there. Until next time, bye.

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