Book Review: Strange Weather by Joe Hill

Man can Joe Hill write. These stories often didn’t go where I thought they were going to go, it’s great when you can just go where the novels take you.

Strange Weather is comprised of four short novels, Snapshot, Loaded, Aloft and Rain. Loaded and Snapshot were my favorite out of the four.

Snapshot I rate 4 stars, it’s about a camera that can steal your memories, and a crazed camera bent on that. This one felt the most Stephen King-ish (with Joe Hill being his son). It had an overweight protagonist and the Phoenician (or cameraman) is terrifying in dialog alone. This story is one that I really went with there was a point where I go okay where is this story taking me, other reviewers seemed bored of the long ending, but it does have an ending and it is beautiful.

Loaded I rate 5 stars, it’s amazing storytelling at it’s finest. The novel starts off as a vignette of peoples interaction with gun violence, then he connects all these stories in a master stroke. The Main character is Kellaway a mall cop with a thing for guns, only problem he’s not aloud to carry any. on the day of a mall shooting he stops with a gun, but not without casualties. Loaded has a lot of Shakespearian references with the lead character playing a hybrid of Iago and Claudius. This story seemed ripped from the headlines about gun violence. It doesn’t pick a side in the battle of for guns or against guns. The ending is so good, please don’t let anyone ruin it for you, I read that story two days ago and can not get it out of my mind.

Aloft I rated 2 stars, it was that story I connected with the least, and the ending didn’t really pull it together for me. Aubrey Griffen is set to skydive for his friend June who passed away with cancer, he is accompanied by June’s two brother and Harriet Aubrey crush who constantly keeps putting him in the friend zone Harriet and Aubrey are also accompanied with two instructors that are attached to their back. Aubrey gets cold feet and doesn’t want to jump after everyone else jumps the plane starts to have engine trouble and he jumps the instructor and Aubrey land hard on a cloud in the sky, he detaches from the instructor as he’s blown of the cloud with the chute. The cloud is magical and can read his mind making everything so he will be comfortable and not want to leave. This novel also has flashbacks about his relationship to June and Harriet which I enjoyed but it just didn’t connect for me the way it should have.

Rain I give 3 and a half stars, in the afterwords section he calls this story a spoof on his novel the Fireman, that’s why I did not like this one because it felt to similar that I had already read this novel, it does have some nice surprises and reveals to still give this such a high rating. Rain is about Colorado, being struck by a rain of crystal nails that impale everything they touch. Terrorist take blame, cult are formed, and relationships are torn. I like the relationships and biblical proportions, but then again that’s what I liked in The Fireman.

Joe Hill is one of my favorites, his stories rarely go where I think they will go and am constantly surprised how fast I can care for a character in his stories. I recommend this collection of stories for a fan of horror and just great storytelling especially Loaded, so good! for the whole novel I rate it 4 out of 5 stars.


Book Review:Girls’ Night Out by Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke

I received Girls’ Night Out by Lake Union Publishing in exchange for a honest review.
This book is really tense really looking into 20 plus year friendships and what can drive them apart. The mystery is compelling as we find out the secrets kept among friends, and each suspect has a reason to profit from their best friend or want to be lover missing. It takes place in Mexico where bodies can sometimes stay missing which adds to the mystery.

The plot: Ashley buys her friends a four day trip to Mexico. She invites Lauren, who she has not spoken to since her husband’s death a year ago, and Natalie, her business parter for the last ten years who is butting heads with over a possible sale of their company. Three friends all met in college twenty years ago and have been friends since, Ashley bought the tickets to save her friendships and also to escape marital problems at home and to contemplate leaving her husband. The girls get together is spoiled when when Ashley ends up missing and Natalie wakes up wet on the beach with no memory of the last night. The girls have motive, Lauren a year ago blamed Ashley for her husband’s death, Natalie has fell on hard times and needs Ashley to agree to sell the company they started for millions, and there is Marco a man that Ashley has been spending a lot of time with, taking her mind off the problems with her husband.

What I liked: The tension was really good, you could feel trough out the novel. The character’s were written believable, except Marco. I didn’t like hardly any of Ashley’s choices as a character, but she was not written bad. The history of Chichen Itza was really interesting and the scene was really well written and how it eventually connects with the novel. The ending I was not impressed with at first I was waiting for a final twist, and thankfully I got it, because I moved my rating up a point because of it.

What I disliked: Marco and his dialogue, it didn’t fit with someone they had just met and that felt really false to me. The authors should have used dates and maybe times at their chapters, it’s listed like three days after, or how many days before, then the more complex morning of the night, still feel like she could have used the titles but also had a date.

I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars I would recommend this to mystery and thriller loves. If you’re looking for a good fun escapist read with hardly any gore it is a good one to check out.

Book Review: The Force by Don Winslow

“How do you cross the line? Step by step.”

With that line this novel is set up perfectly.  This is a novel about dirty cops but it ask you the audience does the ends justify the means. This novel is really great a good follow up to the amazing The Cartel. A lot of people are comparing it as the Godfather for cops, which I think is fair. I would say it’s The Shield meets Carlito’s Way. this novel blend the gangster novel with the police procedural seamlessly. This Novel has it all double and triple crosses that all make sense. 

Stephen King says, “The Force is mesmerizing, a triumph. Think The Godfather, only with cops. It’s that good.”

The Plot: Denny Malone is a leader of a task force that works Northern Manhattan. He’s a cop with mostly good intensions, but he’s slowly taken a turn for the worst, after he steal half of a drug dealers stash with intentions of selling it. The feds get involve on some minor stuff that ends up being the end all to Denny and his team, is there a way for him to get redemption and not turn on his crew?

What I liked: The Pace is really fast, the novel jumps around a little with time but I never became lost. There’s a lot of characters, but the voices and the descriptions are so unique that I was rarely confused, in my other reviews this is something I criticize often. The twist are really good, I was convinced it was the end, but there’s a final twist. The writings good a couple memorable quotes,

What I did not like: Sometime the novel felt false, it bought up that he was a king a little too much, that it became redundant. I liked everything else though.

This Novel started a bidding war between movie studios for the rights, and will soon be a movie.  James Mangold will direct, his last movie was Logan, so I’m excited!

I would greatly recommend this novel for people who want a little more from police procedurals.   I would rate it 4.5 stars if I could. I liked the Cartel a little bit more then this one, more to the fact that the Cartel felt more real and raw, but not to knock the Force, the Cartel is really high on my scale of close to perfection, so the Force is a really good read. So far Winslow has been two for two for me I will have to read his earlier work very soon.

Book Review: The Alice Network by Kate Quinn

A pretty amazing read, this story did not go the way I thought if would. This book was all the hype last year and I fell it was very justified.  I wanted to read it sooner, but my library sadly did not get it, so I had to wait for my birthday to get this fantastic read. This is not a novel about ultra cool female spies, this book is about practical spies that you would never expect to be spies. I shows the nitty gritty of the everyday sacrifices a spy has to go through. This novel shows both what England and France went through in both World Wars physically in damage and emotionally.

The Plot: In 1947 Charlie St. Clair travels in war torn England from America to get rid of her problem, a baby who she doesn’t know who the father is and is unwed. Charlie is thrown into this decision still totally not totally on board with it, as her parents are. But Charlie has an alternative reason to come to Europe. Her cousin Rose a french girl went missing during World War II, the cousins were very close, and she wants to know more about her disappearance. She has the name of the investigator and her address. Her mother says she can investigate after the appointment, but soon learns her mother’s real feelings and flees to the investigator. Evelyn “Eve” Gardiner is the investigator, and she is not what Charlie was thinking, she’s a drunk, angry, pistol packing, cripple, that wants nothing to do with helping her. Charlie has one piece of evidence that Eve never had that takes Eve make to her past as a World War I spy in 1915. Charlie and Eve’s future and past are mysteriously intertwined.

What I liked: The three main character’s are really good and well rounded, they each have a past that makes them always not trust other’s. The villain of the story isn’t evil he’s taking advantage of the situation, his pride is his downfall. I like the switching back and forth between Eve and Charlie in different times, Charlie in 1947 and Eve in 1915. This book is written really well with lots of great descriptions and dialogue. It does a great job of describing war torn England and France. There’s a decent amount of humor added in, that works.

What I disliked: The middle slows down a lot, sometimes the Charlie scenes feel like filler to get to the next Eve chapter.

I would recommend this book for people who like historical fiction. People who like strong female characters and feminism. I rated this 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Boston Noir by Dennis Lehane

“Noir is not something you can lockdown it involves broken people not always making the best decisions.” Denis Lehane

The book is a collection of short stories, all involving Noir and in the city of Boston. I say this is a good collection, just like the the opening statement written by the editor and writer Dennis Lehane, who wrote the novels Mystic River, Shutter Island, and Gone Baby Gone.  He has four of his books and one short story turned into movies, the short story is included in this book. He at the beginning on the terms of defining noir of  states, “noir is not something you can lockdown it involves broken people not always making the best decisions,” and these stories follow those tropes.  I really liked three of the stories in this collection a lot then there were other that were just okay but only one that I was just dissatisfied with.

My favorites were: Animal Rescue By Dennis Lehane. which was a good story that was later expanded upon and and became The Drop a movie Starring Tom Hardy and the Late James Gandalfini. I’ve seen the movie and was actually shocked how much of the first draft made it into the movie. This part is all about the dog that is found in a trash can and all the trouble that happens with the owner and when the previous owner comes back and wants the dog. The ending is great for such a short story, which is later expanded on a lot.

Exit Interview By Lynne Heitman: was a cool Noir that you the reader are still piecing together as you go, first the Sloan is found with blood is it hers, she’s hiding who from? It’s really we;; put together and a quick read with a surprising ending.

The Dark Island by Brendan Du Bois is my favorite of the collection, it’s the closest to classic Noir it takes place in the past just after World War II and has a femme fatale. it’s a wonderful story about a desperate woman wanting old photos of her dead finance that died in the war but, all his stuff is still in a now shutdown barracks that they’re not allowing access you. So she wants the PI to sneak in and take them. He’s reluctant but he also lost a brother to the war and feels sorry for her. This story comes with a huge twist and a vicious ending.

Dark Waters By Patricia Powell is the only story I disliked I, I felt it just didn’t go any where, thank goodness it was short.

The book moved pretty fast and there’s a couple of themes that crumble the next story into the next. In did feel like at the end the stories got a little slow and not as good. I will definitely check out another Noir book series in a different place. There’s currently over 40 in the series.

Book Review:Vicious by V.E. Schwab

I really did enjoy this book! it wasn’t your standard good Vs. evil it was kind of evil thinking he was good Vs. evil that still has some good in him. I love what does for the super hero genre.  It could be compared to Professor X and Magento, with different powers, and instead of one bad guy there was two with his own ideas, thinking he was doing good.

It is currently 2.99 in the Kindle Store I highly recommend you checking it out!
The Plot: Victor and Eli are roommates and best friends, when Eli make a discovery that people with Extra Ordinary powers (mutants basically) are made not through genetics but by surviving a near death experience. Victor volunteers to test the theory but it doesn’t work. Then Eli tries and it does work he has rapid healing. Victor want to try again, but Eli wants him to wait, and preoccupied with his own new powers. Victor not wanting to wait guilts Eli’s girlfriend and Victor’s friend first to help. It works Victor gets the power but Eli’s girlfriend dies in the process, Victor’s power is the taking and giving of pain which he eventually begins to control. Eli fights Victor and leaves him for dead, setting the accident with his girlfriend to look like murder in the process. Victor is arrested and spends 10 years plotting his revenge, while Eli has spent the last ten years eliminating people with abilities saying it’s curse and he’s God’s instrument to get rid of it. Victor comes up with a plan to stop Eli and take his revenge, with an unlikely ally a young girl who can bring things back from the dead, that Eli has already failed to eliminate.

What I liked: The switching of dates and times at every chapter, the writing is good so I didn’t get confused and it gave real insight to the characters and their current situation. The characters are not black and white, good or evil, but blurred. Easy too read and picture. There’s unresolved issues and a secret involving a powerful ally, I like that it didn’t wrap in a bow for the ending. The character’s are amazing and very well thought out, their struggles on good and evil make this book so captivating, even if they did not have powers.  How they got powers was really interesting and new.

What I didn’t like: We never really saw Eli’s feelings on his girlfriend dying, which I would’ve wanted to see.

I loved this book and will get the next book in the series Vengeful when available in September. I will say the violence is high, there’s drug use, and there is a little language, I would recommend in to a 15 to 16 year old at the earliest. I would recommend this to comic book and graphic novel readers.  I would also recommend this book as a great way to dip your toe into this genre of supernatural and comics as well.  I enjoyed this one more than the other series I read of hers called Shades of Magic.  I give this 4.7 out of 5 stars my highest review so far.

Book Review: The Orphan’s Tale by Pam Jenoff

This was a heartbreaking story about secrets, lies, and betrayal in France and Germany during World War II. This book surprised me how easy it is to read the word choice was not challenging and the descriptions for the most part basic but it kind of works in this story sense. The author doesn’t draw on what we see and hear, but delves into what the characters are feeling.

The Plot: Is Noa a dutch girl living in Germany is homeless as she was cast out of her home for getting impregnated by an SS officer, has been swindled by a group and her baby was taken and sold. Noa is heartbroken, but when she find a boxcar filled with dead and dying Jewish babies, she takes one and runs. Now a fugitive she tells everyone that the baby is her brother Theo, upon running away she falls ill in the woods and is taken in by a german circus troop. she wakes up being taken in with her secret that the baby is her brother, the ringmaster and owner, has a huge heart and does not want to put her out offers her sanctuary if she will become an aerialist. Astrid a jewish woman that the ringmaster has taken in to hide in plain sight see that the girl is not telling everything and could spell trouble, and doesn’t have what it takes to become an aerialist. An unlikely friendship forms that will change their lives when secrets and betrayal are revealed.

What I Liked: I found after reading the way the author mashed up stories of a traveling circus that hid jewish people along with a story of a jewish child being taken off of a boxcar and raised. I liked that it also shows what it was like in German occupied France, Germany, and Poland for Non-Jewish Europeans, how they are always having raids checking papers, questioning if they’re loyalty to the Nazi Party.  I liked that the story doesn’t hold back the brutality, it’s not brutal in details or gore, but in actions, this is a time of war, and you feel the desperation and the pointless deaths. I liked how easy it was to read, this is the most covered history there is no need to go into graphic detail describing things, and the author doesn’t. The Astrid and Noa dual perspectives work in this piece I was confused twice about who was speaking but it was cleared up fast and easy to remember who was narrating

What I Did Not Like: I wanted more history of the circus and the workings of it overall, we get a taste but I wanted more. The novel is dramatic but it could have been ramped up in parts to be more impactful, a lot of the more dramatic acts were foreshadowed, a bit too much, so they took the punch out of it.

Overall I liked this book and will look forward to reading more from her. I would rate this book a solid 4 stars. This book reads like a Historical Fiction filled with heartache and drama written in the easy reading style of James Patterson word choice.