Book Review: Foul is Fair By Hannah Capin

Foul is Fair by Hannah Capin is William Shakespeare’s Macbeth in High school! The story doesn’t hold back in it’s brutality, while keeping the dialogue foul and razor sharp. There’s Trigger warnings all over this book in terms of sexual content, murder, and language. This book is being marketed as Young Adult, a mature 16 year old might can handle it, but I would recommend older. I kept thinking of two movies while reading this Heathers the black comedy about means girls terrorizing the school and a girl falling for the bad guy that helps murder some of those that have wronged them. The second movie is I Spit on Your Grave, about a woman sexually assaulted, buried and left for dead. Rises from the grave and takes revenge. Both those movies are from the 80’s with the marketing of this book comparing it to the film Kill Bill which fits as a tale of revenge. The language and the camp make this novel stick out and is the best part of it. I had a hard time identifying with the lead character Jade/Elle and her lack of venerability she does show some at the end but it was a little too late. I wanted to like this story more than I did, the novel’s timeline is way too fast and took all believability with it. Thanks to Netgalley and Wednesday books for the advanced readers copy. Foul is Fair is published on February 18 2020.

The Plot: Elle on her sweet sixteen goes to a party with three of her best friends she calls the coven. At this party Elle is given a drugged drink and gets assaulted by a group of super rich prep boys that go to a local private Catholic School. Elle has flashes of the night and can remember some faces of one girl and six guys who let it happen. She takes care of the bruising and and tells her parents, instead of the cops she says she’s going to handle it and wants to switch schools to go to the Catholic school everyone involved went to. Elle changes her look but cutting and dying her hair and wearing contacts, she is not Elle any more but goes by her middle name Jade. Jade recruits the coven of friends to help her murder those who helped with the assault. Jade goes to her new school and immediately joins the top mean girl click noticing one of the girls who witnessed it happen and did nothing, and is dating one of the assaulters. All the people involved in the assault are apart of the boys lacrosse team. She see’s one member of the team that wasn’t involved in the assault, Mack, that has the potential to be the new king of school and someone that could help her kill. Jade’s plan starts to fall apart after she starts to fall for Mack. Will ha screw up her chance for revenge?

What I Liked: She tells her parents after the assault, I was happy to see this, since so many victims don’t speak out. The LGTBQ representation is really great, Mads, a member of the coven is Trans and represented and a real strong character that is not a cliche. The descriptions are really good they are often medieval and harken back to remind you of the Macbeth roots to the story. I really enjoyed the last 20 percent of the story, and felt the novel ended on a high note. The Jade and Piper confrontation was so great and my favorite scene with my favorite line, “What are you the patron saint of excessive drinking?” I did enjoy the twist of two character’s one for the good and one for the bad.

What I Disliked: The story time frame is so rushed, and it didn’t need to be. The whole span of this book is less than 20 days. Elle is assaulted on Friday turns into Jade and attends a new school on Monday. Joins the elite group which accepts her right away, she is an accessory to murder her third day, in love her forth day. This ridiculous time line made this story so unbelievable to me. The main character doesn’t show any venerability until the last 20 percent where it was too late. I really did not like the cover art at all, I feel it will hurt book sells.

Recommendations: I think this novel could be a good outlet for those who have been sexually assaulted and feel alone. This book was an attempt and had a lot of potential but I felt it wasn’t good enough for me to recommend. There’s some burst of greatness, I truly loved the last 20% so much, and was bummed that the rest of the book wasn’t this good. I think the author has potential and would seek out another novel. I rated Foul is Fair by Hannah Capin 3 out of 5 stars.

Book Review: Goosebumps: Night of the Living Dummy by R. L. Stine

The Night of the Living Dummy by R.L. Stine is the 7th book in the original Goosebumps Series. I read this years ago and forgot a good deal, there are still a lot of surprises and twist. This book messer with your brain a little bit, by asking what is real because of some clever pranks it make the reader second guess if this is really happening or a nightmare. I will say personally wooden dummies freak me out, so my fear factor might be higher than others. I have pointed out before that Stine concentrates on real world issues to enhance the fear and keep the story a little grounded. In this book the theme is sharing the leads are two twin girls who are already forced to share a face, have to share a room, friends, and a lot of items in the room. When one of the Girls finds the dummy Slappy she is relieved to have something that is here’s that she doesn’t have to share. There’s a couple references to the household not having that much money, so sharing is the only option. This novel has the least 90’s references out of all the other 6 Goosebumps I have read so far. I’m reading Goosebumps to rehash my old memories of the series growing up, and also to give the books to my nephews to read.

The Plot: The Powell Sister’s Kris and Lindy are 12 year old identical twins, who share everything a face, friends, a room, and a lot of the same items in the house. This all changes when the girls get bored and explore the new house being built next door and Lindy finds a trunk. In the trunk is a wooden dummy in a black suit named Slappy. Kris wants Lindy to put it back where it was found, but Lindy wants to keep it and work on it. Kris at first really doesn’t care, then she see’s all the attention she’s getting, and wants some, so a week or a couple later and her dad buys her Mr. Wood from a pawn shop. Lindy gets good and performs for money at birthday parties. Kris is amazed at how good she is, and that she actually is funny. Kris struggles and swears there’s something wrong with Mr. Wood who is often not in the same place where she put him when she goes to sleep. One day she finds him in clothes she put out, and another when she finds Mr. Wood looking like he was strangling him. Kris Swears her doll is winking at her as well. Is he Alive, or is it all a cruel joke?

What I Liked: The story teases a bit here and there but when it comes to the big reveal the dummy does not hold back and you truly believe it wants to kill. I loved the sibling rivalry, you get to witness the jealousy grow overtime. The pranks in this one are really good, my favorite so far; It’s Goosebumps so you know there’s going to be some teases and jump scares a lot of these are false and easily revealed to be a sister or brother messing around, but in the Night of the Living Dummy we don’t get a fast reveal guessing what is real. There’s one part where and old neighbor couple comes over to watch the sweet innocent puppet show, but is roasted by one of the girls, the jokes are mean but still pretty funny. The final twist is a good one that leads to the sequels. The flow and pace of this story is very well paced, the story is one of the better focused ones. This one rams up the scary. I enjoyed how extreme it got, The dummy is out for blood, he will bite, slap, and claw his way towards that goal.

What I Disliked: The worst dog name ever, Barky. I did not like the spell aspect, I thought it was cheap and never really explained well.

Recommendations: Read this if you are scared of Puppets, I’m sure this will also work on stuffed animals. This is a good book for sisters. I do recommend this story out the 7 Goosebumps books I have read, I put this one at number 2, here’s my list so far from best to worst Stay out of the Basement, Night of the Living Dummy, The Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb, Say Cheese and Die, Let’s Get Invisible, Welcome to Dead House and Monster Blood. I rated Night of the Living Dummy 4 out of 5 stars.

Book Review: The Holdout by Graham Moore

The Holdout By Graham Moore is as good as a legal thriller can get, it is one very entertaining and will keep you guessing, and two it makes a statement about how our current legal system is broken and can be manipulated. The Holdout is two mysteries in one, as we get two different mysteries one is a did they or didn’t they murder? And the other is a who done it? The book is separated by a ten year span having a jury trial and then ten years later doing a retrospective documentary of what happened during the trial. This book was part 12 Angry Men combined with an Agatha Christie murder mystery (there’s one I’m thinking about but the plot could be a hint to where it goes, and would hate to spoil anything) with a dash of John Grisham. This novel is full of little twist here and there with a couple of big ones towards the end that guarantee to put you on your toes. I really enjoyed The Holdout thanks to Netgalley and Random House Publishing Group for giving me and advanced readers copy. The Holdout is being published on February 18 2020.

The Plot: Maya Seale is an attorney at a law firm in Los Angeles. We see her creatively defend a client and get a damaging police report tossed out on a technicality. She wins the case but before she can celebrate, she is confronted with a blast from her past, Rick. Ten years ago she was on the trial of the century, the Bobby Nock trial, as a juror. She was the one holdout that thought he was not guilty and convinced the rest of the jury of it as well. This victory lead her to go to law school and become a lawyer. The only problem with the Bobby Nock verdict is 84% of a America thought he was guilty with all the information the media got compared to the information in the trial. The jurors names were all leaked the media hounded them for information and insight, some of the other juror’s felt manipulated to vote not guilty. Rick wrote a book about it blaming Maya, and has been obsessed with proving Booby Nock, a 25 year old African American music teacher killed his, 15 year old Caucasian high school student, Jessica Silver. Rick is tells Maya that he has found information that is going to change the course of the old case, he and eight of the other juror’s ( one has passed away and one flat out said he was not interested) are going to sit down and tell all for a documentary ten years after the trial. Maya doesn’t want any part of it, but her boss thinks it will be could for publicity, so she reluctantly agrees. But she gets more than she bargained for when a member of the Booby Nock juror’s is murdered. Maya is left to solve this crime, with the more she finds out, the more doubts she has about the not guilty verdict of the the old trial. The only thing she can do, is solve both cases.

What I Liked: The way this story is told really stuck out to me, in the present the story is told in third person, but in the flashbacks to the Bobby Nock trial ten years ago we get a first person view of the trial through each jurors eyes, which was very effective. The Holdout balanced the fun mystery while taking a hard look at our current system of justice and the legal loop holes. There’s a great scene where someone is asked plead self defense, because it’s easier to plead than innocent. There were a lot of character’s with the 12 juror’s but everyone had their own personalities and their own agenda. There was plenty of murder suspects that kept me guessing the whole time. I loved the twist in this novel, I guessed wrong about who done it, I only got one plot twist right, but I felt it was a lucky guess, but most of the time this novel kept me guessing.

What I Disliked: I was only upset with one plot point in this book, it was a big one I thought I was going to be blown away by a reveal, and I was more like, that was just okay. The novel did redeem its self with the next plot point involving what to do with that reveal which I thought was really clever and not something that I was expecting.

Recommendations: I totally recommend this novel, I think this was a fun legal thriller that kept me on my toes, with who done it? This novel balanced legal thriller with classic mystery, if you like one or both of those genres than you are gonna have some fun with this novel. If you’re looking for a smart book that offers a biting social commentary, then this is the book for you. The commentary on our legal system is not in your face but it ask good questions to the reader, about what is right or wrong? How can a jury remain bias on the subject of race? What the media misses with it’s rush to be the first to post new information? I rated The Holdout by Graham Moore 5 out of 5, I was let down by one scene, but the charm and the fun of this novel got me to overlook it. This was the first novel that I have read by Graham Moore and it certainly will not be the last. He has written The Sherlockian which I’ve heard a lot of good things about and not only is he a novelist but a screenwriter of The Imitation Game the movie starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Kira Knightley, a movie I quite enjoyed.

Book Review: Black Hammer Volume 3: Age of Doom Part One by Jeff Lemire

Black Hammer Volume 3 Age of Doom Part One by Jeff Lemire is a graphic novel that takes heroes from the bygone era, and stick them in a purgatory on a small farming town, where there is no such thing as superheroes. Some find love, others find betrayal, and some heartbreak in this purgatory, but most just want out. Is there something keeping the team there or someone? In this novel we find out the answer. Black Hammer breaks down the super hero character analyzing what sacrifice is in a really humanizing way. Black Hammer Volume 3 Age of Doom collects issues 1-5 of Black Hammer: Age of Doom by Dark Horse Comics.

The Plot: Five heroes are stuck in a small town, after a hellacious battle to save Spiral city. The heroes don’t know why they are placed out in a rural town and spend most of there days on the farm, the ones who can be seen act like a family to not have suspicion arise. When we meet the heroes they have been trapped for 10 years. Abraham Slam is the leader and a hero of the bygone era He is over fifty and still strong as an ox he is the father figure, Golden Gail has the power of regeneration and flight, the purgatory of the town has stopped her regeneration, leaving her a fifty year old trapped in the body of a 12 year old, Colonel Weird comes straight from pulp as he is a former astronaut stuck between two vortexes, leaving his body and mind like a ghost not familiar with dates or time since they are relative to him. Madam Dragonfly is a witch that took a bad deal to save her daughter, and watches over a mysterious cabin, that was also transported to the town. Barbalien is a shapeshifting alien from Mars, and Walkie Talkie a female robot that Colonel Weird met on a mission. At the end of Black Hammer Volume 1 Secret Origins, the Black Hammer’s daughter Lucy joins the heroes in purgatory, Madam Dragonfly erases her memory quickly before the other’s arrive, and just like the left she is stuck and can not remember how she got there. At the last moments of Black Hammer Volume 2 The Event, Lucy finds and picks up her father’s old Hammer and becomes the new Black Hammer, and suddenly remembers everything about how she got there and who betrayed the team, but before she can get a word of she is whisked away to a purgatory that leads to her own personal hell. She must break free, so she can reveal all. The rest of the team follows the leads Lucy was working on and notice the town has changed. All will be revealed where they are why they are there and if they can or even want to escape.

What I Liked: Abraham finally admits to the woman he loves that he’s a super hero and … she laughs at him as he has the outfit on the moment is great because he as hid this big secret for 2.5 novels and that is the reaction after all the build up. Gus the half man half deer from Jeff Lemire’s other graphic novel Sweet Tooth makes a cameo appearance. Gail who is a kid in body only with the mind of a 50 year-old has it out with the librarian that suggest the kiddie section. I like the majority of Lucy’s own purgatory, the conversation with the devil was a good one! The humor was balanced by the sad moments really well. Gail’s reaction when she finds out about the betrayal was great. The art is better I still hate the way these artists draw people.

What I Disliked: I did not like the explanation for the ten years of purgatory, I felt it was a little bit of a slap in the face, for getting invested in the characters of purgatory, and didn’t feel those character’s reactions played well on a reread of what happened at the end. I reminded me of the new Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker plot line not making much sense. There was only the tiniest bit of a flashback, this series has had some really great flashback moments, and they were’t there in this volume and were greatly missed.

Recommendations: I will barely recommend this book it was my least favorite so far. The Black Hammer series as a whole I would give 4 stars and say it is worth it to read, but Black Hammer Volume 3 Age of Doom Part One I rate 3 out of 5 stars. I will read the next volume in the series Black Hammer Volume 4 Age of Doom Part Two. Part one ended in a cliffhanger and I am intrigued of the new direction that the next book will go in.

Book Review: The Queen of Bedlam by Robert R. McCammon

The Queen of Bedlam by Robert R. McCammon is a haunting historical fiction that takes place in 1702. This is the second novel in the Matthew Corbett series. The series follow Matthew Corbett a young idealist full of honor and virtue living in the time of America’s beginning. Matthew a young lawyer’s clerk loves and respects the law, and wants to see those who break it properly punished. He has a knack for getting in trouble and having adventures. In Speaks the Nightbird Matthew defends a woman accused of witchcraft in the Carolina’s Colony that the town and his own magistrate believe to be true, but Matthew sees the makings of a deep conspiracy. This time Matthew is in New York and chasing a “Jack the Ripper” like murderer the Masker. This series is fun and the character of Matthew keeps evolving, he’s only a clerk for a little while as a greater calling suits him, that of a detective. This book manages to fit in nicely with the first novel, and has a decent amount of call backs. The tone is the same blending Historical Fiction with Mystery with a dash of Horror. This is my second time reading the Queen of Bedlam.

The Plot: After the events in Speaks the Nightbird, three years later Matthew Corbett is with a new magistrate, Magistrate Powers in New York. New York is Matthew’s old home, where he was selected to be a clerk from the orphanage. Matthew now stalks his old and current orphanage headmaster Ausley, speaking to those he abused trying to get them to testify in open court. Matthew while out and about wandering the streets to watch Ausley hoping he commits a crime, stumbles on a murder by the Masker. The Masker is a serial killer known for cutting the victims face like a mask. Matthew’s current magistrate sees potential in him not as a magistrate but for a new organization that help solve mysteries. He gets a trial run on the queen of bedlam case. A woman with no identity is in a catatonic state in a mental institution, she is referred to as the Queen because the only thing she will ask about is if, the king’s reply has returned, but recently she reacted to the death of one of the Masker’s victims. Matthew is tasked with finding out who she is in hopes of awaking her. What Matthew finds out is maybe this woman’s identity is the key to discovering who the Masker is.

What I Liked: The Character of Matthew Corbett keeps getting better and better, as he evolves. The history all fits nothing seems out of ordinary, the descriptions are very detailed and create a perfect visual of the mind. My Favorite new character is Hudson Greathouse the lead detective to Matthew. he’s all brawn and is often surprised how far Matthew’s intellect gets him. I loved the fencing scenes the most. This novel is very well written with lots of little details that add in the end. The climax to this novel was so exciting, I couldn’t remember what happened or who lived or died, which made it even more exciting, like reading it for the first time. The bull through the glass shop was amazing, easily one of my favorite scenes. The tease of the next villain M.r Slaughter was done where you get just enough, and crave his return in the next book.

What I Disliked: Though this plot and climax are better in story and in mystery. This novel misses a very important the first book had, and that is immediacy. The plot moves a long fine but there’s no immediacy in it’s action. In Speaks the Nightbird, Matthew had to solve and disprove the witchcraft, or she was burned at the stake. I this book the murders from the Masker stop for a good while slowing the book down.

Recommendations: I whole heartedly recommend this book, it’s a great mystery set in time that does not get written all that much. The horror element are quick by really good. On my second rereading of Queen of Bedlam my rating went up a point, really liking how much pay off of the little details there is to the main and side plots. I rated Queen of Bedlam 4 out of 5 stars.

Book Haul: February 2020

Hello readers, it has been quite some time since I did a book haul, and thought I would share. This is a pretty good mix four horror, one graphic novel, one classic, one fantasy, one science fiction, one mystery, and two general fiction.

The Shining and Revival by Stephen King, My girlfriend was shocked that I had never read the Shining and got it for me, Revival is one of her favorites as well.

Kill Creek by Scott Thomas, I really enjoyed Violet by Scott Thomas last year about the imaginary friend who comes to life and wants to play forever. I want to read more of his work, I’m a sucker for a haunted house story.

The Deep by Nick Cutter, I own the Troop by Nick Cutter, haven’t got around to it yet but the reviews are amazing and the story of a boy scout troop discovering a plague on a camping trip and have to figure out how to stop it.  But the Deep is a story where a virus breaks out causing people to forget, and the only cure is at the bottom of the ocean.  Can they remember in time to save themselves.

Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir, this book had me at Lesbian Necromancers. The book has got a lot of great reviews that I kept seeing.  This book is book one of a trilogy.

Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson, Wilson visited my local bookstore when he toured, I was not able to go because of work, but I watched the interviews.  This book sounds crazy, a woman is to be a care taker of twins, with the catch being, when the twins are agitated they spontaneous combust into flames.  This will probably be the first book I read with this haul.

Gone With the Wind by Margret Mitchell, this book is a favorite of my girlfriend’s mother, and knows I want to read more classics this year, so she bought it for me as a gift.

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: the Omnibus Edition by Alan Moore, I have never read this series all the way through I have picked up a comic book here and there, but the order is a little bit weird.  So now I have the full version in order.  Alan Moore wrote Watchmen which is my favorite graphic novel of all time.

Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan, this book is the one I know least about, but Im a sucker for anything bookstore related.

All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders, this book has a witch and scientist battling each other as the world stars falling apart and they have to put away there differences to save it. It’s getting great reviews and sounds really interesting.

Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore by Matthew Sullivan, remember I’m a sucker for anything  bookstore related.  This is a bookstore mystery where a loyal customer hangs himself, with a picture of one of the clerks as a little kid.  The clerk finds books defaced that she can’t understand why, until she starts to see a pattern that may lead to something bigger.

Book Review: Locke & Key Vol. 1: Welcome to Lovecraft by Joe Hill Art By Gabriel Rodriguez

Third Time Reading Locke & Key Vol. 1: Welcome to Lovecraft by Joe Hill, and my rating of 5 stars still stands. This book is incredible! I’m reading the series and this book in particular because of the new Locke & Key series Starts on February 7 2020 on Netflix. Having been a fan of this book series the screen adaptation has been long process 10 years ago Fox passed on the pilot, then Universal was trying to make it into a movie trilogy, and lastly Hulu had it and passed on the pilot where it came to Netflix where it is written by Carlton Cuse of Lost and Bate’s Motel . So after that long wait I’m super excited for this series, but let me tell you about the book I love. This graphic novel combines gothic horror with suspense and added fantastical elements. The book deals with loss in a mature and profound way. The keys in this book, open more than just doors, there’s key’s that can literally open your mind, change your gender, turn you into a ghost, and let you go anywhere where the is a door. Joe Hill is an auto buy author for me, whether it is novels, short stories, or graphic novels he delivers.

The Plot: The novel starts off with two teenagers showing up at the summer home in California with bloody weapons and bodies in the bed of a truck looking for Mr. Locke and whereabouts of keys. Mr and Mrs. Locke are home, with Mrs. Locke opening the door. They have three kids Tyler the oldest, Kinsey the middle, and Bode the youngest who are all at the neighbors lake, when the hear a gun shot in the direction of the house. The book jumps around from there showing the aftermath of the shooting and what happened after at the of funeral of one member of the Locke family. The novel shifts as the family what’s left of it move to Lovecraft, Massachusetts to live in the old family mansion called Keyhouse. The house is filled with rooms and secret keys that will open up doors that only the kids can use. Bode, the youngest, figures out the house and it’s many secrets, he tells the family but they just laugh him off. He is the key to the truth the family doesn’t see and he has found either an enemy of a friend who lives trapped in the well. The novel bounces back and forth showing how the rest of the family survived the first murder as they find the new secrets that connect the house to the incidents. The family finds out the threat has only just begun, as more mysteries arise.

What I Liked: The book looks at grief and loss in a very real way, how a wrong last word can destroy you. The book looks at victimhood and how it ties to depression. Lastly it looks at alcoholism, not shying away fro the truth. I love the art, I think this book does the best I’ve seen at showing familiar traits among family members. Bode the youngest is my favorite character, he has an over active imagination, and is precocious. The funniest moment is when Bode writes a report for school using artwork revealing the truth but every finds it disturbing. The keys are a really cool, and well thought out, the ghost key is my favorite.

What I Disliked: I would have waned to know more about how the echo work exactly, I can’t remember if that ever gets explained in further books. That’s all I can think of, which is rare, I just really love this book.

Recommendations: If you love horror with a good suspenseful story with lots of secrets, then this book is for you. The opening book is so good the series as a whole I have rated 4. 5 stars, with this book being a stand out. Having read the series, I can say it it is totally worth reading the series as you learn more secrets new ones come about. I might do a follow up when I watch the series next week. Locke & Key Vol.1: Welcome to Lovecraft by Joe Hill I rated 5 out of 5 stars.

The trailer to the new Netflix series Locke and Key starting February 7th

Wrap Up: January 2020 Book Reviews

The first month of 2020 is in the books. I read 6 novels this month. I read two Classics with Little Women and Just So Stories. Little Women I read in anticipation of the movie, which was amazing and I highly recommend, it added additional scenes that enhanced the story. It was one of the best adaptations I have seen in a while. Tangent over see the movie. I read two Advanced Readers Copies thanks to Netgalley called Dreamland and Not So Stories.  I read a reread of Speaks the Nightbird one that I read 9 years ago before I started reviewing. Last but not least I read Scythe a young adult that has been heavily hyped on WordPress, and it did not disappoint.

Five Star Book Reviews

Scythe By Neal Shusterman is an incredible young adult novel that looks at Earth’s future in a smart way. Scythe takes the Grim Reaper character and humanizes it, by well making it human and showing the need of death. The novel really analyzes death; it shows the horror of murder, the mercy of a killing, and the romance of death. In a futuristic Earth humans have beat aging. Thanks to Nano technology there is no disease and death can be reversed in most cases. Scythes bring a permanent death to curb over population. The Scythes are human’s who have been appointed, they have a kill quota that must be unbiased in choosing its victims.

Speaks the Nightbird by Robert R. McCammon is one of my favorite stories by one of my favorites authors. This is my second reading of this epic tale that combines Historical Fiction with Murder Mystery, and adding a dash of Horror. We get a tale about witchcraft only 7 years after the Salem Witch Trials in 1699. Where witchcraft was in murky waters of being real or not. This book introduces Matthew Corbett and is the first book in a proposed 9 book series. Speaks The Nightbird is in development at FX with Blumhouse producing, I’m very excited. This is the first reread where my rating stayed the same, this book is a great five star read. I’m currently reading the 2nd in the series now.

Four Star Book Reviews

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott the unabridged version is a classic that remains relevant today. Little Women was written almost 150 years ago and the characterizations of the March sister’s still hold up today, we know those girls I personally see them in my sisters and my larger family, making the story easily relatable to me and probably others. The novel is told almost as vignettes, or more accurately slices of life involving the girls and occasionally Laurie the neighbor who becomes a part of the family. This novel is full of heartache and heartbreak.

Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling is an interesting new set of fables aimed at teaching kids about things and expanding their imagination, all while having the subtext of British Colonialism and the Empire, as a good thing. These are stories meant to be read out loud, and they use interesting rhyme patterns, alliteration, and repetition, that add to the way the story is told. I read the version that is accompanied by illustrations and with added text that adds more insight to the story, which I would recommend.

Not So Stories edited by David Thomas Moore takes Rudyard Kipling’s Just So Stories and flips it on it’s head. With 12 stories from diverse authors, that redirect the subtext of the Empire and British Colonialism in Just So Stories, to stories that embrace independence and mock the empire. This book is not as kid friendly as the original, but would still fall in the Young Adult category as far as content goes.

Two Star Book Reviews:

Dreamland by Nancy Bilyeau is a novel that is insightful when dealing with class warfare and structure, but when it is not, the novel is a fairly obvious mystery that is easily solvable. The novel is called Dreamland after the Brooklyn Amusement Park on Coney Island; it is most infamous for having a ride called Hell Gate. I wanted to like this one but didn’t connect to the characters and found the descriptions really vague.

Book Review: Not So Stories edited by David Thomas Moore

Not So Stories edited by David Thomas Moore takes Rudyard Kipling’s Just So Stories and flips it on it’s head. With 12 stories from diverse authors, that redirect the subtext of the Empire and British Colonialism in Just So Stories, to stories that embrace independence and mock the empire. This book is not as kid friendly as the original, but would still fall in the Young Adult category as far as content goes. These stories like the original work on one level but are filed with subtext. The collection is a good mix of stories I felt some fit perfectly, but a couple of the tales were a stretching a bit to include them. In anticipation for this review I read the original Just So Stories, where as before I had read a story here or there. I would recommend reading that collection so you will get all the references in this book, it is not required but will add to some of the stories. I reviewed each tale separately to give each author their due. Out of the 12 stories I rated 5 stories with 5 stars, 4 stories with 4 stars, 1 story 3 stars and 2 stories 2 stars. Thanks to Netgalley and Abaddon Books for letting me read this Advanced copy. Not So Stories was published on January 21 2020.

The Plots and Reviews:
How the Spider Got Her Legs by Cassandra Khaw is a story that would have fit into the original Just So Stories. Where a spider born with one leg gets 8 and becomes poisonous. It used “to my beloved” too much as it was more mocking than acknowledging the original text. The story was fun a good opener. I rated this story 3 out of 5 stars.

Queen by Joseph Elliott-Coleman This was a fantastic story, more young adult than middle grade. This story involves a captured panther that is forced to fight other Panther’s. a good story with a lot of subtext and allegories to slavery. 5 out of 5 stars. This may be the stand out story.

Best Beloved by Wayne Santos I don’t know if this story really fit, it is about a man saying “Beloved” a term Kipling would often repeat at the beginning. The story is a man working for the East India Trading Company gets a girlfriend in China that he is very controlling, the girlfriend has an interesting job putting seals up so ghost don’t break through, but one does . A good story, good ending 4 out of 5

The Man Who Played With the Crab by Adiwijaya Iskandar was my least favorite so far it was uneven and felt longer than it was. It was about a fisherman seeking revenge on a giant crab, he takes a father and son hostage as they can reach this particular crab. I rated this story 2 out of 5 stars

Samsāra by Georgina Kamsika is a truly great story, where Nina visits her dead Grandmother’s home and finds out why she stopped visiting. A really good story of acceptance of death and one’s self. I don’t know if this story belonged in this collection, but it was fantastic. 5 out of 5 stars.

Serpent, Crocodile, Tiger by Zedeck Siew I loved the first part of this story, then it got hard to understand what is going on, at the end of is explained where the story comes from which really helps. The story is a crocodile trucks his mom to explore away from the river, and he turns into a tiger, but also can resemble a man? I rated this story 2 out of 5 stars.

How the Tree of Wishes Gained its Carapace of Plastic by Jeannette Ng this was a short one, but I enjoyed it. I did wonder for a bit where this one was going, but the ending really tied it up and have the story meaning. This story highlights on the weight of wishes, both figuratively and literally. I rated this story 4 out of 5 stars.

How the Ants Got Their Queen by Stewart Hotston a really clever story about the rise and overthrow of a dictator, to realize maybe they need a dictator for some time. This was my favorite so far. I rated this story 5 out of 5.

How the Snake Lost its Spine by Taurus Moosa this was another clever story and one that truly fit this collection. The great snake used to have a spine making it tall, it could see danger coming and protected the other animals from the white devils (man). But one day the lion worked out a plan with man to trick the snake to betrayal. I rated this book 5 out 5 stars.

The Cat Who Walked by Herself by Achala Upendran this is a direct throwback to the original story of the Cat Who Walked by Himself in Just So Stories. The characters are the same but now the cat is female, and the situation is different. This time man is trying to domesticate an independent woman the cat see this and tries to help. I rated this story 5 out of 5 stars.

Strays Like Us by Nina Hutton a story of a long forgotten cat God finally being seen again. I thought this story was okay, there’s a really good scene where the cat God gets a hotel that is not cat friendly. I like what the story says on independence and domestication. I rated this story 4 out of 5.

How the Simurgh Won Her Tail by Ali Nouraei a really sweet story about a grandfather visiting his sick granddaughter and telling stories. The granddaughter is in a cancer ward and he tells a story that relates to there struggles. This story was easy to follow and got all the right notes. I rated this story 5 out of 5.

There is Such Thing as a Whizzy-Gang by Raymond Gates is an Australian tale, about and Uncle telling his young nephew to look out for the Whizzy-gang, by the shrub in the front lawn. It is a story asking if your imagination can create something real. I enjoyed this simple story. I rate this story 4 out of 5 stars.

How the Camel Got Her Paid Time Off by Paul Krueger one of the more contemporary pieces. This story acknowledges two Just So Stories How the Camel Got His Hump and The Elephant’s Child. This story lies heavily on puns, some land while others do not. I liked this story but did not enjoy the ending, I rated this story 4 out of 5 stars.”

What I Liked: The variety of stories really really stuck out to me. The prologue to the book was really insightful to Kipling’s Just So Stories, especially the subtext, and to why this new collection had to be made. I liked the stories that gave odes to the original text like The Cat Who Walked by Herself and How the Camel Got Her Paid Time Off. both tales offered fresh takes while acknowledging the original.

What I Disliked: Only one story attempted the rhyming pattern and the repetition of words that Kipling did for every story in the original. The story were not written to be read out loud. I would have rearranged the order of the stories the book seems to go old to contemporary time, but this allowed some of the stories not to gel. The last half of the book had the better more consistent pieces.

Recommendations: I will recommend you check out this collection even if you haven’t read Just So Stories. I got a lot out of the stories, most are fun with all stories having that extra layer of subtext that really makes you feel the importance of the work. I rated No So Stories 4 out of 5 stars.

Book Review: Scythe by Neal Shusterman

Scythe By Neal Shusterman is an incredible young adult novel that looks at Earth’s future in a smart way. Scythe takes the Grim Reaper character and humanizes it, by well making it human and showing the need of death. The novel really analyzes death, it shows the horror of murder, the mercy of a killing, and the romance of death. This novel is book one in the Arc of the Scythe series that is currently at book 3. This was a book that I kept seeing praised on Goodreads and WordPress. This novel has won a good deal of awards. Really smart world building and history of how the Scythe’s came to be, held and kept my interest throughout this book.

The Plot: In a futuristic Earth human’s have beat aging. Thanks to Nano technology there is no disease and death can be reversed in most cases. Scythes bring a permanent death to curb over population. The Scythes are human’s who have been appointed, they have a kill quota must must be unbiased in choosing it’s victims. Scythe Faraday has a need of a new apprentice but instead of one he chooses two Rowan and Citra. Rowan And Citra do not want this position, they don’t want to kill, but that is exactly what Scythe Faraday is looking for. Rowan and Citra agree more for their family who gains immunity if one of them is chosen to be Scythe. They each have a year to prove they have what it takes, but there is a stipulation added since there never has been two before, that the loser will be killed by the winner. A fate both don’t want for the other, as they start falling for one another.

What I Liked: The history of the Scythe’s is so brilliant drawing from the past and using physiological teachings of Socrates as a base. The Scythe commandments really work in establishing the rules. I love the idea of rogue Scythes that are mass murders with permission. The way the story was told really worked for me getting Citra’s and Rowan’s first person views, but also getting the journal entries of Scythe Faraday and other Scythe’s. The couple of twists in character’s and situation’s really worked for me and made this book hard to put down. This book did a great job of establishing all the different character’s and made them unique. My favorite character’s were Faraday, Rowan, Citra, and Volta. I really did not want this book to end. Speaking of the end, I was very satisfied with how this book ended, this book could have ended a lot of ways with the character’s in such an insane predicament.

What I Disliked: I thought Rowan’s friend Tyger could have been used better, his character just disappears after the last time we see him he was threatened to be used as leverage over Rowan. I felt like there is a draft out there that had one more scene with Tyger in it. I would have liked a little more description when it comes to people’s faces, this novel did such a great job on the describing the Scythe’s robes I saw that more than there face, which could have been the point, but I still like picturing faces.

Recommendations: Read, read, read this book! It was so good! This is my first 5 star review of the new year, and I have a feeling this one is going to stick with me for a while. If you like Science fiction then this book is for you, I was blown away by Earth’s possible future. This novel is Young Adult I say a teenager can handle it, there’s is death but it’s not too graphic in nature. I rated Scythe by Neal Shusterman 5 out of 5 stars. This is my first Neal Shusterman novel and it will not be my last, I can’t wait to continue the Arc of a Scythe series and read other novels by him.