Book Review: Hard Times by Charles Dickens

Hard Times by Charles Dickens is a satire written in 1854 but about the Hard Times of a mill town in 1840’s. This story is tragic as it looks at the differences of the have and the have nots of society. It is a little crazy how some of the issues are still relevant especially about workers rights on safety. Hard Times is a satire and Dickens will find little ways to add humor, he has a lot of fun with names such as Gradgrind, Slackbridge, and M’Coakumchild to name a few. The story is told as an ensemble there is no main character, the story bounces to people mostly associated with the Gradgrind and Bounderby familes/workers. My copy of this book was included with a mini-biography that was very helpful in knowing just how personal the story was to Dickens, who’s father was in debtors prison and working off his debt, Charles Dickens to help out is family of 8 started working at a factory at age 12. This is my first Dickens, I’m not counting the starts and stops, or in high school where they kind of read Great Expectations to you, but Hard Times is the first that I have read with out a doubt from start to finish. I have heard that this is not one of his best, but I enjoyed it for the most part. I was happy to say I understood at least 85% which I call a win. There was only one chapter where the metaphors through be off and I thought a character died but just injured. This is my second classic of the year I always mean to read more, but I’mm happy with my having read this and Little Women this year.

The Plot: Gradgrind the senior is a teacher only concerned with facts, facts are all you have to know to make any decision. Throughout the book this measure is tested and applied. Gradgrind starts changing the day he meets student 20 Sissy Jupe. Gradgrind mock her for not be able to factually describe a horse, when her father works as a horse trainer, she keeps adding emotion and opinion to the description. Gradgrind’s two children are seen checking out the circus that he deduces it could be Sissy Jupe’s influence. He goes to meet her father to kick her out of school, but upon going there they find out that Sissy Jupe has been abandoned by her father. Gradgrind decides to take the girl and raise her as his own, despite knowledge not being her thing, she cares for people and uses emotion in her thoughts. That’s one small story in this novel about little stories adding up to big decisions.

What I Liked: Sissy Jupe is my favorite character, I wish she where the main character, she’s the heart of this somewhat bleak story. I do like the change in Gradgrind, his change is brought about family and trying to save reputation, but it happens. I do love that Mr. Boundbury has a little comeuppance, as one of his biggest lies are exposed. I like that the novel sticks to the theme of hard times that both poor and rich have problems, but while one has integrity and the other has resources, the poor have it way worse but the rich elite believe they have it worse. I do love what happened to Mrs. Sparsit, who’s backstabbing bit her when she was in the room when Boundbury’s lie was exposed. Favorite line is, “I have not the honor of knowing you; – bit if you mean that you can make more money of your time than I can of mine, I should judge from your appearance, that you are about right.” I love that Dickens wrote a character named Mr. Sleary who has the deepest slur ever, it was both challenging and fun to read his words.

What I Disliked: Stephen Blackpool character I didn’t feel was used right, I did want to see his big moment, not just the aftermath of it. His chapter with Rachael was so confusing, I thought he died but was only injured, he had integrity but made so many mistakes it was annoying. The story was a little disjointed at time focusing on different characters instead of the main topic always at hand, it usually circles back around to the main issue, but the jumping around messes with the story flow.

Recommendation: This was an interesting read for it’s time stamp of English life in the 1840. The satire is deep and sometimes biting. Tis novel is not a feel good novel but a delight none the less. I had fun with it. Of the stories that I know of Dickens from various plays and movies, I would recommend maybe reading those first, this is more known for it’s time stamp and unflinching look at mill towns in the 1840’s than it is for a great story. I rated Hard Times by Charles Dickens 3 out of 5. I think this story is very important but the actual story could have been more engaging.

Book Review: Batman: Curse of the White Knight by Sean Gordon Murphy

Batman: Curse of the White Knight by Sean Gordon Murphy is a hard look at what it takes to be a hero, and Batman himself asking if he helped contribute to crime. This is the sequel to the excellent Batman: White Knight where the Joker went sane and went after Batman as if he were the victim. The Joker is back to being the joker, but the things he called out were too good and could ruin crime sprees. The Joker has one more joke to pull the could blow up the Wayne legacy. The Curse of the White Knight continue its streak of being one of the best Batman stories. The story had a lot of twist and turns as it explores the birth of the Wayne dynasty and a current threat with an old score to settle. The writing will make you both laugh and almost cry. This story does take place in an alternative universe and not in the current DCU that gives the novel no limits as it is no-holds bar, with lots of shocking deaths. Batman: Curse of the White Knight collects issue 1-8 and a bonus Mr. Freeze origin story.

Plot: When the Joker took a pill to go sane he turned back into Jack Napier former mob member. Jack saw evil in Gotham and his name was Batman. Jack becomes a council member a and sets up the Napier Initiative which would have Batman be responsible for every damage he causes, and he would give tech and his vehicles to the police so they will eventually not need Batman. Batman has to look at the harsh truth that Napier is right. The pills are slowly killing Napier the only way he can live is if he lets the Joker take back over. With the Joker back in control he hates the Napier Initiative because it will mean no more Batman. The joker has been saving a Joke that will destroy everything and tarnish the Wayne legacy (Joker/Napier admitted they have know for some time he is Bruce Wayne). The Joker gets Azrael who is in on the joke having to do with his family legacy. Azrael will stop at nothing to kill or hurt those around him. Bruce has to search his families history to solve the mystery of the joke. Harley is able to bring Napier back for a few seconds as she reveals she is pregnant, he tells her the Joke will break Batman and the Wayne family.

What I Liked: The balance of drama, action and humor is great. The Action is really well done. The Joke is pretty world shattering for Batman and the Wayne legacy. Azrael who I haven’t seen in comics for quite sometime (since Knightfall and Knightquest arcs) returns with a vengeance. He ends up wearing the Knightquest Batman suit for when he took over as Batman. There’s a scene where Batman’s cave gets destroyed with all his Batmobiles except the Batmobile from the late 80’s one of my personal favorites. The Jokes, there’s a scene where Montoya and Bullock are taking over for an incapacitated Gordon, and Batman does his disappearing while speaking, and Bullock goes does he do that everytime, that must drive Gordon crazy. Another joke is Azrael breaks Joker out of Prison in the Batsuit from Knightquest, Joker says, “how did you get in here?” Azrael reveals the batsuit, “I’m Batman!” The Joker seems aghast, “that worked, they just let you in…”, he looks past Azrael to see a stream of bloody bodies. The pacing in this book i really good the set up for Joke takes a while as we flashback to the past, but the pay off was well worth it. I liked the subplot about the Joker wanting to kill one of Harley’s twins because one half is his and one half is Napier’s. The art is really well done, I’m very particular about faces but feel they were drawn really well.

What I Disliked: There’s a joke that was a callback to 1960’s Batman that landed horribly, and felt really awkward and forced. The Batman not killing plot line I felt let down. This series has analyzed aspect of Batman that I have not thought of before, and I felt the Batman doesn’t kill was glossed over. You as Batman do not want to kill the Joker, but you want to kill Azrael, who has a general grievance with you over past family stuff. I would have wanted more conversation for Bruce to have gotten there, to make it more believable.

Recommendation: This story is good, and one of the best that I have read. Sean Gordon Murphy is one of the better Batman writer’s I still think that Scott Snyder is the best but Sean Gordon Murphy is getting close. The cool thing about Sean Gordon Murphy is he is also the artist and makes sure what he wrote in the story matches his vision on the comic. If you are looking at a great Batman story that explores the psyche of Batman then this is you Batman story. I rated Batman: Curse of the White Knight by Sean Gordon Murphy 5 out of 5 stars. I also rated Batman: White Knight 5 out of 5 stars do yourself a favor and read these books. It is separate from the DC comics universe so it is pretty accessible.

Book Review: His & Hers by Alice Feeney

His & Hers by Alice Feeney is a deeply psychological mystery thriller. This is a great mystery with layers upon layers. This who done it, will have you constantly changing who you think is the killer. His & Hers reminded me of the best parts of The Girl in the Train, the unreliable narrators. Both main characters lie with in the first passage already showing you the reader mistrust. I really like the way it is told you have the perspective of him, a detective for a small town, and then you have her, a BBC news correspondent. But there is also another voice the killer’s voice, the clever thing this novel does is make you find out who the third voice belongs to is it Him, Her, or is it some one else. This novel is best not knowing too much, so my plot summary will not be too long to keep the story vague. The story had a great pace and was really hard to put down. This novel is easily in my top 10 published this year. This novel would be perfect for a movie.

The Tag Line: There are two sides to every story: yours and mine, ours and theirs, His & Hers. Which means someone is always lying.

The Plot:Her:Anna has been the fill in correspondent for the one o’clock hour of the BBC for almost two years. Cat Jones the original host is back from two back to back pregnancies and Anna is demoted to a desk and to be used only for on site broadcast. A murder comes up in her old home town and she’s assigned it. But she knows the victim and saw them the day before and has had some relationship to the detective. Him: Detective Jack Harper investigates the murder of the young woman Rachael, but he knows her and has been seeing her secretly for months the body is discovered where he last saw her, and he knows the reporter that seems know insider information. The Voice: we are in either Him, Her, or Someone else the voice says I will kill them all for what they have done. Rachael is the first of many victims.

What I Liked: The Tag line is brilliant and made me pick this book. The layers to this mystery kept me going back and forth with interchanging subjects. The writing is really clever everything makes sense. The two main characters Anna and Jack are great and well rounded with a crazy connected past. I was able to really like the characters and not trust either one of them. One of the better reveals to a twist leaving it all at the end to know the whole story. One of the better written villains at the end you know why they did it, it is really messed up but you can emphasize what they wanted to achieve and did achieve. I guessed the killer early on but there was so many twist and turns I was convinced early that it wasn’t them. I liked the three perspectives narrative and trying to find out who the third voice was. There was more than a few moments where, I was blown away by twist and turns.

What I Disliked: To throw the reader off they have a sequence of events that were a little hard to believe that one character would act one way, and not have a conversation about it. It was a cool moment but I wanted some dialogue spoken not just action.

Recommendations: This is a perfect thriller with more twist and turns than I can remember. The killer is viscous, and will keep you guessing until the end. If you like thrillers with unreliable narrators who blatantly lie, then this book is for you. The closest book I would compare it to is The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins. I rated His & Hers by Alice Feeney 5 out of 5 stars. This is author Alice Feeney’s third book, I am a fan and will add Sometimes I Lie and I Know Who You Are to my TBR.

Book Review: The Great Zoo of China by Matthew Reilly

The Great Zoo of China by Matthew Reilly is Jurassic Park with dragons. The novel is self aware and there is references to Jurassic Park throughout. Where the novel separates it self from Jurassic Park is 300 pages of white knuckle action that does not let up until the end. Reilly does not put too much science in his science fiction unlike Michael Crichton does, leaving the story not as believable as Jurassic Park. What Reilly does really well is have detailed maps, that constantly reminds the reader where they are in relationship to others. Reilly who is known for his action delivers a pulse pounding narrative that seems to never let up. This is my fourth Matthew Reilly book, I was intrigued by the premise and a rare stand alone book, this is my first book not part of Scarecrow book series.

The Plot: The Chinese have discovered a great treasure in copper mines that could be the key to tourism: dragons. The people and the workers think China is working on a super immersive zoo called the The Great Zoo of China, but what they are really working on is the Great Dragon Zoo of China. Scientist have discovered dragon eggs and how to harvest them, they have added trackers, and protection to all people, buildings, and transportation, when dragons get close a sonar pulse is released to the ear of the dragon. Today is the first day of the tour to diplomats, journalists, and scientists. CJ is one of the top scientist when it come to the study of crocodiles, the oldest living reptile, she gets an opportunity to work at a new zoo to replace her peer who worked for the zoo previously but is said to have died in a plane crash. CJ takes a long her brother, and meets reporters from the New York Times, and a liaison to China, for a tour of the zoo that is on a remote island away from everything. They tour tell of the safety measures and security. Everything is going fine until CJ notices claw marks on the ears of several dragons, before she can ask what’s that, they are attacked. The dragons have deafened themselves so the sonar has no effect and they can attack people, transportation, and structures.

What I Liked: Jurassic Park is acknowledged and jokes and references are aplenty. The plot is essentially a dragon prison break, with humans trying to break to. The trained dragon Lucky was pretty cool how they figure out how to communicate. The action is non-stop it is a thrill ride that has enemies all around. I liked the bit about dragons can not breathe fire, is what we’re constantly told until it happens and is pretty cool. I like the use of maps that are drawn out showing the zoo, they easy to read and know where characters and dragons are. The best scene is my opinion wasn’t the danger of the dragon but another animal all together. I do like that every Matthew Reilly book there is some sort of animal attack danger included.

What I Disliked: Is there a thing as too much action? I think there is! Once the novel gets going there is only one real pause, then back to the action. I wanted to have a moment with the characters, then all action all the time we know CJ is smart because of her actions, but not really her dialogue. Dialogue is pretty bad all around.

Recommendations: If you read this for the action then it so delivers and is quite fun. The plot and the sequences are fun even it not that believable. The science fiction aspect is lacking quite a bit. I rate The Great Zoo of China 3 out of 5 stars. I recommend the Shane Scofield AKA Scarecrow series that is just straight action, and fun.

Book Review: Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia is one part gothic tale like Rebecca and one part like Jordan Peele’s film Get Out. The novel dip from gothic to horror easily. The novel analyses race, heredity, and class warfare making it a deep part of the story. This novel has been in the horror category, the first half I was like this is stretch to fit in this category, but the second half earned its spot in the category. The story is totally off the rails I could not have predicted where it went which was part of the fun. This book is one of the most hyped books of this year, receiving rants and raves all over the blogosphere. I enjoyed the story but I’m not totally aboard the hype train, I do hope it will get more people to check out the horror genre. Mexican Gothic will be adapted into a mini series for Hulu. Mexican Gothic is up for a Goodreads choice award for horror 2020.

The Plot: Noemi is a privileged socialite in 1950’s Mexico, she enjoys toying with would be suitors. Her father who cares about status doesn’t really want her happy but wants her married well. Noemi doesn’t know if she’s ready for marriage, she wants to further her education and go for her Master’s degree. She wants to go the the big university and not the locale one. An opportunity has came up where her father wants her to check on and maybe bring home her newly married cousin Catalina, after she wrote a disturbing note alleging her new husband might want to harm her, in exchange he will let Noemi go to the university of her choosing. The family is not happy about the wedding in the first place it happened to fast for the family to intervene, and the husband is an Englishman who’s family used to run a silver mine, that hasn’t been worked for over a decade. Noemi arrives to a remote Mexican countryside to a mansion called High Place that has seen better days. Something feels off as she gets the felling she is not wanted there, the family has one black sheep in Francis that has been nice to her. She keeps getting the run around to see her cousin who is sick. When she does she remembers nothing of a letter and says she loves it here. Noemi starts to have strange dreams of women of the family, she can’t tell whats real or a dream. Is she living a nightmare or is this real?

What I Liked: The story is totally original, and totally crazy I could not have imagined where it was going to go. The story nails it’s gothic roots, creepy setting, family secrets, ghost of the past, candlelight (High Place is so far in the countryside it has no power), and dark beauty. The character of Florence will give Mrs. Danvers from Rebecca in being creepily strict. I liked the conversation about race and class. The setting of High Place is great as acting as a metaphor for what was once great that is now decaying and a place of secrets. The finale delivers with being suspenseful and answering all of the questions. My favorite quote “And you think you have a special power simply because my uncle thinks you possess a pretty face. But that’s not power. It’s a liability.”

What I Disliked: The ending, Noemi makes a decision that I felt was out of character, the writer tried to wrap it in a bow, and it felt forced. The back half of the novel is really focused, and I would have liked to see more of that in the front half.

Recommendation: I will recommend Mexican Gothic to my readers, you know I like a crazy story that I can not predict where the story is going to end up and Mexican Gothic delvers in spades. If you like gothic stories like Rebecca, We Have Always Lived in the Castle, and The Thirteenth Tale then you will enjoy this one. I think this is a good novel to introduce people to the horror genre as this book lightly dips its toes in it. I rated Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia 4 out of 5 stars.

Book Review: Stone of Tears by Terry Goodkind

Stone of Tears by Terry Goodkind is an epic tale of stopping the beings from the Underworld from escaping and bring hell upon the world. This is book two in the Sword of Truth series. This book waste no time to get going, action starts on page five and goes on for a good while. The story takes places a mere two days after the last one ended, with a lot of the unresolved issues getting addressed early on. The action scenes are great and unrelenting. There is a war scene that was so smart and detailed it was easily in my top ten of battle scenes I have read, where I didn’t get lost in the action and every move made sense. The finale felt a little rushed, the rising action, of will the characters make it in time was great, but only to see the finale wrapped up in maybe 20 pages, which could be a lot of this book wasn’t 979 pages. Some of the events did remind me of the season of Supernatural where a similar plot happened, Stone of Tears was written way before Supernatural but it was interesting to see some of the same plot points in this epic fantasy that was in Supernatural. Looking at my data Wizard’s First Rule the first book in the Sword of Truth series is the review that I get the most views from search engines, so that was part of my motivation also with the sad passing of the author Terry Goodkind it was time to read this one and continue the series.

The Plot: Two days after Richard defeated Darken Rahl. A creature from the underworld has escaped and it wants to mark Richard so he can open the underworld for the Keeper. Zedd deals with these creatures first and must find Richard and seek side in closing the veil to the underworld. Richard and Kahlan are returning a boy back to the mud people when a creature from the underworld comes for them. They defeat the creature but Richard gets migraines that make it feel like his head will explode they keep getting worse and worse. He meets 3 Sisters of Light that day they can help him but they must collar him and own him to teach him to control his new magic. He refuses and the sister creates suicide right then and there, saying that was chance one you will have two more chances to get help of you do note, you will die.

What I Liked: The epic battle scenes that you knew where every character was and their motivation for the mission. The Richard relationship with Gratch a son of a former enemy that he befriends and kind of raises. I liked that Rachael was included she was the heart of the first book. She does not have a lot to do in this one but was happy to see her. The scenes of peril are what Goodkind does best at there was more than a couple times where I did not see how characters were going to get out of situations. I liked that everything Shota saw in her visions came true, but also says they could be changed as well. I loved the scene where Kahlan tried to fix the way mud people hit on women by bluntly complement women’s breast and backside. I liked the twist and turns of this story. The opening scene is so intense I loved it.

What I Disliked: The finale was so short, it felt rushed and it didn’t have to be. Zedd’s storyline was a little weak, he had a great beginning but not much else. Kahlan and Richard’s relationship was decent but went too sappy a bit too much.

Recommendation: If you like epic fantasy then this is the series for you. If you like intense brutal action packed battle scenes the Stone of Tear delivers. Trigger warning is scenes of rape, there’s a couple. I rated Stone of Tear by Terry Goodkind 4 out of 5 stars. I will read the next book in the Sword of Truth series Blood of the Gold pretty soon, it is 300 pages shorter so a little easier to work in.

Book Review: Suicide Squad Volume 1: Trial By Fire by John Ostrander and Kim Yale

Suicide Squad Volume 1: Trial By Fire by John Ostrander and Kim Yale is 80’s action Suicide Squad more influenced by the 80’s TV show the A-Team then anything else. I wanted to read this in anticipation for the movie coming out that will have lots of obscure characters from the series, and I thought the 80’s Suicide Squad would be a good place to look. I got to learn a lot of the history of the squad originally called Suicide Squadron during World War II. I found out that The Penguin was briefly a member. The main members are Deadshot, Enchantress, Captain Boomerang, Bronze Tiger, Nightshade, and lead by Randall Flagg commanded by Amanda Waller. Suicide Squad Volume 1: Trial By Fire collects Secret Origins 14 and Suicide Squad issues 1-8.

The Plot: We get a brief but through history of how the Suicide Squad was created, starting in World War II when it was called the Suicide Squadron and ran by Randall Flagg’s father, it wasn’t about super heroes, just extreme impossible missions. Different versions of the Squad were used in Vietnam and Korea. Amanda Waller is calling for a new Suicide Squad that is Super Villain based, using criminals on the missions, since they’re expendable. There first mission is stopping a terrorist organization called the Jihad. The next is against a super hero that only arrest people of color and is a member of the Aryan brotherhood. A three part issue of the Squad rescuing a Russian political figure, featuring the Penguin as a member of the Squad.

What I Liked: Captain Boomerang really stick out, his character doesn’t want to stop being a criminal, he’s just looking for something to do. He is the most ruthless killing members of the Squad he does not like on missions. Deadshot is another favorite who does what he wants and has his own kind of vengeance. I liked some of the political issue it touched on especially race and equality, this does in with Amanda Waller backstory. On the topic of the naming of the title Suicide Squad, Amanda Waller says it’s got a past and they have a past, they will love with it. There’s some pretty good fight scenes. There’s a great moment with Captain Boomerang fighting a speedster, where he throws him off a building, and says like the Flash you’ll run up the wall to save yourself. Then we see a splat.

What I Disliked: The drawing of Deadshot and Enchantress. Enchanted has the worst costume ever, Deadshot looks in his fifties, too old. The dialogue is so stale, except for Captain Boomerang. It is good she they are fighting supervillains but not regular soldiers.

Recommendation: if you’re a fan of the current Suicide Squad then you can skip this and won’t get too much out of it. The comic has its moments 50% worth it and 50% not worth it. I bought this graphic novel in a bargain bin for 3.50 and feel it was worth it for that. I was introduced to a couple of new characters, only one I didn’t know of previously. I rated Suicide Squad Volume 1: Trial By Fire 2 out of 5 stars

Book Review: One of Us is Next by Karen M. McManus

One of Us is Next by Karen McManus is the sequel to the best selling One of Us is Lying. In this one the story is more complex, and the novel pulls double duty introducing us to new characters, while catching us up with the old characters from the first book. The book for the most part does a good job of blending the new characters with the old, I did feel at beginning it was too much of the new characters. The mystery is way more complex, it reminded me of the newest Veronica Mars storyline. Instead of 4 characters perspectives, we get 3 which was okay but it took away the rapid paced smaller chapters of the first one. The finale was really fun and exciting. There was a late twist almost at the end that I was not excepting. I did not like this book as much as the first one, but this is a pretty good follow up book with a good mystery and lots of characters I already loved and a couple new ones too.

The Plot:18 months after the what happened in the last book, Bayview High is finally getting back to normal, the school has just recently allowed cell phones back after all the trouble with Simon’s gossip App. There have been a couple of copycats but nothing has stuck around until Truth or Dare, you either take a date or get a truth revealed. Phoebe is the first victim as she refuses to play and gets a huge truth bomb delivered that she slept with her sister’s boyfriend. Phoebe is ridiculed in school and soon everyone starts taking it seriously. Dares start happening over town, until death happens. Mauve who helped solve the last mystery, is with out her brainiac sister Bronwyn this time.

What I Liked: I Liked that we got to see characters from the first book still grow in this book. I liked the character of Knox most of all, and is was good to see a genuine good character get beaten down but chose to say good and ends up not finishing last. The finally was exciting and involved characters new and old. The mystery was way more involved but good, it needed better pacing, but looking at all the twist and turns it was pretty solid. The final twist was really good, there was someone that was obviously involved in the plot, that I was disappointed because of how glaringly obvious it was, but the final twist added an extra layer to it that I liked. I liked side characters like Luis getting a bigger role in this.

What I Disliked: The flow was messy at times, making chapters feel overly long. This one took too long to get the mystery started, McManus chose to catch everyone up to what characters in the last book were up to first before trying into the new mystery.

Recommendations: Not as good as the first but a worth while sequel, that lets you spend a little time with characters you loved from the first book. If you thought the mystery was too simple in the first one, then this one is way more complex. The first book blew me a way with how fun it was, this one is not as fun but that was a high bar, and remains in the fun category. I rated One of Us is Next by Karen M. McManus 4 out of 5 stars.

Book Review: Black Hammer Volume 4: Age of Doom Part Two by Jeff Lemire

Black Hammer Volume 4: Age of Doom, Part Two by Jeff Lemire was fantastic a perfect ending to the series. I was a little shocked that it ended I know of two other volumes to the series, but upon further research, one is short stories told in the world, and the other is a prequel. This is such a weird series that embraced the weird and did not shy away from it, but through all that weird it told a story of a dysfunctional super hero family, and the ending really nailed that aspect. This is easily one of my top series enders for a graphic novel. Characters were able to grow and the story has a nice arc that went full circle back to the beginning. Black Hammer Volume 4: Age of Doom, Part Two collects Black Hammer Age of Doom 8-12.

The Plot: The group had figured out that their reality was false, that some of their own teammates had a vision that spelled doom. So they created a false world with false identities never to return to earth. The group found a loop hole and broke through it while others tried to stop it. Captain Weird is stuck in a weird plane of existence with superheroes that didn’t make it into existence, and the way to escape is through the minds of the writers. Everyone else is stuck where they came from in an world where there is no Super Hero, only one remembers, will they be enough to convince the team of what they truly are.

What I Liked: The finale was so great the way it was put together, I could not imagine a better ending for the series. The embrace of the weird, this volume was actually toned down but the weird superhero and villains that didn’t make it to the Black Hammer series was great. I loved grizzly man the most, with the line, the people of the 90’s would love this. I liked the showing of LGTBQ relationships on Mars and still that it still has struggles. The Mars fight scenes were great and my favorite action from this volume. Gale getting her daddy attitude back was the best. The return of Walkie Talkie was so welcomed.

What I Disliked: I can already tell the chief complaint, where is the action? For a graphic novel this series has been on the low end. I would have liked to see more, but I was very satisfied with the narrative.

Recommendation: This series is great totally original, I discovered the Black Hammer series when the second volume was up for a Goodreads choice award. If you want to read a series that got its inspiration for pile comics of the 40’s and 50’s then this is the series for you. If you want to read something totally original and frankly a little weird then this is everything you want and more. I rated Black Hammer Volume 4: Age of Doom, Part Two by Jeff Lemire 5 out of 5 stars. I will eventually read the short stories and prequel Black Hammer ’45. 

TBR: November 2020

November 2020 TBR list: last month was so successful I read all 7 books  plus 2 more; I decided to do it again and add 8 and knock out some books that have been on my TBR for quite some time. I recently had an appendectomy so I have plenty of time to read and rest as I recover.

One of Us Is Next by Karen M. McManus is the sequel to One of Us is Lying which I really enjoyed last month. One of Us is Next is up for a Goodreads choice award for YA fiction. The first one I was blown away by how fun it was and rated it 5 out of 5 stars. I have high hopes for the 2nd one that involves the same characters.

Ready Player Two by Ernest Cline is the sequel to the blockbuster Ready Player One, a book that was made into a movie by Stephen Spielberg. This is one I don’t want to know too much going into so I have not read a whole lot of what it is about. I have it on pre-order and it is published the day before Thanksgiving.

Mexican Gothic, by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia is a book that I have heard a lot of buzz about. It is a gothic romance with an element of horror added. It is culturally accurate and set in 1950’s Mexico. This is my most anticipated read for this month.

His & Hers by Alice Feeney is a book that is not really on anyone’s radar but those I know who have read it are raving about it. This book has the intriguing tag line: “There are two sides to every story: yours and mine, ours and theirs, His & Hers. Which means someone is always lying.”

Princess Floralinda and the Forty-Flight Tower by Tamsyn Muir is from the author of Gideon the Ninth and Harrow the Ninth. Both of which I have read and enjoyed. Those books were very dark and I am looking forward to reading this because it is way different from lesbian necromancy. A special thanks to Netgalley and Subterranean Press for allowing me to read it early. It will be published on November 30, 2020.

Stone of Tears by Terry Goodkind is the 2nd book of the Sword of Truth series. This series has been one I have been meaning to return to because of my love for the Legend of the Seeker TV show. Wizards First Rule (book 1) is my most searched for through search engines, which has motivated me to get back into the series.

Black Hammer, Vol. 4: Age of Doom, Part Two by Jeff Lemire is the 4th and last book of the series. I have really enjoyed it so far. The series takes pulp characters from 1940’s and 50’s and makes them fresh and new. I discovered these graphic novels when they were up for Goodreads choice awards.

Suicide Squad, Volume 1: Trial By Fire by John Ostrander and Kim Yale is a graphic novel was written in the 1980’s and was highly influenced by the A Team TV show. I bought this graphic novel at a bargain bin for $3 in anticipation of the Suicide Squad movie coming out soon. The director James Gunn said he combed through the years of Suicide Squad comics looking for some of the quirkiest characters to bring to the screen. I thought the 80’s version would have those characters in it.