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.

Book Review: Gleanings by Neal Shusterman

Gleanings by Neal Shusterman is a short story collection involving the Arc of the Scythe series. The Arc of the Scythe series is about the Earth figuring out a way where humans can no longer die, the came up with a way to limit population is that they have people called Scythes who have a quota to kill so much people as a way of population control. Goodreads has it marked as 3.5 as it has 2 out of the 13 stories that go beyond the Arc of the Scythe. But most of the stories take place during the series, with 3 taking place before the series (which I feel are the best stories) and 3 that don’t reference time and can take place anyplace where Scythes are. I liked the mix of stories some add insight to characters and events that were referenced in the series, some are about the interesting world of Scythes and what makes them tick, and we get more insight into the Thunderhead the Big Brother that watches all except Scythe business. I would recommend you read the Arc of the Scythe series before reading this but some stories do not require it. This is a book that will give you a better understanding of the fascinating world of the Scythes, but if you read this book hoping for more insight on the characters that left on the shuttles then the book only has two stories and they aren’t about the main characters, but they are mentioned. My rating for the short stories are 3 five star, 5 four star, 3 three star and 2 two star. I was selected to read Gleanings through Netgalley from Simon and Schuster Children’s Publishing, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers. Gleanings is published on November 8 2022.
Plot Summary and Ratings:

The First Swing is a poem about Scythes that okay it deals with the burden of Scythes who have a job to do. I rated it 2 out of 5 stars.

Formidable is a Story about how Scythe Curie came to be and her style and it is about the fall of the world under Scythe rule as the President of the United States doesn’t want to adapt to the new way of society. This story took a second to get into I liked the climax and what is says of this new society. I rated this story 4 out 5 stars.

Never Work With Animals coauthored by Michael H. Payne A mostly dark comedy tail about Scythe Fields gleaning a couple for there dog, but get way more than he bargained for with the dog. I t has a nice twist and an appearance by Scythe Lucifer making this short story around the Toll. I rated it 3 out of 5 stars. It was a little long and it repeated its self a little too often.

A Death of Many Colors is a tail told by the Thunderhead about Scythe Sojourner Truth infiltrating an All Hallows Eve party, that is full of doubters. The Scythe makes an example out of one guest to get more to believe. I rated it 5 out of 5 stars. A very focused story that was pretty short and sweet.

Unsavory Row is about a girl deemed unsavory after she deals with grief after Rowan (scythe Lucifer) was an apprentice killed her friend. She joins the group the Apocalyte’s as she tries to take down the Thunderhead servers and finds a secret out about the group. I rated this 4 out of 5 stars. It was very interesting story how the thunderhead watches the unsavories even though it can’t.

A Martian Minute a really cool tale that will have you guessing where in the Ark of the Scythe the story takes place and you will be wrong. It does cleverly tie -in to the series. This story is a long one but it has a cool twist and a gut punch at the end. I rated this story 5 out of 5 stars. I was hovering between 4 and 5 but the end pushed me over.

The Mortal Canvas co authored by David Yoon, a story about a class on creative art is interrupted by a scythe, that makes an art challenge, the winner will be given a year of immunity, and the losers get … they don’t know but all are thinking death. The story takes place soon after immortality is created, and Scythe’s are fairly new. I rated it 2 out 5 stars. it was too slow.

Cirri is the first story that takes place in the future of The Arc of the Scythe it is a short and sweet story about how the life vessels are maintaining life and birth. One of my favorite B characters from the Toll dies but some beautiful happens. I rated this story 4 out of 5 stars.

Anastasia’s Shadow a tale about Citra’s Brother Ben and Constantine’s plan to make Ben a scythe. we saw a quick version of this in the Toll but it was great and more emotional. It as a crazy love story. I rated this story 4 out of 5 stars. This story had the fastest pace.

The Persistence of Memory Co -Authored by Jarrod and Sopia Lapuente is about dueling scythes in Spain. This is one of my favorites, a really interesting backstory on Scythe Dali and a really good climax that was perfect. The pace was really good. The conversations on death were very poignant. I rated this story 5 out of 5 stars.

Meet Cute and Die is a romantic tale about a Scythe niece who is accident prone and meets a man who is just as accident prone. The niece doesn’t reveal who her aunt is for fear of what she might do. but when they both die the scythe visits the guy and invites him to their home. The niece is very weary and will fight for her guy even if it is with a scythe. A pretty cute and short tale. I rated it 4 out of 5 stars.

Perchance to Glean Co-Authored by Michelle Knowlden an interesting story where a Scythe can hunt in a dream an if he kills you you have 12 hours where he kills you in real life. It was an interesting take but it felt more middle grade than Young Adult. the story felt out of place. I rated it 3 out of 5 stars.

A Dark Curtain Rises is a story after Arc of Scythe Trilogy about how Scythe Curie is reborn in one of the transport vessels. The shortest story but it felt right knowing what happened at the end of The Toll. I rated this story 4 out of 5 stars.

What I Liked: The variety of stories there a lot to explore and still a lot to explore. The couple stories that were on the downfall of society after reaching immortality could easily be a book. The insight in to the main villain of the series was really cool, his story I want explored more as well. I liked all the new stories on Scythe Curie. I liked that we got something after the Arc of the Scythe trilogy even though I wanted a lot more.

What I Disliked: I wanted a lot more about Scythe Anastasia after she left earth. A Scythe Faraday story would have been nice at any time in his life we get just a taste with Scythe Curie backstory.

Recommendation: If you love Arc of the Scythe series then this book has a whole lot of insight into what makes the Scythes tick. If you just want to know about the main characters from the Arc of the Scythe series there’s only a couple of mentions and two stories involving them, so this book might not be for you. This book cover really interesting backstories on villains and supporting characters in the series. There’s an interesting variety of stories that go places that i didn’t think about like dream Scythes. I rated Gleanings by Neal Shusterman 4 out of 5 stars.

TBR: November 2022

November 2022 TBR list: last month I read 5 books and did not make a TBR list I decided to try to read 6 books If I add more I add more, this is an overtime month for me at my day and don’t know how time consuming that will be.  

Shrines of Gaiety by Kate Atkinson is a historical fiction set in 1920’s London.  It’s focus is night clubs of Soho, featuring starlets and gangsters.  Kate Actkinson is the writer of one of my favorite books ever Life After Life, so I feel honored to be selected by Netgalley and Doubleday Books. Shrines of Gaiety is published on September 27 2022.

Gleanings By Neal Shusterman is a short story collection featuring stories from the  Young Adult Arc of the Scythe series.  The Arc of the Scythe series is one of my favorite trilogies. Where the world has found out how to live forever, but to keep population at bay, there are Scythes. Once they kill you, you cannot be revived.  Thanks to Netgalley for this book. Gleanings is published on November 9 2022.

The Kaiju Preservation Society by John Scalzi is a fun Science Fiction Fantasy about an alternate universe where giant Kaiju roam free. I have not read John Scalzi before but he comes highly recommended. This book is on Goodreads Best of 2022 so far list back in July.

Trunk Music by Michael Connelly I’m following the reading order of the Harry Bosch Universe and this is book six in publication order.  I look forward to reading this book after reading the excellent The Poet but a rare story that doesn’t feature Hrry Bosch.  I have not read this book before and look forward to going in blind.

The Horror at Camp Jellyjam by R. L. Stine This Goosebumps book is a weird one my friends have warned me.  You know form my Goosebumps Reviews I’m okay when Stine goes weird.  This is Goosebumps book 33 in the original series.

Marvel Masterworks: The Amazing Spider-Man Volume 15 by Gerry Conway and Len Wein this graphic novel come the birth of the Clone Saga.  This novel the writes switch giving the 3rd writer on the Amazing Spider-Man.  This comic features the Scorpion, The Kingpin, Sandman, Tarantula, and Jackal.

Wrap Up: Best Books Read in 2020

Dear Readers, 2020 is over! It was a horrible time for everything but reading. I broke new records for myself reading 103 books this year. Out of the 103 I have read 40 that were published this year.  My big goal this year was to finish up a good deal of book series. I have a bad habit of not finishing, and I finished 6 this year.  I will rate the top 10 books I have read that were published this year., the top 5 books I read not published this year, and the top three series I finished this year.

Top 10 of books published this year:

1. Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse is a groundbreaking new fantasy that is inspired by the history from Pre- Columbian Americas.  I did not know a lot about this story going in and was amazed with the world building and unique characters. Black Sun is the first book in The Between Earth and Sky trilogy. The story is rapid paced, with so much conflict, it is hard telling who exactly is on what side of the good or bad coin, but the story was a fun read. The look at politics and religion is the best thing, do you believe in the prophecy? Do you believe so much in the prophecy you will do anything to stop it?

2. What Lies Between Us by John Marrs is one crazy book that you can’t predict or put down.   I read this book back in May and it has stuck with me, the book is totally bonkers as characters flip from being good to bad, as the reader learns more secrets. This book has some of the most cringe worthy scenes, not because of gore or anything horrid, but because you are reading about a character that keeps digging themselves into holes. This is family dysfunction at its finest. What would it take for you to chain your mother in her room? The answers come quickly but the reasons behind them stay buried in lies. 

3. The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James is a nonstop thriller that mixes elements of a ghost story with a mystery. This story earned it’s spot at number 3 for pure fun, the book was a blast to read. The pace was nonstop from the beginning, and did not let up as it reached the climax. The story is really fun, I enjoyed finding out more about the ghost and why they haunted the Sun Down Motel. 

4. The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett is a family drama about race, focusing on the light and darkness of skin color.  I love a good book that will make me think long after I have read it , and this book does that.The book will really make you self reflect your own prejudice and bias based on skin color. Bennett doesn’t just analyze the white standard of skin bias but the black on as well. The book starts in the 1950’s and goes up to the early 1980’s. The story follows 3 generations of the Vinges family women.

5. Harleen by Stjepan Sejic was a fantastic Harley Quinn origin story. The approach was a romance novel gone wrong, and it works really well, so well the book earned a spot at number 5 of my favorite novels of the year. Harleen was runner-up in the Goodreads choice for graphic novels.   Harleen managed to balance all four, drama, action, romance, and comedy very evenly. The character of Harley generally wants to do good and help people, the Joker manipulates her feelings, but did she really change the Joker and make him care for her?

6.  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.

7. The Living Dead by George A Romero and Daniel Krause is a great zombie epic! It’s scary as hell, in its graphic descriptions that make you see, smell, hear, and even taste the gore. The first 200 pages don’t read while eating please take my advice. This novel is so much more than just a gorefest, it there is heartbreak, love and betrayal. The Living Dead is a morale tale, which ask what is living really?

8. Home Before Dark by Riley Sager is a top notch thriller wrapped in a ghost story. Home Before Dark reminded me of why I love Riley Sager so much, good writing that for the most part keeps me guessing while adding that level of believability, that it could happen that way.

9. Princess Floralinda and the Forty-Flight Tower by Tamsyn Muir is a fantastic, clever, new take on a witch locking a princess in the tower story. The one thing that is clear is Tamsyn Muir is a clever writer and thinks out side of the box. Her writing so far is all about female empowerment with this novel taking it to another level, Princess Floralinda does not need a man to save her, she’ll do it herself.

10. The Devil and the Dark Water by Stuart Turton is a historical nautical mystery that takes an Agatha Christie plot and adds the devil. The plot has so many twist and turns that all make sense. The novel is a fun who done it, with so many suspects all with murder that will make you head spin. The standouts for me is the plot, however crazy it gets there’s always a plausible reason and character work is so good giving all 20 supporting characters their unique voices who all have their own motives and actions.

Top 5 books read this year not published in 2020:

1. The Shining by Stephen King is a truly horrific book. I was shocked how much story was not covered in the movie. Alcohol and ghosts do not mix! King gets into true fear, having someone you love, a father and husband, say, “I’m going to bash your brains”, then attempt to do it. The Shining is a ghost story but the scariest monster in the book is addictions and how it changes your rational choices, to choices that jeopardize your family.

2. The Power of the Dog by Don Winslow is Scarface and the Godfather rolled into one. You live as the good guys the bad guys and the people in between that are casualties of the drug war. This looks at both sides like I have never read before, it shows the good guys having to cross lines they never thought they could cross and the bad guys crossing those lines to keep what they have.

3. Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman is the second book in the Arc of the Scythe series. Rarely do sequels ever make my best of list, butThunderhead ramps up the action, expands on the already great world building, it has one hell of a climax, and Dmaintains the high quality writing, that will make you think long after the book is finished. I love this series so much, it is going places I could not imagine.

4. One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus is a clever mystery that blends the characters of the Breakfast Club with the secrets of Pretty Little Liars. The storytelling was really simple with an easy to follow mystery with so many twist and turns. I’m happy to say that I did not guess the killer, kudos to those who did. The story gets going right from the beginning 5 people go to detention, but only 4 make it out alive.

5. Full Throttle by Joe Hill is comprised of 13 short stories, two are written with his dad Stephen King. Some stories are bone-chilling tales of fright, while others give whimsical insight of the unknown. All tales draw you in in some way, some let you go easily, while other try to hold you in a death grip and not let go.

Top 3 best series finished this year:

The Power of the Dog trilogy by Don Winslow which follows the birth of the DEA and the Mexican cartel.  The story starts in 1970’s and ends in our present. The story is Scarface meets The Godfather.  The first two books were 5 stars and the last was 4 stars.  The Power of the Dog trilogy is The Power of the Dog, The Cartel, and The Border.

Arc of the Scythe trilogy by Neal Shusterman an incredible young adult trilogy that looks at Earth’s future in a smart way. Arc of the Scythe takes the Grim Reaper character and humanizes it, by well making it human and showing the need of death. 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 be unbiased in choosing it’s victims. The first two books are really strong earning 5 stars, with the last book falling to 3 stars. The Arc of the Scythe trilogy is Scythe, Thunderhead, and The Toll.

Stalking Jack the Ripper series by Kerri Maniscalco  Is a four novels and short stories Young  Adult series that starts in 1888 England and ends in America in the early 1900’s. It follows Audrey Rose Wadworth and Thomas Cresswell who are learning to be forensic scientist while not courting each other.  The series is romance meets serial killers.  The setting is old but feels fresh using feminist ideas from today’s society questioning what is lady-like? This series doesn’t hold back on blood and descriptions of the horrid acts. I rated the majority of books in the series 4 stars. The Stalking Jack the Ripper series is Stalking Jack the Ripper, Hunting Prince Dracula, Escaping from Houdini, Becoming The Dark Prince, and Capturing the Devil. 

Book Review: Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse


Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse is a groundbreaking new fantasy that is inspired by the history from Pre- Columbian Americas. The story is rapid paced, with so much conflict, it is hard telling who exactly is on what side of the good or bad coin, but the story was a fun read. The look at politics and religion is the best thing, do you believe in the prophesy? do you believe so much in the prophesy you will do anything to stop it? Will you set up your own candidate for murder but look like it is suicide to take over? will you make a suicide look like murder to stop a war? These are all questions asked in this deeply engrossing novel. The novel features the first pansexual character that I’ve read it is a very friendly LGTBQ story. There are four revolving narrative each with its own agenda and unique backstory. A really great climax, I wanted more story closure at the but it is clear that Black Sun is the first book in Between Earth and Sky trilogy so it ends on a cliffhanger. I have known about Rebecca Roanhorse for a while, I have seen great reviews for Trial of Lightning, and bought it on a kindle deal, after Black sun that book will be jumping up my TBR. I thanks to Netgalley and Gallery books for an advanced reader copy. Black Sun was published on October 13 2020.

Plot: Serapio is blinded and carved when he is a teenager during the Black Sun, in twenty years when the next Black Sun comes he will be a God. Serapio has started gaining the ability to see and talk with crows, and he can also release a deadly shadow. Xiala, is jailed former captain, and also a Teek, whose song can calm the waters and people around her. She gets the deal of a lifetime, a ship, bailed out of jail, and a mission taking the mysterious Serapio to Tove to become Crow God. We meet the Sun Priest Nara a good leader that has an assassination attempt foiled, but she won’t retaliate, to most people displeasure, that want war and the priest to rule by war. It is prophesied that for Serapio to become Crow God he must kill the Sun Priest. Okoa has recently lost his mother, he is lead to believe at the hands of the Sun Priest, after meeting her he is convinced she was not responsible, but he is inadvertently involved with the assassination plot on Nara. There’s a lot and this is just the start of this twisty novel.

What I Liked: The backstories on everyone are really well done and reveal so much. This novel has 3 scenes of action that are super intense. The character’s are great it took me a little while to get on Nara’s side but I liked the others pretty instantly. The powers of Serapio and Xiala are really cool and keep evolving. The world building was done really well, it reminded me a lot of Scythe by Neal Shusterman, where it starts small and expands so naturally, also it reminds me of Scythe of how politics and religion work together. The visuals the words paint were easy to picture. The ship mutiny scene was so great, and everything leading up to it. I think pansexuals will be happy with Xiala’s portrayal. Serapio is like a blind Bran from Game of Thrones that actually does cool things with his power.

What I Disliked: I do wish that the ending had the closure of the story and not leave it so open ended. The Xe and Xir was really confusing to figure out. sometime it was capitalized sometimes not (I did receive an uncorrected proof, so hopefully this is made a bit clearer in the final version).

Recommendations: Black Sun is a very good piece of writing that I can’t wait to read the next book. The world building is new and fresh. If you liked Scythe like I liked that story I think they are very similar in the way the stories are told, but very different stories. This is a good little fantasy that is fun with a great story, that has a lot more to tell. I rated Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse 5 out of 5 stars.

Second Year Anniversary And Best of the First Half of 2020 in Books

Hello, to all my fellow readers it is past the half of the year and my 2 year anniversary of starting my WordPress blog. I’m very grateful for all my followers and shared connections and correspondence or comments. I love to do my best of book read this year so far and compare it to my final list of the year, which book stayed and occupied my thoughts? I have two categories books published this year and books not published this year.  I have read a total of 50 books so far with 13 being books published this year. Cannot wait to read all of your’s and see what I missed. There is still a lot of books on my upcoming list the new Riley Sager book Home Before Dark, Martha Wells new Murderbot novel Network Effect, The Ghost Tree by Christina Henry, The Invention of Sound by Chuck Palahniuk and The Devil and the Dark Water by Stuart Turton.

Top Five Books Published this year:

1. What Lies Between Us By John Marrs this one of the craziest books I’ve read period. You cannot predict what will happen or put this book down! Characters flip from being good to bad so fast, as the reader learns more secrets. There is some of the most cringe worthy scenes, not because of gore or anything horrid, but because you are reading about a character that keeps digging themselves into holes. This is family dysfunction at its finest. What would it take for you to chain your mother in her room? The answers come quickly but the reasons behind them stay buried in lies. This is the second novel that I have read from John Marrs, last years The Passengers was also very good.

2. The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James is a nonstop thriller that mixes elements of a ghost story with a mystery. The pace was nonstop from the beginning, and did not let up as it reached the climax. The story is really fun, I enjoyed finding out more about the ghost and why they haunted the Sun Down Motel. I was not expecting this book to be so good.  I’ve seen it gaining hype but the level of fun is through the roof.  Riley Sager does the blurb on the cover, which fits because the writing style is so similar.

3. 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 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 book makes me want to check out other works by Graham Moore.

4. The Book Of Koli by M.R. Carey this book is all heart, you can’t help but fall for Koli as he wants something more in this world, and he manages to get a piece in the most unlikeliest of ways. He is the unlikeliest of hero with a weapon to match. The Book of Koli is science fiction book after an apocalyptic battle where we tried to fix the environment but the world created trees that can walk and kill for nourishment. This book is the first book in the proposed Rampart Trilogy. The novel has a couple of good twists and turns and went in a direction I didn’t see it going. I have been approved for the second book and cannot wait to see the direction the Rampart Trilogy heads in.

5. You Are Not Alone by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen is a great thriller about power and manipulation of a young woman who doesn’t want to fell so alone. This novel did not let down, it had the twist I was looking for, great main characters, compelling reason behind the crimes, and it was a fun unpredictable ride. You Are Not Alone is the third book collaboration between Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen. Anonymous Girl was in my top five of new novels from last year.

Top Five books not Published this year:

1. The Power of the Dog by Don Winslow is Scarface and the Godfather rolled into one. You live as the good guys the bad guys and the people in between that are casualties of the drug war. This looks at both sides like I have never read before, it shows the good guys having to cross lines they never thought they could cross and the bad guys crossing those lines to keep what they have. There’s a scene that will leave you floored as a bad guy does the unthinkable to take down a rival, think Red Wedding from Game of Thrones. This book goes through 3 decades of drug traffic starting in the 1970’s to the 2000’s, from Mexico, Columbia and the United States. The Cartel the second book is just as good and gets a little but more fan fare, but the book I like The Power of the Dog more.

2. Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman is the second book in the Arc of the Scythe series. Thunderhead ramps up the action, expands on the already great world building, it has one hell of a climax, and maintains the high quality writing, that will make you think long after the book is finished. I love this series so much; it is going places I could not imagine. This book has a lot of callbacks to the first novel that are really big payoffs with a couple of characters that end up coming back.  The first book is Scythe, and is 5 stars as well, but this book expands on the first book and ideas.

3. 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 tail 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.

4. The Shining by Stephen King is a truly horrific book. Alcohol and ghosts do not mix! King gets into true fear, having someone you love, a father and husband, say, “I’m going to bash your brains”, then attempt to do it. The Shining is a ghost story but the scariest monster in the book is addictions and how it changes your rational choices, to choices that jeopardize your family. 

5. Full Throttle by Joe Hill is comprised of 13 short stories, two are written with his dad Stephen King. Some stories are bone chilling tales of fright, while others give whimsical insight of the the unknown. All tales draw you in in some way, some let you go easily, while other try to hold you in a death grip and not let go. A couple of the the short stories are odes to his favorite authors like Ray Bradbury, Richard Matheson, Lawerence Block, David Mitchell, and Stephen King. Over half of the stories have a five star rating.

Wrap Up: Book Reviews April 2020

Hello dear readers, another month down. I read 9 novels this month, hit over 700 followers, thank you everyone. I read two graphic novels, three science fiction, one fantasy, one historical fiction, one young adult, and one middle grade fiction. I only read two books that were not in a series. One book was an advanced reader copy from Netgalley. My most anticipated read turned out to just be okay. My breakdown for this month is two 5 star reads, four 4 star reads, and three 3 star reads.

5 Star Reviews:

The Power of the Dog by Don Winslow – is Scarface and the Godfather rolled into one. You live as the good guys the bad guys and the people in between that are casualties of a 30 year drug war, in the USA, Mexico and Columbia. This story looks at both sides like I have never read before, it shows the good guys having to cross lines they never thought they could cross and the bad guys crossing those lines to keep what they have. The pace is break neck and so addicting. This is book one in the Power of the Dog series.

Injustice: Gods Among Us Year Two Volume 2 By Tom Taylor – is action packed with a lot of surprises and turns. This volume was a return to form it added the comedy back, some heartbreak, epic fights and happy reunions. Harley Quinn is a very bright spot in this volume, adding humor and heart, with her own twisted sense of humor. Batman is still in the shadows still recovering from what Superman did in year one. Superman goes from protector to dictator as he starts losing foot holds on his turf.

4 Star Reviews:

The Book Of Koli by M.R. Carey – is science fiction book after an apocalyptic battle where we tried to fix the environment but the world created trees that can walk and kill for nourishment. This book is the first book in the proposed Rampart Trilogy. This book is all heart, you can’t help but fall for Koli as he wants something more in this world, ad he manages to get a piece in the most unlikeliest of ways. The novel has a couple of good twists and turns and went in a direction I didn’t see it going. He is the unlikeliest of hero with a weapon to match. I read and reviewed this book thanks to Orbit and Netgalley for the Advanced Reader Copy.

Wizard’s First Rule by Terry Goodkind – is a fantasy that goes from juvenile light fantasy to brutal high fantasy full of sex and torture. Wizard’s First Rule is book one in the 15 book Sword of Truth series. The first 200 pages are the corner stone of fantasy mediocrity, A hero orphaned finds out he is really the savior all along, he meets the woman of his dreams that’s the key to the danger and his prophecy. The old healer in the village is really a powerful wizard that has been watching over him. The first 200 read like a Star Wars plot set in a fantasy world. Thank goodness this book is over 800 pages because those pages are original and go in directions I couldn’t have predicted, and I couldn’t put it down.

Injustice: Gods Among Us: Year Two Volume 1 by Tom Taylor – it gets away from the Batman and Superman strife of who is wrong by adding the Green Lantern Corps. The epicness died down a little in this volume but the potential is still really high for a huge payoff. Out of all the members of the Justice League I’m least familiar with Green Lantern and the Green Lantern Corps, this graphic novel is heavy on those characters.

The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow 1 is a love story at its heart, that I found very beautiful, it dips into the science fiction by way of magic, and the time period of early 19oo’s makes it historical fiction as well. I liked the idea of doorways to another world, where some people want to explore them, while other’s want them destroyed. The story is told as a book with in a book, which took a little getting used to, once I got used to it I liked the storytelling more, and there’s a few surprises in this way of storytelling that really work for the narrative.

3 Star Reviews:

This Is How You Lose The Time War By Amal El-Mothar and Max Gladstone – is a science fiction love story featuring a spy vs. spy storyline with time travel agents. What happens when one time traveler writes a note to her rival? They start a letter writing correspondence through time. The novel flows like a poem as the time travelers try to one up each other with diction, prose, and literature. There where times when I was head scratching some of the words and what they mean.

The Girl Who Cried Monster by R. L. Stine – is Goosebumps book number 8 in the original series. The Girl Who Cried Monster is an updated take on the classic fable The Boy who Cried Wolf. The premiss is the same a girl is obsessed with monsters, always acting like they’re real, discovers a real monster, and no one will believe her. The tale runs pretty typical until the bonkers ending, which is so out there it ruins it a little.

The Toll By Neal Shusterman – is book three of the Arc of a Scythe trilogy. The Toll Ends the series in a fitting way exposes truths hinted at in Scythe and Thunderhead. This book expands the number of characters introducing a few new ones and expanding upon characters we have grown with. This book was my least favorite in this excellent series. I wanted to love this book as much as the others, but from chapter two, I knew this book was going in a different direction than I wanted it to. The novel eventually corrects course and delivers a satisfying ending to the series. My main problem is Citra and Rowan have been the main characters, and this book changes it to an ensemble story.

 

Book Review: The Toll by Neal Shusterman

The Toll By Neal Shusterman is book three of the Arc of a Scythe trilogy. The Toll ends the YA series in a fitting way exposes truths hinted at in Scythe and Thunderhead. This book expands the number of characters introducing a few new ones and expanding upon characters we have grown with. This book was my least favorite in this excellent series. I wanted to love this book as much as the others, but from chapter two, I knew this book was going in a different direction than I wanted it to. The novel eventually corrects course and delivers a satisfying ending to the series. My main problem is Citra and Rowan have been the main characters, and this book changes it to an ensemble story. Rowan and Citra are in 30 pages of the first 300 pages of this 630 page book. I felt this book got away from the Scythes and replaced it with the Tonest which were interesting but not as much as the Scythes.

The Plot: In a futuristic Earth human’s have beat aging and death. 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. The Thunderhead is a God-like A.I. system them that has vowed to stay out of Scythe business and can not influence who to kill. The Tonest are a religious group derived out of musical tones. In the last book Rowan became Scythe Lucifer a sort of rogue scythe that would kill other Scythes he deemed used bias in there kills, as he did to his mentor Goddard. Citra became Scythe Anastasia, she’s making enemies for her new ways of Gleaning people by letting them pick there deaths and giving them a month to live. Gavin Tolliver is a Nimbus agent works for the Thunderhead, and gets hinted that there will be an attempt on Citra’s life. Gavin intervenes saving Citra’s life, but he his deemed unsavory losing his job and being cut off from the Thunderhead directly. Indirectly the Thunderhead ask him to go undercover to save Citra once again, he discovers it’s a Scythe, and is sent to a Tonest cathedral to hide, while Citra roots out which Scythe is responsible. Rowan is set up and kidnapped by two old enemies he once thought were dead. Rowan is horrified as one is using the body of one of his old friends. There is an election of Highblade of Midmerica were Curie, Citra’s mentor and Goddard, Rowan’s mentor returned from the dead, after Rowan thought he killed him. There’s a controversy about how Goddard came back which causes the voting to stop and a council called. The council doesn’t go the way anyone planned and chaos breaks out permanently killing the high council of Scythes and Curie who sacrifices her self to put Citra and the newly rescued Rowan to die safely so that they can be revived at a later date. The anguish of the Thunderhead not bing able to stop any of it shuts down and will only talk to Gavin Tolliver. Since he is with the Tonest they think is must be a sign and make Gavin a prophet that they call The Toll. The New Scythe Leader Goddard the only survivor thinks the Toll is a great threat and wants him and all Tonest gleaned. Goddard changes the rules of bias and the quota how many people you can kill. Citra and Rowan took three years to get revived since they were at the bottom of the ocean, and wake up to a different world. Citra and Rowan have secrets that Overblade Goddard would kill to keep. The Toll, Thunderhead and the Scythes must reunite to bring balance to the world, before it is too late.

What I Liked: The new character of Jeri, the lgtbq character and the interesting take on gender fluidity. Rowan and Citra are great characters that are so easy to get behind, I wish they were in this book more though. Gavin Tolliver has one of the best character arcs from the start of thunderhead to where his character ends up in The Toll. I liked what was done with Scythe Morrison. I liked that I was tricked a couple times getting foretold things that characters think happened to then get shocked when you experience what really went down. The ending was a nice send off to the characters I had grown to love. The ending had a great finality to it, that truly ends. I liked what the secret Scythe room actually did, there was a lot of build up and I felt satisfied at the end with how it played out. Goddard was a great villain, where the more I knew about him the more I hated him. The way Gavin used the Thunderhead to his advantage. I liked Rand’s story arc.

What I Disliked: The major change in focus of Rowan and Citra not being the main characters. There was always side characters that had a role and their own stories but it was clear who the main focus was. The way the beginning was told needed more back and forth, sometimes it was told linearly and other times, time would jump back and forth. I wanted more out of the Faraday story line.

Recommendations: The Toll is the weakest book in the series, but I will slightly recommend this story mainly for the ending. The Arc of a Scythe series has been one of my favorite series, I have purchased four books by Shusterman. I wanted the last book to be better, I rated Scythe and Thunderhead 5 out of 5 stars, and I rate The Toll a high 3 stars, making the whole series score a 4 out of 5 stars. The world building and character arc’s are some of the best I’ve read, this series has made me a fan of Shusterman’s work and will read more.

Wrap Up: March 2020 Book Reviews

Hello dear readers, March has been quite a month. I managed to read 6 novels this month. I read two rereads, one, Ender’s game, is a personal favorite from my childhood. I read two new releases, one was from Netgalley. I read two second books in a series. On a personal note in these hard times I wish everyone safety, and good mental and physical health. When the pandemic went down I had a hard time separating fact from fiction and had to keep reminding myself that characters can be in large groups. Reading has and always will be my escape, I hope everybody is able to escape as well.

Five Star Reviews:

Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman, is the second book in the Arc of the Scythe series. Thunderhead ramps up the action, expands on the already great world building, it has one hell of a climax, and maintains the high quality writing, that will make you think long after the book is finished. I love this series so much, it is going places I could not imagine. In world where people can live forever, there are scythes, whose job is to kill at random and be unbiased. Rowan a failed scythe has declared himself Scythe Lucifer and is set on killing scythes that are unbiased.

Injustice: Gods Among Us Year One, Volume One by Tom Taylor This graphic novel is based on the video game Injustice: Gods Among Us, which would usually put it on the list of , yeah I’m gonna pass, but thanks to a friend’s praise I gave this a try. And man am I glad I did, because this comic book series is excellent. In an alternative world where The Joker tired of losing to Batman, “tries easy mode” with the target of Superman. Superman loses love ones and never want the world to lose another life, and turns the world into a police state where super heroes rule.   Batman and Superman become enemies that will make you the reader decide which side you are on. Superman thinks he’s saving the world while Batman thinks he’s putting more fear into it. Superman creates Batman’s dream but also his nightmare; A world at peaceful fear.

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card is one of my favorite Science Fiction novels of all time. This book is deep Science Fiction with one of the best endings that will floor you; it will make you both happy and sad at the same time. This Book is number 3 on NPR’s 100 best science fiction and fantasy novels it won the Hugo award for best novel and plenty of other awards. The plot is the world cannot wait for the next leader he has to be made. Graff the general in charge has found his leader in 6-year-old Ender Wiggin. Ender will be put to the test playing war games for an upcoming war with Earth’s greatest threat the Buggers.

Four Star Reviews:

You Are Not Alone by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen is a great thriller about power and manipulation of a young woman who doesn’t want to fell so alone. The plot is Shay is a witness to a suicide, she doesn’t know the woman, but is interested in the why. She digs into her old life meeting her friends, coworkers, and family. She soon realizes this maybe wasn’t suicide after all but murder, and she just might be next. You Are Not Alone was published on March 3 2020

Injustice: Gods Among Us, Year One Volume 2 by Tom Taylor was a little bit slower but seemed to be saving everything for the finale, and man was it pretty epic. This book had a lot of cool action and scenes, with me as a comic book fan have been dying to see. Some of the lines between Batman and Superman gave me chills.

Three Star Reviews:

Midnight At the Bright Ideas Bookstore by Matthew Sullivan is a mystery/general fiction with a really good hook. A homeless man Joey commits suicide at a bookstore the clerk that he would interact with him finds him, along with his body he has a picture of the clerk, Lydia when she was a teenager. This book has great insight on the homelessness situation, but not much about actual books. I was hoping for a lot more book talk since there’s a code using books, this book is more about personal tragedy and connections.

Two Star Reviews:

Are Snakes Necessary? by Brian De Palma and Susan Lehman is a thriller filled with interesting characters but forgot the thrills. This novel spends too much time establishing the characters when they finally meet stuff starts to finally happen, but too little too late. The plot is a man running for Senate, has affairs. When one of those affairs is a member of his staff, that has decide to runaway. Must be found or it looks like he was involved with the plot. This is part of the Hard Case Crime series that specializes in pulp novels. Are Snake Necessary? was published on March 17 2020

Book Review: Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman

Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman is the second book in the Arc of the Scythe series. Thunderhead ramps up the action, expands on the already great world building, it has one hell of a climax, and maintains the high quality writing, that will make you think long after the book is finished. I love this series so much, it is going places I could not imagine. This book has a lot of callbacks to the first novel, that are really big payoffs with a couple of characters that end up coming back, like Tyger. My big complaint for Scythe was his character sort of disappeared and forgotten about, but he is back and used well. With this book being called Thunderhead named after the God-like A.I. cloud that watches all, we get more insight into how the system works and how it feels. The Arc of scythe series continues to blow me away I can already not wait the read the final book in the series The Toll.

The Plot: In a futuristic Earth human’s have beat aging and death. 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. The Thunderhead is a God-like A.I. system them that has vowed to stay out of Scythe business and can not influence who to kill. In the las book Citra was promoted to Scythe and Rowan was not. Citra was supposed to kill Rowan after winning but thanks to a clever action was granted immunity for one year. Citra has now become Scythe Anastasia and Rowan has been taking out all the Scythes who use bias in there kills and burns them where they can not be revived; He has been calling himself Scythe Lucifer. The Scythes want Rowan dead and the Thunderhead to help, but it refuses. The Thunderhead finds out a plot to kill Citra and her mentor Curie, although the Thunderhead can’t get involved directly it doesn’t mean he can’t hint and bend the rules to assist. But as the Thunderhead finds out the Scythes are keeping more from the Thunderhead than it knows.

What I Liked: One of the best climax that I have read, it makes me want to pick up the next book now, because of a cliffhanger. One of the better second novels that I have read, that compliments the first book so well then adds to the story and the world. Tyger’s back! I enjoyed this side character and was bummed when he was written out, well now he’s back and has a full character arc. The twist in the novel are really great and often heartbreaking. The writing is so good. The voice of the Thunderhead was written well, balancing the thought of not doing anything as opposed to being driven in to action, to events that it did not calculate. Citra and Rowan’s character arc are sometime hard emotionally but the character choices feel right. The scenery and descriptions were written, so that I could easily picture them in my mind. The masterminds plot is pretty chilling. The new character Gavin Tolliver was a character I was instantly attached to right away.

What I Disliked: One plot point with Faraday was such a set up for the next book plot point, that I could tell so early when reading it. I hope there’s a pay off that was the only plot that I did not like. It felt like they were holding a lot back for the next book.

Recommendations: I recommend you doing yourself a favor and adding this incredible series to your TBR. This is a series upon reading the first book that was a instant like, and having me enjoy the second just as much, if more. I’m going to shout this book trough the roof tops. This book is a Young Adult novel it does deal in death, but is not too graphic, there’s lite torture scene that could be a trigger warning. I think a 13 year old can handle this series, I know I would have loved it at that age. I recommend you read this series in order, or you will miss a lot. I rated Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman 5 out of 5 stars. I already have the last book on order and will read it as soon as it comes, and I bought his Skinjacker trilogy on Kindle.