Wrap Up: March 2021

Dear Readers, March was a busy month, overtime at work was back and I’ve actively started looking for a house.  I read only 6 books this month. I read 2 horror, 1 graphic novel, and 2 new releases thanks to netgalley . I started 0 new series and read 2 from a book series. I read one 5 star book, three 4 star books, and two 3 star books. I read 6 out of 8 books off my TBR.

Five Star Reviews:

Concrete Rose Angie Thomas https://app.asana.com/0/1135954362417873/1168658175790681/f

Concrete Rose by Angie Thomas is a prequel to The Hate U Give. This story follows a lot of storylines that were backstory in The Hate U Give and the Carter family, like how Star got her middle name, and the tricky parenting of Seven. I feel you did not have to read The Hate U Give to enjoy this but you will enjoy The Hate U Give even more. Where the hate you give was more about race relations and the Black Lives Movement, this novel is more about responsibility and self ownership. I think this is an important story about teen pregnancy, stepping up and being a man, the gang culture, and LGBTQ acceptance. This book is at times corny, hard hitting, raw, and emotional, it will leave you with hope an a morale story that working hard does pay off. 

Four Star Reviews:

The Ladies of the Secret Circus by Constance Sayers is a story full of witchcraft and mystery. It is a mix of Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus meets Oscar Wilde’s The Portrait of Dorian Gray. The story draws you in with a compelling mystery then adds the magic and the Secret Circus. The family history sometimes got messy and complex, but the ending was clear and concise, clearing up some of the plot point I had problems with. I received an advanced readers copy of The Ladies of the Secret Circus thanks to Netgalley and Redhook Books. The Ladies of The Secret Circus by Constance Sayers is published on 3-23-21.

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Monster Blood II by R. L. Stine is Goosebumbs book number 18. Monster blood is back with Evan and Andy who found the original Monster Blood in a vintage toy shop. After reading 18 Goosebumps books Monster Blood the original ranks second to last in my ranking from best to worst, I was hoping this one would be better and it was. This book is all charm with mischief and humor. This book is rarely that scary, the nightmares provide some horror and Stine has fun with them. 

Marvel Masterworks: The Amazing Spider-man volume 3 by Stan Lee This continues Spiderman 2nd year to his third. He comes closer to finding out the secret identity of the Green Goblin. Peter Parker gets closer to finally going on a date with Mary Jane Watson, she is only seen by others as Peter Parker pursues Betty Brandt . We get to see the birth of Scorpion, Molten Man and the first Spider Slayer. J Jonah Jamison takes his hate for Spiderman to new levels and he creates two bad guys the Scorpion and the Spider Slayer. Peter Parker graduates High School and finally stands up to Flash Thompson.

Three Star Reviews:

In The Quick by Kate Hope Day is about the life of female astronaut from 12 to adulthood. There’s a missing crew which seems important and is the driving force until the end when it is about life choice more so. The character work on June is really interesting I actually liked the scenes with her at the astronaut school then her actually being an astronaut in space. The first 50% is all about astronaut school and the other 50% has her in space and going to missions. I loved 75% of this book but man is the last 25% bad.I would like to thank Netgalley and Random House for the ARC. In The Quick by Kate Hope Day is published on March 2nd 2021.


Inspection by Josh Malerman is an interesting look at genius and distractions of the opposite sex. This is my third Josh Malerman book and man are his stories out there. which I like. This story is best if you know as little as possible going in. I actually think this story is ruined by it’s own book cover synopsis, since t cover 75% of the story, I was waiting for a twist and a greater meaning then the one we got. The climax is big and went a lot further then I thought the story was going. We get two perspectives J a boy and K a girl. We get J first who is the least interesting of the two then the characters meet and we follow K until the meeting.

Book Review: Marvel Masterworks: The Amazing Spider-man volume 3 by Stan Lee

Marvel Masterworks: The Amazing Spider-man volume 3 by Stan Lee This continues Spiderman 2nd year to his third. He comes closer to finding out the secret identity of the Green Goblin. Peter Parker gets closer to finally going on a date with Mary Jane Watson, she is only seen by others as Peter Parker pursues Betty Brandt . We get to see the birth of Scorpion, Molten Man and the first Spider Slayer. J Jonah Jamison takes his hate for Spiderman to new levels and he creates two bad guys the Scorpion and the Spider Slayer. Peter Parker graduates High School and finally stands up to Flash Thompson.

The Plots: J. Jonah Jamison determined to find Spiderman’s secrets hires a shady private eye to follow Peter Parker around since he always photographs Spiderman. Jamison meets with a scientist experimenting on adding animalistic traits to humans, and Jamison’s Private Eye is the subject. He turns into scorpion, filled with rage and a lot of sting, goes after Spiderman and Jamison, who he knows has more money. Fredrick Foswell who was fired from the paper as he was revealed to be the big Man, hits up the crime beat and covers the team up of The Green Goblin and the Crime Master. Peter Parker believes he’s one of the two. Jamison inadvertently saves Spiderman of the clutches of a former enemy in disguise. Jamison controls the Spider Slayer that keeps going after Peter Parker for some reason. Spiderman’s costume is found by aunt may, making Spiderman buy one in a shop.

What I Liked: The spider suit fiasco was pretty good and spread across 4 issues. It is not everyday you get to see Spiderman thwarted by aunt May. I liked that the guest stars weren’t over the top, just Johnny Storm from the Fantastic Four and Doctor Strange, they actually serve a purpose, and add to the story. Peter Parker’s love life goes through the ringer with Betty Brandt, Liz Allen, and them both meeting Mary Jane Watson and assuming she’s Peter’s girl on the side. We meet Ned Leeds, who his rival for Betty Brandt’s affections, and eventually become the villain the Hobgoblin. In Marvel’s Spiderman Homecoming and Spiderman Far from Home Ned Leeds plays his best friend. I have always thought of Molten man being kind of a lame secondary character, but his origin was one of the strongest yet for Spiderman’s villains.

What I Disliked: The Cat Burglar storyline was a dud. The Spiderman and Doctor Strange team up was just okay, it could have been better.

Recommendations: This Spiderman didn’t have all the flashy villains, but the storytelling vastly improved. The stories are more continuous and make you want to read on more. I love J. Jonah Jamison and we get a lot more of him in this graphic novel. I rated Marvel Masterworks: The Amazing Spider-Man Volume Three 4 out of 5 stars.

Book Review: Basketful of Heads by Joe Hill

Basketful of Heads by Joe Hill is a great person at the wrong place and wrong time revenge thriller, with an added supernatural element. This graphic novel is bloody, gory, funny , and thrilling. The mystery of why the victims are chosen is captivating, as our hero finds out every one who is involved in this murder plot or is it all about the money. The element that makes it interesting is the murder weapon, an axe, holds a power that no matter what is severed the person can live and speak, there’s a lot of decapitations where people keep talking at first it is horrific, but then it turns humorous. Hill who is known for horror delivers a slasher like no other, I would love to see this adapted into a movie or series, there’s lots to expand on. Basketful of Heads graphic novel collects Basketful of Heads issues 1-7 from Hill House Comics and off shoot of DC comics Black Label.

The Plot: June is visiting her boyfriend Liam, who got a summer job as a deputy in a small vacation island, called Brody Island. It’s Liam’s last day on the job, He meets June on the bridge after he finished his last shift. Liam and June are all set to leave the island as a prison break happens and four inmates escape, Liam is eager to help out. The sheriff says he’s got it and tells him to go up to the house to have a meal with the family, and he will join them soon. Liam and June end up eating with the wife and their collage aged son, and take a tour of the house with the sheriffs medieval weapons collection , the winds start picking up, with an incoming tropical storm, the wife gets a phone call and must help out a neighbor, her son takes her, and Liam and June stay at the house. The escapee’s come to the house Liam hides June and goes to take care of the situation. June hears Liam scream but stays hidden she moves later and is confronted, June takes the only weapon she can find a Viking Axe. She defends herself as the guy attacking loses his head, but instead of dying the head keeps talking. She needs to find her boyfriend, she has a talking severed head and an axe with supernatural powers to do it.

What I Liked: The losing head puns do not get old. I loved the mix of horror with comedy. The art took a little getting used to, I did like the art in day light but loved the art at nighttime, where much of the story takes place. I liked the mystery of why Liam was taken and who is involved. June is a pretty cool character, the perfect final girl. The writing is good the story telling goes full circle, and it is a beautiful thing. I like the myth that is behind the Axe. The two end scenes were amazing, and worked for the story.

What I Disliked: The ending was too rushed, the fight was over too quick and I wanted more explanation and motive.

Recommendations: If your fan of Joe Hill this will only make you love him more. I have read all his novels and short story collections, and almost all of his graphic novels. I’m a super fan and man is this graphic novel great. If you like horror you will like this, if you like thrillers you will like this, and if you like black comedy you will like this. I rated Basketful of Heads by Joe Hill 5 out of 5 stars.

Book Review: Marvel Masterworks: The Amazing Spider-Man Volume 2 by Stan Lee

Marvel Masterworks: The Amazing Spider-Man Volume 2 by Stan Lee continues the early years of Spiderman. Spiderman will is introduced to some of his greatest villains Mysterio, Green Goblin, and Karaven the Hunter, and the Sinister Six will meet for the first time. We get deep into Peter Parker’s love life, and Spiderman constantly messing it up. We get the entire marvel line up to cameo in these issues of Spiderman; they are Hulk, Ironman, Captain America, Doctor Strange, Daredevil, Thor, The Fantastic Four, Antman, and Wasp. The book has challenging storylines that question manhood and doing what is right instead of what you want to do. This book has the first death, it’s a minor character but still kind of shocking. This Graphic Novel collects The Amazing Spider-Man 11-19 and annual 1.

The Plots: Spiderman by Doc Ock unmasked and revealed to be Peter Parker but he got the spider sickness and lost power temporally, everybody thought he was stupid and brave. Spiderman gets lured into being a movie star by the Green Goblin but the action scenes are real. The Green Goblin makes Spiderman run away, and think about giving up being Spiderman. Kraven the Hunter wants to hunt the most dangerous game; Spiderman! J. Jonah Jameson’s envy of Spiderman tarts taking a toll and will lea to him accidentally creating the Scorpion soon. Liz Allen, Peter Parker’s high school crush, is finally starting to see the man he is becoming, but he’s already moved on to J. Jonah Jameson’s secretary Betty Brandt, it creates an interesting love triangle, with Liz Allen’s on again/off again boyfriend Flash Thompson in the mix.

What I Liked: the drawing is better Jack Kirby is the creator of the character but Steve Ditko has perfected it and gave us lots of the iconic Spiderman looks. The Daredevil was the best cameo, as he has to fight a possessed Spiderman. The birth of the Green Goblin Spiderman’s most fearsome foe, the introduction story is pretty lame but the second was a lot of fun. The Green Goblin is the only villain who identity remains unknown, so far. The Sinister Six is a lot of fun six bad guys to get through, in an extended 48 page story. we do see the beginnings of the budding romance between Aunt May and Doc Ock who she is instantly charmed by. I enjoyed the one comic where Spiderman thinks about hanging it up, it is a bold move to have no fighting and running away, as it looks at the psychological toll being Spiderman puts on Peter Parker.

What I Disliked: I said it last time and I will say it again the Enforcers who are in 3 issues, they are kind of lame. The first Green Goblin story just doesn’t make sense in motivation and story.

Recommendations: These issues have every marvel hero of note in them the writing and action are fun. The origin stories are villains are still being used, in the movies. Kraven the Hunter and Chameleon are the only villains of note not in the movies, But I think Kraven is coming. I enjoy reading things from the beginning a love finding out more about the character of Spiderman. I rated Marvel Masterworks: The Amazing Spider-Man Volume 2 by Stan Lee 4 out of 5 stars.

TBR: February 2021

February 2021 TBR list: last month was almost a success I read 7 out of the 8 books on my TBR, I’m going to stick with 8. I have 3 ARCs due this month. I have my reading goal for the year set at 80 books this year.  I had a good book haul at Christmas, and will me going through those; I also bought a lot of Marvel Masterworks since the kindle price was 1.99. And will continue my Goosebumps quest.

The Paris Library by Janet Skeslien Charles is based on a true story about librarians at the American Library in Paris during World War II. I love books about libraries and World War II is my favorite time period to read about. It is mpared to Lilac Girls which I really enjoyed. Published on 2-9-21

The Minders by John Marrs last year John Marrs  had my second favorite book with What Lies Between Us, the Minders is more Science fiction than mystery.  All I know about the book is peoples minds are the new computer code, and five people get to be the trails. Published on 2-16-21

Annie and the Wolves by Andormeda Romano-Lax is about a modern day historian  finds that she has similarities in her life to that of Annie Oakley. She gets obsessed with the people Annie refers to as Wolves and has one of her own.  Published on 2-2-21

The Deep by  Alma Katsu a Horror about survivors of the Titanic aboard sister ship the Britannic, still haunted by action and ghost of the Titanic.  This is my second novel by Katsu, I enjoyed The Hunger a fictional retelling of the Donner Party, I like the way she adds history to the horror.

Basketful of Heads by Joe Hill is a graphic novel about a woman with a magic Viking axe that when it cuts off the head the head can still talk. Joe Hill has been one of my favorite voices in horror. I loved his first graphic novel series Lock and Key I hope this one lives up. 

The Twisted Ones by T. Kingfisher is a good new horror story that is getting raved about. It was nominated in Goodreads choice awards for best horror of 2020.  A man finds his step fathers writing while cleaning up his mother’s house after her death. What he thought to be crazy ramblings he starts to see signs that the writing is true. This book was mu hold out from last TBR.

Marvel Masterworks The Amazing Spiderman Volume 2 by Stan Lee Spiderman will be introduced to some of his greatest villains Mysterio, Green Goblin, and Karaven the Hunter, and the Scorpion.  He will hang out with Dare Devil and Hulk

Goosebumps: Why I’m Afraid of Bees By R. L. Stine This is Goosebumps book number 17, this seems like it is going to be a kid friendly version of The Fly, but with a Bee

Book Review: Marvel Masterworks: The Amazing Spiderman Volume 1 by Stan Lee

Marvel Masterworks: The Amazing Spider-Man Volume 1 by Stan Lee is the birth of Spiderman as we know and love him. This is where we learn that “with great powers must also come with great responsibility”. This graphic novel contains Amazing Fantasy 15 and The Amazing Spider-Man 1-10. We get to see the origin stories for Spiderman’s greatest foes, like Electro, Doctor Octopus, The Vulture, The Lizard and Sandman, all goes that have been featured in various Spider-Man movies. Doctor Octopus and Sandman are the only origin stories that are the same as in the screen. We get multiple cameos of the Fantastic Four, with Spiderman trying to join them. Spiderman battles Dr. Doom and throw away villains the Enforcers and the Living Brain. We get glimpses of Peter Parker’s love life, home life, and work life. The Amazing Spider-Man comics reminded me of Archie comics with action. Peter’s love life is funny and his handling of bully Flash Thompson, who just happens to me Spiderman’s biggest fan. I’m read this as a bonus to find out which new Spiderman villain will show up in the next Spiderman movie.

The Plot: We meet Peter Parker as a nerdy teenager who has a love of science and no muscles. Gets bitten by a radioactive spider, which gives him special powers, with abilities of a spider. He tried to cash in and ends up fighting for money. He is no crime fighter and watches as a burglar escapes, saying that is not his problem. The burglar who he let go ends up killing his Uncle Ben, and he vows to do good, and becomes Spiderman. He makes New York safe from burglars and costumed foes.

What I Liked: The bully relationship with Flash Thompson and Peter Parker, it is one of the best things in these issues. I love how, it’s a competition between the two for Liz Allen, but when Peter trying to lure out the head of the crime syndicate, Flash tries to hush him for Peter’s protection. I love J. Jonah Jamison’s reason for hating Spiderman, because he’s envious. I liked the love life and all the ups and downs. I liked how serialized the early issues were the bad guys were bashing the month, but the relationships keep forming and getting stronger. My favorite villain was Doctor Octopus and I loved his origin story, not a bad guy but the arms fixed to his body making him insane.

What I Disliked: Every time Peter Parker wears glasses, the way it was drawn looks so awkward. They have a bonus story where Spiderman invites himself to a Torch of the Fantastic Four’s girlfriends house and he acts like a complete jerk, and kind of deserves the beating the Fantastic Four give him.

Recommendations: I think everybody should read about how Spiderman was created. I got this graphic novel for the insane price of 99 cents on kindle thanks to a Christmas deal, I was well worth it. I have always been a fan and have wanted to read some of his landmark moments. I rated Marvel Masterworks: The Amazing Spider-Man volume 1 by Stan “the man” Lee 5 out of 5 stars. I will be reading a lot more Marvel Masterworks I bought a lot when Amazon had the sale.

Book Review: Batman: Three Jokers

Batman: Three Jokers by Geoff Johns is a what if question? what if Batman’s most deadly foe The Joker was not one man but three? The Joker has had a couple of different origin stories, where he was A gangster before he fell in a vat, a failed comedian, and a deranged clown, and in those stories the Joker has done a lot of things to Batman and his family. The criminal Joker was said to have given the order to kill the Wayne family, the Clown Joker beat Jason Todd to the edge of death when he was Robin, and Batgirl was paralyzed by the Comedian Joker. All of the past and present come back to haunt Batman and his family. The writing was just okay I have only been familiar with Geoff Johns’ excellent Aquaman run in the new 52, which was great at first then started tanking, the premise for this comic is excellent, but in my hype and expectations were maybe a tad bit high, because i was left feeling underwhelmed. There some great moments but it could have been better. Batman: Three Jokers collects issues 1-3 of Batman: Three Jokers.

All The covers and variants

The Plot: With three origin stories out there in the DC universe which one is true? They all are there is three jokers The Comedian, the Criminal, and the Clown, and they are looking to make another one. Do they have their sights set on Jason Tood, The Red Hood, who was one a victim of Jokers crime’s, he now where a red hood and goes by the moniker of one of the Joker’s first gangs, or is someone else in mind.

What I Liked: he premise of taking these different origins and making some thing out of it was really clever I was instantly interested. The Jokers are referred to each other as the Criminal, the Comedian, and the Clown, but in trying to turn the batman family they refer to Batman as the Killer, Batgirl as the Broken , and Jason Todd as the Child. The artwork is really good I like all the throwback artistry to The Killing Joke storyline. The opening as Batman reflects on all the villains that have caused him scars, the Joker has done it three times, where every other rogue has done it once. I like how Joe Chill was involved in the story and what it meant for Batman.

What I Disliked: Batman’s reaction to the huge news that there is not one Joker but three with a meh. A member of the Bat family killer some one on purpose and Batman again is like meh what can I do, with barely any conversation on right and wrong. The story at times felt a little bit rushed and forced at times.

Recommendations: This story is a pretty weak mythos into the batman legacy, There’s one thing it adds and it’s not even about the Joker but about Joe Chill the original murderer of the Wayne family. I’m a huge fan of the Batman Joker legacy, if you’re like me, you are going to read the book anyway. This is a book for people that know the Joker origin and have read The Killing Joke and other Death in the Family storylines. If you want to read a graphic novel that nails the complex relationship of Batman and the Joker check out Batman; White Knight by Sean Gordon Murphy. I rated Batman: Three Jokers by Geoff Johns 3 out of 5 stars.

TBR: January 2021

January 2021 TBR list: last month was so successful I read all 8 books plus 1more, I’m going to stick with 8.  I have my reading goal for the year set at 80 books.  I had a good book haul at Christmas, and will me going through those; I also bought a lot of Marvel Masterworks since the kindle price is 1.99.

The House in the Curulean Sea by TJ Klune – This book got a lot of hype last year,  and I have had this book highly recommended.  It is about a case worker for the Department in Charge of Magical Youth, tasked with determining if six children are likely to bring about the end of the world.

Persephone Station by Stina Leicht Which is a science fiction western about female assassins. I don’t know a lot about it I got an advanced copy from netgalley it is published on the 1-5-21

Icebound by Andrea Pitzer is a true story about Dutch polar  explorer William Barents, who was stranded in the Arctic with his crew for a year. This true story was inspiration for Dan Simmons horror novel The Terror.

Batman: Three Jokers by Geoff James is the book that Batman finds out that he has not been terrorized by one Joker but three. It takes the tales of the three different origin stories and has them all me true.

Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero is a spoof n the Scooby gang where in 1978 they apprehend and old man in a mask who they believe to be the monster, but in 1990 when one of the gang is dead and the old man is paroled, that there worst fears come true that the wrong man was arrested and that the monster lives.  I read This Body’s not Big Enough for the Both of Us by Edgar Cantero a wise cracking detective novel where a detective has split personalities one the detective and one the wise cracker, I found it very crazy and funny.

The Twisted Ones by T. Kingfisher is a good new horror story that is getting raved about. It was nominated in Goodreads choice awards for best horror of 2020.  A man finds his step fathers writing while cleaning up his mother’s house after her death. What he thought to be crazy ramblings he starts to see signs that the writing is true.

The Hollow Ones by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan reteam to create a new series called the Blackwood tapes. I was a fan of the Strain trilogy. The plot sounds a lot like Fallen an old Denzel Washington movie,  about an enity who can leap from bodies causing violent acts.

Marvel Masterworks The Amazing Spiderman Volume 1 by Stan Lee is the birth of Spiderman and his many villains.   This  graphic novels has the  beings for Doctor Octopus, The Sandman, The Vulture, and Electro

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. 

Wrap Up: November 2020 Book Reviews

Dear Readers, November was a good month for reading catching up on my TBR, I ended up being bed ridden for two and a half weeks due to an emergency appendectomy.  This month was a weird one for ratings , the books I thought would be  instant 5 stars didn’t make it there  but the smaller books with a little bit of buzz did. I read 12 books this month. I read 4 graphic novel,  5 books in a series, 3 dark mysteries, 1 classic, 1 advance reader copies (thanks to Netgalley) and 3 books nominated for Goodreads choice awards in 2020. I only started 1 new series. I read every book on my TBR and added 4. I did hit my yearly reading goal of 75 books this this year my current total is 94.

Five Star Reviews:

His & Hers by Alice Feeney 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.” His & Hers 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.

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. Tamsyn Muir is the best selling author of Gideon the Ninth and Harrow the Ninth both books in The Locked Tomb trilogy those books are dark, and clever about a lesbian necromancer, I was really excited to read something lighter by her, and Princess Floralinda was a little lighter with some truly brutal scenes. 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. A special thanks to Netgalley and Subterranean Press for allowing me to read it early. It wias be published on November 30, 2020.

Harleen by Stjepan Sejic was a fantastic Harley Quinn origin story. The approach was a romance novel gone wrong, and it works really well. 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 him? Is the question, Batman and Alfred actually discuss it at the end. Harley does have layers to her character, and they are explored here. Harleen is written and drawn by Stjepan Sejic, with both done beautifully. The Joker and Harley have never loved better, the Joker is a little bit EMO which did take a second to get used to. Harleen is up for best graphic novel in Goodreads choice awards, and after reading it, it has my vote. 

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 help 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 that could blow up the Wayne legacy. The Curse of the White Knight continues 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.

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.

Four Star Reviews:

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.

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.

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

Three Star Reviews:

Ready Player Two by Ernest Cline is the sequel to the geektastic Ready Player One. Ready Player Two is like the Matrix meets Tron: Legacy, it ups the action, and the quests (seven instead of three) . This book focuses more on overall pop culture during the 80’s while the first one was a little more about gaming, which is sure to turn some readers off. The magic is still alive in the series, the world building is expanded. The worlds explored are John Hughes, Prince, PBS, Florian (Princess Bride) and Middle Earth. John Hughes land was my absolute favorite, the whole book could have happened there and I would have been fine. I enjoyed Ready Player One more but this sequel has it’s charm and had some really cool highlights.

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 not’s 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. 

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.

Two Star reviews:

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.