Book Review: Speaks the Nightbird by Robert R. McCammon

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. This book introduces Matthew Corbett and is the first book in a proposed 9 book series that has two more book to be released. Speaks The Nightbird is in development at FX with Blumhouse producing and each book will be a season. I have read up to the third book before but have wanted to read the series again when it was ending, or close. This book is so good and exceeded my expectations, I remembered snippets here and there, this book is a murder mystery with a lot of plot twist, even though I was pretty sure I remembered who the mastermind was this reread gave me doubts about my memory. I original memory was right, but I had great doubts if it was right or not. When I read this 10 years ago I gave it five stars and it remains in that fie star category today.

The Plot: Magistrate Woodward and his young cleric Matthew Corbett are sent to Fount Royal a fairly new settlement in the Carolina Colony, to investigate witchcraft and murders. The road there is filled with danger as the colony is 40 miles away from any other settlement, and they have to worry about Indians and cut throats. Matthew and Woodward hear of the tale of witchcraft and murder with each man forming his own initial assessment, Matthew the skeptic believes there must be some more rational explanation and Woodward who is older has seen evil like this before read up on the Salem Witch trials. They meet the Witch, Rachel, both men are taken away by her bewitching beauty especially Matthew, but her mouth is bold and blasphemous. The trial starts with witnesses saying she was seen cavorting with the devil. Each testimony more condemning, but Matthew sees something in the testimony that he can’t explain, and has to pursue. This dark road leads to death and a conspiracy that the town is keeping hidden. There truly is a devil in Fount Royal.

What I Liked: The Characters are great and each one different. There’s about 60 characters and almost every one is a suspect in the conspiracy of witchcraft and murder. Matthew Corbett is that great character who won’t quit even if all the odds are against him. This story pays off on the little details, there’s a lot of little side stories that are tied up in conspiracy it wraps them all up as the story still drives towards the mastermind. The villains all have great have great motives, they have reasons for the terrible things they do, also some manage to keep their humanity, which I found really touching. The written dialects all work and sound natural, since this is the birth of a America 1699 there’s people coming from all over and McCammon has found a way to give each voice its unique flavor. The mystery is really great with so many layers that have to get pulled back until you see the whole thing. This novel has one of the greatest red herrings where you know a character is hiding something, but when you experience what it is prepare to laugh yourself silly.

What I Disliked: The mastermind’s lament goes on a little too long, he kind of tells everything and rambles for a few pages. After the main climax there is a slight lag as we go into the big reveal. For a 900 page novel there is very little lag.

Recommendations: Robert R. McCammon is one of my favorite writers he is criminally under the radar in writing. He mainly writes horror but with this series he can do Historical Fiction as well. Stephen King lead me to Robert R. McCammon books when he said he is in awe of his horror writing. This book nails the history of 1699 America. It shows off the frightening use of blood letting and blister cups for medical practice of the time. It highlights what a melting pot of people early America was. For mystery lovers this books ending will keep you guessing, while giving you all the facts. I rated this book 5 out of 5 stars and will keep reading the series.

Book Review: Where the World Ends by Geraldine McCaughrean

Where the World Ends by Geraldine McCaughrean is a bleak tale of survival involving eight kids and three adults stuck on an island made of black rock in the Wales. The story is based on a true story, with a lot of fictional license taken. The novel can’t help but remind me of William Golding’s Lord of the Flies, as young boy’s are thrust in to adulthood but still have the pressures of fitting in. Where the World Ends is almost 200 years before Lord of the Flies, where religious superstition is high and omens mean life or death. The language used took me a bit to get into with the old words and the accent. This novel is marked as Young Adult, and the younger audience can enjoy it like the Lord of the Flies but as an adult you will get meaning behind gestures, and will better understand the power struggle. Despite this novel being bleak there’s is life to it and hidden joys as characters make choices for the betterment of others to survive. Thanks to Netgalley and Flatiron for sending me an Advanced Readers Copy this book was published on December 3 2019.

The Plot: The town of St. Kilda is a small town living on the Wales in the summer of 1727. The town has horrendous winters and must prepare in the summer. There’s an island 4 miles out to sea that is full of birds before they fly south for the winter. The island has been a sort of rite of passage for the boys of the village, to spend three weeks gathering eggs and bird meat. Quill is one of the older boys and the novels narrator, it doesn’t give an age but if had to guess 14, he has just found love for the first time, and doesn’t really want to leave for that matter. But he does and on his first outing on the island is named the leader of boys he finds and almost grabs the king bird. Everthing is going great they have more than enough supplies, but the boat is late picking them up. They continue a month over when doubt sets in and they believe this must be the end of the world, for they’re parents not to save them.

What I Liked: The island setting I thought would get boring but I did not as a couple different caves were explored. The elements as the enemy really worked. It showed how religion can lead to hope but also be manipulated for power. Storytelling as a tool to motivate other from staying positive was used the best. I loved the character of John and the secret he hides, and how it can change everything for desperate men. quill was a good narrator that you follow in highs, lows, and madness. The cover was absolutely beautiful. The story as a whole was really good, there were a couple of lulls in pacing but they did not last long. The reason that the boat does not return was really good and made sense at the end.

What I Disliked: At first it was really hard keeping up with who was an adult who was a kid and the ages. The characters, physical descriptions were barely there, which was one of the reasons that age was so hard to determine. You got to differentiate the people through personality rather then physical traits. The birds were described better then the people.

Recommendations: I you love tales of survival, the obvious story to compare is Lord of the Flies but I saw a lot of 127 Hours in it as well. If you like historical fiction then this is a time a setting that I have never read before, the history aspect felt very real. I feel the Reading age should be 13 due to death, disease, and survival I rated Where the World Ends by Geraldine McCaughrean 4 out of 5 stars.

Book Review: Curious Toys by Elizabeth Hand

Curious Toys by Elizabeth Hand is an atmospheric Historical Fiction surrounded in a world mystery by a deadly serial killer of young girls. The story takes place in 1915 fair grounds in Chicago about twenty years after the World’s Fire fire and the serial killer H.H. Holmes, with it’s own serial killer to deal with. The history is a big part I was constantly reminded of the nonfiction work The Devil in the White City which covered the 1893 Chicago’s World’s Fair. The history and the rides at the time were really neat, The book only covers one in detail Hellsgate ride I could almost imagine it. The book is LGTBG friendly with it’s lead character Pin who is a girl who lives as a boy and struggles with her feelings about girls and one girl in particular Glory. I have not read a great amount of LGTBQ books but I found this one really nailed the questioning of ones self. A special thanks to Netgalley and Mulholland Books for giving me a copy, Curious Toys was published on October 15 2019.

The Plot: Pin is a 14 year old girl who lives as a boy, it started for safety but she likes it and prefers it, her mother is a fortune teller at the fair. The both live on a shack on the fair grounds. Two years’s ago Pin’s sister was lost, she had a form of down syndrome, and has never been found. Pin runs drugs for Max, a he/she act where one side is a man and the other a woman. Pin is always curious and noticing things adults don’t she is sensitive to young girls and strangers. She watches a young girl in a yellow dress get into a ride with a man and never get out, the man she doesn’t get a good look but is sure what she’s seen. She sneaks into ride and discovers a body. Pin is the only one who cares as the body brings even more people to check out the ride and the fair, Pin is willing to risk her life but she might have to risk something more important to her identity.

What I Liked: Pin as a character was fascinating, wish we spent more time with her, and her crisis. I liked the little twist with Glory and who she turned out to be. I liked the Charlie Chaplin bit especially the bit about the cops questioning him being ashamed at the way they are portrayed in his movies. I liked the climax it was pretty exciting. The killer was good the reader was left to fill in a lot of their reasons for the crimes. I did like the flashback of the killer, even at the time reading it you didn’t know who’s flashback it was. I did like the Fatty Bacon cop character and the date scene he had. I love, loved, the part about Pin wanting to expose the killer put to do it in a way she could keep her identity as being a boy, I found that really powerful. I liked the language and found it fitting of the time period. This was one of the coolest covers with all the images about the book is has, it was one of the reasons I selected to request this novel form Netgalley.

What I Disliked: The character of Henry Darger I didn’t care for a hospital janitor that isn’t all there, slightly crazy, that looks out for young girls and has a club protecting them. His character was not needed and it kept the reader away from Pin. I would have liked his character a little more if his slight bio was at the beginning instead of at the end. I didn’t like that the story jumped around having 7 different character’s narratives. Pin, the killer and maybe one more character was all you needed, though I did like being in Charlie Chaplin’s head briefly it didn’t serve a narrative purpose and could been in the newspaper. I figured out who the killer was early, I saw where the novel was pulling me and saw through the misdirection. There was not that many possible suspects, so I found it easy to make the leap. I wanted better descriptions of all the people and things it keeps talking about boater hats, which I had to look up to know what they looked look then see it in the words on the page.

Recommendation: I would mildly recommend this to a reader searching for a LGTBQ character in the early 1900’s and the questioning of one’s self and identity was really good. If you like historical fiction of the early 1900’s, I love Charlie Chaplin and found that part fascinating, as the description of the Hellsgate amusement park ride. I rated this novel 3 out of 3 stars. I found there were some really great moment and some not so great moments that it balanced out.

Book Review: Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly

The Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly a book that take real people and actions during World War II and creates a compelling work of fiction that fells very true. Lilac Girls follows three women Kasia a Polish teenager who works for the underground against the Nazis, Herta a young German doctor that works at women’s German prison camp, and Caroline an American that volunteers at the French Consulate and helps the war effort. These tails are all connected in some way and intermingle at times. Tis story is a bout the war but also after it and about how broken the war tore apart these countries. This is the first book that really deals with the war and the aftermath, where most novels stop at the end of the war, lilac girls takes place in 1939 and goes up until 1959 way after the war was over. This novel has a serious melodramatic tone but there a plethora of emotions these ladies go through some have highs when others have lows, that balance really helps with the flow of the novel.

The Plot: Caroline is a former broadway star, that now dedicates her life volunteering at the French Consulate in America. When a big star drops out last minute of a charity ball she get Paul a current broadway performer that is French. Caroline falls big for him but he’s married, there marriage has no love anymore with him living full time her and her back in France. Things are heating up between the two of them when Germany invades France. Paul can’t just leave his wife there and journey’s back with Carolines help securing a visa for them both, but things don’t go as planned. Kasia is a young Polish teenager when Poland is invaded by Germany, she’s half german half polish, which makes her not good enough she has friends that our Jewish and taken away. She ‘s young but wants to do something, she joins the underground, a resistance works to overthrow German rule in Poland. She gets caught and declares her and certain members of her family enemies of the state and sent to a Concentration Camp. Herta is a young German woman working her way to be a doctor, she wants to help people. The war happens and she gets a job at the only place that will hire her a doctor at a Concentration Camp. She soon finds out the job isn’t about keeping prisoners well but performing experiments. Will she comply and throw away every thing she believes in or not?

What I Liked: The history is mingled in really seamlessly, and really easy to follow the events. I liked that this novel doesn’t show just how badly the Jewish people were treated, but everyone else who went against Germany. The novel really explains country pride and how that is used to motivate. The aftermath of the war is very eye opening I think this is the first story that I’ve read that goes into detail about how the war messed up people, places, and finances. This story easily wraps the reader up form the start. The switching between narrators was really effective in terms of story and not confusing to the reader. The twist and turns are written really well and keep you on your toes. The acknowledgements go other what Kelly added and what she drew from with Caroline and Herta being based on the real people, it was really helpful, and neat to know how much was true.

What I Disliked: I thought there was a bit too much coincidence in the novel, you have how all the women are connected which I actually liked, but the story line had too many first time coincidences, for example there’s one scene with a lost baby, one that was taken from it’s mother at a camp and a character is sent to find, she finds the baby at the first place she looks, which I went really no exhaustive search. No characters spoke with an accent of inflection, even on attempts to speak english.

Recommendations: World War II fiction is my absolute favorite and this book is one of the better novels of it. Lilac Girls is the first in a series and I plan to read book 2 in the series Lost Roses soon. I recommend this book for historical history buff, women’s fiction this book has some kick butt female leads. The immersive writing reminded me of World War II fiction like The Alice Network by Kate Quinn and Life After Life by Kate Atkinson. I rated this book 5 out of 5 stars I acknowledge this books flaws but the fantastic story more than makes up for it.

Book Review: Becoming the Dark Prince by Kerri Maniscalco

Becoming the Dark Prince by Kerri Maniscalco is a novella and book 3.5 in the Stalking Jack The Ripper series. Thomas Cresswell is front and center taking the narrating duties away from Audrey Wadsworth. Thomas is easily my favorite character in the series so I throughly enjoyed getting in his head. This novella throws the reader back on to the RMS Etruria in the midst of the events of book three Escaping from Houdini. Escaping from Houdini was my least favorite of the series so far, that said I really enjoyed this little taste of a story. It does a good job of reminding the reader of the new villain that will be stalking the streets of New York in the new novel Capturing the Devil that releases on September 12th in 2019, it also reminds us of the love that was tested and what has endured on the last adventure to where Thomas and Audrey are in their relationship now. I liked that this story is half retelling from a different perspective and half telling the story of what went on while Audrey was not present.

The Plot: Thomas is first in the middle of book three on the RMS Etruria where Audrey and Liza have just gotten back from the first day of training in the act of the Moonlight Carnaval. Audrey has already made the deal with Mephistopheles so Thomas is dealing with not knowing where he stands with Audrey. Then the story jumps right to the finally and we the reader get to see how exactly Thomas reacted to those events, it was still exciting even knowing the out come. We then get to see how Thomas handled things after Audrey was not present. we get insight in to the conversation that Audrey only overheard bit and pieces with Thomas and Mephistopheles. We also get more insight to the mysterious body in the crate and how it relates or not to the killer of the Moonlight Carnaval.

What I Liked: Thomas’s voice for the story really worked for me all the insecurities and how he starts to count when overwhelmed. The love of Audrey and Thomas is the heart of the story and is written so beautifully. I loved finding out about Audrey’s new cane and all the thought that Thomas put in to it and the dialogue with the shop keeper about Audrey’s knife fights The cane looks so awesome featured on the cover of Capturing the Devil, just like how I pictured it in my head. I really enjoyed the back and forth with Thomas and Mephistopheles. The cover for this fits with the other’s but finally helped me have a glimpse of Thomas Cresswell’s frame.

What I Disliked I would have liked to relive more of the acts leading up to the finally and what went through Thomas’s head when she volunteered after the warnings. I was hoping for a little bit more knowledge of the new killer, and Thomas’s testimony about the Moonlight Carnival Killer.

Recommendations: The story is 99 cents and I feel so worth it as a fan, you will get more insight into the lives of character’s and events. Do not read this if you have not read Escaping from Houdini, because you will know who killer is. I rated this story slightly higher than Escaping Houdini and give it a rating of 4 out of 5 stars. my best to worst order is Hunting Prince Dracula, Stalking Jack the Ripper, Becoming the Dark Prince, and Escaping from Houdini. I’m more excited now than I was for Capturing the Devil.

Book Review: Dear Mrs. Bird by A. J. Pearce

Dear Mrs. Bird by A. J Pearce is a historical fiction debut novel set in Britain during 1940-1941 during the Blitzkrieg. This novel balances heartbreaking with heart warming splendidly. A fantastic debut novel. The novel is Historical fiction but doesn’t tell the audience a history lesson on World War II it just sets up so someone with basic knowledge can understand Britain is against the Nazis and there’s is a war being fought over head with an occasional bomb dropped every now and then. This novel tells history of other ways in clothing, music, dialogue and women’s rights, and does an amazing job at it, and never made me question the era.

The Plot: Emmy Lake wants to be a war journalist, she is very up on current events of present day 1940’s war torn Britain and also, wrote for her home paper when she lived there, and she has just seen an advertisement for her dream job at the London Evening Chronicle as a junior reporter. But when she gets the job it is not about journalism at all and it is not for the London Evening Chronicle but a subsidiary magazine called Women’s Friend, where she will forward acceptable letters to Mrs. Bird the advice columnist. The problem Mrs. Bird doesn’t want any unhappiness of war posted, she wants best way to avoid getting freckles. Emmy is advised to not read the unpleasant letters and to immediately rip them up. Emmy challenges Mrs. Bird by sending her unpleasantness but with women desperate for advice, but Mrs. Bird does not budge. Emmy can’t take it anymore and decides to write back to a young girl desperate for advice on love for a soldier, and signs it Mrs. Bird. When she gets a heartfelt letter back, Emmy decides to write back more as Mrs. Bird.

What I Liked: How this book took place in the 1940’s and is still relevant in today’s world on women’s rights and on unpleasantness. This book has plenty of hilarious moments, I laughed out loud a couple of times, and was definitely not expecting that. The funniest moment that comes to mind is Bunty’s plan to get Emmy alone with a guy. I love the character of Bunty and Emmy and their dynamic together. I liked the love story and thought it felt very real. The brief history of the bicycle shop was a great moment as description and history. The balance of the emotional rollercoaster that this book takes the reader on.

What I Disliked: I felt it ended too soon with a few story lines in the air, it wrapped up the main story pretty well, but not the side stories, there was a lot left hanging in the air, two character’s and there future relationship with Emmy. The Blitzkrieg could have been described better it was too vague.

Recommendations: I will recommend Dear Mrs. Bird for readers to check this book out, I did an overview of the plot, but there’s a lot of little surprises that made this story really a fun read. If you like historical fiction, it not as detailed as I would’ve like, but still done where I never questioned if it was the right decade. I rated this book 4 out of 5 stars and since this is her debut novel will look forward to reading the author’s next work.

Book Review: Westside by W. M. Akers

Westside by W. M. Akers is one hell of a debut. I went into this book really loving the premise of a detective who solves small mysteries like a missing broach or jewelry is lead into this huge mystery involving murder and supernatural elements. The voice is similar to Neil Gaiman’s and reminded me of Neverwhere meets Johnathan Strange & Mr. Norrell with a little Blake Crouch’s Dark Matter. It’s a good Historical Fiction Mystery that adds a dash of Supernatural to it. This novel is a trip that is not easy to predict where it’s going, and what a third act. I would like to thank HarperCollins Publishing and Netgalley for giving me the advanced uncorrected e-proof to read in exchange for an honest review.  This book will be available to the public on May 7th.

Plot: We follow Gilda Carr who lives on the Westside of New York in the early 1910’s.Gilda makes a living solving small mysteries like a missing glove or jewelry. The New York you know, isn’t the Westside it’s on the East, in this city the westside is the Eastside’s cursed twin. The westside is full of decay and hollowed out building, there’s no working electricity and gun don’t seem to work as the barrel quickly rust up. The westside is ugly but Gilda just calls it home. She is content solving her small mysteries a trait passed down from her father who was detective on the police force for the Westside, her latest case is finding a woman’s gloves that her husband bought her. This should be a nice small mystery, but this case opens her life up to murder, supernatural, and a case she had almost given up on the disappearance of her father.

What I Liked: Really unique way of describing people, that makes it easy to picture them. Really good world building and the history of Westside New York. I liked the device of small mysteries it gives you a slight Nancy Drew/Encyclopedia Brown vibe with a way darker tone which I enjoyed. I loved the characters of Gilda and her backstory and Virgil Carr her father’s backstory. For side character’s Ugly was my favorite, a henchman that clearly likes Gilda and all her moxie. The third act was great and the mastermind’s reveal was pretty shocking and did not see coming.  I liked the cover and how it relates to the novel, was really cool.

What I Disliked: At the beginning I was super confused whether Glinda was on the Eastside or the Westside, 40 pages in it got easier to tell. It took a while to get differentiate all the side characters from one anther and how they relate. I wanted more payoff on Brass’s song It felt like we were on it too much for it to make little impact to the story.

Recommendations: I really think you should check this book out it has a couple problem but really solid debut novel. If you like the way Neil Gaiman writes when he matches the real world with fantasy. If you like the colliding of genres like historical fiction with mystery and/or supernatural. I rated this book a solid 4 out of 5 stars.

Book Review: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid is magnificent, just good old fashioned storytelling at it’s best. This book does a great thing of showing you on the surface tis is what Evelyn Hugo’s life is through the tabloids, then letting you hear in her own words what her life and marriages was truly about and it changes everything you know and perceived. I thought at the beginning that this book was headed one way focusing on the glitz and glamour of Evelyn Hugo’s life only for the story to take a turn and shows so much heart. Taylor Jenkins Reid shows us a character that we should all be jealous over then at the end you can’t help but feel sorry her and the anonymity of a normal life and the freedoms that we the reader have. It was awesome to see a book get so much hype, really and truly blow me away by how amerced I got with the character and the story.

The Plot: Evelyn Hugo is one of the bigger movie star’s of the silver age that she started in the 1950’s and a cultural icon, even though she has one an Oscar her career is over shadowed by the fact she’s been married a total of 7 times ( The Character of Evelyn Hugo is based on a amalgam of female actresses like Elizabeth Taylor and her 7 husbands, the looks and background of Marylin Monroe, and at least one screen role reflects Jane Fonda’s Klute). Evelyn’s life has been told in the tabloids but she’s never set down for an in-depth interview until now, on the eve of her daughter’s death from breast cancer, she’s donating dresses made famous to charity for breast cancer research. , and she wants more press for the event. She chooses a reporter Monique who doesn’t have much clout, so she can seemingly push her around, but Evelyn is quick to tell her there’s a specific reason she chose her and will be revealed at the end, also this piece is about dresses and will be her final interview. Evelyn reveals the truth behind all her husbands ad it will change the way the world ever thought about her and also change Monique’s life as well.

What I Liked: The way this book grabs you and puts you in Evelyn’s world, While reading it became jarring when Monique and Evelyn would talk, because I was so amerced in the story Evelyn was telling. The direction of the book was not one I was not expecting, but really enjoyed the ride and the character development that went with it. The look at the Hollywood during the mid fifties was portrayed really well, and the author clearly did a lot of research on the era. The character’s are all so well rounded and really stick with you even side character’s are memorable. The pace of this novel is incredible if I didn’t have things to do could easily have read this in one sitting.

What I Disliked: I would have wanted to see a little more Hollywood after the early years, but I know that came with the shift of focus that the novel switched to but it would’ve been nice. I did guess the reason that Monique was involved, a little early, I was still satisfied with it, but the moment when it was revealed was over too fast. I didn’t like the way Evelyn delivered the news.

Recommendations: I highly recommend this novel it’s just a great story from start to finish, and a new one to put in my favorites. If you like historical fiction this is a good well researched book on Hollywood in the 50’s and the rise of an ingenue. If you like Biographies then this reads like an in-depth Bio where the artist reveals her soul. This book has some LBGTQ character’s that are portrayed very real with all there flaws and triumphs. I rated this book a rare 5 out of 5 and added this book to my favorites.

Book Review: The Lifeboat by Charlotte Rogan

The Lifeboat is an intense novel of 39 people on a lifeboat having to make tough life changing decisions as they have to survive and wait for rescue. This novel is so freaking amazing and really puts you in the situation while asking you the reader what would you do to survive. I had a friend who rated this 3 stars and I really was really shocked thinking this was an easy five star review and it was for three fourths, then the end comes and totally destroy’s what I enjoyed the survival, and makes the novel about one sacrifice that members of the boat had to make. So I ended up agreeing with my friend and rating it a disappointing 3 out of 5 stars. I don’t think I’ve ever read an ending that turned me against a book that I was thoroughly enjoying this much. I will compare it to Life of Pi by Yann Martel, because they both involve a lifeboat for the majority of the novel and the final act takes place on land as characters recover on land. The Lifeboat did better about not being repetitive in its character’s fight for survival, Life of Pi was more philosophical and nailed the metaphor’s of an open sea and madness, but Life of Pi has a draw dropping ending that sets it far apart.

The Plot: In the Summer of 1914 two years after the Titanic sunk, and with World War I just weeks away, the ship the Empress Alexandria is the passenger’s last chance to escape England and head to America before the war starts. Grace and her new rich husband Henry Winter are on the voyage, when the ship has an explosion, and starts to go down. Henry finagles using his money to get Grace on a life boat, the actually pull the lifeboat back up from the water putting the 38 other passengers to not like her privilege, and starts a conspiracy, with Grace and the lifeboat’s captain Mr. Hardie a hard man that is quick to make hard decisions for the passenger’s survival, Like not picking up any people treading water even children and using the oars to beat people swimming up to the lifeboat. Mrs. Grant a strong woman with her own ideas with how to run the lifeboat, will clash with Mr. Hardie putting Grace and other passengers in the middle. Can the passengers survive long enough to survive the elements and the people of lifeboat 14.

“Hannah led us all in a little prayer, the ritual seemed decidedly pagan, a prayer of appeasement to the sea to which we had just made a blood sacrifice.” – Grace

What I Liked: Making a raft on the open ocean, seem interesting and new, without being boring is a hard thing do which is pulled off masterfully. All the Characters’ have there own voice and are memorable the only hard thing is remembering the seating arrangement. Mr. Hardie is a fantastic character he’s a hard man, that has discipline, and the kind of leader that will make crazy hard decisions and just own them. Mrs. Grant is a good foil who quietly cast doubt and uses gossip to her advantage. I like the approach and the questions asked showing it’s a man’s world that is being challenged by strong women who are totally just as capable of leading, I think the execution of this idea cold of been better but the idea is there and I got the author’s point. The starvation and changes in physical form are described really well make you the reader feel how desperate the situation is. The end of the second act is really amazing, should have been the finale.

What I Disliked: The entire third act, it is such a swift switch to a different aspect all together, It made me turn back the pages to read the pages I just read, with a huh? The third act is a slap in the face to all the character’s still in the lifeboat as there story is quickly wrapped up and we get a trial about Grace and the surviving passengers and the decisions that were made on the lifeboat. The audience only gets 14 days of a 21 day adventure, and that can’t be forgiven.

Recommendations: I loved three fourths of this novel so much, but that last quarter changes everything and I can not recommend this novel, read Life of Pi if you want an engrossing tale of survival on a lifeboat with an amazing ending. I disappointedly rate this 3 out of 5 stars.

Book Review: Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff

What an incredible concept that Lovecraft Country pulls off showing the horrors that an African American Family deal with as they deal with the Jim Crow South in 1945 and an added layer of supernatural elements. This novel will make you think just how hard it was to be a person of color at time. This novel does tie into the movie The Green Book directed by Peter Farrelly and starring Viggo Mortensen, Mahershala Ali, Linda Cardellini as it was the book The Negro Motorist Green Book was inspiration for the Safe Negro Travel Guide in the book. This novel blends Science Fiction and Horror most notably H. P. Lovecraft, but it twist the tales to fit the black audience. H. P. Lovecraft told great tales but they have tend to be racist and reactionary of the times, so it was cool to see this flipped.  This novel is being adapted for a series for HBO by Jordan Peele (Get Out) and JJ Abrams (Lost).

The Plot: This book is told as short stories that are all connected involving two black families (the Turner’s and Dandridge) and friends, as deal with magic, power, racism, and freedom. The main story is Atticus is found to have an ancestry of Braithwhite blood who are a powerful elitist cult of warlocks, with ties to the Klan. They want to perform a spell that requires a sacrifice of a Braithwhite, and they think Atticus is perfect for this. The kidnap his father and torment his friends and family. There’s story that involve space travel, potions that can turn people white, possessed African voodoo dolls, and Haunted houses.

What I Liked: This book is heavy in racism, but it is balanced in humor, how the Turners get out of a racist town, and a great moment when the reparations are paid back. The cover really captures the book having the Klan robes also double as tentacles. The Ruby story where she drinks a potion to turn white, and gets back at a white woman who accused her of stealing. The story of the Haunted house that’s full of a racist ghost, but come together when the home is threatened by other racist. The characters are all written pretty memorably it is a little hard keeping track of who is related to who, but I eventually caught on.

What I Disliked: It took a little to long for the short stories to all start connecting, I honestly thought for the longest time they were not going to connect, so I ended up breaking up this book between other books, which I wouldn’t recommend doing, because at the half way point everything starts connecting and I was like crap let me go back and reread to make sure I get everything and their connections. I would’ve liked for the ending to be a little bit more epic, it good but it had a really great potential to be extra special. It took me about 40 pages to get in to this one.

Recommendations: This book is my first 5 star of the new year, I will say it barely made it when I feel out a review I fill out the stars first, but going through all the things I liked and the difficult tone of this book that it did a really great job to pull off I gave it a rare 5 out of 5 stars. I think this is a great on to check out if you like historical fiction, supernatural, and science fiction, this is a great blend of all those mixed in with a dash of horror. I will say as horror element go the racism and tension of possible death by racist is scarier than any creature or horror in this book. Trigger Warning if racist language is a trigger for you, just be warned there’s scenes of it used and brutality that comes with it but a lot of little pay off through out. happy reading, every one, would love to hear others opinions on this book since it was like a best of both worlds mix of horror science fiction and history.