Book Review: The Cartel by Don Winslow

The Cartel by Don Winslow is one epic book, the story takes place over 9 years and feels like it. You live the lives of heroes and villains in a drug war gone bad. The book in fiction but is heavily researched with real events added to the story to give it an authentic feel. The Cartel is the second book in the Power of the Dog series. This is the second time I have read this book, the first time I read it out of series order, but this book does a great job of recapping everything that happened in Power of the Dog ( the first book), that I wasn’t lost. Power of the Dog starts in the 70′ and leads up to the 2000’s and The Cartel takes it from the 2000’s and goes up to 2010’s. The main characters¬† from Power of the Dog Art Kellar and Adan Barrera continue their blood feud going to an amazing climax. This is a great gangster tale, with lots of action. The Godfather the film is mentioned a lot, and you can see parallels but this novel is definitely it’s own thing. For a 616 pages this novel has an amazing pay off that rewards the reader for all the pages.

The Plot: After Art Kellar had Adan Barrera arrested in the US. Art retired and joined silent monks to maintain seek mercy for all that he has done. Adan Barrera cuts a deal to rat on one of his ex-partners in exchange to be extradited to Mexico to serve the rest of prison sentence and attend the funeral of his daughter. Once in Mexico he has all the prison officials bought and lives like a king, he has female prisoners brought in to parties and falls for one Magda. Adan Blames Kellar for his daughter’s death and puts a two million dollar bounty on him, which draws his old agency the DEA to warn him. Kellar fearing retaliation goes on the move and takes down bounty hunters on the way all not wanting to be apart of the DEA, until he reads a report about Adan escaping prison. In Adan’s 3 year absence a new gang the Zeta’s have grown into power. Adan was ruthless with in reason but the Zeta’s just want chaos. Kellar want to take sides down as they target people that are close to him. Kellar may have to work with Adan to take them down.

What I Liked:The characters are interesting and each is given a background, so you know where there choices come from and they feel very real. Crazy Eddie my favorite side character. He is funny and ruthless. I loved Crazy Eddie trying to make a movie of his life. The Climax is action packed and really fulfilling ending. The shoot out at the Don’s house was a great one, where the 70 year old hunter won’t be bossed around and destroy his home. I liked the Mexico prison scenes, which reminded me of the Goodfellas prison scenes. I loved the seamless blending of facts and fiction.

What I Disliked: the only time I found this book challenging is keeping up with what side everyone was on, and sometimes if they were in Mexico or America. The Character of Chuy was so underutilized, his character disappears for almost 300 pages, that I almost forgot about him, when he returns at the end of the book. There were too many scenes with the Juarez news, I liked were the scene ultimately went too but it took way too long to get there.

Recommendations: Pick up The Power of the Dog series, it is so hard hitting. I you want to read a gritting hard hinting novel that does not stop, the this is the book for you. This book is all about gangsters and drugs. I rated The Cartel by Don Winslow 5 out of 5 stars, the novel had a few hiccups but delivered on a lot. I liked The Power of the Dog slightly more. I have just received a copy of The Border by Don Winslow which is the 3rd book in the Power of the Dog series and plan on reading that soon.

Book Review: What Lies Between Us by John Marrs

What Lies Between Us by John Marrs is one crazy book, that you can’t predict or put down. 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 disfunction 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 by John Marrs, last year I read Passengers about driverless car taking 8 people hostage to murder them as people choose who lives or dies. Passengers rifted me while What Lies Between Us rocked me to my core. A huge thanks to Netgalley and Amazon Publishing UK for letting me read a novel that has taken my top spot in favorite books of 2020. The screen writes were picked up by Renee Zellweger’s production company, which would have a juicy role as the daughter who chains her mother, while exposing a lifetime of secrets and lies. What Lies Between Us is to be published on May 15th 2020.

The Plot: Maggie is believed to be a shut in that relies on her doting daughter Nina to get her through her days, then the chain is revealed. Maggie is not a shut in by choice. Her daughter Nina has been chaining her up in the attic which she soundproofed for two years. Nina is convinced her mom murdered her father years ago, and is determined to lock her up, in replacement for the last 21 years of her life since her father disappeared.

What I Liked: How crazy this novel got, there were many times where I was astounded of the places this novel went. There’s so many twist, I guessed a couple of them, but there were sometimes twist on twist. I enjoyed the ending, I felt like everything wrapped up in a very messed up bow. Never have I been so back and forth with characters, you will read one thing and be like Maggie had a point and then read another where I was like how could Maggie do that to Nina. The back and forth go almost to the end.I liked the side character of Bobby and how he fit in to the mother and daughter fight. The party scene was one of the most cringe worthy scenes I’ve ever read, and I kind of loved every minute of it. The scene was like a slow train wreck, you just have to watch. The way this novel was written getting into Maggie’s and Nina’s heads was perfect and helped explain a lot about the characters and their motivation.

What I Disliked: There was disappearance scene that the police don’t have a suspect, and we know the last text that go the person there and an incident that happened just weeks before the disappearance, I found it very unlikely that this character would not be the main suspect. The police go to the house but there were all these red flags that the police wouldn’t be ale to overlook. I hate that we never knew how high Jon was during the incident, or didn’t look into his appeals. I didn’t like the cover, it looks mediocre.

Recommendations: I really connected with this thriller and could not put it down. The only thing I would caution readers with is the characters given their reasons remain mostly unlikeable. I can still love a novel even if the character’s are difficult to like, but I know some can not. I think this is a can’t miss thriller that kept me on the edge of my seat. I did not want to stop reading. I rated What Lies Between Us by John Marrs 5 out of 5 stars. So far this is my top book of the year.

Book Review: Injustice: Gods Among Us: Year Three Volume 2 by Brian Buccellato

Injustice: Gods Among Us: Year Three Volume 2 by Brian Buccellato is a change from original writer Tom Taylor. The first issue in this volume is probably my second favorite since the first issue. In this issue Superman dreams what if Lois lived instead of died, having Batman kill the Joker to protect Clark, as he say where the Joker almost took him. The first three issues are great but the last three kept slipping in quality. The epilogue of the Teen Titans and why they are not involved in the events was great and will definitely come in to play later. John Constantine reveals the end game for what he really wanted to accomplish. Injustice: Gods Among Us: Year Three Volume 2 collects issues 7-12 of Injustice: Gods Among Us: Year Three.

The Plot:The Joker tricks Superman into killing Lois and his unborn child, when her heart stops a nuclear bomb destroys Metropolis. Superman distraught kills The Joker and declares martial law on the whole world, vowing that no one should die needlessly. He develops a pill that will make ordinary people super to start an army of supermen that he controls. Batman wants the world to be safe but still give the people free will. Superman’s action have drawn attention to the Green Lantern Corps who’s power is all about will power. Martian Man hunter died as he was fighting Wonder Woman from the inside when Superman used his heat vision, and sent Wonder Woman into a coma. Sinestro is manipulates Superman telling his own story and the way the Green Lantern Corps will attack, he makes an alliance that brings Sinestro and his minions as added protection. both Hal Jordan and Superman put on the yellow rings of fear to win against the Green Lantern Corps. Batman took out Cyborg, Robin, Raven, and flash at the Hall of Justice. John Constantine joins the fight on Batman’s side as a body from a Green Lantern Corps kills one of his ex-lovers and mother to his child Rose. Constantine assembles team of magic powered heroes to join forces with Batman and take Superman down. They use Raven as bait and set a trap to put Superman in a magic sleep that shows him the way things could have went. The vision was supposed to give him clarity but he wakes up madder than ever because of what he missed. Wonder Woman wakes up because Athena made some bargain with Wonder Woman’s mother. We see Constantine’s real game plan, and why he’s so willing to help.

What I Liked: The Superman dream story is written so well. I loved the reveal of Constantine’s long con that he had been setting up for a while now. When the Devil Traigon shows up Harley’s reaction to seeing made me laugh hard, “He’s from the movie Legend, where are the unicorns?” Wonder Woman’s dream about a relationship with Clark was great. A return version of Dick Grayson, as the Deadman, has a conversation with Bruce where he calls him dad is the sweetest thing ever. The epilogue, showing what happened to the Teen Titans, and why they are not involved, surprised me with who they sided with in the fight. I liked Flash’s trickery while still keeping his word to Dr. Fate.

What I Disliked: The Traigon and Mr. Mxyzptlk fight was just okay and went on for way too long. I didn’t like the Spectre reveal of who is behind the mask, I wanted more. The Poison Ivy V. Swamp Thing fight was cool, but didn’t get why they would be immediate enemies.

Recommendations: This volume of Injustice had my favorite opening issue, but it couldn’t hold after that. The quality of the Injustice Series is still being maintained. This series is still some of the best DC has put out in a while that wasn’t a straight Batman graphic novel, in my opinion. I rated Injustice: Gods Among Us: Year Three Volume 2 by Brian Buccellato 4 out of 5 stars.

Book Review: Long Bright River by Liz Moore

Long Bright River by Liz Moore was a slow burn mystery that uses a real town and the topic of addiction, to make this mystery compelling. The slow pace reminded me of In The Woods by Tana French and The Widow by Fiona Barton. The mystery is not as good as it could have been and takes a backseat to addiction, but addition and the characters that are dealing with it are what make this novel stand out. The novel isn’t a fun read it stays pretty serious while staying on the dangers of addiction and the effect it can have on those around you. This is not a novel of big twist, but tiny little ones that build up. I was glad to be wrong on my guess of the killer, and that twist was pretty good. Paula Hawkins wrier of The Girl on a Train and Dennis Lehane writer of Mystic River praise Long Bright River on the cover in blurbs.

The Plot: Mickey works as a cop in the Kensington, Philadelphia, a town where she grew up. Kensington is a placed rocked by the opioid crisis, it effected her mom, her father, and her sister. She doesn’t remember much of her parents who passed away when she was young, and raised by her Grandmother Gee. Mickey and Kacey had the same life but she became a cop and her sister a junkie prostitute. Mickey stumbles into a case of a dead young hooker, that is the start of a serial killing. As more girls off the street start showing up dead, her sister Kacey has vanished. Is it she the next victim, or is there something else? Mickey risk everything to locate her sister before it is too late.

What I Liked: I liked the characters, Mickey, Kacey, and Grandma Gee are all well rounded characters with real problems. I liked the way the opioid crisis was handled in the book. The look on addiction and the link of heredity was really great. I loved, loved the final scene of this book it nailed theme of addiction starting early so hard, that scene will stay with me a little while. I liked the look on community and how they come together and try to help. Kensington, PA is a real place with a real crisis, but the city is portrayed as broken down but still with a heart that I admired. I have had friends and family that have gone through addiction some have lived through it while others have succumbed; which made this story very relatable to me.

What I Disliked: Liz Moore chose not to use quotations on any lines of dialogue, which I found really distracting and had to read some passages over to understand it. This was a writer or editor’s choice but it didn’t work for me. The serial killer’s plot fell to the wayside for too long, I thought it could have dealt with that storyline together with addiction. The serial killer’s was not really compelling and didn’t do really anything to hide it.

Recommendation: I really think the character’s over the mystery make this novel one to check out. I found the difficult subject right on point and very real, which kept me reading. I think this book will allow addicts to look at what they put people that love them through, while giving the people that take care of them more insight into why addicts are addicts. I rated Long Bright River by Liz Moore 4 out of 5 stars. This was my first Liz Moore book, but I will soon check out more.

Book Review: Injustice: Gods Among Us: Year Three Volume 1 by Tom Taylor

Injustice: Gods Among Us: Year Three Volume 1 by Tom Taylor, adds a little magic to this volume of Injustice. It was just a matter of time until magic got brought in, with magic being Superman’s weaknesses besides kryptonite. I’m not to familiar with Justice League Dark characters The Deadman, John Constantine, Dr. Fate, Zantanna, and Swamp Thing were the character’s I knew pretty well, but people like Ragman, Detective Chimp, Spectre, Madame Xanadu, and The Demon, I have little to no knowledge of. The Batman / John Constantine dynamic really plays off each other well. This volume had a fortune told with some events already happening. One person has already came back from the grave, with the possibility of another. Injustice Gods Among Us: Year Three Volume 1 collects issues 1-6 of Injustice Gods Among Us: Year Three.

The Plot: The Joker tricks Superman into killing Lois and his unborn child, when her heart stops a nuclear bomb destroys Metropolis. Superman distraught kills The Joker and declares martial law on the whole world, vowing that no one should die needlessly. He develops a pill that will make ordinary people super to start an army of supermen that he controls. Batman wants the world to be safe but still give the people free will, Batman sacrificed his body to get the formula for the super pill to give his side a chance. Superman’s action have drawn attention to the Green Lantern Corps who’s power is all about will power, see this as an affront to not let free will. Sinestro is manipulating Superman telling his own story and the way the Green Lantern Corps will attack, he makes an alliance that brings Sinestro and his minions as added protection. Both Hal Jordan and Superman put on the yellow rings of fear to win against the Green Lantern Corps. Batman took out Cyborg, Robin, Raven, and others at the Hall of Justice. John Constantine joins the fight on Batman’s side as a body from a Green Lantern Corps kills one of his ex-lovers and mother to his child Rose. Constantine assembles team of magic powered heroes to join forces with Batman and take Superman down. They use Raven as bait and set a trap to stop Superman for good.

What I Liked: The Reveal of the line I need the world’s leading detective, everybody is thinking Batman, and then it is revealed to be Detective Chimp. Constantine laughing at Batman and Detective Chimp together. Harley debating with Dr. Fate and his name because he isn’t a doctor, and should be called Mr. Fate. The way Batman uses the Demon and his power. The prophecy and what has came true so far has me eagerly waiting to see if the final words will come true. I love the choice for who is brought back to be the new Deadman. I love the line Constantine uses to get Swamp Thing to join, you used to be human remember, and Swamp Thing says, You did too, which is so powerful. The final Batman Superman fight to end this volume was great.

What I Disliked: I needed more background on a lot of the magical heroes, and who they are and what their powers are? The mystery with who the Spectre really is, I don’t know where this is going?

Recommendations: This is a solid addition to the Injustice:Goods Among Us storyline. The story still has my attention. For me not being a big fan of Justice League Dark I still really enjoyed this volume. I really loved the charm of John Constantine, who I only know through the Keanu Reeves film and the Tv show Legends of Tomorrow. This book made me want to read more comics featuring the character. I rated Injustice: Gods Among Us: Year Three Volume 1 by Tom Taylor 4 out of 5 stars.

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.

Book Review: Goosebumps: The Girl Who Cried Monster by R. L. Stine

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. Stine probably had a lot of ideas where to go and chose this one, and it just wasn’t great, but as a kid I might have thought it was cool instead of random and ill conceived that I do as an adult. This one is the most time stamped, as they have to go to the mall to get their photos developed, and the library uses stamps and a card catalog.

The Plot: Lucy is 12 and obsessed with monsters, she tortures her little 6 year old brother Randy and her friend Aaron, with tales trying to get them to believe there is a monster anywhere and everywhere. Lucy is enrolled in a summer reading program at her local library that is close enough that she can skate to. The program requires her to read classic books and the librarian Mr. Mortman, a bald beady eyed man, has to quiz her over the material. Lucy bluffs her way through Huck Finn and is excited to check out Frankenstein, so excited that she forgets her skates, and has to go back to the already library, she worried about the door being locked but it’s not. As she retrieves her skates she see Mr. Mortman change into a insect-like Monster, with big bug eyes, antennas, and sharp teeth. Runs out of there with out being seen she can’t believe her eyes, and nobody else will believe her as well. She needs proof, but it might kill her to get it.

What I Liked: I loved the first monster that Lucy creates the Toetaker, actually sounds pretty terrifying, and I loved how she fakes her brother. I love that despite Mr. Mortman being a monster he is one heck of a librarian, one of the funniest moment when Lucy is trying to get away she knocks over the card catalog and Mr. Mortman has to clean up the card catalog. He also has the kids reading some great stuff. For a Goosebumps book the story is pretty focused on the plot. I loved that Randy after being pranked so much ends up getting excited by the fear. The Name Lucy Dark is awesome.

What I Disliked: The ending is so out of left field, it ruins a big chunk of the book, and it didn’t have to all Stine had to do was set it up, and he did not. This story feels like it was written without and ending then one tacked on at the end. Lucy should have brought a camera the first time after she saw Mr. Mortman change. Lucy being selfish and waits for Mr. Mortman to change before switching places, Lucy you’ve seen him change three times how about Aaron getting to see.

Recommendation: This one is not the worst out of the eight goosebumps that I have read but it is close. If you have to skip one it should be this one and Monster Blood so far. This one has one of the worst ending so far, and I was really enjoying the story until then. I do recommend reading the first chapter and the story of the Toetaker and the prank with it is really good. I get and read Goosebumps for my nephews that are four and six this one is more gross than scary which is one that might appeal to them more than me. I rated The Girl Who Cried Monster 3 out of 4 stars. My list so far from best to worst Stay out of the Basement, Night of the Living Dummy, The Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb, Say Cheese and Die, Let’s Get Invisible, Welcome to Dead House, The Girl who Cried Monster, and Monster Blood.

Book Review: The Power of the Dog by Don Winslow

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, through the mob, the cartel and the narcos. This is the first book in the Power of the Dog Series, it continues in The Cartel, and in The Border. I have read the Cartel and it is just as excellent as The Power of the Dog. Winslow has this writing style that feels so real, he can take you to the past in a blink of an eye while wrapping up the current narrative. His writing style reminds me of Mario Puzo meets James Ellroy. The fiction blends perfectly with real events, making the novel feel so real. This is My third Don Winslow novel, and I have been blown away each time. It was just announced that the novel The Force will star Matt Damon and be directed by James Mangold, who just directed Damon in Ford v Ferrari. Winslow has previously had the Secret Life of Bobby Z and The Savages who both starred John Travolta.

The Plot: Art Kellar a soldier in Vietnam War takes a job at a newly formed organization the DEA. His job is to stop the flow of heroin from Mexico to the US. Art makes friends with the Tio Barrera a local cop with a lot of influence and his nephews Adan and Raul. Adan and Kellar are fast friends and the reason he now has the influence he has in the organization. Kellar and the Barrera’s take down the drug kingpin of heroin in Mexico. Which the DEA calls job well done. Only the Barrera’s had an ulterior motive to take up the distribution and use it for a cheaper new drug cocaine. Art Kellar has to convince his superiors of the new drug and new power players, Kellar feels responsible for giving power. Kellar dedicates his life to stopping his former friends the Barrera’s. It will take a Priest, a prostitute, and a member of the Irish mob to all play a part.

What I Liked: The history in intertwined in the novel elevates it to the next level. The way the CIA plays both sides and the motive that is given. The ups and downs of good guys to bad guys. This side characters that are explored and make sense when you see the whole puzzle in how they fit into it. The way people are described really sets them apart. There’s easily over fifty characters and I was never once confused on who they were and who’s side they were on. The twist and turns of people flipping, of plans not working out, of people having hidden agendas, and of how connected they really are, is what makes this novel so great. The story flows so seamlessly despite how complex the storyline is. Nora and Callan’s arcs are my favorites to good supporting character’s that are more than they seem. The bridge scene is, the scene that will stick with me for a while, it’s tension filled, it’s a do or die moment for one character, and it was so horrific, so shocking, that it made me cry with grief. This is the Red Wedding moment in Game of Thrones.

What I Disliked: Understanding of Columbian politics, I feel like I need a whole book to understand Columbian politics, and the book takes a shot at it and I still came away confused. I feel like it is more of the complexity of the situation than the explaining of it, it didn’t get in the way of my enjoyment of the book, and I still took a lot a way from it.

Recommendation: The Power of the Dog is a book that feels like a great gangster movie as your reading it. There’s too many trigger warning’s too list, If you enjoy gangster movies or Game of Thrones the series or the books then you can handle the brutality of this. This is my third novel by Don Winslow and it will not be my last. I read the Cartel first before knowing it was a series and was blown away and not too lost, I now plan on rereading it, to get the impact of everything that happened before, and eventually read the Border the newest entry in the series. The Power of the Dog by Don Winslow gets the same score as the Cartel 5 out of 5 stars. Do yourself a favor and check out Don Winslow’s work, if you can handle it.

Book Review: This Is How You Lose The Time War By Amal El-Mothar and Max Gladstone

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. A couple of the letter are on blooming plants which I found hard to imagine with the limited description given. The novel is short with it being just over 200 pages.

The Plot: Red is a time traveler who just scored a victory in a war, or so she thought she finds a note that says, burn before reading, She does and recreates the note that Blue wrote where she saved some of warriors, defying Red’s orders to not leave anyone alive. What happens next is a Spy vs. Spy scenario straight out of Mad magazine, where they keep sabotaging the other’s mission then bragging about it in the letter. Only they fall in love with letter writing and the correspondence to one another. Almost each letter is signed we will win the time war. but the words lose they’re meaning as the hate that they had turns to something else between Red and Blue.

What I Liked: I liked the outcome of all the letter writing, I thought the overall arc of the story was good. I liked how through the letters you can feel the emotions change. Most of the setting seemed cool. I liked it best when we are told the objective and what it does in future time. I liked all the words they came up with to describe red and blue.

What I Disliked: There are no rules of time travel established. Description is really lacking, so a lot is hard to picture. We never get how the can track each other through time. The words were beautiful, but with out relevance all they are is words, which is something this book does a good deal as they talk about future events too much.

Recommendations: I wanted to like this more than I did, I am not going to recommend this one, but I also know some people who are going to love this one. If you love letter writing then this novel is a love letter to it. If you love metaphorical prose and poetry then this is the book for you. I rated This Is How You Lose The Time War By Amal El-Mothar and Max Gladstone 3 out of 5 stars.