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: Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott the unabridged version is a classic that remains relevant even today. A perfect coming of age story that highlights adolescence to adulthood.  The girls reveal their souls in text, along with hopes and dreams for the future. I have seen the excellent Little Women: the Musical about seven years ago, and have wanted to read the text since. With the new movie coming out starring Emma Watson, Saoirse Ronan, Florence Pugh, Timothée Chalamet, Laura Dern, Eliza Scanlen, Chris Copper, and Meryl Streep directed by Greta Gerwig, getting all kinds of reviews, and my sisters gushed over it, I thought now was the time to finally read this classic. I enjoyed it, it was almost 150 years ago and the characterizations of the March sisters hold up today. I know those girls, I see them in my sisters and my larger family, making the story easily relatable me. The novel is told almost as vignettes, or more accurately “slices of life” involving the girls and occasionally Laurie the neighbor who becomes a part of the family.  The mother’s advice to her girls I still found current today and still very profound. This novel has the best portrayal of the dreaded friend-zone relationship ever, so heartbreaking! If I were still in college I would do a paper on Jo and her younger sister Amy’s relationship, and how Amy is conditioned early to take things that are Jo’s away. I do wish this was explored a bit more. I need to read more classic’s I always feel like a know the story but reading the text gives all of these nuances that I would not have learned and known.

The Plot: This novel takes place during the Civil War and after it. Meg, Jo, Amy, and Beth are getting raised by Marmee their mother, while there father is serving in the war. He father gives advise through letters and refers to the girls as his little women. Jo is the Tomboy who writes and seeks adventure, Meg is the oldest and serious on that despises being poor and plans to marry rich, Beth is the sweet one that you just want to take care of, and Amy the youngest is incredibly selfish and rebellious. There world is made more fun as Laurie the grandson of their neighbor come to like next door, his adventurous sprit and love for pranks soon makes him part of the March family. They live their lives learning life lessons and grow up in the process.

What I Liked: The characters are amazing, this novel is not crazy plot heavy but I really enjoyed hanging and growing old with these characters. Jo and Laurie are my absolute favorites, I like almost everyone though they were perfect for each other. Marmee’s advice and the way she feels about God were really powerful and pure, I loved hearing about how she dealt with her anger over the years and had to work to develop patience. The advice she gave Meg about family was really great as well, and still really relevant today. I enjoyed the poetry and the writing with in the book, but the poetry really stuck out, especially the last poem in the book In the Garret, with the way the poem describes Beth.

What I Disliked: We didn’t get Jo’s thoughts on the Civil War, Jo was such a progressive character when it came to a women’s place I would have wanted to hear how she thought about slavery. I’m sure there were many reason’s during the time that this was published not to say anything, but it would have been nice. I did not like the Jo and Professor’s relationship at all, as a pair they just did not work for me. The characters are strong but the book does have some lag due to it not bing too plot heavy.

Recommendations: I think this novel is perfect for the YA audience, it read way more current than I thought. If you have just started a new family and need raising children advice there are some gems of information in this book. If you want to tell a friend he is in the friend zone, give them this book and say we are just like Jo and Laurie. I enjoyed Little women by Louisa May Alcott and rated this story 4 out of 5 stars. I the past year I have been reading more classic’s I have read The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Rebecca, We have Always lived in the Castle, and now this. My next classic will be Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling.

Wrap Up: December 2019 Book Reviews

Hello Readers, December is done and gone as well as the decade. I have already written my best of 2010 -2019 check it out! I have had a fair amount of comments about my number 2 pick of Stephen King’s 11/22/63 which is really fantastic and King’s best work in years it was nice to see the reading community behind that one because I did not see it on too many Best of the decade list. I read 5 books this month one five star book that made it on to my best of the year post at number six. I read one advanced copy thanks to Netgalley and Flatiron Books.

5 Star Book Review:

The Wanders  by Chuck Wendig – a novel that is an epic tale that manages to balance the worship of both technology and religion, while throwing in the end of the world as we know it type scenario. An epidemic has started in America that make people start sleepwalking but can’t be woken, their family members at as shepherds guiding them to their final destination, when and where ever that will be. People don’t know if they’re angels or devils. This Novel is written in the vein as Stephen King’s The Stand.

4 Star Book Reviews:

My Best Friend’s Exorcism by Grady Hendrix – a fun horror read, with the best cover ever, resembling an 80’s VHS cover, that dips into eighties nostalgia and at it’s core is about real friendship. This novel knows what it is and has fun with the tropes it sets. Think of this novel as a an adult version of Christopher Pike and R. L. Stine’s Fear Street both of the novelist got their start in the 80’s and had a formula for just how far the novels will go. This novel borrows off of it but where those books won’t cross a line, this novel does it with glee.

Where the World Ends by Geraldine McCaughrean – 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. Thanks to Netgalley and Flatiron Books for the advanced copy.

3 Star Book Reviews:

Rogue Squadron by Michael A. Stackpole is the Top Gun of the Star Wars novels. The novel is about X-Wing missions after the Empire has fallen. The space battles are well crafted and even if this wasn’t Star Wars the war games are strategically sound and well thought out. This is the first of the X-Wing novels that follows Wedge Antilles and the Rogue Squadron who in A New Hope and Return of the Jedi defeated both the Deathstars. This one was really more of a three and a half star review, the ending was just okay, but there’s some good character work.

Rocket Raccoon and Groot is a marvel comics graphic novel, featuring the unlikely pair from Guardians of the Galaxy. This novel features Free Comic Book Day 2014 (Rocket Raccoon) #1, Rocket Raccoon #5, Marvel Universe Guardians of the Galaxy#1-2 and #5, and Groot #2. This collection is best when it is just Rocket Raccoon and Groot. They very cleverly use the only phrase Groot uses which of course is “I am Groot”. I bought this for my nephew for Christmas, and just wanted to do a content check, if it was appropriate for a 7 almost 8 year old. Which I felt it was it’s fun and has good artwork which is all he cares about.

My Top Ten Books: of this Decade 2010-2019

Wow is this Decade over already it moved way to fast.  While making this list I kept thing of the amazing books that I have read, that were published this decade.  There was a lot too choose from.  I hope you enjoy my list, and i can’t wait for what the next decade holds for us, readers.

  1. Life After Life by Kate Atkinson – This is a book I’ve recommend time after time,   it deals with Ursula Todd and her many lives, it is not reincarnation, but a woman who lives the same life over and over in 1910 usually to World War II , It is like the film Groundhogs Day, but over an entire lifetime, and she can’t remember the choices exactly but she has intuition to save herself from traumatic events in her life and family.  It really analyzes why we make the choices we do, and it made me immediately think of my own life and choices.

 

  1. 11/22/63 by Stephen King – this novel was an instant classic for me. It has one of the better endings for a King novel. It is so much more than the Kennedy assassination. This is a story of choices and the repercussions of those choices; it has romance, adventure, spying, conspiracy, and a whole lot of heart. This was a novel that I thought I knew where it was going, but boy was I wrong and couldn’t be happier. This book is an incredible journey, with so much vivid detail; you’ll feel like you lived this adventure.

 

  1. The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson – This book is EPIC!!! The first book in the Stormlight Archive series. Too much plot to give a brief summary. Incredible world building, great organic magic system, excellent characters both heroes and villains. This is 1253 page book that you will be sad is over thankfully the book is a ten book series with the forth book coming out in 2020.

 

  1. Vicious by V. E. Schwab – This wasn’t your standard good Vs. evil it was kind of evil thinking he was good Vs. evil that still has some good in him. I love what this book does for the super hero genre.  It could be compared to Professor X and Magento, with different powers, and instead of one bad guy there is two each with his own ideas, thinking they were doing good. This novel has one sequel, Vengeful that was nearly as good and expanded the series in really different ways.

 

  1. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn – This is the first book that I remember being floored by the twist. This book is already a classic as it gets compared to every novel with a good twist. This novel is dark revels in it. I remember reading this in an afternoon I could not stop.

 

  1. Red Rising by Pierce Brown – This novel started a series that is now five books and a six forthcoming. The first book was Hunger Games meets Game of Thrones. The novel plays out like a Greek tragedy. I loved this book so much, I recommended it a lot! Where a lowly red race who works in the mines ruled over by the gold race on Mars. When Darrow’s wife is murdered for defiance by a Gold he wants to go the same way, he is recused and made to look like a gold so he can infiltrate them, and change things on the inside, he soon finds out the Gold’s will murder there own to get a head as well.

 

  1. A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman – Ove is a wonderful book it reminded me of the Pixar movie “Up”, only instead of Carl wanting to have a balloon filled adventure, he wants to commit suicide. This book is a dramaedy it’s 30 percent drama and 70 percent comedy. It still manages to be heart breaking, tears welled up in my eyes as I finished this book, because the characterization is that good. It is rumored that Tom Hanks will play Ove for an American remake.

 

  1. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas – We follow Starr who is in a car that’s stopped by the police with broken taillight, the driver is an old friend of the neighborhood who has fallen on rough times and starts selling drugs. The white police officer shoot the friend at the stop who the officer thought was going for a weapon as he checked on Starr. Starr is the loan witness and has to decide if she wants to stick up and say the truth about the incident. This book is pretty amazing with it’s approach about talking about important issues like, like black lives matter movement, interracial couples, gang violence, whether or not to talk to the police, why some people sell drugs, death of a loved one and prison life.

 

  1. NOS4AU by Joe Hill – A great horror story that shuck me to my core. Vic can travel anywhere she wishes by a magical bridge. She crosses paths with Charles Manx who has the same gift uses it for evil. If he wants to go somewhere it is to take children so they cannot get back. This novel will ruin Christmas for every one.

 

  1. The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager –   “What none of them understand is that the point isn’t to fool others with a lie. The goal is to trick them by telling the truth.” The twist are incredible, there was two gut punches of twist, I haven’t been hit this hard since the Gone Girl twist. This novel takes you back to the sleepaway camp days, it will give you nostalgia and chills. I have read ever Rilely Sager book he is one of my top authors of this decade.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book Review: Wanderers by Chuck Wendig

Wanderers by Chuck Wendig is a novel that is an epic tale that manages to balance the worship of both technology and religion, while throwing in the end of the world as we know it type scenario. Wanderers has easily made it into my top five list of books in 2019. This novel is in good company as a pre and post apocalyptic novel. The novel acknowledges such novels as Stephen King’s The Stand, Robert McCammon’s Swan Song, Margret Atwood’s Handmaiden’s Tale, and Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven. This novel is going to get compared more to Stephen King’s Stand than any other’s, here’s the similarities in it’s cast it has an aging rock star, Las Vegas is described the same way in both, Colorado is a home base for some of the travelers, and A plot line involves a pregnant walker. Despite the those similarities this novel is an epic ride with huge twist and with a very, very satisfying ending. The ending deserves a slow clap, it had action and heart all rolled into one. This novel is almost 800 pages and I could have read more, for a novel it’s size the pacing had a couple of dips but is pretty steady throughout. The humor and social commentary on movies, music, and social media are great. I could have done with out the political commentary, (Creel was Donald Trump and Hunt was Hillary Clinton) it was on the nose maybe too much it’s hard for escapist reading if you’re reminded of our sometimes dangerous political climate.

The Plot: One day Nessie, a brilliant high school student gets a glazed look in her eye and goes into a sleepwalking state. Shana her older sister notices and followers her out the door and down the street, she ties an she can do to make her stop, Nessie starts getting hot and her skin turns red, and she powers through her sister. Nessie is then joined by more walkers as they are called. The police are called and one overly ambitious officer tries tasers but they have no effect. The officer manages to use his brute strength to move one into his cop car where the body then explodes killing and burning the officer to death. More start to join what is known as the flock, which are followed by their family who act as shepherds. The military and the CDC join the parade as they look for a cure and for protection. Some people see the flock as heaven sent and the start off revelations. But others see them as Devil’s Pilgrimage. Those that fear the flock take measures into their own hands to stop them by force. Benji a disgraced agent of the CDC is given a second chance as a powerful A.I. known as Black Swan believes he’s the key to solving this whole thing, but this isn’t the only epidemic breaking out, in this world gone mad.

What I Liked: This huge novel is a character piece and I enjoyed a majority of the character, Like Arav, Sadie, Pete, Marcy, and Benji who was my favorite a man that convictions are so strong he will sabotage everything to do what’s right. The character arc’s were really good two character change a lot and it was interesting to go on that journey with them. The downfall of society from social media perspective was really effective and at times powerful. The walkers were cool the way they were described and what they can do made them unique. The explanation of the walkers was well explained and a really clever idea in itself. The ending is great very satisfying, when compared to The Stand this ending was way more plausible. it had exciting action, and great finish. I liked that every character didn’t get a happy ending, there’s one ending that I’m sure is going to upset people that, I kind of enjoyed because it felt real and raw ultimately more heartbreaking that the character didn’t get the closure they wanted. I really like Black Swan the A. I. as a character really worked for me, it’s motivation for survival rivaled the human’s. The epidemic of White Mask was described really well.

What I Disliked: Shana as the main character, was sometimes so whiny, and she had a lot of secrets which made her character tough to get to know and connect. I think the political stuff was at times too heavy handed, from a story standpoint it wasn’t necessary, it could have been all about a religious debate instead of throwing politics into them. That being said the author made the choice because he wanted to make a social commentary about today’s political climate and how easily it could be radicalized and maybe it already has. The cover is so boring and this novel is so exciting, so please don’t judge this book by it’s cover.

Recommendations: If you like big epic novels like The Stand And Swan Song then you will like this. This novel does have some trigger warnings of Rape, violence, addiction, and gore. This novel is a great Science fiction in the vein of Michael Chrichton where the science is well thought out and easily explained. I rated Wanderers by Chuck Wendig despite some flaws 5 out of 5. This was my first Chuck Wendig book and will not be my last, I have a friend that has been recommending his Star Wars Aftermath series for some time now.

Book Review: Rocket Raccoon and Groot

Rocket Raccoon and Groot is a marvel comics graphic novel, featuring the unlikely pair from Guardians of the Galaxy. This novel features Free Comic Book Day 2014 (Rocket Raccoon) #1, Rocket Raccoon #5, Marvel Universe Guardians of the Galaxy#1-2 and #5, and Groot #2. This collection is best when it is just Rocket Raccoon and Groot. They very cleverly use the only phrase Groot uses which of course is “I am Groot”. The art in the Groot and Rocket Raccoon comics were really great, but I was really turned off by the Guardians of the Galaxy with was was super unnecessarily too dark, It reminded me of the Game of Thrones episode that had the battle in the snow storm that you could barely make out.

The Plot: Rocket Raccoon and Groot didn’t start out as friends. Actually Rocket Raccoon thought that the phrase “I am Groot” was kind of annoying and didn’t understand what he was saying. But as they are locked up as cellmates Groot and Rocket Raccoon develop a friendship and some understanding as they defend themselves from guards and prisoners. Groot and Rocket Raccoon team up with the Guardians of the Galaxy to retrieve a rare powerful crystal.

What I Liked: The humor is filled throughout this collection, the funniest moments are all around the phrase “I am Groot” There’s a great scene where alien children are around the fire asking rocket about his latest adventure, and says Groot tells it better, so we get a whole adventure where people, dates and even store front signs are all labeled “I am Groot.” Another scene where Groot is sick and tells Rocket Raccoon “I am Groot” where Rocket replies he’s not making sense. There are some great moments of humor involving art.

What I Disliked: The art work of the Guardians of the Galaxy was sooo dark, you can barely see some of the art. The Guardian of the Galaxy do a really bad job of introducing all the characters, it basically relies on you having seen the movies, which I have but there needed to be more the only one who gets an introduction was Cosmo the Russian dog that is telepathic and not introduced in the movies, (even though he does have a cameo in the Collector’s lair in the first Guardians of the Galaxy).

Recommendations: This is the scholastic version of Rocket Raccoon and Groot presented by Marvel. I was reading this for content in looking to give this book to my almost 7 year old nephew. This comic should be 6 and above for some minor prison violence. I think my nephew will love it as he is just getting into superheroes. I rated Rocket Raccoon and Groot graphic novel 3 out of 5 stars. The ultra dark Guardians of the Galaxy comics ruin what was looking like an excellent collection.

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: Star Wars X-Wing Rogue Squadron by Michael A. Stackpole

Rogue Squadron by Michael A. Stackpole is the Top Gun of the Star Wars novels. The novel is about X-Wing missions after the Empire has fallen. The space battles are well crafted and even if this wasn’t Star Wars the war games are strategically sound and well thought out. This is the first of the X-Wing novels that follows Wedge Antilles and the Rogue Squadron who in A New Hope and Return of the Jedi defeated both the Deathstars. This novel is part of the Legends series of Star Wars novel, meaning that it is not in Star Wars Cannon with the time line that Force Awakens has created. In Legend time line this novel takes place 6 years after A New Hope. This novel in its self was a reread for me, it’s rating did improve on this reread, my original rating was two stars, which I raised to 3 stars and it was close to 4. When I did give it the original star rating I was doing it from memory since I did not know about Goodreads and read for fun without giving it a review. I was really in the mod to read a Star Wars story as I have been rewatching the entire series in anticipation for the new movie The Rise of the Skywalkers and new episodes of the Mandalorian on Disney+.

The Plot: Wedge Antilles one of the founding members and final remaining members of Rogue Squadron he is tasked with training a new team of X-Wing pilots to be the new Rogue Squadron. The Emperor and Darth Vader have been defeated but the Empire still exist and it is trying to actively shut down the Rebel Alliance. Corran Horn is one of those new recruits, he was a former member of Corsec a police unit on Corcusant, Corran resisted the Empire as long as he could and fled when they took over taking an X-wing and an R2 droid with him. Defecting was one thing but stealing now empire equipment is a big thing, he is now hunted my his former boss Kirtan Loor was tasked with tracking him and his stolen property down. With Corran joining the Rogue Squadron Loor is promoted and now in charge of destroying Rogue Squadron.

What I Liked: The character’s are great they all have interesting backgrounds that compelled them to rebel. Corran I liked especially at first he’s a hot head pilot that has to learn to work as a unit. Wedge was one of my favorite side characters form the original trilogy, (side note can not wait to see what they do with his character in Rise of the Skywalkers since he is confirmed to be back.) his character does not disappoint he his a calculating and caring team leader, you found out he’s reject promotion after promotion because he just wants to fly. Ooryl is by far my favorite character, he’s the goose to Corran Horn’s Maverick and a great sidekick. What I found fascinating is about the Gand species that is born only being called Gand and you have to earn your first and last name. The X-Wing battles are exciting and really smart military war games, the battle reminded a lot of the Battle School in Enders Game by Orsen Scott Card. The respect it gave to former members of Rogue Squadron, like Dack and Porkins. I really liked the epilogue and what scenario it sets up for the the next book Wedge’s Gamble.

What I Disliked: Te dialogue was sometimes lacking especially the slangs where they tried too hard to make Star Wars references, Son of a Sithspawn was the only good one that I can remember. The finale was really lacking it was one sided battle, I compare it to in Return of the Jedi you have the battle on Endor, The battle in space around the Deathstar, and you have the Luke Darth Vader duel, that all count on each other to succeed. The finally just gives you on scenario not the whole chain of events all you get is a passing acknowledgment that the plan passed or failed.

Recommendations: Iv’e read at least twenty Star Wars books over the years, where this was just good it set’s up leading to one of my favorite Star Wars X-Wing novels the Kyrotos Trap. It has an Empire Strikes back like ending that will really test the Rebellion. This novel if you ever wanted to read a Top Gun like novel full of space battles then this is your book. I rated this book 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Wrap Up: November 2019 Book Reviews

Wow one more month left in the year, 2019 is flying by. With my new work schedule allowing a little more time for reading, I completed 8 books this month. Two books this month have made it on my top five list of the year. I had 3 books that were five stars, 3 books that were four stars, and 2 that were three stars. One of the books was an advanced readers copy thanks to Netgalley. This month I reached over 600 followers, thanks every one for the support. I met and exceeded my reading goal of 65 books this year.

Five Star Reviews:

The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides – A woman is found in a catatonic state as she is covered in the blood of her husband, who had been shot multiple times, a psychotherapist believes he is the only man to make her talk again. A fantastic debut thriller with a twist ending that changes everything. This book is a little Hitchcockian with the added bonus of a Greek tragedy that will keep you on the edge of your seat until you know the truth.

Recursion by Blake Crouch – A cop is exposed to FMS (False Memory Syndrome) where all the people in their social circle remember a different lifetime of memories other then their own. Recursion mind bending Science Fiction, I would say like no other, but this is the writer of Dark Matter, so mind bending is what he just does. A good science fiction for me makes me ask questions about the potential future and this book will compel you to ask questions. The story is all about memories of the past and how we connect to them, and second-guess the choices we made in those instances.

The Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly – A book that takes 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 tales are all connected in some way and intermingle at times

Four Star Reviews:

In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware – an anxiety filled psychological thriller about a woman invited to a Bachelorette party ten years after having a fall out with the bride to be, twist, turns, and murder are abound.   It makes you fill claustrophobic but yet on display. This is my second Ruth Ware novel I caught the hype train and read The Women in Cabin 10, I have to say I liked this one a whole lot better.

Let’s Get Invisible by R. L. Stine – this is the sixth in the original Goosebumps series. This one is all about invisibility, the ultimate way to play hide and seek. Stine always adds something real and relevant to his horrors and this time it is addiction and peer pressure.

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness – A book that cast a spell on your knowledge of witches and vampires and one of the best stories of introducing vampires and witches and their to world history, literature, and sciences. Diane accidently breaks a powerful protection spell on a book that is the holy grail of vampires, witches, and daemons, that tells how they were made and can be destroyed, this draws danger as all species want that book for their own purposes.

Three Star Reviews:

Once Upon a Dream: A Disney Twisted Tale by Liz Braswell – A book from Disney’s Twisted Tales Series, where reader are given alternative versions of classic Disney stories by having what if questions. For Once Upon a Dream the what if scenario is, What if Sleeping Beauty never woke up? We get a clever plot, but with a slow start.

Curious Toys by Elizabeth Hand – An interesting Historical Fiction mixed with a mystery. The story takes place in 1915 Fair grounds in Chicago about twenty years after the World’s Fair 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. This is a decent story with a strong LGTBQ lead character. A special thanks to Netgalley and Mulholland Books for giving me a copy.

 

 

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.