Book Review: Snow, Glass, Apples by Colleen Doran adapted from a Neil Gaiman short story

Snow, Glass, Apple’s by Colleen Doran adapted from a Neil Gaiman short story is a haunting adaptation of Snow White told in a graphic novel form. The story is told from the Stepmother’s perspective, notice I didn’t say evil stepmother. In this story it is flipped where the stepmother is good and loving, her stepdaughter is evil incarnate. The images are hauntingly beautiful and very graphic. The images leave a lasting impression with the mix of bold color with dark colors. The story had very little dialogue with most of the story delivered through narration. This story is a 17+ story that has violence and graphic sex depicted.

The Plot: It begins with love and lust towards the new queen and king, they have separate bedrooms and often make love. The queen starts to notice a change in the king and starts seeing him less and less. His daughter from a previous marriage is strange and quiet, the stepmother tries and thinks they have a moment as the girl loves apples. She bites the apple then bites her stepmother tasting her blood. The storm’s wound heals creating and interesting scar. She she’s the king again and tries to make love but the king is frail, when she undressed him she sees the same scar across his body. He dies and she sends a hunter to remove her heart, he does, and the stepmother puts the heart over her bed, but a strange thing happens as the heart doesn’t die but stay alive, as does her stepdaughter. It is up to the stepmother to kill her stepdaughter once and for all.

What I Liked: The imagery is stunning, even the horrific stuff you can not take your eyes off of. The creative way the story is told still having the same beats as the original, just twisted. That the Prince is attracted to still things. The dwarves and forest folk are cut throat bandits and thieves. I

What I Disliked: The graphic drawings went a little too far showing graphic pubic hair. I would have liked more dialogue between characters.

Recommendation: If you’re a fan of Neil Gaiman then you will get a very faithful adaptation of a 23 page short story turned into a 75 page graphic novel. If you are a fan of beautiful haunting artwork then you will be rewarded here. I rated Snow, Glass, Apples by Colleen Doran 4 out of 5 stars.

Book Review: Goosebumps – You Can’t Scare Me! by R. L. Stine

You Can’t Scare Me! by R.L. Stine is about pranking someone to admit their scared, only the prank accidentally involves real monsters. You Can’t Scare Me! is the 15th book in the original Goosebumps series. This story is 80% lead up to any actual monsters. This story was hard to identify with the group of scaredy cat’s are determined to make one girl scared. The girl isn’t horrible of mean, she does one thing with a bumble bee, but the rest of the time she doesn’t deserve them messing with her. The group is mad at themselves for being scared and lashes out on this girl to make them feel better. The twist is pretty tame for a goosebumps story. It did remind me of going on nature walks while I was young and probably took it as serious as Eddie, the main character, did.

The Plot: Courtney is the girl that can’t be scared. She lets snakes, and bees crawl up her arms, while Eddie and his group are scared of all those. They plan to get Courtney good, after she makes them look bad, by not being afraid, when they are. The plan involves mud monsters and scaring Courtney to death by any means necessary. Will Eddie and the group go too far to prove Courtney is scared of something; monsters.

What I Liked: The final plan, they failed at all the others then, they use the truth to get Courtney to the spot. The description of Hat’s hair, Hat is called Hat because no one has ever seen him without one, so when he is does take it off the description was hilarious. The back fire of the call and the tarantula pranks. I do like the way the scaredy cat gang sticks together.

What I Disliked: I really don’t believe Courtney deserved all the lengths, and the boys end up getting the girls in the group accidentally then end up kind of sort of blaming it on Courtney who didn’t laugh but helped the two times they were freaking out. The monster scenes were kind of weak.

Recommendation: This was one of the weakest in the Goosebump series so far. I do remember the TV episode for You can’t Scare me which was adapted heavily changing a lot and focusing on the actual monsters. I rated You Can’t Scare Me! by R. L. Stine 2 out of 5 stars. Here’s my full ranking of the 15 Goosebumps books that I have read in order to my favorite to least favorite:Stay Out of the Basement, Piano Lessons Can Be Murder, The Haunted Mask, Night of the Living Dummy, Welcome to Camp Nightmare, The Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb, Say Cheese and Die, Let’s Get Invisible, Welcome to Dead House, The Girl who Cried Monster, The Ghost Next Door, Be Careful What You Wish For… , The Werewolf of Fever Swamp, Monster Blood And You Can’t Scare Me!.

Book Review: Leave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam

Leave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam is a hard book to describe. The book deals with class, race, comfort, and guidance. The story is one part dystopian and the other part is about togetherness and finding comfort in the new dystopia, sort of; that’s the best way I can describe it. Conversations rule this book over actions, what I found interesting is characters acting civil while civilization is falling apart. The book plays with the reader asking who do you trust or why don’t you trust characters? The book is tense and claustrophobic, with the ongoing pandemic adding to the tension. The dialogue was written really well, and kept the flow since it’s a book of conversation. The author likes lists often with item, her is every thing in the fridge, or everything I’m picking up from the store, which I felt was unnecessary. Leave the World Behind is a book that was written to be discussed in colleges I feel, it does interesting things with narrative and focus that can lead to lots of discussion. The ending is really open ended with little or no character closure, but ends more on a statement on comfort. Leave the World Behind was a National Book Award Finalist for Fiction.

The Plot: Amanda and Clay are going on a vacation to a cabin in remote woods with their two teenage kids. The vacation home is nice with a pool and a Jacuzzi. So far everything is perfect, when late at night a knock comes at the door. An elderly black couple Ruth and G.H. tell the family that they’re the owners and something has happened in New York, a blackout, and they didn’t want to go their apartment, they wanted to go home. The television is just showing a blue screen, do they trust the couple or not?

What I Liked: The tension in the words and action with the added claustrophobic atmosphere. I like the questions the story brought up about trusting in another, what will it take? The dynamic of G.H. and Danny the repair man, of he fixed things we should go to him to fix this, a good rich versus poor dynamic. I liked the overall story idea being on vacation when something like this happens. The dialogue was good, for a book mainly about conversations the dialogue was fresh and drive the narrative. My favorite line was “Home was just where you were, in the end. It was just the place where you found yourself.”

What I Disliked: The list of things was annoying, for a short book, I thought I’d the author adding to the page count. I don’t mind a book being open ended, but I want some characters to have closure, and there was none. It felt very unfinished.

Recommendation: I will recommend this book to people that like to thoroughly analyze text in books. This can be a good book club just for the conversation it starts. The book has moments of deep tension that I couldn’t put down, I Liked the end passage in the book but at the same time feel let down about the ending. I rated Leave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam 3 out of 5 stars.

Book Review: Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds

Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds is a powerful story of systemic gun violence in America written in verse. The verse is written in small poems barley ever going over two pages really well painting a picture that lets you the reader control the narrative adding the details that the verse misses. The story is like a cross between Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol and Mitch Albom’s The Five People You Meet in Heaven. Ghost of the past board the elevator on every floor starting with the 7th and talk young Will about what he’s going to do when he gets when he gets to the bottom floor; kill the guy he thinks killed his older brother. The ending is one of the powerful endings I’ve read, I felt this is a story that need to get turned into a stage play. This is my second book by Jason Reynolds, and the second time I have been blown away by his writing. He uses such simple words to describe such an emotional stories. Jason Reynolds writes middle grade fiction with such heart and truth. Reynolds Ghost was one of my top picked books a couple years ago and this better than that. Long Way Down was a Newberry Medal Nominee, and Won the Edgar Award for Best Young Adult 2018

The Plot: 15 year-old Will has just dropped to the ground because he heard gun fire, he and his friend get up and look around, one body is still; his older brother Sean. Will angry goes home dead set to get the gun he knows Sean has hidden in his sock drawer. He grabs the gun pretty sure he knows who killed his brother, when he gets to the bottom floor that it the guy, Riggs, is dead. Will is visited by a ghost that has been a victim of gun violence on every floor. They talk about what he’s going to do and why, can they change Will or is it too late?

What I Liked: The poetic storytelling really works, I read it sort of like I would Hamilton the musical, I think that’s why I would really like to see it as a stage play. The character of Will is a good kid that is getting dragged into something he feels he has too. I like the rules of the streets and how everyone feels beholden to these rules that’s killing these young kids. I like that the subject matter is serious but it injects humor. I liked how the ghost of Buck and the guy that shot him are friends, like if the streets didn’t exist they would have been best friends. The ending is one of the best I have read it is open ended allowing the reader to choose what happened, and I loved it so much, so powerful. My Favorite line was “Pretended like yellow tape was some kind of neighborhood flag that don’t nobody wave but always be flapping in the wind.” followed up by “And the next day, kids would play mummy with it.”

What I Disliked: I wanted a little more clarity on what Will’s father was thinking, he made him scared, but more dialogue was needed to know his full intent.

Recommendation: I recommend this story to young and old, this is a middle grade story but an older audience will get everything the story is trying to say. I think this is a great story especially for the people already living this life. I would be weary of exposing kids that this world is not on their radar to soon, but it is a good story to give empathy to those that live a different life than most. I rated Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds 5 out of 5 stars.

Book Review: Star Wars X-Wing Krytos Trap by Michael A. Stackpole

The Krytos Trap by Michael A. Stackplole is a novel that balances three different genres, court room drama, prison escape, and medical stopping viral spread, with X-wing action as well. The Krytos Trap is the third book in the X-wing series that follows the exploits of Rogue Squadron. 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 7 years after A New Hope. The novel starts right where the last one ended. This has been my favorite novel so far in the series, it is the book with the least X-wing action, but I was really into the political intrigue. The reviews for this one have been mixed, either people really enjoy it or they complain about lack of action, where I really did enjoy it I feel the flow could have been better, with action sparsed out through it a little better. This book has a really exciting climax that balances a lot of things the book a cleverly set up all coming to a head. This book has cameos from Luke Skywalker, Leia Organa, Mon Montha, and Admiral Ackbar. I’m excited that Disney has just announced the next movie to be Rogue Squadron directed by Patty Jenkins (Wonder Woman), reading these novels theres a lot of stories a characters to borrow from.

The Plot: The New Republic has taken Coruscant from the imperials, but not before the imperials released the Krytos virus, a deadly virus, to most nonhumans on the planet. The virus is able to be fought off by using a great deal of Bacta, which the new republic is in short supply. The rebels must take great risk in getting more Bacta. The Rogue Squadron is down two members with Tycho Celchu on trial for treason after the imperials set him up to be a spy, and the reason Corran Horn is dead. Although Corran Horn is not dead the imperials wanted it to look like it to set up Tycho, and give them more time to reprogram Corran through torture and manipulation. While the real spy is leaking information.

What I Liked: The political intrigue was so good, and you really got to see all sides. The trial was really interesting how truly set up Tycho was. The prison escape plot was great, my favorite part of the novel. I like how the character escaped and what he learned about his self along the way. The downfall of one villain was spectacular. I liked the double crosses and the one mistaken identity kill. I think they did a good job of highlighting the species resentment in the humans not getting the virus, and being the face of the New Republic. The dialogue was the best yet, there’s a lot of speeches that deliver.

What I Disliked: The spy with in Rogue Squadron, didn’t really contribute to a lot and was not even in the book very much. Ooryl Qrygg, Corran Horn’s roommate, is my favorite character and he was in only two scenes, really missed him in this. The pacing could have been better filtering action in here and there.

Recommendations: I really enjoyed this one, if you like political intrigue in your Star Wars then this is for you. The book exchanged adventure for action like the escape from prison instead of a X-wing dog fight. This book is not the most action packed, but when there is action it is big action with lots of consequences. I rated The Krytos Trap by Michael A. Stackpole 4 out of 5 stars. I will continue this series with The Bacta War, I might read them a bit faster because of the 2021 Rogue Squadron movie.

Book Review: The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett is a family drama about race, focusing on the light and darkness of skin color. The book will really make you self reflect your own prejudice and bias based on skin color. Bennett doesn’t just analyze the white standard of skin bias but the black on as well. The book starts in the 1950’s and goes up to the early 1980’s. The story follows 3 generations of the Vinges family women. The story jumps in time a little a the beginning which took some getting used to but, I liked what it set up. The story was really good and really got into the psychology of its characters. The way the story was told reminded me of The Immoralists by Chloe Benjamin, and how the story jumps in time. The Vanishing Half is an important story that needed to me told. This book features an interesting portrait of a trans man transitioning, which was pretty bold. I do fear that the scene will turn off some readers, who came for a story about race, which would be unfortunate. The Vanishing Half won the Goodreads choice award for Historical fiction in 2020, I do feel this is a little bit of a stretch as history is an afterthought to the drama the only moments in history that are highlighted are Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. assignations and the Aids crisis that’s really all, there’s rarely a pop culture reference. The story is a fantastic general fiction that involves four decades. The Vanishing Half is being developed as a limited series at HBO and HBOmax.

The Plot Desiree and Stella Vinges are twin sisters in the small town of Mallard, Louisiana. A town so small it’s not even on the map. The Vinges are all very light skinned and so is every other colored person in the town, that’s the only way the white people can tolerate them. Stella and Desiree are so light they could almost pass for white. Stella has experimented with this and passed for a brief moment when a black man working security spotted her. The twins lost their father to a mob of angry white men, there mother did what she could but she couldn’t pay the bills, she made the girls drop out of school and work with her to pay the bills. The girls each dreamers, wanted more out of life and weren’t happy, they decide to run away. They stayed with each other for quite some time until Stella a perfected playing white and leaves her sister Desiree for a different life as a white woman. Desiree find love and marries a dark skinned man and has a dark skinned child in Jude. The husband beats her and she returns home with her child causing a stir because of her daughter’s skin color. Desiree meets Early and bounty hunter that she knew as children and hasn’t lost his crush, he covers for her to her husband and starts looking for Stella.

What I Liked: The story and the conversation around skin color is really fascinating. The relationship between Loretta and Stella was my favorite, someone she feared would reveal her secret would be the only friend she could talk to. The psychology of faking white and what it does to Stella towards her relationship towards black people. June was my favorite secondary character, I loved the psychology of her and secrets. I liked how the story made connections, it was real and messy not tied up in a bow. There’s to many good lines of dialogue here are my to favorite exchanges “White folks kill you if you want too much, kill you if you want too little.” Willie Lee shook his head, packing tobacco into his pipe. “You gotta follow they rules but they change ’em when they feel.” and “You did all this for a man?” “Not for him,” she said. “I just liked who I was with him.” “White.” “No,” Stella said. “Free.” Desiree laughed. “Same thing, baby.”

What I Disliked: Stella still hides her true self from one of the most important people in her life, I feel if she told them they would not have believed her anyway, but she would have got it off her chest. I do find it a little unbelievable that no one questioned Reece about being trans before he could start the hormones and have surgery.

Recommendations: The Vanishing Half is a heck of a read that will make you think after you read it. The Vanishing Half has a hard look about skin color backed up by a fantastic story. The story flows really well and was hard to stop at certain points. I rated The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett 5 out of 5 stars. I look forward to reading more from Brit Bennett in the future.

Book Review: The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V. E. Schwab

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V. E. Schwab is part memoir through time and history, and part present day love story. I say love story lightly because from this reader’s perspective I don’t know if one character can love. The story is great a deal with the devil gone wrong, but with a unique twist. This story will make you the reader question, what would you do in the same scenario? The story is unique, yet familiar if you know Schwab’s other works like Vicious and A Darker Shade of Magic. I feel Schwab took some of the best parts out those novels and combined them. She brought the complex relationships between friend and foe in Vicious, and the dark history of A Darker Shade of Magic. The way the story is told bouncing back in forth in time was great and well paced, only got confused for a little bit. The writing is great with a couple memorable lines. This is my 5th V. E. Schwab book, and I remain a huge fan, her writing has been an instant TBR for a couple years now, I can’t wait for her next book.

The Plot: Addie doesn’t want to be married and a step mother at 23 in early 1700’s France, she wants adventure to be something. in the dead of night a devil hears her call and makes her an offer. no one will notice if she doesn’t get married. The devils twist’s is no one will ever notice her again. Once anyone leaves her sight they forget her instantly. Addie deal is to live long enough until she decides to give the devil her soul, she has spent that time searching for somebody anybody that will remember her. In 300 year she has found that person.

What I Liked: The story for The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue is so freaking good, there’s a lot of layers and twist, just really good storytelling. I really liked the character of Addie and feel for her predicament before the deal. I love the clever way she figures out not really how to be remembered, but have a presence still in this world. I really liked the character of Henry and how he fit into the overall story. I liked the LGTBQ representation, and that no character hides their bisexuality. I felt we get just enough history through Addie’s 300 year journey, hitting all the World War’s and Bastille Day. One of my favorite lines was, “Adeline was going to be a tree, and instead, people have come brandishing an ax.” I like the little bit of french we do get, “Déjà vu. Déjà su. Déjà vécu. Already seen. Already known. Already lived.” this translation recurs a couple of time through out the novel.

What I Disliked: It was hard to get the main relationship, because I do believe that one character can not love, and was more a relationship of convenience and not wanting to be lonely. I could feel the one sidedness of it. It was hard to get behind in the end.

Recommendations: I think you should read this novel that everyone on the blogosphere is raving about. The story is one of a kind. I know she writes as V. E. Schwab for her more adult but I think this could easily fit on Young Adult section, this a very small about of swear words and sexual content. I rated The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue 4 out of 5 stars barely.

Book Review: Exit Strategy by Martha Wells

Exit Strategy by Martha Well is book four in The Murderbot Diaries, book series. This is the last of the 4 novellas the next books in the series is a full length novels. The fourth book comes full circle all the way back to the first book and the first humans that he saved and started to generally care about. This novel has a bit more heart because of the reunion and the character of Murderbot has grown emotionally throughout the series. The ending was perfect for this chapter in Murderbot’s life. My one problem with this series is the formulaic plot, this book like the one before it had Murderbot try to get undetected on some transport, something happens to human’s he’s around Murderbot must save them, he does and he runs away. This book did change the ending but the plot points are the same. Murderbot’s dialogue was as fresh as it has ever been but the plot being kinda of the same bother’s me I actually took a break in the series for this reason. I feel this was trying especially in the end to change some things up I remain a fan but slightly disappointed.

The Plot: In the first Murderbot novella All Systems Red, Muderbot hired by a team of scientist doing lad surveys on a planet, a shadow company, GrayCris, has been doing it’s own research on the planet, and found aliens have visited it and have left technology, they fear the scientists finding out and send a kill order of the scientist. Murderbot saves them as they find out about the alien visit and learn more about the GrayCris, Murderbot is bought by the scientists and granted freedom. Murderbot runs away. In the second Murderbot book Artificial Condition Murderbot investigates the place where he became a mass murderer and finds out he was hacked and taken over by GrayCris that wanted settlers dead. In Rogue Protocol Murderbot is going to a planet that GrayCris deleted from record. Murderbot wants to grab proof of a coverup and give it to the scientists who released him and still fighting GrayCris. He joined a survey team that doesn’t understand what they are walking into, he lies his way in as security, and reluctantly has to protect the humans and a naive droid he has nicknamed Puppybot. In Exit Strategy Murderbot has the evidence and wants to show it to the team of scientist that helped set him free, before he can give the evidence, Dr. Mensah, the lead scientist is taken and ransomed for the evidence that Murderbot has. Can Murerbot save Dr. Mensah and keep the evidence?

What I Liked: The character of Murderbot thoughts and actions keep getting better as the character grows. I liked seeing the old scientific team from book one especially Dr. Mensah who say Muderbot for more than a robot. I do like that Dr. Mensah is the only other person that knows he refers to himself as Murderbot, I liked how that added it to the story. The action was better than previous installments because of Muderbot caring more than usual. I loved that Dr. Mensah to ease tension asked Muderbot about his favorite TV show, Sanctuary Moon. The end of the novella run was a good one and really shows how far the character has come.

What I Disliked: The plot points make this awesome series a tad episodic and I hate that. Here’s what it mad me think of; Lassie the old TV show. In every episode Timmy or somebody will get hurt and the only thing to save them is Lassie, that’s what I felt a little when reading this that I knew all the story beats, because I saw or read this episode before. I will say if this was the first book of the series I read I would think the writing and characterization are really strong and I wouldn’t know how formulaic it is. I’m not going to rate this book too harsh but it will lower my rating of the series, because I feel individually this book is the better written of the series.

Recommendations: The character of Murderbot is so good I will recommend the series just for that. love the character. Muderbot is the first character that I created a Spotisfy playlist for. The books are good and highly entertaining if not a tad predictable. I rated Exit Strategy by Martha Wells 4 out of 5 stars. I rated all books in the series 4 out of 5 stars, but I would rate the series 3 out of 5 stars to the formulaic nature. I will read the next book in The Muderbot Diaries series by Martha Wells Network Effect with a slight hesitation.

TBR: December 2020

December 2020 TBR list: last month was so successful I read all 8 books plus 4 more, but I did have an appendectomy with two weeks of bed rest; I decided not go with 8 again.

The Invisible Life of Addie Larue by V. E. Schwab is one of my most anticipated reads of the year, critics and bloggers are loving this book. The description is a young woman makes a Faustian bargain to live forever and is cursed to be forgotten by everyone she meets.  Curses, soul to the devil and living forever; these are all things I enjoy reading about and get me excited about this book. V. E. Schwab’s Vicious is one of my top ten favorite books so I’m going to read anything she has written. One review said this is an ugly cry book so I’m prepared.

The Vanishing Half by Brit Benett is another book that has been delighting critics and bloggers. The Vanishing Half deals with to identical sisters who live in different worlds one black and the other white.  This is a book that analyzes both the black and white world we live in and how race effects that.  The Vanishing Half is Longlisted for the National Book Award.

Exit Strategy by Martha Wells is the fourth book in the Murderbot series.  I like Muderbot as a character, of a self aware A.I. who would rather watch TV shows about humans than be with them. I have felt that the series was getting a bit formulaic, so I took a break for a couple of months hoping the series can pull me back in again.

Leave The World Behind by Rumaan Alam is about a family staying at a remote vacation home when a late knock at the doors from the owners saying there’s blackout, with no tv and internet they don’t know what to believe.  This novel is on so many people’s list I’m going in blind and hope I enjoy it.

Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds take place in 60 long seconds that one kid will decide wether or not to murder the guy that killed his brother.  Jason Reynolds is genius with Ghost, that was featured on PBS ‘s 100 Great American Reads.  I ‘ve wanted to pick up something else from him and had the opportunity.

Snow, Glass, Apples by Colleen Doran adapted from Neil Gaiman short story this is a retelling of Snow White from the stepmother’s perspective.  The original short story was 27 pages and has been formed into a beautiful graphic novel version.

The Krytos Trap by Michael A. Stackpole is a Star Wars X-wing novel, it is part three in the X-wings series,  The last novel was the Empire Strikes Back in the series, The rebellion risked everything to take Coruscant, and they did, but the rebellion released a deadly virus that will bleed the rebellion dry, also Corran Horn was thought to be blown up only to reveal him in prison of the enemy, and they leader that is innocent on trial for treason.  This novel blends court case with science fiction action.

You Can’t Scare Me! By R. L. Stine I return to reading Goosebumps books with book 15 in the original series.  This one has a similar premise to The Haunted Mask where the person is scared of everything and wants revenge on the person scaring them.  I this one Eddie lures Courtney, the bully,   Muddy Creek  where a rumored Mud Monster is there.

Wrap Up: November 2020 Book Reviews

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

Five Star Reviews:

His & Hers by Alice Feeney This book has the intriguing tag line: “There are two sides to every story: yours and mine, ours and theirs, His & Hers. Which means someone is always lying.” His & Hers is a great mystery with layers upon layers. This who done it, will have you constantly changing who you think is the killer. His & Hers reminded me of the best parts of The Girl in the Train, the unreliable narrators. Both main characters lie with in the first passage already showing you the reader mistrust. I really like the way it is told you have the perspective of him, a detective for a small town, and then you have her, a BBC news correspondent. But there is also another voice the killer’s voice, the clever thing this novel does is make you find out who the third voice belongs to is it Him, Her, or is it some one else.

Princess Floralinda and the Forty-Flight Tower by Tamsyn Muir is a fantastic, clever, new take on a witch locking a princess in the tower story. Tamsyn Muir is the best selling author of Gideon the Ninth and Harrow the Ninth both books in The Locked Tomb trilogy those books are dark, and clever about a lesbian necromancer, I was really excited to read something lighter by her, and Princess Floralinda was a little lighter with some truly brutal scenes. The one thing that is clear is Tamsyn Muir is a clever writer and thinks out side of the box. Her writing so far is all about female empowerment with this novel taking it to another level, Princess Floralinda does not need a man to save her, she’ll do it herself. A special thanks to Netgalley and Subterranean Press for allowing me to read it early. It wias be published on November 30, 2020.

Harleen by Stjepan Sejic was a fantastic Harley Quinn origin story. The approach was a romance novel gone wrong, and it works really well. Harleen managed to balance all four drama, action, romance, and comedy very evenly. The character of Harley generally wants to do good and help people, the Joker manipulates her feelings, but did she really change the Joker and make him care for him? Is the question, Batman and Alfred actually discuss it at the end. Harley does have layers to her character, and they are explored here. Harleen is written and drawn by Stjepan Sejic, with both done beautifully. The Joker and Harley have never loved better, the Joker is a little bit EMO which did take a second to get used to. Harleen is up for best graphic novel in Goodreads choice awards, and after reading it, it has my vote. 

Batman: Curse of the White Knight by Sean Gordon Murphy is a hard look at what it takes to be a hero, and Batman himself asking if he help contribute to crime. This is the sequel to the excellent Batman: White Knight where the Joker went sane and went after Batman as if he were the victim. The Joker is back to being the joker, but the things he called out were too good and could ruin crime sprees. The Joker has one more joke to pull that could blow up the Wayne legacy. The Curse of the White Knight continues its streak of being one of the best Batman stories. The story had a lot of twist and turns as it explores the birth of the Wayne dynasty and a current threat with an old score to settle. The writing will make you both laugh and almost cry.

Black Hammer Volume 4: Age of Doom, Part Two by Jeff Lemire was fantastic a perfect ending to the series. I was a little shocked that it ended I know of two other volumes to the series, but upon further research, one is short stories told in the world, and the other is a prequel. This is such a weird series that embraced the weird and did not shy away from it, but through all that weird it told a story of a dysfunctional super hero family, and the ending really nailed that aspect. This is easily one of my top series enders for a graphic novel. Characters were able to grow and the story has a nice arc that went full circle back to the beginning.

Four Star Reviews:

Mexican Gothic, by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia is one part gothic tale like Rebecca and one part like Jordan Peele’s film Get Out. The novel dip from gothic to horror easily. The novel analyses race, heredity, and class warfare making it a deep part of the story. This novel has been in the horror category, the first half I was like this is stretch to fit in this category, but the second half earned its spot in the category. The story is totally off the rails I could not have predicted where it went which was part of the fun. This book is one of the most hyped books of this year, receiving rants and raves all over the blogosphere.

One of Us is Next by Karen McManus is the sequel to the best selling One of Us is Lying. In this one the story is more complex, and the novel pulls double duty introducing us to new characters, while catching us up with the old characters from the first book. The book for the most part does a good job of blending the new characters with the old, I did feel at beginning it was too much of the new characters. The mystery is way more complex, it reminded me of the newest Veronica Mars storyline. Instead of 4 characters perspectives, we get 3 which was okay but it took away the rapid paced smaller chapters of the first one. The finale was really fun and exciting. There was a late twist almost at the end that I was not excepting.

Stone of Tears by Terry Goodkind is an epic tale of stopping the beings from the Underworld from escaping and bring hell upon the world. This is book two in the Sword of Truth series. This book waste no time to get going, action starts on page five and goes on for a good while. The story takes places a mere two days after the last one ended, with a lot of the unresolved issues getting addressed early on. The action scenes are great and unrelenting. There is a war scene that was so smart and detailed it was easily in my top ten of battle scenes I have read, where I didn’t get lost in the action and every move made sense. The finale felt a little rushed

Three Star Reviews:

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

Hard Times by Charles Dickens is a satire written in 1854 but about the Hard Times of a mill town in 1840’s. This story is tragic as it looks at the differences of the have and the have not’s of society. It is a little crazy how some of the issues are still relevant especially about workers rights on safety. Hard Times is a satire and Dickens will find little ways to add humor, he has a lot of fun with names such as Gradgrind, Slackbridge, and M’Coakumchild to name a few. The story is told as an ensemble there is no main character, the story bounces to people mostly associated with the Gradgrind and Bounderby familes/workers. 

The Great Zoo of China by Matthew Reilly is Jurassic Park with dragons. The novel is self aware and there is references to Jurassic Park throughout. Where the novel separates it self from Jurassic Park is 300 pages of white knuckle action that does not let up until the end. Reilly does not put too much science in his science fiction unlike Michael Crichton does, leaving the story not as believable as Jurassic Park. What Reilly does really well is have detailed maps, that constantly reminds the reader where they are in relationship to others. Reilly who is known for his action delivers a pulse pounding narrative that seems to never let up.

Two Star reviews:

Suicide Squad Volume 1: Trial By Fire by John Ostrander and Kim Yale is 80’s action Suicide Squad more influenced by the 80’s TV show the A-Team then anything else. I wanted to read this in anticipation for the movie coming out that will have lots of obscure characters from the series, and I thought the 80’s Suicide Squad would be a good place to look. I got to learn a lot of the history of the squad originally called Suicide Squadron during World War II. I found out that The Penguin was briefly a member. The main members are Deadshot, Enchantress, Captain Boomerang, Bronze Tiger, Nightshade, and lead by Randall Flagg commanded by Amanda Waller.