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: My Best Friend’s Exorcism by Grady Hendrix

My Best Friend’s Exorcism by Grady Hendrix is a fun horror read 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. This is my first Grady Hendrix novel I did get this one and We Sold Our Souls on kindle at the same time, the cover is a work of art it reminds me of Steven Rhodes art work that shows innocent kids from the eighties doing occult things ( I stop and looks Spencer’s Gifts whenever I have time and check out the t-shirts). Some of the other reviews have mentioned gay slurs in the text, in fitting the eighties time period is used not in a harmful way but in a very not politically correct time. Watch Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure if you pay attention to the gay slurs prepare to be shocked.

The Plot: The title kind of gives thus one away. It is about Abby and Gretchen, how they became friends and formed a bond as best friends. Their friendship is tested when Gretchen gets possessed by the devil and she plots about destroying her friends lives and making Abby’s life hell. Can an exorcism even save this friendship?

What I Liked: All the chapters were named after eighties songs that fit what was going on in the narrative. I love, loved this cover when it came up on Netgalley it had a different one, and this one is absolutely perfect. How far tis novel goes was kind of fun, a couple of times I thought there not going to do this and they did. I’m from Tennessee and have visited Charleston, SC many of times, and feel Hendrix captured the South without making people look stupid while still having a southern charm. The 80’s nostalgia is all through out this novel and it is great. The wrap up of this story and the way it analyzed what a friendship is, was beautiful.

What I Disliked: Somethings were said but not seen, one person gets notes from someone, but the notes are not from the person they thought, we as the reader only see the aftermath of this plot point but don’t see it as it is happening, so it lost it’s impact on me. The tone of the exorcist didn’t work for me, at times it felt like he was from a different story, I do love the scene where he had to consult his daddy during the exorcism, but everything else his story felt off to me, he’s only in the story for a small bit.

Recommendations: This story is from Quirk books which really fits if you like quirky horror then this story is for you. I was never scared but made uneasy more than a couple of times. If you’re looking to reminisce about the 80’s then there is more to enjoy. There are a couple trigger warning that could hinder your enjoyment, animal cruelty, rape accusations, suicide attempts, devil worship, and drug use.  This story is kind of YA but would recommend on the older side because of content. I rated My Best Friend’s Exorcism by Grady Hendrix 4 out of 5 stars.

Wrap Up: Best Books Read in 2019

Hello readers, what a great year of reading this year. I ended up reading 77 books this year with 30 being published in 2019, I’m going to do a top ten of books published in 2019 and a top five of books read this year but not published in 2019. I look forward to reading and comparing every one’s list while expanding my TBR.

Top 10 of books published in 2019: (one through five were so hard to place)

  1. Recursion by Blake Crouch – This book was so mind minding and trippy, A cop is exposed to FMS (False Memory Syndrome), a new epidemic plaguing the world, where people start to remember a different lifetime of memories other then their own which is driving people insane and doubting if the life there living is real. The book really stuck with me and made me think long after it was over. It won the Goodreads choice award in Science Fiction.

 

  1. 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.

 

  1. Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid – This is the follow up to The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo another 5 star review from me.  This novel had sex , drugs, and rock and roll, a great character piece that examines the good and bad of people living the rock and roll dream. Daisy Jones and the Six follows two rock groups rise The Six a good rock group that’s not great, and Daisy Jones the solo artist, with a soulful voice, that wants to write her own material but does not have the clout. They come together when Billy the lead singer of The Six writes a duet and needs a female singer, he never planned on her joining the band and that’s what happens as we get to read about how the group only put out one record.

 

  1. An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen – on my half of the year review for books, I had this book at number 1.  This is a well-plotted thriller with no big twist but a lot of really clever small twist and turns that kept adding tension.  This follows a girl who lives in New York desperate for money to help her and her family just get by, ended up sneaking into a college study, and becomes the main test study for a manipulative doctor who desires their own result in a study that becomes very personal for both parties.

 

  1. Dark Age by Pierce Brown – is epic on every level; this is a novel of loss, sacrifice, redemption, heartbreak, political moves, and tyranny. This is book five of the Red Rising Saga. This book was so welcomed by me, because I thought that book four Iron Gold was the weakest in the series. So this was a much-needed return to form. The Red Rising series was one of my favorites of the decade. The plot is too big for a quick summary to do any justice.

 

  1. Wanderers 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.

 

  1. Little Darlings by Melanie Golding – a modern day Grimm’s Fairy tale a new mom has her twins go missing and when they are brought back she’s convinced that the twins are not her’s and have been replaced with evil ones.  The writing make your skin crawl with it’s descriptions and the pace is a fast read.

 

  1. Th1rt3en by Steve Cavanagh – a really good thriller with an amazing tag line, The Serial Killer is not on trial, he’s on the jury, that made me have to read it. This novel reminded me of the early James Patterson novel.. The twists and plot is very clever, there’s a couple twist at the end that I didn’t see coming, but was pleasantly surprised.

 

  1. Violet by Scott Thomas a creepy, dark, horror, about an imaginary friend that’s all too real. This one was trippy but also had a lot of heart. The story is a slow burn with an exciting climax, and a meaningful epilogue that puts a nice bow on the story.

 

  1. On the Come Up By Angie Thomas – The follow up to The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. In this story we follow a young up incoming female rapper, as she tries to make it in the rap game and still keep her voice.  It is both coming of age and thought provoking. Not as good as The Hate U Give but another fantastic story that has it’s own unique voice.

My Top 5 Books Read, but Not Published in 2019:

  1. The Seven and a Half Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton – This one was an instant favorite for me.  What sets this mystery apart from all the others is the way that it is told.  The mystery gives you 8 days to solve the crime of who murdered Evelyn Hardcastle, the catch is everyday you are a different person full of their own personality and faults.  You can work together with your future selves, but beware two others are playing the same game. This mystery was really fun and sucked me in completely. You have no idea where this story is going at the end, it is such a fantastic ride.

 

  1. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Reid Jenkins – This was a great novel easily one of my favorites, I was drawn in to the story so quickly. I enjoyed this one over this year’s release of Daisy Jones and the Six.  I like how it used the life of Marilyn Monroe combined with Elizabeth Taylor to develop a story of love, betrayal, secrets, and fame set during the Silver Age of Hollywood. The interview style really works in this story.

 

  1. 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.

 

  1. LoveCraft Country by Matt Ruff – A fantastic novel that’s told in anthology of short stories that all connect and blends the real life struggles of an African – Americans living in 1950 Chicago and traveling south, with supernatural and horror elements.  I was shocked how perfectly it balanced real life struggles of the time, supernatural elements, and humor. Jordan Peele the director of Get Out is adapting this for an HBO series in 2020 with J. J. Abrams.

 

  1. The Next Person You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom – An excellent sequel to The Five People you Meet in the Heaven, where it expands on characters from the first book, and catches up new readers that don’t have to read the sequel to know what happened.  This novel will give you the feels, and I think it makes a great case for what happens to pets in heaven. This book will not leave you with dry eyes.

My Top Ten Books: of the Last Decade 2000 -2009

Hey all my fellow readers, in anticipation of this decade soon ending and me painstakingly lowering the over 400 books I have read in this decade, down to the ten best. I thought it would be fun for me to post my list of the ten best of the last decade that I originally posted to Facebook ten years ago.  I can not wait to check and compare everyones list and discover new reads.  The one thing I noticed the most is the little variety in genres that I  have now made up for. I t is a little crazy that 7 out of ten have gotten turned into either a movie of a series, with one that is currently available  Happy reading!
Best Books from 2000 up to the end of 2009

10. Timeline by Micheal Crichton – is one of the smart’s book about time travel, made into the stupidest movie, I was so disappointed. Crichton does so much research to have it all flushed away in the film.

9. Dogs of Babel by Carolyn Parkhurst-  this is a thought provoking novel about a husband who can’t deal with his wife’s death that he tries to teach the only witness to see the death, the family dog, to communicate with what he’s seen, if the death was an accident or something more.

8. Cell by Stephen King – the first fifty pages of this book are utterly terrifying, a new zombie novel about zombies created from technology, no one writes an apocalypse like King.

7. Choke by Chuck Palahnuik – this is a novel about a sex addict who works at a Middle Ages park and that chokes on food so people will feel like heroes and want to take care of him, he and other are lead to believe through a series of event that he is the second coming of christ. This kind of a crazy feel good novel, where the character learns to grow up. this was turned into a movie starring Sam Rockwell and Clark Gregg, and was actually directed by Clark Gregg who is agent Coulson in the Avengers and Agents of Shield.

6. American Gods by Neil Gaiman – This book is about the mythological Gods of America, there’s the god of TV, and Radio, all preparing for a huge battle with all the other Gods, and on man who’s the son of a god and a Woman. The book sounds simple enough but this plot is only a subplot for a smart mystery of a serial killer.

5 Heart Shaped Box by Joe Hill – who’s really Stephen King’s Son, His Debut novel reminds you of his Dad’s early stuff this is a really smart ghost story that will really scare you. The ghost doesn’t let daylight or crowded restaurant stop him this ghost story that doesn’t let up till the very end.

4.Life of Pi – by Yann Martel this book is so good, even though there are some slow part and at some points I really wondered where the story was going. Where it takes you I would never have imagined. I never would have thought that a book about an Indian boy, a Zebra, and a Tiger would have been so entertaining and have such a great ending. Turned into a movie that one best director for Ang Lee at the Oscars.

3. Water For Elephants – another book marketed as being chick lit, even though the main character is a man and there is masterbating dwarf, that probably won’t make it into the movie (it did not make it into the movie). This book reminds me of the way Stephen King’s The Green Mile was told. It’s about an old man in a nursing home that reflects on his life as he worked on a traveling circus in the 30’s. This is a love story, but it’s also about death and about how you want to leave this earth, waiting for it or doing something you love as your welcoming it.

2 The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Micheal Chambon – a book about World War I and II, 1930’s comic book writer’s starting a company creating heroes to deal with what they think of the war, this book also is about being jewish, about being gay, about going to war a supporting your country, the early movies in the thirty’s, and life in early New York City. It deals with even more then that and it all makes total sense, to where the characters wind up.

1. Shutter Island by Denis Lehane – this book is a page turner, that you can’t put down the ending will have you talking for days arguing with your friends about the ending. Hopefully the movie keeps that part alive.  is an illusion or isn’t it is it a hallucination or will the end answer that question, but then ask you even more allowing you to question the answers you’ve just learned. A great read that’s just fun to talk about.

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: 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.