Wrap Up: September 2019 Book Reviews

Hello all, only 3 months left in the year, this whole year is flying by.  I read 5 books this month, one book (Dark Age) took me half the month to finish but it was so good.  I had two five star ratings which I haven’t done too often, I read two ARC’s from Netgalley.  I continued my retro read by read book five of the classic Goosebumps Series.  I had a record number of comments this month thank you so much, I do read them all.  Wrap ups are my favorite I can’t wait to check what everyone in the wordpress world is reading.  Happy reading everyone, October is next month I’ve saved so great horror for next month.

5 Star Reviews:

Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid – This follow up The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo another 5 star review from me.  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 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. It’s sex, drugs, and rock and roll as we watch and listen to the rise and fall of Daisy Jones and the Six.

Dark Age by Pierce Brown – This is book five in the Red Rising Series, and manis it good there is so much going on plot wise, it’s filled with old scores and new scores. There’s lots of twist and turns.  This is Pierce Brown’s return to form, I was not a fan of Iron Gold rating it 3 out of 5 stars, but man did this book deliver on action and suspense. I recommend reading the series from the start since Brown does not do recaps.

4 Star Reviews:

Violet by Scott Thomas – This was a great slow burn horror, where the setting and descriptions put you on edge early.  This is a story about a forgotten imaginary friend that haunts the woman who was dealing with the loss of her mother at a remote lake house when created to return twenty years later with her daughter after the death of her husband.  Violet has one of the better climax’s for a horror novel. I received a free Advanced readers copy from Inkshares publishing and Netgalley.

Goosebumps: The Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb by R. L. Stine – This story had a fun take on the old mummy creature, and a lot of facts how the real mummy’s are made. I fear closed in spaces and this story really got to me once it gets going it doesn’t stop.  I thought the twist was pretty good. This spooky story moved into the second spot on my rankings of the first 5 goosebumps books in order so far.

2 Star Review

Cold Storage by David Koepp – This is Koepp’s first novel he’s known for being a screenwriter of Jurassic Park, Carlito’s Way, and Spiderman.  The novel’s bad guy is a killer fungus, if you read the novel as a B- Movie with gross visuals and bad dialogue you will have more fun with it.  It had some nice moments but the story was told very clunky.

 

 

Book Review: The Thirteenth Tale By Diane Setterfield

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield is a gothic mystery that reminded me of Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier, which I loved so that’s high praise. This novel has some beautiful prose, I’m not really a prose guy, I don’t need beautiful metaphors on every page, just enough to get be the mind picture, but this book manages to do both beautifully. There’s too many passages that took my breath away for how they were described. The Thirteenth Tale is a love letter to Jane Eyre, and Wuthering Heights both written by sisters which is a theme in the novel. this Novel makes some really cool observations, the two I liked is birth is showing up to a play late, they way we have to catch up to are parents lives and all the history before us; the other I really enjoyed was the twins viewing people by themselves as not whole because they were missing there other half and thus not whole. I really love where the novel went with this observation. I did think this book was going to be more about Vida Winter’s writing which, seems like an after thought at the end, but it is more about her life than writing.

The Plot: Margret Lea is a antique book shop worker at her father’s store, she’s very comfortable reading the classic’s and not the contemporary stuff by Vida Winter said to be the Charles Dickson of our times. It comes as a shock that Vida Winter wants Margret to tell her story. Margret as well a book store clerk has dipped in to writing short biographies on people from literary history, the one that she believes caught her attention was her work on the two twins the Landier brothers. Vida Winter just so happens to be a twin, and wants to tell her story. Margret doing he research has learned that Vida Winter has told a different past with each interview she has ever given, what has changed? The mystery of Vida Winter deals with death, secrets and ghosts, and there is a reason Margret was chosen that will change her life along with Vida Winter’s.

What I Liked: The prose is so good and haunting at times. The mystery once it is revealed is pretty interesting. The twist is really good and will make you want to read the novel again. I loved the character’s of Missus, Hester, John the dig, and Aurelius. Aurelius character arc was told really well and I loved his ending. I loved the gothic aspects story and the ghost moments. The twin theme was really great and how much it is enforced in the novel was very effective, I bet if I reread it I will find even more connections. I also like how the twist is on the surface and if you follow the clues you can solve most of the mystery. Every time it has a piece of Vida Winter’s writing, I loved the small short story that is read and how it fit in with her life.

What I Disliked: There was no dates, I would have liked a little time period to help me visualize. The middle is pretty slow I felt the story was going somewhere but it sure took it’s time getting there, the middle does have a point but you don’t realize the significance of it until the twist, but still the pacing slowed way down. I’m really happy that I read through it but I can understand why other readers might not finish. Margret’s haunting was very confusing for a couple of passages, it makes a little more sense as the novel progresses.

Recommendations: I will recommend this one, too readers that I know can power through a slow paced middle. I have not read Jane Eyre, (I know) but it seems like if you like that story you will like this, this novel really wants to make me check it out. I have read Rebecca and I see a lot of things in common especially the gothic aspects which were my favorite parts, I think that book is better paced but a lot of similarities. I rated this book 4 out of 5 stars. I will read another Diane Setterfield novel, Once Upon A River sounds really interesting.

Wrap up: March 2019 Book Reviews

This Month I have read 6 books, with two five stars reviews, one four star and three three star reviews to even out my month.

Five Star Review:

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 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 Next Person You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom – An excellent sequel to The Five People you Meet in the Heaven, is a good sequel 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.

Four Star Review:

Batman: No Man’s Land by Greg Rucka – This novelization tells the tale of DC comics epic one year Batman storyline the stretched over 80 comics, into a 400 page book and it not only back sense but is good as well. Where after devastating earthquakes Gotham and it’s bridges it is now an island  declared No Man’s Land as the government gives up relief and the gang and bad guys take over.    It has too many great moments to mention, this storyline is is currently the background for the finale season of Gotham.

Three Star Review:

If, Then by Kate Hope Day – This novel is all about the counterfactual statements such as if so and so happen then this happens. A strange phenomenon happens where three neighbors start seeing vision of themselves in a possible future. All the neighbors have to ask if they see this vision, then will they have this future. I felt the ending didn’t answer all the questions I had, but the character’s

Beacon 23 by Hugh Howey – This is a science fiction story that compares a lonely lighthouse keeper to a Beacon keeper in the middle space that keeps a gravity shield to protect starships that pass by.   This book looks at isolation of a wounded soldier, it’s a pretty good character study.

 A Bad Day For VooDoo by Jeff Strand – This is my second Jeff Strand and boy do his books take you on a ride.  When Tyler Churchill learns there’s a Voodoo doll of him he will do anything to take the power that others have over him. This book takes any story you have read with voodoo dolls to a whole new level.

 

 

Book Review: Escaping from Houdini by Kerri Maniscalco

Escaping from Houdini is the Third Stalking Jack the Ripper book that follows the adventures of Audrey Wadsworth and Thomas Cresswell as the investigate corpses and always find trouble in the late 1800’s. The opening was without a doubt the best one of the series it quickly pulled me in, and moved really for the first half, then it started to slow down and run out of good suspects for the mystery. I stopped caring about the victims who stopped being memorable after the first couple. I wanted to like this one more than I did.

The Plot: After the events in Stalking Prince Dracula, Audrey and Thomas are headed on a journey to America from England. Audrey’s Uncle and mentor in autopsies joins her on this journey. They set sail on a 7 day voyage on the RMS Etruria, a luxury cruiser of the time, this trip is different because of the new dinner entertainment the Moonlight Carnival, Which is a dozen or so acts featuring a young Houdini, the act promises, mayhem, madness, and possibly death, and that’s what the show delivers, a murder takes places right in front of the audience at Audrey and Thomas’s table. This murder leads to other’s and the ship pointing fingers at the mysterious performers. Audrey and Thomas are put to the test to find the killer or killers.

What I Liked: The opening is done so well, easily my favorite part. Character’s from the first book are back in this one, they were deeply missed. The love story aspect still works I liked them a lot more when Audrey and Thomas were in sync. The bits that Houdini were in worked well, but few and far between. I did like that they have one murder that can’t be explained which will fit into the next book but worked really well.

What I Disliked: The pacing was good for the first half then lost me, as character’s keep going back and forth to the same location. The explanation for the killings was good but the build up to it pretty bad and didn’t care towards the end. I needed to care about the victims but half of them I could barely remember them interacting with Audrey, which made they’re death not that impactful.

Recommendations: I think this is the weakest of the trilogy so far, I would rate this book 3 out of 5 stars while I rated the other books 4 out of 5. I would give the series 4 out of 5 stars so far the last book in the series Capturing the Devil was just announced for September and I plan on reading it, to complete the series.

 

Book Review: In the Woods by Tana French

In the Woods has been in my TBR for so so long it was great to finally read it. This is the First in the Dublin Murder Squad Series. The story is is very engrossing and so detailed. The mysteries are pretty engaging and have deeply psychological effects on the characters. The book is kind of a downer but a very satisfying one. This book did win an Edgar Award which when you get to the ending it makes since. I was blown away in terms of writing at the interrogation scenes, there’s a lot and they are all really rifting.

The Plot: In the Year of 1984 three local kids went in the Woods of a small town in Dublin, and only one was ever seen again. The boy Adam Ryan was found viciously gripping a tree and his shoes were filled with blood and he was unable to remember a single thing. Twenty years later that boy now a man has changed his name to Rob Ryan, and became a detective for the Dublin Murder Squad. The only person who knows who he is, is his partner Cassie. They catch a case in that same small town from 20 years ago. A murder of a child in the woods, but found by the child is a piece of clothing that one of the missing kids wore the day they disappeared, can these cases be linked Can Rob hold it together, and still investigate as he starts to remember that fateful day and the days leading up to it.

What I Liked: The interrogation scenes are so fantastic, they play so heavily on psychology. I really like that we have the words spoken then we have Detective Ryan’s inner-monologue telling the reader what’s bullshit and what’s not. The mysteries are pretty compelling you really want Ryan to remember and you want the death of the little girl solved. The ending is one I will remember for a while it is depressing, but the psychology of it is so good, it’s a chess match that keeps going back and forth until it has a winner, you might not agree with who won but it was a fun ride.

What I Disliked: The book was a little hard to get into, it’s sometimes to procedural and over explained. I compare it The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo where it’s good and psychological but there where be a tangent where every item in Lizbeth Sadler’s room is explained, I felt the exact same thing here, if 50 or so pages were trimmed it would be the perfect book. I haven’t read too many international novels maybe it’s a thing they do and I have to get used to it. I was a little let down by lack of solve in one of the mysteries I know there’s sequels maybe it’s explored later but as an invested reader I wanted more.

Recommendations: I you love Psychological Thrillers this is the book for you, it’s like a course in psychology. It’s a little slow but in the end really memorable scenes. If you like international Thrillers like The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo then you will like this one as well. I rated it 4 out of 5 stars. I plan to continue reading her Dublin Murder Squad series, the characters are deeply flawed but written really well.

Best of 2018: From Reading with My Eyes

This year I read 76 Books.  20 that were released in 2018.

Top 5 Best of 2018: 

  1. The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager – I was floored by some of the twist, and just a really fun novel that keeps you guessing until the very end, and this novel is one of the better follow ups to a debut (Final Girls), In quite some time.
  2. Circe by Madeline Miller  – This is an interesting character piece that it takes a through a the decades long life of Circe, as she grows as a powerful goddess and also develops her humanity. First Madeline Miller read but will not be my last.
  3. The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin This novel ask an interesting question, how would you live your life if it was foretold to you the day of your death? Four siblings are foretold their death date and we see how they live their life and if the predictions are accurate or not. I didn’t like all the siblings stories but this novel really made me think.
  4. The Book of M by Peng Shepherd A fantastic debut for Peng Sheperd with Book of M. This book was a grippy bloody post apocalyptic nightmare, that also at it’s heart is a love story full of magic. This book was a ride with a jaw dropping twist.
  5. Vengful by V.E. Schwab Vengeful the sequel to Vicious  continues the dark story of the Victor Vale and Eli Evers feud. It 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 does for the super hero genre.

Honorable Mentions – The Outsider by Stephen King, Vox by Christina Dalcher, The Cabin at the End of the World by Paul Tremblay, The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn, and  Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

 

Book Review: Wings of a Flying Tiger by Iris Yang

Wings of a Flying Tiger takes place just before American involvement in World War II up to full involvement. It’s a story I haven’t read before about the invasions of Japan into China and all the bloodshed and murder that was caused. The writing is brutal and does not hold anything depicting acts of violence you hope are fiction. The story is a modern day tragedy about Japan’s superior force dismantling China’s forces and American forces stepping in to even the score, with a love story thrown in to tell the real tragedy. A special thanks to Open Books who gave me a free Copy of Wings of a Flying Tiger in exchange for an honest review. This could be a perfect book for the YARC from Shut up, Shealea  (Year of Asian Reading Challenge) 2019 really strong in family and tropes.

Plot: Jasmine is very beautiful Chinese girl who grew up learning English, from her parents who are both educators she lives in Chungking with her Uncle who are safe from the Japanese invasion, but her parents reside in Nanking which is the next city set for Japanese takeover. Jasmine is going in a last ditch effort to convince them to leave for safety. The train she’s on in taken over by Japanese forces, she manages to escape with her life as the war forms amongst her. When she reaches her parents house they’ve been killed and the two teenage servant girls are all that’s left. They fight for they’re lives and with Jasmine’s English skills are taken in at an American mission, she is eventually reunited with family after a series of loss, her cousin Daisy and her Uncle, everything is nice and peaceful as the war still rages on but the Japanese don’t pay attention to the remote village, until Danny a fighter pilot is shot down near the village, do they save him and risk becoming a causality?

What I Liked: The plot moves pretty fast, the brutality is written really well, you feel every bullet whizz by and feel it even more when it hits it target. The Chinese language is used really, there’s a reason the author switches to a different language, and often times it’s powerful. The novle flows really well. The author did the historical research and it shows. I questioned how many rapes or threat of rapes there were, but in the Author Q and A there was 300,000 deaths and 20,000 rapes through out the War.

What I Disliked: I thought the development of Jasmine stopped after Danny was introduced, and I wanted to hear more of her voice. I also feel this novel would have worked as a duel character novel we get a tease of Danny at the beginning then it’s Jasmine’s story until the half way point, where Danny gets most of the focus. I thought we could have got adventures with Danny and Jack before the War to when he was gunned down. I also felt cheapened that Danny had a thing for Asian girls before he meets the cousins, I felt that information wasn’t needed.

Recommendations: I’m a huge fan of World War II stories and this was a new one for me, in location and story, if you’re a fan this is a good one. This recommendation does came with a trigger warning: Rape is pretty heavily through out, and described graphically, so if that does effect you in anyway I would skip this one for that matter. I rated this novel 4 out of 5 stars

Book Review: Vengeful (Villains #2) by V.E. Schwab

Vengeful continues the dark story of the Victor Vale and Eli Evers feud. This story was pretty epic I did not like it as much as the first one, but it is still pretty amazing story, and captured the tone of the first novel while adding new characters you will loath and love, and keeping the theme of revenge.

The plot: After the events of Vicious, Victor is back but soon he realizes he is not whole. He keeps dying then reviving himself. He wants this fixed and hopes some other EO can eventually fix him, He starts tracking them down and kills them when they can’t help to not lead them away from the new organization who is tracking down EO’s. Little does Vale know that Eli is helping them track this EO down while in his prison cell in an agreement that they will not experiment on him anymore. Eli doesn’t know Victor survived there last battle but clues start pointing to his old foe, which he keeps secret from Stell, who started the organization after the events of Vicious which track EO’s and imprison them and perform studies. A new EO Marcella who can erode anything, craves power, and quickly starts taking over the city. Stell makes a deal with Marcella that he won’t go after her if she can lead him to the EO killing healers. Sydney is against the killing but agrees she has found out that Mitch has killed her sister and doesn’t know what to do with the information. Sydney has met a new EO that can shapeshift named June and not told Victor or Mitch about it, it’s unaware if June’s intensions are genuine or if she has a plan involving Sydney.

What I liked: The dark tone is set early. The characters we love or loathe are all added upon and grow. The structure is the same as Vicious where it jumps around in time but leads up to an event. This one adds characters to the same structure but it manages to still make sense and not confuse the reader like Paula Hawkins’ Into the Water did as the follow up to The Girl on the Train. The conclusion was really epic and wrapped up a lot of individual story lines. This novel gets pretty gory and described so well. The ending was complete with room for expansion.

What I disliked: I think a little too much time was spent on Marcella and not on other characters especially Victor, at the end of the novel I couldn’t figure out what he even wanted to live for, it seems like death would’ve been more preferable.

Recommendations: If you’re a fan of the first book you must continue this epic story. A fan of the superhero genre and what this book adds to it. This is a good step up novel from Young Adult to Standard Fiction. I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars, it was almost a five for me.

Book Review: Hope Never Dies by Andrew Shaffer

“There’s this old joke: A man had two sons. One went out to sea, and the other became vice president. Neither were heard from again.”

Hope Never Dies was a very subtle humored book, there’s not big laughs but here’s a lot of little ones. This book expands upon the relationship of Biden and Obama. Hope Rides Again was a Giveaway from Quirk Books through Goodreads in exchange for an honest review, all thoughts and opinions are my own. Obama is kind of the cooler older brother that Biden wishes he could be. this book does make you imagine if Biden really does miss hanging with Obama and if it is mutual. This book does use facts about both men and expanded them. There’s political talk but it is like the humor subtle, there’s little talk of the Trump presidency, a couple of political jabs about healthcare, and talk about Biden and Obama not doing enough about the opioid crisis.

The Plot: An Amtrak conductor was found dead by an apparent suicide on the train tracks, he was found with uncut heroin and a map with former Vice President Joe Biden’s address circled on it. The police tip off the Secret Service, and Joe is pulled into a wooded area while on on a jog and brought to Obama who tells Joe about the case and what the man had on him. Joe knows the man and was his former conductor on the Amtrak he would take from Delaware to the Senate. Joe had once called the man a friend had not seen him for some time, and does not believe he was a junkie or would commit suicide. Joe decides he must make things right, Obama worried can’t let him do it alone, so he and the Secret Service agent Steve follow Biden. They meet a femme fatale, a Biker Gang, an old almost retired cop, the conductor’s wife and daughter and a hungry young detective looking at her advancement, all lead to the conclusion of the Biden and Obama mystery.

What I Liked: We stay in the POV of Joe Biden and even in his dreams. Obama was used really well, we don’t get him all the time, but just enough. The scene where Obama explains global warming to the teenage counter girl and wont go away until she gets it. The lame uses of disguises that don’t fool anyone. The Joe Biden descriptions are a treasure, his awe shucks, way of describing thing would continuously make me chuckle. I learned a lot of facts about Biden.

What I Disliked: The mystery was overall not that strong, and was a little let down. I want to see more of the Jill and Joe Biden relationship, it was really interesting. I did want a really big laugh but it never came.

Recommendations: People that liked the team of Obama and Biden and don’t mind them being made fun of definitely Biden more than Obama. I you like mysteries. I give this book 4 out of 5 stars.

Book Review: Black Hammer Vol. 2: The Event by Jeff Lemire

This volume of Black Hammer answer’s a lot of the questions I had in the first volume, mainly since the comic is called Black Hammer, what happened to Black Hammer? this is answered and we get a really good flashback of how he became the hero Black Hammer. I picked this graphic novel up because I was looking for something new too read and this volume was nominated in Goodreads Reader’s Choice awards where it made it to the semi finals.

The Plot: Five heroes are stuck in a small town, after a hellacious battle to save Spiral city. The heroes don’t know why they are placed out in a rural town and spend most of there days on the farm, the ones who can be seen act like a family to not have suspicion arise. When we meet the heroes they have been trapped for 10 years. Abraham Slam is the leader and a hero of the bygone era He is over fifty and still strong as an ox he is the father figure, Golden Gail has the power of regeneration and flight, the purgatory of the town has stopped her regeneration, leaving her a fifty year old trapped in the body of a 12 year old, Colonel Weird comes straight from pulp as he is a former astronaut stuck between two vortexes, leaving his body and mind like a ghost not familiar with dates or time since they are relative to him. Madam Dragonfly is a witch that took a bad deal to save her daughter, and watches over a mysterious cabin, that was also transported to the town. Barbalien is a shapeshifting alien from Mars, and Walkie Talkie a female robot that Colonel Weird met on a mission. At the end of the first volume the Black Hammer’s daughter joins the heroes in purgatory, Madam Dragonfly erases her memory quickly before the other’s arrive, and just like the left she is stuck and can not remember how she got there. She ask important questions that gets some of the members of the team motivated to find a way out of there, but another member sabotages when to many questions are asked, but did the member do it out of malice, or did they preserve the event they’re going to witness soon?

What I liked: the Black Hammer backstory about how he became the hero and what happened on the farm that they can not escape. We got Walkie Talkie’s origin which was surprisingly very captivating. There’s two really good twist in the story lines, both that will involve the next volume. I liked the reveal that the majority of the heroes gave up on humanity and were ready to give it all up be for they were sent to purgatory.

What I disliked: It was too short! I wanted so much more, I still have so many questions about the town they live in, because I’m watching The Good Place it makes me think of that. I felt this volume took too much teasing the cliffhanger than exploring the characters. A little of the originality was gone as it borrowed plot lines from Marvel’s Inhumans.

Recommendations: I liked this volume a lot more than the first one, so if you read the first one you should definitely pick up this one, it’s a very easy read I read this volume in an hour. If you like the art form of graphic novels then this should be on your TBR. I rated this 4 out of 5 stars.