Book Review: Mayhem By Estelle Laure

Mayhem by Estelle Laure is a send up to the 80’s with a story about feminism and powerful versus powerless. This story is a mash up of plots from 80’s and 90’s movie plots Lost Boys, Sleeping with the Enemy, and The Craft. The results should be amazing but instead a lot of formulaic plot with with ideas on feminism throughout that only take root at the end. The powers are all over the place with some history to back it up but not enough. I was really thrown off about the author having two fictional characters of the Frog Brothers from the movie the Lost Boys inserted in the plot to do nothing other than make you think the plot was going to be about vampires, which it is not. I feel I would have liked this story more if it wasn’t about gaining special powers and it was about a girl finding her internal strength to stand up to abuse. Thanks to St. Martin Publishing for sending me a copy for review through Netgalley.

The Plot: Mayhem, a 16 year old girl, also referred to as May, is traveling with her mom, Roxy, to Santa Maria looking for a fresh start, after taking years of abuse from her husband, Lyle. Lyle turned his abuse from Roxy to Mayhem, which was the final straw. They end up moving into the Brayburn home with Roxy’s sister Elle who has three adopted kids of her own, Neve and Jason are Mayhem’s age and Kidd is 9. Roxy fears something but May can’t pull it out of her, May thinks this is for the best and wants her mom safe and to detox the drugs she has been taking to cope with the abuse out of her system. Mayhem loves the small costal town of Santa Maria, the beach the ongoing carnival, but there is a dark side, women have been banishing on the beach night after night. Mayhem feels sorry for them and feels something more a feeling she has never felt before she has to swim to get rid of it, and feels herself drawn to something in the water. The adopted kids take her to a cave with a deep history rooted to the Brayburn’s Mayhem drinks the sacred water and develops powers.

What I Liked: I loved the character of Kidd how she balances sweet with ferocious. I liked reading about the Brayburn history, I felt this section could have been expanded. The cave and the water and the origin surrounding it were really interesting. Marcy and the video store called VHYes. I liked the majority of 80’s references. Mayhem as a character before the water I liked a lot, after the water I was a little lost more on the power than emotional aspect. I liked the thirst for the sacred water making them vampire light. I like where Neve’s character ended up, I would’ve liked to see her character progress this way the whole book, and not at the final moment.

What I Disliked: Having the Frog Brothers not do anything, if you bring iconic characters into your world have them do something. The powers were not explained well at all.

Recommendations: I will not recommend this one, I feel there are plenty of original Young Adult that take this story and make it original. There are some bright spots in the ways of speaking about a woman’s power, but they were few and far between. I wanted to like this one a whole lot more, just didn’t work for me. I Rated Mayhem by Estelle Laure 2 out of 5 stars.

Second Year Anniversary And Best of the First Half of 2020 in Books

Hello, to all my fellow readers it is past the half of the year and my 2 year anniversary of starting my WordPress blog. I’m very grateful for all my followers and shared connections and correspondence or comments. I love to do my best of book read this year so far and compare it to my final list of the year, which book stayed and occupied my thoughts? I have two categories books published this year and books not published this year.  I have read a total of 50 books so far with 13 being books published this year. Cannot wait to read all of your’s and see what I missed. There is still a lot of books on my upcoming list the new Riley Sager book Home Before Dark, Martha Wells new Murderbot novel Network Effect, The Ghost Tree by Christina Henry, The Invention of Sound by Chuck Palahniuk and The Devil and the Dark Water by Stuart Turton.

Top Five Books Published this year:

1. What Lies Between Us By John Marrs this one of the craziest books I’ve read period. You cannot predict what will happen or put this book down! Characters flip from being good to bad so fast, as the reader learns more secrets. There is some of the most cringe worthy scenes, not because of gore or anything horrid, but because you are reading about a character that keeps digging themselves into holes. This is family dysfunction at its finest. What would it take for you to chain your mother in her room? The answers come quickly but the reasons behind them stay buried in lies. This is the second novel that I have read from John Marrs, last years The Passengers was also very good.

2. The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James is a nonstop thriller that mixes elements of a ghost story with a mystery. The pace was nonstop from the beginning, and did not let up as it reached the climax. The story is really fun, I enjoyed finding out more about the ghost and why they haunted the Sun Down Motel. I was not expecting this book to be so good.  I’ve seen it gaining hype but the level of fun is through the roof.  Riley Sager does the blurb on the cover, which fits because the writing style is so similar.

3. The Holdout By Graham Moore is as good as a legal thriller can get, it is one very entertaining and will keep you guessing, and two makes a statement about how our current legal system is broken and can be manipulated. The Holdout is two mysteries in one, as we get two different mysteries one is a did they or didn’t they murder? And the other is a who done it? The book is separated by a ten year span having a jury trial and then ten years later doing a retrospective documentary of what happened during the trial. This book was part 12 Angry Men combined with an Agatha Christie murder mystery (there’s one I’m thinking about but the plot could be a hint to where it goes, and would hate to spoil anything) with a dash of John Grisham. This book makes me want to check out other works by Graham Moore.

4. The Book Of Koli by M.R. Carey this book is all heart, you can’t help but fall for Koli as he wants something more in this world, and he manages to get a piece in the most unlikeliest of ways. He is the unlikeliest of hero with a weapon to match. The Book of Koli is science fiction book after an apocalyptic battle where we tried to fix the environment but the world created trees that can walk and kill for nourishment. This book is the first book in the proposed Rampart Trilogy. The novel has a couple of good twists and turns and went in a direction I didn’t see it going. I have been approved for the second book and cannot wait to see the direction the Rampart Trilogy heads in.

5. You Are Not Alone by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen is a great thriller about power and manipulation of a young woman who doesn’t want to fell so alone. This novel did not let down, it had the twist I was looking for, great main characters, compelling reason behind the crimes, and it was a fun unpredictable ride. You Are Not Alone is the third book collaboration between Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen. Anonymous Girl was in my top five of new novels from last year.

Top Five books not Published this year:

1. The Power of the Dog by Don Winslow is Scarface and the Godfather rolled into one. You live as the good guys the bad guys and the people in between that are casualties of the drug war. This looks at both sides like I have never read before, it shows the good guys having to cross lines they never thought they could cross and the bad guys crossing those lines to keep what they have. There’s a scene that will leave you floored as a bad guy does the unthinkable to take down a rival, think Red Wedding from Game of Thrones. This book goes through 3 decades of drug traffic starting in the 1970’s to the 2000’s, from Mexico, Columbia and the United States. The Cartel the second book is just as good and gets a little but more fan fare, but the book I like The Power of the Dog more.

2. Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman is the second book in the Arc of the Scythe series. Thunderhead ramps up the action, expands on the already great world building, it has one hell of a climax, and maintains the high quality writing, that will make you think long after the book is finished. I love this series so much; it is going places I could not imagine. This book has a lot of callbacks to the first novel that are really big payoffs with a couple of characters that end up coming back.  The first book is Scythe, and is 5 stars as well, but this book expands on the first book and ideas.

3. 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.

4. The Shining by Stephen King is a truly horrific book. Alcohol and ghosts do not mix! King gets into true fear, having someone you love, a father and husband, say, “I’m going to bash your brains”, then attempt to do it. The Shining is a ghost story but the scariest monster in the book is addictions and how it changes your rational choices, to choices that jeopardize your family. 

5. Full Throttle by Joe Hill is comprised of 13 short stories, two are written with his dad Stephen King. Some stories are bone chilling tales of fright, while others give whimsical insight of the the unknown. All tales draw you in in some way, some let you go easily, while other try to hold you in a death grip and not let go. A couple of the the short stories are odes to his favorite authors like Ray Bradbury, Richard Matheson, Lawerence Block, David Mitchell, and Stephen King. Over half of the stories have a five star rating.

Book Review: Antkind by Charlie Kaufman

Antkind by Charlie Kaufman is a truly out of this world adventure about a film critic experiencing and trying to remember a film that last 30 days. It consumes him and his dreams as he figures out what was the film and what was his life. The book relies heavily on how film affects the watcher, and that the film can become a part of you. This book is deeply funny mind trip that only the writer of such films as Being John Malkovich, Adaptation, and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind could write. This is Charlie Kaufman’s first novel and it is a doozy. This is the kind of novel that I think could be heavily discussed in college literature classes, because there’s a lot to explore and debate about, what is part of the film and what is a dream? The book is 720 pages and should have been well over a hundred pages shorter, it has as many endings as Return of the King, I slapped my forehead once of reading more. This is a book that I see being really divided over, some loving while others put it as do not finish. Antkind is a cross between a Kurt Vonnegut novel and A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole. Thanks to netgalley and Random House for the copy. Antkind was published on 7-7-20.

The Plot: B. Rosenburger Rosenburg is a film critic that dives deep into the avant garde film. He goes to Florida to dive deep into the a 1908 film that is the first portrayal of a transgender on screen. Upon this trip he meets his neighbor that claims he was in the film, because he is a time traveler. As B. gets to know his neighbor he learns he is a filmmaker and has an animated film featuring puppets that know one has seen before. B. indulges himself and agrees to watch the film, the film that is untitled is 30 days long, it is about the past, present, and future. The filmmaker dies midway through the first watch, but B. is so committed now thinking this the greatest film that he has ever seen continues to watch (as a film critic his rule is to watch a movie 7 times). He doesn’t make it through the second viewing as the film burns up and B. is in a coma. He makes it his life’s work to remember everything, but he soon can’t tell his life from the film as it consumes him and his dreams.

What I Liked: There’s an on going joke about the character of B. being mistaken for jewish because of his name and appearance, that I never grew tired about. There a scene about Donald Tump (or Trunk) as he becomes to enamored with his animatronic robot from Disney’s Hall of Presidents that he orders one and it becomes his best friend. There’s a couple of scenes about Vaudeville duo Mudd and Moroony where a stage accident send one into a coma and changes his outlook on life and wants to play the straight man in the comedy act instead of the foyle. The compromise is two straight men, which is funny because how bad it is. I like the common debate does life imitate art or does art imitate life? B. is a film critic that loathes the films of Charlie Kaufman, and destroys everyone of his films. I like his nicknames for favorite directors. Theirs a lot of praise for filmmakers Judd Apatow and Wes Anderson. I liked a lot of the humor, especially the self analysis humor about his idiosyncrasy.

What I Disliked: Like all first time writers the novel is long and over bloated. I could trim 150 pages easily and have almost the same book. I don’t like the title, at the end of the novel it gets to the meaning of Antkind. The ending was all over the place I saw five times where it could have ended, and kept going and going.

Recommendations: I’m going to barely recommend this, the story is all over the place, it has strong metaphors about life and dreams, with bits of laugh out loud moments. The story is overly long, but there some diamond in the rough moments that really save it. I think literature majors are going to get a lot more out of it than I did; there is a lot to debate and discuss. I rated Antkind by Charlie Kaufman 3 out of 5 stars. This review rating tore me up I kept bouncing back and forth between 3 and 4 stars, but I thought the endings and overly long put it in the barely 3 stars category.

Wrap Up: June Book Reviews 2020

Hello dear readers, June has been quite a month. I cannot believe we have hit the mid point of the year.  Look forward to my best of books I have read so far this year, coming out soon. I managed to read 6 novels this month.  I read zero rereads  this month. I read one graphic novel, one book that has been on my TBR for years now The Shining by Stephen King. I read one new release, thanks to Netgalley. I read a couple books in a series, and was able to finish the Power of the Dog series, this year it has been my goal to finish more series, I had a bad habit of starting a series and not finishing it. So far I have finished 2 trilogies, and have made gins in on-going series.   Thank you, to all followers I just hit 2 years running this blog yesterday, and it has both inspired me and uplifted my passion for reading thanks to you.

Five Star Reviews:

The Shining by Stephen King is a truly horrific book. Alcohol and ghosts do not mix! King gets into true fear, having someone you love, a father and husband, say, “I’m going to bash your brains”, then attempt to do it. The Shining is a ghost story but the scariest monster in the book is addictions and how it changes your rational choices, to choices that jeopardize your family. This Novel has been on my TBR for 15-20 years always meaning to read it but had not, until now.  I was shocked how different the book and the movie were, liking some and loathing some choices, but all in all a scary read, with truly horrific images, that only King can deliver.

Four Star Reviews:


The Border By Don Winslow takes the epic tale of DEA agent Art Keller and his war on drugs to a worthy conclusion. The Border is book three in the Power of the Dog series. This series starts in 1975 and takes us all the way up to 2019. The Border mirrors events that happened in real life and tweek them to fit the narrative, making it feel very real and current. The previous books in the series have remained in Mexico, but this book looks at the drug war going on in America. This book reminded me of J. R. Tolkien’s Return of the King when they destroyed the ring, they go back the shire is under siege (that happens in the book not the movie). Art Keller spent so many years trying to destroy drug kingpins in Mexico, that he returns to see that drugs are all around and didn’t stop anything. I did not like The Border as much as The Power of the Dog and The Cartel which were both 5 stars, but this delivered a pretty could conclusion wrapping up the series really well.

Welcome to Camp Nightmare by R. L. Stine is book 9 in the original Goosebumps series. Welcome to Camp Nightmare is scarier than most of the Goosebumps I have read before. The ending is a good twist that is set up from the start with little hints along the way, in my last review of The Girl Who Cried Monster Goosebumps 8 this was a big complaint. The Psychological horror of being stranded and having people go missing, that no one remembers being there in the first place works really well.

Rogue Protocol by Martha Wells is the third installment of The Murderbot Diaries. This novella like the previous stories in the Murderbot Diaries follows an A.I. SecUnit that is self aware and detached from the mainframe that controls all other SecUnits. He refers to himself as Murderbot because he has murdered hundreds as he was controlled and part of the mainframe. He know tries to discover mysteries of his past. The Murderbot Diaries are part character study and part action adventure. The character study is usually the best part, but I preferred the action a little bit more in this installment.

Three Star Reviews:

Devolution: A Firsthand Account of the Rainier Sasquatch Massacre by Max Brooks, is a fiction that is written like a nonfiction having a journal, expert interviews, and family interviews. The Legend of Bigfoot is something that I have always been curious about, this book does the research on past Bigfoot sitings and makes a story out of it. I like Bigfoot but I’m not a fanatic (note: though growing up I did name one of my dog’s Bigfoot), I think fanatics and believers will get a lot more out of this book than I did. I ‘m sad to say I found the first half of this book very boring, with me only connecting with two characters. Thanks to Netgalley and Random House Publishing group Ballentine Del Rey.

 Two Star Reviews:

Injustice: Gods Among Us: Year Four Volume 2 By Brian Buccellato is all about the new Gods (Superman, Wonder Woman, Hal Jordan, and the Flash) v. the old Gods (Zeus, Hera, and Hermes). Superman kills Zeus’ son Hercules, and in retaliation Zeus strips Shazam of his powers and sends him along with Harley Quinn to the underworld. We learn more about Ares, the God of War, plan for more war and who is pulling his strings. This Volume has been my least favorite so far, there was a couple of cool moments, but the dialogue remains stale and uninspired.

Book Review: The Shining by Stephen King

The Shining by Stephen King is a truly horrific book. Alcohol and ghosts do not mix! King gets into true fear, having someone you love, a father and husband, say, “I’m going to bash your brains”, then attempt to do it. The Shining is a ghost story but the scariest monster in the book is addictions and how it changes your rational choices, to choices that jeopardize your family. My girlfriend was very shocked that I had never read The Shining, and got it for Christmas. I was something not on my list really, because I had watched the Kubrick film so many times and thought I knew the story. I still really enjoyed it. The movie changes quite a bit, there are no creepy twins!! No axe, but a mallet, no maze, but animals made of bushes, we never get to see what Jack is writing, but know he is writing a history of the hotel, and we get a lot more of Dick Halloran the cook at the hotel with the shine. I have seen the Mini-series starring Steven Webber which is a lot more accurate to the source material, nails the ending. As a fan of Stephen Kings works I felt this was one of the better beginnings to one of his stories, I was hooked pretty instantly.

The Plot: Jack Torrance has been sober for 13 months, after close call involving drunk driving, and the almost loss of his family. Jack recently lost his job as a private school teacher, as he lost it on a student. Jack is hurting for work and still dealing with the struggles of addiction. When and old drink buddy that is also sober now, has an opportunity for Jack, care-taking for the Overlook Hotel, a Colorado hotel that needs a care-taker for the winter months of no operation. Jack sees this as the perfect job he can work on a play get paid and be away from his alcohol addiction for months. Jack takes his son and wife, Danny and Wendy, with him. Danny has an ability to read thoughts, and see the future called “the shine”. He has been getting warned that this trip will have dangers. Danny meets a cook with the shine ability that warns him as well about strange occurrences. Jack ends up becoming obsessed when he learns of the hotel’s killer past. Jack and Danny are both haunted as the hotel decides it wants to make them permanent residents.

What I Liked: The history of the Overlook hotel was really interesting. The reveal of what REDRUM means was a good one, it memorable from the film but the book did it nicely. The final 150 pages of this book are full of excitement. The main monster in the book was alcohol addiction. I loved the rational for Jack sabotaging the things to get help, was he knew if he was unemployed that he was going to give into to drinking, so the ghost was the safer bet in his mind. I liked “the shine” and how we got to see a couple people have it. I liked that the ghost used racism against Dick, but not any of the people. I love the way Mr. Ullman was described, I would have liked to see his reaction to the ending, because of the way he was connected to the hotel. I thought the stop drinking story was powerful and haunting. King books usually have way too much detail about a lot of things that do not matter, but I felt this was good example of most of the details having a purpose.

What I Disliked: The small subplot where Jack bragged about writing the expose on the Overlook Hotel to Ullman and Al. That plot was dropped towards the end. The point was to show manipulation of the mind, but I felt another way would have been better.

Recommendations: I had a lot of fun with The Shining. The writing is really good. The scares and the descriptions will give you chills. I had a lot of fun finding the differences from the film and the book. For a pop culture reference The Shining is the book that Rachael put in the freezer on Friends, and Joey put Little Women, which I actually did read this year coincidentally. The Shining out of the 30 some Stephen King Books that I have read would easily put it in the Top 10 maybe top 5. I rated The Shining by Stephen King 5 out of 5 stars.

Wrap Up: Book Reviews May 2020

Hello dear readers, May has been quite a month. I managed to read 6 novels this month, I have worked over 50 hours every week this month, so I’m calling that a win. .  I read one reread. I read two 5 star books. I read one graphic novel, where Wonder Woman kick Superman’s butt. I read one new release, thanks to Netgalley. I read a couple books in a series. Thank you.

Five Star Reviews:

The Cartel by Don Winslow is one heck epic book, the story takes place over 9 years and makes you feel like you lived it. You experience the  lives of heroes and villains in a drug war gone bad in Mexico. The book in fiction but is heavily researched with real events added to the story to give it an authentic feel. The Cartel is the second book in the excellent Power of the Dog series.  I gave Power of the Dog the first book in the series five stars as well, it is highly recommended.

 What Lies Between Us by John Marrs is one crazy book that you can’t predict or put down. Characters flip from being good to bad, as the reader learns more secrets. This book has some of the most cringe worthy scenes, not because of gore or anything horrid, but because you are reading about a character that keeps digging themselves into holes. This is family dysfunction at its finest. What would it take for you to chain your mother in her room? The answers come quickly but the reasons behind them stay buried in lies.

Four Star Reviews:


Long Bright River by Liz Moore was a slow burn mystery that uses a real town and the topic of addiction, to make this mystery compelling. The slow pace reminded me of In The Woods by Tana French and The Widow by Fiona Barton. The mystery is not as good as it could have been and takes a backseat to addiction, but addition and the characters that are dealing with it are what make this novel stand out.

Injustice: Gods Among Us: Year Three Volume 1 by Tom Taylor, adds a little magic to this volume of Injustice. It was just a matter of time until magic got brought in, with magic being Superman’s weaknesses besides kryptonite. I’m not to familiar with Justice League Dark characters, but the Batman / John Constantine dynamic really plays off each other well.

Injustice: Gods Among Us: Year Three Volume 2 by Brian Buccellato is a change from original writer Tom Taylor. The first issue in this volume is probably my second favorite since the first issue. In this issue Superman dreams what if Lois lived instead of died, having Batman kill the Joker to protect Clark, as he say where the Joker almost took him. This volume concludes most of the Justice League Dark’s involvement.  Constantine leaves in a really clever way.

Injustice: Gods Among Us: Year Four Volume 1 by Brian Buccellato is one action packed volume that pits the old Gods of Myth Zeus, Hera, Hermes and more against the new Gods Superman, Wonder Woman, and more in a fight with deadly consequences. Wonder Woman’s mother makes a deal with Athena to revive Wonder Woman and Superman from a magic induced sleep, we learn the terms of that deal in this volume and the consequences that come with it. Batman also makes a deal with Athena (the God of War) who is playing both sides for more war. Superman and Wonder Woman fight, and man is it epic.

Book Review: The Cartel by Don Winslow

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

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

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

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

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

Book Review: What Lies Between Us by John Marrs

What Lies Between Us by John Marrs is one crazy book, that you can’t predict or put down. Characters flip from being good to bad, as the reader learns more secrets. This book has some of the most cringe worthy scenes, not because of gore or anything horrid, but because you are reading about a character that keeps digging themselves into holes. This is family disfunction at its finest. What would it take for you to chain your mother in her room? The answers come quickly but the reasons behind them stay buried in lies. This is the second novel that I have by John Marrs, last year I read Passengers about driverless car taking 8 people hostage to murder them as people choose who lives or dies. Passengers rifted me while What Lies Between Us rocked me to my core. A huge thanks to Netgalley and Amazon Publishing UK for letting me read a novel that has taken my top spot in favorite books of 2020. The screen writes were picked up by Renee Zellweger’s production company, which would have a juicy role as the daughter who chains her mother, while exposing a lifetime of secrets and lies. What Lies Between Us is to be published on May 15th 2020.

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

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

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

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

Book Review: Long Bright River by Liz Moore

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

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

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

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

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

Wrap Up: Book Reviews April 2020

Hello dear readers, another month down. I read 9 novels this month, hit over 700 followers, thank you everyone. I read two graphic novels, three science fiction, one fantasy, one historical fiction, one young adult, and one middle grade fiction. I only read two books that were not in a series. One book was an advanced reader copy from Netgalley. My most anticipated read turned out to just be okay. My breakdown for this month is two 5 star reads, four 4 star reads, and three 3 star reads.

5 Star Reviews:

The Power of the Dog by Don Winslow – is Scarface and the Godfather rolled into one. You live as the good guys the bad guys and the people in between that are casualties of a 30 year drug war, in the USA, Mexico and Columbia. This story looks at both sides like I have never read before, it shows the good guys having to cross lines they never thought they could cross and the bad guys crossing those lines to keep what they have. The pace is break neck and so addicting. This is book one in the Power of the Dog series.

Injustice: Gods Among Us Year Two Volume 2 By Tom Taylor – is action packed with a lot of surprises and turns. This volume was a return to form it added the comedy back, some heartbreak, epic fights and happy reunions. Harley Quinn is a very bright spot in this volume, adding humor and heart, with her own twisted sense of humor. Batman is still in the shadows still recovering from what Superman did in year one. Superman goes from protector to dictator as he starts losing foot holds on his turf.

4 Star Reviews:

The Book Of Koli by M.R. Carey – is science fiction book after an apocalyptic battle where we tried to fix the environment but the world created trees that can walk and kill for nourishment. This book is the first book in the proposed Rampart Trilogy. This book is all heart, you can’t help but fall for Koli as he wants something more in this world, ad he manages to get a piece in the most unlikeliest of ways. The novel has a couple of good twists and turns and went in a direction I didn’t see it going. He is the unlikeliest of hero with a weapon to match. I read and reviewed this book thanks to Orbit and Netgalley for the Advanced Reader Copy.

Wizard’s First Rule by Terry Goodkind – is a fantasy that goes from juvenile light fantasy to brutal high fantasy full of sex and torture. Wizard’s First Rule is book one in the 15 book Sword of Truth series. The first 200 pages are the corner stone of fantasy mediocrity, A hero orphaned finds out he is really the savior all along, he meets the woman of his dreams that’s the key to the danger and his prophecy. The old healer in the village is really a powerful wizard that has been watching over him. The first 200 read like a Star Wars plot set in a fantasy world. Thank goodness this book is over 800 pages because those pages are original and go in directions I couldn’t have predicted, and I couldn’t put it down.

Injustice: Gods Among Us: Year Two Volume 1 by Tom Taylor – it gets away from the Batman and Superman strife of who is wrong by adding the Green Lantern Corps. The epicness died down a little in this volume but the potential is still really high for a huge payoff. Out of all the members of the Justice League I’m least familiar with Green Lantern and the Green Lantern Corps, this graphic novel is heavy on those characters.

The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow 1 is a love story at its heart, that I found very beautiful, it dips into the science fiction by way of magic, and the time period of early 19oo’s makes it historical fiction as well. I liked the idea of doorways to another world, where some people want to explore them, while other’s want them destroyed. The story is told as a book with in a book, which took a little getting used to, once I got used to it I liked the storytelling more, and there’s a few surprises in this way of storytelling that really work for the narrative.

3 Star Reviews:

This Is How You Lose The Time War By Amal El-Mothar and Max Gladstone – is a science fiction love story featuring a spy vs. spy storyline with time travel agents. What happens when one time traveler writes a note to her rival? They start a letter writing correspondence through time. The novel flows like a poem as the time travelers try to one up each other with diction, prose, and literature. There where times when I was head scratching some of the words and what they mean.

The Girl Who Cried Monster by R. L. Stine – is Goosebumps book number 8 in the original series. The Girl Who Cried Monster is an updated take on the classic fable The Boy who Cried Wolf. The premiss is the same a girl is obsessed with monsters, always acting like they’re real, discovers a real monster, and no one will believe her. The tale runs pretty typical until the bonkers ending, which is so out there it ruins it a little.

The Toll By Neal Shusterman – is book three of the Arc of a Scythe trilogy. The Toll Ends the series in a fitting way exposes truths hinted at in Scythe and Thunderhead. This book expands the number of characters introducing a few new ones and expanding upon characters we have grown with. This book was my least favorite in this excellent series. I wanted to love this book as much as the others, but from chapter two, I knew this book was going in a different direction than I wanted it to. The novel eventually corrects course and delivers a satisfying ending to the series. My main problem is Citra and Rowan have been the main characters, and this book changes it to an ensemble story.