The House in the Cerulean Sea by T. J. Klune is a heartwarming Young Adult novel about intolerance in magical creatures the world misunderstands. This story is the themes of intolerance in the X-men comics by Stan Lee and Chris Claremont meets the odd yet lovable characters from Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Rasom Riggs. This book is mainly Young Adult, but it brought up some adult themes that were refreshing, body image, LGTBQ issues, and Christianity. the LGBTQ characters are handled with care and love like I haven’t seen before, being gay is not a huge revelation and the book gets that gay people are actually all shapes and sizes. The themes of intolerance are layered though out wither it be sex, religion, and race. See something say something is a common phrase in the book posted on billboards and repeated through out. This book has been blowing up the blogsphere and I’m happy to say it lived up to the hype.
The Plot: Linus Baker is a by the book official whose job is a Case Worker at the Department in Charge Of Magical Youth, he visits orphanages and checks too make sure the orphanage and child is safe. He is quiet in his observations and never invoking feelings into the cases. He lives a quiet sheltered life with his cat the only exciting thing about Linus is he’s gay, but he never seems to put himself out or dates. He dreams of the ocean, but has never been, then finally he gets a chance as Linus gets an ultra sensitive case with an orphanage on the Cerulean sea. He gets this case because it requires no emotions and he is so unbiased. He reads the first file and passes out at what the first child is and can be, and there is 7 of them. This will be the hardest case of his life to have no judgement.
What I Liked: The heart of the story is full and beating, I couldn’t help but get emotional, as Mr. Baker grew to the person he was supposed to be. Lucy and the record store owner was my favorite scene, the dialogue was hilarious. Chauncey was my absolute favorite character, he has all the heart, all he wants is to be a Bellhop, just let that kid be a Bellhop. Runner-up character is Sam, I love what his character becomes. The Gay relationship was done with such tenderness and affection. I liked the twist when Linus gets the full file. The overall story really works, sure the reader knows where the story is going but it was still beautiful being there with Mr. Baker when he figures it all out.
What I Disliked: I wanted to see the change in Sam, it is only talked about I would have loved to see his voice change. I would have love to see the stoner guy do a counter protest when the town turns. I didn’t like the Zoe relationship thrown in at the end, since we rarely ever saw those characters say two words with one another.
Recommendations: I recommend this heartwarming story of intolerance for the young adult audience. There’s some adult themes but it it brought up both playful but taken seriously. I think this book will open some eyes on intolerance, which is always a good thing. I rated The House on the Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune 5 out of 5. It was a wonderful story that made me feel things and like a character that I did not at the beginning.
January 2021 TBR list: last month was so successful I read all 8 books plus 1more, I’m going to stick with 8. I have my reading goal for the year set at 80 books. I had a good book haul at Christmas, and will me going through those; I also bought a lot of Marvel Masterworks since the kindle price is 1.99.
The House in the Curulean Sea by TJ Klune – This book got a lot of hype last year, and I have had this book highly recommended. It is about a case worker for the Department in Charge of Magical Youth, tasked with determining if six children are likely to bring about the end of the world.
Persephone Station by Stina Leicht Which is a science fiction western about female assassins. I don’t know a lot about it I got an advanced copy from netgalley it is published on the 1-5-21
Icebound by Andrea Pitzer is a true story about Dutch polar explorer William Barents, who was stranded in the Arctic with his crew for a year. This true story was inspiration for Dan Simmons horror novel The Terror.
Batman: Three Jokers by Geoff James is the book that Batman finds out that he has not been terrorized by one Joker but three. It takes the tales of the three different origin stories and has them all me true.
Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero is a spoof n the Scooby gang where in 1978 they apprehend and old man in a mask who they believe to be the monster, but in 1990 when one of the gang is dead and the old man is paroled, that there worst fears come true that the wrong man was arrested and that the monster lives. I read This Body’s not Big Enough for the Both of Us by Edgar Cantero a wise cracking detective novel where a detective has split personalities one the detective and one the wise cracker, I found it very crazy and funny.
The Twisted Ones by T. Kingfisher is a good new horror story that is getting raved about. It was nominated in Goodreads choice awards for best horror of 2020. A man finds his step fathers writing while cleaning up his mother’s house after her death. What he thought to be crazy ramblings he starts to see signs that the writing is true.
The Hollow Ones by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan reteam to create a new series called the Blackwood tapes. I was a fan of the Strain trilogy. The plot sounds a lot like Fallen an old Denzel Washington movie, about an enity who can leap from bodies causing violent acts.
Marvel Masterworks The Amazing Spiderman Volume 1 by Stan Lee is the birth of Spiderman and his many villains. This graphic novels has the beings for Doctor Octopus, The Sandman, The Vulture, and Electro
Dear Readers, December was a great month I had 5 books I requested at the library all show up at once. I read 9 books this month. I read 2 science fiction, 3 books nominated for Goodreads choice, and 1 graphic novel. I started 0 new series and read 2 from a book series. I made a TBR and read every book on it and added 1. I read two 5 star books, five 4 star books, one 3 stars book, and one 2 star book.
Five Star Reviews:
The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett is a family drama about race, focusing on the light and darkness of skin color. The book will really make you self reflect your own prejudice and bias based on skin color. Bennett doesn’t just analyze the white standard of skin bias but the black on as well. The book starts in the 1950’s and goes up to the early 1980’s. The story follows 3 generations of the Vinges family women.
Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds is a powerful story of systemic gun violence in America written in verse. The verse is written in small poems barley ever going over two pages really well painting a picture that lets you the reader control the narrative adding the details that the verse misses. The story is like a cross between Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol and Mitch Albom’s The Five People You Meet in Heaven. Ghosts of the past board the elevator on every floor starting with the 7th and talk to young Will about what he’s going to do when he gets when he gets to the bottom floor; kill the guy he thinks killed his older brother. The ending is one of the powerful endings I’ve read.
Four Star Reviews:
The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V. E. Schwab is part memoir through time and history, and part present day love story. I say love story lightly because from this reader’s perspective I don’t know if one character can love. The story is great a deal with the devil gone wrong, but with a unique twist. This story will make you the reader question, what would you do in the same scenario? The story is unique, yet familar if you know Schwab’s other works like Vicious and A Darker Shade of Magic. I feel Schwab took some of the best parts out those novels and combined them.
Exit Strategy by Martha Wells is book four in The Murderbot Diaries, book series. This is the last of the 4 novellas the next books in the series is a full length novels. The fourth book comes full circle all the way back to the first book and the first humans that he saved and started to generally care about. This novel has a bit more heart because of the reunion and the character of Murderbot has grown emotionally throughout the series. The ending was perfect for this chapter in Murderbot’s life.
The Krytos Trap by Michael A. Stackplole is a novel that balances three different genres, court room drama, prison escape, and medical stopping viral spread, with X-wing action as well. The Krytos Trap is the third book in the X-wing series that follows the exploits of Rogue Squadron. The novel starts right where the last one ended. This has been my favorite novel so far in the series, it is the book with the least X-wing action, but I was really into the political intrigue. The reviews for this one have been mixed, either people really enjoy it or they complain about lack of action.
A Witch in Time by Constance Sayers is a beautifully written debut that takes a witch cursed to die young and love a man that will constantly disappoint her, time and time again. A Witch in Time tells a great love story about missteps and sacrifice. It hits the right beats in time and history as we observe four life times starting in 1890’s and ended up in present day. I loved aspects of the curse and how both the cursed and the watchers of the curse can manipulate certain aspects of it.
Snow, Glass, Apple by Colleen Doran adapted from a Neil Gaiman short story is a haunting adaptation of Snow White told in a graphic novel form. The story is told from the Stepmother’s perspective, notice I didn’t say evil stepmother. In this story it is flipped where the stepmother is good and loving, her stepdaughter is evil incarnate. The images are hauntingly beautiful and very graphic. The images leave a lasting impression with the mix of bold color with dark colors.
Three Star Reviews:
Leave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam is a hard book to describe. The book deals with class, race, comfort, and guidance. The story is one part dystopian and the other part is about togetherness and finding comfort in the new dystopia, sort of; that’s the best way I can describe it. Conversations rule this book over actions, what I found interesting are characters acting civil while civilization is falling apart. The book plays with the reader asking who do you trust or why don’t you trust characters? The book is tense and claustrophobic, with the ongoing pandemic adding to the tension
Two Star Reviews:
You Can’t Scare Me! by R.L. Stine is about pranking someone to admit their scared, only the prank accidentally involves real monsters. You Can’t Scare Me! is the 15th book in the original Goosebumps series. This story is 80% lead up to any actual monsters. This story was hard to identify with the group of scaredy cat’s are determined to make one girl scared. The girl isn’t horrible of mean, she does one thing with a bumblebee, but the rest of the time she doesn’t deserve them messing with her. The group is mad at themselves for being scared and lashes out on this girl to make them feel better
Dear Readers, 2020 is over! It was a horrible time for everything but reading. I broke new records for myself reading 103 books this year. Out of the 103 I have read 40 that were published this year. My big goal this year was to finish up a good deal of book series. I have a bad habit of not finishing, and I finished 6 this year. I will rate the top 10 books I have read that were published this year., the top 5 books I read not published this year, and the top three series I finished this year.
Top 10 of books published this year:
1. Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse is a groundbreaking new fantasy that is inspired by the history from Pre- Columbian Americas. I did not know a lot about this story going in and was amazed with the world building and unique characters. Black Sun is the first book in The Between Earth and Sky trilogy. The story is rapid paced, with so much conflict, it is hard telling who exactly is on what side of the good or bad coin, but the story was a fun read. The look at politics and religion is the best thing, do you believe in the prophecy? Do you believe so much in the prophecy you will do anything to stop it?
2. What Lies Between Us by John Marrs is one crazy book that you can’t predict or put down. I read this book back in May and it has stuck with me, the book is totally bonkers as 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.
3. The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James is a nonstop thriller that mixes elements of a ghost story with a mystery. This story earned it’s spot at number 3 for pure fun, the book was a blast to read. 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.
4. The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett is a family drama about race, focusing on the light and darkness of skin color. I love a good book that will make me think long after I have read it , and this book does that.The book will really make you self reflect your own prejudice and bias based on skin color. Bennett doesn’t just analyze the white standard of skin bias but the black on as well. The book starts in the 1950’s and goes up to the early 1980’s. The story follows 3 generations of the Vinges family women.
5. Harleen by Stjepan Sejic was a fantastic Harley Quinn origin story. The approach was a romance novel gone wrong, and it works really well, so well the book earned a spot at number 5 of my favorite novels of the year. Harleen was runner-up in the Goodreads choice for graphic novels. Harleen managed to balance all four, drama, action, romance, and comedy very evenly. The character of Harley generally wants to do good and help people, the Joker manipulates her feelings, but did she really change the Joker and make him care for her?
6. His & Hers by Alice Feeney is a deeply psychological mystery thriller. This is a great mystery with layers upon layers. This who done it, will have you constantly changing who you think is the killer. His & Hers reminded me of the best parts of The Girl in the Train, the unreliable narrators. Both main characters lie with in the first passage already showing you the reader mistrust.
7. The Living Dead by George A Romero and Daniel Krause is a great zombie epic! It’s scary as hell, in its graphic descriptions that make you see, smell, hear, and even taste the gore. The first 200 pages don’t read while eating please take my advice. This novel is so much more than just a gorefest, it there is heartbreak, love and betrayal. The Living Dead is a morale tale, which ask what is living really?
8. Home Before Dark by Riley Sager is a top notch thriller wrapped in a ghost story. Home Before Dark reminded me of why I love Riley Sager so much, good writing that for the most part keeps me guessing while adding that level of believability, that it could happen that way.
9. Princess Floralinda and the Forty-Flight Tower by Tamsyn Muir is a fantastic, clever, new take on a witch locking a princess in the tower story. The one thing that is clear is Tamsyn Muir is a clever writer and thinks out side of the box. Her writing so far is all about female empowerment with this novel taking it to another level, Princess Floralinda does not need a man to save her, she’ll do it herself.
10. The Devil and the Dark Water by Stuart Turton is a historical nautical mystery that takes an Agatha Christie plot and adds the devil. The plot has so many twist and turns that all make sense. The novel is a fun who done it, with so many suspects all with murder that will make you head spin. The standouts for me is the plot, however crazy it gets there’s always a plausible reason and character work is so good giving all 20 supporting characters their unique voices who all have their own motives and actions.
Top 5 books read this year not published in 2020:
1. The Shining by Stephen King is a truly horrific book. I was shocked how much story was not covered in the movie. 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.
2. 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.
3. Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman is the second book in the Arc of the Scythe series. Rarely do sequels ever make my best of list, butThunderhead ramps up the action, expands on the already great world building, it has one hell of a climax, and Dmaintains 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.
4. One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus is a clever mystery that blends the characters of the Breakfast Club with the secrets of Pretty Little Liars. The storytelling was really simple with an easy to follow mystery with so many twist and turns. I’m happy to say that I did not guess the killer, kudos to those who did. The story gets going right from the beginning 5 people go to detention, but only 4 make it out alive.
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 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.
Top 3 best series finished this year:
The Power of the Dog trilogy by Don Winslow which follows the birth of the DEA and the Mexican cartel. The story starts in 1970’s and ends in our present. The story is Scarface meets The Godfather. The first two books were 5 stars and the last was 4 stars. The Power of the Dog trilogy is The Power of the Dog, The Cartel, and The Border.
Arc of the Scythe trilogy by Neal Shusterman an incredible young adult trilogy that looks at Earth’s future in a smart way. Arc of the Scythe takes the Grim Reaper character and humanizes it, by well making it human and showing the need of death. In a futuristic Earth human’s have beat aging. Thanks to Nano technology there is no disease and death can be reversed in most cases. Scythes bring a permanent death to curb over population. The Scythes are human’s who have been appointed, they have a kill quota must be unbiased in choosing it’s victims. The first two books are really strong earning 5 stars, with the last book falling to 3 stars. The Arc of the Scythe trilogy is Scythe, Thunderhead, and The Toll.
Stalking Jack the Ripper series by Kerri Maniscalco Is a four novels and short stories Young Adult series that starts in 1888 England and ends in America in the early 1900’s. It follows Audrey Rose Wadworth and Thomas Cresswell who are learning to be forensic scientist while not courting each other. The series is romance meets serial killers. The setting is old but feels fresh using feminist ideas from today’s society questioning what is lady-like? This series doesn’t hold back on blood and descriptions of the horrid acts. I rated the majority of books in the series 4 stars. The Stalking Jack the Ripper series is Stalking Jack the Ripper, Hunting Prince Dracula, Escaping from Houdini, Becoming The Dark Prince, and Capturing the Devil.
A Witch in Time by Constance Sayers is a beautifully written debut that takes a witch cursed to die young and love a man that will constantly disappoint her, time and time again. A Witch in Time tells a great love story about missteps and sacrifice. It hits the right beats in time and history as we observe four life times starting in 1890’s and ended up in present day. I loved aspects of the curse and how both the cursed and the watchers of the curse can manipulate certain aspects of it. The story bounces back in time in the form of dreams, which I thought worked really well as I was never confused about what time I was in and who’s life I was reading about. The story is good but is slightly similar to Victoria Schwab’s most recent The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue, which deals with a curse and time, while this book I liked more and focused on past lives more than a singular life there are comparisons. The writing style which was simple but really connected me to the story and character’s, it reminded me a lot of Taylor Jenkins Reid’s writing style’s in Daisy Jones and the Six and The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo. I was selected for an advanced readers copy for Constance Sayer’s new novel The Ladies of the Secret Circus, which I’m really excited about after reading A Witch in Time.
The Plot: Helen is on her first date since her divorce almost a year ago, she’s meeting Luke on a blind date. When she meets Luke she swears he looks familiar to her. Luke says we’ve met before just not in this lifetime. This sends Helen in a spiral remembering through her dreams of France in the 1890’s and how she was cursed. She remembers Luke who looks just the way he does now protecting her after the curse had been placed. Luke is light on the details only saying she doesn’t have long, that it took him to long to find him and she must remember everything. Helen lives three lifetimes as she keeps getting connected to the same two people every time. Another thing Helen has noticed is she is getting powers and they get stronger with each lifetime. Helen is strong enough to finally break the curse but is she strong enough to do what it takes?
What I Liked: The lifetimes were described really well I wanted to stay longer in the Silver Age of 1930’s cinema. I liked the curse and the thought that went in to it, it was a fun mystery to unravel. I liked the love triangle, you could see every time why she picked the wrong love. Clint was scary I almost wish he was more connected to the story. I liked that we got to see her witch powers grow through out time. I’m a huge fan of the movie The Prestige and I liked that this story and that story used the real magician Angiers and twisted him. The narrative of flipping back and forth in time works really well, the story was complex but easy to follow.
What I Disliked: The novel repeats it’s self an awful lot, this is something I have found in a lot of debut novelist, who often don’t trust the reader to keep up, which I was able to do really easily, and didn’t need the reminder. The flow could have been better toward the end, the chapters got longer and slowed the momentum.
Recommendations: A Witch in Time is a fabulous debut of a talented writer in Constance Sayers. If you like witches and time travel then this is a perfect mix of the two. The novel is easy to read and hard to put down. I see great things from this author in the future. I rated A Witch in Time by Constance Sayers 4 out of 5 stars, this was almost a 5 star rating. I will read her new novel The Ladies of the Secret Circus pretty soon thanks to netgalley and Redhook books.
Leave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam is a hard book to describe. The book deals with class, race, comfort, and guidance. The story is one part dystopian and the other part is about togetherness and finding comfort in the new dystopia, sort of; that’s the best way I can describe it. Conversations rule this book over actions, what I found interesting is characters acting civil while civilization is falling apart. The book plays with the reader asking who do you trust or why don’t you trust characters? The book is tense and claustrophobic, with the ongoing pandemic adding to the tension. The dialogue was written really well, and kept the flow since it’s a book of conversation. The author likes lists often with item, her is every thing in the fridge, or everything I’m picking up from the store, which I felt was unnecessary. Leave the World Behind is a book that was written to be discussed in colleges I feel, it does interesting things with narrative and focus that can lead to lots of discussion. The ending is really open ended with little or no character closure, but ends more on a statement on comfort. Leave the World Behind was a National Book Award Finalist for Fiction.
The Plot: Amanda and Clay are going on a vacation to a cabin in remote woods with their two teenage kids. The vacation home is nice with a pool and a Jacuzzi. So far everything is perfect, when late at night a knock comes at the door. An elderly black couple Ruth and G.H. tell the family that they’re the owners and something has happened in New York, a blackout, and they didn’t want to go their apartment, they wanted to go home. The television is just showing a blue screen, do they trust the couple or not?
What I Liked: The tension in the words and action with the added claustrophobic atmosphere. I like the questions the story brought up about trusting in another, what will it take? The dynamic of G.H. and Danny the repair man, of he fixed things we should go to him to fix this, a good rich versus poor dynamic. I liked the overall story idea being on vacation when something like this happens. The dialogue was good, for a book mainly about conversations the dialogue was fresh and drive the narrative. My favorite line was “Home was just where you were, in the end. It was just the place where you found yourself.”
What I Disliked: The list of things was annoying, for a short book, I thought I’d the author adding to the page count. I don’t mind a book being open ended, but I want some characters to have closure, and there was none. It felt very unfinished.
Recommendation: I will recommend this book to people that like to thoroughly analyze text in books. This can be a good book club just for the conversation it starts. The book has moments of deep tension that I couldn’t put down, I Liked the end passage in the book but at the same time feel let down about the ending. I rated Leave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam 3 out of 5 stars.
Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds is a powerful story of systemic gun violence in America written in verse. The verse is written in small poems barley ever going over two pages really well painting a picture that lets you the reader control the narrative adding the details that the verse misses. The story is like a cross between Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol and Mitch Albom’s The Five People You Meet in Heaven. Ghost of the past board the elevator on every floor starting with the 7th and talk young Will about what he’s going to do when he gets when he gets to the bottom floor; kill the guy he thinks killed his older brother. The ending is one of the powerful endings I’ve read, I felt this is a story that need to get turned into a stage play. This is my second book by Jason Reynolds, and the second time I have been blown away by his writing. He uses such simple words to describe such an emotional stories. Jason Reynolds writes middle grade fiction with such heart and truth. Reynolds Ghost was one of my top picked books a couple years ago and this better than that. Long Way Down was a Newberry Medal Nominee, and Won the Edgar Award for Best Young Adult 2018
The Plot: 15 year-old Will has just dropped to the ground because he heard gun fire, he and his friend get up and look around, one body is still; his older brother Sean. Will angry goes home dead set to get the gun he knows Sean has hidden in his sock drawer. He grabs the gun pretty sure he knows who killed his brother, when he gets to the bottom floor that it the guy, Riggs, is dead. Will is visited by a ghost that has been a victim of gun violence on every floor. They talk about what he’s going to do and why, can they change Will or is it too late?
What I Liked: The poetic storytelling really works, I read it sort of like I would Hamilton the musical, I think that’s why I would really like to see it as a stage play. The character of Will is a good kid that is getting dragged into something he feels he has too. I like the rules of the streets and how everyone feels beholden to these rules that’s killing these young kids. I like that the subject matter is serious but it injects humor. I liked how the ghost of Buck and the guy that shot him are friends, like if the streets didn’t exist they would have been best friends. The ending is one of the best I have read it is open ended allowing the reader to choose what happened, and I loved it so much, so powerful. My Favorite line was “Pretended like yellow tape was some kind of neighborhood flag that don’t nobody wave but always be flapping in the wind.” followed up by “And the next day, kids would play mummy with it.”
What I Disliked: I wanted a little more clarity on what Will’s father was thinking, he made him scared, but more dialogue was needed to know his full intent.
Recommendation: I recommend this story to young and old, this is a middle grade story but an older audience will get everything the story is trying to say. I think this is a great story especially for the people already living this life. I would be weary of exposing kids that this world is not on their radar to soon, but it is a good story to give empathy to those that live a different life than most. I rated Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds 5 out of 5 stars.
The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett is a family drama about race, focusing on the light and darkness of skin color. The book will really make you self reflect your own prejudice and bias based on skin color. Bennett doesn’t just analyze the white standard of skin bias but the black on as well. The book starts in the 1950’s and goes up to the early 1980’s. The story follows 3 generations of the Vinges family women. The story jumps in time a little a the beginning which took some getting used to but, I liked what it set up. The story was really good and really got into the psychology of its characters. The way the story was told reminded me of The Immoralists by Chloe Benjamin, and how the story jumps in time. The Vanishing Half is an important story that needed to me told. This book features an interesting portrait of a trans man transitioning, which was pretty bold. I do fear that the scene will turn off some readers, who came for a story about race, which would be unfortunate. The Vanishing Half won the Goodreads choice award for Historical fiction in 2020, I do feel this is a little bit of a stretch as history is an afterthought to the drama the only moments in history that are highlighted are Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. assignations and the Aids crisis that’s really all, there’s rarely a pop culture reference. The story is a fantastic general fiction that involves four decades. The Vanishing Half is being developed as a limited series at HBO and HBOmax.
The Plot Desiree and Stella Vinges are twin sisters in the small town of Mallard, Louisiana. A town so small it’s not even on the map. The Vinges are all very light skinned and so is every other colored person in the town, that’s the only way the white people can tolerate them. Stella and Desiree are so light they could almost pass for white. Stella has experimented with this and passed for a brief moment when a black man working security spotted her. The twins lost their father to a mob of angry white men, there mother did what she could but she couldn’t pay the bills, she made the girls drop out of school and work with her to pay the bills. The girls each dreamers, wanted more out of life and weren’t happy, they decide to run away. They stayed with each other for quite some time until Stella a perfected playing white and leaves her sister Desiree for a different life as a white woman. Desiree find love and marries a dark skinned man and has a dark skinned child in Jude. The husband beats her and she returns home with her child causing a stir because of her daughter’s skin color. Desiree meets Early and bounty hunter that she knew as children and hasn’t lost his crush, he covers for her to her husband and starts looking for Stella.
What I Liked: The story and the conversation around skin color is really fascinating. The relationship between Loretta and Stella was my favorite, someone she feared would reveal her secret would be the only friend she could talk to. The psychology of faking white and what it does to Stella towards her relationship towards black people. June was my favorite secondary character, I loved the psychology of her and secrets. I liked how the story made connections, it was real and messy not tied up in a bow. There’s to many good lines of dialogue here are my to favorite exchanges “White folks kill you if you want too much, kill you if you want too little.” Willie Lee shook his head, packing tobacco into his pipe. “You gotta follow they rules but they change ’em when they feel.” and “You did all this for a man?” “Not for him,” she said. “I just liked who I was with him.” “White.” “No,” Stella said. “Free.” Desiree laughed. “Same thing, baby.”
What I Disliked: Stella still hides her true self from one of the most important people in her life, I feel if she told them they would not have believed her anyway, but she would have got it off her chest. I do find it a little unbelievable that no one questioned Reece about being trans before he could start the hormones and have surgery.
Recommendations: The Vanishing Half is a heck of a read that will make you think after you read it. The Vanishing Half has a hard look about skin color backed up by a fantastic story. The story flows really well and was hard to stop at certain points. I rated The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett 5 out of 5 stars. I look forward to reading more from Brit Bennett in the future.
The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V. E. Schwab is part memoir through time and history, and part present day love story. I say love story lightly because from this reader’s perspective I don’t know if one character can love. The story is great a deal with the devil gone wrong, but with a unique twist. This story will make you the reader question, what would you do in the same scenario? The story is unique, yet familiar if you know Schwab’s other works like Vicious and A Darker Shade of Magic. I feel Schwab took some of the best parts out those novels and combined them. She brought the complex relationships between friend and foe in Vicious, and the dark history of A Darker Shade of Magic. The way the story is told bouncing back in forth in time was great and well paced, only got confused for a little bit. The writing is great with a couple memorable lines. This is my 5th V. E. Schwab book, and I remain a huge fan, her writing has been an instant TBR for a couple years now, I can’t wait for her next book.
The Plot: Addie doesn’t want to be married and a step mother at 23 in early 1700’s France, she wants adventure to be something. in the dead of night a devil hears her call and makes her an offer. no one will notice if she doesn’t get married. The devils twist’s is no one will ever notice her again. Once anyone leaves her sight they forget her instantly. Addie deal is to live long enough until she decides to give the devil her soul, she has spent that time searching for somebody anybody that will remember her. In 300 year she has found that person.
What I Liked: The story for The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue is so freaking good, there’s a lot of layers and twist, just really good storytelling. I really liked the character of Addie and feel for her predicament before the deal. I love the clever way she figures out not really how to be remembered, but have a presence still in this world. I really liked the character of Henry and how he fit into the overall story. I liked the LGTBQ representation, and that no character hides their bisexuality. I felt we get just enough history through Addie’s 300 year journey, hitting all the World War’s and Bastille Day. One of my favorite lines was, “Adeline was going to be a tree, and instead, people have come brandishing an ax.” I like the little bit of french we do get, “Déjà vu. Déjà su. Déjà vécu. Already seen. Already known. Already lived.” this translation recurs a couple of time through out the novel.
What I Disliked: It was hard to get the main relationship, because I do believe that one character can not love, and was more a relationship of convenience and not wanting to be lonely. I could feel the one sidedness of it. It was hard to get behind in the end.
Recommendations: I think you should read this novel that everyone on the blogosphere is raving about. The story is one of a kind. I know she writes as V. E. Schwab for her more adult but I think this could easily fit on Young Adult section, this a very small about of swear words and sexual content. I rated The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue 4 out of 5 stars barely.
Exit Strategy by Martha Well is book four in The Murderbot Diaries, book series. This is the last of the 4 novellas the next books in the series is a full length novels. The fourth book comes full circle all the way back to the first book and the first humans that he saved and started to generally care about. This novel has a bit more heart because of the reunion and the character of Murderbot has grown emotionally throughout the series. The ending was perfect for this chapter in Murderbot’s life. My one problem with this series is the formulaic plot, this book like the one before it had Murderbot try to get undetected on some transport, something happens to human’s he’s around Murderbot must save them, he does and he runs away. This book did change the ending but the plot points are the same. Murderbot’s dialogue was as fresh as it has ever been but the plot being kinda of the same bother’s me I actually took a break in the series for this reason. I feel this was trying especially in the end to change some things up I remain a fan but slightly disappointed.
The Plot: In the first Murderbot novella All Systems Red, Muderbot hired by a team of scientist doing lad surveys on a planet, a shadow company, GrayCris, has been doing it’s own research on the planet, and found aliens have visited it and have left technology, they fear the scientists finding out and send a kill order of the scientist. Murderbot saves them as they find out about the alien visit and learn more about the GrayCris, Murderbot is bought by the scientists and granted freedom. Murderbot runs away. In the second Murderbot book Artificial Condition Murderbot investigates the place where he became a mass murderer and finds out he was hacked and taken over by GrayCris that wanted settlers dead. In Rogue Protocol Murderbot is going to a planet that GrayCris deleted from record. Murderbot wants to grab proof of a coverup and give it to the scientists who released him and still fighting GrayCris. He joined a survey team that doesn’t understand what they are walking into, he lies his way in as security, and reluctantly has to protect the humans and a naive droid he has nicknamed Puppybot. In Exit Strategy Murderbot has the evidence and wants to show it to the team of scientist that helped set him free, before he can give the evidence, Dr. Mensah, the lead scientist is taken and ransomed for the evidence that Murderbot has. Can Murerbot save Dr. Mensah and keep the evidence?
What I Liked: The character of Murderbot thoughts and actions keep getting better as the character grows. I liked seeing the old scientific team from book one especially Dr. Mensah who say Muderbot for more than a robot. I do like that Dr. Mensah is the only other person that knows he refers to himself as Murderbot, I liked how that added it to the story. The action was better than previous installments because of Muderbot caring more than usual. I loved that Dr. Mensah to ease tension asked Muderbot about his favorite TV show, Sanctuary Moon. The end of the novella run was a good one and really shows how far the character has come.
What I Disliked: The plot points make this awesome series a tad episodic and I hate that. Here’s what it mad me think of; Lassie the old TV show. In every episode Timmy or somebody will get hurt and the only thing to save them is Lassie, that’s what I felt a little when reading this that I knew all the story beats, because I saw or read this episode before. I will say if this was the first book of the series I read I would think the writing and characterization are really strong and I wouldn’t know how formulaic it is. I’m not going to rate this book too harsh but it will lower my rating of the series, because I feel individually this book is the better written of the series.
Recommendations: The character of Murderbot is so good I will recommend the series just for that. love the character. Muderbot is the first character that I created a Spotisfy playlist for. The books are good and highly entertaining if not a tad predictable. I rated Exit Strategy by Martha Wells 4 out of 5 stars. I rated all books in the series 4 out of 5 stars, but I would rate the series 3 out of 5 stars to the formulaic nature. I will read the next book in The Muderbot Diaries series by Martha Wells Network Effect with a slight hesitation.