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.
Icebound: Shipwrecked at The Edge of the World by Andrea Pitzer is a one part quest for a trade route from Europe to China through the north, and is one part survival story of the nature. This nonfiction account of William Barents three journey’s to find a passage through the north pole and his last journey where he was trapped for a year with a crew of 15 in no mans land with ice, snow and polar bears. The story is filled with history and personal accounts, through letters making the situation very real. This book shows just how vicious polar bears can be, and how hard they are to kill. The weather is the constant enemy snow, ice, and rain with extreme cold thrown in for good measure. It’s hard to imagine anyone in current time surviving, not to mention people living in the late 1500’s. The writing was straight forward with little or no emotion, as reader my imagination took over about the mutiny and dealing with below freezing temperatures. I read Icebound: Shipwrecked at The Edge of the World by Andrea Pitzer for free thanks to Netgalley and Scribner it was published on 1-12-21.
The Plot: In 1590’s the Dutch Republic wanted a quicker trade route to China, with the current route taking to long and losing ships to pirates. They hired William Barents to find a route through the North, he takes 3 voyages to find a pass, but the elements don’t let him the final voyage he and his crew are left stranded in the ice until the next summer. His journey notes and observations lead to many discoveries in science and exploration.
What I Liked: The tale of survival and the descriptions of isolation and the extreme weather are pretty terrifying. Polar bears are scary and stealth. The polar bear attacks are brutal and really frightening. I liked learning about the navigational tools at the time and how genius Barents was to navigate it. I liked learning the legacy after Barents death.
What I Disliked: There was a part of the story where it seemed that Barents and the other officer didn’t do anything, it explained they were the most valuable so the other crew members took the risk, but it’s almost as the characters go missing 30 pages until something that happens that needs leadership. it was sad that most of the crew did not have names, or any description of what most of the crew looked like.
Recommendations: I will recommend this nonfiction, the history is not to boring and the treat of death is everywhere and you feel that tension. This book reads like a horror in some places, the biggest fiction I could compare it Dan Simmons’ The Terror which is fictional based on the true Story of the HMS Terror where explorers were trying to get the North Pole. The actual journey of the HMS. Terror was influenced by Barents. I rated Icebound: Shipwrecked at The Edge of the World by Andrea Pitzer 4 out of 5 stars.
Persephone Station by Stina Leicht is a confusing female lead space opera. This novel is very confusing especially at the beginning, this is one I fought with myself over do not finishing but I pushed through. The story is like a one off episode of Star Wars The Clone Wars, merged with some characters from the Alien franchise, there’s an Ellen Ripley in Angel, there’s a Call in Kennedy, and a whole lot of Private Vasquezs. The character are different but most of them all talk the same. The plot is pretty crazy and doesn’t really start going until half way, we get the villains motives at the 90 percent mark. There is bits of exciting action but once again most it is often hard to follow. The bear action scenes were awesome. The best part of this novel is when the Merc crew talks crap to each other, there’s some good lines that I would include in this review but I read an ARC copy, thanks to Netgalley and Gallery Books, and can not post words since they are subject to change. The book does have a non-binary character and lesbian characters to represent the LBGTQ. When I read the description I had high hopes for this novel as it is being publicized as a female lead Mandolorian like space opera, but I just did not enjoy it.
The Plot: Women with political influence start getting murdered, they are linked to indigenous alien race that have advance technology. The villain wants the tech for her own devices. The Merc crew perform a suicide mission protecting the race against and army of mech suited soldiers.
What I Liked: The scenes of the women talking crap about past missions and relationships was the best I wish it had more scenes like that. The bear verse mech suit was the highlight of action, there’s another scene where one of the aliens communicates with a bear that was pretty cool. There is some great lines of dialogue, most take place in the two talking crap scenes. I do love te female empowerment and LGBTQ representation. I like the characters of Angel, Kennedy, Beak, and Sukyi. The relationship with Angel and the ship the Kurosawa was a special one.
What I Disliked: The whole first half of this book is so rough, you will have twenty names in the first thirty pages and 17 of them all talk the same, making it impossible to form a connection. It jumps a round to weird spots, who set up the log bobby traps? why is one team now separated when they were just together? The villain’s motive is way too late the woman seems to be evil and then she starts getting bossed around, it was bad. The world building is half realized, or we as the reader only see half of it. Catholic religion is brought in briefly then never talked about again.
Recommendation: I recommend you skip this book if you need LGTBQ charters in a science fiction setting please check out the excellent Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir. Star Wars the ultimate for your space opera fix. The Star Wars series has been bad about not having too many strong female protagonists, but has been slowly changing and making effort for more, so check out the newer novels. I rated Persephone Station by Stina Leicht 2 out of 5 stars.
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
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.
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.
December 2020 TBR list: last month was so successful I read all 8 books plus 4 more, but I did have an appendectomy with two weeks of bed rest; I decided not go with 8 again.
The Invisible Life of Addie Larue by V. E. Schwab is one of my most anticipated reads of the year, critics and bloggers are loving this book. The description is a young woman makes a Faustian bargain to live forever and is cursed to be forgotten by everyone she meets. Curses, soul to the devil and living forever; these are all things I enjoy reading about and get me excited about this book. V. E. Schwab’s Vicious is one of my top ten favorite books so I’m going to read anything she has written. One review said this is an ugly cry book so I’m prepared.
The Vanishing Half by Brit Benett is another book that has been delighting critics and bloggers. The Vanishing Half deals with to identical sisters who live in different worlds one black and the other white. This is a book that analyzes both the black and white world we live in and how race effects that. The Vanishing Half is Longlisted for the National Book Award.
Exit Strategy by Martha Wells is the fourth book in the Murderbot series. I like Muderbot as a character, of a self aware A.I. who would rather watch TV shows about humans than be with them. I have felt that the series was getting a bit formulaic, so I took a break for a couple of months hoping the series can pull me back in again.
Leave The World Behind by Rumaan Alam is about a family staying at a remote vacation home when a late knock at the doors from the owners saying there’s blackout, with no tv and internet they don’t know what to believe. This novel is on so many people’s list I’m going in blind and hope I enjoy it.
Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds take place in 60 long seconds that one kid will decide wether or not to murder the guy that killed his brother. Jason Reynolds is genius with Ghost, that was featured on PBS ‘s 100 Great American Reads. I ‘ve wanted to pick up something else from him and had the opportunity.
Snow, Glass, Apples by Colleen Doran adapted from Neil Gaiman short story this is a retelling of Snow White from the stepmother’s perspective. The original short story was 27 pages and has been formed into a beautiful graphic novel version.
The Krytos Trap by Michael A. Stackpole is a Star Wars X-wing novel, it is part three in the X-wings series, The last novel was the Empire Strikes Back in the series, The rebellion risked everything to take Coruscant, and they did, but the rebellion released a deadly virus that will bleed the rebellion dry, also Corran Horn was thought to be blown up only to reveal him in prison of the enemy, and they leader that is innocent on trial for treason. This novel blends court case with science fiction action.
You Can’t Scare Me! By R. L. Stine I return to reading Goosebumps books with book 15 in the original series. This one has a similar premise to The Haunted Mask where the person is scared of everything and wants revenge on the person scaring them. I this one Eddie lures Courtney, the bully, Muddy Creek where a rumored Mud Monster is there.
Dear Readers, November was a good month for reading catching up on my TBR, I ended up being bed ridden for two and a half weeks due to an emergency appendectomy. This month was a weird one for ratings , the books I thought would be instant 5 stars didn’t make it there but the smaller books with a little bit of buzz did. I read 12 books this month. I read 4 graphic novel, 5 books in a series, 3 dark mysteries, 1 classic, 1 advance reader copies (thanks to Netgalley) and 3 books nominated for Goodreads choice awards in 2020. I only started 1 new series. I read every book on my TBR and added 4. I did hit my yearly reading goal of 75 books this this year my current total is 94.
Five Star Reviews:
His & Hers by Alice Feeney This book has the intriguing tag line: “There are two sides to every story: yours and mine, ours and theirs, His & Hers. Which means someone is always lying.” His & Hers is a great mystery with layers upon layers. This who done it, will have you constantly changing who you think is the killer. His & Hers reminded me of the best parts of The Girl in the Train, the unreliable narrators. Both main characters lie with in the first passage already showing you the reader mistrust. I really like the way it is told you have the perspective of him, a detective for a small town, and then you have her, a BBC news correspondent. But there is also another voice the killer’s voice, the clever thing this novel does is make you find out who the third voice belongs to is it Him, Her, or is it some one else.
Princess Floralinda and the Forty-Flight Tower by Tamsyn Muir is a fantastic, clever, new take on a witch locking a princess in the tower story. Tamsyn Muir is the best selling author of Gideon the Ninth and Harrow the Ninth both books in The Locked Tomb trilogy those books are dark, and clever about a lesbian necromancer, I was really excited to read something lighter by her, and Princess Floralinda was a little lighter with some truly brutal scenes. The one thing that is clear is Tamsyn Muir is a clever writer and thinks out side of the box. Her writing so far is all about female empowerment with this novel taking it to another level, Princess Floralinda does not need a man to save her, she’ll do it herself. A special thanks to Netgalley and Subterranean Press for allowing me to read it early. It wias be published on November 30, 2020.
Harleen by Stjepan Sejic was a fantastic Harley Quinn origin story. The approach was a romance novel gone wrong, and it works really well. Harleen managed to balance all four drama, action, romance, and comedy very evenly. The character of Harley generally wants to do good and help people, the Joker manipulates her feelings, but did she really change the Joker and make him care for him? Is the question, Batman and Alfred actually discuss it at the end. Harley does have layers to her character, and they are explored here. Harleen is written and drawn by Stjepan Sejic, with both done beautifully. The Joker and Harley have never loved better, the Joker is a little bit EMO which did take a second to get used to. Harleen is up for best graphic novel in Goodreads choice awards, and after reading it, it has my vote.
Batman: Curse of the White Knight by Sean Gordon Murphy is a hard look at what it takes to be a hero, and Batman himself asking if he help contribute to crime. This is the sequel to the excellent Batman: White Knight where the Joker went sane and went after Batman as if he were the victim. The Joker is back to being the joker, but the things he called out were too good and could ruin crime sprees. The Joker has one more joke to pull that could blow up the Wayne legacy. The Curse of the White Knight continues its streak of being one of the best Batman stories. The story had a lot of twist and turns as it explores the birth of the Wayne dynasty and a current threat with an old score to settle. The writing will make you both laugh and almost cry.
Black Hammer Volume 4: Age of Doom, Part Two by Jeff Lemire was fantastic a perfect ending to the series. I was a little shocked that it ended I know of two other volumes to the series, but upon further research, one is short stories told in the world, and the other is a prequel. This is such a weird series that embraced the weird and did not shy away from it, but through all that weird it told a story of a dysfunctional super hero family, and the ending really nailed that aspect. This is easily one of my top series enders for a graphic novel. Characters were able to grow and the story has a nice arc that went full circle back to the beginning.
Four Star Reviews:
Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia is one part gothic tale like Rebecca and one part like Jordan Peele’s film Get Out. The novel dip from gothic to horror easily. The novel analyses race, heredity, and class warfare making it a deep part of the story. This novel has been in the horror category, the first half I was like this is stretch to fit in this category, but the second half earned its spot in the category. The story is totally off the rails I could not have predicted where it went which was part of the fun. This book is one of the most hyped books of this year, receiving rants and raves all over the blogosphere.
One of Us is Next by Karen McManus is the sequel to the best selling One of Us is Lying. In this one the story is more complex, and the novel pulls double duty introducing us to new characters, while catching us up with the old characters from the first book. The book for the most part does a good job of blending the new characters with the old, I did feel at beginning it was too much of the new characters. The mystery is way more complex, it reminded me of the newest Veronica Mars storyline. Instead of 4 characters perspectives, we get 3 which was okay but it took away the rapid paced smaller chapters of the first one. The finale was really fun and exciting. There was a late twist almost at the end that I was not excepting.
Stone of Tears by Terry Goodkind is an epic tale of stopping the beings from the Underworld from escaping and bring hell upon the world. This is book two in the Sword of Truth series. This book waste no time to get going, action starts on page five and goes on for a good while. The story takes places a mere two days after the last one ended, with a lot of the unresolved issues getting addressed early on. The action scenes are great and unrelenting. There is a war scene that was so smart and detailed it was easily in my top ten of battle scenes I have read, where I didn’t get lost in the action and every move made sense. The finale felt a little rushed
Three Star Reviews:
Ready Player Two by Ernest Cline is the sequel to the geektastic Ready Player One. Ready Player Two is like the Matrix meets Tron: Legacy, it ups the action, and the quests (seven instead of three) . This book focuses more on overall pop culture during the 80’s while the first one was a little more about gaming, which is sure to turn some readers off. The magic is still alive in the series, the world building is expanded. The worlds explored are John Hughes, Prince, PBS, Florian (Princess Bride) and Middle Earth. John Hughes land was my absolute favorite, the whole book could have happened there and I would have been fine. I enjoyed Ready Player One more but this sequel has it’s charm and had some really cool highlights.
Hard Times by Charles Dickens is a satire written in 1854 but about the Hard Times of a mill town in 1840’s. This story is tragic as it looks at the differences of the have and the have not’s of society. It is a little crazy how some of the issues are still relevant especially about workers rights on safety. Hard Times is a satire and Dickens will find little ways to add humor, he has a lot of fun with names such as Gradgrind, Slackbridge, and M’Coakumchild to name a few. The story is told as an ensemble there is no main character, the story bounces to people mostly associated with the Gradgrind and Bounderby familes/workers.
The Great Zoo of China by Matthew Reilly is Jurassic Park with dragons. The novel is self aware and there is references to Jurassic Park throughout. Where the novel separates it self from Jurassic Park is 300 pages of white knuckle action that does not let up until the end. Reilly does not put too much science in his science fiction unlike Michael Crichton does, leaving the story not as believable as Jurassic Park. What Reilly does really well is have detailed maps, that constantly reminds the reader where they are in relationship to others. Reilly who is known for his action delivers a pulse pounding narrative that seems to never let up.
Two Star reviews:
Suicide Squad Volume 1: Trial By Fire by John Ostrander and Kim Yale is 80’s action Suicide Squad more influenced by the 80’s TV show the A-Team then anything else. I wanted to read this in anticipation for the movie coming out that will have lots of obscure characters from the series, and I thought the 80’s Suicide Squad would be a good place to look. I got to learn a lot of the history of the squad originally called Suicide Squadron during World War II. I found out that The Penguin was briefly a member. The main members are Deadshot, Enchantress, Captain Boomerang, Bronze Tiger, Nightshade, and lead by Randall Flagg commanded by Amanda Waller.