Book Reviews: Star Wars: Out of the Shadows by Justina Ireland

Out of the Shadows by Justina Ireland is the second Young Adult novel in The High Republic series. The High republic comes 200 years before Star Wars: A New Hope. This novel is paced so slow with only 3 battles. Reath and Master Cormac are the returning Jedi from the first YA but given background roles in this. The ending of this book saves it from being a 2 star review. There’s is only two things of significance that happen that will effect the adult Star Wars: The High Republic novels. This book was missing humor there’s one recurring event that was funny. What the book is filled with is young adult angst, which reached an annoying level, instead of being poignant. There’s a LGTBQ relationship that was good for inclusion purpose but the relationship wasn’t all that strong. I feel the adult version handled the LGTBQ relationship better. The plot is a huge long con, the pay off is all at the end which saves this novel, but I wanted to see this good writing through out. After reading the 2 adult and 2 YA Star Wars: The High Republic novels Out of the Shadows has been my least favorite.

The Plot: A device that can rip ships from hyperspace is causing havoc. The Jedi are sent to research this. A freight hauler lands in a conspiracy when she finds out her mother she thought dead is rumored to be behind the device. Vern one of the Jedi is called out by a mysterious voice guiding her to something, is the voice friend or foe?

What I Liked: The ending was great, the lead up to it was not. I liked that the character of Nan, who was in Out of the Past and was a frenemy with Reath and part of the Nihil returns to have a bigger role. I did like the running gag of Vern crashing what ever ship she is in, that was the only funny part in the book and it worked. I liked the plot line of Vern and the voice and who it belonged to. I like the attempt at the LGBTQ relationship but it could have been a lot better. I liked the speeder bike fight even if it was super brief.

What I Disliked: The pacing was really bad in this, one of the worst I’ve read in the 20 or so Star Wars novels that I have read. I was not happy about the Jedi plot lines in this story. I needed way more humor in this story. Barely any battles in a 352 page book maybe 30 pages were battles.

Recommendations: If you’re a casual Star Wars reader I would recommend skipping this one there’s two things of significance that involve the Nihil, and I imagine the adult novel catching us up in less than one page of dialogue. If you are a super fan then you are like me and going to read this book anyway. I rated Out of the Shadows by Justina Ireland 3 out of 5 stars. This book was almost a 2 star review, but the ending really saved it.

Book Review: For the Wolf by Hannah Whitten

For the Wolf by Hannah Whitten is not really a retelling of Little Red Riding more of a cash in the popularity of retellings. There’s a girl named Red who wears a red cape and a Wolf in the woods sort of, that is the only things in common with the fable. The story was an almost DNF, the beginning is really slow and the world building is hard to understand, but I stuck to it and it did get better. This novel is being set up as a series and was happy to see that in the epilogue the story is heading in the most interesting direction. Neve Red’s sister really steals the spotlight ad I thought was the far more interesting character. I will list some of my own bias for this story and take this what you will – I don’t like blood magic, let me rephrase I don’t like magic that is released by cutting wrist hands, and this is the only type of magic being released. For me it is a bit of a trigger warning, I said the same thing in my review Children of Blood and Bone (Legacy of Orïsha, #1) Adeyemi, Tomi, I don’t think it effected my review but I just think my reader’s of my review should know. I ended up liking the history of the Wilderwood not at first but how it was explained about midway through. The ending was exciting and well thought out. I did love the bond of sisterhood aspect in the story the most.

The Plot: Red and her twin Neve are on different paths, Neve is the heir to me queen as she was born first and Red being the second sister of twin is to be sacrificed to the forest and the wolf in a chances that the five lost Kings will return. The woods are haunted and only let the Sister with a mark through. Red is still haunted by the one time she was in there before. Neve fights with her mother the queen not wanting Red to go, but the queen will not listen and send Red to the forest as Neve plots to retrieve her sister and will go to extremes to get her back. Red finds an old house the the forest led her to then closes up once she there then finds the wolf (who is not a wolf at all or someone that can even turn into a wolf that tells her to leave, red after the big ordeal is stubborn and says she’s staying. Red finds out the forest is indeed haunted with shadow people who possess trees and that Red’s blood is special and the forest wants it, where the Wolf’s blood keeps the shadows away.

What I Liked: The bond of sisterhood is a theme through out and I love it. I really liked Neve’s storyline and the sacrifice she’s willing to make to save Red. The legend of the Wilderwood was really good when fully explained. The ending was both exciting and emotional, I enjoyed the lead up to it as well.

What I Disliked: Blood magic cutting your self for one spell is okay but cutting yourself and fling blood multiple times, not for me. The action, the magic, and the exposition scenes were really hard to follow especially at the beginning. It did try to throw in elements of Little Red Riding Hood it could have easily thrown in something, but no attempts.

Recommendations: This book starts off as a dud then gets a lot better at the end, not enough to give it a recommendation to read. This book already has a sequel called For the Thrown I think the book is heading in the right direction, I might be interested in trying the sequel sometime. I rated For the Wolf by Hannah Whitten 2 out of 5 stars it was close to two and a half stars.

Book Review: Girl in the Walls by A. J. Gnuse

Girl in the Walls by A.J. Gnuse is both haunting and full of heart. This is not a ghost story but a story of a girl who literally lives in the walls of her former home after tragedy strikes. She lives life trying to go unnoticed by the new family that lives there. The best part of this book is the descriptions, since the girl remains hidden she has to describes sound and only get glimpse, she paints a picture with descriptions. The novel goes in some interesting places, it does take a while to find it’s direction, but in the I was satisfied by the end. The climax is exciting and the villain is scary in a interesting way. I wanted more interaction between the girl and the family, and we don’t get enough flashbacks of the girls family. I thought the story was rather unique, but my emotional connection was lacking at times, where the girl is so guarded we rarely see what is in her head, other than being unnoticed and surviving. I did enjoy the theme of home is where the heart is, it’s the safe place. Thanks to Netgalley and Ecco publishing. The Girl in the Walls is published on May 11 2021.

The Plot: Elise lives in a house that is not hers, anymore. The Mason’s own the home she lives in. The Mason’s don’t know she live there, because she lives in the walls. She lives like a mouse scurrying around eating what she can and reading what she can. The house is here when they go to work and school. She does not leave the house. Eddie the youngest Mason can feel her presence, he doesn’t know if she’s real or a ghost, he just wants her gone, and to stop taking his stuff. The trouble starts when the older brother starts noticing, and is more proactive about it.

What I Liked: The uniqueness of the story, it blends the line of is she a ghost or not for the first couple of pages. It was a beautiful story of a house and it’s meaning, but it’s also a creepy story for a home owner, it made me think of the horror movie the People Under the Stairs. I liked the brother Eddie, it didn’t say he was exactly autistic but definitely in the spectrum, he senses the girl and protects her as well as puts an ode to her in his legos. The descriptions at the beginning when Eddie has a piano lesson was so good. The villain is terrifying as he fights his childhood fears that there was someone in his house, and he’s determined to find what goes bump in the night. I liked the stuff about Odin, Thor and Loki.

What I Disliked: The ending initial ending was good, then we get two more that were unnecessary because they didn’t provide any information, if you show the girl when she was older, but don’t tell anything about her past life or current really. I was left with more questions than answers with the first I was satisfied. We don’t see enough into Elise’s mind, we don’t get her thoughts on much I had a hard time connecting to her. I could feel for her circumstance but not for her as a person.

Recommendation: I will barely recommend this for the young adult audience it was made for, but as an adult I respected the unique story line but not the character development. I found some parts beautiful, but so of it just pain boring as nothing happened and developed. I rated Girl in the Walls by A. J. Gnuse 3 out of 5 stars.

Wrap Up: March 2021

Dear Readers, March was a busy month, overtime at work was back and I’ve actively started looking for a house.  I read only 6 books this month. I read 2 horror, 1 graphic novel, and 2 new releases thanks to netgalley . I started 0 new series and read 2 from a book series. I read one 5 star book, three 4 star books, and two 3 star books. I read 6 out of 8 books off my TBR.

Five Star Reviews:

Concrete Rose Angie Thomas

Concrete Rose by Angie Thomas is a prequel to The Hate U Give. This story follows a lot of storylines that were backstory in The Hate U Give and the Carter family, like how Star got her middle name, and the tricky parenting of Seven. I feel you did not have to read The Hate U Give to enjoy this but you will enjoy The Hate U Give even more. Where the hate you give was more about race relations and the Black Lives Movement, this novel is more about responsibility and self ownership. I think this is an important story about teen pregnancy, stepping up and being a man, the gang culture, and LGBTQ acceptance. This book is at times corny, hard hitting, raw, and emotional, it will leave you with hope an a morale story that working hard does pay off. 

Four Star Reviews:

The Ladies of the Secret Circus by Constance Sayers is a story full of witchcraft and mystery. It is a mix of Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus meets Oscar Wilde’s The Portrait of Dorian Gray. The story draws you in with a compelling mystery then adds the magic and the Secret Circus. The family history sometimes got messy and complex, but the ending was clear and concise, clearing up some of the plot point I had problems with. I received an advanced readers copy of The Ladies of the Secret Circus thanks to Netgalley and Redhook Books. The Ladies of The Secret Circus by Constance Sayers is published on 3-23-21.


Monster Blood II by R. L. Stine is Goosebumbs book number 18. Monster blood is back with Evan and Andy who found the original Monster Blood in a vintage toy shop. After reading 18 Goosebumps books Monster Blood the original ranks second to last in my ranking from best to worst, I was hoping this one would be better and it was. This book is all charm with mischief and humor. This book is rarely that scary, the nightmares provide some horror and Stine has fun with them. 

Marvel Masterworks: The Amazing Spider-man volume 3 by Stan Lee This continues Spiderman 2nd year to his third. He comes closer to finding out the secret identity of the Green Goblin. Peter Parker gets closer to finally going on a date with Mary Jane Watson, she is only seen by others as Peter Parker pursues Betty Brandt . We get to see the birth of Scorpion, Molten Man and the first Spider Slayer. J Jonah Jamison takes his hate for Spiderman to new levels and he creates two bad guys the Scorpion and the Spider Slayer. Peter Parker graduates High School and finally stands up to Flash Thompson.

Three Star Reviews:

In The Quick by Kate Hope Day is about the life of female astronaut from 12 to adulthood. There’s a missing crew which seems important and is the driving force until the end when it is about life choice more so. The character work on June is really interesting I actually liked the scenes with her at the astronaut school then her actually being an astronaut in space. The first 50% is all about astronaut school and the other 50% has her in space and going to missions. I loved 75% of this book but man is the last 25% bad.I would like to thank Netgalley and Random House for the ARC. In The Quick by Kate Hope Day is published on March 2nd 2021.

Inspection by Josh Malerman is an interesting look at genius and distractions of the opposite sex. This is my third Josh Malerman book and man are his stories out there. which I like. This story is best if you know as little as possible going in. I actually think this story is ruined by it’s own book cover synopsis, since t cover 75% of the story, I was waiting for a twist and a greater meaning then the one we got. The climax is big and went a lot further then I thought the story was going. We get two perspectives J a boy and K a girl. We get J first who is the least interesting of the two then the characters meet and we follow K until the meeting.

Book Review: Concrete Rose by Angie Thomas

Concrete Rose by Angie Thomas is a prequel to The Hate U Give. This story follows a lot of storylines that were backstory in The Hate U Give and the Carter family, like how Star got her middle name, and the tricky parenting of Seven. I feel you did not have to read The Hate U give to enjoy this but you will enjoy The Hate U give even more. Where the hate you give was more about race relations and the Black Lives Movement, this novel is more about responsibility and self ownership. I think this is an important story about teen pregnancy, stepping up and being a man, the gang culture, and LGBTQ acceptance. This book is at times corny, hard hitting, raw, and emotional, it will leave you with hope an moral story for working hard does pay off. The story doesn’t pull away from tough talks, like telling parents your going to be a teenage father, again. The novel does manage to tie in to Angie Thomas other novel On the Come Up as well.

The Plot: Maverick or Mav Carter 17 is a low level drug dealer in the King Lords gang, his father is a member that is currently locked up. He joined the gang on his father’s advice that some one would take Mav out to get his father. Mav is not a typical gangster he has a heart and will do the right thing. He is going to get a paternity test, for a baby already named after his best friend King. Mav had a one night stand with his best friend’s off and on again girlfriend. He is the father and the mom runs out of the hospital leaving him with a car seat and some formula. Mav does his best he stops dealing and gets a real job at a small market. He has to now tell his current girlfriend Lisa, not only that he slept with a girl when they briefly broke up but that he got her pregnant.

What I Liked: The story was good even though I new the end results I was very entertained. The LGTBQ I did not remember from The Hate U Give but I really enjoyed it and saw a well established love story. There’s a lot of joking and clowning around that really works, and are used well when relieving tension in scenes. The character of Dre worked really well, and make you feel from him. I loved the talk of being a real man is showing emotions, but not driven by them. The Mr. Wyatt and Mav conversations were always truthful and very real. I like that Mr Wyatt becomes Mav’s surrogate father. I like the name explanation for Seven and Maverick. I love the subtle link to On the Come Up

What I Disliked: I took me a while to get used to all the characters, there’s a lot names we’re thrown into. This book is good but there are some times where a couple corny lines ruin the seriousness. Unfortunately we did talk like that that in the ate 90’s so maybe art of it is a slight embarrassment at my own syntax.

Recommendations: Concrete Rose is good novel that follows Angie Thomas’s great novel The Hate U Give. If you like the Hate U Give and On the Come Up this novel will live up to the those. I recommend you check the Concrete Rose, it is a little lighter on the swear words and there is some adult situations but it is handled with care that won’t be an overload for 13+ young adult audience. I rated The Concrete Rose by Angie Thomas 5 out of 5 stars.

Book Review: The House on the Cerulean Sea by T. J. Klune

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.

Wrap Up: Best Books Read in 2020

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. 

Book Review: Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds

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.

Book Review: One of Us is Next by Karen M. McManus

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. I did not like this book as much as the first one, but this is a pretty good follow up book with a good mystery and lots of characters I already loved and a couple new ones too.

The Plot:18 months after the what happened in the last book, Bayview High is finally getting back to normal, the school has just recently allowed cell phones back after all the trouble with Simon’s gossip App. There have been a couple of copycats but nothing has stuck around until Truth or Dare, you either take a date or get a truth revealed. Phoebe is the first victim as she refuses to play and gets a huge truth bomb delivered that she slept with her sister’s boyfriend. Phoebe is ridiculed in school and soon everyone starts taking it seriously. Dares start happening over town, until death happens. Mauve who helped solve the last mystery, is with out her brainiac sister Bronwyn this time.

What I Liked: I Liked that we got to see characters from the first book still grow in this book. I liked the character of Knox most of all, and is was good to see a genuine good character get beaten down but chose to say good and ends up not finishing last. The finally was exciting and involved characters new and old. The mystery was way more involved but good, it needed better pacing, but looking at all the twist and turns it was pretty solid. The final twist was really good, there was someone that was obviously involved in the plot, that I was disappointed because of how glaringly obvious it was, but the final twist added an extra layer to it that I liked. I liked side characters like Luis getting a bigger role in this.

What I Disliked: The flow was messy at times, making chapters feel overly long. This one took too long to get the mystery started, McManus chose to catch everyone up to what characters in the last book were up to first before trying into the new mystery.

Recommendations: Not as good as the first but a worth while sequel, that lets you spend a little time with characters you loved from the first book. If you thought the mystery was too simple in the first one, then this one is way more complex. The first book blew me a way with how fun it was, this one is not as fun but that was a high bar, and remains in the fun category. I rated One of Us is Next by Karen M. McManus 4 out of 5 stars.

TBR: November 2020

November 2020 TBR list: last month was so successful I read all 7 books  plus 2 more; I decided to do it again and add 8 and knock out some books that have been on my TBR for quite some time. I recently had an appendectomy so I have plenty of time to read and rest as I recover.

One of Us Is Next by Karen M. McManus is the sequel to One of Us is Lying which I really enjoyed last month. One of Us is Next is up for a Goodreads choice award for YA fiction. The first one I was blown away by how fun it was and rated it 5 out of 5 stars. I have high hopes for the 2nd one that involves the same characters.

Ready Player Two by Ernest Cline is the sequel to the blockbuster Ready Player One, a book that was made into a movie by Stephen Spielberg. This is one I don’t want to know too much going into so I have not read a whole lot of what it is about. I have it on pre-order and it is published the day before Thanksgiving.

Mexican Gothic, by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia is a book that I have heard a lot of buzz about. It is a gothic romance with an element of horror added. It is culturally accurate and set in 1950’s Mexico. This is my most anticipated read for this month.

His & Hers by Alice Feeney is a book that is not really on anyone’s radar but those I know who have read it are raving about it. 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.”

Princess Floralinda and the Forty-Flight Tower by Tamsyn Muir is from the author of Gideon the Ninth and Harrow the Ninth. Both of which I have read and enjoyed. Those books were very dark and I am looking forward to reading this because it is way different from lesbian necromancy. A special thanks to Netgalley and Subterranean Press for allowing me to read it early. It will be published on November 30, 2020.

Stone of Tears by Terry Goodkind is the 2nd book of the Sword of Truth series. This series has been one I have been meaning to return to because of my love for the Legend of the Seeker TV show. Wizards First Rule (book 1) is my most searched for through search engines, which has motivated me to get back into the series.

Black Hammer, Vol. 4: Age of Doom, Part Two by Jeff Lemire is the 4th and last book of the series. I have really enjoyed it so far. The series takes pulp characters from 1940’s and 50’s and makes them fresh and new. I discovered these graphic novels when they were up for Goodreads choice awards.

Suicide Squad, Volume 1: Trial By Fire by John Ostrander and Kim Yale is a graphic novel was written in the 1980’s and was highly influenced by the A Team TV show. I bought this graphic novel at a bargain bin for $3 in anticipation of the Suicide Squad movie coming out soon. The director James Gunn said he combed through the years of Suicide Squad comics looking for some of the quirkiest characters to bring to the screen. I thought the 80’s version would have those characters in it.