Book Review: Mayhem By Estelle Laure

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

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

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

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

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

Book Review: The Toll by Neal Shusterman

The Toll By Neal Shusterman is book three of the Arc of a Scythe trilogy. The Toll ends the YA series in a fitting way exposes truths hinted at in Scythe and Thunderhead. This book expands the number of characters introducing a few new ones and expanding upon characters we have grown with. This book was my least favorite in this excellent series. I wanted to love this book as much as the others, but from chapter two, I knew this book was going in a different direction than I wanted it to. The novel eventually corrects course and delivers a satisfying ending to the series. My main problem is Citra and Rowan have been the main characters, and this book changes it to an ensemble story. Rowan and Citra are in 30 pages of the first 300 pages of this 630 page book. I felt this book got away from the Scythes and replaced it with the Tonest which were interesting but not as much as the Scythes.

The Plot: In a futuristic Earth human’s have beat aging and death. 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 must be unbiased in choosing it’s victims. The Thunderhead is a God-like A.I. system them that has vowed to stay out of Scythe business and can not influence who to kill. The Tonest are a religious group derived out of musical tones. In the last book Rowan became Scythe Lucifer a sort of rogue scythe that would kill other Scythes he deemed used bias in there kills, as he did to his mentor Goddard. Citra became Scythe Anastasia, she’s making enemies for her new ways of Gleaning people by letting them pick there deaths and giving them a month to live. Gavin Tolliver is a Nimbus agent works for the Thunderhead, and gets hinted that there will be an attempt on Citra’s life. Gavin intervenes saving Citra’s life, but he his deemed unsavory losing his job and being cut off from the Thunderhead directly. Indirectly the Thunderhead ask him to go undercover to save Citra once again, he discovers it’s a Scythe, and is sent to a Tonest cathedral to hide, while Citra roots out which Scythe is responsible. Rowan is set up and kidnapped by two old enemies he once thought were dead. Rowan is horrified as one is using the body of one of his old friends. There is an election of Highblade of Midmerica were Curie, Citra’s mentor and Goddard, Rowan’s mentor returned from the dead, after Rowan thought he killed him. There’s a controversy about how Goddard came back which causes the voting to stop and a council called. The council doesn’t go the way anyone planned and chaos breaks out permanently killing the high council of Scythes and Curie who sacrifices her self to put Citra and the newly rescued Rowan to die safely so that they can be revived at a later date. The anguish of the Thunderhead not bing able to stop any of it shuts down and will only talk to Gavin Tolliver. Since he is with the Tonest they think is must be a sign and make Gavin a prophet that they call The Toll. The New Scythe Leader Goddard the only survivor thinks the Toll is a great threat and wants him and all Tonest gleaned. Goddard changes the rules of bias and the quota how many people you can kill. Citra and Rowan took three years to get revived since they were at the bottom of the ocean, and wake up to a different world. Citra and Rowan have secrets that Overblade Goddard would kill to keep. The Toll, Thunderhead and the Scythes must reunite to bring balance to the world, before it is too late.

What I Liked: The new character of Jeri, the lgtbq character and the interesting take on gender fluidity. Rowan and Citra are great characters that are so easy to get behind, I wish they were in this book more though. Gavin Tolliver has one of the best character arcs from the start of thunderhead to where his character ends up in The Toll. I liked what was done with Scythe Morrison. I liked that I was tricked a couple times getting foretold things that characters think happened to then get shocked when you experience what really went down. The ending was a nice send off to the characters I had grown to love. The ending had a great finality to it, that truly ends. I liked what the secret Scythe room actually did, there was a lot of build up and I felt satisfied at the end with how it played out. Goddard was a great villain, where the more I knew about him the more I hated him. The way Gavin used the Thunderhead to his advantage. I liked Rand’s story arc.

What I Disliked: The major change in focus of Rowan and Citra not being the main characters. There was always side characters that had a role and their own stories but it was clear who the main focus was. The way the beginning was told needed more back and forth, sometimes it was told linearly and other times, time would jump back and forth. I wanted more out of the Faraday story line.

Recommendations: The Toll is the weakest book in the series, but I will slightly recommend this story mainly for the ending. The Arc of a Scythe series has been one of my favorite series, I have purchased four books by Shusterman. I wanted the last book to be better, I rated Scythe and Thunderhead 5 out of 5 stars, and I rate The Toll a high 3 stars, making the whole series score a 4 out of 5 stars. The world building and character arc’s are some of the best I’ve read, this series has made me a fan of Shusterman’s work and will read more.

Book Review: Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman

Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman is the second book in the Arc of the Scythe series. Thunderhead ramps up the action, expands on the already great world building, it has one hell of a climax, and maintains the high quality writing, that will make you think long after the book is finished. I love this series so much, it is going places I could not imagine. This book has a lot of callbacks to the first novel, that are really big payoffs with a couple of characters that end up coming back, like Tyger. My big complaint for Scythe was his character sort of disappeared and forgotten about, but he is back and used well. With this book being called Thunderhead named after the God-like A.I. cloud that watches all, we get more insight into how the system works and how it feels. The Arc of scythe series continues to blow me away I can already not wait the read the final book in the series The Toll.

The Plot: In a futuristic Earth human’s have beat aging and death. 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 must be unbiased in choosing it’s victims. The Thunderhead is a God-like A.I. system them that has vowed to stay out of Scythe business and can not influence who to kill. In the las book Citra was promoted to Scythe and Rowan was not. Citra was supposed to kill Rowan after winning but thanks to a clever action was granted immunity for one year. Citra has now become Scythe Anastasia and Rowan has been taking out all the Scythes who use bias in there kills and burns them where they can not be revived; He has been calling himself Scythe Lucifer. The Scythes want Rowan dead and the Thunderhead to help, but it refuses. The Thunderhead finds out a plot to kill Citra and her mentor Curie, although the Thunderhead can’t get involved directly it doesn’t mean he can’t hint and bend the rules to assist. But as the Thunderhead finds out the Scythes are keeping more from the Thunderhead than it knows.

What I Liked: One of the best climax that I have read, it makes me want to pick up the next book now, because of a cliffhanger. One of the better second novels that I have read, that compliments the first book so well then adds to the story and the world. Tyger’s back! I enjoyed this side character and was bummed when he was written out, well now he’s back and has a full character arc. The twist in the novel are really great and often heartbreaking. The writing is so good. The voice of the Thunderhead was written well, balancing the thought of not doing anything as opposed to being driven in to action, to events that it did not calculate. Citra and Rowan’s character arc are sometime hard emotionally but the character choices feel right. The scenery and descriptions were written, so that I could easily picture them in my mind. The masterminds plot is pretty chilling. The new character Gavin Tolliver was a character I was instantly attached to right away.

What I Disliked: One plot point with Faraday was such a set up for the next book plot point, that I could tell so early when reading it. I hope there’s a pay off that was the only plot that I did not like. It felt like they were holding a lot back for the next book.

Recommendations: I recommend you doing yourself a favor and adding this incredible series to your TBR. This is a series upon reading the first book that was a instant like, and having me enjoy the second just as much, if more. I’m going to shout this book trough the roof tops. This book is a Young Adult novel it does deal in death, but is not too graphic, there’s lite torture scene that could be a trigger warning. I think a 13 year old can handle this series, I know I would have loved it at that age. I recommend you read this series in order, or you will miss a lot. I rated Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman 5 out of 5 stars. I already have the last book on order and will read it as soon as it comes, and I bought his Skinjacker trilogy on Kindle.

Book Review: Foul is Fair By Hannah Capin

Foul is Fair by Hannah Capin is William Shakespeare’s Macbeth in High school! The story doesn’t hold back in it’s brutality, while keeping the dialogue foul and razor sharp. There’s Trigger warnings all over this book in terms of sexual content, murder, and language. This book is being marketed as Young Adult, a mature 16 year old might can handle it, but I would recommend older. I kept thinking of two movies while reading this Heathers the black comedy about means girls terrorizing the school and a girl falling for the bad guy that helps murder some of those that have wronged them. The second movie is I Spit on Your Grave, about a woman sexually assaulted, buried and left for dead. Rises from the grave and takes revenge. Both those movies are from the 80’s with the marketing of this book comparing it to the film Kill Bill which fits as a tale of revenge. The language and the camp make this novel stick out and is the best part of it. I had a hard time identifying with the lead character Jade/Elle and her lack of venerability she does show some at the end but it was a little too late. I wanted to like this story more than I did, the novel’s timeline is way too fast and took all believability with it. Thanks to Netgalley and Wednesday books for the advanced readers copy. Foul is Fair is published on February 18 2020.

The Plot: Elle on her sweet sixteen goes to a party with three of her best friends she calls the coven. At this party Elle is given a drugged drink and gets assaulted by a group of super rich prep boys that go to a local private Catholic School. Elle has flashes of the night and can remember some faces of one girl and six guys who let it happen. She takes care of the bruising and and tells her parents, instead of the cops she says she’s going to handle it and wants to switch schools to go to the Catholic school everyone involved went to. Elle changes her look but cutting and dying her hair and wearing contacts, she is not Elle any more but goes by her middle name Jade. Jade recruits the coven of friends to help her murder those who helped with the assault. Jade goes to her new school and immediately joins the top mean girl click noticing one of the girls who witnessed it happen and did nothing, and is dating one of the assaulters. All the people involved in the assault are apart of the boys lacrosse team. She see’s one member of the team that wasn’t involved in the assault, Mack, that has the potential to be the new king of school and someone that could help her kill. Jade’s plan starts to fall apart after she starts to fall for Mack. Will ha screw up her chance for revenge?

What I Liked: She tells her parents after the assault, I was happy to see this, since so many victims don’t speak out. The LGTBQ representation is really great, Mads, a member of the coven is Trans and represented and a real strong character that is not a cliche. The descriptions are really good they are often medieval and harken back to remind you of the Macbeth roots to the story. I really enjoyed the last 20 percent of the story, and felt the novel ended on a high note. The Jade and Piper confrontation was so great and my favorite scene with my favorite line, “What are you the patron saint of excessive drinking?” I did enjoy the twist of two character’s one for the good and one for the bad.

What I Disliked: The story time frame is so rushed, and it didn’t need to be. The whole span of this book is less than 20 days. Elle is assaulted on Friday turns into Jade and attends a new school on Monday. Joins the elite group which accepts her right away, she is an accessory to murder her third day, in love her forth day. This ridiculous time line made this story so unbelievable to me. The main character doesn’t show any venerability until the last 20 percent where it was too late. I really did not like the cover art at all, I feel it will hurt book sells.

Recommendations: I think this novel could be a good outlet for those who have been sexually assaulted and feel alone. This book was an attempt and had a lot of potential but I felt it wasn’t good enough for me to recommend. There’s some burst of greatness, I truly loved the last 20% so much, and was bummed that the rest of the book wasn’t this good. I think the author has potential and would seek out another novel. I rated Foul is Fair by Hannah Capin 3 out of 5 stars.

Wrap Up: January 2020 Book Reviews

The first month of 2020 is in the books. I read 6 novels this month. I read two Classics with Little Women and Just So Stories. Little Women I read in anticipation of the movie, which was amazing and I highly recommend, it added additional scenes that enhanced the story. It was one of the best adaptations I have seen in a while. Tangent over see the movie. I read two Advanced Readers Copies thanks to Netgalley called Dreamland and Not So Stories.  I read a reread of Speaks the Nightbird one that I read 9 years ago before I started reviewing. Last but not least I read Scythe a young adult that has been heavily hyped on WordPress, and it did not disappoint.

Five Star Book Reviews

Scythe By Neal Shusterman is an incredible young adult novel that looks at Earth’s future in a smart way. Scythe takes the Grim Reaper character and humanizes it, by well making it human and showing the need of death. The novel really analyzes death; it shows the horror of murder, the mercy of a killing, and the romance of death. In a futuristic Earth humans 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 that must be unbiased in choosing its victims.

Speaks the Nightbird by Robert R. McCammon is one of my favorite stories by one of my favorites authors. This is my second reading of this epic tale that combines Historical Fiction with Murder Mystery, and adding a dash of Horror. We get a tale about witchcraft only 7 years after the Salem Witch Trials in 1699. Where witchcraft was in murky waters of being real or not. This book introduces Matthew Corbett and is the first book in a proposed 9 book series. Speaks The Nightbird is in development at FX with Blumhouse producing, I’m very excited. This is the first reread where my rating stayed the same, this book is a great five star read. I’m currently reading the 2nd in the series now.

Four Star Book Reviews

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott the unabridged version is a classic that remains relevant today. Little Women was written almost 150 years ago and the characterizations of the March sister’s still hold up today, we know those girls I personally see them in my sisters and my larger family, making the story easily relatable to me and probably others. The novel is told almost as vignettes, or more accurately slices of life involving the girls and occasionally Laurie the neighbor who becomes a part of the family. This novel is full of heartache and heartbreak.

Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling is an interesting new set of fables aimed at teaching kids about things and expanding their imagination, all while having the subtext of British Colonialism and the Empire, as a good thing. These are stories meant to be read out loud, and they use interesting rhyme patterns, alliteration, and repetition, that add to the way the story is told. I read the version that is accompanied by illustrations and with added text that adds more insight to the story, which I would recommend.

Not So Stories edited by David Thomas Moore takes Rudyard Kipling’s Just So Stories and flips it on it’s head. With 12 stories from diverse authors, that redirect the subtext of the Empire and British Colonialism in Just So Stories, to stories that embrace independence and mock the empire. This book is not as kid friendly as the original, but would still fall in the Young Adult category as far as content goes.

Two Star Book Reviews:

Dreamland by Nancy Bilyeau is a novel that is insightful when dealing with class warfare and structure, but when it is not, the novel is a fairly obvious mystery that is easily solvable. The novel is called Dreamland after the Brooklyn Amusement Park on Coney Island; it is most infamous for having a ride called Hell Gate. I wanted to like this one but didn’t connect to the characters and found the descriptions really vague.

Book Review: Scythe by Neal Shusterman

Scythe By Neal Shusterman is an incredible young adult novel that looks at Earth’s future in a smart way. Scythe takes the Grim Reaper character and humanizes it, by well making it human and showing the need of death. The novel really analyzes death, it shows the horror of murder, the mercy of a killing, and the romance of death. This novel is book one in the Arc of the Scythe series that is currently at book 3. This was a book that I kept seeing praised on Goodreads and WordPress. This novel has won a good deal of awards. Really smart world building and history of how the Scythe’s came to be, held and kept my interest throughout this book.

The Plot: 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 must be unbiased in choosing it’s victims. Scythe Faraday has a need of a new apprentice but instead of one he chooses two Rowan and Citra. Rowan And Citra do not want this position, they don’t want to kill, but that is exactly what Scythe Faraday is looking for. Rowan and Citra agree more for their family who gains immunity if one of them is chosen to be Scythe. They each have a year to prove they have what it takes, but there is a stipulation added since there never has been two before, that the loser will be killed by the winner. A fate both don’t want for the other, as they start falling for one another.

What I Liked: The history of the Scythe’s is so brilliant drawing from the past and using physiological teachings of Socrates as a base. The Scythe commandments really work in establishing the rules. I love the idea of rogue Scythes that are mass murders with permission. The way the story was told really worked for me getting Citra’s and Rowan’s first person views, but also getting the journal entries of Scythe Faraday and other Scythe’s. The couple of twists in character’s and situation’s really worked for me and made this book hard to put down. This book did a great job of establishing all the different character’s and made them unique. My favorite character’s were Faraday, Rowan, Citra, and Volta. I really did not want this book to end. Speaking of the end, I was very satisfied with how this book ended, this book could have ended a lot of ways with the character’s in such an insane predicament.

What I Disliked: I thought Rowan’s friend Tyger could have been used better, his character just disappears after the last time we see him he was threatened to be used as leverage over Rowan. I felt like there is a draft out there that had one more scene with Tyger in it. I would have liked a little more description when it comes to people’s faces, this novel did such a great job on the describing the Scythe’s robes I saw that more than there face, which could have been the point, but I still like picturing faces.

Recommendations: Read, read, read this book! It was so good! This is my first 5 star review of the new year, and I have a feeling this one is going to stick with me for a while. If you like Science fiction then this book is for you, I was blown away by Earth’s possible future. This novel is Young Adult I say a teenager can handle it, there’s is death but it’s not too graphic in nature. I rated Scythe by Neal Shusterman 5 out of 5 stars. This is my first Neal Shusterman novel and it will not be my last, I can’t wait to continue the Arc of a Scythe series and read other novels by him.

Book Review: Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott the unabridged version is a classic that remains relevant even today. A perfect coming of age story that highlights adolescence to adulthood.  The girls reveal their souls in text, along with hopes and dreams for the future. I have seen the excellent Little Women: the Musical about seven years ago, and have wanted to read the text since. With the new movie coming out starring Emma Watson, Saoirse Ronan, Florence Pugh, Timothée Chalamet, Laura Dern, Eliza Scanlen, Chris Copper, and Meryl Streep directed by Greta Gerwig, getting all kinds of reviews, and my sisters gushed over it, I thought now was the time to finally read this classic. I enjoyed it, it was almost 150 years ago and the characterizations of the March sisters hold up today. I know those girls, I see them in my sisters and my larger family, making the story easily relatable me. The novel is told almost as vignettes, or more accurately “slices of life” involving the girls and occasionally Laurie the neighbor who becomes a part of the family.  The mother’s advice to her girls I still found current today and still very profound. This novel has the best portrayal of the dreaded friend-zone relationship ever, so heartbreaking! If I were still in college I would do a paper on Jo and her younger sister Amy’s relationship, and how Amy is conditioned early to take things that are Jo’s away. I do wish this was explored a bit more. I need to read more classic’s I always feel like a know the story but reading the text gives all of these nuances that I would not have learned and known.

The Plot: This novel takes place during the Civil War and after it. Meg, Jo, Amy, and Beth are getting raised by Marmee their mother, while there father is serving in the war. He father gives advise through letters and refers to the girls as his little women. Jo is the Tomboy who writes and seeks adventure, Meg is the oldest and serious on that despises being poor and plans to marry rich, Beth is the sweet one that you just want to take care of, and Amy the youngest is incredibly selfish and rebellious. There world is made more fun as Laurie the grandson of their neighbor come to like next door, his adventurous sprit and love for pranks soon makes him part of the March family. They live their lives learning life lessons and grow up in the process.

What I Liked: The characters are amazing, this novel is not crazy plot heavy but I really enjoyed hanging and growing old with these characters. Jo and Laurie are my absolute favorites, I like almost everyone though they were perfect for each other. Marmee’s advice and the way she feels about God were really powerful and pure, I loved hearing about how she dealt with her anger over the years and had to work to develop patience. The advice she gave Meg about family was really great as well, and still really relevant today. I enjoyed the poetry and the writing with in the book, but the poetry really stuck out, especially the last poem in the book In the Garret, with the way the poem describes Beth.

What I Disliked: We didn’t get Jo’s thoughts on the Civil War, Jo was such a progressive character when it came to a women’s place I would have wanted to hear how she thought about slavery. I’m sure there were many reason’s during the time that this was published not to say anything, but it would have been nice. I did not like the Jo and Professor’s relationship at all, as a pair they just did not work for me. The characters are strong but the book does have some lag due to it not bing too plot heavy.

Recommendations: I think this novel is perfect for the YA audience, it read way more current than I thought. If you have just started a new family and need raising children advice there are some gems of information in this book. If you want to tell a friend he is in the friend zone, give them this book and say we are just like Jo and Laurie. I enjoyed Little women by Louisa May Alcott and rated this story 4 out of 5 stars. I the past year I have been reading more classic’s I have read The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Rebecca, We have Always lived in the Castle, and now this. My next classic will be Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling.

Book Review: My Best Friend’s Exorcism by Grady Hendrix

My Best Friend’s Exorcism by Grady Hendrix is a fun horror read that dips into eighties nostalgia and at it’s core is about real friendship. This novel knows what it is and has fun with the tropes it sets. Think of this novel as a an adult version of Christopher Pike and R. L. Stine’s Fear Street both of the novelist got their start in the 80’s and had a formula for just how far the novels will go. This novel borrows off of it but where those books won’t cross a line, this novel does it with glee. This is my first Grady Hendrix novel I did get this one and We Sold Our Souls on kindle at the same time, the cover is a work of art it reminds me of Steven Rhodes art work that shows innocent kids from the eighties doing occult things ( I stop and looks Spencer’s Gifts whenever I have time and check out the t-shirts). Some of the other reviews have mentioned gay slurs in the text, in fitting the eighties time period is used not in a harmful way but in a very not politically correct time. Watch Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure if you pay attention to the gay slurs prepare to be shocked.

The Plot: The title kind of gives thus one away. It is about Abby and Gretchen, how they became friends and formed a bond as best friends. Their friendship is tested when Gretchen gets possessed by the devil and she plots about destroying her friends lives and making Abby’s life hell. Can an exorcism even save this friendship?

What I Liked: All the chapters were named after eighties songs that fit what was going on in the narrative. I love, loved this cover when it came up on Netgalley it had a different one, and this one is absolutely perfect. How far tis novel goes was kind of fun, a couple of times I thought there not going to do this and they did. I’m from Tennessee and have visited Charleston, SC many of times, and feel Hendrix captured the South without making people look stupid while still having a southern charm. The 80’s nostalgia is all through out this novel and it is great. The wrap up of this story and the way it analyzed what a friendship is, was beautiful.

What I Disliked: Somethings were said but not seen, one person gets notes from someone, but the notes are not from the person they thought, we as the reader only see the aftermath of this plot point but don’t see it as it is happening, so it lost it’s impact on me. The tone of the exorcist didn’t work for me, at times it felt like he was from a different story, I do love the scene where he had to consult his daddy during the exorcism, but everything else his story felt off to me, he’s only in the story for a small bit.

Recommendations: This story is from Quirk books which really fits if you like quirky horror then this story is for you. I was never scared but made uneasy more than a couple of times. If you’re looking to reminisce about the 80’s then there is more to enjoy. There are a couple trigger warning that could hinder your enjoyment, animal cruelty, rape accusations, suicide attempts, devil worship, and drug use.  This story is kind of YA but would recommend on the older side because of content. I rated My Best Friend’s Exorcism by Grady Hendrix 4 out of 5 stars.

Book Review: Where the World Ends by Geraldine McCaughrean

Where the World Ends by Geraldine McCaughrean is a bleak tale of survival involving eight kids and three adults stuck on an island made of black rock in the Wales. The story is based on a true story, with a lot of fictional license taken. The novel can’t help but remind me of William Golding’s Lord of the Flies, as young boy’s are thrust in to adulthood but still have the pressures of fitting in. Where the World Ends is almost 200 years before Lord of the Flies, where religious superstition is high and omens mean life or death. The language used took me a bit to get into with the old words and the accent. This novel is marked as Young Adult, and the younger audience can enjoy it like the Lord of the Flies but as an adult you will get meaning behind gestures, and will better understand the power struggle. Despite this novel being bleak there’s is life to it and hidden joys as characters make choices for the betterment of others to survive. Thanks to Netgalley and Flatiron for sending me an Advanced Readers Copy this book was published on December 3 2019.

The Plot: The town of St. Kilda is a small town living on the Wales in the summer of 1727. The town has horrendous winters and must prepare in the summer. There’s an island 4 miles out to sea that is full of birds before they fly south for the winter. The island has been a sort of rite of passage for the boys of the village, to spend three weeks gathering eggs and bird meat. Quill is one of the older boys and the novels narrator, it doesn’t give an age but if had to guess 14, he has just found love for the first time, and doesn’t really want to leave for that matter. But he does and on his first outing on the island is named the leader of boys he finds and almost grabs the king bird. Everthing is going great they have more than enough supplies, but the boat is late picking them up. They continue a month over when doubt sets in and they believe this must be the end of the world, for they’re parents not to save them.

What I Liked: The island setting I thought would get boring but I did not as a couple different caves were explored. The elements as the enemy really worked. It showed how religion can lead to hope but also be manipulated for power. Storytelling as a tool to motivate other from staying positive was used the best. I loved the character of John and the secret he hides, and how it can change everything for desperate men. quill was a good narrator that you follow in highs, lows, and madness. The cover was absolutely beautiful. The story as a whole was really good, there were a couple of lulls in pacing but they did not last long. The reason that the boat does not return was really good and made sense at the end.

What I Disliked: At first it was really hard keeping up with who was an adult who was a kid and the ages. The characters, physical descriptions were barely there, which was one of the reasons that age was so hard to determine. You got to differentiate the people through personality rather then physical traits. The birds were described better then the people.

Recommendations: I you love tales of survival, the obvious story to compare is Lord of the Flies but I saw a lot of 127 Hours in it as well. If you like historical fiction then this is a time a setting that I have never read before, the history aspect felt very real. I feel the Reading age should be 13 due to death, disease, and survival I rated Where the World Ends by Geraldine McCaughrean 4 out of 5 stars.

Book Review: Once Upon A Dream, a Twisted Tale by Liz Braswell

Once Upon a Dream by Liz Braswell is a book from Disney’s Twisted Tales Series, where reader are given alternative versions of classic Disney stories by having What if questions. For Once Upon a Dream the what if scenario is, What if Sleeping Beauty never woke up? This scenario really hooked me, to get this book for my girlfriend, which Sleeping Beauty is her favorite story, and she let me read it after her. I was excited that it was actually Disney doing it. This is a YA book and it went over a lot of things I didn’t see the book tackling, like depression, arranged marriage, love at first site, female empowerment and self harm. This novel did throw me at first having a new background for Sleeping Beauty, but there is a reason, and I was satisfied with the reason, it does take a hundred pages to get there, though which I found was a bit too long. I manages to put some ideas about Maleficent, the movie, into the book about her character and explore some of those avenues of good and evil. The title come from the song that is sung in the movie Sleeping Beauty and covered in Maleficent by Lana Del Rey

The Plot: Princess Aurora has always lived in the castle, her parents wanted a boy so they could broker more land in a wedding. The fairies comes to the birth and offer gift of Beauty and song to Aurora and Merriweather offer her parents every wish they desire but they get Aurora when she turns 16. Maleficent prophecy is that when Aurora reaches 16 goodness will be restored on this wicked kingdom. We see Prince Phillip try to kiss Aurora and instead of wake her up he falls asleep thinking why didn’t I check to make sure she was dead. Aurora has been trapped in the castle since she was little Maleficent put thorns up all over the castle protecting them from an ongoing apocalypse going on on the outside, thanks to her parents greed. Maleficent punishes a man or drunkenness and saying he has been outside and survived. Aurora doesn’t believe this until she finds a feather for a bird that is not trapped with them in the castle, and the drunken man has not been seen again. She begins questioning the truth, and she’s horrified when she finds out what Maleficent has been hiding from her all along, is she a savior or something more.

What I Liked: The way things are revealed to the reader is really clever. There is one big twist that I really enjoyed. I liked that the book explored real life issues, and did it in a real way not a storybook way. Aurora is a strong character that does not need a man saving her. I loved the character of Hubert, Prince Phillips dad, and the reveals of that character. I liked the action the climax was almost too much but I did enjoy that the fight had real stakes and death at hand. I liked Maleficent’s overall plan for Aurora.

What I Disliked: This book could have been really good but it fell into cliches of people being demons, thank goodness not every person is, but when characters go it’s probably another demon, you have a problem, and it was too frequently. The chapters were way too long there sometimes good length then they will be fifty pages.

Recommendations: I have two teenage cousins that would absolutely love this book, as an adult I read 10 YA books a year, I like what was explored but the over all story had too many repetitions for me to whole heartedly recommend. I was torn by this review Liz Braswell has written two more in the Twisted Tale series and one is about Aladdin my favorite, with what if Aladdin had never found the lamp. I rated this book 3 out of 5 stars but I will give Liz Braswell another shot.