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

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. We get to live the lives through perspectives of the four survivors, the jock, the brain, the beauty, and the criminal. I really enjoyed this one, and fell in love with all the characters in the end. The ending will stick with me for some time.

The Plot: Five students of Bayview High meet for detention after school, there is Simon, the outcast, that run a gossip app exposing everybody’s secrets at school, Bronwyn, the brain, valedictorian looking to go to Yale, Addy, the beauty, who was homecoming queen, Cooper, the jock, already getting scouted from the Major Leagues, and Nate, the criminal, currently on probation and deals drugs. All are in detention for having cell phones in their bags that through conversation seems like they were set up. The conversation doesn’t last long as Simon goes into shock from a severe peanut allergy and dies. There’s a lot of mystery surrounding the death Simon was always careful and there was no peanuts in the room. The whole school gets a confession from an anonymous person that details how they killed Simon, with all the details from the room, knowing that the killer has to come from the room, it’s your job to find out which one is lying.

What I Liked: The characters are great and really make you care for each one. The twist ending is one of the better ones I have read in the Young Adult genre. I like that The twist made sense and was backed up with evidence, and really worked, I say bravo to McManus for pulling it off. The relationships were easy to get invested in, especially the one at the end, you really wanted to shout get over yourself. The LGTBQ storyline worked it kind was the same as Pretty Little Liars but with the media’s reaction to it as well. I liked that the group did form a bond with this even if they can’t totally trust each other.

What I Disliked: The dialogue was sometimes stale, don’t know if I ever bought in to the fact that Cooper was Southern.

Recommendations: This is just such a fun read. The story pulls off an incredible twist, and it makes you fall in love with the characters. Fans of Pretty Little Liars will enjoy the twist, turns, and drama. If you’re looking for an entertaining Young Adult mystery then this is the book for you. This book was pretty minimal on swear words, since some YA are filled with them this is in the low spectrum. I rated One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus 5 out of 5 stars. This book was between a 4 and a 5 but the fun factor pulled me to a 5.

Book Review: The Saturday Night Ghost Club by Craig Davidson

The Saturday Night Ghost Club by Craig Davidson is a heart warming coming of age story about a club of adults and kids investigating local paranormal haunts. I put this on the TBR list this month because it was getting compared to Stranger Things meets Stand By Me, if you go in thinking that then you will be disappointed it is way more Standby Me than Stranger Things. This book looks at paranormal activity on a small scale, does it find ghost? the answer is sort of. This is not you typical ghost story, it is way more coming age than ghost story. The novel has a lot of heart and a pretty cool twist that explains a lot. I wanted something scary but what I got was something heart warming, real, about family secrets, and becoming a young adult.

The Plot: Jake Baker is a chubby kid growing up in Canada near Niagara Falls in the 80’s, his town is full of tourist shops. But their are people like his uncle that are unique and own an occult shop that is right next to the video shop that only carries beta. The shop owners are best friends and the owner of the occult shop is Jakes Uncle Calvin. Jake doesn’t have many friends his uncle has taken over the role, when Billy Yellowbird a young 12 year-old that had recently moved here, Calvin saw an opportunity. Billy came in about his Grandma wanting to know if she had gone over to the other side. They end up sneaking in to the funeral home to give herbs and protection. This makes Billy feel better and makes Jake have a friend. Billy, Jake, Calvin, and Lex who owns the video store, and sometimes Billy’s older Sister Dove that Jake has a crush on form the Saturday Hight Ghost Club. They go chasing down local legends, but there’s something wrong and his uncle is acting stranger than usual.

What I Liked: Uncle Calvin as a character is great, in how he acts almost child-like, but has this huge heart and is always willing to help. Calvin naming his dog Sceptic is perfect. I liked the stories at each chapter about older Jake being a brain surgeon, and how much sense it makes for him to choose that profession. I did like the end there were hints where the story was going, but realizing they were all connected was pretty cool. The cover to the book was beautiful and one of my favorites. The 80’s references are nicely placed through out, and are great. The fight scene was great. The monster in the closet scene was great and made me instantly like Uncle Calvin.

What I Disliked: Pacing was rough in some spots. I disliked that the Dove and Jake relationship went nowhere. I would have wanted to see more of the town is was set up so well at the beginning, and then we get nothing else about the unique little town. I would have liked more supernatural.

Recommendations: If you want to read a story that is all heart and coming of age then you will enjoy it. If you are looking for something a little scary then it is a pass. This book has some nice moments and some good scenes, it all comes together at the end. I’m a little bit torn in my review, I thought a lot of the parts would have worked better in a short story, then as a full length novel. I rated The Saturday Night Ghost Club by Craig Davidson 3 out of 5 stars

Book Review: Kingdom of the Wicked by Kerri Maniscalco

Kingdom of the Wicked by Kerri Maniscalco is a dark story featuring witches who have the power to keep demons embodying the seven deadly sins in hell, but also possesses the power to bring them to the surface for good. Kingdom of the Wicked is the goriest and darkest story from Maniscalco and that is saying something since her last series was Stalking Jack the Ripper. This novel has throats getting slit, hearts getting ripped out, and demons tasting blood. The story opens really strong, hooking the reader from the start, the middle has nice moments here and there while keeping the pace for a pretty shocking finale, I was pretty shocked having read everything Maniscalco has written I was not expecting it. The finale acts as a ending and cliffhanger that I was really satisfied with. For readers of Stalking Jack the Ripper series, there is still the blood and the romance, where the reader pretty much knew where the Audrey + Thomas romance was going this story ramps the blood and creates a dark romance that I don’t know exactly where it is heading, which I really like. Kingdom of the Wicked is the first book in the Kingdom of the Wicked series. Thank you Netgalley and Jimmy Patterson Books for an Advanced Reader Copy for Kingdom of the Wicked which is published on October 27 2020.

The Plot: Two twin Sisters Vittoria and Emilia are witches born with powers, their grandmother supports and teaches them while warning them of demons from hell who are trying to break through. She gives the twins amulets that will protect them, and the work for many years. One fateful night Emilia finds Vittoria with her heart ripped out and a demon drinking her blood from a knife. Emilia uses her power to scare the demon away. She finds Vittoria’s diary, but can not open it because it was sealed with black magic, that only a dark witch or a demon can open. She decides to call a demon, but before the does she places a spell that any harm he does to her will harm her or vice-versa. She calls the very demon who she saw drinking her sisters blood, the demon Wrath. She uses the demon to take down the rest of the Wicked who are demons that come from the 7 Deadly Sins. Can she ever trust the demon Wrath who is eternally linked to?

What I Liked: This story is dark, when Maniscalco sticks to the dark, it is very good. Vittoria is in the story only a short time, but I liked her and cared about her character. I was shocked by some of the events more than once. I liked the idea of the demons embodying the Seven Deadly Sins. Wrath is a great character, that you don’t know if you truly trust even with his strong bond. The story has a lot of twist and turns that kept me interested. The mystery of the killer is not cut and dry which I really liked. The opening is beautiful and kept me very intrigued. The ending was really good I did not expect the story going there at all, before Manicalco has always had very safe endings, this was not the safe wrapped up in a nice bow ending that I expected, and I loved it so much. I liked the choices that were made to personify the demons with the seven deadly sins. I don’t know how Kerri Maniscalco gets the best covers, but it is true with her new series as well. I liked Sicily, Italy as the setting, it was like a character as well.

What I Disliked: The rules kept evolving, you would get told one thing only for it to be overridden later, I would have liked more concrete rules. Liked when it stuck to the demons the witch hunters part was good but way less interesting than the demons.

Recommendations: Check out Kingdom of the Wicked it is a wicked good time with witches and demons. This is the start of a very promising series. This is my second favorite book of Maniscalco so far, my favorite is The Hunting Prince Dracula which is very similar in tone and very dark. I rated Kingdom of the Wicked by Kerri Maniscalco 4 out of 5 stars. I have read everything by Maniscalco and will continue.

Book Review: Capturing the Devil by Kerri Maniscalco

Capturing the Devil by Kerri Maniscalco is a gothic young adult novel about romance and capturing the serial killers known as the White City Devil in the late 1800’s. This is the fourth book in the Stalking Jack the Ripper series. The series starts with Stalking Jack the Ripper 1, Hunting Prince Dracula 2, Escaping from Houdini 3, Becoming the Dark Prince 3.5 and Capturing the Devil. This book like other books in the series uses true events and famous people of the time to fit the narrative. In Capturing the Devil she use Chicago’s World’s Fair as a backdrop and features Nikola Tesla and H.H.Holmes. The novel also displays old photos of places, objects, and people to help you imagination. The story is heavy on the relationship of Audrey Rose and Thomas Cresswell taking up the first half of the book. I really like their relationship and how it has evolved over the 4 books, but I wanted at least a couple more scenes of forensic science which drew me to the series at the start. There’s drama and tension (most of it sexual) in the relationship which I did enjoy, maybe I’m greedy but I wanted the relationship with a lot of blood and murder in between. The writing, descriptions, and dialogue were really good and maybe the best of the series. The ending is 60 pages of full of bloody tension and conflict saving everything up until the end. This book made me want to reread The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America by Erik Larson that tells the nonfiction story of the World’s Fair and how the White City Devil came to be.

The Plot: Audrey Rose and Thomas Cresswell have made it to America, but they might have brought from England, a terror that rivals Jack the Ripper, When a corpse is found on the ship that brought them. Audrey and Thomas investigate a body they think could be linked, but what’s on their mind even more is each other. Thomas sent a telegram to Audrey’s dad asking for his daughter’s hand in marriage. Audrey receives an anonymous note that either ties to the murder or the wedding, or maybe both. Will Audrey and Thomas get the happy ending they so deserve? Or will the Devil ruin everything?

What I Liked: The writing has never been better, I was often blown away by the descriptions that belonged in a gothic poem. The love of Audrey Rose and Thomas Cresswell was very rewarding after seeing there little flirts here and there through the series. The wedding vows were especially beautiful I might have to borrow some of those words one day. The ending was super exciting, I liked the dilemma and the choice of action taken. Liza, the cousin, remains my favorite side character and truly missed her when her character was not in the scene. The day before the wedding scene was such an important moment that was written so well. Cresswell’s obsession with cake had me laughing. The book cover, actually the whole series book covers are one of the best. The work and detail on the time period and history and how it fit in with the story.

What I Disliked: The first half of the books dreadful pace, can they finally investigate another murder, in between the love story. I appreciated the attempt to connect the White City Devil and Jack the Ripper, but the White City Devil was so good at covering up his crimes, it almost makes the story boring with series lack of investigations. The end was exciting but the build up was slow.

Recommendations: I really recommend reading this series in order, I think this book would bore a new reader thrust into the relationship of Audrey and Thomas. I’f you have read all the books then this book is a good end to the series where we see characters return from all books and look at something major that happened in the first book in a fresh new way that adds to the mystery of Jack the Ripper. I rated Capturing the Devil by Kerri Maniscalco 3 out of 5 stars. Here’s how I rank the whole series from best to worst Hunting Prince Dracula, Becoming the Dark Prince, Stalking Jack the Ripper, Capturing the Devil, and Escaping from Houdini. I would rate the whole Stalking Jack the Ripper series 4 out of 5.

Book Review: We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart is a beautifully written Young Adult novel dealing with class struggles, growing up, the sacrifices we make to keep family together, and love. This novel was written 6 years ago I was warned it had a good twist, but was not prepared for what it was, and it makes this beautifully written novel mean so much more. The words used flow like poetry, the stories with in a story are great and act as metaphors for what is going on. This is not a book that was on my radar at all so thanks to the book blog community for the rave reviews that got me to take a chance. I was moved by the story and had some misty eyes when all was said and done. Being a male in my forties I could still relate to this story about teenagers coming together over the summer and bonding as their world was about to turn upside down. We Were Liars won the Goodreads Choice award for Young Adult Fiction in 2014.

The Plot: Cadence or Cady and her mother started spending their summers in Martha’s Vineyard Island , they always meet up with their family, Cadence’s grandparents, her two aunts and plenty of cousins. Cadence fun little trips change when she meets Gat, at age 8, an Indian boy who is the son of a guy dating one of the aunts. Gat is treated like family, but there is an underlying of class that not all the family is happy with. Cadence forms what they call the Liar’s Club with cousin Johnny, the wild one, cousin Mirren , the smart one, and Gat who lives with Johnny, who cares about all things, the family referred to them as the liars. Year 15 was the best one yet for Cadence, she could feel Gat start noticing her. Then we cut to Year 16 where she can barley get out of bed and has crippling migraines. She can’t remember anything about the summer of year 15. She finally visits but the liar’s club was warned not to say anything. What happened that summer?

What I Liked? The writing flows like poetry. I loved the fairy tales with in the story that Cadence writes to express her issues on things. I loved the twist, I was so not prepared for it. I liked the comparisons to Wuthering Heights in Gat and Cadence’s relationship. I bought into the relationship, Lockhart did a good job at showing what made Gat so attractive. I loved the character of Johnny, and how he stood up to his Grandaddy when it came to his inheritance. Cadence’s relationship with her grandad was a great one she saw him for what he was a lonely man pulling his family’s strings for the inheritance so they will stick around. The three sister’s conversation about death and who deserved what in the will was to real.

What I Disliked: at first I knew when everything was happening, but towards the end it got murky. It was hard to tell which summer was which. It lead to that good twist, but I don’t like feeling lost in story time.

Recommendations: I will recommend this great young adult novel, that is highly relatable to all ages. It captures that summer fun time from teen to adult so well. I thank this is a good book to pass on to a person that might need it, sorry for being vague, the twist should not be spoiled. I rated We Were Liars by E. Lockhart 4 out of 5 stars. I will look for more work from E. Lockhart in the future.

Book Review: The Ghost Tree by Christina Henry

The Ghost Tree by Christina Henry is a modern day fairy tale set in the 80’s. A town is cursed by a monster that lives in the woods is it a serial killer or something more? This book is creepy it is a combo of the original Pied-Piper tale, that lead children away with his tune, and the Legend of Sleepy Hollow in a totally 80’s world. I’ve read a lot of books about the 80’s recently, and I feel this book nailed the grime and dirt of the 80’s; the rampant smoking underage, the cool cars, the mischief of parents letting kids run wild through the neighborhood, and the torn/ripped jeans. The Ghost tree had a great opening scene that carries the book, there’s clever writing about the curse on the town and the towns people. I wanted a little bit more from this novel than I got, I thought the present day body count was too low for this type of story. I would like to thank Berkley Publishing and Netgalley for the advanced copy. The Ghost Tree by Christina Henry is published on 9-8-20.

The Plot: The quiet town of Smiths Hollow has a murder, not an ordinary murder, but bodies of two young girls ripped apart, with only their heads remain. The police investigating the murder go through the motions but seem to soon forget, as well as the woman that discovered the bodies. Not all forget the one’s that remember say it’s not July yet. Alex a police officer who recently moved to the town notices how the town forgets and investigates the crime making a horrific discovery, that a young woman dies every year in July, it is currently June. Alex makes the discovery that a woman didn’t die last year but a man with his heart ripped out. Lauren and David are the children of Joe who died last year of getting his heart ripped out. Lauren and David both have physical reaction when both the girls are murdered like they can feel it, and a trance went over it. Lauren and David are the key to stopping this monster in the woods.

What I Liked: The story is great, Christina Henry is so good at coming up with high concept ideas and this story is no exception. I love the 80’s vibe, this story did it really subtile and not in your face with it like a lot of books. I liked the towns reaction to outsiders and the curse in general. The backstory was cool and really thought out. I did like the power hungry mayor that knows everything but has his own interest at hand. I loved David the best character, with his cool psychic visions and predictions. The supernatural element the book nails. I like the climax a lot, it was action packed.

What I Disliked: the love interest for Lauren, Jake. Jake is in college and has recently turned 18, Lauren is 13 and about to start high school. Jake says lines like I’ve been into you for a long time, which is super creepy. I could not get behind this love interest at all. I was disappointed that only a couple murders happen, when there could have been way more, there’s a pretty good finally that finally has some death but too little too late.

Recommendations: I recommended Alice by Henry with a 3 str rating which I rarely ever do, but it looks like I’m going to do it again. I’m barely going to recommend this one, it’s a great idea, even it I think the execution could have been a lot better. The story had an epic potential but it just didn’t reach that level. If you like stories in the 80’s then you will like this one. If you like stories about small towns with big secrets then this might be the story for you. I rated The Ghost Tree by Christina Henry 3 out of 5 stars. I’m going to keep reading Henry we’re gonna totally connect one day I just know it, I still get excited for her ideals on books she has written like The Girl in Red, apocalyptic Red Riding Hood, I have to check that out!

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.