Book Review: Metropolis by Monte Schulz

Outside of having a tour or BBNYA deadline to motivate me in picking up a book, I haven’t really been able to read anything in a long time, let alone a mammoth of a tome like Metropolis. I figured, the website was fascinating already, I have barely read anything in the last couple of weeks, and 2022 was coming to a quick end. Why not end it with Metropolis? I’m so glad I got the opportunity to. Shout out to Monte for the copy and for Adrienne from Finn Partners for reaching out to me. What an amazing way to end the year!

Hello, my lovely peeps🐥! In the final review and post of the year, and my 100th book review (!!!) today’s post will be my thoughts on Metropolis by Monte Schulz!

Book Title: Metropolis
Author: Monte Schulz
Length: 668 Pages
Edition: Physical > Hardcover
Published: 23 August 2022
Publisher: Fantagraphics Books
Genres: Fiction, Science Fiction > Steampunk, Dystopia, Romance, Literary Fiction

Disclaimer: A huge thank you to the author, Monte Schulz, for providing me with a physical copy for review! All opinions are of my own.

Goodreads: >LINK<
Publisher’s Page: >LINK<
Book’s Website*: >LINK<
Amazon: >LINK<

*I highly suggest checking out the book’s website, as it’s incredibly detailed and a cool read all in itself.

Regency College senior Julian Brehm’s uneventful student life is derailed when he falls for Nina Rinaldi, a beautiful young revolutionary engaged in political activism against the authoritarian regime that rules the country and wages a deceitful, distracting war. Julian’s love for — and moral alliance to — Nina eventually leads him into a vast undercity beneath the metropolis. Then, east by train and into the war zone itself, where mortal danger in that expanding cemetery of millions threatens Julian’s life; what he witnesses will alter how he perceives the Republic and ultimately his fate within it.

Julian’s adventure can be seen as our own, a world of vacillating morality and unceasing violence. Apathy and passion. Fear and courage of purpose. Julian’s is a hero’s journey into the dark unknown. A love story, which extends in many directions. A war novel of incredible scope and horror. A suspenseful mystery novel with a moral puzzle at its core. And a coming-of-age tale of a young man seeing the world he was born into, more dangerous and more beautiful than he could have ever imagined. Metropolis is a meditation on the meaning of virtue and goodness in the face of the most monstrous crimes. It could just as easily be the story of us.

Wow! I’m going to be talking about this one to friends and family for the next couple of weeks!
For a second, I thought that I had forgotten how to write a review because I was so lost for words. It was a beautiful journey and a rollercoaster of a ride; emotions of all kinds and tears of all sorts flowing. 

The writing of this book was the first thing that I picked up. Atmospheric and memorizing, the writing was charming to boot and was a pleasure to read. I fell in love with every sentence, and the dialogue was not forgotten and left behind. I loved the way the world was built. I loved the way things were described. I loved the characters and I loved how they spoke and interacted with one another. I’d be happy to read this over and over if for no reason other than to get lost in the sentences and wording over and over. 

The world was suffocating, although, as a dystopian, I didn’t expect anything less. The last time I read a dystopian book, it was Perdido Street Station and I could almost feel the tinge of the smog on my tongue. Here, I could almost see everything, feel everything, and it was absolutely horrifying. Between the level of death in certain parts of the book, the tens of thousands of children in danger, the “law enforcement” that patrolled the street to take you to the Mendel building where one might never be seen again, nowhere did life truly felt safe; something that Julian, a student of the college, will soon bear witness to. 

“‘We do survive, Julian. We survive the most despicable cruelties and heinous acts by our fellow human beings because we have no other choice if we choose to live in this blighted world of ours. I think the Desolation must be a mirror of who we are as a race and species, an example to the gods and universe of man in his most inventive and prolific self. We thrive and celebrate our debauchery, all the while defending what we do as both accidental and necessary. I truly believe we are insane.'”

There was a particular section of the book where Julian left the safety of his old life to deliver a specific item and brings him to where the war sits. The horrors that he both experiences and witnesses is enough to give nightmares and plenty of moments that he goes through is forever seared in my mind; the death, the bodies, and blood, the brutality, so vivid in my mind then and now still. All atrocities that many back home, including Julian had he not travelled so far, was so ignorant of. From there on, the horrors doesn’t stop. 

I adored the characters of the book and the cast was filled with such brightly colored personalities including sane but maybe most likely probably insane, Marco. There’s  our main character, Julian, and his deep love for Nina as well as his care for the energetic and lovely Delia (Nina’s sister). There’s the brilliant (when it matters) drunkard of a roommate, Freddy. The puzzle master, Peter Draxler, was the cherry on top of all this chaos. 

“‘Love is a most powerful inducement. Nothing in our world surpasses it. Without love, perhaps none of this has any meaning but storm and fire. Not enough to suffer for. Loyalty itself derives from the heart in terms of faithfulness which can only evolve from love.'”

The plot was gripping and so interesting. From the very beginning, Julian finds himself wrapped in a giant puzzle that carries him all over the place. It’s like a scavenger hunt mixed with hide-and-seek, except arrest and death was on the losing wager. With Freddy’s help, he’s able to unwind piece after piece of one of the most insane game of hide and seek ever played, clues in books locked behind another language, a lost dog, and running around the underground world… The entire part of the book revolves around this puzzle and I was constantly at the edge of my seat awaiting the next clue and answer. 

I really enjoyed this book and ending the year with this read is an amazing feeling; both because it was quite a chunky book and also because of how much I enjoyed pretty much every aspect of the book. A good book that I’d recommend if you enjoy a good puzzle, steampunk vibes, and dystopian government that revolve around some majorly harsh scenes and topics. One of those books I’d happily pick up to reread again and again. 

Monte Schulz published his first novel, Down By The River, in 1990, and spent the next two decades writing Crossing Eden, an epic novel of the Jazz Age. He has taught writing and literature in the College of Creative Studies at UCSB, where he earned his M.A. in American Studies. He lives in California and Hawaii.


2022 Reading Wrap Up

*squints at calendar*
What do you mean 2022 is ending in a few days??
It just started! Like…yesterday!

This year, I gave myself a goal of 30 books and passed it. I upped my goal to 52 and failed it.

In the end, I read 46 books. I’m writing this on the 26th and sure, I could definitely squeeze at least one more in there (and can absolutely squeeze the remaining 6 to make it to my goal of 52), but you know what? I’m calling it quits. I finished a phenomenal year of reading at a whooping 46 books and I’m happy enough. I’ll take the last few days of 2022 to catch up to my brother’s nearly-filled Pokedex (he’s also waiting to trade me for my version exclusives) and maybe…just maybe I’ll get started on Harvestella too.

I read a lot of random new things this year so let’s go through some highlights:

It’s time to wrap up 2022…what’d I read this year?

My first book of the year was…

My first book of the year was right as I was getting ready for a massive work project in which I was fully anticipating the lack of time. Weekends were going to be allocated to this work project. After work hours were going to be allocated to this work project. If I did have time left over afterward, I would’ve been too tired to continue reading so…the only logical solution was to pick out a handful of audiobooks from Libby and go from there.

So, my very first book of 2022, was The Burning by Johnathan and Jesse Kellerman. I did in fact start the series with this book which seems to be the latest (#4) as of still. I enjoyed it well enough that the previous three have gone into my TBR but I’ve yet to get back to them.

My final book of the year was…

Metropolis by Monte Schulz. Still fresh in my mind, though I’m trying not to say too much about the book just yet (review is coming this Thursday!), this was a fantastic read of love and war. If it were a bag of coffee beans, I’d say it was a rich and deep blend with hints of China Miéville. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and honestly, I’m happy to end the year with it as my final read.

My biggest/longest book was…

My longest book of the year went to Perdido Street Station by (speak of the devil) China Miéville. Easily my favorite read of the year (yes, even surpassing John Sandford) and the number of page flags, highlights, and writings in the margins can tell you so. At 710 pages, this book took me a good long 2 weeks to get through and half of it was spent on trying (and struggling) to get through the density of Miéville’s writing. Between the actual physical page count and his writing style and density, this book honestly felt like 1,000 pages long. I’ve also come to LOVE deckle pages because of this book.

My smallest/shortest book was…

The Houseplant by Jeremy Ray. Probably one of the most creative reads all year (and across many other years too), I really enjoyed the read and especially enjoyed that the main character was literally a houseplant. It doesn’t talk in the way that you and I speak with voices, but the readers get to see what it’s like if the world was from the viewpoint of a houseplant. There was a really sad moment in here but overall, a cute and creative read. This tiny little guy clocked in at roughly 31 pages.

My stats in genres…

Hey, look! This year, I actually have a fancy grrraaaphhh!

I tried a couple of things this year including even more nonfictions (which I’ve really come to enjoy), horror (which I used to always stay away from), and trivia. Sure a good ton of these technically branch off into MG, YA, woman’s fiction, new weird, and all other sort of sub-genres, but can you imagine the length of this graph if I went into that level of detail?

One thing is for sure though. I’m glad [mystery] thrillers remain the top champion in my reading tastes.

I wrote this many reviews this year…

51 reviews were written this year and that number’s going to be 52 in a few days. That’s a review per week, even if I didn’t [fully] read that many books! Between a few Throwback/Retro Thursday reviews and my reread reviews (in which I wrote reviews for books I reread/reskimmed in order to remember details for some books I’d read prior to starting my blog (all Virgil Flowers books)), I managed quite a decent amount of posts! I used to joke and say it’s a book report per review post. Middle school me loved reading but hated book reports and look at me now. That’s 52 book reports by the end of the year!

Compared to last year when I read [#] books…

Every year, I look back at high school and college me when I still loved reading to the point of stating/listing it as my go-to hobby during ice-breaker conversations. I loved reading, but never had time for it. When I did have time, I couldn’t justify reading when I could’ve put that extra bit of time into a little more studying. In the end, I clocked in maybe a handful of leisure reads by the end of the year and that was it. And then in 2020, I started Cozy with Books and read 20 books. That first year, I mentioned my HS/college me would’ve been proud. And then last year, I mentioned 2020 me would’ve been proud of having read 34 books.

And now? Compared to last year which compared to 2020 which compared to the long 8 years of a handful of books combined, this year, having been able to read 46 books feels amazing. There were moments when I could read a book in 2 weeks or a few days. There were moments when I realized I had total freedom to ditch a book if it was causing a reading slump. I learned a lot in the last couple of years. I might’ve failed my second reading count goal of 2022, but I succeeded in meeting my first with plenty of time to spare too.

And seeing as my plans had hit a wall only because starting in September, I threw all of my time into job hunting, with a brand new year and a stead[ier] life back…who knows…maybe next year, I might even hit 60 books! Only time will tell.

E.R. Nurses: Walk My Rounds with Me by James Patterson, Matt Eversmann, and Chris Mooney

Hello, my lovely peeps🐥!
I skipped last Thursday’s review as I had a major appointment/meeting over in midtown and had spent the previous night (most of the week, actually) preparing for it. But hey, none of that this week, so here we are! Back again with a Thursday review and today, I’m featuring another Grand Central Publishing book, E.R. Nurses: Walk My Rounds with Me: True Stories from America’s Greatest Unsung Heroes by James Patterson, Matt Eversmann, and Chris Mooney!

Book Title: E.R. Nurses: Walk My Rounds with Me: True Stories from America’s Greatest Unsung Heroes
Author: James Patterson, Matt Eversmann, and Chris Mooney
Length: 292 Pages
Publication Date: 6 Sept 2022
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Edition: Paperback
Genres: Nonfiction, Medicine, Biography, Autobiography, Science, Short Stories

Goodreads: >LINK<
Amazon: >LINK<
Grand Central Publishing: >LINK<

Disclaimer: Thank you to Grand Central Publishing for this gifted copy! All opinions are of my own.

They save our lives every day, and we’ve never heard their stories.  The life-or-death intensity of working on the front lines, from America’s greatest unsung heroes.

“The compassion, the work ethic, and the selflessness of nurses … are given the respect they deserve and captured beautifully here.”
–Sanjay Gupta, MD, neurosurgeon and chief medical correspondent, CNN

“James Patterson’s account of the twilight world between life and death that nurses inhabit is one of the most moving things I have ever read.”
–Sebastian Junger, author of Freedom and The Perfect Storm 

Around the clock, across the country, these highly skilled and compassionate men and women sacrifice and struggle for us and our families. 

You have never heard their true stories. Not like this. From big-city and small-town hospitals. From behind the scenes. From the heart.  

This book will make you laugh, make you cry, make you understand. 

When we’re at our worst, E.R. nurses are at their best.

A tribute to those who fight on the front lines of the E.R., this was a lovely read that I thoroughly enjoyed. It’s formatted in a way that reminds me of the old Chicken Soup for the Soul books where you have true short stories taken as snippets from the lives of ordinary people, aiming to inspire you in some way or show you life through someone else’s eyes for a burst of a moment. These snippets are very short and some are only a mere two pages long, while others are only a little more. I always feel like short stories, especially micro-stories, are too short for my taste, but not here. Each are pieces that are just enough. Here, in Walk My Rounds With Me, we are seeing through the eyes of E.R. Nurses.

This book is separated into four different sections: Day Shift, Night Shift, Flight Shift, and a Thank You section in the end. Instead of chapters separating the book up, the names of nurses are there instead. Every chapter starts off with a short introduction paragraph and background of a nurse following by a story/moments they recounted during their day, night, or flight shifts and how it’s always something they’ll remember or how it’s changed them since experiencing it.

Many of these stories are powerful pieces, and there are some stories that I didn’t expect at all. Nurses are heroes that often go unappreciated, and this book is a way for the authors to show a glimpse of the work they do to the world.

There are many very interesting moments and stories throughout this book. There are some that brings me to tears, in laughter and saddness. There are plenty of life lessons that lies in these pages that I know I will carry with me. Some of the moments that I will always remember: just how hard nurses advocate for their patients, breaking hospital policies to give their patients one final humane moment, how nurses must put on a strong face to deal with an angry person who “has been waiting for a long time” after coming right out of a room for a child that has just passed, how important it is to be allowed to express your emotions and sorrows, the countless miracles next to small incidents that could take away lives (a small bump to the head), and how there’s nothing that’s totally predictable.

I used to really enjoy the Chicken Soup for the Soul books, and for all the short stories I’ve read recently, this one especially touched a nostalgic part of me. The stories are simple but profound, the writing is done well, and I’ve gained a great deal of respect for nurses of all sorts. They put so much work into getting nursing degrees and come out to deal with some of the most awful things and nasty people. They sit with us through some of the worst days of our lives. They bring small joys to us when it feels like there are none left. Truly a wonderful collection of admirable people and stories that I loved.

Book Haul: October 2022

Last Thursday, I went out to midtown for an important meeting and figured that since I’m already here and since the ride in (and back out) was about 2ish hours each…I couldn’t just leave the hustle and bustle of all these stores without stopping in at least one of them! With the commute time and another major meeting that same afternoon, I had all of one store’s worth of time to wander through, so I chose the Barnes & Noble that was closest to the bus stop home.

My intention was to grab the book I really wanted first (The Scar by China Miéville) and pick up any other books as a little extra self-gift. Of course, with my luck, it was out of stock…but I did walk out with four other books, one of which was a Blind Date With A Book with the hints on the cover, all wrapped up to hide the book inside. That piqued my interest the most because I had wanted to grab one of these mystery books back in the BN near my house, but when I’d gone in they’d already been sold out. Imagine my elation in finding them again!

People Who Eat Darkness by Richard Lloyd Parry

The last book I’d grabbed on my way to the counter was the blind date book. It was wrapped in a nice Kraft paper and tied with a cute little string as well. The string wasn’t necessary since the book had been wrapped with tape, but along with the sheet they’d stuck to the front, it really added a nice touch to it, almost like a Christmas gift. I had thought it was a fiction, so was pretty surprised that it came out to be a nonfiction true-crime book with the most brilliant ruby red shiny cover ever. I think the cover is gorgeous, if not a little off-putting. Knowing the subject, the red adds a very eerie feel to it.

Blind Date With a Book Hints:



The City & The City and Iron Council by China Miéville

I really want to say I made a beeline to China Miéville’s area to grab the book I came for, but I had wandered around aimlessly trying to figure out whether it was technically sci-fi or fantasy and when I’d gone to both, each section was so big I was lost within the lost! It’s under a subgenre called New Weird and when I first picked up Perdido Street Station it sat near the sci-fi aisle, but I ended up finding China Miéville in the fantasy shelves this time.

Disappointment ate into my already limited shopping time when it turns out that The Scar (book 2 of the Bas-Lag series) was actually out of stock, so I grabbed book 3 (Iron Council) and The City & The City before heading off to explore the rest of four (five?) story tall bookstore.

I actually started to read The City & The City before realizing I was going to want to annotate it like I did with Perdido Street Station. I was on a bus so…that didn’t happen. I didn’t have any pens, stickies, or flags on hand.

The Phone Booth at the Edge of the World by Laura Imai Messina

I don’t know what made me pick this one up besides the neat title and the fact that I had this draw towards it. Another book that went in the basket only on my way to the register, it caught my eye from pretty far away. The simplicity of the cover, the title, the blossoms, and the summary all came together to just make me pick it up. It sounds interesting, and I can’t wait to read it.

The Scar by China Miéville

Separate from my BN haul, I had this ordered on Amazon. It had been the one book I’d gone into the bookstore to find, only to have it out of stock. It’d already been sitting in my cart for a while now, but I’d gone in to see if I could happen across it. I didn’t, and so off I had it shipped…It arrived the very next day aaand…for all the excitement of it, I can’t seem to get started in reading it. Peridodo Street Station was phenomenal if not extremely dense and the language and prose was superb to the point where starting anew with book 2 just feels so intimidating. Prologue so far has been amazing though!

The Scar by China Miéville

Aboard a vast seafaring vessel, a band of prisoners and slaves, their bodies remade into grotesque biological oddities, is being transported to the fledgling colony of Nova Esperium. But the journey is not theirs alone. They are joined by a handful of travelers, each with a reason for fleeing the city. Among them is Bellis Coldwine, a linguist whose services as an interpreter grant her passage—and escape from horrific punishment. For she is linked to Isaac Dan der Grimnebulin, the brilliant renegade scientist who has unwittingly unleashed a nightmare upon New Crobuzon.

For Bellis, the plan is clear: live among the new frontiersmen of the colony until it is safe to return home. But when the ship is besieged by pirates on the Swollen Ocean, the senior officers are summarily executed. The surviving passengers are brought to Armada, a city constructed from the hulls of pirated ships, a floating, landless mass ruled by the bizarre duality called the Lovers. On Armada, everyone is given work, and even Remade live as equals to humans, Cactacae, and Cray. Yet no one may ever leave.

Lonely and embittered in her captivity, Bellis knows that to show dissent is a death sentence. Instead, she must furtively seek information about Armada’s agenda. The answer lies in the dark, amorphous shapes that float undetected miles below the waters—terrifying entities with a singular, chilling mission. . . .

Iron Council by China Miéville

Following Perdido Street Station and The Scar, acclaimed author China Miéville returns with his hugely anticipated Del Rey hardcover debut. With a fresh and fantastical band of characters, he carries us back to the decadent squalor of New Crobuzon—this time, decades later.
It is a time of wars and revolutions, conflict and intrigue. New Crobuzon is being ripped apart from without and within. War with the shadowy city-state of Tesh and rioting on the streets at home are pushing the teeming city to the brink. A mysterious masked figure spurs strange rebellion, while treachery and violence incubate in unexpected places.
In desperation, a small group of renegades escapes from the city and crosses strange and alien continents in the search for a lost hope.
In the blood and violence of New Crobuzon’s most dangerous hour, there are whispers. It is the time of the iron council. . . .

The bold originality that broke Miéville out as a new force of the genre is here once more in Iron Council: the voluminous, lyrical novel that is destined to seal his reputation as perhaps the edgiest mythmaker of the day.

The City & the City by China Miéville

When a murdered woman is found in the city of Beszel, somewhere at the edge of Europe, it looks to be a routine case for Inspector Tyador Borlú of the Extreme Crime Squad. But as he investigates, the evidence points to conspiracies far stranger and more deadly than anything he could have imagined.

Borlú must travel from the decaying Beszel to the only metropolis on Earth as strange as his own. This is a border crossing like no other, a journey as psychic as it is physical, a shift in perception, a seeing of the unseen. His destination is Beszel’s equal, rival, and intimate neighbor, the rich and vibrant city of Ul Qoma. With Ul Qoman detective Qussim Dhatt, and struggling with his own transition, Borlú is enmeshed in a sordid underworld of rabid nationalists intent on destroying their neighboring city, and unificationists who dream of dissolving the two into one. As the detectives uncover the dead woman’s secrets, they begin to suspect a truth that could cost them and those they care about more than their lives.

What stands against them are murderous powers in Beszel and in Ul Qoma: and, most terrifying of all, that which lies between these two cities.

Casting shades of Kafka and Philip K. Dick, Raymond Chandler and 1984, The City & the City is a murder mystery taken to dazzling metaphysical and artistic heights.

People Who Eat Darkness: The True Story of a Young Woman Who Vanished from the Streets of Tokyo–and the Evil That Swallowed Her Up by Richard Lloyd Parry

An incisive and compelling account of the case of 21-year-old Lucie Blackman, who stepped out into the vastness of Tokyo in the summer of 2000 and disappeared forever. The following winter, her dismembered remains were found buried in a seaside cave.

The seven months in between had seen a massive search for the missing girl, involving Japanese policemen; British private detectives; Australian dowsers; and Lucie’s desperate, but bitterly divided, parents. As the case unfolded, it drew the attention of prime ministers and sado-masochists, ambassadors and con-men, and reporters from across the world. Had Lucie been abducted by a religious cult, or snatched by human traffickers? Who was the mysterious man she had gone to meet? And what did her work, as a “hostess” in the notorious Roppongi district of Tokyo, really involve?

Richard Lloyd Parry, an award-winning foreign correspondent, followed the case since Lucie’s disappearance. Over the course of a decade, he traveled to four continents to interview those caught up in the story, fought off a legal attack in the Japanese courts, and worked undercover as a bartender in a Roppongi strip club. He talked exhaustively with Lucie’s friends and family and won unique access to the Japanese detectives who investigated the case. And he delved into the mind and background of the man accused of the crime–Joji Obara, described by the judge as “unprecedented and extremely evil.” With the finesse of a novelist, he reveals the astonishing truth about Lucie and her fate.

People Who Eat Darkness is, by turns, a non-fiction thriller, a courtroom drama, and the biography of both a victim and a killer. It is the story of a young woman who fell prey to unspeakable evil, and of a loving family torn apart by grief. And it is a fascinating insight into one of the world’s most baffling and mysterious societies, a light shone into dark corners of Japan that the rest of the world has never glimpsed before.

The Phone Booth at the Edge of the World by Laura Imai Messina

The international bestselling novel sold in 21 countries, about grief, mourning, and the joy of survival, inspired by a real phone booth in Japan with its disconnected “wind” phone, a place of pilgrimage and solace since the 2011 tsunami

When Yui loses both her mother and her daughter in the tsunami, she begins to mark the passage of time from that date onward: Everything is relative to March 11, 2011, the day the tsunami tore Japan apart, and when grief took hold of her life. Yui struggles to continue on, alone with her pain.
Then, one day she hears about a man who has an old disused telephone booth in his garden. There, those who have lost loved ones find the strength to speak to them and begin to come to terms with their grief. As news of the phone booth spreads, people travel to it from miles around.
Soon Yui makes her own pilgrimage to the phone booth, too. But once there she cannot bring herself to speak into the receiver. Instead she finds Takeshi, a bereaved husband whose own daughter has stopped talking in the wake of her mother’s death.
Simultaneously heartbreaking and heartwarming, The Phone Booth at the Edge of the World is the signpost pointing to the healing that can come after.

Blog Tour Spotlight: Where David Threw Stones by Elyse Hoffman

Happy Friday, my lovely peeps🐥! I’m actually at the office today rather than working from home and actively planning my lunch break shopping plans already.

Today starts the blog tour for Where David Threw Stones by Elyse Hoffman and I’m happy to share a spotlight for my stop! A huge shout-out and a big thank you to TheWriteReads for hosting this blog tour.

Book Description

Title: Where David Threw Stones
Author: Elyse Hoffman
Genre: Historical Fiction
Length: 442 Pages
Publishing: 27th September 2022


“Welcome to the Brennenbach of Midnight! The Curse Hours have begun.”

West Germany, 1968

When ten-year-old David Saidel’s parents are murdered by Neo-Nazis, he is sent to live with his grandfather in the anti-Semitic village of Brennenbach. David, miserable and lonely, finds solace in his kindly Grandpa Ernst, who has one strict rule: never go out after midnight.

One night, when David breaks curfew to search for his missing dog, he discovers why Ernst is so serious about his curfew: Brennenbach is cursed. When midnight strikes, the town is thrown back to 1943, the height of Hitler’s reign.

During the Curse Hours, the Nazi ghosts that infest Brennebach are just as dangerous as they were in life. They’re hunting for David because they think David is the last remaining member of the Kogan family. Whatever happened to the Kogan’s caused the Curse, and David and his grandfather won’t be safe until he finds a way to end it.

Through the help of a little girl named Maria Rahm, the daughter of a vicious Nazi Lieutenant, he sets out to uncover the truth behind the Kogan’s. Can he end the Curse that plagues the town of Brennenbach before it claims another victim?

This spellbinding Historical WW2 Fantasy Novel is a story of a ten-year-old boy’s loss, redemption, and ultimate courage. Award-winning author Elyse Hoffman has crafted an expertly woven tale of World War II’s horrors. This thrilling story is perfect for readers of Marcus Zusak’s “The Book Thief,” John Boyne’s “The Boy in the Striped Pajamas,” or Michael Reit’s “Beyond the Tracks.”

About the Author

Elyse Hoffman is an award-winning author who strives to tell historical tales with new twists. She loves to meld WWII and Jewish history with fantasy, folklore, and the paranormal. She has written six works of Holocaust historical fiction: The Barracks of the Holocaust five-book series and The Book of Uriel. Elyse’s books are the way to go if you love history and want to read some unique stories.

Book Review: Righteous Prey by John Sandford

Happy Thursday, my lovely peeps🐥!
This week’s book review: Righteous Prey by John Sandford!

This was my most anticipated read of the year and I kept pushing it off as if to make the read even more rewarding the longer I wait for it. I finally got around to it, and I absolutely loved it!

Book Title: Righteous Prey
Series: Prey Series / Virgil Flowers
Book # 32 (Prey) / 14 (Virgil Flowers)
Author: John Sandford
Length: ~412 Pages (Based on Kindle Pages)
Publication Date: 4 Oct 2022
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Edition: eARC (NetGalley)
Genres: Fiction, Mystery, Mystery > Crime, Thriller, Thriller > Mystery Thriller, Suspense, Police Procedural, Action

Goodreads: >LINK<
Amazon: >LINK<
Author Website: >LINK<

Disclaimer: A big thank you to the author, publisher, and NetGalley. An ebook copy was provided to me in exchange for a fair and honest review. This does not affect my review in any way, and all opinions are my own.

Beloved heroes Lucas Davenport and Virgil Flowers are up against a powerful vigilante group with an eye on vengeance in a stunning new novel from #1 New York Times-bestselling author John Sandford.

“We’re going to murder people who need to be murdered.” So begins a press release from a mysterious group known only as “The Five,” shortly after a vicious predator is murdered in San Francisco. The Five is believed to be made up of vigilante killers who are very bored…and very rich. They target the worst of society—rapists, murderers, and thieves—and then use their unlimited resources to offset the damage done by those who they’ve killed, donating untraceable bitcoin to charities and victims via the dark net. The Five soon become the most popular figures on social media, a modern-day Batman…though their motives may not be entirely pure.

After a woman is murdered in the Twin Cities, Virgil Flowers and Lucas Davenport are sent in to investigate. And they soon have their hands full–the killings are smart and carefully choreographed, and with no apparent direct connection to the victims, the Five are virtually untraceable. But if anyone can destroy this group, it will be the dynamic team of Davenport and Flowers.

5 bitcoin traders, immensely wealthy, and absolutely nuts in the head, conspire along with another individual to commit crimes “for the better of the world.” They kill those they deem worthy of death, post their crimes out as press releases along with the reasons that the individuals were killed, and a hefty amount in bitcoin is donated to a charity afterwards, a test to see if these non-profits would accept the money if they were to come out of these crimes; blood money. Lucas and Virgil aren’t called on, at least not until one of the killings happens on Minnesota soil and the BCA and US Marshal become involved.

Though I’ve seen books revolving around an individual or groups of people going after people who deserve justice, it was still a pretty good book and I enjoyed the plot. Beginning with weeks of staking out their victims, following their every move and tracking all of their personal securities, these five million/billionaire, along with their leader, come up with extremely detailed and well-thought-out plans that fully cover their tracks behind them. It’s nearly impossible to link the crime back to the perpetrator, at least, of course, until the killer in Minnesota slips up and it’s just enough of a clue for Lucas and Virgil to work off of. From there, the plot takes off and it doesn’t take long for the duo to identify some of the members of the Five and begin their pursuit. When The Five’s plans begins to crumble beneath them, people start to get really desperate. And desperate people are dangerous people.

In the first book where Lucas and Virgil worked together, Ocean Prey, Virgil actually worked mostly with Rae and Lucas with another team, covering background. Both having a criminal mind, nabbing clues in not so legal ways (like breaking into a house to investigate with a copy of a key made by pressing clay on it?), they have vastly different personalities when it comes to crime. Lucas sees things like a puzzle while Virgil’s more emotional (not that deaths don’t affect Lucas), but there’s an interesting dynamic between the two of them.

Lucas and Virgil were each other’s closest male friends, in the way men form friendships around shared traumatic stress and a predilection for jockstraps. Though they were friends, they were not alike.

Lucas could look at a body and become immediately absorbed in the technical details of the death: how the killing had been done, possible motives, who had the opportunity. He saw murder as a puzzle. The body was a detail, but not the only one. Murder signaled a competition that he was determined to win.

Virgil sought balance, rather than a victory. He wanted to wrench his world back into what it should be, a peaceful place where people cooperated to create a civilization. He disliked violence and rarely resorted to it. Murder was always a shock to his system.

In Righteous Prey, this time the duo really does work together, starting by visiting the scene of the Minnesota death, and “walking and knocking” on doors. Lucas being Virgil’s old boss, they’re best friends and their conversations can be pretty golden at times. There’s a hilarious supermarket scene with the most cliché undercover cop “quick pretend we’re a cute couple to avoid attention” trope that was the comedic highlight of my read. They’re funny and witty, and fantastic at bouncing ideas off each other. The bicker and banter between them reminds me of siblings and their interaction lightens the tenser parts of the book.

The woman called, “What’d you do? Did he see you?”

A male agent, also inside the store, who’d been looking at tomatoes, said, “They walked by him holding hands. [killer] wouldn’t look at them. He’s a homophobe and thought they were gay.”

Lucas, not transmitting, said to Virgil, “I won’t live this down. You will, of course, being an ambisexual hippie.”

The woman agent said, “That’s so cool. That’s really so cool.”

Lucas: “Ah, Jesus.”

There’s a lot of character development over the course of multiple books, for both Lucas and Virgil. Virgil has been writing as a side gig since the earliest books, more so as a magazine column writer, though. Soon, taking nature photographs and writing for magazines became writing fiction books for publishing deals and he’s in the middle of his third novel when Righteous Prey is taking place, with Lucas, a game maker himself, encouraging him. Because cops burn out hard and fast. Lucas, already rich off his games and only picking up the most interesting of cases can only hope that Virgil will follow because neither of them can see the latter continue to run around Minnesota for much longer. They’re getting older and their lives have been constantly at stake. They barely make it through this book (though I’ve definitely said this earlier in a few other books too, so…)

There were some places that were slow, you can’t have promising leads forever, and there are multiple times the duo run into walls. Still, the thrill is always present and there’s always some form of a chase, but the killers are just as slippery as they are elusive. Along with cash to back them up, clever alibis, and this case taking place across multiple stakes, Virgil and Lucas are just running all over the place. In fact, if The Five had kept all of this on the down low, and not going about publishing every hit to the public, they probably could’ve easily gotten away with these killings for a long time!

All in all, I had a wonderful time with it and I’m definitely going to get the physical copy when it comes out next month. My only worry is, with Lucas and Virgil growing older, having promising new careers on their horizon, family, and with Lucas’ adoptive daughter, Letty, having her own spin-off series now, we may very well be nearing the end of both Lucas and Virgil’s adventures. The book ends pretty well though, especially given the scary events that took place in the climax. It has a very open end feel to it, with plenty of possibilities to come. Another gripping and solid book from Sandford. I could not put this one down!

Blog Tour Spotlight: Rising Shadows by Phillip Blackwater

Book Description

Title: Rising Shadows
Author: Phillip Blackwater
Genre: Fantasy
Length: 342 Pages
Publishing: 14th August 2020


As tension rises between the southern and northern nations of the small continent of Exitium in the world of Anteris, the Elves turn to their eastern neighbors, the Humans, for help. They wish to learn the ways of combat, which they are not accustomed to, for they have always wielded a power far greater than forged steel. The Shards of Creation, mystical artifacts of great and virtually infinite power, have always been their prized weapon, but times have changed. They now face the same threat as the Humans: the southern nation known as the Ethula.

Wariel Ritch, general of the Human army, will take upon his shoulders this burden. But when a shadow of a past long forgotten threatens what little stability is left in the world, he will have to leave everything behind to stop it. Medregal Tergrast, an Ethulan king, dead for a thousand years, plans his return to the world of the living to gain back his former glory and finally fulfill his destiny by gaining control of the Shards of Creation. But is he really the threat people make him out to be?

In the meantime, in the bowels of the Human Kingdom, the reign of Dana Crystaloak is put into jeopardy when people around her start questioning her decisions. If she falls, war could break out across all lands.

About the Author

If you found your way here, then you must already know I love to write. I am a fan of fiction, mostly fantasy, sci-fi, and post-apocalyptic (amongst others), and in all its forms, whether it is books, video games, movies, or tv-shows.

The first time I truly realized how much I loved fiction, was through The Lord of the Rings’ movies (like probably a lot of people). Since then, I traveled to so many different worlds: Halo, Mass Effect, Warcraft, Elder Scrolls, Witcher, and Fallout (to only name a few). It made me want to explore my own imagination and see what worlds I could create. This is what led me, among other things, to writing.

What can you expect from my books? I don’t bother myself trying to be a flowery writer, I want my writing to be available to everyone. And what I want above all when people read my books, is for them to have a good time and some fun. This is what truly matters to me.

When I’m not writing, I am: A husband. A father of three cats. Reading, gaming, or watching movies and tv shows. A big hockey fan. And when I’m done with all of that, I’m a big geek and collect a lot of stuff (No, I’m not a hoarder, I swear!).

Full novels will all be available on Amazon, and short stories, artwork, or anything else will all be available on my website:

You can follow my Twitter (@phil_blackwater) or my Instagram (@phil_blackwater), or register to the newsletter on my website, to know when new stories are available.

Book Review: Glittering a Turd by Kris Hallenga

Book Title: Glittering a Turd: How surviving the unsurvivable taught me to live
Series: [Standalone]
Author: Kris Hallenga
Length: 7 hours & 8 minutes
Publication Date: August 19, 2022
Publisher: W. F. Howes Ltd
Genres: Audiobook, Nonfiction, Nonfiction > Memoir, Medicine, Family

Goodreads: >LINK<
Amazon: >LINK<

Disclaimer: A big thank you to the author, publisher, and NetGalley. An ebook copy was provided to me in exchange for a fair and honest review. This does not affect my review in any way and all opinions are my own.

Kris was living a totally normal life as a twenty-three-year-old: travelling the world, falling in love, making plans.

However, when she found a lump in her boob and was told that it was not only cancer, but also incurable, life took on a completely new meaning. She was diagnosed at an age when life wasn’t something to be grateful for, but a goddamn right.

Little did Kris know it was cancer that would lead her to a life she had never considered: a happy one. From founding a charity to visiting Downing Street, campaigning at festivals to appearing on TV, and being present at the birth of her nephew; in the face of all the possible prognoses, Kris is surviving, thriving, and resolutely living.

Glittering a Turd is more than just another cancer memoir; it’s a handbook for living life to the fullest, shining a new perspective on survival and learning to glitter your own tu*d, whatever it might be. Kris has survived the unsurvivable for twelve years. Here, she begins to discover why.

This was a wonderful and informative book with all the right levels of humor in it. I surely did give my girls a little feel up after the first few chapters. The writing was nice, things always moved along easily and smoothly, and it was easy to understand. One thing stood out the most, and not just because it was important, but rather the memories it brought up for me. Too often, people go to the doctor for concerns, only to be met with a hefty bill and “It’s just anxiety.” This is a huge killer, causing minor symptoms to progress into something far more serious and deadly.

Kris shows us her cancer journey from the day she was diagnosed, over a decade ago, and how life has changed for her since then. She’s started a charity called CoppaFeel!, aiming to educate and spread awareness about breast cancer, such as knowing the signs that could save your life and reminding you to check your breasts often. She’s appeared on television, was able to live a thriving life, being there with her sister at her nephew’s birth, and even started a food truck business with her twin sister, Meron.

Beautifully written, Kris spoke to us in a way that was like as if she were a friend updating us on her condition, a mix of humor and seriousness that taught me many different lessons from making sure to check your boobs often to speaking up for yourself when you want a second opinion. She doesn’t mince words and is honest and open about her life and journey with us. The highs and lows, the joy, laughter, and tears, they’re all there and I felt every emotion. This was an incredibly inspirational read that I would recommend to anyone.

August/September 2022 Reading Wrap Up

It’s already mid-September?? And I’m just now putting up my reading wrap up?
Shhhh, nobody has to know I’m late.
Let me just sneak into the back row. The teacher will never know…


Check out my review >HERE<

Old Country by Matt & Harrison Query

My first read of August was a horror book! Man, I should’ve saved this one for Spooktober! I didn’t like the main characters much (at all), but found the plot to be very intriguing and unique with all of the rituals. I may not have loved the book, but I often think about it. As October comes around, it’s not leaving my mind anytime soon. Especially when I see anything about the very very rural quiet country life.

Silent Prey by John Sandford

Generally, I don’t anticipate seeing the same villain again in Sandford’s books. It rarely happens, but Bekker’s unique. But I guess, of course he would be. This was a great thrill, though the change in setting threw me off just a bit. Bekker however, as interesting as he was in Eyes of Prey, is not so interesting here. Not much of anything, he’s so desperate. This downward plummet was amazing to read.

Check out my review >HERE<
Check out my review >HERE<

The 6:20 Man by David Baldacci

For my third August read, I gave Baldacci a try. I see his books often, but have yet to have cracked one open until now. The 6:20 Man was thrilling in a way where I couldn’t put the book down. Travis is such a great character to read and many of the side characters around him were just as well-developed. I liked how explosively thrilling this one was and enjoyed the ending.

Winter Prey by John Sandford

Lastly, I know I’m going to jump ahead and read the latest Prey book soon. I’ve been waiting and waiting to get started on Righteous Prey and am so extremely excited for its release in October. Before that, I wanted to at least clear my shelf of every Prey book I already have on hand and that ends with Winter Prey. Absolutely hated the plot, and what the villains were doing to the children, but I got to meet Weather for the first time as I only really knew her from her cameos from the Virgil Flowers side of things. Damn satisfying end though.

Check out my review >HERE<


OK, seeing as it’s already mid-month, I know half of these aren’t really “hopefuls” anymore, but I’m happy to report I’m at least on track and so far, some of these “hopefuls” have been happily read.

Review to come: Sept 2022

Glittering a Turd by Kris Hallenga

This was a nonfiction I’ve picked up from NetGalley on a whim. I saw the pink peach-colored cover and the boobie dotted “i”s and couldn’t resist. A phenomenal read of strength and humor as Kris Hallenga takes us through her cancer journey and what it is like to live with terminal breast cancer. A great story with some pretty important information. I definitely make sure to check my breasts more often now.

The Frederick Sisters Are Living The Dream by Jeannie Zusy

I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway ages ago and never got around to it. There was nothing wrong with it other than it suffering from the same thing that ails the rest of my books(…TBR mountain!). I can’t believe I put it off so long either. It was a wonderful read that was refreshingly real. The tone is serious but mixed in with just enough humor to lighten up the mood. I really really enjoyed this book and, if you pick it up, hope you will too. The Frederick Sisters Are Living The Dream by Jeannie Zusy comes out September 20th!

Check out my review >HERE<

E.R. Nurses: Walk My Rounds with Me: True Stories from America’s Greatest Unsung Heroes by James Patterson, Matt Eversmann, and Chris Mooney

This was sent to me by Grand Central Publishing and is my current read. It reminds me of the Chicken Soup books with how it’s formatted. Very small pieces and stories from all different nurses. Enjoying it with all of the absolutely insane stories and experiences that the nurses go through. Some stories have made me gasp, some laugh, and I’ve already cried some tears too. I look forward to reviewing this one.

Righteous Prey by John Sandford

Ohhhkay, so my MOST anticipated read of the month and year. I know if I mention that Sandford is my favorite author ONE MORE TIME, someone’s going to punch me, but just like Ocean Prey was my most anticipated read last year so is Righteous Prey. I have high expectations for this one. I will say though, after finishing my fifth Lucas Davenport book, I know for sure that my bias lies with Virgil Flowers now. I simply like how Virgil handles matters more than Davenport and I think part of my high expectations for Righteous Prey is Virgil continuing to work with Davenport, especially seeing that his side of the duo series have come to a close as I see no more solo-Virgil adventures and I’m nibbling on any new Virgil Flowers crumbs there are *sob*. 

Black Run by D.L. Marshall

My last read of the month will undoubtedly slip into the next month. Just like with The Frederick Sisters Are Living The Dream, Black Run is far overdue for a review. I came across this one while on NetGalley and simply never got into it, for the exact same reason, with the addition of the fact that it’s actually the second book of the series and I’m a little nervous that I might be missing something important. None-the-less, just like I told myself I’m DEFINITELY reading The Frederick Sisters Are Living The Dream this month, I’m doing the same for Black Run. It’s not escaping from me this time.

Book Review: The Frederick Sisters Are Living The Dream by Jeannie Zusy

Happy Thursdays!
Did anyone watch the Nintendo Direct from earlier this week? I actually cried at the announcement of the Story of Seasons: A Wonderful Life remake. A childhood favorite brought to the present, sure makes the swellest present! Unfortunately, Alear’s god awful design in the newest Fire Emblem: Engage announcement, from the same Direct, has ruined the presentation for me. It’s just…that Colgate, Nintendo Switch colored hair. Just…why?? Fantastic art otherwise, not too sure about the animations, and not too keen on the unoriginal “yet another revived Fell Dragon in need of slaying” plot. Am I still getting it? For sure!

This week’s book that’s up for review: The Frederick Sisters Are Living The Dream by Jeannie Zusy. Thought to have been long overdue for a review, now that I have checked the publishing date, I actually made it on time for release! Phew!

Book Title: The Frederick Sisters Are Living the Dream: A Novel
Series: [Standalone]
Author: Jeannie Zusy
Length: 306 Pages (Paper) > Paperback ARC Edition
Publication Date: September 20th 2022
Publisher: Atria Books
Genres: Fiction, Contemporary, Family, Humor, Literary Fiction, Womens Fiction

Goodreads: >LINK<
Amazon: >LINK<

Disclaimer: A copy of this book was provided to me, via a Goodreads Giveaway, in exchange for a fair and honest review. A huge thank you to Goodreads, the author, and Atria books for this copy! All opinions are my own.

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine meets Early Morning Riser with a dash of Where’d You Go, Bernadette in this very funny, occasionally romantic, and surprisingly moving novel about how one woman’s life is turned upside down when she becomes caregiver to her sister with special needs.

Every family has its fault lines, and when Maggie gets a call from the ER in Maryland where her older sister lives, the cracks start to appear. Ginny, her sugar-loving and diabetic older sister with intellectual disabilities, has overdosed on strawberry Jell-O.

Maggie knows Ginny really can’t live on her own, so she brings her sister and her occasionally vicious dog to live near her in upstate New York. Their other sister, Betsy, is against the idea but as a professional surfer, she is conveniently thousands of miles away.

Thus, Maggie’s life as a caretaker begins. It will take all of her dark humor and patience, already spread thin after a separation, raising two boys, freelancing, and starting a dating life, to deal with Ginny’s diapers, sugar addiction, porn habit, and refusal to cooperate. Add two devoted but feuding immigrant aides and a soon-to-be ex-husband who just won’t go away, and you’ve got a story that will leave you laughing through your tears as you wonder who is actually taking care of whom.

Oh, this was such a refreshing read that I thoroughly enjoyed!
Three sisters and all of the worries, self-doubts, and struggles between them. What’s on the surface is never “just the only things” that’s going on.

I struggled to get into and start the book because every time I cracked it open, there are no chapters but rather, four long parts. Stopping in the middle of a reading session was always awkward, but it wasn’t that much of a problem when you finally get into the book. Even if I didn’t like the way the book was divided, I fell in love with the intensity of the writing and the realism from every character. It felt like reading right off Maggie’s private journals, like listening to a friend tell me about her day, like being in her head and hearing and experiencing all of her worries. The writing is choppy in places but I loved most of everything else; the tension, the frustration, the thoughts of both Maggie and those around her, and of course all of their joys and mini celebrations too.

The story begins with Maggie driving Ginny back to live in New York, to be closer to her. It’s a trip from Maryland, somewhere Ginny will never see again and she doesn’t even know that yet. Virginia (Ginny) has an intellectual disability and despite living just fine on her own and away from her siblings, ever since she’s retired from her job, her life has gone downhill, her health in decline. She’s no longer able to take care of herself and her diabetes is not being properly managed, causing her to end up with sepsis and nearly dying. She doesn’t want to move, and oldest sister, Betsy (Bets), says that Maggie should just be allowed to live how she wants to live. If that means leaving her to her own devices and she dies from it…well…

So, against both her sisters’ wishes, Maggie brings Ginny closer to her, in upstate New York. Because what does Bets know? She’s off in California, surfing up her dream life and appearing on television!

This was a heartwarming read. I know it’s listed as humorous, but I felt kind of sad through the book. Sad for Ginny’s loss of freedom and loss of independence, something she’s had for decades. Sad for Bets and sad for Maggie and Ginny who know that something’s up with Bets to act so aloof and distant (physically and mentally), but we never know what and why. Sad for Maggie who is a bit neurotic and lonely but means well with all her heart. Sad for the kids and how the “divorce” affected them. But it was also refreshing because it shows the complex emotions and issues that make up a family: the relationship between the sisters, loneliness of the husband living separately but the kids also never being home, coming to terms about past mistakes and the growth, the bickering that stems from misunderstandings, the burnout, the drinking, the “am I really doing this for Ginny’s health or my own selfishness?”, the “When is it Maggie’s turn to be taken cared of?” Emotions are very strong here and I know I’ve cried a few times.

The characters here are wonderful, so well-developed, and again, as real as it gets. Bets is far away and acts like she doesn’t care that Ginny is no longer able to care for herself or the fact that she nearly died. She acts aloof, but from the beginning you know, through her brief encounters and calls, that something’s wrong on her end and nobody knows what until the end. Just as much as it affects Maggie, it too lingered in my mind from the very beginning, “What’s wrong with Bets? It’s bad, but we don’t know what and she won’t say anything.” Maggie always means the best, but at times she can be controlling and even intimidating in her “never wrong” attitude. She means well, but her work goes unappreciated on all ends. She knows that she can be controlling, but she also knows that the alternative is that the world falls apart: Bets will grow farther and farther away, Ginny could die, her sons could leave her for good.

Ginny struggles with her many losses too, from nearly dying to being torn from her own home, in Maryland, to first being put in a nursing home and then, against her will, put in a house that Maggie helped her find only to have a home-aide follow her everywhere and not let her do the things she enjoys (such as cutting back on a lot of sweets). She can’t even hold her own dog anymore and she loves Rascal!

Still, it’s not all sad and there are sprinkles here and there. I wouldn’t call it a depressing read nor would I call it a comedic one either. The best description may be, bittersweet with a hint of warm cinnamon. Life is hard with a rare treat in the middle. It’s a dark chocolate cupcake kind of bittersweet humor. Every character has their ups and good sides and their downs and flaws. As hard as things are, and as distant as the three sisters have become, the ending was relieving and as everyone comes back to some form of connection and a mutual understanding is made, you could almost feel the weights lifted from everyone’s shoulders, main and side characters alike. Bets tells Maggie of her own struggles, in both past and her current life, and Maggie sees Bets off on a warmer ground. Ginny begins to love New York and Maggie has something great to look forward to again.

It’s a hard read for sure, the tone, even with all the bits of humor thrown in, is still serious. Oftentimes, my heart clenches after an argument because I understand how hard the situation can be. It was a wonderful read and I enjoyed it enough to add it to my very small pile of books I would reread when I get a chance to.

Heart touching, heartwarming, heartbreaking. Special and loving.