The Heads of Cerberus by Francis Stevens | Mini Book Review

The Heads of Cerberus by Francis Stevens | Mini Book Review

Title: The Heads of Cerberus

Author: Francis Stevens

Publisher: Modern Library

Genre: Science Fiction, Classic

Source: Library

Rating: ★ ★ ★

Goodreads Summary:

Philadelphia, 1918: Three friends—brave, confident Viola Trenmore, clever but shy Robert Drayton, and Viola’s strong and hot-tempered brother, Terry—discover a mysterious powder that transports them two hundred years into the future. The Philadelphia of 2118 is no longer a bustling metropolis but instead a completely isolated city recovering from an unknown disaster. Citizens are issued identification tags instead of having names, and society is split between a wealthy, powerful minority and a downtrodden lower class. The position of supreme authority is held by a woman, and once a year she oversees competitions to the death to determine who rules alongside her. When Viola, Terry, and Robert are forced to take part in these strange and deadly games, it will take their combined wits for them to escape this strange world and return home.

Equal parts adventure and dystopia, The Heads of Cerberus is an unjustly forgotten work of early science fiction written by a trailblazing master of the genre.


My Review:

This was an interesting classic. I did like it for the most part. But I also found myself getting confused at times with all the changes and different things that were happening depending on where they were.

I do like alternate universe books and this wasn’t didn’t disappoint. It’s interesting to see back before we have more modern forms of alternate universe to what they thought might happen back in the 1900s. This one did go back into time though it seems which I did find interesting since most seem to jump forward and be more futuristic and this one instead went the more strict and older times.

I didn’t know as well until I read this book that the author is a woman who was the first major female science fiction writer of America. I wish stuff like that was known more because it is important to see what came before and how woman writers have always been able to create magnificent worlds because they do seem to be overlooked a lot.

March Wrap-Up

I think we can all safely say that March was the weirdest month so far this year (let’s hope it stays that way). Despite everything that has been happening I was somehow able to read 12 books this month. I’m really not sure how that happened since I feel like I’ve hardly been able to finish a book at all with all the Covid-19 chaos that has been happening. Let’s see what I read in March!


Currently Reading

This has mostly stayed the same as last months, as I finished all but the books I’m reading for school before the end of the month.

If you want to keep up to date on what I’m currently reading follow me on Goodreads!


Book Reviews

War Girls by Tochi Onyebuchi
Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi
Three Hours In Paris by Cara Black | ARC
Harbor Me by Jacqueline Woodson
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
The Mountains Sing by Nguyen Phan Que Mai | ARC
What We Saw by Aaroon Hartzler
The Undesirables by Chad Thumann
Eight Perfect Murders by Peter Swanson


Other Posts

February Wrap-Up


Goodreads Reviews

The Mozart Girl by Barbara Nickel

Sandapalooza Shake-up by Chris Grabenstein

Beach Battle Blowout by Chris Grabenstein

The Happy Camper by Melody Carlson

The German Midwife by Mandy Robotham


READING STATS

  • Books Read: 12
  • Did Not Finish: 1
  • Pages Read: 3,420 (This might be changed later as I do plan to read some this evening)

According to Goodreads I am now 67% of the way to my goal of 52 books for the year. Currently at 35/52 for my goal!


Genre’s Read

  • Contemporary: 2
  • Religious Fiction: 1 + 1 DNF
  • Historical Fiction: 4
  • Mystery: 3
  • Classic: 2

Rating

★ ★ ★ ★ ★ : 0
★ ★ ★ ★ : 4
★ ★ ★ : 6
★ ★: 1


March was a good month when it came to finishing a lot of books. Sadly I didn’t have as high of ratings this month. I’m hoping April is going to be a good reading month and I get back to reading more books that I enjoy.

I hope you stay safe and have a good reading month for April!

How did your reading go this month?

Eight Perfect Murders by Peter Swanson | Book Review

Eight Perfect Murders by Peter Swanson | Book Review

Title: Eight Perfect Murders

Author: Peter Swanson

Publisher: William Morrow

Published Date: March 3rd, 2020

Genre: Mystery, Bookish, Adult

Source: Library

Rating: ★ ★ ★ .5

Goodreads Summary:

Years ago, bookseller and mystery aficionado Malcolm Kershaw compiled a list of the genre’s most unsolvable murders, those that are almost impossible to crack—which he titled “Eight Perfect Murders”—chosen from among the best of the best including Agatha Christie’s A. B. C. Murders, Patricia Highsmith’s Strangers on a Train, Ira Levin’s Death Trap, A. A. Milne’s Red House Mystery, Anthony Berkeley Cox’s Malice Aforethought, James M. Cain’s Double Indemnity, John D. Macdonald’s The Drowner, and Donna Tartt’s A Secret History.

But no one is more surprised than Mal, now the owner of the Old Devils Bookstore in Boston, when an FBI agent comes knocking on his door one snowy day in February. She’s looking for information about a series of unsolved murders that look eerily similar to the killings on Mal’s old list. And the FBI agent isn’t the only one interested in this bookseller who spends almost every night at home reading. There is killer is out there, watching his every move—a diabolical threat who knows way too much about Mal’s personal history, especially the secrets he’s never told anyone, even his recently deceased wife.

To protect himself, Mal begins looking into possible suspects . . . and sees a killer in everyone around him. But Mal doesn’t count on the investigation leaving a trail of death in its wake. Suddenly, a series of shocking twists leaves more victims dead—and the noose around Mal’s neck grows so tight he might never escape.


My Review:

Eight Perfect Murders follows Malcolm who is a bookseller who wrote a blog post years ago with the title Eight Perfect Murders. Now several years later someone is using that blog post as a way to find ways to murder people and it just might be someone who actually knows Malcolm in real life. While the thought of this is not only chilling it also makes for a good plotline as it has you guessing the entire time of who it is and why they’ve decided to do this.

Overall I did enjoy this book. I was able to read it in a day which hardly ever happens anymore. I haven’t read to many books that follow actual booksellers or revolve around books so this was a new experience for me. I did like it but I did find some parts of this book hard to believe and I just wasn’t able to get past them this time. The part I did like, however, was how Malcolm found ways to figure everything out and how he pieced things together. He had an excellent memory when it came to things like this somehow and wasn’t afraid to go and investigate things on his own even though he was being watched by a killer and the authorities because he was a suspect. That does lead to another thing I found rather strange is how the authorities came to him for help and how they were having him do so much of the work. It just seemed a little strange to me and especially made me uneasy at times because of how Malcolm was going about investigating on his own. His investigating did lead to some very interesting times and helped piece the story together and connected all the murders. I was figuring out things right along with Malcolm and I was extremely surprised by who the killer was.
I’m interested to read more by this author in the future.

The Undesirables by Chad Thumann | Book Review

The Undesirables by Chad Thumann | Book Review

Title: The Undesirables

Author: Chad Thumann

Publisher: Lake Union Publishing

Published Date: October 18th, 2016

Genre: Historical Fiction, Adult, Multi-POV

Source: Kindle Unlimited

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Goodreads Summary:

In the winter of 1941–1942, Leningrad is under siege, and Karen Hamilton, a seventeen-year-old American musician, finds herself trapped and struggling to survive. Throughout the city, people are dying of starvation and frostbite, and Karen knows that if she doesn’t escape immediately, she will share their fate. If she has any hope of leaving Russia and reuniting with her fiancé, Bobby, in New York, she must do the impossible: cross enemy lines and then stow away.

On her harrowing journey, Karen encounters Petr, a young conscripted Russian soldier. She isn’t sure she can trust him—he is equally wary of her. But as the two join forces in order to stay alive, an unexpected romance takes root.

Now, as Karen gets closer to the reality of escape, she has a choice to make: Will she return to a safe life in America with Bobby, or remain in war-torn Russia with Petr?


My Review:

“Sometimes it is more important to follow your heart than to do what others expect of you.”

The Undesirables is a story told in Leningrad in 1941-1942 and how one
American young woman (Karen) is trying to get out. Karen is a smart young woman who uses the resources she has as well as her talents to get out of Leningrad without getting caught. Along the way, she meets a Russian soldier who helps her out. The friendship that they make of course turns into a relationship of sorts but its a rocky one and one
that is built on distrust and a lot of what-ifs.

Then we also see things from the perspective of Karen’s boyfriend from back home in America and he is a fighter pilot for the American Army now. We don’t get to see his point-of-view as often as we see Karen’s, but his view is important as it shows what’s happening and is the final key in how Karen might be able to leave Russia.

Overall I enjoyed this book. I feel like it was fairly well researched when it came to Leningrad and the German armies and the risks that Karen was taking.
The point-of-view of her American boyfriend was interesting and important because we got to see what the Americans were doing and how they were trying to create an alliance with Russia to stop the Germans. The writing in this book while slow at times had to be because of how much was going on and how the world-building needed to take place to understand all the moving parts of WWII and how Karen was in a precarious position when it came to getting out.

My favorite part about this book is because it was apart of WWII we don’t often get to see, as it is set in Russia. Most things tend to focus on Europe and especially the British side of the war.

I recommend this book to anyone who wants to read a different part of the history during WWII.

What We Saw by Aaron Hartzler | Book Review

What We Saw by Aaron Hartzler | Book Review

Title: What We Saw

Author: Aaron Hartzler

Publisher: Harper Teen

Published Date: September 22, 2015

Genre: Mystery, YA, Realistic Fiction

Source: Owned

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Goodreads Summary:

The party last Saturday night is a bit of a blur.

Kate Weston can piece together most of the bash at John Doone’s house: shots with Stacey Stallard, Ben Cody taking her keys and getting her home early—the feeling that maybe he’s becoming more than just the guy she’s known since they were kids.

But when a picture of Stacey passed out over Deacon Mills’s shoulder appears online the next morning, Kate suspects she doesn’t have all the details, and begins to ask questions.

What really happened at the party after she left?

Who was still there?

What did they see?

When Stacey levels charges against four of Kate’s classmates, the whole town erupts into controversy. Facts that can’t be ignored begin to surface, and every answer Kate finds leads back to the same question:

Where was Ben when a terrible crime was committed?


My Review:

Trigger Warning: Rape/Sexual Assault, slut shaming, victim blaming

Remember….nothing is exactly as it appears. The closer you look, the more you see.

This is a very hard subject to read about but an important one to know happens and how anyone can be involved in it.

What We Saw shows how the main character Kate notices what is happening in her town after a young woman (Stacey) is raped. We get to see her come to the realization of what happened to Stacey and how many people were involved, and how said people ended up getting away with it for a time. Kate sees all of this happening in her small town, she sees the victim-blaming and the shaming that Stacey goes through as well as how everyone seems to be covering for the men that assaulted Stacey.

Overall this is a book that I did like. It covered a very hard subject in a way that was realistic. We see herd mentality playing here, and we see how you can be blinded by the perception you’ve always had of someone to who they really can be in certain situations. The shaming that Stacey the victim went through is very real for anyone who is assaulted and shows it in a way that is easy for anyone to understand no matter if they are a teenager or an adult.

What We Saw is still a relevant book even though it was written 5 years ago. I recommend it for anyone wanting a well-written book that covers a hard topic.

It’s All Your Fault by Paul Rudnick : Book Review

No new post today. But I did want to recommend this book. It’s funny and would be a good distraction from everything happening in the world right now.

Reading With Wrin

Title: It’s All Your Fault
Author: Paul Rudnick
Publisher:Scholastic Press
Published Date:January 26th 2016
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Humor
Page Count:294
Format: Hardcover

My Rating:★ ★ ★

Goodreads Summary:
My name is Caitlin and up until forty-eight hours ago I had never:

Tasted alcohol, kissed a boy, sang in public at the top of my lungs, kidnapped anyone or—WHAT? STOLEN A CONVERTIBLE?

Now I’m in jail and I have no idea what I’m going to tell:

The police, my parents, the mayor, all of those camera crews and everyone on Twitter.

I have just noticed that:

My nose is pierced and I have—WAIT? IS THAT A TATTOO?

I blame one person for this entire insane weekend:

My famous cousin.

Who is also my former best friend.

Who I have HATED for the past four years.

Who I miss like crazy. NO I DON’T!!!!

IT’S ALL YOUR…

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Blog Tour | The Mountains Sing by Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai | ARC Book Review

Title: The Mountains Sing

Author: Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai

Publisher: Algonquin Books

Published Date: March 17th, 2020

Genre: Historical Fiction, Vietnam

Source: Netgalley

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ .5

Goodreads Summary:

With the epic sweep of Min Jin Lee’s Pachinko or Yaa Gyasi’s Homegoing and the lyrical beauty of Vaddey Ratner’s In the Shadow of the Banyan, The Mountains Sing tells an enveloping, multigenerational tale of the Trần family, set against the backdrop of the Việt Nam War. Trần Diệu Lan, who was born in 1920, was forced to flee her family farm with her six children during the Land Reform as the Communist government rose in the North. Years later in Hà Nội, her young granddaughter, Hương, comes of age as her parents and uncles head off down the Hồ Chí Minh Trail to fight in a conflict that tore not just her beloved country, but her family apart.

Vivid, gripping, and steeped in the language and traditions of Việt Nam, The Mountains Sing brings to life the human costs of this conflict from the point of view of the Vietnamese people themselves, while showing us the true power of kindness and hope.

The Mountains Sing is celebrated Vietnamese poet Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai’s first novel in English.

About the Author

Born into the Viet Nam War in 1973, Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai grew up witnessing the war’s devastation and its aftermath. She worked as a street vendor and rice farmer before winning a scholarship to attend university in Australia. She is the author of eight books of poetry, fiction and non-fiction published in Vietnamese, and her writing has been translated and published in more than 10 countries, most recently in Norton’s Inheriting the War anthology. She has been honored with many awards, including the Poetry of the Year 2010 Award from the Hà Nội Writers Association, as well as international grants and fellowships. Quế Mai first learned English in 8th grade and The Mountains Sing is the first novel written in English by a Vietnamese national to be published by a major American publisher. Currently based in Indonesia, Quế Mai’s journalism regularly appears in major Vietnamese newspapers. For more information, visit www.nguyenphanquemai.com.


My Review:

Going into this book I knew next to nothing about Vietnam in general so I was looking forward to learning about it from an #ownvoices perspective.

We get to see Vietnam from two different perspectives in two different time-periods. The grandmother’s perspective is from before the war and what led this family to be where it was when the war started. Then we have the granddaughter’s perspective and from it, we get to see the war through the eyes of a child, as well as the years after the war.
The Mountains sing is a very family-focused book and we get to know and love this family throughout the story. Of course, this means that we also get to see a lot of ups and downs as we’re getting to see many years go by and the struggles that the family faces. These struggles go from ones caused by the war to ones just in the family-like every family has.

Overall I loved this book! Getting to see such a wide time-span not only let me get to know and love Vietnam but also to love this family. So many things happened and a lot of very real-life problems end up being covered in The Mountains Sing. We have mental health issues covered that were caused by the war in PTSD form as well as guilt, and one of the family members now feeling shame for having an injury from the war. We have another family member making a tough choice to provide for the family in a way that isn’t well thought of.
All of this is going on while we have the granddaughter just growing up and trying to figure out what she wants to do in the world. She’s creating a life of her own and its one so nice to see amongst all the heartache so many others in her family were feeling.

One thing that showed throughout this entire book was the love of family, and the will to survive through extremely dark and trying times.

This book is my top pick for hard-hitting reads for the year!

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott | Book Review

Title: Little Women

Series: Little Women #1

Author: Louisa May Alcott

Genre: Classic, Literature, YA/Adult

Source: Amazon Purchase

Rating: ★ ★ ★ .5

Goodreads Summary:

Generations of readers young and old, male and female, have fallen in love with the March sisters of Louisa May Alcott’s most popular and enduring novel, Little Women. Here are talented tomboy and author-to-be Jo, tragically frail Beth, beautiful Meg, and romantic, spoiled Amy, united in their devotion to each other and their struggles to survive in New England during the Civil War.

It is no secret that Alcott based Little Women on her own early life. While her father, the freethinking reformer and abolitionist Bronson Alcott, hobnobbed with such eminent male authors as Emerson, Thoreau, and Hawthorne, Louisa supported herself and her sisters with “woman’s work,” including sewing, doing laundry, and acting as a domestic servant. But she soon discovered she could make more money writing. Little Women brought her lasting fame and fortune, and far from being the “girl’s book” her publisher requested, it explores such timeless themes as love and death, war and peace, the conflict between personal ambition and family responsibilities, and the clash of cultures between Europe and America.


My Review:

I buddy read this book with Misty from Misty’s Book Space.
As we all know by now I struggle to read classics, yet it somethings I strive to read more of each year. Well, this year I think I’ve finally figured out how to read and enjoy classic books. it’s to buddy read them with a friend.

I remember reading Little Women back in middle school and not liking it at all. But I wanted to give it another try as it has been adapted into a movie again and this adaption has several actors I like in it. I am so glad I gave this book another try this year.

I had forgotten so much of this book from the last time I read it, so rereading it was almost like reading it again for the first time. This book surprised me several times with the direction it went in and the things it covered for its time.
Jo was, of course, my favorite character from the book, and I adored Laurie as well and the friendship they had. This book does show the perspective of all four march sisters, but Jo is the primary character of it. Because we get to see all of their different points-of-views I did find myself enjoying some more than others. I found one sister particularly annoying until they got to be a little bit older and then they started to grow on me.

Overall I enjoyed this book and I am so glad I gave it another try. I’m continuing on with the series and I have already started reading Little Men which is book two in the Little Women series.

Harbor Me by Jacqueline Woodson | Book Review

Habor Me by Jacqueline Woodson | Book Review

Title: Harbor Me

Author: Jacqueline Woodson

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Published Date: August 28th, 2018

Genre: Realistic Fiction, Middle Grade, Contemporary

Source: Library

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Goodreads Summary:

Jacqueline Woodson’s first middle-grade novel since National Book Award winner Brown Girl Dreaming celebrates the healing that can occur when a group of students share their stories.

It all starts when six kids have to meet for a weekly chat–by themselves, with no adults to listen in. There, in the room they soon dub the ARTT Room (short for “A Room to Talk”), they discover it’s safe to talk about what’s bothering them–everything from Esteban’s father’s deportation and Haley’s father’s incarceration to Amari’s fears of racial profiling and Ashton’s adjustment to his changing family fortunes. When the six are together, they can express the feelings and fears they have to hide from the rest of the world. And together, they can grow braver and more ready for the rest of their lives.


My Review:

That even though we’re here now, they were here first. I think this is what the world is—stories on top of stories, all the way back to the beginning of time.

Harbor me follows 6 different kids from the ages of 11-12 all with different ethnic backgrounds and the struggles they face over a school year. We get to see this all unfold at school when the kids are left alone by their teacher to be able to talk and discuss things happening to them without adult supervision. While this might sound risky its also something that worked out well and I loved how they were able to keep order in the room and things never got out of hand.

All of the children are dealing with something either because of things that have happened to them, or because of things that have happened to there parents. We slowly learn each of there stories as the school year goes on and different things happen. Each of their stories is very important and relevant to the events that are happening today to young people.
Their stories go from a parent getting out of prison and adjusting to them being back in their lives, to another child dealing with a parent getting sent back to their nation of origin.

I want you to know that we’re all flawed, he said. We all have those days we just don’t want to show up. Days we just want to forget the world. Doesn’t make us bad people. Just makes us people. And time moves as it moves. In a month, this moment won’t be anything.

Overall I loved this story. The topics in this book are very real and I think it’s important for kids to not only feel represented like I’m sure many will be with this book but for others to see and feel what others are going through. I highly recommend this book to people of all ages because of how relevant this book is to everything happening in the country today.

Three Hours in Paris by Cara Black | ARC Book Review

Three Hours in Paris by Cara Black | ARC Book Review
#historicalfiction #bookreview #worldwartwo

Title: Three Hours in Paris

Author: Cara Black

Publisher: Soho Crime

Published Date: April 7th, 2020

Genre: Historical Fiction, Adult

Source: Netgalley

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Goodreads Summary:

In June of 1940, when Paris fell to the Nazis, Hitler spent a total of three hours in the City of Light—abruptly leaving, never to return. To this day, no one knows why.

The New York Times bestselling author of the Aimée Leduc investigations reimagines history in her masterful, pulse-pounding spy thriller, Three Hours in Paris.

Kate Rees, a young American markswoman, has been recruited by British intelligence to drop into Paris with a dangerous assignment: assassinate the Führer. Wrecked by grief after a Luftwaffe bombing killed her husband and infant daughter, she is armed with a rifle, a vendetta, and a fierce resolve. But other than rushed and rudimentary instruction, she has no formal spy training. Thrust into the red-hot center of the war, a country girl from rural Oregon finds herself holding the fate of the world in her hands. When Kate misses her mark and the plan unravels, Kate is on the run for her life—all the time wrestling with the suspicion that the whole operation was a set-up.


My Review:

Three Hours in Paris is a fast-paced historical fiction mystery that will keep you wanting to read from start to finish.
Told in three different perspectives of Kate, spy trainer Stepney, and Nazi officer Gunter. Kate is the main perspective we follow.
Kate’s background story was an interesting one and one that I haven’t seen used before in Historical Fiction. She is an American who was living in Britain as she had married and had a kid with a British man. Before she moved to Britain though she was a farm girl and was a crack shot.
Back to the main point of the story, Kate needs to get out of Paris and only has a certain amount of time to do that because she is being hunted by Nazi officer Gunter after her mission gets compromised.
Overall I loved this book. The multiple perspectives helped see all sides of the story and how everything was unfolding. Kate is one of my new favorite characters ever. Her fast thinking and way of working through things was so fun to read while also being extremely nerve-wracking at times.
All of the side characters were fascinating to learn about, especially the ones connected to a network as it became a side mission for Kate to work on after a while.
Three Hours in Paris has so many working parts that just all work together easily without any confusion happening.

I think this is going to be one of the top Historical Fiction books of the year, and it will definitely be going on my favorites for the year.