Posted in Book Reviews

Halloween Reading Recommendations

Photo by Lisa Fotios on Pexels.com

October is here, and that means it’s time for some candy and scares! While some people have already been getting into the Halloween spirit, I prefer to get my spooky on all year round. So, here are my Halloween recommendations for this year! Some of these I’ve recommended before, but there are some new spooky reads in here too!

Posted in Book Reviews, Novels

REVIEW: Nancy Drew: The Curse by Micol Ostow


*No Major Spoilers*

A curse is just a mystery dressed up in a sharp, stern warning.
And everyone knows that I lovea mystery.

Nancy Drew isn’t one for ghost stories. So when the annual Horseshoe Bay Naming Day celebration is threatened by eerie warnings of an old curse, Nancy is sure someone—someone human—is behind them. And no way is she letting this person stand in the way of her best friend, Daisy, finally getting her day in the spotlight as the lead in the much-anticipated Naming Day reenactment.

But as Nancy begins investigating, the so-called marks of the curse become bolder…and more sinister. A vandalized locker and ominous notes are one thing, but soon enough lives—including Nancy’s own—are at stake. Though the dreams and eerie visions plaguing Nancy are certainly just products of her own mind…right?

All old towns have their traditions and histories, but as Nancy will soon discover, they don’t always tell the whole story.


Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

I have very fond memories of Nancy Drew. My school library had all the old Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys books and that’s where I fell in love with mysteries and expanding my vocabulary. So let’s delve into this review of Nancy Drew: The Curse.

Modern Nancy Drew is still a culture shock I can’t quite get over. So seeing her using a computer and cell phone took a bit to get used to. However, one thing I liked was how the author didn’t let technology do all of the detective work for Nancy. A lot of the clues she had to track down herself whether that means snooping around the town hall archives, or traveling to a neighboring town to interview a former newspaper editor.

Blood. Science. Facts. These are the things I believe in. Things that I can quantify. Things that I can prove, that I can hold in my hand.

Micol Ostow; Nancy Drew: The Curse

Nancy is just as smart and clever as she always has been, however there were moments where I wanted to throw my Kindle because of the melodrama and romantic subplot. It got so bad that my eyes started glazing over and I had to go back and try and absorb what I missed.

The mystery overall was well constructed. I had a small list of suspects going as Nancy and her friends were preparing for the Naming Day Celebration as well as dodging bad omens and disgruntled students. Horseshoe Bay doesn’t take its own superstitions lightly for sure.

This is supposed to be the prequel for the CW’s version of Nancy Drew similar to the retellings of Riverdale and Sabrina the Teenage Witch. I haven’t watched any of these shows, so I’m not sure what to expect from the show. Maybe if this review gets enough comments and likes I’ll review the Nancy Drew show.

Overall, this was an ok novel. It’s not the old school Nancy I grew up with, but if this gets the younger generation into reading and solving mysteries, then there’s no complaints from me. This was a fun way to get back into the world of teenagers solving mysteries and having fun.

Posted in Book Reviews, DC comics, Graphic Novels

REVIEW: Harley Quinn: Breaking Glass by Mariko Tamaki


*No Major Spoilers*

Harleen is a tough, outspoken, rebellious kid who lives in a ramshackle apartment above a karaoke cabaret owned by a drag queen named Mama. Ever since Harleen’s parents split, Mama has been her only family. When the cabaret becomes the next victim in the wave of gentrification that’s taking over the neighborhood, Harleen gets mad.

When Harleen decides to turn her anger into action, she is faced with two choices: join Ivy, who’s campaigning to make the neighborhood a better place to live, or join The Joker, who plans to take down Gotham one corporation at a time.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

This graphic novel caught my eye at the library, and I thought I’d give it a try. I do like Harley Quinn as a character and since this was going to be a new take on her origin story I thought this deserved my attention. So let’s shatter this review of Harley Quinn: Breaking Glass!

First off, I love the diverse cast of characters involved. Ivy is African American and even though her parents are an active part of the community they still struggle with fighting the gentrification of the neighborhood. Ivy spends a lot of her high school days protesting the school’s film club’s non-diverse movie club. I think seeing her fight for justice as a whole and not just environmental issues makes her a more relatable character.

Harley is as chaotic as always. She’s picking fights with boys she calls ‘boogers’ and teaches them a valuable lesson about not messing with her or her family. She behaves like she’s in middle school and not in high school, which got on my nerves a bit. Harley quickly falls in love with her found family and seeing her defend them was heartwarming.

I was glad this novel wasn’t 100% focused on Harley and Joker. I do enjoy seeing the friendship dynamic between Harley and Ivy no matter what story or universe. Joker is more of a background character up until the final climax. He is still somewhat rational, and Harley even sees that eventually.

I don’t really have any major gripes with this story except Harley’s immaturity and the overuse of the word ‘booger’. Again, this is supposed to take place during high school not middle or elementary school. Just a small nitpick on my part.

Overall, I really enjoyed this fun graphic novel. It was a fresh take on Harley Quinn’s backstory and I thought this was a great found family story also. Even though Harley’s insults toward boys could’ve been more diverse, I think this suits Harley as well.

Posted in Book Reviews, Non-Fiction

REVIEW: Unmasked: My Life Solving America’s Cold Cases by Paul Holes


*Do Nonfiction Books Have Spoilers?*

Trigger Warning for Murder, Death, Divorce, and Grieving

When I look back at my long career, there is a lot I am proud of. I have caught some of the most notorious killers of the twenty-first century and brought justice and closure for their victims and families. I want to tell you about a lifetime solving these cold cases, from Laci Peterson to Jaycee Dugard to the Pittsburg homicides to, yes, my twenty-year-long hunt for the Golden State Killer.

But a deeper question eats at me as I ask myself, at what cost? I have sacrificed relationships, joy—even fatherhood—because the pursuit of evil always came first. Did I make the right choice? It’s something I grapple with every day. Yet as I stand in the spot where a young girl took her last breath, as I look into the eyes of her family, I know that, for me, there has never been a choice. “I don’t know if I can solve your case,” I whisper. “But I promise I will do my best.”

Rating: 5 out of 5.

When I’m not listening to audiobooks, or reading on my Kindle, I’m listening to podcasts. I discovered this podcast called “Jenson and Holes: The Murder Squad”, it features investigative journalist Billy Jenson and retired cold case investigator Paul Holes. They would discuss cold cases, and explain police procedure to their audience who might not know how a murder investigation works in real life.

So when I saw Unmasked on the pre-order on Books-a-Million, I was so excited. I am a fan of true crime. I try to read more of it, but sometimes fiction is just what the doctor ordered. So now let’s dive into Unmasked.

Most of this autobiography talks about the Golden State Killer case. It was a lot of detectives’ Moby Dick, their elusive white whale. However, it was breakthrough in forensic technology that uncovered the truth in the end. I think this technology will go a long way and possibly clear up more cold cases.

You can’t finish a puzzle without all of the pieces.

Paul Holes; Unmasked: My Life Solving America’s Cold Cases

Seeing how Mr. Holes’ career morphed and grew over time is interesting. You see him want to be more of a lab rat, and less of a politics-driven supervisor of the labs. He wants to process evidence, and leave the politics to those who can handle that.

The discussions of divorce, love fading, and regrets for how things turned out brought back memories of my parents’ divorce. It was difficult for me to listen to however, it was nice hearing him reflect on it and realize what went wrong. A lot of ex-couples seem to be too prideful to realize what went wrong in their failed relationships.

Overall, I really enjoyed this true crime audiobook. It was informative as well as personal and relatable.

Posted in Bite-Sized Reviews, Book Reviews, Graphic Novels, Manga

COMBO REVIEW: Manga Edition

*No Spoilers*

Saturn Apartments Vol. 1 by Hisae Iwaoka

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

The artwork is beautiful, yet unique. The images of the Earth from space are awe-inspiring. Yet the people are drawn simply, but not to the point where everyone looked the same. I feel bad that as soon as Mitsu graduates Jr. High he has to go to work for the window cleaning service. I do think it’s honorable that it’s the same service that he’s working in the same field as his late father. I love how everyone kept an eye out for Mitsu because he lives alone.


A Man and His Cat Vol. 1-2 by Umi Sakurai

Rating: 5 out of 5.

This is a series I’ve had my eye on for awhile. The premise is adorable and it’s nice to see an older character as the focus of this manga. Even if his cat steals the spotlight at times, the gentleman is still the main focus here. I loved how throughout the story how much this one cat impacted so many lives.


Sakamoto Days Vol. 1-2 by Yuto Suzuki

Rating: 5 out of 5.

If you’ve binged The Way of the Househusband and are looking for something to scratch the ex-hitman lives a “normal” life, then Sakamoto Days may be for you! This is an action-packed story as well as humorous. Sakamoto is an amazing dad and husband and would do anything to protect his family.

Cat Massage Therapy Vol. 1 by Haru Hisakawa

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I love this adorable manga. These felines running this massage parlor is absolutely adorable. There’s not much to say but go to your nearest manga bookstore and purchase this manga and get ready to “ooh” and “aw” at all the adorableness.