Thoughts on books, family, and life in one impressive package.

Twenty reviews. Four days. I did it. They weren’t pretty. Or very erudite. But they are done. Except I do have three reviews for 2022 books to write, but I haven’t decided whether I should worry about them this year or not.

Anyway, here are the final five.

Capturing the Devil by Kerri Maniscalco
Capturing the Devil ends the Stalking Jack the Ripper series by Kerri Maniscalco, and what an ending it is! Among other things, it is one historical fiction novel in which I did not mind the author messing with the actual timeline of events. I think this is mostly because she did such a good job of sticking to the facts as much as possible outside of compressing the timeline of H. H. Holmes’ known crimes. If anything, getting a glimpse, albeit fictional one, into Holmes’ infamous Castle enhanced the danger and suspense. Plus, Ms. Maniscalco was able to incorporate the differences between Victorian England and Victorian America to further her story. Poor Audrey Rose. She gets put through the wringer this time around, as she puts herself at risk in many different ways. Still, our girl manages to shine no matter what and comports herself with dignity no matter what happens to her. Add all sorts of smexy and romance, and it is the best ending the series could have.

Leviathan Falls by James S. A. Corey
Leviathan Falls ends the epic space saga by James S. A. Corey. A week later, and I still have mixed feelings about it. On one hand, the story kept me guessing, and I never did figure out how it all was going to end. On the other hand, so many of the characters reflect on their ages, their experiences, and their long lives that I couldn’t help but miss those who did not make it to the final book, which happens to include two of my three favorite characters of the series. This made me sad because they were truly great characters who enhanced the story and would have shined during this book’s exploits. Still, I think the authors provided the right endings for those characters still left, and I can’t fault how they tied up all the plots. Truly a remarkable series.

Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan
Echo by Pam Muñoz Ryan is an extraordinary story. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started it, but I do remember everyone raving about it when it was first published. Now, I can see why. It is so beautiful, and yet the tension, especially in Otto’s section, is so hard to overcome. Each story is as poignant as it is unique, and I particularly love how they all come together at the end. It most definitely is worth all the accolades.

Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann
Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann had me repeating one phrase over and over again. White people suck. The entire story is a new one for me, and I found my stomach churning over the constant injustices the U. S. government forced onto the Osage tribe, along with all of the other Native American tribes. The section about the involvement of the fledgling FBI was interesting for a short period, but the tribe’s tragedy is what stays in the forefront throughout the entire narration. And so, white people suck. We always have, and it infuriates me.

Rule of Wolves by Leigh Bardugo
Rule of Wolves by Leigh Bardugo is better than its predecessor, but I still can’t say I am 100 percent a fan of this duology. I love Nikolai, and Zoya grew on me. Still, this felt a bit like a rehash of the first trilogy in some ways, especially with the appearances of certain characters. At least the Crows take on new and interesting challenges. Speaking of, I was glad to see them show their faces once again. They were a high point in the story. The ending is okay. At least, I didn’t see it coming. Still, I’m not convinced I like the direction Ms. Bardugo took. I remain excited about the last two lines in the novel though because I suspect it means more of the characters I do love and want as much of as possible. So there is that silver lining.

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