“Pirate Women” Book Review

Laura Sook Duncombe saw that there was a lack of books on pirates about the females who also sailed ships and looted for treasure across the seven seas. So, she decided to write her own and that is how we have “Pirate Women”. I picked up this book at the Pirate Museum in St. Augustine, Florida. I was not expecting much as it was just one, I had picked up at random with no research on but Duncombe blew me away with this book. This is not just a pretty cover with cool colors, there is so much information inside that I never about before.

This book does go in chronological order, I am so thankful for that as it does not confuse the reader at all. That being said we start in the ancient world on the Mediterranean with the Greeks and Romans, these were ancient queens like most women throughout this book we do not know if they were fact or fiction or somewhere in the middle. That is a common theme here, women were often written over in history and there is not a lot of information to be found on these women. They were just supposed to sit there looking pretty and baring children to their husbands not fighting against other Greek city states.

The next step we take is towards Ladgerda and the Vikings who are trying to reach the halls of Valhalla. The writer debates on if these warrior women should be listed as literal pirates. Most of the fighting was done on the shores of England or other states on the North and Baltic seas. It was fighting and raiding on land and then back on the ship to Scandinavia.  Nevertheless, the tales of these female Viking warriors are interesting and had been pasted orally for hundreds of years.

I did not find the pirates of Brittany in the middle ages as interesting as the Vikings, but I do think some will. There should be a television show or at least a historical fiction book on these women and what they did to protect their thrones and rights. Throughout this chapter I could not help but think that George R.R. Martin, the author of A Game of Thrones, took inspiration from some of these women for his universe in the A Song of Ice and Fire series.

And then on and on we go throughout history, the Barbary era of pirates with the sultans, Queen Elizabeth I with the sea dogs she hired to take on the Spanish Armada. The Golden Age of piracy taking place in the 1700s with the likes of Anne Bonny and her crew. The story takes us all the way to China in the twentieth century. There was so much to learn in this book that is so small that it is less than three hundred pages long.

Enough of the summary for now, lets get to my likes and dislikes. As I stated previous, I like that this is in historical order, so I did not have to sit down and write out a timeline for myself. seriously, if you are writing a nonfiction book, please go in chronological order. One thing I loved that the author is a woman, writing about women, and most of the sources that she used were also female. It was just awesome to see! The book was easy to understand and I was never confused. The chapters had a good page length, usually around fifteen pages long. (Another bit of advice if you plan to write a book, never make a chapter fifty pages. I will lose interest.)

Duncombe also does a good job at setting the scene. Yes, this is a nonfiction piece of work, but she does a great time at describing the world that these women were living in and how it might have attributed to their actions. The author also reminds us time and time again that we do have enough information on these women to know their stories full and well. We also must remember that the things we learn in history are never one hundred percent certain as we are not hearing all the sides of it and we were not there. That information is so important to remember as we learn or read anything that is nonfiction.

I only have small complaints. The last chapter about actual pirates, chapter 13. I felt like it was rushed. We had so many women to discuss and only got a few short paragraphs about them and I feel like I did not learn as much about them as I did about the previous women and that is strange as these female pirates were all in the last century, some in my life time. Then there was the last chapter about pirate women on the big screen. I felt this chapter to be unnecessary as these are all known works of fiction. The chapter was basically the full plots of movies that I will never watch. It was a waste of time.

I really enjoyed this book. It is probably my favorite nonfiction that I have read this year and I will have to look and see if Laura Sook Duncombe has any other books out that I can have the pleasure in reading. Just learning about how these women got into these situations rather it be that they were born or married into it, joining the sea life, dressed as a male to get out of societies standards. It was just so interesting to read and I definitely want to read more about pirates in the future. Five out of five stars read.

Into the Black: The Inside Story of Metallica Review

Metallica became the biggest band in the world in 1991. The band was already ten years into their career but the were just now releasing their self titled album, more commonly known as ‘The Black Album”. This album was produced by more of a mainstream producer, Bob Rock, who had done albums with Bon Jovi and Motley Crue in the past. That sounds like a thrash metalhead’s nightmare.

The band received loads of criticism for this album. Some saying they were selling out to Hollywood and forgetting their metal roots.The band was growing and trying different things. The album did sell well, becoming one of the top selling albums of the decade. The band had to ride off of this high and continue the momentum. That was done by touring with huge acts of the time on giant stadium tours, making music videos for MTV, and a last making more music.

The 1990s was an awkward time for rock music. Glam was getting thrown out the door and the Seattle grunge was coming in. Bubblegum pop and bands that wouldn’t last for five minutes were taking over the scene. Metal prevailed, Metallica prevailed though while all others fell.

First and foremost, I should state that Metallica are one of my favorite bands. I knew most of the facts going into this book, therefore, it was easy and fast for me to read and understand. I felt like this book did a good job compiling over twenty years into an almost three hundred page book.

This book is about the music and the industry that it is in. Don’t come to this for a juicy tell all but I really don’t think Metallica fans would be looking for that to begin with. At some points there were little personal paragraphs but only about James. I get that he is the frontman but do I really need to know that his eye sight was getting bad and he needed glasses? Just pure randomness.

As I said, I am a fan of this band, mainly their work in the eighties. I don’t think their later albums are bad, bands need to evolve and grow. I think it is important to try different sub genres. I know that Miley Cyrus gets a lot of hate but one of the awesome things about her is that every album is different, never the same. Metallica are the same and I applaud them for that. I learned a lot about that process in this book. I never realized how much criticism the band got for their more modern albums.

My few complaints are very minimum. The writers did get somethings wrong, example one being “[Lars] had flew from Los Angeles to California to see the band perform at the Woolwich Odeon in south London.” Okay, how do you fly from Los Angeles to California and I don’t think London is in California. Point number two, the paragraph is talking about Ron McGovney driving the band to San Francisco from Los Angeles.. on Interstate 95. I95, is the east coast connector and not the west coast. All these “typos” happen in the last twenty pages, I don’t know if the writers were rushing to finish or what. I thought the writers did at times sound cocky. They acted like Metallica were the only band in the world or better than everyone else. That didn’t leave a good feel with me. If you like heavy metal and want to know more, pick this book up.

4 out of 5 stars.

Canterbury Tales Review

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This is a retelling of the Canterbury Tales. This is not the original. Barbara Cohen took four of the original tales and made them easier for us to understand in modern times. This is done in prose and not poetry like the original.

The first tale that we are told is the one of ‘The Nun’s Priest’s Tale‘. It is a fable which uses animals to get its point across. The reader learns in this that if someone is too prideful they might not see their own faults or anyone’s around them. This could lead to their downfall.

Then we come to ‘The Pardoner’s Tale‘, this is a tale to teach the readers about greed and what corruption that it can lead to. However I found that it could also teach us you get what you deserve and treating others how you want to be treated.

Ah, now the tale that I remember the most from reading this in high school, ‘The Wife of Bath’s Tale’. In this tale we really see how women were as people and how they were treated in fourteenth century Europe. I do think this is a feminist story, we see how women want to be treated in a relationship and also that there is more to a woman than just her face and body. Something that I really wish men would understand.

The last tale that we come across in this short book is, ‘The Franklin’s Tale‘. This is a tale on relying on someone else, having faith in that person. It can also be seen as staying true to yourself. It is a story of honor, very much Stark and Tully manner.

When I purchased this book on Amazon, a year ago, I thought it was all the Canterbury Tales and the original version. Not a version that is made for young readers to understand and get a general idea of Chaucer. This is my fault! This is all a me problem and not the book problem.

I found that the way the prologues are done to be awkward. They mention tales that the reader will not read in this bind up, I found myself being confused by this. I know that I did not go into too much detail about what the tales are actually about but when they are around ten pages long I feel like there is not much that I can say without spoiling it.

Should I find a copy of the actual Canterbury Tales to read it? If so, do you have a certain one that you recommend? Again, everything here is a me problem so I felt like I should just give the book an average rating of a three star.

Star Wars: Knight Errant Review

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Kerra Holt is a Jedi. She is known is an errant knight in Sith run space. All alone and not in her own galaxy. Her goal is to end Sith rule and the oppressions it has on the citizens on multiple planets. Rusher is a mercenary, he works for whoever will hire him and his crew. Usually his employer is a Sith lord. He does not like the Sith but it is a way to make money. Narsk is a spy, taking work for Sith lords just like Rusher. Those are our main characters.

Lord Daiman rules a few planets in Sith space. He is only in his twenties but sees himself as a god. He tells his people that they or their universe simply did not exist before he did. Most know that this is a straight up lie but they live in a dictatorship, where questioning that could end up with death or another kind of severe punishment.

Kerra is on a mission to kill this Sith lord and rid the galaxy of him. She will save his people and take them as refugees, back to the Republic. She lives undercover in this world to understand its people and investigate how it is ruled. She is one Jedi who has to take down many Sith lords. Can she do it?

Rusher is working for Daiman. There is a battle to come and he has been employed to have his group be the troops. Rusher knows that Daiman’s whole regime is a scam. He knows that the elites just play this game of power. He is just a piece in it. It gives him something to do and money to make.

Narsk is one of the few people who has a general idea why this war has been happening, what started it all. One of the ploys from his current employer, Daiman’s older brother, is to kill Daiman. He comes across a Jedi in this time as well. They both have the same goal but for different reasons and go about it very differently.

Are all Sith bad? Are all Jedi good? Is there a pure evil and a pure good? These are questions that go throughout many Star Wars novels.

*****

 Before starting this novel, I had no idea that it was an adaption of a graphic novel. I thought the book came out first and then the comic. So, I have to say, read the comic first! From reading other reviews I have heard that this is very helpful and adds more to the characters and the story!

John Jackson Miller’s books seem to very plot driven and not character driven. Kerra Holt was without a doubt our main character, she’s on the cover of the book and the title is about her. I still had lots of questions, how did she get to sith space? How long has she been there? Does she plan on going back to the republic? We do not really get any answers to those. Then we had other character POVs, who I did enjoy, but they were just a long for the ride. We did not get any real development with them. I would have liked to know more about the certain Sith lords in this story.

Characters were a three out of five stars. I enjoyed them and liked the tension that we had between Kerra and Rusher but we only really had development with Kerra and none of the others.

The atmosphere was like most Star Wars books set in the old republic era. I thought seeing how each government on the planets ran and I really like the tundra world that we see in the last part.

Atmosphere is a four out of five stars.

The writing was not anything special. The very last chapter, I do think was beautiful but the rest was just average for me.

The writing was  average so that is a three out of five stars.

The plot. Earlier I said that Miller’s stories are more plot drive than character driven. Now that I think about it, yes, there was a plot, but it was just a lot of action taking place. There was not any dull moments but it was always go, go, go, and I think that was over done. Then the ending, I just thought it wasn’t good. We did all this travel and fighting throughout the novel and then the ending was just bland. I wanted to know what happened next. Maybe I have to read the comics to find out.

The plot gets a three out of five stars.

Now time for the intrigue. I was intrigued. I wanted to know who characters were working for, what their motive was, would they be alright, and so on.

Intrigue gets a four out of five stars.

I have a lot of questions about the logic. This isn’t necessarily about the book but I just felt like this taking play a thousand years before the events of the Star Wars movies, nothing has really changed with the society. The technology has not advanced much.

Logic is a three out of five.

Lastly, did I enjoy Knight Errant? It was an average read for me. I probably would have enjoyed it more if I had read the comics before hand. I will read the comics at some point. I wish we would have learned more about the characters and that our plot was not always at such a fast pace. This is just one stop on my journey of reading all the Star Wars canon and legend books.

 

Song for a Whale, Book Review

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Iris was born deaf. It runs in her family as both of her maternal grandparents are deaf as well. The disability seemed to have skipped a generation, so Iris is the only one in her home that is deaf, her mother and older brother know American Sign Language but her father still struggles with communicating with her as he says that languages are not his thing but numbers are, eye roll.

She attends a regular public school that is full of “normal” kids, she is the only one who has to around with an interpreter, it is hard for Iris to fit in. One day, in science class the teacher plays a video about a hybrid whale who goes by Blue 55, he has yet to be tagged and is only followed by his unique song.

Blue 55 is the son of two different kinds of whales so his song doesn’t match any other whale songs. He cannot communicate to the other whales. Therefore, he is alone in the dark waters of the Pacific without a family or pod, a group of whales.

Iris cannot help but compare 55’s story to her own. Being so alone in the world, feeling like no one is listening or there to understand. She feels like she must help this whale who is four thousand miles away from her home in Texas. Iris must find a way to communicate with this whale and let him know that he is not alone in this universe, other’s relate to his struggle with communication.

The characters in this book were alright. I had to keep reminding myself that this book is middle grade and that Iris is twelve years old. I have to say most people that age are annoying, trust me, I know because I was an annoying twelve year old before. You think that you know everything but you don’t. That being said, I think that it is okay that Iris is this way as it is typical for someone her age.

Now, the parents, that’s another story. First, the dad not taking the time to learn sign language to be able to communicate with his daughter just makes me mad. In this book she meets a friend who wants to learn right away but her own father doesn’t!! Then there is the mother who does not want to let Iris go to the deaf school where she would be around her peers because the mother does not want to feel alone. What? Wouldn’t you want your kid to have friends? Come on. I gave the character’s a four out of five as I felt like our main character was realistically written.

The atmosphere in this book is nothing special. We start in Houston, I felt like it was a smaller town so maybe the family is out in the suburbs. Once we get to the traveling aspects of the book the atmosphere gets better. Nothing to write home about,   an average three out of five.

The writing isn’t great either, very, we did this and then we did that. I understand that this is middle grade so that writing style might be easier for the age range to understand. I also felt like we had jumps between chapters with no explanation of what happened between the two scenes, that leaves readers confused. Writing is a two out of five.

Throughout the story, I do feel like there were several contradictions. Yes, there are several similarities between Iris and Blue 55 but she has a family and he has none, she does have friends when he isn’t is in a pod. That is just one example.

With the main character of this book being deaf we do get that disability representation. As I am not deaf I cannot tell you if it was properly done but the writer, Lynne Kelly, does work as a sign language interpreter and seems to have a lot of experience working with those who do have hearing impairments. It really opened my eyes to how frustrating it must be to be deaf.

I would not say that I enjoyed this novel but it did not bore me either, God bless short chapters. The parents did bug me a lot but we are seeing them from the point of a view of a tween and I feel like most tweens do see their parents as annoying. All that aside, I do think this book would be something good for young people to read. As it does bring representation to the deaf community and that was something as an adult that I have never read before. It also shows you that nothing is impossible and if you really work than you can reach your dreams even if there are a few bumps in the road, they just make  you more determined.

Pride and Prejudice Book Review

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The Bennet family is derived of five daughters, the home will pass to a male cousin as this is set in the late 1700s or early 1800s. The daughters need to be put into good marriages as they might not have somewhere to go once their father, Mr. Bennet, passes away. Jane is the eldest daughter and the most beautiful in the eyes of society, then there is Elizabeth or “Lizzy” Bennet she is very witty and intelligent, Mary who is tucked away in her studies, and then the  two younger and wilder daughters, Catherine “Kitty” and Lydia Bennet.

One day in the small, sleepy village of Meryton, a big to do happens when an old estate is purchased by a young bachelor from London. This obviously widens Mrs. Bennet’s eyes as she is trying to get her daughters into good and respectable marriages.

The man who moves into Netherfield Park is Mr. Bingley. He brings a big entourage from London with him, including his best friend and then his sisters. A ball is hosted to celebrate their arrival and Mr. Bingley dances with Jane not once but twice.  Mrs. Bennet is thrilled. Therefore the relationship between Jane Bennet and Mr. Bingley begins. At the party there is Mr. Mystery or otherwise known as Mr. Darcy. He refuses to dance with any of the women from the Meryton area, even saying that he does not wish to dance with Miss. Elizabeth Bennet. All of the locals find him prideful and that he thinks himself to high mighty to converse with commoners. He gets a bad name in the village and surrounding areas.

The story is a slow burn romance starting at that ball and going through months of denying having feelings for each other over ranks in society, and in fact over pride and prejudice against Mr. Darcy and Miss. Bennet.

This is very much a character driven novel! I really enjoyed the character of Elizabeth Bennet. I felt as though she had more of a head on her shoulders than the other women in her family. As stated before she has wit and intellect to her, she does not see herself as one just to settle down and be any man’s wife, she refused two proposals in this book! I think she was very ahead of her time.

Mr. Darcy, a literary favorite of many. This man is loved by so many people, and I am certainly glad that he did not let me down. I think he was very similar to Elizabeth he had wit and was intelligent. He was not just the good looking man with money like his friend, Mr. Bingley. Darcy was a very complex character that we got to unravel throughout the novel. I think he is the reason for the “bad boy” trope that we see in many romance novels in modern day.

Characters got a five out of five for me. There were some characters like Mrs. Bennet and Lady Catherine that I did not like but I believe they were written that way.

The atmosphere did not impress me too much. It was average, just a small little English town that soldiers would sometimes get stationed in and people would come to live in, in the winter or summer. The writing could have saved this but I was not too impressed with Austen’s writing either, very average and dull. Both atmosphere and writing got a three out of five.

The plot was going smoothly for the first fifty percent, but when I picked it up for the last twenty chapters it just seemed to drag. I felt like Austen was throwing in some drama, with Lydia, that did not necessarily need to be there and I felt like it had no real impact on the story. Remember, this is a character driven novel and I felt as though that made up for when the plot was lacking at times. The plot got a three out of five.

Going into Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, I did not think I would like it. This classic is very hyped, and a favorite of many. If you follow me on Goodreads, you know that I have had a hard time with romances in the past and this is one of the most iconic romance books of all time. I was scared. I did however very much enjoy it. I love a nice slow burn love story and then the two love interests being a bit feisty is always good! I can totally see so many tropes that came to be inspired from this book. I think this is a very influential book and inspired many. I cannot wait to read more from Jane Austen.

Overall this was a 3.75 out of five star review.

 

 

 

February TBR

My February TBR is here, the first blog post of 2020! This month I plan on reading five books to bring me closer to my 2020 reading goal of 63 books! In February I will be participating in the Explore-A-Thon! I will leave a link to their twitter at the end of this post!

The first book I plan to read this month is a booktube favorite, the first book in the Illuminae Files trilogy, written by popular authors Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. This book is written in a multimedia format and I’ve been told the audiobook format is the route to take as you follow along.

This story takes place in the unimaginable year of 2575, following two main characters, Kady and Ezra. They were once lovers but the relationship did not seem to work out for the pair. Their planet gets taken over by an enemy civilization, they both have to find their way to an evacuation craft. An enemy ship tails at them, willing to end it all at any second. That is a worry until a plague breaks out among the evacuees. Kady has to get to the bottom of how it all started, the artificial intelligence is supposed to be protecting them from such things. She has to try to break into the system but it is almost impossible to hack through all the codes and files of data. There is one person who can help her and that is no other than Ezra.

Beartown is a work of fiction that is translated from Swedish. It is also one of the longest time books on my TBR, it has been on my shelves for at least two years and I am so ready to get to it!

A small village nestled by a forest, that’s what Beartown is. Everything revolves around the ice rink that was built years ago by the town’s founders. Their local team is making its way into the national hockey playoffs. If the team of teenagers could win, that would wake up this sleepy town again. A violent incident comes upon a young girl, that could change everything for the town. Tempers are flying with fingers being pointed, all the hopes and dreams of Beartown could come crashing down.

I found out about this nonfiction book from Claire Ridgeway on YouTube! If you are fascinated by Tudor England, I highly recommend checking out her channel. She has written several books on English history as well.

Margaret of Austria played and important role in Middle Ages Europe. She was an influence to one of the most notorious consorts in English history. Margaret was well educated and spent her youth in various courts across Europe. She was regent of the Low Countries and cared greatly for the arts and humanities. Margaret showed what it was like to be a strong ruler.

February TBR Video

ExploreAThon

October 2019 Wrap Up

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In October, I finished four books. That adds up to 1,357 pages. I don’t give rankings to graphic novels or children’s books, so overall the ratings I gave these books made it be a very good book month!

  • The Book Thief by Markus Zusak 4/5 stars
  • Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan 4/5 stars

I also took part in the Witch-a-thon on book tube. The challenges I completed and which books I used will be listed down below.

  1. Pick a book that features your heritage: The Book Thief as I am 30.9% German.

4.  Pick a book that involves a pantheon of deities: Wicked Saints as our main character can communicate with the gods.

October TBR

All the Books I Read in October

“Wicked Saints” Review

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“She had come here to stop a war, to bring about justice for her gods, to bring them back.”


Nadezhda Lapteva, Nadya, was raised at a monastery in the country of Kalyazin. She has no memory of her parents; all she knows is life in the mountains. Her mother knew that the child she was carrying was touched by the gods. “Nadya communed with the entire pantheon was a rarity the priests who trained her could not explain.”-Page 34. The records in Kalyazin, never spoke of a cleric who could speak to more than one god, but Nadya could hear them all. She is something divine.

“War has made us all used to living in desecrated spaces once considered holy.”

   Across the border in Tranavia, there are different rulers, the high prince being Serefin Meleski. He is the prince and one of the most powerful blood mages. He has been sent away by the king, his insecure and weak in magic father, to Kalyazin. He is to kill the cleric and take blood magic to those who still believe the ways of the old gods. “If he pushed Serefin out of sight, the slavhki of the court would never recall the son was more powerful than his father.”- Page 74. It is obvious that Serefin has built up resentment to his father in these years away from the court and in battle in a foreign land.

“Don’t you wonder what it would be like? To be someone else, with no expectations upon you or the fear of retribution keeping you on the same path.”

    A monster, not knowing what path he is to take, who he is to become. He has had a conflicted life, starting at the same age. Is he just a normal boy with powers stronger than some or is he becoming a monster? He has left the cult he was raised in, to find the path that he truly wants or needs to take. “Here was the very thing she had ben taught her entire life was an abomination-and he was very much the worst kind of abomination-but he was also just … a boy.”- Page 116

“The girl. The girl and the monster and the prince.”

     These three have to come together and assassinate the king, to a end a holy war that has been in the works for a hundred years. “The Tranavians had found ways to shield themselves from the gods; that was one of the reasons the war had begun in the first place. It meant that if they had found some darker method of harnessing magic, then the gods would not know. It was terrifying.”- page 135. Nadya is being sent by the god she still believes to end this war by bringing her gods back to Tranavia. Serefin has come back to court to find a suitor to be his future queen. The monster must decide what his fate will be. How will all their paths cross to take down the king?

“No one. Just a girl. Some small scrap of divinity.”

  Ah, a young adult fantasy that received a ton of hype. Will I enjoy it? I did! I am always hesitant opening up the cover of a book that has been talked about so much on booktube or bookstagram but Wicked Saints did not disappoint. I think the audiobook would be better for the Something Dark and Holy series, as I am still not certain on how to pronounce certain names and locations that are mentioned throughout the story. A glossary would come in handy as well as I was often finding myself confused with the gods, characters, and words that are used in this universe. The writing style was average, it made me feel cold though and I think that is perfect for a world that is inspired by Poland and Russia.

This plot line was entertaining, wondering how all three paths and plots would cross. I liked how we had multiple kinds of magic and how they were against each other, both types seeing the other as an “abomination”. I did not know which one was truly the good one. Theories were constantly coming to my head as I read this story, there were so many twists and turns, I was wanting to know what would happen next. I will be continuing this series when Ruthless Gods comes out on April 7,2020.

October TBR

This month, all these books except Wicked Saints were hand chosen by me because I hit my Goodreads reading goal of fifty books! Yay me! The book Thief was included in this TBR originally but since it is a carry over from 5e previous month there will not be a description in his post.

Wicked Saints is the first book in the Something Dark and Holy trilogy. It is a Slavic inspired fantasy novel that has a lot to do with blood magic. Three paths have to meet to take down the king and end a war that has been in the process for generations.

Princess Lia has a life laid out in front of her. One of the parts of life is an arranged marriage by her parents, one to form an alliance with a nearby kingdom. Lia runs away when it comes time to marry this unknown prince. She starts a new life in a small village but that gets flipped around when strangers approach her, one the prince she was supposed to marry, the other an assassin who has come to kill her.

Sadie had to raise her sister all on her own. Mattie, the sister, is found dead one day. Sadie is going to do anything to get revenge on the killer of her sister. The police investigation didn’t do well enough, she needs to bring justice to this all.

The other part of this book is told in a podcast format, the reason why I am doing this as an audiobook. That’s where our other character comes in. West is a radio host and hears about the story missing girl. He wants to find out what happened to her, West starts a podcast to help spread word of this case and document it.

(I didn’t include The Book Thief, since it was a carry over, or Prisoner of Azkaban since it’s the third in a series.)