stories, poems, and essays by angel hench

Book Review Rating System

When I am asked to rate a book, I always feel like 5 stars or even 10 half-stars are such limiting options.  Let’s say, I love the unfolding of the story but the ending was terrible (Girl on the Train).  I’d still give it 5 stars.  Or, what if I love, Love, LOVE the book and will tell all my friends that they should read it but it’s not for everyone because it is extremely sad (A Little Life) – yep, 5 stars.  How about Grady Hendrix’s really scary and inventive, My Best Friend’s Exorcism?  Really good scary story, but is it really on par with Toni Morrison’s Beloved?  You see what I mean?

So, I’m going to try something different and see how it goes.  I’m going to use a 100 point scale.  Just like grading papers.  Here’s the rundown:

1-20:  I will probably try to forget that I read this book.

20-40: Passable effort, but overall did not care for this book.

40-60: Either the story, the idea or the writing is good, but there are major flaws.

60-80: Now we’re getting somewhere; liked it; may recommend to friends.

80-90: Loved this book and will recommend it to friends.

90-99: I probably will not be able to shut up about this book.

100: (Not sure this is an achievable score – we’ll see.)


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Lost Boy – a book review in 200 words

Lost Boy: The True Story of Captain Hook

by Christina Henry


A plethora of books on the market now retell old fairytales. Skip all of these – read Lost Boy by Christina Henry instead!

Lost Boy is Jamie’s story. Jamie is the first boy that Peter Pan brought to his island. He is also the defacto father-figure for the other boys, but only because he is the “oldest” and realizes that they still need to eat and, occasionally, bathe. And given that their lives consist of roughhousing, battle simulations, fighting off the Many-Eyed, and ransacking the pirates’ camp, he is also the closest thing to a doctor the boys have.

Everything changes when Peter brings back a boy who is younger than usual. Charlie is only five years old, and takes much of Jamie’s time and attention. Much of the book deals with Peter’s jealousy over Charlie and Jamie’s relationship and the schemes of Peter to separate Jamie from the young boy.

The addition of Nip and Sal bring further complications, of which you will need to read yourself.

And then after many crying jags (mine) – Captain Hook.

Suffice it to say, I will never look at Peter Pan the same again. I am now and forever a Captain Hook fan.

A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher. (A huge thank you to Berkley Publishing Group!)

Rating: 95/100

Buy this book July 4th!

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo – a book review in 200 words

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

by Taylor Jenkins Reid


I ended up grabbing this Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) from work because no one else took it. I don’t read romance (usually), and the cover just screamed the word at me. To my great surprise and unending delight, Seven Husbands by Taylor Jenkins Reid, is one of the finest books I have read so far this year.

The story follows the reclusive movie star, Evelyn Hugo, as she plucks an unknown journalist out of obscurity and gives her the scoop of her career. Hugo is nearing the end of her career and, clearly, her life, and has decided to finally let the public in on her secrets. Her seven marriages act as a clever literary device, a way to discover Hugo’s relationships that range from old Hollywood marriages as the beard to gay leading man to the affair with the love of her life,

Not to be forgotten is the mystery that unfolds around the journalist, Monique Grant, as Hugo’s choice to write her story. The discovery of who Grant is started me on my first crying jag.

My second jag – ugly-crying through the entire last few chapters, but in a good way.

Go out and buy this book today!

(A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher.)

Rating: 90/100

Buy this book:


Barnes & Noble


The History of Bees – a book review in 200 words

The History of Bees
by Maja Lunde

The History of Bees

The History of Bees follows three distinct characters in three wildly disparate timelines:  

  • The whiny but lovable William, England (1852). A scientist with a large family and a seeds shop – he has been bedridden for an undetermined amount of time.
  • George, a taciturn and stoic beekeeper, Ohio (2007). He hopes his son will join the family business after graduating college. The son has other plans.
  • Tao’s job is to pollinate flowers, individually, China (2098). This work leaves little time for her to enjoy her son, Wei-Wen.

Honestly, I expected this book to be a three-prong diatribe on colony collapse disorder. Happily, Lunde weaves together three very human stories with amazing characters, writes about real relationship issues that affect everyone, and has such a light touch when including information on the honeybee decline that I barely noticed.

Though there are three story lines carried throughout the book, each individual story could have been unrelated and I still would have enjoyed it. The fact that all of the characters and story lines relate to each other in a beautiful, uncomplicated, completely natural way was an unexpected pleasure.

This book does not go on sale until August. Please put this on your to-buy, to-read list!

A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher.

Rating: 90/100

Buy in August 2017.

The CallThe Call by Peadar Ó Guilín

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I actually listened to the audiobook, which I’m sure has colored my feelings about this story a bit. The narrator on the audiobook does not do a very good job of differentiating between the POV characters so I feel like I was semi-lost for most of the first half of the book. I may actually go back and read this again in paper format so I get the complete story arc. That being said, the last half of the book is truly fantastic. Once there are fewer characters to keep track of, the story really gets moving, and I gasped aloud a couple of times at important plot points.

It’s a pretty simple story, really – the Sidhe (pronounced “shee”), or fairies, have decided that they need to take revenge upon the humans who took away their rights to reside in Ireland. They do this by stealing teenagers and doing terrible things to them while they are in the Sidhe lands. Each teen is taken by surprise and is in the Sidhe lands for a little over 3 minutes in human time. But they are in the Sidhe lands for long enough to be played with, taunted, tortured and killed in terrible ways. The few who survive their time with the Sidhe and return home are maimed and horribly disfigured for life (in fun and entertaining ways if you are a horror fan!). By the end, you understand why some are returned home and what the Sidhe’s real game is.

Because this book deals with teens, you have the usual teen angst, cliques, and crushes. But, because of the time they live in, you also get some truly terrifying situations that will make your skin crawl. My favorite parts of the book happened while the teens were “called” – descriptions of humans shaped into horses and screaming overcoats made out of human mouths anyone? So, if you like your horror with some high fantasy thrown in, you could definitely do worse than this book. Just don’t try to listen to the audiobook unless you are able to solely focus on it to the exclusion of everything else.

View all my reviews

Since We FellSince We Fell by Dennis Lehane

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is the second book I’ve read by Lehane (the other being Shutter Island a ways back). I’d forgotten what a smart, smart writer he is. Very seldom is there a book that makes me read every single word. I’m a skimmer when I can be. With Lehane you must read every word, or you will miss something. Even something big.

Since We Fell is a great read! Starts out as a book about a sort of troubled young women trying to figure out who her father is. She ends up becoming a TV news reporter until she covers Haiti after the earthquake (2010); and, her life is never the same again. Then some bad things happen, some good, some terrible, and then…I can’t tell you any more. Just when you think you know what this book is about, there’s another twist – and it’s another type of book altogether. In the end, what you think is going to be a story about a crazy girl’s search for belonging ends up being a crazy good book about betrayal, your sense of self, trust, and belief. Oh, and murder.

You should read it while I go pick out my next Dennis Lehane book!

View all my reviews

love, from the author

Interactions with my favorite authors? Yes, please!

So smart that authors watch their social media and take the time to respond. I work in a bookstore and find that I often recommend books by authors who interact with readers. Just another level to consider when writing your own book!

Natasha pulley tweet
Natasha Pulley payed attention to a couple of my tweets regarding her book, The Bedlam Stacks. Read it if you get a chance. It comes out in August 2017.


Touchstone Books Tweet
Even publishers are getting in the game! Touchstone Books liked my tweet about The History of Bees coming to bookstores in August 2017.


One of my favorite authors, Jennifer McMahon, commented on my Instagram.


My tweet about her book, Alice, was liked by the author, Christina Henry.

This is the full Instagram post for the tweet above.

Into the Water – a book review in 200 words + an outrageous cast list

Into the Water by Paula Hawkins

download (1)

Into the Water (ITW going forward) by Paula Hawkins is a book about two women who have drowned in…the Drowning Pool. It is here, legend holds, that witches were drowned and countless women have committed suicide.

Early in ITW, Hawkins uses a compelling story-telling device. She tells the story in one character’s viewpoint, in the next chapter shows us the same events from another’s perspective, and then that character takes over the story until the next chapter. If this way of writing was sustained throughout, ITW would be spectacular!  Unfortunately, this is not the case. Paula Hawkins, she of Girl on the Train fame, has written ITW from the point of view of ALL of the following:

Danielle ‘Nel’ Abbot (deceased) – via a manuscript of her unpublished book
Jules Abbot – sister to Nel Abbot (also called Julia often/confusingly)
Lena Abbot – daughter of Nel Abbot
Mark Henderson – teacher
Erin Morgan – inspector
Nickie Sage – charleton or medium
Helen Townsend – wife of Sean
Patrick Townsend – father of Sean
Sean Townsend – inspector
Josh Whittaker – brother to Katie
Louise Whittaker – mother of Katie
Lauren, Libby and Katie (deceased) – drowned women
(Feel free to print this list and use it while reading the book. It may be the only way you can remember everyone and how they relate to the story.  I found myself looking back to earlier chapters to figure out who was speaking well into the middle of the book.  While compiling the above list, I had to refer back to the book to figure out the cast and how they related to each other – even after finishing the book!)

Hawkins would have better served her characters, and her readers, had she focused solely on Jules’ and Lena’s viewpoints and Nel Abbot’s manuscript.

Having just finished reading, I can tell you that I am truly, deeply disappointed with this ending. The only real twist in ITW was related to the reason behind the two sister’s bitter, long-lasting feud.  After this first startling reveal, I expected sweeping revelation after sweeping revelation to close out the novel. Unfortunately, I was only to be let down by the resolution of the rest of the story lines – and no remaining shocks, surprises, or twists to hold my attention to the end.


Read it? Let me know if you agree with my review in the comments below!

Rating: 55/100

Buy In the Water at Barnes & Noble

Buy Into the Water at Amazon

Night by Elie Wiesel – goodreads review

NightNight by Elie Wiesel

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book has been on my list for a long time, and I wish that I had read it sooner. It is not for the faint of heart as it covers Elie Wiesel’s journey during World War II in several German concentration camps. His battle is heart-breaking – from the Jewish community who couldn’t fathom what was happening to the terrible journey forced on prisoners right before the German surrender.

The disbelief of the Jewish community, even as they were being persecuted, brings to mind the current political/world situation and how easy it is for people to make excuses for the actions and beliefs of others, even if they are stated out-right and in bold type. Chilling.

Though I’ve read other similar accounts to Wiesel’s, I found this one particularly moving as we see him lose his faith, both in his God and in other people. I know that he eventually comes back to his faith from reading about him, but the amount of personal anguish he shares is riveting and unbelievable. It is no wonder he won the Nobel Peace Prize for his work in 1986.

If you have a few hours, I highly recommend you read this slim book. It is well worth your time. For me, I plan on reading the other books in Wiesel’s trilogy, Day and Dawn, as soon as I’m able.

View all my reviews
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