Book Review: The Last Coyote by Michael Connelly

The Last Coyote by Michael Connelly is the forth book in the Harry Bosch Universe. This is detective Harry Bosch’s most personal case, a thirty year unsolved murder case with the victim being Harry’s mother. Harry is on suspension and is not even a detective with his badge and gun taken away. At first he takes the case as a distraction but he opens up old wounds and might never be the same again. This is the most personal case but also the slowest novel so far. The pace is so slow and gets into it’s stride as the character heads to Florida about mid way through. The novel has a very long ending where you think it’s over but there’s still a mystery to solve and Harry is going to solve it how ever long it takes. This is the fourth book and you do not have to read the other books to know what’s is going on and everything that happened in those books that is pertinent is talked about. Harry who is usually stoic and has a lot of walls built up, lets a few of those walls down and we see him show way more emotions than usual. We get to see more from the bureaucratic side as Chief Irving gets a bigger role and goes head to head with very different styles which was fun to read. This Case was easier to follow than some of the others but there is a lot of repetition involved which is the major reason for the slow narrative. This a re-read for me and it took me a while to start remembering I still forgot who the killer was a and a lot of the turns at the end which really good. I will say this book at one of the best endings, but also one of the worst beginnings. For watchers of the TV Show Bosch it has harry tracking down the investigators of his mom’s crime but is really different. This loose storyline starts at the end of season two and continues into season 3. Also we get to read about the moment that where Harry trows a supervisor through the window in season 1.

Plot Summary: Harry Bosch Has been suspended and placed on leave for throwing his lieutenant through a plate glass window, and now has to see a psychiatrist that decides when he can return. Bosch hates the idea and just wants to return, but talking with her makes him think of his past and his murdered mother. He starts digging in and rattling some very important people. Bosch is driven and he will take down who ever he can using his own brand of justice.

What I Liked: The ending was really good especially what happened after the climax, I love how people are seen in a new light after it is revealed. There is a death in this one that kind of rocks you, because they were a character from the beginning and what it does to Bosch. I really liked the Florida storyline and you can tell this case is getting to Bosch because he’s usually so careful, but starts letting his guard down and other characters can see right through him. This novel is all about conversations and there’s some great ones with a lot of back and forth. I love that people keep noticing a finger injury and Bosch keeps lying about it just to mess with people. I loved that Irving is starting to get in the books more he and Bosch’s relationship is my favorite part of the Bosch TV show, and they really come head to head in this book. I like how the Last Coyote was worked into the story as a metaphor for Harry.

What I Disliked: The pace at the beginning was so slow it takes 20% of the book to decide to take his mother’s case. The repetition was extreme Bosch breaks down the full case to 4 people and we the reader get to live it through Bosch, so it was a lot and did not do anything for the pace. There’s a scene with a reporter that ask what’s going on, and I was like please do not recap everything, and thankfully it does not.

Recommendation: This was one of the weaker told stories, but the story is still good. The pace was the worst so far. I feel this was a really important story for the character of Bosch and especially where he is at the end of this book. I will barely recommend this book on it importance for the character of Harry Bosch than on the strength of this novel. I don’t feel this was the worst book but the end really saves it. I rated The Last Coyote by Michael Connelly 3 out of 5 stars. Goodreads rates this book as one of the highest reviewed books, so my review is a little bit different. The order of the Harry Bosch Books so far 1) the Black Echo, 2) The Black Ice, and 3) The Concrete Blonde, 4) The Last Coyote. The order in which I rank them from best to worst is 1) The Concrete Blonde, 2) The Black Ice, 3)The Last Coyote and 4) The Black Echo.

Book Review: Gangland by Chuck Hogan

Gangland by Chuck Hogan is a 1970’s gangster novel that is inspired by true events. The plot of this story feels really small but then you open up the paranoia of both the gangsters and the thieves, then heads will roll. There’s scenes in both Goodfellas and Casino where a lot of people die because of what they are involved in the scene last 5-10 minutes. This novel is one of those scenes expanded into the tracking, the execution, and the planning. The novel follows Nicky “Two Pins” a man with secrets who runs a legitimate business the bowling alley, but what most other people don’t know until it’s too late is he is the guy that handles the executions, he’s also an FBI informant, and closetly gay. The secrets are what he does and there’s no one better. The climax was very worth while and exciting. The epilogue is long and many years after the climax it answers some of the questions but not all. The opening scene is a little rough and felt cliche, but the ending to that scene starts this easily readable novel going. The pace of Gangland is very fast. This is my forth Chuck Hogan book (I read Strain trilogy that he co-wrote with Guillermo del Toro about a vampire war) and Gangland my first Gangster novel since that is what he’s known for with Prince of Thieves also known as The Town (to match the film title). Thanks to Netgalley and Grand Central Publishing for letting me read the ARC. Gangland is published on August 2 2022.

Plot Summary: Nicky “Two Pins” has just done the biggest double cross killing his mentor for a way to move up and works under Tony Accardo who is the boss of Chicago and a protégé under Al Capone. Nicky has kept it all underwraps from FBI since he is an unwilling informant that blackmails him for being gay during the 1970’s. Everything is going smoothly until thieves steal form a jeweler without permissions and steal an anniversary present from Tony to his wife. The thieves get confronted and are told to return everything and maybe they can work together in the future. The guy that set this up had to return his kid and wife’s Christmas present as Tony vacations in Palm Springs. He decides to break into Tony’s house while he’s on vacation and steal the jewels back, but they were not there, but something of value was the books of payoffs, that same thing that took Al Capone down. Tony wants the people responsible and to send a message to thieves no one steals from Tony! It’s a cat and mouse game to find who is responsible before the thief realizes what he has and figures out the code of the books.

What I Liked: I love a good gangster story and this one starts off okay but gets really great as paranoia hits everyone involved, then double and triple crosses start to happen. I loved all the pop culture references, and just how hard it was to get a star wars toy at Christmas. I really liked the character of Nicky “Two Pins” and felt for his secret gay life and the way he treated others fairly in his business. I like how easily Tony could lie even when backed in the corner and the evidence is looking you him in the face. I like how I could feel the 1970’s throughout the novel. I really liked the climax and how intense and chaotic it got.

What I Disliked: The opening scene was very cliche, I was worried the whole book was going to be this way, but it was not. I wanted to see a little bit more of his struggles with being gay and a gangster. I really wanted to see the drunken fight with his wife where he confessed how prison and his cellmate changed him. The epilogue could have answered what Nicky did after the climax instead of 13 years later a little bit sooner.

Recommendations: If you’re looking for a gangster novel that is brutal and features lots of betrayals then this is it. I recommend this novel for it’s super quick pace and when reading this story I kept asking me what’s going to happen next? It’s not a great book but a very solid story. I rated Gangland by Chuck Hogan 4 out of 5 stars.

Book Review: Study Hall of Justice by Derek Fridolfs

Study Hall of Justice by Derek Fridolfs is a what if story that Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman all went to middle school together and the other classmates and teachers are full of future villains. The story is a mystery where the Trinity try to find out who the mysterious principal that runs the school and recruited everyone. The story is told as a graphic novel mostly but we get all the Batman notes and memos, student evaluation forms, articles from the student newspaper and group chats with the group. The story is middle grade approved but there references to future villainy that will go over a lot of not informed kids head. But that could lead them to look into characters more. I liked the end reveal of the mystery principal that explained why the kids were recruited for the school. There was some obscure villains that I was happy to see inserted like Vandal Savage and the Shriek. The highlight for me was the student newspaper with Mr. Freeze doing the weather report and Poison Ivy doing the nature report. This is the first book in a series called the Secret Hero Society, I would be curious what they do for the next book since the school gets shut down after all is revealed. The Art of the book was good at some parts, (the art is all in black and white, except for the cover) they drew adults better than the kids. The art work was done by the team behind the comic Lil’ Gotham.

Plot Summary: Bruce Wayne has been recruited/selected to the Ducard Academy an elite Academy that is invite only, from day one Bruce feels watched. Bruce grows concerned when he finds most of his classmates are evil and some have special gifts the school is trying to harness. He meets two other classmates that share the concern Diana and Clark Kent who have their own secret powers which Bruce starts trying to figure out as well. They try to find out who the principal is and who remains in the shadows.

What I Liked: The school newspaper was my favorite part with Mr. Freeze always predicts frosty weather, Poison Ivy and her nature report called Plants Are Better Than People. Poison Ivy also as a funny scene with a Christmas tree where she yells at others, trees and leaves are not for your amusement. A great moment in book is the Halloween costume party were Bruce comes out as Batman, but he gets mad since Clark took his glasses off and changed his hair and Diana just put on a costume. I liked the aspect of trying to figure out which villain is which.

What I Disliked: The pace was a little slow fora middle grade book. The art for the kids was sometimes bad, the noses were a real problem, the joke had no personality to his face, and girls face look all the same.

Recommendation: I think the middle grade audience will enjoy this, the more they know about comics and characters they will get a lot more out of it. As an adult the mystery was solved pretty fast on who the principal is really quickly, but I did think the reason for the school worked. I would recommend it for children but adults will get bored very fast with this, but it will be a fun shared read with kids as well to elaborate on villains. I rated Study Hall of Justice by Derek Fridolfs 3 out 5 stars.

TBR: August 2022

August 2022 TBR list: last month I read 7 books on my TBR list, and added 2 not on the list with a total of 9 books. I’m going to shoot for seven again this month.  I have three advanced reader copy books from netgalley this month.

Stay Awake by Megan Goldin the tag line is: A murder she doesn’t remember committing. A killer she doesn’t remember meeting. This is supposed to be very atmospheric thriller with an unreliable narrator. Thanks to Netgalley and St. Martin’s Press for allowing me to read the ARC. Stay Awake is published on August 9 2022.

Nothing More to Tell by Karen M. McManus is a fun Young Adult Mystery.  This will be my 3rd McManus after loving One of Us is Lying and the sequel One of Us is Next.  So I’m reall looking forward to this book.  I love how 80’s characters inspired from John Hughes movies are worked in to fun mysteries.  Thanks to Netgalley and Random House Children’s, Delacorte Press for the ARC. Nothing More to Tell is published on August 30 2022.

Gangland by Chuck Hogan is a 1970’s gangster novel inspired by real people.  Chuck Hogan is no stranger to gangster stories he wrote The Town which I haven’t read but it is one of my favorite movies based on the novel called Prince of Thieves.  I have read and liked the Strain trilogy that he co-wrote with Guillermo del Toro.  I’m really looking forward to a good gangster novel. Thanks to Netgalley and Grand Central Publishing for letting me read the ARC. Gang Land is published on August 2 2022.

The Diamond Eye by Kate Quinn is a World War II story how a mom and librarian is forced into war and becomes a Nazi hunter.  I loved Quinn’s The Alice Network and her writing about a World War II spy.

The Last Coyote by Michael Connelly this is the 4th book in the Harry Bosch Universe.  This book is a reread for me but I can’t remember this book of all. I have liked revisiting this series.

Study Hall of Justice by Derek Fridolfs is a middle grade book that imagines Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman went to the same middle school and their classmates and Teachers are future villains.  I got this book to give to my nephews when I finish it.

It Came from Beneath the Sink! by R. L. Stine is  Goosebumps book number 30.  It is said to be one of the strangest Goosebumps books, which is really saying something.  I’ve had a great time reading goosebumps in order I’m almost to the half way point.

Wrap Up: July 2022 Book Reviews

Dear Readers, July was my best reading month so far I read 9 books this month. I read all the books on my TBR and added 2.  My ratings for this month were really mixed I had 2 books that were five star, 4 that were four star, 2 that were three star and 1 two star book. This month I did read a novel that made it to my top five list for 2022. I read 2 science fiction/ fantasy, 1 horror this month, 1 middle grade and 3contemporary fiction. I read 3 books that I have seen on best of 2022 list. I continued reading the the original Goosebumps series and the Marvel Masterworks: The Amazing Spider-Man. I read 2 advance reader copy books (thanks to Netgalley).  

Five Star Reviews:

Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin is a fantastic novel about life, love, death and video games. This book has been on a couple of best of 2022 book list and it has made my top 5 list of 2022. The story is about how two college kids start a video game company and put their heart and souls in to each game, that can sometimes mirror their own lives. This book will make you respect the art, countless hours, and detail that go into to making a video game. I’m not a big video game player I did happen to play some of the ones mentioned, and I know next to nothing about coding and I was never lost in the narrative and actually more curious to how a gaming engine works. The book as much as it is about video games it’s about relationships, and forming a community that understands them. I read Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin thanks to Netgalley and Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow is published on July 5th 2022.

Batman, Volume 1: The Court of Owls by Scott Snyder is a graphic novel that introduces the Court of Owls and their assassins the Talons to the Batman lore. This story that is only ten years old has already been used for Gotham the TV show and Robert Pattinson wants this to be the next villain in his The Batman sequel. The story is intense and personal for both Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson former Robin currently known as Nightwing, as the Court of Owls and the Talons have links to ancestors. The narrative does a really cool thing to show disillusionment where the words and panels go to the side and eventually upside down, where you the reader have to flip the book all the way around to read. The artwork is haunting and gives new designs to characters like the Riddler who has a question mark mohawk. The individual issues have a beginning middle and an end while letting the main story go further.

Four Star Reviews:

Violeta by Isabel Allende is life story about a Chilean woman who is born in one pandemic the Spanish Flu and writes her life story as she is close to death in the midst of Covid. This book has been on a series of best of books for 2022. The story acts as a confession to her grandson Camilo about her life from the 1920’s to 2020’s. The novel covers a hundred years of struggle to find love, survive death, and find her purpose in life. The story is beautiful and very emotional at times. The narrative works of Violeta telling her story and some family secrets to her grandson. There are a few over share moments but will make a little more sense when you find out what Camilo does for a living. The novel has a good pace through out and I found it all so interesting that this historical fiction was a breeze for me.

Upgrade by Blake Crouch is another mind bending science fiction which only he can imagine. The plot of this story will sound a lot like Limitless, the Bradley Cooper movie, where an ordinary man gets an upgrade and can do incredible things with mind and body, but that is only the first act. Blake Crouch’s story’s always start so simple then expand and this one is no different. The story is action packed, yet super smart. I like how it shows how cool getting and upgrade is but then the detachment of being so smart. It also ask questions if would the world work better if we were all super smart, or would we find smarter ways to kill each other? The novel takes family dysfunction to the max. The ending is really smart and was perfect for what the novel was hoping to achieve. There is some nice twist and turns that caught me off guard.

The Concrete Blonde by Michael Connelly is the 3rd book in the Harry Bosch Universe. The book is half mystery on the streets and half courtroom drama. Connelly will go on to successfully write the Lincoln Lawyer series that follows that format. The courtroom drama is written really well and it is easily explained so the reader doesn’t get confused. This novel has a lot of twist and turns that make this book hard to put down. The villain is hard to spot I guessed wrong and followed the red herring. Honey Chandler is a great foil, a trail lawyer that knows the system in an out and breaks the same rules Harry does on the police side to make her cases. To quote Harry Bosch when speaking about her, “I don’t like her, but like her.”  The Dollface serial killer is pretty terrifying, and I love how focused the plot is if Harry got the right man or not. The Concrete Blonde is my favorite Harry Bosch novel so far.

Marvel Masterworks: The Amazing Spider-Man, Vol. 14 by Gerry Conway is Spiderman getting close to getting over the death of Gwen Stacy and starting to see Mary Jane as girlfriend material, plus a lot of action. The pace of these issues in this volume are fast making it an easy read. The new Green Goblin is Peter Parker best friend and roommate Harry Osborn, and it is pretty terrifying he knows Peter Parker is Spiderman and wants to avenge his fathers death. Norman Osborn was almost more of a gangster, Harry is just crazed and wants Spiderman to feel pain, while Spiderman is pulling punch Harry is going for death. We get to see the death of the infamous Spidermobile hopefully. We get to see the first blossoms of a spark in the Mary Jane and Peter Parker romance. This moment will be featured in the comic series One More Day, which impacts where the current day Spiderman that is not with Mary Jane.

Three Star Reviews:

Black Tide by K.C. Jones is an pulse pounding alien invasion science fiction thriller. This book is pretty non stop on the danger. Most of the book takes place in one setting a car. This book reminded me on part Stephen King’s novella The Mist and one part Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer with a lot of the Kevin Bacon movie Tremors in there. The story is told in three narratives which is pretty good but a little unnecessary when in the same car. The novel is all about the characters at the beginning then when the world gets chaotic the narrative goes away for a pretty long while, too long in my opinion. I did not care for most of the front half of this novel , but I really enjoyed the second half. I read Black Tide thanks to Netgalley and Macmillan-Tor/Forge, Tor Nightfire. Black Tide by K. C. Jones was published on May 31 2022.

Billy Summers by Stephen King is a rare contemporary fiction novel, there is the tiniest level of supernatural when character’s interact with the charred remains of the Shining’s Overlook Hotel. But other than that this story plays it straight. Billy Summers is not a great novel but there are moments where the narrative surprised me, the characters’ made me feel emotions, and the writing is really good. The story reminded me of three movie/tv shows that were all combined Shooter, the Mark Wahlberg movie, Barry, the Bill Hader HBO show, and The Professional, with Natalie Portman. If all three of these films had a baby that was made into a novel we would have Billy Summers. The beginning is interesting but almost cliche to the hitman story, then in the middle it takes a turn, turning into a redemption piece, the ending was too quiet I needed more of a bang but we get a whimper. The characters are the best part, there’s a lot of little tiny side characters that I liked instantly.

Two Star Reviews:

Monster Blood III by R. L. Stine is Goosebumps book 29 in the original series order. Evan and Andy are back as well as bully Conan Barber. Monster Blood is my least favorite of the recurring Goosebumps stories and number 3 is the worst of this series. The story is not very scary and pretty joke filled, with only a couple being funny. It has two really annoying characters with Kermit and Conan. The moral of the story is fear science. Monster Blood doesn’t enter into the story until after halfway. The back half was better than the front half but one of the worst front halves of a story so far. The cover of the book is good and we finally see that happen in the story towards the end.

Book review: Violeta by Isabel Allende

Violeta by Isabel Allende is life story about a Chilean woman who is born in one pandemic the Spanish Flu and writes her life story as she is close to death in the midst of Covid. The story acts as a confession to her grandson Camilo about her life from the 1920’s to 2020’s. The novel covers a hundred years of struggle to find love, survive death, and find her purpose in life. The story is beautiful and very emotional at times. I don’t know much about Chile my knowledge comes from The Motorcycle Diaries by Che Guevara with that time getting covered in the book. I found the history of the people and the land the most interesting, learned of Chile’s vast immigration from Europe. The narrative works of Violeta telling her story and some family secrets to her grandson. There are a few over share moments but will make a little more sense when you find out what Camilo does for a living. The politics of the time play a big role this book gave the best description of the difference between Communism versus Fascism which I’ve been a little confused by, but understand it better. The politics in the book are interesting since Violeta wants nothing to do with them but is also so affected by them. The book takes place mainly in Chile, but the characters go to Miami, Las Vegas, and Norway. The novel has a good pace through out and I found it all so interesting that this historical fiction was a breeze for me.

Plot Summary: Violeta is born in Chile in the 1920’s during the Spanish Flu. She writes that it took 2 years after breakout in America to reach Chile. She was born at time where a family raised a child like a village. Violeta is the baby and the only girl to her five brothers. Violeta writes in 2022 as she is close to death to her grandson Camilo that she raised. she is going to confess everything, every flaw, every selfish act, every regret, and every happy or sad moment she can remember.

What I Liked: The history and the way Chile is described Isabel Allende was born in Chile and feels very authentic. The characters are massive in this book but they all have their own little moments and histories. The history is told really well, some decades roll together but it was interesting to see history from another country’s eyes. I like that I felt some of these characters sadness and joyous moments, I love to get caught up in my emotions towards these characters. I did not cry like I have during other books but I felt my chest tighten up some times. Torito the gentle giant was one of my favorite side characters. His loyalty and strength are to be desired in a friend. I did like the bit about how influenced they were from American culture in movies that when they ran into Chile’s indigenous people they were expecting the American Indian when they met them.

What I Disliked: The politics of the time were pretty confusing I think this book makes the politics in Chile not to hard to understand, but when you throw Argentina in there that is when I started to get confused. I also thought we might have needed a scene in the present to start off then go to the past to really tie in the pandemics and also make the reader more emotionally involved with Camilo.

Recommendation: This was a very well written historical fiction that felt very true and authentic. This is a good novel that shows you characters from all walks of life, conservative, LGTBQ, Nazi sympathizer, and liberal. This is a novel that is so honest and raw with its character flaws. I rated Violeta by Isabel Allende 4 out of 5 stars. This is my first Isabel Allende novel (I did read a short story of hers in Spanish for class when I was in college) and it will not be my last I have heard good things about her Zorro novel.

Book Review: Batman – Volume 1: The Court of Owls by Scott Snyder

Batman, Volume 1: The Court of Owls by Scott Snyder is a graphic novel that introduces the Court of Owls and their assassins the Talons to the Batman lore. This story that is only ten years old has already been used for Gotham the TV show and Robert Pattinson wants this to be the next villain in his The Batman sequel. The story is intense and personal for both Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson former Robin currently known as Nightwing, as the Court of Owls and the Talons have links to ancestors. The narrative does a really cool thing to show disillusionment where the words and panels go to the side and eventually upside down, where you the reader have to flip the book all the way around to read. The artwork is haunting and gives new designs to characters like the Riddler who has a question mark mohawk. The individual issues have a beginning middle and an end while letting the main story go further. Which is a hard thing to do in comics but Scott Snyder does it with ease. This story kicked off the new 52 DC Comics run that started all stories over. The Court of the Owls Saga starts in Batman, continues in Nightwing and Batgirl and ends in Batman Volume 2. This story is a reread for me I have an opportunity to go to a con where Scott Snyder is at and wanted to read one of my favorite graphic novels again. Batman, Volume 1: The Court of Owls collects Batman (2011) 1-7.

The Plot Summary: The Volume starts off with a bang asBatman starts fighting a plethora of inmates in Arkham Asylum and Nightwing was undercover as on of the villains. This was all done to expose a guard on the take and helping inmates escape. Batman changes into Bruce Wayne and meets Lincoln March the man running for the new mayor, who’s charming and agrees to meet Bruce to discuss funding his campaign. Bruce over hears of a murder and investigates the muder that is full of knife wounds. The victim is a John Doe but Batman finds a strange mineral and DNA under the victims skin and a message that Bruce Wayne dies in 24 hours. This leads Batman to meeting his first Talon assassin and a message from the Court of Owls which is an old creepy nursery rhyme from Bruce Wayne’s past. Bruce Wayne meets the man running for Lincoln March and a Talon tries to assassinate them both even though Bruce Seems to be the real target. The only way Bruce survives is knowing the building but the Talon is dead and we finds out is a distant relative of Dick Grayson. Batman/ Bruce Wayne must now stand trail by the Court of Owls for killing a Talon.

What I Liked: Fantastic writing by Scott Snyder who I think is the best in the business for Batman writing. It’s not just the story but the dialogue and the inner monologue. The art and action are great and easy to follow. The detective aspect is really strong in this story. I loved the relationship of Batman and his first Robin and how tumultuous it is at times. The back story Court of the Owls is super interesting. The ending for the last issue in this volume was so great and rose the stakes. The opening scene in Arkham Asylum was a really great action packed start.

What I Disliked: The mystery angle could have made a little more sense and spelled out a little better on how he tracked the Talon down. There’s was one panel that confused me when the Talon and Bruce Wayne fly out the window it looks like they fall back to the floor but it was just a not clear enough drawing that they were still falling I had to look at it twice.

Recommendations: This book is a great Batman story and the birth of new villains that will shake up Batman Comics for the future. This is one of the best written Batman stories I can easily say. I rated Batman, Volume 1: The Court of Owls by Scott Snyder 5 out of 5 stars. This was a re-read for me but I remain blown away by this excellent story.

Book Review: Goosebumbps -Monster Blood III by R. L. Stine

Monster Blood III by R. L. Stine is Goosebumps book 29 in the original series order. Evan and Andy are back as well as bully Conan Barber. Monster Blood is my least favorite of the recurring Goosebumps stories and number 3 is the worst of this series. The story is not very scary and pretty joke filled, with only a couple being funny. It has to really annoying characters with Kermit and Conan. The moral of the story is fear science. Monster Blood doesn’t enter into the story until after halfway. The back half was better than the front half but one of the worst front halves of a story so far. The cover of the book is good and we finally see that happen in the story towards the end. The climax to the story was good with a race against time to change them from being big. The story is half the Disney film Honey, I Blew Up The Kids! and Danny the Dinosaur by Syd Hoff( there is no dinosaur but they have almost the same adventure) one of the I Can Read Books. The twist at the very end was pretty good and fits the theme of nothing goes right with science.

Plot Summary: Evan and Andy are back for another adventure with Monster Blood, in the last book Andy parents coming home from Europe bring her a can of monster blood after the one they had was expired and losing it potency. Evan babysits Kermit his 8 year-old science obsessed cousin who spends his time preforming experiments while his mother gets home from work. Evan babysits Kermit even though he hates because he’s saving up for a Walkman (so 90’s). Kermit lives next door to Conan, Evan’s bully in school. Kermit is the worst he gets Evan beat up, gets him in trouble twice with his experiments gone wrong. After Andy come over and gets pranked by him suggest what if we put the Monster Blood in one of his experiments. What could go wrong?

What I Liked: The prank where one of the kids turns into a giant and they prank them that they crushed one of the fellow kids is pretty brutal. I loved the Police asking if the giant was an alien. The finale was pretty intense if the situation can get fixed in time. The final twist was good and fit really well with the story. I do like how it filled you in with some of what happened in the 2 Monster Blood’s before it.

What I Disliked: The heart of the Monster Blood series has always been Evan and Andy friendship and it just wasn’t there in this story. Kermit and Conan together are too annoying. No Monster Blood for the first 65 pages of the book. The story is paced so slow at the beginning and continues to the middle of the book.

Recommendation: Monster Blood is the worst, all it has going for it is the cool title. Skip this book it is pretty horrible, not scary, and really badly paced. I rated Monster Blood III by R. L. Stine 2 out of 5 stars. Here’s my full ranking of the 29 Goosebumps books that I have read in order to my favorite to least favorite: 1) A Night in Terror Tower, 2) Stay Out of the Basement, 3) Ghost Beach, 4) Piano Lessons Can Be Murder, 5) The Haunted Mask, 6) One Day At Horrorland, 7) Night of the Living Dummy, 8) Welcome to Camp Nightmare, 9) The Phantom of the Auditorium, 10) The Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb, 11) Say Cheese and Die, 12) Let’s Get Invisible, 13) The Scarecrow Walks at Midnight, 14) Welcome to Dead House, 15) Monster Blood II, 16) The Girl who Cried Monster, 17)Deep Trouble, 18) The Ghost Next Door, 19) My Hairiest Adventure, 20) Be Careful What You Wish For… , 21) Return of the Mummy, 22) Why I’m Afraid of Bees, 23)Attack of the Mutant, 24) Go Eat Worms!, 25) The Werewolf of Fever Swamp, 26) Cuckoo Clock of Doom, 27) Monster Blood, 28) You Can’t Scare Me! and 29) Monster Blood III.

Book Review: Black Tide by K.C. Jones

Black Tide by K.C. Jones is an pulse pounding alien invasion horror / science fiction thriller. This book is pretty non stop on the danger. Most of the book takes place in one setting a car. This book reminded me on part Stephen King’s novella The Mist and one part Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer with a lot of the Kevin Bacon movie Tremors in there. The story is told in three narratives which is pretty good but a little unnecessary when in the same car. The novel is all about the characters at the beginning then when the world gets chaotic the narrative goes away for a pretty long while, too long in my opinion. I did not care for most of the front half of this novel , but I really enjoyed the second half. This novel has almost two ending, you have a moment when you think the action is done for another danger to pop up. The ending was good and I was satisfied. My biggest issue was lack descriptions, a big chuck of the first half is confusion, and it was confusion with bad descriptions which made this reader even more confused. The second half the descriptions got better when the character no what they’re looking for. I read Black Tide thanks to Netgalley and Macmillan-Tor/Forge, Tor Nightfire. Black Tide by K. C. Jones was published on May 31 2022.

Plot Summary: Beth is house sitting and dog sitting as she gets her life together on the coast. She spots a extremely quite neighbor Mike that looks miserable. Beth takes his picture with him not aware, she wasn’t even told about a neighbor. She see’s him drinking Champaign alone and kind sort of invites herself over by making jokes he’s a killer. The drinking and getting to know each other goes well they end up spending the night together. They each have insane crazy nightmares and find the houses power went out, which something in both their dreams. They find a black bowling ball like thing they each have never seen before but think it must be a meteorite , Mike takes it from the shore to the house and feels a shock to his hands. They go to the public beach and see more meteorites and the world turn ugly, horses running in terror, people start disappearing before their eyes. Mike and Beth haven’t known each other long but they’re trapped in the car from an unknown prey stalking them that seems otherworldly.

What I Liked: The second half when they find out about the creatures coming to kill them. We finally get a good description on the creatures. I liked all the different creature and that they are a part of nature and don’t just want to kill humans, but each other. I loved the two instances of rising action when we the reader can catch our breath and then the next action comes and we realize the characters can’t not help. I liked most of the beginning dialogue and the breakdown of how broken they really are in the tide. I like how the title Black Tide was worked into the story and what it means. I liked when we finally get a really good character moment at the end, since this book is more react to the action then have a conversation, but it was welcomed a little too late but it was good. I did like the narrative of the third person which comes at the end.

What I Disliked: After the good 30 pages of decent dialogue, we get a whole lot a of confusion for 125 pages. I don’t mind confusion with good descriptions, but it felt like someone was spinning in a chair describing what was going on it was very confusing. on the plus I could feel the tension even though the character’s would not focus on anything for more than a second. Beth and Mike are not that likable, I finally started to like them towards the end when they finally have a conversation that’s not them freaking out. The action descriptions are hard to follow where everyone is, there’s a part where the character are in the tide, and it made me feel that the were really far out to not actually being that far out.

Recommendation: This is a really tough one I like parts a lot but loathed others. I think if your in the mood for mindless action then this book is full of it. If you want and need characterization in your action then this is not for you. I wanted a lot more characterization and can not recommend this book fully. Some will like it more than others. I rated Black Tide by K. C. Jones 3 out of 5 stars.

Book Review: Marvel Masterworks: The Amazing Spider-Man Volume 14 by Gerry Conway

Marvel Masterworks: The Amazing Spider-Man Volume 14 by Gerry Conway is Spiderman getting close to getting over the death of Gwen Stacy and starting to see Mary Jane as girlfriend material, plus a lot of action. The pace of these issues in this volume are fast making it an easy read. The new Green Goblin is Peter Parker best friend and roommate Harry Osborn, and it is pretty terrifying he knows Peter Parker is Spiderman and wants to avenge his fathers death. Norman Osborn was almost more of a gangster, Harry is just crazed and wants Spiderman to feel pain, while Spiderman is pulling punch Harry is going for death. We get to see the death of the infamous Spidermobile hopefully. We get to see the first blossoms of a spark in the Mary Jane and Peter Parker romance. This moment will be featured in the comic series One More Day, which impacts where the current day Spiderman is not with Mary Jane. This book features The Punisher, Morbius, Man-Wolf, Molten Man, Mysterio, introduction of The Tarantula, The Green Goblin, forgettable characters the Grizzly and the Mind Worm, and the return of Peter’s friend and one time love interest Liz Allen. Marvel Masterworks: The Amazing Spider-Man, Vol. 14 Collects Amazing Spider-Man (1963) issues 132-142 and Giant-Size Super Heroes #1.

The Plot Summaries: Ned Leads follows a tip of a burglary and gets burned bad. Spiderman tried to stop it as well, both men come away with radioactivity poisoning at the hands of the Molten Man that is working to stop his powers that growing out of control and cannot contain the heat. Morbius is back and he finds a way to control Man-Wolf to help him get what he needs to change back. Peter goes on a friendly river cruise, but it is foiled my the Tarantula and his band of robbers, but the Punisher shows up and thinks Spiderman is one of them thanks to the theme. Harry having just discovered that Peter Parker is Spiderman blows up their apartment in an attempt to kill him. Peter Parker rooms with Flash Thompson since his place is blown up the Mind Worm controls everyone in the area expect Spiderman. The Grizzly breaks into the Daily Bugle and wants revenge on Jamison. Mysterio thought dead, has returned to torture Spiderman with his illusions.

What I Liked: The Green Goblin returned as Harry Osborn is terrifying because he knows Peter so well, and knows just what would crush him if they died. The Motlon Man I have always thought was lame but he has actually ha some of the best fights and really great story. This on could be the end or not, but I was satisfied how it ended if this is the last we see of the character. I like how Mary Jane and Peter are slow playing their relationship. This was a speacial volume for me becuase when I was collecting comics as a kid I had one older Spiderman comic and it was issue 141 with Mysterio and the death of the Spidrmobile, LOL I had no idea, but when I was 12 I thought the car was lame and made no sense. I liked the action scenes a lot in this it was very easy to follow. I love how Peter and Flash Thompson’s relationship have evolved overtime, they actually made good roommates for the night the spent with each other. I like that Flash Thompson is the only one who is sort of figuring out that Peter could be Spiderman.

What I Disliked: The Mind Word is just odd and did not fit. The Grizzly has some of the worst dialogue I have ever read in Spiderman.

Recommendation: This Volume has some gems the Green Goblin will be the most important, but the blossoms of love that Peter Parker and Mary Jane share are special and effect the current Spiderman timeline. I rated Marvel Masterworks: The Amazing Spider-Man Volume 14 by Gerry Conway 4 out of 5 stars.