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.

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: Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin

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.  This book takes risk my putting the character’s in a video game when they cannot communicate any other way.  This book is a n emotional ride with some general heartbreak. One of my hands down favorite novels is The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon, which is about life, love, death, war, and comic books.  Which are easily comparable to Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow since both are accessible to the main reading audience, are tearjerker with great characters and elevate the art form of their subjects video games and comics. Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow had it’s film right purchased by paramount to be made into a movie which I would very much like to see.  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.

Plot Summary: Sam 12 has been in a serious car accident that killed his mother. To get through his mother’s death he plays video games alone. Sadie 12 is in the hospital visiting her teenage sister as she is treated for Leukemia. Sadie needs a break and finds Sam playing video games she watches for a while then they trade and start a conversation.  A nurse sees this and talks to Sadie.  Sadie is shocked to find out she is the only person Sam has talked to six months after the accident.  The nurse asked her to do a community service and spend time with Sam.  Sadie who needs so many hours of community service for something anyway agrees, but a real friendship takes place.  Sam finds out he was a community service and shuts her out until years later Sadie and Sam will not meet again at college, when their love of video games is fully realized and they should make games together.  They form and make an international video game company, but can their friendship survive.

What I Liked: With me not being that big of a video game player, reading this book and coming away with not just an understanding of video games but respecting the art and story a whole lot more.  I might have changed the way that I now play video games concentrating on the art a whole lot more now.  The story and characters are very relatable.  I love the story within a story about the games and how they relate to the characters lives. This novel made me very emotional at times.  I love the cleverness of the within the game chapter, it was very effective.   The characters are sometimes frustrating and man did I get mad at them an there sucky communication skills and how they both handle anger, but a thrill to watch them grow and get better and become the same but at the same time different people.  I love all the pop culture references especially the Matrix / Ghost in the Shell conversation, the Donkey Kong tie and what it hides.  I loved how the title came from Macbeth and how that fit in with the novel so well.

What I Disliked: The cover art is so bad for what this book is, I feel like so many people will not read it or hesitate because of it, I know I did when selecting it.  The cover does have relevance to the story, but the novel is so visual it needed more.  The pace of the novel was not always the best there are a couple of moments where it takes the reader a second to get to the point of what your reading.  I will say that every side story did have a point but some did take a while to get there.

Recommendations: Please read this great book!! The story is incredible the writing is really good, so many quotable lines ( I would list a few but not line quotes is the deal I make when I read an advanced reader’s copy).  I already told you how much this book reminded me of The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon but another one it reminded me of is the AMC TV show Halt and Catch Fire, if you liked either of these then you will love this book.  The beauty of this book is you don’t have to know anything about video games to love and read it, but if you do then you will love it more.  I rated Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin 5 out of 5 stars. This is my first book by Gabrielle Zevin but I plan to check out The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry, which is supposed to be just as good.

Book Review: The Concrete Blonde by Michael Connelly

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.” So far none of the Harry Bosch books have required to read the previous book/s this one is no exception, but for reader who do read it in order will get nice tidbits of info about what happened to Sylvia’s husband, the favor the reporter has done in the past, and what Harry found out about his mother and father last book. 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. This novel was a re-read and will maintain my same star rating. This does come with a trigger warning of sex related crimes there’s a lot of it and it goes into some detail

Plot Summary: Harry Bosch is on trial for a civil suit in the wrongful death of a suspected serial killer known as the Dollface Killer. Bosch got a tip from a prostitute who escaped that new unpublished details of the killer. It was a late call and Bosch was the only one there, he didn’t want this guy killing anyone else, so he kicked in the door to find the man naked. Bosch yelled police then told him to freeze but the suspect grabbed under his pillow and Bosch fired killing him. The problem was the suspect wasn’t reaching for his gun, he was reaching for his hair piece. Despite that Bosch is confident he the Dollface killer. The trail is four years after the incident, and Bosch just had a note delivered to his desk from someone claiming to be the Dollface killer, that points to a new body that is buried in concrete. Did Harry Bosch get it wrong and kill the wrong man?

What I Liked: The twist and turns in this story are really great, and put the reader on the edge of their seat with every bit of new information. Side character’s are not just one note some are fully fleshed out, I loved Money Chandler’s character so much, I also love the portrayal by Mimi Rodgers in the Bosch and Bosch Legacy Shows of the character, which is different and yet the same, this story hasn’t been told on the show yet. I like how creepy the Dollface Killer is who kills them by strangulation and use their makeup to dress them up as a doll with it. I loved how focused this plot is there’s only a couple scenes that show Bosch and Sylvia’s relationship that were good for characterization but didn’t always move the plot forward. I didn’t mind those scenes though cause they filled some background in for Harry’s character. I liked that I had read this book 15 years ago and could not remember who had done it, I was not satisfied with who did it but at least I forgot about it. I like that it dips into the psychology of why Harry pulled the trigger, and I love the bit with his mom’s murder where he starts questioning himself if he did kill for revenge.

What I Disliked: The person that did it in the who done it was just an okay reveal. Connelly tried to quickly fill in the background, but it was too rushed, maybe if we got some of this background earlier when the character turned we could get the real story.

Recommendation: I recommend you check this book and series out. Harry Bosch is such a good character that I just enjoy seeing how his mind works. Read this story before it becomes a plot line in the Bosch Legacy story. I rated The Concrete Blonde by Michael Connelly 4 out of 5 stars. The order of the Harry Bosch Books so far 1) the Black Echo, 2) The Black Ice, and 3) The Concrete Blonde. The order in which I rank them from best to worst is 1) The Concrete Blonde, 2) The Black Ice and 3) The Black Echo.

Book Review : Billy Summers by Stephen King

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. I think there’s two ways of reviewing this book one as a Stephen King up against his lexicon of other great works, where this books is ranked very low on the pile, or the one I’m going to review it if this was any writer’s work, which makes it instantly better and more clout. 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. I will speak on the controversial aspect of the book, Stephen King does not like Trump it is all over his Twitter feed. There was some review bomb because of Lines and passages from this book at first I was like there’s a couple I don’t get all the hate, but then they kept coming. My issue as a reader is it valid to the story or to the character, or is it a distraction. This fell in to the distraction, a couple of the references felt right, but many felt forced and took away from the story.

Plot Summary: Billy Summers is a hitman on his last job, the pay out is 2 million his biggest pay day by far but the catch is he has to be a part of the community as cover as a writer. Billy decides since his cover is a writer maybe he should write his bio, not to publish but just for him. We get a tragic backstory and a lesson that hitman aren’t born but created. Billy has a code of only bad people and no kids. The man Billy is going to kill is a bad man and the big pay is for making it public, in front of the court house. The killing is easy the getting away is the hard part made harder by the by wanting to provide the way out, something they have never done before. Billy fears a trap and sets his own way out, it might work but he sees a fellow in need is he going to me come the bad guy or the good guy he thinks he is? Will he risk everything to save someone else.

What I Liked: The characters are really great. I love how King writes neighborhoods they’re always filled with colorful characters and are easy to form a kinship to. I liked the writing aspect especially the beginning as he finds his voice, all the war stuff gets a little convoluted but the childhood years of writing are great. I like the turn and the dilemma of whether to help or not, because it can and probably will lead to getting caught. The references to the Overlook and it still being a presence of evil 40 years ago.

What I Disliked: The reveal of who set up the hit, was practically a nobody and had one of the most complex murder plots before even Billy was involved. There was no epic battle it is just over a little too easy. The trump references in metaphors are just too much and are a distraction to the story. The long sections about Billy in the war some are good but there was way too much fat and redundancy left. There was no drama to the assassin at all.

Recommendation: The story has a lot of heart the writing really good at sometimes and felt generic and mediocre at times. There some nice turns but as a whole the story measures out to an okay. I can not recommend my followers to read this one. Billy Summers, Rage, Roadwork, The Dead Zone, and The Colorado Kid (I did not like book 6 of the Dark Tower Song for Susannah but since it’s a part of the Dark Tower as a whole it won’t fall in this distinction) are the rare Stephen King novels that I can’t recommend. He has some many other great works you should check out before this one. I rated Billy Summers 3 out of 5 stars.

Book Review: Upgrade by Blake Crouch

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 only thing that did not work for me was that I lack empathy for the villain and the story was trying to give them it. There were too many moments where I was told about something than saw it. This is my third Blake Crouch novel, while I didn’t like Upgrade as much as Dark Matter and Recursion, which I both rated 5 out of 5, I still really liked it and how unique the story telling is. I would like to think Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine for reaching out through email and letting me download it through Netgalley. Upgrade by Blake Crouch is published on July 12th 2022.

Plot Summary: Logan Ramsey works for the GPA – Gene Protection Agency that deal with people who manipulate genes. Logan was once a criminal who worked with his mom Marion Ramsey who is infamous for making a a near famine in changing an insects genes. Logan has been winning his freedom back ever since. In his current case he tries to stop a gene slicer but walks into a trap that sets off an explosion where his environmental suit is pierced and he is infected with an upgrade. The upgrade is slow acting so he recovers with out the doctor and his own agency knowing. He starts getting smarter, healing faster, incredible memory, more physical, and all senses enhanced. He tries to hide it from his agency, who will see him as the enemy and also find out who upgrade him. He finds out who upgraded him and that he is not the only one. When he finds out he has to decide if he will save the world or destroy it, or maybe both?

What I Liked: The plot goes to that crazy level that Crouch is known for. The action scenes are pretty intense and really long, but great. There’s three main action scenes and are really cool when described using the new upgraded abilities. The danger of science versus science will be our savior made a really good argument through out the novel. There is a couple of plot twists that I rally didn’t see coming that were fun to see them played out. The ending was perfect and was a kind of compromise to the whole science is enemy and/or the savior.

What I Disliked: The connection and the empathy Logan had for the villain was not felt by me. They would say remember when this happened instead of have a memory of it. I think this novel should have started with a flashback that showed the family and also science and how deeply they are connected.

Recommendation: This is a good novel that will make you ask the question what would you do in this situation? The story is great science fiction that will bend your mind a little. I ill say this novel is my least favorite of the 3 that I have read, but I will say this is the most accessible of his books. It’s mind bending but not as far as dark matter and recursion go. I rated Upgrade by Blake Crouch 4 out of 5 stars. 

TBR: July 2022

July 2022 TBR list: last month I read 6 books on my TBR list, and added 2 not on the list because they came available at the library. So a totallof 8 books, I’m going to shoot for seven this month.  I have three advanced reader copy books from netgalley this month.

Upgrade by Blake Crouch is one of my most anticipated reads of the year. His last two books Dark Matter and Recursion have blown my mind.  So I was thrilled when the publishers of Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine, Ballantine Books sent me a copy through Netgalley. Upgrade is published on July 12 2022 Upgrade is a bout a person’s brain being upgraded to do impossible things.

Billy Summers by Stephen King this is a book I read about half of and my library loan ended.  This book is totally contemporary with no horror element, but it still had twist and turns I was not expecting. I look forward to read it over and finish it this time.

The Concrete Blonde by Michael Connelly is book 3 in the Harry Bosch Universe, this will be a reread for me as I read and review it for my site.  It has been 15 years since I read it but when I did it was my favorite of the Harry Bosch books. This is the book about Harry’s mother’s death and something eerily similar happening now.

Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin is a love story of two video game developers that spans 30 years, their life starts imitating life.  This is supposed to be a crazy story that has ben on a couple best of 2022 list.  I’m reading it thanks to Netgalley and Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. The book is published on July 5th 2022.

Black Tide by KC Jones is described as Stephen King’s Cujo meets A Quiet Place which sounds pretty crazy.  Goodreads has it on there best of 2022 Horror so far. I’m reading this book thanks to Netgally and Tor Nightfire. Black Tide was published on May 31 2022.

Goosebumps – Monster Blood 3 by R. L. Stine the first Monster blood was one of the worst Goosebumps books for me. Monster Blood 2 was better. I hope Monster Blood 3 is better.

Marvel Masterworks: The Amazing Spider-Man volume 14 by Gerry Conway is coming off one of the best volumes, can they keep up the quality.  Will the writers finally drop the horrible idea of the Spidermobile.

Wrap Up: June 2022

Dear Readers, June was a great month for reading I read 8 books this month. I read almost the books on my TBR and added 2.  My ratings for this month were really mixed I had 2 books that were five star, 2 that were four star, 3 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 3 science fiction/ fantasy, 1 horror this month, 2 middle grade and 2 young adult. I started a 9 book series Star Trek :Vanguard and continued reading the the original Goosebumps series. I read 1 advance reader copy books (thanks to Netgalley).  

Five Star Reviews:

Gallant by V.E. Schwab is a modern day dark gothic young adult fairy tale filled with ghosts and death. Gallant is a hauntingly good story, that seeped into my dreams. The plot is half mystery and half gothic horror. The pace of the story is very rapid and doesn’t let up. Olivia the lead character is born mute, which would be a challenge for any writer to make compelling, having others talk and you lead character only gesture, but Schwab makes it work seamlessly. The dark gothic horror elements don’t go too dark and seem appropriate for the young adult audience as low as 12. The world building and mystery are done really well, I loved deep diving into the family history and the curse. The ending was done really well is both crowd pleasing and sentimental.

Marvel Masterworks: The Amazing Spider-Man Volume 13 by Gerry Conway is a very important book in terms of the Spiderman legacy. This book features Spiderman’s second biggest loss with Uncle Ben being the first, the death of Spiderman’s first villain where he was directly involved, and the introduction of the Punisher (Frank Castle). It has some moments of infamy like the Spidermobile that Johnny Storm of the fantastic Four invented, and the weeding of Aunt May to Doctor Octopus. We see the beginnings of Peter Parker and Mary Jane, the start of Harry Osborn starting to go insane like father, like son. The stories really Marvel Masterworks: The Amazing Spider-Man Volume 13 collects The Amazing Spider-Man issues 121-131.

Four Star Reviews:

Under the Whispering Door by T. J. Klune is a novel about life but takes place in afterlife/inbetween. The description that got me to pay attention was A Man Called Ove in the afterlife. After having read it A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman is really good comparison, but I feel it also reminded me of the Albert Brooks film Defending Your Life as well. This book is whimsical and a provides a really interesting view on the afterlife. The characters are memorable and the writing makes you truly care for the majority of them. I loved the beginning chapter so much and what it does for characterization, the reader comes away knowing exactly who Wallace is. The pace has a few bumps in the road I liked the beginning but the middle got almost too philosophical and took away from the story a little bit, when the countdown got introduced the story got instantly better. The ending was a nice wrap up and will make you feel for the characters at the end.

Star Trek – Harbinger by David Mack is a prequel series to the Original Star Trek tv show, called the Vanguard series since all the action involves Vanguard Station. Vanguard Station is Starfleet’s furthermost station in the Federation, the station is in-between two enemies the Klingons and the Tholians and also a warp lane to the new frontier. This story is full of political intrigue and introduces a lot of characters. This is a ensemble story about corruption the USS Enterprise plays a part of it but can’t say it is the main focus. I know this will disappoint some seeing Kirk and Spock as part of an ensemble than the leads. I did not mind it and liked the new characters that all have their own agendas. The Vanguard series is 9 books and this first one set up a lot, of characters and a lot of conflict some that was resolved and some to come.

Three Star Reviews:

Sunshine by Robin McKinley is a smart interesting look at vampires, and adds to the genre. The opening is really great what if a vampire and it’s victim were chained together, the vampire doesn’t want to bite her but might not have a choice. That opening is great and offers a lot of promise, but the story to its credit goes in a different way. My problem is it takes away of a lot of the danger, the gang of vampires who were scary at first somehow don’t feel like a bigger threat then her friends and family finding out she has been hiding a big vampire secret. The world building is one of the best things and learning about all the magic and different creatures that are out there.

Wretched Waterpark by Kiersten White is a middle grade mystery about teens who have a week long pass at the worst waterpark ever. The book felt like a mix of Unfortunate Events series by Lemony Snicket mixed with One Day at Horrorland by R. L. Stine, with a little bit of Disney’s Phineas and Ferb thrown in. My biggest complaint is I feel like this book couldn’t settle on a style and tried a couple. This book reads way to slow for a middle grade book, I felt at the beginning the chapters are too long. The book got more exciting at the end and had a worthwhile climax with most things getting wrapped up. The book had some moments of humor, but needed more in my opinion.

Goosebumps: Cuckoo Clock of Doom by R.L. Stine is a time travel adventure in reverse. Cuckoo Clock of Doom is Goosebumps book 28 in the original series order. This is one of the least scary goosebumps books. It has one of the most obnoxious characters in Tara. The story is more of a morality tale that is done for laughs, it reminds me a lot of Goosebumps book Be Careful What You Wish For where it is the lead character’s choices that get them in trouble.

Two Star Reviews:

Five Total Strangers by Natalie D. Richards is a young adult thriller about a horrible spontaneous road trip in the middle of a blizzard when five strangers are left stranded when their plane is grounded for weather. But one of the strangers is anything but and they a plan for one of the passengers. This thriller takes forever to truly thrill. Most of the time reading I felt now would be a good time for something to happen and nothing does. The plan is to drive everyone crazy then take one passenger during the blizzard and I guess live with them? The plan is paper thin if you can even call it that. The Stalker is crazy and if they would have just played it cool, could have had all they desire. The fun of the novel is who is messing with the strangers, and this is what the author does well, causing you to doubt and change who it is.