Book Review: Harlem Shuffle by Colson Whitehead

Harlem Shuffle by Colson Whitehead is a historical fiction of hustling in the late 50’s early 60’s Harlem, New York. The scenery and atmosphere of the times feels so genuine and accurate. The novel is broken down into 3 interconnected novellas that are years apart, the stories keep the same characters and we see those characters change and evolve over time. Even though Harlem Shuffle takes place 70 years ago there are stark similarities to present day, protest over police / race relations, riots, and corruption of politicians. The language feels authentic and real, and was one of the best parts, I was bummed there weren’t more scenes of it. This is my first Colson Whitehead novel, the Underground Railroad and Nickel Boys have been on my radar and TBR for quite sometime. I have been told that Harlem Shuffle is not his best. I had a love hate with this novel, I loved the scenery, the way landscape was described, I loved the dialogue, how easily it flowed, but I did not care enough about these characters, I felt a lot of the conflict was resolved to easy and not very smart. I liked the first story the best and did not know that the novel was broken up by novellas, I felt there was more to the first story. I wanted more from this novel. Harlem Shuffle was published on 9 – 14 – 21.

Plot Summary: Ray Carney is a legitimate business man in Harlem in the late 1950’s. He learn’s fast and hard lesson’s from the streets. His Father was a tough no nonsense hustler that Ray has tried to distance and remove from his life. But being a business man in Harlem means you have to get your hands dirty, robbing, pay offs to cops and criminals, getting rid of bodies, and murder. He will use the skills that he never wanted to live in success.

What I Liked: I liked that Ray lives in the grey area but always thought he was good, but now his circumstances change and he realizes I’m not so good, but this is now just part of business. I liked how we get backgrounds to almost all characters no matter how small, at first this was a little overwhelming, because I’m not used to it, then I saw what Whitehead was doing, connecting all these characters some from circumstance, others had family connections, and some where connected to the birth of Harlem. I really liked the first story, and wished it continued.

What I Disliked: I felt like the conflict was over to fast, characters were still talking and then someone shoots them before we get any explanation, there was no ratcheting of tension. I t made me not care about the character because I felt no real danger for him, and what is frustrating is there was so much potential for the character and the stories. I liked one of the novellas way more than the other 2. The last one had potential when it was getting interesting it was over quick.

Recommendations: I really wanted to like this book but we just didn’t gel. There’s was really great dialogue but too few of it. I have heard great things about both The Underground Railroad and The Nickel Boys which I plan to read eventually, but this book I can not recommend, and would try one of those instead. I rated Harlem Shuffle by Colson Whitehead 3 out of 5 stars.

Book Review: Misery by Stephen King

Misery by Stephen King is King at his best. Misery is a deeply psychological horror that you can not put down. White knuckle thrill ride is not a term I use often, but the finale is so tense, that could not help being delighted and terrified of what was on the next page. Misery is a character but also cleverly the tone of this book and what Annie puts Paul through. I have seen the movie Misery, where the excellent Kathy Bates won her Oscar, and thought I knew the story, where some things were similar and right from the page, others were not which made it still terrifying, and had no idea what would happen next. The book is way more brutal and gorier than the movie for one thing. The weakest thing is the story within a story about Misery that the author is forced to write, I needed more about her character and the messy love triangle, that made me very confused, thankfully that is about a 5 percent of the novel and the other 95 percent is amazing. I have just read On Writing by Stephen King, which was a big reason I wanted to read this novel, King goes over his original ending which was pretty amazing, but he let the characters guide him to the ending in the book which I also loved. I believe this is King’s most personal novel and shows his relationship with some of his fans which probably scare the crap out of him, and dealt with his drug abuse at the time. King is notorious for not having the best endings in his stories, but I felt this one was one of his best I still think The Long Walk is my favorite but this is a close second.

The Plot Summary: Paul Sheldon has just finished his latest novel in a Colorado hotel called Fast Cars, this is a vastly different novel from his last and most famous romance novels the Misery Chastain series. He had recently closed the series by killing off his main character. Paul is so excited about this book he doesn’t make any copies and decided to drive back to his home, on the way a snow storm over takes him and he gets in a wreck breaking his two legs, Annie who lives in a the small town and claims she’s his number one fan rescues him and sets him up in her second bedroom. What looks like a good intention turns into a nightmare after Annie reads Misery’s latest novel newly released and the character is killed, she burns his new novel and makes him write Misery’s Return. Paul is at Annie’s mercy and makes his life a misery.

What I Liked: The amazing writing talent of King to make a scene practically in one room with only two characters so compelling. The flashbacks really work especially the caged African bird, which he can easily identify with. The background on Annie and her string of killing. The intensity of the scenes and the horror of the situations. I do like since this Story takes place in Colorado that, there is a link to The Shining, by one of Annie’s other victims that photographed the remains of the Overlook Hotel. I liked the little gems about writing. It is a small book by Stephen King standards and very focused through out.

What I Disliked: I would have liked to take away and understood more of the Misery story that is in the book, the longest passage makes the most sense about her resurrection, but every other piece of writing I was confused by. I also could have gotten what Annie actually loved so much about Misery, maybe she just liked her and there was no explaining of it.

Recommendation: Misery is fantastic and such great psychological horror. A lot of time when I have watched and loved the movie, I think why am I going to read a story I already know. Misery and The Shining have both surprised me in what was added and what was let out from the movie. This is truly on of Stephen Kings best. I think I have read a little over 30 and this is in my top ten maybe top 5. I rated Misery by Stephen King 5 out of 5 stars. 

Book Review: Marvel Masterworks: The Amazing Spider-Man Volume 11 by Stan Lee

Marvel Masterworks: The Amazing Spider-Man Volume 11 by Stan Lee is the book that introduces Morbius the Living Vampire the antihero that will get it’s own movie in the Spiderverse soon and will be played by Oscar winner Jared Leto and cameo Michael Keaton as the Vulture. This book bring back Allister Smythe and a new version of the Spider Slayer. This book feature the first time that Stan Lee did not write all the issues of The Amazing Spider-Man as he went to write a screenplay, he was still the story editor, but not the sole writer. The change was not glaring until he came back, I love his little quips in the editorial. The villains in these issues are Morbius, Kraven the Hunter, The Lizard, And Allister Smythe. This volume does have a couple of guest stars namely Kazar and Dr. Strange. Volume 11 brings The Amazing Spiderman past issues 100. which is crazy to think since I’m reading in order that I have read over 100 issues of Spiderman. This issue contain 4 stories that are either 2 to 3 issue arcs, I liked two stories a lot, the other stories one was okay and one was pretty horrible. One of the stories featured Flash Thompson as a soldier returning from Vietnamwhich was interesting for it’s time stamp and showed a little PTSD, also commenting on the complexity of war and misunderstanding. I had a love hate relationship with the art, Gil Kane draws a great Spiderman but a horrible Peter Parker, he’s not good with people but adds such intricate details to landscape in panels. I prefer Romita who is more balanced in all things. The Amazing Spider-Man Volume 11 collects issues 100-109.

The Plot Summaries:Peter Parker ready for a normal life concocts a formula to reverse his spider powers only it has the opposite effect and makes him more spider like and grows extra limbs. Perker wants to run from the world and can with Dr. Kurt Connors help and his summer home by the beach, but little does Spiderman know another creature is trying to hide from the world named Morbius the Living Vampire. The Daily Bugle is in trouble and Jonah Jamison thinks a picture of a rare monster form the Savage Land will do it, and he knows just the photographer. Jamison is humiliated by Spiderman and wants revenge in walks Allister Smythe and his newest Spider Slayer, but Jamison keeps loosing control of the robot is it him or is it Smythe who is in control, either are not good for Spiderman. Flash Thompson Returns from the jungles of Vietnam much more serious. He is getting followed for what some believe are war crimes, Spiderman saves him and believes his innocence, but a there is a bigger force that Spiderman can’t protect him, enter Dr. Strange.

What I Liked: The Spider Slayer storyline was great and a welcomed return for Stan Lee back in the helm. The Spiderman quips were great and so were the editorial ones. I liked the Morbius backstory and how the Lizard got involved in the story and how he changed. I liked Gwen and Spiderman’s relationship the best, Gwen has a moment where she snaps at Aunt May for babying him and it was great. I liked that they discussed soldiers returning from Vietnam and dipped into the Civil Rights protest again as well. I thought more could be done with the 6 armed Spiderman but it was still pretty fun having him get used to them.

What I Disliked: The Savage Land storyline was a horrible remake of King Kong when he was on Skull Island an excuse to draw Gwen Stacy in a bikini. Te only bright spot was Kraven the Hunter. I laughed in the backstory for Morbius he changes from man to Vampire due to a rare blood disease that he tries to cure when he turns to vampire it changed his regular clothes to a costume.

Recommendation: I liked more than half of the stories, this book had good insight in to social issues at the time. I thought some of the storytelling could have been stronger but it was still interesting and worth your time. I rated Marvel Masterworks: The Amazing Spider-Man Volume 11 by Stan Lee 4 out of 5 stars.

Book Review: The Maid by Nita Prose

The Maid by Nita Prose is a warm hearted mystery that is all about character in a really strong debut novel. What makes this novel so unique is that you have a main character that can not read emotion. We see everything through that person’s eyes so a conversation can feel innocent but can be sinister, some things will be instant red flags, but most will have you guessing the intent of the character. The mystery is good and filled with lots of layers, that kept my interest. Molly the maid has so much charm that so just can’t help but root for against all the odds she’s up against. The Maid reminded me a lot of The Curious Incident of the Dog in Nighttime by Mark Haddon which is good company. The beginning took a little while to get going, I thought the chapter lengths at the beginning were too long. The final twist takes a little too long after the main stories conclusion, it was a good twist not for the narrative but for the character of Molly. People have described this as a cozy mystery, which I think fits there is a murder but not a violent one, Molly is a very likable character full of empathy. This book is getting a lot of buzz lately, the author was interviewed on Good Morning America, and GMA book club selection for January, Florence Pugh (Black Widow, Hawkeye, and Little Women) is producing and starring in the movie adaptation, which I can’t wait to see because the book is so character driven, there’s a lot for a good actress to play with. I got to review this book thanks to Netgalley and Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine, Ballantine Books I feel thankful to get since I requested it so late. The Maid was published just days ago on January 4th 2022.

The Plot Summary: Molly, 25, is a maid at the Grand Regency Hotel she is on the spectrum as light autistic where she can not read facial queues or intent. Molly loves being a maid, it is her whole life, she loves to clean even after she is off she has a rigorous list of cleaning for her own apartment. Molly was taught her routine and how to clean from her Gran, who passed away 9 months ago, but her words of wisdom and cheery attitude have stuck in Molly. Molly has just discovered her first body of Mr. Black a powerful, rude, business man who frequently stay at the hotel with his second wife. Mrs. Black has befriended Molly but is she taking advantage. The police can’t tell if Molly is playing the innocent act or she is genuine, because she is the main suspect.

What I Liked: The character of Molly is a stand out, a really sweet character but with some secrets. The humor in this book is great, the staff call Molly a Roomba. Because she can’t read facial queues she makes inappropriate jokes because she literally can not read the room. There’s a scene when she’s getting interrogated and makes a joke, that is so funny given the context. Molly and the relationship with her Gran is really special and will pull at the heart strings. There’s a lot a moments where you the reader know someone’s intention and have to go with Molly into the darkness that doesn’t recognize the danger. The twist at the end was good and fit the character of Molly. This is one of my first feel good mysteries and I was pretty smitten with it.

What I Disliked: There’s a lot of cliched saying by Molly that are a little bit annoying until we get the context which is 30 pages in and is basically an embodiment of her Gran, and is almost a 70 year-old trapped in a 25 year-old’s body. This adds to the beginning being a little slow. There’s also a lot of repetition but it is only at the beginning which contributes it to being slow. I liked the twist but it didn’t need to come 30 pages after the conclusion, the reader knows there’s a piece missing and Prose takes her time delivering the information.

Recommendation: I think this is a great debut novel, it has one glaring new novel trope which is repeating its self but since Nita Prose is a book editor, it is smaller than most. If you are open to read a good heart warming mystery filled with charm and not too much conflict then this is the book for you. Like I said this is my first cozy mystery and I was smitten. The character of Molly is a standout, and even if there was not a mystery I would have had fun and laughed at those inappropriate moments. I rated The Maid by Nita Prose 4 out of 5 stars. I look forward to what Prose will come up with next.

TBR: January 2022

January 2022 TBR list: last month was almost successful I read all 5 and a half of the 6 books. I’m going to stick with 6 because I feel it works best for me. I hit my reading goal for the year of 80 books by reading 83.   I’m trying to catch up on a couple of the ARC’s that I missed.

All of Us Villains by Amanda Foody and Christine Lynn Herman is a book I’m half way through it is the Hunger Games meets the Harry Potter Triwizard Tournament in  this is a bloody Science Fiction/ Young Adult novel that is getting a lot of buzz and sounds devilishly good.  The plot is a fight to the death for 7 families to control high magick. This book review is thanks to Netgalley and Macmillion-Forge.Tor Teen I twas published on November 9 2021

The Maid by Nina Prose sounds like a fun who done it, that is getting a lot of buzz right now.  This novel has Florence Pugh from Little Woman and Black Widow attached to star in the movie.  I don’t want to know too much on plot but it sounds great.  Thanks to Netgalley and Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine, Ballantine Books it is published on January 4 2022.

Misery by Stephen King this is a book that has been on my TBR for some time I always want to read more King. I have seen the movie and Kathy Bates incredible Oscar performance as Annie Wilkes.  But having just read On Writing by Stephen King and analyzing how he crafted the ending, I really want to read it.

Yours Cheerfully by AJ Pearce is the sequel to the lovely Dear Mrs. Bird that charmed me so much, just 2 years ago.  Following the events of Dear Mrs. Bird where Emmeline had been giving advice to the rejected letters sent to Dear Mrs. Bird column in 1941 wartime England.  She takes on new challages heading up her own wartime column. This book is thanks to Netgalley and Scribner it was published on August 10 2021.

Marvel Masterworks: The Amazing Spider-man Volume 11 by Stan Lee is one of the last volumes that Stan Lee wrote on.  This volume introduces the anti hero Morbius the Living Vampire which is soon to be played by Jared Leto this winter.  This book also features The Amazing Spider-Man issue 100 where Spiderman grows extra arms.

Goosebumps: Phantom of the Auditorium by R.L. Stine is Goosebumps book 24 in the original book order, this continues my quest to read all the Goosebumps books then give to my eager nephews.  This story is a modern day retelling of the Phantom of the Opera with a Goosebumps twist.

Best Books of 2021

Best Books of 2021: I read 83 books this year with 33 of the books being published this year. I will post my top ten books published this year and my top 5 of books that were not published this year.

Top Ten of Books Published in 2021:

1: The Four Winds by Kristen Hannah is a special book and my front runner from the day that I read it.  No book made me more emotional. This book made me think of how I would of handled living in the time of the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression.  This historical novel uses real events and puts its character’s through tragedy and triumph. This novel can easily get compared to John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath, but tweaks it giving it a new perspective, what if Tom Joad was a single mother with two kids; this fresh perspective changes everything. You will want to thank your mother after for all that she has sacrificed for her children’s happiness after reading. This book will make you teary eyed as you go on a journey looking for a living wage. The story based on true events will make you mad at how our fellow men and women were treated and some still treated this badly. The Four Winds drew me in right at the building as I connected with young naïve Elsa and her fairy tale visions of love.

2: Local Woman Missing by Mary Kubica had me at the uniqueness of it’s story telling.  It hooks you so deep in the beginning and doesn’t let up until you the reader know everything. Local Woman Missing is a uniquely told mystery because it is told in reverse, but you still don’t know all the facts making it very compelling. There are some big twist that will make you change your whole theory of what is going on. The writing was good with just enough description to let you visualize what is going on. The narrative is told at three different times by four different people in the story, at first this is a little dizzying, but then starts to fit in to place. The way the story is told makes it brilliant, if it was told the normal way it would still be good but they way it is told makes you question and doubt everything.

3: The Book of Accidents by Chuck Wendig  This book is both entertaining and super scary, itis a refreshingly original horror novel that mixes genres with a lot of gore. Chuck Wendig wrote my favorite novels of 2019 with The Wanders which again was totally original horror that mixes genres, so I was very excited when netgalley picked me to receive an advanced readers copy. The Book of Accidents is original but there are two books that I will use to compare to put you in the ballpark Blake Crouch’s Recursion meets Stephen King’s The Dark Tower series. If those books had a baby you would have The Book of Accidents. The Plot is crazy the best thing is to not know too much going in.

4: We Begin at the End by Chris Whitaker was a book not even on my radar but a lot of my friends and people I follow had it as their best mystery in the Goodreads Choice Awards, so I had to check it out and so glad that I did.  We Begin at the End is a slow burn mystery that looks at how one mistake can define a future of hurt. This mystery balances  being heart breaking, yet so so full of a beating heart that drives the narrative. You feel every death and every reveal will change your perception. This is a mystery that is character driven, I feel like if there was no mystery I still would have been interested in the characters. The characters and circumstances will give you chills and it gave me an ugly happy cry. There’s a lot of Darkness in this story but a light at the end of the tunnel that burns bright with hope.

Concrete Rose Angie Thomas

5: Concrete Rose by Angie Thomas is a prequel that feels like a sequel. It is a story that is so good, even if it was not connected to The Hate U Give this story would still be 5 stars.  Concrete Rose is a prequel to The Hate U Give. This story follows a lot of storylines that were backstory in The Hate U Give and the Carter family, like how Star got her middle name, and the tricky parenting of Seven. I feel you did not have to read The Hate U Give to enjoy this but you will enjoy The Hate U Give even more. Where The Hate U Give was more about race relations and the Black Lives Movement, this novel is more about responsibility and self ownership. I think this is an important story about teen pregnancy, stepping up and being a man, the gang culture, and LGBTQ acceptance. This book is at times corny, hard hitting, raw, and emotional, it will leave you with hope an moral story for working hard does pay off. 

6: The Last House on Needless Street by Catriona Ward, A great horror/mystery that is insanely good. The book has a twist that will change you world and open yourself to a new way of thinking. This is one of the best well rounded stories that I have read in some time, everything fits and it does not feel forced. The big twist is explained and all the loose ends are tied up so well. What is cool about the big twist is if you pay attention and open your mind you can figure it out, I was back and forth on what was coming guessing some parts but not all.

7: The Apocalypse Seven by Gene Doucette is my favorite Science Fiction of the year hands down, I was not expecting to like this books so much but was pleasantly surprised.  The Apocalypse Seven is a fantastic science fiction thriller with a clever ending you will not see coming. This book is The Wanders by Chuck Wendig meets Contact by Carl Sagan. A really good mix of the apocalypse meets alien involvement. The characters are unique only a couple are annoying, by most in a quirky sort of way. The plot moves pretty fast and the more you find out is pretty interesting, every chapter digs more into the mystery. The finale is was really clever in what it means, I was kind of disappointed in the direction it was going but the book has a twist that totally redeems its self.

8: Later by Stephen King is a really fun ghost story, about a boy who can see ghosts and talk to them is it a gift or a curse. I would say it is the Sixth Sense meets combined with a short story he wrote in if it bleeds Mr. Harrigan’s phone, this story went in another direction and it was good. Later was part of the Hard Case Crime series, that not really a series but more of a style of books. This is my fourth so far and favorite. Later is a good fun ride that gets exciting and a little gruesome.

9: The Final Girl Support Group by Grady Hendrix is a slasher mystery, that uses a mash up up all our favorite final girls from the movies. It was fun to find out the girls origins and from what movie franchise they were from. The movie slashers depicted in this book are Halloween, Friday The 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Scream, and the outlier is Silent Night, Deadly Night. I like what was done with each character, and how these events were eventually made in to Slashers themselves. The dialogue is really fresh and flows so well. There’s a good deal of humor that lands for the most part. The mystery is good I don’t know if everything lined up, but it was fun.

10: Star Wars: The High Republic, Vol. 1: There Is No Fear by Cavan Scott is a lot of fun and high stakes adventure. This graphic novel makes up for one of my complaints in most books in the High Republic little to no action. This book is filled with action and light saber duels. This graphic novel is a page turner and over way too fast. One of my favorite characters from Light of the Jedi, Avar Kriss, who has been in the background of all the other books, finally gets back into action in this book and it was great. The heart of this book is Keeve and Sskeer and their padawan / master relationship is explored.

Top Five Books that Were Not Published this Year:

1: The Thief of Always by Clive Barker became one of my instant favorites books it is a wonderful modern day fable, yet the writing feels timeless. This story has so much heart, you can’t help but feel for the characters. The writing is really good very poetic, one of the best first lines to a story in a long time. When I read that first line, I knew this was going to be a special story and I was not wrong. This story is very fast paced I read it in two days but could easily finished it in one sitting. The illustrations for this book are pretty perfect, they compliment with the descriptions perfectly, it made me think of Jim Henson’s Labyrinth and illustrations done by Shel Silverstien

2: The House in the Cerulean Sea by T. J. Klune is wonderful, I only wish I had read this book sooner.  If Four Winds was my most emotional then this book was a close second. The House of the Cruelan Sea is a heartwarming Young Adult novel about intolerance in magical creatures the world misunderstands. This story is the themes of intolerance in the X-men comics by Stan Lee and Chris Claremont meets the odd yet lovable characters from Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Rasom Riggs. This book is mainly Young Adult, but it brought up some adult themes that were refreshing, body image, LGTBQ issues, and Christianity. the LGBTQ characters are handled with care and love like I haven’t seen before, being gay is not a huge revelation and the book gets that gay people are actually all shapes and sizes.

3: Network Effect by Martha Wells a hilarious science fiction that delivers in action and comedy. Network Effect is Murderbot Diaries number five. This is the only full novel in the series with the rest being novellas. I have read and loved the character of Murderbot for 4 previous novels. The series has had highs and lows, I felt the formula was getting a little predictable, then Network Effect came out and changed the narrative making this book my favorite in the series so far. It took the best parts, intense action, witty dialogue, human interaction, and character growth, and expand them. The pace of this book is pretty fast it slows down a little in the middle but after intense scene after intense scene I welcomed the slow down.

4: The One by John Marrs is great science fiction, where a scientist has found a gene that links you to one over person on the planet that you’re supposed to be with, your one and only love. That scientist of course cashed in and makes it a website that you send your DNA to get the results. This premise gets black mirrored showing the horrors and doubt that can arise with this technology. It gets you the reader to wish this technology exist then shows the horrors that go with it. We follow five people that use the website, some with reluctance, some eager, and some with trepidation. What I enjoyed is that the stories all have twist some come right at the beginning, some in the middle and some at the end. So as one story will slow down another will have a huge twist and totally change it.

5: Basketful of Heads by Joe Hill is a great person at the wrong place and wrong time revenge thriller, with an added supernatural element. This graphic novel is bloody, gory, funny, and thrilling. The mystery of why the victims are chose is captivating, as our hero finds out every one who is involved in this murder plot of is it all about the money heist. The element that makes it interesting is the murder weapon, an axe, holds a power that no matter what is severed the person can live and speak, there’s a lot of decapitations where people keep talking at first it is horrific, but then it turns humorous.

ARC List: First Quarter of 2022

With this year almost over here is my list of Netgalley ARC’s I’m already approved for the first quarter of the new year.  I have gotten a good streak of approval lately still waiting on approval of Anthem by Noah Hawley from the genius writer of Fargo TV series, The Kaiju Preservation Society by John Scalzi best title ever, The Golden Couple by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen always a great mystery never been disappointed, and Comedy Comedy Comedy Drama by Bob Odenkirk looking forward to his autobiography and his stories of SNL, Mr Show, Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul.  So I have a busy quarter.

January 2022

The Maid by Nita Prose is already getting a lot of buzz. It will be made into a movie starring Florence Pugh.  It seems like a fun mystery with a lot of heart.  Published on January 4th 2022.

February 2022

Moon Witch, Spider King by Marlon James is the sequel to Black Leopard, Red Wolf and the second book in the Dark Star Trilogy.  Reading Black Leopard, Red Wolf was one of the most challenging reads of 2019, but I found the story really rewarding once I figured out the writing style which was beautiful but heavy in metaphors.  The story is based on African Fairy Tales. Moon Witch, Spider King is published on February 15.

Cherish Farrah by Bethany C. Morrow is a horror dealing with social issues.  The pitch from Dutton is: in the vein of Get Out meets My Sister, the Serial Killer, about Farrah, a young, calculating Black girl who manipulates her way into the lives of her Black best friend’s white, wealthy, adoptive family but soon suspects she may not be the only one with ulterior motives. Which has me excited, Dutton publishing reached out to me to invite me to read it. Cherish Farrah is Published on February 8.

The Paradox Hotel by Rob Hart is a trippy new science fiction by the author of The Warehouse that Ron Howard is looking to adapt.  The tag line is An impossible crime. A detective on the edge of madness. The future of time travel at stake. I’m sold don’t need to know any more. I have not read The Warehouse, Ballentine books reached out to me to read this one.  The Paradox Hotel is published on February 22

Stars and Bones by Gareth L. Powell Is the start of a new science fiction series about people of earth on giant arks 75 years after earths collapse dealing with an alien treat and a murder plot. Stars and Bones is published on February 15

March 2022

Sundial by Catriona Ward is a psychological horror by the writer of The Last Hose on Needless Street, which I loved and gave 5 stars, so I was happy to read her next novel.  The coolest cover of the new year. Sundial is published on March 1

The Ravenous Dead by Darcy Coates is the horror sequel to The Whispering Dead, which was up for a Goodreads choice award in horror this year.  A graveyard’s new groundskeeper can talk to ghost, she attempts to save, but when she runs across a serial killer he does not want to be saved. The Ravenous Dead is published on March 15

Cimino by Charles Elton is a biography on infamous director Michael Cimino Who went from making the hit film The Deer Hunter with Robert DeNiro winning Best Picture and Director at the Oscars to making Heaven’s Gate the biggest bomb that almost made MGM lose the studio. I’m a big film buff I look forward to learning more. Cimino is published on March 29. 

Book Review: Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel is an apocalyptic tale that focus on the small things like loss and connection instead of bigger thing like how did this happen and how are we going to go back to society we once had. This novel is is masterfully connected through small gestures of flawed characters, theres connections started before the pandemic, durning the pandemic, a year or two after and 15 years after(which is the novel’s present day). The novel jumps around a lot which is sure to frustrate some, but I found the story was still easy to follow. The characters are interesting, you fell like you know them, but they are all still filled with secrets. The story theme is about finding yourself and being honest what you want out of life. I found the writing really similar to The Brief History of the Dead by Kevin Brockmeier which deal with an apocalyptic plague and the connections in purgatory. This book is perfect for a book club or a college discussion, there’s lots of themes and narratives to explore. This book has been on my Radar and my TBR for quite sometime, I wanted to read this because I saw a trailer for an HBOMAX limited series based on this book. Just watching the trailer they changed one scene which was for the better, So I plan to watch it soon as a reward for reading the book.

The Plot Summary: Arthur Leander a famous actor has died on stage playing King Lear, his death is memorable for his celebrity status, also the night of his death is the start of a plague that knocks out 90% of humanity. Kristen in present day 15 years after the plague is in a traveling symphony that performs Shakespeare and music to keep the arts going. Kristen was in Arthur Leander’s last performance of King lear and their connection as small as it was will effect this new society. A graphic novel that’s origins are attached to Arthur tell of a society that has struggles and will go into isolation influences society in a mysterious way. The man that preformed CPR on Arthur as he died has been shaped my this moment and connections. Authur’s ex-wives and son are also a great influence on this new world. It’s a pretty interesting read how these small interactions and exchanges can influence and change society.

What I Liked: The story of how the society of people lived at the Airport those 15 years, I found these chapters the most compelling. I like the prophet but wanted to know more about him the hints weren’t enough, I did like the reveal on who he was and his connection to the Arthur and the the others. I like the connections and the questions it asked the reader about the current society and how the connections changed it. I liked Miranda and Jeevan character’s the best, and the way that they are connected. I liked the really small bits of action, that were fast but tense. I do like the connotations between Shakespeare’s time dealing with the plague and the why are the player doing Shakespeare.

What I Disliked: I did not care for Arthur Leander, I get his character was supposed to be a bit detached to society, but his backstory cold have been a lot richer. I did not like that we never got to know Miranda’s fate since she was left overseas. I wanted Jeevan to meet Kristen this is one thing the series looks to have fixed.

Recommendation: Station Eleven is a good work of modern fiction. I would recommend this as a book club or group read because there is a lot to discuss. Some people have put this book in the science fiction category, which I feel doesn’t reflect it well enough, it’s a book you can get people skeptical of the Science Fiction genre to dip their feet into, but the only science fiction trope are the decay of society both socially and psychically. I rated Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel 4 out of 5 stars.

TBR: December 2021

December 2021 TBR list: last month was so successful I read all 6 books plus 3 more, I’m going to stick with 6 because work is picking up.  I am 2 books away from hitting my reading goal for the year of 80 books. 

Wool (the Omnibus edition) by Hugh Howley This is book one of the Silo series. It is science fiction in the apocalypse. The opening chapters are one of the best openers for a book, it messes with your perceptions, of what you think is going on so masterfully.  I love the story of how this book got published, as Howley would write chapters at a time online and built up his base.

All of Us Villains by Amanda Foody and Christine Lynn Herman this is a bloody Science Fiction/ Young Adult that is getting a lot of buzz and sounds devilishly good.  The plot is a fight to the death for 7 families to control high magick. This book review is thanks to Net galley and Macmillion-Forge.Tor Teen

On Writing by Stephen King this book is one of the most inspiring books about writing from the master storyteller Stephen King.  I’ve gotten the writing bug lately as I’ve been working on my short story writing here and there. I have read this book before and loved it.  I can’t wait to read it for the blog and learn from it as well.

Station Eleven By Emily St. John Mandel is  science fiction meets the pandemic. This is a book that has been on my TBR for so long, I’m finally ready to take the plunge.  The trailer to the HBO Max show is what got me it looks super interesting.

Marvel Masterworks: The Amazing Spider-Man Volume 10 by Stan Lee takes Spiderman into the 1970’s.  This comic has a death that will rock Peter Parker to his core it feature the return of the Green Goblin, and Doc Oct.

Goosebumps: Return of the Mummy by R.L. Stine is Goosebumps book 23 in the original book order, this continues my quest to read all the Goosebumps books then give to my eager nephews.  This story continues the adventure in The Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb.

Wrap up: November 2021 Book Reviews

Dear Readers, November was a great month, I read all my TBR list  for the month and added 3 off the list. I read 9 books this month. I read 2 graphic novel, 2 horror, 2 mystery, 1 new release thanks to netgalley, and 1 fantasy. I Read 6 books from a book series with Temple of the Winds book four in the Sword of Truth series, Marvel Masterworks: The Amazing Spiderman Volume 9 , Goosebumps book 22 Ghost Beach, The House on The Cliff, which is book 2 The Hardy Boys series and I added 2 new book series Hellboy omnibus series and The Black Echo the first book in the Harry Bosch Universe  . I read two 5 star books, three 4 star books, two 3 star books, and two 2 star books.

Five Star Reviews:

We Begin at the End by Chris Whitaker is a slow burn mystery that looks at how one mistake can define a future of hurt. This mystery balances being being heart breaking, yet so so full of a beating heart that drives the narrative. You feel every death and every reveal will change your perception. This is a mystery that is character driven, I feel like if there was no mystery I still would have been interested in the characters. The characters and circumstances will give you chills and it gave me an ugly happy cry. There’s a lot of Darkness in this story but a light at the end of the tunnel that burns bright with hope. We Begin at the End reminded me of Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird in the characterization of Duchess who could easily be a modernized version of Scout. The plot moves a little slow at times but the fantastically broken characters moved me past the slow parts. The novel lays out all it’s twists and turns at the end that will hit and hurt the reader with each one. 


Ghost Beach is by R. L. Stine is Goosebumps book 22 in original published order. Ghost Beach is scary, in both its nightmare scares and real life scares. This book is hauntingly atmospheric. It sets the tone early and will give the reader goosebumps. The twist are really clever and it ask you the audience what is going on? The final twist could be the best one yet, I loved it so much. The book is paced so well and a really fast read, that is hard to put down. The Scares that really work are the hands grabbing from the grave, finding a dead body, skin peeling off bones, ghost that can kill, and the final twist. This is a good story around the campfire.

Four Star Reviews:

The Final Girl Support Group by Grady Hendrix is a slasher mystery, that uses a mash up of all our favorite final girls from the movies. It was fun to find out the girls origins and from what movie franchise they were from. The movie slashers depicted in this book are Halloween, Friday The 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Scream, and the outlier is Silent Night, Deadly Night. I like what was done with each character, and how these events were eventually made in to Slashers themselves. The dialogue is really fresh and flows so well. There’s a good deal of humor that lands for the most part. The mystery is good I don’t know if everything lined up, but it was fun. The flow of the novel is steady, when there’s slow moments in the action, the fun witty dialogue made up for it. 

Temple of the Winds by Terry Goodkind is an epic high fantasy with dark desires and tough choices. Temple of the Winds is book 4 in the Sword of Truth series. This book was light on the action, but filled with so much high stakes drama instead. These last two books The Blood of the Fold and Temple of the Winds has some of the best writing your characters into corner writing. Goodkind perfected that kind of writing with this story; He will have a scenario that is life or death with two options both are bad one involves this bad thing happening this betrayal and the other option is even worse. Goodkind masterfully handles his characters suffering with a pin prick of light at the tunnel. This book flowed better than the others in the series

The House on the Cliff by Franklin W. Dixon is the second Hardy Boys adventure/mystery. This book is way more adventure while the first Hardy Boys The Tower Treasure was more mystery. The House on the Cliff features their Dad, Detective Fenton Hardy more, you understand a lot about the Hardy Boys and why they are so enamored by their dad and want to be just like him. The Hardy’s friend’s Chet and Biff really help them out and have their own chapter, after getting briefly introduced in the first book. This book is filled with danger, kidnapping and drug smuggling.

Three Star Reviews:

The Black Echo by Michael Connelly is the first appearance of detective Harry Bosch and the birth of the Harry Bosch Universe. The story for The Black Echo is used for the main story of Bosch Season 3 on Amazon Prime. I recently watched that season and wanted to know the original story. I had read The Black Echo 15 years ago, I still remembered some beats to the story but was still shocked by the twist and turns in the story. The thing I like about this book is we get to detect with Harry Bosch, the reader discovers all the clues with him, the story is very detailed, sometimes too detailed. I liked the twist and thought they fit with the narrative. The Black Echo overall story was good and compelling

Hellboy: The Complete Short Stories Volume 1 by Mike Mingola is about Hellboy’s is short stories from his discovery in 1947 with stories through to 1961. My knowledge of Hellboy is based solely on watching the films.  I liked half of the stories, some felt like repeats of stories I had just read. The art is fantastic I love, love what is done with shadowing and I love the uniqueness of the art of Hellboy. Almost half the book takes place in Mexico in 1957 and I feel the art was the best here.

Two Star Reviews:

The Woman on the Pier by B. P. Walter is a drama pretending to be a mystery, there are some mystery elements but far more drama. This is my second B. P. Walter, the publicist actually reached out to me to read this one, thank you Netgalley and Harper Collins UK, One More Chapter for the opportunity to read this book, The first book I read The Dinner Guest was a great “who done it” mystery, which The Woman on the Pier is not. The Woman on the Pier is more of a “I think you’re are responsible, but can’t punish who is so I might punish you if you did what I think you did” kind of mystery. The main character Caroline is totally unlikable, I think I rarely felt sorry for her. I have never read a mystery that involved ISIS, but can not say that now.

Marvel Masterworks: The Amazing Spider-Man Volume 9 by Stan Lee is an okay collection of Spiderman stories. This is the weakest volume so far in terms of story and memorable action and storylines. There’s a lack of long form storytelling, which is explained and does make sense, if you had a long form story and miss one issue there were no comic book stores in the 1960’s to get the missed issue, but it was definitely a step back in storytelling. The adds to the Marvel universe in this issue are the The Prowler who is not bad just misunderstood, he ends up donning the spider suit once in this volume and to a greater effect later, we also meet Vanessa Fisk the woman behind The Kingpin, and The Black Widow makes an appearance where she changes costume which is pretty close to the outfit she wears today. The only villains in Spiderman’s rogue gallery appearing in these issues are Electro, The Chameleon and the Kingpin.