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. This is my sixth Victoria Schwab or V.E. Schwab book that I have read and it is now a close second to Villainous which is still my favorite. So Gallant is in good company if you’ve read my review for Villainous and know how special it is and gallant coming in as a close second. Gallant was published by Greenwillow Books and published on March 1st 2022.
Plot Summary: Olivia is mute teenager and lives in a home for girls. She doesn’t have real friends and is constantly teased, but she does need them since she can see and communicate with ghosts or ghouls as she calls them. She knows how sign thanks to one sister, but she has come and gone and now communicates through writing which she hates or gestures. She can not remember here family but has a journal of her mother’s who was rumored to go insane and reading the writing it looks like it. She dreams of her mother whisking her away, when one day she gets a letter from an uncle, saying he’s been searching everywhere for her and must come to Gallant. Gallant is a place she knows from her mother’s journal, where she write Gallant is not safe. Olivia arrives at huge manor bigger than her girls home. When she arrives it is not with a welcome, the residents didn’t know she was coming, and want to send her away instantly, they haven’t heard about her, the invitation came from an uncle that died a year ago, who invited her to the manor and what do they want?
What I Liked: I liked how gothic and dark the story got. I instantly feel in love with the character of Olivia. I love a house with secrets story and there’s so many secrets. The villain was pretty terrifying and liked how dark and creepy he was. I loved the journals and their lyrical writing. I loved how fast the plot moved, when the action slows down you find more secrets out so I thought it was super interesting even when a little slow. The finale was super emotional and satisfying I loved every second of it. I loved the plot twist, there’s only one and it is pretty shocking and smart. The cover when you read the story really works well.
What I Disliked: I needed a little more about Olivia’s father, that was the only part that I was scratching my head, Schwab did make an attempt but I needed more.
Recommendation: Read this book it will have you turning pages long into the night, and for me it seeped into my dreams. This is a dark gothic fairy tale that feels pretty timeless, the only thing marking time is a car. Schwab is a great writer that keeps coming up with such original work. I rated Gallant by V. E. Schwab 5 out of 5 stars. This book is currently in my top 5 of books published this year.
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. Wereskunks!! I almost want a whole novel about the unfortunate creature, that is the wereskunk. The romance is a lot of longing, than actually getting together, but every time they touch it means more, and she has a human boyfriend (I feel sorry for this guy). The book title also the lead characters name, and the you know thing most deadly to Vampires (except in Twilight of course), are tied in really nicely. The book had some great humor in it’s observation of the vampire mythos. The ending is more of a whimper than the bang I was expecting. Sunshine was published on November 30th 2004.
Plot Summary: Sunshine is your average early riser baker, when she cooks it’s like magic. She enjoy’s her time soaking in the sun with a good book about the Others (vampires, demons, zombies, and were-creature) all who are real in this world. There was a Voodoo war not too long ago that kept most at bay, now there is a police force to deal with humans and the SOF who deal in the supernatural. Sunshine needs to be alone and takes a stroll at a secluded lake. She’s kidnapped by vampires, and chained to a room with another vampire, who the other vampire’s taunt. They cut Sunshine and leave her chained a few feet away from a starving vampire. Can she escape? Can she convince a vampire not to feast?
What I Liked: The world building is really good and well thought out with decades of history. I liked the magic system when that does come into effect. I liked the way Sunlight was used. I really loved the character of Yolande the land lady of the barn house and the secrets she keeps. The first act is really great we get all the history and the conflict of a human and a vampire to chained together. One of the better first acts to a story that I’ve read. I liked all the tidbits about baking. The humor it’s not laugh out loud but really subtle and gave me a chuckle or 2. I did like the one sex scene was one of the rawest I’ve read and it’s a good thing no metaphors, just exactly what is going on.
What I Disliked: Sadly almost everything after that incredible first act. The novel goes to a stand still with the enemy so far in the shadows that he barely exist and does feel like a threat. The pace was all off on this book, it did not help that there is only 4 chapters in a 400 page book. The final vampire conflict was hard to follow and over with barely any tension.
Recommendation: This review was a hard one since it is so mixed, but I can not recommend this book even with one of the best opening acts. I think for readers to enjoy it be ready for a different kind of vampire story and a slow burn story with good world building. I rated Sunshine by Robin McKinley 3 out of 5 stars.
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. he 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, guessed it but the events made me change my mind. There’s a twist involving the letters to the person being stalked that I liked because it got me to change the way I read them. The ending was okay, but it tries to tell a lesson about judging people based on their look, which is fine if the character didn’t low key threaten them earlier. I thought this novel was going to be a survival story which would have been better, the characters are interesting and have conflict but the low stakes thrills kill ant momentum the set up had.
The Plot Summary: Mira is on a Christmas Eve flight chatting with Harper who is an older college student, Mira lets Harper think she’s in college and Mira doesn’t want to stop the conversation to tell her. The layover flight is cancelled because of a blizzard Mira just hearing some troubling news about her mom, is desperate to get home on Christmas. She finds out Harper has rented a car and ask her to join Harper and her four friends, what Mira does not know is the group aren’t friends but total strangers to Harper and each other. Mira gets a bad felling about the trip but pushes it aside to get home. Then we see a random letter to Mira about how obsessed someone is with her, is this letter before or after, but Mira has made an impression on someone, and it is not good.
What I Liked: The letter to Mira and the twist of when they when the reader finds out they were written, not a big twist but it changed my perspective of how I read it. The who done it aspect of the book is the best, even if the events were low key it was still fun guessing who was responsible. I genuinely liked the five main characters and all the conflict they created together. I liked that their was an LGTBQ character in the group.
What I Disliked: That the thrills are so low key, the people they meet along the way interactions are more thrilling than what the stalker is doing. The stalkers plan makes zero sense at all. The lesson at the end of don’t judge a book by it’s cover is cliched and they had a general need to not trust him based on action, not just looks. The pacing for me was okay but I kept reading for something to happen and it took a really long time for it too happen.
Recommendations: This is a triller with so few thrills I would recommend skipping it. There’s some okay character work but not enough to read this book for that. This book will sadly be a forgotten thriller. I rated Five Total Strangers by Natalie D. Richards 2 out of 5 stars.
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. I can remember the Goosebumps episode for the Cuckoo Clock of Doom which was one of my favorites. In the episode you can feel the ticking clock running out, the story finally gets tense the last 30 pages or so. The story idea is really good it could have been executed a lot better. The final twist is the most sinister so far from goosebumps, and saves the book from being 2 stars. I have a sister that I used to read to and I remember reading that last line and it is a bit terrifying, this book is a reread but I could not remember the story at all, it has probably been 25 years.
Plot Summary: Michael has just turned 12 and it was the worst thanks to his little sister Tara the Terrible. Just days before his birthday his dad gifted himself with an old cuckoo clock. Michael is always getting in trouble because of his little sister he wishes he could redo his birthday knowing all of Tara’s pranks. Michael finds away to get even with Tara as she has become obsessed with her dads new cuckoo clock and has already been yelled at once. Michael thinks if he keeps getting blamed for what Tara does she can get in trouble for what he does, so Michael waits and until the cuckoo bird pops out then twist the head backwards. The next day a strange thing happens it his birthday, his 12th birthday again, did he get his wish? Or did something else happens, when Michael’s wish turns into a nightmare.
What I Liked: The Time aspect was pretty cool. The idea for the plot is a really good idea. The final twist is so sinister and one of the best twist that was forecast from the beginning. Stine did a good job of setting up interesting dates through out the day, that make the reader remember exactly which one and how he can avoid it. I liked the little thing about the door lock not working and getting fixed and what that sets up.
What I Disliked: The lack of tension and hurry, if I knew time was running out I would not sit calmly in school. Tara is the most annoying character so far in Goosebumps, but this one does play into the final twist. The plot could have been a lot tighter and the dates could have had more meaning.
Recommendation: This is a goosebumps you can skip. It’s not really scary and set up more as a comedy like Be Careful What You Wish For. I would recommend you checking out the Goosebumps Tv episode for the Cuckoo Clock of Doom it is tension filled unlike the novel. I rated Cuckoo Clock of Doom 3 out of 5 stars. Here’s my full ranking of the 28 Goosebumps books that I have read in order to my favorite to least favorite: 1) A Night in Terror Tower, 2) Stay Out of the Basement, 3) Ghost Beach, 4) Piano Lessons Can Be Murder, 5) The Haunted Mask, 6) One Day At Horrorland, 7) Night of the Living Dummy, 8) Welcome to Camp Nightmare, 9) The Phantom of the Auditorium, 10) The Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb, 11) Say Cheese and Die, 12) Let’s Get Invisible, 13) The Scarecrow Walks at Midnight, 14) Welcome to Dead House, 15) Monster Blood II, 16) The Girl who Cried Monster, 17)Deep Trouble, 18) The Ghost Next Door, 19) My Hairiest Adventure, 20) Be Careful What You Wish For… , 21) Return of the Mummy, 22) Why I’m Afraid of Bees, 23)Attack of the Mutant, 24) Go Eat Worms!, 25) The Werewolf of Fever Swamp, 26) Cuckoo Clock of Doom, 27) Monster Blood, And 28) You Can’t Scare Me!
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. Since this book has so many characters the only crew members of the USS Enterprise that we have any interaction with are Kirk, Spock, Uhura, and Scotty ( the book does mention that the new doctor McCoy will join them soon, all other crew members are not mentioned). I was happy to see a new female character that is a total bad ass and is the root of a lot of conflict. The novel has two LGTBQ characters, I like what it adds to both characters who are both from different alien races. I liked a majority of the story lines for new characters and how they intertwined with others, the plot was complex and made me read a couple things over, but overall I was entertained and want to read the next novel.
The Plot: In 2263 a Starfleet ship makes a discovery of a possible new species with an incredible DNA make up as they’re headed home. Just two years later the Vanguard Space Station is built near the discovery. The discovery has been made secret as Starfleet has setup the space station as a peace deterrent between two species The Klingon and The Tholians, but really the station was set up so the federation can research and keep the two species from finding and using it. The USS Enterprise has just docked at the station, and already is indirectly involved in the cover up, will Kirk and Spock realize they are pawns in this game of chess?
What I Liked: I like the political intrigue, it was written really well and I feel I got all sides of it, Starfllets side, the Underworld’s side, Klinglon’s Side, Tholian’s side, and the scientist’s side. There was a really clever plot twist that I did not see coming that kind blew me away. Of the non USS Enterprise side charcter’s I loved the journalist Tim Pennington (which this character is supposed to be who the school on Deep Space Nine was named after) and I loved the Vulcan T’Prynn who is one of the strongest new character’s to this series. For the brief LGTBQ storyline I liked how it was two different alien races and we get them to think how are they going to be accepted by their race. The cast is very international and inner species.
What I Disliked: We didn’t get enough of Uhura she has one scene that was almost all exposition, she deserves better than that. The dialogue was stale in some places, mainly when character use idioms, and there far too many idioms used in this novel.
Recommendation: I recommend you check this novel out. I think it is a good intro to the Star Trek novel universe, since it does not focus on solely on the Star Trek crew. I think people that just want to have a Kirk and Spock adventure might be a little disappointed, but when Scotty, Kirk and Spock make an appearance it is a good time. I thought this story was a good mix of both Chris Pine and William Shatner’s Kirk, wile Spock was all Leonard Nimoy. I rated Star Trek – Harbinger by David Mack 4 out of 5 stars.
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 in it, 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.. Here’s the list of hero’s and villains in this volume, Johnny Storm, Luke Cage (Powerman), The Punisher, Doctor Octopus, The Jackal, Hammerhead, Man-Wolf, Kangaroo, The Vulture, and Green Goblin. This volume had lots of action and really good art work. There was only one bad story and it wasn’t that bad. This volume had the most throwbacks to previous works. The stories really Marvel Masterworks: The Amazing Spider-Man Volume 13 collects The Amazing Spider-Man issues 121-131.
The Plot Summaries: Norman Osborn needs someone to blame for his son’s drug abuse and Peter Parker/ Spiderman gets the blame, now he wants to take something from peter. After Peter fails in stopping the Green Goblin he knows he must not fail again. Spiderman is labeled a killer and Jamison hires a ,Hero for Hire, Luke Cage to bring him in. After a woman is killed in Mary Jane’s building, peter fears but when he finds out who the killer is he gets even. Kangaroo wants a rematch against Spiderman, but he must get super powers to do it. The Punisher and The Jackal team up to rid the world of Spiderman, Who’s the true villain in this story? The Jackal and Hammerhead try to team up but one ends up going after Doc Ock and his bride to be… Aunt May.
What I Liked: how many milestone issues were in this volume. The pace of the stories was rapid fast. I liked the intensity and that villain has the stakes for poor Spiderman. When the villain say kill they mean it in this volume. The loved the way the fight scenes were drawn some of my favorite in the series, theres one move where Spiderman does a flip to drop kick to bad guys that was spectacular. I liked the Punisher’s intro to marvel, you definitely want to know more about his character and what makes him tick, this is definitely the PG version of the character that does not want to kill only stun. I liked how the narrative flowed from issue to issue. There was some good classic Spiderman quips in this volume. I was surprised how much I liked the Jackal a character I have never really heard of. I liked that I we see a scene straight out of the original Sam Raimi Spiderman involving the Green Goblin.
What I Disliked: The death of a certain character I built it up in mind to be so epic, I had never read the issue but knew it and it was not epic at all and it so could have been, big missed potential. I did like the cover for this one I would have went with the cover of the introduction of the Punisher.
Recommendation: This is a can’t miss if you care about the lore of Spiderman, so much happens, there’s stuff in this volume that elevated comics of the time. Maybe it was not as epic as I would of liked or imagined, but these issues broke so much ground for the time. I rated Marvel Masterworks: The Amazing Spider-Man Volume 13 by Gerry Conway 5 out of 5 stars.
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, i did like the macabre widow joke that is a character’s last name. The mystery when it got going was fun but it took me up to the 60% mark to get invested. This book is a start of a series called the Sinister Summer series which ties into the last name of the siblings. I liked where the next book in the series was going and it’s title Vampiric Vacation. I had just read and enjoyed Hide by Kiersten White which had a compelling mystery from the get go and needed a bit of that here. I read Wretched Waterpark thanks to Netgalley and Random House Children’s, Delacorte Press. Wretched Waterpark by Kiersten White is published on June 7 2022.
The Plot Summary: The Sinister-Winterbottom siblings Wil the oldest sister, loves one thing her cell phone she has named Rodrigo, Twins both 12 Theo, is the adventurous sister, and Alexander is an extra careful brother are left to stay with their Aunt Saffronia for an entire summer. Saffronia knows nothing about kids and food, she gets them each week passes to the waterpark called Fathoms of Fun. When they get there they realize it going to be anything but fun. The place is falling apart understaffed, and has the worst food choices. The sibling learn that the husband is missing and things started going downhill, with his wife running the company into the ground. The siblings decide to help find Mr. Widow the missing husband.
What I Liked: I liked the sibling relationship especially how the twins worked off each other ad used the other’s strength. Wil and the relationship with her phone was pretty great, I love how the twins knew there was a problem when Wil wasn’t on her phone. I liked the climax and how the mystery ended. I loved the cover art on this one and the sequel. Some of the humor was funny.
What I Disliked: Beginning was slow, it took me too long to get invested in the story. The churros joke ran its course, it was funny for a it, but did not need to be a running gag, I did like the final joke at the end though. The kids only went on 5 rides, I wanted a lot more, I feel like One Day at Horrorland, a much smaller book, had more rides. I need more humor and more scary situations too make this book work.
Recommendation: I would skip this book, there’s some okay moments but mostly felt like An Unfortunate Events fan fiction with not nothing new to add to middle grade literature. I read a lot of Middle Grade in mainly Goosebumps but I see this novel as being too slow for them. I mean if I tried to write middle grade I’m sure my attempt would be similar as fell, but this book felt to close. I have liked White’s more adult novel Hide, which I would recommend. I hope the next book in the series is better since I did enjoy the end. I rated Wretched Waterpark by Kiersten White 3 out of 5 stars.
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. The romance angle worked for the most part, as you saw the love between Hugo and Wallace start to grow. The is very LGTBQ friendly as the two leads are gay. This is my second T.J. Klune novel after I was blown away by The House in the Cerulean Sea, Under the Whisper Door is not as good but those are enormous shoes to fill.
The Plot Summary: Wallace is a lawyer and it is his whole life. He has no family, no friends and no life. Actually he died and has no life, a reaper finds him at his funeral, with only 4 in attendance his ex-wife and 3 law firm partners. Wallance does want to be dead he wants to be at work. The reaper brings him to a place he doesn’t expect, a tea shop. Where the reaper, Mei, works with the ferryman, Hugo, who’s job is to get the ghost to go through the door to the other side. There are other ghost there as well Hugo’s grandfather and his pet dog. They are there to help Wallace accept he is dead and go through the door, but Wallace finds a life, love, and finally a reason to not leave this world.
What I Liked: A really cool look at the afterlife. It would be cool if there was an acceptance period after death to get you acclimated to passing on. The characters Klune writes take on a life of their own and they become like your friends this is the second novel that he has done this to me. The relationships that are formed was great, romantic and friendship. I liked the side story about Nancy and how that worked out. I liked the end result of the Husk. The opening was one of the best. I loved the bits of humor through out especially from the grandfather.
What I Disliked: I did not like the look of the manager, I liked what the character represented but did not like the look. I did not like that sex was brought in at the end, Hugo and Wallace had this beautiful relationship and then sex is thrown in at the very end, first with the manager making graphic gestures of gay sex then the innuendos from Wallace. I felt it ruined their sweet subtle romance that was about hugs until they can touch then it was all about sex, it was too fast. The middle was just a bit too slow.
Recommendation: Read this book, it is easy to become attached to the characters, it provides such a unique look after death you will hope it is real. I had some fun with this book. I rate Under the Whispering Door by T. J. Klune 4 out of 5 stars. For the two books I’ve read of KLUNE he has a combined rating of 4.5. I will read another Klune when I get a chance.
June 2022 TBR list: last month I read all 7 books on my TBR list and added 1, I’m going to shoot for seven this month. I have two advanced reader copy book 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, I usually don’t read books before the published month but I can’t wait and need to read this book earlier. Upgrade is a bout a person’s brain being upgraded to do impossible things.
Under the Whispering Door by T.J. Klune I’m late on this one I loved The House in the Cerulean Sea so much, and put in a copy at my library and 8 month later I have the book. This book is described as A Man Called Ove goes to the after life. I ready for Klune’s insight and quirky characters.
Sunshine by Robin McKinley is a book that has been on my TBR for far too long. The description for this book is vague, but friend have said it is a fantastic vampire story, that I must read. Neil Gaiman says of this book, “Pretty much perfect.”
Star Trek: Vanguard – Harbinger by David Mack is book one in a nine part book series that is one of the better tales of the Star Trek Original series crew. I’m a pretty huge Star Trek fan and this series came highly recommended. This book is supposed to show the true horror of the damage a phaser can do.
Wretched Waterpark by Kriesten White this is White’s first middle grade book. Last month I read my first Kriesten White book called Hide that I liked. That book was YA bordering on adult, it will be interesting reading a middle grade book from her. I love books about amusement parks, Waterparks, and the circus, so this book is right up my alley. Thanks Netgalley and Random House Children’s, Delacorte Press for the advanced copy. Wretched Waterpark is published on June 7 2022.
Goosebumps: The Cuckoo Clock of Doom by R. L. Stine is Goosebumps book 28 in the original series. I remember reading this book to my little sister and it had the most sinister of Goosebumps twists.
Marvel Masterworks: The Amazing Spiderman Volume 13 by Gerry Conway. This volume is filled with iconic issues the first appearance of The Punisher, the sad demise of Gwen Stacey, and the return and death of the original Green Goblin. The infamous spidermoble has it’s origins in this volume as well. This is a volume that I have been looking forward, I know of the stories, but have never read them.
Dear Readers, May was a great month for reading I read 8 books this month. I read all the books on my TBR and added 1. My ratings for this month were really mixed I had 3 books that were five star, 3 that were four star and 2 that were three star. This month I did read my favorite novel that has been published this year with The Island. I read 2 science fiction/ fantasy, and 2 horror this month. I read I completed all the books written in a series so far, but more will be written, talking about the High Republic middle grade series. I started a 12 book series DMZ and continued reading the Harry Bosch Universe series, the original Goosebumps series, and the Sword of Truth series. I read 3 advance reader copy books (thanks to Netgalley). In a personal note I got married this month and got covid for the first time, so it was an odd double whammy.
Five Star Reviews:
The Island by Adrian McKinty is an intense, page turning thriller that does not let up until the end. The pace for this book is rapid pace even when the book as its rare slow moments, it’s still interesting. This book is suburban mom with step kids meets Rambo. The thriller aspect is so intense, but I also have to commend McKinty for his analysis of the family unit, I have never read a trophy wife quite like this. It’s one thing escaping backwoods killers, but you have to parent kids that are closer in age to you than you are to your husband. The twists are great, there’s not too many but they make them have impact. The scary thing thing in this book is the rational of desperate people scrabbling to make sure they keep their independence. The setting of the untouched island off the coast of Australia has that stranger in a stangeland quality, where the family has to not only escape but deal with the elements and wildlife of the Outback that they have only read about. This book is getting a lot of hype and advertisement; it is great to see it lived up to it. The Island is in my top 5 books of the year. I read this book thanks to Netgalley and Little, Brown and Company. The Island by Adrian McKinty is published on May 17 2022.
Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid is a great novel about family, relationship, and history. I don’t know if I would call this book historical fiction even though most of it takes place in the 1980’s no major historical events happen but you can feel the decade in the narrative. Taylor Jenkins Reid’s gift is getting to care about characters so fast, I don’y know how she does it but I’m drawn in almost instantly, and the same thing happen with Daisy Jones and the Six and The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo. The theme of directions and history repeating it self was layered through out, there was a subtitle passage about one character not turning a blinker and it is because at that moment his life has no direction. This novel is an emotional ride, there’s so many highs and lows like a surfer’s wave. The narrative bounces between the past and the present, we see the patterns and the life repeating itself in the past then in the present. The Climax was really well and focused on the right story, it didn’t wrap up every thing in a bow but you were left with a feeling the character would be okay.
A Night in Terror Tower by R. L. Stine is Goosebumps book 27 in the original order. This book has a lot of good scares both imagined and real. The books plot goes to places now Goosebumps book has gone before. This is the first Goosebumps book set in England. The pacing for this book is good it draws you in right away. The twist is really clever, and the climax is is pretty nail biting for a Goosebumps book. Scary moments are a stream of sewer rats, being lost in a foreign country, some following you, grabbed by a skeleton, and thinking you fell on a dead body. Something that is totally 90’s when the kids are in trouble they don’t have money to use the pay phone, thanks cell phone technology, I remember being that kid
Four Star Reviews:
Hide by Kriersten White is a game of hide and seek in an abandoned amusement park with deadly consequences. This book was not marketed as YA but the writing sure felt like it, I know White is known for her YA works. Some things dipped in to the adult along with the language but the writing format was very YA. I think this book can me enjoyed by both audiences, it makes great observations on privilege and generational gap amongst families and what they value. The story had good twists and turns. The narrative follows the 14 contestants, one person that helped organize it, and journals that feel in the history of the event. The story flows well and increases the intensity as the contestants get lower. The villain is best when not described. The plot was really clever and overall really liked where the story went. I wanted a little bit more from the ending but was still satisfied. The story features LGTBQIA+ characters that were represented well. Thanks to Netgalley and Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine, Del Rey for the advanced reader copy of the book. Hide by Kiersten White is published on May 24 2022.
Black Ice by Michael Connelly is a dark mystery taking place in Los Angeles and will travel down to Mexico to solve. Black Ice is book two in the original Harry Bosch series and book two in the expanded Harry Bosch Universe. This mystery is pretty compelling and full of twists and turns. The final twist is really memorable, I read this book 15 years ago and still remembered elements of the final twist. I liked this book quite a bit more than the first book. This book dipped more into police corruption, dirty cops, and the breaking of the laws for the means to an end that Bosch expanded on from the first book. Bosch as a character is so compelling, and is a joy to read his exploits. The pace is for this book was good at first then hit a lull when he arrives in Mexico, it picks back up to give a worthwhile end. The mystery was good but it did go into head scratching territory in Mexico for a bit everything was explained at the end but it took a while
Faith of the Fallen by Terry Goodkind is book 6 in The Sword of Truth series. It is the continuous tale of Richard and Kahlan and how they fight oppression and tyranny in their world. This novel is an ode to Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand, We find out the villain that has been at war with them through 4 books was a Communist, and we see how the villain home town runs. I have mixed feelings about this narrative, the end worked really well but at some points it felt like agenda writing and took away from the story, and even inserting verbatim Ayn Rand quotes. When showing tyranny and how the system of works, it is good, but the hard left turn one of the best villain of the series does feels forced to get you to read about a communist society. The ending was super exciting with lots and twist and turns. The flow of this book was one of the best one of my biggest complaints in Goodkind is not switching perspectives enough but this book was the best so far and really kept the story going.
Three Star Reviews:
Star Wars: Mission to Disaster by Justina Ireland is the 3rd book in The High Republic middle grade series. All the stories in the High Republic ( 200 years before A New Hope) are weaved in to fit this world. So far in the High Republic Series I have read 2 of the adult novels, 2 two of the YA novels, 2 of the graphic novels and with this book 3 of the middle grade novels. I’m pretty invested in the story telling for this series and have been intrigued where the story has gone. Mission to Disaster follows Vernesta, Imri, and Avon all characters that were established in A Test of Courage the first middle grade book in the High Republic. I was happy to see these characters back. The book starts off with excitement making be really excited, but then the story fell a little flat. The Avon scenes really steal the show and as a reader I wanted more of her, having just watched Obi Wan she reminded me of a young sassy Leia. Vernestra and Imri scenes were just okay some interesting scenes but as a whole just okay. There’s a small amount of action the Ice Gators fight was a stand out, but the other major battle scene the bad guys kind of run away. I reviewed this book thanks to Netgalley and Disney Publishing Worldwide, Disney Lucasfilm Press. Mission to Disaster by Justina Ireland was published on March 1 2022.
DMZ – Volume 1: On the Ground by Brian Wood with Art by Riccardo Burchielli is a graphic novel that asked what if there was a second civil war and the island of Manhattan was the demilitarized zone on which the war was fought. The Art and story are unique as they take a photo journalistic style to telling the story. The story is a stranger in a strangeland approach where the war has been going on for 5 years and an intern with a news agency gets thrown into to be a photojournalist when the star anchor is killed on set down. The story reminded a lot of the Kurt Russell movie Escape from New York as you see landmarks like central park totally changed to fit this new urban environment. The plot is all about raising awareness for the people still living in the demilitarized zone that are casualties of the war. The overall story is good but it feels like a string of vignettes than the story having an overall arc.