Book Review: Dark Harvest by Norman Partridge

Dark Harvest by Norman Partridge is a horror fable about how one town has a crazy Halloween ritual that takes place in the 1960’s. This novella is a small story but with some really well thought out twist. The best thing about the novel is the writing which reminded me of a hard crime novel the way harsh metaphors are used. “It’s as black as a licorice whip under and October sky ” is one of my favorite descriptions. The book takes place in one day and we get 5 characters perspectives. The pace moves really fast and the climax was enjoyable. The big thing that it is missing is the history of the night, so some part the book reminded me of Shirley Jackson’s short story The Lottery with elements of The Hunger Games by Collins and a sprinkled with a little of the Long Walk by King. The cover art is so awesome for this book. This book is getting adapted into a movie from director David Slade who has previously directed 30 Days of Night and Hard Candy.

Plot Summary: An entity is born every Halloween called the October Boy which is a pumpkin headed monster that walks on vines and is filled with candy and has a candy heart. The October Boy walks with a butcher knife and comes alive at midnight, his destination is an old church, if he makes it there by midnight the game is over no October boy has made it before. The hunters are five days starved teenage boys who need to kill to leave the town and have their family set up very nicely. The boys are to crack open the head and eat it’s candy heart. There are no rules only death and it is every boy for himself.

What I Liked: I can’t say enough things about the awesome cover art which I hate to say was a big reason I picked this novella up. The language used is really unique and memorable and took me back to a 1960’s hard crime noir story but told in a horror setting. I loved the idea behind the October Boy and the twist with how it is born and what exactly it is. I liked some of the characters, some felt like they came out of early Stephen King novels but it fit in here. i liked the people manipulating the legend of the October Boy. This novel had some intense action that was fun.

What I Disliked: The rules for the October Boy were not written, if it makes it to the church what does happen, all we know is chaos once we find backstory on the October Boy, but nothing else. We never find out the why of the October Boy does there have to be one is it for good crops, it seems like it could be a deterrent not to leave but that is still not explained.

Recommendations/Rating: The story is a quick novella with some good ideas and great language. A really good fall read. I will recommend you check out Dark Harvest. It’s a good unique horror story. This is my first Norman Partridge book and want to read more just based on language alone. I rated Dark Harvest 4 out of 5 stars.

Book Review: Goosebumps – Night of the Living Dummy 2 by R.L. Stine

Goosebumps – Night of the Living Dummy 2 by R.L. Stine is filled with more dummy action than the first one and Slappy is now introduced. Night of the Living Dummy 2 is book 31 in the original Goosebumps series order, this is the half way point on my quest to read them all since there is 62 books in the original series. This novel is actually the one developed for the television episode called Night of the Living Dummy. Wooden dummies creep me out and this book has some good scares. The scariest moment is when Slappy grabs a little girls finger and will not stop squeezing and also find his head is full of worms. I liked that the curse is back. The final twist was good and doesn’t end with a joke, but end with did what I think just happened, happen. This book did have interesting pop culture references with the lead Amy listing to Bob Marley and the Beatles. The pace is pretty good and the story stays pretty focused, for parents that read to their kids this does have the longest chapter in a goosebumps story so far and it is the opener, on the kindle it was 17% of the book. I think this was the best family so far, Stine has written good sibling relationships but this was my favorite family so far.

Plot Summary: Amy is the middle child and dealing with that issue. Her family has it’s own talent show at which Amy preforms with her dummy Dennis, but Dennis is old and falls apart as she is performing, she ask her dad for a new dummy. He comes through and gets her Slappy that he bought used, the first time Amy uses Slappy she freaks out as she feels like she’s touching his brain which happens to be and old wormy sandwich. She cleans up Slappy and performs but something happens and Amy ends up bringing up all of families insecurities. Amy swears it was her but Slappy. Amy is constantly getting blamed messing with her older sister’s paints, she pretty sure it is her bratty little brother until she notices paint on Slappy’s shoes. Will Amy’s family ever believe it is Slappy and not her?

What I Liked: The dummy Jokes are kind of funny when they are not knock knock jokes. I liked the family dynamic, a lot of times the parents are just there and this novel Stine gave them more to do and I liked the way the family came together in the end. The worm in the dummy’s head was one of the scariest bits, as a reader I could fell the gross parts on my fingers. I liked the family talent show idea. I like the way both Slappy and Dennis were described. I liked the final twist ending. I liked the super tense scene with slappy and the finger crushing of the little girl.

What I Disliked: Slappy agenda, he sometimes wanted slaves then he sometimes just wanted to prank Amy’s older sister with paint, it was very inconsistent, if he wanted Amy for a slave why did he keep getting her in trouble where it pointed to her.

Recommandation: The story is okay, it is the first appearance of Slappy. I liked the first Night of the Living Dummy more. I will barely recommend this one, there’s some nice little scares. I rated Night of the Living Dummy 2 3 out of 5 stars.Here’s my full ranking of the 31 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) It Came From Beneath the Sink, 11) The Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb, 12) Say Cheese and Die, 13) Let’s Get Invisible, 14) The Scarecrow Walks at Midnight, 15) Welcome to Dead House, 16) Monster Blood II, 17) The Girl who Cried Monster, 18)Deep Trouble, 19) The Ghost Next Door, 20)Night of the Living Dummy 2 21) My Hairiest Adventure, 22) Be Careful What You Wish For… , 23) Return of the Mummy, 24) Why I’m Afraid of Bees, 25)Attack of the Mutant, 26) Go Eat Worms!, 27) The Werewolf of Fever Swamp, 28) Cuckoo Clock of Doom, 29) Monster Blood, 39) You Can’t Scare Me! and 31) Monster Blood III.

Book Review: Goosebumps -It Came From Beneath the Sink by R. L. Stine

It Came From Beneath the Sink by R. L. Stine is one weird Goosebumps tale. This book is number 30 out of 62 in the original Goosebumps series order. This book added the jump scares back and they were set up pretty well. This story starts fast and stays focused on what came from beneath the sink, and what happens if you take it out. This book reads fast because there is a ticking clock if the kids don’t do this one thing then someone can die. The monster is weird but I did like the origin and what it’s powers were. I liked what it took to defeat it and reminded me a lot of the ending to Ernest Scared Stupid. The twist at the end was okay I like that it was foreshadowed earlier. I think this is one of the better brother and sister relationships you can feel the love in their sibling rivalry. The plot feels like it came out of a 50’s B-movie.

The Plot Summary: Kat and her family have just moved into a big old house. They start moving in and Kat and Daniel are in charge of their do Killer. He starts barking wildly at an open cabinet that leads to the sink. Kat pulls the dog away then grabs the old sponge that the dog was barking at only to discover it’s not a sponge but a living thing. The sponge beats and hums her and Daniel end up fighting over it but they both notice that accidents happen when the sponge is near and can almost hear the creature laughing. They find out what it is in an Encyclopedia of the Weird and find out that it is deadly and the family is cursed.

What I Liked: That this story embraces the weird. There’s a lot of tension and a ticking clock element in the story that someone can die if something is not done. I liked the Daniel and Kat brother and sister relationship. This story felt fast and pretty narrative driven. I liked the made up video game titles that were totally 90’s. I liked the description in the Encyclopedia of the Weird and what the creature really is. I did like how that defeated the monster, but I think it was ripped from the movie Ernest Scared Stupid. I liked the description of the old house I want by house to have 2 balconies from two separate bedrooms.

What I Disliked: The plot point where the bully kid steals the sponge, it it looked like a dirty old sponge why would someone steal it and carry it around. Daniel’s best friend was super annoying and kind of the worst since he steals from his friend in the end.

Recommendation: This one is a really fun crazy weird plot, it reminded me of Piano Lessons can be Murder and how weird the plot got. This one was a better goosebumps in terms of story and staying focused. I rated It Came From Beneath the Sink by R. L. Stine 4 out of 5 stars. Here’s my full ranking of the 30 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) It Came From Beneath the Sink, 11) The Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb, 12) Say Cheese and Die, 13) Let’s Get Invisible, 14) The Scarecrow Walks at Midnight, 15) Welcome to Dead House, 16) Monster Blood II, 17) The Girl who Cried Monster, 18)Deep Trouble, 19) The Ghost Next Door, 20) My Hairiest Adventure, 21) Be Careful What You Wish For… , 22) Return of the Mummy, 23) Why I’m Afraid of Bees, 24)Attack of the Mutant, 25) Go Eat Worms!, 26) The Werewolf of Fever Swamp, 27) Cuckoo Clock of Doom, 28) Monster Blood, 29) You Can’t Scare Me! and 30) Monster Blood III.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Book Review: Black Tide by K.C. Jones

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

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

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

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

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

Book Review: Sunshine by Robin McKinley

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. 

Book Review: Goosebumps -Cuckoo Clock of Doom by R.L. Stine

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!

TBR: June 2022

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.

Wrap Up: May 2022

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.