Book Review: The Werewolf of Fever Swamp by R. L. Stine

The Werewolf of Fever Swamp by R. L. Stine is book 14 in the Original Goosebumps series. What is scary in this book is the setting of a Florida swamp called Fever Swamp. The swamp seems way more dangerous than the werewolf that slowly starts killing animals. This book helps if you’ve read other goosebumps books and are looking for the twist to enjoy it because I thought my first guess was just too easy, but that was it. The story thrives on misdirection and it doesn’t work. It is also a story that once you know the twist the story makes no sense, it reveals in the end that the Werewolf knows they are a werewolf and still has thoughts, which will make no sense when the thing or person is revealed to be a werewolf. My pet peeve in twist-telling stories is that they make sense no matter how far they go and it does not.

The Plot: Grady and Emily are siblings that have just moved to Florida and remote place called Fever Swamp. Their are parents scientist looking a swamp deers in in Florida’s Fever Swamp. The siblings explore and soon find out that the swamp can be dangerous, as they get lost, find a bog that will suck you in, and a hermit that chases them. The siblings get a fever and start possibly hallucinating as they here scratches and howling from outside. The fever only last though the night then they feel better by morning. In the morning Grady is attacked by big dog that knocks him down and keeps licking him, the dog is a stray that he wants to keep and calls him wolf, because of his size, he thinks this describes the scratching and the howls. He meets and makes a new friend in Will who wants to explore the swamp together, when they explore the find a heron torn in half. Grady learns of the werewolf and a missing neighbor. At night Wolf freaks out at the howling and tries to break out of the house waking every one up, Wolf gets put out and the family finds animals ripped in half in the morning. Is Wolf the werewolf? Or the crazy hermit? or someone else, he were wolf seems to be targeting Grady’s house.

What I Liked: Wolf the dog, is a little bit rough, but I like what Stine does with him at the end. I loved that the hermit over hears them thinking he’s a werewolf then pranks the kids as he runs after them screaming, “I’m a werewolf!” The Swamp as a character is one of the best things, the elements are against the kids. The snake bite scene was a twist on Lassie and I liked it. The final scene was good were we get to acknowledge that the werewolf still has conscience when a werewolf.

What I Disliked: Once you know who or what the werewolf is, the actions don’t make any sense at all. There is no character motivation of the werewolf. The only motivation is by writer Stine to have you not figure out what is the werewolf.

Recommendation: This is not the worst Goosebumps but it is in the bottom five. If you’re like me on a quest to read them all then you can’t skip any, but this one is a skip for any other reason. Even if you like werewolf fiction the werewolf only shows up in the final pages. I rated The Werewolf of Fever Swamp by R. L. Stine 3 out of 5 stars. Here’s my full ranking of the 14 Goosebumps books that I have read in order to my favorite to least favorite: Stay Out of the Basement, Piano Lessons Can Be Murder, The Haunted Mask, Night of the Living Dummy, Welcome to Camp Nightmare, The Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb, Say Cheese and Die, Let’s Get Invisible, Welcome to Dead House, The Girl who Cried Monster, The Ghost Next Door, Be Careful What You Wish For… , The Werewolf of Fever Swamp and Monster Blood.

Book Review: If It Bleeds by Stephen King

If It Bleeds by Stephen King is four novellas in one book, which he has done previously in Different Seasons and Four Past Midnight. As King has grown older his main focus has not been primarily horror, and this collection reflects his growth. If It Bleeds is my favorite story and the most horrific, Mr. Harrigan’s Phone reminded me a lot of his Hard Case Crime book Joyland, and how it was set up the first part was all history, but the supernatural comes at the end and well worth the wait, Rat is a story I thought was going to be a little like Secret Window just gone a different way, but it end up being a just okay modern day fable, and Like of Chuck was a story told in reverse and is more whimsical like his novella Elevation, which would have fit well in this collection. If It Bleeds takes 2/5ths of the book, it adds character’s from the Bill Hodges trilogy and The Outsider. The story is really good and the clear stand out in this collection, It is the one I see having the best chance of getting adapted into something. After having read Different Seasons and Four Past Midnight I would say this is the weaker of the three but, there is still enough moments for King’s fans to enjoy.

Plots and Ratings:

Mr. Harrigan’s Phone is a coming age ghost story. where Craig known for his readings in church is hired my Mr. Harrigan to read to him. Mr. Harrigan is a rich, old and very set in his ways. He and Craig develop a friendship. Craig wins money thanks to Mr. Harrigan and decides to by him one of the first I-phones. At first he rejects it, then shown what he can do it never leaves his side, even in death. I got some chills with this one. Phone calls after death are instantly creepy. Mr. Harrigan’s Phone has stuck with me since it was the first and I changed my initial rating of 4 out of 5 to 5 out of 5 because I kept thinking about it, after the story was done. There’s a little hokeyness but the story and the history really work.

The Life of Chuck is an okay story, the most interesting thing is it is told backwards. I was liking it at first, with the theme we are the center to our own universe. After having recently read Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers I did like some of the discussion the book did bring up, not one of King’s best just okay. I rate The Life of Chuck 2 out of 5. I like the afterward where he talks about how he came up with the story, better than the story.

If It Bleeds is a great story that features Holly Gibney, from the Bill Hodges trilogy and The Outsider, a woman on the hunt for the same changeling creature from the Outsider. This time she finds a news reporter that has changed through out the years and keeps reporting on tragedy that he feeds off. This time he’s not just going to report it but make it happen. This is great story that has some real nail biting tension, and an exciting climax. Also if you want more history on Holly and why she turned to private eye King adds a nice history. I rated If It Bleeds 5 out of 5 stars. My favorite story out of the bunch.

Rat is horror story about writers block and the length writers will go to break it. Will you make a Faustian deal for your success if it meant some one you know would die. This story is a modern day fable that is pretty interesting in the way it describes the madness of writer’s block. The story is very relatable in that aspect, but the story goes i a direction that was just okay. I rated Rat 3 out of 5

What I Liked: I liked that we got a mix of genres, and some combined. I have been a fan of Stephen kings for some time it has been fun to grow with him. I liked how the supernatural element in Mr. Harrigan’s Phone stuck with me, days after I read it. I loved that If It Bleeds gave a big glimpse of Holly’s home life, and added on the legacy of the Outsiders of Changeling. Rat is only a story Stephen King can write a horror story about writer’s block, I do which it would have explored this more, I was heavily invested when it stuck with this element.

What I Disliked: The Life of Chuck had potential I liked the first act, I wish it would have went more supernatural. For Rat I really liked the writer’s block horror, when it got to the rat, the story took I left turn that was just okay.

Recommendations: Two out of four of the stories over delivered, If It Bleeds and Mr. Harrigan’s Phone will make you feel tension and creepiness of the stories. Rat is probably King’s most personal you can feel the desperation in an author can’t get past his own writing. I rated the novel If It Bleeds 4 out of 5 stars.

Book Review: William Gibson’s Alien 3 by William Gibson

William Gibson’s Alien 3 by William Gibson is a graphic novel based on screenplay version of Aliens 3 that did not get made that William Gibson did back in the early 90’s. It is not a wonder it didn’t get made since it barely has the character of Ellen Ripley, but that was his only note, Weaver did not like the idea of Aliens Vs. Predator and did not want to commit to another one for that matter; funnily enough when she did agree she asked that her character be killed for fear of using her for Aliens Vs, Predator. This story takes the supporting characters of Corporal Hicks and the Android Bishop and makes them co-leads. Newt is in this story as well, but still as supporting cast. I think Gibson nailed the voice of Hicks and Bishop really well. Gibson admitted he was a huge fan of the previous films and it shows. The story is good about an arms race between two companies fighting to make the aliens into a weapon, with Hicks set to stop them but he doesn’t know if Bishop is with him or helping the enemy. Gibson adds one idea that is pretty gross but would have made the effect wizards of the time very happy. So we all know aliens hatch by bursting through the chest of the host, the scientist in wanting to turn them into weapons manipulate the genetic make up, and the cloned versions pop out of the head of the host for maximum gore and shock. This is a book I have been wanting read badly, this book was also made as audio drama featuring two of the actors that originally played Hicks- Michael Biehn and Bishop – Lance Hendrickson

The Plot: 3 Years after the events that happened in Aliens, the four survivors Ellen Ripley, Corporal Hicks with on side of his face burned by acid, Newt a small child, and Bishop an android that was torn in half, are all alive and sleeping in hypersleep, but they were not alone. A scavenger ship docks and breaks in they don’t last long as an alien and a pod attack, the scavengers sacrifice there over to steal Bishop. The Weyland corporation that tried to implant Ellen and Newt want to use the aliens as weapons in a civil war, that just happens to be with the group that stole Bishop. The arms race is on. Hicks is playing the good soldier while making plans to take over and destroy the Aliens, Ellen is placed in a drug induced coma as she violently attacked the Weyland Corps workers, Newt is still living in a nightmare scenario her dreams won’t let her escape, and Bishop is seeming to help the other company as tells what the aliens can do.

What I Liked: The gore is great, ore than a few memorable deaths and the alien popping out of the head when you were inspecting the chest, then the Alien kind of wearing the human skull was terrifying. For the parameters set that Ellen Ripley still has to be the hero but only giving her four scenes to work with, then I feel this story delivered that. Hicks gets a lot to do which I was glad to see since i was most disappointed that his character didn’t make it to the original Alien 3. Aliens is my favorite of the series and I felt this story still kept the space marine action adventure, more so than the slow build tension of the original Alien. The Art was really good on the aliens and Bishop especially. The cover art is horrifically beautiful.

What I Disliked: The majority of new characters remained really flat, I cared about only one of the new characters, that’s all. The exposition dialogue didn’t work for me, thank goodness I had excellent visuals, but dialogue alone didn’t always work. The story definitely improved when the mass killing started.

Recommendations: I think this is fun for both a casual fan and an Alien obsessed fan. Comic book lovers will get great visuals and a good story with lots of good action. Fans of William Gibson work get a good story that almost did not come to light. A big thanks to Dark Horse Comics who also did the original Star Wars script where Han Solo was a lizard creature. I just found out they are releasing the comic version of the original Alien screenplay as well when it was titled Starbeast. I rated William Gibson’s Alien 3 by William Gibson 4 out of 5 stars.

Book Review: Harrow the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir

Harrow the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir is a the sequel to the excellent Gideon the Ninth. Harrow the Ninth is book 2 the The Locked Tomb trilogy. Harrow was the necromancer and Gideon was her cavalier (swordswoman). The best part of Gideon was the love hate relationship between Gideon and Harrowhawk that have to work together or they could die. Harrowhawk takes the leads in this one, which was good, but her character is no Gideon, and I missed her raunchy smart snappy dialogue. Harrowhawk learns some cool tricks with necromancy that are the highlights of this book. This book is is one of the most confusing that I have read in a while. The main story is really good, but it’s really difficult to know where you are, the bounce around space and time. There’s a reason for the confusion but it did not have to take almost 65% of the book. I will give Tamsyn Muir credit, she made some bold choices in this book, that challenge and frustrate the reader for a decent payoff at the 65% mark. This book reminded me of the Twilight book New Moon where the most interesting character Edward (sorry team Edward) is gone for over half the book. This book was a challenge for me, I really enjoyed about 75% of the story, rest I was really confused.

The Plot: Harrowhawk passed the deadly challenges in the last book making some ultimate sacrifices. She has reach Lectorhood and has joined the emperor, being one of his necromatic ninjas. Harrowhark is now able to raise and animate the dead with ease and turn her own bones into a variety of weapons. Harrowhawk is now a student and has to learn a lot of hard lessons fast because someone is trying to kill her. She has to pass into the River of Souls who want to keep her and detach her soul from her body, she is also training to fight and kill the resurrecting Beast who wants to kill the emperor. This book is filled with so many twist and turns, that have deadly consequences.

What I Liked: The difficult choices Muir made, is greatly appreciated, I’ve read two authors where there second novel felt like a cookie cutter version of the first, and this book is definitely not like that. The twists keep coming and changing everything you know. Harrowhawk’s necromancer skills turning her bones to spears and turning her bone marrow into a weapon. The orgy that comes out of nowhere. Ianthe and Harrowhawk’s relationship. The huge spoiler reveal at the 75% I almost cried I was so happy. More backstory on Harrowhawk’s family and the locked tomb. Ortus’ character was a standout for me.

What I Disliked: The novel was confusing enough with figuring out where people are in space and time, could have really gone without having multiple characters with the same name, that was just cruel. The big twist was too long, it could have been teased a little more. I had a hard time with sometimes I would no people’s names and actions but get no description. The settings needed bette descriptions as well, I could not visualize the spaceship for my life.

Recommendations: This is a good sequel that expands the story and world building. This is a book where you must read the first book to read this one, you are just thrown into the story, and expected to remember character from the last book and there importance in that story. If Harrowhawk was your favorite character in Gideon the Ninth then you will love this book. The book is LGTBQ friendly with having multiple lesbian, and bisexual characters. I rated Harrow the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir 3 out of 5 stars. I was really split on this one 3.5 would be the accurate for this book.

TBR: October 2020

October 2020 TBR list: last month was so successful I read all 7 books ; I decided to do it again and add another 7 and knock out some horror books I haven’t gotten too.   This month will be spooktackular.

Harrow the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir is the sequel to Gideon the Ninth a book I read last month.  Lesbian necromancer got me intrigued, but the great story and world building had me really excited for the next book.  Gideon’s love hate relationship with Harrow made the last book work so well, so with Harrow taking the center stage, things could get interesting. I’m more than half way done with this book I went in a direction I wouldn’t have predicted. I’ll let you know if it was a good or bad decision soon.

If It Bleeds by Stephen King it is rare when I read a Stephen King book in the year it was published.  This book is a 4 book novella much like his popular book Different Seasons. A story in this book acts as a stand-alone sequel to the Outsider, a recent Stephen King novel I quite enjoyed. Stephen almost always delivers the chills

William Gibson’s Alien 3 by William Gibson is a graphic novel by Dark Horse Comics that illustrates Gibson’s original screenplay for Alien 3.  This story continued off Aliens the movie with all the last surivors of the film making it, where in the original movie only Ellen Ripley survived the journey and lands on a prison planet.   I really want to check out the audible where stars Lance Hendrickson and Michael Biehn do the voice of their original characters.

Kingdom of the Wicked by Kerri Manicalco is the first book of a new series, that has the Tag lines of Two Sisters. One brutal murder. A quest for vengeance that will release hell itself… And an intoxicating romance.  I like how Maniscalco write murder and the macabre.  I just finished her first four book series Stalking Jack the Ripper, so I was happy to get approved  by Netgalleyf or the advance readers copy that is published 10-27-20.

Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse is a book that is getting a lot of buzz and the start of a new science fiction series.  I don’t know a whole lot about it, but it is inspired by pre-Columbian Americas with prophecies, politics and dark magic. This is another advance reader copy from Netgalley that is released on October 13th 2020.

Goosebumps: The Werewolf of Fever Swamp by R. L. Stine is  Goosebumps book 14 on my quest to read and review all the Goosebumps books.  This is a Book I don’t know too much about, I bet it has that original twist that only Stine could dream up.

 The Saturday Night Ghost Club by Craig Davidson is set in the 8o’s Canada with the tag line of Stranger Things meets Stand by Me, I’m instantly in and have to experience it. It’s getting good reviews and looks like a lot of fun.

Book Review: Goosebumps: Piano Lessons Can Be Murder by R. L. Stine

Piano Lessons Can Be Murder by R. L. Stine is pretty scary for a goosebumps book; ghosts, dismemberment, and creepy teachers make this one scary. This book is number 13 in the original goosebumps series. The story is pretty creepy from the start a family buys a new home, and finds a fairly new piano in the attic, but it is very haunted and only plays a sad melody that their young son Jerry can hear. This story is focused, and narrative driven. The ending is crazy, and only one that R.L. Stine could come up with. I remembered this episode from the TV show and I usually say the TV show was better, but this story is pretty good, and it let my mind go to some scary places. I liked this book better than the TV episode.

The Plot: Jerry or Jerome is 12 and just moved to a new home just before winter. The home is a big two floor with a giant attic. Jerome explores and finds a piano that looks pretty new despite being found in the dusty attic. His dad wants to bring it down to the family room, where Jerome can take lessons. Before the piano can be moved Jerome hears a sad melody from up in the attic. The piano is moved downstairs to the family room. Jerome still heres the same sad melody coming from the piano, he investigates but finds nothing. Jerome starts is own lessons form a Mr. Shreek who despite the name is nice but something is not quite right with him. He has nightmares about Mr. Shreek and wakes up to the piano playing, when he goes down this time he finds a ghost playing, and gives a warning or a threat he can’t tell. “don’t play anymore!”

What I Liked: This is a very plot driven story, there is one scene where Jerry goes to a shrink because he keeps seeing the ghost, that could’ve been cut but everything else really flows. The horror is more of the mind, but works really well. A sad melody that keeps getting played in darkness, get me out of that house. I also found the hallways of the school that all look the same pretty terrifying. The climax is totally bonkers and outrageous but it fits well with the theme of the story. I didn’t mind the jump scares they all sort of fit.

What I Disliked: The floor cleaner monster was kind of a stretch. I did feel like the end would have been better if it was sort of a cult then what it turned out to be.

Recommendations: If you want a good scary Goosebumps book than this is the one for you. If you also want to scare your kid about asking for piano lessons then this is the book for you. For some reason this is the only Goosebumps book not on Amazon kindle for some reason, so tracking it down will be a little hard but so worth it. I rated Piano Lessons Can Be Murder by R. L. Stine 5 out of 5. Here’s my full ranking of the 13 Goosebumps books that I have read in order to my favorite to least favorite: Stay Out of the Basement, Piano Lessons Can Be Murder, The Haunted Mask, Night of the Living Dummy, Welcome to Camp Nightmare, The Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb, Say Cheese and Die, Let’s Get Invisible, Welcome to Dead House, The Girl who Cried Monster, The Ghost Next Door, Be Careful What You Wish For… , and Monster Blood.

Book Review: Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir

Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir is bloody and dark. I felt like it was kind of the Tri-wizards tournament from Harry Potter with a lot more death, horror, and necromancy. Nine houses are all assembled with the best necromancer and the best sword fighter, it looks like the necromancers and sword fighters duke it out in a tournament, but when keys are found and murder committed, the game becomes a fight for survival. There’s a lot of creative world building and puts a fresh spin to necromancy and dark magic. This is a novel I found really frustrating at the beginning, because we are thrown into this book, with no backstory, no since of how worlds and magic are set up, but then we get the backstory and I was blown away by how clearly all the strife between the two main characters of Gideon and Harrow was explained and made sense for all the hatred. The one thing in my TBR that really got me to check out this book was the lesbian necromancy. The book delivers very solidly on the necromancy, but the lesbianism is really lacking thee’s looks, there’s hand holding, and maybe barely a thought, and that’s it. So is there a lesbian necromancer? yes there’s more questioning and slight longing, and representation does matter but be warned you could be disappointed.

The Plot: Gideon is on her 87th escape from the ninth world, she has secrets that will not stop her from getting out. She faces challenges from some, but she is determined. Gideon is almost at the ship that will take her off world when she is met by the world’s ruler Harrowhawk or just Harrow. She makes her a deal she can leave or she can and hear a proposal. Harrow sweetens the deal if she lays a blade on her she will give her coin and send her on the way, but if she loses then she has to hear the proposal. Gideon agrees and Harrow unleashes hundreds of skeletons from the ground, Gideon gets close and manages to take a glove off to reveal a dirty hand. Gideon can’t believe she lost when it is revealed that Harrow spent all night burying one to set up this trap. Harrow and Gideon hate each other to the core, but a proposal has them working together, with Gideon getting her wish to go off world as Harrow’s caviler and Harrow get’s a her world to get recognized and a chance to save the dying world by becoming the emperor’s hand. Gideon agrees and leaves with Harrow her first order is don’t talk to a soul, Gideon saves a girl from the seventh house only to have her caviler put a sword to her throat. This is a lesson to Gideon that she is playing a dangerous game. A tournament is set up amongst caviler’s and necromancers. Gideon does okay but soon learns she is out of her element. Harrow goes missing as a pair of bodies from one house show up and a set of hidden keys. It is quickly realized that the hidden keys are the goal and the secrets they unlock. Gideon and Harrow who are mortal enemies must work together to win and for their lives.

What I Liked: Necromancy in the form of Dark magic is really well thought out, and I liked that each house had a different speciality. The big reveal on why Gideon and Harrow hate each other was so well thought out, it worked for the plot and it made sense emotionally how those actions can lead to hate. The forty page climax is intense, I will complain that is was sometime hard to follow, but what I could picture was excellent. The scene where skeletons are created using the necromancer’s own bones was really cool and terrifying. The Gideon and Harrow relationship was special, and the highlight of the book about trusting someone you hate. My favorite side character was Sextus his morality and trust were great to see in such a warrior. Gideon’s one liners, didn’t always land but the couple times they did I laughed. I loved the Sex Pal line the best. Such a haunting cover that demands the reader to check it out.

What I Disliked: The first part of the book takes a little bit to get going because you are so in the dark to how their world and magic work. I did have a little trouble always picturing the action. The guy waited a little too long to show their full power. Keeping up with all the characters was really hard, the main ones are easy but some of the houses blend together.

Recommendations: Read this truly original dark book. Gideon the Ninth is book one in a proposed trilogy called The Locked Tomb Series. I think this is one of those good hybrid of Science Fiction and Fantasy with a little bit of Horror. This book say the F-word a fair amont, but I would recommend this to a mature young adult. I rated Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir 4 out of 5 stars. Gideon the Ninth was pretty close to a five star for me, I already put a hold on Harrow the Ninth, and am looking forward to where this series goes.

Book Review: Goosebumps Be Careful What You Wish For… by R. L. Stine

Be Careful What You Wish For… by R. L. Stine is book 12 in the original Goosebumps series. This is an episode of the classic Goosebumps TV Show that I remember little bits and pieces of the name of the main character Samantha Byrd, the cruelty of kids (it’s even worse in the book), and the ending. The ending is the only redeemable part of this book. This story is tied with Monster Blood for lack of scares. This story takes too long to get started. The story is like that of the Monkey Paw where wishes go bad what makes this story worse, is Samantha does a good deed and still has two out of her three wishes go bad without her fault.

The Plot: Samantha Byrd is a tall awkward 12 year-old, who gets made fun of constantly by mean girl Judith. Judith is the ring leader who likes to torment Samantha. She calls her “Stork”, spills stuff on here accidentally on purpose, and trips her at every occasion. Samantha is on the basketball team for her height alone, she can’t shoot or catch a pass. Judith the star of the team, torments her again tripping her further, telling her to, “fly away Byrd and don’t come back.” Judith in all her rudeness ask Samantha not to show up to the game so they can win. On her way home she meets an old lady wondering the streets clearly lost. Samantha talks to her finds the right direction, the woman thanks her and says, for your help I will give you three wishes. Samantha tries to say that’s okay, but the old woman persists until Samantha says, I wish I was the strongest player on the basketball team. The woman holding a little crystal ball grows bright red. She doesn’t think any thing of it, she plays her brother and gets beat pretty bad. At the basketball game the next day, Samantha doesn’t feel any different, noting she shoots goes in, but the rest of her team can’t either. The rest of her team starts getting drowsy and felling weak making Samantha the strongest player on the team, at first she has fun with this, but the next day when her entire team doe not come to school for being to weak, she fears that her wish could kill them eventually, that’s not what she wanted. She visits Judith to see how bad it has gotten, Judith calls her a witch, and says she cast a spell on the team. since she’s the only one who didn’t get sick, Samantha admits to the wish which makes Judith only taunt her more calling her witch. She leaves in a huff and wishes out of anger only to have the old lady right around the corner, say as you wish.

What I Liked: The wish to be the strongest player on the basketball team is pretty funny, how it plays out on the basketball court, I liked R. L. Stine’s clever trickery there. The third wish is pretty good just how extreme it gets and backfires. The ending is good and is telegraphed well, and was pretty perfect. I do like the message, which is literally, be careful what you wish for. Judith as a mean girl is very effective, she was a nightmare that is instantly disliked.

What I Disliked: The story takes way too long to get to the wishes, and it takes a long time to see the effect of the first wish. I felt that the wish should be a punishment for a mean girl, not for a good deed, and the wish maker is just horrible at doing her job, saying, I’m doing my best.

Recommendations: This one is a pass for me, it does a couple clever things and does have a god ending, but really lite on the actual fright. The Goosebumps TV episodes was a lot better than the book. I rated Be Careful What You Wish For… by R.L. Stine 3 out of 5 stars. Here’s my full ranking of the 12 Goosebumps books that I have read in order to my favorite to least favorite Stay Out of the Basement, The Haunted Mask, Night of the Living Dummy, Welcome to Camp Nightmare, The Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb, Say Cheese and Die, Let’s Get Invisible, Welcome to Dead House, The Girl who Cried Monster, The Ghost Next Door, Be Careful What You Wish For… , and Monster Blood.

Book Review: Bird Box by Josh Malerman

Bird Box by Josh Malerman is a nail-biting horror story full of suspense. The horror isn’t in the monster but what the sight of the monster will do to the human. Malerman to his credit never describes the monster, and leaves it totally to the imagination of the reader. The monster’s sight will make the watcher full of rage and for most be driven to commit suicide, by any means necessary. We spend most of this story in the dark, literally, as the only way the creature is effective is through sight, so character’s cover their site through blind folds. The only way they use their eye sight is it every window is covered and know exactly who is in the house. This novel makes a simple task of going to the well to get water a suspense filled ride where every bump or trip hazard could mean doom. This novel was adapted to a Netflix movie starring Sandra Bullock, which enhanced the tensions, strengthened some of the relationships, and add a diverse cast of characters. The novel was did a better job of making the small moments suspense filled, while the movie enhanced the bigger moments, and let some relationships blossom more than get cut short like in the novel. I recommend experiencing both, I would have rather read the book first, but the book was so hot at the time, I couldn’t wait. This is my second Josh Malerman novel I read the underrated and excellent novella A House at the Bottom of the Lake.

The Plot: We meet Malorie with two kids both four years old, that all are blindfolded as they make there way to the river, for a nice easy blindfolded river ride to a destination unknown; but a promise of safety. We flashback to when Malorie has just discovered she is pregnant. She currently lives with her sister and got pregnant off a one night stand. Her sister and her watch the news as Alaska as been struck with a rash of people going crazy and commit suicide. They go to a drugstore to get a pregnancy test and see people starting to panic. They stockpile food and cover all the windows in the house, it goes great for three months when a piece of the covering falls and results in the sisters death. Malorie three months pregnant and getting desperate saw an add for shelter not too long ago before everything stopped, just a couple blocks away. She risks safety and security to chance it all to live in shelter with a group of strangers. This decision will change her life is it for the good or the bad?

What I Liked: The descriptions are what make this book suspense filled. We discover what things are as we get a POV of what all the prods. We get details on sound, texture, and of smells that put the reader right in that scenario. The character of Malorie from a meek character to a strong some what cruel mother is a great character transition. All the character’s and how they interact over so much strain adds to the tension. I liked the system they create to survive. The row boat and the wolves scene is pure tension, and one of the best scenes. I loved the ending, I felt is was pretty perfect. The climax is one of the best that I have read, everything happened at once, kind of making it two climaxes at once.

What I Disliked: The bad guy doesn’t get what he deserves, but now there is a sequel, so maybe they return. There’s the aftermath of the climax, that I was still bummed we didn’t get a recreation of what exactly happened as Malorie puts it together with feeling, we did get a brief one, but if we could have been told in a more detailed way of what exactly went down it would have been awesome.

Recommendations: Read this book! Read this book before you see the movie, the movie only adds it takes nothing away. If you want horror that will keep you on the edge then this boo is for you. Where A Quiet Place is horror for sound Bird Box is horror for sight. I rated Bird Box by Josh Malerman 5 out of 5 stars. I can not wait to read the sequel Malorie that was released only a month ago.

Book Review: The Ghost Tree by Christina Henry

The Ghost Tree by Christina Henry is a modern day fairy tale set in the 80’s. A town is cursed by a monster that lives in the woods is it a serial killer or something more? This book is creepy it is a combo of the original Pied-Piper tale, that lead children away with his tune, and the Legend of Sleepy Hollow in a totally 80’s world. I’ve read a lot of books about the 80’s recently, and I feel this book nailed the grime and dirt of the 80’s; the rampant smoking underage, the cool cars, the mischief of parents letting kids run wild through the neighborhood, and the torn/ripped jeans. The Ghost tree had a great opening scene that carries the book, there’s clever writing about the curse on the town and the towns people. I wanted a little bit more from this novel than I got, I thought the present day body count was too low for this type of story. I would like to thank Berkley Publishing and Netgalley for the advanced copy. The Ghost Tree by Christina Henry is published on 9-8-20.

The Plot: The quiet town of Smiths Hollow has a murder, not an ordinary murder, but bodies of two young girls ripped apart, with only their heads remain. The police investigating the murder go through the motions but seem to soon forget, as well as the woman that discovered the bodies. Not all forget the one’s that remember say it’s not July yet. Alex a police officer who recently moved to the town notices how the town forgets and investigates the crime making a horrific discovery, that a young woman dies every year in July, it is currently June. Alex makes the discovery that a woman didn’t die last year but a man with his heart ripped out. Lauren and David are the children of Joe who died last year of getting his heart ripped out. Lauren and David both have physical reaction when both the girls are murdered like they can feel it, and a trance went over it. Lauren and David are the key to stopping this monster in the woods.

What I Liked: The story is great, Christina Henry is so good at coming up with high concept ideas and this story is no exception. I love the 80’s vibe, this story did it really subtile and not in your face with it like a lot of books. I liked the towns reaction to outsiders and the curse in general. The backstory was cool and really thought out. I did like the power hungry mayor that knows everything but has his own interest at hand. I loved David the best character, with his cool psychic visions and predictions. The supernatural element the book nails. I like the climax a lot, it was action packed.

What I Disliked: the love interest for Lauren, Jake. Jake is in college and has recently turned 18, Lauren is 13 and about to start high school. Jake says lines like I’ve been into you for a long time, which is super creepy. I could not get behind this love interest at all. I was disappointed that only a couple murders happen, when there could have been way more, there’s a pretty good finally that finally has some death but too little too late.

Recommendations: I recommended Alice by Henry with a 3 str rating which I rarely ever do, but it looks like I’m going to do it again. I’m barely going to recommend this one, it’s a great idea, even it I think the execution could have been a lot better. The story had an epic potential but it just didn’t reach that level. If you like stories in the 80’s then you will like this one. If you like stories about small towns with big secrets then this might be the story for you. I rated The Ghost Tree by Christina Henry 3 out of 5 stars. I’m going to keep reading Henry we’re gonna totally connect one day I just know it, I still get excited for her ideals on books she has written like The Girl in Red, apocalyptic Red Riding Hood, I have to check that out!