Book Review: Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse

Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse is a groundbreaking new fantasy that is inspired by the history from Pre- Columbian Americas. The story is rapid paced, with so much conflict, it is hard telling who exactly is on what side of the good or bad coin, but the story was a fun read. The look at politics and religion is the best thing, do you believe in the prophesy? do you believe so much in the prophesy you will do anything to stop it? Will you set up your own candidate for murder but look like it is suicide to take over? will you make a suicide look like murder to stop a war? These are all questions asked in this deeply engrossing novel. The novel features the first pansexual character that I’ve read it is a very friendly LGTBQ story. There are four revolving narrative each with its own agenda and unique backstory. A really great climax, I wanted more story closure at the but it is clear that Black Sun is the first book in Between Earth and Sky trilogy so it ends on a cliffhanger. I have known about Rebecca Roanhorse for a while, I have seen great reviews for Trial of Lightning, and bought it on a kindle deal, after Black sun that book will be jumping up my TBR. I thanks to Netgalley and Gallery books for an advanced reader copy. Black Sun was published on October 13 2020.

Plot: Serapio is blinded and carved when he is a teenager during the Black Sun, in twenty years when the next Black Sun comes he will be a God. Serapio has started gaining the ability to see and talk with crows, and he can also release a deadly shadow. Xiala, is jailed former captain, and also a Teek, whose song can calm the waters and people around her. She gets the deal of a lifetime, a ship, bailed out of jail, and a mission taking the mysterious Serapio to Tove to become Crow God. We meet the Sun Priest Nara a good leader that has an assassination attempt foiled, but she won’t retaliate, to most people displeasure, that want war and the priest to rule by war. It is prophesied that for Serapio to become Crow God he must kill the Sun Priest. Okoa has recently lost his mother, he is lead to believe at the hands of the Sun Priest, after meeting her he is convinced she was not responsible, but he is inadvertently involved with the assassination plot on Nara. There’s a lot and this is just the start of this twisty novel.

What I Liked: The backstories on everyone are really well done and reveal so much. This novel has 3 scenes of action that are super intense. The character’s are great it took me a little while to get on Nara’s side but I liked the others pretty instantly. The powers of Serapio and Xiala are really cool and keep evolving. The world building was done really well, it reminded me a lot of Scythe by Neal Shusterman, where it starts small and expands so naturally, also it reminds me of Scythe of how politics and religion work together. The visuals the words paint were easy to picture. The ship mutiny scene was so great, and everything leading up to it. I think pansexuals will be happy with Xiala’s portrayal. Serapio is like a blind Bran from Game of Thrones that actually does cool things with his power.

What I Disliked: I do wish that the ending had the closure of the story and not leave it so open ended. The Xe and Xir was really confusing to figure out. sometime it was capitalized sometimes not (I did receive an uncorrected proof, so hopefully this is made a bit clearer in the final version).

Recommendations: Black Sun is a very good piece of writing that I can’t wait to read the next book. The world building is new and fresh. If you liked Scythe like I liked that story I think they are very similar in the way the stories are told, but very different stories. This is a good little fantasy that is fun with a great story, that has a lot more to tell. I rated Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse 5 out of 5 stars.

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: The Devil and the Dark Water by Stuart Turton

The Devil and the Dark Water by Stuart Turton is a historical nautical mystery that takes an Agatha Christie plot and adds the devil. The plot has so many twist and turns that all make sense. The novel is a fun who done it, with so many suspects all with murder that will make you head spin. The standouts for me is the plot, however crazy it gets there’s always a plausible reason and character work is so good giving all 20 supporting characters their unique voices who all have their own motives and actions. A quick plot for The Devil and the Dark Water is what if a Sherlock like character was in chains and locked away and his Watson like compatriot who is a sympathetic giant that is more of a bodyguard than a problem solver had to solve a supernatural the crime. This is Stuart Turton’s second novel after the excellent 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle that was best described as Agatha Christie on crack! I rarely buy new books when they first come out, but based on his strong debut I did and I was rewarded with a well thought out who done it. The story did not blow me away like The 7 1/2 deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle did, which was my the number one book I read last year, but this is a great book that is easily in my top ten of this year.

The Plot: Samuel Pipps is the world’s greatest detective in 1634, who has been imprisoned and taken to a ship setting sail for Amsterdam to serve time for his crimes, what ever thy are. Arent Hayes is Samuel’s loyal bodyguard determined to protect him and prove his innocence, but before he can do that he has to stop a devil that boarded the transport ship. A leper warns the people boarding the Saaradam that Old Tom/ The Devil is a board this ship as he burns himself alive. When the leper is seen to they find his tongue had been severed and could not talk. Arent finds people willing to help but never knows who to trust as ghost and phantom boats lead to murder plot.

What I Liked: Really well written characters, both main and side. I was never confused with characters and there is an awful lot of them. The plot is really captivating and dealing with all the elements on a boat which is. character in it’s self. The twist are very layered, I did not guess who the killer or killers was, and was guessing back and forth until it was revealed. That for me is a true sign of a great mystery. Women are written very well and hold there own being very clever at a time when they did not have power. Arent’s character really grew on me and you can’t help but root for him solving the mystery. It’s great to see a big character not dumb who is still a gentle giant but a smart one. The going to the bathroom and what they wiped with on a ship at the time is pretty horrifying. The way the sailors are described – They’re only on this ship because they’d be hanged anywhere else.

What I Disliked: The story was always interesting, but it took a little bit for it to really get going. The after the climax ending felt unfinished, I felt the characters would definitively decide what was going to happen next, it left it mostly closed but there was still a crack that was left unclosed.

Recommendations: Check out the work of Stuart Turton great characters, really clever plot twist, that will have you guessing who done it until the end. The Devil and Dark Water is less confusing than the 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle which was the main criticism for people who did not like it. This book is a lot more accessible and told in a more traditional mystery way than Hardcastle. I rated The Devil and the Dark Water by Stuart Turton 5 out of 5 stars. It is a little too soon to call Turton the king of new mystery, but he’s off to a great start I eagerly anticipate his next work. I have rated all his works 5 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.

Wrap Up: September 2020 Book Reviews

Hello fellow readers. September was a good month for reading.  I read 8 books in September.  I read 1 graphic novel, 6 books in a series, 2 advanced readers copies (thanks to Netgalley).  I was able to complete two series this month The Stalking Jack the Ripper series with contained four books and DC’s Injustice: Gods Among Us that contained 11 graphic novels.  My goal this year was to finish up some series this year, I have wrapped up 5 series so far. I made a TBR for this month and read every book on it giving me more confidence for the month of October.

Five Stars Reviews:

Goosebumps: Piano Lessons Can Be Murder by R. L. Stine – This is Goosebumps 13 in the original series order. s pretty scary for a Goosebumps book; ghosts, dismemberment, and creepy teachers make this one scary. 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!

Four Star Reviews:

The Invention of Sound by Chuck Palahniuk is released to the public on September 8th 2020 Thanks Netgalley for the early read.  The story is a crazy one that connects a serial killer, a Foley artist, con men, and a grieving father of a lost daughter. The Invention of Sound is written by the writer of Fight Club, check it out.  The writing is very good, Palahniuk makes some of the craziest observations; also he knows his history when it comes to sound editing, you will come away from this book knowing a lot about the interesting world of foley sound; which is the creation of fake sounds in movies. The cover features a watermelon getting split open which is the sound used for a skull cracking in movies. This book is mind bending, as it will make you the reader ask is this real, is this a drugged out fantasy, is this mental break, or is this a dream.

Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir – The main character was described as MTV’s Daria in an action packed Science Fiction involving necromancy. I felt like it was kind of the Tri-wizards tournament from Harry Potter with a lot more death 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. Currently reading the sequel Harrow the Ninth

My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell – I have seen this book blow up the blogosphere and was the top five of a lot of mid-year list in July.  Stephen King and Gillian Flynn have both wrote blurbs about it. My Dark Vanessa is a hard look at abuse and the psychology of the victim that comes with it. This novel is powerful, because you can feel the truth in the words and actions. The story is fiction but yet feels so real. The novel is challenging in it’s descriptions of abuse. I found the denial of Vanessa challenging as well, you want to hug her and at the same time shaker out of her feelings to wake her up; despite all the challenging I found the psychology of it beautiful, as we see the breakdowns of each moment.

The Trials of Koli by M. R. Carey – This is the second book in the Rampart Trilogy.  I was blown away by the heart and the originality of the first book ,The Book of Koli, that I had to read the second one.  The premise is in future trees have taken over, they can walk and kill, society lives in shelter and relies on old technology to protect.  Koli dreams of being a technology user, but not knowing about technology he doesn’t know the system is rigged, with voice commands and fingerprint analysis.  He finds out and steals what ever he can find to make work he want’s a weapon, but what he gets is … a device that know one would think to use as a weapon, but in Koli’s hands he turns it into one. The second book picks up a second narrator Spinner, who is the woman he wanted to impress that lead him to stealing the tech that got him banished, that fills in all that went on in the village of Mythren Rood since Koli was vanished This book was ARC thanks to netgalley  and came out on 9-15-20.

InJustice: Gods Among Us Year Five Volume 3 by Brian Buccellato – This series is based on the video game Injustice: Gods Among Us.  In the series it ask what would the world turn into if superman lost everything and started killing his enemies and anyone who did not see the world his way.  Batman with his no kill code, is against this and friends become foes as the Justice league is broken up and heroes take sides.  This is Graphic Novel 11 in the series.   This volume takes us right up to when the Injustice: Gods Among Us Video game starts. Knowing that there was an Injustice 2 on the horizon, there was no way this series could end cleanly, the superman hate fest does not end with a hug and a hand shake but with a solution to even the score.

Three Star Reviews:

Capturing the Devil by Kerri Maniscalco – This is book four of the Stalking Jack the Ripper Series is a gothic young adult novel about romance and capturing the serial killers known as the White City Devil in the late 1800’s. This is the fourth book in the Stalking Jack the Ripper series. The series starts with Stalking Jack the Ripper 1, Hunting Prince Dracula 2, Escaping from Houdini 3, Becoming the Dark Prince 3.5 and Capturing the Devil. This book like other books in the series uses true events and famous people of the time to fit the narrative. In Capturing the Devil she use Chicago’s World’s Fair as a backdrop and features Nikola Tesla and H.H.Holmes. The novel also displays old photos of places, objects, and people to help you imagination. The story is heavy on the relationship of Audrey Rose and Thomas Cresswell taking up the first half of the book. I really like their relationship and how it has evolved over the 4 books, but I wanted at least a couple more scenes of forensic science which drew me to the series at the start.

Goosebumps: Be Careful What You Wish For… by R. L. Stine this book is number 12 in the original series order.  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. This is my latest review.

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: Capturing the Devil by Kerri Maniscalco

Capturing the Devil by Kerri Maniscalco is a gothic young adult novel about romance and capturing the serial killers known as the White City Devil in the late 1800’s. This is the fourth book in the Stalking Jack the Ripper series. The series starts with Stalking Jack the Ripper 1, Hunting Prince Dracula 2, Escaping from Houdini 3, Becoming the Dark Prince 3.5 and Capturing the Devil. This book like other books in the series uses true events and famous people of the time to fit the narrative. In Capturing the Devil she use Chicago’s World’s Fair as a backdrop and features Nikola Tesla and H.H.Holmes. The novel also displays old photos of places, objects, and people to help you imagination. The story is heavy on the relationship of Audrey Rose and Thomas Cresswell taking up the first half of the book. I really like their relationship and how it has evolved over the 4 books, but I wanted at least a couple more scenes of forensic science which drew me to the series at the start. There’s drama and tension (most of it sexual) in the relationship which I did enjoy, maybe I’m greedy but I wanted the relationship with a lot of blood and murder in between. The writing, descriptions, and dialogue were really good and maybe the best of the series. The ending is 60 pages of full of bloody tension and conflict saving everything up until the end. This book made me want to reread The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America by Erik Larson that tells the nonfiction story of the World’s Fair and how the White City Devil came to be.

The Plot: Audrey Rose and Thomas Cresswell have made it to America, but they might have brought from England, a terror that rivals Jack the Ripper, When a corpse is found on the ship that brought them. Audrey and Thomas investigate a body they think could be linked, but what’s on their mind even more is each other. Thomas sent a telegram to Audrey’s dad asking for his daughter’s hand in marriage. Audrey receives an anonymous note that either ties to the murder or the wedding, or maybe both. Will Audrey and Thomas get the happy ending they so deserve? Or will the Devil ruin everything?

What I Liked: The writing has never been better, I was often blown away by the descriptions that belonged in a gothic poem. The love of Audrey Rose and Thomas Cresswell was very rewarding after seeing there little flirts here and there through the series. The wedding vows were especially beautiful I might have to borrow some of those words one day. The ending was super exciting, I liked the dilemma and the choice of action taken. Liza, the cousin, remains my favorite side character and truly missed her when her character was not in the scene. The day before the wedding scene was such an important moment that was written so well. Cresswell’s obsession with cake had me laughing. The book cover, actually the whole series book covers are one of the best. The work and detail on the time period and history and how it fit in with the story.

What I Disliked: The first half of the books dreadful pace, can they finally investigate another murder, in between the love story. I appreciated the attempt to connect the White City Devil and Jack the Ripper, but the White City Devil was so good at covering up his crimes, it almost makes the story boring with series lack of investigations. The end was exciting but the build up was slow.

Recommendations: I really recommend reading this series in order, I think this book would bore a new reader thrust into the relationship of Audrey and Thomas. I’f you have read all the books then this book is a good end to the series where we see characters return from all books and look at something major that happened in the first book in a fresh new way that adds to the mystery of Jack the Ripper. I rated Capturing the Devil by Kerri Maniscalco 3 out of 5 stars. Here’s how I rank the whole series from best to worst Hunting Prince Dracula, Becoming the Dark Prince, Stalking Jack the Ripper, Capturing the Devil, and Escaping from Houdini. I would rate the whole Stalking Jack the Ripper series 4 out of 5.