I would like to start by saying that I followed through on my promise from last month and I did a better job getting to comics this time around. I got to read a lot of Spider-Man, which tends to be a strong motivation to keep going. All the comics I read this month were pretty solid, and I would strongly recommend checking any of them out.
On the non-comic books side, I unfortunately didn’t read anything that immediately jumped out as a must get or recommend. However, there were still some solid reads that are worth checking out if they already fit a genre or topic you’re interested in. Check out my specific reviews to see what might be right for you.
Books will be rated on a 1 – 5 star scale with 1 being bad and 5 being excellent. If you enjoy what you see and don’t want to wait until the next book post, please follow us on Goodreads. We’ll stay consistently updated there before compiling our month’s reading and thoughts here.
The comics I have read will also be included at the end of the post. Those will just be listed and not officially reviewed. However, if you ever want to hear about any specific comic in particular or want my thoughts, don’t be afraid to ask. I enjoy discussing everything I read.
Evershore by Brandon Sanderson and Janci Patterson – 4/5 Stars
Evershore is the third novella set during the Skyward series. With the command chain in disarray and the ever present threat of the Superiority looming, Jorgen Wright must step up to lead his people and to hopefully forge alliances with other planets as well. Jorgen will have to figure out what it takes to be a leader worth following and how to best approach problems never imagined before.
Evershore takes place at the same time as the Skyward series’ third official installment, Cytonic. While this novella is technically the companion piece, this is more of what I wanted from the series compared to the full length novel offered. This story feels less like a side quest and more like a series of events which are important to the overall rebellion efforts of the Skyward world(s).
Delving into the head of Jorgen as he wrestles with loss, self-doubt, and leadership is an entertaining and intriguing journey. It’s hard not to feel for Jorgen and to root for him as he does his best to do what’s right. Sanderson has done a good job adding depth and dimension to his series side character during this novella set, and this outing is no exception.
As always, Sanderson does a good job with world building as he shares more about the Kitsen race and homeworld. He also reveals more about the series’ other elements such as Jorgen’s homeworld of Detritus, the cytonic powers, and more.
As the Skyward series continues, I hope that we get more stories like this one. This is a great book for any who are already invested in or interested in the Skyward series. I would recommend starting at the beginning of the series though instead of novella three that takes place after official-book three. Sanderson and Patterson deliver a strong story which feels like an essential tale of the Skyward saga.
The Island by Adrian McKinty – 3.5/5 Stars
The Baxter family’s trip to Australia takes a dark turn when they end up stranded on an isolated island with no way of contacting the outside world. After a tragic accident, the island locals, a tight knit and dangerous family, decide the Baxter family must pay. It’s a test of survival and will as the wife and step-mother, Heather must figure out how to protect her family and how far she’s willing to go to find a way out of this nightmare.
McKinty’s novel is a fun and ridiculous thriller. Based on the book’s premise, I expected a more horror based thriller, but this one leans more into the survival/action genre as Heather decides to take the fight back to the local family.
There aren’t too many big twists or turns, but the story builds nicely and should easily hold any reader’s interest. The characters are not always likable and sometimes you’ll wonder if there is a team you should be rooting for, but McKinty does a good job of helping readers want to see the Baxter family come out on top.
Other than having characters that sometimes seem less than heroic, the only real flaw this book has is that its writing style can come off as a bit cheesy or ridiculous at times. McKinty has a unique voice, that I didn’t hate, but I also didn’t always love.
This novel is definitely worth checking out, especially for those who enjoy thrillers, action, and suspense. The unique setting and situation should help this novel stand out amongst its peers.
Attack of the Black Rectangles by Amy Sarig King – 3.5/5 Stars
Mac lives in a small town plagued with rules, regulations, and censorship. The woman behind all these regulations is Ms. Laura Samuel Sett. She also happens to be Mac’s new sixth grade teacher. When Mac and his friends discover their class novel has had words blacked out, they decide it’s time to fight back and protest this censorship. As their battle grows and gains steam, Mac will learn about freedom of expression, love, and what it means to share what he has hidden away as well.
King’s novel is aimed at a middle school audience, tackling the idea of book banning and censorship, which is becoming a larger issue in reality. It was an interesting take to have the censorship coming from a teacher (instead of a parent or community member) and for it to come in the form of simply blacking out a few words. This made for a unique battle and a much different challenge for the kids who were simply trying to read the book as intended.
The heart of King’s story is a good one and the journey she has her character, Mac, take is both touching and well executed. This is a boy learning what it means to be his authentic self and how to navigate a world that is not always truthful to him. King gives Mac a lot to deal with: academic censorship, young love, and family woes. Thankfully, the actual plot and resolutions with Mac are well told and satisfying in their own right.
I especially enjoyed Mac’s story of dealing with his dad, who thinks himself an alien, and his relationship with his grandfather. It’s these deeply personal moments for Mac that really standout.
Where King falls down a little is her desire to have Mac become a mouthpiece to almost every issue that seems to cross her mind. While I personally agree with a lot of Mac’s (and King’s) views on these issues, it sometimes felt like she needed to get through a checklist of topics, quickly brought up and then moved on from. I can understand these issues being brought up to further highlight the town’s repressed and controlled nature, but often it seemed like Mac would pause the story to go over something the audience might need to know about topic xyz, just to show how aware he is. For a kid who is just starting to struggle with the idea that teachers, adults, and the world might not always be truthful to him, he already seems super ontop of ideas such as Christopher Columbus not being a good guy and the founding fathers having slaves.
The messages in this novel are both worthwhile and strong. I appreciate that nobody is portrayed as purely bad. Whether it is Ms. Sett and her censored books or the bully-ish character, they are still shown to be humans with thoughts, hearts, and good qualities.
I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a good middle grade novel or something looking for an easier read in general.
The Hike by Susi Holliday – 3/5 Stars
Two couples venture out on a hike in the Swiss Alps. Only two of the four hikers return, but what happened? A tangled web of lies, secrets, and betrayals as big as a mountain motivate these couples as they must face who each other really are and what they are willing to do about it.
Holliday did a strong job of creating an intriguing story that slowly reveals characters’ truths and motives. As story perspective rotates along with the chapters, readers will gain more pieces to the larger picture. Along the way, the characters will navigate not just the dangers of the alps, but also the treacherousness of their deceit and sins. Overall, this creates a quick and enjoyable read, with excitement over how everything will work out.
I wanted to rate this book higher because of Holliday’s solid writing style and interesting narrative, but unfortunately, the story starts to fall apart a little towards the end. While the story maintains it’s quick pace and mystery about how characters will deal with the fallout of events, the characters themselves begin to act less believably or logically. This could possibly be waved away due to stress, sleep deprivation, and a host of other factors, but it felt more like the author needed the characters to perform certain actions, so that’s how it’s going to be. It was sad to see the characters go from unlikable-but-intersting to mega-unlikeable-and-stupid.
This novel seems best for those who don’t mind unlikable characters, are willing to suspend their disbelief, and prefer twists over strong characterization.
Amityville Horror by Jason Anson – 3/5 Stars
In 1974, Ronald Defeo Jr. murdered his entire family. On year later, the Lutz family moves into the house where the murders took place. For twenty-eight days the Lutz family is plagued by the evils of the home and its possible demonic possession. This book claims to be a true look at what happened at 112 Ocean Ave, Amityville.
It should first be said that while this book claims to be nonfiction and is based on actual events, the book is a work of fiction. There is a lot of outside evidence and interviews that disprove this text. With that said, the book reads as a piece of fiction anyways. The simple level of how much the house throws at the family is unbelievable.
Anson does a good job of creating a tale of horror and mystery that feels a little heavy handed. With only twenty-eight days to tell his story, Anson isn’t afraid to rush fully into the house’s evil. The Lutz family quickly deal with a whole host of unusual phenomena such as ghost sightings, mysterious illnesses, objects moving and coming to life, and unexplained visions. These events only work for either a work of fiction or for a family that is completely stubborn and foolish because while the Lutz hung on for four weeks, most real families would have vacated within the first few days.
Overall, this is an interesting look at classic horror and as a piece of inspiration for not just future Amityville stories and movies, but a lot of other horror. I recommend this book for fans of horror stories and for those who are willing to suspend disbelief quite a bit.
Reptil: Brink of Extinction by Terry Blas and Christos Gage
Fantastic Four vol. 9: Eternal Flame by Dan Slott
Sinister War by Nick Spencer
Amazing Spider-Man vol. 15: What Cost Victory? by Nick Spencer
Amazing Spider-Man Beyond vol. 1 by Kelly Thompson, Saladin Ahmed, and Zeb Wells
Amazing Spider-Man Beyond vol. 2 by Kelly Thompson, Saladin Ahmed, and Zeb Wells
Amazing Spider-Man Beyond vol. 3 by Kelly Thompson, Saladin Ahmed, and Zeb Wells