Head On By John Scalzi

Book Review

 


Head On (Lock In, #2)Book Genre: Science Fiction, Mystery

Book Series: Lock in #2

Released: 4/17/18 by Tor Books

Pages: 336  Price: $25.99 Hardcover

Links:  Goodreads, Author’s Site

Source: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

 

 

Book Synopsis:

John Scalzi returns with Head On, the standalone follow-up to the New York Times bestselling and critically acclaimed Lock In. Chilling near-future SF with the thrills of a gritty cop procedural, Head On brings Scalzi’s trademark snappy dialogue and technological speculation to the future world of sports.

Hilketa is a frenetic and violent pastime where players attack each other with swords and hammers. The main goal of the game: obtain your opponent’s head and carry it through the goalposts. With flesh and bone bodies, a sport like this would be impossible. But all the players are “threeps,” robot-like bodies controlled by people with Haden’s Syndrome, so anything goes. No one gets hurt, but the brutality is real and the crowds love it.

Until a star athlete drops dead on the playing field.

Is it an accident or murder? FBI Agents and Haden-related crime investigators, Chris Shane and Leslie Vann, are called in to uncover the truth―and in doing so travel to the darker side of the fast-growing sport of Hilketa, where fortunes are made or lost, and where players and owners do whatever it takes to win, on and off the field.

My Review:

Took me a bit longer to get into this one than the first book in this series.  The part focusing on the game Hilketa just bogged me down and made me struggle to focus on the book.  I’m not a sports fan, any sports apparently, as this is a made-up game in a made-up universe.   The parts focusing on the politics and business, or rather the corruption, of the sport, were a bit more interesting for me.

My favorite parts, however, were the scenes with Shane and Vann as the banter between these two is pure gold.  I also enjoyed Shane’s time with his flatmates and the parts about the cat never failed to crack me up.  It has been a while since I read the first but it felt like we spent more time with Shane’s parents and it was nice to explore the dynamics of their family.

Another part I found fascinating was the exploration of the virtual world, I forget its name, that the hadens create for themselves and use to interact with each other.  Parts of that reminded me of Ready Player One.

Like I said I struggled a bit more with this book but after reading the acknowledgments it appears like Scalzi did too.  I’ve long believed that often comes out in the writing.  The last third of the book worked the best for me and I often found myself laughing out loud as I read well past my bedtime to finish the book.  I so hope that Scalzi writes another book in the series as it is such an interesting world to explore.

My Rating: 4 Stars

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Cry Wolf by Patricia Briggs (Reread)

Book Review

 


Cry Wolf (Alpha & Omega, #1)Book Genre: Paranormal, Urban Fantasy, Mystery

Book Series: Alpha & Omega #1

Released: 7/29/2008 by Ace

Pages: 294 Price: $7.99 Paperback

Links:  Goodreads, Author’s Site

Source: I borrowed this audiobook from my library

 

 

Book Synopsis:

Anna never knew werewolves existed, until the night she survived a violent attack… and became one herself. After three years at the bottom of the pack, she’d learned to keep her head down and never, ever trust dominant males. Then Charles Cornick, the enforcer—and son—of the leader of the North American werewolves, came into her life.

Charles insists that not only is Anna his mate, but she is also a rare and valued Omega wolf. And it is Anna’s inner strength and calming presence that will prove invaluable as she and Charles go on the hunt in search of a rogue werewolf—a creature bound in magic so dark that it could threaten all of the pack.

My Review:

If you are new to this spin-off from the Mercy Thompson series please do not start with this book.  Go and read the Alpha & Omega prequel book because then this one will make much more sense.  The first time I read it I did not and that is probably why I enjoyed it more this time having known what happened in the prequel.

And I did, enjoy it more the second reading or listening that is.   In fact, I had forgotten so much of the story it was almost like I was discovering this series all over again!  A perk of getting old and reading so much, series you once loved can be fresh and new all over again…  Anyway,  I have always liked Charles and Anna more than Mercy and Adam and this reread simply reinforced that opinion.  Mercy’s series is told mainly from Mercy’s POV while Anna’s series you get the opportunity to be in several different character’s heads and learn their background story too.  You also get to experience some scenes from multiple POV which simply enriches the story in my opinion.

This book also reintroduced me to a secondary character that I had forgotten about.  Asil.  I love this character and it was a treat to have him be the focus of much of the this book’s plot.  Then there is Bran who we get to know so much better in this series than Mercy’s.  We finally get to see a bit of what makes him the big bad wolf.

This book captivated me and I found myself staying up well past my bedtime wanting to hear more of what was going on.  I’m a bit disappointed that I need to wait for my turn at the next book but excited that book five comes out next week!  I will probably hold off reading it until I get a chance to reread the next three books, however.

As far as audiobook versus print I have to confess I was a bit upset about the change of narrator.  Took me almost an hour to get used to him but in the end, I think he did a good job.  I’ve listened to the other narrator for quite some time now as she also read the Charley Davidson series that it was a bit of a shock to listen to a male reading the story to me.

My Rating: 5 Stars, raising it one star because I enjoyed it so much more this time.

Better Off Undead by D.D. Barant

Book Review

 


Better Off Undead (The Bloodhound Files, #4)Book Genre: Paranormal, Urban Fantasy, Mystery

Book Series: The Bloodhound Files #4

Released: 10/4/11 by St. Martin’s Paperbacks

Pages:324  Price: $7.99 Paperback

Links:  Goodreads, Author’s Site

Source: I own a copy of this book

 

 

 

Book Synopsis:

Dark magic, unknown enemies, monsters of every stripe—FBI profiler Jace Valchek has seen it all. In this bizarre parallel universe, shape-shifting werewolves and blood-thirsty vampires don’t even warrant a raised eyebrow. That is, until Jace has to face what life might look like as one of them …

It starts off as just another run-of-the-mill assignment: to track down the rogue don of a mafia werewolf family before he upsets the delicate balance of the underworld. But Jace wasn’t counting on being bitten…and soon she’s fighting the growing wolf inside her with a startling antidote—vampirism. Stopping a bloody gangland war won’t be easy when Jace is feeling some new, and very inhuman, desires …

My Review:

After several months off I decided to revisit the Bloodhound Files series and see if I could finish the last three books.  The last book left me wanting and I was hesitant to dive into the next one but apparently, enough time had passed and I enjoyed following a smart alec Jace around as she solves another case for this other world NSA.

After rereading my review of the last book I can see why this one worked better for me.  All the supporting characters that I love were back including Charlie her golem partner.  The chemistry between these two characters and the resulting banter make this story for me.  We also had some development near the end of the book romance-wise for Jace and I was and wasn’t surprised with who she ended up knocking boots with.  Actually, it was a touching moment and I am excited to see what comes of it in the next book.

It was also interesting to have Jace get a taste of what it is to live in this world as either a shifter or a vampire while fighting to stay human.  Not going to spoil the outcome but I thought it was going to play a bigger role in the plot than it ended up.

The heart of this series is a good old detective story with some social commentary thrown in for kicks.  I love the sleuthing, I love the wit, and I love the interesting parallels to our society the plot brings up from time to time.

My Rating: 4 Stars

Blood Bound by Patricia Briggs

Book Review

 


Blood Bound (Mercy Thompson, #2)Book Genre: Paranormal, Mystery, Urban Fantasy

Book Series: Mercy Thompson #2

Released: 1/30/07

Pages: 292  Price:$19.99 Audiobook

Links:  Goodreads, Author’s Site

Source: I borrowed a copy of this audiobook from my library.

 

 

Book Synopsis:

Mechanic Mercy Thompson has friends in low places-and in dark ones. And now she owes one of them a favor. Since she can shapeshift at will, she agrees to act as some extra muscle when her vampire friend Stefan goes to deliver a message to another of his kind.

But this new vampire is hardly ordinary-and neither is the demon inside of him.

My Review:

Continuing on with book two of the Mercy Thompson series and still surprised at how much I don’t remember.  I have the major plot lines down but some of the subplots felt completely fresh to me.   I’m afraid I will only be able to do one more book in this series before being forced to take a break as I wait for the next book… Might have to resort to borrowing something new-to-me as I continue to wait for book seven in the Charley Davidson series.

I reread the short review I wrote up when I first read this book and I mentioned how I didn’t care for the vampires in the world being monsters instead of more benevolent.  This continues to be my main issue with the series and book two.  I guess I simply don’t like my vampires being the bad guy.

In this book, Mercy still has three guys vying for her affections.  While I know who she ends up with, actually knew who she would end up with when I read it as it is pretty obvious, I can’t help but feel bad for the two that don’t win her hand.  I like who she ends up with but I also like the other two too.

I forget what happens in the next book but I don’t have to wait long to find out.  All I need to do is end this review and hit play.  So that’s what I’m going to do.

My Rating: 4 Stars

Dead Trees Give No Shelter by Wil Wheaton

Book Review

 


Dead Trees Give No ShelterBook Genre: Horror, Short Story, Fiction, Mystery

Book Series: N/A

Released: 4/2/17 by Monolith Press

Pages:40 Price: $5.00 e-book

Links:  Goodreads, Author’s Site

Source: I own a copy of this book.

 

 

Book Synopsis:

Jay Turner is a broken and lonely man who has been adrift since his brother’s murder when they were children. Now, after twenty years away, Jay has come back to his hometown of Garron, Ohio, to uncover the truth about his brother’s death.

My Review:

Full disclosure time, I’m a Trekkie and a fan of Wil Wheaton.  Mr. Wheaton mentioned this short story he wrote in a YouTube video the other day and being a bookish person decided I needed to check into it.  I decided to buy a copy and went into reading it with great trepidation.  I’m a fan but the book is not of a genre I typically enjoy.

Decided to dive in this afternoon and was pleasantly surprised.  Mr. Wheaton has talent.  Of course, he writes all the time on his website but crafting a story is different.  But, he is a reader and they tend to make the best writers.  I’m not going to lie though it was a little rough around the edges, but the story did reach out and grab me.

The characters were believable and the plot did have a couple of twists and turns that I did not see coming when I picked the book up.  The ending was well done and brought the story around full circle.  The parts that bothered me were mainly near the beginning and revolved around word choices and lines that I thought were not needed.  It had a hesitant feeling in the first few pages like many new fiction authors who are trying to work out their style.  Trying to find their groove.

Bottom line I liked it, quite a bit and look forward to reading more by Mr. Wheaton.  I hope he continues to pursue writing because he has great potential. If you are interested in reading this short story I could only find it available on the author’s site here: wilwheatonbooks.com

My Rating: 4 Stars

Dead Eye by Alyssa Day

Book Review

 


Dead Eye (Tiger's Eye Mystery, #1)Book Genre: Paranormal, Urban Fantasy, Mystery

Book Series: Tiger’s Eye Mystery #1

Released: 2/27/17 by Alyssa Day

Pages: 257 Price: $4.99 Ebook

Links:  Goodreads, Author’s Site

Source: I received a copy of this book from the publisher for an honest review.

 

 

Book Synopsis:

For Jack Shepherd, tiger shape-shifter and former soldier, life is heading for a dead end. Dead End, Florida, to be exact. When he learns that he inherited a combination pawn shop/private investigation agency from his favorite uncle, Jack’s first job is to solve his uncle’s murder. Because sometimes it takes a tiger’s eye to see the truth.

Tess Callahan, who owns half a pawn shop in the strangest town in Florida, didn’t expect Jack to show up and be so very enticing. And exciting. And annoyingly over-protective. But when yet another dead body shows up on her doorstep, it’s time to take action. And if she has to team up with a sexy tiger shape-shifter to do it, well, that’s just a bonus. 

Welcome to Dead End, Florida, where Bigfoot keeps a winter home. And welcome to the Tiger’s Eye Mysteries!

My Review:

When I took a chance on this book I did not realize it was a spin-off from this author’s Warriors of Poseidon series.  Not that I have a problem starting with a spin-off but I had tried the other series and didn’t care for it.  I’m glad I didn’t know that when I picked up this one because I really enjoyed this book.  I did feel that there was some information that I was missing out on not having read the other series but it didn’t bother me enough to stop reading this book.

Another thing that surprised me was that this story is told from Tess’s perspective only.  When you read the synopsis on Goodreads it ends with the first paragraph above and there is no mention of Tess’s character at all.  (They synopsis above was taken from Net Galley in order to save you the confusion I felt)  Not a big deal but I thought I was in a male’s head and when he started checking out the other male character…well let’s just say I thought the book was going to take quite the different path than I expected.  I finally figured out I was in a girl’s head it became a story that I was much more familiar with.  Although, the other would have been fun too.  Might have to look into checking out some LGBTQIA shifter tales to see what I think.

This was a fun read all around.  It felt a lot like the Sookie Stackhouse series and if you enjoyed that world I would suggest giving this one a try.  I liked Tess and found her pawn shop to be a hoot.  There are tons of potential plots to be had in that setting.  Jack was interesting but I felt like I didn’t get a chance to know him as well as Tess.  That might be because he was brought over from the other series and I missed out on some key history for his character.  The town was a good mix of fun supporting character and creepy bad guys, some I really wanted to tear into myself.

The author did a great job of making me invested in this town and its resident.  I see that there are two more books out, a novella and another full-length novel and I really want to pick them up to find out what happens next.

My Rating: 4 Stars

Sixth Grave on the Edge by Darynda Jones (Reread)

Book Review

 


Sixth Grave on the Edge (Charley Davidson, #6)Book Genre: Mystery, Paranormal, Romance, Audiobook, Urban Fantasy

Book Series: Charley Davidson #6

Released: 5/20/14 by St. Martin’s Press

Pages: 326  Price: $39.99 Audiobook

Links:  Goodreads, Author’s Site

Source: I borrowed this audiobook from my library.

 

 

Book Synopsis:

Few things in life can come between a grim reaper and her coffee, but the sexy, sultry son of Satan is one of them. Now that Reyes Farrow has asked for her hand, Charley Davidson feels it’s time to learn more about his past, but Reyes is reluctant to open up. When the official FBI file of his childhood abduction lands in her lap, Charley decides to go behind her mysterious beau’s back and conduct her own investigation. Because what could go wrong?

Unfortunately, another case has fallen into her lap—one with dangerous implications. Some very insistent men want Charley to hunt down a witness who is scheduled to testify against their boss, a major player in the local crime syndicate. If Charley doesn’t come up with an address in 48 hours, the people closest to her will start to disappear. 

Add to that a desperate man in search of the soul he lost in a card game, a dogged mother determined to find the ghost of her son, and a beautiful, young Deaf boy haunted by his new ability to see the departed as clearly as he sees the living, and Charley has her hands full. The fact that Reyes has caught on to her latest venture only adds fuel to the inferno that he is. Good thing for Charley she’s used to multi-tasking and always up for a challenge…especially when that challenge comes in the form of Reyes Farrow.

My Review:

I think I enjoyed this book more the second time than I did the first.  In my initial review, I mentioned how there was too many plot thread and being a little overwhelmed by them.  The book was a little tough to follow.  I also mentioned frustration over some of the plot threads that didn’t seem to be going anywhere.  Well now that I have read all the way up to book 12 and know what is going to happen this time I was able to relax and just enjoy the story.  I wasn’t spending all my time looking for clues as to what was going to happen next because I already knew. I also had my first few instances of noticing important plot points that I might have the first time.

At book six we are at the half-way point of the books already released.  Charley and Reyes relationship is developing nicely and a few important characters are still being introduced.  The mystery of who Charley really is and her full potential is still being fed to us at a teasingly slow pace but that is what keeps it interesting.  Of course, I might be just saying that because I know what is going to happen…

I’m still enjoying the reread and have hit a wall in my progress.  I’m 17 in line for one of the two audiobooks available from my library and that means I will have to wait a while to continue.  The standard check out is two weeks so I’m guessing it will be a couple of months before I can continue.  I could just read the next book but I’m really digging listening to this one and want to continue in the audio format.  So I’ll wait… Dammit.  I do have a couple other audiobooks to listen to in the meanwhile and heaven forbid I actually read a print book.

I’m not going to change the rating because I haven’t any of the others, but I am surprised that I enjoyed this book more the second time.

My Rating: 4 Stars

Fifth Grave Past the Light by Darynda Jones (Reread)

Book Review

 


Fifth Grave Past the Light (Charley Davidson, #5)Book Genre: Paranormal, Romance, Mystery, Urban Fantasy, Audiobook

Book Series: Charley Davidson #5

Released: 7/9/2013

Pages: 339  Price: $39.99 Audiobook

Links:  Goodreads, Author’s Site

Source: I borrowed this audiobook from my library

 

 

Book Synopsis:

Charley Davidson isn’t your everyday, run-of-the-mill grim reaper. She’s more of a paranormal private eye/grim reaper extraordinaire. However, she gets sidetracked when the sexy, sultry son of Satan, Reyes Farrow, moves in next door. To further complicate matters, Reyes is her main suspect in an arson case. Charley has vowed to stay away from him until she can find out the truth…but then dead women start appearing in her apartment, one after another, each lost, confused, and terrified beyond reason. When it becomes apparent that her own sister, Gemma is the serial killer’s next target, Charley has no choice but to ask for Reyes’s help. Arsonist or not, he’s the one man alive who could protect Gemma no matter who or what came at her. But he wants something in return. Charley. All of her, body and soul. And to keep her sister safe, it is a price she is willing to pay.
Charley Davidson is at it again in the sexy, suspenseful, and laugh-out-loud funny fifth installment of the New York Timesbest selling series.

My Review:

Oy,  I had forgotten some of the truly gruesome things that happen to Charley over the years.  Here I thought listening to the graphic sex scenes was awkward, listening to a character being tortured is just as challenging.  Otherwise, I continue to enjoy this reread listen to one of my favorite series.

I continue to be surprised by how much I don’t remember from the earlier books.  I think once we get to book ten, eleven, and twelve I will be more familiar with what is going on as they are more recent releases.  I also continue to focus on subplots more than I did the first go around as I already know how Charley and Reyes’s relationship is going to play out.  While I love Charley and Reyes other characters are quickly becoming almost equal in my adoration.  Uncle Bob in this book especially tugged at my heart.

I have one more book downloaded and then I have to wait for my turn at book 7 which might be a nice spot to take a breather for a book or two.   It is going to be a long time to wait until Fall 2018 for the last book so there is no hurry.  This is such a great series I highly recommend it for whatever format you can get your hands on.  A smoking hot male love interest, humor that has you laughing in public, and touching moments that leave you in tears.  This series has it all.

My Rating: 5 Stars

Third Grave Dead Ahead by Darynda Jones (Reread)

Book Review

 


Third Grave Dead Ahead (Charley Davidson, #3)Book Genre: Paranormal, Romance, Urban Fantasy, Audiobook, Mystery

Book Series: Charley Davidson #3

Released: 1/31/12 by St. Martian’s Press

Pages: 310  Price: $39.99 Audiobook

Links:  Goodreads, Author’s Site

Source: I borrowed this audiobook from my library

 

 

Book Synopsis:

Paranormal private eye. Grim reaper extraordinaire. Whatever. Charley Davidson is back! And she’s drinking copious amounts of caffeine to stay awake because, every time she closes her eyes, she sees him: Reyes Farrow, the part-human, part-supermodel son of Satan. Yes, she did imprison him for all eternity, but come on. How is she supposed to solve a missing persons case, deal with an ego-driven doctor, calm her curmudgeonly dad, and take on a motorcycle gang hellbent on murder when the devil’s son just won’t give up?

My Review:

Wow.  I’m surprised at how much I did not remember in this book.  Near the end, I was totally all ‘Wait a minute, what the hell just happen?!?’.  It is a good thing I have the next audiobook all downloaded and waiting because if I had to wait my turn for the next book I might have a fit.

This reread continues to be a delight to listen to and if you are a fan of the series I highly suggest getting your hands on the audiobooks.  There was another author interview at the end of this book and to gain that insight into Ms. Jones’s development of the characters and plot is so worth it.

I really don’t want to give anything away but Garrett’s storyline really tugs on the heart in this book.  We also meet Artemis in this book which was both sad and fun.  Again there are characters here that have dropped out of the plot by book 12 that I’m having a difficult time remembering their importance.  I am also surprised at how little Reyes and Charlies’s relationship is grabbing my attention.  I know how most of that plays out, having read the series already, and I am able to focus on some of the other characters more.  Don’t get me wrong I still like Reyes but I feel like I am able to enjoy some of the supporting roles more now.

My Rating: 5 Stars (No Change)

Sleeping Giant by Sylvain Neuvel

Book Review

 


Sleeping Giants (Themis Files, #1)Book Genre: Science Fiction, Fantasy, Audio Book

Book Series: Themis Files #1

Released: 4/26/16 by Del Rey

Pages:304  Price: $26.00 Hardcover

Links:  Goodreads, Author’s Site

Buy the Book: Amazon Sleeping Giants (The Themis Files)

Source: I borrowed this audiobook from my library.  

 

 

Book Synopsis:

A girl named Rose is riding her new bike near her home in Deadwood, South Dakota, when she falls through the earth. She wakes up at the bottom of a square hole, its walls glowing with intricate carvings. But the firemen who come to save her peer down upon something even stranger: a little girl in the palm of a giant metal hand.

Seventeen years later, the mystery of the bizarre artifact remains unsolved—its origins, architects, and purpose unknown. Its carbon dating defies belief; military reports are redacted; theories are floated, then rejected.

But some can never stop searching for answers.

Rose Franklin is now a highly trained physicist leading a top secret team to crack the hand’s code. And along with her colleagues, she is being interviewed by a nameless interrogator whose power and purview are as enigmatic as the provenance of the relic. What’s clear is that Rose and her compatriots are on the edge of unraveling history’s most perplexing discovery—and figuring out what it portends for humanity. But once the pieces of the puzzle are in place, will the result prove to be an instrument of lasting peace or a weapon of mass destruction?

An inventive debut in the tradition of World War Z and The Martian, told in interviews, journal entries, transcripts, and news articles, Sleeping Giants is a thriller fueled by a quest for truth—and a fight for control of earthshaking power.

My Review:

This is actually my second attempt at this book.  I was approved for an Arc when it was released last year and DNF the book because I found it too dry.  The story is made up of a bunch of case files recounting events of the plot after they had happened.  Just not something I could get into in print.  Now the audiobook is a whole other matter and the actors narrating the story made all the difference.  This version I could get into and was able to finish the book. I even think I’ll stick around for book two.

The book was a little slow to start with most of the action happening in the past tense.  The classified documents only giving small glimpses of what is happening through interviews and debriefing.  I think the book could have worked better for me if it had been more action as the events unfolded with a few case files mixed in with background information.  However, when listening to the book the actors do a great job of animating the story and giving perspective and life to the story through the emotion that comes through in their voice.  They truly saved this book for me.  Livened up what was a pretty dry read in print.  I applaud the choice of having a different actor for each character in the story.

Once I was able to get past my hang-ups the story is quite enthralling.  Space, aliens, mystery, secret government agencies, drama, mad scientists.  This story had quite a bit going for it I just wish it hadn’t all been told past-tense.  I will continue with the next book has its hooks in me and I want to see how things play out.  I will probably stick to the audio format.  If you struggled with this book like I had I highly suggest giving the audiobook a try before giving up completely.  It really does help give life to the plot.

My Rating:4 Stars