Posted in Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Novels

REVIEW: The Humans by Matt Haig

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*No Major Spoilers*

Our hero, Professor Andrew Martin, is dead before the book even begins. As it turns out, though, he wasn’t a very nice man–as the alien imposter who now occupies his body discovers. Sent to Earth to destroy evidence that Andrew had solved a major mathematical problem, the alien soon finds himself learning more about the professor, his family, and “the humans” than he ever expected. When he begins to fall for his own wife and son–who has no idea he’s not the real Andrew–the alien must choose between completing his mission and returning home or finding a new home right here on Earth.

I discovered this novel on a booklist that I receive in my email every other day. I only read the lists if the theme seems interesting to me, and that’s how I discovered this novel.

When this novel started, the commentary by the alien disguised as Andrew Martin was pointing out how alien humans looked to him. It kind of reminded me of Roger from American Dad. Roger has to dress up in various outfits to try and disguise himself so he can leave the house.

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Roger from American Dad 

I found this novel to be fascinating the way of character development from the alien’s point of view. Even though throughout the novel he remains fascinated with how us humans act, behave and believe, his overall opinion changes by the end of the novel.

Even though this isn’t a fully philosophical story, there is an over-arching plot. However, the challenges the alien faces on top of trying to stay under the radar in order to complete his mission makes for beautiful character development.

My favorite part of the story is when the alien gets sent into the mental hospital at one point, and the observations and people he meets there is fascinating for someone who has been in a mental hospital.

Humans, as a rule, don’t like mad people unless they are good at painting, and only then once they are dead. But the definition of mad, on Earth, seems to be very unclear and inconsistent. What is perfectly sane in one era turns out to be insane in another. The earliest humans walked around naked with no problem. Certain humans, in humid rainforests mainly, still do so. So, we must conclude that madness is sometimes a question of time, and sometimes of postcode.

Basically, the key rule is, if you want to appear sane on Earth you have to be in the right place, wearing the right clothes, saying the right things, and only stepping on the right kind of grass. – The Humans

I’ve got to say I really enjoyed this story on a variety of levels, everything from the character development to the philosophical approach the story had on the narrative. This story held my interest from beginning to end, the first letter to the final punctuation. This story is definitely recommended for those who enjoy sci-fi, aliens, a good overall story along with some thought-provoking undertones.

Posted in Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Novels

REVIEW: First Evidence by Ken Goddard

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*No Spoilers*

A down-to-earth forensics expert has just discovered a crime scene that is out of this world.

In criminal forensics, they train you to uncover evidence, no matter how brutal or bizarre the murder.

But what if one night you make contact with a crime scene so terrifying, no one on earth can explain it?

It begins at a chaotic crime scene in the deep woods of the Pacific Northwest–site of a reported shoot-out. Investigator Colin Cellars cannot find a trace of perpetrator or victim–or even confirm that anyone has been killed. As he doggedly pursues the case, he realizes there is far more at stake here than murder. Someone–something?–will stop at nothing to prevent him from discovering the truth. For the truth is not “out there.” It is locked away in Cellars’ own evidence file. The evidence points to a killer far outside Cellars’s experience–far outside any earthly experience. But who will believe one maverick cop?

This novel is different from other monster stories. This novel is a mystery, mixed with Sci-Fi, with a dash of romance. The mystery involving the disappearance of multiple deputies and citizens alike. It is up to Crime Scene Investigator, Colin Cellars to figure things out while not ending up locked away in a rubber room.

This thrilling novel will have you on the edge of your seat, waiting to see what the mystery is really all about!

My favorite part of this story was how it felt like Colin Cellars was the only one who knew the mystery went further than his fellow officers knew. It felt like no one was believing him, and in the beginning, I was questioning Mr. Cellars’ sanity myself.

If you thought the “shadows” in Doctor Who: Silence in the Library was terrifying, this novel cranks it up to 11. Shadows that appear will give you a new sense of uneasiness. Keep the nightlight on for this one!

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I would recommend this novel for lovers of horror, science fiction, and mystery. This novel keeps you hooked and invested from page one.

Posted in Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Novels

REVIEW: Invictus by Ryan Graudin

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*No Major Spoilers*

Farway Gaius McCarthy was born outside of time. The son of a time-traveling Recorder from 2354 AD and a gladiator living in Rome in 95 AD, Far’s birth defies the laws of nature. Exploring history himself is all he’s ever wanted, and after failing his final time-traveling exam, Far takes a position commanding a ship with a crew of his friends as part of a black market operation to steal valuables from the past.

But during a heist on the sinking Titanic, Far meets a mysterious girl who always seems to be one step ahead of him. Armed with the knowledge that will bring Far’s very existence into question, she will lead Far and his team on a race through time to discover a frightening truth: History is not as steady as it seems.

This Young Adult novel travels from Ancient Rome to a futuristic Earth where time travel is possible. I was intrigued by the plot of this story. I am familiar with Doctor Who so time travel is a genre I enjoy.

As a fan of Doctor Who when someone is born “out of time” that spells trouble. The laws of nature do not bend to our will. And when something is out of line, nature will correct itself no matter the circumstances.

I felt like the romance between Far and Priya, the ship’s doctor was natural. She and Far had a friendship before the Invictus first launched. Far would short-circuit medical droids because of his unnatural date of birth. So Priya would arrive and troubleshoot the problem, and that’s how they first met.

The other romance between Far’s cousin Imogen and the ship’s engineer Gram felt forced and awkward. They are polar opposites. Gram felt like an android from the many sci-fi movies. Stiff, robotic, genius as he plays Tetris and has a collection of solved Rubick’s Cubes. Imogen is bright, dying her hair a new neon color every day. She’s the ship’s historian, and she loves to have fun and party hard.

So for unnecessary romances, I only found one of them unnecessary. I wish they could have remained good friends and grow in that way.

This novel is fairly well-paced. Action-packed, and keeps you on your toes by trying to figure out what’s going on with the mystery of the unusual girl Elliot and her secrets she was keeping from the Invictus crew.

This novel is 400+ pages. If you prefer shorter novels, then you’re out of luck with this one. However, if you enjoy audiobooks, the flow of the novel made the over 400 pages go quickly.

Overall, I thought this novel was good. It was action-packed with plenty of time travel and world building. My only downside was the one unnecessary romance, and a few nitpicks. Other than that, I felt like this was a good, well written, Young Adult novel for any age to enjoy.

Posted in Book Reviews, Novels, Short Story Collections

REVIEW: Straight Outta Tombstone by Various Authors

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*No Spoilers*

Come to visit the Old West, the land where gang initiations, ride-by shootings and territory disputes got their start. But these tales aren’t the ones your grandpappy spun around a campfire unless he spoke of soul-sucking ghosts, steam-powered demons, and wayward aliens.

Here then are seventeen stories that breathe new life in the Old West. Among them: Larry Correia explores the roots of his best-selling Monster Hunter International series in “Bubba Shackleford’s Professional Monster Killers.” Jim Butcher reveals the origin of one of the Dresden Files’ most popular characters in “Fistful of Warlock.” And Kevin J. Anderson‘s Dan Shamble, Zombie P.I., finds himself in a showdown in “High Midnight.” Plus stories from Alan Dean Foster, Sarah A. Hoyt, Jody Lynn Nye, Michael A. Stackpole, and many more.

This is a new Old West and you’ll be lucky to get outta town alive!

I don’t read short story collections very often, I find it difficult to jump into a new story after I feel like I know the main characters. However, when I saw this cover at my local library and saw the cover art, I was sold on the concept.

I enjoy the weird wild west genre. Two genres that are polar opposites colliding for one epic story is fascinating to me! This book has fun with the genre, and it’s an enjoyable read!

All of the short stories in this collection are good, but I had some favorites. And some stories that didn’t impress me. These are all good stories in total, but some just didn’t catch my attention.

My Three Favorites (in no particular order)

  • Bubba Shackleford’s Professional Monster Killers by Larry Correia – The first short story in this collection had charm and had my attention from the beginning. The characters were interesting, and I felt the stakes were dire. I would like to hear more from Bubba Shackleford sometime.
  • The Treefold Problem by Alan Dean Foster – A giant mountain man helps a family who is about to lose their home. I felt like this was inspired by Paul Bunyan, the famous lumberjack. I enjoyed the heart and good feelings in this short story.
  • High Midnight by Kevin J. Anderson – I love film noir. This is the story of a zombie detective who lives in a sort of purgatory with all kinds of monsters and the occasional human. The town is throwing a Wild West-inspired celebration. When things start going south, it’s up to our zombie detective to figure out the mystery.

My Three Least Favorites (in no particular order)

  • Chance Corrigan and the Lord of the Underworld by Michael A. Stackpole – This short story had promise, Chance investigates a mining town to figure out what’s going on. With robots guarding the mine, Chance finds a familiar face running the operation. I think this would have been better if it was its own novel. I felt like the ending was rushed and forced. The way this story ended left me disappointed.
  • The Greatest Guns in the Galaxy by Bryan Thomas Schmidt and Ken Scholes – This is the story behind the cover art. Two aliens come to Earth in the 1800s in search of entertainment. However, when greed gets in the way, it’s up to them to deal with the consequences of their actions. Another interesting premise and I felt like the two aliens that caused the mayhem didn’t learn anything in the end. They just call their friends to help them and boom, everything’s fixed. I found the ending to be unsatisfying and I was disappointed.
  • The Key by Peter J. Wacks – The English Crown hires two hired guns to protect this mysterious object called “The Key” from the Russians. With help from some of history’s famous figures, can the gunmen keep the Russian invaders at bay? I felt like this story belonged somewhere else. This was more British undercover mission than western. I enjoyed the premise and ending well enough, but the lack of the Wild West left me bitter.

I would recommend this book to lovers of westerns, science fiction, fantasy, and short stories. This collection was a perfect addition to my Weird Wild West shelf. I would also recommend this if you are looking for new authors or authors you already enjoy.

More Short Stories HERE!

Posted in Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Novels

REVIEW: Subhuman: Unit 51 #1 by Michael McBride

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*No Major Spoilers*

At a research station in Antarctica, five of the world’s top scientists have been brought together to solve one of the greatest mysteries in human history. Their subject, however, is anything but human.

Deep beneath the ice, the submerged ruins of a lost civilization hold the key to the strange mutations that each scientist has encountered across the globe: A misshapen skull in Russia. The grotesque carvings of a lost race in Peru. The mummified remains of a humanoid monstrosity in Egypt.

When a series of sound waves trigger the ancient organisms, a new kind of evolution begins. Latching onto a human host–crossbreeding with human DNA–a long-extinct life form is reborn. Its kind has not walked the earth for thousands of years. Its instincts are fiercer, more savage, than any predator alive. And its prey is the scientists who unleashed it, the humans who spawned it, and the tender living flesh on which it feeds.

I enjoy reading books based on conspiracy theories. I have reviewed a few novels in this category. So the summary of this thrilling novel caught my attention.

My only downside is that there were too many characters. I felt like I needed to take notes about who was who and why they were invited to the Antartic research base.

Other than that negative, I found this book to be enjoyable. It has an interesting premise that the author pulls off fairly well. I felt like this novel was inspired by the Alien franchise. The description of the monsters reminded me of the Xenomorphs in the famous franchise.

I am interested to see how this series progresses from here. I will highly recommend this book to science fiction lovers. If you enjoy conspiracy theories and the Alien franchise, then this is the book for you!

Posted in Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Novels

REVIEW: Video Game Plotline Tester (The Dark Herbalist #1) by Michael Atamanov

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*No Major Spoilers*

Would you be prepared to work for free? How would you like to bust your hump for a large corporation 60-plus hours a week without a wage or a single day off for the vague promise of some mysterious perks in the distant future?

You’d refuse point blank, wouldn’t you?

But what if the job in question was playing a state-of-the-art fantasy MMORPG game? And what if this was the only thing you’re really good at? Especially considering that your in-game partner is someone really special to you – and this person already lives a virtual life?

After thoroughly enjoying the Mirror World series, I thought I could continue to follow the virtual-reality genre. Though similar in theme, both series are different in their own rights.

My opinion on the two series is that whichever series you start first is going to be your favorite. Whether you start with The Dark Herbalist or Mirror World series, both are great in their own rights.

Now, my opinion on this book in particular. I enjoyed this book, the thought of a goblin herbalist is a very interesting character. In Boundless Realm, the virtual reality game, Goblins are disliked by most species. However, being an herbalist means you can learn alchemy and make potions to better your chance of survival.

In Boundless Realm, people can kill NPCs as well as fellow players (this causes a criminal marker to be next to their name). This book shows that the NPCs aren’t just complex codes and have cardboard personalities.

The main job description, as the title implies, is to test unusual character/job combinations in order to draw new players to the game. Instead of your typical combinations of characters and jobs, for instance, an Orc Warrior, or an Elf Mage, you can choose unlikely combinations for a unique playing experience.

One of the scenes I found to be most memorable was when the main character, Timothy, found a swamp home to wyverns while exploring and on a quest to kill the queen of the wyverns. The prize he was to claim from completing this quest was very unique, a wyvern egg which allows for one to hatch and raise the creature to become a usable mount in the game later.

In conclusion, I found this book to be overall well enjoyable, it was action-packed and held my attention quite well. There’s a lot more to the story that I haven’t said here, but it’s a fun read for sure.

REVIEW: Project Daily Grind; Mirror World: Book 1, by Alexey Osadchuk

Buy the Book Here! – Amazon!

 

Posted in Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Novels

REVIEW: Project Daily Grind; Mirror World: Book 1, by Alexey Osadchuk

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*No Spoilers*

This exciting and thrilling novel is a LitRPG (literature role-playing game) set in an MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role-playing game) called Mirror World. In this world, you can become a powerful wizard, slay a dragon, become a great warrior, or even rule your own kingdom.

However, for others, they use Mirror World as a way to make money for their families. Same goes for this man, who becomes Olgard. His mission: to make enough money to pay off his loans and to get his dying six-year-old daughter a new heart. So he starts working in the mines, digging away for various minerals and gems.

However, something goes awry as he not only plays the game smartly but the “dying race” that he has chosen becomes more beneficial than others may have believed. What is going on behind the scenes with the developers? Will Olgard survive long enough in this strange new world to see his family again?

This novel caught my eye when I saw the guy standing, looking like a pirate, and the monstrous spider behind him. I wanted to grab this book and read it!

I listened to this novel on audio. The narrator was really creative with the various voices of each character. It wasn’t boring at all to listen to and kept my attention throughout!

This novel also reminded me of an anime called Sword Art Online which is about an MMORPG that takes place in virtual reality. However, the characters in this novel felt more genuine and realistic than the characters in the anime.

This novel is also loosely based on the MMORPG World of Warcraft. There’s orc-like characters as well as wizards, elves, and dwarves.

None the less, I would say if you’re a lover of video games and books, this series is worth a read (or listen)!

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