Posted in Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Novels

REVIEW: The X-Files: Goblins (The X-Files #1) by Charles L. Grant

Meet Mulder and Scully, FBI. The agency maverick and the female agent assigned to keep him in line.

Their job: investigate the eeriest unsolved mysteries in modern America, from pyro-psychics to death row demonics, from rampaging Sasquatches to alien invasions. The cases the Bureau wants handled quietly, but quickly, before the public finds out what’s really out there. And panics. The cases filed under “X.”

Something out there is killing people, remaining invisible and unseen by human eyes until it strikes with deadly force.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

The X-Files is a show I’ve been admiring for several years now. I binged season 1 and waiting for the right mood to start on season 2. Now, the thing I think has made this show such a big hit was the dynamic between Mulder and Scully. Aliens and UFOs aside, most people love chemistry between two characters. There’s that sexual tension of “will they/won’t they?” and the fact that Scully admires Mulder’s deduction skills. She just feels it’s being wasted on these kinds of cases.

This case opens like any other X-File does. Murders happen, FBI/government in high and unknown places get a whiff of it and send Mulder and Scully out to investigate. Most of the time the unreachable government is trying to run interference by cleaning up the mess that was made or trying to scare Mulder and Scully off of the case.

In this story, Scully and Mulder were joined by two more FBI agents who were secretly moles for the head of the FBI to keep tabs on whether Mulder and Scully were likely to blow to the lid on any government ops that were either “off the record” or “still in development”.

One of the witnesses to these murders was an older lady who carried around a can of neon orange spray paint to “tag the goblins”. Since this case takes place in small town USA, the sheriff thinks she’s a crazy drunk. I liked how the author not only made her a likable character, but also had the town doctor defend her honor by explaining why she spent so much time in the local tavern.

Overall, I liked this story. It read like an episode, but in book form. The characters were relatable and memorable, so if you’re already an X-Files fan this story is a great place to start with the novelizations. Even for new fans, Goblins is a great place to start on your X-Files adventure.

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Posted in Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Marvel Comics

REVIEW: Guardian of the Galaxy: Rocket Raccoon and Groot Steal the Galaxy! by Dan Abnett

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*No Spoilers*

These are not the Avengers or the Fantastic Four – in fact, they’re barely even famous – but Rocket Raccoon and the faithful Groot are the baddest heroes in the cosmos, and they’re on the run across the Marvel Universe! During a spaceport brawl, the infamous pair rescues an android Recorder from a pack of alien Badoons. Everyone in the galaxy, however, including the ruthless Kree Empire and the stalwart Nova Corps, seems to want that Recorder, who’s about as sane as a sandwich with no mustard. Join Rocket and Groot on a free-for-all across the stars while they try to save all of existence-again!

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Ever since the MCU introduced The Guardians of the Galaxy to old and new fans alike, I have been reading their comics every chance I can get. Like most fans, I fell in love with Groot and his best friend Rocket. Seeing how this story features the dynamic duo, I was excited to listen to this audio adventure.

The Recorder that is rescued by Rocket and Groot is the main narrator of the story. He is a likable character overall, except when he feels the need to stop the story to explain why he used an “Human-like expression” or when “additional exposition” is needed. It becomes a bit jarring at times.

Over the course of the story, the Recorder keeps commenting on Rocket’s “disconcerting human-like hands” and if I never hear that phrase again, it’ll be too soon. There are other ways to describe Rocket’s hands/paws without repeating yourself.

The overall plot is convoluted and gets a little complicated at points, but Rocket Raccoon and Groot Steal the Universe is an enjoyable ride full of action, adventure, and space battles. If you are looking for a fun sci-fi adventure then I would recommend this story.

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Posted in Book Reviews

ARC REVIEW: Machine (White Space #2) by Elizabeth Bear

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*No Spoilers* 

**Huge thanks to NetGalley and Gallery/Saga Press for letting me review this early copy**

Meet Doctor Jens.

She hasn’t had a decent cup of coffee in fifteen years. Her workday begins when she jumps out of perfectly good space ships and continues with developing treatments for sick alien species she’s never seen before. She loves her life. Even without the coffee.

But Dr. Jens is about to discover an astonishing mystery: two ships, one ancient and one new, locked in a deadly embrace. The crew is suffering from an unknown ailment and the shipmind is trapped in an inadequate body, much of her memory pared away.

Unfortunately, Dr. Jens can’t resist a mystery and she begins doing some digging. She has no idea that she’s about to discover horrifying and life-changing truths.

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I was excited about this book when I received the email about it from NetGalley. One of the issues that can be explored in science fiction is when advanced species encounter ancient ones. What kind of viruses and bacteria can affect both groups of people? This novel wants to examine this issue however, the technological discussions went over my head to the point where I felt intimidated to continue the story. 

If you are not deep into the world of high-tech or futuristic tech then I would say avoid this novel. I think what I read was written well, but the in-depth specs on the technology felt confusing and overwhelming for me. 

For example, I understood that the main character has a disorder that causes her to be in a constant state of pain. With her working in a futuristic and advanced society, her spacesuit helps her do everyday functions and can help her with her chronic pain. How any of that works I don’t understand. I just went with what the author was telling me about the subject. 

I know this novel isn’t meant for a casual sci-fi fan. This is for someone like a die-hard Trekkie or someone who can follow deep and futuristic tech discussions. Overall, I think The Machine is a well-written sci-fi mystery thriller for those who can follow the tech talk. This novel just wasn’t for me.

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Posted in Audiobooks, Book Reviews

REVIEW: When the Sky Fell on Splendor by Emily Henry

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*No Major Spoilers*

Almost everyone in the small town of Splendor, Ohio, was affected when the local steel mill exploded. If you weren’t a casualty of the accident yourself, chances are a loved one was. That’s the case for seventeen-year-old Franny, who, five years after the explosion, still has to stand by and do nothing as her brother lies in a coma.

In the wake of the tragedy, Franny found solace in a group of friends whose experiences mirrored her own. The group calls themselves The Ordinary, and they spend their free time investigating local ghost stories and legends, filming their exploits for their small following of YouTube fans. It’s silly, it’s fun, and it keeps them from dwelling on the sadness that surrounds them.

Until one evening, when the strange and dangerous thing they film isn’t fiction–it’s a bright light, something massive hurdling toward them from the sky. And when it crashes and the teens go to investigate…everything changes.

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First off, I have to say that when I saw the cover of this novel at the library, I fell in love with this beautiful book cover. When I finished reading When the Sky Fell on Splendor, I can say that the story is just as beautiful as the cover.

“How many billions of things had to happen just right to give me this ordinary life.”

Emily Henry, When the Sky Fell on Splendor

I love how the characters were relatable and had depth. Franny and her brother Arthur grew up living in their older brother’s shadow. After the steel mill explosion and their brother Mark ends up in a coma, Franny’s mom and dad divorce and Franny and Arthur continue to live in the background of their depressed dad’s life.

We don’t get much from the other characters other than what is on the surface that Franny has observed. One of the key facets of their friend group is to not talk about emotional stuff. Even though some of the signs of the parents’ issues have clearly effected their kids in subtle ways.

Franny had grown close to one of the other boys in their group, and during an emotional moment he shared about how his mom’s doomsday prepping quickly spiraled into hoarding after the accident. He even took up a job at the local Walmart just so he could support his ailing mom and how he had become the sole breadwinner after his dad died in the accident.

I personally would’ve loved more insight on Sophia. I think she was left out when it came to emotional weight. She was the smartest one of the group and wasn’t an outcast like the others. She wanted to be a lawyer after a weekend with her grandmother watching Law and Order: SVU. She seemed to have a great relationship with her mom, and doesn’t understand why Franny started keeping her at arm’s length.

I read this book being compared to The Serpent King and Stranger Things as well as Super 8. I personally haven’t read or watched any of these, but they seem to have similar themes to When the Sky Fell on Splendor. So if you are familiar with any of these popular stories, I would recommend this novel for you.

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Posted in Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Novels

REVIEW: Doctor Who: Bloodtide by Jonathan Morris

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*No Major Spoilers*

The prehistoric Earth is dying. Thunderclouds roll across the skies, cloaking the land in darkness. The seas crash and boil as the rain turns to acid. The remnants of the Silurian race place themselves in suspended animation, deep below the surface.

One day they will awaken and reclaim their world…

The TARDIS has landed on the Galapagos Islands, a desolate outcrop of rocks shrouded in mist and fear. In the settlement of Baquerizo Moreno, there are rumors that prisoners have been mysteriously disappearing from the gaolhouse. A fisherman has been driven insane by something he saw in the caves. And the Doctor and Evelyn are not the only new arrivals; there is also a young natural philosopher by the name of Charles Darwin.

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I have been a fan of Doctor Who for several years. I don’t remember exactly when I first started watching the show, but it was back when Doctor Who was still on Netflix. I fell in love with its quirky humor and characters you can’t help but love.

I have been reviewing the Doctor Who “expanded universe” books and audio dramas since I started writing this blog. I have been using these stories as a way to dip into something familiar. I have to restrain myself from just turning this into a Doctor Who blog sometimes. Even too much of a good thing can make it toxic and unhealthy.

Bloodtide follows traditional Doctor Who formula. Since this is a historical novel, we get to meet Charles Darwin on his historic trip to the Galapagos Islands. When the sister of one of the prisoners on the island asks the Doctor for help, they soon discover things aren’t as they seem.

Overall, I enjoyed this audio drama. The actress who played the sister of the prisoner I found to be annoying and irritating. I love how throughout the story, we see Charles Darwin’s inner battle with what he’s discovered versus what the Christian church has taught.

Even in modern times, the discussion of evolution is controversial in more conservative and religious areas. The idea that species change to fit the needs of their environment is generally acceptable, but that doesn’t necessarily mean we came from primates. You can easily fall into the rabbit hole about “the missing link” and how that may or may not be related to Sasquatch or Bigfoot.

The Christian belief says that God created the Earth as it is, and nothing has changed since He created it. The fact that you have the same species of finches with different sized and shaped bills can cause deep thinkers like Darwin to question everything he’s thought up to that point to be true.

I won’t spoil the “big reveal,” but it was a shocking surprise. I think anyone listening to this will be pleased with the plot twist and how the story ends.

Overall, I think any Doctor Who fan will enjoy Bloodtide. The thing I love about the show as a whole is how comforting it is. If you are having Doctor Who withdrawals or just craving something familiar, then I would highly recommend Doctor Who: Bloodtide.

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