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, Novels

REVIEW: The Goliath Bone (Mike Hammer #14) by Mickey Spillane & Max Allan Collins

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*No Spoilers*

On an amateur dig in Israel, two students discover what appears to be the femur of a very large humanoid, and there’s compelling evidence to suggest that it is the thigh bone of the Biblical giant, Goliath. Back in New York, they are heading into the subway carrying the carefully wrapped bone when a hitman attempts to kill them. Hammer comes to their rescue.

But it is only the beginning of their troubles as various factions will stop at nothing to get their hands on the precious item, each for their own venal and nefarious reasons. Hammer and his loyal assistant Velda assure once again that the decent guys triumph in this cracking post-9/11 hard-boiled detective thriller.

I am a huge fan of crime noir and hard-boiled detectives. The grittiness of the detectives and femme-Fatales was something that attracted me in the first place and keeps me coming back to this genre of story. This one interested me first off because of the book cover, but the synopsis was the other grabbing point.

I felt that, to a certain extent, Mike Hammer was a bit out of place so far in that the way presents himself and his ability to solve crimes fits more in the 20s with mobs and gangsters rather than post 9/11 terrorism. Overall the story did keep my interest based on the religious mythology of David & Goliath and how much interest the cast of characters in the story had in the Goliath Bone itself.

On the negative side, I did feel that the ending was a bit anti-climactic, more in the way that the characters “all win” and yet, no one wins. You’ll have to read the story to see what I mean.

Overall it was a good story to read to pass time, but I’d be interested to read further back into the series to get a larger grasp on the entirety of the series.

Read my review of “Blacksad” by Juan Diaz Canales if you’re looking for more crime noir!

Posted in Audiobooks, Book Reviews

REVIEW: Force of Nature (Aaron Faulk #2) by Jane Harper

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*No Spoilers*

Five women reluctantly pick up their backpacks and start walking along a muddy track.
Only four come out on the other side.

The hike through the rugged Giralang Ranges is meant to take the office colleagues out of their air-conditioned comfort zone and encourage teamwork and resilience. At least, that’s what the corporate retreat website advertises.

Federal Police investigator Aaron Falk has a keen interest in the whereabouts of the missing hiker, Alice Russell. Because Alice knew secrets, about the company she worked for and the people she worked with.

The four returning women tell Falk a tale of fear, violence and fractured trust during their days in the remote Australian bushland. And as Falk delves into the disappearance of Alice, he begins to suspect some dangers ran far deeper than anyone knew.

“It’s the panic that gets you. Makes it hard to trust what you’re seeing.”
Jane Harper, Force of Nature

I discovered this novel on a themed book list I found on Off the Shelf, and I knew I had to try this one out. Now to see how this novel stands up.

I haven’t read many novels that take place in the Australian wilderness, I think a lot of us who don’t live in Australia forget just how close to nature the country is. Most of us hear about the weird creatures that live in the Outback. Some of the animals are cute and loveable, but others we wish to avoid at all costs.

I listened to this novel on audio and the narrator had a strong Australian accent and it took me a bit to tune my ear to what he was reading. Other than his accent, I found his reading to be entertaining.

I found the main character, Aaron Faulk to be your typical vanilla federal agent. He was observant of the other campers, and he could tell who was lying or holding things back. I felt like the writer put more of an effort into building dynamic characters into the group of female hikers. The only time I felt Faulk got any character development was when he discovered a collection of maps his late father kept.

Even though we learn Faulk didn’t get along with his dad growing up, the discovery of the maps of the hiking trails with notes his dad had written. This including wanting to go on some of the trails with Faulk. I felt like this gave Faulk some human characteristics and made me sympathize with him a bit.

The group of female hikers the whole mystery surrounds is your typical idea of females in the office workspace. Lots of drama, backstabbing, and gossipping. These aspects only got worse the more lost the women became. I felt like they wouldn’t have gotten too lost if the trail had some kind of markers at reasonable intervals to help people stay on the right path. I know that kind of ruins the idea of the retreat, but that’s just my thoughts.

Overall I thought this book was alright, the characters were a bit weak and stereotypical, and the mystery was a big let down. I felt like this could’ve used some work on Faulk’s character and made the group of females a bit more dynamic. If you’re itched for a trip to the wilds of the Australian wilderness, then I’d say to give this novel a try!

Posted in Book Reviews, Novels

REVIEW: Invasion (THEM #0.5) by M.D. Massey

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*No Spoilers*

Aidan “Scratch” Sullivan is a former Army Ranger and Afghanistan War vet trying to achieve some semblance of normalcy while he deals with the psychological after-effects of two combat tours in the ‘Stan.

But when the bombs fall and the dead walk, Scratch is forced to risk life and limb to rescue his aging parents before zombies overrun their quiet community. And to do it, he’ll need to traverse half the state of Texas while dealing with out-of-control military units, violent redneck looters, and all manner of evil things that go bump in the night…

I enjoy a good military-minded protagonist to guide the reader through the zombie apocalypse. To see someone who is trained to think and respond rationally, faced with the walking dead makes the tension even greater.

It was odd to me, as Aiden was able to travel around the zombie-ravaged wasteland of Texas and how his truck didn’t bring a constant mob of zombies wherever he went. The most common way a zombie can detect the living is by sounds. Since Aidan’s truck wasn’t affected by the EMPs then that would make the engine a very loud broadcaster to the zombies.

One thing I enjoyed about Invasion was the fact that the author wasn’t taking everything seriously. You could tell in the dialog that they were somewhat aware of how ridiculous their world has become. This was executed in a way where even though the author was having fun with the story, I was able to enjoy both the humor and the overall story.

I would highly recommend this novel for lovers of post-apocalyptic fiction, zombies, horror, and novels that don’t take themselves too seriously. The Invasion was thrilling, action-pact, and humorous in a subtle way.

Read Other Zombie Books I’ve Reviewed

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Posted in Book Reviews, Novels

REVIEW: The Last Straw (Pigeon-Blood Red Book 2) by Ed Duncan

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*No Major Spoilers*

When a teenage girl witnesses a carjacking went bad, she is marked for death by a crime boss with no apparent motive. A black lawyer and a white enforcer with an unlikely history forge an uneasy alliance to protect the girl from a hitman with an agenda of his own.

After they find out that the crime boss is the father of the black teenage carjacker, Paul Elliott – lawyer and close friend of the witness’s family – begins counseling them.

As the long-simmering feud between Rico and John D’Angelo reaches boiling point, bodies start to pile up in rapid succession… and old scores will be settled.

I meant to have this review up last month, however, life happened and I fell behind. I am thrilled and honored to be sharing this novel with my readers today. The Last Straw is a thrilling action-packed novel that is beautifully written in a way where I didn’t feel the need to read the previous novel in the series.

This novel touches on topics such as good vs evil, modern racism, and even how things aren’t as black and white as we like to believe.

“Paul, I’m certain you could have handled that situation without the gun and without fighting. You would have thought of something. You know how I hate seeing you carry a gun. But I’ll suprise you by saying I guess I’m glad you had it just this once to use as a bluff if you really had to, because I’m sure you never would have shot anyone, even if you’re not.”

Paul turned that over in his mind for a moment. “Maybe you know me better than I know myself. I don’t think I could have shot them either. No, I couldn’t. When we were inside [the movie theatre], I was thinking that when I was growing up, I had friends who could have been either one of those two. Hell, I could have been one of them. My father used to say no matter how far you travel, you can never change where you came from. I was so damned angry back there for a while, I almost forgot where I came from.” –The Last Straw

I enjoyed the mystery of how everything and everyone was connected. Seemingly random characters having a part in the grand scheme of the novel held my attention, I felt like it was put together really well. There weren’t too many characters to keep up with and I enjoyed learning about Paul Elliot’s history with Rico and D’Angelo.

My favorite character is Rico. He is a product of his environment, but he does the best he can for those he cares about (whether he acknowledges it or not). He is a hitman who isn’t afraid to tell his boss ‘no’ when a job interferes with his morals.

I liked the fact this novel isn’t afraid to touch on modern racism. Beverly, the mother of the suspected carjacker, confronts both the racism from her past as well as present day. I’m not going to spoil how Beverly is connected to the overall story, but I did enjoy learning her backstory as well.

If you’re looking for an action-packed thrilling mystery, then I would highly recommend The Last Straw. The story will have you sitting on the edge of your seat, and reaching for the tissues at times. This novel is a thriller with a heart.

Buy “The Last Straw” by Ed Duncan HERE!