Thursday, August 27, 2020

Dark Matter


Blake Crouch


342 Pages.

(No image of book available)

 Jasson Dessen, a professor in Chicago, goes out to celebrate with a friend who has just won a prestigious award. Walking home, he wonders how his life would have been if he’d pursued an active career in physics instead of the family life he now has. Suddenly he is attacked by an unknown assailant, injected with a serum, and cast into a multi universe. Assaulted by a stranger he knows not at all, yet knows better than anyone else but himself. Will he ever get back to the family he loves, or will he assume the role of another Jason in another life; perhaps a successful and rich Jason who’s lived another existence in a different world?

I found this a fast-moving novel littered with sci-fi elements with questions of extensionist manner as to what it means to be happy in life, versus what it means to be successful. The last quarter of the book contains several surprising developments: what Jason will do to conquer his dilemmas. Will he return to what may or may not be most satisfactory continuation of his existence, or pursue an alternative reality?

posted by Mark Roper




Friday, August 21, 2020

          The Andromeda Evolution

                        A Michael Crichton Book

Daniel H. Wilson


366 pages.

Posted by Mark Roper


    Somewhere along the Amazon river in the most remote section of the Brazilian rainforest, a long-dreaded event is taking place. A towering column of unknown origin is rising hundreds and hundreds of feet into the sky. Initially thought of as the aftermath of the Chinese space station Heavenly Palace's reentry into the Earth’s atmosphere, causing reintroduction of the Andromeda virus again after fifty years of inactivity. Within hours a specialist team of international scientists are flown to the spot to investigate this anomaly. What transpires next within a short number of days may either be the beginning of man’s next evolution, or instead end Earth’s entire human civilization.

   The book keeps a quick pace with what you’d expect from a Michael Crichton Book. Exciting characters of the usual mix; morally sound folks against uncaring Governmental institutions. People with good intentions letting situations with Bad Results get out of hand. Lots of action and intrigue. A fine sequel to the original Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton. An entertaining read indeed.


Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Xi Force series, Book 4 Triptych / S. C. Mitchell / 262 pages

Fourth book in the Xi Force series.  Maggie O'Donnell dreamed of becoming an astronaut, and instead she ends up flying the Xi Force super jet shuttling their superheroes around when needed. But when her grandmother passes away and she inherits the powers of the Irish goddess Morrigan from her, she is able to split herself in three to become the three aspects of Morrigan, the healer, the warrior, and the sorceress.  But she also inherited her ancestor’s enemy. Whenever the power is passed on the prison holding The Fae Queen Genevieve weakens and she can escape to cause havoc. As Maggie steps into an even bigger role with the super team Xi Force she also has to deal with her family’s ancient enemy who's out to destroy her and anyone close to her. Paul Tompkins is leader of Pike's rangers, the Xi Force support team. He’s required to keep Maggie in the friend zone because of his job, but her new position in Xi Force suddenly changes everything now that she’s a civilian contract and not part of the rangers. If all that’s isn’t enough when an earthquake causes cracks and crevices in the Xi Force base’s foundation it reveals that there’s some weird spaceship with aliens inside under the base. Narrated by Larry Gorman 7h 20min.

Friday, March 27, 2020

Hid from Our Eyes/ Julia Spencer-Fleming/ 445 pgs

This is book 9 in the long-standing Clare Fergusson/Russ Van Alstyne series. Due to tragic circumstances it's been 7 years since the last book came out but this one does not disappoint. Clare and Russ are the proud parents of a new baby and Clare, especially, is dealing with juggling a baby, her marriage, her job, and childcare.This series has never shied away from the messier emotions in life and doesn't do so now. The mystery actually spans three different time periods. Three unknown young women are found murdered on the same road in town--one in the 1950s, one in the 1970s, and one in present day. The story follows all three timelines, though the focus is mostly on the present. In addition to that, the town of Millers Kill is taking a vote on whether or not to keep funding their police force, which means Russ's job is on the line. All of the major players are present in this story and their lives pick up right where the last book left off. This is an excellent continuation of this series. I read an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) of this title. It will be released on 4/7/2020.

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Mercy Thompson Series, Book 12 Smoke Bitten / Patricia Briggs / 351 pages

Latest installment in the Mercy Thompson series.  Mercy Thompson is a coyote shapeshifter who chaos just seems to follow around (but she blames that her father Coyote the primordial being from Native american myth for that). Mercy’s Husband and mate Adam has been off ever since he had to kill an old friend who succumbed to dark magic and she can feel him pulling away from their bond and becoming distant.  Even the Pack has noticed he’s been off. Adam’s Ex is causing problems like she always does which is causing tension with the pack when Mercy’s step-daughter decides to go to college in the Tri-Cities area to be close to her dad and Mercy instead of her mother.  On top of that Underhill (a sentient being and avatar of the Fae realm), who is quite bloodthirsty, likes to play games (that often end with the other person dead) and likes to take on the form of a little girl decides to put a door to her realm in Mercy’s backyard and ‘accidentally’ let out one of the dangerous creatures that roams her realm into the Tri-Cities area.  When the creature bites someone he can control them and make them do what he wants, until he kills them and moves onto his next target. And if that’s not enough a rogue werewolf pack seems to be moving into Mercy and her husband’s pack territory with the intent to take over. Just another day in the life of mechanic Mercedes Athena Thompson Hauptman. Narrated by Lorelei King 10h 9min.

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Watching from the Dark/ Gytha Lodge/ 352 pgs

I enjoyed Lodge's first book in this police procedural series and was excited to see this second book come out. This series takes place outside of London, in the Southampton area of the southern coast with DCI Jonah Sheens as the lead investigator. A college student by the name of Zoe ends up dead in her apartment. The only witness is her boyfriend who had Skyped in to talk to her and "heard" the murder, though did not see the murderer. As the police investigate, there are a number of suspects, including the boyfriend who happens to be a married, older man. There is an interesting cast of characters here and some great police work. While I guessed who the murderer was fairly early on due to some early subtle clues, the solution was by no means obvious. This is a solid new series for fans of British police procedurals.

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Accidental Traveler Series, Book 3 Accidental Mage/ Jamie Davis / 344 pages

Dragged back to the game of Fantasma, for Hal Dix, this time it's personal. Hal returns home from Fantasma to find his greatest nightmare has come true. A personal tragedy in the real world drags him back into the game world of Fantasma one last time when he finds that the emperor has left him a message after kidnapping his wife and daughter as leverage against him and his role as the prophesied hero that will defeat the emperor.  After entering Fantasma once again, Hal seeks help from his comrades Kia, the mage Tildi, and warriors he has helped. Hal must master the art of magic this time, gaining abilities and training under four unique archmages and learning their individual elements to complete his quest and fight against the emperor. Does Hal have the discipline to stick with the training and reach the end of his chosen path? He doesn’t have a choice, Hal will do whatever he has to to rescue his wife and daughter. Narrated by Roberto Scarlato 10h 18min.

Accidental Traveler Series, Book 2 Accidental Warrior / Jamie Davis / 320 pages

Hal Dix had success at home after his initial outing into the world of Fantasma after helping a city overthrow the tyrant rulers set in place by the evil emperor. He leveled up in both his job and at home, getting into the management training program.  Everything was going fine in his life. Then, the mage Tildi, the Elder that had first sent him to Fantasma showed up again with news from the other world. His friend Kia was in trouble and only he could help. Hal didn't want to be a hero, but he wasn't the sort of fellow to leave a comrade behind. Whisked away to the game world of Fantasma once again, Hal enters the role of the reluctant hero he thought he'd left behind.  Narrated by Roberto Scarlato 9h 56min.

Accidental Traveler Series, Book 1 Accidental Thief / Jamie Davis / 310 pages

Hal Dix was stuck in an unlucky life. His wife is a successful executive while his IT help desk job leads nowhere. His supervisor is a rude bully and he has applied for management training 12 times already,  maybe this time will be lucky number 13. Even his daughter's daycare teacher thinks he's a loser. Hal can't catch a break. But when he checks out the flea market by his work for any new or interesting games he comes across a strange woman who sells Hal a bootleg release of a highly anticipated game. It is just what he wished for and he can't wait to play it during his long weekend home alone. Has his luck finally turned around? Hal should be careful what he wishes for, when instead of playing a relaxing game at his computer desk in the comfort of his own home, he gets sent to the the game world of Fantasma, is this real or just a dream?  Narrated by Roberto Scarlato 9h 9min.  

I Bring the Fire Series, Book 6 Ragnarok / C. Gockel / 697 pages

Loki vowed that Asgard would burn. Bohdi Patel, the latest incarnation of Chaos, wants nothing to do with Loki's psychotic oath. While he may be the next incarnation of Chaos, he is his own person.  In order to fix Steve so that he would no longer be paralyzed, and to give the Earth and humans on it a fighting chance against Odin and his forces taking over, Amy created a magical virus, she failed to inform people that it was contagious, now humans are developing magical abilities.  On a recon trip to Jotunheim to before a mission to trek through the Icy world and make allies with the ice giants, Amy Lewis, Steve Rogers, Bohdi Patel and an unlikely band of civilians, magical beings, and elite military, suddenly becomes stranded on the icy world. Now Bohdi just wants to keep himself and his friends alive-but when you're Chaos incarnate, even the simplest goals are complicated. If Jotunheim doesn't kill them, Odin will, and if Odin doesn't, the secrets they harbor might. In the final installment of the I Bring the Fire series, Bohdi, Amy, Steve, and their companions learn that Chaos cannot be contained, some secrets cannot be kept, and some vows cannot be broken. Narrated by Barrie Kreinik 21h 1min.

I Bring the Fire Series, Book 5 Warriors / C. Gockel / 380 pages

Bohdi Patel is keeping a huge secret that he learned while on a quest with Amy and Thor to the home of the Norns for some answers, for the Norns can answer any question for a price.  Bohdi Patel is Chaos, aka Loki incarnate,and he’s handling the revelation about that as well as one could expect. He's in a downward spiral losing his lease, totaling his car, and trying to keep everyone he cares about at arm's length to protect them. Veterinarian Amy Lewis is wondering what happened to the funny, flirty, curious Bohdi she knew in the land of the Norns, and had slowly been starting to fall for. He's become moody and sometimes cruel. She is definitely glad that she didn't become romantically entangled with him...  most of the time. When tragedy strikes Amy's beloved mutt Fenrir and Odin strikes Bohdi's best friend, Steve causing him to become paralyzed from the neck down, Amy and Bohdi have to work together again. Amy is angry with Steve after learning that he is the reason his organization took her daughter’s fetus after she miscarried and they are now experimenting on it to gain knowledge on magic and Loki. But she still plans to help Steve and maybe the research from those experiments could help create a cure to fix him. Amy's knowledge of science, Bohdi's talents for theft, and both of their survival skills are put to the test. But more than Steve and Fenrir's lives are at stake. Amy and Bohdi may unlock the key that saves mankind from the gods, Odin in particular or brings about the apocalypse. Narrated by Barrie Kreinik 10h 10min.

Monday, March 2, 2020

The Sun Down Motel/ Simone St. James/ 327 pgs

Simone St. James delivers again with a spooky, creepy emotional tale. The Sun Down Motel is not only the title of the book but also a character unto itself in the story. In 1982, Vivian Delaney took off from her home in Illinois to become an actress in New York City. That was the vague plan, but she ended up in an upstate New York town called Fell and worked the night shift at the Sun Down Motel. Months later she disappeared. Thirty-five years later, her niece Carly heads to Fell to try to find out what happened to her aunt. Carly discovers, as Vivian did, that someone is killing young women and it all started when one of the women, Betty, was killed and dumped on the construction site of the motel. Betty, and others, haunt the hotel. This is downright creepy but it's also fascinating that the characters in the book just accept the existence of the ghosts without question. The story alternates between Vivian and Carly's points of view as they each work to achieve justice for the murdered women. This book has layers upon layers and is an all-around fantastic read.

Saturday, February 22, 2020

The Only Woman in the Room/ Marie Benedict/ 243 pgs

This is a fictionalization of the early life of Hollywood actress Hedy Lamarr. Hedy was born in Austria to wealthy Jewish parents, though the family didn't practice the religion. Hedy was universally recognized as beautiful. The novel details her marriage to a older, wealthy arms manufacturer who had close ties to the Austrian government as well as Italy's Mussolini. Hedy was treated as a trophy wife but she was actually quite intelligent and learned a lot from those who came to meet with her husband. After a few years she was able to escape her controlling, abusive husband and she made her way to the US where she became a well-known actress. Lesser known, she was a brilliant inventor whose idea for a more accurately controlled torpedo firing system was shot down by the Navy. This technology was later used to create wi-fi. A fascinating look at a woman who was only seen for her beauty, not her brains.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Grumpy Jake/ Melissa Blue/ 104 pgs

To be honest, the titular Grumpy Jake is not all that grumpy. However this is still a cute story. Jake is a single dad to a kindergartner, Jayden. Bailey is Jayden's new teacher and she's more than a bit wary of Jake, who has a reputation of sleeping around with his son's preschool teachers. This is a bit icky, but it's not really a huge part of the book. Jake and Bailey end up trapped in an elevator for an afternoon, get to know each other, and end up casually dating. Which leads to much, much more. A short, fun read.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

War of the Damned Series, Book 1 Resurrection Of The Damned / Michael Todd & Michael Anderle / 230 pages

Three months ago, there was a demon invasion. Due to that, old rules are thrown aside as the world figures out just who the enemy really is. A mercenary named Katie is trying to take a much-needed vacation in Los Angeles but  unfortunately, both friends and foes want her in the worst possible way. While trying to enjoy her vacation she is kidnapped, has to help deal with a demon incursion, and exorcises a ghost at the hotel she’s staying at. The government wants Katie either to experiment or dissect to figure out why she is stronger than all the other damned.  Damned are humans possessed by a demon, this gives them abilities to fight and send other demons back to hell. Then the leader of the demons that caused the demon invasion also wants Katie for what, Katie doesn’t know.. Katie's Killers a mercenary group of damned that fight the demons are facing a new reality, one where they are needed more than ever now that the world's eyes have been uncovered. Narrated by Emily Beresford 5h 41min. 

I Bring the Fire Series, Book 4 Fates / C. Gockel / 498 pages

Two years ago Loki, god of mischief and chaos, destroyed a large chunk of Chicago's financial district and then vanished into thin air, at least to most of the world that’s what he did.  But Amy knows that when Loki got a hold of the world seed Cera, she took control of Loki and tried to destroy the world, Loki sacrificed himself to stop her and disappeared. He still has not been found. Amy knows that whenever Loki dies he is reborn without any of his memories and that it’s only a matter of time before he comes back, and Amy has to protect what Loki gave her, all of his memories before he sacrificed himself, but she’s missing some of her own memories from the event.  Others are looking for Loki too, Odin, ruler of the Nine Realms, is desperate. To find Loki, he sends his son Thor on a dangerous quest to consult the all-seeing Norns. But Thor needs humanity's help, Loki's former lover, veterinarian Amy Lewis. Hoping to keep Loki from Odin's machinations, she agrees to help Thor on his journey. Bohdi Patel's memory was wiped by Loki's mischief. He thinks that Amy and Thor are both crazy to want anything to do with Loki. But he needs to find his parents, and he's been told that the Norns will answer any question-for a price. Narrated by Barrie Kreinik 14h 59min.

I Bring the Fire Series, Book 3 Chaos / C. Gockel / 322 pages

Third book in the series, Things are heating up in Chicago for Amy Lewis in more ways than one.  More and more portals are opening up letting in all kinds of dangerous and deadly creatures from the nine realms into the city. Amy is still working for DUO the department of Anomalous Devices of Unknown Origin as a secretary for Steve Rogers and as a kind of liaison between them and Loki, acting as a contact person for them.  DUO needs Loki’s help with all the strange things happening but they definitely don’t trust him and some people higher up want to capture and question him despite all he’s done. The weird relationship Amy has with Loki is getting interesting as they become closer. But Loki is still determined to get the World Seed, Cera from underneath DUO’s headquarters and use it to gain power to destroy Asgard and kill Odin for causing the deaths of his two sons, wife and friend, no matter the cost to himself and others. Amy doesn’t trust Cera knowing she has her own vendetta and wants to control Loki.  Narrated by Barrie Kreinik 9h 8min

Monday, February 10, 2020

Ten Things My Cat Hates about You/ Lottie Lucas/ 400 pgs

Back in the day this would have been known as chick lit. Today it's probably labeled a romantic comedy. Clara can't seem to make a relationship work, although sometimes her cat Casper is to blame, especially when he attacks her dates. She lives in Cambridge, England and works in a museum. Her brother, for unknown reasons, has recently moved in with her. She ends up with two men in her life: Josh, the cat's vet, who seems to only want a good time with Clara; and Adam, a professor who isn't good about sharing his thoughts and feelings. There is definitely a bit of Pride and Prejudice to this. I found the plot very predictable. Clara can't seem to figure out anything that is going on around her and as with the best chick lit heroines, humiliation and embarrassment seem to find her. There are some funny moments and I loved the Cambridge setting (as opposed to London).

Saturday, February 8, 2020

Guild Codex: Spellbound Series, Book 5 The Alchemist And An Amaretto / Annette Marie/ 296 pages

As a guild bartender, Tori can handle pretty much anything thrown her way, mages, sorcerers, druids, witches, the occasional demon. But anything family-related and she’d rather run for the hills. So why on earth did she agree to spend the holiday with her three best guy friends Aaron, Ezra, and Kai at Aaron family’s home, which is a giant castle that is also a school.  Meeting his famous parents is already terrifying enough, but there are bigger problems. Students of Aaron’s family's renowned mage academy are being attacked on the grounds and somehow no one has seen a single assailant. Unexplained tracks litter the nearby woods, rumors of forbidden alchemy are circulating the campus, Ezra has been acting strangely since they arrived, and Aaron is falling back into his old way surrounded by the upper class elite at the school.  Something deadly is brewing in the shadow of Sinclair Academy, and the longer Tori and her friends take to uncover it, the more dangerous it becomes. But no matter the risk, they’re determined to protect the students. And Aaron's parents too, If they have to. Narrated by Cris Dukehart 6h 55min.

Friday, February 7, 2020

I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter/ Erika Sanchez/ 344 pgs

Young Adult is not something I routinely read but every now and then one catches my eye, as this one did. The book focuses on Julia Reyes' last two years of high school in Chicago. Julia has all of the teenaged angst you'd expect but her stress is multiplied because her older sister dies at the beginning of the story, her parents are immigrants from Mexico, and her family is poor. While I can see why Julia drove her mother nuts with her behavior, I could definitely sympathize with Julia too. She's smart, she wants to go to college, she wants to be a writer. None of these are things her mother understands, plus her mother has her own worries. This is a vivid story about one young girl trying break outside of herself and make her own way. The blurb hints at a mystery and there is one, but it's only given sporadic attention and is not the focus of the book.