SpecOps: Expeditionary Force, Book 2 by Craig Alanson

book cover

Continuing the adventures of Barney and the Beer Can… I mean Joe Bishop and the great and all powerful Skippy. The feels in this one are real and plentiful.

I don’t really have a lot to say about this book other than that it is a continuation of the last book with lots more Skippy doing his thing. If you read or listened to the first book and didn’t like Skippy so much, then maybe this series is not for you. But if you loved Skippy then I think you will love this book.

R.C. Bray continues doing an amazing job bringing the snark to life.

From the publisher:

Colonel Joe Bishop made a promise, and he’s going to keep it: taking the captured alien starship Flying Dutchman back out. He doesn’t agree when the UN decides to send almost 70 elite Special Operations troops, hotshot pilots, and scientists with him; the mission is a fool’s errand he doesn’t expect to ever return from. At least this time, the Earth is safe, right?

Not so much.

©2016 Craig Alanson (P)2017 Podium Publishing

I rate SpecOps an 8 out of 10 and recommend it to anyone who liked Columbus Day.

Columbus Day by Craig Alanson

Columbus Day Book Cover

I am always looking for a new Sci-Fi series that has a lot of humor in it and after the Bobiverse series I wanted to keep the laughs going.

Columbus Day is the first in the Expeditionary Force series of books by Craig Alanson.

With narration by R.C. Bray, you can never go wrong, and his portrayal of Bishop, Skippy, and the entire Expeditionary Force crew is fantastic.

This the story of a man and his super-duper intelligent beer can of AWESOMENESS. If that doesn’t get you to read the book, then nothing will.

From the publisher:

We were fighting on the wrong side of a war we couldn’t win. And that was the good news.

The Ruhar hit us on Columbus Day. There we were, innocently drifting along the cosmos on our little blue marble, like the Native Americans in 1492. Over the horizon came ships of a technologically advanced, aggressive culture, and BAM! There went the good old days, when humans got killed only by each other. So, Columbus Day. It fits.

When the morning sky twinkled again, this time with Kristang starships jumping in to hammer the Ruhar, we thought we were saved. The UN Expeditionary Force hitched a ride on Kristang ships to fight the Ruhar wherever our new allies thought we could be useful. So, I went from fighting with the US Army in Nigeria to fighting in space. It was lies, all of it. We shouldn’t even be fighting the Ruhar; they aren’t our enemy. Our allies are.

I’d better start at the beginning.

©2016 Craig Alanson (P)2016 Podium Publishing

I rate Columbus Day an 8 out of 10 and recommend it to anyone looking for fun sci-fi.

P.S.

An 8 out of 10 may seem a bit low, but the books and the stories get better and better.

Where the Hell is Tesla? by Rob Dircks

Where the Hell is Tesla Book Cover

This had been sitting in my Audible Wish List for some time, after listening to The Wrong Unit, I wanted to continue the goodness with another Rob Dircks novel.

I thoroughly enjoyed the story of Where the Hell is Tesla? which was made even more charming by the author’s reading of the tale.

There is not a lot new in this story, I feel like I have experienced all of the tropes before, but they are used to great effect in this time and space traveling experience. And it has Tesla!

From the publisher:

Sci-fi odyssey. Comedy. Love story. And of course, Nikola Tesla.

I’ll let Chip, the main character, tell you more: “I found the journal at work. Well, I don’t know if you’d call it work, but that’s where I found it. It’s the lost journal of Nikola Tesla, one of the greatest inventors and visionaries ever. Before he died in 1943, he kept a notebook filled with spectacular claims and outrageous plans. One of these plans was for an “INTERDIMENSIONAL TRANSFER APPARATUS” – that allowed someone (in this case me and my friend Pete) to travel to other versions of the infinite possibilities around us. Crazy, right? But that’s just where the crazy starts.”

Chip’s Official Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction. The events depicted in the collection of emails did not happen. I have never been in contact with a covert government group attempting to suppress knowledge of the lost journal of Nikola Tesla. I have not been threatened with death if I divulge the secrets contained inside. They did not buy me this handsome jacket (oh crap, you’re listening to this – trust me, it looks great on me). They did not come to my place, and liquor me up, and offer to publish this book as a sci-fi comedy novel to throw the public off the trail of the real truth.

Or did they?

I’m kidding. Of course they didn’t.

Or did they?

God, I can’t keep my big mouth shut.

©2015 Rob Dircks (P)2015 Rob Dircks

I rate Where the Hell is Tesla? a 7 out of 10 and recommend it to anyone looking for a fun sci-fi time-travel romp.

The Wrong Unit by Rob Dircks

The Wrong Unit Book Cover
I really needed something humorous to read and The Wrong Unit really paid off.

There is a lot of humor and humanity in this story of a… well wait. This is yet another one of those stories where I don’t want to give too much away. Even telling you the main plot idea in the book would be giving to much away.

Let’s just say it is a very humorous story of the distant future where machines have… You’ll have to read or listen to it yourself to find out.

From the publisher:

I don’t know what the humans are so cranky about. Their enclosures are large, they ingest over 1,000 calories per day, and they’re allowed to mate. Plus, they have me: an Autonomous Servile Unit, housed in a mobile/bipedal chassis. I do my job well: keep the humans healthy and happy.

"Hey you."

Heyoo. That’s my name, I suppose. It’s easier for the humans to remember than 413s98-itr8. I guess I’ve gotten used to it.

Rob Dircks, author of Where the Hell is Tesla? and Don’t Touch the Blue Stuff!, has a “unit” with a problem: how to deliver his package, out in the middle of nowhere, with nothing to guide him. Oh, and with the fate of humanity hanging in the balance. It’s a science fiction tale of technology gone haywire, unlikely heroes, and the nature of humanity. (Woah. That last part sounds deep. Don’t worry, it’s not.)

©2016 Rob Dircks (P)2016 Rob Dircks

I rate this book a 9 out of 10 and recommend it to anyone looking for a good story with plenty of humor.

The Frequency of Aliens by Gene Doucette

The Frequency of Aliens Book Cover

This is the second book in the Sorrow Falls series. The first was The Spaceship Next Door which I read and reviewed last year.

I really enjoyed The Spaceship Next Door and The Frequency of Aliens continues the adventures of Annie Collins as she heads off to college. I really don’t won’t to tell you much more about the story, I feel that the less you know, the more you will enjoy it.

Suffice to say Steve Carlson does an amazing job narrating the book bring all of the characters to life including men, women, ghost, and aliens alike.

From the publisher:

Annie Collins is back!

Becoming an overnight celebrity at age 16 should have been a lot more fun. Yes, there were times when it was extremely cool, but when the newness of it all wore off, Annie Collins was left with a permanent security detail and the kind of constant scrutiny that makes the college experience especially awkward.

Not helping matters: she’s the only kid in school with her own pet spaceship.

She would love it if things found some kind of normal, but as long as she has control of the most lethal – and only – interstellar vehicle in existence, that isn’t going to happen. Worse, things appear to be going in the other direction. Instead of everyone getting used to the idea of the ship, the complaints are getting louder. Public opinion is turning, and the demands that Annie turn over the ship are becoming more frequent. It doesn’t help that everyone seems to think Annie is giving them nightmares.

Nightmares aren’t the only weird things going on lately. A government telescope in California has been abandoned, and nobody seems to know why.

The man called on to investigate – Edgar Somerville – has become the go-to guy whenever there’s something odd going on, which has been pretty common lately. So far, nothing has panned out: no aliens or zombies or anything else that might be deemed legitimately peculiar…but now may be different, and not just because Ed can’t find an easy explanation. This isn’t the only telescope where people have gone missing, and the clues left behind lead back to Annie.

It all adds up to a new threat that the world may just need saving from, requiring the help of all the Sorrow Falls survivors. The question is: are they saving the world with Annie Collins, or are they saving it from her?

The Frequency of Aliens is the exciting sequel to The Spaceship Next Door.

©2017 Gene Doucette (P)2017 Gene Doucette

I rate The Frequency of Aliens the same as I did The Spaceship Next Door, a 9 out of 10 and recommend it to everyone.

The Spaceship Next Door by Gene Doucette

The Spaceship Next Door audiobook coverI really liked The Spaceship Next Door, it is the first of Gene Doucette’s books I have read and now I look forward to reading/listening to his other books.

I bought this book from Audible and listened to it using the Audible app on my iPhone.

The characters Annie, who is overflowing with teen energy, and Edgar with his G-man attitude are a wonderful mix that makes this a wonderful sci-fi story even though there is really nothing new or ground-breaking.

The narration by Steve Carlson works well, his voice is perfect for Edgar and he does a great job conveying Annie’s energy and nosiness.

From the publisher:

The world changed on a Tuesday.

When a spaceship landed in an open field in the quiet mill town of Sorrow Falls, Massachusetts, everyone realized humankind was not alone in the universe. With that realization everyone freaked out for a little while.

Or almost everyone. The residents of Sorrow Falls took the news pretty well. This could have been due to a certain local quality of unflappability, or it could have been that in three years the ship did exactly nothing other than sit quietly in that field, and nobody understood the full extent of this nothing the ship was doing better than the people who lived right next door.

Sixteen-year-old Annie Collins is one of the ship’s closest neighbors. Once upon a time she took every last theory about the ship seriously, whether it was advanced by an adult or by a peer. Surely one of the theories would be proven true – if not several of them – the very minute the ship decided to do something. Annie is starting to think this will never happen.

One late August morning, a little over three years since the ship landed, Edgar Somerville arrived in town. Ed’s a government operative posing as a journalist, which is obvious to Annie – and pretty much everyone else he meets – almost immediately. He has a lot of questions that need answers, because he thinks everyone is wrong: The ship is doing something, and he needs Annie’s help to figure out what that is.

Annie is a good choice for tour guide. She already knows everyone in town, and when Ed’s theory is proven correct – something is apocalyptically wrong in Sorrow Falls – she’s a pretty good person to have around.

As a matter of fact, Annie Collins might be the most important person on the planet. She just doesn’t know it.

The Spaceship Next Door is the latest novel from Gene Doucette, best-selling author of The Immortal Trilogy, Fixer, The Immortal Chronicles, and Immortal Stories: Eve.

©2015 Gene Doucette (P)2016 Gene Doucette

I rate The Spaceship Next Door a 9 out of 10 and recommend it anyone looking for a fun sc-fi story.

The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher


I have re-listened to this series a handful of times now and it just gets better every time. I burnt through my credits on Audible faster than usual this year so to delay spending more credits I decided it was about time to listen to all 15 books in the series, I skipped Side Jobs this time.

Harry Dresden is such an amazing character and the world Jim Butcher has created is fantastic. But what makes the series so wonderful are the supporting characters, they are as unforgettable as Dresden.

James Marsters does an AMAZING job narrating these books, you owe it to yourself to listen to the audiobooks even if you have read the books yourself. He adds so much to them!

“PARKOUR”
“Polka will never die!”

I rate the series a 10 out of 10 and recommend everyone give Storm Front a try.

The Fold by Peter Clines

What the heck is Joe Ledger doing in a Peter Clines novel, haha, I jest.

I really enjoyed 14 by Peter Clines and when I saw his new novel The Fold in Audible I grabbed it and gave it a listen. The audiobook is narrated by Ray Porter who also narrates the Joe Ledger series by Jonathan Maberry so when I hear his voice I hear the voice of Joe Ledger. But this book is not much like the Ledger series.

The lead character, Mike Erikson, is a really smart guy with a photographic memory and Peter Clines does a great job of making him likeable and relatable.

This book didn’t get me too excited, I enjoyed it, but it fell like a compilation of other sci-fi books and movies. There is nothing new here if you have been reading and watching science fiction for awhile. But it is a solid effort, the narration is great, and the characters are fun if a bit predictable.

From the publisher:

Step into the fold. It’s perfectly safe.

The folks in Mike Erikson’s small New England town would say he’s just your average, everyday guy. And that’s exactly how Mike likes it. Sure, the life he’s chosen isn’t much of a challenge to someone with his unique gifts, but he’s content with his quiet and peaceful existence. That is until an old friend presents him with an irresistible mystery, one that Mike is uniquely qualified to solve.

Far out in the California desert, a team of DARPA scientists has invented a device they affectionately call the Albuquerque Door. Using a cryptic computer equation and magnetic fields to "fold" dimensions, it shrinks distances so a traveler can travel hundreds of feet with a single step. The invention promises to make mankind’s dreams of teleportation a reality. And, the scientists insist, traveling through the door is completely safe. Yet evidence is mounting that this miraculous machine isn’t quite what it seems – and that its creators are harboring a dangerous secret.

As his investigations draw him deeper into the puzzle, Mike begins to fear there’s only one answer that makes sense. And if he’s right, it may be only a matter of time before the project destroys…everything. A cunningly inventive mystery featuring a hero worthy of Sherlock Holmes and a terrifying final twist you’ll never see coming, The Fold is that rarest of things: a genuine pause-resister science-fiction thriller. Step inside its audio and learn why author Peter Clines has already won legions of loyal fans.

©2015 Peter Clines (P)2015 Audible, Inc.

I rate The Fold a 6 out of 10 and recommend it to anyone who has run out of other books to read.

The Martian by Andy Weir

I have been hearing about The Martian from a lot of friends over the last couple of months and it sounded to god to be true so I put it off. I really shouldn’t have.

I bought the audiobook from Audible and listened to it about as fast as I could. It has a lot in common with the many recent stranded stories like Gravity and Cast Away, but it is so much better than them.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who has ever dreamed of Mars, being an astronaut, an engineer, or a space botanist. Really I recommend it to anyone at all, it is a great story and R. C. Bray does a fantastic job narrating the audiobook.

From the publisher:

Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars.

Now, he’s sure he’ll be the first person to die there.

After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded and completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive – and even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive.

Chances are, though, he won’t have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment, or plain old "human error" are much more likely to kill him first.

But Mark isn’t ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills – and a relentless, dogged refusal to quit – he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. Will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?

©2012 Andy Weir (P)2013 Podium Publishing

I rate The Martian a 10 out of 10 and recommend everyone give it a read.

Hard Luck Hank: Basketful of Crap, Book 2 by Steven Campbell

Hard Luck Hank is turning into a great series; Steven Campbell keeps the action and the humor coming in the second installment.

There really isn’t much more to say about Basketful of Crap, it is more of what made Screw the Galaxy so good.

From the publisher:

Hank was a dying breed on the space station Belvaille. The criminal gangs that had once made their homes there were forced out by the corporations that had taken over since the facility became an Independent Protectorate. Instead of the gentlemanly gang wars that had once dominated the scene, and made Hank’s services prized as a negotiator, the city was now plagued by the clash of corporate armies using heavy weapons. Even tanks roamed the streets regularly. Most everyone from the olden days had either fled the station or was killed due to the organizational changes. Changes that Hank personally brought about when he had negotiated Belvaille’s status with the Navy. As Hank contemplates whether he can survive in this increasingly hostile environment, he realizes that things aren’t as bad as they seem – they are quite a bit worse. The constant power plays among corporations might have further reach than just the alleys of a backwater space station at the edge of the galaxy.

©2014 Steven Campbell (P)2014 Steven Campbell

I rate Hard Luck Hank: Basketful of Crap an 8 out of 10 and recommend it to anyone that enjoyed the first one. I am really looking forward to the next one.

Hard Luck Hank: Screw the Galaxy by Steven Campbell

Hard Luck Hank by Steven Campbell really scratches my Sci-Fi itch. Straight-forward science fictiony goodness with plenty of humor and action.

The writing reminds me a lot of the Stainless Steel Rat series of books. Lots of good nature humor, although with Hank there is a lot more smashing and crunching involved instead of the happy go-lucky larceny of the Rat.

The narrator Liam Owen does a great job with Hanks character, he brings a sense of toughness to him without taking away his humanity.

I really enjoyed Hank and the other citizens of Belvaille and I am excited to have found another series of books to dive into.

From the publisher:

Hank is a thug. He knows he’s a thug. He has no problem with that realization. In his view the galaxy has given him a gift: a mutation that allows him to withstand great deals of physical trauma. He puts his abilities to the best use possible and that isn’t by being a scientist.

Besides, the space station Belvaille doesn’t need scientists. It is not, generally, a thinking person’s locale. It is the remotest habitation in the entire Colmarian Confederation. There is literally no reason to be there.

Unless you are a criminal.

Because of its location, Belvaille is populated with nothing but crooks. Every day is a series of power struggles between the crime bosses.

Hank is an intrinsic part of this community as a premier gang negotiator. Not because he is eloquent or brilliant or an expert combatant, but because if you shoot him in the face he keeps on talking.

Hank believes he has it pretty good until a beautiful and mysterious blue woman enters his life with a compelling job offer.

Hank and Belvaille, so long out of public scrutiny, suddenly find themselves the epicenter of the galaxy with a lot of very unwelcome attention.

©2013 Steven Campbell (P)2014 Steven Campbell

I rate Hard Luck Hank: Screw the Galaxy an 8 out of 10 and recommend it to anyone that enjoyed The Stainless Steel Rat books.

Code Zero: Joe Ledger, Book 6 by Jonathan Maberry


Jonathan Maberry and Ray Porter do it again with another Joe Ledger audio book. Code Zero is everything I love about the Joe Ledger series, action, action, and a bit of angst.

The highlight of Code Zero for me was the inclusion of DragonCon, I met Mr. Mayberry at DragonCon 2014 and got a couple of great photos of him. His panels were very interesting if a bit heavy on the talk about zombies and meeting him just made me want to read more.

From the publisher:

For years the Department of Military Sciences has fought to stop terrorists from using radical bioweapons – designer plagues, weaponized pathogens, genetically modified viruses, and even the zombie plague that first brought Ledger into the DMS. These terrible weapons have been locked away in the world’s most secure facility. Until now. Joe Ledger and Echo Team are scrambled when a highly elite team of killers breaks the unbreakable security and steals the world’s most dangerous weapons. Within days there are outbreaks of mass slaughter and murderous insanity across the American heartland. Can Joe Ledger stop a brilliant and devious master criminal from turning the Land of the Free into a land of the dead?

Code Zero, a Joe Ledger novel from Jonathan Maberry, is the exciting direct sequel to Patient Zero.

©2014 Jonathan Maberry (P)2014 Macmillan Audio

I rate Code Zero an 8 out of 10 and highly recommend it to anyone that has been reading the Joe Ledger novels.

Tokyo Raider: A Tale of the Grimnoir Chronicles by Larry Correia

I really love the characters and world that Larry Correia has created with the Grimnoir Chronicles and Bronson Pinchot has done an amazing job bringing them to life.

I didn’t think there was much new ground covered here, but Tokyo Raider is a solid addition to the series.

From the publisher:

With the Japanese Imperium at war with the Soviet Union, and the United States watching cautiously on the sidelines, Second Lieutenant Joe Sullivan of the U.S. Marines is sent on a dangerous mission to Tokyo. The Russians have Summoned a demon of epic proportions to attack the city, and all that stands in its deadly path is an untested Japanese super-robot. Now, Joe is at the controls, his gravity-spiking Power at the ready. But that is one huge, mean Demon….

©2014 Larry Correia (P)2014 Audible Inc.

I rate Tokyo Raider an 8 out 10 and hope there are more Grimnoir Chronicles to come.

Veronica Mars: The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line by Rob Thomas

I love me some Veronica Mars, it was one of the few non-sci-fi shows I watched in real time. Kristen Bell and her friends just work for me.

Kristin Bell narrates the audiobook and does an amazing job, I felt like I could hear the actors from the show laughing about her impersonations of them. She really nails some of them and gets close enough with the others that it made the story even better.

The story written by Rob Thomas and Jennifer Graham is a solid one that could have easily been of handful of TV episodes. The Veronica Mars vibe is alive and well.

From the publisher:

The first book in an original mystery series featuring 28-year-old Veronica Mars, back in action after the events of Veronica Mars: The Movie. With the help of old friends – Logan Echolls, Mac Mackenzie, Wallace Fennel, and even Dick Casablancas – Veronica is ready to take on Neptune’s darkest cases with her trademark sass and smarts.

©2014 Rob Thomas and Jennifer Graham (P)2014 Random House Audio

I rate this audiobook a 10 out of 10 and recommend to anyone who loves Veronica Mars!

The Lost Fleet by Jack Campbell

The Lost Fleet is a science fiction series written by John G. Hemry writing as Jack Campbell and consists of 6 novels centered around Captain “Black Jack” Geary and the Alliance Fleet. This is good old military science fiction space war stuff.

I listened to these novels as audiobooks from Audible. Christian Rummel does a great job narrating all 6 of the novels and brings all of the characters to life. When adding up the playtime of all six novels you get 60 hours of space battles, political infighting, and military atmosphere.

This is not my ordinary type of reading, I usually go with something lighter, but The Lost Fleet had been recommended to me so many times that I couldn’t ignore it any longer. I am glad I finally picked it up, they are pretty great for what they are. Military space battles with some real military thought put into them.

I listened to all 6 of them one after the other, just couldn’t stop myself. And now I am on to Jack Campbell’s Beyond the Frontier series.

The books that make up The Lost Fleet are:

  1. The Lost Fleet: Dauntless
  2. The Lost Fleet: Fearless
  3. The Lost Fleet: Courageous
  4. The Lost Fleet: Valiant
  5. The Lost Fleet: Relentless
  6. The Lost Fleet: Victorious

What the publisher has to say about Dauntless:

The Alliance has been fighting the Syndics for a century, and losing badly. Now its fleet is crippled and stranded in enemy territory. Their only hope is a man who has emerged from a century-long hibernation to find he has been heroically idealized beyond belief.

Captain John “Black Jack” Geary’s legendary exploits are known to every schoolchild. Revered for his heroic “last stand” in the early days of the war, he was presumed dead. But a century later, Geary miraculously returns from survival hibernation and reluctantly takes command of the Alliance fleet as it faces annihilation by the Syndics.

Appalled by the hero-worship around him, Geary is nevertheless a man who will do his duty. And he knows that bringing the stolen Syndic hypernet key safely home is the Alliance’s one chance to win the war. But to do that, Geary will have to live up to the impossibly heroic “Black Jack” legend.

I rate The Lost Fleet series an 8 out of 10 and recommend it to anyone who loves science fiction and has a taste for the military.

Lock In by John Scalzi

Here is something new, an single audiobook with 2 performances. Not 2 narrators in the same recording, but 2 narrators with their own recording. Kinda cool.

I bought the audiobook from Audible as a pre-order that came with the added benefit of giving me the Amber Benson recording of the book.

I first listened to the Wil Wheaton recoding and really enjoyed it. Wil Wheaton has turned in some great performances as a narrator of audiobooks and this is no exception.

I am familiar with Amber Benson primarily from Buffy the Vampire slayer that I thought she was great in. I didn’t know that she is also an author and has narrated audiobooks.

After listening to the Wil Wheaton version of the book I decided to wait a month or so before listening to the Amber Benson version. During that break I read a blog post by John Scalzi that was pretty cool and shines a new light on the book. It makes the story kind of gimmicky, but I don’t believe it ruins the book.

WARNING: This link contains SPOILERS that will absolutely impact your enjoyment of reading or listening to Lock In. So don’t follow the link unless you have already read the book. If you have read it, please check it out, it is a cool aspect of the story you may have missed.

I HAVE READ THE WARNING, TAKE ME THERE

I enjoyed the story in Lock In and hope to read more stories that take place in the same universe. There is also talk of a TV series or a Movie, that could also be cool.

From the publisher:

"I love working with Audible, in no small part because they’re committed to doing what’s right, both for my books, and the people who listen to those books. There’s a really excellent reason for Lock In to have two entirely different versions, so when it came time to make the audiobook, Audible did an ingenious thing: they asked both Wil Wheaton and Amber Benson to record entire versions of the book. As the author, I’m impressed with Audible’s commitment to my narrative – and I’m geeking out that both Wil and Amber are reading my book. This is fantastic." (John Scalzi)

A blazingly inventive near-future thriller from the best-selling, Hugo Award-winning John Scalzi.

Not too long from today, a new, highly contagious virus makes its way across the globe. Most who get sick experience nothing worse than flu, fever, and headaches. But for the unlucky one percent – and nearly five million souls in the United States alone – the disease causes "Lock In": Victims fully awake and aware, but unable to move or respond to stimulus. The disease affects young, old, rich, poor, people of every color and creed. The world changes to meet the challenge.

A quarter of a century later, in a world shaped by what’s now known as "Haden’s syndrome", rookie FBI agent Chris Shane is paired with veteran agent Leslie Vann. The two of them are assigned what appears to be a Haden-related murder at the Watergate Hotel, with a suspect who is an "integrator" – someone who can let the locked in borrow their bodies for a time. If the Integrator was carrying a Haden client, then naming the suspect for the murder becomes that much more complicated.

But "complicated" doesn’t begin to describe it. As Shane and Vann began to unravel the threads of the murder, it becomes clear that the real mystery – and the real crime – is bigger than anyone could have imagined.

BONUS AUDIO: Audible’s audio edition of Lock In contains the bonus novella, Unlocked: An Oral History of Haden’s Syndrome, written by John Scalzi and narrated by a full cast.

©2014 John Scalzi (P)2014 Audible Inc.

I rate Locked In a 9 out of 10 and recommend it to anyone who enjoys police thrillers or science fiction.

Extinction Machine: The Joe Ledger Novels, Book 5 by Jonathan Maberry

In Extinction Machine Jonathan Maberry has Joe Ledger and Echo Team delving into the mysteries of ancient alien artifacts.

This is yet another, the fifth one in fact, exciting adventure of Joe Ledger and the Department of Military Science. I hope there a dozen more. I enjoyed Extinction Machine more than the last one, I find the subject more interesting and a little bit different than other books I have been reading lately.

From the publisher:

Audie Award Finalist, Science Fiction, 2014

In Extinction Machine, the fifth Joe Ledger book by Jonathan Maberry, the DMS must go up against someone – or something – in search of new technology that could bring about world war.

The president of the United States vanishes from the White House. A top-secret prototype stealth fighter is destroyed during a test flight. Witnesses on the ground say that it was shot down by a craft that immediately vanished at impossible speeds. All over the world, reports of UFOs are increasing at an alarming rate. And in a remote fossil dig in China dinosaur hunters have found something that is definitely not of this earth. There are rumors of alien-human hybrids living among us.

Joe Ledger and the Department of Military Sciences rush headlong into the heat of the world’s strangest and deadliest arms race, because the global race to recover and retro-engineer alien technologies has just hit a snag. Someone – or something – wants that technology back.

©2013 Jonathan Maberry (P)2013 Macmillan Audio

I rate Extinction Machine a 9 out of 10 and recommend it to anyone following the Joe Ledger series.

Assassin’s Code: Joe Ledger Book 4 by Jonathan Maberry

Jonathan Maberry’s Joe Ledger is back in action.

I don’t want to say anything about what is going on in Assassin’s Code as it would give away the most interesting thing about it. Suffice to say that Joe and Echo team are faced with another challenge that threatens the world while more personal threats step out of the shadows.

Ray Porter continues to do an amazing job narrating the Joe Ledger series and bringing all of the characters to life.

From the publisher:
When Joe Ledger and Echo Team rescue a group of American college kids held hostage in Iran, the Iranian government then asks them to help find six nuclear bombs planted in the Mideast oil fields. These stolen WMDs will lead Joe and Echo Team into hidden vaults of forbidden knowledge, mass-murder, betrayal, and a brotherhood of genetically-engineered killers with a thirst for blood.

Accompanied by the beautiful assassin called Violin, Joe follows a series of clues to find the Book of Shadows, which contains a horrifying truth that threatens to shatter his entire worldview. They say the truth will set you free… Not this time. The secrets of the Assassin’s Code will set the world ablaze.

©2012 Jonathan Maberry (P)2012 Macmillan Audio

I rate Assassin’s Code an 8 out of 10 and highly recommend it to fans of the Joe Ledger series.

Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott

Listening to Ivanhoe caused me to read more Wikipedia articles than any other book or audiobook. I looked up info on the Normans, the Saxons, and a bunch of different royals.

But the story never caught my attention. It was interesting from a fictional historical perspective, but the pacing and dialog never grabbed me… Until I realized the narrator is the same guy who reads the “Lies of Locke Lamora” series by Scott Lynch. Michael Page is a great narrator and for the rest of the book I pretended that it was the Gentlemen Bastards on another adventure instead of Ivanhoe. That worked until the Robin Hood story kicked in and shattered that illusion.

Overall I enjoyed the story, but I will probably not listen to it again.

From the publisher:

A century has passed since the Norman Conquest, and England is still a colony of foreign warlords. Prince John is plotting to seize the throne from his brother, Richard the Lion-Hearted, and Robin Hood and his merry band are making fools out of the Sheriff of Nottingham.

Wilfred, knight of Ivanhoe, the son of Cedric the Saxon, is in love with his father’s ward, Rowena. Cedric, however, wishes her to marry Athelstane, a descendant of the royal Saxon line, whom Cedric hopes will restore the Saxon succession.

With a colorful cast of chivalric knights and fair ladies, this action-filled novel comes complete with feats of derring-do, the pageantry of a tournament, and a great flame-engulfed castle – all of which makes it the most enthralling of Scott’s creations.
(P)2005 Brilliance Audio, Inc.

I rate Ivanhoe a 5 out of 10 and recommend it to those interested in history.

Titus Alone: Volume 3 of the Gormenghast Trilogy

I am ready to be done with Titus and Gormenghast, the ride was fun but it went on for just a bit to long. I will have fond memories of the Gormenghast Trilogy but will probably never listen to or read them again.

Titus Alone had a lot to like but I never got into it, I was ready for it to be over almost as soon as it began.

Publisher’s Summary

In Volume 3 of the classic Gormenghast Trilogy, a doomed lord, an emergent hero, and an array of bizarre creatures haunt the world of Gormenghast Castle. This trilogy, along with Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, reigns as one of the undisputed fantasy classics of all time. At the center of everything is the 77th Earl, Titus Groan, who stands to inherit the miles of rambling stone and mortar that form Gormenghast Castle and its kingdom.

In this third volume, Titus turns against the iron discipline of Gormenghast’s ritual and sets forth on an uncertain quest – to find himself. His pilgrimage leads to encounters with mysteriously omnipotent, ruthless police, and a battle to the death with Veil, a gaunt ogre with a body like whips and a face that moves "e;like the shiftings of the gray slime of the pit"e;. Titus, in his quest for independence from his legacy, despite the fantastical trappings of his odyssey, captures successfully the humanistic conception of contemporary man.

©1967, 1968 Mervyn Peake; (P)2000 Blackstone Audiobooks

I rate Titus Alone a 6 out of 10, if you have read the first 2 books you have to read this one.

Spell or High Water: Magic 2.0

Spell or High Water is the second book in Scott Meyer’s Magic 2.0 series. I absolutely loved Off to Be the Wizard and was delighted to discover that there was a second book available.

Scott’s humor mixed with Luke Daniels’ delivery on the audiobook is a winner.

I hope there are many more of these books to come.

From the publisher:

The adventures of an American hacker in Medieval England continue as Martin Banks takes his next step on the journey toward mastering his reality-altering powers and fulfilling his destiny.

A month has passed since Martin helped to defeat the evil programmer Jimmy, and things couldn’t be going better. Except for his love life, that is. Feeling distant and lost, Gwen has journeyed to Atlantis, a tolerant and benevolent kingdom governed by the Sorceresses, and a place known to be a safe haven to all female time-travelers.

Thankfully, Martin and Philip are invited to a summit in Atlantis for all of the leaders of the time-traveler colonies, and now Martin thinks this will be a chance to try again with Gwen. Of course, this is Martin Banks we’re talking about, so murder, mystery, and high intrigue all get in the way of a guy who just wants one more shot to get the girl.

The follow-up to the hilarious Off to Be the Wizard, Scott Meyer’s Spell or High Water proves that no matter what powers you have over time and space, you can’t control rotten luck.

©2014 Scott Meyer (P)2014 Brilliance Audio, all rights reserved.

I rate Spell or High Water a 9 out of 10 and recommend you get to reading Off to Be the Wizard right now.

Joe Ledger: The Missing Files by Jonathan Maberry

The Missing Files is considered the third-and-a-half book in Jonathan Maberry’s Joe Ledger series of novels. It is a collection of short stories that take place in the spaces between the previous books.

There are only 5 stories here so it is a very short listen, only 4 hours and 5 minutes long, and for me it felt even shorter than that. I listened to the whole thing in one day of working around the house and running errands.

But they are 5 good stories that fill in some gaps like the origin of Ghost the dog and the hunting down of the bad guy that got away at the end of The Dragon Factory.

From the publisher:

In this collection of five short stories, Jonathan Maberry fills in the blanks in his action-thriller Joe Ledger novels.

Countdown
In this prequel to Patient Zero, meet Joe Ledger, Baltimore PD, attached to a Homeland Security task force … who’s about to get a serious promotion.

Zero Tolerance
“Zero Tolerance” picks up a few weeks after the close of Patient Zero. Dropping back into the world of former Baltimore cop Joe Ledger, the Department of Military Sciences, and flesh-eating zombies, fans of the series will finally get closure on a few loose ends.

Deep, Dark
Before former Baltimore cop Joe Ledger goes up against competing geneticists looking to continue the master-race program in The Dragon Factory, he must battle another foe using human test subjects for his sinister plans.

Material Witness
This short thriller takes Joe Ledger into the mysterious, troubled town of Pine Deep, Pennsylvania, the setting for Maberry’s chilling Pine Deep Trilogy. In Pine Deep, nothing is what it seems.

Dog Days
Joe Ledger returns in this tale that follows the tragic conclusion of The Dragon Factory. In the wake of a devastating personal loss, Joe Ledger and his new canine partner, Ghost, go hunting for the world’s deadliest assassin.

© Countdown 2008 by Jonathan Maberry. Zero Tolerance 2010 by Jonathan Maberry. Deep, Dark 2009 by Jonathan Maberry. Material Witness 2011 by Jonathan Maberry. Dog Days 2011 by Jonathan Maberry. (P)2011 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

I rate The Missing Files a 7 out of 10, a must for Joe Ledger fans but not really necessary.

The King of Plagues: The Joe Ledger Novels, Book 3 by Jonathan Maberry

The King of Plagues is the third novel in the Joe Ledger series by Jonathan Maberry and the audiobook is narrated by Ray Porter.

The continuing adventures of Joe Ledger… More of the same shoot-em-up goodness full of bio-tech threats and mysterious bad guys in the shadows.

From the publisher:

Saturday, 0911 hours — A blast rocks a London hospital and thousands are dead or injured.

1009 hours — Joe Ledger arrives on scene to investigate. The horror is unlike anything he has ever seen.

Compelled by grief and rage, Ledger rejoins the Department of Military Sciences, and within hours he’s attacked by a hit team of assassins and sent on a suicide mission into a viral hot zone during an Ebola outbreak.

Soon Ledger and the DMS begin tearing down the veils of deception to uncover a vast and powerful secret society using weaponized versions of the Ten Plagues of Egypt to destabilize world economies and profit from the resulting chaos. Millions will die unless Ledger meets this powerful new enemy on its own terms as he fights terror with terror.

Take another thrill ride with Joe Ledger.

©2011 Jonathan Maberry (P)2011 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

I rate The King of Plagues an 8 out of 10 and think it may be the best overall Joe Ledger book yet.

Neverwhere [Adaptation] by BBC Radio

DO NOT LISTEN TO THIS VERSION OF NEVERWHERE!

I love Neil Gaiman’s writing, and I have loved every Neil Gaiman audiobook and dramatic performance I have heard until this one.

This version of Neverwhere is overproduced with sound effects and over acting that make following the story almost impossible. I am shocked by the positive ratings it has received on Audible, so apparently someone likes it.

Read or listen to the unabridged story first then maybe give this one a try, I got it as a special offer on Audible for $1.95 but even at that price I feel like I was ripped off.

From the publisher:

A BBC Radio six-part adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s best-selling novel, starring James McAvoy as Richard and Natalie Dormer as Door.

Beneath the streets of London there is another London. A subterranean labyrinth of sewers and abandoned tube stations. A somewhere that is Neverwhere….

An act of kindness sees Richard Mayhew catapulted from his ordinary life into the strange world of London Below. There he meets the Earl of Earl’s Court, faces a life-threatening ordeal at the hands of the Black Friars, comes face to face with the Great Beast of London, and encounters an Angel called Islington.

Adapted for radio by the award-winning Dirk Maggs, this captivating dramatisation features a stellar cast including David Harewood, Sophie Okonedo, Benedict Cumberbatch, Christopher Lee, Anthony Head and David Schofield.

Contains over 25 minutes of additional unbroadcast material, including extended scenes, bloopers and outtakes.

The full list of narrators includes: James McAvoy, Natalie Dormer, David Harewood, Sophie Okonedo, Benedict Cumberbatch, Christopher Lee, Anthony Head, David Schofield, Bernard Cribbens, Romola Garai, George Harris, Andrew Sachs, Lucy Cohu, Johnny Vegas, Paul Chequer, Don Gilet, and Abdul Salis.

©2013 AudioGO Ltd (P)2013 AudioGO Ltd

I rate the story of Neverwhere a 10 out of 10 but this production of it is a 2 out of 10. Read or listen to the unabridged version.

Fool: A Novel By Christopher Moore

In Fool Christopher Moore takes on William Shakespeare’s King Lear with his usual flair and heavy use of foul language. It is a retelling that only Christopher Moore would do.

I thoroughly enjoyed the sense of humor, lots of dry British-esque wit and sarcasm, with a pace that really kept the story moving along.

Euan Morton narrates with a fast paced English accent that I really enjoyed. I am looking forward to listening to more books read by Mr. Morton.

From the publisher:

Christopher Moore, much beloved scrivener and peerless literary jester, now takes on no less than the legendary Bard himself (with the utmost humility and respect) with a twisted and insanely funny tale of a moronic monarch and his deceitful daughters, as seen through the eyes of a man wearing a codpiece and bells on his head.

Pocket has been Lear’s cherished fool for years. So naturally Pocket is at his brainless, elderly liege’s side when Lear demands that his kids swear to him their undying love and devotion. Of course Goneril and Regan are only too happy to brownnose Dad. But Cordelia believes that her father’s request is kind of…well…stupid, and her blunt honesty ends up costing her her rightful share of the kingdom and earns her a banishment to boot.

Well now the bangers and mash have really hit the fan. And the only person who can possibly make things right . . . is Pocket. Now he’s going to have do some very fancy maneuvering: cast some spells, start a war or two – the usual stuff – to get Cordelia back into Daddy Lear’s good graces, to derail the fiendish power plays of Cordelia’s twisted sisters, and to shag every lusciously shaggable wench who’s amenable to shagging along the way.

Pocket may be a fool…but he’s definitely not an idiot.

©2009 Christopher Moore; (P)2009 HarperCollins Publishers

I rate Fool a 9 out of 10 and recommend it to anyone who doesn’t mind a lot of foul language and some fun butchering of Shakespeare’s work.