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!

For The Win by Cory Doctorow

Changing pace yet again I decided to binge on some Cory Doctorow goodness. If you don’t know who he is check out Cory’s Wikipeida entry, he is an interesting character. His politics are about as far from mine as they could be, but he is a really great storyteller.

You can download and read Cory’s books for free and even remix, mash-up, re-write, and mangle the contents to your hearts content following the Creative Commons Attrivutions-Noncommercial-ShareAlike license. You can get his books at Craphound.com.

For The Win is an attractive story to me because I enjoy playing video games, have played a lot of different MMOs in the past and look forward to playing them again with my son when he is old enough. I also really like the international viewpoints the story presents, the U.S., China, India, and Russia all come together.

I found the book to have a lot of lectures in it, at times I felt like I was being treated like a child in a schoolroom sitting at one of those little desks with the attached chairs. I tried to tune a lot of that out because the story itself is really good, the characters have a lot of depth and I found myself rooting for most of them. This is a really good story if you can get through the lectures.

From the publisher:

It’s the twenty-first century, and all over the world, MMORPGs are big business. Hidden away in China and elsewhere, young players are pressed into working as “gold-farmers,” amassing game-wealth that’s sold to Western players at a profitable markup. Some of these pieceworkers rebel, trying to go into business for themselves—but there’s little to stop their bosses from dragging them back into servitude. Some of them, like young Mala in the slums of Bombay—nicknamed “General Robotwallah” for her self-taught military skill—become enforcers for the bosses, but that only buys them so much.All the way over in L.A., young Wei-Dong, obsessed with Asian youth culture and MMORPGs, knows the system is rigged, knows that kids everywhere are being exploited. Finally, he and his Asian counterparts begin to work together to claim their rights. Under the noses of the ruling elites, they fight the bosses, the game owners and the rich speculators, outsmarting them with their street-gaming skills. But soon the battle will spill over from the virtual world to the real one, leaving the young rebels fighting not just for their rights, but for their lives…

I rate For The Win an 8 out of 10 and recommend it to any Cory Doctorow or gaming fan.

Freedom by Daniel Suarez

Freedom is book 2 in the Daemon series of novels. It continues right where Daemon left off, more of the same.

I enjoyed Freedom, there are a lot of subplots in it that I really enjoyed, but it is not as good as Daemon and I found the end wanting. I would like more, I would like more of the subplots to be wrapped up. I just want more.

From the author’s website:

In one of the most buzzed-about debuts of 2009, Daniel Suarez introduced a terrifying vision of a new world order, controlled by the Daemon, an insidious computer program unleashed by a dying hi-tech wunderkind. Daemon captured the attention of the tech community, became a New York Times and Indie bestseller, and left readers hungry for more.

Well, more is here, and it’s even more gripping than its predecessor. In the opening chapters of FreedomTM, the Daemon is firmly in control, using an expanded network of dispossessed operatives to tear apart civilization and rebuild it anew. As civil disorder spreads through the American Midwest, former detective Pete Sebeck, now the Daemon’s most influential yet reluctant-operative, must lead a small band of enlightened humans in a populist movement designed to protect the new social network. But the private armies of global business are preparing to crush the Daemon once and for all.

In a world of conflicted loyalties, and rapidly diminishing human authority, what’s at stake is nothing less than democracy’s last hope to survive the technology revolution.

I rate Freedom a 6 out of 10 and recommend to anyone who read Daemon.

Daemon by Daniel Suarez

I don’t remember how this series by Daniel Suarez came to my attention. It could have been as simple as the title of the first book, “Daemon”, or my proclivity for techno-thrillers that get most of it right.

I burnt myself out reading Jack Campbell space battles one after another for a couple of months and needed a break. Daemon is about as far away from The Lost Stars as I could get.

Daemon is a great story of a madman who leaves behind a legacy of malware that has infected thousands of machines around the world holding corporations and governments hostage.

I really enjoyed this book, the pacing is good, the characters are believable, and the technology is pretty sweet. Suarez takes many liberties with the details of the technology, but they all worked for me. The security issues that are highlighted by the author don’t really bother me that much, apparently many people find it controversial, it just feels like a near-future reality with better internet.

From the author’s website:

Daemon brings readers on a harrowing journey through the dark crawl spaces of the modern world. It’s a cutting-edge high-tech thriller that explores the convergence of MMOG’s, BotNets, viral ecosystems, and corporate dominance—forces which are quietly reshaping society with very real consequences for us all.

It all begins when one man’s obituary appears online…

Matthew Sobol was a legendary computer game designer—the architect behind half a dozen popular online games. His premature death from brain cancer depressed both gamers and his company’s stock price. But Sobol’s fans weren’t the only ones to note his passing. He left behind something that was scanning Internet obituaries, too—something that put in motion a whole series of programs upon his death. Programs that moved money. Programs that recruited people. Programs that killed.

Confronted with a killer from beyond the grave, Detective Peter Sebeck comes face-to-face with the full implications of our increasingly complex and interconnected world—one where the dead can read headlines, steal identities, and carry out far-reaching plans without fear of retribution. Sebeck must find a way to stop Sobol’s web of programs—his Daemon—before it achieves its ultimate purpose. And to do so, he must uncover what that purpose is…

I rate Daemon an 8 out of 10 and recommend it to anyone who likes techno-thrillers or sci-fi.

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.