Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Ring-A-Ding Dead! (The Myriad Mysteries, #1) by Claire Logan

Ring-A-Ding Dead! (Myriad Mysteries Book 1)Ring-A-Ding Dead! by Claire Logan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When the newlywed couple arrived in Chicago by train, they went to check in at their honeymoon suite at the luxurious Myriad Hotel. But, rather than a relaxing room, what greeted them was the corpse of the hotel clerk dead on the floor behind the front desk! Both husband and wife, former private investigators, are immediately drawn into discovering what had happened, and when another death and the attempted poisoning of other staff members soon follow, they are asked by the hotel manager and the owner himself to investigate.

Ring-A-Ding Dead! is a fun and lovely start to a new mystery series set in 1920s Chicago at the fictional Myriad Hotel. The lead characters, Hector and Pamela Jackson (assumed names), are as big a mystery as the murders, and remain so even after the final page of the book. Details of their former lives, before coming to Chicago as newlyweds, slowly unfolds throughout but the whole picture is never fully revealed. At times, this left me feeling confused and uneasy, but as the tale went on, I think the not knowing became half the fun. I recommend this book to cozy mystery readers that enjoy the look and feel and flavor of Prohibition Chicago. I look forward to reading more about the Jacksons at the Myriad.

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Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Zombie City (Death Squad, #1) by Charlie Dalton

Zombie City (Death Squad Book 1)Zombie City by Charlie Dalton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The deadly virus spread through the city of Austin like wildfire catching everyone off-guard and by surprise. The biggest surprise was that those infected by the virus died and turned into flesh-eating, blood-drinking zombies. The most unexpected aspect though was that the virus was released on purpose.

As chaos and destruction erupted, the military went into action and erected a giant wall around the entire city, dropping it huge section by huge section into place with helicopters and effectively quarantining all that were within. Those inside the now walled city were left to hide out from their infected family, friends, and neighbors and fend for themselves as the government worked to contain the virus to this one location and find a solution. Then “The Walkers” were discovered.

Some of the infected didn’t turn into mindless, ravenous monsters. When they died and reanimated, they retained their ability to think rationally and the zombies seemed to leave them alone, somehow knowing they, too, were the walking dead. Among “The Walkers” is Sergeant Thomas “Tommy” Watts. He’d lost his entire squad in an ambush by zombies in the city but had ‘survived’ his own demise. When the military command determines that there is a living, breathing person or persons unknown behind the virus – one that was actively working to release the virus outside the walled city and infect the rest of the country – they enlist Tommy and four other ‘Walkers’ to return to the interior of the city to find and stop them.

Zombie City is the first book in the Death Squad, a new post-apocalyptic series by author Charlie Dalton. I found it full of action, horror, and a number of engaging characters. I liked that the setting was supposed to be Austin where the city motto is “Keep Austin Weird.” Okay! There are still a number of mysteries in the story yet to be resolved at the close of this book so be prepared for not having all your questions answered. I really enjoy these end-of-the-world, zombie stories and look forward to more in the series.

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Monday, December 09, 2019

Margin of Errors (Stygian Menace, #2) by Henry McAndrews

Margin of Errors (Stygian Menace #2)Margin of Errors by Henry McAndrews
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Margin of Errors, a sequel to the excellent series debut, Imminent Domain, has our hero, Evan Trystan and his two friends, Yna and Anil, back on board the Sydney, and trying to evade the Skukulkang, remove the ship, Sydney, from the influence of the Skuk, and alert their former companion vessels that the Alpha Centauri system they are headed for is under Skuk control.

With Anil’s help, Evan is able to override Sydney’s SI and free her and the operational droids from the influence of the Skuk. By commandeering some of the loyal droids, he is able to awaken his friend, Lieutenant Flynn Olafsson from stasis, but before they can get the rest of their squad operational, the Sydney is boarded by Skuk soldiers including Yna’s lost mother, Nadissa. The Skuk torture Flynn and Nadissa grabs Yna to present to the Skuk leader, Baron Kryt, and eventually, to the Suzerain Ugrot himself.

Retrieving his marine squad from stasis, Evan is dismayed when their commander, Lieutenant Elijah Moretti, decides to contact and reunite the Earth vessels in Alpha Centauri rather than pursue the Skuk and their captive, Yna. But when Eli succumbs to the after-effects of coming out of stasis, Evan takes advantage of his incapacitation to take a Skuk ship left onboard the Sydney to the Skuk’s home planet to rescue Yna.

As with Book 1, this story is a never-ending tale of action with Evan trying to determine what’s real and what is only a simulation, and who is a friend and who is not. More is revealed about the mysterious and quirky alien, Anil, and readers are introduced to Evan’s best friends and fellow marines. The story is fun and fast, with the look and feel of a top-notch, and addicting, videogame. I recommend this series for readers that enjoy middle-grade to young adult scifi stories, books featuring aliens, first contact, and generational spaceship travel. As each book builds directly on the action of the previous one, I recommend they be read in order.

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Imminent Domain (Stygian Menace, #1) by Henry McAndrews

Imminent Domain (Stygian Menace Book 1)Imminent Domain by Henry McAndrews
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When 16-year-old Evan Trystan awoke from his Simulated Reality-distributed studies, he expected to see a crew of over 200 people manning the generational spaceship, Sydney. What he found instead was a nightmare: the crew missing – left behind on a small planet when the ship was contaminated by gamma rays, their companion ships nowhere in sight, 240,066 people including his parents still in deep stasis, and he without the medical knowledge to safely awaken them. Oh, and as the ship approached the nearest habitable planet, he suddenly found himself smack in the middle of a war between two scientifically-advanced alien races.

Knowing he needed help to keep his fellow travelers alive, he descended to the planet to meet with the inhabitants, the alien race that had protected him thus far, the Enilingu shravat. Greeted by an alien doctor, Dar, and his daughter, Ynayilsaruviga, and reassured that they will assist him, he is shocked to discover the Sydney has abandoned him there on the planet.

Before he and Yna can come up with a plan to reunite Evan and the Sydney, the other alien race, the Skukulkang or Skuk, break through the En’s planetary defenses and invade the planet. The two escape the Skuk on the ground, procure a shuttle from the closest base, and flee the planet just in time to see the En home world destroyed. Now they must elude discovery by the Skuk and get back to the Sydney before they run out of oxygen and luck.

Imminent Domain is the first book in the middle-grade science fiction series, Stygian Menace, by Henry McAndrews. This book has non-stop action, good “good guys,” bad “bad guys,” and others that you just aren’t sure about their loyalties. And with the presence of the Simulated Reality Unit, you can never be quite sure if what is happening is actually happening or a simulation. This is a book the entire family can enjoy and would make a good one to share as a read-aloud. I think even the most reluctant readers would find this a page-turner as well.

(At this time, there is a second book available, Margin of Error, which continues Evan’s story. The author points out that he wrote Imminent Domain for his own children and since its publication, they’ve, of course, matured. This second book contains heightened action intended for a little older audience: 10 and above.)

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