The Dispatcher by John Scalzi

Book Description:

Published: October 4, 2016

Format: Audio/Audible

One day, not long from now, it becomes almost impossible to murder anyone – 999 times out of a thousand, anyone who is intentionally killed comes back. How? We don’t know. But it changes everything: war, crime, daily life.
Tony Valdez is a Dispatcher – a licensed, bonded professional whose job is to humanely dispatch those whose circumstances put them in death’s crosshairs, so they can have a second chance to avoid the reaper. But when a fellow Dispatcher and former friend is apparently kidnapped, Tony learns that there are some things that are worse than death and that some people are ready to do almost anything to avenge a supposed wrong.
It’s a race against time for Valdez to find his friend before it’s too late…before not even a Dispatcher can save him.

Review –

Five stars!

Wow, I didn’t know what to expect of this short listen (only two hours and eighteen minutes long) but it was fantastic. I loved the premise and more so the character of Tony, the Dispatcher. I wish the author would have made a series of this book, but alas, it is not.

If you enjoy sci-fi with a mystery story line thrown in, this is the book for you.

 

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Thunderhead (Arc of the Scythe #2) by Neal Shusterman

Book Description:

Published: January 9, 2018

Format: Audio/Audible

Rowan has gone rogue, and has taken it upon himself to put the Scythedom through a trial by fire. Literally. In the year since Winter Conclave, he has gone off-grid, and has been striking out against corrupt scythes—not only in MidMerica, but across the entire continent. He is a dark folk hero now—“Scythe Lucifer”—a vigilante taking down corrupt scythes in flames.

Citra, now a junior scythe under Scythe Curie, sees the corruption and wants to help change it from the inside out, but is thwarted at every turn, and threatened by the “new order” scythes. Realizing she cannot do this alone—or even with the help of Scythe Curie and Faraday, she does the unthinkable, and risks being “deadish” so she can communicate with the Thunderhead—the only being on earth wise enough to solve the dire problems of a perfect world. But will it help solve those problems, or simply watch as perfection goes into decline?

Review –

Holy cow, what just happened and when does the next book come out?

As the second installment in Neal Shusterman’s Arc of a Scythe series, Thunderhead takes us back to the post-mortal utopia, which is watched over by the benevolent, all-knowing artificial intelligence known as the Thunderhead and where death only comes by the flawed, bloody hand of the Scythedom. But since Rowan and Citra’s last appearance at the conclave, the Scythedom’s political arena has only grown more fractured and dangerous—especially since murdered scythes have started turning up across the country.

Citra, now ordained as junior Scythe Anastasia, continues to glean with respect and compassion. Meanwhile, Rowan has donned a black robe and has given himself the name Scythe Lucifer, living as a vigilante and slaying corrupt scythes. Yet no matter the approach, each character soon learns that there are things in their world far worse than death.

As the Thunderhead watches the scythes tear themselves, each other and perhaps the rest of the planet apart with their nearly unrestricted power, all it can do is find loopholes in the laws and hint at possible solutions. And as its omniscient frustration mounts, the Thunderhead threatens to crack wide open in retaliation.

“Shusterman’s writing in Thunderhead is never predictable, and his skillful control of the narrative is as strong as it was in his Printz Honor-winning Scythe. The addition of the normally placid Thunderhead’s frustrated journal entries interspersed between these chapters is as intriguing as the stories behind the Scythedom’s bloodstains.” a book page.com

The ending was so shocking but not unexpected because even though Thunderhead knew everything that was happening (almost) he could do nothing to stop it and that’s why he melted down and cut everyone off, except for one person and I won’t say who in case you haven’t read this five star follow-up to Scythe. The next book, called The Toll, comes out late this year or early 2020. It’s just mean of Mr. Shusterman to keep us waiting so long!!!!!!

Five stars!

The Cruel Prince (The Folk of the Air #1) by Holly Black

Book Description:

Published: January 2, 2018

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Of course I want to be like them. They’re beautiful as blades forged in some divine fire. They will live forever.

And Cardan is even more beautiful than the rest. I hate him more than all the others. I hate him so much that sometimes when I look at him, I can hardly breathe.

Jude was seven when her parents were murdered and she and her two sisters were stolen away to live in the treacherous High Court of Faerie. Ten years later, Jude wants nothing more than to belong there, despite her mortality. But many of the fey despise humans. Especially Prince Cardan, the youngest and wickedest son of the High King.

To win a place at the Court, she must defy him–and face the consequences.

As Jude becomes more deeply embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, she discovers her own capacity for trickery and bloodshed. But as betrayal threatens to drown the Courts of Faerie in violence, Jude will need to risk her life in a dangerous alliance to save her sisters, and Faerie itself.

Review –

I love love love Holly Black, with The Coldest Girl in Coldtown being one of my favorite books.

When Jude Duarte was seven, she watched Madoc, general to the high king of Elfhame, slaughter her parents. Madoc then dragged Jude and her two sisters off to Faerie, where he raised them as his own. Ten years later, Jude remains an outcast who is cruelly bullied by the other children of Faerie—the king’s youngest son, Prince Cardan, chief among them. Jude dreams of becoming a member of the High Court and the power that it confers, so when the opportunity arises for her to enter into the service of one of Cardan’s brothers, she seizes it, inadvertently placing herself at the center of a bloody coup and endangering the lives of everyone she loves. First in a trilogy, this spellbinding fantasy  reflects on the cost of ambition and explores the bomb-strewn border between love and hate. There are beautifully described landscapes, fully developed supporting characters, and a beguiling, tough-as-nails heroine, plus an intricate, intelligent plot that crescendos to a jaw-dropping third-act twist.  I can’t wait to read The Wicked King!

Five stars.

 

A Thousand Boy Kisses by Tillie Cole

Book Description:

Published: March 15, 2016

Format: Audio/Audible

One kiss lasts a moment. But a thousand kisses can last a lifetime. One boy. One girl. A bond that is forged in an instant and cherished for a decade. A bond that neither time nor distance can break. A bond that will last forever. Or so they believe.

When seventeen-year-old Rune Kristiansen returns from his native Norway to the sleepy town of Blossom Grove, Georgia, where he befriended Poppy Litchfield as a child, he has just one thing on his mind. Why did the girl who was one half of his soul, who promised to wait faithfully for his return, cut him off without a word of explanation? Rune’s heart was broken two years ago when Poppy fell silent. When he discovers the truth, he finds that the greatest heartache is yet to come.

A stand-alone young adult tear-jerker romance, recommended for ages fourteen and up.

Review –

Five FREAKING stars!!!!!

This book has just been given the honor of being on the  top of my list of books that made me cry (sob, blubber) the most.

I’ve enjoyed books, I’ve been moved by books and I’ve cried over books but never and I mean NEVER have we been left so emotionally wrought yet so completely satisfied after finishing a story. 

Poppy Litchfield and Rune Kristiansen created a bond of friendship at five years old that would blossom into a love story to rival the greats. They truly were two parts of one heart in every sense of the word. Despite their tender years, their love was extraordinary and it was epic and there is no doubt this came across in the author’s story as we lived and breathed the enormity of their feelings.

From the innocence and exuberance of childhood to the confusion and pain of youth, we lived it all. I fought their battles and lived through joy and heartbreak with them yet, haven’t even scratched the surface of their story, you couldn’t imagine for one minute how this story plays out. I know I didn’t.

I will not included spoilers because to totally FEEL this book, you must go in blind. Suffice it to say that, childhood love gives into young adult love and though apart for a while, neither, deep down in the hearts, gave up on the other and this would take them through to the bitter end.

I did have a problem with the very end, in that I thought it was too cliché, but the writer knows best and so this book is five stars or ten if that was an option!

 

 

 

Birthday Girl by Penelope Douglas

Book Description:

Published: April 17, 2019

Format: Audio/Audible

From New York Times Bestselling author Penelope Douglascomes a new forbidden love story…

JORDAN

He took me in when I had nowhere else to go.

He doesn’t use me, hurt me, or forget about me. He doesn’t treat me like I’m nothing, take me for granted, or make me feel unsafe.

He remembers me, laughs with me, and looks at me. He listens to me, protects me, and sees me. I can feel his eyes on me over the breakfast table, and my heart pumps so hard when I hear him pull in the driveway after work.

I have to stop this. It can’t happen.

My sister once told me there are no good men, and if you find one, he’s probably unavailable.

Only Pike Lawson isn’t the unavailable one.

I am.

PIKE

I took her in, because I thought I was helping.

She’d cook a few meals and clean up a little. It was an easy arrangement.

As the days go by, though, it’s becoming anything but easy. I have to stop my mind from drifting to her and stop holding my breath every time I bump into her in the house. I can’t touch her, and I shouldn’t want to.

The more I find my path crossing hers, though, the more she’s becoming a part of me.

But we’re not free to give into this. She’s nineteen, and I’m thirty-eight.

And her boyfriend’s father.

Unfortunately, they both just moved into my house.

*BIRTHDAY GIRL is a stand-alone, contemporary romance suitable for ages 18+.

Review –

I’ve been saving this book to read this month because I am a Birthday Girl too. Oh, not like Jordan, I was just lucky enough to be born on the 17th of this month.

Anyway, I LOVED this book. It is a taboo, forbidden romance with a large age gap. It involved Jordan, nineteen, her boyfriend Cole, also nineteen and his father Pike, who is thirty-eight. Because of circumstances the teens have to move into Pike’s house while they save money to get another place of their own. There is immediate sexual chemistry between Pike and Jordan and the story is told in their dual POV.

Pike fights hard against the attraction and temptation of Jordan because of what people will think but more importantly of how it would affect his son. Jordan fights too but when Cole cheats on her, she sees it as the perfect chance to see what would happen if she gave in.

Eventually they both give in and start sleeping together and Cole finds out and there is a separation. I’m not going to give away the ending but know that I cried a bucket load of tears. AND, the epilogue …!

This book is Five Stars and if you love a good forbidden romance, this one should be on the top of your TBR list.

 

A Twist of the Knife (Brigid Quinn #3) by Becky Masterman

Book Description:

Published: March 21, 2017

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Ex-FBI agent Brigid Quinn, “the most original female character to anchor a crime series in years,” (The New York Times) is back—on a case staking family, friendship, and a man on death row.

Ex-FBI agent Brigid Quinn, now happily settled in Tucson, doesn’t go back to visit her family in Florida much. But her former partner Laura Coleman, whose life she has saved and who saved her life, is living there now. When Laura calls about a case that is not going well, Brigid doesn’t hesitate to get on a plane.

On leave from the Bureau, Laura has been volunteering for a legal group that is trying to prove the innocence of a man who is on death row for killing his family. Laura is firmly convinced that he didn’t do it, while Brigid isn’t so sure—but the date for his execution is coming up so quickly that she shares Laura’s fear that any evidence absolving him from the crime may come too late.

Edgar Award and CWA Gold Dagger finalist Becky Masterman’s third Brigid Quinn novel is the masterful follow-up to Fear the Darkness and Rage Against the Dying.

Review –

“Even though her father is hovering near death, Brigid Quinn, put out to pasture in Tucson, can’t help responding to another request from her old FBI friend Laura Coleman (Rage Against the Dying, 2013) to help with a cold case that turns red-hot.

Near-bankrupt wine importer Marcus Creighton, whose only hope for repaying his debt to loan shark Manuel Gutierrez seems to have been his wife Kathleen’s insurance policy, was convicted back in 1999 of killing her. Only the missing remains of his three children prevented Florida State’s Attorney David Lancer of throwing even more charges at him. But Laura’s new boss, William Hench, an attorney specializing in appealing old convictions, is convinced that he’s innocent despite the damning testimony of Shayna Murry, the mistress who refused to give him an alibi, and his fingerprint on the plug of the hair dryer tossed into Kathleen’s bathtub to electrocute her. Though Brigid appreciates the convenience of spending time in Vero Beach as her father, stricken with pneumonia, fights for life in a nearby hospital, it’s clear that the members of Creighton’s ill-assorted defense team have their work cut out for them when a judge refuses to stay his impending execution. Some tiny cracks in the case are their only hope—the absence of any phone records that would show Creighton asking Shayna for the alibi she maintains he wanted and the hope that fingerprint expert Dr. Tracy Mack, recently indicted for the fraudulent handling of evidence, got his start much earlier—along with the superhuman determination of abused-child specialist Alison Samuels to find some trace of the Creighton children, who she’s convinced are still alive. Will that be enough to vindicate their father before his date with lethal injection?

Against all odds, the harrowing back story and repeated doses of present-tense violence make the investigation not so much shocking as deeply, heart-wrenchingly sad. It’ll be a long time before intrepid readers who enter Masterman’s latest labyrinth shake off its suffocating spell.” Kirkus Reviews

I love this series and can’t wait for the next one which comes out in June.

Five stars!!!!!!

Silent Boy by Sarah A. Denzil

Book Description:

Published: January 22, 2017

Format: Audio/Audible

n the summer of 2006, Emma Price watched helplessly as her six-year-old son’s red coat was fished out of the River Ouse. It was the tragic story of the year – a little boy, Aiden, wandered away from school during a terrible flood, fell into the river, and drowned.


His body was never recovered. 
Ten years later, Emma has finally rediscovered the joy in life. She’s married, pregnant, and in control again…… until Aiden returns.

Too traumatized to speak, he raises endless questions and answers none. Only his body tells the story of his decade-long disappearance. The historic broken bones and injuries cast a mere glimpse into the horrors Aiden has experienced. Aiden never drowned. Aiden was taken.

As Emma attempts to reconnect with her now teenage son, she must unmask the monster who took him away from her. But who, in their tiny village, could be capable of such a crime?

It’s Aiden who has the answers, but he cannot tell the unspeakable.

Review –

Silent Child tells the story of a parent’s most fervent prayer answered after their worst nightmare, but with complications.  While Emma Price’s son Aiden is returned to her after ten years, he is far different from the energetic, little boy whose red jacket was fished out of the flood swollen river. His body tells the tale of imprisonment and sexual assault that he can’t bear to utter and so he remains deliberately silent.

By the time Emma received that phone call from the hospital, she’d finally come to terms with Aiden’s disappearance and supposed death.  No longer with his father, her high school boyfriend Rob, she is currently married to a man named Jake and is pregnant with his child.  Aiden’s reappearance back into her life initially evokes obvious joy, but when she realizes how broken her son is, her happiness quickly turns to horror, grief, and an eventual terror and uncertainty about what Aiden might do to his new baby sister.  Her husband and the ex-boyfriend who’s now back in her life only serve to complicate matters more.

Right off the bat, Jake (the husband) comes off as a complete asshole.  There’s a part in the beginning where he fat shames her.  Um, she’s your wife, and she’s pregnant with your fucking child, but it was when Emma mentioned how he had to “train” her that my suspicion meter really went up.

Jake is an excessively tidy person whereas Emma is much messier, but when she moved in with him, she learned that in Jake’s house everything has its place.  Rob (the ex) points this out a bit derisively, and there’s a point where Emma recalls how Jake moved her beloved childhood desk to the garage, replacing it with a newer one (that Emma in no way asked for or wanted), because it didn’t fit in with his perfect scheme.  Throwing a potentially unpredictable Aiden into the mix upsets everything, though Jake does try to be supportive for Emma’s sake.

The author does an excellent job of showing how uncaring the media can be when there’s a story to be had.  The well-being of those involved means nothing, and a perfectly valid outburst is ripe fodder to be used against you, as Emma learns to her regret.

This is one of her many hard lessons.  Some of us are lucky to have a sheltered youth, but then as adults, we have a better understanding of what the world is, but there’s often more than one awakening to this truth, and the lesson Emma learns about masks and the ones who wear them breaks down her trust and that shelter even more.

By the middle of the story, I had a suspect, and the narrative did nothing to discourage me, which I thought was fantastic.  It’s a red herring.  Ms. Denzil wants us to suspect this person. Then later another character seems just as guilty and could there be an accomplice ?
Although the story has a happy ending, it’s muted and not really celebrated. I loved the book and I think any one who appreciates a good psychological thriller will want to add this one the their list to be read.
Five stars!

The Guest Room by Chris Bohjalian

Book Description:

Published: January 5, 2016

Format: Audio/OverDrive

 When Richard Chapman offers to host his younger brother’s bachelor party, he expects a certain amount of debauchery. He sends his wife, Kristin, and young daughter off to his mother-in-law’s for the weekend, and he opens his Westchester home to his brother’s friends and their hired entertainment. What he does not expect is this: bacchanalian drunkenness, a dangerously intimate moment in his guest bedroom, and two naked women stabbing and killing their Russian bodyguards before driving off into the night. In the aftermath, Richard’s life rapidly spirals into a nightmare. The police throw him out of his home, now a crime scene; his investment banking firm puts him on indefinite leave; and his wife finds herself unable to forgive him for the moment he shared with a dark-haired girl in the guest room. But the dark-haired girl, Alexandra, faces a much graver danger. In one breathless, violent night, she is free, running to escape the police who will arrest her and the gangsters who will kill her in a heartbeat. A captivating, chilling story about shame and scandal, The Guest Room is a riveting novel from one of our greatest storytellers.

Review –

Another FIVE STAR read by an author I’m coming to love!

The book starts with a bachelor party that goes horribly wrong. Not only do most of the guests have sex with the two girls who were the “entertainment”, but then two men end up dead and girls are nowhere to be found. Because, see, these strippers aren’t strippers at all, but Armenian sex slaves—and the cue-ball-headed, no-neck bodyguards are their Russian overseers.

Earlier, one of them, a beautiful Armenian girl named Alexandra, almost managed to seduce Richard before he changes his mind. In the aftermath of the murders, Richard is turned out of his house, which has become a crime scene with reporters camped outside, and forced to hire a lawyer. As the consequences of the night pile up, Richard becomes estranged from his wife, is banned from his office, and finds himself the target of a blackmailer from the party who has an incriminating cell phone video of him and Alexandra. And then there is Alexandra herself, who returns to the scene of the crime, tailed by her seriously scary Russian bosses. 

The point of view alternates, with Richard; his wife, Kristin; their daughter, Melissa; and an enslaved girl dubbed Alexandra by her captors, all get a chance to tell the story. Richard has no idea what to do with himself. Kristin is freaked out—not so much because people were slaughtered in her house, but because her husband almost had sex with a girl half their age. Melissa is frightened and bewildered, which is perfectly OK because she’s nine. This, the book says, is how people who thought they had it made come unmade.

The author makes Alexandra the conscience in this conscienceless world, a girl who manages to hold on to her innocence and compassion despite the horror of her life. Her voice, with its sometimes uncertain, quirky English, is rendered with such perfection that it’s easy to forget that the author is male. 

I gave the book five stars but I was disappointed that the author gives the reader/listener a forewarning of the ending and it took away, at least for me, the utter shock of the conclusion.

 

 

 

Repeat by Kylie Scott

Book Description:

Published:

Format: Audio/Audible

From Audie Award winning, New York Times best-selling author Kylie Scott comes an irresistible new romance – available in audio first!

When a vicious attack leaves 25-year-old Clementine Johns with no memory, she’s forced to start over. Now she has to figure out who she was and why she made the choices she did – which includes leaving the supposed love of her life, tattoo artist Ed Larsen, only a month before.

Ed can hardly believe it when his ex shows up at his tattoo parlor with no memory of their past, asking about the breakup that nearly destroyed him. The last thing he needs is more heartache, but he can’t seem to let her go again.

Should they walk away for good, or does their love deserve a repeat performance?

Review –

The book begins with Clementine walking in to a tattoo studio to ask about the tattoo on her shoulder, and she is confronted by what is essentially an angry mob who are not happy to see her – led by a gorgeous tattoo artist who turns out to be her ex-boyfriend, Ed. Clem left him shattered only months earlier, and though she has no recollection of him or their time together, she shares her situation with him seeing him as an obviously good source of information on her life

But when Clementine left Ed shattered, we’re talking an explosive break up that saw her not only lose him, but also their group of friends. We initially don’t know why or how, but we know that he was devastated and he still carries a lot of pain and anger towards her. But as he begrudgingly answers her questions, things begin to change. His protectiveness comes out, they have a genuinely good time together, and even though she is changed, they begin to fall for each other all over again.

This is such a fantastic set-up for a story, and what makes it even more interesting is that not only has Clementine been left with retrograde amnesia, with no memories, but her injury has left her changed. Whereas before she was into florals and soft colours, and a little bit withdrawn, now she is edgier, and a lot more matter-of-fact, not seeing the point in lying or game playing, she just says it like it is, and she has a lack of filter which leads to her just blurting out whatever is in her mind. It’s both highly entertaining and refreshing as we (and those around her) get to see the real Clementine, and everything that she is experiencing.

I love that the story starts after Clementine’s injury, so we get to know her just as she’s getting to know herself, understanding who she is now and figuring herself out. It’s a fantastic journey that we get to go on with her, and it really enhances the feels. And she handles it brilliantly! As part of her new ‘take no crap’ attitude, she just gets up and gets on with it, doing what feels right and natural and not worrying about the expectations of others, making her a fantastic character to read.

And as Clem comes to understand herself, she also learns who she used to be, showing us just how changed she is, and the two parts of Clementine appear almost as two different characters as she reflects back on her life ‘before’. It’s really well done.

Of course, a big part of her journey is Ed. Getting to know him, and how they were before, letting him get to know who she is now, and I loved seeing their dynamic shift as they grew close once again. Their love story is sweet, fun, and seriously hot, and absolutely gorgeous.

But what tore them apart in the first place? And can all of the broken fences ever be mended? And it appears that her attack may not have been a one-off, as continued incidents continue to put her in danger, adding another new edge to Clem’s recovery.

It’s a great read that I couldn’t put down, and I finished this audiobook in a day. The story set up is intriguing, and though the story is predictable, it didn’t diminish my enjoyment and I loved watching Clementine rediscover herself and fall in love with an absolutely incredible hero – I defy any reader not to fall in mad love with this man! 

This was my first reading/listening to anything by Kylie Scott but it won’t be the last.

Five stars !!!!!!

Unmasked, Volume One (Unmasked #1) by Cassia Leo

Book Description:

Published: June 10, 2014

Format: Audio/Audible

I was born into this world unwanted.

I spent the first hours of my life unloved.

I spent the first eighteen years of my life with the parents who tried to shelter me from the harsh reality of my existence.

But you can’t un-write a sad story if the ending is literally written all over your face.

So I moved out and now I hide. I have a night job that pays the bills. Every night, I put on my mask and walk to work.

Then one night, I hear and see something that will change my purpose in life… forever: a murder that will bring him to me.

He says he wants to protect me. And, through a series of events I can’t fully make sense of, I find myself believing him.

But our nightly visits are always cloaked in darkness. I don’t know his face and he will never know mine.

I was born into this world unwanted. I will leave this world unmasked.

Review –

WTH !!!

This has to be the strangest book that I have listened/read in a very long time, I mean my mouth was agape at the end. I couldn’t believe it!  Still can’t.

This series has three parts or volumes and this first installment explores Alex’s past, the notion of beauty, the necessity of hiding, the consequences of secrets and betrayals. You can easily devour this first volume in one sitting  Enlivened by the author’s expert writing, you’ll be lured in by this sinister tale and fascinated by this 19-year-old girl whose actions are so unexpected that it keeps you guessing at what will surprise you next. Certainly the end was shocking in more ways than one!

A chilling mystery where desire, deception, secrets and betrayal mix in a deadly combination that leaves you wanting more.

Five stars.