Death Knocks by Miranda Hardy and Jay Noel

Death Knocks
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Death Knocks by Miranda Hardy and Jay Noel takes a lesser known urban legend of Black Eyed Kids and turns it into a suspenseful, fun read. Maverick is about to start his senior year in high school and is spending the evening with his best friend playing video games when a knock at the door changes his whole life.

I thought that Hardy and Noel do a great job at writing characters that were likable, relatable, and yet flawed. Stakes are continuously raised throughout the story and the pacing was done well. The story kept moving forward at a good pace.

Memo from the nit-picking department: While this didn’t bother me enough to diminish my enjoyment of this book, it did nag at me. The book seemed to take place in the modern time of ~2017ish (there were game consoles and cell phones), yet not once was the possibility that the black eyes were caused by special contacts which exist. It just felt this possibility was overlooked.

I listened to this book on audiobook narrated by Jeff Simpson. Simpson did a good job making each voice distinct and bringing the characters to life, using different inflections and accents in an enjoyable way. The quality of the recording was excellent as well.

**I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.**

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Review: Memories by Stephan Morse

Memories (Continue Online, #1)My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Memories¬†is the first book in the Continue online series by Stephan Morse. It follows Grant Legate, a man who lost his wife and has now thrown himself into his work while most everyone else has become obsessed with the latest Virtual Reality “pods” that allow people to fully immerse into fantasy worlds. When Grant finally catches up with the rest of the world and tries the most popular Fantasy game, Continue Online he finds more than he expected and gets to experience the game in a unique way.

Overall I enjoyed this book and while this plot has been done before, I felt that Memories put enough of a fresh spin on it that it kept it interesting and unique. The story provides enough mystery and intrigue throughout to keep my interest. There were times I felt that the plot was moving a little slow but not enough to really diminish my enjoyment of the story, though it came close a couple times.

As a long time gamer and MMO player, there were a couple elements that bothered me throughout the book. First off Grant is employed by the company who makes the Virtual Reality systems as well as the hottest game “Continue Online”, yet seems to know very little about the game and some of the VR systems functions. Before even trying the game Grant goes online to learn about the game but finds nothing useful. It is later hinted at that any specifics about the game put online have been deleted or taken down but it is not very well explained. The game also has no manual or instructions what-so-ever, yet millions of people including young teens are able to figure out the game easily – still, Grant seems to be completely lost despite being a gamer in his youth and working for the very company who makes the VR system AND game!

I was also a tiny bit frustrated that the end of the book barely answered any questions presented in the story, not even the main mystery that drives the protagonist throughout the story. I get it, this is a series and you want to leave some threads dangling to entice readers to continue reading the series but when none of the mysteries are answered it ends up accomplishing the opposite effect. I am more hesitant to jump into Book two as I do not want to invest my time into another book and find myself at the end of that book with still no answers! This has happened to me enough times before that I can often recognize the signs and this book has several of them. I will likely give book two a chance mainly because I am interested in the plot and world enough to give it a shot.

I listened to this story in Audiobook form, narrated by Pavi Proczko. At first, I was not sure about the narration as it felt a little robotic and dry… but there is a reason for that which I will not give away here as to not spoil anything. Once the story was underway and more characters were introduced the narration started to shine through and I was overall satisfied with the performance and would be willing to listen to more of Pavi’s works and see other sides of his narration.

I would recommend this book to people who like Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Role Playing Games, Virtual Reality, and Artificial Intelligence.

**I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.**

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Review: The Atlantis Gene by A.G. Riddle

The Atlantis Gene (The Origin Mystery, #1)My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is probably one of the most mixed reviews I have done in a while. The Atlantis Gene is a story with so much going on I find it hard to summarize. The synopsis of The Atlantis Gene reads quite a bit like a spy thriller/mysteryAnd while it certainly has those elements it is more so a sci-fi thriller. Reading through some of the reviews, I think this is a major factor in the negative comments.

I was very intrigued by the overall premise of this book, unfortunately it took me about 80% into the book to realize this and understand what the premise was. I am assuming that the Author was attempting to build suspense and mystery, but did not do a good job at feeding the audience enough bread crumbs to keep them satisfied and still hungry for more. Instead, I felt like I was just distracted with the same science (alleged) facts re-stated in different ways, or by different characters. As a Sci-Fi geek the science didn’t bother me but I can see how this would possibly drive away fans of more traditional spy / thriller / mystery novels especially when it never really provided answers.

Which leads me to another issue I had with this book. Not enough answers. This is a decent sized book at 449 pages (or 15 hrs and 44 mins in Audiobook format), and by the end of the book hardly any of the mysteries of the book were answered and it left me so frustrated I didn’t even bother with the preview of the next book in the series. While some questions should be left unanswered or as a hook for the next book in a series it is frustrating to a reader to put this much time in a story only to be left with hardly any answers to the multiple questions the story invokes.

I think the main cause for these issues is that there was just way too much going on. We have (possible) Aliens, Nazis, spies, science, time manipulation… and so on. The book really felt like it was written to be more like a good movie or TV series than a novel. The scenes often felt rushed, and the scenes would abruptly change making me have to skip back to see if I missed something.

Overall, I struggled with the rating of this book because I liked the premise and promise so much but was fairly disapointed with the delivery. I feel like a lot of these things are the product of a fairly new writer and if he could polish these problems he could write a really good book!

The Audiobook version of this book was narrated by Stephen Bel Davies. Davies did a good job narrating the novel and providing the correct tone and mood to the scenes. While I do not feel that he blew me away with his performance, it was still a solid performance that I found no issues with.

View all my Goodreads reviews

Review: The Bartender Always Dies Last by Gene Penny

The Bartender Always Dies LastMy rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was my first book by Gene Penny, but it will probably not be my last! I experienced this book in Audiobook form narrated by Kirsten Leigh.

I will be honest and say up front that I was not sure if I would enjoy this story as it was described as horror. I decided to give it a try because it also was described as humor and it was short (148 pages or 3 hrs and 58 mins listening time). I decided that I would step out of my comfort bubble and give it a shot, and I was glad that I did.

The general plot of the book is about Roger – an aging stoner who lives in a college town with his stoner roommate. Roger and his Roommate take a bookshelf off the hands of a distressed neighbor who claims the bookshelf is possessed by a demon, who soon demands sacrifice. The rest of the story has a lot of the typical horror staples: College town, Coeds, hot girls, creepy neighbors, demons, mysterious murders that happen every seven years. You get the picture. Though once you get into the story it is hard to fit it into the single genre of horror. You have to throw in bits of supernatural, sci-fi, romance, mystery, and of course lots of comedy. If you are uncomfortable with bad language and crude humor this book may not be for you. I, however, love it.

Narration: At first I was thrown off a little bit by the fact that a female narrator was narrating a story told primarily from a male perspective, and his voice is roughly 40-50% of the narration. I was quickly relieved however as Kirsten Leigh did a fantastic job with all of the voices, the comedic delivery and even the tension and suspense. I would love to listen to another book narrated by her. Looking briefly through her works however it seems it is mostly romance which, again, is not my usual cup of tea.

Follow Gene Penny on Twitter at @genepenny¬†or visit Gene’s website www.graveyardcontinuum.com

Find more books narrated by Kirsten Leigh on GoodReads.

* I was provided a copy of this book by the author, narrator or publisher in exchange for an honest review. *

View all my Goodreads reviews