Lock In by John Scalzi

21418013. sy475 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.


Lock In is my sci-fi book club pick for the month of August. I had never read anything by John Scalzi, and I wasn’t very sure where I was getting my self into. I was hooked right from the first pages. The premise that a highly contagious virus, worse than the flu, rendered its victims in a state of “lock in,” where victims are fully awake and aware but unable to move or respond to anything, was an absolutely horrifying concept. Victims of this virus are affected with Haden’s Syndrome, named after Margaret Haden, the first lady of the United States of America. In a way, this book reminded me of the board game Pandemic.

What I found to be a great thing about this book was the fact that this is much more than just a great sci-fi story. I have noticed a trend in mix genres, and I personally love it. However, if you are a hard-core sci-fi fan looking for a typical sci-fi book, Lock In might not be for you.

One of the great things about this story is that it reads much like a crime novel. We follow Chris Shane and Leslie Vann as they investigate what appears to be a Haden-related murder. The suspect is called an “Integrator” — someone who lends their physical bodies to locked in victims.

Part sci-fi and part whodunnit, Lock In is a fast-paced novel that will undoubtedly entertain the fans of both genres.


Format: Paperback336 pages
Published: August 4th, 2015 by Tor Science Fiction
ISBN: 076538132X
Source: Library Loan
Rating: 4 stars
Genre: Sci-fi/Crime/Mystery

Forgotten Bones by Vivian Barz

42931506When small-town police officers discover the grave of a young boy, they’re quick to pin the crime on a convicted felon who lives nearby. But when it comes to murder, Officer Susan Marlan never trusts a simple explanation, so she’s just getting started. Meanwhile, college professor Eric Evans hallucinates a young boy in overalls: a symptom of his schizophrenia—or so he thinks. But when more bodies turn up, Eric has more visions, and they mirror details of the murder case. As the investigation continues, the police stick with their original conclusion, but Susan’s instincts tell her something is off. The higher-ups keep stonewalling her, and the FBI’s closing in. Desperate for answers, Susan goes rogue and turns to Eric for help. Together they take an unorthodox approach to the case as the evidence keeps getting stranger. With Eric’s hallucinations intensifying and the body count rising, can the pair separate truth from illusion long enough to catch a monster?


Forgotten Bones is not your average crime thriller, and I will go over why. The premise of the book is excellent. Susan, a young detective upon responding to a car accident scene, comes across the body of a young child. Police quickly attributes the crime to a local pedophile. However, Susan is suspicious that there is more to the story and decides to embark on an investigation on her own. Parallel to Susan’s story we meet Eric, a geology professor going through a turbulent divorce and moves to California to get away from his ex-wife who dumped him for his brother.

Eric settles in at the new college and town in an attempt to rebuild his life. Eric is a known schizophrenic, and although he’s entirely compliant to his medication regime, he starts to worry that his illness is getting worse as he starts to have visions of a little boy in overalls. Eric and Susan’s paths will cross, and together, they will fight to discover the truth regarding the death of this little kid.

Barz alternates chapters between Susan’s story and Eric’s story. A technique that for most of the time, tends to chop the flow of the story. The reason this book is not your typical crime/mystery book is the fact that there are no red herrings. What you see, or better yet, who you suspect all along, is in fact, the culprit(s).

By the time I got to sixty percent of the book and had the mystery pretty much figured out, there was very little interest in the rest of the story. I honestly do not understand the author’s intention with making the answers to this crime so visible right off the bat. I kept hoping that the story was going to turn out a bit like a Scooby-Doo cartoon where the obviously mean, greedy, and weird were innocent, and the super lovely characters turn out to be the guilty ones.

Unfortunately, no! This novel was written with the intent to make the guilty quite evident from the start. The pitfall, however, is that once the reader has the mystery figured out there’s very little substance to carry on the rest of the book.

Some important trigger warnings to mention are pedophilia (although not explicit), child abuse, and neglect.

Forgotten Bones is scheduled to be published on August 1, 2019. I would like to thank Thomas and Mercer publishing and NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.


Format: e-ARC, Kindle 298 pages
Published: Expected publication August 1st, 2019 by Thomas and Mercer
ASIN: B07KF46YBG
Source: Free copy provided by the publisher, Thomas and Mercer, and NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.
Rating: 3 stars
Genre: Crime, Suspense, Mystery

 

 

Still Lives by Maria Hummel

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A young editor at a Los Angeles art museum finds herself pulled into the disturbing and dangerous world of a famous artist who goes missing on the opening night of her exhibition.

Review

Maggie Richter is a frustrated journalist who works as an editor for the prestigious Rocque Museum. The museum is in severe financial problems, so part of Maggie’s job is to guarantee that Kim Lord’s new exhibition Still Lives is a success.

Kim Lord is an avant-garde, feminist, artist with a ground-breaking and controversial exhibition, Still Lives, which depicts herself as famous murdered women. On the day of her much anticipation exhibition, Lord goes missing and when Maggie’s ex-boyfriend Greg becomes the main suspect, Maggie decides to start her own investigation.

Everyone seems to be giving this book at least 4 stars, but in reality just like art is subjective so are books. I really, and I mean, really struggled with this book at least until 60% of the story. It’s not that it is a badly written book, it was just boring and slow. The other half of the book gets a bit better, but the ending did not wow me, and by the time I was done with the book I was tired of reading it.

I’d like to thank Edelweiss for providing me a copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.


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Dead Pretty by David Mark

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One girl missing. One girl dead. A stunning new novel from one of Britain’s most original crime writers, Dead Pretty finds Detective Sergeant Aector McAvoy and Detective Superintendent Trish Pharaoh grappling with vigilantes, unsolved murders, and a killer far too close to home.

Review

This book was initially a little confusing to me. It took me some time to get used to David Mark’s writing, but that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. This is book five of Detective Sargeant Aector McAvoy and not having read any of the previous books in the series might have contributed to my initial confusion. Once I got into the book, I just couldn’t put it down.

I love a good crime story, and this is a great one. The story is a bit disturbing with some pretty descriptive scenes, but overall this is a gritty and riveting story that would’ve probably received 5-stars had I read the other books. I highly recommend this one. David Mark got me hooked, and his other books just made it to my TBR list.

I received an early copy of this book for free from Penguin Random House First To Read in exchange for my honest review.


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Jar of Hearts by Jennifer Hillier

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Curtain by Agatha Christie

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The house guests at Styles seemed perfectly pleasant to Captain Hastings; there was his own daughter Judith, an inoffensive ornithologist called Norton, dashing Mr. Allerton, brittle Miss Cole, Doctor Franklin and his fragile wife Barbara, Nurse Craven, Colonel Luttrell and his charming wife, Daisy, and the charismatic Boyd-Carrington. Hastings was shocked to learn from Hercule Poirot’s declaration that one of them was a five-times murderer. True, the aging detective was crippled with arthritis, but had his deductive instincts finally deserted him?

Review

I don’t know why it took me so long to read this book. I’m a huge Agatha Christie fan and I just love Poirot. I’ve read most of his stories and I even watched the old BBC series with David Suchet. Somehow, Curtain was never a book I really gravitated towards. One day while perusing my favorite used bookstore, I came across the book and decided to give it a try.

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To say that this novel is bittersweet is an understatement. First, Poirot and Hastings find themselves back at Styles, the house from the novel The Mysterious Affair at Styles where we were first introduced to the eccentric detective and to his friend Arthur Hastings. The other sad part is that we now find Poirot much older and in a wheelchair.

“Nothing is so sad, in my opinion, as the devastation wrought by age.
My poor friend. I have described him many times. Now to convey to you the difference. Crippled with arthritis, he propelled himself about in a wheelchair. His once plump frame had fallen in. He was a thin little man now.”

Despite Poirot’s crippled appearance, his “little gray cells” are working just fine and soon enough Poirot declares to Hastings that one of the guests at Styles has committed five murders and is about to commit one more.

I personally liked the book. I don’t think I would ever truly love any book that narrates Poirot’s last case. The end was sad, almost brought me to tears, but didn’t completely surprise me. This was also Christie’s last published book before she died. For fans of the genre, this novel will not disappoint you a bit. For Agatha Christie’s fans, this book is a must.

Review: Wolf Lake by John Verdon


Could a nightmare be used as a murder weapon? That’s the provocative question confronting Gurney in the thrilling new installment in this series of international bestsellers. The former NYPD star homicide detective is called upon to solve a baffling puzzle: Four people who live in different parts of the country and who seem to have little in common, report having had the same dream—a terrifying nightmare involving a bloody dagger with a carved wolf’s head on the handle. All four are subsequently found with their wrists cut — apparent suicides — and the weapon used in each case was a wolf’s head dagger. Police zero in quickly on Richard Hammond, a controversial psychologist who conducts hypnotherapy sessions at a spooky old Adirondack inn called Wolf Lake Lodge. It seems that each of the victims had gone there to meet with Hammond shortly before turning up dead. Troubled by odd holes in the official approach to the case, Gurney begins his own investigation — an action that puts him in the crosshairs of not only an icy murderer and the local police but the darkest corner of the federal government. As ruthless as the blizzard trapping him in the sinister eeriness of Wolf Lake, Gurney’s enemies set out to keep him from the truth at any cost — including an all-out assault on the sanity of his beloved wife Madeleine. With his emotional resources strained to the breaking point, Gurney must throw himself into a deadly battle of wits with the most frightening opponent he has ever faced.

Review

Wolf Lake is the latest installment in the Dave Gurney series. This is a novel with a great hook.  Imagine four strangers living in four different parts of the country who all apparently committed suicide after having the same nightmare. The one thing these four strangers share in common is that each of the victims prior to their death met with a controversial psychologist, Richard Hammond, at a thousand-dollar-a-night resort. Verdon really weaves a fantastic story even if at times it mixes elements of supernatural, paranoia and even terrorism. The plot has several twists and the ending did not disappoint. I wished I had read the previous books in the series in order to get better acquainted with Gurney and more familiar with his turbulent relationship with his wife. Overall, kudos to the mind of John Verdon for coming up with this intense and exciting psychological thriller.

I’d like to thank Edelweiss for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

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Review: Black Widow by Chris Brookmyre

Diana Jager is clever, strong and successful, a skilled surgeon and fierce campaigner via her blog about sexism. Yet it takes only hours for her life to crumble when her personal details are released on the internet as revenge for her writing.Then she meets Peter. He’s kind, generous, and knows nothing about her past: the second chance she’s been waiting for. Within six months, they are married. Within six more, Peter is dead in a road accident, a nightmare end to their fairytale romance. But Peter’s sister Lucy doesn’t believe in fairytales, and tasks maverick reporter Jack Parlabane with discovering the dark truth behind the woman the media is calling Black Widow…

Review

One of the things that caught my attention about this book was its cover. And after reading the synopsis I was really interested in reading this book. I started reading this book unaware that this was a book in a series, but luckily for me, this small detail did not prevent me from fully enjoying and understanding the plot.

The story starts with Dr. Diana Jagger a surgeon on trial for the murder of her husband Peter.  Only months after their marriage, Peter is killed in a suspicious car crash. Although Peter’s body is never found, Dr. Jagger becomes the first suspect and Jack Parlabane is hired to investigate the case.

Black Widow was one of those books with a slow start that all of the sudden had an unexpected twist that completely set things back in motion. This book really blew me away and kept me awake until late hours of the night in expectation for what was coming next. Don’t be discouraged by the fact that this is book seven of the Jack Parlabane series. This story certainly stands alone and will certainly keep you guessing until the surprising finale. Great read!

I’d like to thank NetGalley and Grove Atlantic for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. This book is scheduled to be published November 1, 2016.


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Review: The Silence of The Sea by Yrsa Sigurdardottir

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In The Silence of the Sea, the sixth installment in the Thóra Gudmundsdóttir series, a luxury yacht arrives in Reykjavik harbor with nobody on board. What has happened to the crew, and to the family who were on board when the yacht left Lisbon? What should Thora make of the rumors saying that the vessel was cursed, especially given that when she boards the yacht she thinks she sees one of the missing children? Where is Karitas, the glamorous young wife of the yacht’s former owner? And whose is the body that has washed up further along the shore? The most chilling novel yet from Yrsa Sigurdardottir, an international bestselling author at the height of her powers.

Although The Silence of The Sea is the 6th book in the Thóra Gudmundsdóttir series, it is definitely a book that stands alone. I can’t remember how I heard about this book, but I can tell you that I searched a few libraries for it and had to wait a few days for my inter-library loan to arrive. I’m glad I requested this book. This is my first novel from Icelandic author Yrsa (pronounced UR-suh) Sigurdardorttir (pronounced SIG-ur-dar-daughter). Wow! That’s a mouth full, so when you get passed all the different spellings and difficult sounding names in the novel what you get is a book with a great start and a great hook. Sigurdardortti’s narrative starts out slow and creepy. She sets a great vibe and atmosphere with her chilling descriptions of Iceland in the winter and an abandoned yacht. This book has a feel that is partially ghostly/paranormal and partially thriller/crime.

The book’s narrative alternates between Thora’s accounts of the events and how she gets involved in the investigation and the description of the events that are happening in the Yacht, told by one of the passengers named AEgir. I really liked this novel. It reminded me a bit of Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None, and towards the end when the mystery is about to be solved, I felt an element of Scooby-Doo with “and I would have gotten away with it if it weren’t for….”

I’m definitely recommending this chilling, suspenseful novel. I was very impressed with Sigurdardortti’s writing and I’m looking forward to reading her other novels.

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Review: Ink and Bone by Lisa Unger

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Twenty-year-old Finley Montgomery is rarely alone. Visited by people whom others can’t see and haunted by prophetic dreams, she has never been able to control or understand the things that happen to her. When Finley’s abilities start to become too strong for her to handle – and even the roar of her motorcycle or another dazzling tattoo can’t drown out the voices – she turns to the only person she knows who can help her: her grandmother Eloise Montgomery, a renowned psychic living in The Hollows, New York.

Merri Gleason is a woman at the end of her tether after a ten-month-long search for her missing daughter, Abbey. With almost every hope exhausted, she resorts to hiring Jones Cooper, a detective who sometimes works with psychic Eloise Montgomery. Merri’s not a believer, but she’s just desperate enough to go down that road, praying that she’s not too late. Time, she knows, is running out.

Wow! That’s the word that came out of my mouth after reading Ink and Bone by Lisa Unger. Lately, between grad school, two children, a dog, and a full-time job, long were the days I could finish books in one day, let alone in one sitting. When I picked up this book I had no idea how addicting, thrilling, and exciting this reading would be. I only have praise for Unger. From the very first pages, you are drawn into this intricate web that mixes psychological thriller, crime, and paranormal. I found this story to be very disturbing, but surprising. Every time I thought the story was going in one direction, bam! The author takes you on a completely different route.

Extremely refreshing, chilling, borderline horror (really!), page-turner, can’t-put-it-down sort of book. I highly recommend this book to fans of the genre.

I’d like to thank NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. This book is scheduled to be published June 7, 2016.

5 star