Can’t-Wait Wednesday: Head On by John Scalzi

I used to take part in Waiting on Wednesday hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. I’ve decided to begin participating again, but with Can’t-Wait Wednesday hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings since the Breaking the Spine blog is no longer active.

Can’t-Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme to spotlight and discuss the books we’re excited about that we have yet to read. Generally they’re books that have yet to be released. I love finding out about books which will publish in future months and I like to share my excitement about the books. I also like to find out about new books on other people’s blogs and hope they’ll sometimes find something to look forward to on my blog.

I’m looking forward to . . .

. . . reading more about this world John Scalzi has imagined. Plus what a great cover!

Head-On-by-John-ScalziHead On by John Scalzi

Series: Lock In #2

Genre: Science Fiction, Mystery

Publisher: Tor Books

Publication Date: April 19, 2018

Synopsis: Hilketa is a frenetic and violent pastime where players attack each other with swords and hammers. The main goal of the game: obtain your opponent’s head and carry it through the goalposts. With flesh and bone bodies, a sport like this would be impossible. But all the players are “threeps,” robot-like bodies controlled by people with Haden’s Syndrome, so anything goes. No one gets hurt, but the brutality is real and the crowds love it.
Until a star athlete drops dead on the playing field.

Is it an accident or murder? FBI Agents and Haden-related crime investigators, Chris Shane and Leslie Vann, are called in to uncover the truth―and in doing so travel to the darker side of the fast-growing sport of Hilketa, where fortunes are made or lost, and where players and owners do whatever it takes to win, on and off the field. 

……………..

I loved the first book in this series (Lock In) when I read it in 2015. The premise is so interesting to me–people who are literally locked into their bodies and minds, unable to move or communicate. This was caused by a contagious disease, but not everyone who got the disease were “Locked In.” However, a huge research effort by medical and scientific groups discovered a way for these people to have a life again.

The books are science fiction set in the near future and the main character is a FBI agent! So it’s a Mystery as well as Science Fiction. And John Scalzi is one of my favorite authors! Yay!

Have you read the first book in the series? How did you like it? What are you looking forward to?

Review: Nightshades by Melissa F. Olson

nightshades-by-melissa-f-olsonNightshades by Melissa F. Olson

Nightshades #1

e-book, purchased

Fantasy, Urban Fantasy

Alex McKenna is the new Special Agent in Charge of the Chicago office of the Bureau of Paranormal Investigations—the division tasked with investigating crimes involving shades.

Or vampires, as they’re more widely known.

Children have been going missing, and agents are routinely being slaughtered. It’s up to McKenna, and some unlikely allies, to get to the bottom of the problem, and find the kids before it’s too late.

………………………..

Melissa F. Olson is an author whose books I’ve read and liked before. This book is the beginning of a new series and is a novella (208 pages) published by Tor.com (which is publishing novella e-books). I’ve read several others they’ve published and enjoyed the ones I’ve read. (Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire is a Tor.com book, for example.)

I thought this book was quite different from others I’ve read by Ms. Olson. For example, the main character is male and the other two series I’ve read by her had female protagonists.

The setting

This book takes place in the Chicago area in a new division of the FBI (called the Bureau of Paranormal Investigations–BPI). Shades–or vampires as people who hear about them often call them–have only become known to humans within the last couple of years after a shade was captured alive by humans. He is being held and studied by the FBI in a secure prison. However, he’s legally still considered a human so only certain tests can be done–blood drawn, but no dissections!

Changes in Shade behavior

Before this book opened the shades kept a low profile. Now they have changed in the Chicago area and are acting more openly. A number of teenagers near Chicago have been kidnapped and other people killed all in what look like Shade attacks. In the first few pages of the book a number of Bureau of Paranormal Investigations agents are killed. New agents are posted to Chicago including a new Special Agent in Charge of the Chicago office.

Alex McKenna, Special Agent in Charge

Alex McKenna is known as “the legacy agent” since his mother was the first female director of the FBI. Alex grew up in the Hoover Building and the FBI doesn’t want him killed. However, Alex is ambitious and though he’s only in his early thirties he gets the Special Agent in Charge job even though it’s a very dangerous job. He has a better chance to get this job because other agents don’t want this very dangerous job! Plus he feels someone has to figure out what is going on with the shades.

Once Alex and his best friend–Chase Eddy (who becomes Alex’s number two in Chicago)–set up their team and arrive in Chicago everything moves very fast in the book.

My thoughts

The first part of the book deals with setting up background for the characters and getting to know them. We learn about the world building slowly and I would guess we will find out more in future books. By the end of the book more is known about shades and there are several confrontations with the shades. Ms. Olson has plenty more avenues for future books!

This book doesn’t end in a cliff hanger which pleased me. It’s a quick read. The story has a number of familiar parts as an urban fantasy about vampires. However, it has a few unique parts which helped keep my interest. Ms. Olson’s characters are well-written and we get several points-of-view. Two more books in the series show up on Goodreads, but they have no publication date or cover yet.

Rating: B

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