Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #Middlegrade Etty Steele Vampire Hunter by Grayson Grave

Today’s team review is from Lilyn, she blogs here https://www.scifiandscary.com/

#RBRT Review Team

Lilyn has been reading Etty Steele Vampire Hunter by Grayson Grave

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Etty Steele Vampire Hunter is a simple, easy-to-read fantasy for middle grade children. It’s got an easily recognizable moral that it is relating. The main character is not perfect. The relationship between the parents is atypical. (Oddly enough, both parents are even present in the book for a while!)

Probably the most interesting thing about Etty Steele Vampire Hunter is that Etty has trouble reading. It never goes in depth as to precisely what her problem is, but it’s obvious that she struggles. It’s equally obvious that her parents (well, one of them, really) don’t see it as nearly the problem that it is. This bothered me. Problems with reading are frequently overlooked (though not for the same reasons as in this book) and they never should be. As a parent, the idea of not getting my child the help she needs makes me twitch. As a life-long bookworm, my heart hurts for Etty and what she’s missing out by not being able to read well.

I think it’s great that the author is representing children that have trouble reading. It just makes me sad to think that there are kids out there like Etty who don’t get the help that they need because ‘reading isn’t that important’.

Another thing that keeps it interesting (as an adult) is that Etty is not what grownups would term a ‘good’ kid. We are told early on in the story that she was the type of kid who frequently got into fights. Her behavior stems from her relationships and examples set at home. Again, even though the reasons themselves are different, the fact is there are kids like Etty everywhere, and it just makes me want to strangle parents who don’t actually parent their children. Hopefully the kids who read this that are like Etty can recognize that they have more worth than what they’re taught, and think outside the box their parents have trapped them in.

However, Etty Steele Vampire Hunter was not a satisfying read. The conclusion felt like it was lacking oomph. Instead the way it ends the story sort of fizzles out without any real feeling of resolution. Technically the arc ends, but it just feels weaker than it should have. This takes a lot of the power of the story away from it.

Overall, not a bad book. Just not a great one.

Book description

Etty Steele is a vampire hunter. There’s only one problem – she doesn’t have her hunter powers. No super-strength, no super-speed. Nothing.

When she goes back to school after the summer, she’s surprised to find a new boy has joined her class. Even more surprising – he’s a vampire!

If only there was a way to stake him through the heart without anyone noticing.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Of Regency #Romance A Scandalous Winter Wedding by @MargueriteKaye #fridayreads

A Scandalous Winter Wedding (Mills & Boon Historical) (Matches Made in Scandal, #4)A Scandalous Winter Wedding (Mills & Boon Historical) by Marguerite Kaye

4 stars

A Scandalous Winter Wedding is a Regency romance and is part of the Matches Made In Scandal series. This is the story behind the infamous woman known as The Procurer, someone who can make the impossible, possible.

When Kirstin Blair reads the details of the latest request for her Procurer’s services, she is shocked to see the name of a man she met six years ago. Someone who has frequently filled her mind.

Cameron Dunbar is desperate for help; his niece has gone missing and the need to keep the details secret have lead him to The Procurer, because of her reputation for outstanding discretion. When Kirstin decides to take this case, she keeps her identity as its founder a secret. To Cameron, she is just a woman he met six years ago, who happens to work for the infamous Procurer. Together they follow clues to the missing girl. But their joint past threatens their business relationship, while Kirstin hides a deeper secret from Cameron.

The series, so far, has hinted at the story behind The Procurer, and now it’s time to tell her tale. This is an ideal conclusion to a string of stories that have taken romance and secrets to some of Europe’s well-known cites.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Book description

A Matches Made in Scandal story: Kirstin Blair has spent seven years trying to forget brooding Cameron Dunbar. Now self-made man Cameron needs her help to recover his missing niece, and Kirstin must face the truth: seeing him again sparks the same irresistible attraction that first brought them together! She must decide… Resist, or give in to temptation and risk Cameron discovering everything she’s fought so hard to protect…

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Rosie’s #Bookreview of #UrbanFantasy Lamassu (Rahki Chronicles, #3) by Rennie St. James @WriterRSJ

Lamassu (Rahki Chronicles, #3)Lamassu by Rennie St. James

4 stars

Lamassu is book three of The Rahki Chronicles urban fantasy series. I recommend reading these books in order. They mix tribal and spiritual animal elements with modern-day America.

In this book Mia and her tribe arrive on the west coast of America. They intend taking part in a Sovmar meeting of clans, but power struggles threaten the leadership of their Rahki world. A violent sector is destroying Romani people and chaos looms.

Mia must be cautious and defend her own family first, but she’s still growing into her own protective powers and no one yet knows the potential of her strengths.

The story is well-written, but takes place at a moderate pace. The action is interspersed with plenty of planning and training. I was surprised when I got to around eighty per cent and realised that the story continues in the next book; somehow I had convinced myself that this was going to be a trilogy. Book four will continue the tale.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Book description

Mia Rayner has the family she’d always wanted as an orphan; she even has a mountain lion by her side. Rahki society is accepting her, and it appears she’ll have smooth sailing to gain approval as Nadya’s warrior guardian.

Are her normal dreams of fun, sun, sand, and celebrations too good to be true?

Familial bonds are tested when her clan’s summer travel in California is interrupted by violent storms. An unknown enemy emerges to terrorize the Rom and Rahki worlds with blood and death. New divisions shake the faith of the most stalwart and close allegiances splinter and shift. When innocence is sacrificed, Mia falters under the burden of ancient prophecies and new friends.

Ghosts of the past will rule the night and give life to both gods and monsters.

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Rosie’s #Bookreview of #Romanian Cultural #Fiction Dear Comrade Novák by Silvia Hildebrandt @silvie1111

Dear Comrade NovákDear Comrade Novák by Silvia Hildebrandt

4 stars

Dear Comrade Novak is cultural fiction set in communist Romania during the 1980s.

The story follows the tales of three young people: Attila, a young Hungarian, Tiberius, the son of secret police parents, and Viorica, a gypsy girl. Each lives a very different life, but the 1989 Romanian revolution brings them together.

Attila lives a double life; a homosexual in a country with blinkered views on same sex relationships. He also rises to become a feared criminal interrogator.

Tiberius is groomed to follow his parents into the secret service. He agrees to a political marriage, but his true love has always been for Attila’s sister.

Viorica has always loved Tiberius, but her life follows an arranged marriage to a bully.

The author paints a good picture of the plight of the Romanians under the communist regime. Fear is rife; spies are everywhere as neighbours succumb to reporting on each other in return for payments from those in authority; poverty makes them desperate. Food shortages mean queuing for daily items and cars are considered luxury items, with a waiting time measured in years, for ownership.

I found the descriptions of life under communism very interesting. The main characters were harder to empathise with; I felt there was room for a deeper development of them all, so that the reader could become more emotionally attached. I wanted to feel more of the conspiracies and danger that the characters became embroiled in. Overall, a solid piece of fiction, but it needed a little more depth to lift it above an average read.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Book description

A story about conspiracy and revolution, love and hate, and the strong power of friendship.

In 1980s communist Romania, three school graduates form an unusual friendship: 17-year old Attila, who’s in love with his 45-year old teacher; Tiberius, son of high class secret police parents; and the gypsy Viorica, who is forced into a marriage arranged when she was four.

When a conspiracy scandal throws their life upside down, all three of them will have to choose their sides: for or against the cruel tyrant Ceausescu.

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Rosie’s #Bookreview of Regency #Romance The Uncompromising Lord Flint by @VirginiaHeath_ #TuesdayBookBlog

The Uncompromising Lord Flint (The King's Elite #2)The Uncompromising Lord Flint by Virginia Heath

4.5 stars

The Uncompromising Lord Flint is a Regency romance and is part of The King’s Elite series. It features nineteenth century espionage and smuggling.

A dangerous and highly organised gang of smugglers are believed to be supporters of Napoleon. They are raising arms and funds to restore him to leadership. Lord Peter Flint and his associates have been on the trail of this notorious gang, hoping to break them, but they’ve had few leads.

Some recently decoded letters, written by Lady Jessamine Fane (Jess), have pointed to the Comte de Saint Aubin de Scellon, a rich and influential supporter of Napoleon. Flint believes Jess is the link between France and England, and swiftly moves to capture her.

He hopes that Jess’s arrest, and possible trial for high treason, will flush out other members of the English peerage. But he’s not prepared for his growing suspicions that Jess may be a victim, rather than the traitor they first thought. With Jess now in grave danger, Flint takes her to his family castle in Cornwall for protection.

This mini-series is a spin-off from the Wild Warriners books. Ideally I would recommend reading them all in order, but if the story appeals and you have limited time, then I suggest starting with book one of the King’s Elite tales – The Mysterious Lord Millcroft. I’m a fan of Ms Heath’s style, the narrative is always fresh which can be hard in a popular genre. I do recommend this for anyone who enjoys historical romance.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Book description

Part of The King’s Elite. Charged with high treason, Lady Jessamine Fane’s under the watchful eye of icily calm Lord Peter Flint. A task this spy won’t be swayed from, no matter how alluring his prisoner! Only, it’s not long before Flint realizes tenacious Jess hides a lifetime of pain. With so much at stake, can he afford to take a chance on their powerful attraction?

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT Cosy #Mystery Blue Lake Christmas by @CynthiaHarriso1

Today’s team review is from Barb, she blogs here https://barbtaub.com/

#RBRT Review Team

Barb has been reading Blue Lake Christmas by Cynthia Harrison

Blue Lake Christmas Mystery (Blue Lake Series) by [Harrison, Cynthia]

In the 1930s, the biggest names in British detective stories formed the British Detection Club. They took an oath—

“Do you promise that your detectives shall well and truly detect the crimes presented to them using those wits which it may please you to bestow upon them and not placing reliance on nor making use of Divine Revelation, Feminine Intuition, Mumbo Jumbo, Jiggery-Pokery, Coincidence, or Act of God? —Oath of the British Detection Club, 1930”.

…which most promptly violated to some degree. But author Cynthia Harrison would be a member in very good standing. Her new cozy mystery, Blue Lake Christmas Mystery, could be a laundry list for the genre’s main tropes—even if there are no little old ladies who like to knit, cats, or even cupcakes.

The action is set in Blue Lake, a tiny town on Michigan’s Lake Huron coast, where everyone (including Holly) is either related or part of generations of family friendships. When we meet the ambitious, painfully young Holly, she’s focussed on using her new role of junior (and only) reporter for the struggling local paper as a springboard to credibility for her secret project—a book revealing an inside look at a recent local tragedy involving her young cousin.Her sleuth, newly-minted college grad and writer wannabe Holly is an amateur journalist and even more amateur detective. She sees investigating a recent Blue Lake scandal as her ticket to fame and fortune. When another murder occurs, she doesn’t hesitate to apply her newly acquired journalist credentials to her self-appointed detective role.

As Holly gets to know the people in the town, however, she begins to understand the trauma that exposing their pain and ongoing suffering for her own gain would cause for relatives and friends still struggling to recover. At the same time as she finds herself falling for the emotionally devastated young architect Bob, Holly is also applying her loose-cannon investigative skills to the latest murder, a much-disliked guest at the holiday dinner for the local Fun Divorce Club.

Also in keeping with the cozy genre, bodies pile up offstage, but actual blood/bodily fluids are kept to a minimum. Same goes for sex, actually. Holly’s on-again/off-again romance with Bob is indeed cozy, with misunderstandings, emotional baggage, and ever-present relatives combining to stall developments and physical demonstrations.

I enjoyed so many aspects of this book. Although there wasn’t much actual description of the town and surroundings, I’ve spent enough time in Michigan to be able to picture the setting. And I loved the authentic sounding interactions between the residents of Blue Lake, with their combination of humor and family snark that hinted at years or even generations of background.

Holly’s is also an interesting voice. She’s funny, immature, ambitious, and clever. “She may have overwhelmed Bob with her comments, because he went silent again. Holly briefly wondered if she should have gone to dental school. Conducting this interview was like pulling teeth.” But over the course of the book Holly learns and even grows into a mature understanding of her ambitions and her responsibilities.

Sure there were things that made me sit up and shake my head. There was the mysterious book agent who was supposedly offering a lucrative contract to the young, unpublished, and untried author who hadn’t even researched, let alone written, the book. (I’d love to live in that writing universe!) Then there were the members of the police and medical profession who apparently couldn’t wait to gift just-met reporter Holly with all manner of detail that must have violated every iota of regulation and ethics. And, of course, there’s Holly’s unexplained but apparently deep pockets which allow her to shrug off details about paychecks, and even on short notice “to buy a dress for the ball with a matching burgundy velvet coat.” 

At first, the numerous coincidences and leaps of faith, instances of journalistic license, and unprofessional secret-sharing bothered me. But then I thought of the small towns I’ve lived in, their gossipy local papers, and the way everybody knows everything as soon as it happens, and I realized these are actually strengths of the book. So really, my only complaint is that Blue Lake Christmas reads like a middle book in a series, with people and events that were introduced and explained in earlier works.

I’d recommend this to anyone who enjoys a quick-moving cozy mystery where you’ll figure out the murderer long before the amateur detective but have a great time along the way. It’s a fun winter read, so grab a cozy quilt and snuggle up next to the fire.

Book description

All Holly wants for Christmas is to prove to her parents that her pricey college education was worth it. When she lands a reporting job in tiny Blue Lake, where the chill winds blow off Lake Huron all winter long, and a guest dies at a dinner party, she isn’t sure she can meet that goal. Holly has a second writing gig as a true crime reporter in mind, but there’s only one problem: the new love interest keeping her warm is determined she should not write about the one thing her heart desires.

Bob has one goal: to get his life back on track after a train wreck of a relationship with a fragile first love named Lily. Oh, it would also be nice to feel excited about work again. Not to mention Christmas. Holly’s new in town and she stirs something cheerfully seasonal in him, but when he realizes she’s willing to take down Lily for her own purposes, he decides a holiday romance is the last thing he needs.

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Rosie’s #Bookreview #Histfic Family Saga The Girl From The Mill by @WalshChrissie ‏@Aria_Fiction

The Girl from the MillThe Girl from the Mill by Chrissie Walsh

4 stars

The Girl From The Mill is an historical family saga set in Yorkshire during World War I.

The story centres around textile mill employee Lacey Barraclough. Lacey is a loyal but ambitious young woman, who plays her part in fighting for the better working rights for herself and her fellow women workers.

Lacey is also an accomplished seamstress and it’s not long before her skills are noticed by prominent  woman in the Garsthwaite community. In her personal life, Lacey has caught the eye of Nathan Brearley, the mill owner’s son, but their difference in class is hard to overcome.

When the war breaks out, changes occur on the home front. Families must survive without menfolk, there are new bargaining powers at the mills for the workers, and Lacey’s own life changes when she marries Nathan.

This is an easy read story filled with nostalgia from the era and plenty of local colloquialisms. Ideal for those who enjoy historical style family sagas.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Book description

In the drab Yorkshire town of Garsthwaite, Lacey Barraclough works hard in the textile mill, determined to fight for improvements to the dismal working conditions she and her fellow weavers face. But she hadn’t reckoned on falling in love with the boss’s son, NathanNathan returns her love, but to succeed they must overcome the class divide, as well as persuade their families that their love for each other is real.

Before Nathan and Lacey can make a life together, World War I breaks out and Nathan enlists to fight. When Nathan heads off to the Front, he takes Lacey’s dreams with him, and she must find a new way to face the future. As hard times come to Garsthwaite, will there be a home for the returning heroes to come back to?

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

This is my Review of the Month for the review collection on LovelyAudiobooks.info

Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #Scifi #Fantasy Killing Adam by Earik Beann

Today’s team review is from Terry, she blogs here https://terrytylerbookreviews.blogspot.co.uk/

#RBRT Review Team

Terry has been reading Killing Adam by Earik Beann

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3.5 out of 5 stars

A dystopian future, in which most people spend all their time in altered reality, via a chip implanted in their brains: an ARC, on the ARCNet. The world they inhabit is whatever they want to it be, and 23 hours a day may be spent this way, with only 4 breaks of 15 minutes a day to deal with bodily necessities such as eating and washing. All existence is controlled by an artificial intelligence – or ‘singularity’ – called Adam, even the people’s perception of what occurs elsewhere in the world.

Some cannot have the chip implanted, for a variety of reasons. These people are considered ‘disabled’; Jimmy, the main character, is one of these, because of a football injury. Their being left behind in the real world keeps them separate, a minority group.

I found the idea of all this quite exciting, and dived straight in; Earik Beann’s writing was certainly good enough to keep me turning the pages. I enjoyed the first 20% of it very much, as a picture of the world was being built up. I liked the way that the author did not explain much at all, but let the picture of his created world gradually become clear, by what was happening to Jimmy, and going through his mind. However, as I read on, I felt the whole premise needed a bit more thinking through.  For instance, Jimmy’s wife spends 23 hours a day in a catatonic state, as do many. Wouldn’t cities of people who spend all their days lying on sofas create massive health problems? How would the production of life’s essentials be maintained? Would society not just collapse? Or am I over-thinking?

I did like the basic ideas; perhaps it is intended to be a comment on our present lives, and the way in which people are so often plugged into online life that the ‘real’ world has become less and less relevant – especially as the ARCNet and Adam are the work of a corporation: BioCal. I liked the writing style very much, and the characterisation was solid. But there were too many times when I found myself thinking, ‘yeah, but hang on a minute…’. On the other hand, it’s science fiction. Or is it fantasy? I couldn’t make up my mind. Either way, I think how much you enjoy it will depend on how far you are willing to suspend disbelief.

Book description

The world runs on ARCs. Altered Reality Chips. Small implants behind the left ear that allow people to experience anything they could ever imagine. The network controls everything, from traffic, to food production, to law enforcement. Some proclaim it a Golden Age of humanity. Others have begun to see the cracks. Few realize that behind it all, living within every brain and able to control all aspects of society, there exists a being with an agenda all his own: the singularity called Adam, who believes he is God.

Jimmy Mahoney’s brain can’t accept an ARC. Not since his football injury from the days when the league was still offline. “ARC-incompatible” is what the doctors told him. Worse than being blind and deaf, he is a man struggling to cling to what’s left of a society that he is no longer a part of. His wife spends twenty-three hours a day online, only coming off when her chip forcibly disconnects her so she can eat. Others are worse. Many have died, unwilling or unable to log off to take care of even their most basic needs.

After being unwittingly recruited by a rogue singularity to play a role in a war that he doesn’t understand, Jimmy learns the truth about Adam and is thrown into a life-and-death struggle against the most powerful mathematical mind the world has ever known. But what can one man do against a being that exists everywhere and holds limitless power? How can one man, unable to even get online, find a way to save his wife, and the entire human race, from destruction?

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT Exciting Crime #Thriller EVO by @DianeMayWriter

Today’s team review is from E.L. Lindley, she blogs here https://lindleyreviews.blogspot.co.uk/

#RBRT Review Team

E.L. Lindley has been reading Evo by Diane May

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Evo by Diane May is an exciting crime thriller that kept my interest from beginning to end. With an international setting and hints of sci-fi it has the potential to appeal to a very wide audience.

The novel centres around a covert CIA operation that involves genetic engineering. The unchecked sense of power this elicits sees one of the doctors become a potential biological terrorist and raises the question of whether anyone should be allowed to play God. May cleverly leaves the reader with lots to think about as even when used for good genetic interventions can lead to unthinkable outcomes.

As the story begins with the CIA, it opens in the USA but the bulk of the novel is set in Verona where all of the plot threads come together. One of the main characters is a product of the CIA program, Maya Blake. She has a form of telepathy and can immediately tell when someone is lying. However, her ‘gift’ has put her and her family in danger which is why she finds herself teaching languages in Verona.

Maya’s path crosses with police detective, Livio Marchiori, when she becomes involved in two unrelated murders. At the same time, Marchiori is hunting a serial killer nicknamed ‘The Hypnotist’, who also turns out to be linked to the original CIA project. The novel is full of inexplicable coincidences but it is a credit to May’s writing that within the context of the novel it doesn’t seem odd.

The ‘Hypnotist’ murders are quite chilling and May builds the tension very effectively as he taunts the police with videos of his crimes. The team hunting him also includes Marchiori’s inexperienced partner, Giusto and the Chief Medical Examiner, Abigail Jones. They make for a very likeable bunch who would lend themselves well to a crime series. I particularly like the hint of romance between gruff, no-nonsense Marchiori and Abigail.

The investigation team are joined by American secret agent, Alex O’Neal who also happens to be Maya’s ex-fiancé. He brings a new level of excitement to the novel as he races against time to stop the biological terrorist attack planned by ‘doc’ who moved from the CIA to work for a group of multi-national, corrupt businessmen who have continued to fund his experiments.

I really enjoyed the novel but if I had one criticism it would be Maya who I found really difficult to like. She is so beautiful and perfect that other women seem to feel threatened by her which leads to her isolation. There is a bizarre scene where her best friend turns on her in a vitriolic fashion after yet another of her boyfriends has his head turned by Maya’s beauty. She also behaves in the way that women predictably behave in cheesy horror films – ignoring all common sense and placing themselves in the thick of danger. Having said all of that, the irritation that Maya brought out in me did not detract from the novel at all.

The novel ends in an explosion of violence which will delight fans of action thrillers before finally there is a spectacular twist. May cleverly wraps up all of her storylines in a satisfying ending but still leaves the reader with unanswered questions about the ethical implications of trying to engineer nature.

All in all, I really enjoyed Evo and if you’re looking for a gripping story to lose yourself in for a few hours then I thoroughly recommend this one.

Book description

Livio Marchiori, a legendary homicide detective with the highest rate of solved cases in Verona, is faced with The Hypnotist, a serial killer whose modus operandi borders the supernatural and who is as elusive as a ghost. He never touches his victims and he leaves no evidence behind, except for the pen drive showing a dark figure who has the ability to hypnotize people to death…their own.

The more Marchiori digs, the less he finds while the city is on edge with the mayor and the press putting pressure on the police. And when The Hypnotist threatens to kill the love of his life, the chief medical examiner, Marchiori knows that he is quickly running out of time.

So when Captain Victor Miller from Interpol walks into town, Marchiori is more than happy to partner again with the man who two years ago helped him put an entire mafia clan behind bars. But Miller has his own agenda and Marchiori soon discovers that there is more to this than meets the eye, an entire thread of things way beyond his pay grade – secret experiments, dastardly research, and the most terrifying threat humanity has to face.

And just when Marchiori thinks the situation can’t get any worse than this, he finds out that Miller isn’t what he claims to be.

Feeling at the end of his tether and not knowing who to trust anymore, Marchiori begins a race against time to save both the woman he loves and millions of people from dying.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

 

Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT @OlgaNM7 Reviews #SciFi Killing Adam by Earik Beann @EarikB

Today’s team review is from Olga, she blogs here https://www.authortranslatorolga.com

#RBRT Review Team

Olga has been reading Killing Adam by Earik Beann

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This is a very interesting book, and I doubt anybody reading it will fail to put themselves in the shoes of the protagonist. The concept is easy to grasp. Accidentally, (there was an experiment linking several people’s brains) an artificial intelligence (who later describes itself as a “singularity”) called Adam is born. Adam quickly takes control of the whole world, creating ARCs (altered reality chips), which are inserted into everybody’s brains, and allow people to control everything around them and to live get interconnected and live in an altered (virtual) reality world. Of course, the intelligence behind the inventions (and there is a company behind it too, BioCal) gets to control the brains of the people involved, in turn. You can imagine Terminator with AIs instead of physical robots, or Matrix, although in this case people are not physically hooked onto a computer, but hooked they are, nonetheless. Adam is extraordinary, but a megalomaniac and cannot stand the thought of coexisting with other singularities who might take a different view of matters. He will not stop at anything to achieve his ubercontrol and will use (and has used) any means necessary.

The story, told in the third-person by an omniscient narrator, is plot-driven. Each chapter is told from a character’s point of view (so there is no confusion as to whose point of view we’re following), mostly the main characters: Jimmy (a man who cannot be fitted with an ARC due to a brain injury suffered while he was playing American football), Adam, Trixie (another singularity, and one who sees things very differently to Adam), Jenna (one of the people —or “nodes”— hosting Trixie), and other secondary characters who play their part in the action but whom we don’t learn much about. Jimmy is the character we get to know better, but due to his personal circumstances, his life has become so limited that there is little information we gather in the time we spend with him. He is married and loves his wife, but as she’s mostly hooked onto the altered reality (23 hours a day), he can hardly spend any time with her. He attends “Implants Disability Anonymous”, an association for those who have difficulty adapting to life because they do not have an implant (and it is extremely complicated to live in a world centred on an alternate reality if you are an outsider), and has a friend, Cecil, whose life circumstances are very similar. He becomes a reluctant hero, and, perhaps preciesly because we do not know that much about him, it is easy to imagine ourselves in his place.

There are other characters with plenty of potential, especially Crazy Beard, an amateur philosopher who feels at home anywhere, and whose pearls of wisdom are eminently quotable. The language is not overly technical or complex and although there are some descriptions, these are not very detailed or lengthy. In a way, the experience of reading this book is similar to what life must be like for the characters of the novel hooked onto the alternate reality. You become so immersed in the story and focused on the content that you don’t see or notice what is around you, including the details about what surrounds you. The scenes and the actions succeed each other at a fast pace and, every-so-often you are thrown out of that reality by a detailed mention of a location or of an in-depth description of a character’s thoughts or feelings. And then, back you go, into the story.

The novel can be read as an allegory for our modern lives, increasingly taken over by social media and online content (yes, it is not a big stretch to imagine that you could walk along a crowded street and be virtually invisible because all people you come across are focused on their devices), a cautionary tale. Indeed, some of the technology, like the connected fridges and the self-driven cars are already here. It can also be read as a straightforward science-fiction/dystopian novel, with touches of humour, philosophical thoughts, and an inspiring and positive ending (and no, I won’t tell you what it is). Hard science-fiction fans might take issue with some of the novel’s premises (I missed getting a sense of how this alternate reality was, as we mostly see the effects of it but not the actual content), and a fair deal of suspension of disbelief is required to enjoy the novel if you are looking for a realistic story, but if you enjoy speculative fiction, plenty of action, and are open to a story that will make you look around and think, you’ll love this novel. I look forward to the author’s future works.

Book description

The world runs on ARCs. Altered Reality Chips. Small implants behind the left ear that allow people to experience anything they could ever imagine. The network controls everything, from traffic, to food production, to law enforcement. Some proclaim it a Golden Age of humanity. Others have begun to see the cracks. Few realize that behind it all, living within every brain and able to control all aspects of society, there exists a being with an agenda all his own: the singularity called Adam, who believes he is God.

Jimmy Mahoney’s brain can’t accept an ARC. Not since his football injury from the days when the league was still offline. “ARC-incompatible” is what the doctors told him. Worse than being blind and deaf, he is a man struggling to cling to what’s left of a society that he is no longer a part of. His wife spends twenty-three hours a day online, only coming off when her chip forcibly disconnects her so she can eat. Others are worse. Many have died, unwilling or unable to log off to take care of even their most basic needs.

After being unwittingly recruited by a rogue singularity to play a role in a war that he doesn’t understand, Jimmy learns the truth about Adam and is thrown into a life-and-death struggle against the most powerful mathematical mind the world has ever known. But what can one man do against a being that exists everywhere and holds limitless power? How can one man, unable to even get online, find a way to save his wife, and the entire human race, from destruction?

AmazonUK | AmazonUS