Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT Time Travel Adventure NEANDER by @AuthorHarald #TuesdayBookBlog

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

#RBRT Review Team

Terry has been reading Neander by Harald Johnson

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4.5*
Tom Cook is a science journalist working on an archaeological dig in Gibraltar, when disaster strikes in the form of a boat accident—his pregnant fiancée is missing.  When Tom goes searching for her, he slips through a time portal that takes him back…. way back, to 40,000 years ago. Neanderthal man has yet to become extinct, though the threat of Homo Sapiens is on the horizon.
Tom finds ways to communicate with them and become part of their world.  Quite early on, I saw that this was not just a time travel adventure, and that Tom’s actions would have repercussions, which added interest, as I looked forward to finding out how great these would be.  Tom has a wealth of knowledge to teach his new family, and draws on his own research about Neanderthal man to find the best methods to help them, especially when they come face to face with the more ruthless Sapiens.
In the notes at the back, the author mentions having read Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari; I’ve read three books by Harari and could feel the influence; I actually thought ‘ah, he’s been reading Sapiens’ a couple of times, before I read the notes, but this wasn’t a negative; I liked it.
Neander held my interest all the way through; of course time travel stories always depend on disbelief suspension on the part of the reader, but the fantasy must be believeable within the fiction, and for the most part this was; I’d give it about seven out of ten, because I needed to know more about how he communicated with these prehistoric people in order to be completely convinced by the fact that he did.  Also, I was so looking forward to finding out how Tom’s actions of 40K years ago impacted on the world we know now, but there was less detail than I’d hoped for.  On the whole, though, this book is fun and an easy read, an inventive, interesting and original story, as well as providing questions and ideas on which to ponder, which makes it a win-win as far as I’m concerned; yes, I recommend it!
Book description

“My God. These people really ARE Neanderthals!”

At an archeological dig in Gibraltar, a boat explosion shatters the hopes of science journalist Tom Cook. His pregnant fiancée was on the boat and is missing.
During the search, things go from bad to worse when Tom plunges through a time portal and into the strange and dangerous era of the Neanderthals. Can he get back, or is he stuck in the past forever?

On top of figuring out how to return to the present, Tom must use his modern-day wits to fight for survival in the world of 40,000 years ago. And contend with a group of archaic humans that are not at all like what he expects.
Finally, Tom faces a crucial decision that could alter the course of human history. A history he knows he has the power to change. Will he make the right choice?

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #Cosy Vintage #Mystery ROUGH TIME IN NUALA by @harrietsteel1

Today’s team review is from Cathy, she blogs here https://betweenthelinesbookblog.wordpress.com/

#RBRT Review Team

Cathy has been redaing Rough Time In Nuala by Harriet Steel

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Inspector Shanti de Silva and his wife Jane, were looking forward to an evening at the cinema but an unexpected telephone call from Doctor Hebden meant they had to cancel their plans. There had been a murder at the Royal Nuala Golf Club and de Silva’s presence is required immediately. The body of wealthy local business man and tea plantation owner, Bernard Harvey, had been discovered hidden in the rough by Doctor Hebden’s dog. His caddy was nowhere to be found.

The murder turns out to be a complicated case for de Silva, not least because he has to tread carefully in his dealings with the advantaged British. There seems to be no obvious motive and no possessions were taken but where was the caddy? De Silva’s superior, Archie Clutterbuck was entertaining important visitors and didn’t want a scandal. Luckily, de Silva had the help of Charlie Frobisher, a personable junior member of the Colonial staff. And as always, de Silva’s wife Jane is his sounding board, offering her own insightful suggestions.

I had to smile when Charlie Frobisher described the murder as ‘a nasty spot of bother’ and thought it seemed realistically typical of an understatement by an upper class Englishman of the time.

‘The remark demonstrated a notable British quality, thought de Silva: their unerring ability to minimise drama, even when, in most people’s view, the occasion would justifiably merit it.’

I always enjoy catching up with Shanti and Jane de Silva, and Harriet Steel brings 1930s Ceylon and its inhabitants to vibrant life, with descriptions of places, food and their home life.

It was interesting to note in this book that a little more attention was given to the prejudice issue facing the Sinhalese people as a direct result of British dominance. Additions such as this, plus the local customs and the fact the British make investigation that much more difficult, give more authenticity to the story.

‘He was aware that the club’s hallowed portals didn’t welcome locals like himself; the membership was exclusively British. Deep down, de Silva had to admit that even though he had no desire to play golf, he wasn’t entirely immune to feelings of resentment at being shunned in his own country.’

A lovely, easy to read cozy crime series.

Book description

Inspector de Silva’s peaceful evening is disrupted when he is called up to the Royal Nuala Golf Club where a wealthy member has been found brutally murdered.

Is this a bungled robbery, a private feud, or does the killer have another motive that will cause them to strike again?

With the help of his resourceful wife, Jane, and a new and unexpected ally, de Silva must navigate his way into the heart of the privileged British establishment to find the answer, and there’s no time to lose.

Rough Time in Nuala is another colourful and exciting mystery in this series set in the exotic location of 1930s Ceylon.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT A #Mystery Set In China. The Willow Woman, a Philip Ye Novel by @LWestwoodAuthor

Today’s team review is from Joanna.

#RBRT Review Team

Joanna has been reading The Willow Woman by Laurence Westwood

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4.5 stars.

This is the first in a planned series of books featuring Philip Ye, a Chinese homicide detective.  The protagonist has a chequered past; he is a widower, half English and half Chinese, and his father is the disgraced ex-Mayor of Chengdu. Willow Woman focuses on a missing vulnerable boy and a body found in a back alley; two mysteries Ye tries to unravel against a highly political backdrop.

It is beautifully written, highly evocative of modern china and pulls no punches in exploring the cultural, political and spiritual elements of Chinese society.  The plot itself is pleasingly complex and well-paced and I found myself burning the midnight oil, unable to put it down.

When I opened the book I was greeted by an extensive cast list of Chinese names which almost put me off, however Laurence Westwood breathes life into each of the  main characters and they jump off the page and into your imagination: there’s the  enigmatic Philip Ye; the deeply flawed and beautiful Prosecutor, Xu Ya; Fatty Deng her investigator and seriously oddball Constable Ma.

If there is any criticism, it is that the author occasionally overplays his knowledge of the Chinese political and criminal justice systems making for the occasional stodgy passages. Having said that I loved it and look forward to the next in the series.

Did I enjoy it, Yes

Would I recommend it, Yes.

Would I read it again, Yes.

Book description

Chengdu: a teeming, modern metropolis.

Yet China’s painful turbulent history still leaves its mark on the minds of all who live there.

Philip Ye, half English, half Chinese, is a homicide detective with the Chengdu Public Security Bureau who suffers his own anguish from a life blighted by tragedy and the unsettling appearance of ghosts that often intrude in on his investigations.

On a misty grey morning one such apparition leads him to a busy street corner during the rush hour where he bears witness to a shocking event. Against his better judgment, Phillip is drawn into the search for a missing, vulnerable boy. His investigation brings him into contact with Xu Ya, a brilliant and beautiful public prosecutor. She is new to Chengdu, determined not only to make her mark but to also leave behind her own personal heartbreak. They have crossed paths before. He has no memory of her, but she remembers him very well indeed….

Soon enough Philip Ye has a vicious murder on his hands, and then another – the boy’s disappearance seemingly sparking a chain of violent events. With the help of Xu Ya – dedicated to upholding făzhì, the Rule of Law, in China ‒ and her indefatigable and worldly-wise assistant Fatty Deng, Phillip Ye is quickly on the trail of a mysterious figure known as The Willow Woman. But, unbeknownst to them all, there are secretive and subversive forces at work within the dark heart of the city and tremendous danger awaits….

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT #PostApocalyptic UPON US by Blakely Chorpenning

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

#RBRT Review Team

Terry has been reading Upon Us by Blakely Chorpenning

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3 stars.

I requested this book from the review team list because it looked right up my street – a world in decline, in which governments have agreed to plunge the planet back into the Dark Ages in order to let it recover (I assume).  This book takes place twenty-five years in, when crops are dying and a zombie-esque plague is on the warpath.  It is placed in the ‘New Adult’ in category, ie, aimed at ages 18-30; I’d put it towards the younger end of this range, or possibly even YA.

I’ll start by saying that the author writes well; she uses some lovely descriptive terms, her characterisation and dialogue is mostly fine, the story flows well, and the book – not a long one – has obviously been professionally proofread.  Sadly, though, the world building left me with too many unanswered questions, though it’s an interesting and unusual premise.  Of course, all post-apocalyptic and futuristic, dystopian worlds are products of the author’s imagination, but I think more time needed to be spent on thinking through how this ‘New Beginning’ took place, its orchestration, the events leading up to it and the aftermath, to the extent that I wondered if a more simple plot, like just the virus, might have been easier to work with.

The book starts so well, with the protagonist lying in wait to ambush a man (one of the ‘Privileged’) to help her and these clans obtain food; there has obviously been careful research into survival methods and ancient ways of cooking and growing food, which I liked, and there is no doubt that Ms Chorpenning can write; I think that if she worked with a really good developmental editor to help her create her world in a more fully-rounded sense, this book could be terrific.

Book description

What if the apocalypse was manufactured to save mankind?

Threatened by an ailing planet and insatiable human advancement, world governments agreed to ban the modern way of life, cutting off electricity, technology, and medical services, dismantling the global economy for one hundred years.

Twenty-five years have passed in this self-imposed darkness known as the New Beginning. Crops are dying and the sickness -a zombie-like plague of rotting flesh and fractured minds- is ravishing the East Coast of the United States.

One woman has been entrusted by the clans to remedy their food shortage. Breaking the rules is nothing new, but She -a nameless nomad- must abduct a privileged villager named Ren, bringing her too close for comfort with his entitled world. Together, they discover the root of the plague as their desire for one another grows, even as the differences in their two worlds collide.

Through deception and the horrors of an expanding pandemic, love thrives where a world chose to die.

UPON US is a New Adult post-apocalyptic love story with adult content and gory imagery (because -zombies).

AmazonUk | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #RomCom LOVE, LOOK AWAY by @LisetteBrodey #TuesdayBookBlog

Today’s team review is from Sandra, she posts her reviews here http://www.firthproof.co.uk/index.php/book-reviews

#RBRT Review Team

Sandra has been reading Love, Look Away by Lisette Brodey

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Set in Swansea (New York not Wales), like her previous novel Molly Hacker is Too Picky!, this is the story of Sage Gordon who owns the gift shop, Sage Earth Gifts. It is not a sequel but does feature some of the same characters. We see the world through Sage’s eyes, and at the start of the book she is not in a good place.

The book opens with a ‘difficult’ customer causing a scene and introduces the other main character, Godiva Genevieve Jones. The two women bond over their recent romantic troubles and become firm friends really quickly. Running through the story is the mystery of Sage’s childhood friend, Jimmy, who just disappeared in the night and was never heard from again. She has tried and failed to trace him, and it’s almost like she can’t move on until she finds out what happened to him. All I’ll say is that it seems like we’ll never know, but in a wonderful, dramatic movie-style ending the truth is finally revealed.

While the new-agey theme of the shop is not to my taste, anyone who has ever worked in retail will recognise the ‘difficult’ customers; unlike real life these ones are also very funny. In fact, there is a lot of humour to lighten the heartbreak, often involving the dogs, Rufus and Vizzy; two cats live above the shop with Rufus but are never seen, which is a shame. The characters are well-written and believable, though some are a bit full-on. The only slight criticism I have is that the dialogue is a bit stilted in places, not quite the way real people speak. Overall Love, Look Away is a very enjoyable read and I look forward to the next instalment of life in Swansea.

Book description

Twenty-nine-year-old Sage Gordon has had it with love. When she’s not busy running her metaphysical gift shop in the old-money town of Swansea, New York, she’s content with the company of her dog and two cats.

Years ago, the boy she thought she’d marry some day disappeared in the middle of the night and was never heard from again. Haunted by the loss of Jimmy, she remains wary about love, until she is set up with a gorgeous NYC marketing executive. Love moves quickly, and she finds herself engaged — but if only he had betrayed her before she sent out the save-the-date cards.

Sage reverts to her former mindset: love, look away. Forever. Despite her best efforts, though, two completely different yet wonderful men enter her life. Still haunted by the past, can she let romance back into her life?

AmazonUk | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #HistoricalFiction NOT MY FATHER’S HOUSE by Loretta Miles Tollefson

Today’s team review is from Alison, she blogs here https://alisonwilliamswriting.wordpress.com/

#RBRT Review Team

Alison has been reading Not My Father’s House by Loretta Miles Tollefson

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This novel is part of a series, but it works very well as a standalone – you very quickly get to know the characters and their backgrounds and what has brought them to the mountains.

Suzanna is that rare thing in an historical novel – a woman who doesn’t fit in with the requirements of the time, who rails against the constraints of her life, but who isn’t allowed to overcome them. She has to conform, as women did, but this leads to frustration and misery.

There is some wonderful description in this novel, description that doesn’t overwhelm the narrative, and it is very easy to picture the beautiful, but often hostile countryside. There are some really horrible and upsetting moments, written without melodrama, that bring home the reality of the fragility and danger of life then, particularly for women.

The writing is polished, professional and technically sound. Characters are authentic and consistent. It’s refreshing to see themes like post-natal depression examined so sensitively here – something not often tackled in historical novels.

My only gripe is that some of the scenes of the mountain man are rather repetitive. He thinks the same things, does the same things, and I did feel that these episodes could have been cut. There is some repetition throughout the novel – while it is undoubtedly well-written, it could do with being cut back a little. I did find myself skipping over some parts.

That said, this was a really interesting read and I’ll definitely read more by this author.

Four stars.

Book description

Suzanna hates everything about her New Mexico mountain home. The isolation. The short growing season. The critters after her corn. The long snow-bound winters in a dimly-lit cabin.

But she loves Gerald, who loves this valley.

So Suzanna does her unhappy best to adjust, even when the babies come, both of them in the middle of winter. Her postpartum depression, the cold, and the lack of sunlight push her to the edge.

But the Sangre de Cristo mountains contain a menace far more dangerous than Suzanna’s internal struggles. The man Gerald killed in the mountains of the Gila two years ago isn’t as dead as everyone thought.

And his lust for Suzanna may be even stronger than his desire for Gerald’s blood.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #Thriller COLLATERAL CARNAGE by Chris Saper

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

#RBRT Review Team

Olga has been reading Collateral Carnage by Chris Saper

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Having worked in the health services (although in the UK) for a number of years, and having treated some patients suffering from PTSD (although I’m no specialist), I was intrigued by this debut novel. I was even more interested when I read the author’s biography and learned of her first-hand experience as a healthcare administrator, as that promised to bring an insider’s perspective into the topic and add complexity to the plot.

This novel is perfect for readers who love conspiracy theory plots and also spy novels. I must confess that I am not much of a reader of spy novels, because I tend to get lost in the huge number of names, where characters often swap identities, and sometimes find it difficult to tell the different players apart. There is some of that here, because we are thrown at the deep end from the beginning. There’s no gentle easing into the subject or much background information provided before we get into the nitty gritty of the story, and the fact that we don’t know what’s happening parallels the experience of the main character, Claire Wilheit.

The story is narrated in the third person, but from a variety of points of view (I’d say almost as many as characters, or at least as many as characters that have some bearing into the outcome of the novel), and although some characters appear often and we become somewhat familiar with them, there are others that only make a fleeting appearance. The point of view, although clearly signalled, can change even within a chapter, and not all readers feel comfortable with so many changes. Chapters are short, the story moves at a quick pace, and although the language is straightforward, and there are no unnecessarily long descriptions, readers need to remain alert and attentive. This is not an easy and relaxed read; the plot has many strands that might appear quite entangled and confusing at first, but if one keeps reading, the story becomes clearer and the subject is both compelling and gripping.

Personally, I felt that this is a story heavier on plot than on characters. There are quite a number of characters I liked (mostly on the “good” side, although I felt some sympathy for the motives of some of the characters on the “bad” side as well), especially Claire, who is determined, intelligent, resourceful, and has managed to overcome pretty difficult circumstances, but because there are so many characters, and they all take their turn, it is difficult to get to know most of them in depth. I think that was in part the reason why, at times, I felt like an observer of the plot and the story, rather than being fully involved and sharing in the experiences of the characters. The end of the novel hinted at the possibility of further adventures involving Claire and some of the other characters (I’m trying to avoid spoilers here), so readers might learn much more about them.

I “enjoyed” (well, it worried me, but you know what I mean), the insight into the pharmaceutical industry, the way the novel spells out the relationship between Big Pharma and politics, and the reflections on how the healthcare system works (or rather, might end up working) in the USA. One of the aspects of the novel that I found captivating was the dystopian edge of the story. I haven’t seen it listed as a dystopia, but it is set in the very near future, with a social order very similar to the current one, but with subtle differences, or perhaps one could call them “developments” that, unfortunately, fit in well with recent events and with the way things are progressing. In the book, the efforts to control costs have resulted in the privatization of ever more services —the police force in Phoenix, for instance, deals with certain kinds of crimes, but at night there is a Militia in charge, and there is a curfew in place—, including the healthcare of the veterans of the many wars that the American military has participated in, and there are large interests involved in all these services. And, of course, those can be manipulated by less than scrupulous people. The most worrying part of the story is that it feels very realistic. It does not take a big stretch of the imagination to see something like this happening, and perhaps with an end far less satisfying than that of the novel (which I liked).

In summary, this is a novel for lovers of conspiracy theories and/or fairly realistic spy thrillers, that like puzzles and complex plots and don’t shy away from hard topics. The author injects her knowledge into the story without overwhelming it and the research is well integrated into the plot. There is no graphic violence and no romance here but a dire warning of how things could end up if money continues to be the governments’ (not only that of the USA) only consideration when dealing with people’s wellbeing. The characters are not as important as the story, but I think there is room for their development in future instalments. As a note to the author, I wonder if a list of characters might help people not to get lost, especially at the beginning of the book. I know that because of the nature of the plot, it might be difficult to do that without spoiling some of the surprises, although there might be ways around it. I will keep a close watch on the author’s writing career.

Book description

Money. Politics. Big Pharma. What could go wrong?As PTSD therapist Claire Wilheit is about to learn, a whole helluva lot. A chance after-hours encounter with a fellow therapist reveals falsified patient files and thrusts Claire into a conspiracy poised to revolutionize treatment for US veterans now and for future generations, with deadly collateral damage.Trapped in an avalanche of events over which she has no control, Claire is locked into a race against time in preventing the sweeping, irreversible and fatally flawed policies that Congress is about to set into play.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #Mystery MURDER AT THE COLUMBARIUM by @TheEmilyGallo @ImChrisBarboza

Today’s team review is from Karen, she blogs here https://mytrainofthoughtson.wordpress.com

#RBRT Review Team

Karen has been reading Murder At The Columbarium by Emily Gallo

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This book focuses on the Columbarium’s caretaker Jed and how his life changes when finding a murdered young woman on the premises.

With “Murder at the Columbarium”, Emily Gallo has created a well-elaborated and intriguing story about Jed and his friends. The story comprises a variety of characters with sufficient depth, interesting turns, food for thought, and a great flow. I was drawn into the story right away, close to Jed, his wife, their friends; captivated by what this story had to offer. I had a great time reading “Murder at the Columbarium”. It is a memorable story; I enjoyed reading about Jed who is warm-hearted and determined.

This is for you if you like steady-paced mysteries, stories that let you follow along and inspire your own train of thoughts, as well as books you would like to read again because their stories are unforgettable.

Recommended.

Book description

Jed’s quiet life as caretaker of the San Francisco Columbarium is turned upside down when he comes upon a dead woman’s body and a crying baby just inside the gate. His search for answers thrusts him into a world of corruption, bigotry and drug trafficking and he becomes one of the principal suspects.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT Cosy #Mystery Christmas Cupcakes & A Caper by @dehaggerty

Today’s team review is from Karen, she blogs here https://mytrainofthoughtson.wordpress.com

#RBRT Review Team

Karen has been reading Christmas Cupcakes & A Caper by D.E. Haggerty

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This book focuses on the ‘Callie’s Cakes’ gang trying to find out who murdered the dead student on their doorstep.

With “Christmas Cupcakes & a Caper”, D. E. Haggerty has created an expertly worded and funny suspense story with a romantic touch. The story comprises a broad variety of believable characters with sufficient depth, hilarious moments, and interesting interactions to solve the case of the murdered college student. I had a great time reading “Christmas Cupcakes & a Caper” – it is a very fun read. I was drawn into the story right away, chuckling about the stubborn protagonists, shaking my head – a lot because of Anna; for me, Callie and Kristie are a great counterpoint for Anna.

This is for you if you like female amateur sleuths, stubborn and determined women, hilarious situations as well as a great combination of cosy suspense, humour, and romance.

A funny and suspenseful book to read again.

Recommended.

Book description

It’s all candy cane cupcakes and peppermint coffee until you find a dead elf on your doorstep.

Only the elf wasn’t a real elf, because elves don’t actually exist – not even at Christmas time. A college student dressed like an elf decided taking a nap on the stoop of Callie’s Cakes in sub-zero winter temps was a good idea. It wasn’t. Anna, the pink-haired baker extraordinaire, is convinced the student’s death was not an accident. She drags Callie and Kristie along with her as she attempts to discover who killed the elf … um… student.

Will the gals of Callie’s Cakes find the killer before Christmas is ruined?

Cupcakes not included, although you’ll find recipes for all the delicious Christmas cupcakes Anna bakes.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

 

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #SciFi #ShortStory BEHIND THE FIRE WALL by @AntonEine

Today’s team review is from Karen, she blogs here https://mytrainofthoughtson.wordpress.com

#RBRT Review Team

Karen has been reading Behind The Fire Wall by Anton Eine.

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This book focuses on mage Sajar Randhar, magic security specialist, who is suddenly suspected of a – major security breach!

With “Behind the Fire Wall”, Anton Eine has created a thrilling short story that kept me glued to my E-reader. This short story comprises two believable characters with sufficient depth and dialogues that sometimes made me grin. I had a great time reading “Behind the Fire Wall” – it is a very thrilling read. I was drawn into the story right away, getting closer to Sahar and Spirit, page by page. I am looking forward to reading more!

This is for you if you like computing, science fiction, savvy protagonists, entertaining dialogue, as well as mysteries and thrillers.

A suspenseful and entertaining short story to read again; it is the very promising first in a new series.

Recommended.

Book description

When the Pentagonal Citadel’s Fire Wall is breached as a result of a robbery, giving the perpetrators access to the most dangerous artifacts stored in the Vault, Magister Sajar Randhar finds himself in hot water.

His security clearance is pulled and he’s placed under house arrest for the entire duration of the investigation. But who could have hacked the most impregnable security system in the entire Murican Empire? How did they manage it in the first place? And why remove Sajar from the investigation instead of having him cooperate with the authorities?

The veteran mage is left with no other choice but to take the investigation into his own hands. The case is incredibly complex, but with his great experience and top-notch skills as a magic security specialist, there’s no better man for the job.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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