Behind the Badge

by J.D. Cunegan
Reviewed by SA

Gosh, I’m a huge fan of Jill Andersen mysteries. It fills the hole in my heart that the cancellation of Castle left there. A brilliant, fast paced crime novel with an amazing, asexual lead? What more could I want? The bounty series continues to be one of the most diverse and dynamic detective series I have ever read.

Summary30120290

For Jill Andersen, being part of the Baltimore Police Department has always been both a tremendous honor and a serious responsibility. Her father, before his fall from grace, had instilled in her a great respect for police and the work they do day-to-day. But when a teenage boy winds up dead on the outskirts of downtown Baltimore, Jill finds herself once again faced with those who would abuse their badges to fulfill personal agendas and uphold biases.

Jill still has a job to do, but she soon finds that not everyone is in her corner. For the first time in almost four years working Homicide, Jill finds herself at odds with people who claim to be on her side. From other cops to suits downtown all the way to the Mayor’s office, it becomes increasingly clear that Jill will need to rely on more than just her badge if she’s to solve this case.

But even if she finds justice, what’s the price?

I was wondering where the author would take us, after the storyline with Paul, Jill’s father, wrapped up in Blood Ties. This time he tackles an issue that is very much ingrained in our day to day: police discrimination, black lives matter, and corruption. He does so in a way that is incredibly powerful, reminding us that there are so many different people playing in that equation, and that good cops will try to do their job no matter what.

Jill faces up against a powerful opponent: her own superiors. Her own colleagues. When she tries to do her job by the books, hurdles keep getting thrown in her way. Luckily for her, she doesn’t always need to play by those books: her alter ego, Bounty, is used to taking justice into her own hands. And with her secret out to her closest friends, she’s got support from every direction. So why is it still so hard to bring criminals to justice?

I loved how the author tackled current issues: this series still happens to be one of the most diverse ones I’ve ever read, with different PoCs, genders, and sexualities all coming into play – just like in real life. It’s one of the reasons I love the Bounty series so much: it’s one of the most down to earth crime series I’ve ever read, even if the main character is basically a superhero. All the sub plots are great, making me feel like I’m watching a TV show, giving me glimpses into the lives of the minor characters, who each lead very complex lives as well.

However, I feel like it might not have been as good as the other books in the series. The plot was a little more drawn out and there was a little less growth from the characters. Jill’s own development was very impressive, but I didn’t feel as attached as I did in the previous novels. Still, it was a great read which made my commute to and from work something I would look forward to.

All in all, a great new installment of the Bounty series. And I can’t wait for more!

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The Devourers

by Indra Das
Reviewed by SA

The second I read “werewolf” on the first page, I was ready to put this down. Thank god I kept on reading, because this is NOT a werewolf story: no, this novel is something much more. It’s incredible, unique, unforgettable in so many ways. If you’re a fan of indian folklore, and aren’t afraid of some pretty hard topics, then you’re going to need this book right away.

CW/TW: Sexual Assault, Rape. 

Summary27245999

For readers of Neil Gaiman, Margaret Atwood, China Mieville, and David Mitchell comes a striking debut novel by a storyteller of keen insight and captivating imagination.

On a cool evening in Kolkata, India, beneath a full moon, as the whirling rhythms of traveling musicians fill the night, college professor Alok encounters a mysterious stranger with a bizarre confession and an extraordinary story. Tantalized by the man’s unfinished tale, Alok will do anything to hear its completion. So Alok agrees, at the stranger’s behest, to transcribe a collection of battered notebooks, weathered parchments, and once-living skins.

From these documents spills the chronicle of a race of people at once more than human yet kin to beasts, ruled by instincts and desires blood-deep and ages-old. The tale features a rough wanderer in seventeenth-century Mughal India who finds himself irrevocably drawn to a defiant woman—and destined to be torn asunder by two clashing worlds. With every passing chapter of beauty and brutality, Alok’s interest in the stranger grows and evolves into something darker and more urgent.

Shifting dreamlike between present and past with intoxicating language, visceral action, compelling characters, and stark emotion, The Devourers offers a reading experience quite unlike any other novel.

It is the story of Alok, a lonely professor in India, who is approached by a stranger who wants him to type up an old manuscript. It’s the story of Fenrir, the story of Cyrah, the story of the stranger, and the story of Alok, all at once, each one flowing into the other effortlessly.

It was interesting to see the trope of werewolves in such a way. Only they’re not werewolves, they’re shape shifters, but it’s complicated. Their race has a culture, has a history, has rules and dogmas. And it’s so vastly complex it’ll make you rethink any story you’ve heard of them, ever. For it to be set in India only makes it more interesting.

What marked me most about this novel was really how it did deal with rape. Not once is it defined as anything but. The way the novel deals with monsters and man intertwines with this, and heck I don’t want to spoil it, but let’s just say this marked me and will probably be a passage I will never forget.

This novel is complex. Unique. It really is unlike anything else I’ve ever read. The last chapter left me shaking. If you’re looking for something incredible to read, well, you’ve got it.

Comes out today from Random House.

The Dark Side

By Anthony O’Neill
Reviewed by SA

Give me a fantastic Sci Fi any day, and I wont be able to move until I’ve finished reading it. With The Dark Side, I physically could not put it down, or else I would be stuck thinking about it every second until it was in my hands again. This book was gripping, thrilling, clever, and even funny, with such amazing science that I was completely engrossed from page one.

Summary27276286

In this dark and gripping sci-fi noir, an exiled police detective arrives at a lunar penal colony just as a psychotic android begins a murderous odyssey across the far side of the moon.

Purgatory is the lawless moon colony of eccentric billionaire, Fletcher Brass: a mecca for war criminals, murderers, sex fiends, and adventurous tourists. You can’t find better drugs, cheaper plastic surgery, or a more ominous travel advisory anywhere in the universe. But trouble is brewing in Brass’s black-market heaven. When an exiled cop arrives in this wild new frontier, he immediately finds himself investigating a string of ruthless assassinations in which Brass himself—and his equally ambitious daughter—are the chief suspects.

Meanwhile, two-thousand kilometers away, an amnesiac android, Leonardo Black, rampages across the lunar surface. Programmed with only the notorious “Brass Code”—a compendium of corporate laws that would make Ayn Rand blush—Black has only one goal in mind: to find Purgatory and conquer it.

The name Anthony O’Neill is going to soon become synonymous with impeccable world building. This author evokes a rich, complex world that follows the laws of science themselves. As a science geek, I absolutely loved how he infused the novel with the small details: like the large rain you would get in a humid hab on a rock where the gravity is so much lighter. Or the beautiful dust clouds created where the night meets day on the moon’s surface. Those beautiful, evocative details create a believable world you could almost imagine being in.

Not only that, but before each encounter with Leonardo Black, the Android walking the moon just to follow a set of programmed motivationals, the author details the life of the character who’s about to come into play. He shows us what it’s like back on earth, what it is to be a criminal in this near future. What line of thought can bring a person to live on the moon. The complexity of his background characters is astounding, and I honestly think he could write an entire book about each of them.

I myself could have read an entire book about Leonardo Black. This android was hilarious, even in his murderous rampage. His Brass code sounds like something out of the mouth of Donald Trump or Ann Rand. For example, he literally cannot spell surrender. He is motivated by a need to “Find Oz” and “become the wizard.” He’s a psycho, and yet he was my favorite character.

The main plot revolves around an Exiled cop, detective Justus, who’s trying to stop a wave of murders int he city of Purgatory. At first, I didn’t see how this storyline met  with that of Leonardo Black, but it all came together in the end in a really creative way. I loved how it felt like a noir detective novel from the 1950s, only set on the moon in a scientifically accurate future.

This book was pure FUN. I loved it. Think “The Martian” crossed over with a 1950s Noir novel. Fun for fans of thrillers and science fiction alike!

This novel comes out June 28th from Simon & Schuster.

Moxyland

by Lauren Beukes
Reviewed by SA

Prepare yourselves for an insane thrill ride, not for the feint of heart. This novel is everything a science fiction novel should be an more, and you’re going to fall in love with Beukes’s writing. And you’ll probably come out hating humans, but we all need a good dose of that from time to time.

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A frighteningly persuasive, high-tech fable, this novel follows the lives of four narrators living in an alternative futuristic Cape Town, South Africa. Kendra, an art-school dropout, brands herself for a nanotech marketing program; Lerato, an ambitious AIDS baby, plots to defect from her corporate employers; Tendeka, a hot-headed activist, is becoming increasingly rabid; and Toby, a roguish blogger, discovers that the video games he plays for cash are much more than they seem. On a collision course that will rewire their lives, this story crackles with bold and infectious ideas, connecting a ruthless corporate-apartheid government with video games, biotech attack dogs, slippery online identities, a township soccer school, shocking cell phones, addictive branding, and genetically modified art. Taking hedonistic trends in society to their ultimate conclusions, this tale paints anything but a forecasted utopia, satirically undermining the reified idea of progress as society’s white knight.

Moxyland is very character driven. All four characters live in South Africa, and their lives all intersect and their paths cross in interesting ways. And each of them are just so incredibly relatable: they’re all a little hot-headed, maybe entitled, self absorbed, and cynical about the world they live in. Whether they like it or not, they all have an important role to play.

We have Kendra, the artist, who’s trying to be independent: she joins a nanotech research program/marketing scheme, which will change her life forever. There’s Lerato, who’s trying to climb the corporate ladder while still hating the corporations. Ten, a activist who slowly begins to cross the line into terrorism, and Toby, a gamer and blogger who just wants to live his comfortable lifestyle. They all have different views of the world they live in, many too comfortable to do anything to change it, while others may try and do too much. it can all end in tears.

The future that Burkes imagines for South Africa is a very plausible one. Everyone is very dependent on their smart phone, as it carries their identity, their bank account, and will even be used in riot control or police arrests. Losing your phone is being tossed out of society. This, and other cool technologies I won’t spoil for you, made so much sense for the world of tomorrow.

The plot itself is a little complicated to get into at first, to see how everyone fits together, but it grows until a climax that is absolutely heart stopping. Seriously, I could not put this book down. It was so exciting, and terrifying… but no, no spoilers!

The novel is also a bit of a social commentary on us (well, a lot of a social commentary), about the power of consumerism and corporations, about complacency, about giving up our freedoms for perceived comfort. It’s not exactly eye opening, but still an amazing study. It kind of makes you hate us current humans.

For fans of Snow Crash, and cyberpunk, who love classics like Brave New World. This book will leave you breathless.

A new paperback edition comes out 16 Aug 2016 from Mulholland Books.

 

Devotion

by Katika Schneider
Reviewed by SA

It’s self published Saturday again! Yes, twice in a row! This book just came out yesterday and I highly recommend you rush to amazon to pick it up stat. I haven’t reviewed any fantasy in a while, so let me tell you, I am hard to please when it comes to that genre. But I was blown away by Devotion, the debut novel of Katika Schneider, and I thought I absolutely has to tell you about it.

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Demons were nothing but legends…

Or so the young General Nessix Teradhel had always believed. Abandoned by her god and caught in a political trap with her late father’s old comrade, Nessix had barely kept herself together even before these startling reports appeared.

But now Mathias Sagewind, the fabled White Paladin, has arrived on her quiet island nation of Elidae with confirmation of such terrors. Wielding the name of the Mother Goddess and divine strength not seen in years, he is Elidae’s best chance at victory. In the wake of a holy war, Nessix must learn to trust Mathias as he attempts to guide her from a troubled past and protect her from a tragic future.

So, you take Nessix, this badass young woman whose duty is to lead her nation. She’s a general at a young age, but usually her land, Elidae, is a peaceful one, so she’ll have time to ease into it, right? Nope, demons are back, and suddenly this young lady has to lead her people to war. Not to mention the fact that her god has kind of ‘left the building’ (or pretty much the entire world) and she’s got no one to rely on in this new holy war.

Luckily Mathias, the white paladin, has come to her aid. With incredible knowledge and skills (some magical), his help is essential to their survival. He’s fought the demons before, and he knows their weaknesses: his only issue is getting Nes to actually trust him.

Throw in some womanizing neighboring royals (Veed, I’m looking at you!) and Nes’s entourage of war advisors, and you’ve got everything you need for a complex war and some brilliant bickering. Honestly it’s the dialogue I loved the most in this novel: the chemistry between Nes and Mathias on the rocky path to building a bond of trust was both a gripping part of the plot and the source of most of so much snark.

Nes’s character growth (and personal growth) is incredibly well written, and you see her blossom as a warrior and as a leader over the course of her many battles. She really is an amazing character, and goes on the list of ‘ladies in fiction I’d like to hang out with’. If you’re looking for a book with a badass young lady, you’re going to want to read devotion: the decisions she has to make are sometimes heartbreaking.

So if you’re looking for a novel with medieval battles, a war between good and evil, badass young ladies and complex relationships, you’re going to want to read devotion. It’s fun, it’s clever, and it’s epic fantasy. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

Check it out on amazon – here

The Casquette Girls

by Alys Arden

Reviewed by SA

Having read nothing but fast books these days, I wanted a novel I could really ‘sink my teeth into’ (as my grandmother says). I didn’t know what to expect from The Casquette Girls, as I was first drawn in by the gorgeous cover rather than the blurb, but I was amazingly surprised. This novel is a simmering pot of mystery and magic in a setting that will blow you away.

25917801Summary

Seven girls tied by time.
Five powers that bind.
One curse to lock the horror away.
One attic to keep the monsters at bay.

After the storm of the century rips apart New Orleans, sixteen-year-old Adele Le Moyne wants nothing more than her now silent city to return to normal. But with home resembling a war zone, a parish-wide curfew, and mysterious new faces lurking in the abandoned French Quarter, normal needs a new definition.

As the city murder rate soars, Adele finds herself tangled in a web of magic that weaves back to her own ancestors. Caught in a hurricane of myths and monsters, who can she trust when everyone has a secret and keeping them can mean life or death? Unless . . . you’re immortal.

Adele returns to New Orleans after its quasi-total destruction by a hurricane without equal. Nothing is the same: her city looks like something out of an apocalypse film, the people are almost all gone, her best friend moved away and seems to have no plans to ever return, and strange things are happening all around her. Is it possible that she can do… things?

This novel started slow, and yet I was captured all the same. The writing is beautiful and unique: the destroyed New Orleans setting gives it all an eerie, isolated feeling, and I was blown away by its depth. It’s a place of mystery and magic, but also of growing romance, which blossoms from its destruction. That juxtaposition really worked for me.

Adele herself isn’t just kind of sticker character: she’s got a depth that I rarely see in YA novels. She loves her father, her city; she’s smart and sophisticated in many ways, but also still learning, still trying, in others. She’s always caught between two worlds, the sophisticated french side of her mother, and of her new school,  and the down to earth, honest side of her, with comes from her father, and the city where she was raised. And that side is pretty badass.

The other characters are just as interesting. Admittedly, though, at first I had a bit of trouble keeping all their names straight. There definitely are  a whole slew of possible love interest characters.

When I first saw the word Vampires, though, I groaned and almost put the book down. I am not a fan. But I am more than glad I hung in there. The story that arrises is spooky, and takes you back in time to when the city was only just beginning, to the 18th century, and to ancestors with dark secrets.

Magic, mystery, and a twist on an amazing city. What else could you possibly want from a novel? I highly recommend picking it up!

Grave Beginnings

By R.R. Virdi

Reviewed by SA

This week has been crazy! I’ve had my wisdom teeth out, which has made me less productive, which is weird because I thought it would give me more time to read. Thankfully, though, I have JUST the book to recommend to you all: the first book I ever reviewed, or at least, seriously reviewed; a fantastic, self published novel which deserves the spotlight. I’m talking, of course, about the amazing first novel of R.R. Virdi, “Grave Beginnings,” a unique urban fantasy story which grips you and won’t let you go.

Summary

Thirteen…
As far as numbers go, it isn’t a great one. Hell, it’s not even a good one and Vincent Graves is going to find out just how unlucky of a number it can be.
Because someone, or something, is killing people in the Empire state, and whatever it is, it gives people everything they ever desired and more. And it’s the more that’s the problem!
Well…it’s one of the problems.
Vincent’s investigation also seems to have drawn the attention of a relentless FBI agent and then there’s the little bit where he has only thirteen hours to solve the case, or he dies.
Talk about your literal deadlines…
…No pressure.
By the end of this case Vincent will come to understand the meaning of an age old proverb: Be careful what you wish for – because you just might get it!

Full disclosure, I love supernatural detective novels, but I have a hard time finding ones that are actually intelligent books. A lot pander to the reader, and have no true essence, no meat. They start to blend together, becoming boring, repetitive, copies of one another.

Not so for Grave Beginnings. Right from the the beginning, the reader is dragged into the story and clings on tight for the thrill ride. It’s almost impossible to put down – as a matter of fact, I read almost the entire book in one sitting. it’s addicting, catchy, and it’s one of those books you want to shove into your friends hands as soon as you can.

The story centers around a soul who wakes up in the body of a dead man. This soul, Vincent Graves, is somehow caught between this world and the next, and to move on, must solve supernatural murders by inhabiting the recently deceased. The man he is now walking around as – Norman – recently came about an extreme bout of luck, which left him looking younger, thinner, and with a lot more money in his pocket. But it didn’t last long, because something put him in the ground quite soon after. Our hero has thirteen hours to solve his murder, before he must move on again.

Virdi masterfully plays with the myths of the supernatural, introducing us to a whole new host of characters, drawn from the most unlikely of folklore. It’s always great to see a fresh take on the supernatural: too often these days authors limit themselves to taking old myths and making them sexy for a general audience. You won’t find that here – no sexy vampires or werewolves, thankfully! Instead, some intriguing myths that I don’t want to spoil for anyone. Also, gnomes. There are gnomes, and not in the way that you might think.

Graves is a character with a lot of spunk and sass. He’s witty, and sometimes uses pop culture references to help deal with an impossible situation. It makes it a whole lot of fun to read his point of view: as serious and deadly his situation may be, he always has time for a funny remark. It adds so much depth to his character: as weird as it might be for him to be trapped in between bodies like this, he’s still a fascinating person in and of himself.

Seriously, this book should be a TV show. Or a movie. The plot is just so fun, so compelling! Ask anyone who’s read this novel, they’ll all tell you just how much they adored it, or how they devoured it. It’s pure , intelligent, fun. If you like the Dresden files, Supernatural, or Castle, then you’ll adore this novel.

Now here’s the awesome news: it comes out in print TOMORROW. As in, starting tomorrow, you’ll be able to buy this fantastic novel and hold it in your hands; you’ll be able to put it on your bookshelf, sure, but more importantly, you’ll be able to shove it into all of your friends hands. because you know that’s what I’ll be doing.

Sanctuary Bay

By Laura J. Burns & Melinda Metz 

Reviewed by SA

Have you ever read a book that just clicked for you? That defied all expectations, that had you clutching the pages wishing for more, that had your heart pounding so hard your friends and family were worried about you? Every once and a while, a book like that comes into my life. The rare five star reads that make you feel like you need to shout off rooftops. Sanctuary Bay was one of those books for me, and I don’t have enough words in my vocabulary to say how much of a great read it was.

Summary 

When Sarah Merson receives the opportunity of a lifetime to attend the most elite prep school in the country-Sanctuary Bay Academy-it seems almost too good to be true. But, after years of bouncing from foster home to foster home, escaping to its tranquil setting, nestled deep in Swans Island, couldn’t sound more appealing. Swiftly thrown into a world of privilege and secrets, Sarah quickly realizes finding herself noticed by class charmer, Nate, as well as her roommate’s dangerously attentive boyfriend, Ethan, are the least of her worries. When her roommate suddenly goes missing, she finds herself in a race against time, not only to find her, but to save herself and discover the dark truth behind Sanctuary Bay’s glossy reputation.

In this genre-bending YA thriller, Sanctuary Bay by Laura J. Burns and Melinda Metz, Sarah’s new school may seem like an idyllic temple of learning, but as she unearths years of terrifying history and manipulation, she discovers this “school” is something much more sinister.

From what you’ve just read,and by looking at the cover, let me outline what you’re probably thinking: so you have a girl elevated from poverty who’s going to be very snooty about it, a super school where everything is secrets (could they all be wizards? Or secret agents? Or vampires?), there’s going to be an awkward love triangle, maybe some cheating, and then she’s going to be accused of her roommate’s murder and… something. Maybe she’ll go on the run.

WRONG. That’s what I thought when I picked up this novel, and it quickly became obvious that would not be the case. It grew from what looked like a simple premise to something amazing.

Admittedly, the first third of the book felt like it was going to be that way. Sarah is a young woman who’s very mature for her age, who also has an absolute perfect memory: she replays everything that has ever happened to her in her mind, in clear detail, like rewinding a movie. She’s very smart, loves chemistry, but the foster system never really let her have a chance to flourish. Now, with this scholarship, she can have the opportunities she never thought she would have.

Of course, his means rubbing shoulders with some very entitled people. At first, she has this slight superiority complex about the fact that she’s had to work for everything in her life, while her schoolmates have access to $600 designer sweaters. I thought this was going to be annoying, but then someone pointed it out to her, told her to snap out of it, and… And she did. She learned and grew. All of a sudden, this character became real to me, she became someone I could relate to. She was maturing right in front of my eyes. Sarah is a character with depth and determination, and is so incredibly human, even with her strange memory.

True, the relationship drama was annoying, at first. All these people making out in corners and doing much more. School-wide knowledge of every hook up and knots. This annoying guy, Ethan, hanging around Sarah even though he’s with Karina, who seems to love him for no reason (spoilers, there is a reason. Oh gosh there is a reason). Nate, who seems to like her from the start, though Sarah’s not really let any personality shine yet. However, this quickly becomes secondary to the plot, as intriguing things start to happen. What are they doing in the wolfpack? why is everyone remembering their evenings wrong?

What has really happened to her roommate?

And then… you get answers. You get more questions. The last half of the book seems to whoosh by in mere seconds, going from one revelation to another big reveal, which asks so many more questions. I sat there the whole time wondering who I could trust, my theories switching from one minute to the next,  my heart pumping through my chest.

Talk about a roller coaster.

If this is a standalone, then I have questions! If a sequel is coming, what will happen next? I am dying to know. And I am so sorry everyone, because you have to wait until January 19th to get access to this great book! It feels like Shutter Island at times, a thrilling, intriguing book where nothing and no-one is as they seem.

Slade House

by David Mitchell

Reviewed by SA

Seeing as how October is a good month for spooky things, I think it’s a good time to tell you a little about Slade House, and what you’re getting yourself into in picking up David Mitchell’s latest novel. I fully recommend a comfy chair, and a dimly lit room, maybe with a flickering candle for effect, because this book will catch you, draw you in, and keep your heart racing until the end.

Summary

From “one of the most electric writers alive” (The Boston Globe) comes a taut, intricately woven, spine-chilling, reality-warping novel. Set across five decades, beginning in 1979 and coming to its astonishing conclusion on October 31, 2015, Slade House invites readers to experience yet again David Mitchell’s extraordinary imagination.

I’ll try to sum it up for you, without giving anything away: a house that really shouldn’t fit where it is; a strange invitation, where dreams seemingly come true; you’re starting to get suspicious that something is wrong, something isn’t quite normal… and by then, it’s too late.

This novel is incredibly short, something I did not expect coming from the author of “Cloud Atlas.” I had absolutely loved that novel, which is when I jumped when an ARC for Slade House became available. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I was certainly amazed. Like Mitchell’s other novels, at least those that I’ve read, the plot spans decades, stretching across time, and is incredibly complex.

However, this novel repeats the same formula five times: five different people, one every 9 years, starting in 1979, and a trip to the Slade House, a house that doesn’t seem to exist any other time of the decade. Yet, even so, it doesn’t seem to feel repetitive: the author manages to make you relate to the character who you’re now following, even cheer for them, hope that they can get out. Slowly you begin to wonder what’s real and what’s not: is the character now narrating their experience reliable, or not? Who is on their side, and who is under some sort of spell?

A 13 year old, somewhat autistic kid; a recently divorced cop; an overweight university student with a huge crush on a guy in her paranormal  club; a young woman from New York, searching for her sister; and a PhD psychiatrist, who is more than she seems. You follow them into the Slade house… will you follow them back out?

All this builds up at an incredible pace, that is somehow slow enough to create tension, but fast enough to make you feel almost breathless. How did I finish this book so quickly? Is it because I didn’t want to put it down? The slow reveal of “The truth” behind the events, the pieces slowly coming together over the centuries, is actually quite astonishing, and you realize just how brilliant of an author Mitchell is.

Just like Slade house, the reader only pops into existence every 9 years. We just have enough time to access the situation, to figure out who’s our first person narrator (I would like to point out the irony in being in this person’s mind, but I’m sure this will be funnier after you’ve finished reading the novel) and how they are connected to everything else, before their inevitable trip to the Slade house. It’s interesting to follow the evolution over time, how the place has changed, how the people have changed. Time itself seems to be a character in this novel.

Mitchell does seem to like his invented words, however. He sure has a right to. Some, however, felt a little weird, especially at first, in 1979. When they are used, it seems almost like a science fiction novel, rather than the fantasy fiction genre. It was slightly odd, but probably my only qualm about the novel.

If you’re looking for something spooky this halloween, pick up Slade House, on October 27th. it’s a fun, fast read. For fans of “The Bone Clocks”.

Zero World

by Jason M. Hough

Reviewed by SA

I didn’t think I’d find another thrilling science fiction book this summer, but I was proven wrong the second I picked up this amazing novel. Thrilling, intriguing, smart and most of all, fun, this novel rocketed up high on the list of my favorite books of 2015. There’s so much to love about this novel, and if you’re looking for one last book to read this summer, make sure it’s Zero World.

Summary – From Goodreads

Technologically enhanced superspy Peter Caswell has been dispatched on a top-secret assignment unlike any he’s ever faced. A spaceship that vanished years ago has been found, along with the bodies of its murdered crew—save one. Peter’s mission is to find the missing crew member, who fled through what appears to be a tear in the fabric of space. Beyond this mysterious doorway lies an even more confounding reality: a world that seems to be Earth’s twin.
 
Peter discovers that this mirrored world is indeed different from his home, and far more dangerous. Cut off from all support, and with only days to complete his operation, Peter must track his quarry alone on an alien world. But he’s unprepared for what awaits on the planet’s surface, where his skills will be put to the ultimate test—and everything he knows about the universe will be challenged in ways he never could have imagined.

The basic premise of the novel – if it can even be called basic – is what really got me. I hadn’t read the blurb before picking up the book, so it started off as a particularly well written novel about an assassin whose memories are wiped after every mission. Already pretty cool. But only a chapter or two in, they send you into space. Then the author ads the extra dimension of a TWIN EARTH. And then… then it becomes much more. I was, in a word, captivated.

I seriously could not put this book down: I wanted to know everything, about this new world, about the mission. So much happens in such a small amount of time! There’s no time for the novel to slow down, it keeps going strong, against the clock, forcing Peter to push himself to his limits. It’s so fast paced you’ll need running shoes to keep up.

It’s amazing that in such a fast, action packed novel, there is still room for character development. Peter begins as a hardened assassin, but as details of his mission start to change, he does too. It’s almost as if he is an entirely different man from one minute to the next, and the man at the end of the novel is not the man we met at the very start.

Melni, the woman from the alternate earth, is an amazing woman, and develops alongside Peter during the course of this story. She too begins hardened and focused, and in the end, her focus has shifted to a much larger scope than she had started with… though I won’t give you any spoilers there. She is an outcast in this world, but also a talented spy, with firm conviction and amazing skill. I liked moving to her perspective, have her view of Peter to balance with Peter’s view of her world. It was fantastic writing, as you would really tell the difference between whose mind you were in.

The relationship between the two of them just works. There’s a chemistry there – nothing sexual – just a great match and great teamwork. While Peter and Melni didn’t always see eye to eye, they managed to plan (which Peter hates) and get the job done. I am so glad to have read a great book without a weird love story to set it off balance: their relationship only served to add balance to the novel.

But my favorite thins about Zero World isn’t the plot or the characters – as awesome as they are – but the world building. My gosh! Creating this alternate Earth, a new history, with depth, huge events, small events, thinking all the way down to clothes and architecture, even considering the ethnic diversity of the population, and the discrimination! A work of art. The language, however bugged me – why are “shoes” now called “Treadmellows” but “boots” are still boots? It probably shouldn’t bother me, it’s such a small detail. But with all the attention everywhere else, it made me laugh just a little bit.

Now this book also comes with an entire novella, which is awesome as well. But reading on kindle, I was at 75% when the novel ended – I was shocked! I thought it had more to go! I think i even yelled at the book for ending too soon. I may be greedy, but I was more! I’m very excited for the sequel, which I hope comes out soon.

Zero World comes out August 18th. Be sure to pick it up – though I know you’ll never put it down.

On another note, the reason we didn’t write last week was because we both decided to take a week off and spend time with out families. Happy summer everyone!