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.

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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.

The God Virus

by Indigo Voyager 
Reviewed by SA
It’s Self Published saturday! Today, we’ve got an awesome scifi novel from Indie Author Indigo Voyager: The God Virus. What a fascinating novel: pure science fiction at every level. I can’t think of a novel that works its way through every consequence of a premise like this one does. It’s so detailed, complex, and has fantastic characters you’ll love to follow.

Summary29498286

Infected by a DNA-altering virus, Derek and Alessandra develop strange and unnerving superpowers that challenge everything they thought they knew about the world ― allowing them to amass a fortune.

As they fall in love, they battle ruthless criminal mobs bent on harvesting the virus from their brains and intelligence agencies that try to enslave them.

When Derek signs up for an experimental drug treatment, he never expects to have his entire DNA changed. Soon, he’s able to experience out of body travels, and begins to develop abilities that stretch far beyond what is normal. Heck, he isn’t even human anymore…

After Allie contracts these same changes from him, the two of them are suddenly the only two people of their kind, and they’re hunted by everyone who wants to get their hands on this human enhancing ‘drug’. No one is safe: not Derek or Allie, nor their families, their friends… as the two fall in love with each other, they must fight the mob and angry governments in order to keep themselves, and everyone they love, safe from harm.

I can’t decide what I liked best about this book. As a scifi nerd, I absolutely the science behind it all. There was just so much in this book, and small, real sources and facts to back it all up. Do you remember the movie ‘Lucy’? This is how that movie could have succeeded. Humans outgrowing their humanity and becoming something more: backed by (somewhat feasible) science, and a thrilling plot that has you caring for them all the way through, urging them to succeed.

What marked me was, even as Derek and Allie stop being human, they never lose their humanity. They care so much about their families. This determination not only to care for their own, but to make the world a better place along the way, makes them incredibly likable. As they grow into their new abilities, they’re supportive of each other, and work through the hard times together. It makes them both relatable and lovable.

Surprisingly, all the ‘background’ characters have so much depth as well. From the mobster grandfather to the Hawaiian boyfriend, everyone has an intricate story to tell. When they were in trouble, you want to save them as quick as possible; while, when they were happy, you feel energized and excited for them.

The novel also deals with questions such as parallel universes and timelines; building and creating a society or civilization; making big bucks with stocks; Souls and Spirit Realms; and the Russian mob, too. As you can tell, there’s a whole lot going on!

All in all, if you need a good, complex science fiction novel, then you’re going to want to read The God Virus. It’s a fantastic, thrilling story which is incredibly memorable. Scifi fans everywhere are going to want to read more!

Purchase it on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/God-Virus-Indigo-Adventures-Book-ebook/dp/B01CPM6R5M

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Sleeping Giants

by Sylvain Neuvel
Reviewed by SA

Those who know me know that I NEED good science fiction in my life. I need a story that pushes the limits of modern day thinking and make us dream about the possibilities the universe has to offer. When I saw that this novel was compared to The Martian, one of my all time favorite books, I jumped at it, and was no disappointed: Sleeping Giants is a fun, intriguing, fascinating novel that had me hooked from the very first page.

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17 years ago: A girl in South Dakota falls through the earth, then wakes up dozens of feet below ground on the palm of what seems to be a giant metal hand. Today: She is a top-level physicist leading a team of people to understand exactly what that hand is, where it came from, and what it portends for humanity. A swift and spellbinding tale told almost exclusively through transcriptions of interviews conducted by a mysterious and unnamed character, this is a unique debut that describes a hunt for truth, power, and giant body parts.

When a second body part is found almost twenty years later, a team is assembled to figure out exactly what these giant pieces are for, and what on earth it all could possibly mean. A team is assembled, comprised of a physicist, a pair of pilots, a linguist, and a biologist; pieced together by a mysterious, nameless figure who seems to have more power than we could ever possibly know…

Rather than using the usual novel format, the story is told through a collection of oral journal entires, and interviews with the nameless figure. This makes it somewhat complicated to connect with the characters, as everything we know about them is given through dialogue, so there is no direct connection with any of them.

However, this is definitely not a problem: the plot is so compelling, you’re hooked either way. It was a fascinating story from start to finish, with the characters throwing out hypothesis over what this giant could possibly be about as fast as you could. There were twists and turns, some awful moments that make you cringe, some exciting events that make you grip the novel so tight your hands will hurt.

It’s sciency, but not science heavy: perfect for geeks like me, and lovers of robots of all ages. The interview format gives it all a sense of realism, without going too deep into scientific explanations that would have scientist groaning. Instead, there is a lot of speculation, coupled with recent discoveries based on the scientific method.

And it’s rather beautiful, actually. Myths and legend play an important role towards the end, and it’s rather gorgeous how they intertwine with history. Somehow, a novel about a giant buried in pieces across earth manages to be delicate and profound. It’s possibly one of the best science fiction novels I have read in ages, and I’m adding it to my list of favorite books.

For fans of science fiction and myths, this book is gripping and beautiful. Too bad you have to wait until April 26th to read it! Published by Random House.

Also, isn’t that cover just gorgeous?

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.

The Dead House

by Dawn Kurtagich

Reviewed by SA

Halloween may be over a month away, but one of the most thrilling, blood chilling, though provoking thrillers comes out today, September 15th. It’s one of the most maddening books I have ever read: part psychological thriller, part horror story, part ‘found footage’ if you will, The Dead House will have you checking behind you in the mirror, and leaving notes to yourself on purple post its. It’s terrifying… and electrifying.

Summary

Twenty-five years ago, Elmbridge High burned down. Three people were killed and one pupil, Carly Johnson, disappeared. Now a diary has been found in the ruins of the school. The diary belongs to Kaitlyn Johnson, Carly’s identical twin sister. But Carly didn’t have a twin . . .
Re-opened police records, psychiatric reports, transcripts of video footage and fragments of diary reveal a web of deceit and intrigue, violence and murder, raising a whole lot more questions than it answers.
Who was Kaitlyn and why did she only appear at night? Did she really exist or was she a figment of a disturbed mind? What were the illicit rituals taking place at the school? And just what did happen at Elmbridge in the events leading up to ‘the Johnson Incident’?

Carly and Kaitlyn are the same person. Only, they’re not. They may share the same body, but their minds are their own: Carly runs things the day, Kaitlyn the night. They were born like this, two souls sharing a body, and they are used to it. They love each other; they are sisters, after all. They write notes to each other to let them know about their day, to comfort and love the other. Of course, no one can know any of this: they wouldn’t believe them.

And nobody does: after their parents’ death, in an accident they cannot recall, they are places in a mental hospital, where Kaitlyn is repeatedly told she is Carly’s ‘Alter’, that she isn’t real, and that letting go will let her sister heal. Only Kaitlyn is having some problems of her own: hearing voices, seeing things, losing touch…

All this may sound like major spoilers, but it is all established int he first few pages of the book. It’s one of the things that make this novel so compelling: so many stories tucked into one. You have the two sisters in one body; but you also have the question of psychosis, weather any of that is true; and on top of that, the format of the novel, which reminds you there might be more to all this than any one person is seeing.

The novel itself is supposedly the compilation of diary entries, audio and video transcripts, interviews and sessions, all putting in order the events leading up to the looming ‘incident’: a fire that burns down the Elmbridge school, taking the lives of three people and injuring many others. Kaitlyn being the main suspect, it is her life is being pieced together: but how much of it are her real fears, and how much is just the ravings of a lunatic?

That’s what kept me reading the novel with such intensity: the what if. There was a sense, as you read this novel, that really nothing is as it seems. Is our narrator reliable or not? I’d like to say yes, but if I am wrong, then the repercussions on the story are endless. As the other characters join into Kaitlyn’s life, after certain events force her secret to be known to few, the plot becomes more intriguing as the suspect pull grows. The reader is constantly left wondering what is real, what is fake, who can be trusted, and who is not as they seem.

The format that makes the story so varied was a bit of a pain to read, at least in the edition I had. It took a little while to get used to, and I didn’t think it worked at first, especially the video recaps. (I mean, video in written form?). I either got used to it, or it really started working, because it stopped bothering me so much.

While Kaitlyn seemed so read as a character, written with such depth and dimension, that she brought the horror to life, some of the other characters felt a little flat. Anybody outside of Kaitlyn’s head, practically, except maybe Naida. Possibly because everything is either seen a) through Kaitlyn’s eyes, and she doesn’t always like people or b) by transcribing footage, which is impersonal or emotionless. I guess I can’t really blame the book for that!

But this is by far the spookiest book I’ve read in YA, by far. So many questions. Not enough answers! The ending had me clutching my e-reader in anticipation. I had to keep resetting my machine to make sure there weren’t any more pages left.

The Dead House comes out today in the USA. If you want something to keep you up at night, I definitely recommend it.

Charlie, Presumed Dead

by Anne Heltzel

Reviewed by SA

This book was really nothing like I expected. I went into it expecting a bit of a friendship romp, a world tour with maybe some adventurous aspects, maybe a bit of a mystery: I came out of it shivering, terrified, my heart pounding and my hands trembling. Fair warning: this is much more than just a novel. It will psychologically leave you paranoid and feel like a dagger to your gut, letting you die slowly. And craving more, of course!

Synopsis

When his Cessna breaks apart and explodes over the north sea, the only thing left is a bloody jacket. The pilot, Charlie Price, is presumed dead. His funeral in paris is a small affair, attended only by close family, friends, and his two girlfriends. Neither know of the other’s existence until now: Lena Whitney, a rich, smart blonde who had been dating him three years, and Aubrey Boroughs, an artist who just graduated high school, who has known him, and dated him long distance, for a year, both realize that Charlie had been lying to them… and probably about a lot more than just the other’s existence. There is a whole lot they don’t know about Charlie Price, and it’s time they get some closure and answers. Together they must take a mind-bending trip across the planet: first in London—then in Mumbai, Kerala, and Bangkok, the girls go in search of Charlie. Is he still alive? What did their love for him even mean? And what secrets are they both concealing from each other?

While written very similarly, Aubrey and Lena have very distinct personalities. I liked their interactions, and the bond that began to form through the novel. Understanding what kind of person they are, and if they can trust the other, is a huge struggle for them, but it leads to immense personal growth (at least for one of them) which is surely needed after being dragged along by a man like Charlie. Though I didn’t personally like either of them, I didn’t mind much in this novel, because I was more interested in their path to understanding.

Who even is this Charlie, anyways? The man is slowly revealed through the women’s stories, but also through short tidbits from his mind, short flashbacks the other lets us glimpse. As this is what really impressed me the most in this novel: how much this Charlie can surprise you. He’s one man with one woman, another with the other, and he has some serious, serious problems. Now this blog is spoiler free, that is a promise, so I won’t let you know what we discover about Charlie: but the slow buildup is intriguing, and incredibly disturbing.

It was exciting to see the world through the lens of these two traveling women! Paris is brought to life in front of your eyes – and I could quickly determine that the author was reliable in her descriptions, seeing as how I’m partially french – and then we move down to India, to Thailand… you’re not doing to tourist destinations! It was gorgeous and exciting. You see a side of the world not many get to see, led by Lena, a world traveler, and accompanied by Aubrey, who experiences things for the first time, like us.

The secrets part I was annoyed about. The characters kept saying to themselves “I can’t the other know… my secret” and it felt a little weird, a little uncomfortable. When Aubrey’s secret was revealed, however, I was a little disappointed: It was a bit of a let down. Many things that were pumped up in the book let me down a little when revealed.

In the same way, some of the things seemed a little too easy, too coincidental (though I realize now this has something to do with the ending).  When the girls moved easily from one place to the next, it made some parts of the novel feel a little dull, honestly. But hang in there! The ending itself is a roller coaster, and it really destroyed me on the inside. We neeeeeeeeed a sequel! The way the book slowly warped from girl trip, to girls bonding, to HOLY HECK PSYCHOLOGICAL THRILLER, was actually pretty masterful. And so incredibly disturbing.

This book was nothing as expected… it will blow your mind.

Check out Charlie, Presumed Dead on Goodreads and Amazon.

Haterz

By James Gross

Reviewed by SA

The internet; a place where news pours out in abundance and people around the world are connected 24/7.  Haterz is one of those novels that really captures the internet as a snapshot: everything it is now, full of social media drama, twitter wars, the good, the bad, and the reviled. A place where trolls lurk and haters hate, hate, hate. Haven’t you sometimes wished that they would all go away? That they would get what was coming to them? Then get ready for Haterz, a unique novel you cannot possibly put down, a Dexter for every internet addict.

A Summary from Haterz’s Goodreads page Is there someone online who really grates on you? That friend who’s always bragging about their awesome life and endlessly sharing tired memes, and who just doesn’t get jokes? Look at your Twitter feed: don’t you get cross at the endless rage, the thoughtless bigotry and the pleading for celebrity retweets? Meet Dave, a street fundraiser and fan of cat pictures. He’s decided that unfollowing just isn’t enough. He’s determined to make the internet a nicer place, whatever it takes. When he killed his best friend’s girlfriend, he wasn’t planning on changing the world. She was just really annoying on Facebook. But someone saw, and made him an offer. Someone who knows what he’s capable of, and wants to use him to take control of the darkness at the heart of the internet. And now the bodies  (the comment trolls, the sexual predators, the obnoxious pop stars) are starting to mount up…

Oh yes, there will be murder and mayhem, mark my words for it. I have to put the warning here somewhere: yes, there are parts that are absolutely gruesome. Not for the squeamish or faint of heart either, because, well… they are intense. Alright, warning over, let’s get back to the fun.

We have Dave; chugger by day, common internet user with hacking experience, and suddenly, a murderer too. And now, some mysterious group on the internet wants him to keep the momentum going, and take on a few tasks of their own design. Quickly, Dave is caught up in an enormous internet conspiracy with tendrils that reach who knows where. And would you really call him a serial killer if he’s freeing the world of the people he goes after?

You may already have read (or seen) James’ Gross‘ work: he has written Doctor who and Torchwood novels (and radio plays). This really reflects in Haterz, as it seems almost like a TV show in itself. It is a serial novel (fun for a serial killer!) if you want to call it that, with Dave taking on marks and wrapping up missions in an episodic fashion. The challenges slowly become more elaborate and difficult as it goes on, going from minor murders to more difficult missions (such as public humiliation, shedding the truth, delivering sharp messages to the world/the internet as a whole) as time progresses. Each can almost be read as their own, self contained storyline, with the underlying arc of the plot sweeping silently underneath.

What isn’t there to love about a good murder? About deeply flashed out and thought through plans which could or could not work? There was no predictability in the plot – you never see what’s coming around the next corner or twist. It all ramps up to a fantastically exciting ending, which I would not dare spoil. Call it wish fulfillment, because every mark is so incredibly familiar to internet users, from every corner of this crazy place.  Big internet egos with a huge presence online who you just want gone: you have phony charity runners; the deceitful ebook writers;  dangerous teenage fangirls; bloggers, and pirates, and trolls… A bit of a cathartic experience is you ask me.

As twisted as these missions are, you just can’t help but get attached to Dave and see his point of view. A novel truly for the internet age, Haterz is a unique – and amazingly fun – novel to read. I recommend it to anyone who (like me) spends way too much time on the internet, who loves a good murder, and for whom a creative plan can really get the brain going. And TV adaptation would be quite fun if we ever get to see it!

The Girl With All the Gifts

by M.R. Carey

Reviewed by SA

This book may be impossible to review without giving away too much or spoiling it, but I am going to try, because this is one that I really enjoyed, and want you to read it to, experiencing it spoiler free, like I did. I am warning you that I may be deliberately vague in areas to ensure I don’t ruin it!

I only had a Goodreads summary to go by when i picked this book up, but it was enough to make me read it. Let me tell you, it was nothing like I expected just going by its looks, but it was so much more. It was one of those books that was so mesmerizing, so compelling, great by its unpredictability.

17235026“Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class. When they come for her, Sergeant Parks keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don’t like her. She jokes that she won’t bite, but they don’t laugh.” – Goodreads Summary

Doesn’t tell you much, does it?

Melanie is our main character, a young girl of undetermined age (around ten?) who lives her life in routine, going to school, sitting in her room, going to school, sitting in her room – every day, the same thing, over and over again, for as long as she can remember. She loves school, loves to learn about the world that she has never seen, and above all, loves her teacher, Miss Justineau.

Both of their lives are going to be thrown upside down. Over, and over again.

The story centers around four main characters – Melanie, this ‘gifted’ girl; Miss Justineau, her teacher; Sergeant Parks; and Dr. Caldwell. Each has different intentions at heart, and as their lives are thrown together, they are tested in ways they could never have expected.

At the first twist of the novel, my initial thought was ‘oh no, it’s THAT kind of novel!’ but that thought was quickly dismissed for ‘wait… this is INCREDIBLE’. I had no problem with the new genre, as it defied every trope I knew. (Yes, vague, but I’m trying to allow you to enjoy this novel like I did.)

I love science, and one thing I hate is when novels use ‘science’ to explain what really fails to stand up on its own. Science fiction is at its best when it doesn’t over explain. Carey has somehow managed to write a novel that takes an old trope and makes it new, WHILE using science to support the concept. I absolutely loved it.

This novel combines so many genres, plays on so many ideas, while remaining simple at its core. It’s both an amazing thriller, a gripping horror, and a thoughtful science fiction. I highly recommend it to loves of apocalyptic novels (though it isn’t one, technically, but hey, deliberately vague here). However, I warning for those who hate gore, violence, and language. There is a bit of everything.