MERITROPOLIS by Joel Ohman – On Sale For A Limited Time

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In Meritropolis everyone is assigned a numerical Score that decides their worth to society and whether they live or die. After a young boy is killed because of a low Score, his brother plots to take down the System.
Sounds good, right? Well, this exciting YA Dystopia is on sale for just 99 cents Thursday, November 27 through Monday, December 1. You can pick up your copy on Amazon.
To celebrate, we are offering a giveaway for an autographed copy and a $100 Amazon gift card—hooray!
Check out this interview with Joel Ohman, the author of the book critics are calling, “The Hunger Games meets The Village with a young Jack Reacher as a protagonist”, then scroll to the end of this post to learn more about the giveaway. Happy reading, and good luck!

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Reader Interview with Joel Ohman

Who or what was your inspiration to write about post-apocalyptic, dystopian sci-fi?

I’ve read a lot in this genre, so I would say it’s a mix of a lot of different things. I really just wanted to explore this question of, “What gives a person worth?” Is it their usefulness to society? Is it because someone loves them? Is it because of how they look? Is it because of their health or ability? As a Christian, I believe that all people have worth, because they are made in the image of God. I wanted to explore some different takes on this question. I think that the post-apocalyptic/dystopian/sci-fi genre was the best vehicle to tackle some of those deep philosophical questions in a fun and interesting way.

Why do you write? Is it for fun, or because you have something you need to say in your writing?

Some writers are loath to say their writing has a message, because maybe they think doing so diminishes their art (not true, in my opinion), but I think that everyone has a message in their writing, even if they aren’t as consciously focused on it—and that’s a good thing. My message is in my epigraph: “Because everyone matters – Psalm 139”.

Why the title Meritropolis?

I wanted a short one word title that was a clever—or at least semi-clever—play on two different words. I like “Meritropolis” because it combines “Merit” and “Metropolis,” two words that are great for describing a city where each resident’s worth is measured by a score given to them.
In Meritropolis how were the animal combinations decided upon? For example, I know you chose to write about a bion (bull-lion), as well as many other freaks of nature. So what I want to know is how did you decided which animals to meld together and why.
I have a big list of animal combinations that I came up with before I began writing the book, and I tried to work in as many as I could. Sometimes the only criteria was that I liked the way the name sounded. Look for many more in the following books!
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Can you tells us about your characters and who/what inspired them?

I am a big believer in John Truby’s approach to building a “character web”, because this deepens the relationships between characters and helps to make each of the characters more complex. Absent building a good character web, it can be all too easy to fall into the not-very-true-to-real-life good-person/bad-person false dichotomy where your protagonist devolves into this I-can-do-no-wrong character and your antagonist is just pure evil. I was very much aiming to show the imperfections and brokenness in each of the characters. My thinking as a Christian influences this to some degree, given that the Bible teaches that we are all essentially the same; we are all sinners—only God is perfect.

Do you have a favorite genre that you like to read?

I read pretty much everything! Fiction, non-fiction, you name it! I am of the opinion that, as an author, I can learn something from almost every kind of writing. Sometimes, it most definitely is a matter of learning what not to do—but, on the whole, I love to read a wide variety of writing styles, genres, etc.
Are there any books that have inspired your own writing?
I read A LOT so there are many different things that have shaped my writing over the years, but I wouldn’t say there was any particular book, or books, that I was consciously looking to for inspiration while writing Meritropolis. Looking back though I can definitely see different threads of influence in almost everything I have read over the years that contribute toward making Meritropolis what it is: the strong protagonist of Lee Child’s Jack Reacher series, the philosophical bent of C.S. Lewis’ fiction, the dystopian setting of Hugh Howey’s WOOL series, and many more.

Are there any authors that have emerged in the last three years that have caught your interest?

Hugh Howey is an author that I really like that has caught my attention lately. I would highly recommend his WOOL series!

Don’t forget!
Meritropolis is marked down from its regular price of $5.99, but only for a limited time. Feed your Kindle by picking up a discounted copy for just 99 cents, but make sure you do it before December 2!

Now enter the giveaway
Don’t see the Rafflecopter widget on my blog? Visit http://www.novelpublicity.com/meritropolis.

MY REVIEW OF MERITROPOLIS

METROPOLIS by Joel Ohman

This book is a dystopian fantasy novel packed with action and drama.

The Event has devastated the world. At 3 years AE (After Event) there were 50,000 citizens of Meritropolis. A system was devised to help them to survive and all the reaidents had agreed to the new system. If the number of residents exceeded 50,000, then someone must be “zeroed”. This meant being put outside the gates to try to survive on their own. “Of course, being zeroed was just a euphemism for being killed, since no one could survive long outside the gates. Not at night, and not for long, anyway.” It was usually the elderly who had already lived a long life, or a sickly child who would likely not have a “productive future,” who were zeroed.

Everyone is assigned a numerical merit score which designates their worth to society. These scores also determine whether they live or die. The reason for this system was simple. The inhabitants of Meritropolis believed that the needs of the many outweighed the good of the few.

However, it is now AE12 and the current teenagers are rebelling against the system. When the original agreement had been reached, these current teenagers had been too young to understand the consequences.

Commander Orson now has the highest merit score of anyone in the city and because of this, he is in charge of Meritropolis. It had been his father who had initially instituted the System.

Charley’s parents had been killed in The Event and he was left with only his brother, Alec. Alec had down syndrome and when Charley was 8, Alec had been taken away by the guards and zeroed in a gate ceremony. It was that day that “had planted a dark little seed in Charley. And that seed had been tended carefully and quietly over the past nine years.” Charley has a high score of 118.

Children stay in the underground dorms until they reach adulthood.

Charley decides to try to stop a gate ceremony for a young girl and ends up living in the high score dorm.

It is there that he starts to discover the secrets that keep Meritropolis running.

It is now up to him and to his fellow high scores to decide if they will live a life of luxury and plenty at the expense of those with low scores, or if they will find a way to fight the system.

How do you decide? Is it better to protect yourself and your closest friends? Or is it better to put your life on the line in hopes of making life better for everyone?

Joel Ohman has managed to create a complex and diverse world that will appeal to all lovers of dystopian fiction.

This is an engrossing and gripping thrill ride that will keep you reading long into the night and will stay with you long after reading the final page.

The cliff hanger ending will leave you wishing that book two was already available. I know that I will be impatiently awaiting it’s publication.

I rate Meritropolis as 5 out of 5 stars
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THE CITY CENTER by Simone Pond

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The City Center by Simone Pond

THE CITY CENTER By: Simone Pond

This book won a Gold Medal for Dystopian Fiction.

Dystopian fiction has gained popularity over the past few years and authors are churning out books by the thousands. The problem with this popularity is that with such a glut of books available it is difficult to find one that is truly original. Well, look no further. ‘The City Center’ is a rare gem of originality.

‘The City Center’ takes place three hundred years into the future in a utopian city where genetic engineering is the norm and people have never been exposed to actual sunlight. The city is located on the California coast and is encased in an air and light-tight dome.

City residents live in a reality of blissful ignorance. Microchips implanted in them at inception (not birth, since natural births no longer occur) tell the city’s residents what to think and when. Mood enhancers are sprayed into the air to keep the citizens content and docile.

Ava Rhodes is one of twelve young women who were created to take over the Royal Court at the age of 18. One of these young ladies will become Queen and the others will receive positions such as Duchess or Countess. There are also 12 male Successors, each paired with one of the females since inception.

Simone Pond has imagined a complex society with fascinating technologies. No detail is left out. There is even a “dark market” where city residents can buy such things as a download of classic movies. Since all screen viewing is carefully selected propaganda, the ownership of these old movies is illegal (even if it is only considered a minor offense.)

Ava has always been just a little bit different from the other Successor candidates. Her designated partner is a pompous jerk who insists that Ava has a “glitch”. Sometimes she can’t help but think he is right.

With Graduation Day fast approaching, Ava knows that her life will soon change dramatically and she knows that what little freedom she now enjoys will be a thing of the past.

A chance encounter with a handsome and mysterious ‘Outsider’ leads Ava to start questioning her world.

The question is what can she do about it? And, does she really want to do anything about it? Should she leave the city to try to discover the truth? Or should she remain and accept the status quo?

Ava has some big decisions to make, or maybe not. Those decisions just might be made for her.

Once you learn what lies at the sinister heart of the City Center, you will be shocked and appalled. From that point on it is impossible to put this book down.

‘The City Center’ is a fast paced, thrilling read that will keep you on the edge of your seat.

Ava Rhodes is an excellent heroine. Personable and real, you can’t help wanting to root for her.

I was very impressed with the sophistication of the writing in this book. Simone Pond is definitely an author worth watching.

This tale is full of imagination, interesting ideas, intellect and intrigue. It is a must read for all lovers of dystopian fiction.

To find out more about this author and her books, visit her online at: http://www.simonepond.com

My rating for this book is an enthusiastic 5 out of 5 stars.

I will be starting on the second book in this series immediately

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Burn The Dead by Steven Jenkins

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BURN THE DEAD by Steven Jenkins

Rob is an ordinary guy. He has a wife named Anna and a four year old son named Sammy . Rob is a typical blue-collar shift-worker. He hates his job, but does it anyway in order to put food on the table and a roof over the heads’ of his family.

Rob works at Romkirk Ltd. as a Burner. His boss is a jerk but Rob tries to grin and bear it and just get his job done.

As a “Burner” it is Rob’s job to burn zombies. They arrive in body bags, and inside the bags they are restrained and muzzled. All Rob has to do is throw the bag in the furnace and push the ‘start’ button.

He’s not supposed to open the bags. He’s not supposed to look at what is left of the infected person, but he just can’t help himself. He always looks.

Then, Rob’s worst nightmare comes true. He opens one of the bags and inside he finds his wife. He can’t believe what he is seeing. How did she get infected? She was nauseous the night before, but he never suspected that she was turning into a zombie.

His heart leaps into his throat and all he can think about is his son. Where is Sammy? Is he safe? Will Rob be able to reach him before the same horrible fate befalls his son?

This is the story a man’s quest to find and save his son.

I have a love/hate relationship with zombie fiction. i find that most zombie books follow the same storyline (just with different characters). ‘Burn The Dead’ is written from a unique perspective.

I love the sense of urgency the author makes the reader feel. Even readers who do not have children can relate to the anguish of a father searching for his missing child.

I love the fact that the story is set in a unique environment. It is not a typical zombie apocalypse. I don’t want to give too much away, but every person who thinks they know zombie fiction needs to read this book.

This is an action packed read that will keep you up at night. The range of emotions I experienced while reading it ranged from anxiety to terror to absolute mirth.

There are times when you will laugh, times when you will want to cry, times when you will be absolutely terrified, but at all times you will want to keep reading.

This is one of the best, if not THE best zombie fiction books I have read in a LONG time.

This book deserves 6 stars. You will not be disappointed if you spend your hard earned money on this book.

I am now definitely a fan of Steven Jenkins.

You can buy this book online in the USA at: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00KX9LXD6?ie=UTF8&at=aw-iphone-pc-us-20&force-full-site=1&ref_=aw_bottom_links

In Canada at: http://www.amazon.ca/Burn-Dead-Steven-Jenkins-ebook/dp/B00KX9LXD6/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1416767395&sr=1-1&keywords=Burn+the+Dead

For more information about this author, visit him online at: http://www.steven-jenkins.com

* I received a free ebook copy of ‘Burn The Dead’ in exchange for a fair and honest review.*

The Intellectual Toolkit of Geniuses by I.C. Robledo

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THE INTELLECTUAL TOOLKIT OF GENIUSES: 40 Principles That Will Make You Smarter and Teach You to Think Like a Genius
By: I.C. Robledo

* I received a free ebook copy of this title in exchange for a fair and honest review.*

This is a short book (only 37 pages) that outlines 40 principles of how geniuses think. The author believes that if people follow these principles, that these same people can learn to think like a genius.

The author states, “Ask what you would teach if you were in charge of the school system,” and he makes an interesting point. He is correct in stating that schools just teach students to read and then regurgitate facts. Students are rarely taught the “why” behind those facts. This is a fundamental flaw in the current educational system.

The author makes some interesting observations and in general I believe his list of principles are sound.

“Great geniuses do not make excuses. They are prepared to put in the work and learn on their own if required.”

RATING:

Overall I think this short book is an interesting and informative read. Most of the advice offered by the author is intelligent and well thought out.

This book deserves a rating of 4 out of 5 stars and is worth reading.

It’s length is such that anyone and everyone should be able to find the time to read it in it’s entirety in a single day.

“Intelligence can be improved, depending on how you choose to use your brain.”

The Valentine Circle by Reinaldo DelValle

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THE VALENTINE CIRCLE
By: Reinaldo DelValle

* I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. *

SYNOPSIS

The story takes place in the city of Boston in the year 1885.

Silas de San Michel awakes inside the closet of a ship in Boston Harbor. He has no memory of who he is or how he came to be on that ship. He isn’t even sure his name is Silas, but since it is stitched inside his clothing, he figures that must be correct.

Taken in by a Boston detective, he quickly finds himself recruited by the woefully understaffed Boston Police Department.

He becomes involved in investigating a series of strange deaths of the city’s elite citizens. Pregnant young women are dying, their babies cut from their wombs.

A powerful group called the Valentine Society controls the police and what Silas doesn’t know is that the murder victims also belong to the same secret society.

As he struggles to regain his memory, he must also try to solve the murders that have already occurred and try to prevent more people from dying horrific deaths and to protect more innocent babies from falling victim to this insidious evil.

WHAT I LIKED:

This book is very well written and skillfully draws the reader in. The plot is very complex and could easily have become confusing, but author Reinaldo DelValle has managed to make the story flow seamlessly.

*Potential Spoiler Alert*

Silas meticulously builds his case against the murderer and discovers a vast conspiracy that spans several decades. The way in which each small clue is uncovered guarantees that the reader will feel the intensity of being on the trail of the killer.

When the truth about what is happening within The Valentine Circle is finally revealed, readers will be shocked and amazed.

The hints of romance between Silas and Lucy and between Silas and Posy are charmingly done.

Posy’s character was one of my favorites. In the year 1888 women are seen as the property of their husbands and they are expected to be demure, to aspire only to motherhood and to do everything in their power to please their husbands. Posy is not that type of woman. She loves her job as a Boston Police Detective and her hobby is fencing. During this time period fencing was not considered appropriate for women, but Posy disregards that fact and she excels at the sport.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. There are so many elements to this book that it would give too much away for me to list all the reasons this book is so good.

The details of the lives of the pregnant girls shows a side of their world that is rarely seen. The reader will empathize with their situation rather than despise them for their opulent lifestyles. To achieve this takes an author with skill and skill is something that Reinaldo DelValle has plenty of.

The ending of this book is terrific. It gives just enough information to intrigue the reader and leave them wanting to read the next book immediately.

RATING:

I give this book a rating of 5 out of 5 stars. It is well worth reading and I have a feeling that we will be hearing a lot more from this author in the future.

This book rates up there with books such as “The DaVinci Code”.

I recommend this book to readers ages 18 and up. Younger readers may be bothered by the shocking violence and brutality of the murders as well as some of the other adult oriented scenes.

I suggest to potential readers that you only begin this book when you have at least a few hours available. This book is so full of intrigue and surprises that you will not want to put it down.

‘The Valentine Circle’ is riveting and suspenseful and full of characters that readers will want to know more about. I hope to read more of the adventures of Silas de San Michel in the near future.

The Night of Elisa by Isis Sousa

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THE NIGHT OF ELISA
By: Isis Sousa

I was provided with a free illustrated copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

The Night of Elisa is a dark tale written for an adult audience of ages 16+.

This book contains 30 pencil sketches throughout the book. The sketches are very well and add to the dark appeal of this novella.

From the Goodreads Description:

“Sometimes, life and love can follow the most obscure paths, just as they did for Elisa. Her life becomes a dark, cold, lonely cage the day the devil takes her as his wife. He robs her of almost everything she holds dear: her health, her wealth and what is left of her family.

Trapped between the nuances of life and beyond-life, Elisa finds herself struggling for a better tomorrow. With her health deteriorating, how will she summon the courage and strength to stand her ground? And how far will she go in the pursuit of a dream?”

This book takes place in the Victorian era in two very different settings. Some scenes take place in the living world and others take place in “Duskland.”

This book is definitely unique and I enjoyed reading it, but it is also very short.

If you are looking for a quick read with a gothic flair, you will enjoy “The Night of Elisa.”

I give this book 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Still Me by Amy Patrick

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STILL ME
By Amy Patrick
(A 20 Something Novel)

I received a signed paperback copy of this book through the Goodreads Author Giveaway program.

Kenley Moran thought she had her life planned out. She gave up
her on-air news job for the man she planned to marry. Just weeks before her big, society wedding, she was dumped for another woman and found out that her fiancé had been cheating on her. After that Kenley had to decide what direction she wanted her life to take.

From a young age her mother has pushed her to use her looks to land a rich husband. In fact, at the beginning of the book, her mother wants her to forgive her fiancé and take him back.

Until now Kenley has always been the dutiful daughter. Even taking a job as an on-air reporter because she was told that with her looks that was where she belonged. However, she has decided to shun all that and go into production instead.

She has vowed to only date poor guys and to not wear make-up or designer clothes. She plans to prove to everyone (especially herself) that she does not need to rely on her looks to succeed.

Larsen Overstreet is everything that Kenley has sworn to avoid. He’s gorgeous. He’s rich and he comes from “old money”.

He is the on-air anchor of the news show Kenley works for and despite her best intentions, she can’t help but be attracted to him.

Larsen is sick of being sought after because of his money. He wants a real woman, one who will love him for him. He finds Kenley attractive and nice and would love to date her, but she shows no interest in him at all.

Will Kenley allow past heartbreak to keep her from finding happiness in the future? Or, will she be able to get over her heartbreak and give Larsen a chance? And, if she does give him a chance, will he turn out to be just another spoiled rich kid?

This is the third book in the 20 Something series, but each book contains a stand alone story.

To be honest I was not expecting much from this book. I figured that it would be just a fluffy distraction that would be a fun but ultimately forgettable read. However, I must admit that I was wrong. The story is fun and and fluffy and predictable but it is also very well written.

Amy Patrick has perfectly captured and transferred onto the page that ‘butterflies in the stomach’ type of feeling that comes with the anticipation of a first kiss.

She has also done a truly exceptional job of capturing the depth of feeling and the passion felt at the outset of a woman’s first real sexual encounter; one that is not merely based on lust, but on something deeper.

She was able to describe and make the reader feel the intensity of emotion that a woman experiences in her twenties of uncertainty, excitement and anticipation about her future.

Another feature of this book that I consider noteworthy is the fact that the “sex” scenes are not graphic at all, and in fact, they leave the majority of the details to the reader’s imagination. This is refreshing. It proves that a book can be sexy without having to be either crude or exceedingly graphic.

Normally I do not rate romance novels any higher than 4 out of 5 stars, I reserve 5 star ratings for those books that I would recommend to my friends and that I believe are memorable.

STILL PERFECT by Amy Patrick deserves a 5 star rating not so much for the plot but for it’s amazing ability to convey emotion. This is a fun and feel-good read.

I will definitely be reading more of Amy Patrick’s books and I highly recommend this book to all female readers from the age of 16 and up.

More information about this author at http://www.amypatrickbooks.com

Buan: The Perfect Mortals by Reece Bridger

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BUAN: THE PERFECT MORTALS by Reece Bridger.

I received a free ebook copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.

This book is in dire need of a professional proof reader/ editor. I found a multitude of typos and extra words that were unnecessary and distracting.

The story itself is complex and the setting is detailed enough to maintain the reader’s interest.

The plot centers around the four Harmon siblings.

Description from Goodreads:

“During a ceasefire of a war that has taken more lives than could be considered just, there are shadows of betrayal and deceit lurking in the rays of the morning sun. Something is lingering on the horizon, and it’s hell-bent on destruction, despair and death.

Whatever it may be, it’s driven the Goddess to some very desperate measures.

Life for the Harmon siblings has been hard enough, but now they face responsibilities that they never asked for. They never asked for power. They never asked for a world of monsters. They never asked to come face-to-face with demons, the corrupted of their own people, or their own mortality.

But that is just what they will have to do. They are the chosen heroes of Cornelia, the final hope for order and sanity, the last line of defence against the darkness.

They are the Buan.”

The description of this book makes it sound much better than it actually is. However the fact that the author is only 20 years old can account for the generic plot.

I did enjoy the idea of the four siblings each receiving powers that coincide with their personalities.

If this book had a better editor and proofreader I would have given it an additional star. However, I found it very distracting that almost every page contains at least one error.

The second book in this series dies sound interesting and perhaps with more experience under his belt, the author will be more concise and careful in his execution of the sequel.

I rate this book as 2.5 out of 5 stars.

Bloodflow by Kevin Paul Tracy

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BLOODFLOW by Kevin Paul Tracy

I received a paperback copy of this book through the Goodreads Giveaway program. http://www.goodreads.com/giveaway

This is A Kathryn Desmarais Gothic Mystery.

Kate is an Investigator for the prestigious private investigation firm of Triple-I. She lives and works in New York City.

When her cranky boss gives her an assignment to help locate and purchase an antique coffin from a man named Mr. Darkthorne, she assumes the job will be quick and boring.

However, that turns out to be very wrong.

Kate breaks into Darkrhorne’s penthouse apartment and is unable to find the coffin. But what she does find is both mysterious and alarming.

Somehow Kate has become involved in a centuries old war between a vampire and the man who seeks to destroy him at any cost.

It is dangerous game the two men are playing and Kate becomes collateral damage.

Will she fight on the side of righteousness or will she be seduced into becoming the dark vampire’s queen and lover?

This story is well written and moves along quickly.

While there are a multitude of vampire novels on the market, this one actually offers a fresh take on the subject.

Kate is a flawed and fierce character who readers will love. The hapless Mikhail will remind readers of their first puppy-type love and Sam comes across as the man every woman dreams pf finding.

This book does a terrific job of blending the gothic with the modern. The battle scene is well written and I loved the way the author chose to conclude the story.

I am sure there will be more Kathryn Desmarais Gothic mysteries coming soon and I will definitely be reading them as they are released.

There were a few typos in the finished novel such as calling Mr. Darkthorne, “Mr. Darthorne” but other than that I thoroughly enjoyed this novel.

I rate it as 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Frend by Jonathan R Miller

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FREND by Jonathan R. Miller
(Book Not Yet Released – Publication Date is 2015)

I was the lucky recipient of a paperback ARC (Advance Reader Copy) of this book from the Goodreads Giveaway program at http://www.goodreads.com/giveaway

Firstly, I have to mention the cover. It is gorgeous. It is mysterious, exotic and artistic and makes you curious as to what the book contains. In my opinion this is perfect. It accomplishes exactly what a great book cover should.

From the book cover:

“After suffering a traumatic event that lands her in the hospital, Anomie makes a decision: She’s finished with the human race.”

I love the quote at the beginning that states: “After all, one of the best distractions from one’s own suffering is to bask in the suffering of others, particularly when it exceeds one’s own. It’s a simple reminder that things aren’t as bad as they could be, at least not yet.”

Isn’t that one of the reasons we read fiction and watch movies and television shows? We watch to escape our reality for a while and immerse ourselves in someone else’s world. FREND is the perfect outlet for this and while I am aware that this book is fiction, it also has the ring of prophecy to it.

Imagine being talked into becoming a FREND – A Finite Robotics Enhanced Neurosensory Development, to basically become a robot with a human brain.

This concept is not new and I was expecting a typical robot/human tale where she discovers that she is still human inside despite her outer shell and of course she would fall in love with a human who doesn’t care that she is made of plastic and metal. Blah! Blah! Blah! I was pleasantly surprised that this was not the case. FREND takes off in a completely new and unexpected direction.

Anomie (now known as Ano) signs on as a companion to the Lumen. She must fulfill two years of service and in exchange will be well rewarded.

Her first year is spent with a strange Lumen named Drizz. It is during that year that Ano meets up with a group of humans whose sole purpose in life is to destroy the Lumen once and for all.

“Anomie finds herself caught between worlds, embroiled in a conflict between two opposing forces, as she struggles to unravel a mystery that cuts to the heart of her identity, her nature, and the true extent of her capabilities.”

This book captivated my imagination from the very first page. Not only did the author manage to grab my attention immediately, but also held it right to the last page.

WHAT I LIKED:

I really liked the fact that after Anomie chose to undergo her transformation, the author explained that it took 4 years for the full process to be completed and for her to actually be able to control her new body. This makes the procedure and outcome much more believable. To replace every body part with prosthetics and then to establish the neurological connections necessary to control them would realistically take time.

I loved the high tech aspects of this book and the diversity of the characters.

I found the writing to be the perfect mix of science and humanity. I found myself pondering the ethics of robotic prosthetics and how far is too far to go in the search for prolonged life.

RATING:

If it were possible to give 6 stars, FREND would rate that highly. As it is, the highest rating I can give is 5 out of 5 stars.

This book is a futuristic, technological thriller with a decidedly human core. It explores the human psyche and exactly what it means to be human, as well as many other issues such as discrimination and race relations.

This book is a MUST READ. I recommend this to anyone and everyone from ages 14 to 114.

More Information About This Book:

FREND can be preordered on Amazon and you can find out more about this book at: http://www.jonathanrmiller.com/index.php/frend-2015

Cooper’s Grove by Ann Werner

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COOPER’S GROVE by Ann Werner

 

SPOILER ALERT!

Agnes MacPherson, known as “Miss Aggie” to some and as “The Witch Woman” to others lives in a small town on the shore of Maryland.

Agnes can see ghosts, just like her mother and her mother’s mother. She can’t hear them, but she can see them and she can also see people’s auras.

Aggie befriends Lucinda as a child and takes an interest in her life throughout the decades.

Lucinda was the only child of a drunk and an abuser. Her mother was the drunk and her father abused her mother; mentally, physically and emotionally.

At the age of 16, Lucinda starts dating a rich, older boy and things quickly become serious when she finds herself pregnant. Jack agrees to marry her and they raise their daughter in a cold and loveless marriage.

When their daughter leaves for college in California, Lucinda finally musters up the courage to leave Jack. However, her freedom is short-lived. Jack has advanced stomach cancer and Lucinda moves back in to care for him during his final days.

On his death bed Jack vows to never allow Lucinda to move on and that he will not allow her to find happiness with another man, especially Billy Joe Dean.

Billy Joe was tormented by Jack when they were kids. Now that Billy Joe is an adult and a talented artist, he has his heart set on Lucinda.

After Jack’s death Lucinda and Billy Joe fall in love, but will she finally get her happy ever after? Or will Jack make good on his threats from the grave?

What I Liked:

I liked that Miss Aggie didn’t have all the answers. Just because she can see ghosts does not mean she knows what to do to get rid of an evil one.

I did enjoy the story. It was a light, easy read.

I also liked that it was narrated by Miss Aggie and told as if she was giving a verbal account of what happened to people she knew in the past.

What I Didn’t Like:

I didn’t like the fact that almost every character is a stereotype.

Lucinda is such a stereotype. She is poor white trash. Of course her mother was a drunk and her father was abusive. Aren’t all poor people from horrible backgrounds?

Even Jack is a stereotype. He is the spoiled son of rich parents. Don’t all sons of rich people become playboys and then when they finally do settle down, of course they cheat on their wives.

Billy Joe is the stereotypical artist with a heart of gold who is misjudged by everyone. I could go on, but I think that makes my point.

I knew how the book would end and was not surprised in the least at the outcome.

Rating:

Readers who want a good beach read will enjoy this book.

Lack of originality in the main characters keeps me from rating this book any higher.

I give this 3.5 out of 5 stars.

* I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for a fair and honest review.*

Imposter (Variants #1) by Susanne Winnacker

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IMPOSTER (Variants #1)
By: Susanne Winnacker

I listened to the unabridged audiobook version of “Imposter.”

Tessa is not your average sixteen year old. She’s a Variant.

For two years she has lived and trained at the government’s FEA (Forces with Extraordinary Abilities) branch of the FBI.

She has a unique variation and even though she has never been on a mission before, she is sent out into the field.

A serial killer is stalking a small Oregon town, but his latest victim lived through the attack. She is barely clinging to life. But since Tessa has the ability to absorb the DNA of anyone she touches and to “become” them, Tessa is sent in.

Tessa becomes Madison when she dies. Madison’s family is told that she made a miraculous recovery and Tessa goes undercover to try to lure out the killer.

The problem is that the longer Tessa lives in Madison’s skin, the more suspects she unearths and the more she begins to enjoy living as Madison.

Madison has friends and a loving family; something Tessa has never had.

During her mission she is also struggling with having feelings for another agent named Alec, but Alec already has a girlfriend.

The longer she lives as Madison, the harder she finds it to change back to Tessa. And, does she really want to?

What I Liked About This Book:

It was a light and fun read. There was also a bit of information at the end of the book that I did not expect.

The author has also done a good job of setting up the next batch of stories in the series.

What I Didn’t Like About This Book:

What bothers me about this book is how similar it is to X-Men. The Variants are very similar to the mutants in X-Men, the difference
mostly being that their powers are not visible to others. They look ordinary.

Even Tessa’s mother’s response to her ‘variation’ is reminiscent of how the teen x-men were treated by their families.

If not X-Men, than this book could easily be an episode of yhe television show, “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”

Also, Tessa’s character iritated me. She came across as whiny and her worship of Alec borders on stalking. He has a girlfriend and yet she still allows herself to be in compromising situations with him. If I were him I would not have wanted anything to do with her. What self-respecting female keeps putting her emotions on the line after being continually rebuffed. If this was my daughter I would want to shake some sense into her.

Recommended Age Group:

I recommend this for teens ages 12 to 16.

Rating:

I give this book 3 out of 5 stars based on it’s resemblance to other existing series.

The Disease by George Hamilton

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THE DISEASE
By: George Hamilton

* I received a free e-copy of this book from http://www.librarything.com in exchange for a fair and honest review. *

* This review contains minor spoilers *

This book is a timely read. Currently there is an ebola outbreak in Africa and it has people thinking and worrying about the possibility of a global pandemic.

The disease for which this book takes it’s name is known as “Philippine Viral Disease” or “Philippine Haemorrhagic Fever.” It was named this because it is believed to have originated in the Philippines.

“Within weeks it had spread to every corner of the planet, mainly through human contact, but it was also thought via animal hosts.”

This story is set in an Eastern country (sounding similar to Russia) that is ruled by President Emile Sakovich. His faithful followers refer to him as “Papa President.” The disease has already claimed over two hundred thousand lives in their country in the past year. Other countries, like the United States have over 3 million dead and China has lost more than 12 million people to the disease.

Dr. Ludmilla Toropov is a good citizen, a recipient of the Gold Cross and is a “Daughter of the Nation.” All she wants from her life is to have a good relationship with her University student daughter, Olga and to help her patients.

When the President announces that his scientists have discovered a vaccine for PVD that not only prevents people from catching the disease, but also cures those who already have the disease, the medical community rejoices.

The government sends small amounts of the vaccine to each doctor along with a list of people that are to receive the allotted doses. Dr. Toropov is surprised to find that her name is not on the list of those who will receive the first dose. However, like the good citizen that she is, she follows the directions she has been given.

It quickly becomes clear that the discovery of the vaccine will not be shared with the rest of the world. The United States has long had sanctions in place against the country and Dr. Toropov believes that the President will use the vaccine as leverage to have the sanctions lifted.

Meanwhile, her estranged daughter Olga has joined a group of student protesters who oppose President Sakovich’s rule. Dr. Toropov fears not only for her daughter’s health, but also for her safety.

Using contacts she made many years ago on an exchange trip to the United States, Dr, Toropov takes matters into her own hands and delivers a sample of the vaccine to an American colleague. Her hope is that with America’s vast resources, they will be able to quickly replicate and distribute the vaccine worldwide.

What her American colleague finds upon examination of the vaccine is unsettling at best and sinister at worst.

As the story progresses we learn more about the vaccine and about the government’s plans.

Mystery and intrigue abound in this gripping and sinister tale.

Not only is it a story about a disease, but it is also a story about political corruption, dictatorships and the quest for power by evil men who don’t care how many bodies they need to tread on to achieve their goals.

It is also a story about family and the love of a mother for her child and the lengths to which people will go to protect their children.

The scariest aspect of this book is it’s believability. The existence of a global pandemic is inevitable. The world we live in is ripe for the spread of a disease exactly like the one in this book.

The country where this story takes place sounds eerily similar to present day Russia and President Sakovich sounds suspiciously like Putin. It is not so far fetched that something similar to this story could actually occur.

This book deserves to be rated as 5 out of 5 stars.

I highly recommend reading this tale. George Hamilton has mastered the art of story building and readers will be instantly drawn into his world.

Chainge by Ken Dean

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Chainge by Ken Dean

There have always been “haves” and “have nots” in any society.
“Chainge” by Ken Dean takes this concept to the extreme.

This book is thought provoking, intriguing, interesting and even horrifying at times. It is a truly great read.

Blair Huxley (Hux) works as a Server for the Collective’s Medical Rights Facilities. He has no say about what Progressive (city) he lives or works in and can be moved to a different location at any time without warning. He has no rights and cannot refuse. Servers are told that “You exist for the sake of and by the grace of Our State and the all-giving Provider.” Those who resist or try to escape are punished and can even be beaten or killed.

The story begins on a train. Hux is being moved to a new Progressive. He notices a particularly beautiful Server and when the Black Cat overseer notices his interest he beats Hux with a baton. “Contact is expressly forbidden. Desire is forbidden. It is not for Servers to partake of such wantonness.”

Arriving at his new home, Hux reflects on the Progs that the Servers exist to serve.

“The Progs… were free from discomfort, from worry, from work, from personal responsibility, free from accountability, free to lead a perfectly blissful existence. The Servers were free to give of themselves, free from self-interest and selfishness, free from the thoughts that complicated our lives prior to the evolution of Our State. We were free to serve others and see their rights fulfilled … That was what the Provider dictated as best, as fair, as right, as the common good.”

When Hux begins working at the new medical facility he sees things that make him start to question the system that rules his life. He begins asking questions and observing those around him.

He begins to realize that the Served are just as much slaves as the Servers; they just exist in a better looking cage.

He also meets Jules (the beautiful Server from the train) and he begins to have feelings for her. Feelings are not allowed and most Servers are incapable of emotion. But, to question the system is to commit treason.

Hux must decide if he has the inner strength necessary to escape from his life of servitude? And can he take Jules with him? Will she even want to go?

This novel is a riveting read with plenty of food for thought. This book crosses into multiple genres, including Dystopian fiction, science fiction and drama.

What I Liked About This Book:

I love that the author has fully imagined his world right down to the smallest detail. For example: Servers have the Delta logo tattooed on their hands with the delta pointing away from them to remind them that they are serving others, not themselves.

I also enjoyed the intelligent writing style. The author makes the assumption that his readers will be smart enough to understand what he is communicating without having to ‘dumb it down’. Too often I feel like authors think their readers are stupid and need to have every concept explained to them.

The author shows that he has a vast knowledge of brain washing techniques and ways in which large groups of people can be indoctrinated and controlled by a smaller group. For example, each morning after their mandatory exercise routine, the Servers must recite “The Server’s Creed.”
“Service is freedom! Service is our one true right! We are free from self-interest! We are free to serve!” The Servers should hate having to do this every day and they should want to rebel against their harsh treatment and substandard living conditions. Instead “we appreciated the Black Cats’ constant concern for our well-being, their taking the time to instill in us the reason why we serve, why we are so vital to the survival of Our State.”

I thoroughly enjoyed reading about Hux’s internal struggle and was curious to learn more about the world in which he lives.

I also really liked the ending. It leaves open so many possibilities, but also could just be the end. It will be interesting to see where the author goes from here.

I give this book a rating of 4 out of 5 stars. I would have rated this as a 5 star read if it had contained more of a backstory. We know that something has gone wrong with the world, but we never learn exactly what that was. We also have very little information about “The Provider” and how it is that he rose to power.

I look forward to reading more books by Ken Dean.

* I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.*

The Sham by Ellen Allen

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THE SHAM
By: Ellen Allen

I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for a fair and honest review.

“Six months ago, my boyfriend was quite a catch. Ask anyone. But that was before the stubbly face, the cruddy clothes, the living rough in the woods. Before the headaches forced him to constantly rub his forehead like he’s trying to remove indelible ink. And way before now where he’s covered in blood…”

That is the opening paragraph to this novel. I dare anyone to read that and not be instantly intrigued. It is just not possible.

However, I feel compelled to comment on the target age for this book. I definitely do no think this is appropriate for anyone under the age of 16. There is a very disturbing scene near the beginning where four girls torment a young boy and one aspect of that scene actually made me sick to my stomach. Because of that scene I recommend this for ages 18 and up.

Eighteen year old Emily lives in a town the locals call “The Sham” with her dysfunctional family.

When babysitting her infant sister one day Emily comes across four local teenage ‘mean girls.’ They have abducted a young boy from a local supermarket and spend some quality time torturing him. (This is the scene that made me feel ill.) The torture is stopped by a mysterious young man named Jack.

Emily finds herself drawn to Jack and he seems drawn to her as well.

A few days after the incident at the park, one of the girls involved turns up dead.

As more girls go missing, the police zero in on Jack as the likely suspect.

Emily must decide whether to believe in the evidence or to choose to follow her gut and defend Jack as innocent. But, she might just end up dead or missing herself.

There are quite a few twists and turns to this story and the ending is surprising.

I do not want to ruin the story for any potential readers so I will save any further comments for another time.

This book would make a good selection for a Book Club since there are so many topics and plot twists to discuss. It is definitely worth reading.

I give THE SHAM a rating of 4 out of 5 stars.