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The Enigma Dragon

The Enigma Dragon: A CATS Tale (The Enigma Series Book 9) by [Breakfield, Charles V, Burkey, Roxanne E]

The Enigma Dragon: A CATS Tale, by Charles Breakfield and Roxanne Burkey, is a fascinating tale of technological wonderment. The CATS (Cyber Assassin Technology Services) team has assembled from various global points with a singular goal and an overwhelming need to discover the source of North Korea’s missile supply. The team of equally capable and delightfully eclectic personalities masterfully manipulate a world of technological advancements as they handle their own personal crises–one after the other. The authors have created an amazing team of players ranging from married couple, Julie and Juan Rodriguez, to the villainous Marge. The globetrotting CATS team does not disappoint.

My favorite member of the CATS team is likely not the choice of most readers. I was completely enthralled with the story line involving Jamie. It is not often I reread chapters during the first read of a book, but I found myself lost in the tale of loss and despair described in Jamie’s chapter. His is a plot I would love to see further developed in subsequent Enigma books.

Julie and Juan Rodriguez are a couple like no other. The love they show for one another is enviable and not often found in books of this genre. The authors have given Juan some incredible monologues in which he, in no uncertain terms, declares his undying love for Julie. Julie, a dedicated CATS team member, is also a doting mother and exudes power in every way.

Marge, a vile and loathsome woman of pure evil, is the one character readers will revel in hating. The authors have expertly stretched out her character development to slowly reveal exactly how twisted and demented she really is. Without revealing too much about Marge’s wonderful plot twist, I will say I found shock, horror, and satisfaction tied up in one neat package before the end of the book.

Connie, like Jamie, holds a storyline in her hands like a beautiful package just awaiting the untying of its bow. Her dialect alone is a refreshing addition to the dialogue provided throughout the book. She is a loving, cunning, and especially memorable character addition who shows up late in the plot but deserves a regular place in the lives of the CATS team.

My only complaint regarding this book is the excessive use of acronyms. Many of them are humorous and all are quite effective in their descriptions and uses, but I found them to be a bit distracting as I read as many of them are in excess of five letters.

Breakfield and Burkey have created a book fraught with danger, tinged with grim backstories, and peppered with romance. They have indeed achieved a perfect mix of genres in the guise of a technological thrill ride.

I would recommend this book to any reader eager to break into the science fiction genre. The long list of highly relatable characters makes this particular piece the perfect choice for anyone who has been hesitant to step into science fiction with a techno taste.

Pages: 493 | ASIN: B0767QD12G

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Srepska

Srepska: ATMs have shuttered. Stock markets have gone haywire. Can one operative stop a deadly band of criminals before it is too late?

Explosions and mayhem make up the introduction to Lucas Sterling’s debut novel, Srepska, immediately throwing the reader into the after effects of a massive cyber attack in Kenya. Personal, business, and federal accounts have been digitally looted leading to a state of emergency. Fearing repeat on a larger scale, Agent Frederic Ulrich is tasked with seeking out those responsible, though the feared group ‘Srepska’ is immediately suspect. The scant bread crumb trail points to the U.S. as the next target, but a possible mole leaves Agent Ulrich unsure of friend or foe. With the aid of Lars Christopherson, he must find a way to inform and prevent the next attack.

Srepska is definitely deserving of it’s place in the action genre. Lucas Sterling brings to the table an adrenaline packed story that is made all the more intense by it’s relatability. Set in modern day, the Information Age as we like to call it, Srepska is a story you could very well see taking place in our own reality, the focus being a cyber attack. The suspense is therefore intensified given the fact that such attacks in the long scheme of things are still fairly new, meaning effective defenses are still being regularly updated and changed. This is felt throughout the book by many of the characters, with concern on how to combat such a threat that initially seems faceless.

We follow Frederic Ulrich and Lars Christopherson through the story as they team up to put a stop to things. Sterling presents us with two characters very strong in their trade. We are treated to an inside look to their jobs, but the characters themselves lack some dimension. This could be due to how fast paced the story is, moving from action to suspense and back again in quick succession, leaving little room for character development.

Following the bread crumb trail of clues is exciting given how so many countries have been after this group for so long. Things just seemed to fall in to place too easily in some respects. And I felt that there were some sections where settings were over explained, when all I wanted to do was to get back to what this novel does best, the action!

All in all, Lucas Sterling’s Srepska is quite the page turner. The fast pacing keeps the reader engaged and the highly relatable and believable content adds to the feeling of suspense, leaving the reader all the more eager to see the success of the main characters in their goals. A very exciting read!

Pages: 239 | ASIN: B075V8C8HL

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The Enigma Rising

The Enigma Rising

The Enigma Rising, written by Charles V. Breakfield and Roxanne E. Burkey, is a modern-day techno thriller that explores a world of cyber crime, kidnappings, and drug cartels. R Group, is a contract team,who provides intel to businesses and is hired to find a missing heiress. Their lives collide with former drug traffickers turned money launderers in an unexpected meeting of fate. Here they must learn whether they can work together to uncover intelligence through the deep underworld of cyber crime.

The Enigma Rising begins with a concerned father Thiago meeting with his head of security team to discuss finding his missing daughter Lara. The novel then turns back to 8 months prior to the Chihuahuan Desert of Mexico where two brothers Juan and Carlos and a group called the “On Brothers” are meeting together to collect a mysterious shipment. This is where the novel kick starts the action with missing drugs and carefully curated criminal plans and soon spirals into a world of technology.

Drug rings, drug trafficking, and crafty criminals all band together to make up this technology thriller. At times the story has a James Bond feel except you are following the crooks rather than the authorities. Then the R Group enter the plot line. Their code of conduct is based on “maintaining the balance of power for economic and human conservancy” and throughout history, they have protected businesses and thwarted evil. This unit has been hired to help find Lara and will follow clues and a data trail in hopes of finding the missing heiress. The action is intense, the suspense is high and you will visit a world where cyber crime is at its most elite.

Even though this novel is an action story, you would be mistaken in thinking it was all guns and car chases. Instead, the crime is clever, from people posing as model agents to a couple Petra and Jacob exploring their romance in the midst of digital security investigations. The dialogue is interesting, the crime intelligent and the characters complex.

Breakfield and Burkey’s manipulation of words creates beautiful imagery for the reader. From the first pages, you feel as though you are in a current of words that flow easily and naturally. At no time did the book feel jaded or stuck which meant I found myself glued to the plot line, eager to find out what happens. Breakfield and Burkey do a fantastic job of the novel with their quirky one-liners and clever plot line.

There are surprising romances within the plot line that at times take a front seat to the action chaos. Carlos and Simone become an unlikely duo whose relationship begins with Carlos meeting Simone as she waits to appear in an adult photo shoot. From here it becomes a whirlwind romance and I enjoyed watching the two characters develop and interact with one another.

I would highly recommend this to anyone who enjoys a clever action novel with a dash of lust, cyber crime, and mystery.

Pages: 324 | ASIN: B00HVCU3JS

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Game Over

Game Over (A Series of Ends Book 1)4 StarsGame Over begins inside a virtual world created by Sybil, an AI that rules over the virtual world of Elysium. Ekko Everlasting spawns into what seems to be a video game, armed and ready to fight, although he has no memory of who he is or why he’s there. He knows only his name and his innate ability to survive in a kill-or-be-killed environment. This skill helps him win his first match in No-Life, the most popular game in Elysium.

Flush from his win and mobbed by fans, he’s saved from an imposing cyberman—and potential deletion—by Ridley Scott, who tells him that Ekko is an important asset to the resistance. Ridley and his boss Dadgar recruit Ekko for their mission to find the central core of the Sybil system and free what’s left of humanity on Earth. Dadgar tells Ekko that Elysium was created to solve humanity’s problems, including illness and death, so millions of people were uploaded into the system. If humans in Elysium don’t live up to Sybil’s standards, embodied by the No-Life game, they are reprogrammed or deleted by the cybermen. Deletion brings death in the real world.

There’s a lot to like in this novel. The stakes are as high as they get: life or death for not only Ekko but humanity itself. The games he plays, No-Life, Myth and Magic, and The Test, bring the kind of exciting combat and split-second decision making that will keep you on the edge of your seat. His adversaries and allies are experts at the game, and the scenarios Sybil pits them against are both elegant and deadly.

There’s also a throwback to the “choose your own adventure” books that were popular in the late 1970’s and 80’s. At several points in the story, readers are given a choice for Ekko’s next action, and the wrong choice can lead to the words: Game Over! If you follow the right choices, it leads to a surprising conclusion with an interesting twist on Ekko’s mission—and his identity. His journey through the different levels of the game reveals the lengths that the elite will go in their quest for power. In this case, literal power measured in watts instead of mere credits.

A few things didn’t go over well. Every scene that ends with a choice of adventure has an obvious “opt out” spoiler, so it’s too easy to avoid the “game over” choice. I was also a little confused about the cyberman, Naraku Carbon. The author gives him an entire chapter and backstory, but after that chapter, he vanishes completely. His only contributions to Ekko’s story were brief encounters that could have been fulfilled by any anonymous security drone.

I would recommend this book to people who enjoy gaming, tense action scenes, and life or death adventure. Though it borrows a few concepts from popular movies like Battle Royale and The Matrix, Game Over offers an interesting take on what might happen if life really is a simulation.

Pages: 268 | ASIN: B01KNJ8WB6

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Beyond Cloud Nine

Beyond Cloud Nine (Beyond Saga, #1)4 StarsThose who love a good, solid science-fiction story won’t be disappointed with Greg Spry’s Beyond Cloud Nine. Spry maps out a futuristic Earth where humans have expanded their reach and colonized other planets. Our protagonist is Brooke Davis, a young fighter pilot who is the best of her generation. A child born from a Japanese mother and an American father, Brooke has faced discrimination her entire life. Add to the fact that she suffers from a disorder caused by gene therapy before her birth and Brooke screams protagonist. It’s almost as if she knows she’s the star of the novel but what Brooke has to overcome before she can confidently say she has saved the day is both tragic and exhausting. Expending all of her faculties to uncover a surprise conspiracy while reconnecting with her estranged twin sister and niece, Brooke powers forward in this exciting tale where science meets fiction.

Despite first appearances, Brooke is not a strong female lead. She’s battered, bordering on completely broken in both body and soul. Never forgiving herself for the hand she played in her father’s death our protagonist runs away from the things that she can’t handle. This includes her twin sister, who she left behind on Earth six years before the book begins to pursue her profession as a pilot for the United Nations. While she is good at what she does, it is not without a cost. We discover quite early on that Brooke is addicted to illegally enhancing her body with a drug referred to as “Sparks”. It is only after breaking a colleague’s nose Brooke returns to her sister and attempts at reconciliation.

There are many ways a science-fiction tale can go wrong. Over exaggerated feats of science and unrealistic explanations of technology have doomed many a series. Beyond Cloud Nine does not suffer from either of these faults no doubt in part to Spry’s real life experience with engineering and space systems. His control over the craft of story-telling uses these skills and experiences to explain what is happening in an amateur-friendly fashion. No over the top jargon or complicated explanations to detract from the story at hand.

During Brooke’s journey from almost-washed up pilot to practical savior of the planet readers will watch her grow and develop into something that resembles a human being, complete with feelings and emotions. In the beginning Brooke is too broken to connect properly with those around her. Even when she first reconnects with her sister after a six-year absence she has troubles interacting on a human level. She’s angry, confused and as lost as a teenager trying to figure out what makes them, them.

Readers will surely enjoy this first installment to the Beyond saga penned by Greg Spry. Brooke overcomes some of her faults while retaining others and that allows readers to feel more connected to her; because she’s real. Beyond Cloud Nine delivers with action, compelling character development and realistic explanations for technology that doesn’t quite exist yet in our present time. Or does it?

Pages: 360 | ASIN: B00NOFZ16Q

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Review: Point Apocalypse by Alex Bobl

Point Apocalypse 3star

Point Apocalypse is a fast paced techno thriller filled with nonstop suspense and action that only lets up to deliver a meticulous description of the fictional world of Pangea. Pangea is a prison world where Earth sends its worst criminals. One shipment of criminals includes Mark Posner a former soldier, but Mark slowly learns that he is not a prisoner. He is on a mission; a mission that will change both worlds. Earth has been sending people to Pangea for years and a community has emerged that brings some semblance of structure, but otherwise it’s a world where everything is hazardous to your health and only the strongest survive. Mark must navigate his way through this world and find a traitorous general that is plotting to destroy Earth so that Pangea will no longer be subservient. But things are not what they seem and while Mark is fighting off cyber-troopers, and hired guns he learns of a shocking truth that moves the book in a whole new direction. Point Apocalypse focuses on action and world building while character development and dialogue seemed not to be an important factor. I found myself not really sympathizing or connecting with any of the characters as they all were either spouting generic lines of dialogue or fighting off characters that were introduced as a bad guy a few sentences ago and then were killed off. What really nagged at me was that the writing was constantly discursive and circuitous (ask your English teacher what those words mean). But all that aside I constantly felt like I was hurtling headlong toward a dramatic ending and I couldn’t wait for it to come. If you don’t care about character development or eloquent prose and care more about super charged sci-fi action then this book is for you.

ASIN: B00BVOHUC0
Kindle Edition, 258 pages
Published March 16th 2013 by Sky Bridge

Find out more about Alex Bobl and his books at his website http://boblak.blogspot.com/

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