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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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Thawing A.C. Nielsen

Thawing A.C. Nielsen4 StarsMystery, suspense, reality television and revenge all come crashing together in this entertaining story written by Paul Carey. Thawing A.C. Nielsen starts off with dated entries, much like a diary, as we gain very little backstory on what is to be a wild ride. It opens to a nameless man being rescued from the depths of a frozen body of water. This revival is short lived, but is important to the rest of the story. Flash forward to Kate, a young and intelligent woman who wants nothing more than to stare into a microscope for the rest of her life. At the urging of her friend she goes for a job interview at the one place that will make her desires reality. Our fierce protagonist gets a little more than she bargained for when she joins up with ExitStrategy, a facility that is devoted to cryogenics and the revival of those who should be dead.

One of the best things about Thawing A.C. Nielsen is how the characters talk. There is a fair bit of dialogue but each person sounds real. They communicate like they would if they were to stand in your living room. This makes reading this tale a lot easier on the mind. Many mystery novels or those who pride themselves on suspense get caught up in setting a ‘mood’ that makes their tales very unrealistic. The fact that the reader can identify with the characters not only through their speech, but through their actions, makes the entire tale feel like something you could read about in the news tomorrow.

This can be a double-edged sword, however. Because the characters speak so ‘modernly’ it’s quite grating to read some of the speech and hear it in your mind as you read. There are some slang words that should never be printed and it does a very good job at showing how reality television stars need to work on their linguistics.

Having a strong female lead who works in an area where women are underrepresented gives this tale a special place in the world. Not only does Kate work in a science-driven industry, she is respected by her male colleagues and never once is she demeaned or demanded of due to her sex. These types of tales are few and far between.

It’s clear that Carey did his research before writing his book. There is a scene where knowledge of medicine and medical terminology is paramount to understanding what is happening. Carey doesn’t skimp on the language and has obviously done more than just do an internet search or watch television. It’s not so in-depth that the average reader with no background would be lost but just realistic enough to bring the characters on the page to life, quite literally.

If you’re looking for a fun adventure with wily manipulative old women and socially challenged geniuses, you will find all that and more in the pages of our tale. Hold on to your hearts and keep your eyes peeled as you try to figure out the mystery of Thawing A.C. Nielsen.

Pages: 368 | ASIN: B01LOHEP7G

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The Moreva of Astoreth

The Moreva of Astoreth3 StarsRoxanne Bland’s, The Moreva of Astoreth, is a twenty-seven chapter long book about life as a morev for Moreva Tehi. Tehi is a healer that works in the Temple for the Goddess of Love, Astoreth; The Most Holy One, who is also her grandmother. Less than interested in attending the Goddess’ religious service of Ohra and desperate to find the cure for Red Fever; a disease that plagued the Hakoi of their lands, she finds herself in great trouble with Astoreth, after missing the service. The defiance in character that lands Moreva Tehi in trouble, however, would not soon leave her and she would find herself in the Syren Perritory breaking every rule she had come to know. She is be lead to many revelations, some wonderful, some unsettling, but all unexpected.

The story began in Kherah, “a sunny desert south of the planet’s equator, where the fauna were kept in special habitats for learning and entertainment.” Moreva Tehi had seemingly spent too much of her privilege as granddaughter of a Goddess and was going to be sent away as punishment. In Kherah there were Devi, morevs and hakoi, most to least powerful respectively. Moreva Tehi was all three, but she despised the hakoi, even the parts of herself that was. After being sent away, hakoi like Kepten Yose of Mjor, would be a reminder to Tehi of why she hated hakoi, while others like Hyme; the healer and Teger; the Laerd, would conflict her understanding of that hatred.

Told from a first person perspective, the book became monotonous, as Moreva’s daily routine is described almost word for word for several chapters. The cycle contained, scrambling to get to breakfast, run ins with Teger, lab work with Hyme, morning service, clean up, rest, putting on makeup and getting dressed for the Ohra, evening service, rest, repeat. This made the book harder to read until about chapter thirteen. All the chapters before laid a boring and repetitive path for the reader to just happen upon a climax, literally. A severely unlikely love interest creates a hallmark of a plot twist and begins to really unfold the story.

The use of a second language that the narrator did not understand and that was not translated, successfully excluded both the narrator and myself.

Thematically, the language and attitudes to Tehi showed the struggle for her to be welcomed by the very people with whom she would share her body in the rite of Ohra, very similar to behavior of real world cultures. It was her bravery, breaking Protocol, and saving some miners from dying, that began a change in behavior towards her. There was a strong sense that she struggled with accepting herself, her religious obligations and how she felt about performing them starkly contrasted. Even though she hated the sexually invasive Ohra rite, her religious persuasions forced her to believe her feelings were the problem and not the rite. In the midst of themes such as love and power, Moreva learned reality was relative; she made a discovery about the Gods of her temple that threw her into a struggle with her own identity. Even so, Tehi dared not be bound by a dictated life. It was her determination and willingness to sacrifice that got her into trouble and she would use them to get out. Burning old bridges and creating new ones, with minimal harm to the people who she loved with all her hearts.Buy Now From Amazon.com

Pages: 452 | ISBN: 0996731660

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