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Ninety-Five

Ninety-Five by [Lisa Towles]

Ninety-Five follows an average college student who uncovers a malicious criminal network that is scamming students and luring them into more and more crimes. He soon learns that this is only the tip of a dark and nefarious criminal network at work on the dark web.

The story starts with a new college student, Zak Skinner, who is stressed out by the usual things a student faces in their life; failed subjects, struggles with studying, and a search for opportunities to blow off steam. In Zak’s case, he went for an innocent drug trip, taking ayahuasca and getting high. What he did not anticipate was that he would be trapped in not only one but two illegal crime rings, unique and devious in their own way.

Author Lisa Towles’s writing style is perfectly suited for this crime thriller, and very detailed as well as graphic. I loved how she builds Zak up in a way that he deduces things on his own, because he is very smart and perceptive, but he also knows his own limits. This unique balance sets Zak up as a character that is intriguing and fun to follow. This is an engrossing technothriller with some cryptography in the story which reminded me of Dan Brown’s Digital Fortress. I love the science fiction aspects of the plot. We get to explore the dark web in some refreshing ways and are dragged through this dark underworld that has a persistent air of intrigue. A special mention of all the Harry Potter references; I laughed at each moment.

Ninety-Five is a riveting crime thriller that has a unique enough setup to stand out in the college fantasy genre. When I started the book I got the sense that the narrative was leaning more fantasy, but by the end it was a captivating mix of crime fiction and technothriller.

Pages: 244 | ASIN: B099SYTJWQ

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Edge Of The Future

Edge Of The Future: A Techno Thriller Science Fiction Novel (The Edge Book 1) by [Andria Stone]

Edge of the Future, by author Andria Stone, is a nail-biting science fiction story about space exploration and saving humanity. Mark Warren’s life gets flipped upside down when his secret research facility gets attacked by a group of terrorists in the middle of nowhere, Canada. Joining forces with Sergeant Axel von Radach, Warren gets tangled up in a major military plot and works with a team to bring down a wanted terrorist.

Mark Warren also holds precious information on our main antagonist that puts his family and everyone he cares about in danger. Can he keep them safe and stop the villain at the same time? What will happen when he crosses paths with the terrorist face-to-face?

Author Andria Stone has a suspenseful writing style which elevates a novel that is already chock-full of action. Edge of the Future is the first of three books in the EDGE trilogy and Stone’s ending in this title has me desperate to read the next book, Edge of the Stars. The way Stone approached the relationship between humans and outer space makes the story feel grounded and much more engaging because of it.

I love a good space setting and regularly consume TV and film content in that realm. Long time fans of the science fiction genre will find plenty to enjoy in this edgy space opera, but the story is told without any over the top science fiction jargon, so newcomers will find an easy story to get lost in.

While I enjoyed the novel overall I felt that the story was a little slow going in the first few chapters. The story does opens with an attack on a military facility, which definitely grabbed my attention, but I couldn’t shake the feeling of being indifferent until I got through a couple of chapters. But this is a minor quibble in an otherwise engaging space romp.

Stone tells a suspenseful story involving space and cyborgs while making it all feel fun, if not always believable. I feel genuinely satisfied after finishing this book and that is something that rarely happens to me. Edge of the Future is an invigorating technothriller with a unique view of the future and an entertaining story that begs to be continued in the next book.

Pages: 273 | ASIN: B06XD3J7K7

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Dark Forces

Dark Forces: Book 1: The Dream Corporation by [Michael TT Williams]

The genius, Tarot, creates an AI-powered machine that helps people take control of their dreams. It gets people into a state where they can experience whatever they desire in the dream world while asleep regardless of who they are in the real world. The program runs smoothly until Dreamcorp, the company in charge, begins to notice disturbing events. Suddenly people are losing control of their dreams and getting stuck in them. Some regain consciousness after suffering severe brain damage. It turns out a sinister and possibly sentient virus has infected the system and intends to tear it down while hurting as many people as possible.

Tarot must build a team of special people who can fight the virus and save thousands from losing their minds or remaining in the dream world for life. But, strangely, more problems start popping up, and even the earth is on the verge of utter destruction. Are these impending disasters somehow linked to Tarot’s invention? What’s the dark force threatening to wipe out humanity, and can Tarot and his team save the real world from the dream world?

Michael TT Williams’ Dark Forces is a contemplative and sci-fi novel filled with mind-tingling concepts. Interestingly, William keep the story intriguing while he nerds out over subjects like AI, quantum physics, and consciousness.

World development is also superb. The story switches between Earth and a dream world where you see vivid and creative elements. Williams weaves a unique mix of attractions by blending surreal elements in the dream world with details from history and myths.

I love that Williams crafts the plot so that it branches out in several directions. It feels like you’re reading multiple stories within one story, with all converging at a point. It’s beautiful chaos. But you have to pay close attention and refer to the character list a few times to keep track of things.

While there’s no fluff you have to work your way through, Williams builds towards the climax at a steady pace, constantly elevating the level of intrigue and suspense. Brick by brick, he crafts a storyline slowly hurtling towards utter chaos in a way that keeps you turning the pages, wondering what happens next.

I have read so much fiction this year, but Williams’ work turned out to be a fresh dose of deeply imaginative storytelling. Dark Forces: Book 1 is a thought-provoking science fiction adventure novel that is a fantastic start to what is sure to be a creative techno thriller series.

Pages: 196 | ASIN: B0937MSJRJ

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I Used Kaos

Simon carr
Simon Carr Author Interview

Apocalypse Blockers follows an odd group of unlikely heroes that take on a mission to prevent the apocalypse. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

Apocalypse Blockers is a culmination of several different books of mine, each character has their own book in which they already stopped an apocalypse, all very different books and different genre’s, they all have very long back story’s that are not linked, I used Kaos as a way to link them and bring them all together in one place, I don’t think you need to read the other books first but the idea being they will be better after you have read Apocalypse Blockers or Apocalypse Blockers will be better after you have read them.

I enjoyed the creativity imbued in your characters. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?

I wanted to move the characters on a bit, I did not just want to throw them all together without any of them changing or growing, this would be the last time I work with any of them so I wanted to leave them all in a good place, the Running theams with Rick Tonail in every book he has been in was that he needed to stop doing everything alone and get some freinds, Bob and Karen found eachother and a new dynamic was born for them two, the good father’s and Green had their own issues that they worked through and Larry and Max finnaly got to stop being in a post- apocalyptic zombie apocalypse.

This seemed like a fun book to write. What was the funnest scene for you to write?

For me the scene were Bob and Rick first meet fathers O’Malley and O’Riley who were coaching at the over 80s wrestling championships was the funniest thing to write.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

I am working on my first young adults book at the moment called, Noobs, it’s a story about two friends caught in the afterlife when a meteor takes out the kabab shop they were in, the Grim reaper makes a deal with them that they can go back if they retrieve ten keys from inside different video games, it should be finished by June.

Author Links: GoodReads | Facebook | Twitter | Website

The fate of every living thing in the multiverse that’s has ever existed or is going to exist rests in the hands of a band of, well, weirdos if I am honest but they are our only hope.Our reality and every possible reality are under attack from an evil force called Khaos that has sent apocalypse after apocalypse at every reality around the planet earth.Not every version of earth fell, a mighty few stopped the apocalypse sent by Khaos, these few are all that stand in the way of Khaos, these warriors, these heroes, these apocalypse Blockers!

A Near-Future Cyberpunk

Author Interview
Jason Arsenault Author Interview

Shunt follows a woman who receives an implant to remove her grief, but when things get unreal she tries to track down her Pain Surrogate and unlocks a conspiracy. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

The first criteria I usually have for starting a novel is that I’ve never read anything like this before. The idea that two people, cut from different social cloths, could become each other’s mental-health support, in the physical sense, was interesting and satirical to me. It also made for very entertaining reading (and writing) as emotional context would “bleed” into different character perspectives. I also wanted to write a near-future cyberpunk with loads of action and intrigue, so I wove those concepts together and let that evolve into what we have here.

Jade is an intriguing and well developed character. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?

Thanks, I’ve soul searched a great deal to bring her out right (despite the emotional handicap implied by the brain implant and my own biases). In the case of Jade, I needed a character that felt the loss of something entirely unendurable and, to me, one of the most horrible things I could think of would be to lose someone of close kin that I love deeply. Like many among us through her efforts she simply wishes to return to a normal life.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

Perhaps “personal responsibility” or that I see that we are losing the precious adversity that hones us to become better people. In the medical sense, it is much easier for a doctor to prescribe, e.g. benzodiazepines, than to arduously tease out the factors (both environment and neurological) that contribute to that person’s malaise. If your boss is the cause of your despair, find a new boss, same for a partner that puts you down, et cetera. There are people who do indeed require medical intervention, and as a published biomedical scientist I can attest to that. But our society is overmedicated, overstimulated, (for some overprivileged), and overpampered; it is overrun by spoilt brats. Wouldn’t it preferable for us to eat healthy and exercise than to try to fight the consequences of our vices when we are 65 (if we even get there). Our brains work the same way, we each have to tend to our gardens. This story is about getting what we want too easily and the consequences that that entails to ourselves and the world around us.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

As I wish to go through traditional publishers, I would say about when Saturn, Mercury, and Jupiter align during a solar eclipse, in both hemispheres. Perhaps sometime before the next millennia, if I am lucky. I have three other novels that are ready for submission, but I suffer from a full-time career that occludes most of my post-writing efforts such as contacting agents and randomly firing novels to the wrong publishers. All faults to that effect are entirely my own. I won’t stop writing though, that is a guarantee. So my work eventually will become, I hope, just too darn good to ignore.

But that said, I’ve recently finished a large piece about an alien structure hiding in our solar system and the human shenanigan that ensue because of it. I was quite pleased with it after the second rewrite and it is in the hands of a few test readers at the moment. It’s almost ready to start collecting rejection letters.

Author Links: GoodReads | Website | Twitter

A young woman named Jade receives a brain implant that connects her to a “Pain Surrogate” in order to alleviate her grief from the loss of her little brother. At first the relief is ideal; the shunt seems like the perfect solution. But when things begin to feel unreal in her mind, she hires a hacker to discover the identity of her anonymous pain recipient. This seemingly minor breach of security unravels an international conspiracy between PrimaCore, a huge pharmaceutical company, and a military eager to weaponize the feeds from pain surrogates with pathologically violent urges.

Jade’s quest to find her surrogate sends her on a wild adventure across the globe with black operatives hot on her trail. Meanwhile, an enhanced rogue agent within PrimaCore seizes the opportunity to topple the government, seeking to usher in the kind of world that she believes we all deserve.

Deadly Invisible Enemies: Hunt for Evil

Deadly Invisible Enemies: Hunt for Evil by [Harold Lea Brown]

Deadly Invisible Enemies (Hunt for Evil) by Harold Lea Brown is the second book in the series. We continue to follow Kevin Albright who continues to fight a war against cybercrimes which led to the murder of his wife and son on their tenth wedding anniversary. He is now more than ever determined to catch his wife’s killers and while at it take down Big D who is hell-bent on killing him. His anger, guilt, and determination together with his intelligence are what give him an advantage over his enemies. The comparison he constantly makes between his late wife and co-worker is what helps him numb some of the pain of his loss and a bond between them grows.

Harold Lea Brown continues to show his unbeatable storytelling prowess as he smoothly connects the cliffhanger of book one with book two, clearing the suspense of Kevin’s death which had been faked by Kevin himself. Hunt for Evil has a fast pace compared to the first book with a quick succession of events within the plot. The mystery in this book is not any less than it is in the first book. Grief has been widely portrayed in the book as Kevin still hasn’t forgiven himself for what happened to his young family. He is filled with pain and rage and the same time. I love how Harold gets into Kevin’s mind making the reader feel connected to the character’s emotions and dilemma. Widely used dialogue within the book helps readers feel connected and involved in the story. The whole book is filled with mystery and sudden turn of events that keep the reader wanting more.

Hunt for Evil is a fast-paced turn cyberpunk thriller that possesses good character development and takes the reader through a rollercoaster of emotions. This is a suspenseful continuation of Harold Lea Brown’s Deadly Invisible Enemies technothriller series.

Pages: 212 | ASIN: B00P9RVEIG

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The World of Hackers

Natsuya Uesugi
Natsuya Uesugi Author Interview

grydscaen: dark follows a hacker who’s caught up in a stock market hack that causes mayhem throughout the city. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

The inspiration for the grydscaen: dark story was what I was seeing in the present day, actions like the rise and fall of bitcoin, the increase in attacks from Russian troll farms, the China Russia and Iran state actors, vulnerabilities in the arcane Internet laws, the privacy debate and Net Neutrality and the threat of ISPs (Internet Service Providers) throttling or charging for access to online content and “controlling access” to streaming data and information that should be free and the possible discrimination that could cause on marginalized communities.

Hacker activities like the rise in ransomware and malware attacks, as well as phishing and social engineering attacking vulnerable seniors and every day people were front of mind while writing. Also safe schools, and safe spaces online and the monumental rise in cyber bullying online and even teen suicide related to online behaviors.

My passion for writing is to expose the influence and affects of ever changing innovations in technology on its impact on society that drove me to write grydscaen: dark and all the the grydscaen books. As a cybersecurity analyst, software engineer, I found that most people don’t understand the vulnerabilities and risks of putting too much information online and on social media – and those actions can actually be dangerous. Like all the grydscaen books, I wanted to educate readers by providing a compelling fictional world with living characters they could emphasize with exploring these technological truths, promoting the importance of science but also giving insight into the world of hackers and both the power, the good and the harm that hackers and technology can have on society.

Rom is an intriguing character that was very detailed. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?

Thanks for the question. Rom was the very first grydscaen character created in the ninth grade, if I have it right, I was doodling in my notebook in Creative Writing class and flushed out his original design instead of paying attention in class.

My parents were programmers developing sophisticated weather and radar systems for the military and the government. Growing up, they were always telling me stories about the software they were developing at the dinner table which was always fascinating. The first comic book pages I drew of Rom in high school were of him in his signature yellow trench coat (he is on the cover of grydscaen: dark) and a homeless teenager who had his memory wiped living on the streets. In the very first comic book page he is seen actually holding a mainframe data punch card to his lips which allows him to read the data on the card. That was my young brain putting into the original comic book pages which became the backstory for grydscaen, the Echelons, the Packrat hacker clan, and Rom himself all my imagination running wild from one of my parent’s dinnertime programmer stories.

The driving ideals behind Rom was to explore the plight of homeless teens with Rom as an oppressed youth shunned by society with no name and no identity after the government captured him and wiped his memory exploring government overreach and how their actions found him throw out on the streets after experimenting on him with no idea who he was or where he came from, therefore exploring, identity, freedom, influence and human fragility.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

I wanted to explore intersectionality, identity, class. Of Rom coming from privilege and then losing everything ending up living on the streets in the Echelons slums. I wanted to show how drastic his life could change in an instant, and how that stripping him of one life gave him another that ended up, with all its discrimination, andto be a new life with more meaning. In addition I wanted to show the affects of technology and the supremacy of data and science, the way hackers view society versus how society views them. How data and technology can be used for good or can be turned into a hostile weapon; all ubiquitous shades of grey. I felt readders could empathize and sympathize with Rom as a characterand also at the same time explore the dark and gritty techno-universe of hackers, while seeing Rom grow coming to terms with his circumstances. I wanted to provide an immersive world that hopefully readers could use to look at their own lives, take inventory on how technology affects them, and possiblt re-evaluate their online footprint.
I also wanted to show the vulnerability of today’s systems and the Internet, and mobile apps. People don’t know what putting information out on social media can potentially expose them to harm. I hoped through grydscaen: dark and a fictional story to entertain while at the same time educate. To open a dialogue where people could review and think about their online safety and maybe influence and help support readers to form a more robust online posture to protect themselves and their kids from cyberbullying, identity theft, malware/ransomware and social engineering attacks on the rise from hackers.

In addition I wanted the readers to decide. Are hackers good, bad, neutral? is the world black and white? Or it is really all just multiple shades of grey? Whose side are you on? I wanted to show the power of technology, and even the “religion of data.” To give readers who may not be aware what is going on all around them, a quick glimpse of how hackers see and move in the world. To open a doorway into an “unknown quantity,” and let readers or the lay person, as hackers are often misunderstood or misrepresented, see that the world indeed looks different from the other side.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

I have a few books in the works in the cyberpunk grydscaen series. Below are a few of the upcoming grydscaen releases and plans, with additional not listed here.

  • grydscaen: idol – release planned Spring 2021 (YA Coming of Age, SF)
  • grydscaen: revolution – planned Summer 2021 (YA SF, Technothriller)

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

A clandestine meet occurs in the Echelons under cover of darkness where Top Secret intel on the stock market changes hands. The insider tip gets the gothic hacker Jester engaged in a high tech game. Parliament votes to lower harsh stock market regulations fueling the Corporation’s bottom line, a payoff from ministers who were propped up by illegal corporate campaign donations. Ordered by Jester, the teenage hacker Rom infiltrates the largest high volume brokerage house causing wild gyrations in trading. When Jester triggers an insidious stock market payload all hell breaks loose threatening the pristine City. Will Zoon, the leader of the Triumvirate, get roped into the fray? Can Raven, the government hacker, put the cryptic clues together before the market crashes? Find out in grydscaen: dark. Whose side are you on?

grydscaen: dark

grydscaen: dark by [Natsuya Uesugi]

Grydscaen: Dark by Natasuya Uesugi reads almost like a confession of part of the author’s life. Especially the detailed bits of being a hacker. Not only does this reinforce the strength in the storytelling, but it also allows readers to feel more connected with the believability of certain events. The main character, Rom, has been bouncing around Natasuya’s head since ninth grade. This is evident in the detailed character development in this story as the authors passion for these characters gives readers a character that is fully realized.

There is a lot of information to take in at the beginning of the book that might turn readers off, but the information is necessary to understand the intricate world we are placed into. A world that reminded me of William Gibson’s Neuromancer. Foremost is the rise of the coding underworld and how coding somehow became a new religion.

The writing is smooth and filled with plenty of action and conversation to keep it moving at a good pace. The main characters are fleshed out enough to make the reader empathize with them as they go through various unique and riveting situations throughout this technothriller. Rom’s backstory is especially interesting as he struggles with who he is now and who he used to be before having his memory wiped clean.

Grydscaen: Dark is a compelling cyberpunk fantasy reminiscent of the old film noir movies, but with a heavy tech and dark future elements of Total Recall or Blade Runner. The novel is relatively short, and with a world this deep and quick storytelling I really wanted there to be more room for the story. I guess that means that there are plenty more Rom adventures to come. Science fiction fans looking for an gritty hacker story with a unique and authentic protagonist will find plenty to enjoy in Natsuya Uesugi’s book.

Pages: 233 | ASIN: B08TPSVRR3

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