A Man of Shadows by Jeff Noon

“The lantern glowed with a silver and blue prismatic light which, seen through the lens of the kaleidoscope, appeared to be a wheel of knives, ever turning.”

John Henry Nyquist is a private investigator living in Nocturna and working (mostly) in Dayzone. Like most PI’s he has a cash-flow situation to manage and has to take what jobs he can to pay his way.

This latest job involves find a rich girl who has run away from home, her powerful father wants her back.

Somehow the case gets more complicated – the Quicksilver murders start to have an impact on things, and for the life of him, Nyquist can’t quite remember why!

His continual switching across time zones begins to affect him and he starts to think he is becoming to suffer from chronostasis.

Yet he continues on, driven, with his inner clock, tick, tick, ticking, keeping him moving onwards. Exploring Dayzone, the Dusk and Nocturna. Moving closer to his moment.

If anything, this book make me edgy, anxious and from time to time I paused in my reading. It was a complex story, fantastic and ghostly. I enjoyed it, yet as I said, I had to keep pausing and coming back to it. I didn’t settle in to it as I would have liked.

I received an e-ARC of this novel through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. NetGalley does not allow for paid reviews.

3/5 Stars (What this means…five-stars-applied-carefully)

Get your copy [click on the image for more information]:

Read it on Kindle [click on the image for more information]:

Official description:
The brilliant, mind-bending return to science fiction by one of its most acclaimed visionaries

Below the neon skies of Dayzone – where the lights never go out, and night has been banished – lowly private eye John Nyquist takes on a teenage runaway case. His quest takes him from Dayzone into the permanent dark of Nocturna.

As the vicious, seemingly invisible serial killer known only as Quicksilver haunts the streets, Nyquist starts to suspect that the runaway girl holds within her the key to the city’s fate. In the end, there’s only one place left to search: the shadow-choked zone known as Dusk.

Save on your mobile [click on the image for more information]:

I’m on giffgaff and want to share the love. Order a SIM and you’ll get £5 extra credit when you activate with £10 or more.

Get a free giffgaff Sim

https://www.giffgaff.com/orders/affiliate/julieshort?ggSMS=app

Get £20 off on accessories when you buy a OnePlus smartphone on oneplus.net [click on the image for more information]:

Advertisements

We Care For You by Paul Kitcatt

Synthetic humans (‘helpers’) and nanobots restoring elderly residents to better health. It sounds wonderful, until you read further and find out more of the intentions of the helpers.

I was very drawn to Margaret, crotchety old lady that she was, especially after her rejuvenation and restoration to full mental alertness. Her helper ‘Winifred’ seemed nice enough in her own way too. In fact the characters were all believable.

Winifred seems to want to learn from Margaret, to access the accrued wisdom that she has. Margaret is flattered that Winifred thinks so highly of her mind.

It’s when the helpers start to determine what happens to their charges that things start to seem a little bit off. But the care home is doing so well. Everyone wants the healing nanobots, especially on the NHS! I’m not sure that I do! Not now!

“Mortality must resume. People in this care home must continue to die. Not at the old rate, because that would cast doubt on the achievements of the nanobots.”

I received an e-ARC of this novel through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. NetGalley does not allow for paid reviews.

4/5 Stars (What this means…five-stars-applied-carefully)

Get your copy [click on the image for more information]:

Read it on Kindle [click on the image for more information]:

Official description:
Margaret Woodruff is slowly dying in a care home. When her son is presented with the chance of exceptional care in her final months, he finds the offer hard to resist.

Winifred is assigned to Margaret’s care. She’s a Helper: a new kind of carer that’s capable, committed and completely tireless – because she’s a synthetic human being.

Under Winifred’s care Margaret’s health improves beyond everyone’s expectations, and Winifred begins to learn from Margaret what it means to be alive. After all, she has a lifetime of experience to pass on – and in a world where youth is the ultimate prize, perhaps it takes a robot to recognise the value of old age.

But how will Winifred use what she learns from Margaret – and what does she truly want from her?

Save on your mobile [click on the image for more information]:

Get a free giffgaff Sim

Get £20 off on accessories when you buy a OnePlus smartphone on oneplus.net [click on the image for more information]:

Broadcast by Liam Brown

“‘Tongue scanner,’ she says in answer to their bewildered stares. ‘Just as unique as a retina or a finger print, and far harder to forge. They’ll be industry standard within twelve months.’ She pauses, allowing herself a small smile. ‘Although you do feel a tad silly sometimes.’”

David Callow, rhymes with shallow, and really that is what he is. He’s a celebrity due to his VLogging and online presence. All he thinks about is whether people are following or watching him.

Then on a hungover morning he is given the chance to be the next big thing. All he has to do is have a small chip slipped under the skin at the back of his neck and his experiences will be shared with the world.

It takes a while for the chip to ‘learn’ David and his thoughts, then suddenly his thoughts and experiences go viral. David becomes a major celebrity trending around the world. He loves it.

He loves it, until it starts to give him problems, but then he discovers that it’s too late to change his mind, the naysayers were right!

A brilliant concept, scarey that it could happen too! Puts me off the idea of having a chip fitted, for sure. What might be called a ‘cautionary tale’.

I really enjoyed reading this, I didn’t even know where it was heading until the end. Really happy to recommend it to sci-fi and ‘AI’ fans (even though I wouldn’t say that it was strictly AI) .

I received an e-ARC of this novel through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. NetGalley does not allow for paid reviews.

4/5 Stars (What this means…five-stars-applied-carefully)

Get your copy [click on the image for more information]:

Read it on Kindle [click on the image for more information]:

Official description:
The idea behind MindCast is simple. We insert a small chip into your skull and then every thought, every feeling, every memory is streamed live, twenty-four hours a day. Trust me – within a few months you’ll be the most talked about person on the planet.
When David Callow is offered the lead role in a revolutionary new online show, he snatches at the opportunity.
Rapidly becoming a viral sensation, David is propelled to stratospheric levels of celebrity. However, he soon realises the downside of sharing every secret with the world.
A prisoner to both his fame and his own thoughts, David seeks to have the chip removed, only to discover the chilling secret lurking at the heart of MindCast, and the terrifying ambition the show’s creator has for him.

Save on your mobile [click on the image for more information]:

Get a free giffgaff Sim

Get £20 off on accessories when you buy a OnePlus smartphone on oneplus.net [click on the image for more information]:

The Australian Concern by Jan Reyneke

“‘One has to assume it’s sticking to its guns with regards to leaving us alone. After all, it is supposedly here to protect us from outside threats, not to chitchat.’ Almost the moment the words left her mouth the visual matrix changed. Where previously it was a mesh of content, what remained in its place was single dark background with text floating ghostly in front of her. THAT IS CORRECT.”

The concept of this story is so very good and I feel so let down because the proofing of the book has not been done as it aught. Which is such a shame for the author too.

Essentially this is book two and you should read “The Argentine Intervention” first, if you haven’t already.

The “Guardians” protect the earth from anomaly incursion under the direction of the “Sentinel”. The Sentinel is eons of years old and has maintained Guardians throughout human habitation of the planet.

Recently incursion events have increased in number and the Guardians have had to be deployed more and more often.

AIX was set up at the point that humanity was made aware of the existence of both the Guardians and the Sentinel. And now AIX wants to be more self determining in protecting earth. But at the very first opportunity, it becomes obvious that humans do not possess the wherewithall to undertake that role.

Until the biggest incursion ever is forecast. Then the world gets to have a say in what happens next.

Because of the proofing issue I should (by my own rules) give this a two star rating, but it feels mean to do so for the story and the concept, so I’m bending a little!

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

3/5 Stars (What this means…five-stars-applied-carefully)

Get your copy [click on the image for more information]:

Read it on Kindle [click on the image for more information]:

Official description:
With a continent broken in two, and the people of Earth settling into the uncomfortable realisation of alien life in the universe, the true fight for the destiny of the planet has only just begun. The alien sentinel and its custodians are yet to face their harshest test.
For Chris, the newest member of this unique group, it will be a trial by fire. With the challenges of balancing his day-to-day life and literally protecting the world against threats—both internal and external—it might simply be too much to expect from him.
In the conclusion to The Argentine Intervention, follow these earthly custodians and those around them, as the consequences of an ancient mistake play out over time and space.

Save on your mobile [click on the image for more information]:

Get a free giffgaff Sim

Get £20 off on accessories when you buy a OnePlus smartphone on oneplus.net [click on the image for more information]:

The Argentine Intervention by Jan Reyneke

“‘What you’ll now experience, is how it would be to find yourself on the moon. I suggest you keep calm and make no sudden moves.’”

This is a story of the modern day, where technology is a natural part of our lives and yet we humans are infants in science and physics. The Queen of the United Kingdom is visited by a stranger in the safest refuge of her home and no-one is even aware of the visit. It is as if it didn’t happen, and yet it has a profound impact on the world and its future, as well as that of a loving son.

The world is guarded by a sentinel, which has been in place for centuries, during that time humans have been selected to act as Guardians for the planet. Serving their time and then passing their inheritance on to another to carry out the responsibility.

They protect the earth from destruction and use extreme physics, far beyond the capabilities of any average human.

This latest incursion may tax the Guardians and their Sentinel more than expected. Humanity is watching.

I found the first 45% of this story a bit slow, with all the scene setting and people descriptions. Once I’d gotten through all that, the story lifted a little bit and flowed better.

I found it a bit like what I think of as a symbiosis between a James Bond script and a science fiction novel. I’d have preferred to just have the science fiction story and then at least I wouldn’t have had to have had the token explicit sex scene, which served no purpose at all in the overall plot, hence the star rating.

The overall plot was in concept a good one, it just took some teasing out, slow to start with most of the action in the last third.

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

2/5 Stars (What this means…five-stars-applied-carefully)

Get your copy [click on the image for more information]:

Read it on Kindle [click on the image for more information]:

Official description:
1.5 Billion Years ago, an alien civilisation attempted a grand experiment with fatal consequences. In an attempt to protect other future civilisations, an advanced system of Sentinels were deployed and tasked with protecting young developing worlds. For eons, unbeknown to its dominant specie, Earth counted amongst those protected worlds. Yet as human development progressed, knowledge of the existence of these Sentinels and the Guardians within its service could no longer be obscured. Now, as knowledge of alien intervention becomes common knowledge, Earth and its extra-terrestrial protector faces their most threatening challenge to date.

Save on your mobile [click on the image for more information]:

Get a free giffgaff Sim

Get £20 off on accessories when you buy a OnePlus smartphone on oneplus.net [click on the image for more information]:

Gnomon by Nick Harkaway

“She is just hours from her first meeting with weird, cartilaginous Lönnrot, just over a week from her loss of faith in everything she has believed in her life.”

An epic read and not for those who want an easy, quick read. It took me a couple of weeks to read it completely, though I wasn’t taking big reading sessions.

It was a story that unfolds in your mind as you think back over it. Which is a bit scary as that is exactly what is happening in Inspector Mielikki Neith’s head as she works through the Gnomon case.

In order to work the case, Mielikki takes the evidence (which is in effect a brain trawl) into her own brain. It then unfolds and Mielikki is able to view and experience the trawl in order to determine the guilt or otherwise (and in this instance it is not clear) of the subject.

The book has many protagonists, and sometimes I found it hard to work out when a switch between them took place. It is a complex story, probably because the brain is very complex. And somehow this complexity was necessary to the tale to give it its depth. At points I wondered where it was all going, but I think in the end it was proven appropriate. And the end is true!

I was able to get lost in the story, it was helpful during a time of duress for me. It gave me relief and I escaped into Mielikki’s life and the lives of those around and in her.

For some people this book may take a bit of getting into, but give it a chance, you may find it becomes quite compelling, and provokes quite a bit of thought.

I received an e-ARC of this novel through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. NetGalley does not allow for paid reviews.

4/5 Stars (What this means…five-stars-applied-carefully)

Get your copy [click on the image for more information]:

Read it on Kindle [click on the image for more information]:

Official description:
In a near-future Britain, a distributed surveillance-democracy called The System knows everything you, and can even spy on your mind. It’s a Panopticon country. But when state investigators then look into the head of a refusenik novelist named Diana Hunter, what they find there is not her life story but that of four other people, spread across thousands of years, all vibrantly real and each utterly impossible – and before they can unravel that puzzle, Diana Hunter, shockingly, dies as a result of the investigation, an unheard of result in a perfect system which protects everyone from harm.
That’s where Inspector Mielikki Neith comes in, a staunch believer in The System who is assigned to investigate the Hunter case. The only problem is that the teasing mysteries in the dead woman’s mind may change all that. And these are extraordinary memories, ranging from the life of a banker named Constantine Kyriakos, who finds himself pursued by a shark that may in fact be a god; and an Ethiopian retired pop artist, Berihun Bekele, who picks up his brushes to create a virtual world called The System at the behest of his games’ designer grand-daughter; and Athenaïs Karthagonensis, the jilted lover of one of the Church’s most beloved saints, who seeks to resurrect her dead son with the help of a non-existent miracle; and then finally GNOMON, the acerbic post-human who is plotting to assassinate the next iteration of the Universe . . .
The question is whether there is a truth hidden in the noise of all those lives, as Mielikki begins to suspect?
Or is all that unfolding experience and drama simply a cover for some kind of attack upon the fabric of the most democratic nation state ever constructed?
And the questions just keep coming. Who was Diana Hunter, and why are her books impossible to obtain? And above all, was Diana Hunter innocent all along – worse, could she have been correct to attempt to withstand a perfect, democratic system?

Save on your mobile:
Get a free giffgaff Sim

The Darkness Within by Lisa Stone 

“It was always worse when he’d had a beer or two. That Feeling. Hot, urgent and raw, tearing through him. Making him restless, argumentative. Angry. It was as though something or someone took control of him, forcing him to act badly, to be nasty and cruel.”

This is a story about a transplant patient, who starts to exhibit different characteristics than his normal ones. Is it his donors organ changing him, or did he always have a propensity to do that which he now does?

Jacob receives a new heart, even as he is coming round his character has changed, he swears, thinks little of women. Once home his family are grateful for his reprieve and do not immediately take in his changes.
Meanwhile his donor’s girlfriend has moved on and is living a happier life as a singleton, while keeping her job in a local bank. She hasn’t told anyone about how her previous relationship was and is taking life one day at a time.

As the story moves forward Jacob’s character changes ever more profoundly and his mother starts to feel concern. She starts to seek help for her son, always wondering whether it is the new heart or the way Jacob was brought up.

The ending is tense and fast paced, I was speed reading to see what the outcome would be for the individual characters. Would any of them be brave enough to solve the matter?

This was a cracking story, different than many others. It explores the idea of memory within donated organs being assimilated by the host bodies. Totally fascinating!

I received an e-ARC of this novel through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. NetGalley does not allow for paid reviews.

3/5 Stars (What this means…five-stars-applied-carefully)

Get your copy [click on the image for more information]:

Read it on Kindle [click on the image for more information]:

Official description:
A gripping new thriller debut that asks the question, how deep in our hearts does evil lie?

When critically ill Jacob Wilson is given a life-saving heart transplant, his parents are relieved that their loving son has been saved.

However, before long, his family are forced to accept that something has changed in Jacob. Their once loving son is slowly being replaced by a violent man whose mood swings leave them terrified – but is it their fault?

Jacob’s girlfriend, Rosie, is convinced the man she loves is suffering from stress. But when his moods turn on her, she begins to doubt herself – and she can only hide the bruises for so long.

When a terrible crime is committed, Jacob’s family are forced to confront their darkest fears. Has the boy they raised become a monster? Or is someone else to blame?

Save on your mobile:

Get a free giffgaff Sim

A Child Made to Order by Piotr Ryczko

“After all, she had the tendency to forget one simple fact: She was at Aftenposten on separate terms than most. She was the daughter of the chief editor. Maybe it was time to curb her gullibility.”

I figured this book would be a thriller-mystery type book, with some sleuthing from the main character to draw out the story.

The story was actually very deep, with many facets to it. The main character is Viola, a journalist on a family newspaper, her family’s newspaper. She is about to become the Middle East correspondent for that same paper as we join Viola at her celebration party.

Before Viola can really get into the swing of the party she receives a visitor, who make Viola think deeply about a previous story that she became very involved in.
From there we are introduced to Viola’s partner, Ronny, who, it seems, will do anything for her. If only Viola can hold on to him.
Of course, that is as long as Viola’s mother Anne doesn’t stick her oar in, as she is wont to do. Viola’s shrink had already told to get out of her mothers grip!

The upshot of her mid-party visit launches Viola into a personal crusade to find out what happened to a missing video blogger. She undergoes doubts and recriminations; fear and trepidation, as she makes her choices that WILL have a major impact on her career and personal life.

Her partner, Ronny, has his own story running through the book and I just wanted them to TALK to each other. But when do people do that , when they most need to, not often.

The story has an urgency to it, as at every turn there is a race against the clock. This kept me reading, even when I wanted to turn off the light and close my eyes!

I’m not going to comment on how the book was written or anything, because when I’m reading I don’t necessarily think about such things unless they are obvious, so why discuss it if it doesn’t impinge on the reading.

I received an e-ARC of this novel from the author in exchange for a fair and honest review.

4/5 Stars (What this means…five-stars-applied-carefully)

Get your copy [click on the image for more information]:

Read it on Kindle [click on the image for more information]:

Official description:
A finely-crafted psychological suspense thriller set in Norway’s capital city, Oslo, that will appeal to fans of Stieg Larsson. 

When a women’s fertility rights campaigner, Marianne Stine, mysteriously disappears, it hardly reaches the news. Only investigative journalist Viola Voss, harried by the blogger’s mother, shows any interest in finding out what happened to the young woman. Yet years pass and there is no further sign of Marianne.

However, on the eve of taking up a prestigious senior post in Norway’s largest newspaper, Voss is once again reminded of Marianne’s disappearance. In fact, Voss is soon presented with a tantalising clue that not only is Marianne alive, she has a healthy young child.

Part of Voss’s fascination with Marianne is because they share the same rare genetic condition that would be passed on to their children. Haunted by having lost her own child due to this hereditary disease, Voss determines – against the strong wishes of her own over-powering mother – to put her new job on hold, try to find Marianne, and an explanation.

Enlisting the help of an ex-police sergeant, the clues point to a fertility clinic on the outskirts of town. But this is where Voss’s problems begin. The clinic’s claim of a 100% fertility treatment success rate is beguiling and, with her inner world in turmoil, she decides to take a risk that will force her to confront her own fears, deal with her loss and decide between right and wrong. 

If you enjoy psychological mysteries with intense drama, look no further than A CHILD MADE TO ORDER 

The issue of genetic manipulation of human embryos, of children literally made to order, is increasingly becoming one of the most important ethical and medical issues of our time. With delicacy, and emotional sensitivity, the author makes you think about the matter like you never have before, in a novel where the tension increases on every page, and ends with a stunning climax. 

Piotr Ryczko is a Polish/Norwegian writer and film maker. A CHILD MADE TO ORDER is his first novel.

Save on your mobile:

Get a free giffgaff Sim

The People at Number 9 by Felicity Everett

“They paused briefly, in the doorway, then, remembering that Lou and Gavin didn’t observe the normal protocols, they let themselves out into the chilly night.”

I anticipated a different kind of read than what was here. I raised it too high in my mind’s eye and was disappointed as a result. This is no reflection on the quality of the writing, it was very easy to ‘see’ what the author was trying to convey and so from that aspect it was well written.

New neighbours move in to the house adjoining Sara and Neil. Their arrival creates a bit of a stir in the neighbourhood and Sara likes that ‘she’ becomes one of their closest friends. Sara drifts away from her own friends as she is drawn into the lives of Lou and Gavin. Both are artists in their own fields and their lives are mysterious and exciting, enticing to Sara.
Lou and Gavin have a tremendous impact on Sarah and Neil’s life story and although it goes full circle, they have to give something up as a consequence.

I probably would not have read this book if I had known what it was like beforehand. It was simply not my cup of tea. Others may well like it, but I found it to be a tedious gossip on the life of a small group of people trying to be more than what they are.

I received an e-ARC of this novel through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. NetGalley does not allow for paid reviews.

2/5 Stars (What this means…five-stars-applied-carefully)

Get your copy [click on the image for more information]:

Read it on Kindle [click on the image for more information]:

Official description:
‘Have you met them yet, the new couple?’
When Gav and Lou move into the house next door, Sara spends days plucking up courage to say hello. The neighbours are glamorous, chaotic and just a little eccentric. They make the rest of Sara’s street seem dull by comparison.
When the hand of friendship is extended, Sara is delighted and flattered. Incredibly, Gav and Lou seem to see something in Sara and Neil that they admire too. In no time at all, the two couples are soulmates, sharing suppers, bottles of red wine and childcare, laughing and trading stories and secrets late into the night in one another’s houses.
And the more time Sara spends with Gav and Lou, the more she longs to make changes in her own life. But those changes will come at a price. Soon Gav and Lou will be asking things they’ve no right to ask of their neighbours, with shattering consequences for all of them…
Have you met The People at Number 9? A dark and delicious novel about envy, longing and betrayal in the suburbs…

Save on your mobile:

Get a free giffgaff Sim

How to be Human by Paula Cocozza

“He was lying on the grass in the centre of her garden. He had chosen an ostentatious spot for a doze. But she didn’t believe he was sleeping, because although his body presented itself as entirely still, his ears spiked sharply, ready to countermand his elegant sprawl.”

This is a really hard book to review without giving the plot away, which is how I like to write up the books I read.

It is about Mary, who lives alone, in a house she bought -out from her ex-boyfriend. Her neighbours Michelle and Eric are friendly enough, with their two kids; George and Flora, the babe-in-arms.

Life is not currently a pleasant place for Mary, I mentioned she had split up with her boyfriend! She is still single and her neighbours invite her to their barbecue. Are they matchmaking?

Talk turns to the local fox population, Michelle has a thing about them and seems to want to get an exterminator in, Mary isn’t so sure.

Mary has a problem of saying the wrong thing and then regretting what she has said. It’s a confidence thing. Maybe with time she will grew stronger, particularly now she has a new companion and protector. At least he will help keep her ex, who has just reappeared unexpectedly in the neighbourhood, at bay.

Mary confused me and yet I totally understood her. I empathised with her so much in many ways and then found myself thinking, why?

How do I score this book? I enjoyed it, but by the same token I found it odd. This is one you will have to decide on for yourself as to whether it is for you. I can’t compare it to anything I’ve read to give you any clues.

I received an e-ARC of this novel through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. NetGalley does not allow for paid reviews.

3/5 Stars (What this means…five-stars-applied-carefully)

Get your copy [click on the image for more information]:

Read it on Kindle [click on the image for more information]:

Official description:
‘An intriguing and subversive debut, charged with the power of the ignored and the suppressed.’ Hilary Mantel
‘Eerie, original . . . A thrilling exploration of what makes us human.’ i
You’ve seen a fox.
Come face to face in an unexpected place, or at an unexpected moment.
And he has looked at you, as you have looked at him. As if he has something to tell you, or you have something to tell him.
But what if it didn’t stop there?
When Mary arrives home from work one day to find a magnificent fox on her lawn – his ears spiked in attention and every hair bristling with his power to surprise – it is only the beginning. He brings gifts (at least, Mary imagines they are gifts), and gradually makes himself at home.
And as he listens to Mary, Mary listens back.
She begins to hear herself for the first time in years. Her bullish ex-boyfriend, still lurking on the fringes of her life, would be appalled. So would the neighbours with a new baby. They only like wildlife that fits with the decor. But inside Mary a wildness is growing that will not be tamed.
In this extraordinary debut, the lines between sanity and safety, obsession and delusion blur, in a thrilling exploration of what makes us human.

Save on your mobile:

Get a free giffgaff Sim