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#TuesdayBookBlog SURVIVORS’ CLUB by M.K. Martin (@MKMartinWriter) (@NotAPipePub) #RBRT Fun #sci-fi for lovers of action, genetics, and intriguing monsters.

Hi all:

This review, of one of Rosie’s Book Review Team, is a bit frantic, but it was the effect of the book.

Survivors’ Club by M.K. Martin

Survivors’ Club by M. K. Martin

Geneticist Marius Tenartier wants to cure humanity’s worst diseases, but Chrysalis Biopharmaceuticals uses his work to mutate humans into terrifying abominations. With the CEO’s fearless daughter, Marius races to stop the spreading infection before it becomes a global pandemic. The world is on the line, and the clock is ticking.

Links:

https://www.amazon.com/Survivors-Club-M-K-Martin-ebook/dp/B07BJLD4KX/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Survivors-Club-M-K-Martin-ebook/dp/B07BJLD4KX/

Editorial Reviews

Review

“A fun, fast read. …thriller, horror, conspiracy and more all rolled into one.”

Kurt Clopton author of SuperGuy

“A taut bio-thriller with an ensemble of protagonists so lovable you’ll want to take them home … and a threat so dire you’ll have nightmares.”

-Karen Eisenbrey author of Daughter of Magic and The Gospel According to St. Rage

..”.too plausible for comfort, the monsters much too close to home, and the knowledge that we have the technology to unleash such destruction is enough to leave the reader gasping right up to the very end!”

-Mikko Azul author of The Staff of Fire and Bone

“Filled with the shrieks, howls, moans, and wordless mumbles of the Infected, Survivors’ Club uncovers malevolent plans and subversive twists that lead us down a path littered with corpses, staggering toward an approaching doom. Get ready, because once you pick this novel up, you won’t be able to put it down!”

Heather S. Ransom author of Going Green

Author M.K. Martin
Author M.K. Martin

About the author:

M. K. Martin is a motorcycle-riding, linguistics nerd. A former Army
interrogator with a degree in psychology, she uses her unique knowledge and skill set to
create smart, gritty stories that give readers a glimpse into the darker corners of the human
mind.
After getting her feet wet with a couple of short stories, M.K. Martin’s debut novel, “Survivors’ Club” is now available.

https://www.amazon.com/M.-K.-Martin/e/B078FVD7X1/

My review:

I write this review as a member of Rosie’s Book Review Team and thank Rosie Amber (check here if you would like to have your book reviewed) and the author for providing me an ARC copy of this novel, which I freely chose to review.

Let me start by saying that this book is a pretty wild ride. I quote one of the Amazon reviewers (Eric Witchey) because he says it very well and more concisely than I can (as those who read my reviews know all too well): If Andromeda Strain had mutant, undead Cthulhu babies, this would be the offspring. Yes, indeed. Those of you who follow my blog and my reviews probably know I read some science-fiction but I’m not a big authority on it and it is not one of my default genres. But somehow, when I read the description of this book and the biography of the author, I decided to give it a go. I’ve been interested in genetics since long before I decided to study Medicine, and although I pursued a different line of work, I know I’m not alone in following new discoveries and studies on that field. The book also promised plenty of action, and the author’s own military experience and her degree in psychology intrigued me as well.

The story is narrated in third-person from a variety of characters’ points of view, although each chapter is only told from one point of view, so there is no head-hopping or confusion (although due to the frantic pace the story moves at once the infection starts, it’s important to remain attentive). The three main characters are a scientist (a geneticist), Marius, the head of security at Chrysalis Biopharmaceuticals, John Courage (perfect name), and Miranda, the 18-year-old daughter of the company’s CEO (she joins them later in the book, during the first appearance of the monster/infection). Other members of Chrysalis and other settings also play a part and help create a more rounded view of the events and provide an outsider’s evaluation of the characters. Although there are no lengthy disquisitions, navel-gazing, or tons of biographical information, the main characters are fleshed-out, and they have their quirks (Marius is quite nerdy, with a love of British TV series, while Miranda is a credible young girl, at times losing focus of what is at stake to moan about lack of TV, and she can easily be swayed by the winning smile of a charmer, while John is strong and professional but not without his humanities), their strengths and weaknesses.

The voices of the characters are credible and they use the jargon and technical terms appropriate to their jobs and positions, although the alternating points-of-view ensure that we gain the necessary knowledge from other characters who are also novices, and the story is not difficult to follow, without ever falling into dumbing down or easy explanation. There are likeable and less likeable characters and we get to change our minds about some of them as we read, but I think most readers will find somebody to identify with or care about (and a few individuals to hate too, not to mention the monstruous creature, which has more nuances and is far more intriguing than at first might appear).

The first part of the novel is mostly about setting up the characters and introducing the background information (equivalent to world building) necessary to fully appreciate later the scale of the threat and the difficulties in navigating Chrysalis. The company and its labs are set in an isolated location and their procedures and features turn it into a complex and effective setting for the action scenes, as eerie and creepy as the gothic mansions of the classic horror genre.

The writing is nimble, the scientific and the security topics are well-researched, the action scenes very visual and gritty, showing the expertise of the author, the pace increases as the infection/invasion advances; there is gore, the creatures… Well, the Cthulhu mention is quite apt. There is humour and there are lighter moments, although towards the end of the novel there is not much letting off and the rhythm ramps up to a mad crescendo.

There are pop culture references and some themes running through the novel (what happened in Argentina?) that will amuse some readers more than others, but I feel they add to the atmosphere. I particularly enjoyed the mix of danger and humour, the realism and inside knowledge of how the ex-army security personnel worked and their esprit de corps, and the way the three seemingly disparate protagonists come to know and care for each other. Ah, and there is no explicit love story (there are hints at possible loving feelings between some of the characters but, thankfully, no true or fake romance going on. Hooray!).

The is a sample of the catalogue from the publishers, Not a Pipe Publishing (I love Magritte as well), at the very end of the book, so don’t get too comfortable while you read it, as it will end before you expect it, but the blurbs of the novels made me feel very curious and I’ll have to try to explore it further.

Talking about the ending, yes, it ends with a promise of more adventures and a twist that did not surprise me but I found satisfying. (Oh, and I’ve also read that the author is thinking about writing a short story about what happened in Argentina for her subscribers. I think that’s a great idea and something I was thinking of suggesting as well). I wonder if adding a list of abbreviations or technical terms at the end might assist readers in not missing a single detail, but it is not essential.

In sum, a wild ride, with plenty of thrilling action, scarily credible science, likeable and relatable characters, good doses of humour, in a great setting, and with horrifying and intriguing monsters, who are not, by far, as guilty as the corporate greedy industry behind the plot. I recommend it to lovers of adventures set in a scientific/genetic research environment, especially those who like their monsters to go beyond easy scares. An author to keep an eye on.

Thanks to Rosie and the members of her team for their support and hard work, thanks to the author, thanks to all of you for reading and remember to like, share, comment, click, review, and keep smiling! 

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Book review Book reviews

#TuesdayBookBlog #Bookreview Zero Day (John Puller Book 1) by David Baldacci Recommended to those who enjoy action novels, spy novels, thrillers, and definitely to Baldacci fans.

Hi all:

Today I review a book by a very well-known author I had not read before.

Zero Day by David Baldacci
Zero Day by David Baldacci

Zero Day (John Puller Book 1) by David Baldacci

From David Baldacci–the modern master of the thriller and #1 worldwide bestselling novelist-comes a new hero: a lone Army Special Agent taking on the toughest crimes facing the nation.

And Zero Day is where it all begins….

John Puller is a combat veteran and the best military investigator in the U.S. Army’s Criminal Investigation Division. His father was an Army fighting legend, and his brother is serving a life sentence for treason in a federal military prison. Puller has an indomitable spirit and an unstoppable drive to find the truth.

Now, Puller is called out on a case in a remote, rural area in West Virginia coal country far from any military outpost. Someone has stumbled onto a brutal crime scene, a family slaughtered. The local homicide detective, a headstrong woman with personal demons of her own, joins forces with Puller in the investigation. As Puller digs through deception after deception, he realizes that absolutely nothing he’s seen in this small town, and no one in it, are what they seem. Facing a potential conspiracy that reaches far beyond the hills of West Virginia, he is one man on the hunt for justice against an overwhelming force.

David Baldacci is one of the world’s favorite storytellers. His books are published in over 45 languages and in more than 80 countries, with over 110 million copies in print. David Baldacci is also the cofounder, along with his wife, of the Wish You Well Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting literacy efforts across America.

https://www.amazon.com/Zero-Day-John-Puller-Book-ebook/dp/B004TI5N38/

Editorial Reviews

Review

“Readers expect excitement and intrigue in David Baldacci’s books, and Zero Day is no exception…As Baldacci’s new hero narrowly escapes countless close calls, the pairing of the author’s imagination and knowledge create a wild ride for the reader. Puller is gutsy, brash and likable. Best of all, he survives to reappear in the next book of this new series.” (The Free-Lance Star )

Zero Day is a nifty, paranoid thriller disguised as a murder mystery, and Baldacci advances it at a speedy clip with a nice mix of intrigue, tantalizing clues and the occasional explosion…Baldacci’s books are fast-paced battles between good and evil.” (Richmond Times Dispatch )

Review

“Readers expect excitement and intrigue in David Baldacci’s books, and Zero Day is no exception…As Baldacci’s new hero narrowly escapes countless close calls, the pairing of the author’s imagination and knowledge create a wild ride for the reader. Puller is gutsy, brash and likable. Best of all, he survives to reappear in the next book of this new series.” (The Free-Lance Star )

Zero Day is a nifty, paranoid thriller disguised as a murder mystery, and Baldacci advances it at a speedy clip with a nice mix of intrigue, tantalizing clues and the occasional explosion…Baldacci’s books are fast-paced battles between good and evil.” (Richmond Times Dispatch )

Author David Baldacci
Author David Baldacci

About the author:

David Baldacci has been writing since childhood, when his mother gave him a lined notebook in which to write down his stories. (Much later, when David thanked her for being the spark that ignited his writing career, she revealed that she’d given him the notebook to keep him quiet, because “every mom needs a break now and then.”) David published his first novel, ABSOLUTE POWER, in 1996. A feature film followed, with Clint Eastwood as its director and star. In total, David has published 34 novels for adults; all have been national and international bestsellers and several have been adapted for film and television. His novels have been translated into more than 45 languages and sold in more than 80 countries; over 110 million copies are in print. David has also published six novels for younger readers.

David received his Bachelor’s degree from Virginia Commonwealth University and his law degree from the University of Virginia School of Law, after which he practiced law in Washington, D.C.

https://www.amazon.com/David-Baldacci/e/B000AQ0STC/

My review:

Thanks to NetGalley and to the publisher, MacMillan, for offering me an ARC copy of this book that I freely chose to review.

David Baldacci is one of these authors whose names a reader (and even a non-reader) cannot escape. His books are widely distributed and he always seems to have a volume or two in the bestsellers list (no, not the Amazon one on a little-known genre, but the real thing). Despite all that (or perhaps because of it, as sometimes some names seem so familiar that I feel as if I had already read/watched or whatever it is they do, them before) I had never read any of his books. I saw that coinciding with a book launch, NetGalley was offering a copy of the first book in the John Puller series, and I decided perhaps it was time I read him. (I don’t have any specific opinions on best sellers as such and I don’t necessarily avoid them as a matter of principle but I do prefer to discover them early on, so I can make my own mind up).

The story, narrated in the third person, mostly follows John Puller, a military investigator that is all you probably would wish for in such a character. He has complex family relations (including a genius brother imprisoned for life for treason), he has seen his share of combat and has the medals and the scars to prove them, he is as skilled at fighting as he is at investigating, and although usually he works as part of a team, he can be a one-man-band when required (as is the case here).  There are some moments (like the first chapter) when we follow other characters, but this is for a very good reason, and we, by and far, experience the events from Puller’s perspective. Of course, that does not mean we know everything he knows, because the book hides information at times and that means there are some surprises (the number of surprises might depend on how close your attention and on how many books of the genre you have read).  The story is a combination of a spy story with highly skilled military investigator/hero in charge, and a more standard police procedural, with big secrets, conspiracies, and environmental issues thrown in for good measure. There are hints of a possible romance, but nobody is up to the task, and the time frame is very tight for such developments.

The investigation is very detailed, and we get to know quite a few of the characters in the small West Virginian town of Drake, a coal mining place that has become almost a ghost town due to the environmental and economic consequences of the exploitation and depletion of its resources by the sole industry in the area. Baldacci shares as much loving detail on the way the coal industry works (or at least some far-from-exemplary companies), as he does on everything else: the way the military works, the different roles of the investigating and security agencies and how they interact, the equipment used, the weaponry… This might be too much for some readers, but I am sure it will make others very happy. I did enjoy more the discussions of the environmental issues and the socio-economic effects of the coal-extracting industry than the details about the equipment, but there is plenty of action and intrigue to keep readers of mystery, and also spy novels, entertained.

My favourite character is Sam Cole, the female police officer in charge of the investigation. She has problems of her own and also a difficult relationship with her family, and seems the perfect match for Puller. I would probably have preferred the novel to be about her, but that is not the genre or the focus of it. In many ways, her character is the one that makes us see Puller as something more than a perfect fighting and investigating machine, all professional, and efficient. Yes, he has a cat, some sort of relationships with his father, and an interesting dynamic with his brother, but she is the only person who is not a relative he seems to relate to at a level beyond the casual, and it is not only because it is helpful to his mission.

I agree with comments that the novel is formulaic in many ways (Puller survives several attempts on his life, has to subvert orders and get inventive to save the day and manages to pull an incredible feat at the end), although as I haven’t read other Baldacci’s books, I cannot comment on how much better or worse Puller is compared to some of his other heroes (Reacher is mentioned often in the reviews, sometimes agreeing he’s as good, others denying it). I imagine once you have such a following as an author, you know what your public wants and expects, so it is perhaps disingenuous to accuse him of writing to a formula. It is not a genre I read often, and I prefer something more distinctive, less heroic, and with a bit of humour.

The book is well paced, the writing supports the story rather than calling attention to itself (as I said, some readers might find there is too much detail, but I doubt his fans will, and after reading the acknowledgements, it is clear that he is well-informed and has had access to first-hand information not many would have), and if you like lone heroes with a conscience, John Puller makes a pretty decent one. Recommended to those who enjoy action novels, spy novels, thrillers, and definitely to Baldacci fans. I am not sure I’d say I’ve become one of them, but I might try another one of his stories at some point.

Thanks to NetGalley, the publisher, and the author for the book, thanks to all of you for reading, and remember to like, share, comment, click and REVIEW!

Categories
Book review Book reviews Rosie's Book Review Team Rosie's Book Team Review

#Bookreview RBRT HELL HOLES: WHAT LURKS BELOW (VOL. 1) by Donald Firesmith (@DonFiresmith) Science,horror, fantasy, paranormal and plenty of action #TuesdayBookBlog

Hi all:

Today I bring you a review of a novel that, depending on how you look at it, either fits in many genres or doesn’t fit in any. It’s set in Alaska, that as you know I want to go and visit in the future, but after reading this… I still want to go, but perhaps I’ll be watchful for holes.

Hell Holes. What Lurks Below (Vol. 1) by Donald Firesmith
Hell Holes. What Lurks Below (Vol. 1) by Donald Firesmith

Hell Holes: What Lurks Below (Volume 1) by Donald Firesmith Science,horror, fantasy, paranormal and plenty of action.

A geologist, his climatologist wife, two graduate students, a local newspaper reporter, an oil company representative, and a field biologist travel to one of dozens of huge holes that have mysteriously appeared in the tundra of the North Slope of Alaska. Their mission is to research these strange craters that threaten financial and environmental catastrophe should they open up under the Trans-Alaska Pipeline or any of the many oil wells and smaller pipelines that feed it. Unfortunately, a far worse danger lurks below, one that threatens to destroy all of humanity when it emerges. Who will survive the demonic invasion to flee south towards the safety of Fairbanks?

Here, my review:

I received a free ARC copy of the book and I voluntarily decided to review it. I am also sharing this review as part of Rosie’s Book Review Team.

Hell Holes is an intriguing book and one difficult to classify. Set in Alaska, the prologue already gives us a hint about what is to come, but once we start reading the account written by Professor Jack Oswald, we get taken in by the mystery of the holes, and by the hypotheses suggested, sending us in the direction of science-fiction. The explanations and the possible scenarios are plausibly rendered and the fact that Oswald’s wife, Angie, studies the effect of climate change, add to the interest, although that line of investigation doesn’t last long.

The plot turns soon when the holes prove to be dangerous in more ways than one, and paranormal and fantastic elements become more important as the plot moves on. There are also horror elements, like the monsters and the destruction and killings, and we do get more than a few hair-raising moments.

As often happens with some of these genres, there is a fair amount of exposition, regarding the set-up of the different pump stations and oil fields, and later about the supernatural elements (as one of the characters is revealed to be completely different to what we thought at first sight). As there is a description of the different Hell inhabitants later on after the end of the story, it might feel somewhat repetitive.

The book is also very short, even more than it looks like when we check the pages, as the end comes at around 80% of the book length, and the rest is taken by a summary/description, a cast of hell characters, a brief biography of the author and a longish sample of the next book, that follows (with a slight overlap) from the first one. From the sample, we see that the second book in the series is narrated by Professor Oswald’s wife.

The novel (novella) is plot-driven, and once the chase is on, the book moves quickly and never lets off, and we don’t have much chance to notice that we do not know the characters in detail, and there is plenty of room for development. The first person narration would seem to allow for a more in depth knowledge of the main character, but although there are some glimpses of guilty feelings and a strong sense of responsibility that make Oswald come across as a good man, this is after all supposed to be an account written by him for other eyes, to do with facts not feelings, and it does not dwell much on subjective matters. There might be time to get to know the characters more during the series but one suspects that the action will continue taking pride of place in the next novels.

There are series where it doesn’t matter where you start reading (or it matters less and it’s possible to read any novel and enjoy it in its own right without feeling you’re missing the context). This is not the case here, as although the story seems to be told from different points of view in the different books, it is all the same story. And in case you hate cliff-hangers, the book ends up in a worrying twist/hook. But, fear not, because if you read the sample of the next book at the end, at least that hook is solved.

The book is an easy and quick read and an action-filled one that you’ll imagine as a TV series or a movie with no difficulty. If you’re a stickler for specific genres and strong characters it might not suit you, and you might question some of the details, but if you’re looking for an entertaining read that moves easily between genres, and don’t mind investing in a series, give it a try.

hell-holes-what-lurks-card

A few links, both to the author and to the book (and yes, he makes wands!):

Author Websites/Webpages: DonaldFiresmith.comAmazonBookBubBooklifeFacebookGoodreads,ScribdSmashwordsWattpad 

Personal:  About.MeFacebookGoogle+TwitterWebsiteWikipedia

ACM Distinguished Engineer: LinkedInResearch Gate,  SEISlideshare 

Hell Holes: What Lurks Below: AmazonApple iBooksBarnes and NobleCreateSpaceGoodreadsIndigoKoboSmashwords

 Wand Maker: EtsyFacebookWand Shop

Thanks to the author for providing me a copy of the book, thanks to Rosie for her fabulous team of reviewers, thanks to all of you for reading, and you know what to do: like, share, comment, and CLICK!

 

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