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Book review Book reviews Tuesday Book Blog

#TuesdayBookBlog MEGACITY (Operation Galton Book 3) by Terry Tyler (@TerryTyler4) Too close for comfort but a must read. The whole series #dystopianstory

Hi all:

I bring you the review of the third book in a trilogy I’ve been reading by one of the authors I don’t hesitate to recommend (and who is also a member of Rosie Amber’s team of reviewers, whose reviews I also recommend):

Megacity (Operation Galton 3) by Terry Tyler

Megacity (Operation Galton Book 3) by Terry Tyler 

The UK’s new megacities: contented citizens relieved of the burden of home ownership, living in eco-friendly communities. Total surveillance has all but wiped out criminal activity, and biometric sensor implants detect illness even before symptoms are apparent.

That’s the hype. Scratch the surface, and darker stories emerge.

Tara is offered the chance to become a princess amongst media influencers—as long as she keeps quiet and does as she’s told.

Aileen uproots to the megacity with some reluctance, but none of her misgivings prepare her for the situation she will face: a mother’s worst nightmare.

Radar has survived gang rule in group homes for the homeless, prison and bereavement, and jumps at the chance to live a ‘normal’ life. But at what cost?

For all three, the price of living in a megacity may prove too high.

Megacity is the third and final book in the dystopian Operation Galton trilogy, and is Terry Tyler’s twenty-third publication.

‘As long as some of us are still living free, they have not yet won. Anyone who refuses to live as they want us to has beaten them. That’s how we do it. That’s how we win.’

https://www.amazon.com/Megacity-Operation-Galton-Book-3-ebook/dp/B09765ZKNH/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Megacity-Operation-Galton-Book-3-ebook/dp/B09765ZKNH/

https://www.amazon.es/Megacity-Operation-Galton-Book-3-ebook/dp/B09765ZKNH/

Author Terry Tyler
Author Terry Tyler

About the author:

Terry Tyler is the author of twenty-two books available from Amazon, the latest being ‘Megacity‘, the final book in the dystopian Operation Galton trilogy. Also published recently is ‘The Visitor‘, a post-apocalyptic murder mystery set in the same world as her popular Project Renova series. She is currently at work on a psychological thriller that centres round an internet dating con, but has not yet finished with devastated societies, catastrophe and destruction, generally. Proud to be independently published, Terry is an avid reader and book reviewer, and a member of Rosie Amber’s Book Review Team.

Terry is a Walking Dead addict, and has a great interest in history (particularly 12th-17th century), along with books and documentaries on sociological/cultural/anthropological subject matter. She loves South Park, the sea, and going for long walks in quiet places where there are lots of trees. She lives in the north east of England with her husband.

https://www.amazon.com/Terry-Tyler/e/B00693EGKM/

My review:

I received an ARC copy of this book, which I freely chose to review.

I discovered Terry Tyler’s novels a few years ago and since I read the first novel in her Renova Series (Tipping Point), I have been lucky enough to read everything she has published (or almost). Although she writes in different genres (and, The Visitor, her previous novel, although set in the Renova world was a thriller), it is as if she had picked up some vibes, because she’s been writing dystopian novels, or novels set in dystopian universes recently, although those universes feel uncannily similar to ours (or to how ours might end up being some years down the line). This means that her books are gripping, impossible to put down, and at the same time chilling and very hard to read. There are so many events, topics, trends, behaviours, and attitudes we recognise, that is impossible not to worry about what that might mean for the future of humanity if we take her novels as a warning/prophecy.

This novel is the third (and final? I add the question mark because I know characters and stories often like to challenge their authors and keep demanding their attention, so, who knows?) in the Operation Galton series, and if Project Renova is set in a dystopian world that develops as a result of a deadly virus (of course, there is far more to it than that), Operation Galton, also set in a dystopian but not all that distant future, has the added dread of not being brought on by any catastrophic events, but it seems to develop, almost naturally, from social and political circumstances that are very similar to those happening around us (one might even say that, considering how things have gone these last couple of years, things have gotten worse in our own world). So, be prepared for strong emotions and shocking events, because although readers of the other two books in the series knew terrible things were going on, “you ain’t seen nothing yet”.

The story is divided into four parts, set in chronological order, from 2041 to 2062. While the two first parts cover a decade each, part three recounts the events that take place in the years 2061 and part of 2062, and part 4 is much more focused and tense, covering a much shorter period of time.

As is usual in Tyler’s novels, she does not focus on plot over characters, despite the complexities of the story and the world-building necessary to set the narrative. The descriptions are never overwhelming or heavy with details, and this works well because we see things from the perspective of characters who are either used to the type of world they live in or have far too many things going on in their lives to spend much time obsessing over every little detail. The story is narrated from the point of view of several characters, usually in alternating chapters: a young girl who loses her family in traumatic circumstances and ends up in a Hope Village (Tara); one of the boys she meets there and becomes friends with (Radar); a young woman living off-grid at the beginning of the story who ends up moving to a Megacity with her partner and paying a terrible price for it (Aileen); in part 3 and 4 we meet some other characters who contribute their own thoughts and perspectives (mostly Leah, and fleetingly, Xav, Skylar & Kush); and there are also some chapters from the point of view of the movers and plotters (Jerome, Ezra). Some are in the first person (Tara and Aileen’s), the rest are in the third person but we still get to experience what the character feels, at a little bit of distance (thankfully, in some cases), and there are a couple of chapters that recount what has happened and/or set the scene, also in the third person but omniscient, in this case. There is not a boring moment in the whole novel, but it is true that things accelerate as the narration moves along, and the last two parts will have readers totally engaged, worrying, suffering, and hoping with and for the main characters (and booing at the bad ones as well).

Tara and Aileen, although far from perfect, are genuinely likeable. Tara is tough, a survivor, but has a big heart and is vulnerable at the same time. Aileen has to cope with plenty of losses and heartache, and, worst of all, lies and continuous disappointments. If Tara’s circumstances throughout her life mark her as pretty unique (although some of her experiences are, unfortunately, not as uncommon as we’d like to believe), Aileen is a character easy to identify with, and they are both extremely relatable. Radar, whom we meet as a young boy, bullied and abused, does anything he feels he needs to do in order to survive, but he is far more complex than others give him credit for. I am trying to avoid spoilers, so I won’t go into much detail, although I must confess that I usually prefer baddies with a degree of complexity and ambiguity (because good and evil are not always, if ever, clear cut) and that is not the case here, but it is true that it makes for a “slightly” more reassuring story.

I have already said that there are many elements and events in this series that are eerily similar to things and trends happening today: the dominance of social media, the manipulation of politics by big money and powerful corporations, the rise of authoritarian and populist discourses, fake news, conspiracy theories… and subjects that also appear in the story and are not necessarily characteristic of dystopian novels, but are also very present in our lives: bullying, poverty, unequal access to jobs, education, and healthcare, sexual harassment, violence and abuse, drug use, peer pressure, complex family relationships… It is impossible to read this book (and the whole series) without thinking how easy it would be for things such as those to happen, and how there are many different ways to interpret or evaluate the same events, depending on your perspective. What might be a clear conspiracy theory for some, with no logical basis, might be a cry for freedom and independent thinking for others, and the difference might be impossible to tell when the atmosphere is one of mistrust and suspicion all around.

You’ve probably guessed by now that I’m going to recommend this novel and the whole series. You would be right. The author does include a link at the beginning of the book for people who have read the other two books a while back (or those who haven’t read them) to a brief summary of the previous two books, so, in theory, it would be possible for somebody who hasn’t read the other two books to read this book first, although I wouldn’t recommend it. I am sure people would enjoy the book and get a general sense of what had gone on, but the three books work well together and fit in like the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, building up a clearer and more complete and global picture if read in the right order. There are also some characters who have appeared in previous novels who either make an appearance or are referred to, but even without that, because each one of the books focuses on a part of the whole project to create a new world order (and we get to experience it from a vantage point of view each time), the story moves naturally and evolves throughout the three books, so yes, do read it, but make sure you read the other two books first. You will enjoy a great story, with compelling characters you will be able to identify with, well-written and bound to make you think.

There is violence, some pretty extreme events take place, and as I’ve mentioned some of the subjects discussed, people who know they are bound to be badly affected by any of those would do well to avoid it. For those who like to get some idea of what the ending is like, let’s say that most matters are settled satisfactorily (personally, I felt this was perhaps a bit too fast and relatively smooth, considering everything that had gone on), although some are left open to the reader’s imagination, and the book ends up in a fairly hopeful note.

I recommend this book (and the whole Operation Galton series) to anybody who enjoys dystopian novels, and even those who have never read one but appreciate stories well-written, with strong characters, and don’t mind a story set in a near and more-than-a-bit troublesome future that doesn’t stretch too much the imagination. This is not a reassuring read, but it is bound to make readers look at things in a new light. And hope the author is wrong.

Thanks to the author for this book and the whole series, thanks to all of you for reading, and remember to like, share, comment, click, review and always keep safe, keep smiling, and keep reading!

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book promo FREE

#Summerreads #FREEBOOKS and offers Effrosyni Moschoudi (@FrostieMoss) has a great offer you should not miss!

Hi all!

I know it’s not one of my usual days to share posts, but as the weekend is coming and many of you (well, hopefully) will be enjoying or preparing for the summer holidays (and if not, perhaps you need a great read set up in beautiful Greece), I had to share this great offer by one of the writers who has visited my blog on a few occasions, Effrosyni Moschoudi.

Author Effrosiny Mouschudi

To celebrate the arrival of summer, she has all of her novels on offer. It was difficult to choose a date to share this with you, but I hope you’ll take note…

The Necklace of Goddess AthenaFREE July 16-20

Phevos, an ancient Greek, remembers very little from his childhood. What’s more, his mysterious father never explained how his mother disappeared years ago. When Phevos turns twenty, his father sends him on a time-traveling journey to modern-day Athens without telling him the reason. There, Phevos finds new friends, romantic love, and a trail of clues that lead to shocking revelations. Excited, he continues to unravel his family’s mysteries and soon realizes his father has set up an ingenious plan so their family can be whole again. This plan involves two Olympian gods and a war that’s been raging between them seemingly forever. One of the gods is out to help Phevos, the other, to destroy him. Will he escape the mortal danger and manage to fulfill his destiny?

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00I5GXHCO
The Lady of the Pier, book 1: The Ebb – $0.99 July 16-20, FREE July 21-22.

CORFU, GREECE, 1987
On a long holiday with her grandparents, Sofia Aspioti meets Danny Markson, a charming flirt who makes her laugh. Although she tries to keep him at arm’s length, worried that village gossip will get back to her strict family, she falls desperately in love. That’s when strange dreams about Brighton’s West Pier and a woman dressed in black begin to haunt her. Who is this grieving woman? And how is her lament related to Sofia’s feelings for Danny?

BRIGHTON, ENGLAND, 1937
Dreaming of wealth and happiness, Laura Mayfield arrives in Brighton to pursue a new life. She falls for Christian Searle, a happy-go-lucky stagehand at the West Pier theatre, but when she’s offered a chance to perform there, her love for him is put to the test. Charles Willard, a wealthy aristocrat, is fascinated by her and pursues her relentlessly. Will Laura choose love…or money?

The Lady of the Pier, book 2: The Flow – $0.99 July 16-22

The Lady of the Pier, book 3: The Storm – $0.99 July 16-22
Link to the trilogy: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01BOWI3HO

The Amulet – $0.99 July 16-22 (You can check my review, here🙂
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B01MCZ2UOU

And, so you don’t miss any of the books, here is the link to the author’s Amazon page:

http://www.amazon.com/author/effrosyni

Thanks to Effrosyni for such great offer, thanks to all of you for reading and remember to like, share, comment, click, review and keep smiling! 

 

Categories
Book review Book reviews

#Bookreview THE FRAUD OR MIRACLE TRILOGY by Christoph Fischer (@CFFBooks) Great characters, mind-bending twists and turns, and a fantastic ending.

Hi all:

Today I bring you a particularly long review as I got a paperback copy of a trilogy by an author I’ve read before (and you must visit if you haven’t, as he’s not only talented but a great supporter and advocate of other writers and good causes, oh, and Eurovision) and I decided to review each book separately, but…

The Fraud or Miracle Trilogy by Christoph Fischer
The Fraud or Miracle Trilogy by Christoph Fischer

The Fraud or Miracle Trilogy by Christoph Fischer  Great characters, mind-bending twists and turns, and a fantastic ending.

“The Fraud or Miracle Trilogy” comprises three novels that explore – both, seriously and light-heartedly – the conflict between facts versus faith and trust versus doubt. In “The Healer” advertising executive Erica Whittaker, diagnosed with terminal cancer, seeks help from retired, controversial healer Arpan. He has retired for good reasons, casting more than the shadow of a doubt over his abilities. So begins a journey that will challenge them both as the past threatens to catch up with him as much as with her. On one level this is just the story of a young woman trying to survive, on the other it’s about power, greed and selfish agendas, even when life or death is at stake. Can Arpan really heal her? Can she trust him with her life? And will they both achieve what they set out to do before running out of time? In “The Gamblers” Ben, an insecure accountant obsessed with statistics, gambling and beating the odds, wins sixty-four million in the lottery and finds himself challenged by the possibilities that his new wealth brings. He soon falls under the influence of charismatic Russian gambler Mirco, whom he meets on a holiday in New York. He also falls in love with a stewardess, Wendy, but now that Ben’s rich he finds it hard to trust anyone. As both relationships become more dubious, Ben needs to make some difficult decisions and figure out who’s really his friend and who’s just in it for the money. In “The Sanctuary on Cayman Brac” the loose ends from both novels come to a head in a sizzling finale. Praise for “The Healer”: Lots of twists and a brilliant ending I like a book that has me second guessing all the way through. It grabs hold and takes you on a wonderful journey. This book is exactly like that. I changed my mind as to who is wrong and who is right, who could be trusted and who couldn’t, from the start through to the finish. Praise for “The Gamblers” This story is thrilling, fascinating, fast-paced, and it presents interesting physiological questions on human natural in general and Ben Andrews in particular. A wonderful story I highly recommend!

Paperback:

https://www.amazon.com/Fraud-Miracle-Trilogy-Christoph-Fischer/dp/1978395841/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Fraud-Miracle-Trilogy-Christoph-Fischer/dp/1978395841/

E-book:

https://www.amazon.com/Fraud-Miracle-Trilogy-Christoph-Fischer-ebook/dp/B076N771K4/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Fraud-Miracle-Trilogy-Christoph-Fischer-ebook/dp/B076N771K4/

Author Christoph Fischer
Author Christoph Fischer

About the author:

Christoph Fischer was born in Germany, near the Austrian border, as the son of a Sudeten-German father and a Bavarian mother. Not a full local in the eyes and ears of his peers he developed an ambiguous sense of belonging and home in Bavaria. He moved to Hamburg in pursuit of his studies and to lead a life of literary indulgence. After a few years, he moved on to the UK where he now lives in a small town in West Wales. He and his partner have three Labradoodles to complete their family.

Christoph worked for the British Film Institute, in Libraries, Museums, and for an airline. ‘
The Luck of The Weissensteiners’ was published in November 2012; ‘Sebastian’ in May 2013 and ‘The Black Eagle Inn’ in October 2013 – which completes his ‘Three Nations Trilogy’. “Time to Let Go”, his first contemporary work was published in May 2014, and “Conditions”, another contemporary novel, in October 2014. The sequel “Conditioned” was published in October 2015. His medical thriller “The Healer” was released in January 2015 and his second thriller “The Gamblers” in June 2015. He published two more historical novels “In Search of a Revolution” in March 2015 and “Ludwika” in December 2015.
His latest novel “The Body In The Snow” is his first cozy mystery.
He has written several other novels which are in the later stages of editing and finalisation.

https://www.amazon.com/Christoph-Fischer/e/B00CLO9VMQ/

My review:

I have decided to review each story separately. So here goes…

First:

The Healer (Fraud or Miracle? Book 1) by Christoph Fischer A psychologically astute book that will make you think about your own mortality. And what an ending!

I have read and reviewed a couple of the author’s books in the past and enjoyed them, and I was intrigued by this book when it came out, but due to my personal circumstances (my father suffered from cancer and died around the time of its publication) I didn’t feel I was in the best frame of mind for it. Now that it has been published as part of The Fraud and Miracle Trilogy, I was very pleased to receive a paperback copy and finally get to read it.

The story is deceptively simple. A woman suffering from terminal pancreatic cancer, desperate, follows the advice of her personal assistant and approaches a healer, Arpan. I am not sure if he would call himself a “faith” healer, but he insists that those he treats should be totally invested in the process, including transferring 50% of their assets to his account. Although he states all that money goes to charity, it caused suspicion and scandal years back, and he has been keeping a low profile ever since. After much insistence and a different deal, he agrees to treat Erica, who also has secrets of her own. There are strange conspiracies surrounding Arpan and his healing process but Erica’s life is changed forever. Things are not as they seem, of course.

The story is written in the third person from Erica’s point of view, and we get to share in her doubts, suspicions, paranoia, hope, and also to experience the healing with her. The book transmits a sense of claustrophobia, and although there are treks around the Welsh countryside and later we move to a different country, most of the story takes place within Arpan’s tent, and there are only a few main characters (mostly Erica (Maria), Arpan (Amesh), and Anuj) with some secondary characters that we don’t get to know very well (Hilda, Julia, Gunnar). There are no lengthy descriptions of settings or of the appearance of the characters, because we follow the point of view of a woman totally preoccupied with her health and her mortality, and that makes her not the most reliable of narrators. She describes the physical and mental effects that the illness and the healing process have on her, and we are also privy to her suspicions and doubts. The book offers fascinating psychological insights into how much our “rational” point of view can change when our life is at stake, and it is impossible to read it and not wonder what we would do in Erica’s place.

I kept thinking that the story, which relies heavily on dialogue (both between characters and also internal dialogue), would make a great play, and its intensity would be well suited to the stage. Although most of the characters are not sympathetic, to begin with, their humanity and the big questions they are forced to deal with make them intriguing and worthy subjects of our observations.

The ending brings a great twist to the story. Although I think most readers will have been suspicious and on alert due to the secrets, false information, continuous doubts, and different versions of the truth on offer, the actual ending will make them question everything and re-evaluate the story in a different light. And, considering the nature of the subject it deals with, that is a great achievement.

I recommend it to those who enjoy stories that make them think, to readers who are not searching for cheap thrills and prefer a psychologically astute book and especially to those who want to feel personally invested in the stories they read. I look forward to the rest of the books in the trilogy.

Second:

The Gamblers (Fraud or Miracle? Book 2)

My review:

This is the second book I read in the Fraud and Miracle trilogy, and its inclusion there is sure to put readers on their guard. But that is the beauty of it. You know something is going on, and you might even suspect what (although not, perhaps, in detail) but you can’t help but eagerly keep reading and follow the story, enmeshed in the same web of illusion and deceit that traps the main character, Ben.

The story is written in the third person and follows the point of view of Ben, the protagonist. He is a somewhat socially awkward young accountant who leads a modest life in London, who is not precisely streetwise, and who feels more at ease playing games in online communities than interacting socially in person. He is obsessed with numbers (in real life, I wondered if somebody with similar personality traits might fit into the very mild range of autistic spectrum disorder. He acknowledges that he is bad at reading people’s emotions and expressions, he is anxious in social situations and functions by imitating other people’s behaviour, he displays obsessive personality traits…) and does not believe in luck and chance. He is convinced that random events (like lottery or games of chance results) follow a pattern and he is determined to find it. He gets a bit lottery win (£64 million), and although he does not value money per se (at least at the beginning of the story), he decides to treat himself travelling to New York. Everything seems to change from that moment on, he makes a new friend (the glamorous and charming Mirco) and meets the girl of his dreams, Wendy.

The third person point of view suits the story perfectly. On the one hand, we follow Ben’s point of view and his thought processes. We are aware of his misgivings and doubts. He does not believe in luck, after all, and he cannot accept that all these good things are happening to him, especially as they seem to coincide with his lottery win. At the same time, the third person gives us enough distance to observe and judge Ben’s own behaviour (that does not always fit his self-proclaimed intentions and opinions) and also that of those around him. There are things that seem too good to be true, there are warnings offered by random people, there are strange behaviours (both, Mirco and Wendy, blow hot and cold at times), and there are the suspiciousness and rivalry between his new friends. We warm up to his naiveté and to his child-like wonder and enjoyment at the fabulous new life that falls on his lap, but we cannot help but chide him at times for being so easy to manipulate.

The author reflects perfectly the process Ben goes through in his reading. Mirco keeps telling him that he should forget about methods and just “feel” the game, and despite his attachment to his theories, there is something in him that desperately wants to believe in miracles, in good luck, and, most of all, wants to believe that he deserves everything he gets: the money, the friendship, and the love. This is a book about con artists and the book implements their technique to perfection. Con-games are a big favourite of mine, and I love how well the book is designed, and how it treats its readers to a peep behind the scenes of the big players, while at the same time making them play the part of the victim. Yes, we might be shouting at Ben and telling him not to be so gullible, but what would we do in his place? Wouldn’t we just want it to be true too?

The story takes place in glamorous locations and it revolves around the world of high-stakes gambling, night-clubs, and big spenders. It might be particularly interesting to those who love casinos and betting, but that is only one aspect of the book. It can be read independently from the first book in the series, and although there are tense and emotionally difficult moments, there are no violence or extreme behaviours. And the ending… You might be more or less surprised by the big reveal, but the actual ending is likely to leave you with a smile on your face.

A book that will make you question yourself and that will keep you guessing until the end. A fun read for lovers of con-games and those who always wondered what they would do if their luck suddenly changed. I’m looking forward to the third book in the trilogy.

And third:

The Sanctuary on Cayman Brac: Key to the Truth (Fraud or Miracle? Book 3) 

My review:

This is book three in the Fraud and Miracle Trilogy, and after reading it, I confess I’ll miss the characters and the twists and turns.

The series deals in subjects that seem more relevant now than ever. In a world dominated by fake news, where elections are doctored, and the future of a nation might be in the hands of people who manipulate data to benefit the highest bidder, the status of the information we take for granted, who deserves our trust and how far we would be prepared to go to learn the truth have become pressing matters we all must seriously think about.

Author Christoph Fischer brings together the cast of the two previous novels, delighting the many readers who felt, like Erica, that things were not settled and they wanted to know what would happen next. Had she really discovered the truth, and was she going to let it go at that? Like we did in The Healer, we follow Erica, who has managed to locate Arpan in Cayman Brac, and has decided to confront him, gun in hand. But, no matter how determined she is, she cannot resist the connection she felt to Arpan, and she accepts his version of the truth. Of course, that might be “his” truth, but is it what really happened? Erica once again cycles from belief to doubt and back again, and although her feelings for Arpan intensify, she needs to know if she was ever “healed” or not. Thanks to her insistence we get to meet Hilda, but like many other characters in the story, appearances can be deceptive.

Readers of the series will recognise some of the characters from The Gamblers and that will make them keep a close eye on what they do. But even with the advantage we have over Erica (we follow her and share in her clues, but have good reason to doubt some of the events, as we know who some of the students at Arpan school really are), the author once more keeps adding twists to the story, and the final reveal scene (worthy of an Agatha Christie novel) is as tense as any of the poker games in The Gamblers. I will not reveal the many bluffs, but if I had to summarise it I’d say… Wow.

I particularly enjoyed meeting Erica again. Although the nature of her healing might not be what she had initially expected, she is much more open and human, able to recognise her own limitations and weaknesses, and prepared to experiment and enjoy life. While some of the other characters might not have changed much (and continue to play for high stakes), others, like Ben, have learned their lessons and now focus on what really matters. Beyond the twists and turns of the plot, there are solid characters that grow and change throughout the series and we root for them and care for their well-being.

The island and the retreat, which we enjoy both as visitors and as participants thanks to Erica, are beautiful and inspiring and although most of us would find it difficult to cope with some of the rules and restrictions of the sanctuary, we’d all love to visit it and spend some time recovering and reenergizing. Personally, I would love to experience the inner workings of such a place and perhaps even to bear witness to some of the mind games.

A great ending to the trilogy, entertaining, satisfying, and surprising, that will leave readers feeling hopeful and confident. Sometimes the teachers are the ones who need to learn the lessons and letting go of control is the way to progress and evolve. My congratulations to the author.

Thanks to the author, to all of you for reading and remember to like, share, comment, click, REVIEW and keep smiling!

[amazon_link asins=’1481130331,1499130597,B00FSBW2L6,1519539118,B00CLL1UY6,B00TYG1WGM,B076J3YKXZ,B01LVYRI9L’ template=’ProductCarousel’ store=’wwwauthortran-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’89012751-3fb3-11e8-8a05-f586ec67cfb0′]

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Book review Book reviews

#TuesdayBookBlog #Bookreview TIPPING POINT. (Project Renova Book 1) by Terry Tyler (@TerryTyler4) A #post-apocalyptic story of a Britain that is so familiar it is truly scary.

Hi all:

Today I share the review for a book by one of my fellow reviewers at Rosie’s Book Review Team. She is not only an excellent reviewer but as I suspected, she can write as well!

Tipping Point (Project Renova Book 1) by Terry Tyler
Tipping Point (Project Renova Book 1) by Terry Tyler

Tipping Point (Project Renova Book 1) by Terry Tyler

‘I didn’t know danger was floating behind us on the breeze as we walked along the beach, seeping in through the windows of our picture postcard life.’

The year is 2024. A new social networking site bursts onto the scene. Private Life promises total privacy, with freebies and financial incentives for all. Across the world, a record number of users sign up.

A deadly virus is discovered in a little known African province, and it’s spreading—fast. The UK announces a countrywide vaccination programme. Members of underground group Unicorn believe the disease to be man-made, and that the people are being fed lies driven by a vast conspiracy.

Vicky Keating’s boyfriend, Dex, is working for Unicorn over two hundred miles away when the first UK outbreak is detected in her home town of Shipden, on the Norfolk coast. The town is placed under military controlled quarantine and, despite official assurances that there is no need for panic, within days the virus is unstoppable.

In London, Travis begins to question the nature of the top secret data analysis project he is working on, while in Newcastle there are scores to be settled…

This is the first book in the Project Renova series; the second, Lindisfarne, is due to be published in September 2017, with the final instalment in the middle of 2018. A collection of outtake short stories, Patient Zero, is in progress, and should be available around December 2017.

https://www.amazon.com/Tipping-Point-Project-Renova-Book-ebook/dp/B074LSCX5M/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Tipping-Point-Project-Renova-Book-ebook/dp/B074LSCX5M/

Author Terry Tyler
Author Terry Tyler

About the author:

Terry Tyler is the author of fourteen books on Amazon, the latest being ‘Tipping Point’, the first book in her new post apocalyptic series. She is proud to be self-published, is an avid reader and book reviewer, and a member of Rosie Amber’s Book Review Team.

Her next book, ‘Lindisfarne’, the sequel to ‘Tipping Point’, should be available in September 2017. She would love to have a list of fascinating and unusual hobbies to include in her bio, but is too busy writing to do much apart from read and flop in front of Netflix when the document is saved for the day. Terry is a Walking Dead addict, and writes for one of their main fansites. She lives in the north east of England with her husband, and is still trying to learn Geordie.

My review:

Thanks to the author who kindly offered me an ARC copy of this novel that I freely chose to review.

I’ve known Terry Tyler, the author of this book, for a while, mostly through her reviews of other writer’s books (we seem to share a similar taste in novels and she’s partly responsible for my starting to read more historical fiction), but although I’ve been aware of her books for some time, and I’ve read very good reviews of them, I found it difficult to decide which one of them to read first. When she offered me a copy of her new novel, the first in a trilogy (and there is a story arc that develops through it, so no, you should not expect a conventional ending if you read this novel, and you should read the series in order if you want to fully understand the story), I took her up on the offer, as I could kill two birds with one stone. I’d read a novel that sounded very intriguing and I would also have read a work by an author I’d wanted to check out for quite a while.

This book is a post-apocalyptic novel set in the near future (2024 to be precise) in the UK. Although some of the specific locations are fictional, the author explains in a note at the end where the original inspiration for some of them came from, and indeed, some are real. The setting is one of the great achievements of the novel. For those of us who live in the UK, it is all too real and familiar (with the shops, facilities, political and social organisation, TV programmes, food, language, and even typical behaviours of the population) and that makes it, in many ways, scarier than novels that are set either in imaginary locations, or in vague settings, that in their attempt at representing everywhere sometimes become too unfamiliar and alienating. Another one of the things that differentiate this novel from others in the genre (and I’m aware that the author writes in many different genres and is mostly interested in the stories rather than the labels attached to them) is its attention to characters. Whilst many post-apocalyptic novels spend a lot of the time, either on the cause and the development of the said apocalypse or on descriptions of the new world and post-apocalyptic society, sometimes the characters are little more than superheroes that had not discovered yet they had special survival skills, and spend most of the novel demonstrating us their awesomeness. Although I am not an expert in post-apocalyptic novels, I have read some (the one I best remember in recent times is Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel) and I’d dare to say that some readers who might not usually read novels in this genre would enjoy this one.

The time frame of the story is somewhat fragmented. The novel starts plunging us in the middle of the action, as the two main characters, Vicky and her teenage daughter Lottie, are escaping from their town and the enforced isolation and transportation its inhabitants face due to the epidemic. The novel (mostly narrated in the first person by Vicky) then goes back to explain how the situation reached the ‘tipping point’ of the title. The first person narration makes us experience the story close and personal, whilst at the same time limiting the amount of information we get to what Vicky can get hold of. Although her partner, Dex, was well-informed and had been warning her about the world governments attempts at gathering information about the population through social media with shady intent, she always dismissed his concerns and now realises he might have been right all along. (As I have included the description of the novel and want to avoid spoilers, I won’t discuss the whole plot in detail, but let’s say population control is taken to the extreme).

As I have commented more than once regarding first-person narrations, there are readers who like them more than others, and often it depends on how we feel about the narrator. I must confess that on many occasions I found Vicky very annoying, especially at the beginning of the story. She refuses to believe anything that falls outside of her comfort zone, as if she was wearing blinkers; she is uncritical of official versions of the truth, despite her partner’s attempts at enlightening her. She has little confidence in herself (even when she acknowledges that she has brought up her daughter alone and has achieved much despite her difficult circumstances), and places a lot of responsibility and trust in Dex (although she does not share his ideas or even listen to him at times), her partner for the last six years. He is a fair bit older than her, savvier, and seems to be the one who has to make the decisions and who is expected to come up with answers and solutions to all the problems. (I thought the fact that when they moved they only kept a car, and now he’s the only one to drive and she has lost confidence in her driving seems to encapsulate their relationship). Of course, we do not know him directly, as we only have Vicky’s memories of him, and we learn later those might have been rose-tinted. From the little snippets we get, I found their relationship a bit difficult to understand, as they don’t seem to have much in common (as some of the other characters note, including her daughter) and we learn that she was quite naïve about him.  But she grows and matures through the novel, and although, thankfully, she does not become Wonder Woman, she proves herself resourceful and capable, she dares to try new things and does whatever is necessary to ensure her survival and that of her daughter. I am curious to see how the character will develop in the coming books and also to find out what role she will ultimately end up playing (as the narration seems to be addressed at the readers at times, rather than just being something she is writing exclusively for herself).

I really liked Lottie. She is a credible teenager, determined where her mother is hesitant, flexible and adaptable while remaining a teenager, naïve at times, eager to discover who she is and what she likes, and to fight for her individuality and independence. She brings much of the humour to the story and the relationship mother-daughter is a joy to read (apocalypse or not).

There are some chapters told in the third-person by an omniscient narrator who gets into the head of different characters, some that will evidently play a part in future instalments of the series, and others that provide a clearer background and explanation of how and why everything developed.

The writing is fluid and flows well. The first-person narration is convincing and the reported speech patterns of the different characters are distinctive and help create a clear picture in the reader’s mind. The pacing is steady, at times faster (especially when there is an acute threat to deal with) but at others it slows down to allow for some moments of contemplation and reflection.

Although I said before that the story is not focused on the science behind the illness or on a blow-by-blow account of the spread of the epidemic, that does not mean we do not gain insight into the destruction the virus causes or how it results in a collapse of the usual niceties of civilisation, but rather that we see these on a small scale and from a human-sized perspective, that, if anything, makes it scarier, as it is easier to visualise how this could happen around us. And, as quite a few readers have commented, one feels very tempted to withdraw completely from social media after reading this book, so convincing its plot is.

This first novel in the Renova trilogy sets up the characters and the background situation for the rest of the series. I am intrigued by the number of diverse characters who are set to come together at Lindisfarne. Holy Island, a place I have visited, is fascinating, but not very large for such a crew of people, and it is not somewhere where one can easily hide or even escape from. The confluence of so many people with such different expectations and agendas is bound to be explosive, and I can’t wait for the next book, that luckily should be out in September 2017.

I recommend this novel not only to readers of post-apocalyptic literature, but also to those who enjoy stories that question our beliefs, our society, our values, and that are interested in people, their relationships, and the way they see themselves and others.  I am sure this series will go from strength to strength and I look forward to the next two books.

Thanks very much to Terry for the book, thanks to all of you for reading, and remember to like, share, comment, click, and of course, if you read any books, REVIEW!

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Blog Tour Book review Book reviews

#Bookreview blog tour THE COMPLICATED LOVE SERIES by Neeny Boucher. Meant to be together but the course of true love… #TuesdayBookBlog

Hi all:
I signed up for this blog review tour when my mother was in hospital as I wanted something that would be a light read and would keep  me busy, although I thought it was only one book! There was a change of date, but here finally I bring you Complicated Love the series. 
I had some extra comments I haven’t included because I’m convinced my experience was different to somebody who had a more leisurely read (I read the three books in 6 days…).
And without further ado….
Title: The Complicated Love Series
Author: Neeny Boucher
Genre: contemporary, humor, and romance
Blurb:
Dina Martin and Nicholas Riley are total opposites.  She’s the good girl with the perfect grades and he’s the bad boy with the reputation.  Growing up together with close family ties, they have been at war for as long as they can remember. When the unthinkable happens, neither of them wants it.

Set in a small town at the turn of the millennium, this story is about family and friendship, the love of music and how sometimes who you don’t want, is exactly who you need. 

This is how it all started. A sweet love story. Well, almost.

I was provided a free copy of this novel in exchange for an unbiased review as part of a book-review tour. Having read the three novels I recommend that the whole series is read to get a better grasp of the story and the characters. See my other two reviews for full details.

The first book in the Complicated Love Series (and I must explain that I read them in the order of publication, so I read book 2 first, then book 3 and last but not least, book 1) is told in the third person, with alternating chapters for each of the two main protagonists, the couple who are destined to fall in love, although at the point where the story starts you couldn’t find two more different people. Dina (Christina) a fourteen year old girl, daughter of a bohemian family, with a driven and determined mother, a virgin, studious, invisible to many and not particularly attractive. And Riley (Nicholas), a seventeen year old wild boy, head of the Outcast Crew, best friends with Johnny, Dina’s brother, part of the music band (waiting for a name at that point), the black sheep of the Rileys (and old moneyed family from Shanwick) who’s never noticed Dina other than to tease her. He has all the girls in the world, does not study and embarrasses his family no end. He also has a reputation as a psycho. How do these two characters find each other? Well, Dina auditions as singer for the band and her voice talks to Riley’s soul.

The book could well be a Young Adult or New Adult story, with interesting characters, strong friendship and bonds, stories of bullying, drugs, wild parties, inappropriate relationships, teenage love, talent and misunderstandings galore. This novel follows the chronological order of the romance between the characters, without any of the jumps in time that characterised the other two, and it also has its share of hilarious moments and disappointments and sadness. Gabby, Dina’s sister, although young, only ten, is already one of the stars of the book and a force to be reckoned with, and we get to meet the parents and get a more rounded picture of events.

The writing style is compact, easy to follow and the dialogues are one of the strengths of the book.

I did enjoy this novel and thought many readers would enjoy it too, although it is perhaps different in tone to the other two (there are some sexy moments but definitely it is much tamer regarding the sexual encounters of the characters, although not squeaky-clean). Readers who read this novel first and then move on to the rest might find them quite a different reading experience, although the characters’ journey can be followed through the three novels and develops in an understandable and organic manner.

Blurb:
*Recommended for audiences over the age of 18*
If you like your characters quirky, socially awkward, and badly behaved, this is the book for you. What if you got another chance with the love of your life, even when you didn’t want one? Would you grab the opportunity, or run as fast as you could in the opposite direction?
Christina Martin, lawyer, ex high school grunge queen, teenage bride, divorcee, and once a suspected killer, is confronted by a past that she has spent the last eight years carefully avoiding. Drawn back to her hated hometown, with her family under the worst of circumstances, matters are complicated when she finds the love of her life, ex-husband and nemesis, Nicholas Riley, also in residence.
Riley, a man with secrets, who has a penchant for psychological games, made wary by life and with one weakness, his ex-wife. Christina is the woman that brings out all his protective instincts and others less noble. All it takes is one fateful night, where these two collide, opening a door both thought slammed shut and locked forever.
From the past to the present, Christina and Riley show that true love doesn’t always run smoothly, it might not conquer all, and most importantly, love is complicated.
“Lost in Flight” is book two in the “Complicated Love Series.”

I can’t live with or without you, forwards and back

I was provided a free copy of this novel in exchange for an unbiased review as part of a book-review tour.

Two families, the Rileys (wealthy, old family from Shanwick) and the Martins (father a musician and British, mother mixed-race. Bohemian and alternative). A boy, Riley (Nick, but known as Riley), who is the black-sheep of his family. Handsome, talented, attractive, has all the women he wants and he’s even chased by those he can’t bear. A girl, Christina (Dina, because her older brother, Johnny, couldn’t pronounce her name when they were kids), responsible, serious, clever, good at school, big boobs but not classically pretty otherwise. They’ve grown together (their mothers had been good friends and so were both families. Later Dina’s mother dies of cancer, but by that point their mothers were no longer friends and their families weren’t in very good terms either), Riley is Johnny’s best friend. Yes, they fall in love, and although they seem destined and fated for each other, chaos and destruction ensues. The series chronicles the story of their relationship. I know you’re probably familiar with the story of the star-crossed lovers, and their complications. This is not Romeo and Juliet but the hilarious moments (mostly when the girls get together) alternate with pretty sad ones where the relationship crashes and burns.

Book two is told, like the rest of the series, in the third person and from alternate points of view. One chapter from Dina’s point of view (when the series opens she’s been living in Washington D.C. for years and works as a lawyer, so she’s more Christina than Dina) and the next from Riley’s. They are divorced but as Dina’s little sister, Gabby (she is one of the greatest characters in a book with plenty of amazing secondary characters), is in hospital and Riley manages the band where Johnny, Dina’s brother, plays, they seem fated to meet again. The story follows their collision course. The two are like the opposite poles of magnets and despite their best intentions they can’t avoid revisiting and reliving their story, both the good and the bad.

The novel is a rollercoaster of emotions. Each character goes through hope and desperation many times over, and shows why they got together in the first place, and also how they ended up hurting each other so badly. They are clearly in love still, but don’t seem able to move past their past. They keep bringing up things that happened before, and the novel moves backwards and forward in time to share with the reader many of the events that brought the couple to where they are now. Although I did not find the story in general difficult to follow, I must admit that at times I wasn’t so sure what had happened first and it wasn’t simple to keep the timeline straight in one’s head.

The two characters are likeable. Christina cares deeply for her family and her friends (the fabulous and fiery Bonnie, I adore Bonnie, and Mandy, the common-sense and practical one) and tries her best to be grown-up and responsible, always allowing her sense of duty to dictate her actions (even when it means risking her self-esteem and sanity), but her insecurities are brought to the fore when she has to go back to Shanwick, where she had been badly treated. Riley wants Dina back, but he is also bitter and has insecurities of his own, and both of them hide secrets that mean there’s plenty of heartbreak and healing to be done.

As I mentioned, I enjoyed the variety of characters, especially the secondary ones, although as tends to happens in these novels, I also wanted to grab the two protagonists by their necks and shake them, telling them to stop being so silly and start being honest with each other.

There are some sex scenes, and although not erotica and not the most explicit I’ve read, I wouldn’t recommend it to people looking for a good clean and sweet romance. The couple are passionate and it shows.

The style of writing makes it easy to read and the dialogue sparkles at times, with characters having distinctive voices. Some of their expressions and quirks I won’t easily forget.

There were many unsolved questions by the end of the book and I look forward to learning more about the characters and their adventures.

Blurb:
Forced to return to her hated hometown to work, Christina Martin, lawyer and ex resident bad girl, finds herself questioning her life choices. Reunited with her former husband, Nicholas Riley, their tenuous and complicated relationship is tested when secrets from the past and present are revealed.
Riley, a man with explosive secrets and penchant for psychological games, faces the dilemma of keeping the woman he loves through lies by omission or potentially losing her with the truth. This isn’t just their second chance for happiness, it’s their last chance and there may be some things that love can’t conquer at all.
Equal parts helped and hindered by a colorful cast of supporting characters, Ties that Bind, book three in the Complicated Love series, continues the dysfunctional relationship of Riley and Dina.

Darkness, forgiveness and endings (but not where and when you think)

I was provided a free copy of this novel in exchange for an unbiased review as part of a book-review tour.

In book three of the Complicated Love Series, we follow the story of Dina and Riley from where we left them in book two, when they had worked through some of the issues that had ended their previous marriage, but there were still many secrets and actions the characters had taken that their loved one didn’t know about, ensuring further complications. Again the story is told in alternating chapters from each of the protagonists’ point of view and there are some jumps in time where we get to learn more about the events surrounding their wedding and then the traumatic divorce, which had been referred to, but not discussed in detail. There are fewer changes in time (I wouldn’t call them flashbacks as they seem to come at points in the story where both characters are thinking about that particular event and they’re not exclusively narrated from one of the character’s perspective) than in book 2, and the narration is more straightforward, although it also swings to extremes, reflecting the emotions the characters go through. When things seem to have been solved between them, with all secrets revealed and both of them accepting the other for what and who they really are (and in the process accepting themselves too), thinks get much darker.

There are some sex scenes (I would rather call them sexy and passionate) but less explicit than in book two, and there is a hilarious scene early on in the book involving a cat. Well, there are several funny scenes involving that cat. Again there are funny and sad scenes in the novel, although I found them more finely balanced than in book two, with the ups and downs a bit less extreme.

I was particularly touched by the conversation between Dina and Riley’s Mom, a character that had been particularly difficult to understand up to that point. On the other hand there is a psychiatric diagnostic offered as an explanation in the novel that as a psychiatrist I had my doubts about, but even with that I enjoyed the ending.

I also enjoyed the secondary characters I had come to love in the previous book, and gained respect for some of the ones I didn’t like that much. Gabby, one of my favourite characters, comes into her own and she sizzles. The style of writing was again easy to read, dynamic and with great dialogue exchanges. A fitting conclusion to the series.

Neeny Boucher is a nom de plume because my real name sounds like a 19th Century suffragette. Originally from New Zealand, I’m a long-time supporter of the All Blacks. Currently, I live in Europe and am trailing spouse, following my husband all over the world for his work. This not only gives me the opportunity to write, but also, experience the world and indulge in one of my favorite past-times: people watching.
My own employment history is varied and ranges from the sublime to the ridiculous. All of those experiences and encounters, however, have allowed me to collect amazing stories, which now form the basis of my writings.
I have always loved the weird, the outcast and those on the margins of society because they see the world in a different way. These are the people my characters are based around.
I have a BA, BA Honors, and a PhD in Sociology/Indigenous Studies.
The Complicated Love Series, books one to three: Back of Beyond, Lost in Flight, and Ties That Bind.

Author Links:


Buy Links:
Back of Beyond: http://amzn.to/22xbydo
Lost in Flight: http://amzn.to/29w7B8t
Ties that Bind: http://amzn.to/29r5xcJ
Excerpt from Lost in Flight:
Christina, Shanwick, The Present, 2012
Skin meets skin, trailing promises and desire. Feathery breaths whisper on Christina’s shoulders. Her eyes snap open, squinting at the morning sun. The dull throb in her head gives notice, as does fierce thirst.
Her tongue seeks moisture on her lips, but there’s none. Christina’s stomach roils. Her breath is radioactive. She makes her own self feel sick.
Blue walls, a dresser, and a familiar door: recognition tugs at her consciousness. Christina knows this room, but hasn’t been here in a long, long time. She’s also naked and not alone.
Wrapped around her is her ex-husband, ex-love of her life, and persona non grata, Nicholas Riley. Riley’s fast asleep, breathing heavily, and his hands are wandering up her body. One lands on her boob, clutching, groping.
Christina jerks forward, shrugging him off. She opens and closes her eyes, counting to ten. Nothing changes and he is still here.
The gory details of last night are behind the ominous, pulsating fog in her head. The man, the lack of clothing, and the rumpled bedding indicate what it involved. Adrenaline responds to her internal alarm.
If he wakes… A myriad of awkward scenarios run free-flow through her head. This will be the fastest exit of shame in the history of exits of shame.
Extracting herself finger by finger from Riley’s death grip, Christina slips over the side of the bed. The room sways, rocking back and forth. She lurches forward on wobbly legs.
Christina’s bladder aches. She needs to do things, desperate things… human things. She just can’t do them naked.
Her little blue dress is at the end of the bed. Hunching down, she crawls to retrieve it. A quick search for her other belongings throws up further questions. Draped at an odd angle on the mirror are her panties. It looks like someone slingshot them.
Cringe lands on Christina’s face in big, red, heat spots. What did she do? Scratch that. Willful ignorance is sometimes a kindness.
Her bra, shoes, and handbag are nowhere to be seen. The bras and shoes are manageable, but the handbag is a problem. Her life is in there.
Hauling on her dress, Christina slinks over to her panties, pulling them on with a hop and a bump. She recoils at the woman in the mirror. Smeared mascara accentuates dark brown eyes and then there’s the lipstick. It’s everywhere: face, teeth, chin, and neck.
But, the makeup is nothing in comparison to the hair. Her after-sex hair is an 80’s rock video. Dragging her fingers through it, she winces. Taming it is a lost cause and also, she doesn’t want to anger it.
Years ago, this wouldn’t have bothered her. She was “Dina,” high school Queen of the Outcast Crew, and a true believer in grunge. By today’s standards, Christina Martin, lawyer, she is a complete mess.
Wiping as much of last night’s makeup off as she can, Christina creeps to the door. Riley hasn’t moved, just rolled over onto his back and settled in the space she vacated. Taking a deep breath, she blows it out of her mouth quietly.
I can do this. I can get out of here and if anything comes of it, I can use the old lawyer’s trick of: deny, avoid, defer, and engage. There is also “settlement,” but that is the last resort.
Christina’s hand is on the bedroom door handle. She freezes at the crunching sound it makes. Every nerve ending is on high alert, but the silence from him allows her to relax.
She pulls the door toward her, but it sticks. She pushes and pulls, but it will not budge. Horror sweats break out.
“Good morning.” Riley’s raspy, amused voice hits her senses like an old lover’s caress. Intimate, knowing. It sends chills up her spine.


Thanks so much to Lady Amber’s Reviews & PR and to Neeny Boucher for this opportunity, thanks to all of you for reading and if you’re interested, like, share, comment and CLICK!

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