Book Review – Everything To Lose by Gordon Bickerstaff

I’ve been meaning to get to Bickerstaff’s second novel since I finished the first one about this time last year. The adventures of Gavin Shawlins and the Lambeth group – an intoxicating mixture of science and action – are just too much fun to pass up. This time around Gavin is joined by Zoe Tampsin, a bad ass former SAS operative who has little compunction about beating the snot out of the bad guys to help the mission along.

The mission revolves around performance enhancing drugs and the big money that will stop at nothing to make them theirs. Any time you’ve got a lot of money and a lot of power on the line, people will do whatever it takes to grab that piece of the pie. At that point, the performance enhancing drug runner turn into straight-up drug runners with about the same level of ethics.

In a story that starts with simple questions about whether or not a new drug will work and rapidly drops us into a world of Nazi secrets, spontaneous human combustion, and human trafficking, Bickerstaff gives us a tale that never lets up and even introduces an age-old American conspiracy that dates back to World War II.

The beauty of the story is even though Bickerstaff takes Gavin and Zoe through a complete story of drugs, criminals, and greed, he introduces a larger story arc about conspiracies and politics.

All in all, an excellent read and well worth the time.

While chasing down illegal sports drugs, Gavin and Zoe stumble into the greatest unresolved mystery of World War 2.

University researchers claim their new product will boost the performance of every athlete in the world. The Lambeth Group send a scientist, Gavin Shawlens, to investigate the claim.

The product is stolen, top athletes disappear, and the research team are unaware that their product has a dangerous side effect. Gavin must stop the product launch before more people die horribly. When Gavin disappears, Zoe Tampsin, from the Lambeth Group, must find him before he becomes the next victim.

As if Zoe hasn’t got enough on her plate. Past events in Gavin’s life catch up with him. A powerful US general has decided that Gavin must die to prevent exposure of a 60-year-old secret capable of world-changing and power-shifting events. 

The chase is on…

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Book Review – Stealing Silence by E.A. Darl

It’s always fun to read someone’s first novel. For those of you who’ve never written a book, dropping it into the wild is a moment of wild hope and massive, bone-shaking panic. Fortunately, the people that make it far enough to get the book written, get it edited and formatted, and put together a cover usually have enough skill and gumption to put together a decent story.

As far as I know, this is E.A. Darl’s first book and just in case anyone is wondering, I thought it was pretty good. So, if you’re reading this E.A., you can relax a little.

Set in a not-too-distant future, Stealing Silence is the first of what will probably become a series of stories about a world that fell apart, a pair of girls who lost their parents, and the government that stomped on everyone. In some ways, it’s a parable for our times. In others, it’s a nice twist on dystopian fiction.

Most dystopian books – at least the ones I’ve read – focus on the world falling apart from war or some external input that tears the fabric of the world apart and spits on it. Darl’s precipitating event was ecological, a slow slide into chaos as the food begins to run short. The world ended not with a bang, but with a whimper, leaving everyone with too little to eat and an uncertain future.

Into this mix comes Avalon, a young woman trying to care for her sister and avoid dying by inches from starvation. After she gets popped for trying to steal food, Avalon winds up in the middle of a crazy plan to find out just what the heck caused the devastation and what can be done to fix it.

Stealing Silence does a good job with its protagonist, focusing most of the narrative on her point of view. One of the things I would have liked to have seen, and perhaps subsequent stories in the series will cover it, is getting a look at the world through the eyes of others. We get hints that there’s a lot going on outside of the main story, but the story is tightly focused. Not that that’s a bad thing, mind you. But I would like to see more of the world in future stories.

All in all, a fun read. It clocks in at around 95 pages, so it’s not a taxing read and has plenty of space for expansion. Like all introductory stories, it does a good job of introducing our characters and the world they live in while leaving us with enough questions to make us want more.

“Orphaned. Alone. Starving.
The land is dying. As resources dwindle, the population is placed at the mercy of a secretive government, which operates on its own agenda. Critical top-level scientists researching the ecological disaster have gone missing, their disappearance a cold case file that haunts the local constabulary.
Desperate for answers, the police captain hatches a plan to recover a critical key to the land’s survival. What they need is an experienced thief, and they know just the girl. Avalon is not just any burglar; she is an uncommonly good one. Caught in the act of stealing, she is recruited against her wishes to pull off the boldest heist ever: to raid the high security government facilities.
Can one young girl pull off the theft of a lifetime? Failure is not an option, for it will mean starvation for all.
Don’t miss out on this exciting new dystopian series! Download your copy today!”

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Book Review – A Subtle Agency by Graeme Rodaughan

It’s hard to come up with something new to say about vampires. No pun intended, but the bloodsucker genre has been done to death. They’ve been monsters, lovers, sex objects, monsters again, sparkled when the light hit them, exploded into dust when the light hit them, and hit on teenage girls. Sometimes they’re vicious killers, other times they’re morose mopers with chips on their shoulders.

So, it’s pretty cool when you come across something new.

Graeme Rodaughan has taken a look at extremely long-lived critters and wondered what they’d really do if they existed. The answer, of course, is consolidate power and lurk in the shadows. Rodaughan’s vampires are less romantic mopers or mindless monsters and more Machiavellian creatures. Don’t think Twilight, think more along the lines of Game of Thrones or House of Cards with a hint of Doc Savage thrown in for good measure.

The world of A Subtle Agency is very much like our own, only inhabited by vampires and the secret societies out to do stuff secret societies like to do. Like our world, most people have no clue the vampires exist and the secret societies are branded as terrorists. Into this mixture is thrown a kid who gets to watch his parents tortured by vampires.

After that, the hunt is on.

Full of twists and turns, action and martial arts, A Subtle Agency is a rollicking thriller that goes for the throat and never lets go.

Hunting Anton Slayne?

Just get in line behind the Boston Police Department, Chinese Triads, the Shadowstone Organization, the Red Empire and the Vampire Dominion.

Witness to a brutal murder, eighteen year old Anton is inducted into the Order of Thoth by the mysterious Mr Wu. He soon discovers that vicious local gangsters, determined Boston Police Detectives, and relentless Shadowstone operatives pale into insignificance as he is drawn into the machinations of the enigmatic vampire, General Chloe Armitage.

When mastery over Anton’s soul is at stake, survival is the least of his problems.

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