Thursday, October 4, 2018

Death Logs In by E J Simon : A Review


BOOK TITLE: Death Logs In

AUTHOR: E.J. Simon

ISBN/ASIN: B0789TC8Z8

GENRE: Fiction / Technothriller

NUMBER OF PAGES: 340

FORMAT: Digital

SERIES / STANDALONE: Michael Nicholas Book 2

HOW I GOT THIS BOOK: I thank iRead Book Tours for this review copy.

SUMMARY:

Some of the most powerful people in the world want to kill Michael Nicholas. Only his brother Alex can save him—the problem is that Alex is dead.

It’s been almost a year since Alex Nicholas, a Queens-based underworld boss, was gunned down. After Alex’s brutal murder, Michael inherited not only his brother’s business, but his enemies. Michael is now a key player in a world he once feared. By day, he is the head of a Fortune 500 company. By night, the CEO of Tartarus, one of the world’s largest illegal gambling operations.

Before his death, Alex invested heavily in breakthrough artificial intelligence software so that he could live forever. It worked. In his virtual form, Alex can communicate with Michael and monitor information—and people—in ways the NSA would envy.

It is Alex who discovers Michael’s life is in danger. He detects plots that reach from the darkest corners of Queens to the highest officials in the Vatican—and they all want Michael dead.

Michael is now in a race to save his life, but he is never alone. Alex is there to help him navigate through this maze of life and death. Also protecting Michael from the forces closing in around him is Sindy Steele, a beautiful and lethal bodyguard.

How far is Michael willing to go to save his own life and that of his family? Guided only by a familiar face on a computer screen, will the information Alex discovers allow Michael to go from being the hunted to the hunter?

FIRST IMPRESSION:

The concept of 'first impressions' does not really exist for series books, especially those read in quick succession. I have already given my first impressions about the author and his writing style when I read and reviewed the first book in the Michael Nicholas Series, Death Never Sleeps. So before I began the second book, Death Logs In, I had a pretty good idea about the writing and the author, not to mention the characters. There was even a hangover from that book, remnants of the story and certain scenes that stood out in my mind, while I began reading this book. So while the summary reveals more than enough about the story, it also only sets the scene for me to get familiar with the new twists and turns of this book. 

REVIEW:

Death logs in - is the tale of the reluctant leader. Someone who is chosen for the mantle against his wish but performs even better than the shoes he fills. In this case, Michael, who has very little idea about his brother Alex's activities as a bookie, goes through threats and unravels that side bit by bit (in Death Never Sleeps)until he takes up the role, also maintaining his image as a CEO of a famous company. With just Alex to guide him, Michael feels the heat of life threats that come as part of this world. He has powerful enemies and faces unnatural threats which he must overcome with the help of his brother Alex, who is a virtual AI form.

With technology that would probably shock the most powerful governments across the world, the book has enough twists and turns that keep the reader engaged throughout. The book does not match the intensity of book 1, where every character evoked mistrust until proven right, but still it manages to be a good sequel that does not disappoint the readers by veering off course. It is not an easy task to write an entirely new book with the same characters with unique threats and twists based on the same set of events that happened but the author has managed to pull that off. The book takes off from where the previous one ended, and it does so seamlessly.

The writing is smooth, with sparingly few errors, and the pace is fast, apt for a thriller. Michael's character undergoes a noticeable shift and this may make some readers wonder and revisit the initial description of the character. But with the writing, this seems more like a twist that tries to show the reader that those who inherit certain positions must also become one with the requirements of the position, including their family members in the game. This book will either make the readers take sides and justify the actions of the characters who undergo the shift, or make them feel that the twists make it more unbelievable and alien.

The book has just about enough explanation to make it possible to function as a standalone book, but would seem much more intense with the backstory from the first book, especially if read back to back. Overall, it is an interesting read that makes the reader hope the third book comes soon, but still a notch lesser than its predecessor. A good read.

WHAT I LIKED:
  • The book has plenty of twists to keep the reader engaged and interested throughout
  • The beautiful way in which Alex lives on after death is at once impressive and scary.
  • The story is fast paced and does not lag anywhere.
WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER:
  • Not as impressive as the first, but that is a cross all sequels have to bear.
  • A few typos and character digressions exist, but they can be overlooked.
  • Some character shifts may be disconcerting to readers.
VERDICT:

An interesting read, engaging narrative.

RATING: 3.8/5

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

E. J. Simon is the author of three commercial fiction thrillers, Death Never Sleeps, Death Logs In and Death Logs Out. He has just completed his fourth manuscript, Death in the Cloud.

He is a member of the Authors Guild, the Mystery Writers of America and the North Carolina Writer’s Network. He holds an M.A. in Corporate & Political Communications from Fairfield University and a B.A. in Journalism from the University of South Carolina. He lives with his family in Cary, North Carolina in the United States. For more information, visit his website: www.ejsimon.com.

EDITIONS AVAILABLE: Kindle, Paperback, Hardcover

PRICE $2.75 for Kindle, $14.99 for Paperback, $27.99 for Hardcover

BOOK LINKS: Amazon


Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Death Never Sleeps by E J Simon : A Review


BOOK TITLE: Death Never Sleeps

AUTHOR: E.J. Simon

ISBN/ASIN: B0743FWKH8

GENRE: Thriller & Suspense., Technothriller

NUMBER OF PAGES: 291

FORMAT: Digital

SERIES / STANDALONE: Michael Nicholas Book 1

HOW I GOT THIS BOOK: I thank iRead Book Tours for this review copy

SUMMARY:

Where does life end, and death begin?

Brothers, Alex and Michael, weren’t particularly close in terms of their careers in their later years. But when Alex is murdered, Michael finds it necessary to keep Alex’s business running, at least for the foreseeable future.

With very little knowledge about what Alex actually did for a living, little does he envisage the level of complication this entails. Working closely with his cousins, Fat and Skinny Lester, Michael starts to get a sense of what needs doing … in whatever way Alex would have dealt with things.

But, when Alex’s current wife, and his two ex-wives, surface and start to dish out demands, Michael finds himself going deeper and deeper into Alex’s personal space. All his ex-wives knew there was money left hidden … but only Alex knew of its exact location.

When Russell, an old friend of Michael’s, and Alex’s most trusted person, offers to help Michael find the money, Michael feels he can start closing up on Alex’s loose ends and move on with his own, increasingly complicated life.

Until … Russell is brutally murdered …

Someone else is after Alex’s money … and it’s not a friendly person.

But is Alex really dead? Or is he as dead as he has prepared himself to be?

Michael is beyond confused … is he imaging the conversations he’s having with Alex? But Alex was shot dead in his own restaurant, one filled with policemen. Surely, Alex is dead?

Whichever way Michael tries to rationalize things in his head, Alex’s support is beyond what he needs. Finding himself face to face with a crook, Sharkey, one who has no qualms about killing people, one Alex was in debt to, Michael takes on Alex’s advice … dead or not!

As the number of deaths rise, Michael and his wife, Samantha, are left on their toes. Would they ever feel safe again? Is anyone safe? And how far did Alex go with his new venture?

FIRST IMPRESSION:

The book is the first of the series, and thankfully I have the chance to read the other two books that follow. For the first book in the series, the summary is quite long. And as far as long summaries go, they can work either way. They may either reveal too much information, or give a lot of details for the readers to note and keep track of. The book is categorised as a techno thriller and it has made all the difference to the murders listed in the summary - making them anticipated points in the book instead of suspense reveals. They add to the expectation quotient of the novel and set the mood before the reader gets to it.

REVIEW:

It is common knowledge that deaths can be messy. Even if wills have been written and attested, the death of someone who has lived a shady life can leave behind messes that are nearly impossible to sort out. And at rare times, people who have absolutely no idea about the mess are in a position to make quick decisions legally, and deal with all that has been left behind. Michael finds himself in one such mess after his brother Alex is murdered. Quickly brought into a game he had no idea about, with stakes he cannot even begin to comprehend, Michael is left in a position where his personal freedom and increasingly troubling life are also made harder until he comes to face life threats himself.

I initially began this story with the image of estranged brothers one of whom is legally bound to set the affairs of the other in order. But with the ex wives and partners thrown into the mess, things quickly got more directions in which they would travel, and the many chances for which they could become nastier. Michael tries to walk a thin line between trying to set his brother's affairs in order while trying to be careful not to slip in the quagmire - something that keeps proving to be increasingly difficult with every new murder and every new truth that is uncovered, leading to dire consequences every time he tries to make sense of things around him.

The classic 'putting the lamb amidst the sheep' thing works with this novel too and Michael finds himself going deeper into the world where everyone bays for his blood and all the while he is guided from the netherworld - in the form of Alex (but not the way readers might initially assume). The story is engaging because the writing is, and also because it gives the readers more things to process and think of while they are reading the story. This works as a plus in some cases because the readers would process the story in two ways. One for the way it is written and the plot it fulls out, and the other for the way it gives out information that may or may not be important in subsequent books.

This book also falls for the problems that series books usually have. The lack of closure is evident but since there are obvious sequels the readers can hope to get their answers and explanations in the subsequent books which must address these questions for the story to feel complete and right. Overall the language was a plus, thankfully avoiding jargon but maintaining the important terms well. The story was coherent and maintained the interest despite revealing huge chunks in the summary. This is thanks to the writing and the plot sequencing, both of which work in favour of the book. This book turned out to be an interesting read, but it also pushed me to read the sequel - not only because I loved the writing but also because I wanted to know some more answers, which I think is what the author would want for his readers to feel. So in that way, it is a good book.

WHAT I LIKED:
  • Fast paced story that keeps the readers guessing
  • Does not restrict itself to the purely technical aspects, or making it look like sci-fi only.
  • The title's relevance was both obscure and mysterious. It worked as the latter for me.
WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER:
  • The book ends with no real closure for some rather important questions, which makes the sequel a must read in hopes that it will fill in the answers
  • There is a tiny bit of stereotypical forming with the 'good guy' facing moral dilemmas the more he comes to know of the shady world thing.
  • For the lead character, Michael could have been a bit more fleshed out.
VERDICT:

Good use of the concepts and clean writing make this book what it is. Good read.

RATING: 4/5

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


E. J. Simon is the author of three commercial fiction thrillers, Death Never Sleeps, Death Logs In and Death Logs Out. He has just completed his fourth manuscript, Death in the Cloud. He is a member of the Authors Guild, the Mystery Writers of America and the North Carolina Writer’s Network. He holds an M.A. in Corporate & Political Communications from Fairfield University and a B.A. in Journalism from the University of South Carolina. He lives with his family in Cary, North Carolina in the United States. For more information, visit his website: www.ejsimon.com.

EDITIONS AVAILABLE: Kindle, Paperback, Hardcover

PRICE $0.92 for Kindle, $4.42 for Paperback, $25.14 for Hardcover

BOOK LINKS: Amazon



Guest Post by E J Simon, author of Death Never Sleeps


GUEST POST: E. J. Simon, author of Death Never Sleeps, Death Logs In and, just released, Death Logs Out.

Where do I get inspiration for my stories?

My inspiration often comes from my everyday life, the characters and people I grew up with, the places I’ve lived in or visited, sometimes it’s the dreams or nightmares, from my childhood.

Two classic movies originally inspired my current books. The first is The Godfather for how it portrayed the family, the concept of the young, straight-arrow Michael Corleone, who starts out rejecting his family’s “business” and later embraces it, becoming perhaps the most violent and dangerous of them all.

The second movie was 2001 Space Odyssey, the movie that popularized and first brought artificial intelligence to my attention. The computer on board the spacecraft, HAL, took on a mind and consciousness of his own and a will to survive, to the point where he kills off the astronauts who tried to “disconnect” him. The great physicist Stephen Hawking predicted that soon computers would be able to actually duplicate a person’s brain and mind and that a computer would eventually have a “consciousness.” This really is at the core of my books. Alex Nicholas, with the help of a breakthrough in artificial intelligence, duplicates himself on a computer – just before he is murdered.

Certain authors have inspired my writing, or at least my writing style. They would be Stuart Woods – I love the simplicity of his plots and his writing. In addition, Dan Brown and Daniel Silva for their characters and the intricate adventures inherent in their stories.

Finally, although my works are fiction, many of the characters are based upon real people, often ones I have grown up around, colorful relatives and friends, neighborhood toughs, and even people I have worked with in the corporate world (a few of whom I’d characterize as neighborhood toughs, too).

In short, my inspiration comes from the recesses of my mind, real life characters, and from various media, particularly books and movies. It’s all enough to fill a library.


Monday, September 17, 2018

The Cleansweep Counterstrike by Chuck Waldron : A Review


BOOK TITLE: The Cleansweep Counterstrike

AUTHOR: Chuck Waldron

ISBN/ASIN: B079QJ2J8B

GENRE:Fiction - Thriller / dystopian

NUMBER OF PAGES: 312

FORMAT: Digital

SERIES / STANDALONE: A Matt Tremain Technothriller Book 2

HOW I GOT THIS BOOK: I thank iRead Book Tours for this review copy.

SUMMARY:

In this sequel, Matt Tremain is back, facing an even deadlier threat. Deceit and intrigue lie hidden behind the collapse of Operation CleanSweep. It’s time for revenge.

Instrumental in exposing the evil behind Operation CleanSweep—a diabolical “cultural cleansing” plot masterminded by Toronto billionaire Charles Claussen—investigative blogger Tremain now faces the madman’s desire for vengeance. Claussen intends to settle the score personally by luring Matt into a deadly trap.

But the clock is ticking for Claussen, too. Fraternit√© des Aigles, The Brotherhood of Eagles—a shadowy group that secretly financed Claussen’s Operation CleanSweep—wants answers and their money back. Consumed with rage, Claussen risks everything to get to Matt before the Brotherhood gets to him. Tremain is once again partnering with a police detective, Carling. Knowing they are being lured into a possible trap, they decide to face their nemesis, Charles Claussen.

Across four continents, Claussen sets traps, pursues Tremain, and continues to execute his signature brand of global chaos. When his fianc√©’s life is on the line, can Tremain stop Claussen’s madness and still avoid getting killed?

FIRST IMPRESSION:

I had already read the first book in the series, but it has been a while since, so I had to brush up a bit before I began reading this. The Cleansweep Counterstrike, however, is a standalone and does not mandatorily require the readers to have read the first book in the series.

Dystopian novels are not from my favourite genre. But since I really enjoyed reading the first book in the series, I picked this one up without much hesitation. The cover was simple, sending a direct message with crosshairs locked on the head in a man's silhouette. The summary clearly picks up from where the previous book ended, but the plot of that one had been summarised in a way that would make even new readers understand the important events that had happened when the protagonist recognised, unravelled and brought down a plot to cleanse people based on their sexuality, religious identity and so on.

Book 2 refers to the natural desire for revenge that has arisen in the face behind that CleanSweep conspiracy, the billionaire Claussen who now anxiously waits for his chance to take revenge against Matt, the whistleblower. The summary, though, led me to believe that maybe reading book 1 would mean a better enjoyment of this book.

REVIEW:

Thriller novels and almost any dystopian novels do not always end on a clean note. Much like the jagged edges of a cut from a serrated knife, there are uneven edges that are not really softened. These are not loose ends, but the author's attempt to bring the novel to a realistic conclusion. But when those jagged edges are clear openings for further events to happen, forming another entirely new story that is equally, if not more, thrilling.

While the usual trope in many stories is the hero running out of time to save the world from the villain's scheming plans to destroy mankind and its resources, there is a small change in this one, where the negative lead, billionaire Clussen, is also in a position to answer to those who funded his nefarious operations. He doggedly pursues Matt, hoping to take him down in revenge for bringing down his grand plans. This story develops as a Clussen versus Tremain war, where those who helped overthrow the cleansweep conspiracy are also suddenly targets for the injured animal in Clussen.

The one who was foiled and banished (apparently not killed) finds it hard to forget all that brought his ruin, while Matt, the blogger protagonist has moved on in life. But the moving on has not been smooth, for there is always a lingering fear that says that the danger is not completely past. They are justified in their fears, as the danger that awaits them begins to materialize in random simple forms. A villain who is himself on the run from more powerful forces is a novelty, and it makes his chase of the heroes much more exciting. This novelty kept me engrossed from the start to finish, as I had already picked sides in the first book and only reinforced my opinion on the individual characters with this book.

I love how the book details that there will be repercussions for any actions, even if they were done for the greater good, and that there are no clean ends. Those who felt that book 1 ended without a few clearer answers, or felt like a meal without dessert would love to read this book as it would just pick up from the fall out of the events in the first book and feel like the next episode of the series. But those who have no idea what happened in book one might not really understand why some characters act the way they do.

The author's specialty lies in trying to make these two books as independent as possible, while making sure those who are already fans of book 1 are not disappointed. This book leaves way for a sequel, which promises to be more exciting. This book is a treat to conspiracy enthusiasts, and an awakening to those who did not believe in them. Waldron's unique style of writing sends chills down the spine with a constant thrill between the who is who, and what next. The language suits the genre well, and keeps the pace of the book engrossing. There are minor complaints but none strong enough in any way to hinder the reading. This book is a fitting sequel to one of my favourite dystopian novels, and also finds a place in my favourite books list.

P.S.: Although I had read the previous book in the series a while ago, the book has now undergone a brand new makeover that makes it look like more books are planned with such an interesting theme. I am looking forward to those.

WHAT I LIKED:
  • The book scores in having an entirely different thrilling premise despite taking on the residue of the previous book's characters
  • The story is so engrossing - almost enough to ignore any inconsistencies or confusions.
  • The book does not disappoint as a sequel and flows smoothly.
WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER:
  • The book was vague in parts about some important events' timelines.
  • The story picks up pace only after a while, and this might not be right for a dystopian thriller.
  • While reading book 1 is not mandatory, it feels important to know the story in detail before picking this up, or some important characters seem to lack lustre.
VERDICT:

A fitting sequel to the first book, and enjoyable as a standalone too.

RATING: 3.8/5

ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Chuck Waldron is the author of four riveting mystery, thriller and suspense novels and more than fifty short stories. Inspired by his grandfather’s tales of the Ozark Mountains and local caves rumored to be havens for notorious gangsters, Waldron was destined to write about crime and the human condition. Those childhood legends ignited his imagination and filled his head with unforgettable characters, surprising plots and a keen interest in supernatural and historical subplots.

With literary roots planted in the American Midwest and South, and enriched by many years living in the fertile cultural soil of metropolitan Ontario, Waldron now resides on Florida’s fabled Treasure Coast with his wife, Suzanne. While keeping an eye out for hurricanes, alligators, and the occasional Burmese python, visitors will find Waldron busy writing his next crime thriller.

EDITIONS AVAILABLE: Kindle, Paperback

PRICE $3.56 for Kindle, $7.04 for Paperback

BOOK LINKS: Amazon



Guest Post by Chuck Waldron, Author: The Cleansweep Conspiracy and The Cleansweep Counterstrike

Stirring Words

Recipes for Writing

It’s a double entendre. Words can be stirring, rousing calls to action. I have nothing against rousing calls to action. In fact, I hope my words often do that very thing.

When it comes to stirring words, however, I imagine writers stirring words in a large vat, wearing capes and conical hats. Whispering incantations while we mix our recipe. Here’s one from an old writing cookbook.

The Plot Bunny Stew

Plot bunnies are unique, real creatures. Just Google and see. A plot bunny is an idea that refuses to go away. Once bitten, a writer is helpless. The only known cure is to start writing. Farm raised plot bunnies produce pleasant, safe ideas. For real excitement, however, nothing beats plot bunnies in the wild. Whichever one your pick, a tasty writing stew starts with a plot bunny.
·         Take one plot bunny
  • ·         Add a hero/heroine to take the lead. It needs a strong man or woman to usher us through a story. Leaping tall buildings in a single – well, you know – that’s not essential.
  • ·         Next, add an appalling character to set up roadblocks. If you are shopping for a villain, look for the meanest one you can find. The more roadblocks your evil-doer can build, the better.
  • ·         Add a dollop (blob, splotch, or a spoonful) of supporting characters, an essential ingredient. The writer should be careful, however. Too few means a weak stew, too many may turn it into a paste.
  • ·         Sprinkle a roadmap over the stew. Some cooks use just a hint, an outline that blends the ingredients. Some prefer to follow more stringent guidelines. Both work, depending on the cook.
  • ·         Pour in as many words into your stew as you can. Don’t be picky; eliminate unnecessary words later.
  • ·         Turn up the heat and cook for as long as needed. You can put your finger in from time to time, tasting for flavor.
  • ·         Lower the heat to room temperature.
  • ·         Have someone else taste the stew. If they say it needs more seasoning or less, take heed.


When you are satisfied you may begin serving, hopefully, hearing, “compliments to the chef.”
That was my recipe for The Cleansweep Counterstrike. I hope you enjoy the stew, sorry story. You can follow Matt Tremain as he finds himself in harm’s way, continues to encounter an evil Charles Claussen. Find out if Matt and his friends can find their way out of trouble.

Chuck Waldron
Author, The Cleansweep Conspiracy and The Cleansweep Counterstrike

Note from Readers Muse:
I thank the author for writing such a wonderful recipe for writing perfect books. This unique and innovative method will help both budding and experienced writers!