Categories
Contemporary Crime

Hands Up by Stephen Clark

Thank you so much to Stephen Clark for providing me with a free copy of his book in exchange for an honest review!

Hands Up is Clark’s second novel. It is a mix of police procedural, black lives matter activism, political, and social commentary – tackling the highly controversial topics of white on black shootings, police brutality, casual and overt racism, gang violence, complicated family ties, and confronting one’s own fears and biases.

Here is the synopsis from GoodReads:

Officer Ryan Quinn, a rookie raised in a family of cops, is on the fast track to detective until he shoots an unarmed black male. Now, with his career, reputation and freedom on the line, he embarks on a quest for redemption that forces him to confront his fears and biases and choose between conscience or silence.

Jade Wakefield is an emotionally damaged college student living in one of Philadelphia’s worst neighborhoods. She knows the chances of getting an indictment against the cop who killed her brother are slim. When she learns there’s more to the story than the official police account, Jade is determined, even desperate, to find out what really happened. She plans to get revenge by any means necessary.

Kelly Randolph, who returns to Philadelphia broke and broken after abandoning his family ten years earlier, seeks forgiveness while mourning the death of his son. But after he’s thrust into the spotlight as the face of the protest movement, his disavowed criminal past resurfaces and threatens to derail the family’s pursuit of justice.

Ryan, Jade, and Kelly–three people from different worlds—are on a collision course after the shooting, as their lives interconnect and then spiral into chaos.

So the story is told from the three alternating points of view of Ryan, Jade, and Kelly, and the book puts us in Ryan’s head as his story is the only one told from the first person POV. Ryan is immediately painted as a bit of a crooked cop, then I found myself with a very neutral to indifferent attitude towards him throughout the rest of the book. The three characters are, as the synopsis says, essentially on a collision course.

The story and plot itself kept me rapidly reading throughout. I didn’t so much care for Kelly’s point of view except for how he seems to represent the circle of violence coming to an end. Then starting again. Uncovering how the shooting actually occurred and following the family’s quest for justice both seemed real enough. I could respect Regina (the victim’s mother) for originally not wanting to be in the spotlight, and Gail represented that loud minority of people who blow these things sky high. Regina was probably my favorite character in the whole book as she had some of the most reasonable lines and felt like the most relatable character to me.

The whole book from the family ties to the protests was pretty excellent until the romance aspect – I will not elaborate due to spoilers but even though I could tell and appreciate what the author was trying to do, it didn’t work for me. it didn’t seem plausible. Ryan doesn’t seem like the type who would be on such a moral high ground, then act with frank infidelity no matter how you spin it, then act on impulses like that? It worked for the plot but really threw me from reality to …. “really?”

Also regarding the ending of the book…would Ryan really trust Jade after all that happened? The ending just seemed so implausible that it dropped me from a five to about a three star rating. Still the book is important and feels very necessary in today’s world. It is a brave and diverse topic to handle and I think it was done well; both sides were represented with equal biases. One example is that the pastor in the book mentions that blacks are killing more blacks than white cops. The book recognizes where the real problems in society lie, and acknowledges that a few very loud people can absolutely blow up an issue that is definitely important, but maybe not the biggest overall thing that people are facing at the time.

Even with the ending throwing me off so hard, I think I can tell that Clark was a journalist because my mind is pretty clear on what issues are relevant to him. I feel like this review is a jumble but I fully encourage everyone to read this book. I have daily opportunities at work to examine my thoughts and feelings on various peoples and situations, but this book could be so important for those who don’t have that chance. Especially in America where there is so much debate over these issues and a sense of unity is needed more than ever.

Thank you again to the author for providing a copy of the book for review! Here are The author and the book’s social media links, and at least as of 11/21/19 the book is free on Kindle Unlimited so I would really encourage everyone to check it out!

https://twitter.com/StephCWrites

https://www.facebook.com/stephcwrites/

https://www.amazon.com/Hands-Up-Stephen-Clark-ebook/dp/B07X36LH8Z

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/47642331-hands-up?from_search=true&qid=awTpkHztaV&rank=3

Categories
Science Fiction

Starship Alchemon by Christopher Hinz

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Thank you so much to Angry Robot via NetGalley for the eARC of Starship Alchemon in exchange for an honest review!

Here is the synopsis from GoodReads:

Deep-space action and a threat to all humanity, by the award-winning author of Liege-Killer and The Paratwa Saga.

Far from Earth, the AI-guided vessel Alchemon discovers a bizarre creature whose malignant powers are amplified by the presence of LeaMarsa de Host, a gifted but troubled Psionic.The ship is soon caught in a maelstrom of psychic turbulence that drives one crewmember insane and frees the creature from its secure containment. Now Captain Ericho Solorzano and the survivors must fight for their lives against a shrewd enemy that not only can attack them physically, emotionally and intellectually, but which seeks control of their sentient ship as a prelude to a murderous assault on the human species.

Starship Alchemon throws a pretty interesting crew of characters together on a research mission to investigate a bacteria growing on a distant planet where there shouldn’t be life forms. One thing leads to another and they are battling a disastrously powerful life for trying to get home alive.

Let me start with the characters: the ship is guided by an AI enhanced human named Jonomy, who links with the ship to guide and run interference. An interesting history is provided on these enhanced humans, and I enjoyed finding out that he also had a personality and life and conscience of his own. LeaMarsa, the psionic (psychic type) brought onto the mission is the other central character. She has a troubled past and probably the most interesting background, as she discovers the true purpose of the life form on board and her powers send the rest of the ship into catastrophe. (Think betazoids on steroids for Star Trek fans). There are a handful of other characters including a snarky researcher, his assistant, the captain and ship doctor, and a psychologically troubled first officer.

There are quite a few sub plots too, such as a shady character who is running these space missions. I wish that line had been resolved a little more. There is the history of the life form on board and LeaMarsa’s interactions with it. The relationship between the captain and doctor provides a nice touch. The other characters have their own little storylines too. There is a lot going on. Sometimes it turned into a jumble but I enjoyed the book quite a bit.

Technology plays a huge role as well, as it should in a sci-fi book! The levels of the ship’s AI each play into the other lesser levels. There are robots and weapons and computers and space portals for transports into other galaxies.

Overall I think this was a long but honestly interesting book. The ending seemed a bit easy but I would recommend for any sci-fi fans. If you are like me and love space themed reads, like Star Trek as the biggest example, I think you’ll enjoy this. It released earlier in November so check it out if it seems up your alley!

Categories
Dystopian Science Fiction Young Adult

Refraction by Naomi Hughes

Hi all! Today is my instagram stop on the Fantastic Flying Book Club tour for Refraction, by Naomi Hughes! Thank you for including me!!

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Here is the synopsis from GoodReads:

After an attack on earth, all reflective surfaces become weapons to release monsters, causing a planet-wide ban on mirrors. Despite the danger, the demand rises, and 17-year-old Marty Callahan becomes a distributor in an illegal mirror trade―until he’s caught by the mayor’s son, whose slate is far from clean. Both of them are exiled for their crimes to one of the many abandoned cities overrun by fog. But they soon realize their thoughts influence their surroundings and their deepest fears begin to manifest. With fast pacing and riveting characters, this is a book that you’ll finish in one sitting.

I actually read it in two sittings, the synopsis is not exaggerating at all when it says faat pacing! I was hooked from the start to the end, for a few different reasons.

First off I liked the characters. After an alien invasion where now any reflective surface can spawn vicious shadow creatures, mirrors become illegal. Marty deals in illegal mirrors, which are still prized for their potential to create electricity in the dystopian society that has developed on the island. Elliot is a great character too, I enjoyed watching them begrudgingly work together and then become friends.

The plot was absolutely breakneck, and after the boys are exiled and start learning what is happening to Earth, it became awful hard to put the book down. It is hard to not give spoilers but the main character has OCD, which ties into the rather large psychological aspect of the story.

The way that the action is framed can be done either very well or very poorly, and I was nervous at first but the author did it VERY well I thought, because it made sense. You’ll see what I mean when you read it!

I would fully recommend the book for any fans of sci fi, psychological aspects, and there is a touch of horror and supernatural as well. There is something for everyone here including found families and a lot of personal growth.

Thank you again for including me in the tour!!

BOOK LINKS:

Goodreads:
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/43263585

refraction
Amazon:
https://amzn.to/2IBDomN
B&N:
https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/refraction

naomi

hughes/1130016054#/
iTunes:
https://books.apple.com/br/book/refraction/id1458360171
Kobo:
https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/refraction

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Google Books:
https://books.google.co.uk/books/about/Refraction.html?id=7E_DvgEACAAJ&redir_esc=y

Categories
Fiction Mysteries

All That’s Bright and Gone by Eliza Nellums

Thank you so much to Crooked Lane Books via NetGalley for the eARC in exchange for an honest review!

Synopsis from Goodreads:

“I know my brother is dead. But sometimes Mama gets confused.”

Six-year-old Aoife knows better than to talk to people no one else can see, like her best friend Teddy who her mother says is invisible. He’s not, but Mama says it’s rude anyways. So when Mama starts talking to Aoife’s older brother Theo, Aoife is surprised. And when she stops the car in the middle of an intersection, crying and screaming, Aoife gets a bad feeling–because even if they don’t talk about it, everyone knows Theo died a long time ago. He was murdered.

Eventually, Aoife is taken home by her Uncle Donny who says he’ll stay with her until Mama comes home from the hospital, but Aoife doesn’t buy it. The only way to bring Mama home is to find out what really happened to Theo. Even with Teddy by her side, there’s a lot about the grown-up world that Aoife doesn’t understand, but if Aoife doesn’t help her family, who will? Between Aoife’s vivid imagination and her steadfast goal, All That’s Bright and Gone illuminates the unshakable bond between mothers and daughters in an increasingly unstable world

I spent most of the book thinking ‘oh my gosh, poor Aoife’ (ee-fah)! She was a very brave little girl and I felt so bad for her situation. The book opens with an incident involving Aoife’s mom, then we slowly find out the events and circumstances that led up to that day.  Her mother had some sort of psychological melt down, in public, and Aoife was thankfully attended by a stranger who called for help.

We meet Aoife’s uncle Donny as he steps in to take care of her while the mother in the hospital. It is also revealed that there is a brother, Theo, and the plot actually revolves around his disappearance.

I think the book’s language sounded a little advanced, but about right for a six year old narrator. I don’t normally like books narrated by kids but this one really worked. Aoife was a good little detective as she and her neighbor friend found out what happened to her brother. News flash to all the adults out there: kids can understand basic explanations of things! A big part of the plot was built around miscommunications and Aoife’s curiosity over her brother, when no one would talk about him

I also really liked the little paranormal element with Teddy. Was Aoife a normal kid with an imaginary friend, or was she also schizophrenic or schizoaffective? (Was that the family disorder? It fits?). Or was Teddy…something else? The end was so perfect I loved it.

My only question…was Neddy Siobhan’s third kid or was he unrelated? Who was the third kid if not? Why mention it if they’re not in the story? The profile for Siobhan’s father might fit but they probably wouldn’t have lived that close by…  Only having one loose end is not bad for a mystery though!

This is a short book. I read it in 3-4 hours  and think it’s a great debut novel. Would fully recommend if it sounds up your alley!

Categories
Fiction Mysteries Suspense

Good Little Liars by Sarah Clutton

First off, a huge thank you to Bookouture for the eARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review!

Synopsis from Goodreads:

“Emma held the photo for a long moment before her eyes focused on the girl’s face. She dropped it and let out a muted cry.The girl in the photograph was Tessa.
Twenty-five years after losing her friend Tessa in a tragic accident, Emma’s life is happy and settled. She rarely thinks about the day that Tessa fell to her death, or the secret that she made Emma swear to keep just hours before. But when her marriage implodes, Emma and her daughter find themselves unexpectedly moving into the headmaster’s former cottage on the grounds of her old school – Denham House. And it’s here she finds the photograph: an explicit image of Tessa, looking directly at the camera.
Between catching up with old friends Marlee and Clementine, who are home for a reunion, and the demands of single parenthood, Emma has plenty to distract her… but she can’t shake the image of the photograph. Or the thought that it’s proof of something she had long suspected: Dr Brownley, now headmaster, was involved with Tessa. Was it a mistake to keep quiet about what she knew?
Marlee and Clementine have their own complex feelings about returning to their hometown. And when Emma starts to question what really happened to Tessa, each woman must deal with the consequences of decisions they made all those years ago. Because the more Emma digs into the past, the more she discovers that everyone remembers it differently, and that the innocent schoolgirls she thought she knew are hiding some very big secrets.
A page-turning novel about family drama, lies, and the secrets we keep to protect those we love. Perfect for fans of Liane Moriarty, The Silent Wife and Kerry Lonsdale.”

I feel terrible that it took me forever to get to this book, but once I did I read it in two huge sittings. On a road trip but still, it really kept me engaged from start to finish.

It all started back in school with a dead classmate, and a group of friends that are just full of secrets and lies. In the present day, a large group email is sent by accident which opens up the can of worms again in relation to the deceased student. Someone saw this, someone heard that, and all of a sudden the whole mystery is on everyone’s minds again.

There are multiple different viewpoints being told within the small circle of friends, each with their own issues, lives, marital problems, and point of view on the situation. It flipped around enough that I stayed pretty interested as I would want to get back to one woman or the other.

The part with Emma and the house keeper, omg😂. Also some parts with Marlee and Ben😂

It all ended a little conveniently once they figured out what happened, but it wasn’t a terrible ending. There was one character mentioned in the epilogue portion that hadn’t been mentioned before and I didn’t know what it meant!

All in all this is a funny mix of mystery, drama, women’s fiction, bit of a thriller at times, and a whole lot of lies to unravel. I would recommend for readers who enjoy multiple points of view and seeing storylines come together. It released in early October so give it a shot if it sounds up your alley!

Thank you again to Bookouture for the advanced copy!

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