Friday 29 January 2016

An Android Awakes and a fascinating Q&A with Mike French and Karl Brown

I always know I am going to get more than I bargained for when I read a Mike French. He has this habit of making you send your grey cells on a never-ending obstacle course. Nothing is what it seems and everything is possible, even the unimaginable with French's speculative fiction. This time he has upped the odds by collaborating with the innovative and creative illustrator Karl Brown.

Today's blog post features a fantastic Q&A with Mike French and Karl Brown and my review of An Android Awakes.

Introducing the author Mike French
Mike French’s debut novel, The Ascent of Isaac Steward, the first book of the Dandelion Trilogy, was published in 2011 and nominated for a Galaxy National Book Award. The rest of the trilogy, Blue Friday and Convergence, were published by Elsewhen Press in 2012 and 2013 respectively. Mike was also the senior editor and owner of The View From Here literary magazine which closed in Nov 2014. You can connect with Mike on social media @MikeFrench1, at or facebook.comauthorMikeFrench
Brown and French
and illustrator Karl Brown
Karl Brown is a comic artist & illustrator. After initially studying in Northern Ireland he moved to England to do a degree in illustration at the University of Bedfordshire. Karl’s inspiration comes from his love of heavy metal music and keen interest in history.You can connect with Karl on Twitter: KARLATTACK89 or

About An Android Awakes
Your world is manipulated by computer coding, search engines and social networks. It’s just a matter of time before everything you watch, read and listen to will be created by autonomous machines…
Android Writer PD121928 is part of the Android Publishing Program. To replicate a writer's life, his wife has been forcibly removed and he lives in solitude with an allowance for drugs and state prostitutes.
Having just had his novel The Eating of Citizen Kane rejected, he now has 14 more attempts to get a story accepted for the program or he will be deactivated. Can one of his characters and their story save him?
Connect, discuss, chat and comment on #AnAndroidAwakes at  or or on Twitter.
Illustration by Karl Brown

Before we get down to business (i.e. talking about your book) I would like to ask a set of questions I call 'Breaking the Ice.'

The last book you read? (Inquisitive bookworms want to know)
Mike: John Steinbeck’s The Pearl - I read it at school but enjoyed it again recently on my Kindle.
Karl: Last book I read was Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons.

The last movie you watched, which you felt left a mark (in your heart, soul, name it)?
Mike: Chappie – A Xmas present – loved it, especially as in all good sci-fi it makes you question the nature of your own existence.  I liked it when Chappie, who is an android, says, “You're my maker. Why did you just make me so I could die?” Great line and yeah it makes you think.  Death is cruel – if I ever meet him I’m going to give him a damn good kicking.
Karl: Recently saw Star Wars The Force Awakens. Cried about five times. Was awesome!

Are you more of a Game of Thrones, Die Hard or Walking Dead kind of guy?
Mike: Die Hard – I grew up in the eighties so that gives it the edge for nostalgic reasons.
Karl: Die Hard. I’m drawing far too much to invest in WD or GOT.

What do like to do when you want to relax?
Mike: Listen to music – anything from Blur to Pink Floyd.
Karl: I stick on a film, podcast or music and have a pen, pencil and paper and then I am good to go! That’s my idea of calm.

Which famous person (dead, alive, barely kicking) would you most like to meet?
Mike: Leonardo da Vinci – can’t believe how he managed to be good at so many things – fascinating person.
Karl: I would like to meet H.R. Giger. His life seemed to be a struggle to get his vision of the Universe out of his head into his paintings.

Something you treat yourself to, now and again? (Cream éclairs totally count)
Mike: Ben & Jerry’s Phish Food.
Karl: I buy comics in bulk. I can sometimes spend about 20 - 30 quid a month on them. It doesn’t seem like a lot, but working at Luton Airport 6 days a week I need some Thrill Power on my breaks

All of the above questions are actually a pretty elaborate pysch evaluation disguised as random questions. Have no fear here come the real ones. Let's talk about An Android Awakes.

Mike is up first...

I just have to know whether this story started out in your head, as a kind of tongue in cheek view on the life of a struggling author? Or did it develop along the way?
Mike: I think it probably did start off that way – certainly I was interested in the connections between a storyteller, the stories themselves and how those stories interface with the publishing world. At an embryonic level I wanted to write a modern day Arabian Nights
in which Scheherazade tells stories to captivate King Shahryar to save her life. So I used that as a framework to explore the life of a struggling writer. In AAA the android is Scheherazade, its submissions are equivalent to the stories she tells and King Shahryar is the personification of the publishers and agents.  The android even says it feels like Scheherazade at one point and, like her, it has the threat of death hanging over it.

It might seem like a cliche, and I know most authors put a part of themselves in their books, but An Android Awakes appears to give a particularly deep insight into your thoughts and experiences as an author. Would you agree?
Mike: Yes and the rejection letters it receives are the actual rejection letters I received when I was first starting out – so literally a case of taking a painful experience and turning it into art.  Any system or structure in society eventually becomes corrupted and morphs into an unassailable entity in its own right devoid of compassion and emotional intelligence - the publishing world is no different.  There are some amazing and wonderful and passionate people who love literature in publishing but they are stuck in the system and the system is a monster.

One of my favourite submissions is Submission 31 Bookmark. Do you believe this is where technology is headed, devices making our reading choices and selections, as opposed to humans picking of their own accord?
Mike: Yes of course, but it will probably be more subtle than that.  So for example how much of our choices reflect who we are as a person and how much is influenced by the society we find ourselves in?  The latter can be manipulated to generate a desire and appetite to consume things that we think we want, but in-fact we have been conditioned to think we want. As technology becomes more and more integrated into our society, especially with highly personal interfaces like social media, our ability to make real choices from everything from what book to read, to how we think about politics becomes eroded until we are left with the illusion of choice. Automate those processes and suddenly we are in trouble with the machines in control.
Illustration from AAA

Do you feel as if the book industry already sways our choices in a detrimental way?
Mike: Yes and from our vantage point with AAA it has been fascinating. Some of our experiences of getting AAA into physical stores have been encouraging and we are in Forbidden Planet and some key Waterstones stores. With others though, it has been very disheartening.  For example, one buyer from a major chain said, that the concept of AAA seemed very original and was almost like Hunter S Thompson mixed up with Blade Runner or 1984. But went on to say that, unfortunately high concept titles like AAA often struggle in their stores and that the majority of their customers were more casual browsers and stuck to what they already knew.
So why is that?  Who is feeding that bias towards banality? It’s the retailers and the book industry that has fostered and encouraged it.

Is An Android Awakes the voice of future publishing or is it the voice of present publishing wrapped up in a futuristic scenario?
Mike: It’s a possible future if we carry on as we are. The publishing industry is not as bad as portrayed in AAA – but that’s the road it’s on.

With that in mind is the accepted submission also indicative of mainstream publishing at this moment in time?
Mike: Yes, it’s almost impossible to get something accepted and I was very lucky to get picked up by Elsewhen Press.  The last submission the android sends is very close to an actual submission sent to a publishing house. The Telegraph ran a story on it a number of years  ago. I won’t give away what that submission was here (spoilers!) but that writer got a standard rejection letter sent to him – read the android’s version in AAA and you will see how ridiculous that was.  In fact it showed that the submissions were not being read at all.

I know what my perception is of your collaboration, what I would like to know is how you perceived it. Do you feel as if the two of you and your talents fit together like a glove to hand or was it more of a tempestuous melding of two minds with the ability to think beyond the box?
Mike: Both! In that we both have similar tastes and spend many an hour chatting about our love of similar films and comics like Watchmen in coffee shops. So the look of AAA is something that does fit very well into the aesthetics of how I wanted the world of AAA to be.
However we are also very different people and think and process things completely differently.  So it’s been interesting to learn how to work together – I think the overall feel of AAA is a reflection of both of those dynamics.

Is it easier for the reader to envisage your ideas using illustrations or actual imagery of your concept, especially because your fiction is speculative?
Mike: It really depends on the reader.  I think the main advantage of having a high amount of illustrations in AAA is to help heighten the overall tone of the work and to elevate the physical book into something that becomes a piece of art in itself.
French and Brown

Karl is up next.. 

What I would really like to know is whether you read the book or chapters and came up with the illustrations or did Mike give you a general idea of what the illustrations could/should look like?
Karl: Process of my working relationship with Mike was a simple one. We sat down in a room, we picked a story and as Mike read, I sketched whatever I had in my head for that part of the story. It would be a rough sketch - the final images took a lot more concentration.

Which story element of An Android Awakes do you think is best represented in your art or illustrations?
Karl: I think the story of Able Ford. It just seemed like a really tragic story. The character creation process of the Priest and Able was a very detailed and exciting one - mainly because the Priest is so creepy looking whilst Able in contrast has a certain sensitivity to him.

Was there any particular inspiration for your drawings other than the original source, the book itself?
Karl: My Inspiration was very much from all the research I put into it. From looking at documentaries based on Moebius the French Artist to reading Heavy Metal Magazine and 2000AD.  It just seemed that AAA’s collection of characters existed in a similar universe to these, so that’s how I produced them.

I know what my perception is of your collaboration, what I would like to know is how you perceived it. Do you feel as if the two of you and your talents fit together like a glove to hand or was it more of a tempestuous melding of two minds with the ability to think beyond the box?
Karl: I think we thought that when we started we would just work together a few hours a week and maybe if that had of happened AAA would have remained a pipe dream. I think we worked so well together, even though there is a massive age gap, because we had a determination to make a career and living from doing what we love the most. And also Me and Mike have not only got a good working partnership but a great friendship.

Will there be more collaborations like this in the future?
Karl: Yes, AAA is our first produce of what I think will be a long relationship and we started working on a project in January called Non Stop Till Thought Bubble.  This will document our journey to presenting work later this year to the No.1 in British comics: 2000AD.

When you read a Mike French you have to be prepared to think beyond, above and way ahead of the box. He is great example of speculative thinking/fiction. In An Android Awakes he combines sci-fi, futuristic scenarios, psychology, and his special brand of sarcasm. In this book he is also quite astute when it comes to viewing the plight of aspiring scribes.

This time French has joined forces with illustrator Karl Brown to create the perfect blend of imagery and story. The fascinating thing is that the two are completely separate entities, both the pictures and the words tell different stories.

Instead of telling Brown what he wanted the illustration to look like French let Brown draw and create what he saw in his minds-eye. A completely subjective flow of creativity to enhance and support the story and perhaps even take the reader to a new place, instead of having the images flow alongside the text. The result is an extraordinary experience

To me it felt as if this was an in-depth look into the psyche, struggles and life of every author vying for their piece of the literary pie, albeit in a futuristic setting. The struggle remains the same, in fact the author pretty much has the desperation and frustration down to a fine art.

One submission and rejection after the other with Android Writer PD121928 trying to create to perfect story. In the end the irony of what the powers that be want is possibly the same as selling your soul to the devil. Giving up creativity and freedom for acceptance and popularity.

In a sense that is what many authors are confronted with nowadays. Do they conform to the mass thinking of popular genres and plots or do they go with their own particular brand of creativity?

My favourite submission is 31 Bookmark. I thought it was innovative and completely creepy at the same time. I can see this being a thing of the future. French might want to patent that idea. I look forward to seeing and reading any future collaborations by the the two of them or indeed any individual work.

I would like to say a big Thank You to Mike and Karl for answering all of the questions even the odd ones. I hope you take a look at this innovative collaboration and enjoy it as much as I did.

Buy An Android Awakes at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Even the Dead by Benjamin Black

This is the seventh in the Quirke series, and as a first time reader of Black I am pleased to say this can be read as a stand-alone novel. You don't need a lot of background information to pick up the gist of the characters and the back-story

Quirke seems to be a magnet for women. They are drawn to him like a bee to pollen. Is it the bad boy vibe? Everyone loves a drunk vibe?
Quirke is still navigating the waters when it comes to Phoebe. Still finding his feet when it comes to being a parent. However Phoebe isn't so eager to forget the lies, secrets and the damage caused by his decisions.

This time the two of them become involved in mysterious disappearance and a not so accidental death. Both of those lead Quirke right back into the vicious arms of  an old enemy. The type of man who thinks nothing of killing someone to make a dime or rid himself of a problem.

The mystery takes Quirke and Hackett back to the nefarious baby-selling machinery of the Catholic church. Even now it seems hard to believe that some of these so-called mother and child institutions were still being run till the late 1990's. Stealing, and yes it is theft when the mother doesn't agree to an adoption, babies and young children to sell them to highest bidder. All in the name of Jesus, whilst hiding the truth behind the walls of convents.

Black mixes the upper-class elitist attitude with a bit of working class rough and the streets of Dublin. It makes for an interesting read.

Buy Even The Dead at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any retailer.

Thursday 28 January 2016

Exposure by Helen Dunmore

Based in 1960, this Cold War story is a mixture of politics, bureaucracy, spy story and about relationships. In fact I felt as if the emphasis was on family and love, regardless of whether it was hetero or homosexual.

I particularly liked the way Dunmore wrote the confrontational scenes between Lily and the person sent to interview her.

The misconception of people thinking that if you were born in a country it automatically means you can speak the language fluently, despite leaving the country as a young child.

Also the cold reality of naturalisation often only being a pretty bureaucratic word. Once a foreigner always a foreigner is a common reaction and the subconscious thought most people try to suppress

I actually think Lily made a subconscious decision to 'forget' her first language. Too many uncomfortable images. memories and anger. As if forgetting her origins would help in the remodelling of her self. She is still very paranoid about being treated differently because of her religion. Lilly looks for the anti-Semite in everyone. Completely normal for survivors and I would say almost a persecution complex, but then perhaps Lily isn't so paranoid after all.

When Simon is accused of treason and spying Lily finds she has already landed right in the middle of this mess, even before any accusations had started flying. She acts instinctively in an effort to protect her family.

Throughout the turmoil and embarrassment of the accusations Dunmore has woven the two loves of Simon into the fabric of the story. His past and his present, his hidden desires and his open conformity. In their own way the two loves save Simon.

I liked the combination of emotion versus political chess playing, of betrayal versus protection and the backdrop of the minefield of a post-war world.

Buy Exposure at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Saturday 23 January 2016

The Sword of Justice by Leif G W Persson

I recently watched and enjoyed the TV version of Backstrom, which is based on the Bäckström of the book series by Persson. I really enjoyed the anti-typical character.

Ultimately it is what made me want to read the actual authentic version of the character. I'm glad I had the pre-knowledge of Bäckström, his oddity, and his less than stellar bedside manner.

If I had read the books first I'm not sure I would have understood the intent or this particular brand of sarcasm and wit. It borders on offensive, actually it crosses that line pretty frequently.

It certainly is Nordic or Scandinavian Noir, perhaps with a wee bit more darkness than usual. Now, as a multi-linguist I thought perhaps it could be because of the translation. Not that it is bad, far from it. Some words however don't always have direct translations into certain languages or perhaps the words in the original language don't have the same connotations they have in English.

Bäckström is an offensive, rude, misogynistic liar with no love or respect for anyone other than himself. Like I said before the total anti-hero. In the US TV show he still comes across as sympathetic, funny and loving in a weird geeky and odd sort of way.

In the book he is just a complete and utter heartless plonker. A waste of space and an opportunist. Unfortunately the real world has enough exact replicas of the Bäckström type. Bigotted, sexist and homophobic with antiquated world views.

You really do have to read it to get the gist of it and the particular brand of dry humour mixed with crime and a flair of historical mythology.

Buy The Sword of Justice at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Friday 22 January 2016

No Dogs in Philly by Andy Futuro

I have to say the title does not do this book any justice at all, in fact it might just be detrimental to the book, it is in fact a subtle reference to something in the story.

I was pulled in and initially interested in reading this book because of the way the author described it as a Lovecraftian Cyberpunk Noir. Who can say no to that kind of description?

Saru is a strong main character with a devil may care attitude and an even stronger survival instinct. She is stuck between a rock and a hard place, when she is asked to find a young girl. Someone who will eventually determine the salvation of humankind or perhaps the destruction. At this point it could go either way.

This is the kind of book I like to discover. The kind of gem you trip over whilst reading through a load of other books. Futuro has a lot of potential and his dystopian tale is quite visionary. He also manages to take a pop at our society in general and the way technology controls the new generations.

It has become ingrained in our lives, in a way it has taken over us, our children and the world. In this story Futuro takes it more than just a step further. Technology rules and controls. Alternate forms of life and tech sit inside the heads of the remaining healthy humans.

It is complex, intriguing and innovative.

I think it would have been better to add a glossary at the beginning to explain the words, places, people and in general the strange sci-fi/tech/fantasy creatures, as opposed to the page of name pronunciations. Then again any possible description by the author couldn't be worse than what I imagined the etzi actually look like.

I am looking forward to seeing where Futuro takes this story, and whether he can keep up the pace, both from a creative and plot point of view.

Buy No Dogs in Philly at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Read the second book in the Special Sin series Cloud Country.

Sunday 17 January 2016

The Widow by Fiona Barton

An interesting premise. Throwing the spotlight on the spouse of a monster. I expect we all wonder how much the spouse knew when the hideous crimes of a married man or woman are revealed.

How could they not have noticed the killing? How did they not know who was sleeping in their bed? Did they help hide the crimes and keep their other halves safe?

So many questions and yet most of them go unanswered. It seems as if the majority of these silent spouses are women, perhaps because there are more male serial and child killers. They support their husbands through thick and thin, regardless of the crimes those men have been accused of.

They exist in a co-dependency type relationship, which in itself must or should make them partially to blame for the crimes their spouse commits. Omitting the truth, giving false alibis, deluding themselves into believing the reality isn't true. All those things make them guilty, if not always legally then at least morally.

In this case the reader is perhaps in a better place to see the controlling and deviant actions and behaviour of the suspect, especially towards his wife. She on the other hand seems determined to ignore the blatant signals, lies and even abusive behaviour. Her own need for a child might actually explain her complacency when it comes to the accusations, the harassment and even all the confirmed deviant behaviour.

A psychological thriller with a different perspective on the most heinous of crimes.

Buy The Widow at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Friday 15 January 2016

The Darkest Secret by Alex Marwood

This is a belter of a crime novel.

I really want to talk about the plot in tiny detail, but I won't spoil the end for anyone. The answer is there and probably in the back of most readers minds, however Marwood has taken great care to distract from the truth with a maze of untruths and red herrings.

Although the main premise is about the disappearance of a three year old little girl, for me it was also about the victims of divorce and the destruction of families. The children, who fall to the side with each new marriage.

Such a common occurrence in divorce situations, the children from the first marriage are replaced with new children, ergo they become superfluous. They end up becoming either weapons between two parents or just forgotten, because one or the other parent doesn't want to upset the new spouse.

It also tells the story, albeit subtly of the relationship between siblings and half-siblings. The feelings of responsibility, the blood bond and the frustration that arises between the feelings of abandonment by the parent and the jealousy the siblings feel towards each other. What a mess and trail of destruction some marriages leave behind them.

The story wanders seamlessly from 2004 to the present and back again, while the events of today are explained by the events and decisions of the past.

Now it might just be me, and it might just be my vivid imagination, but I thought Marwood sailed precariously close to an infamous real life crime. Not sure if that was on purpose or perhaps just the inspiration for the story. Regardless of the why, it still came quite close on a few occasions, and yet not close enough for anyone to point a finger and complain about it. Brilliantly done though.

Marwood has an eye for detail and holds a steady compelling pace throughout the tale.

Buy The Darkest Secret at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Wednesday 13 January 2016

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

My first experience with this book was via audio-book. When it was published I listened to this with my daughter over the period of a few weeks.

My children are trilingual, as am I, and German is the first language for my older children. So we both enjoyed the fact some of it was spoken in German, and most importantly it was spoken correctly with the right intonation.

The occasional Saukerl and Saumensch would make my daughter giggle, despite the seriousness of the premise. In its own way The Book Thief is quite witty even amidst all the tragic circumstances.

It tells the story of Nazi Germany from the perspective of a young girl. The reader experiences the world through her eyes,the emotions, the trials and tribulations. Simultaneously the book is narrated by the voice of Death. Obviously he is kept very busy during the Nazi regime. His pragmatic view and cold assessment of the situation. In his own way he is drawn to the story or life of this little girl, and follows her through the years via the death she is inevitably confronted with.

I completely identify with her book thief identity. Living in an era where it is a crime to read certain books and living in a regime that seeks to control all thoughts and actions. The books she acquires become her miniature universe, especially when she is taught to decipher the words and letters. Her anguish when she sees a mountain of books being burned and she endangers herself by saving one. Even the way Liesel establishes a relationship with Frau Hermann, by breaking in and stealing one book after the other from her library.

The other important aspect of this story is the way the family endangers themselves by hiding a young Jewish man in their basement.  Max and Liesel have a lot in common, especially the loss of their immediate families. Their relationship goes from mistrust, to wanting to keep him safe, to love. In the scene of 'recognition' it becomes clear just how strong their bond is, perhaps more so because he has become family. How important that is becomes clearer at the end.

It is a beautiful story. One that stays with you, and one you will probably come back to again, as I have.

Buy The Book Thief at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Saturday 9 January 2016

This is Where it Ends by Marieke Nijkamp

I think it would have put things into a clearer perspective if some of the info from the last page had been at the beginning, then again perhaps that was intentional. I am talking specifically about the duration of the event.

Time seems to wander by in drip drop moments throughout the story, so much so that I started to wonder why no-one was rushing to their aid. Surely the world outside isn't ignoring the tragedy unfolding in the high school?

Then in the information about the book and promotion of said book it states a specific time-frame, 54 minutes, and it all made much more sense. So I wondered why the time-frame wasn't mentioned as part of the foreword.

Perhaps the author wants the reader to comprehend how time stands still during such an event. Each second and minute seems like an eternity. It also puts the emphasis on how quickly such a tragedy can occur. Lives are lost within mere seconds. Time cannot be stopped nor can it be wound back.

The beginning was a little confusing. Hopping from one person to the other seemed a little arbitrary, until the doors closed on the auditorium.

One thing these events always have in common in hindsight is the why. Why did he or they do it? Why my child, son, daughter or spouse and not someone else? Were there any signs? Could someone have stopped it?

Unfortunately none of us possess the power of being able to see into the future. All we can do is be vigilante and try to pick up on the subtle and not so subtle signs. It is hard to comprehend the kind of anger that festers deep inside and takes over someone, who ends up killing innocent, men, women and children.

Tyler isn't the nice boy next door. He is a troubled young man, with violent tendencies and a penchant for abusing others. Perhaps not such a surprise that he is capable of killing.

It is a powerful story, a frightening one and a nightmare for every parent. There isn't really a moral to the story, but rather a shock of reality for readers. It is more a story about loyalty, love and compassion for others. In times of great fear and need we humans can do the one thing nobody would ever expect us to do. To protect and save others. A selfless and yet such a brave act.

Nijkamp is definitely an author to watch out for.

Buy This is Where it Ends at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Thursday 7 January 2016

A Miracle at Macy's by Lynn Marie Hulsman

What could be cuter than a Christmas story about a dog and a potential romance? Well maybe one with a chubby faced cute kid, but hey this dog has enough character for a bunch of kids.

Charlotte is attached to Hudson in a way some would be to their child. For her the little four legged rascal is family.

The way she found him, and the circumstances surrounding the state of her emotions when she did, has a lot to do with how fierce her attachment is towards him.

Her aunt sends one of her annoying and pompous assistants to help find the dog. Talk about unwanted company and awkward situations.

Charlotte and Henry get closer to each other while they are scouring the streets of New York for the furry runaway. Hudson seems to be having a heck of a great time by the way, despite being lost. He keeps on popping up here, there and everywhere.

A Miracle at Macy's is a feel good Christmas story filled with plenty of humour and moments that will warm your cockles. Hulsman has created a story with the perfect combo, a girl and her dog.

Buy A Miracle at Macy's at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Friday 1 January 2016

Nirvana by J.R. Stewart

This dystopian novel has elements of sci-fi, speculative fiction and a bit of true love thrown in for free.

It has some really good ideas and plenty of potential. Unfortunately it didn't tick all the boxes for me, because it needs more direction. The world-building is often incomplete and full of great sub-plots leading nowhere.

Larissa spends the entire time obsessing about the death of Andrew. Somewhere deep inside she just feels it isn't true. On top of that the powers that be are pushing her really hard to sign off on his death.

The story takes the reader on a really fast ride from normality to the complete destruction of earth. Technology evolves at warp speed and Larissa goes from being in a rock band to wandering around in pseudo realities.

I was left with plenty of questions, so enough material for a sequel. Where the heck is Andrew? Dead, a bit dead, a hologram, alive and on a different planet perhaps? What happens in the Red Door programme? Are they eliminated or re-programmed?

With a little more structure and if Stewart sees through some of these creative ideas it could be a very good read.
Buy Nirvana at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Unborn by Daniel Gage

I thought this was quite an intriguing premise, birthright or birth theft.

First of all being able to buy a new life to extend the one you have and being able to pick whom you are born to.

Of course it also means the baby you steal the life from has to go somewhere else.

Instead of their planned life they are subjected to a life of negativity, bad choices and in general an abysmal life. The thief gets a life of positivity, riches and pleasure.

The so-called Unborn are marked and identifiable, which makes them easier to hunt and destroy. Sometimes the ones who have taken their place need to ensure there is no threat to the life they have stolen.

Gage has created a fascinating concept with a lot of possibilities for further development. If that same level of creativity is applied to the character development and the rest of the story then this will be a cracking series with a lot of potential.
Buy Unborn at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.