Sovereignty

In the 23rd century the world is a very different place. The population has dropped from 9 billion to 3 billion and the whole planet is controlled by one government. There are no cell phones or personal computers and everyone has a chip inserted into their arm so the government knows where they are at all times. People work at jobs assigned to them by the powers that be and if anyone breaks a law in this new world, it is dealt with harshly. There is no more religion or personal choice, there is just the Sovereign Regime or SR.

Many of the world’s young people aren’t happy with this way of life but it seems pointless to resist the SR’s will since they know your every move. Eighteen year old Goro and his friends Alex and Cory have found small ways to annoy the SR, such as a wristband to block their control chip’s powers and setting off explosives in a park. Their actions bring them to the attention of a small grass-roots organization with the goal of over throwing the SR. The odds are against them but with their old lives a distant memory, Goro and his friends do what needs to be done to make life better.

Sovereignty by Anjenique Hughes is a YA novel set in a post-apocalyptic future with themes of loyalty, friendship and the importance of freedom. The story is told in a fast paced manner from Goro’s point of view. Each chapter begins with a historical quote and then gets into a short history of how we got to where we are in the 23rd century. The idea of telling the history behind the story in small segments rather than having a couple of chapters devoted to setting up the story was a great idea. Anjenique Hughes knows her audience and you never get a chance to get bored with this book as it gives a history lesson, throws in some action and gives you characters that you can relate to.

This brings me to my favorite part of the book which are the characters. All of the characters come across as someone you might meet in real life complete with flaws and a good side. Take Goro for instance, he comes across like a normal teenager with a big ego and issues with authority. He is the hero of the story but he is complex because he creates a lot of his own problems. He hates the SR and wants to rebel but some of the actions he takes hurts his family and friends as much as it hurts him, though in his mind he’s always doing what’s right.

There is a point where Goro’s father finds out some horrible secrets of the SR. Goro finds out and his actions  leads his family to greater danger with some drastic consequences. Even when Goro joins the resistance he still has problems with authority and questions their leadership. Even Goro’s friends complain about how he was acting. What I liked about this was it seemed like normal behavior for most teenagers. Goro has a good heart but his ego and attitude still make life harder for the people around him. Goro is a shade of grey and in the real world people have a good and bad side to them so Goro comes across as realistic.

Sovereignty is an excellent read for a YA audience or an adult audience. While reading this book I found myself comparing the SR regime to other governments throughout history, there are parallels to the Nazis and any dictatorship that has ever been. Even in the future history is always repeating itself with a crooked government rising to power and a rebel force attempting to bring them down. This is one entertaining thrill ride and the first book in a series, do yourself a favor and check it out.

http://www.sovereigntyseries.com/

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Guest Blog Post: Anjenique Hughes

Reaching YA readers

By

Anjenique Hughes

I particularly love writing for YA, because they are the future. Young Adults can be some of the most hilarious and fun people to hang around. They are insightful. They are intriguing. They keep things real. Therefore, books written for this population need to be relevant and somewhat applicable to their lives. YA are the best; I particularly like writing YA, because they don’t tolerate BS. Anything cheesy, corny, or downright dumb will receive immediate ridicule and relentless backlash. This is why it is so challenging and exciting to write a novel that stretches above the status quo for this age range.

When writing for the young adult population, it’s best to keep the conversations and dialogue interesting and realistic for this age group. With technology and video games constantly competing for their attention, a book really needs to be an exciting ride. If the book doesn’t take off with action from the get-go, they’ll be tossing it out the window in no time. I like to include nuances, witty cliché’s, and balance the humor with the serious. Developing strong characters and character relationships are important, as well as having a smooth, flowing plot. I have found that teens hate it when loose ends are not tied up in the end.

We underestimate the intelligence of YA a lot of times; they are plenty smart and can spot a phony a mile away. If the story is too predictable- that can be the kiss of death. Romance included, done tastefully, is always a plus. Coming up with a unique twist, something that hasn’t been written about or explored before can be a draw for YA as well. I also like to include a character that is somewhat rough around the edges, but who learns a valuable lesson in the end and concluding with their maturing and changing for the better. Of course, hidden positive messages and subliminal moral values never hurt!

With master’s degrees in education, special education, and counseling, Anjenique “Jen” Hughes is a high school English and math teacher who loves teaching and mentoring young people. She loves traveling and has worked with youth on five continents. Saying she is “young at heart” is an understatement; she is fluent in sarcasm, breaks eardrums with her teacher voice (students have complained when they were within earshot), and cracks sarcastic jokes with the best of her students. Her work with ethnically and socioeconomically diverse youth has inspired her to write books that appeal to a broad variety of students seeking stories of bravery, perseverance, loyalty, and success.

http://www.sovereigntyseries.com

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Esper Files

32493342It was the end of the 19th century, a time of floating air ships and great advances in science. In Victorian London a man known as The Professor is conducting an experiment with electro-magnetic energy at the Oxford Academy of Science. An explosion occurs causing twenty percent of the Earth’s population to acquire strange paranormal abilities.  These people are called Espers, they all have different powers and don’t always use them for good. In order to help Espers control their powers and stop others from abusing theirs, an institute has been set up by The Professor.

Nathan and James, two Espers from the institute have to team up with a young girl named Freya who is just discovering what she is. Their mission is to save Freya’s brother from The evil Barron. His evil plan is to kidnap Espers and create an army of super powered soldiers with the goal of taking over the world.

When I first heard of Esper Files by Egan Brass I thought it sounded like Marvel’s X Men with a different setting. Being a comic fan I couldn’t wait to start reading it. At first I thought it was an ok book but things got interesting when we are introduced to Freya, an orphan girl with ice powers and her younger brother Cyrus who is an autistic boy referred to as The Siren.

The Siren has the ability to manipulate emotions through singing and the only person he talks to is his sister. Freya and Cyrus have gone through a series of foster homes and neither one understands the power they have. Freya and Cyrus have a heartbreaking story and I felt for Freya as you see how protective she is of her brother and how horrible and alone she feels when she uses her powers. My favorite scene was when three harpies and a henchman named Shadow storm the home where Freya and Cyrus live. This was an emotionally charged scene that is horrifying and exciting.  Another great scene  is when Nathan tells her that she is an Esper and she gets upset saying ‘I’m nothing like you freaks.” This scene showed that even the Espers themselves have a hard time accepting that they are different.

There aren’t many books out there with an autistic hero and I loved the way Cyrus is portrayed. At first he doesn’t show much emotion but as the story moves along we see that he is more aware of the world around him then anyone thinks and is also more powerful. This book is a fun ride, my only complaints were that we were introduced to quite a few characters in the Barron’s compound but not many in the Professor’s Institute. At one point I wondered why there weren’t more students training there.

To put it simply if you are a fan of comic books you will love Esper Files. Egan Brass is creating his own superhero mythology in a steampunk setting with unique characters and lots of action. The idea behind it is not an original one but the setting and detail put into the characters makes this a fresh spin on an old idea. There are some  good potential stories in the Esper’s universe and I’m happy to see that a second book coming in January.

 

D.E.M. – Quid Pro Quo

29604192D.E.M. – Quid Pro Quo by Lee Ness is the sequel to D.E.M.: Deus Ex MachinaAfter Rachel, Cam, Deborah and Dave completed their last mission they found themselves in a dangerous position. A group of men are on the hunt for them and no matter where they hide someone is there. When they finally get cornered they are offered a mission and if they don’t accept it they die. They take on the mission but immediately wish they hadn’t as they find their task to be impossible and all of their past secrets come into the light.

The best thing about D.E.M. – Quid Pro Quo is that it starts with a bang and doesn’t let up. It picks up right where the last book ends with the major players in the last book in grave danger. You have to have read the first book to know what is going on but even if you didn’t you would find what is going on entertaining.

One of the best ways to describe this book is as a technological thriller. The book deals a lot with computers and hacking but there is also a lot of action. You could also look at this book as a spy thriller, with characters that come across as realistic and likable. This is an excellent action adventure and if you are a fan of Dan Brown, James Bond movies or conspiracy theories you will love it.

Price of Vengeance

Price of VengeanceLiam is a stranger in a strange land, he was born to a family of farmstead workers. At the age of two the farmstead he lived in was destroyed by a race of giant bug like creatures called the chitin. He was adopted by the by Marcus the High Councilor of New Olympia and his wife Lidia. Liam lived for 20 years in  New Olympia on the planet of Etrusci under the watchful eye of his brother Randolf. As an adult Liam and his brother are part of the military defending Etrusci against the chitin.

Liam is well liked in New Olympia but he doesn’t feel like he belongs and no one remains from his birth family. Little does he know that a full-fledged war is about to break out between the chitin and the people of New Olympia. Liam will soon find out that there is a higher intelligence left over from an old galactic civil war controlling the chitin.This intelligence may also be responsible for destroying his people. Liam must learn who he truly is and use his powers to get vengeance on the traitor who is trying to take over New Olympia.

Price of Vengeance by Kurt D. Springs is a fast paced Science Fiction adventure which includes genetically manipulated life forms, strange creatures that communicate telepathically and a way to use dreams to communicate and travel. This is the part I enjoyed the most of this book. Kurt has done a great job of creating a new world that mirrors our own in several ways but still feels different. Though it’s on another planet, the families are like our own and someone from another race feels like an outcast even though the people don’t treat him that way. Also the way the people follow a certain religion but a few people seem to interpret it differently also mirrors how people view religion in our society.

My favorite part of the book was learning about the people’s telepathic abilities and the whole concept of dream walking. I also liked the concept of  having to believe in what you’re doing in the dream for it to have an effect. At one point one of the characters compares dream walking to astral projection which is something people believe in our world. The book also gets into genetic manipulation which leads to people using their dreams and telepathy.

Price Of Vengeance has created a world with a back story that I loved hearing about. My only problem with the book was that in the beginning it jumps right into the action and you know very little about the world they are on and its inhabitants. For a bit I was wondering if I might have missed a book that set up the action in this story. Eventually the action slows down and we get to learn about the history of Etrusci.

If I was going to compare this book to any Science Fiction movies it would be Starship Troopers and Star Wars. This book does a great job of describing battles and how weapons work on the planet Etrusci. There are also some great characters in the story and I liked hearing about their belief system. There is a great message in this book about how seeking vengeance can twist you as a person and turn you into someone who you don’t want to be. Price Of Vengeance is one exciting read and I’m looking forward to the next book in the series.

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D.E.M. Deus Ex Machina

24674344Sometimes an impulse decision can start a whole chain reaction of events. This was the case with Rachel when she decided to use her computer skills to help find an abducted child. Her efforts bring her to the attention of an anonymous vigilante who keeps contacting her through email. The vigilante keeps emailing missions for Rachel to complete and each one gets more difficult.

Rachel finds that she is getting to deeply involved in a dangerous game. The computer hacking she is asked to do becomes more difficult so she enlists the help of friends.  As the stakes get higher Rachel finds out without knowing it that she has been enlisted into a secret organization. Her next mission will be to prevent a war between Israel and Palestine.

I have to admit when I heard about D.E.M. Deus Ex Machina by Lee Ness I was apprehensive. Its a spy novel and it had a lot about computers in it. As far as reading goes, this isn’t what I usually like, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I decided to give it a shot because I thought it would be fun to read something that was different and it blew me away.

In the beginning I was a little confused as to what was going on because the action moved so quickly. We start with an abduction with Rachel deciding she has to do something, then we see that Rachel’s actions have brought her to the attention of someone who is extremely dangerous. This all happens in a few pages, then we get into the mystery of who is giving Rachel strange tasks via email to complete and what do they really want from her.

The first half of the book I was trying to guess who the person was that was giving Rachel things to do. Right when I felt I had it figured out the story goes in a completely different direction and goes from a mystery to a fast paced action novel. D.E.M. Deus Ex Machina has everything you could want in a book. The characters are fascinating and full of surprises and the story never gets boring. This book starts with a bang, slows down to let you have a vested interest in the characters then takes you on a roller coaster ride. This novel has a perfect plot and is a well told unpredictable story.

Another thing that amazed me about this book is all the computer terminology in it. Lee Ness must have a lot of computer experience or did a lot of research because he gives a lot of information that went over my head.  I enjoyed it because I felt I was learning while I read. The best part of the book is the characters in it. No one was what they seemed to be and the relationship between the main 4 characters changes throughout the book. There is never a dull moment in  D.E.M. Deus Ex Machina and I found myself thinking it would make an excellent action movie. If you love spy novels, this one is great one. I saw on Lee Ness’s website that he is currently working on a sequel so I’m happy to see that this will be a series. Give this book a try you won’t be disappointed.

http://leeness.co.uk/

 

Book excerpt: Sapient by Jerry Kaczzmarowski

Recently I was contacted about running an excerpt from the book Sapient by Jerry Kaczzmarowski here on the blog. Here is the info:

Jerry Kaczmarowski released his latest thriller Sapient in April 2015. It is available for sale on Amazon in eBook and paperback.

 Synopsis:

Sapient Book Cover Abandoned by her husband after the birth of their child, Jane Dixon’s world is defined by her autistic son and the research she does to find a cure for his condition. She knows her work on animal intelligence may hold the key. She also knows that the research will take decades to complete. None of it will ultimately benefit her son.

All that changes when a lab rat named Einstein demonstrates that he can read and write. Just as her research yields results, the U.S. government discovers her program. The army wants to harness her research for its military potential.  The CDC wants to shut her down completely.  The implications of animal intelligence are too dangerous, particularly when the previously inert virus proves to be highly contagious.

She steals the virus to cure her son, but the government discovers the theft. She must now escape to Canada before the authorities can replace her son’s mental prison with a physical one.

Praise for Sapient:

“A timely, winning adventure that brings up serious questions about technology and medical research.” – Reviewed by Kirkus

“The plot is fast-paced, thought provoking, funny at times, and kept me reading to find out what would happen next. I think that the YA audience will love it.” – Reviewed by Dana Bjornstad

“”Sapient by Jerry Kaczmarowski is an intense, action-packed, suspenseful and thrilling read! The storyline is definitely unique and pulls readers in right away… The book was fast-paced, flowed nicely and provided a thought provoking message. I believe Sapient will really make readers wonder just how far and to what lengths they would go to save someone they love.” – Reviewed by Charity Tober for Readers’ Favorite

“I loved this story and I especially liked its animal characters – Einstein the lab rat with the keen sense of humor and Bear, the one-eyed German Shepherd dog who seems to always be the butt of Einstein’s jokes. And the human characters aren’t half bad either.” – Reviewed by Cheryl Stout

“A timeless, engrossing and perfectly-paced techno thriller about the promise – and fear – of modern medical science.” – Reviewed by Best Thrillers

If that doesn’t make you want to buy Sapient, here is an excerpt:

Chapter 1

A young research assistant poked his head through the laboratory door and said, “We’re heading out to grab some beers. Want to join us?”

Dr. Jane Dixon brushed aside a strand of dark hair that had fallen from her ponytail. She waved the offer off without turning to face him and gave a curt, “Too much work.” I need to get out of here at a decent time to see Robbie, or I’m going to need to find a new nanny.

“Come on, Dr. Dixon. One quick drink. It’s Friday.”

She sighed and faced him, removing her dark-rimmed glasses. “How about a rain check?” She gave the younger man her best smile, but Jane knew she sounded insincere.

“Sure, a rain check.” The research assistant gave a perfunctory nod and let the door swing shut. Jane wouldn’t receive another invitation anytime soon, which was fine with her.

She put her hands in the small of her back and stretched, yielding a satisfying pop. Not for the first time, she congratulated herself on the regularity of her yoga workouts. They were one of the few distractions she permitted herself. With forty in the not-too- distant future, it was one distraction she couldn’t afford to forgo. She pulled her stool closer to her computer and checked her maze for the final time. She chuckled to herself. After all her years of education, she was reduced to playing video games with rodents. Using a virtual maze allowed her to create a level of complexity unrealistic with traditional animal intelligence testing.

Jane walked into an adjoining room with rows of cages where her subjects spent most of their day. She approached a cage adorned with a garish blue first-place ribbon. Her assistant had put it on the door as a joke. At first, it migrated back and forth as different rats outperformed others. For the past two months, it hadn’t moved.

She opened the cage and made a coaxing motion. “Come here, Einstein.” A fat, white rat dashed out the door onto her hand and scrambled up her right shoulder. His neon-blue eyes gave off an icy intelligence. The change in eye color was one of many side effects of her tests Jane still couldn’t explain. The rat whipped its tail into her hair for balance, hopping from paw to paw.

“Settle down, boy,” she said. She carried Einstein back into the lab with its virtual maze and extended her hand. He raced down her arm to the large trackball and made little jumps in anticipation of the race. As Jane clamped him gently into the metal rig that held him in place, he stopped jumping. Einstein differed from the other rats—he never struggled when Jane locked him in place. The other rats fought against the harness, making it difficult to complete the test preparations.

A two-dimensional overview of a simple maze flashed on the screen. Without hesitating, Einstein rolled through the maze on his trackball, completing the challenge in seconds.

“Too easy,” Jane said. “You don’t even deserve a prize.” Despite this, she stroked the rat’s head and gave him a small piece of cheese. Einstein snapped it up in his front paws. As soon as he devoured it, he pulled against his harness and chattered at Jane.

“Relax, big fella.” She tapped on her keyboard to reconfigure the course before bending down to eye level with Einstein. “Now the real challenge begins.” He stared into her sea- green eyes. The small rodent had the intense focus of a fighter about to get in the ring.

A second maze flashed on the screen. There was a straightforward solution that was long and twisting. A second solution existed, but so far, none of the rats had figured it out. The second path had two tiny virtual teleportation pads. If the rats stepped onto one of the pads, they were transported to a corresponding location in a different part of the maze. For this test, the pads would save precious seconds.

“Go,” Jane shouted, starting the timer. Einstein didn’t budge. Instead, he looked back and forth between the obvious path and the first teleportation pad.

“Clock’s ticking,” Jane said to herself in frustration.

Einstein shrieked as he noticed the decreasing progress bar. A tentative paw step forward cleared the maze overview and put him in a six-inch-high virtual hallway. He waddled straight to the teleportation pad but stopped short. He turned his gaze to Jane as his whiskers moved back and forth, up and down. Jane stared back, willing him to make the right move.

The rat rolled forward on his trackball across the pad. The screen flashed, and he teleported to within a few steps of the exit. With a final glance at Jane, he spun through the gate with twenty seconds left on the clock.

Jane clapped her hands. “You did it.” She reached toward him. He clambered up her arm, slower now that he was out of the virtual world. She gave him a piece of cheese and returned him to the steel table.

“Impressive,” she said to the empty room. At times like this she wished someone could appreciate her triumphs. Her coworkers were at the bar. And Robbie? Robbie is Robbie. The warm smile of a mother flitted across her face as she thought about her son.

Einstein broke her reverie as he scratched and clawed at an iPad on the table. “It’s like having a second child,” Jane sighed to herself. She obliged Einstein’s pestering by starting an old episode of Sesame Street. The classic show was his favorite. Most other children’s programming bored him. His second-favorite genre was as far from the Children’s Television Workshop gang as you could get. One of Jane’s more unsavory assistants had decided to play Rated R comedies on the screen in the evening when the animals were alone in their cages. The crass movies entertained Einstein for hours despite the fact he couldn’t understand any of them.

Jane’s mobile phone vibrated. A message from her nanny read, “WHERE R U!!!” She glanced at the time in the lower right of her screen and gave a sharp intake of breath. I did it again, she chided herself.

“Leaving now. Sorry.” She almost typed a sad face emoticon but caught herself. It wouldn’t be well received. She pushed Send and dropped the phone on the lab table. She pounded the results of today’s tests into her computer, not bothering to correct spelling errors as she raced to enter her observations while they were still fresh.

The phone buzzed again. Jane gritted her teeth at the unnecessary back-and-forth. These nastygrams would only delay her departure. She reached for the phone in frustration, but Einstein was perched over it, staring at the screen. She nudged the little rodent back and set her jaw as she read the text.

The screen read, “Who is Einstein?” As she struggled to make sense of the nanny’s text, her eyes scanned back to the previous outbound message. She juggled her phone, almost dropping it on the floor.

The screen read, “I am Einstein.”

About Jerry Kaczmarowski:

Jerry Kaczmarowski 10 Jerry Kaczmarowski lives in Seattle with his family. He writes techno-thrillers that explore the benefits and dangers of mankind’s scientific advancement. His first book, Moon Rising, was released in June 2014.  His second book, Sapient, was published in April 2015.

Jerry spent the first twenty years of his professional life in the consulting industry on the West Coast. His fascination with technology is matched only by his love of stories. His books intertwine action with a keen insight into how technology will shape our lives in the coming years.

To learn more, go to http://www.jerrykaczmarowski.com/

Connect with Jerry on Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads.