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The Bones of Paris: A Novel of Suspense
Laurie R. King

Review: Viral Nation by Shaunta Grimes

Viral Nation is young adult dystopian adventure set in a world where a virus has wiped out the majority of the population. Now people live in walled cities run by the company who invented the suppressant, a drug that prevents people falling ill with the virus. The cities are calm and orderly on the surface but is there something lurking beneath?


The plot of Viral Nation was not unique but it was interesting and well written. The addition of time travel made the plot less generic, and whilst I personally am not a big fan of time travel/alternate universes, here it was well done but the author did leave many questions about how it worked unanswered. The story was a page turner and I couldn’t wait to carry on reading every time I put it down.


The characterisation of the main characters was well done, particularly the relationship between Clover and West, and Clover and her dog. A big part of Clover's character was her autism, which did have a purpose in the plot but I felt it was unrealistic, for example in low stress situations she relies on her service dog but a few chapters later in a high stress situation she leaves the dog behind and has no problems. I feel this was a weakness in her characterisation, and is hopefully something that will be refined in the future.


The reason Viral Nation didn’t get 5 stars from me was the abrupt ending. This is clearly the first book in a series, and I understand the author wanting to have a ‘hook’ to get readers to read the second book but I felt ripped off after spending hours enjoying it to have the book just end with no real conclusion. This is a massive weakness for Viral Nation, particularly as the sequel has not yet been published, and I feel readers will forget the 95% of the novel which is excellent and just go away with an unsatisfied feeling, never to read book two.


Overall a fantastic dystopian adventure for both teens and adults, with hints of mystery and romance. This is really a book you should read, perhaps just wait until book two is available first.
Viral Nation is available in deadtree format only for £6.53 from Amazon.co.uk (andAmazon.com ).

[An ARC was provided by NetGalley] 

Source: http://tomesofthesoul.blogspot.co.uk/2013/08/review-viral-nation-by-shaunta-grimes.html

Tomes of the Soul

First Activation: A Post Apocalyptic Thriller

First Activation: A Post Apocalyptic Thriller - D.A. & M.P. Wearmouth First Activation is a post-apocalyptic thriller in which nearly the entire global population is turned into brainwashed puppets with one single purpose – to kill someone then kill themselves. Only a few people are unaffected, having been on airplanes when the phenomenon hit. Four of these, two of them soldiers, set off in a group to try to figure out what is going on and to survive. What they find is more horrifying than anything they can imagine. First Activation had me torn, I felt at the end like I had read two different books in one. The first half of the book is gripping, powerful and terrifying. It seems at every turn our survivors are faced with yet another threatening situation; and the behaviour of the ‘killers’ is highly disturbing. It took a lot of effort for me to put the book down and go to bed, and I was ready to give it five-stars as soon as I finished it. The second half of the book was less satisfying, mainly due to the pace and the lack of credibility of the plot. I found the story was rushed, and lacked the detail of the first half of the book. It was like the authors were determined to get to the end as quickly as possible, whereas I much prefer a more drawn out journey, especially when it comes to travelling in a post-apocalyptic world. This was not helped by the sudden lack of tension (for reasons I can’t go into without spoiling the plot), and the ‘threat’ in the second half of the book just never really seemed like a real threat. The actions of the main characters also start to unravel - two men who have refused to kill without great provocation just a few chapters before, suddenly turn into ruthless torturers, which is a tad unbelievable despite their military background. Prior to the end of the book the cause of the phenomenon is exposed, although the reasons behind it are not fully explained, perhaps this will be in the obvious sequel. I didn’t really like the cause as it felt a bit clichéd; I felt an opportunity for a more interesting explanation was missed. Maybe when a fuller explanation is given in the sequel my opinion might change. Rating First Activation is very hard. As I’ve said, half of it was OMG and half of it was meh. In the end I have settled for a three and a half star rating (rounded to a four for rating on sites that don’t allow half stars). This is because I did enjoy it, and there were some great bits so I would recommend reading it, but the second half let it down, but not so much that it wasn’t enjoyable or something I wouldn’t recommend, it is also excellent value at 99p. Fans of sci-fi thrillers will want to ad this to their to-do lists. On a side note, it was good to see some decent post-apocalyptic fiction coming out of the UK as most authors in this genre are US based, and I really hope the sequel is more like the first half of the book and slows down a bit. First Activation is available from Amazon UK for 99p and from Amazon US for $1.55.[Review copy provided by BookRooster]

The Troop

The Troop - Nick Cutter The Troop is a horrific, terrifying and brilliant tale exploring what happens when boys are forced to become men. Part horror, part psychological thriller, part sci-med, The Troop starts out with a small scout group and their scoutmaster taking a trip to a remote, deserted island, all seems normal until one night a man arrives, clearly ill. Tim the scoutmaster feels that it is his duty as a doctor to try to help the dying man without fully realising the horror incubating inside the stranger. Soon the evil emerges and starts to slowly work its way through the small group, who have no one but themselves to turn to for help.The Troop is so captivating that even when you really feel like you can’t take anymore you keep reading. The actual infection (I will say no more) pales into insignificance compared to the palpable fear of the characters and the detailed exploration of their psyche as the situation shows the best and the worst of the teens. There is no shying away from the necessities of the situation, and there is no clear ‘hero’, each of the boys will do something they regret. The author cleverly weaves in reports from those on the mainland taken after the events in the book, which allows the reader to catch their breath and regroup, as well as showing us how futile the boy’s situation is. The final bid for survival and the last twist had me in tears and goose bumps respectively. This is not the book for those with a weak constitution, there is an abundance of gore, with some very graphic descriptions, there is swearing, there is some sexual activity, there is self-mutilation. However, none of this should bother most adult thriller or horror readers enough to stop them reading. I did however draw the line at the very graphic descriptions of animal cruelty by one of the characters, and did have to skip over one particular part involving a kitten. Whilst completely fitting to the story, it did upset me. There are also descriptions of animal experimentation, but this is presented more clinically. If any of this bothers you, you may want to give The Troop a miss.Overall a horrifically good thriller that I recommend anyone with a strong stomach gives a go but not one for the kids.[An ARC was provided by NetGalley]

Light in a Dark House

Light in a Dark House - Jan Costin Wagner Could not finish. Beginning too slow and long-winded for me.

Winter Chill

Winter Chill - Joanne Fluke In Winter Chill the Larsens are your typical American family until their world is ripped apart by a snowmobile accident in which their young daughter is killed and Dan Larsen is paralysed. Whilst to their friends and neighbours the Larsens adjust to their daughter Laura’s death; behind closed doors it is a different story, both are struggling to cope. As the Larsens begin to self-destruct, the town has to cope with a series of tragic accidents that claim more lives in the rural winter idyll. Knowing nothing about the author or her previous works I requested this book to review solely based on the blurb, and the blurb makes Winter Chill sound like a fast paced mystery. Sadly that wasn’t the case. Very little action happens in the first half of the book, the early chapters are dedicated to the humdrum of the Larsens life – from shopping to cooking (after some research, I found out that Joanne Fluke is famous for a series of culinary mysteries, which explains the heavy presence of food). There are glimmers of what is to come, such as Dan’s sleepwalking and Marian’s mood swings, but these only really add to the story much later on, when they build into something more significant. The pace improves towards the end of the book, as does the action as we start getting ‘accidents’ happening to those close to the Larsen family, but the really good stuff is not until the final chapter. Whilst slow, the story generally flows well, moving seamlessly between perspectives. There are two exceptions, both in the form of unneeded and out of place sex scenes. The adultery between Marian and Drew would be more fitting in a Mills and Boon story than in Winter Chill. It made uncomfortable reading (no, I’m not a prude), and what’s worse is that is simply swept under the rug after a few pages, despite Marian having confessed to Dan. The second scene between Cliff and Connie makes more sense, but doesn’t really advance the plot apart from providing a simple excuse to allow the killer access to them at the same time. Plot wise, there are some sticking points for me such as the lack of forensics and the seeming disinterest of the local sheriff in doing any investigation, despite clues pointing squarely at one family. The biggest let down was the fact that at the end of the book we don’t actually get told who the killer is, there are some strong indications but it could be one of two people depending on your interpretation. Some readers may like this, but for me personally it was frustrating and felt like a waste of several hours of reading.There is a heavy emphasis on the psychological states of the two lead characters, and this provides an interesting dimension to the plot, but I feel it could have been used differently in order to maximise the effect. Also interesting were the notes back and forth between ‘Laura’ and Marian, particularly the last note. Overall Winter Chill is a cosy mystery (if you overlook the sex) with an interesting psychological aspect. It’s not a book I enjoyed or would recommend, mainly due to the lack of pace and plot issues, but it should appeal to those who enjoy a slower, more character driven read (and must have done previously as this is a re-release of a 80s paperback). If you are not sure if Winter Chill is for you then you can try it yourself by reading the available pages on GoogleBooks.Winter Chill will be available as an e-book from today on Amazon UK for £4.31 and from Amazon US for $6.63.[A review copy was received through NetGalley]

Ingredients of Outliers: A Recipe For Personal Achievement: 1

Ingredients of Outliers: A Recipe for Personal Achievement - John Shufeldt Ingredients of Outliers is part biography, part self-help guide. The author John Shufeldt, MD, JD, MBA is a doctor/attorney/entrepreneur who, using his own experiences as well as those of others, takes the reader through the traits he believes every successful person needs. Each trait is given its own chapter which usually contains John’s thoughts and experiences with the trait in question, a few examples of successful people who have had the trait and how it is been demonstrated by them, a summary of the key points in John’s own words and then quotes about the trait from other successful individuals. This formulaic set up, as well as the author’s conversational and humorous writing style makes for a quick and easy read. While many readers will want to read the whole book in one go, the book's set up allows a reader to dip in and out, as and when without any problems. Some chapters will appeal more to some readers than others, the chapter on humility spoke to me more than the rest, whereas someone who is going through a serious illness might want to read the chapter on being indefatigable. Overall, Ingredients of Outliers was an easy interesting read, that will not only appeal to those looking for ways to improve themselves but also those generally interested in the background and traits of highly successful individuals. Ingredients of Outliers is available from Amazon UK for £6.91 and from Amazon US for $10.44[A review copy was provided by the author]

Plagued: The Midamerica Zombie Half-Breed Experiment (Plagued States of America, #1)

Plagued: The Midamerica Zombie Half-Breed Experiment (Plagued States of America, #1) - Evan Ramspott Set years after a zombie outbreak has swept through the USA, Plagued follows Tom Jefferson, a privileged young man who lives in one of the safe districts of the new America. In this new world, de-venomed zombies are used as slaves and sold in large trading posts. Tom and his older brother are sent out to one of these posts to check the slave records in an attempt to find his sister Larissa, who was turned during one of the initial outbreaks. Here he finds a half-bread captive zombie, Penelope, who he thinks might know where his sister is. When zombies swarm the trading post Tom escapes into the wilderness with Penelope and a band of zombie hunters and visitors, and may have just gotten the chance he needs to find Larissa, but can he survive long enough?I was extremely impressed with this first offering from Better Hero Army. Unlike some of the more formulaic offerings that fill the shelves of bookshops under ‘Zombie Fiction’, Plagued takes a very different path, although this is not immediately obvious from the summary. Better Hero Army takes some common plot elements, for example a survivor searching for a loved one and turns it on its head. I can’t say more or I’ll ruin the ending. The novella felt more like a snippet from a much longer novel but at the same time didn’t leave the reader wanting. I would however love both a sequel and a prequel.The book throughout is well crafted, I could not fault the characters or the writing. If anything my complaint is that the book ended so soon! The background to the story is effortlessly woven into the story, which means there are no whole chapters devoted to back story to slow the pace down. The relationships between Penelope and Peske, and Penelope and Tom, are sympathetically written, although simple.Overall an impressive novella, with an intelligent and unique take on the zombie world, which should be ranked up there with the works of Recht and Brooks in the Zombie genre. A must read for Zombiephiles, and a rare example of the genre which should appeal to a much wider audience from thriller fans to romance readers.Plagued is available from Amazon UK for £2.03 and Amazon US for $3.02. [A review copy was provided by the author]

The Axeman of New Orleans

The Axeman of New Orleans - Hoffmann Books As you might have noticed I'm a bit of a true crime buff and I couldn't pass up the chance of reviewing a new book in a new 'True Crime Collection' from Hoffmann Books. The Axeman of New Orleans is currently one of three offerings in the collection and tells the events of 1918-1919 in New Orleans that left residents in a state of panic.The city was gripped by a series of horrific attacks and murders, where an unknown man or men broke into people's houses while they slept and bludgeoned them with an axe. Whilst several suspects were arrested, the true identity of the Axeman was never discovered and the crimes stopped as suddenly as they started.The book covers the key points in the case, and has a very professional and easy to read narrative. It goes through the murders 'as they happened' and discusses possible suspects and briefly covers how the police and justice system handled the investigation. However perhaps due to a lack of solid case material (as the murders happened nearly one hundred years ago), the book is incredibly short and lacks the kind of insights these books usually have, either from victim accounts or from speaking to detectives involved. There are also quite a few instances where events are not clear, for example, there is uncertainty over whether one of the victims survived the attack. Not necessarily the fault of the authors, but detracts from the book's credibility and overall reading experience. The book also fails to include a key suspect included in many other accounts of the case. I can see no reason for this, as the name and details of this suspect can be clearly found in earlier accounts of this case, but is absent from Hoffmann's offering.Unfortunately for The Axeman of New Orleans, it suffers because of the age of the material it is addressing. Whilst the material Hoffmann books has got is presented very well and makes an interesting read, it is lacking in the real detail needed to make a true crime book a success. As with most true crime accounts the same material can be found in numerous places on the web, although The Axeman of New Orleans does provide it in a much more accessible format and is arguably better written. This book would be perfect for someone wanting a quick overview of the case, or as part of a bigger collection should Hoffmann Books extend their offering.The Axeman of New Orleans is available from Amazon for £1.96, but can be borrowed free if you have Prime. [A review copy was provided by the author]

Snow Day

Snow Day - Dan Maurer Snow Day reads like an old campfire story, and that is what the author intended. Billy, our narrator, tells the story of how, as a child, he stumbled into a horror story which left another boy dead and gave him nightmares every snow day since.Snow Day is a novella, only 100 pages long, but that is the perfect size for this story, as any longer and it would loose the thrill with too much detail. If anything, it could have been a little shorter, as I felt the first section dragged and, whilst building the background of the characters, wasn't needed in a story so short. The first few pages also revealed a bit too much for me, as horrifying as they were. These two small points were the reason I didn't award it the full 5 stars - but they should not put off a potential reader, as they are soon forgotten as the rest of the book unfolds.Although short, the story is substantial, and leaves the reader with a stratified feeling when you finish the book, rather than feeling like there could have been more. The writing is elegant in its simplicity, and the innocent but slightly cocky voice of the narrator takes you back to a much simpler time, and also makes the story that much creepier. There is even a surprise twist at the end.A great read when you want to finish a story in one go. I very much enjoyed it, even though I usually steer clear of novellas.Snow Day is available from Amazon for £1.32 as a Kindle e-book. There is also an audio book version available. A sample chapter can be found here.[A review copy was provided by the author]4.5 stars

Badwater (Forensic Geology, #1)

Badwater (Forensic Geology, #1) - Toni Dwiggins Badwater follows a team of forensic geologists (think CSI with rocks) as they race against time to stop a catastrophic release of nuclear waste in unspoiled Death Valley. The premise of the book fascinated me from the start, although, to my shame, I could not see how rocks could be that interesting. I was however pleasantly surprised.The book has a trilling start, a road crash site in the middle of the desert with a murdered driver and a missing barrel of nuclear waste. The thrills continue throughout the book, which has a good pace, and whist the reader is aware of the culprit from the start due to his narrative in one of the first chapters, the reader is kept guessing as to who else can be trusted, which keeps things interesting. The forensic geology is well integrated into the plot, and is not just brushed to the side as can happen in these types of ‘CSI’ books; and I found both the geology and the nuclear science very accurate and interesting. I had a good chuckle at some of the more sciencey jokes in the book too – such as the analogy of the three types of radiation as the Three Little Pigs. There are numerous references to different places in Death Valley in the book – and the inclusion of a map at the start is a nice touch and makes it easier to picture the places when they are mentioned.The only slight source of irritation for me was the, at times, heavy use of colloquial spelling such as “Shore Thang” which tended to jar me out my flow of reading. I can understand the author trying to get across the local accent, but I felt in this case it wasn't needed and was inconsistently used. There were also a few grammatical issues (such as mixed used of the first and third person) but these did not affect my enjoyment of the book.Overall a quick, but very enjoyable read which should appeal to any fan of science based thrillers. I will be looking forward to reading the second book in the series – Volcano Watch. Badwater was awarded the 2012 Best Indie Whodunnit award from Wired.com.

Ashen Winter (Ashfall (Trilogy - Hardcover))

Ashen Winter - Mike Mullin Ashen Winter is the second book in the dystopian series Ashfall by Mike Mullen. The series is set after a super volcanic eruption at Yellowstone plunges the United States into chaos and follows teenager Alex Halprin as he tries to find his girlfriend, Darla, who has been kidnapped by a cannibalistic gang, and his parents, in the dangerous post-eruption world. I have to admit I haven't read the first book, Ashfall, but was surprised how easy it was to get into this as a stand-alone story. There were a few references to the events in Ashfall but they were written in a way which meant those who hadn't read the first novel could flow the story easily.Ashen Winter is the best book I've read in a long time, I literally could not put it down. The book flows brilliantly with just the right pace to both cover the details and move the story along. There are some fantastic moments of suspense, such as when Alex becomes trapped in a cannibals garage. Alongside some very poignant emotional moments - where you really feel for Alex and his companions - there were a few tears shed whilst reading it. One of the great aspects of Ashen Winter is the excellent characterization, each character is fully fleshed out, believable and with their own take on the situation. The plot was utterly realistic, there were no miracle recoveries from injuries or lucky breaks, and I was really pulled into the story. The ending was satisfying and wrapped up the story nicely, whilst leading onto the third, as yet unpublished book.Overall, a fantastic book for fans of dystopian fiction, and one which I think would also do well as a young adult read. It doesn't matter if you have not read the first novel, it makes a good stand-alone story, although I've already ordered a copy of the first book and will be keeping my eyes peeled for the third due 2014.[A ARC was provided by NetGalley]

Two Evils

Two Evils  (Monkeewrench #6) - P.J. Tracy I'm a big fan of the Monkeewrench series by PJ Tracy and Monkeewrench #6 - Two Evils (or Off the Grid for US readers) is the latest installment. We find Grace relaxed for the first time in a long time, wearing a dress and enjoying the high seas with ex-FBI agent John Smith. However their peaceful existence is shattered when two men board their boat late on night and try to kill John. We later find out that John has been monitoring the internet for terrorist groups and accidentally stumbled upon a Halloween terror plot.A big part of the Monkeewrench series is the suspense in each book, and whilst Two Evils has some great moments of suspense, there isn't that same build up of tension that you find particularly in the first few books. That being said, the book was well written and the moments of suspense that were present had me on the edge of my seat. The plot was very good, with enough complexity to keep me guessing, though the final 'encounter' was a bit anti-climatic with very little action. I especially liked the sub-plot between Grace and Magozzi, and am looking forward to it being explored more in the next novel. Overall a good solid, enjoyable read which will appeal to both fans of the series and new readers.[A review copy was provided by Penguin Books]

The Frozen Shroud (Lake District Mysteries)

Frozen Shroud - Martin Edwards The Frozen Shroud is Martin Edward's latest offering from the Lake District Mysteries series, a series I've been meaning to read for quite a while. The Frozen Shroud is based around two historical murders in the remote fictional Lakeland village of Ravenback, and the events when a third murder happens mirroring the first two.The novel is well written, with little touches, such as referring to a non-Cumbrian as an incommer, making it very realistic in its setting; a fact that I'm sure will please lovers of the Lake District, as too few books are true to this setting. The pace however is too slow for my liking with the action not really getting going until 40% into the book. There are also a few too many long conversations between characters that add little to the plot, which is a particular bug bear of mine. The main characters are well written, but the extended cast of characters - particularly in the first half of the book, can make following what is going on difficult. The large number of characters comes in very useful in the last section of the book, providing many possible suspects and motives to the killings. The twist at the end is superb the killer being someone you would never have suspected.Overall, a 'soap-opera' style mystery that is well written and which kept me guessing till the end.The Frozen Shroud is released on April 2nd and will be available in dead-tree format from Amazon for £8.33. Currently there is no information on an e-book release, however as Kindle versions of several other books in the series are available I've no doubt one will be available after release.[An ARC was provided by NetGalley]

The Uninvited

The Uninvited - Liz Jensen The Uninvited is a dystopian novel set in the present day, where children start behaving oddly and attacking adults close to them. From a few isolated incidents, modern society soon reaches breaking point and a new equilibrium is reached.The underlying message of The Uninvited - that our current society and population growth is unsustainable - is an interesting one, and is explored in a novel way. However, I felt the idea was not delved into as much it could have been, and I, as a fan of dystopian fiction, was left wanting more. The start is absorbing but slow, with the rest of the novel feeling rushed which leads to very little attention being paid to the issues arising from the collapse of society. Instead the book jumps forward to a unsatisfying ending. The novel itself is easy to read, with the characters, particularly Hesketh, making an emotional connection with the reader. The inner monologue from Hesketh, was particularly interesting in its portrayal of someone with Aspergers, and this aspect of his charactersation was particularly well done. The logical approach of Hesketh makes it easier to take in some of the more far-fetched aspects of the plot. I enjoyed the book on the whole, and finished it in a few hours; the intrigue surrounding the source of the 'pandemic' carrying me onwards. The eventual explanation is somewhat unexpected although not all together convincing, which the author alludes to with a line "Let string theory work that out". One niggle with the ARC version was extremely poor formatting, with many missing letters and several misspellings This made reading it on my Kindle frustrating, and hopefully the retail version is better. Overall the premise is a good one, with an intriguing take on the issue of overpopulation, however the author fails to take full advantage, and as such the novel is merely a good read - rather than something more outstanding or thought provoking. The Uninvited is available from Amazon as an e-book for £7.40 or as a paperback for £5.99. [An ARC was provided by NetGalley]

Kill Decision

Kill Decision - Kill Decision is a techno-thriller by Daniel Suarez. This non-stop, seat of your pants story follows a very realistic and frighteningly, scientifically plausible plot in which unmanned armed drones are turned against their makers. The scientific accuracy of this novel is a definite strength, which I believe will appeal to sci-fi and military fiction fans alike.The story itself is well paced with good, well developed characters; I particularly liked the characterisation of McKinney; the ‘ant’ scientist. There was also a real sense of camaraderie amongst the group assembled to find those responsible for the drone attacks. The plot builds well throughout, although the ending, whilst acceptable, was a bit lacklustre for my liking; not entirely satisfying. Looking past the fiction, the science is presented well and in an unbiased way, allowing the reader to make their own decisions on if the progress of this type of technology is good or bad. Some have compared the writing style to Michael Crichton but whilst I saw similarities between Kill Decision and Prey – I wouldn’t say the overall writing compares to Crichton; as there isn’t very much for the reader to work out in Suarez’s work.Overall a good thriller which will keep you engrossed from start to finish. A perfect book for fans of writers like Tom Clancy and Andy McNab.