Eden Chip – Scott Cramer

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Author: Scott Cramer
Pages: 294

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Thanks to nanochips implanted in human brains, the world is at peace in 2055. But not everyone likes having their emotions controlled, or their religion suppressed.

Eighteen-year-old Raissa embarks upon a perilous mission to free the world, just days before the release of nanochip Version 7, which will broadcast every citizen’s thoughts to the Collective.

The countdown has started, and Raissa must make choices that jeopardize the lives of billions, including the only boy she has ever loved.

I must be running out of luck with the giveaways, bercause I haven’t won one in months. A digital copy of Eden Chip is the last one. It also came with a couple of signed bookmarks, so I must thank the author for them! Science-Fiction is a genre I enjoy, but I barely touch due to lack of time (and a crazy long TBR list!!), so I was excited to put my hands in this world controlled by chips!!

The author takes us to the near future (2055 is just around the corner). A scientist called Doctor Pretov has built a nanochip using a new programming language named M-Code, that only him and Ashminov (his rival and true inventor of the code) understand. Those chips are implanted in every single human being and it has been used to erradicate violence, intolerance and many other bad things. It has also been used to ban religious beliefs and even all kind of unproductive emotions. What it started as a way to improve humankind, it has become a control instrument for a madman. Obviously there is a resistance and they have a plan (a real one, not like the Cylon’s plan…).

The setting is pretty amazing. I love all the chip history and the details about every version. I could have taken a lot more, but the author prefers to keep a light pace in order no to bore the readers. That is possibly the main strength of the book. In every page there is something happening, no matter if it’s a revelation, a new important data about the future or a fight scene. Even though there is no time to soak in the information we are given before getting something else, it is threaded in a way that doesn’t let the reader get lost. All those words could have been summarized with: What a ride!!

Even though I congratulate on the good pace of the plot, it hits a bump in the last quarter. In my opinion, the end is stretched unnecessarily to increase the drama… but the only thing that is really increased is my boredom. During the last chapters I lost complete interest in the story and I just wanted to get over it. A condensed version of that part would have done much more credit to the rest of the book. It is not a bad ending per se… just a bit too long.

To unravel the story, we follow three characters: Raissa, Caleb and Ashminov. Raissa is the rebel who wants to get rid of Petrov and the chip. Ashminov is the developer of the chip that would liberate humankind. And poor Caleb is just a guy who loves his job and chip, but gets dragged into the plot to take it down. The characters are the perfect fit por the story, but i won’t recall any of them with any kind of special fondness. They are just pawns for the story. The most interesting part, character-wise, was the role of Caleb’s sister. I think that was the only moment in the book when I felt more engaged to the characters than to the story.

During the whole book I was wondering if I would be pro-chip or not. I obviously wouldn’t want something as drastic as the chips found in this book, but the first iterations of the hardware and software to avoid violence and crappy human behaviour in general sound pretty sweet. We seem incapable of getting there by our own means, so maybe a technological hack would do us a solid. Too bad something like that tends to be easily polluted by people with no real interest in human improvement (like our dear Doctor Petrov from the book)…

Strong story, really nice pace and good enough characters are a win combination. There are some bumps along the way, but in general is worthy of the time invested. I will have to check other books by this author to see if there is something that catches my eye!

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2019 – Book Gallery

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Right Through Me – Shannon McKenna

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Author: Shannon McKenna
Series: The Obsidian Files #1
Pages: 382

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Biotech tycoon Noah Gallagher has a deadly secret: his clandestine training as a super-soldier gives him abilities that go far beyond human. Yet he’s very much a man. When Caro Bishop shows up at his Seattle headquarters with a dangerous secret agenda, his ordered life is thrown into chaos. Caro is a woman like no other—and her luminously sensual beauty cloaks a mystery he must solve.

Caro’s lying low, evading a false charge of murder. She means to clear her name, and she’ll do whatever it takes to survive—but seducing a man like Noah is more than she bargained for. His amber eyes have the strangest glow when he looks at her—she could swear he sees the secrets of her heart. The desire smoldering in Noah’s eyes awakens her own secret hunger, but Caro has to resist his magnetic pull. Anyone close to her becomes a target. The only right thing to do is run, far and fast, but Caro can’t outrun Noah’s ferocious intensity—or deny the searing passion that explodes between them.

Nothing else matters—until a vicious enemy bent on the ultimate revenge puts his murderous plan into play. Noah and Caro must battle for their lives…and their love…

Not so long ago I won an e-book copy of this book in a giveaway. I guess I would have never picked something like this otherwise. I’m not a big fan of books with cyborgs, because they tend to be a bunch of nonsense sex and little story. Luckily, this one is the exception. Due to life, it has taken me ages to finish it; but it’s a really nice book. Much better than expected.

We met Noah, an enhanced soldier that several years ago escaped from the crazy scientists that made him (and several others) a cyborg. His mods give him superior strength, stamina, greater healing factor, weird visual inputs and many other things. A killing machine. Caro is on the run from another cyborg (although she doesn’t know Marc is one), due to her knowledge of a password that would give the evil cyborg total control over other modifed soldiers. Obviously, Noah meets Caro and makes his mission to protect her.

The main story about the origin of the cyborgs is really nice, making the book a fun ride. The big baddies are not defeated in this book, so I guess we will know more about the evil scientists in future books. This one focuses more on the crazy Marc and his attempts to gather an army to proclaim himself king of the world. The few chapters where we geet to experience Marc’s part of the story are among my favourites of the book, even when the character is plain cruel (95% of the time). At first I thought the author wanted us to develop some kind of sympathy for him, but soon enough the opposite is stated. When he starts waking up sleepers, you can only hate the way Marc behaves…

The pace is fluid most of the book, but it hits a bump during the first “date” of Noah and Caro. There are several chapters in a row that eveyrthing that happens is just sex. Nice scenes, but a bit tiring after a while. The fight scenes are good, but with enhanced humans they are a bit messy, fast and the the right amount of crazy. There are some weird thing at the end of the book, when people with melted brains are able to shoot… but I will forgive those.

The romance goes downhill since the first sex encounters. Noah’s protection drive goes a bit far and tends to treat Caro as his possession. Extra points to Caro for using his hormones as weapon against Noah and stealing his car to get far from him. That was fun and it should have been humbling for the cyborg, but I guess the macho male needs much more than that. Caro loses all her points when she finally falls into his game. And the worst part is the end… After just a couple of days they get engaged. I hate that cliché. It’s TOO SOON!!! When are they going to learn that??

I will have to keep reading this saga. I need to know if Luke gets rescued or what. Besides, in this first book there are many nice characters that I bet will have their own books sooner or later. It has been a really nice first step, even though there are some parts that unnerve me.

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2018 – Book Gallery

The Mercenary – Petra Landon

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Author: Petra Landon
Series: The Araloka Chronicles #1
Pages: 203

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She’s a prisoner of the Imperial Forces. He’s a nomad with a private mercenary army. Can a desperate girl’s risky gamble and a fierce warrior’s love turn the tide of war and alter the balance of power in their slice of space?

In a distant corner of the galaxy, Sector Araloka burns in the flames of a deadly war. The Budheya people are one of the worst affected. Once the most advanced civilization in the quadrant, they now struggle under the cruel yoke of Ketaari occupation.

Saakshi
Imprisoned by the Ketaari Imperial Forces, a young Budheya girl is sent to a distant space station to work in an alehouse. For a girl who has known only hardship in her short life, things could be worse. Until an old foe walks into the alehouse.

Zoran
Zoran is Hadari’Kor – notoriously fierce mercenaries who only fight for hire. Drawn to a weary-eyed server girl, Zoran is forced to confront age-old traditions and question his role in the war.

The Rebel & The Mercenary
Alone, friendless and far from home, Saakshi makes a desperate gamble to trust an enigmatic stranger whose hot gaze haunts her dreams. The echoes of this unlikely alliance reverberate across the sector. As a relentless enemy hunts Saakshi, Zoran must fight with everything in his arsenal to protect her. When passion ignites amidst the embers of a smoldering war, will a warrior’s quest for justice bring a mighty Empire to its knees…

Not so long ago I won a signed paperback copy of this book. I have to thank the author for sending the book to Spain, even though I know that the delivery fees are not cheap at all. Among the Romane genres, Sci-Fi is maybe the least popular. Not many books are published under that genre and some of the ones that are released don’t look very interesting. In Spain is even worse. That genre doesn’t even exist. The few Sci-Fi Romance books that are translated are published as Paranormal… That mini-rant was to imply that I’m always glad to get a Sci-Fi Romance that looks like fun, so I was very happy when I won the giveaway.

The books tells the story of Saakshi, a Budheya prisioner of the brutal Ketaari Imperial Forces. She was sold as a slave to Pik, the owner of an alehouse in a space station in the middle of the neutral territory. Luckily for her, Pik is nice enough to treat her as respectfully as possible. In that forced job, she met Zoran, a Hadari’Kor mercenary. They never talked, but the attraction between them is pretty obvious. Everything was going fine, until a Ketaari soldier appears in the station and recognize Saakshi as a “former” rebel. The Unta-Golar thinks he can take advantage of his position to get sexual services from Saakshi. She obviously refuses. He doesn’t accept her answer and the threats begin. As you can imagine, the Budheya runs towards Zoran looking for help.

And that is how the story begins. It looked like it was going to be a fun romance book with lots of action and dangerous enemies, but it is not. Almost half of this book could be labelled as boring. During the first chapters, the characters get stuck in a loop and the story doesn’t go forwards. After Saakshi’s rescue, the pace of the book quickens but the action proves itself elusive. Every time there is going to be a battle, the author moves the focus to another place and we learn about the result of the conflict through comments by supporting characters. That’s a bit disappointing and my biggest issue with this book.

The characters are ok. I have enjoyed them most of the time. Saakshi’s behaviour along the book makes sense. It must be hard to trust someone after all her bad experiences in life. Zoran is the classic male character in Romance: a soft teddy bear wrapped in candy cane. Tough and yummy looking on the surface, but a sensitive and a loving guy on the inside. The supporting characters are also very nice and I hope to know more about them in future books. The most important question I have to resolve about them is this: Is Jolar single? And if so… Can I have his address? I have loved every single moment with that character. He is a hugger!! I’m sold!!

The wordbuilding of this book is also awesome. It’s simple, but rich and with lots of potential stories. We have two factions fighting for the control of the Araloka Sector: the Alliance (a.k.a. the good guys) and the Ketaari Empire. I guess in future books will explore more about the conflict. This one has been just an introduction. At least I hope there is more action in the following ones and that we can witness those situations.

The romance of the book is nothing out the ordinary. Girl meets boy. Boy flirts with girl. Boy and girl get together (very, very close). Boy leaves and girl gets sad. Boy comes back and all is fine again. The worst part about the romance has been some comments of Zoran. In a very passive way he forces Saakshi to live her life as he pleases. What she must do, what she must wear… He even makes the Budheya feel bad when she doesn’t follow his unspoken instructions… Thankfully doesn’t happen very often, so I will be nice and I will not consider Zoran a toxic boyfriend. But if I were her… I would be lap dancing in Jolar’s room all day!!

I can’t finish the review without commenting on the cover. It’s SO pretty!! I love the art, the colors and the font. It looks awesome in my shelf. Most of the covers in the Sci-Fi Romance genre are crap. Just big, headless guys showing off muscle. Sometimes with weird green or blue skin… So, yeah, the cover of The Mercenary deserves a comment to highlight the great piece of art.

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2018 – Book Gallery