Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Review: With Zombies by Michael F. Stewart

Assured Destruction: With Zombies by Michael F. Stewart

Published: 31st March 2014 
Genre: Young Adult / Mystery
Series: Assured Destruction #3
Page Count: ?
Format: eBook
Source: Michael F Stewart via Xpresso Book Tours

Synopsis: The final book in the Assured Destruction series!

Jan Rose may already be expunged from the police department's High Tech Crime Unit. Her mother's hospitalized, and Assured Destruction's on the cusp of bankruptcy. But Jan doesn't wait on anything, she seeks out the customers who used to keep the family business afloat. That's when everything starts to go wrong.

A computer virus--aka the Zombie Worm--threatens not only her school and Shadownet, but the entire city. A skull with a chain running through its socket links a powerful gang to her former customers, and holds the secrets to why her father left and the identity of her mother's boyfriend.

To save her family and the business, Jan must determine who is friend and who is foe. And decide what type of hacker she wishes to become: Gray, white, or black. Not only her life hangs in the balance.
Purchase: Amazon UK* / Amazon US / Smashwords / TBD / B&N / Kobo

Michael F. Stewart: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads
*When purchasing through this link, I will receive a small amount, once I have enough saved up I will put it towards a giveaway.

Review of books one and two can be found here.

4 / 5 stars

So here we go, third and final book of the Assured Destruction series. Did you see that? I started and finished a series in the same year, now to tackle all the others on my list ha.

With Zombies is a strong finale to the series, which only backs up the points I've made about the other books. 

It continued to wrap up loose ends, develop characters that would have otherwise been in the shadows and provided a well told story even with Jan's unbalanced emotions.

And whilst I really enjoyed this series I do also believe it could have worked as one larger standalone. But having it as three doesn't diminish my love for it.

A lot happens within this last book and of course anything I talk about here on forth will be a spoiler for its predecessors.

With Zombies doesn't waste a moment and dives in where it left off, Jan back home, fuzzy on medicine, Mum in hospital and waiting on Jonny.

Something that I really liked about this was that things didn't just magically start getting better or easier for Janus, they got more difficult in fact and she ended up suffering rather badly for it - nothing that a few weeks in hospital couldn't solve. 

But it was there. It was real. Showing how a real person in every day life would have reacted too all the pressure Jan had been under lately.

I really liked it. Something so simple but just so right.

Whilst dealing with her own and her mum's not-so-good health, she also has to become a seller for a cure for a current zombie virus, findi out the truth about her Dad leaving, find out the secrets her Mum's current interest may have, possibly infiltrate a hacker gang and well you know, on top of all this, attend school accordingly.

Oh and find out what to do now she lost her home.

So as I said a lot happens but the best thing is, everything is tied up. 

There are sad moments and happy moments and over all a very pleasing end to the trilogy.

In my opinion, this series is definitely worth reading, especially seeing as though they're fairly short and are easy to dive in and out whilst schooling is coming to an end.

Saturday, 7 June 2014

Review: Insurgent by Veronica Roth

Insurgent by Veronica Roth

Published: 1st May 2012 by Katherine Tegen Books
Genre: Young Adult / Dystopia

Series: Divergent #2
Page Count: 529
Format: Paperback
Source: RAK from Ciska

Synopsis: One choice can transform you—or it can destroy you. But every choice has consequences, and as unrest surges in the factions all around her, Tris Prior must continue trying to save those she loves—and herself—while grappling with haunting questions of grief and forgiveness, identity and loyalty, politics and love.

Tris's initiation day should have been marked by celebration and victory with her chosen faction; instead, the day ended with unspeakable horrors. War now looms as conflict between the factions and their ideologies grows. And in times of war, sides must be chosen, secrets will emerge, and choices will become even more irrevocable—and even more powerful. Transformed by her own decisions but also by haunting grief and guilt, radical new discoveries, and shifting relationships, Tris must fully embrace her Divergence, even if she does not know what she may lose by doing so.
Purchase: Amazon UK* / Amazon US / TBD* / B&N / Kobo

Veronica Roth: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Tumblr
*When purchasing through this link, I will receive a small amount, once I have enough saved up I will put it towards a giveaway.

4 / 5 stars

I'm really happy that Ciska chose to send me this book for a RAK month shortly after it came out, and it didn't take me long to start reading it, however those that had read it warned me there was a cliffhanger so I left it until Allegiant came out.

I still don't even have a copy of Allegiant because the paperbacks aren't out yet, and of course it will need to match but I decided to go ahead and read Insurgent anyway.

For me though this book was really split in two.

The first half I enjoyed, found the pace to be fairly good and the story kept me guessing what would happen, but soon after reaching just half way the tumblr book blogs decided to break their no spoiler posting rule or didn't tag their spoilers for a funny text post floating round.

Comparing the actors of TFIOS and Insurgent and their roles and ahem certain events.

Hah. Brilliant. Thank you.

So for the last half I struggled to get through this book as I knew what happened in the third and was basically pulling a very pissed off face at the book when I was reading it.

I'm really gutted about this because I think I would have enjoyed it more if this hadn't happened or if I hadn't let the spoiler ruin my enjoyment of the book.

I did however really enjoy getting to see inside the opposing faction and the factionless, and seeing how these people tackled things.

The downside of this I do think things may have run a lot smoother if Tris would've just actually talked to Four and other people too, and realising asking for help is not a weakness.

But I guess that isn't part of Tris' character or her strong points.

I must say thought that for most of this book I felt it was a good and solid three stars, however the ending really made it for me and bumped it up to four stars because to have it explained exactly why the factions exist and why divergence is hunted for really made the story feel a lot strong and more realistic.

I look forward to the finale of the trilogy but I don't think I'll be rushing to it any time soon, thanks tumblr.

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

April & May Wrap Up

April & May Wrap Up
So as you can see I'm a little behind with things, I'm behind with a lot of things and I've also made another change, I've lowered my reading goal my ten because I just can't seem to get stuck in lately with reading and blogging. It is a shame because I really enjoy it but I've also found myself being a little more sociable with a few friends which is great.

Women Author Challenge
6. Bird After Bird by Leslea Tash
7. Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor
Total: 7 / 20

Indie Fever Challenge
5. Bird After Bird by Leslea Tash
6. Assured Destruction by Michael F. Stewart
7. Assured Destruction: Script Kiddie by Michael F. Stewart
Total: 7 / 24

TBR Pile Challenge
Total: 4 / 24

Shelf Stacking:
Dear Killer I pre-ordered last year as it has a release date for end of 2013 but it got pushed back a lot and I'm not sure why, I'd actually forgotten about it until it arrived, Cinder I won thanks to a tumblr giveaway and A Discovery of Witches I've received for review. I'm very happy about all three of these books and even more so that I've stopped my spending and freebie lurking. Hopefully my to be read pile will start to look more manageable once the year is over.
Dear KillerCinder (The Lunar Chronicles, #1)A Discovery Of Witches (All Souls, #1)

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Series Review: Assured Destruction by Michael F. Stewart & Giveaway

Assured Destruction by Michael F. Stewart

Published: 22nd March 2013 by Non Sequltur Press
Genre: Young Adult / Mystery
Series: Assured Destruction #1
Page Count: 185
Format: eBook
Source: Xpresso Book Tours

Synopsis: You can learn a lot about someone looking through their hard drive...

Sixteen-year-old Jan Rose knows that nothing is ever truly deleted. At least, not from the hard drives she scours to create the online identities she calls the Shadownet.

Hobby? Art form? Sad, pathetic plea to garner friendship, even virtually? Sure, Jan is guilty on all counts. Maybe she’s even addicted to it. It’s an exploration. Everyone has something to hide. The Shadownet’s hard drives are Jan’s secrets. They're stolen from her family’s computer recycling business Assured Destruction. If the police found out, Jan’s family would lose its livelihood. 

When the real people behind Shadownet’s hard drives endure vicious cyber attacks, Jan realizes she is responsible. She doesn’t know who is targeting these people or why but as her life collapses Jan must use all her tech savvy to bring the perpetrators to justice before she becomes the next victim.

"Stewart seamlessly incorporates the fast-paced world of social media into a unique writing style that perfectly captures the world of a modern teen. Janus’ complicated web of computer networks is intricate enough to leave readers thoroughly engrossed by her hacking acumen while remaining accessible to even the least tech-savvy readers. Many teenage girl readers will find unconventional, strong Janus to be an intriguing role model, but as a clever, talented and often slightly dark hacker, she transcends gender stereotypes and will find fans among teen boy readers as well.

*When purchasing through this link, I will receive a small amount, once I have enough saved up I will put it towards a giveaway.

4 / 5 stars
I've been lucky enough to receive all three books of the Assured Destruction series in exchange for an honest review as part of the book tour hosted by Xpresso Book Tours, this will in no way effect my opinion of the book.

The opening to this book really hooked me, the introduction to Janus, her computer identities and her mum was great and as I was reading it on my kindle it also provided links to all the correct sites and twitter accounts which I found to be a great added bonus.

The computers represent different sides of Janus in a way, though its not as extreme as her having multiple personalities, just that she enjoys to fabricate personalities/friends to tell her opinions from different point of views whilst having a conversation with herself/them via twitter.

The whole thing is brilliant, I enjoyed it so much.

Of course she also has to attend school which  is never easy for anyone, especially when there seems to be drama following two of your classmates who's hard drive are now part of your computer network... that were supposed to be destroyed. Ooops.

Janus finds herself being targeted by a fellow hacker who takes down her network with a virus and reveals the secrets hidden in her recycled hard drives.

But who? and why?

Things get troublesome very quickly especially when she notices there could be more than one suspect in this mystery.

Once my own university work wasn't keeping me up late not reading, I was hooked to this book and couldn't put it down, I really enjoyed Janus' voice throughout - her personality was clear and never slipped up.

The development between herself and a few key characters were enjoyable too which leave you wandering how things will progress in the next book but also what other trouble will she land herself in, given how this book ends too.

What's even better is that I didn't find the book predictable, it told the story great and gave away just enough detail to keep you guessing all the possibilities without ever being right.

Please keep in mind that the book is only 185 pages and I like to keep my reviews spoiler free, there is a lot I want to talk about because the author only uses those 185 pages to benefit the story, everything is tidied up well and you're not left with any huge cliff hangers.

Script Kiddie by Michael F. Stewart

Published: 31st August 2013 by Non Sequitur Press
Genre: Young Adult / Mystery
Series: Assured Destruction #2
Page Count: 212
Format: eBook
Source: Xpresso Book Tours

 Jan Rose no longer steals data from the old computers she recycles. She doesn't need to. As the newest member of the police department’s High Tech Crime Unit, the laptop of a murderer has landed on her desk. Her job: to profile and expose a killer.

But that’s not all.

A creep lurks in the shadows, stalking a friend, and Jan must stop him before the hunt turns deadly. The clock counts down for Jan to save her friend, her job, her boyfriend--maybe even her life.
Purchase: Amazon UK* / Amazon US / Smashwords / B&N / Kobo

*When purchasing through this link, I will receive a small amount, once I have enough saved up I will put it towards a giveaway.

4 / 5 stars

*spoilers likely for first books*
As mentioned I received all three books of the Assured Destruction series in exchange for an honest review as part of the book tour hosted by Xpresso Book Tours, this will in no way effect my opinion of the book.

Ever worry about taking a break from a series and worrying about not remembering what happened?

Fear not, Script Kiddie picks up shortly after where Assured Destruction finished and if that is not good enough well as this story progresses it drops a few reminders about key events from the previous. This is so helpful especially after long hours painting.

Janus' introduction to becoming a police sidekick doesn't quiet go as smoothly as planned, one of the officers has already taken to her badly and well the other, whilst she supports her, Janus just finds herself doing everything but what they wanted, even with all her good intentions.

Upon returning to school she's faced with a surprise science test, which can only go so well when you've been in hospital for a few weeks, and Hannah wanting her help with a very secretive and delicate subject matter than only Janus could handle.

Only can Janus handle tracking down a paedophile, removing the evidence he has of Hannah and shutting him down for good on her own?

Not to mention realising just how much money troubles her mums having back home, surely this is too much for one kid to handle, especially when she starts to have doubts about her own hacking skills, is she at best a Script Kiddie?

Initially everything seems downhill for Janus and I think that is why I keep coming back to this book and enjoying it so much, she is real life person and can only handle so much at once much like everyone else. She isn't a Superhero or Princess, she doesn't posses magical abilities - just knows her way around coding more than others around her.

Yet she doesn't give up, she keeps going until she manages to solve as much as she's able. Even if she leaves a bit of destruction in her path.

Like joining an online hacker forum that may be more dangerous than she realises. Even if she is only there to ask for advice.

Anyhow Janus does end up finding herself in more trouble than last time, if that is even possible, but the development of her character continues and I loved every page of it.

I only hope we get more of a development on Jonny (her boyfriend) and Peter (her mums boyfriend) because I now find that after two books they're not touched upon as much as I'd like them to be considering how much is unknown about one of them.

I look forward to the third, such a great and easy to read series.

Author Bio
Michael F. Stewart

After crewing ships in the Antarctic and the Baltic Sea and some fun in venture capital, Michael anchored himself (happily) to a marriage and a boatload of kids. Now he injects his adventurous spirit into his writing with brief respites for research into the jungles of Sumatra and Guatemala, the ruins of Egypt and Tik’al, paddling the Zambezi and diving whatever cave or ocean reef will have him. He is a member of the International Thriller Writers and SF Canada, and the author of the Assured Destruction series, 24 Bones, The Sand Dragon, Hurakan, Ruination and several award winning graphic novels for young adults. His most recent project, The Terminals, has been optioned for television by Sudden Storm Entertainment.

Michael lives in Ottawa, Canada with his wife and four daughters. He tries very hard to keep life an adventure both on and off the page. Please come find me on Goodreads.

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Don't forget to follow the tour by clicking this link!
Please note my review of the third book will be up by the end of this week, university moved forward deadlines leaving me less time than I had planned to read the last book in time, apologise.