James Ryker, a veteran intelligence agent now freelancer, working for the secretive Joint Intelligence agency on an op-by-op basis, finds himself embroiled in a complicated mission that will test him to his limit.
When a simple surveillance mission goes awry and the key target is kidnapped in broad daylight in a busy London square, Ryker knows he has his work cut out.
Ryker is tasked with figuring out what went wrong. But when his good friend Sam Moreno disappears without a trace, the mission becomes more personal than he could have imagined.
Torn between toeing the government line, and finding the answers he needs, Ryker realises there’s only one way to find those responsible and to punish them... His way.
I have read a lot of books by Rob Sinclair - The 'Enemy' Series, The 'James Ryker' series, and now Ryker returns in 'Renegade'
After publishing so many books, you'd think there might be a touch of sameness slipping in - with these books following the same person, you may think they'd be treading over old ground by now.
But, somehow, author Rob Sinclair knows how to keep things fresh - constantly dropping Ryker into new situations and turning his life completely upside down. The pace is kept at a healthy high throughout, and Ryker is a brilliantly believable character to get behind. Sinclair portrays him as strong and intelligent, but fallible and human too - ensuring that the reader can feel the risk behind every encounter with the enemy that Ryker may have.
Plot-wise, this initially feels like less of a globe hopping book than some of the previous entries in the series, and cleverly weaves together two plot strands that initially feel completely seperate - but crash together in thrilling fashion. It's worth noting that there is a hell of a lot of action here - so if you're not a fan of violence this may not be one for you. On that note though, Sinclair balances things well when it comes to how much he shows - ensuring the violence is exciting and has consequences, but never feels too gratuitous or exploitative - Ryker lives in a dangerous world and leaves a dangerous life, so violence is an unfortunate consequence.
Great fun - and an easy read that kept me gripped and racing through the pages until I reached the conclusions - where I'll eagerly be waiting the next from Rob Sinclair!
Welcome to The Glory - the world’s biggest VR tournament.
In front of millions of viewers, teams compete in a battle royale where they clear dungeons, complete quests and slay other players in a race to score the most points.
The winners are instant celebrities, and it's time Bash the Berserker joined their ranks. One win away from going pro, his dreams of fame, fortune and that iced coffee sponsorship are finally coming true...until he’s kicked off his team mere hours before registrations close.
With everything on the line, Bash manages to cobble together a new rag-tag team. A washed-up semi-pro who hates his guts, a talented analyst who’s never actually competed and a streamer whose ego is only surpassed by her love of throwing swords.
Oh, and if they want to earn their glory, Bash will have to trade in his war hammer and play as a three-foot-tall, tree-hugging elf....
Alex Knight grew up a sun-baked, outdoorsy Floridian and has lived in several places around the world. As an author of LitRPG and Fantasy his work includes the Nova Online Trilogy. In the past Alex has worked as everything from a dish washer at Busch Gardens to the Communications Coordinator at the Florida Attractions Association.
After deciding he didn’t like stability or predictable pay checks he made the jump to being a freelance writer. Soon that turned into ghost-writing romance novellas, then ghost-writing full-blown science fiction novels, and finally, writing his own books.
Hello - I'm Luke, and two things I love are Fantasy, and Video Games. So, rather unsurprisingly, Rise to Glory was right up my street! If you combined The Hunger Games with Ready Player One, with a little bit of Lord of the Rings and Skyrim thrown in good measure, you'd end up with Rise to Glory - and as a melting pot of all those brilliant options, it's clearly extremely fun.
As a big video game fan I enjoyed how the world is represented here - the fact that the character exist mostly in this virtual world allows the author to have them abide by rules that are set and strict, but are nonetheless different from everyday life. If you're a fan of fantasy but struggle with the excessive world building that can sometimes go into Fantasy books, then 'Rise to Glory' will be a great fit for you - plunging you into the action, and allowing you to discover things as Bash and the other characters do.
Crucially, and I think particularly fitting given the time in which this audiobook has come out, is how the story focuses on the idea of 'found families'. As someone who has made some of his best friends through posting on an X-Men message board in the early 2000's, I know all too well that geekdom brings security and closeness with others, who, for whatever reason, can often feel seperated from the rest of society. Alex Knight subtly covers those themes here - and they weave along nicely with the fun of the overarcing plot, whilst also bringing in themes about the world of competitive and professional online gaming, which we've seen take off in recent years.
Kudos goes to voice artist Christopher Ragland for his great narration too - brilliant to have someone so immersed in the video game world (he's done voices for Homefront, Horizon Zero Dawn, Star Wars Battle Front II and Xenoblade Chronicles II, amongst others) do the voiceover here - extremely fitting!
Many thanks to Midas PR for the opportunity to give this a listen
London, 2060: Following a series of deadly pandemics, devastating environmental disasters and a violent surge in cyber terrorism, the UN has made it compulsory for every tax paying citizen to login to the Perspecta Universe: a totally safe, pollution free, environmentally friendly virtual reality world.
Eighteen years later, ‘The Upload’ is complete, and billions of people all around the world exist in massive dormitory complexes surrounding the major cities, all totally unconscious of the crumbling world around them. Apart from the renegades, the ‘Offliners’ who live in London’s silent wasteland, making the disused Piccadilly Circus Tube station their home: a fully self-sufficient, subterranean community.
When Josh ‘Kid’ Jones, a young Offliner, discovers that an antiquated piece of technology called an ‘iPhone left to him by his father seems able to communicate with the past through social media. He strikes up a friendship with Isabel Parry, a 16-year-old living in 2021, and the two begin communicating through time and space via Instagram. But what Kid and Izzy don’t realise is that by doing so they are not only changing their own fate, but also the fate of the rest of the world…
Sebastian de Souza is an actor, screenwriter, singer, musician, producer, and now an author! Recognisable from shows such as 2020's massive hit 'Normal People', and the brilliant 'The Great', he's clearly a big talent and, rather annoyingly, proves here that his talents extend to writing too!
Of course, a near future dystopian sci-fi read set in my home city of London was always going to be an easy sell to me - but de Souza has crafted a remarkably gripping tale that, rather surprisingly for a book that comes in at just over 600 pages, does not drag in the slightest - instead it takes the reader by the hand and pulls them through a tense, surprising, and thoroughly satisfying adventure.
All of the best science fiction takes cues from the real world - and that's precisely what de Souze does here - drawing on various areas such as pandemics (fitting...), polution, and consumerism, to create a world that feels at once distant, and yet entirely possible.
Josh Jones is the Kid of the title - and he leads us through this tale with a distinct, likeable voice, and a steady hand. He's a fantastic viewpoint for the reader to explore this world, and I'll be very keen to read about him again in whatever form the Offliner series takes next.
Thrilling, extremely well written, and packed full of high-concept adventure - Kid is a rip-roaring read and one I'll be highly recommending.
Many thanks to MidasPR for the copy
They say we'll never know what happened to those men. They say the sea keeps its secrets . . .
Cornwall, 1972. Three keepers vanish from a remote lighthouse, miles from the shore. The entrance door is locked from the inside. The clocks have stopped. The Principal Keeper's weather log describes a mighty storm, but the skies have been clear all week.
What happened to those three men, out on the tower? The heavy sea whispers their names. The tide shifts beneath the swell, drowning ghosts. Can their secrets ever be recovered from the waves?
Twenty years later, the women they left behind are still struggling to move on. Helen, Jenny and Michelle should have been united by the tragedy, but instead it drove them apart. And then a writer approaches them. He wants to give them a chance to tell their side of the story. But only in confronting their darkest fears can the truth begin to surface . . .
Author Emma Stonex worked as an editor at a major publishing house before she left to write full time. She is the author of bestselling women’s fiction novels under several different pseudonyms, but The Lamplighters is her first novel under her own name, and her piece of literary fiction.
There is something about lighthouses that is both terrifying and reassuring - the calm light of the lighthouse guiding sailors safely to shore reassures, but the thoughts of the isolation amongst the great unknown of the sea, is hugely unsettling, if not outright terrifying.
In 2021, all lighthouses in the UK are automated, so only require occasional visits from lighthouse keepers in order to ensure that everything is working as intended. But back in the 1970's, the process of automation was only just beginning - and men would be sent to live on the lighthouses for months on end. This is where Stonex's novel takes root - contrasting the isolation of those on the lighthouse, with a similar sense of isolation felt by those women left behind.
The disappearance of the men is based on a far earlier tale - the true story of the Flannan Isles disappearance, back in 1900. Many things are carried over from that tale, but updating the story to the early seventies works remarkably well - allowing the story to breathe and grow without getting too bogged down in period detail.
Another benefit of updating the time period is that Emma Stonex is clearly trying not to solve the Flannan Isles disappearance, but is instead taking inspiration for her story set in a different time. It gives her free reign to create new voices for these men, and, perhaps more importantly, the women who were left behind after their disappearance. There is a rawness to how Stonex captures the drawn out grief and anger of these women, forever destined to not know what had happened to those they loved. For me, the relationships between these women were perhaps more interesting than those of the men on the lighthouse - the turbulent emotions of the women proving to be as dark and stormy as the sea that surrounds the lighthouse. In addition, the last year of lockdown, with many of us isolated and at home with maybe just one other person, can begin to feel just the slightest what those lighthouse keepers may have felt - no matter what luxuries you have, the knowledge that you can't go outside is still one that messes with the emotions and ones mental health, no matter what.
The prose encourages you to keep reading - but as things on the lighthouse began to reach a climax, I wasn't just gripped but fully transported - desperate to uncover what had happened and how things would resolve.
Stonex is clearly a huge talent and I anticipate this being just the start of an intriguing career - I'm hugely excited to see what she does next.
Our attention has been hijacked by the tsunami of devices, games and social media which now dominate our lives. This new technology brings efficiency, cost-savings and instantaneous information. But when our attention is the currency being traded by big tech firms, what price are we willing to pay for convenience? Addiction, anxiety, depression, loneliness, low self-esteem, empathy development, troubled relationships, fake news, propaganda and even threats to democracy are just some of challenges new technology presents. Antitrust law has failed to prevent the emergence of a few dominant big tech platforms and regulation has not kept pace with surveillance capitalism. The internet was created on the assumption that all users are equal, but children and the vulnerable are not. In Born Digital, Robert Wigley distils the mountains of available research on the subject and brings to bear his wealth of institutional experience to present a roadmap for society to radically and urgently reset its relationship with technology - for the sake of future generations.
Few are better qualified to examine this issue than Robert Wigley - I would far surpass my usual blog length if I dedicated time to discussing his CV, but it is safe to say that the author has worked in an array of high level business/finance roles, sat on many boards, and served as a trusteee for the brilliant charity Whizz-Kidz - so this is a man with considerable experience and education, who is taking on a whopper of a subject - how the accessibility of digital media has affected Generation Z, and how society and individuals need to look to protect future generations when it comes to the harmful potential affects of all encompassing digital media.
Don't take this to be some Luddite polemic though - and in the book there is no doubt that there are many positives with digital media being everywhere and easily accessible, no more noticable then during this current pandemic that has had most of us only seeing our families on devices, and many children attending school through a laptop. But the harmful affects cannot be denied, and must be investigated further. From the terrors of online bullying through to the lack of blocks on adult material, through to the sharing of misinformation and outright lies on social media. Through a combination of fascinating and deeply concerning statistics, combined with his vast experience, Robert Wigley conveys a clear call for the urgent attention that is needed in this area - for regulation and for education in the Digital World. It's clever, clearly conveyed, and very well written - I strongly recommend this to anyone who is wondering whether their child is spending too much time on their phone, as well as anyone who feels that their digital addiction is becoming a toxic one...