The Lafayette Campaign: a Tale of Deception and Elections by Andrew Updegrove

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Heeeeelooooo readers, I’ve recently been getting back into my reading after a couple of months struggle and I forgot how much fun reading could be? I know that sounds a little odd but it’s just been something I haven’t felt like doing. I’ve also found myself reaching for books I would never normally read – science fiction if I’m honest and it’s been really eye-opening. Without further delay onto a super exciting tale by Andy Updegrove.

America is rushing headlong into another election year, but something is wrong – the polls don’t match reality. It’s up to cybersecurity super sleuth Frank Adversego to find the Black Hats who are trying to hack the presidential election, and stop them before they do.

The action begins when a nameless government agency recruits Adversego to find out who’s manipulating the polls, but he soon learns that the voting results are at risk as well. From then on, it’s a race against time to see who will stop who as the presidential election – and Adversego’s life – hang in the balance.

In this latest Frank Adversego thriller, you’ll meet a scheming Native American casino manager, a scrum of presidential candidates too incredible to be believed anywhere outside of a real American election, a former Secretary of Defense who will stop at nothing, and an attractive French hitchhiker that Adversego rescues in the middle of a desert, and soon wishes he hadn’t.  The Lafayette Campaign provides a satirical take on American politics and our infatuation with technology that will make readers pause and wonder: could this really happen?

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As the blurb suggests the book follows on from the previous tale and we’re straight back into the giddy, exciting, science-fiction but relatable feel that Andy gave him during our first book. From the blurb you can see that the plot line follows the terrible doings of a nameless government agency who decides to recruit Frank to find out who really is interfering and manipulating the polls and what can be done to stop them. As he delves further in his finds that the voting results are also at risk and everything must be done to stop this from happening before the results of the Presidential Election. Will Frank be able to solve the mystery? All will be revealed.

Did I enjoy reading this? Yes – HELL YES. As like in the first book Updegrove really manages to weave in an old-school American vibe and then manages to bring it completely up-to-date with a gritty, thriller style feel. It’s done so well – and even better than in the first book and helps to cement Frank’s character – he’s really beginning to become a protagonist I really want to follow and keep reading over and over again.

As with the first book there are look of technical passages that did lead at time to me getting a little confused. They’re written well it’s just with me having limited knowledge I did get the feeling of being overwhelmed but I thought the author dealt with this really well. The slightly old-fashioned narrative style mixed with the very up-to-date jargon allows for an intriguing mash-up of qualities if that makes sense. On one hand we have the contemporary technology and on the other we have the use of democratic voting which works realllllly well together.

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In terms of the writing style I loved the mix of dialogue and then gritty tale telling – in thrillers, especially ones that revolve around technology it can get a little bogged down in the telling of the tale but here the mix is brilliant. There are lots of twists and turns to keep up with, which kept me intrigue and for me kept me on track with everything that was going on around me. Once again, as with the previous book it definitely has a feel of threat for the future and to act as a warning. Throughout it is a terrifying tale which only added to the action inside the plot-line. The idea that we’re in a time currently where this could happen.

Frank as always is brilliant – he’s such a strong willed, character who although keeps himself to himself has such a warmth. I liked that the author added a little romance for our main protagonist to add another side-story and to create a little side-plot which I thought was brilliant. It helped to make the main character feel a little more human

Overall I definitely enjoyed this book – it had so much more to it, it appealed in so many more ways and it made me fall for Frank so much more. Cannot wait to see what happens next.

Linnnnks

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Transmission by Hari Kunzru

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Helllllllllllllllllllo readers of this bookish place, hope you’re well and ready for the dreaded word that is CHRISTMAS! Yes it’s next week – next week, how exciting and festive and wonderful. Although I’m still at work like many of you so it’s a lukewarm happiness. This is the first year I haven’t been home by now. Last year was my first Christmas in the working world but I saved a lot of holiday days so I could go home quite early for Christmas – this year not so lucky with moving jobs, having about three days of holiday and needing to use them for already made plans. Gah I’m wingeing – enough of that, the REVIEW.

It’s the twenty-first century, and everything and everyone is connected.

Meet Arjun Mehta, an Indian cybergeek catapulted into California’s spiralling hi-tech sector; Leela Zahir, beguiling Bollywood actress filming in the midge-infested Scottish wilds; and Guy Swift, hyped-up marketing exec lost in a blue-sky tomorrow of his own devising. Three dislocated individuals seeking nodes of connectivity – a place to fit in. Yet this is the twenty-first century, and their lives are about to become unexpectedly entangled as a virus spreads, and all their futures are rewired. But will it take them further from their dreams, or closer to their hearts?

As the blurb suggests we follows the rather satirical but utterly wonderful tale of an IT ‘geek’ trying to make it in America. Arjun has always been fascinated with the idea of America and the American dream but when he gets there it’s not quite how he assumed it would be. Struggling to keep his job Arjun sends out a terrifying virus called Leela01 in the hope of fixing the problem which displays a looping video of his favourite Bollywood star on any computer that accesses the link. Amongst this we have the stories of both Leela and Guy Swiftt whose lives slowly come into contact with Arjun as his virus threatens to take over the world. It’s a wonderful tale of  the power of the internet, the story of the American dream with a little bit of Bollywood glamour.

Is it any good you ask? Yes. Yes it is. Firstly the characters are wonderfully built up and they contrast beautifully – Arjun is struggling to prove his worth despite being a hardworking, honestly trained and determined human being, contrasted with Guy Swift who is desperate to prove he’s this big shot in events and yet he’s not. It’s a front, a total front. This contrasted the entire way through and watching their lives change and evolve as the plot continues was such a clever way to connect characters using their flaws and their strengths. I thought the looking into Arjun and his new life in America in contrast to his life in India was offset well and helped to strengthen the contrasts we see.

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I thought the book was so clever in looking at the power of the internet and it’s ability to negatively affect so many lives – the book looks strongly at destroying our faith in technology and how much we rely on machines and their ability to give us knowledge and power. Watching the virus grow and seeing both the effect it has on Arjun, Leela and Guy is a clever play on what the internet means to each and every one of us – it’s a powerful story and one that is really important in our current digital age. The writing is strong and weaves a tale – flitting between the different storylines and building up secondary supporting characters throughout, this works well. Due to  moving between each of the characters it made me surge through the book desperate to know more and learn more and that definitely made me more invested in the plot. In terms of the pace it is a little slow at the beginning and then it definitely speeds up once Arjun is in America so if it feels a little slow and steady it does improve helping to draw the reader in.

The real dissapointment is at the end – I don’t want to give away any spoilers but there were two ways of doing it really; tying it up and making the book quite a bit longer or kind of stopping and inserting a coda to attempt to wrap things up which for me, and for a lot of other readers judging from the reviews, doesn’t quite work.

Overall would I recommend? Yes definitely if you’re looking for something different that really plays on the character profiles and looks into the Internet age we’re currently trying to recover from. I thought this was clever, and although ending was a little bit of a letdown overall still a brilliant read!

Liiiiinks

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Texts From Dog: The Dog Delusion by October Jones

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Morning readers, before we start the review I guess a little bit of an explanation as to the book choice. I’ve followed texts from dog on tumblr for a little while and it popped up on my wordpress feed so I decided to buy a copy; don’t ask what was going through my mind – I think probably a glass too much of wine but it arrived I had a lovely time rifling through it and thought I would tell you all why; don’t judge.

My dog sends me texts. Yeah. It’s weird.

When October Jones figured out he could send text messages to himself on his mobile phone, he naturally decided that the best use of this discovery was to send passive-aggressive messages to himself under the guise of his bulldog. And so the exasperating, slightly delusional, and utterly endearing Dog and his alter-ego BatDog were born.

Dog is back – the Bark Knight has risen. Unfortunately for weary owner October Jones (but luckily for us), that means there is a brand new selection of the funniest, most bizarre texts from his insane canine companion. There is also the welcome return of Batdog and CatCat (half cat, half cat), and a new ‘friend’ in Benedict, the creepiest pug in the world.

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As the blurb suggests the book is the sharing of texts between author October Jones and his pet bulldog (alter-ego Batdog.) The texts range from keeping the neighborhood safe from the vicious enemy who might also be known as the Postman, and his arch-enemy CatCat. The texts are often sarcastic, tongue in cheek and tend to rely on Batdog causing trouble and his poor owner having to clean up the mess created.

What can I say, I am very easily amused and this book really captured the life of a companionship with a rather loveable although slightly volatile Batdog. We get to delve into the lives of the dogs being left alone to wreck/break/ruin household appliances, attack the neighborhood and general dog behaviors. There are around two hundred texts or so and many connect with other texts so it does feel like a story between the two rather than being written aimlessly.

 

It’s a quick read and one that you flick through and then pass on for another to enjoy its charm. I think this would make a perfect secret santa present or something for wrapping up and popping in a stocking. It has the feel-good factor although not child safe – I will say that. The language although amusing and adds to the charm of the book sure isn’t clean

 There were a few scattered illustrations throughout, and we get a number of images of BATDOG which was a nice addition to the pages. This is the second book and it was nice to see a lot of original text as after looking at Amazon and Goodreads it seems that the first has a lot of repeated from social media. I really enjoyed reading this and will definitely be buying numerous copies and sending them to a number of friends I think will really find it amusing. It’s a little silly, often hilarious and it’s fun – what more could you ask for?

Linkkkkkks

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