Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Book Review + Chapter 1: Blades of Winter (Shadowstorm #1) by G.T. Almasi



Blades of Winter by G.T. Almasi
  • Mass Market Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Del Rey (August 28, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0440423546
  • ISBN-13: 978-0440423546
In one of the most exciting debuts in years, G. T. Almasi has fused the intricate cat-and-mouse games of a John le Carr├ę novel with the brash style of comic book superheroes to create a kick-ass alternate history that reimagines the Cold War as a clash of spies with biological, chemical, and technological enhancements.

Nineteen-year-old Alix Nico, a self-described “million-dollar murder machine,” is a rising star in ExOps, a covert-action agency that aggressively shields the United States from its three great enemies: the Soviet Union, Greater Germany, and the Nationalist Republic of China. Rather than risk another all-out war, the four superpowers have poured their resources into creating superspies known as Levels.

Alix is one of the hottest young American Levels. That’s no surprise: Her dad was America’s top Level before he was captured and killed eight years ago. But when an impulsive decision explodes—literally—in her face, Alix uncovers a conspiracy that pushes her to her limits and could upset the global balance of power forever.
The cover is perfect. Red hair, black outfit, firing gun… a good depiction of bad-ass fiction..:D.. It was really the cover that got my attention and urge me to request this book.. and I wasn’t disappointed at all..:)

First and foremost, I’d like to say, that this is the very first action-filled novel I’ve read. I mean literally, BLADES OF WINTER is like watching those James Bond and Bourne Legacy movies into words. Cool!!!

For the first chapter, I feel dumped with new terms and information, being a non-sci-fi/action fan, I almost thought of putting the book down. But the scene in that first chapter was fast-paced and I could understand the fighting scenes even without knowledge of caliber and enhancements, so I decided to proceed. After that, I was engrossed with the story, and understand all the words with my heart. How? Because the book is designed to give past information and even explanations with the new alternate history Almasi created by alternating the current scene and the information, and also gives the readers hint to the mysteries at hand (making me think and anticipate also)—and surprisingly, I did find it easy to follow. Plus, the protagonist Alix Nico, compared to the other levels is quite new. So, I get to experience and explored the world of levels together with her. Written with the protagonist as a nineteen year-old girl, I easily connect to it, and for me, it’s quite rare to find females in lead roles of spy/action/sci-fi novels.

I devoured the book in one sitting, and love all of the characters, whether they’re there from the start or added as the story progresses on. Alix who’s stubborn, impulsive and quite annoying at the beginning totally developed in the story without losing her sassiness. She’s one heroine I would forever be a fan of. Also, in any story, there’ll be casualties, I grief for the loss of those I came to love but would welcome more characters from the sequel.

The plot was great and well-thought of. The story doesn’t just jump from chapter to chapter, but you get to connect each from the other. There are also some twist and turns that I didn’t saw coming. The actions are easy to imagine, explosive and high rated. Almasi is a terrific writer..:D

I just wish that it would be harder next time for Alix to find out and solved the mysteries- like she really have to glue the puzzles together.

With the mass market paperback I have, it would seem that the story would be a short and brief read. But the book was so much more. A new world was created not just for sci-fi/action fans, but for future ones as well. With that cliff-hanger ending, plus a glimpse to the next book, it surely makes me want to hunt for HAMMER OF ANGELS, the next book in the series..right at this moment..:D.

BLADES OF WINTER is fast-paced, action-filled, full of humor, sarcasm, adventure, sassiness, loads of weapons, and unimaginable human enhancements. A thrilling spy novel from debut author G. T. Almasi that you shouldn’t miss!!! Very highly Recommended!!

View all my reviews

CHAPTER ONE
Chapter 1

Thursday, May 1, 1:35 p.m. EST

Manhattan’s Upper East Side, New York City, USA

Nothing pisses me off more than being shot at while I’m eating. It’s the midday rush here in my new favorite restaurant, a cozy Hungarian joint on East 82nd Street. I’m jammed into a small table by the kitchen, with a Redskins cap pulled low over my face. The charming old dining room is packed, and the paneled walls echo the Eastern European barks of the broad, buxom waitresses as they dominate the good-humored customers. The food here is spectacular, but right now I’m kind of distracted by that bullet hurtling straight at my left eye.

Until this .22-caliber interruption, I was quietly noshing my yummy goulash. My unwitting target, an ugly little man named Hector, sits at his table across the room with some chick. It’s not a very sexy mission. I’m just following this fucking jerk around. The brief said he was a former Russian Level, so I thought the job would be a lot more exciting than this. I did notice that he chews each bite of food exactly thirty-two times. Whoop-dee-doo.

At least it’s a Level 12 Job Number. This’ll be the highest-rated mission I’ve ever pulled, although it’s not exactly mine. It was originally assigned to a coworker named Grey, but he called in sick this morning. The ExOps dispatcher is a total dingbat named Virgil, so it was a cinch to sucker—uh, I mean persuade—him to mix me up with my father and assign the mission to me. You’d think the fact that I’m a mid-five-foot, nineteen-year-old female Level 4 Interceptor named Alix would be a hint that I’m not a fortysomething Level 20 Liberator named Philip who’s been dead for eight years. But who am I to correct a senator’s son? If he’s okay with putting me on a Job Number that’s eight steps beyond my pay grade, I’m okay with it, too.

But back to that bullet flying my way. Five seconds ago, Hector stood up and put on his jacket to leave. Four seconds ago, I turned my head to look for my waitress. Three seconds ago, Hector’s date plucked a small silver pistol out of her handbag. She’s about my age and height but with dark hair and dark clothes, and she’s suddenly wearing a pair of giant Jackie Onassis sunglasses. Two seconds ago, she pointed her puny gun at my face. One second ago, as this miniature Jackie-O chick pulled the trigger, I told my neuroinjector to get me ready to do some serious head stomping. As of this instant, I’m fully jacked on Madrenaline and time has slowed to a crawl.

The bullet has just emerged from Jackie-O’s little fashion accessory, so I’ve got time to pull out my larger and much more impressive black pistol. It’s a Lion Ballistics LB-505. I inherited this gun from my father, who spent a lot of time fiddling with the onboard artificial intelligence. After a particularly successful tinkering session he nicknamed her Li’l Bertha. I communicate with Li’l Bertha through the raised neural contact pad on her grip that snaps into a matching recess built into the palm of my left hand.

Like every pistol from Lion Ballistics, my LB-505 is built around the patented radar-assisted gyroscopic aiming system that made this company the Harley-Davidson of hard-core gun nuts everywhere. The AI transparently manages all the techno crap and feeds real-time target information to my Eyes-Up display.

One of the 505’s coolest capabilities is that it can change caliber on the fly. This feature is called Multi Caliber, and it allows me to reduce my competitors to one or more meat piles, depending on what size bullets I select. As I take aim with my dad’s gun, it scans Jackie-O to see if she’s wearing any kind of armor and pops the ammunition selector into a corner of my field of vision:

Select Ammo Type:

1. Standard

2. Explosive

3. Armor-Piercing

4. Incendiary

5. Pupu Platter

The scan of Jackie-O returns “null.” There are so many goddamn people in here, the scanner can’t isolate my target. Okay, fine. I tell Li’l Bertha to use .30-caliber Incendiaries. I’ve been taught that whether they’re armored or not, nothing distracts the competition more than setting them on fire.

Jackie-O’s bullet is halfway here. This isn’t my first time being shot at, but it still makes my hands begin to tremble while my stomach knots up. My neuroinjector senses my anxiety and squirts a dose of Kalmers into my bloodstream. I change my mind about the ammo and decide to precede the Incendiary rounds with two .50-caliber Explosive slugs. I need to move this crowd out of the way so that the Incendiaries can work their subtle magic.

Christ, her bullet is so close that I can see its rotation! I’ve spent too much time putzing around with my gun. I hold my head still while my retinal cameras photograph this little chickie for posterity, then I dodge to the side. The bullet sizzles across the skin of my left cheekbone as I pump two Explosive shots into the ceiling above Jackie-O. This distracts her with falling debris and gets all the others to duck under their tables. Now she’s totally exposed, so I mash down the trigger and unload my Incendiaries on her.

My flaming bullet fog hits her so hard that she doesn’t even have a chance to be torn to bits. She simply goes up in a white cloud of smoke that fills the whole dining room. It’s like the girl was never there. Her vanishing act (and perhaps all the noise, fumes, and fire) has scared the shit out of everybody, and they all start screaming their heads off. The smoke is so thick, I can’t even see my table in front of me. I switch on my infrared vision just in time to spot Hector as he follows a group of terrified patrons out the front door. I charge after him and switch my infrared off as I storm into the bright sunshine outside.

As Hector escapes up the block, the street erupts in gunfire. Damn it! I was so smug about roasting Jackie-O with my full-auto bulletgasm that I’ve stumbled into her backup team.

A cloud of bullets and one rocket-propelled grenade streak toward me. I leap in the air as the grenade hits the sidewalk and detonates. The concussion kicks me up three stories. My cap flies off, and I crash through a window as the front of my ex-favorite New York eatery goes up in smoke. I hope their insurance covers them for an attack of the killer spies from Psychoville.

I land on all fours in a small bedroom. The floor dances under me while the maniacs outside pulverize the walls and windows and generally shoot the shit out of the apartment. The air is full of flying metal, wood splinters, and shards of glass. Plaster dust grinds in my teeth, and smoke burns my throat. I roll into the hall and then run up the fire stairs. As I burst onto the roof, the sound of a helicopter thuds through the air. This is a solo mission, so I know the air support isn’t for me. I arm and drop my electromagnetic pulse grenade, then I jump through an open window across the back alley and land in a bathtub. The EMP grenade will roast the electronics of anything in its blast radius, so I take my Mods and Enhances offline while Li’l Bertha shuts down to protect herself.

A black, nasty-looking little chopper soars over the roof across the alley as I trigger my EMP. The electrofried aircraft careens out of control and smacks into the building. The helicopter-shaped paperweight drops out of my sight, so I don’t see the result, but I sure as hell hear and feel it. The explosions and squeals of terror are both particularly satisfying.

My hands start shaking again. The Kalmers have faded out of my bloodstream. Kalmers don’t eliminate reactions to stress and fear; they simply suppress them. Once they wear off, you can be hit by what Med-Techs call emotional recoil. My mouth dries out, my lungs gulp for air, and my legs squeeze together to keep me from peeing my pants. I curl up into a ball and ride it out. After a few minutes I’m done crying and shaking. I lurch out of the tub, scram the apartment, and climb the stairs to the top of the building. My new knees let me rooftop jump all the way to 60th Street, where I slide down a fire escape and catch a taxi to the Village.

CORE (Catalogue of Records, ExOps) PER-A59-001

Crystal City Gazette, July 8, 1972

Local Girl Dazzles at the Gymnastics National Championships

NEW YORK CITY—Crystal City’s Alix Nico thrilled Madison Square Garden last night as she swept the all-around and the individual events in the 10–11-year-old division at this year’s USAIGC Gymnastics National Championships. Her stunning performance was an emphatic finale to an extremely successful year for Nico, who set a USAIGC record for victories in a single season.

Nico is already considered a favorite to win gold at the Montreal Olympics. She is training at the Roosevelt Gymnastics Center in Washington, D.C., under the supervision of her coach Tasha Dovetsky.

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