BOOK REVIEW: Sapient by Jerry Kaczmarowski


Posted by Ryder Islington, author of Ultimate Justice, A Trey Fontaine Mystery

Reading Sapient by Jerry Kaczmarowski was a fun ride. I really enjoyed sharing time with loving mother Jane Dixon, and the animals she is using in her search for a cure for autism. As any mother would, Dixon will go to any length to help her child, as well as to protect him. The characters are fun to be with…well…except for Kenny. Even those who are not so savory, are still interesting. The story is truly intriguing.

Einstein is a rat whose intelligence is astounding. And Bear, the dog, ain’t no slouch. Add a loving son, a smart and caring nanny, a letch of a boss, a CDC employee who is a pain in the backside, and a man named Jim, who works for the government and seems to be at the lab to take over, and you have a cast of characters who will keep you reading whether it’s bedtime or not.

I would recommend this book to all lovers of science fiction, but also to those of us who just like a good yarn. A good read for tweens, teens, young adults, and the rest of us.

Sapient
 Synopsis:   
Abandoned by her husband after the birth of their child, Jane Dixon’s world is defined by her 12 year old autistic son, Robbie, and the research she does to find a cure for his condition. She knows her work on animal intelligence may hold the key. She also knows that the research will take decades to complete. None of it will ultimately benefit her son.
All that changes when a lab rat named Einstein demonstrates that he can read and write. Just as her research yields results, the U.S. government discovers her program. The army wants to harness her research for its military potential.  The CDC wants to shut her down completely.  The implications of animal intelligence are too dangerous, particularly when the previously inert virus proves to be highly contagious.
She steals the virus to cure her son, but the government discovers the theft. She must now escape to Canada before the authorities can replace her son’s mental prison with a physical one.
Praise for Sapient:
“A timely, winning adventure that brings up serious questions about technology and medical research.” – Reviewed by Kirkus
“Sapient by Jerry Kaczmarowski is an intense, action-packed, suspenseful and thrilling read! The storyline is definitely unique and pulls readers in right away… The book was fast-paced, flowed nicely and provided a thought provoking message. I believe Sapient will really make readers wonder just how far and to what lengths they would go to save someone they love.” – Reviewed by Charity Tober for Readers’ Favorite
“The plot is fast-paced, thought provoking, funny at times, and kept me reading to find out what would happen next. I think that the YA audience will love it.” – Reviewed by Dana Bjornstad
“I loved this story and I especially liked its animal characters – Einstein the lab rat with the keen sense of humor and Bear, the one-eyed German Shepherd dog who seems to always be the butt of Einstein’s jokes. And the human characters aren’t half bad either.” – Reviewed by Cheryl Stout
“A timeless, engrossing and perfectly-paced techno thriller about the promise – and fear – of modern medical science.” – Reviewed by Best Thrillers

Read the first chapter in the book Sapient:

Chapter 1
A young research assistant poked his head through the laboratory door and said, “We’re heading out to grab some beers. Want to join us?”
Dr. Jane Dixon brushed aside a strand of dark hair that had fallen from her ponytail. She waved the offer off without turning to face him and gave a curt, “Too much work.” I need to get out of here at a decent time to see Robbie, or I’m going to need to find a new nanny.
“Come on, Dr. Dixon. One quick drink. It’s Friday.”
She sighed and faced him, removing her dark-rimmed glasses. “How about a rain check?” She gave the younger man her best smile, but Jane knew she sounded insincere.
“Sure, a rain check.” The research assistant gave a perfunctory nod and let the door swing shut. Jane wouldn’t receive another invitation anytime soon, which was fine with her.
She put her hands in the small of her back and stretched, yielding a satisfying pop. Not for the first time, she congratulated herself on the regularity of her yoga workouts. They were one of the few distractions she permitted herself. With forty in the not-too- distant future, it was one distraction she couldn’t afford to forgo. She pulled her stool closer to her computer and checked her maze for the final time. She chuckled to herself. After all her years of education, she was reduced to playing video games with rodents. Using a virtual maze allowed her to create a level of complexity unrealistic with traditional animal intelligence testing.
Jane walked into an adjoining room with rows of cages where her subjects spent most of their day. She approached a cage adorned with a garish blue first-place ribbon. Her assistant had put it on the door as a joke. At first, it migrated back and forth as different rats outperformed others. For the past two months, it hadn’t moved.
She opened the cage and made a coaxing motion. “Come here, Einstein.” A fat, white rat dashed out the door onto her hand and scrambled up her right shoulder. His neon-blue eyes gave off an icy intelligence. The change in eye color was one of many side effects of her tests Jane still couldn’t explain. The rat whipped its tail into her hair for balance, hopping from paw to paw.
Settle down, boy,” she said. She carried Einstein back into the lab with its virtual maze and extended her hand. He raced down her arm to the large trackball and made little jumps in anticipation of the race. As Jane clamped him gently into the metal rig that held him in place, he stopped jumping. Einstein differed from the other rats—he never struggled when Jane locked him in place. The other rats fought against the harness, making it difficult to complete the test preparations.
A two-dimensional overview of a simple maze flashed on the screen. Without hesitating, Einstein rolled through the maze on his trackball, completing the challenge in seconds.
“Too easy,” Jane said. “You don’t even deserve a prize.” Despite this, she stroked the rat’s head and gave him a small piece of cheese. Einstein snapped it up in his front paws. As soon as he devoured it, he pulled against his harness and chattered at Jane.
“Relax, big fella.” She tapped on her keyboard to reconfigure the course before bending down to eye level with Einstein. “Now the real challenge begins.” He stared into her sea- green eyes. The small rodent had the intense focus of a fighter about to get in the ring.
A second maze flashed on the screen. There was a straightforward solution that was long and twisting. A second solution existed, but so far, none of the rats had figured it out. The second path had two tiny virtual teleportation pads. If the rats stepped onto one of the pads, they were transported to a corresponding location in a different part of the maze. For this test, the pads would save precious seconds.
“Go,” Jane shouted, starting the timer. Einstein didn’t budge. Instead, he looked back and forth between the obvious path and the first teleportation pad.
“Clock’s ticking,” Jane said to herself in frustration.
Einstein shrieked as he noticed the decreasing progress bar. A tentative paw step forward cleared the maze overview and put him in a six-inch-high virtual hallway. He waddled straight to the teleportation pad but stopped short. He turned his gaze to Jane as his whiskers moved back and forth, up and down. Jane stared back, willing him to make the right move.
The rat rolled forward on his trackball across the pad. The screen flashed, and he teleported to within a few steps of the exit. With a final glance at Jane, he spun through the gate with twenty seconds left on the clock.
Jane clapped her hands. “You did it.” She reached toward him. He clambered up her arm, slower now that he was out of the virtual world. She gave him a piece of cheese and returned him to the steel table.
“Impressive,” she said to the empty room. At times like this she wished someone could appreciate her triumphs. Her coworkers were at the bar. And Robbie? Robbie is Robbie. The warm smile of a mother flitted across her face as she thought about her son.
Einstein broke her reverie as he scratched and clawed at an iPad on the table. “It’s like having a second child,” Jane sighed to herself. She obliged Einstein’s pestering by starting an old episode of Sesame Street. The classic show was his favorite. Most other children’s programming bored him. His second-favorite genre was as far from the Children’s Television Workshop gang as you could get. One of Jane’s more unsavory assistants had decided to play Rated R comedies on the screen in the evening when the animals were alone in their cages. The crass movies entertained Einstein for hours despite the fact he couldn’t understand any of them.
Jane’s mobile phone vibrated. A message from her nanny read, “WHERE R U!!!” She glanced at the time in the lower right of her screen and gave a sharp intake of breath. I did it again, she chided herself.
“Leaving now. Sorry.” She almost typed a sad face emoticon but caught herself. It wouldn’t be well received. She pushed Send and dropped the phone on the lab table. She pounded the results of today’s tests into her computer, not bothering to correct spelling errors as she raced to enter her observations while they were still fresh.
The phone buzzed again. Jane gritted her teeth at the unnecessary back-and-forth. These nastygrams would only delay her departure. She reached for the phone in frustration, but Einstein was perched over it, staring at the screen. She nudged the little rodent back and set her jaw as she read the text.
The screen read, “Who is Einstein?” As she struggled to make sense of the nanny’s text, her eyes scanned back to the previous outbound message. She juggled her phone, almost dropping it on the floor.
The screen read, “I am Einstein.”
 
Jerry-Kaczmarowski-15-200x300
About the Author
Jerry Kaczmarowski lives in Seattle with his family. He writes techno-thrillers that explore the benefits and dangers of mankind’s scientific advancement. His first book, Moon Rising, was released in June 2014.  His second book, Sapient, was published in April 2015.
Jerry spent the first twenty years of his professional life in the consulting industry on the West Coast. His fascination with technology is matched only by his love of stories. His books intertwine action with a keen insight into how technology will shape our lives in the coming years.
To learn more, go to JerryKaczmarowski.com
Connect with Jerry on TwitterFacebook, and Goodreads.

SHOWCASE: Dead In Dubai by Marilynn Larew


Posted by Ryder Islington, author of Ultimate Justice, a Trey Fontaine Mystery

A CIA thriller! I love those. After reading the synopsis and an excerpt of Dead in Dubai, I’m intrigued. This went straight to my TBR list. Looks veeeery in-ter-est-ing.

Below is the synopsis, an excerpt and the author bio and ways to reach the author, plus a list of places where you can find reviews, interviews, and guest posts, and at the end, an opportunity to enter a drawing for a free copy of Dead In Dubai. 

Dead in Dubai

by Marilynn Larew

on Tour April 27 – May 31, 2015

Book Details:

Genre: Thriller, Espionage

Published by: Artemis Press

Publication Date: April 30, 2015

Number of Pages: 283

ISBN: 978-0-9910912-4-9

Purchase Your Copy:

Synopsis:

Why is CIA officer George Branson dead?

Out of the Agency and looking for work, former CIA analyst Lee Carruthers accepts the request of George’s wife that Lee go to Dubai and find out what really happened. When she arrives, she walks into a deadly war between rival Merchants of Death for market share. She learns that George had worked for each man under a different name, one in Dubai and one in Istanbul. With his own, that gave George three identities. Which man was murdered? Had George really been working for the Agency, or had he sold out and, if so, to whom? Who are the men following her? And why does she keep finding diamonds?

Read an excerpt:

Is there life after the CIA? I wondered as I stamped my foot into the bindings of first one ski and then the other. I was among the few early birds on the slopes; we were hoping to avoid the rush of celebrities modeling their designer ski togs. The view was spectacular! Snowy hills covered with pine trees stretched away and away. I lowered my goggles and pushed off. As I gathered speed I laughed aloud at the awesome feel of the wind in my face, the best antidote to my time in the Algerian desert I could think of. Halfway down the piste, something buzzed past my face. Then I heard a crack. Somebody was shooting at me? I bent as far down as I could and snowplowed to the side of the run, stopping just before I got to the trees. Great! Nothing. Not even a knife.

I ripped off my goggles and kicked out of the bindings. Stepping carefully into the woods, bent almost double, I advanced with a ski pole in each hand. I wish my gear wasn’t burgundy, I thought. On the other hand, I hadn’t expected to have to channel the Fourth Mountain Brigade that morning. I heard steps crunching toward me in the snow and ducked behind a tree. A man in black wearing a black face mask, his rifle held lightly in his right hand, slipped carefully forward, scanning to the left and to the right. He was looking too high to see me. When he was half a meter away, I yelled and launched myself at him with the ski poles thrust forward, but he deflected them with the rifle. He raised the rifle for another shot. I threw myself at him again, and he dropped the rifle. I grabbed it, and swung it hard, hitting him in the left shoulder. I reversed the rifle, backed up and fired. Off balance. Tried again.

He turned and ran. Should I follow him? What would I do with him if I caught him? I considered the rifle. I could hardly take it back to the ski lodge with me. I dropped the clip and whacked it up against the side of a tree, sending a jolt all the way down to my toes, and buried it in the snow by the side of the trail, throwing the clip as far as I could into the woods. I retrieved my ski poles and stood panting, heart pounding. I started to tremble and told my body it would have to wait until I got to the bottom of the slope, but it paid no attention, so I trembled.

“Who?” I asked myself. “Who?” I sat down with my back against a tree for a count of five hundred before I stopped shaking. Blowback from Morocco?

I stomped the snow off my boots and slipped them into the ski bindings. I couldn’t find my goggles, but I wanted to be in cover as soon as possible so I didn’t spend much time looking for them. With a shooter in play, I felt terribly exposed. Maybe the shooter had a friend. Unarmed. I was unarmed. Not even a nail file. I wanted a gun and badly. Where could I get a gun in the peaceful countryside of Switzerland? Breaking into a gun shop was always an option.

At the bottom of the slope, I kicked my way out of my skis and carried them back into the rack. I felt cold deep down inside, and gin seemed advisable. A drink in the lounge? Too public. Back in the room I made one of my very dry martinis—gin and a cube of ice. Maybe that would help me unscramble my brain. I looked at my watch. Ten thirty. Drinking in the morning was a sure sign of something or other. I finished the drink, but I was still cold. I took a long, hot shower and lay curled up under the duvet remembering.

I had been sent to Morocco to find a missing colleague and wound up fighting my way out of a terrorist camp. They killed Kemal. I touched the bloodstained pearl hanging around my neck. I killed his killer, but Kemal was still dead.

Would the Pure Warriors of Islam send an assassin all the way to Switzerland to get me? Possibly, but it seemed unlikely. Whoever he was, he knew me, and I didn’t know him. I went to sleep listing the people who might want to kill me.

When I woke, I ordered lunch from room service. The waiter who delivered it looked like an Arab. Arab guest workers in Switzerland? The shooter could disappear into the crowd of Arab workers. He might even be one of them. If I couldn’t find and neutralize him, I was going to have to cut and run. I hate to do that, but I disapprove of assassination, particularly my own.

Author Bio:

MARILYNN LAREW is a historian who has published in such disparate fields as American colonial and architectural history, Vietnamese military history, and terrorism, and has taught courses in each of them in the University of Maryland System.

Before settling on the Mason-Dixon line in southern Pennsylvania, she lived in Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri, Georgia, Wisconsin, Ohio, South Carolina, Maryland, in Manila, and on Okinawa. It’s no surprise that she likes to travel. When she’s climbing the first hill in Istanbul to Topkapi Palace, strolling around Hoan Kiem Lake in Hanoi, or exploring the back streets of Kowloon, she is not just having fun, she’s looking for locations for her next novel.

When she’s not traveling, she is writing or reading. She writes thrillers and likes to read them. She also likes to read Vietnamese history and Asian history in general, as well as military history. She lives with her husband in a 200-year-old farmhouse in southern Pennsylvania.
She belongs to Sisters in Crime, the Guppies, and the Chinese Military History Society.

Catch Up:

Tour Participants:

1. 04/27/2015 Showcase @ 3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, & Sissy, Too!
2. 04/30/2015 Guestpost @ Writers and Authors
3. 05/03/2015 Interview @ Suspense Magazine
4. 05/04/2015 Review @ Vics Media Room
5. 05/19/2015 Interview @ Hott Books
6. 05/–/2015 Review @ It’s a Mad Mad World
7. 05/–/2015 Review @ Mallory Heart Reviews

Giveaway:

This is a giveaway hosted by Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours for Marilynn Larew. There will be TWO winners of an ebook copy of Dead in Dubai by Marilynn Larew. The giveaway is open to US residents only. The giveaway begins on April 27th, 2015 and runs through June 2nd, 2015. Visit the tour stops for additional giveaways!

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