social media

Review of ‘The Machine Murders’

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Manos Manu, a data scientist turned Interpol agent, is on the Greek island of Mykonos for a criminology symposium when a brutally murdered body is found submerged under extremely unusual circumstances off the coast. The body is an American social media influencer that he knows and the police ask him about it. At first, nothing makes sense until more bodies start turning up and his use of AI leads to the conclusion that this is the work of a sophisticated serial killer (or killers).

     The Machine Murders by C.J. Abazis is an intriguing murder mystery that will throw your mystery solving skills for a loop. The author has woven an intricate mystery into the modern techno-age rather deftly—although there’s probably more technical information than the average non-tech reader actually needs.

     A good first book.

     An enjoyable read that I highly recommend. I give it three and a half stars.

Review of D.E.M.: Deus Ex Machina

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When a little boy is kidnapped in broad daylight, computer geek Rachel wants to try and help rescue him. When the police refuse to listen, she takes matters into her own hands. The results are far from what she’d expected, or desired. The boy is rescued, but the kidnappers are brutally murdered, and she gets messages from a strange person only identified as D.E. M.

Under threat, Rachel seeks the help of Cam, a white hat hacker, and his boss Dave, and gets comfort from her neighbor, Deborah. Before she knows it, things have spiraled out of control.

D.E.M.: Deus Ex Machina by Lee Ness is a spine-tingling thriller of Rachel’s efforts to identify D.E.M. and stay alive, a story of infatuation, betrayal, and the misuse of social media. Nothing in this book is as it seems, and it’ll keep you guessing for a long time until you’re suddenly hit with one of those ‘ah ha!’ moments.

I received a free copy of this book for my review. It was a thoroughly enjoyable read, despite a few too many typos and grammatical errors throughout. I would have also appreciated knowing a bit more about Rachel and Cam, the two main characters—whose last names are never given. In fact, few of the characters in the book are identified beyond their first names. A minor point, but one that adds a bit more immediacy and credibility to the story for me. Also, this was really two stories. The first one ended when Rachel discovers the identity of D.E.M., and from there until the end we have a completely new—but just as entertaining—story.

As much as I’d like to give it four stars, the problems with grammar and other issues I mention above force me to give it three. I know, however, that this author has five star books just waiting to be written.

Review of ‘#Havana 62’

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In 1962, with photographic evidence that the Soviets were assembling missile launching sites in Cuba, just miles off the U.S. coast, the world entered one of the most dangerous times of the 20th century – the threat of a nuclear confrontation between the USA and the USSR.

While some of what played out during this confrontation was covered by the media, it was only years afterwards that the world knew the full extent of the danger. What if, though, social media such as we have today, where people share some of their innermost thoughts with the universe, was present in 1962? Would we have been treated to hourly tweets of what the principal players on all sides were thinking and doing?

In #Havana 62: To the Brink of Nuclear War, author Philip Gibson gives us a day-by-day account of the confrontation through social media postings by Kennedy, Khrushchev, Castro, and others. A chilling account, most notably because it reduces what could have been a nuclear holocaust to 140 character postings in an almost matter of fact manner. Some of the entries strain credibility – one likes to think that some plans would have been kept secret in the interests of military security. But, having seen some of the tweets sent by senior government officials in the past few years, it is just possible that a lot of what Gibson posits would have in fact been posted.

This is not your usual thriller – no chase scenes, no damsels in distress – just a dry account from the minds of the actors. Makes for a compelling read – and is in many ways even scarier. Just when I thought the thriller genre was fixed in its format and methods, Gibson comes along and turns it on its ear. I received a free copy of #Havana 62 in exchange for my review. I began reading with a degree of trepidation – thinking initially that this wouldn’t work. I’m happy to say I was wrong, and the few security issues that I still think incredible didn’t spoil a fairly good read

Three and a half stars to Gibson for creativity.

Review of ‘Tweeting for a Reason’

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If you’re a writer, you want people to read your work. That requires marketing – the bane of most creative types. Social media, in today’s connected age, is a great way to market your work, and of the social media platforms, the one that is most often overlooked is Twitter. If you’re new to Twitter, it seems daunting – starting with the 140 character limit on tweets.

Thanks to author Karen Barnes, though, there is now a handy tutorial – a sort of ‘Twitter for Dummies’ – that will very smoothly guide you through the process from setting up a Twitter account, to understanding things like #hashtags and @mentions, to effective Twitter strategies. Tweeting for a Reason: How (and Why) to use Twitter to Market Your Business. A useful book for anyone who wants to communicate short messages, or links to longer messages, to a massive audience – and being in e-Book format, it’s appropriate. Barnes knows her way around the Twitterverse, and is a good tour guide. My only complaint about the book, which I received free in exchange for a review, is that the opening chapter is a bit too long. Much of what is in that chapter could have been an opening paragraph of the next chapter. But, that just might be my bias from spending too much time reading truncated Internet messages – yes, and Twitter too.

Would that we could all write books that there would be only one picayune complaint about. Kudos to Banes for a wonderfully useful book.