Tuesday, July 1, 2014

#Giveaway ~ Division Zero (Book 1) by Matthew S. Cox ~#Sci-Fi #Paranormal Book ~ 5 Star Review

Division Zero by Matthew S. Cox
(Division Zero #1)

Published by: Curiosity Quills Press
Publication date: March 7th 2014
Genres: cyberpunk, New Adult, Paranormal

Most cops get to deal with living criminals, but Agent Kirsten Wren is not most cops.

A gifted psionic with a troubled past, Kirsten possesses a rare combination of abilities that give her a powerful weapon against spirits. In 2418, rampant violence and corporate warfare have left no shortage of angry wraiths in West City. Most exist as little more than fleeting shadows and eerie whispers in the darkness.

Kirsten is shunned by a society that does not understand psionics, feared by those who know what she can do, and alone in a city of millions. Every so often, when a wraith gathers enough strength to become a threat to the living, these same people rely on her to stop it.

Unexplained killings by human-like androids known as dolls leave the Division One police baffled, causing them to punt the case to Division Zero. Kirsten, along with her partner Dorian, wind up in the crosshairs of corporate assassins as they attempt to find out who – or what – is behind the random murders before more people die.

She tries to hold on to the belief that no one is beyond redemption as she pursues a killer desperate to claim at least one more innocent soul – that might just be hers.

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Born in a little town known as South Amboy NJ in 1973, Matthew has been creating science fiction and fantasy worlds for most of his reasoning life. Somewhere between fifteen to eighteen of them spent developing the world in which Division Zero, Virtual Immortality, and The Awakened Series take place. He has several other projects in the works as well as a collaborative science fiction endeavor with author Tony Healey.

Hobbies and Interests:
Matthew is an avid gamer, a recovered WoW addict, Gamemaster for two custom systems (Chronicles of Eldrinaath [Fantasy] and Divergent Fates [Sci Fi], and a fan of anime, British humour (<- deliberate), and intellectual science fiction that questions the nature of reality, life, and what happens after it.

He is also fond of cats.

Awards: Prophet of the Badlands (excerpt) – Honorable Mention – Writers of the Future

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I loved this very different type of book. It’s a mix of sci-fi/paranormal that I loved. I really enjoyed the surprise twist that came up, in a sixth sense type of way. I sure didn’t see that one coming. I just loved that. Was saddened by it too, but was a great twist. I am not going to tell you what it is I am talking about. You’re going to have to discover that on your own.

The world in this book reminded me a lot of an older movie I always loved, called the Fifth Element, with the flying cars and all the up and down traffic etc. Then we have Kristin who is in my opinion a ghost whisperer, well she has more abilities than that, but was like that. She is called a Psionic which I have never heard of so not sure if that is a made up word or not.

Over all I was on the edge of my seat and really was engrossed into this story. Wished it didn’t ‘t end. I enjoyed it a lot.

I give this book 5 out of 5 stars. It’s an awesome read.

I received a copy of this book for my honest review.

Tour wide giveaway
Open internationally - Ends July 14th
--Signed copy of Division Zero + 25$ Amazon gift card

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Chapter One

A drift in the wind, a catchy advert jingle wafted down from above, ensnaring Kirsten’s thoughts as it had been designed to do. The melodic din drew her eyes up to a sky the color of soot, hidden somewhere beyond the frenetic clutter of hundreds of moving objects. Glittering ad-bots saturated the grey fifty feet above her, flitting just below faster moving lanes of hovercar traffic. Smaller bots zoomed along, careening around lumbering giants struggling even to move forward. The boxy droids lit the smog with a patina of bright holograms that soaked the street below with unabashed commercialism. Any of the products they hawked could be hers with two taps of a thumb on the screen of her NetMini, arriving within minutes via flying delivery bot. Sadly, none of them sold love, sincerity, or a do-over for her twenty-two years on the Earth.
Running away from home had been the scariest decision of Kirsten’s life as well as the easiest. It had taken her only ten years, not to mention the urging of a ghost, to make up her mind; and ten minutes to vanish into the endless glittering night of West City. She could not forget what her mother had done; those memories would haunt her forever, as they had that morning.
The form-fitting uniform did little to protect her from the cold car hood as she waited, on the verge of tears. Nicole would return soon, and she did not want to answer the barrage of questions that would follow being caught crying. She shifted to allow feeling to return to her butt, one side at a time, and stared at the window of the shop her friend had entered. The redhead chatted with the clerk, an infectious smile across her face. Kirsten’s head sagged forward as she picked at the retaining strap securing her sidearm. In less than an hour, she might need to use it on a living man. The same dread came back each time she tried to put the dream out of her mind, leaving her doubting she would even want the food Nicole bought.
Why do people always look at the sky for answers? There’s nothing up there but smog and useless crap no one needs to buy.
She shrank away from gleaming steel edifices towering around her. Today, just like the people, the city felt like it wanted nothing to do with her. She looked down to Earth, to the unending flow of humanity that squeezed past where the wide patrol craft intruded upon the sidewalk. Glowing cybertattoos, luminous hair, blinking electronic devices, and the occasional loud conversation leapt out from the sea of people and caught her attention for a second or two at a time. She watched them go by, all walks of life, from wealthy businessmen to body-modifying cyber freaks, every one of them oblivious to her presence or mood. She folded her arms and wondered how they would react if they knew they passed three feet away from a psionic.
She imagined them screaming and running, eyes filled with terror.
A crowd two steps away, yet as alone as if she floated on the other end of the universe.
I’m being silly, this is just newbie work. I’ve been doing this for six years―why am I letting it get to me today?
Sure, Division 0 stuck a laser pistol on her hip and sent her out here to be shot at; but they cared more than her own family had. They also did not want to burn her at the stake for her gifts.
A cheery singsong voice patted her on the cheek as her friend returned. “Hey, I hope you like jalapeños in your egg. It’s all they had left.”
The uninvited happiness drew her attention to Nicole weaving through the river of people with her arms held high. Two plastic cartons teetered atop two cups of coffee―an effort to shield them from the jostles of passing humanity. Glossy black tactical armor gleamed in the ambient light as she moved. Kirsten felt silly for not having requested the same for this run; her I-Ops uniform, made of thin cloth, seemed a stupid choice for front line work. Just as Nicole reached the curb, a teen a little younger than them shot through the crowd on powered wheels sprouting from cybernetic legs the color of unpainted steel. He parted the river of bodies, Nicole included, away to both sides as he rumbled past. Kirsten leapt in an attempt to save at least one of the cartons as they went flying, but stopped when they both stalled in midair like paused video.
Nicole narrowed her eyes at the boy, and he swerved with a startled yelp to the left, as if shoved by unseen hands. He bowled, screaming and flailing, into a pile of trash with a loud crunch. The clatter of some unseen metal object rolling away tarnished the subsequent silence. Kirsten knew what her friend had done, and smiled despite her anxiety. Coffee and food floated over to her before Nicole released her telekinetic grasp on it.
She scowled. “Damn idiots. Can’t we give him a citation for that? I swear, someone gets a Mishiro booster and they think they can fly.”
Kirsten’s smile gave way to a guilty glance down the street at the moaning pile of limbs. She set her food on the roof of the car. “That was mean, and I’m not sure. I’m gonna check him out to make sure you didn’t hurt him.”
Nicole rolled her eyes and hopped into the driver’s seat, getting started on her food. A few minutes later, Kirsten returned, looking relieved.
“Well at least you don’t still look like your cat died.” Nicole offered a sympathetic glance while she slurped her coffee. “Careful, the eggs are spicy.”
Kirsten managed a shrug as she got in and opened her coffee. “I’m just nervous about this warrant run.” The gull-wing door on her side sank closed with a soft pneumatic hiss.
Nicole paused, mouth open an inch from her food. Eyes shot to the right. “You’re not a precog, are you?”
“No. I deal with ghosts.” The harsh synthetic coffee choked the last traces of sleep from her taste buds.
Nicole’s contagious cheer returned. “And beat the snot out of them! Is it true that all the power went out in a three block area when you took out that Wharf Killer one?”
“Actually, he sucked the power out of the area before I obliterated him; he was winding up for something big.” The memory came with a shiver.
Nicole gasped like a wide-eyed kid. “Ooo, I wish I could see it.”
“No, really you don’t.” Kirsten tried to force the images out of her thoughts. “Not all ghosts are pretty. I’m just glad I never met him when he was alive.”
“It’s cool you can whip ghosts like that―hey, isn’t that pretty rare for an astral?”
Kirsten hesitated. She hated talking about her other gift. Most people, even other psionics, feared anyone with it. “I… um… I can do the mind blast thing too.” She looked down, picking at her uniform. “It somehow works together.”
Much to her relief, Nicole’s jovial smile did not weaken. “Neat.”
Nicole’s fingers danced over the controls, bringing the car to life and flooding the cabin with dim azure light cast by holographic displays as they winked on one after the next. With a tap of the control stick, they rolled away from the sidewalk and got underway. At first, Nicole tried to drive on the ground so they could eat, but after rounding the corner into standstill traffic, she decided to switch to hover mode.
“What’s the point of having a police car if we don’t fly?”
More than a mouthful of coffee scorched its way down Kirsten’s jalapeño-tenderized throat as the car lurched upward. Once the tears and coughing stopped and she could breathe again, Kirsten glared. She knew how Nicole liked to fly and stopped trying to enjoy her food, inhaling the rest before she wore it. The patrol craft picked up speed and altitude, drifting through the layer of advert droids as it plowed a twisting whorl through the smog. Nicole banked corners hard, making the windows on the sixtieth story of several buildings shudder. Kirsten looked behind them, grumbling.
“If this thing didn’t have police lights on it, we’d have a Division 1 patrol car behind us already. Do youhave to drive like you’re fifteen?” Kirsten rubbed her neck and coughed. “This isn’t cyberspace, you could kill someone.”
Her friend flashed a wicked little grin. “It got your mind off of whatever really killed your cat, didn’t it? Ooo, mind blast, really?” Nicole flashed a mock-accusing squint, then giggled. “That’s cool. No wonder Morelli avoids you.” Then came the sincere pout. “You could have told me, it doesn’t bother me. I think it’s cool.”
“Sorry, it’s just, you know how people get about mind blasters. I’m nowhere near strong enough to erase an entire brain permanently.” Kirsten examined her nails. “I never had a cat. Look, it’s not a big deal. Just a bad dream is all. Really, I’m fine.”
Nicole had known her for a few years and accepted she did not like to talk about that dream. “Suit yourself. Say, how’d your date go?”
Kirsten’s head slumped forward. “Horrible, he―”
“Oh, I’m thinking of going blonde like you, does it help with―”
Kirsten blinked at the scatterbrain next to her. “…ran screaming out the door…”
“…attracting guys? Oh.” Nicole offered her a sheepish look. “Another runner, huh?”
“Yeah.” Kirsten fidgeted with her cup. “The second I told him.”
“Trail of flames leading to his car?” Nicole shook her head. “Why did you tell him on the first date? You know they always run.” She looked away for a second before her brain switched gears again. “Oh, hey, did you get carded again or did they believe you were over twenty-one?”
Kirsten’s face turned red. “I tell them up front because I don’t want to get attached and then have him freak out on me. I have to be honest.”
“Someone got carded!” Nicole giggled.
Kirsten glared out the right side window. “Well, now I know why Eze put us together. I look like I’m thirteen and you act like it.”
Nicole gave her a raspberry. “You’re tall for thirteen.”
Staring into the endless black of her uniform, Kirsten searched for answers that did not dwell there. A warped version of her face sulked back from her silver belt, and she turned to the window with a sigh, looking through her reflection at the passing century towers. Hundred-story monoliths; each was a variation of the same standard pre-fab design like most of the city. Full of happy people, or at least people happy enough to fake being happy. Kirsten frowned.
Is there a man in any of those buildings that isn’t a shallow jerk?
“Probably not,” replied Nicole.
“Dammit.” Kirsten gave her friend a light slap on the back of the head. “Get outta my mind.”
The car swerved as Nicole ducked, causing Kirsten to grab the oh-shit handle.
Oh, come on, you know you do it all the time.Nicole’s telepathic voice pierced her consciousness.
“Seriously, no, I don’t. Just because we can doesn’t give us the right to just pick through people’s thoughts without probable cause. Didn’t you pay attention at all in class?”
“You are such a downer.” Nicole frowned. “Besides it’s just you, not some citizen.”
Kirsten stared in silence at the NavMap, watching a small yellow triangle creep along a blue line. Sometimes having friends that did not run away in fear at the sight of a psionic could be as much a curse as a benefit. Several minutes of silence passed and Kirsten sensed something. She turned her head, looking through the intermittent flashes of sunlight gleaming off the ad-bots below. A feeling pulled her stare down into the darkness that clung to the narrow alleys below.
“You haven’t seen them, but they’re out there.”
Nicole made a sarcastic look of fear. “Ooo…your little shadow-men?”
“Look in my head now if you have the proverbial balls.” Kirsten dared her with a gaze, recalling the memory of her last meeting with a Harbinger. She steeled herself against the memory of the mass of darkness gliding out of the shadows, piercing silver eyes locked upon the malevolent spirit it had come to claim. “Just please don’t have an accident; in your pants or with the car.”
Nicole accepted her challenge and locked eyes. Her amused grin shattered to a half-open mouth, taking with it all the color in her face. When her body went limp, the car’s safety system brought them to a hovering standstill. Kirsten gave her an ‘I told you so’ smirk.
“Wow…well…” Nicole stared at the hover lane in front of them. “Okay then. Consider me glad I can’t see that shit.” A visible tremble settled into her hands as she clutched the control sticks.
Kirsten rubbed her friend’s shoulder. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have done that to you.”
Nicole’s voice faltered as she coped with the images and sounds, and worst of all, the inherited feeling from reading a memory. “You see that stuff all the time? How are you not sucking your thumb under your bed every night?”
“I had a scarier demon to practice on.”
Nicole’s eyes closed, her hands stopped shaking. “I don’t even want to know.”
“It’s weird.” Kirsten folded her arms. “Ghosts don’t bother me. The Harbingers make me a little nervous, but I know they’ll leave me alone. They only go after evil souls. Some living punk with a gun, though―that scares me to death. I don’t know what to do.” Kirsten turned toward the window. I don’t want to be responsible for sending people into that world.
Nicole went into a well-rehearsed recital of standard Division 0 combat doctrine, trying to explain to her ‘what to do’ in those situations. Her friend’s telekinesis and temperament suited field work with a tactical team, not to mention she lacked the patience or finesse demanded by I-Ops. One of her favorite tricks involved telekinetically yanking the guns out of a suspect’s hand. She had started printing still images of the faces they made, caught by her helmet cam, and hanging them above her desk.
Kirsten’s role came with much less glory. She arrived well after the shooting stopped to do the figuring out, not to mention all the typing. Ghosts on the other hand, she did not mind fighting. With them, she had the upper hand.
Nicole stopped hard at a red traffic control node when her attempt to beat the yellow failed. Kirsten shot down her suggestion about hitting the bar lights and zipping through, not wanting a reprimand. Their argument stalled with the appearance of a newsbot trailing a billboard-sized hologram of a mutilated body. Reporter Kimberly Brightman’s voice emanated from the coasting droid, with details about the latest in a series of attacks by out-of-control dolls. As always, the Newsnet worked it up, stirring the stew of paranoia. Where would the next attack be? Could your doll go crazy too? Does death lurk in your own kitchen?
“How can they air that crap?” Kirsten gestured at the monolithic screen. “Children could see those.”
“I dunno…dolls creep me out, don’t you think?”
Kirsten shrugged. “Not really. Though if I ever got run over by a PubTran, I’d rather just die than have my brain stuffed in one.”
“No.” Nicole shook her head. “I mean the AI ones, the fake people. Not the real-brain ones… and those sub-sents are even creepier.”
Kirsten pointed out the signal had changed. “What do you mean?”
Nicole muttered as she formed her ideas. “I mean it’s like, what if all the AI’s in the world talked to each other and no one knew it? What if they were all part of this network that like, hated humans? And what if one day―”
You could carry the same thought for longer than twenty seconds. “You’ve been watching too many Holovids, Nikki. Self-aware AI’s are considered citizens under the law.”
“Oh, that’s just the first part of their plan.” She held up her finger in triumph, and then lost her train of thought. “By the way, I heard Samir finished fixing your car.”
ADD sucks. Kirsten smiled at the expected topic flip. “Oh, that’s good.”
Nicole grinned. “Hey, isn’t that the car everyone hates? Don’t you have problems with it?”
Kirsten gave her a dismissive wave. “No, not at all.”
“I heard it almost killed the last like dozen people that drove it. Why was it in the shop anyway? Is it true Morelli borrowed it and wound up putting it through a fortieth-floor window of an office building?”
“Yeah, pretty much. It’s been fine for me. I didn’t think it’d be a problem to let him use it.”
The comm flashed, and a six-inch holographic rendition of Captain Jonathan Eze’s shaved head appeared in the center of the console. He glanced back and forth between the two women and gave a curt nod.
“Field Agent Logan, I need you to drop Agent Wren off back here as soon as possible. I’ll have Forester go with you on that warrant pickup.”
“Understood, sir.” Nicole saluted her intangible Captain. “Whee! Code three time,” Nicole shouted.
Eze nodded again, and faded out.
Kirsten glared. “Command actually lets you carry a weapon… in public?”
Nicole wrenched the car around with a laugh, in a hard about-face that smacked Kirsten into the door. Revving the throttle control almost all the way forward, she flicked on the bar lights and streaked at three hundred miles per hour back to the command building.
Ten minutes later, they came to rest in front of the parking deck. Squad Corporal Forrester walked through the large cloud of cryonic mist and debris kicked up by their arrival, and saluted Kirsten as she got out. Unprepared, she fumbled to return it.
I’ll never get used to that.
She still felt like a newbie even though she had been on active duty since the age of sixteen, and Forrester’s enlisted rank took longer to attain. With the rank of Agent, she held the status of officer―now all she had to do was feel like one.
The hot ion rush of liftoff left Kirsten’s legs wrapped in tingly sparks as the hovercar peeled up and away from the building, leaving a trail of wobbling windows. Kirsten shook her head and went down into the garage where Captain Eze waited by her patrol craft. His reflection, framed in glare from the overhead lights, shone clear within the just-washed gleam of the hood. A twinge of alarm in his voice overshadowed his usual comforting mannerism.
“Kirsten, we’ve got a situation. Two Division 1 patrol officers have gotten themselves trapped by a possible category four manifestation.”
She gulped. The Wharf Stalker rated only three. “How much do we know?”
Eze’s hand on her shoulder stalled her ever-widening sapphire eyes. “Some mechanic took a few pot shots at a passing Div 1 unit. They pursued him into an abandoned building, and at some point thereafter hit their panic buttons. By the time backup arrived, they were gone. There are also reports of strange sights, screams, and to use the technical term they did: ‘weird shit’.”
“What sector?”
Eze shook his head. “No sector, it’s off the map. Southwest of where the city plates stop, a pre-war building right on the surface.”
She bit her lip, never having been that far south before. “Who’s the mechanic?”
“I’ll relay the details while you’re en route. No criminal record, no idea why he fired. Their sergeant wants someone out there ASAP. His people are refusing to go inside.”
Refusing? With fellow officers in danger? What the hell is this thing?
“On it, sir.” She leapt into the waiting car.
Kirsten tapped at the control sticks urging the car to power on faster. Any trepidation she had at tangling with something that might be worse than the Wharf Stalker evaporated under her sense of duty. She thought only of other cops in danger.
Twenty minutes of blurred buildings later, the patrol craft shot out over the edge of the city. The exposed Earth fifty meters below looked desolate and brown; dotted here and there with scrub-brush and cacti. The car descended into the shadow of the endless urbanity behind her. The rearview monitor filled with the vast network of pipes and support struts between the great city plates and the ground, a place known as The Beneath. She had been down there before, many years ago, but now was not the time to dwell on old memories.
Not with lives at risk.

You can find the rest of the blogs on this tour, here


  1. Michelle, thanks for the wonderful review! Also, thanks for taking part in the tour :)