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An alien invasion occurs gradually wiping out humanity There are pockets of people who scavenge for survival, all the while avoiding the shadows New York City is dubbed the City of Ash There is so much ash, that the sun doesn t shine This was dark Bet s brother has been taken She decided that she must try and take him back since she feels life isn t worth living if they are not together While on her hunt, she meets Gabriel Gabriel was an interesting character and I liked learning what he was before Overall, this was interesting, but lacked something for me to rate it higher. This was a very creepy, but good short story I m not really into the whole dystopian trend, but this worked for me I felt the world building was solid, and believable I really liked how Mrs Hancock didn t go out of her way to talk down to us as readers by explaining all of the terminology I might not have known what was what off the bat, but I figured it out quick enough My one qualm with this book was the heroine s name, Bet, I thought it was stupid The author explained the choice, but I still didn t care for it I also must add, an empty playground swing is sure to creep me out from now on. DOWNLOAD EPUB ♱ Ghost in the Machine ♻ Rule Number One Run From The Shadows Unless One Knows The Secret That Will Save You A Cybershock StoryI Live In A World Of Waifs And Shadows Live Might Be An Overstatement I Scrounge And Scramble And Survive In An Atmosphere Made Thick And Gray By The Ashes Of The Fallen And Sometimes I Dream Of Sunlight My Parents Were Taken, Even Though They Followed All The Rules Never Scavenge At Night Never Talk To Shadows Don T Fight The Sweepers Run Run RunNow That They Ve Taken My Little Brother, Douglas, I Ve Realized I Ve Only Been Surviving For Him I Have Two Choices Follow Him Or Lie Down And Die I Can T Just Quit After Years Of Struggle I Wouldn T Know How If I Tried Determination Is All I Have LeftAnd Then I Meet Him He Claims To Be A Rogue Who Can Help Me Find My Brother It S Got To Be A Lie But I Don T Run I Stop I Listen And I Make A Deal With A Shadow Even Though I Know It Will Mean The Death Of Me Never Talk To Shadows But No One Ever Told Me What Would Happen If I Kissed OneWarning May Cause Fantasies Of Forbidden Kisses From Dark Heroes Who Balance On The Edge Of Evil Where Shadows Wait And Ashes Fall This is another case where I wish I could give half stars as well Ghost in the Machine is a solid 3.5, but not quite enough to make 4 stars for me.The imagined world of Ghost in the Machine really caught my reading attention It was a breath of fresh air after all the OMG Zombies books that seem to have flood the post apocalyptic market lately, and is genuinely creepy The heroine, Bet, is a solid character, and Hancock has done a very good job at building her in only 88 pages In fact, my primary complaint, and what kept me from really loving the story is that I really wish Hancock had made this a full length novel There were plenty of times as a reader where I wanted MORE to the point where instead of a benefit, it became a detriment The ending feels rushed, and I would have killed for world building The romance feels a bit rushed as well, though with the circumstances it s easier to understand if you don t expect to live very long, you re probably going to approach relationships a little intensely.The only other quibble I have, and this IS minor, but I know it s a pet peeve for many readers like myself the head hopping Bet s story is in first person present, with occasional hops to other characters in third person It just feels a bit off I would still solidly recommend this book, and I would have no trouble picking up another of Barbara Hancock s books It s my hope that she branches out into longer form stories, because she clearly has a great imagination, and I should like to read of it. More like 4.5 Excellent work building The story just sucks you in The sense of malevolence is done very well and the tension never let s up. I loved the writing in this story it was spare, almost terse, but conveyed the story adn mood beautifully I liked the way we gradually got to know Gabriel I haven t read anything else by Ms Hancock, but that will be changing. A complete story in a short amount of pages Very dark world but with a happy ending at the end Enjoyed the twist on angels. Wow for a novella this author builds an intense world So dark.Review to come Originally posted at Romance Around the CornerI was pleasantly surprised by this book I bought it after reading Janine s review over at Dear Author even though I wasn t familiar with Ms Hancock s work I love gritty stories that take place in alternate or post apocalyptic worlds and Ghost in the Machine is exactly that I m so glad I read it because it turned out to be a wonderful and exciting journey.The world painted in this book has literally gone to ashes Years ago an alien invasion commanded by an entity called the SoulEater, took over the world and everything in it Half machine, half something else, the SoulEater had the ability to feed from humans and turn them into ghostly beings called Shadows that wandered the planet reproducing behaviors from their past and sometimes even resembling that past, and whose only purpose was to locate humans and alert the Sweepers Now, Shadows are a terrible sight because they come back as reflections of their past, that means that a little girl s shadow sings the same song over and over again, or a former runner comes backs as a horse with a human head But Sweepers are worse because they are a hybrid between a human and a machine and you can t tell where the flesh begins and the machine ends, they all are monstrous things devoid of any humanity Or so it seems.Our heroine is Bet, and her only purpose in life is keeping her little brother, Douglas, safe She s emaciated and what little food she finds she gives to her brother She worries that she won t be able to keep him sheltered any because the older he gets, the he realizes how terrible things are One day, Bet s worse nightmare comes true because when she gets home she finds out that Sweepers have taken Douglas With nothing else to loose, and her only reason to live gone, she decides to embark on a suicide mission to rescue him from the SoulEater, when common logic says she should run the other way.It doesn t take long for a shadow to find and attack her She s too weak to fight and is clearly loosing when out of nowhere a man dressed like a soldier, built like a god and winged like an angel, saves her She knows this man, whose name is Gabriel, is a Shadow but can see that there s still some humanity left in him He offers her his help to find Douglas and even though she doesn t trust him she knows she needs him, so she reluctantly accepts, and so the adventure begins.This isn t a happy book, and the setting is quite dark even for a genre that s usually filled with darks settings If you don t like gritty and bleak worlds where you re always worrying about the character s safety, then you should probably skip this one Otherwise, go ahead and read it because it s an interesting and riveting story that packs a lot of punch for such a short length and presents us a complex and quite interesting alternate world.The story is told in first person from Bet s POV so you really get to see how desperate she is and how bleak and awful life is She knows going after Douglas means almost certain death but he s everything to her, she has no reason to live beyond him so either way she dies She s also quite lonely, at one point she reflects about how she s never been able to lean on someone and that as much as she loves her brother sometimes she needs That s why Gabriel makes such a huge difference, because she finally has someone taking care of her I also loved how strong and good she was, she never gives up but still acknowledges that things are bad She wasn t a sunny and positive heroine, but she was still was able to give the reader some hope.We get some parts of the story from Grabriel s perspective, just enough to give us some background and to let us know where he s coming from This is a guy who has spent years fighting and who has managed to keep his humanity after going through something worse than death, even after humans themselves have that humanity and all hope.There are things left unexplained I m not exactly sure how the SoulEater works, and how it creates the Shadows and Sweepers I don t want to give away any details but the ending was rushed and to me the final resolution is the weakest part of the book, it seemed almost too easy, and again, it wasn t quite explained At one point I wasn t sure how it was going to end, was a happy ending even possible Well, you have to read it but I ll say that the ending is satisfying and the story is so engrossing that you are able to overlook its shortcomings.If you like post apocalyptic and cyberpunk stories this is a must read, it s also heavy on the romance so there s something to cater to every taste It s part of a series of novellas that have a post apocalyptic and cyberpunk theme but aren t related otherwise, you can get them Here Zero Factor and here Gridlock and I think Samhain is planning on publishing them as an anthology latter this year. Originally posted at Soul Eater has come to Earth With the souls gone only shadows remain Shadows of a life from the past The few people who avoid the Soul Eater are constantly running from the shadows and sweepers who try to drive them to their master.Elizabeth, or Bet, returns to her squat to find her young brother Douglas has been taken by a sweeper Desperate to rescue him before he becomes a shadow, she begins the dangerous journey to the Soul Eater s lair Shadows fill the night and Bet must evade them if she is to survive Gabriel is a shadow with a difference He still has compassion and struggles to keep his humanitarian side Intrigued by Bet he tries to help her.Bet doesn t trust Gabriel, but knows that without him she will not succeed with her rescue Alone for so long, she feels drawn to this shadow who looks like an angel, but is he really trying to lure her into the Soul Eater s clutches The Earth of this novel is dark full of shadows, dirt and danger Bet is older than her years due to the need to stay alive and out of the Soul Eater s clutches Without going into reams of description, the author made me see the desperate plight of the characters, the darkness and despair At the heart of it all sat the alien Soul Eater Like a spider this creature pulled in the emotions, thoughts and dreams of the people of Earth, leaving behind a shadow, a husk without substance Gabriel and Bet were at opposite ends of the spectrum She is a fighter, but assumes he is merely another shadow, a bit different, but still in the thrall of the evil alien He had to struggle to stay in control If he failed, the Soul Eater would take him completely Ghost in the Machine is a well thought out book although the storyline did tend to wander some at times I also got a bit confused about the shadows and sweepers, but tended to enjoy the inner thoughts of both characters If you like your fantasy set in an alternate future of darkness with a hint of redemption then Ghost in the Machine could be just what you re looking for.