Rated 4.82/5 based on 17 reviews
A very wealthy but unattractive young man undergoes an upgrade that re-contours his face. Though he sees the same reflection in the mirror as always, others now see him as extremely attractive. Whole new worlds of romantic possibilities open up to him, but there is a terrible and unforeseen price.

Upgrade is a fast-moving psychological drama with a twist ending that has readers raving. More
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About Stephen Hise

Stephen Hise is the founder and co-administrator of Indies Unlimited. An avid supporter of the indie author movement, he launched the site in October, 2011, as a platform to celebrate independent authors, promote networking among and between authors and readers, and to showcase the dazzling array of talent in the indie author community. Visit http://www.IndiesUnlimited.com.

Hise is an Arizona-based independent author and consultant. He has been involved in technical writing and fiction for many years. He is the author of the novel, Upgrade, and contributor to the short story anthology, Creepier by the Dozen. He is currently involved in multiple collaborative projects with other indie authors.

You can find Stephen Hise's website at http://StephenHise.com.

Learn more about Stephen Hise


A sexy psychological drama.

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Reviews of Upgrade by Stephen Hise

Theressa Branham reviewed on Feb. 22, 2012
(no rating)
I give Stephen Hise's Upgrade a 4.5 Star Review!

This e-book came to me as a freebie, and along with many others I received around the same time, I filed it under "read and review soon," then forgot about it. I tend to do that; forget everything all the time. Lucky for me, I made that list for just that reason, so I can check it occasionally and read a couple of them while I'm at it. I am soooo glad I finally did!

Upgrade begins with a man who has it all; social status, money, brains … oh, but wait! He's not good-looking by any measure. As he does every day, Brent Schoenfeld gazes out his second-floor office window to watch all the people milling around at lunchtime on the sidewalks. And, as he does every day, he notices the most beautiful woman he's ever seen; a stunning blond with sexy legs wearing a tasteful, yet enticing red dress. If only... He'll never be so lucky.

Out of desperation to be noticed and maybe even turn a few heads, Brent goes to a doctor who promises a procedure that will be life-changing. No scalpel, sutures, recovery; sounds like the perfect way to become attractive. The doctor explains how everything will work, and how beauty such as the kind he is seeking is merely a state of mind, so to speak. He goes on the describe how a tweaking of asymmetries in the face can trick one's mind into seeing a person in a wholly different way.

Of course, Brent begins to rethink his decision; he is paying this overly confidant doctor a million dollars, after all. The entire thing just doesn't sound like it'll actually 'change' anything, therefore, how will it make a difference? How will he ever be one of the desired people he's always longed to be? Brent decides to give himself over to the slightest chance. It couldn't make things worse, could it?

After women obviously begin to notice and even flirt with Brent, he figures his cool million was a wise investment. He had left the doctor's office extremely skeptical when he awoke from the procedure, only to see himself in the mirror exactly the same as he had been beforehand. The good doctor assured him there would be significant changes in his life, and that people would see him as attractive now. He was right.

The whole dating scene is new to him, since he'd never been a good looking man, so he does what every other red-blooded man would; he goes out. A lot. He even does a few one-night stands enjoying this new lifestyle, and how women are falling all over themselves just to spend a little time with him. As for that hot-blond? He even end up spending time with her, and couldn't have been more happy.

You know how they say power can ruin people? Well, it can, and does. I'm not giving away any more of Stephen Hise's fabulous story, because you need to get yourself a copy and read it. I was shocked at the ending! I've read many books that end in a great cliffhanger, or just a well thought out ending, but this one will blow your mind!

Upgrade isn't a terribly long read, but the impact it's had on me is immense! Stephen Hise is one of the most articulate writers I've ever had to opportunity of reading, so pay attention or you might not understand some of the doctor speak. I found myself thinking he could be right, and wow! The brain truly does work in bizarre ways!

While you're online buying a copy of Upgrade, you should also swing by http://www.indiesunlimited.com/ a very informative website where Stephen is a full-time contributor. All the people there do a wonderful job keeping the site going with posts that I've found to be insightful and helpful.
(reviewed 8 months after purchase)
K. S. Brooks reviewed on Dec. 7, 2011

I’ll admit I had no idea what I was getting into when I started reading Upgrade. I’d read a few of Stephen Hise’s blogs and found his wit and writing ability both impressive and refreshing. I wanted to see what his book was about. From all the buzz, I thought it was going to be a futuristic psychological thriller – and I wasn’t far off.

Stephen Hise has written a piece of work that amazes me. I’m a very picky reader – one who gets easily bored and skips over bits and pieces and paragraphs, and sometimes even pages. I read every word of Upgrade. Not only did I read every word, each page turned nearly on its own, beckoning me with the tease of knowing something was going to happen – something that I didn’t see coming. And it was right about that.

Upgrade’s theme reminded me of Oscar Wilde’s “The Picture of Dorian Gray” as it’s about a man whose good looks undermine his good nature. It reminded me of “The Sixth Sense” because the end slaps you in the face and sends your mind reeling back over the rest of the book to check and see where you should have picked up on the clues. They are there. You’re just so wrapped up in the story that you didn’t see them.

Hise’s talent for writing sensual scenes is evident. The pace of his writing is fluid and carries the reader along nicely. His style is almost minimalistic – but in a good sense. It’s not burdened with lots of description and it doesn’t need it. Something about Upgrade draws you to focus on the characters whilst the scenes somehow set themselves.

Some folks are going to expect ‘psychological thriller’ to include a lot of action. Upgrade’s not that kind of book. It’s got a “Twilight Zone” kind of feel to it, but you don’t realize that while you’re reading it. Frankly, I could see Upgrade becoming a series which follows different people and how they deal with the interesting cosmetic ‘reprogramming’ procedure that is the foundation of this book.

Upgrade wasn’t what I was expecting, yet was more than I expected at the same time. How is that possible? You’ll have to read it to find out. I give it five stars.
(reviewed 2 days after purchase)
Greta Burroughs reviewed on Nov. 3, 2011

Stephen Hise’s idea of enhancements to a person’s outward appearance made me start thinking, would I like this or not? It did lead his central character, Brent, into a very sticky situation, actually several sticky situations.
I enjoyed reading this novel even though it is not in the genre I usually choose my books from. The characters are well developed and I truly felt sorry for a couple of the ladies in Brent’s life, while not being too fond of another one.
The ending was a surprise. Even though I tried to guess what was going to happen, I was not totally prepared for the final outcome. I recommend Upgrade to anyone who likes a different approach to getting the perfect lover.
(reviewed 36 days after purchase)
CathyS reviewed on Oct. 22, 2011

I do love books that leave you open-mouthed at the end – this was certainly one of them. It is very well written and the author deftly manages to portray the main character, Brent, as a slightly pathetic figure: very rich and successful but lacking in the looks department, so much so he is prepared to undergo an irreversible process to make people or, more importantly, the female of the species, notice him. He is not a likeable character at first because he wants to become attractive to women merely, it seems, for sex. However, as the story continues you warm to him as he tries to focus on doing the right thing by the woman he loves and you almost start to feel your sympathy cords being tugged. The nearer I got to end the more I realised I had really no idea how a satisfying (for a reader) conclusion was going to be reached. I knew from some reviews that there was a surprise ending, and with only 10% to go, I smugly thought I had guessed it. In fact, I only half guessed it. What I hadn’t predicted left me speechless.
I liked Stephen’s style – I found it sophisticated, and easy-flowing and I had a laugh-out-loud moment when he used a very analogical adjective which was perfect for the situation being described – ‘Clintonian’. It was brilliantly apt!
There was certainly a very serious moral to this excellent story – be very, very careful what you wish for.
(reviewed 23 days after purchase)
Jacqueline Hopkins reviewed on Oct. 15, 2011

Stephen's debut novel, Upgrade, is a well-written, well-formatted book with an ending that was a total surprise. The main character, Brent, is a lonely millionaire who makes a medical change to his life; one he feels will make him more attractive to the opposite sex. So after the change, he not only attracts one, but three; one of whom he grows more attracted to than the other two, but can't decide what to do with the them and his relationship with them. Stephen has a way of getting into the head of his female characters, making them believable, likable, or hatable, but you can definitely remember them. I look forward to reading more books from this author and give this debut novel 4.5 stars.
(reviewed 16 days after purchase)
Mike reviewed on Oct. 11, 2011

Upgrade was my first exposure to the writing of Stephen Hise and to be honest I can't even remember how I came across his work although I got it from Smashwords so maybe their FB group. How I guess doesn't really matter because the blurb to "Upgrades" peaked my interest with it's mix of science and ominous consequences when you have the money and the desire to change a fundamental aspect of what makes you well you.
I can't say any character in the book generated any real sympathy, understanding and maybe recognition but apart from perhaps Kim they all had agendas. Ultimately like Twilight Zone (referenced on Stephens site) there is a sting in the tale and you can quite easily supply the Rod Sterling commentary when you flip the last page:)
(reviewed 12 days after purchase)
Sue Palmer reviewed on Oct. 10, 2011

Let me begin with the ingredients: Take a decent amount of science, add to this quite a lot of sex, then introduce mystery and intrigue, mix it all up, give it a twist right at the end and you have a superb , end product-Upgrade!
The author’s way with words and jaunty style of writing makes this book a very lively and entertaining read. He tells the tale of an unattractive but wealthy man seeking to change his life by neuroscience .The procedure is successful and we follow the protagonist, Brent Schoenfeld through his new style of life, now focusing on females ( which I hasten to add have very different and colourful personalities of their own )and the exploits in their efforts to woo him.
As the story progressed, the author builds up the feeling that something just isn’t quite right , the suspense was growing .I actually found myself trying to second guess the ending with all sorts of scenarios and although I got somewhere close , he still managed to outmanoeuvre me with a totally unexpected and dramatic conclusion. Superb twist!
This story is original, sexy, extremely well presented with excellent grammar and editing. Also, in addition to the clever mix of genres, the author also incorporates a serious message with this book ; be careful what you wish for , the grass isn’t always greener on the other side!
I enjoyed Upgrade from the first page to the last and I will now look forward to reading anything else Stephen Hise has to offer. He is talented to say the least!
(reviewed 7 months after purchase)
Rob Skelton reviewed on Oct. 5, 2011

The first thing that struck me about Upgrade was that it was very well written. Then I was hooked by the science which was both intriguing and credible. The fact that I read the whole book in one sitting speaks for itself - I really, really wanted to know what happened in the end, and I wasn't disappointed...well perhaps a little which is why I nearly only gave four stars instead of five. You see, speaking as a wife, I'd have used scissors!
(reviewed the day of purchase)
Vickie Johnstone reviewed on Sep. 10, 2011

I enjoyed reading this book. It's well-edited and flows along really smoothly. It's also fun. The idea is novel and you dive into the story pretty swiftly. Here you have Mr Average Geeky Guy who would love to be Brad Pitt. The idea is: what would you wish for? And if you get your wish will it make you happy? Surrounded by what you wish for, what option would you choose? Imagine a box of chocolates, all tantalising and yummy... this book is like that. The female characters are all different and well developed (some more than others!!). Everyone is an individual - some have agendas, some don't. Brent is a curious character. Watching him deal with his new-found confidence is cool. What would you do in his position? Would you take advantage? Would you be nice? Would you stay the same? I also loved the ending. A well-written, fun, interesting and original read. I recommend it.
(reviewed 42 days after purchase)
Amber Edwards reviewed on Aug. 7, 2011

This book had me hooked from start to finish, I could not put it down until I was done reading it. It is very well written and I think everyone can relate to at least one subject or character in Upgrade. The ending definitely took me by surprise! I will be purchasing a paperback copy so that I can enjoy it again and I look forward to future novels by Stephen Hise!
(reviewed 6 days after purchase)

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