Categories
books and reading

The Future is Yours

Big thanks to Netgalley for this advance copy! I love books that are told in a non-traditional way. I’m not a fan of reading a sentence then flipping to a footnote or endnote, but books like S. and Night Film and Attachments (and Rainbow Rowell in general) are really interesting reads because they are epistolary in nature, but also tell the story through multiple media forms. The Future is Yours is exactly same.

From Goodreads: Ben Boyce and Adhi Chaudry are outsiders struggling to find their place in Silicon Valley. But when Ben reads Adhi’s graduate dissertation about an obscure application for quantum computing, he has a vision of a revolutionary new technology: a computer that can see forward through time by communicating with its future self.

The two friends quit their jobs and team up to form a business, building a company that will deliver their groundbreaking device to consumers around the world. Rival tech giants try to steal their innovation, while government agencies attempt to bury it–but Ben and Adhi are helped by their own cutting-edge technology, staying a step ahead of the competition and responding to challenges before they arise.

As the tension mounts, Ben and Adhi’s friendship begins to fracture under the weight of ambition, jealousy, and greed. Most frightening of all, they discover the dark side of the machine they’ve created–the ways in which viewing the future sets them on a path toward unavoidable disaster of epic, apocalyptic proportions. Unless they can disrupt the technological system they’ve created, there won’t be any future at all.

Told through emails, texts, transcripts, and blog posts, this bleeding-edge tech thriller chronicles the social costs of innovation and asks how far you’d be willing to go to protect the ones you love–even from themselves. 

This book was great. I thoroughly enjoyed it. It reminded me a Blake Crouch’s work, which is a huge compliment, because I’ve read almost all his books. The way the story is presented through the various documents is really creative and adds to the entire point of the book. This comes out in Feb 2021, and I will be recommending it to a lot of people at that point.

NOTE TO AUTHOR: The goodreads summary has Adhi’s name as Teddy….I fixed it here. And my favorite person on Twitter is mentioned, Lin-Manuel Miranda, but you have his handle as @LinManuel, but it’s really @Lin_Manuel. And there’s really a @BenBoyce on Twitter. Haha.

Categories
books and reading

The Collector’s Apprentice

This book is my second by BA Shapiro. I have also read The Art Forger and really enjoyed that. I’m not an artist in any way, but I do have a working knowledge of art, artists, periods, and have studied some important works through my education. And even if art isn’t your thing, these books are still excellent stories.

From Goodreads:

It’s the summer of 1922, and nineteen-year-old Paulien Mertens finds herself in Paris—broke, disowned, and completely alone. Everyone in Belgium, including her own family, believes she stole millions in a sophisticated con game perpetrated by her then-fiancé, George Everard. To protect herself from the law and the wrath of those who lost everything, she creates a new identity, a Frenchwoman named Vivienne Gregsby, and sets out to recover her father’s art collection, prove her innocence—and exact revenge on George.

When the eccentric and wealthy American art collector Dr. Edwin Bradley offers Vivienne the perfect job, she is soon caught up in the Parisian world of post-Impressionists and expatriates—including Gertrude Stein and Henri Matisse, with whom Vivienne becomes romantically entwined. As she travels between Paris and Philadelphia, where Bradley is building an art museum, her life becomes even more complicated: George returns with unclear motives . . . and then Vivienne is arrested for Bradley’s murder.

B. A. Shapiro has made the historical art thriller her own. In The Collector’s Apprentice, she gives us an unforgettable tale about the lengths to which people will go for their obsession, whether it be art, money, love, or vengeance.

This book was one that, even though it isn’t really a thriller, I couldn’t put it down and wanted to see how Vivienne manages this double life. The art descriptions are fantastic, the story moves quickly, and Vivienne is a great heroine.

Categories
books and reading

The Devil of Nanking

I’ve read a few of Mo Hayder’s books in the Jack Caffrey series, starting with Birdman, then The Treatment, then Ritual. I plan on finishing those, but when I discovered this one-off book that also was set in Japan (to fulfill a PopSugar Reading Challenge prompt), I was pretty excited. Someone I follow on bookstagram (here I am: https://www.instagram.com/being_fictional/) posted it, and thankfully it was 1.99 on Kindle, so I snatched it up.

From Goodreads: Like the thrillers of Thomas Harris and Philip Kerr, Mo Hayder’s riveting new novel animates the dark corners of modern history. The solitary Englishwoman Grey comes to Japan looking for a rare piece of footage that is said to document a particularly monstrous episode of the 1937 Nanking Massacre. Her quest will take her to a reclusive scholar and a wheelchair-bound gangster who clings to life with the aid of a mysterious elixir, and to a handsome American whose interest in Grey may be more sinister than romantic. The result is a work of spine-chilling suspense, masterful historical detail, and otherworldly beauty.

Fair warning that Mo Hayder’s books are graphic, and this one is no exception. My goodness. It’s definitely not for the weak-stomached. That said, it was a great story. I couldn’t put this down. Once Grey stumbles upon some answers, and secrets start being revealed, I was completely sucked in and couldn’t read fast enough to see what the “truth” was. If you can handle graphic content, I definitely recommend this one.

Categories
books and reading

The Talisman

For anyone new to my reviews, I’m a huge Stephen King. I own all his books in hardback and am currently working my way through his catalog. This year, I’ve read Joyland, If It Bleeds, The Shining, Doctor Sleep, Night Shift, Cycle of the Werewolf, and Blockade Billy. I still have a few on the list to read in the next few months, as well.

From Goodreads:

On a brisk autumn day, a twelve-year-old boy stands on the shores of the gray Atlantic, near a silent amusement park and a fading ocean resort called the Alhambra. The past has driven Jack Sawyer here: his father is gone, his mother is dying, and the world no longer makes sense. But for Jack everything is about to change. For he has been chosen to make a journey back across America–and into another realm.

One of the most influential and heralded works of fantasy ever written, The Talisman is an extraordinary novel of loyalty, awakening, terror, and mystery. Jack Sawyer, on a desperate quest to save his mother’s life, must search for a prize across an epic landscape of innocents and monsters, of incredible dangers and even more incredible truths. The prize is essential, but the journey means even more. Let the quest begin. . . .

The Talisman is one of the few books King co-wrote, this one with the amazing Peter Straub, who also writes horror books. (Ghost Story is a great one of his). The main character, Jack, is excellent. Even though he’s only twelve, he’s brave and hard-working and smart. That said, the secondary characters annoyed me to no end. They were such a distraction to the main story. The villain wasn’t really all that scary. There were other minor villains that were much worse, and Jack finds himself in some difficult situations that seem to last forever while reading.

I always wonder if I love SK’s books because they are legitimately good or because he wrote them. Can I be objective or do I just think all his books are amazing. Well, we have an answer. This one was just okay for me. I didn’t LOVE it like I have most of his other books. I know there are plenty in the past that I read and just found mediocre, but as of late, most everything has been excellent. And even though I enjoyed this one, I didn’t give it five stars because it seemed to drag for me in a lot of ways.

Categories
books and reading

Burn

Patrick Ness is one of my all-time favorite authors. I’ve read all but one of his books. And one of my favorite things about him is that he doesn’t fit into any one genre. He writes dystopian, realistic, fantasy, sci-fi, on and on. My first introduction was the Chaos Walking dystopian trilogy, which is just fantastic. A Monster Calls is a gorgeous and heartbreaking fantasy. Release is realistic and important for LGBTQ kids. More Than This is a profound take at the afterlife. And The Ocean Was Our Sky is probably his most creative because it’s a retelling of Moby Dick from the whale’s perspective. Topics About Which I Know Nothing is a fun short story collection. The Rest of Us Just Live Here is a great cross between realistic and fantasy. And The Crane Wife is really just a sweet story about a man who loves his wife.

So, anytime one of his books is released, I never read the synopsis because I like the surprise of what in the world the book could be about. Thankfully, my library agrees and keeps buying his books for me to read.

From Goodreads: Sarah Dewhurst and her father, outcasts in their little town of Frome, Washington, are forced to hire a dragon to work their farm, something only the poorest of the poor ever have to resort to.

The dragon, Kazimir, has more to him than meets the eye, though. Sarah can’t help but be curious about him, an animal who supposedly doesn’t have a soul, but who is seemingly intent on keeping her safe.

Because the dragon knows something she doesn’t. He has arrived at the farm with a prophecy on his mind. A prophecy that involves a deadly assassin, a cult of dragon worshippers, two FBI agents in hot pursuit—and somehow, Sarah Dewhurst herself. 

This book was a lot of fun. Imagining a world with dragons is pretty crazy, but dragons that talk are too interesting to pass up reading about. I enjoyed the direction this book took, as well. Because it’s Patrick Ness, of course I recommend it. But even if he weren’t my favorite, this is a great YA book.

Categories
books and reading

Jar City

I have a bit of an addiction to Nordic thriller tv shows on Netflix. Their police procedurals are excellent. Frequently, the women are in charge, the red herrings aren’t too ridiculous, and the storytelling is top-notch. I’ve read a handful of books from the area but have more on my list. Somehow, I stumbled on this one from Iceland, which isn’t an area I’ve ever read about.

From Goodreads: When a lonely old man is found murdered in his Reykjavík flat, the only clues are a cryptic note left by the killer and a photograph of a young girl’s grave. Inspector Erlendur, who heads the investigation team, discovers that many years ago the victim was accused, though not convicted, of an unsolved crime. Did the old man’s past come back to haunt him?

As the team of detectives reopen this very cold case, Inspector Erlendur uncovers secrets that are much larger than the murder of one old man–secrets that have been carefully guarded by many people for many years. As he follows a fascinating trail of unusual forensic evidence, Erlendur also confronts stubborn personal conflicts that reveal his own depth and complexity of character. 

This thriller was great. Although it uses the “grumpy old white guy” detective trope, he had some good reasons to be grumpy, so at least it was legitimate. The murder itself and the discovery of who was behind it was really creative and plausible, so no crazy far-fetched, nonsensical storytelling, thank goodness. This book was just a tightly written, interesting mystery.

Categories
books and reading

Lock Every Door

I now have read every Riley Sager book. I started with Final Girls, next was The Last Time I Lied, then Home Before Dark and now this one. I was a bit bummed by the first two because I didn’t think they were as good as the hype that surrounded them. However, Home Before Dark was really good, and I appreciated the creative way the story was told, but Lock Every Door is my favorite. It. Was. Bonkers.

From Goodreads:

No visitors. No nights spent away from the apartment. No disturbing the other residents, all of whom are rich or famous or both. These are the only rules for Jules Larsen’s new job as an apartment sitter at the Bartholomew, one of Manhattan’s most high-profile and mysterious buildings. Recently heartbroken and just plain broke, Jules is taken in by the splendor of her surroundings and accepts the terms, ready to leave her past life behind.

As she gets to know the residents and staff of the Bartholomew, Jules finds herself drawn to fellow apartment sitter Ingrid, who comfortingly, disturbingly reminds her of the sister she lost eight years ago. When Ingrid confides that the Bartholomew is not what it seems and the dark history hidden beneath its gleaming facade is starting to frighten her, Jules brushes it off as a harmless ghost story—until the next day, when Ingrid disappears.

Searching for the truth about Ingrid’s disappearance, Jules digs deeper into the Bartholomew’s dark past and into the secrets kept within its walls. Her discovery that Ingrid is not the first apartment sitter to go missing at the Bartholomew pits Jules against the clock as she races to unmask a killer, expose the building’s hidden past, and escape the Bartholomew before her temporary status becomes permanent.

The big reveal (no spoilers, but this book is a mystery, so you expect there to be a resolution) is crazy, and I didn’t see it coming at all. Jules is a great character, not only trying to solve the mystery, but also having to deal with her past. Sager does a great job putting little hints in the story here and there that give you a little insight into the big twist, but even as I picked up on them, I still didn’t see where it was going. If you’re new to Sager’s books, this is a great one to start with.

Categories
books and reading

Little Fires Everywhere

I read Everything I Never Told You a couple of years ago and loved it. It’s not my usual type of book, namely about a family and depressing, but Ng’s writing is so beautiful, and I was so captivated by the characters that I couldn’t put it down. It was a heartbreaking book, but one that has stuck with me for a long time.

Again, this book focuses on family, this time three different families whose lives are woven together in unique ways. From Goodreads:

In Shaker Heights, a placid, progressive suburb of Cleveland, everything is planned–from the layout of the winding roads, to the colors of the houses, to the successful lives its residents will go on to lead. And no one embodies this spirit more than Elena Richardson, whose guiding principle is playing by the rules.

Enter Mia Warren–an enigmatic artist and single mother–who arrives in this idyllic bubble with her teenaged daughter Pearl, and rents a house from the Richardsons. Soon Mia and Pearl become more than tenants: all four Richardson children are drawn to the mother-daughter pair. But Mia carries with her a mysterious past and a disregard for the status quo that threatens to upend this carefully ordered community.

When old family friends of the Richardsons attempt to adopt a Chinese-American baby, a custody battle erupts that dramatically divides the town–and puts Mia and Elena on opposing sides. Suspicious of Mia and her motives, Elena is determined to uncover the secrets in Mia’s past. But her obsession will come at unexpected and devastating costs.

Little Fires Everywhere explores the weight of secrets, the nature of art and identity, and the ferocious pull of motherhood–and the danger of believing that following the rules can avert disaster.

Again, the characters and language of this book are Ng’s best work. The plots of her books are definitely interesting, but her character development and writing style are top notch. In my book, she’s two for two, and I look forward to her next one!

Categories
books and reading

The Trespasser

And here we are. The end. The last. The final Dublin Murder Squad book. Even though this book and the one before it weren’t as good as the first four, I did enjoy the series and still recommend them to anyone. In the Woods, The Likeness, Faithful Place, Broken Harbor, and The Secret Place all lead to this final book. Tana French cleverly weaves the books together by putting one character from the previous book as the main character in the next book, except the last two. They both feature Detective Moran and Detective Conway, but The Secret Place is told from his perspective and this one from hers.

From Goodreads:

Being on the Murder Squad is nothing like Detective Antoinette Conway dreamed it would be. Her partner, Stephen Moran, is the only person who seems glad she’s there. The rest of her working life is a stream of thankless cases, vicious pranks, and harassment. Antoinette is savagely tough, but she’s getting close to the breaking point.

Their new case looks like yet another by-the-numbers lovers’ quarrel gone bad. Aislinn Murray is blond, pretty, groomed-to-a-shine, and dead in her catalog-perfect living room, next to a table set for a romantic dinner. There’s nothing unusual about her—except that Antoinette’s seen her somewhere before.

And that her death won’t stay in its neat by-numbers box. Other detectives are trying to push Antoinette and Steve into arresting Aislinn’s boyfriend, fast. There’s a shadowy figure at the end of Antoinetteʼs road. Aislinnʼs friend is hinting that she knew Aislinn was in danger. And everything they find out about Aislinn takes her further from the glossy, passive doll she seemed to be.

Antoinette knows the harassment has turned her paranoid, but she can’t tell just how far gone she is. Is this case another step in the campaign to force her off the squad, or are there darker currents flowing beneath its polished surface?

Det. Conway is an unreliable narrator to the extreme. As good of a detective she is, she has terrible insight into her own co-workers. She can’t see the forest for the trees. She thinks each and every one of them are out to get her, including her own partner at times. This perspective gets old really quickly, and I was constantly frustrated by inability to look at things objectively. The book takes some good turns that I wasn’t expecting, which is always appreciated, but overall it was just okay.

Categories
books and reading

In the Dark

I’ve never read Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None. Now I don’t have to because this book entirely spoils the plot. That said, the book is 80 years old, so spoilers for it have long passed. My own fault, not the author’s. I had no idea going into this book that it was a retelling of anything, let alone one of the most famous murder mystery books of all time.

This book was offered as a Kindle first selection at some point, which I didn’t select, but it sounded interesting enough that I add it to my “to read” list and discovered it was available to me via Prime reading, which is a great resource. I’m glad that I found this book because it was excellent.

From Goodreads: The promise of a luxury vacation at a secluded wilderness spa has brought together eight lucky guests. But nothing is what they were led to believe. As a fierce storm barrels down and all contact with the outside is cut off, the guests fear that it’s not a getaway. It’s a trap.

Each one has a secret. Each one has something to hide. And now, as darkness closes in, they all have something to fear—including one another.

Alerted to the vanished party of strangers, homicide cop Mason Deniaud and search and rescue expert Callie Sutton must brave the brutal elements of the mountains to find them. But even Mason and Callie have no idea how precious time is. Because the clock is ticking, and one by one, the guests of Forest Shadow Lodge are being hunted. For them, surviving becomes part of a diabolical game.

I loved this book because I truly had no idea what was going to happen. I had no idea what the secrets were, who was behind the entire trap, how this was going to resolve. You know that at least one person survives because you meet her in the first chapter. But who that person is and how she was involved isn’t revealed. The layers of the plot are revealed cleverly and nicely with a big twist at the end that I didn’t see coming. I highly recommend this one!