The Mansion by Ezekiel Boone #bookreview #horror #scifi

After two years of living on cheap beer and little else in a bitterly cold tiny cabin outside an abandoned, crumbling mansion, young programmers Shawn Eagle and Billy Stafford have created something that could make them rich: a revolutionary computer they name Eagle Logic.

But the hard work and escalating tension have not been kind to their once solid friendship—Shawn’s girlfriend Emily has left him for Billy, and a third partner has disappeared under mysterious circumstances. While Billy walks away with Emily, Shawn takes Eagle Logic, which he uses to build a multi-billion-dollar company that eventually outshines Apple, Google, and Microsoft combined.

Years later, Billy is a failure, beset by poverty and addiction, and Shawn is the most famous man in the world. Unable to let the past be forgotten, Shawn decides to resurrect his and Billy’s biggest failure: a next-generation computer program named Nellie that can control a house’s every function. He decides to set it up in the abandoned mansion they worked near all those years ago. But something about Nellie isn’t right—and the reconstruction of the mansion is plagued by accidental deaths. Shawn is forced to bring Billy back, despite their longstanding mutual hatred, to discover and destroy the evil that lurks in the source code.

I read The Hatching series by this author, which I enjoyed, and after seeing the cover of this one – I needed it immediately.  And AI books fascinate me.

After reading this, you may think twice about having a smart home.  The thought of a computer program becoming sentient and deciding independently to control the lives of its creators is freaky scary.  It made me think about how my Alexa speaks at random times – even when no one is in the room with her.  Nellie is dark and dangerous – and she really shines the last 20% of the book during some intense situations – but I wish she would have gotten more page time.  It’s mentioned in the blurb that Shawn, Billy, and Emily had a love triangle back in college, but the drama surrounding that and flashbacks from their respective pasts make up a larger portion of this story.

Not that the plot of The Mansion is anything like The Shining but, being a King fan, I noticed some parallels – a secluded mansion/resort in the middle of winter, an alcoholic sleeping very little and consumed with his work, a character named Wendy, and young creepy sisters – but these are twins with an unusual connection, not ghosts.

I wouldn’t classify this book as horror scary, but more disturbing and unnerving.  It’s a long read at over 400 pages, and contains a good bit of repetition which can be difficult to get past, but I enjoyed the book and would recommend it to both sci-fi and horror fans.  With this being an ARC, the word count may change before publication.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC.

 

 

WWW Wednesday: What Am I Reading? #amreading

WWW Wednesday is a meme from Sam at Taking On A World Of Words

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

I’m currently reading Analiese Rising by Brenda Drake.  This is my first book by this author, and it was the cover that first caught my attention, but I’ve always had an interest in mythology also.  I’m about halfway through, and it’s a fast-paced read, but it hasn’t really grabbed me yet.

When a stranger gives Analiese Jordan a list of names before he dies, the last thing she expects to see is her own on it. Not. Cool. Her search for answers leads to the man’s grandson, Marek, who has dangerous secrets of his own. Both are determined to unlock the mystery of the list.

But the truth is deadly. Analiese is a descendant of the God of Death, known as a Riser, with the power to raise the dead and control them. Finding out she has hidden powers? Cool. Finding out she turns corpses into killers? No, thank you.

Now the trail plants her and Marek in the middle of a war between gods who apparently want to raise an army of the Risen, and Analiese must figure out how to save the world—from herself.

I just finished The Similars by Rebecca Hanover over Thanksgiving.  Me being such a sci-fi geek, all I needed to see was the word ‘clones’, and I immediately hit the request button on NetGalley.  This one had me wanting to curl up in a corner away from the Thanksgiving festivities so I could finish it.

When six clones join Emmaline’s prestigious boarding school, she must confront the heartbreak of seeing her dead best friend’s face each day in class.

The Similars are all anyone can talk about at the elite Darkwood Academy. Who are these six clones? What are the odds that all of them would be Darkwood students? Who is the madman who broke the law to create them? Emma couldn’t care less. Her best friend, Oliver, died over the summer and all she can think about is how to get through her junior year without him. Then she comes face-to-heartbreaking-face with Levi—Oliver’s exact DNA replica and one of the Similars.

Emma wants nothing to do with the Similars, but she keeps getting pulled deeper and deeper into their clique, uncovering dark truths about the clones and her prestigious school along the way. But no one can be trusted…not even the boy she is falling for who has Oliver’s face.

Next, I’ll read The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi.  Early reviews are positive, and I’m anxious to get started.  Another beautiful cover.

Set in a darkly glamorous world, The Gilded Wolves is full of mystery, decadence, and dangerous but thrilling adventure.

Paris, 1889: The world is on the cusp of industry and power, and the Exposition Universelle has breathed new life into the streets and dredged up ancient secrets. In this city, no one keeps tabs on secrets better than treasure-hunter and wealthy hotelier, Séverin Montagnet-Alarie. But when the all-powerful society, the Order of Babel, seeks him out for help, Séverin is offered a treasure that he never imagined: his true inheritance.

To find the ancient artifact the Order seeks, Séverin will need help from a band of experts: An engineer with a debt to pay. A historian who can’t yet go home. A dancer with a sinister past. And a brother in all but blood, who might care too much.

Together, they’ll have to use their wits and knowledge to hunt the artifact through the dark and glittering heart of Paris. What they find might change the world, but only if they can stay alive.

The House Always Wins by Tom Minder #bookreview #thriller #TuesdayBookBlog

Someone is shooting up Dirty Sam’s.

Will the Long Harbor police get their man, or woman, before a casino heist, a slots player who disappears in a puff of smoke, a crossbow-toting florist, and an undercover agent who makes a mean goulash, complicate the investigation.

Oh, for the simpler days of illegal gambling.

The quirky character descriptions alone intrigued me before I even knew what this book was about.  A cross-bow toting florist?  I needed to know more about this person.

Long Harbor is filled with some unsavory characters, and it’s difficult to figure out who’s trustworthy – but that’s part of the charm of this book.  There’s no shortage of suspicious characters, and they’ll keep the reader guessing where their loyalties lie, and who did what.

Character development is a strength for this author, and I could easily envision each character, along with their good traits, flaws, and weaknesses.  I also snickered several times over things they did or said, and imagined an Ocean’s Eleven-type soundtrack playing in the background.

Although the author wrote another book set in Long Harbor with several of the same characters, both are considered standalones.  I struggled with the extensive character list – remembering who was who, but that could be because I didn’t read the first book.  I wouldn’t say reading it is a necessity, but it may help with the confusion.

If you enjoy quirky, well-written characters, a briskly paced plot, and a good heist story, I highly recommend The House Always Wins.  

I received an ARC from the author.

First 5 Chapters Free! #YA #scifi #fantasy #bookpromo

On this blog, Black Friday is on Tuesday this week – I’m offering the first 5 chapters of The Gemini Connection FREE!  Click on the link below, or to the right in the sidebar.

First Five

If you read these five chapters and can’t live another minute without knowing what happens to Evan and Simon – or where Simon could have disappeared to, hop on over to Amazon and buy the book for $4.99!

Teen twin brothers Evan and Simon Resnik are fiercely loyal to each other and share an unusual bond—they experience each other’s emotions as their own and can sense where the other is. 

On their dying planet of Tage, scientists work tirelessly on its survival. Like the twins’ parents, Simon is a science prodigy, recruited at a young age to work with the brilliant creator of Scientific Innovations. To the bitter disappointment of their parents, Evan shows no aptitude or interest in science. As a Mindbender, he travels into the minds of scientists to locate buried memories, connect ideas and concepts, and battle recurring nightmares. 

When Simon mysteriously disappears, Evan is plunged into a world of loss and unbearable guilt. For the first time, he can’t ‘feel’ Simon—it’s like he no longer exists. Evan blames himself. No one knows that he ignored his brother’s pleas for help on the night he went missing. 

A year later, Simon is still gone. Evan lost his twin, but Tage might have lost its last hope of survival when it’s discovered that Simon’s unfinished project could be its salvation. Evan is determined to find him—somewhere—and bring Simon home. Their unusual connection might be more extraordinary than they know, and the key to locating Simon.

The Lying Woods by Ashley Elston #bookreview #YA #mystery

Owen Foster has never wanted for anything. Then his mother shows up at his elite New Orleans boarding school cradling a bombshell: his privileged life has been funded by stolen money. After using the family business, the single largest employer in his small Louisiana town, to embezzle millions and drain the employees’ retirement accounts, Owen’s father vanished without a trace, leaving Owen and his mother to deal with the fallout.

Owen returns to Lake Cane to finish his senior year, where people he can barely remember despise him for his father’s crimes. It’s bad enough dealing with muttered insults and glares, but when Owen and his mother receive increasingly frightening threats from someone out for revenge, he knows he must get to the bottom of what really happened at Louisiana Frac–and the cryptic note his father sent him at his boarding school days before disappearing.

Owen’s only refuge is the sprawling, isolated pecan orchard he works at after school, owned by a man named Gus who has his own secrets–and in some ways seems to know Owen better than he knows himself. As Owen uncovers a terrible injustice that looms over the same Preacher Woods he’s claimed as his own, he must face a shocking truth about his own past–and write a better future. 

After reading a couple of heavy sci-fi/fantasy books, I was in the mood for an intriguing mystery.  I’d never read anything else by this author, but rest assured, I plan on correcting that.

I finished this book in less than two days (while I was supposed to be working on several other projects), but just couldn’t put it down.  The dual narrative between Owen and Noah is done so well, and goes about revealing the layers of secrets at a perfect pace.  A small town setting and and secluded pecan farm only add to the years-old secrets.  With the shocking situation Owen and his mother find themselves in, being stripped of everything they own and having to endure horrible comments and treatment from both adults and teens affected by Owen’s father, it’s incredibly easy to relate to them.  Rather than wallowing in self-pity over everything he’s lost, I admired Owen’s determination to better his situation, help his mother, and find his father.

Upon reaching the end of the book, I had several theories, but the twist came as a surprise.  Warning:  Whatever you do, don’t flip to the end of this novel and spoil it for yourself!

If you’re looking for an absolutely un-put-downable mystery with deliciously surprising twists, this is your book.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC.

 

This Cruel Design by Emily Suvada #bookreview #YA #scifi

Cat thought the Hydra epidemic was over, but when new cases pop up, Cat must team up with an enemy to fix the vaccine before the virus spirals out of control in this thrilling sequel to This Mortal Coil, which New York Times bestselling author Amie Kaufman says “redefines ‘unputdownable.’”

The nightmare of the outbreak is finally over, but Cat’s fight has only just begun.

Exhausted, wounded, and reeling from revelations that have shaken her to her core, Cat is at a breaking point. Camped in the woods with Cole and Leoben, she’s working day and night, desperate to find a way to stop Lachlan’s plan to reprogram humanity. But she’s failing—Cat can’t even control her newly regrown panel, and try as she might to ignore them, she keeps seeing glitching visions from her past everywhere she turns.

When news arrives that the Hydra virus might not be as dead as they’d thought, the group is pushed into an uneasy alliance with Cartaxus to hunt down Lachlan and fix the vaccine. Their search takes them to Entropia, a city of genehackers hidden deep in the desert that could also hold the answers about Cat’s past that she’s been searching for.

But when confronted with lies and betrayals, Cat is forced to question everything she knows and everyone she trusts. And while Lachlan is always two steps ahead, the biggest threat to Cat may be the secrets buried in her own mind. 

The first book in this series, This Mortal Coil, was one of my most captivating reads last year.  Any books involving genetic engineering?  Yes, please.  I was so excited to receive an ARC of This Cruel Design, but also cautiously optimistic that it would live up to my heightened expectations.  No worries – it more than delivered, and is just as addictive as the first book.

I had no trouble falling right back into Cat’s world, but still appreciated the recap in the first couple of chapters.  Strong characterization is one of the strong points of this series, and I thought I knew these characters’ secrets – wrong.  So very wrong.  More gasp-worthy secrets, hidden agendas, surprising relationship reveals – strap yourselves in and be prepared.  The coding technology continues to thrill my inner science geek, and comes across as absolutely realistic the way it’s written.

With a unique plot line, strong, likable characters pushed to their limits, a fast pace, and futuristic technology, this series will appeal to YA sci-fi fans, and is easily a crossover.  My wait for the next book will not be patient or pleasant.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC.