The Warehouse by Rob Hart #bookreview #thriller #TuesdayBookBlog

Cloud isn’t just a place to work. It’s a place to live. And when you’re here, you’ll never want to leave. 

Paxton never thought he’d be working for Cloud, the giant tech company that’s eaten much of the American economy. Much less that he’d be moving into one of the company’s sprawling live-work facilities. 

But compared to what’s left outside, Cloud’s bland chainstore life of gleaming entertainment halls, open-plan offices, and vast warehouses…well, it doesn’t seem so bad. It’s more than anyone else is offering. 

Zinnia never thought she’d be infiltrating Cloud. But now she’s undercover, inside the walls, risking it all to ferret out the company’s darkest secrets. And Paxton, with his ordinary little hopes and fears? He just might make the perfect pawn. If she can bear to sacrifice him. 

As the truth about Cloud unfolds, Zinnia must gamble everything on a desperate scheme—one that risks both their lives, even as it forces Paxton to question everything about the world he’s so carefully assembled here. 

Together, they’ll learn just how far the company will go…to make the world a better place. 

Set in the confines of a corporate panopticon that’s at once brilliantly imagined and terrifyingly real, The Warehouse is a near-future thriller about what happens when Big Brother meets Big Business–and who will pay the ultimate price.

I’ll be honest – although this book description intrigued me, it was Blake Crouch’s recommendation that made me want to read this novel.  After finishing, I had to sit with it a few days because I honestly didn’t know how I felt about it.

Few people will read this description and not immediately think of Amazon.  The Warehouse is a cautionary tale, albeit extreme, that paints a harrowing futuristic picture.  Cloud controls or has influence over nearly everything – the business environment, laws, politics.  Seemingly nothing is out of its reach.

I didn’t particularly care about these characters, but their moral ambiguity was intriguing and held me enthralled.  Paxton harbors feelings of anger and retribution after his small business is crushed by Cloud – and yet he finds himself working for the tech company.  Zinnia will sacrifice anything or anyone to accomplish her goals.  And Gibson Wells, the multi-billionaire owner of Cloud, truly believes everything he’s done has made the world a better place.

This is a well-paced thriller with some suprising plot twists, and the sections showing the monotony of Paxton’s and Zinnia’s lives are brilliant.  The Warehouse is undoubtedly one of the most thought-provoking books I’ve read this year.  It will leave you feeling unsettled, and I guarantee you’ll still be thinking about it days after reading.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

 

Containment (Sanctuary #2) by Caryn Lix #bookreview #YA #scifi

They may have escaped Sanctuary, but Kenzie and her friends are far from safe.

Ex-Omnistellar prison guard Kenzie and her superpowered friends barely made it off Sanctuary alive. Now they’re stuck in a stolen alien ship with nowhere to go and no one to help them. Kenzie is desperate for a plan, but she doesn’t know who to trust anymore. Everyone has their own dark secrets: Omnistellar, her parents, even Cage. Worse still, she’s haunted by memories of the aliens who nearly tore her to shreds—and forced her to accidentally kill one of the Sanctuary prisoners, Matt.

When Kenzie intercepts a radio communication suggesting that more aliens are on their way, she knows there’s only one choice: They must turn themselves in to Omnistellar and destroy the ship before the aliens follow the signal straight to them. Because if the monstrous creatures who attacked Sanctuary reach Earth, then it’s game over for humanity.

What Kenzie doesn’t know is that the aliens aren’t the only ones on the hunt. Omnistellar has put a bounty on Kenzie’s head—and the question is whether the aliens or Omnistellar get to her first. 

I read the first book in this series, Sanctuary, last summer and referred to it as a mixture of Alien and X-Men.  I was thrilled to receive an ARC of book two.

First, I have to comment on the book covers – they’re beautiful, bold, and completely eye-catching.  It’s easy to tell they’re part of the same series.  To say this diverse cast of characters experienced traumatic events in Sanctuary is an understatement.  Because of what happened to them, some are understandably suffering from PTSD – which is something you don’t see addressed very often in YA novels and is handled very well.

This author is brilliant at ending chapters on exciting cliffhangers.  I’d plan to read a couple of chapters before bed, then wind up going through two more because I had to know what happened next.  Character development is also a strength, and it’s easy to see how these characters have evolved from the first book.

Pacing was a bit of an problem for me.  This book sits at around 500 pages, and I felt it could have been tightened in some areas.  Kenzie is dealing with a lot of issues – guilt, relationship woes, death of a parent – and her internal thoughts about this take up a chunk of the first 50% of the book to the extent I felt it overshadowed what was happening in front of her.  I read an ARC, so this may change with the final version.

Containment ends on a cliffhanger (just like most of the chapters!), so I’ll be anxious to read the next book in the series.  If you enjoy high stakes sci-fi that ventures into the horror arena, I’d recommend this series.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

 

 

Soul Swallowers (The Shattered Sea #1) by D. Wallace Peach #TuesdayBookBlog #bookreview #fantasy #NewAdult

When swallowed, some souls gift insights, wisdom, a path to understanding. Others unleash power, proficiency with a sword, and indifference to death. One soul assimilates with ease. But swallow a host of the dead and risk a descent into madness. 

Estranged from his family over the murder of his wife, young Raze Anvrell wields his fists to vent his rage. Then a chance at a new life beckons, and he retreats to the foothills of the Ravenwood, the haunt of unbound ghosts. He and his mentor build a freehold, a life of physical labor and the satisfaction of realizing a dream. They raise horses and whittle by the fire until the old man dies, and Raze swallows his first soul. 

When his brother reaches out, open wounds begin to scar. But the tenuous peace won’t last. While those who rule the Vales yield to the lure of their ambitions, slavers of Ezar roam the countryside, hunting for human chattel. While one man manipulates the law, another heeds the souls of violence howling in his head. 

Raze too listens to his soul’s whispers, and as danger intrudes on his quiet life, he has no choice but to return to his father’s world and join the fight.

This is my first D. Wallace Peach book, but it certainly won’t be my last.

As a regular visitor to her blog, I’m familiar with Peach’s lyrical poetry that carries readers away to unexpected places – and this novel is no different.  The world-building is magnificent, and the premise of people swallowing souls to absorb their characteristics is mesmerizing.  With political maneuvering, power plays and alliances, arranged marriages, slavers – this is a complicated, dangerous world, and I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough.  Which was hard sometimes, because I wanted to linger over some of the beautiful writing.

This author has a gift with characterization.  From the main characters to those who only survive a short while, all are so well-developed.  I especially enjoyed the children.  As with most tiny humans, their actions and comments are humorous and unfiltered, and I chuckled several times.

Soul Swallowers is an easy 5 stars for me – I finished the second half of the book in one sitting because I couldn’t put it down.  Now to download the sequel!

House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig #bookreview #YA #fantasy #TuesdayBookBlog

In a manor by the sea, twelve sisters are cursed.

Annaleigh lives a sheltered life at Highmoor, a manor by the sea, with her sisters, their father, and stepmother. Once they were twelve, but loneliness fills the grand halls now that four of the girls’ lives have been cut short. Each death was more tragic than the last—the plague, a plummeting fall, a drowning, a slippery plunge—and there are whispers throughout the surrounding villages that the family is cursed by the gods.

Disturbed by a series of ghostly visions, Annaleigh becomes increasingly suspicious that the deaths were no accidents. Her sisters have been sneaking out every night to attend glittering balls, dancing until dawn in silk gowns and shimmering slippers, and Annaleigh isn’t sure whether to try to stop them or to join their forbidden trysts. Because who—or what—are they really dancing with?

When Annaleigh’s involvement with a mysterious stranger who has secrets of his own intensifies, it’s a race to unravel the darkness that has fallen over her family—before it claims her next.

I don’t remember the story of Grimm fairy tale, The Twelve Dancing Princesses, but the cover and description were compelling enough to draw me to this book.

This novel is very atmospheric, and leans toward the Gothic side.  It’s an engrossing blend of mystery, secrets, magic, and gods, with a tinge of horror.  When the ghostly visions began, I was all in, and the imagery is spectacular and chilling.  I could easily picture Highmoor manor perched atop a steep cliff overlooking the churning sea below.

When Annaleigh sets out to prove her sisters’ deaths were no accident, the author provides a long list of suspects, all with motivation, and plenty of red herrings for distraction.  Although the hints were there all along, I was a bit disappointed at a turn the story took, but near the end, along with Annaleigh, the reader isn’t sure what’s real and what isn’t.

With a suspenseful mystery, excellent characterization, and a Gothic atmosphere, House of Salt and Sorrows is a perfect book to curl up with on a stormy night.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

 

The Diviners (The Diviners #1) by Libba Bray #bookreview #YA #historicalfiction #supernatural

Evie O’Neill has been exiled from her boring old hometown and shipped off to the bustling streets of New York City—and she is pos-i-tute-ly ecstatic. It’s 1926, and New York is filled with speakeasies, Ziegfeld girls, and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is that she has to live with her uncle Will and his unhealthy obsession with the occult.

Evie worries he’ll discover her darkest secret: a supernatural power that has only brought her trouble so far. But when the police find a murdered girl branded with a cryptic symbol and Will is called to the scene, Evie realizes her gift could help catch a serial killer.

As Evie jumps headlong into a dance with a murderer, other stories unfold in the city that never sleeps. A young man named Memphis is caught between two worlds. A chorus girl named Theta is running from her past. A student named Jericho hides a shocking secret. And unknown to all, something dark and evil has awakened.

I’ve had this book in my TBR for quite a while and even started it a couple of times, but then had to drop it for other reading commitments.  When it fit the monthly category for my book club last November, I vowed to finish it.

The hidden secrets and supernatural powers thrilled me, and there are some chilling moments that may cause you to look over your shoulder.  A whirlwind of energy, Evie is the driving force of the story and occasionally charges into situations before considering the consequences of her actions.  She can be a bit annoying at times, but her heart is usually in the right place.  There are numerous other characters, but Jericho is a standout for me.  He begins the story as a bland character taking up space, but the gradual reveal of his backstory is both riveting and heartbreaking.  The characters’ paths intersect over the course of the story – and no doubt they’ll find themselves together again in future novels.

I don’t read a lot of historical fiction, but this is a highly atmospheric novel.  The author did an exquisite job with researching this time period from the language to the clothing styles, and I felt immersed in the 20’s.

At over 500 pages, this is a long read and the pacing wavers, but I definitely plan on continuing with this supernatural series.

 

Death Among Us: An Anthology of #MurderMystery #ShortStories #TuesdayBookBlog

Who knew death could be so eclectic? Relish this mesmerizing murder mystery mash-up of short stories.

The stories include the 2019 SIA Award-Winning Murder Mystery Short Story ‘The Rose Slayer.’

Murder and mystery have been the staple of literature and films for years. This anthology of short stories will thrill and entertain you. Some will also make you laugh out loud. Others will stop and make you think.

Think of this murder mystery short story anthology as a book version of appetizers or starters, hors d’oeuvre, meze, or antipasti. It can be read as fillers between books or, as is the case in some countries, as a bookish meze – in its own right.

These stories come from an international cast of authors; some with bestselling books, others are emerging or new talents. Their roots, cultures, and life experiences are as diverse as their writing styles.

But one thing binds them together: they know how to tell a story.

There’s murder mystery styles and locations to suit all tastes: detective fiction, serial killers, scifi, histfic, LA, England, The Great Lakes, Las Vegas, the Nevada desert and more in an exquisite exposition of the art of short story telling.

The ten authors who have contributed to the anthology are:

Stephen Bentley
Greg Alldredge
Kelly Artieri
Robbie Cheadle
Michael Spinelli
L. Lee Kane
Kay Castaneda
Aly Locatelli
Justin Bauer
& ‘G’ Posthumously

Each author introduces his or her stories and the theme that lies behind them.By the time you finish the book, you will agree the result is a mesmerizing murder mystery mash-up.

Something I enjoyed about this anthology is the variety.  Yes, the theme is murder, but the stories span different sub-genres – straight up suspense, sci-fi, horror, and historical fiction – basically a smorgasbord of death for murder mystery fans.

My favorite stories include the following:

Justice is Never Served by Robbie Cheadle – Heart-wrenching, but with supernatural overtones, and based on a fictionalized account of occurrences in Victorian England.

Monitaur by Michael Spinelli – Because I’m such a horror fan, this one stuck out for me.  Strange occurrences overheard and seen over a baby monitor.  A chilling tale sure to give you goosebumps.

The Neighbours by Aly Locatelli – Locatelli is a new author, but her story is that of a seasoned writer.  I predicted the ending, but knowing it didn’t detract from this a well-written tale.

Death Among Us is a compelling collection of stories sure to appeal to mystery fans and will keep them reading hours past their bedtime.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from one of the authors.  Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

 

What If It’s Us? by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera #bookreview #YA #LGBT

Arthur is only in New York for the summer, but if Broadway has taught him anything, it’s that the universe can deliver a showstopping romance when you least expect it.

Ben thinks the universe needs to mind its business. If the universe had his back, he wouldn’t be on his way to the post office carrying a box of his ex-boyfriend’s things.

But when Arthur and Ben meet-cute at the post office, what exactly does the universe have in store for them?

Maybe nothing. After all, they get separated.

Maybe everything. After all, they get reunited.

But what if they can’t quite nail a first date . . . or a second first date . . . or a third?

What if Arthur tries too hard to make it work . . . and Ben doesn’t try hard enough?

What if life really isn’t like a Broadway play?

But what if it is? 

The category for one of my book clubs was to choose a book from a genre I don’t usually read.  For me, that’s a YA romance.

I’d read Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda and adored Simon’s voice, so another Albertalli book was an easy selection for me.  Ben and Arthur are just as charismatic and super nerdy in their own ways.  After their meet cute, they finally locate each other in an amusing way.  I laughed over some of their conversations and first dates – yes, plural – that were awkward and disastrous.  The friendships are done so well, and one of my favorite things about the book, as are the characters’ relationships with their parents.

Yes, it was a bit predictable, but I was so pleased with the ending.  No spoilers here.  What If It’s Us is heartwarming and amusing with characters you’ll fall in love with, and a pleasure to read.