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.

 

Calling #Horror, #Thriller, and #Paranormal #IndieAuthors for #BadMoonRising

For the month of October, Books & Such will again be featuring Bad Moon Rising!  If you’re an indie author of horror, thriller, or paranormal books and would like to be featured, send me your info.  Free publicity, book sales (hopefully!), new authors to follow, and more books added to the TBR – what’s not to like?

Each post will feature one of your releases, a blurb, author bio, social media links, buy links, and a short interview.  If you’d like to include a giveaway or have alternative ideas for your post, I’m open to suggestions.

This is the fifth year of Bad Moon Rising and spots tend to fill up fast, so if you’d like to be included, email me at tpolen6@gmail.com.

Recursion by Blake Crouch #bookreview #scifi #thriller #TuesdayBookBlog

Memory makes reality. That’s what New York City cop Barry Sutton is learning as he investigates the devastating phenomenon the media has dubbed False Memory Syndrome—a mysterious affliction that drives its victims mad with memories of a life they never lived.

Neuroscientist Helena Smith already understands the power of memory. It’s why she’s dedicated her life to creating a technology that will let us preserve our most precious moments of our pasts. If she succeeds, anyone will be able to re-experience a first kiss, the birth of a child, the final moment with a dying parent. 

As Barry searches for the truth, he comes face-to-face with an opponent more terrifying than any disease—a force that attacks not just our minds but the very fabric of the past. And as its effects begin to unmake the world as we know it, only he and Helena, working together, will stand a chance at defeating it.

But how can they make a stand when reality itself is shifting and crumbling all around them? 

I’ve read several of Blake Crouch’s books – his Wayward Pines series is bizarre, Dark Matter mind-blowing – and he’s never let me down.  With this book, Crouch has made my auto-buy list.

Trippy, mind-bending, thought-provoking – it’s unlike anything I’ve ever read.  Recursion starts with a basic idea, and then it branches out from there, with tendrils weaving in several directions.  This isn’t a book to read if you’re expecting several interruptions – you’ll want to give 100% of your attention to it, and you’ll need every bit of brain capacity to keep up with this fast-paced enigma.

I really can’t say much about it – you’ll never read spoilers in my reviews – but if you’re a sci-fi thriller fan, this is a must-read.  It’s taken me four days after finishing the book to write the review, because I’ve been turning the story over in my mind.  I can’t recommend Recursion enough – one my best reads in the past few years.

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

 

Killing November (Killing November #1) by Adriana Mather #bookreview #TuesdayBookBlog #thriller

It’s a school completely off the grid, hidden by dense forest and surrounded by traps. There’s no electricity, no internet, and an eye-for-an-eye punishment system. Classes include everything from Knife-Throwing and Poisons to the Art of Deception and Historical Analysis. And all of the students are children of the world’s most elite strategists—training to become assassins, counselors, spies, and master impersonators. Into this world walks November Adley, who quickly discovers that friends are few in a school where personal revelations are discouraged and competition is everything. When another student is murdered, all eyes turn to November, who must figure out exactly how she fits into the school’s bizarre strategy games before she is found guilty of the crime…or becomes the killer’s next victim. 

What an awesome premise – a school that trains assassins.  Throw in some murders, and you’ve got a ton of suspects, right?

I wasn’t sure what to expect from this book.  The cover didn’t do much for me, but the description sounded crazy good.  And it delivered – I wanted to finish this book in one sitting.  November’s life changes vastly almost overnight – and she has no clue what’s going on.  Every student at the school seems to know things about her, but she’s never met any of them, and no one is willing to share their knowledge.  Every student is also a trained killer and strategist, and trusting the wrong person could be a fatal error.  The stakes are high throughout the book, and I found myself holding my breath in some scenes.  I’m pretty sure I suspected almost everyone at some point in the story.  It’s obvious the author did her research in nonverbal communication and  weapons, with some historical tidbits thrown in that add to the authenticity of the story.

Once the secrets are revealed, some are surprising and some predictable, but they sure do make for a tense, exciting read.  With fabulous character development, political intrigue, a complex, thrilling plot, and a main character whose life is in jeopardy on nearly every page, Killing November is addictive, and one of my best reads this year.

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

 

Immoral Code by Lillian Clark #bookreview #YA #thriller

For Nari, aka Narioka Diane, aka hacker digital alter ego “d0l0s,” it’s college and then a career at “one of the big ones,” like Google or Apple. Keagan, her sweet, sensitive boyfriend, is happy to follow her wherever she may lead. Reese is an ace/aro visual artist with plans to travel the world. Santiago is off to Stanford on a diving scholarship, with very real Olympic hopes. And Bellamy? Physics genius Bellamy is admitted to MIT—but the student loan she’d been counting on is denied when it turns out her estranged father—one Robert Foster—is loaded.

Nari isn’t about to let her friend’s dreams be squashed by a deadbeat billionaire, so she hatches a plan to steal just enough from Foster to allow Bellamy to achieve her goals. 

Although I’m far from a computer genius (it’s a miracle I’ve managed my blog for so long), hacking stories fascinate me.  Nothing is private anymore, and a good hacker can get nearly any information they desire.  And that’s downright scary.

These five friends are fiercely loyal and supportive of each other, and it’s understandable that they want to help Bellamy.  Suspension of disbelief isn’t anything new to me – plenty of stories require it.  But in this case, a phone call to MIT’s admissions office seems like a logical first step before planning a heist of this magnitude – especially considering the numerous laws broken by these teens and the potential consequences of their actions.  Yes, Bellamy’s dad is a total deadbeat for not having any contact with her, but it would have been more believable if all other possibilities had been exhausted.

Some of the interactions and dialogue between this group are amusing, and I especially enjoyed Bellamy’s rational and literal explanations of things.  Even though the dialogue is entertaining at times, there’s a tremendous amount of it among this group that does nothing to advance the plot, and other than Bellamy, I had trouble distinguishing the voices of each character.  Writing from five POVs is admirable and allows the reader more insight into the characters, but I referred back to the chapter header numerous times to see who was speaking.

Looking at other reviews, I’m in the minority on this one.  If you enjoy a good heist story (and who doesn’t?), strong friendship bonds, witty banter, and are able to suspend disbelief, this may be the book for you.  In my case, I was hoping the plot would be heavier on the heist action.  Immoral Code is scheduled for publication February 19th, 2019.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC.

 

The Deceivers (Vale Hall #1) by Kristen Simmons #bookreview #YA #TuesdayBookBlog

Pretty Little Liars meets Ocean’s 11 in this intrigue-filled contemporary drama from acclaimed author Kristen Simmons.

Welcome to Vale Hall, the school for aspiring con artists.

When Brynn Hilder is recruited to Vale, it seems like the elite academy is her chance to start over, away from her mom’s loser boyfriend and her rundown neighborhood. But she soon learns that Vale chooses students not so much for their scholastic talent as for their extracurricular activities, such as her time spent conning rich North Shore kids out of their extravagant allowances.

At first, Brynn jumps at the chance to help the school in its mission to rid the city of corrupt officials–because what could be better than giving entitled jerks what they deserve? But that’s before she meets her mark–a senator’s son–and before she discovers the school’s headmaster has secrets he’ll stop at nothing to protect. As the lines between right and wrong blur, Brynn begins to realize she’s in way over head.

A school for aspiring con artists?  That’s all I needed to know before requesting this title from NetGalley.

Right away, Brynn tugged at my heart strings.  With a rough home life and a less than promising future, she’s committed to her education, works a part time job, and is determined to claw her way out of Devon Park.  Running cons on unsuspecting victims supplements her meager income.  All the supporting characters are exceptionally well-developed, with their own complicated backgrounds and various reasons for being at Vale Hall, but as the comic relief, I think Henry is probably my favorite.

Nothing in this novel is black and white, and I loved that.  Nearly every person, action, and circumstance is colored in differing shades of gray, and I found myself, along with Brynn, being surprised how actions and behaviors can sound logical and necessary after weighing the positives versus the negatives.  For me, books like that are few and far between.

These characters are put into some tense situations where there’s little to no wiggle room for escape, and I plowed through the pages, excited to see what they’d do next.  The final con is a carefully orchestrated, and intricately layered work of art, and will delight fans of Ocean’s Eleven.

Although The Deceivers doesn’t end with a cliffhanger, it’s the start of a series, and I’m anxious to see where it goes next.  If you’re a fan of heists, cons, morally ambiguous, determined characters, and hold-your-breath life-threatening situations, this is your book.  I loved every minute of it.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC.

 

What You Hide by Natalie D. Richards #TuesdayBookBlog #bookreview #YA #thriller

Spencer volunteers at the library. Sure, it’s community service, but he likes his work. Especially if it means getting to see Mallory.

Mallory spends a lot of time keeping her head down. When you’re sixteen and homeless, nothing matters more than being anonymous. But Spencer’s charm makes her want to be noticed.

Then sinister things start happening at the library. Mysterious symbols and terrifying warnings begin to appear, and management grows suspicious. Spencer and Mallory know a homeless teenager makes an easy target, and if they can’t find the real culprit soon, they could lose more than just their safe haven…

As a total book nerd, a library setting is what drew me to this novel initially.  Not only are there strange happenings afoot in the library, this book portrays teens dealing with devastating real-life issues such as emotional abuse, homelessness, and unsafe home environments.

In the first couple of pages, I met Spencer and immediately loved his voice.  He possesses a wicked sense of humor, is a bit mischievous, and, as a senior in high school, is trying to figure out his future and where he fits in the world.  Mallory’s situation is heartbreaking.  With a controlling and emotionally abusive stepfather who’s made Mallory’s mother practically a prisoner in her own home, Mallory chooses homelessness over staying in an unsafe environment.  It’s obvious the author performed extensive research into available resources for people in these dangerous situations, and includes a hotline number in the author’s note.

Something I particularly admire is the way the parent-child relationships are portrayed.  In Mallory’s case, the roles are nearly reversed.  As a level-headed teen with a talent for problem-solving, she senses the danger at home, researches options, and tries to convince her mother to leave.  With Spencer, he’s dealing with his own issues in addition to helping Mallory, but eventually realizes he needs his parents’ help, and is even encouraged by a friend to talk to them.  When Spencer’s future plans don’t line up with his parents’ expectations, they keep an open mind and listen to his ideas.

What You Hide is billed as a YA romantic thriller, but I’d describe it as more of a YA thriller/contemporary/coming of age story.  Maybe there’s a bit of insta-love, but the romance is adorable, and not the primary focus of the story.  Add this to your TBR today.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the digital ARC.