Book reviews, Science fiction

Comatose by Tony Estrella – Book Review

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PUBLISHERS BLURB 

A fast-paced speculative thriller about the science of sleep and dreams by an international healthcare and lucid dreaming expert.

Author Tony Estrella brings together is experienced in healthcare, futurist and lucid dreaming expert into a riveting speculative novel that will change your perceptions on why we dream.

Lucid dreaming is knowing when you are dreaming and taking control of your dreams. Many people, including top athletes, use lucid dreaming to practice real-life skills, improve mental preparation for important events, think creatively or problem-solve. Most people have had lucid dreams as children, but even adults can learn techniques to dream lucidly.   

Comatose follows the lives of four strangers who are trying to cheat death. On the surface, these people – a famous Hollywood director suffering from terminal brain cancer, a budding scientist in Artificial Intelligence whose honeymoon tragically ended with a freak plane accident, an angry orphan who lost her closest family to a tragic accident, and the leading medical expert in treating comatose patients – appear to have nothing in common.

However, once they independently uncover a link between lucid dreaming and comas, their lives start to intersect. They uncover astounding opportunities to ease individual suffering and pain as they crisscross different time periods and distant locations in their odysseys. The competing factions careen forward into a life-threatening race for survival and supremacy, ultimately leading to an exciting conclusion that explains why we really dream.

MY REVIEW 

Comatose revolves around five characters:

Sumire who on her honeymoon with Fernando was involved in an air incident and ended up in a coma….

Fernando is an AI developer and Dr Hajji is Sumire’s Doctor, a specialist in coma…and he understands what Fernando is going through due to losing his own wife…

Daya, who has been in a coma, but awakened, only to recall a dream and Him…..he left her and she is trying to see him again in her dreams…Dr Hajji is monitoring her.

Arnold has stage 4 Glioblastoma Multiforme and is trying to extend his life by using meditation to lower his metabolism and is considering cryogenesis at one point (I can understand his fear though)…

Are dreams a glimpse into an alternate reality? 

A very interesting, intriguing tale full of emotion and the science of sleep, coma and AI…Unique and compelling.

Thank you to Anne Cater and Random Things Tours for the opportunity to participate in this blog tour, for the promotional materials and a free copy of the book. This is my honest, unbiased review.

 

You can buy a copy here 

https://amzn.to/2YKDh2n

 

About the Author

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TONY ESTRELLA has worked in Asia, the US, and Europe as health startup founder & investor, corporate innovation leader, and strategic advisor. Tony is a regular speaker and panelist at industry conferences around the world. During his talks, he provides insights as a serial healthcare entrepreneur and a corporate executive. Comatose, his first novel was selected as a Semi-Finalist by the William Faulkner – William Wisdom Creative writing competition.

Tony is an alumnus of University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School (MBA), London Business School, and the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Engineering and Applied Science (Electrical Engineering). Tony currently resides in Singapore with his wife and daughter.

More information about Tony Estrella and Comatose can be found at:

http://www.tonyestrella.com

Book reviews, Dystopian fiction

The Warehouse by Rob Hart – Book Review

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PUBLISHERS BLURB  

‘TO BEAT THE SYSTEM, YOU NEED TO BE INSIDE IT’

An immersive dystopian thriller set in an America addicted to consumerism; gun violence, climate change and unemployment have ravaged the nation, and an online retail giant named Cloud reigns supreme. Rob Hart has taken our current reality and transformed it into a terrifyingly recognisable future.

Paxton never thought he’d be working Security for the company that ruined his life, much less that he’d be moving into one of their sprawling live-work facilities. But compared to what’s left outside, perhaps Cloud isn’t so bad. Better still, through his work he meets Zinnia, who fills him with hope for their shared future.

Except that Zinnia is not what she seems. And Paxton, with his all-access security credentials, might just be her meal ticket.

As Paxton and Zinnia’s agendas place them on a collision course, they’re about to learn just how far the Cloud will go to make the world a better place. 

The Warehouse is brilliantly devised and fantastic world-building. 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.

Perfect for fans of The Circle, The Martian and Ready Player One.

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MY REVIEW

The Warehouse is probably one of the most terrifying novels I’ve read as it feels so plausible and that we are only a few years behind when this will be our lives…..

We nearly all rely on certain large e-commerce companies and the boxes they deliver to our doors…..from cotton wool balls to bookcases and everything in between……as Will Smith so succinctly puts it in iRobot ‘shitting on the little guy’.

The Cloud is one such business, it’s employees work, socialise and live in the same complex..cash is obsolete and CloudBurgers are the best food around…..(that still makes me shudder)…..

Paxton, used to have a company of his own but now applies for a job at cloud with the intent of meeting Gibson, the creator of Cloud…..

Zinnia, is a corporate spy…she has applied for a job at Cloud….as she is being paid to get secrets…

These two meet and have a relationship…..each keeping secrets from the other…they are only there for one reason, but is life in Cloud all bad? The world outside, it’s trouble with global warming, poverty, unemployment,  the gun violence and hate that seems to be taking over (sound familiar?) seems so far away in the cocoon of Cloud.

The chapters are written from three perspectives, Gibson, Paxton and Zinnia and tells how and why Cloud was created, it’s plans for the future….it’s all one big ‘family’..it gives their inner thoughts and plans…will they carry these out or will they settle into Cloud life? Red or Blue shirt….just not Pink!

All is not as it seems though in this dystopian tale that feels prescient and the power these companies wield is what makes this so utterly scary. Will Zinnia complete her task, Will Paxton become a company guy? Just how far will Cloud go to keep its secrets?

A completely mesmerising and compelling tale of our possible future…..absolutely petrifying and brilliant……a MUST read cautionary tale.

Thank you to Anne Cater and Random Things Tours for the opportunity to participate in this blog tour and for the promotional materials and a free copy of the book  and this is my honest, unbiased review.

 

You can buy a copy here ( I feel bad putting an Amazon link here……go to a shop!)

https://amzn.to/2N2dBae

 

 

FURTHER INFORMATION

  • The film rights have been sold for a six figure sum after a five-way auction to Brian Grazer at Imagine Entertainment with Ron Howard set to direct, fresh from the Star Wars: Solo movie.
  • Book rights already sold in 15 territories and counting and a major publication in the States. This is going to be the book everyone is talking about in August.
  • Rob decided to write the book because of  this news story – the tragic death of Maria Fernandes who suffocated in her car whilst napping between her three shifts a day at different Dunkin Donuts stores.

 

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Rob Hart has been a political reporter, the communications director for a politician, a commissioner for the city of New York and is currently a publisher. The Warehouse is his first standalone novel.

 

 

 

EARLY PRAISE FOR THE WAREHOUSE

 

‘The Warehouse is an inventive, addictive, Crichton-esque, page-turning, near-future dystopian thriller about a corporation ruling over every aspect of our late-capitalism lives. While I hope Rob hasn’t been sent back from the future to warn us, we should heed him regardless.’

Paul Tremblay, author of A Head Full of Ghosts and The Cabin at the End of the World

 

“The Warehouse is an absolute thriller. Using wit, insight and masterful story-telling, Rob Hart has written a riveting tale that reflects on the state of humanity and where we might be heading. Be prepared for the unexpected and to look at our world through a new, twisted lens.”

Ashlee Vance, author of Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future

 

“On the surface, The Warehouse is a thrilling story of corporate espionage at the highest level, but dig a little deeper, and you’ll find a terrifying cautionary tale of the nightmare world we are making for ourselves—where our reliance upon e-commerce giants is turning them into malevolent entities more powerful than government.”

Blake Crouch, New York Times bestselling author of Dark Matter

 

“Fast-paced and unputdownable, thrilling and ominous, The Warehouse is a terrifying object lesson of a story that will haunt you each time you see a box on the front step—and yet make you wonder what colour your shirt will be, one day.”

Delilah S. Dawson, New York Times bestselling author of Wake of Vultures and Phasma

 

“I loved The Warehouse, although and because it made my blood run cold. The world Rob Hart creates is what our world could be by this time next year. Watching these oh so human characters try to cope, even thrive, in their new normal makes one alternately hopeful and despairing.”

SJ Rozan, author of Ghost Hero and Absent Friends

 

Book reviews, YA fiction

The Wild Book by Juan Villoro – Book Review

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PUBLISHERS BLURB 

Middle Grade Fiction / Age Range: 10–14

The Wild Book is the YA debut of one of Mexico’s foremost authors: a wondrous adventure story of a boy who goes to live with his kooky, book-obsessed uncle in a library where books have supernatural powers.

Thirteen-year-old Juan’s summer is off to a terrible start. First, his parents separate. Then, almost as bad, Juan is sent away to his strange Uncle Tito’s house for the entire holiday! Who wants to live with an oddball recluse who has zigzag eyebrows, drinks fifteen cups of smoky tea a day, and lives inside a huge, mysterious library?

As Juan adjusts to his new life among dusty shelves, he notices something odd: the books move on their own! He rushes to tell Uncle Tito, who lets his nephew in on a secret: Juan is a Princeps Reader, which means books respond magically to him, and he’s the only one who can find the elusive, never-before-read Wild Book. But will Juan and his new friend Catalina get to The Wild Book before the wicked, story-stealing Pirate Book does?

An unforgettable adventure story about books, libraries, and the power of reading.

Shy and uncertain, Juan learns from his uncle what makes him special, and how to embrace his uniqueness.

Featuring both a child of marital separation and a blind character, The Wild Book offers an opportunity for parents to introduce their children to the important issues of divorce and disability. Braille books are a major plot point, and there is no line drawn between the disabled and abled: we are all just lovers of stories.

The Wild Book is a YA debut by one of Mexico’s best-known authors. It has sold over 1.3 million copies in Spanish.
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MY REVIEW 

“And that’s how my time in the labyrinth of books began “

Juan is sent to stay with his Uncle Tito after his parents separate and his mum needs a little time on her own. Uncle Tito’s house is quite literally full of books, from floor to ceiling…”a library is a collection of souls”

Uncle Tito is an eccentric with an absolute passion for books and reading…..but he is searching for one elusive book and he feels Juan will be able to find it as he is super special. With Juan in the house he is no longer lonely and they forge a special bond.

Juan is at first a little unsure, he gets lost in the house and books, carrying with him a little bell at all times. He then meets Catalina, a girl in the nearby pharmacy and together they bring life to the house and Uncle Tito…..will they find The Wild Book?

I know this is a middle grade book but oh my, I absolutely adore it. It captures the love of books and how they have a different meaning to each reader. It is so full of marvellous descriptions that I could write a whole post just using quotes…it is truly special and with its magic, will appeal to book lovers everywhere and of all ages. 

“Every Book is like a mirror, it reflects what you think.”

Thank you to Anne Cater and Random Things Tours for the opportunity to participate in this blog tour and for the promotional materials and a free copy of the book  and this is my honest, unbiased review.

You can buy a copy here 

https://amzn.to/2YZxFQP

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

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Juan Villoro is Mexico’s most prolific, prize-winning author, playwright, journalist, and screenwriter. His books have been translated into multiple languages. Several of his books have appeared in English, including his celebrated 2016 essay collection on soccer, God Is Round (Restless Books). Villoro lives in Mexico City and is a visiting lecturer at Yale and Princeton universities.8

Lawrence Schimel is an award-winning author and translator of books. He lives in Madrid and New York City. HopeRoad, set up in 2012, specialises in writers and writing from and about Africa, Asia and the Caribbean. Their aim is

to give a voice to writers and stories that might otherwise be missed by the mainstream book trade.

 

PRAISE

 

This is a beautifully written ode to the inherent magic of books and reading. … Translated by award-winning Lawrence Schimel, Juan Villoro’s prose is lovely and clear. Villoro, ‘Mexico’s Updike,’ is his nation’s most prolific, prize-winning writer. The Wild Book is no exception within his canon. Each of the twenty-one chapters is accompanied by Eko’s stunning woodcut-style illustrations, depicting books with teeth and pages flying. Deserving a place beside classics like The Phantom Tollbooth and Half-Magic, The Wild Book is a timeless celebration of reading.’

Claire Foster, Foreword Reviews, Five-Star Review

 

‘For me, when it comes to good writing, texts are alive and living among us, no matter the genre. Juan Villoro’s The Wild Book — a story in which books themselves are characters — is an especially good example…. In Uncle Tito’s library, the books choose their readers. So Villoro’s novel chose me…. Equal parts ecology and magical realism, Villoro explores the nature of literature and reading. The best stories are wild, after all…. Villoro entrusts young readers to care for and sustain the magic — and in doing so, takes them seriously. But the novel is also generous with its adults…. Villoro’s novel illuminates why YA literature has such a large adult readership. Even as we age, or perhaps especially then, our purpose is not to tame our life stories — but rather to allow them their wild lives.’

Kristin Van Tassel, Los Angeles Review of Books

 

‘This quirky tale – originally published in Mexico – is a delight, giving books a life of their own. Before long, you’ll see your reading list in a whole new way…. The Wild Book has a classic, magical feel, but it’s also grounded in reality, as we see Juan coming to terms with his parents’ separation and his feelings for Catalina, the girl who works in the local pharmacy…. A must-read for book-lovers everywhere.’

BookTrust, Five-Star Review

 

‘Villoro’s lighthearted and timeless voice makes it easy to suspend any disbelief and revel in the bookish magic.’

Caitlin Kling, Booklist

 

‘A rewarding and bewitching story which goes to the heart of why books are so powerful and incredible…. The Wild Book is a paean to the potential of books. If you consider yourself a bibliophile, this, quite simply, is a must-read. In some ways a Library of The Shadow of the Wind for younger readers, The Wild Book luxuriously riffs on how books can be mirrors and windows…. Delicate, fine and surprising turns of phrase pack this novel, originally published in Mexico, mixing moments of humour with splashes of original beauty. The smooth and seamless translation is a delight, as are the glimpses into another culture…. Apart from the glorious celebration of stories, I also loved how The Wild Book movingly and sensitively navigates a teenage boy’s changing relationship with some of the adults in his life…. The emotional sensitivity of Villoro’s novel is nuanced and subtle. Perfect for intrepid book explorers who relish getting lost inside the pages of a book, The Wild Book is a dazzling adventure you’ll not want to miss.’

Zoe Toft, Playing by the Book

 

‘Rich on multiple levels, a cast of colorful characters, plots and twists galore, and plenty of humor, author Juan Villoro weaves his words with a style that will delight older kids, start to finish, making The Wild Book a wild ride, indeed.’ Kendal A. Rautzhan, The Port Huron Times Herald

 

‘This book is awesome. It is very interesting; there are just so many books, and it strikes on so many topics. It is also a great adventure story, one that is even believable because the author’s name is also Juan, so that is really funny. I like how the Wild Book acts – the books are characters in this story, too, and some of them become good friends with Juan and help him. This is a great story for anyone who loves books like I do!’

Raifl – Age 9, Kids’ Book Buzz, Five-Star Review

 

‘Brings to mind the same ecstatic thrill I felt reading The Phantom Tollbooth as a child, Fahrenheit 451 as a teen, and Mr Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore as an adult. I’m absolutely envious of the young readers who are about to discover the magic of Juan Villoro’s The Wild Book.’

David Gonzalez, Skylight Books (Los Angeles, CA)