Book reviews, Dystopian fiction, post-apocalyptic

Maxine Unleashes Doomsday by Nick Kolakowski – Book Review. @nkolakowski #MaxineUnleashesDoomsday


PUBLISHERS BLURB 

The United States has collapsed. Bandits stalk the highways, preying on the weak and unaware.

In order to transport goods between heavily fortified cities, companies hire convoy escorts. Maxine is the best of these new road warriors: tough, smart, and unbelievably fast. But she also has a secret: She’s the niece of New York’s most notorious outlaw, a man hunted by what’s left of the nation’s law enforcement.

Maxine wants to live a normal, upstanding life. But a bad incident on the road leaves her mauled, penniless…and fired. If she wants to survive, she’s going to need to embrace her outlaw roots—and carry off the biggest heist that the post-apocalypse has ever seen. It’s a journey that will take her through obstacle after obstacle to the edge of death itself—and beyond.

Maxine Unleashes Doomsday smashes the gritty frenzy of Mad Max: Fury Road with the top-notch suspense of a crime saga like Heat. It’s a brutal thriller that offers a terrifying glimpse of our future.

8353B93D-DBA0-459A-9029-3F0AE9B0614D

MY REVIEW 

This is the tale of the history of Maxine’s life, taken from old records after the world has been practically destroyed in the Collapse. Global warming and rising sea levels have flooded large areas of the US. Food is scarce, towns are dead and people are scratching a living the best way they can. Various clans control areas and are constantly battling each other for control.

Maxine lives in a poor area, her mother is an addict. So Maxine looks after everything including her younger brother, Brad. She also has an uncle, The Preacher, a well known criminal. She has an agreement with him, that she will finish college before she joins him in his ‘activities’….

But, she decides to do a job of her own…..she gets hurt and her friend becomes paralysed…warned off, she ends up in a job in a convoy…which is how goods are transported….in a heavily armed convoy….

Maxine, is a chaos magnet and obviously things go wrong…she loses an arm and finds out she has cancer…she needs drugs to help and so a big raid is planned and she meets PIG, an AI computer…..will she be cured? Why is her life so interesting to the future world?

I love this book, from its clever little pop culture references, Heisenberg Blue, SkyNet, sick sticks and droogs, (which appeal to the geek in me), to the dystopian world building. Maxine is a strong, intelligent female character, flawed but determined and likeable. A compelling, imaginative, brutal dystopian read and I can thoroughly recommend it.

Thank you to the author, Nick Kolakowski, for the opportunity to read this for free. This is my honest and unbiased review.

You can buy a copy here (well preorder as publishing 4 Nov)

https://amzn.to/2pkP1r7

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

347B0F97-AB05-428B-A5B5-76ED6EA3FF74

Nick Kolakowski’s work has appeared in The Washington Post, McSweeney’s, Washington City Paper, Playboy, LOST magazine, Trader Monthly, WebMD, and eWeek, among other venues. He lives in Brooklyn, NY. (Courtesy of Goodreads)

 

Book reviews, Dystopian fiction, Science fiction

Neon Empire by Drew Minh – Book Review

PUBLISHERS BLURB 

Rare Bird Books and California Coldblood Books are proud to bring you the remarkable debut novel from social media maven and marketing expert Drew Minh,

Neon Empire.

Imagine a city fueled entirely by social media.

Rising out of the American desert, this city is a real-world manifestation of a social media network where fame-hungry desperados compete for likes and followers. The bloodier and more daring posts pay off the most. As crime rises, no one stands to gain more than the city’s architects—and, of course, the shareholders who make the place possible.

This multiple-POV novel follows three characters as they navigate the city’s underworld: Cedric Travers, a has-been Hollywood director; A’rore, the city’s lead social media influencer whose star is fading; and Sacha Villanova, a tech and culture reporter.

Bold, colorful, and seductive, Neon Empire is a radically inventive

new thriller for the social media era. It’s due to publish on July 9, 2019.

Thank you so much for your time.
3428222C-B7C0-4FB5-909F-53AA9CDCB5CC

MY REVIEW 

Set in the near future, this is an artificial world in a city called Eutopia…which sounds to me how I imagine Vegas to be….with all the famous European landmarks in one, bright, neon, strobe lit place. Full of social media celebrities and ‘influencers’ vying for supremacy and a complete lack of scruples.

Eutopia is bright, flashy, decadent and so so seedy…..an upmarket Blackpool! Everything is an advert, a marketing opportunity…….scary in that we are not far off that now.

The story follows 3 main characters on their travels through this almost psychedelic world, there is a plot, with a missing person, politics and money but it really is about this dystopian world where money and fame drive everything, the real and manufactured events to raise those ratings… very clever and utterly terrifying.

Thank you to California Coldblood Books for the opportunity to read this for free. This is my honest and unbiased review.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

 

Drew Minh is a digital strategist living in Los Angeles, CA. He has previously published short stories and nonfiction in 3AM, Word Riot, Litro UK and many others. NEON EMPIRE (coming out September 10, 2019) is his debut sci-fi novel.

Book reviews, Dystopian fiction

The Warehouse by Rob Hart – Book Review

FD42B96A-3BEC-4440-9A45-070804955E70

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.

A928A954-7A88-42A0-A93A-E5E44D753758

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

52C1BC6F-42D5-4D13-9929-09B321001FD4

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, Dystopian fiction, Horror, post-apocalyptic, Science fiction, Thriller

Wanderers by Chuck Wendig – Book Review

D8F64623-65FC-4407-8533-4AFBD8400771

PUBLISHERS BLURB 

A decadent rock star. A deeply religious radio host. A disgraced scientist. And a teenage girl who may be the world’s last hope. In the tradition of The Stand and Station Eleven comes a gripping saga that weaves an epic tapestry of humanity into an astonishing tale of survival.

Shana wakes up one morning to discover her little sister in the grip of a strange malady. She appears to be sleepwalking. She cannot talk and cannot be woken up. And she is heading with inexorable determination to a destination that only she knows. But Shana and are sister are not alone. Soon they are joined by a flock of sleepwalkers from across America, on the same mysterious journey. And like Shana, there are other “shepherds” who follow the flock to protect their friends and family on the long dark road ahead.

For on their journey, they will discover an America convulsed with terror and violence, where this apocalyptic epidemic proves less dangerous than the fear of it. As the rest of society collapses all around them–and an ultraviolent militia threatens to exterminate them–the fate of the sleepwalkers depends on unraveling the mystery behind the epidemic. The terrifying secret will either tear the nation apart–or bring the survivors together to remake a shattered world.
E6D70313-4632-4009-B68F-089C7E755AE3

MY REVIEW

This is my first read of a novel by Chuck Wendig and it’s definitely not going to be my last…..

The Wanderers is an epic journey of a band of people, the flock and the shepherds…..trying both to survive and keep the sleepwalkers safe….

Safe from what ? 

White Mask…..a fungal infection that slowly invades a person, giving symptoms of a cold, but as it grows it reaches the brain causing dementia and madness…..where did this disease come from?

There is Stover, a white supremacist who is violent and a vile man, he uses torture, rape and fear to keep control. He believes the walkers are the reason for this illness and so plans to kill them all…..I found this all too real, just listen to the news coming out of America these days…..the hatred is there coming right from the top.

Matthew, a man of god, gets drawn in by the charisma of Stover, until he realises the truth, but it’s too late and he is imprisoned by him…..he does have a change of heart, but can he do the right thing??? 

Then there’s the CDC\EIS group, all doctors and scientists trying to find out how this illness works, is there a cure? How are the walkers surviving with no food, rest or seemingly any consciousness other than a desire to keep moving….woe betide you try and stop them !!

There are incredibly well written characters that you will truly become invested in, willing them on, suffering their fears and doubts, the little successes and those awful moments of failure.

Yes, there will be comparisons to Stephen King’s, The Stand, there is a ‘plague’, and two distinct groups of people but that’s where the comparison ends. (There is a mention of The Stand in the Book too)….In my view, this is even better…

It’s unique and ultimately scary, as it’s so believable. The fear of AI taking over, just look at the fake news bots!!…..Black Swan the all seeing, statistic driven computer programme is terrifying ….

Will the walkers awake? Will humanity survive? What will happen to Benji, Shana, Sadie, Arav, Matthew, Pete, Landry and of course Black Swan?

At 780 pages, this is not a light read, but it is totally and utterly compelling. I loved every single minute of this beautifully harrowing tale. A modern classic and a must read.

Thank you to Tracy and Compulsive Readers for the opportunity to participate in this blog tour and 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/2lfDyHD

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

Chuck Wendig is a novelist, a screenwriter, and a freelance penmonkey.

He has contributed over two million words to the roleplaying game industry, and was the developer of the popular Hunter: The Vigil game line (White Wolf Game Studios / CCP).

He, along with writing partner Lance Weiler, is a fellow of the Sundance Film Festival Screenwriter’s Lab (2010). Their short film, Pandemic, will show at the Sundance Film Festival 2011, and their feature film HiM is in development with producer Ted Hope.

He’s written too much. He should probably stop. Give him a wide berth, as he might be drunk and untrustworthy. He currently lives in the wilds of Pennsyltucky with a wonderful wife and two very stupid dogs. He is represented by Stacia Decker of the Donald Maass Literary Agency.

You can find him at his website, terribleminds.com.(Courtesy of Goodreads)

2DE2866D-9060-4B6C-8039-54DB05F88846

Book reviews, Dystopian fiction, YA fiction

Jacob’s Ladder by Charlie Pike – Book Review

CA5AEF02-2E62-44D8-8A02-FB96B7BCB66F

PUBLISHERS BLURB

We have heard your call

You no longer need to fear.

You will receive five messages, of which this is the first.

The last message will inform you of the time and place of your salvation.

 

Two hundred years from now, the earth is dying, scorched by powerful flares from the sun. A series of messages from an alien civilization sent to humanity over two centuries promise rescue to those strong enough to survive on their planet.

Initiate Leon is a member of the True Path warrior culture and preparing for his Rising. But when his test comes – to kill in cold blood – he cannot do it. To redeem himself, he must journey to find the earth’s fifth and final message from the Saviours, with the help of his resourceful servant, Martha.

Out in the wild, Leon discovers alarming changes in his body – he can drink water through his skin, and has poison barbs buried deep in his flesh. Martha reveals to him the secret that the True Path have kept from him all this time: Jacob’s Ladder, an adaptation for life on the alien planet, has lain dormant in his genes and is now being activated. He is part alien and part human, and he is in grave danger from those who wish to take what is in his body.

An ambitious YA novel for fans of Patrick Ness, Rick Yancey and James Dashner.

B1F54D71-ED78-42B1-A4BA-04830CBBEC71

MY REVIEW

Leon is ready for his Rising, he has trained for this all his life……he meets his bind and is shocked it’s a woman…surely he is worth more than this? It will be too easy to hunt and slit her throat with Stella! ……won’t it?

His bind is sent and he and his ‘crew’ are on the hunt, but she escapes when Old Sally, the acid rain, hits……

They eventually find her, wounded but she pricks Leon’s neck with something, before all hell breaks out and the only survivors are Leon and his divvy (slave) Martha….

What follows is a journey, a perilous one to say the least and the relationship between Martha, or Ulya as she has said her real name is, and Leon….will they hear the final message from Thule……or is everything Leon believes about to come crashing around his newly changed body…?

While this is a YA novel, it’s not a light read….there’s brutality to women, slavery and general cruelty, oh and worm brood!! A clever and well plotted tale of a dystopian world…..dark and moody with the underlying desperation of hope…

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.

Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Jacobs-Ladder-Prepare-Born-Anew/dp/1788490401

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Charlie Pike
Charlie Pike by City Headshots Dublin

Charlie Pike started his writing career when he lived in Turkey, teaching English to adults and children. When he returned to Ireland he worked as an advertising copywriter and freelance journalist, writing feature articles for Irish newspapers, until an opportunity came along to work for an Internet start-up. In 2003 he formed his own web company, Usable Design. He met his wife, Birgit, in Turkey and they now live in County Wicklow. They have two children. Charlie is a graduate of Trinity College.

His debut YA science fiction novel, Jacob’s Ladder, was published in spring 2019.

 

Jacob’s Ladder by Charlie Pike

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: The O’Brien Press (1 April 2019)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1788490401
  • ISBN-13: 978-1788490405

 

Book reviews, Dystopian fiction, Thriller

The Disappeared by Amy Lord – Book Review

F2AA94FD-25E6-49EB-B1B8-26B75F53D54B

PUBLISHERS BLURB

Winner of a Northern Writers’ Award

Longlisted for The Bath Novel Award

What if reading the wrong book could get you arrested?

In a decaying city controlled by the First General and his army, expressing the wrong opinion can have terrible consequences. Clara Winter knows this better than anyone. When she was a child, her father was taken by the Authorisation Bureau for the crime of teaching banned books to his students. She is still haunted by his disappearance.

Now Clara teaches at the same university, determined to rebel against the regime that cost her family so much – and her weapons are the banned books her father left behind. But she has started something dangerous, something that brings her to the attention of the Authorisation Bureau and its most feared interrogator, Major Jackson. The same man who arrested Clara’s father.

With her rights stripped away, in a country where democracy has been replaced with something more sinister, will she be the next one to disappear?

‘Provocative and prescient,  The Disappeared is an unflinching tale of resistance in dark political times. Set in a near-future Britain where books are banned, this is a thought-provoking dystopian debut.’ –  Caroline Ambrose, Founder of The Bath Novel Award.

5CC149F4-EAB6-4428-94E5-E34C37B0AB86

MY REVIEW

Set in the U.K in the near future, Clara is haunted by the arrest of her father, Matthew,  by agents of the Authorisation Bureau and Major Darius Jackson. He has disappeared.

Major Jackson becomes besotted by Clara’s mother, Lucia and to keep her family safe, she has her marriage to Matthew annulled and marries Darius. A violent, evil man to say the least.

The government controls what books can be read, or taught, that free thinking is dangerous and so just owning banned books is enough to be arrested.

As Clara grows, literature is her passion and like her father, she becomes a teacher. She meets and falls in love with Simon, and together they begin teaching a few select students from the banned books…will they be found out? Or will they too disappear?

This is a fraught, dystopian tale (reminiscent of George Orwell’s 1984, which does get a mention) that feels all too real in the current political climate of ‘fake’ news and hate.

This is full of fear, violence and tension, but also love and hope. Compelling and disconcerting writing by Amy Lord. A thought provoking read… I loved every minute…..

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 ecopy of the book  in exchange for my honest, unbiased review.

My thanks also to Pigeonhole for the opportunity to read along with them.

You can buy a copy here (click on the image)

About the author

7ED784B8-48D3-43A5-A093-536747321AD1

Amy Lord is a writer, blogger and digital marketer from North East England. She won a Northern Writers’ Award in 2015 for The Disappeared and was also longlisted in the inaugural Bath Novel Award. An earlier manuscript saw her shortlisted for Route Publishing’s Next Great Novelist Award. She blogs about books, writing, travel and life in the North East at Ten Penny Dreams, which won Best Arts and Culture Blog in the Northern Blog Awards. Amy is currently working on a new novel, which was developed as part of a year-long mentoring scheme with Writers’ Block NE.