Spotlight/US Giveaway: The Passengers by John Marrs

The Passengers by John Marrs

Published August 27, 2019 – Berkley

Content for this post provided by the publisher

Description:

The headlines have made it known:  driverless cars are coming. And soon. As author John Marrs has put it:  “Whether we like it or not, there are arriving soon. Within the next decade, we will be sitting in the front seats of our vehicles with a flat dashboard containing no steering wheel, and below us, no brakes. We will be in the hands of an operating system that we cannot touch and that we cannot see. It will be making life or death decisions for us. But what if that artificial intelligence could be compromised? What if it is hacked and something – or someone – other than the OS is controlling our destiny?”

Marrs takes that idea and hits full speed in THE PASSENGERS. In it, the British government has mandated all cars be automated. Several years into their implementation, on a seemingly average day, eight people get into their self-driving cars. Suddenly on their journey, the doors lock and the pre-determined route changes. The riders have lost all control. A mysterious voice tells them, “You are going to die.” 

These passengers—an aging actress, a pregnant young woman, an abused wife fleeing her husband, an illegal immigrant, a husband and wife, and a suicidal man—are panicked. From cameras hidden in their cars, their frantic pleas for help are broadcast to millions of people around the world. The public will show their true colors when they are asked, “Which of these people should we save? Who should we kill first?”

The passengers desperately plead for the lives and sell themselves to the cameras blasting this onto social media. But it soon becomes apparent most of these passengers haven’t been picked randomly. They are all hiding secrets that, once revealed, could be the difference between life and death for each of them.


About the author:

John Marrs is the author of The One which is being made into a 10 part Netflix series, The Good Samaritan, Her Last Move, When You Disappeared, and Welcome to Wherever You Are. Until recently, he worked for twenty-five years as a freelance journalist based in London, England, where he interviewed celebrities from the world of television, film, and music for national newspapers and magazines. He has written for publications including the Guardian’s Guide and Guardian Online, Total Film, the Huffington Post, Empire, Q, GT, the Independent, S Magazine, and Company. He is now a full-time author.

Praise for THE PASSENGERS:

THE PASSENGERS is a 1970s disaster movie by way of Black Mirror, with an added dash of technology-gone-wrong straight out of Michael Crichton….If you’re looking for a sleek, exhilarating ride, look no further.”— Financial Times

 

“One can almost hear the Hollywood music in the background as the action unfolds; the plot twists are truly gripping….Summer blockbuster entertainment at its best.”— Kirkus Reviews

 

“[THE PASSENGERS’s] strength lies in its well-developed characters and in its exploration of issues such as the growing role of AI, mob psychology, and the ethics of who gets to decide who lives or dies.”— Publishers Weekly

 

“Marrs excels at thrilling readers by creating a real sense of tension and delivering a believable, harsh criticism of modern society through this dark and entertaining story.” —Los Angeles Times

 

“What a ride!”—Booklist


US Giveaway

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Life and Other Inconveniences by Kristan Higgins

Life and Other Inconveniences by Kristan Higgins

Pub. date:  August 6, 2019 – Berkley Books

Courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:  Emma London never thought she had anything in common with her grandmother Genevieve London. The regal old woman came from wealthy and bluest-blood New England stock, but that didn’t protect her from life’s cruelest blows: the disappearance of Genevieve’s young son, followed by the premature death of her husband. But Genevieve rose from those ashes of grief and built a fashion empire that was respected the world over, even when it meant neglecting her other son.

When Emma’s own mother died, her father abandoned her on his mother’s doorstep. Genevieve took Emma in and reluctantly raised her–until Emma got pregnant her senior year of high school. Genevieve kicked her out with nothing but the clothes on her back…but Emma took with her the most important London possession: the strength not just to survive but to thrive. And indeed, Emma has built a wonderful life for herself and her teenage daughter, Riley.

So what is Emma to do when Genevieve does the one thing Emma never expected of her and, after not speaking to her for nearly two decades, calls and asks for help? (publisher)

My take:  A single mysterious event changes the lives of Genevieve, a wealthy East coast woman, and her son Clark. Genevieve was raised to believe that if she followed the rules her mother taught her she would have a perfect life – and she was living that life until a tragedy changed things. Years later she finds herself caring for one granddaughter and then another. As the years go by Genevieve added more armor and turned into a formidable person who was admired by many but feared by her granddaughter, Emma. When Emma doesn’t follow Genevieves rules she is turned away and left to deal with her predicament at her maternal grandfather’s Chicago area home. Fast forward several years and Emma receives a phone call from Genevieve saying she needs her to come to her Connecticut home and help her as she is quite ill. Emma will have to decide if blood is thicker than water and if she should head back East.

This is a novel that addresses messy family dynamics and how people deal when life throws a curve ball. Just could be, life could take a turn in a good way. I loved learning about Genevieve from the perspectives of Emma and her daughter Riley and I was charmed by several supporting characters. Kristan Higgins had me laughing at times and also reaching for a tissue. All in all, another good story from one of my favorite authors.


 

Milady by Laura L. Sullivan

Milady by Laura L. Sullivan

Published: July 2, 2019 – Berkley Books

Book courtesy of the publisher

Description:  I have gone by many names, though you most likely know me as Milady de Winter: Villainess. Seductress. A secondary player in someone else’s tale.
 
It is finally time I tell my own story. The truth is not tidy or convenient, but it is certainly more interesting.
 
Before you cast judgment, let me start at the beginning, and you shall learn how an innocent girl from the countryside became the most feared woman in all of Europe.
 
Because we all know history was written by men, and they so often get things wrong. (publisher)

My take:  Milady is the lively adventure story of Milady de Winter (you’ll recognize the name if you’ve read The Three Musketeers). Told from her POV we learn how she became a legendary spy for Cardinal Richelieu. The Musketeers make appearances but this is Milady’s story. And what a tale it is.

Growing up in the English countryside Clarice, daughter of the mostly absent Lord Paget, is doted on by her mother. She also teaches Clarice about the potency of various herbs and flowers and how to avoid catastrophe when using them. As she grows Clarice learns the manners of a lady and eventually is presented at Court. That marks the end of her childhood. Clarice now learns of palace intrigue and the problems that result when placing one’s trust in the wrong person.

A dual timeline (ten years apart) served to develop the characters and made for some incredible situations that had me reading ‘just one more chapter’! There are some scenes of violence that had me skimming a bit – that’s a warning. That aside, I liked this novel and would love to see Laura Sullivan take other secondary characters and make them the star of their own novel. She succeeded with Milady.


 

Natalie Tan’s Book of Luck and Fortune by Roselle Lim

Natalie Tan’s Book of Luck and Fortune by Roselle Lim

Published June 11, 2019 – Berkley

Book provided by the publisher and NetGalley

Description: At the news of her mother’s death, Natalie Tan returns home. The two women hadn’t spoken since Natalie left in anger seven years ago, when her mother refused to support her chosen career as a chef. Natalie is shocked to discover the vibrant neighborhood of San Francisco’s Chinatown that she remembers from her childhood is fading, with businesses failing and families moving out. She’s even more surprised to learn she has inherited her grandmother’s restaurant. 

The neighborhood seer reads the restaurant’s fortune in the leaves: Natalie must cook three recipes from her grandmother’s cookbook to aid her struggling neighbors before the restaurant will succeed. Unfortunately, Natalie has no desire to help them try to turn things around—she resents the local shopkeepers for leaving her alone to take care of her agoraphobic mother when she was growing up. But with the support of a surprising new friend and a budding romance, Natalie starts to realize that maybe her neighbors really have been there for her all along. (publisher)

My take:  When Natalie Tan’s estranged mother dies Natalie returns to the home she left seven years ago. Home is a Chinatown neighborhood in San Francisco and the people who knew her before her departure are not exactly pleased to see her. She must make amends and hope that they will warm to her once again. She also hopes to find answers to life-long questions concerning her family. She will meet new people, renew old acquaintances and, along the way, create possibilities where there once were none. This is a magical story filled with yummy recipes and charming characters – and left me smiling as I turned the last page.