Tuesday, 12 November 2019

The Warehouse

With temperatures and unemployment rising, one American company is striving. Cloud. Each MotherCloud is a city, a huge warehouse with accommodation, food, healthcare and entertainment for its thousands of employees. There's no reason to leave. You're lucky to get a job there.

Cloud is quite clearly based an Amazon and some of the dubious working practices that have come out in recent years. Employees live on site, have strict quotas to fill, are searched leaving the warehouse to make sure they don't steal, and they are underpaid, of course. They work long hours and risk their safety, just to keep their star ratings and calling in sick has penalties. Their every move is tracked by their CloudBands.

Stay hydrated. Hit your numbers. Don’t complain. If you get hurt, walk it off. The less you have to talk to the managers, the better. Don’t even SAY the word union.

Paxton is an ex-prison guard who doesn't want to work security...but that's the job he's assigned at Cloud. His business (some egg gadget that wasn't very convincing) was driven under by Cloud, but now his one time competitor is his only option. He's put on a special task force to get to the bottom of the Oblivion problem, how's the drug getting in and who's involved? He meets another new recruit, Zinnia, a corporate spy, on a mission to steal Cloud's secrets.

It's a bit cheesy in places and the characters are a little cliched. Zinnia's "tough guy" persona was a bit much (she's beautiful and clever too). It tries to address sexual harassment but I think having it happen to Zinnia was the wrong move. She's calculated, rather than afraid. Yes, she doesn't want to lose the job at Cloud because of her other job, but she's not put in a position of desperation. She manages to get revenge rather than justice.

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.

The blog posts from Cloud founder, Gibson Wells, show how his vision of the company differs from the reality of working there. He believes he is a philanthropist, helping to save the world. He has kept people in jobs, when automation was looming, but at what cost? He's also a multi-billionaire in a world with increasing inequality.

What is never explained is who is buying all the stuff? Apparently jobs are hard to come by outside of Cloud, even teachers are being laid off. The delivery drones mean they're not just selling products internally and a lot of things are non-essentials. So who were the customers?

There were other things that would be easy to pick holes in if you start thinking about them, however it was an entertaining thriller, with some quite valid points to make about monopolies.

ATY Rejects: Related to Monopoly

Goodreads | Amazon | Waterstones | Hive | Wordery | Blackwell’s




Book Source: Purchased

Saturday, 2 November 2019

On My Radar: November

A little later than usual, here's my round up of intriguing sounding books hitting the shelves in November. I'm most excited about The Toll and The Secret Chapter. As always, inclusion here isn't an endorsement and books may be available on different dates in different territories/formats (and sometimes they just change). Dates stated are generally for the UK print edition unless otherwise noted.


1st

Lifestyles of Gods and Monsters by Emily Roberson (US)


5th

Skein Island by Aliya Whiteley
Call Down the Hawk by Maggie Stiefvater
The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern
The How & the Why by Cynthia Hand (US)
In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machad (US)
Jakarta by Rodrigo Marquez Tizano (US)
They Will Drown in Their Mothers' Tears by Johannes Anyuru, Saskia Vogel (US)
The Book of Lost Saints by Daniel Jose Older


7th

The Toll by Neal Shusterman
The Vanished Bride by Bella Ellis
The Light at the Bottom of the World by London Shah
Oligarchy by Scarlett Thomas


12th

Day Zero by Kelly Devos (US)
The Factory by Hiroko Oyamada


14th

The Secret Chapter by Genevieve Cogman
Realm of Ash by Tasha Suri
Body Tourists by Jane Rogers
On Swift Horses by Shannon Pufahl
Now Entering Addamsville by Francesca Zappia


19th

The Queen of Nothing by Holly Black


21st

Blood Heir by Amélie Wen Zhao


27th

The In-Betweens by Mira Ptacin (US)

28th

The Never Tilting World by Rin Chupeco

Friday, 1 November 2019

The Month That Was... October 2019

Last month has been my quietest blog month since I started waffling here in 2011! I've not been feeling that great and I think it's impacted my enthusiasm for blogging. Then I got a cold and even missed Readathon, which was a bummer. I have a few ideas to get my blogging mojo back, and I will have my November "On My Radar" post up this weekend.


I finished the Around the Year in 52 Books challenge though! And I'm one book away from completing Popsugar. The 2020 ATY list is ready now so take a peek if you're looking for a prompt based reading challenge next year.

I reviewed Pet on the blog and War Girls on my Instagram (another place I've been neglecting).


So what did I read?

Command and Control by Eric Schlosser
★★★★

Non-Fiction - Nuclear War
Verdict:
This history of nuclear war and the many near-disasters is terrifying. I do not know how we are still on this planet after reading this. If you've seen the Netflix documentary already, this book has the specific accident in the Arkansas silo runnign through it but has a lot more information on the history of the bomb, its effect on world politics and a lot of other near misses... Highly recommend if you're into this subject matter.
ATY: 8. 2 books related to the same topic, genre, or theme: Book #2

Sweet Fruit, Sour Land by Rebecca Ley
★★★★

Cli-Fi - Dystopia - Reproductive Rights
Verdict:
Whilst not specifically a Brexit book, this does feel like a depressing premonition of our future. The population is dwindling and there are policies in place to make women reproduce, all the while food shortages mean everything's rationed, yet somehow there's still the elite who manage to have it all. Slightly Ballardian.
POPSUGAR: 22. A book with SALTY, SWEET, BITTER, or SPICY in the title

Gotta Get Theroux This by Louis Theroux
★★★

Autobiography - TV
Verdict:
I knew going in that there would be a lot about Jimmy Saville, but gah, there is a little too much. I can totally understand Louis having to come to terms with his friendship knowing what we know now, but I didn't really want to read about it in depth. I listened to this on audio though and it was nice having Louis chat in my ear. If you've seen all his documentaries, there's not a lot new here, he really doesn't have much artifice in his TV.
ATY Rejects: By, or about, a current or former journalist



Sunday, 6 October 2019

Pet

Lucille is a place free from monsters, without prejudice or danger. But when a creature climbs out of her mother's painting, Jam is faced with the idea that maybe there are still monsters in this world. The only problem is, no one believes in them any more.

It was no small thing to try to restructure a society, to find the pus boiling away under the scabs, to peel back the hardened flesh to let it out.

Akwaeke Emezi's first young adult novel is a fantastic little moral tale about what happens when we become complacent. Lucille is a wonderful place to live, free from fear. This is seen in the way everyone just accepted when Jam announced she was a girl, that she chooses to sign rather than speak. It's nice to see a trans character in a book that's not about the challenges of living as trans, she just is, and she's got more important things to be doing, like hunting monsters.

You can't tell a monster by looking at them, so they can hide in plain site. The problem with Lucille is that people have forgotten what monsters did, and how to be aware of the signs. They are also adamant that they are gone. Who is going to believe a couple of kids?

It’s not the same when the monsters are gone. You’re only remembering shadows of them, stories that seem to be limited to the pages or screens you read them from. Flat and dull things. So, yes, people forget. But forgetting is dangerous. Forgetting is how the monsters come back.

There's a poignant moment when the librarian shows Jam and Redemption some leaflets from the olden days. These are basic information that would be available in any school, doctor's office or community setting. Things like the signs of abuse and how to seek help. These are now restricted documents, no one wants to cause distress by telling kids about them. But knowledge is power, and not knowing about the bad things, is not knowing how to do something about it.

Her mother, who refused to believe in keeping animals indoors and never let her get so much as a goldfish, had gone and painted a thing with goat legs and ram horns, a thing that could have fallen out of some apocalyptic last pages of an old holy book, a furry, goldfeathered thing that was squatting in the studio like no man’s business.

Note, the UK paperback is not out until November but you can buy the ebook now.

POPSUGAR Reading Challenge: 32(b). An author from Africa

Goodreads | Amazon | Waterstones | Hive | Wordery | Blackwell’s




Book Source: Purchased

Tuesday, 1 October 2019

The Month That Was... September 2019

I'm in a bit of a blogging slump these days, I haven't even managed to post my mini reviews for the Magical Readathon which was in August... I don't think I want to give up blogging, maybe I just need to get back into a routine.

I have been reading loads, and chugging through my reading challenges. I only have a handful of prompts left on both ATY and Popsugar. Out of the 12 books I read last month, 4 were 5 stars reads! If you've like to know what I've been reading in a more timely manner, do add me on Goodreads.

Here's what did make it onto the blog...

Reviews:


Blogged about:

On My Radar: October

Also read:

Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel
★★★★★

Science Fiction - Earth Based - Aliens
Verdict: I loved this so much and went out and bought the rest of the books straight away.
ATY: 46. A book with a (mostly) black cover

After Atlas by Emma Newman
★★★★★

Science Fiction - Earth Based - Mystery - Indentured Labour
Verdict: Better than Planetfall, a great mix of murder mystery, corporate exploitation, cults and tech. All these books are standalone within the same series, and I can't wait to read the others.
ATY: 19. A book by an author who has more than one book on your TBR

Tiger by Polly Clark
★★★

Contemporary - Conservation - Tigers - Addiction
Verdict: I enjoyed the first part about Frieda's addiction and working at a small zoo but I got a bit lost when it switched to Siberia or the tiger's perspective. I'm not sure this was the best audiobook, the Russian accents were a bit dodgy.
POPSUGAR: 33. A book with a zodiac sign or astrology term in title

Season of the Witch by Sarah Rees Brennan
★★★★

Urban Fantasy - Witches - TV Tie-In
Verdict: I watched the original Sabrina the Teenage Witch in the 90's but haven't seen the Netflix one from which this is based. Was a fun and easy read, though I do miss Salem!
POPSUGAR: 2. A book that makes you nostalgic



Monday, 30 September 2019

On My Radar: October

October is another month chock-full of new releases, from big names to debuts. As always, inclusion here isn't an endorsement and books may be available on different dates in different territories/formats (and sometimes they just change). Dates stated are generally for the UK print edition unless otherwise noted.


1st

Monstress: The Chosen by Marjorie Liu + Sana Takeda
The Monster of Elendhaven by Jennifer Giesbrecht (US)
The Good Luck Girls by Charlotte Nicole Davis
We Speak in Storms by Natalie Lund (US)
Poisoner in Chief by Stephen Kinzer (US)
The Tenth Girl by Sara Faring (US)
Crier's War by Nina Varela (US)


2nd

In Pain by Travis Rieder


3rd

The Secret Commonwealth by Philip Pullman
The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes
The Body by Bill Bryson
The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys
Scars Like Wings by Erin Stewart
The Divers' Game by Jesse Ball
SLAY by Brittney Morris
Wayward Son by Rainbow Rowell
The Places I've Cried in Public by Holly Bourne



8th

Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo
The Beautiful by Renée Ahdieh


10th

The Grace Year by Kim Liggett


15th

Ormeshadow by Priya Sharma
Soon by Lois Murphy


17th

The Rosewater Redemption by Tade Thompson
Impossible Causes by Julie Mayhew
The World That We Knew by Alice Hoffman
Doing Time by Jodi Taylor
Stillicide by Cynan Jones
Angel Mage by Garth Nix


22nd

Life Is Strange: Waves by Emma Vieceli, Claudia Leonardi;Andrea Izzo
Supernova Era by Cixin Liu


24th

The Future of Another Timeline by Annalee Newitz
I Carried a Watermelon by Katy Brand


28th

The Sea Inside Me by Sarah Dobbs

29th

Sisters of the Vast Black by Lina Rather (US)


31st

The End of the Ocean by Maja Lunde
The End is Always Near by Dan Carlin
So Lucky by Dawn O'Porter
Full Disclosure by Camryn Garrett
Love, Secret Santa by S.A. Domingo

(US) = no official UK release scheduled but US edition readily available
(e) = UK ebook release