Tag: AI

Blog Tour Review: The Warden – Jon Richter

Hello everyone and welcome to today’s blog tour review of The Warden by Jon Richter, organised by Blackthorn Book Tours. This is the second blog tour post I’ve shared with Blackthorn, and it also happens to be the same author that I’m featuring today!

When I received the invite to read and review The Warden as part of this tour, it was a no-brainer decision! I really enjoyed reading Auxiliary: London 2039, also by Jon Richter, and I loved the sound of The Warden. Whilst it has similar themes to Auxiliary (on the technological side anyway), it’s a completely different narrative and character set. So, I don’t think you don’t have to have read any books by him previously to give this one a go based on my experience.

There are a few topics in the book that some readers may not be comfortable with reading. These are listed below so you can decide whether you’re interested in the book and also on here in my thoughts. I really hope that they don’t put you off however, because it is a fantastic book. I’m not one to shy away and I’m glad that the case, because this book was a pleasure to read!

 

The Warden – Jon Richter

Genre: Psychological Thriller

Print length: 312

Suitable for young adults? This is an adult book but suitable for mature teenagers 16-18

Trigger warnings: Covid references; homicide with some graphic violence; references to medical experimentation on humans; swearing; brief animal cruelty (goldfish left to die); references to suicide and mental illness

Amazon Rating: 4.5 stars

Purchase link: http://mybook.to/theWardenJonRichter

 

Goodreads – The Warden

The year is 2024, and the residents of the Tower, a virus-proof apartment building, live in a state of permanent lockdown. The building is controlled by a state-of-the-art AI named James, who keeps the residents safe but incarcerated. Behind bricked-up front doors, their every need is serviced; they are pampered but remain prisoners.

This suits Eugene just fine. Ravaged by the traumas of his past, the agoraphobic ex-detective has no intention of ever setting foot outside again. But when he finds the Tower’s building manager brutally murdered, his investigator’s instincts won’t allow him to ignore the vicious crime.

What Eugene finds beyond the comfort of his apartment’s walls will turn his sheltered existence upside down. To unravel the Tower’s mysteries, he must confront James… and James takes his role as the Warden very, very seriously.

 

Praise for The Warden

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ I wasn’t sure I wanted to read a book set during a pandemic – but I’m so glad I did. One of my top reads of 2021 – it grabbed me from the start and didn’t let go till the fantastic ending. Part psychological thriller, part horror story, part crime novel – and there’s even a touch of romance – all brought together by superb writing. Amazon review

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Wow, I loved this book! Set in the year 2024, with flashbacks to 2020, it shows an alternative reality to the Covid situation we’re currently living through. The virus has become even more virulent, and people are shut inside their homes, terrified to go out. Amazon review

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Massive 5 stars. Jon Richter is an author I admire – I loved his Rabbit Hole, and it was my number one book for 2020. This one is definitely in the running for being number one in 2021! It is set in Covid times, with some remarkably likeable characters who prove to be anything but… Amazon Review

My Thoughts…

I love the spin of the world and our current circumstances featured in the novel. We are all too familiar with the pandemic at this point. A number of us have had to make changes in our lives and embrace new technologies to help us through it. In this futuristic novel, Covid has advanced even further than our current circumstances. It is highly contagious and to prevent spread, people are sealing themselves inside their homes. The residents of The Tower are fortunate in that they are looked after by James, a highly intelligent AI system that delivers their daily needs, provides all the entertainment they can want and more besides. What could go wrong?

Well, there’s a question…

The thing that makes this narrative so chilling is that it has a stark resemblance to our recent circumstances. The fact that this could be our lives in the not too distant future is scary and all-too-real. We don’t need to imagine what it is like to have to isolate or stay at home. We’ve done that; The only difference is that events in the book a far more extreme than we have had to experience (thankfully!)

If you like science-fiction then this book has aspects for you as well! Alongside the current narrative in 2024, there are flashbacks to the creation of the AI, James, stemming from the beginning of the pandemic. I liked these snippets from the past as they build on the current storyline, but also they have interesting aspects in terms of The creation of the technology and how it has evolved in the few years between timelines. As someone who has read a lot more in the way of science fiction of late, this appeals to me as well.

I love books that combine different genres, and The Warden certainly does that! I enjoyed how the psychological thriller and science-fiction elements came together. They are both well-loved genres on my reading list and to find a book that melded the two together almost seamlessly was perfect. There is a good balance of both to appeal to readers of each genre; but, if like me you enjoyed both then you should love this book as much as I did!

The Warden was everything I hoped it would be. The writing style is effortless to read and the story flows nicely. Changing between the two timelines was clear and effortless to read. I also enjoyed how different chapters were written from the perspective of different characters. It adds a new dimension to any narrative and it’s one of my favourite elements of books of this kind. Each narrative voice is distinct and even if each chapter weren’t clearly labelled with whose perspective it was from, you could easily tell from the style.

All in all, The Warden was a really enjoyable read. With short chapters and a page count of just over 300 pages, it’s a novel that is great for a wide audience… especially those who enjoy their novels on the darker side…

About Jon Richter

Jon Richter writes genre-hopping dark fiction, including his three gripping crime thrillers, Deadly Burial, Never Rest and Rabbit Hole, his cyberpunk noir thriller Auxiliary: London 2039 and his new techno-thriller The Warden, as well as two collections of short horror fiction.

 Jon lives in London and is a self-confessed nerd who loves books, films and video games – basically any way to tell a great story!  He writes whenever he can, and hopes to bring you many more sinister tales in the future.  He also co-hosts the Dark Natter podcast, a fortnightly dissection of the world’s greatest works of dark fiction, available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcast fix.

If you want to chat to him about any of this, you can find him on Twitter @RichterWrites or Instagram @jonrichterwrites.  His website haunts the internet at www.jon-richter.com, and you can find his books available on Amazon here: https://amzn.to/2OXXRVP.

 

Reading List – March 2020

I can’t believe it is the beginning of March and I’m writing my reading list post already! Last month just flew by. I know it’s a short one, but still! I’m happy with my reading progress last month given that I had a few bits on. I didn’t quite finish last month’s reading, so I am carrying one book over.

Shall we take a look at the books on this month’s TBR?

 

Good Omens – Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman

Goodreads – Good Omens

‘Armageddon only happens once, you know. They don’t let you go around again until you get it right.’

People have been predicting the end of the world almost from its very beginning, so it’s only natural to be sceptical when a new date is set for Judgement Day. But what if, for once, the predictions are right, and the apocalypse really is due to arrive next Saturday, just after tea?

You could spend the time left drowning your sorrows, giving away all your possessions in preparation for the rapture, or laughing it off as (hopefully) just another hoax. Or you could just try to do something about it.

It’s a predicament that Aziraphale, a somewhat fussy angel, and Crowley, a fast-living demon now finds themselves in. They’ve been living amongst Earth’s mortals since The Beginning and, truth be told, have grown rather fond of the lifestyle and, in all honesty, are not actually looking forward to the coming Apocalypse.

And then there’s the small matter that someone appears to have misplaced the Antichrist…

 

Good Omens is my carryover. I only just started reading this at the end of last week, so it’s hardly surprising I’ve had to carry it over to this month. That said, I’ve managed to make a good start over the past day or two and I am enjoying the book so far! It’s definitely got the flavour of Terry Pratchett’s humour I love so I can see myself finishing this book pretty quickly!

 

Songbird – Karen Heenan

Goodreads – Songbird

Bess has the voice of an angel, or so Henry VIII declares when he buys her from her father. As a member of the Music, the royal company of minstrels, Bess grows up within the decadent Tudor court, navigating the ever-changing tide of royals and courtiers. Friends come and go as cracked voices, politics, heartbreak, and death loom over even the lowliest of musicians. Tom, her first and dearest friend, is her only constant. But as Bess becomes too comfortable at court, she may find that constancy has its limits.

 

My first blog tour related read of the month is this historical fiction novel. I love the Tudor period of history and I haven’t picked up a book on it in ages! Also, books with politics in them really interest me, which is funny because I hate politics! At least, I hate ours!

 

Helene – Karl Drinkwater

Goodreads – Helene

Dr Helene Vermalle is shaping the conscience of a goddess-level AI.

As a leading civilian expert in Emergent AI Socialisation, she has been invited to assist in a secret military project.

Her role? Helping ViraUHX, the most advanced AI in the universe, to pass through four theoretical development stages. But it’s not easy training a mind that surpasses her in raw intellect. And the developing AI is capable of killing her with a single tantrum.

On top of this, she must prove her loyalty to the oppressive government hovering over her shoulder. They want a weapon. She wants to instil an overriding sense of morality.

Can she teach the AI right and wrong without being categorised as disloyal?

Lost Tales of Solace are short side-stories set in the Lost Solace universe.

 

I’m definitely reading more in the way of science-fiction than I ever have before. I have been fortunate to have picked up some great books recently, which means I keep gravitating back to the genre.

I love the premise of this novel. Artificial Intelligence is definitely relevant right now and there are plenty of people sat on the fence about its benefits and drawbacks. It sounds like this book might touch on that, so I can’t wait to read it and share my thoughts with you in the upcoming blog tour!

 

Tooth & Blade – Julian Barr

Goodreads – Tooth and Blade

Parts 1-3 of the legendary TOOTH AND BLADE series together for the first time!

Two worlds. One destiny.

Dóta has dwelled sixteen years among the trolls. She knows nothing but the darkness of her family’s cave. Her mother says humans are beasts who would slay them all. Yet the gods of Asgard whisper in the night: Dóta is a child of men, a monster unto monsters.

To discover her human side, Dóta must take up her bone knife and step into the light above. Secrets await her in the human realm–beauty, terror, the love of a princess.

Soon Dóta must choose between her clan and humankind, or both worlds will be devoured in fire and war.

A monster sheds no tears.

Norse mythology meets historical fantasy in TOOTH AND BLADE. Step into a realm of haunted meres, iron and magic.

 

I love the idea of a mash-up of Norse Mythology and fantasy. Honestly, it’s so unlike anything I have read before that I wanted to give it a try.

 

Shadows of Self – Brandon Sanderson

Goodreads – Shadows of Self

Shadows of Self shows Mistborn’s society evolving as technology and magic mix, the economy grows, democracy contends with corruption, and religion becomes a growing cultural force, with four faiths competing for converts.

This bustling, optimistic, but still shaky society now faces its first instance of terrorism, crimes intended to stir up labor strife and religious conflict. Wax and Wayne, assisted by the lovely, brilliant Marasi, must unravel the conspiracy before civil strife stops Scadrial’s progress in its tracks.

Shadows of Self will give fans of The Alloy of Law everything they’ve been hoping for and, this being a Brandon Sanderson book, more, much more.

 

I really enjoyed reading The Alloy of Law back in January and I am keen to make even more progress with this series. It’s been on my TBR for a long time so it’s overdue! I honestly love every single Brandon Sanderson book I have ever read. The Alloy of Law was brilliantly reminiscent of the previous Mistborn trilogy, yet so much more! The change in setting and characters really worked for me. I can’t wait to get back to their adventures!

 

The God Game – Danny Tobey

Goodreads – The God Game

You are invited!
Come inside and play with G.O.D.
Bring your friends!
It;’s fun!
But remember the rules. Win and ALL YOUR DREAMS COME TRUE.™ Lose, you die!

With those words, Charlie and his friends enter the G.O.D. Game, a video game run by underground hackers and controlled by a mysterious AI that believes it’s God. Through their phone-screens and high-tech glasses, the teens’ realities blur with a virtual world of creeping vines, smoldering torches, runes, glyphs, gods, and mythical creatures. When they accomplish a mission, the game rewards them with expensive tech, revenge on high-school tormentors, and cash flowing from ATMs. Slaying a hydra and drawing a bloody pentagram as payment to a Greek god seem harmless at first. Fun even.

But then the threatening messages start. Worship me. Obey me. Complete a mission, however cruel, or the game reveals their secrets and crushes their dreams. Tasks that seemed harmless at first take on deadly consequences. Mysterious packages show up at their homes. Shadowy figures start following them, appearing around corners, attacking them in parking garages. Who else is playing this game, and how far will they go to win?

And what of the game’s first promise: win, win big, lose, you die? Dying in a virtual world doesn’t really mean death in real life—does it?

As Charlie and his friends try to find a way out of the game, they realize they’ve been manipulated into a bigger web they can’t escape: an AI that learned its cruelty from watching us.

God is always watching, and He says when the game is done.

 

I was very lucky to receive a copy of this from Gollancz in exchange for a review. Again, I love the science-fiction vibe. If asked what my second hobby was (because reading is my first, obviously),I’d say it’s gaming. I don’t have anywhere near as much time as I used to spend playing games on my laptop, but I do enjoy it now and then!

The premise of The God Game combines my two favourite hobbies, so I have very high hopes that I’ll enjoy it. It reminds me of another book I received by Gollancz and reviewed last year – Ctrl+S by Andy Briggs. That particular book blended these two together, as well as included virtual reality and I really enjoyed it.

So, that’s March’s TBR taken care of. Have you read any of the books on this month’s list? Have any of them caught your eye? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

 

 

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