The Passengers by John Marrs

The Passengers by John Marrs

 

40718386Publisher: Del Ray

Publishing Date: 1st April 2019

Source:  Received from the publisher via NetGalley, thank you!

Number of pages: 400

Genre: Mystery & Thrillers, General Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback (out on 30.05.2019)

 

Synopsis:

Eight self-drive cars set on a collision course. Who lives, who dies? You decide.

When someone hacks into the systems of eight self-drive cars, their passengers are set on a fatal collision course.

The passengers are: a TV star, a pregnant young woman, a disabled war hero, an abused wife fleeing her husband, an illegal immigrant, a husband and wife – and parents of two – who are travelling in separate vehicles and a suicidal man. Now the public have to judge who should survive but are the passengers all that they first seem?

Rating: three-stars

 

“The Passengers” takes us to a world with self – driving cars… You don’t have to do anything, you are a passenger that simply sits in the car. Traffic congestion, pollution and accidents has gone down significantly. The cars are, of course, unhackable… That is, until one day, the system IS hacked. Eight “passengers” are on their way to different locations when suddenly they’re told their cars are taken over and soon they’re going to die in an accident. The governing body that oversees the driverless cars and the whole of AI technology are contacted and they, as well as some of the normal people serving in a jury, are to choose who of the 8 people should be saved and why. It is all, of course, streamed to social media and the general public also gets involved. The race against time begins – is it possible to save those people?

There was a great cast of characters. Among the passengers we have a refugee woman, an Indian woman with a family that was abused by her husband and who doesn’t speak English, a wife and husband of ten years, both in two different cars, a pregnant woman, a famous actress, an army veteran and a young man who’s down on his luck. Each of them is trapped, their routes being taken over, their destination programmed. After two and a half hours one of them will live, while the rest will die. A group of jury members, who are actually investigating who’s at fault when there is a car accident and people die (and it’s almost never the car’s fault!), are dragged into the hacker’s game. The only jury member who makes a stand against the hacker and the other members is Libby, a mental health nurse with a great dislike of the driverless cars.

It was a great story about manipulation and the dangers of technology. It was horrifying to see how easily you can manipulate people, showing them this what you want them to see, and actually how people react, where their morals lie, how easy it is to led them. I was very involved in the characters’ lives though I didn’t allowed myself to judge them, waiting for the outcome. And the fact that the author actually didn’t care which of the character should die, not falling onto pieces over them, was a great and refreshing change. He also brilliantly captured the mob mentality on social media and on the streets.

But. And there is a “but”, sadly. For me the book has a great premise, it started brilliantly and the development was also great, though I must admit that there were already moments that it seemed to me that the author had a great idea but then wasn’t sure how to direct it furthermore, how to bite it to make it thrilling. And then came the end that was a disappointment for me. I was expecting a mind – blowing, fireworks ending but it simply felt flat and not complete, not wrapped up. It seemed as if the idea petered away, and I’m really sad about this as I was hoping for so much more from John Marrs. Don’t get me wrong, please, I was hooked to the pages, I vibrated together with the characters, I wanted to punch some of them in their faces and kept everything crossed for the others, and then it was as if the balloon has deflated. Sadly.

But altogether, it was a fast – paced and full of twists and turns story and although it touched upon some difficult and thought – provoking issues, it was an easy read, surprising you with the development of the story. The author has brilliantly captured the future world – he made it scary and dangerous and it really freaked me out to see that people not only allow the electronic devices decide for them but they’re also not afraid to play with other people’s lives. It was accomplished and unsettling and I am so truly sorry and also sad that it didn’t work for me – I wanted to love this book but I also wanted more substance and better execution. However, I know there is so much potential in John Marrs’ writing, his books are original and unique and I’ll be reading whatever he writes in the future.

 

My Top Ten Books of 2017

My Top Ten Booksof 2017

Hi guys! Exactly one year ago I was sharing my most favourite reads of 2016 with you, and now it’s time to do the same with the 2017 reads. What is so special about this is the fact that there are the same authors on both lists!

In 2017 I haven’t read as many books as I’d like. The current number is 156 and when some might say wow, I know that I struggled to get to this number – life getting in the way, child growing up and serving as a taxi to bring her to and back from her activities, looking after the dogs, going to work that lately is very stressful… But let’s not whinge, altogether it was not a bad year, and not only in a bookish sense, but let’s focus on books, guys, this is why we’re here, right? I’ve read many brilliant novels, introducing me to characters that are going to stay with me for ever, and I spent thousand of magical hours in my fictional worlds, and here are some of my most favourite ones. They are not in particular order but there is one book that immediately springs to mind and so I just have it to place it at the very top of my list.

A Song for Tomorrow by Alice Peterson

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February releases brought one of my most anticipated books this year. Alice Peterson belongs to my top favourite author but with “A Song for Tomorrow” she has overdone herself – this book is an absolute gem, a book like no other that turned me into a a weepy mess but that was also full of hope. I absolutely loved this book and it’s going to stay with me for ever!

My Sweet Revenge by Jane Fallon

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One novel that made me laugh out loud, that made me cringe, that made me cheer the characters on and also made me feel inspired by the main character was “My Sweet Revenge” by Jane Fallon, a story that I’ll be getting back to many, many times – though I’d love to be able to read it for the first time over and over again. “My Sweet Revenge” was a bittersweet story with strong and solid characters, with laugh out loud moments and many twists and turns, and you really couldn’t be sure what to expect and – and it was the best! – who to trust and which information is true, the author has really messed with her readers! Absolutely brilliant read!

A Not Quite Perfect Family by Claire Sandy

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I am actually a little bit in love with this book. It was fun and quirky, with brilliant characters, and the author tells about things like they are, with no holds barred. She has written about normal family – with all the ups and downs, function and dysfunction, troubles and successes but she has made this family not only special but down – to – earth. They could have their differences but in the end they all stuck together, they supported each other, just like it should be. “A Not Quite Perfect Family” was full of laugh – out – loud moments, but also there were moments that were much, much more poignant. A cringey, embarrassing moments intertwined with deeper, poignant ones and I loved this mix – it was perfect.

The One by John Marrs

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Oh holy moly, guys. This book. THIS BOOK. When I started to reading it, I couldn’t put it down. Literally. This book. THIS BOOK. It was freakingly brilliant. So refreshing, so original, so unpredictable – one of the best novels this year, believe me. This novel was unputdownable. It was exciting and addictive, and as the chapters were so short, I more than often found myself telling only one chapter and coming out for an air few hours later. It is so, so cleverly plotted, full of shocking twists and turns. “The One” was one of the most unpredictable reads you can ever wish for.

Catch Me if You Cannes by Lisa Dickenson

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There can’t be a list without Lisa Dickenson’s book on it!!! “Catch Me if you Cannes” was packed full, as it usually is with Lisa’s stories, of incredible, belly – ache one – liners. There is something magic and addictive to Lisa’s writing. It’s so light and easy to follow, and it leaves you full of sparkles and will to live, really. But it’s not only laugh – out – loud story about the adventures of two best friends, oh no, Lisa, as usually, has added some softer and emotional moments to the plot as well, that just made me love the story much, much more!

Coming Home to the Comfort Food Cafe by Debbie Johnson

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This story is so beautifully written, it’s full of layers, it’s deep and incredibly funny at the same time, and full of unforgettable characters and situations, friendship and the overwhelming feeling of being welcome. It’s bittersweet, and it is very honest and raw but there is also this incredibly uplifting, optimistic side to it. You can feel the love, the friendship and hope and it is great. It made me laugh out loud and cry like a baby, and it evoke all kind of emotions in me. It is Debbie Johnson at her best!

The Break by Marian Keyes

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“The Break” was full of dramas, small and huge, and brilliantly captured family bonds. It touches on some more serious and some lighter issues. It is first of all about love, but also about death and grief, health issues, patchwork families and how they work, betrayal, temptations and also your everyday troubles and issues. It’s about overcoming those troubles and staying strong. It’s about choices. It was compelling, emotional, complex and so wise! A book with unforgettable characters that’s going to stay with you for a long time after you’ve finished reading it, with plenty of emotional but also plenty of this incredible Irish charm and humour.

Dancing Over the Hill by Cathy Hopkins

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This book made me laugh so hard and I couldn’t wait to discover what’s going to happen. It is this best kind of book when you want to turn the pages as quickly as possible but on the other hand you don’t want it to end. It was a brilliant, entertaining story about love, family and finding your priorities, relationships and seeing that grass is not always greener on the other side. It had me emotionally involved and just pushed all the right buttons for me.

The Year of Saying Yes by Hannah Doyle

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“The Year of Saying Yes” was a story about learning things about yourself, pushing your boundaries, learning that impossible is nothing. It shows that no matter what we think about ourselves, we’re strong enough to face the challenges – in a brilliant, hilarious, light – hearted way. I really can’t wait to see what Hannah Doyle has in store for us, because this book was a real winner and it is a novel that should be shouted about from the rooftops.

Sister Sister by Sue Fortin

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This book is  pure genius. A bloody good psychological suspense/thriller with a writing style that just draws you in, and you can’t stop reading. “Sister, Sister” is a story of betrayal, lies and secrets, an absorbing and disturbing psychological suspense with greatly developed characters full of secrets and issues, all so significant to this story and they keep you guessing till the end. This is this kind of a book that you say to yourself you’re going to read only one chapter more and come up for a breath few hours later.

Book of the Month : May + Q&A with the Authors

Hi guys! It’s June (already) and it is time to share my favourite May reads with you. It was a great month bookish – wise (OK, and life was also not so bad, except for some not too great news but also some good ones), I rated many of the books with 5*. But – there were two novels that literally took my breath away. Two very different ones, different genres but both of them exceptionally brilliant. Moreover – I have a big, great pleasure to also share Q&As with both Authors, so scroll down and enjoy!

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I already can’t imagine summer and winter without Lisa Dickenson’s books. I love Lisa and I love her novels and one day, when I go to the UK, I want to meet her personally (be warned, Lisa!), so there. May has seen her lovely, gorgeous, summery “Catch Me if You Cannes” being published and even though I’ve read the book some time ago when it was published in the four – part – series I can’t describe how lovely it was to see the story as a whole, beautiful paperback version. Here you can read my review of this brilliant novel and here is also the promised Q&A with the Author.

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  1. Lisa, “Catch Me if You Cannes” is my book of the month (please do act as if you were really surprised!), so let’s talk about the book – who should play the characters should the book be made into a film? (and it should!!!)

Thank you thank you thank yooooooooou!  I’d like to thank my mum, my dad, my husband, my future dog, my Agi, my TV – oh, sorry, I went off on an Oscar speech tangent.  Thank you SO MUCH though for picking Cannes as your book of the month, this is muchas exciting!  Okay, who do I want on my casting couch (oo-er!)…

  1. Jess – our bubbly Marilyn Monroe.  This is a tough one!  Maybe Emilia Clarke, Ellie Kemper or Hayden Panettiere?
  2. Bryony – cool and confident, I’m going to go with Zoe Saldana, Michaela Coel or Zendaya
  3. Leo – lovely Leo… he’s gotta be strong and fit, but also a bit of a loveable goofball.  Hmm… why don’t you choose your perfect Leo, Agi  (OK, here we go. It’s not going to be an actor. Whatever, whenever, however, no matter what  – it must be Enrique Iglesias Bildergebnis für heart emoticonsSo there. You know now my biggest secret 🙂
  1. And if you were to go to the opening night, what would you wear?

Oh, it would have to be some amazing red-carpet-worthy gown reminiscent of old Hollywood.  Maybe the colour of the Cote d’Azur ocean.  I think I’d channel Marilyn Monroe, in honour of Jess!

  1. How much fun was it to write “Catch Me if You Cannes”? (Because I am so sure it was a great fun!)

I loved writing Cannes!  I felt inspired by old classics like Some Like It Hot and new female buddy stories like Bridesmaids.  I liked writing a caper for a change, and the Cannes Film Festival seemed the perfect setting for a couple of misfits to lose themselves in.

  1. You were in Cannes, right? What did you like best there?

The whole atmosphere of the place.  I expected to feel like I wouldn’t fit in (not that that would ever stop me going somewhere!) but actually it was welcoming, beautiful, calm and clean.  The glitziness never felt too exclusive, and this is partly what gave me the idea for Jess and Bryony, who travelled there full of white lies and assumptions…

  1. Are you choosing the lovely places you set your books specifically, so that the research is even more exciting?

I’m a bit of a travel bug, and I fall in love with some places pretty easily.  So what more often occurs is that I go somewhere (or re-go somewhere), find it magical, and then dream up storylines while I’m there.  Or when I’m back home, stuck in the post-holiday blues.

  1. There are tons of funny situations in your novel – how do you write them? Did they happen to you or are they completely fictional?

Why thank you, darlin’, I do try *hair flick*  There might be nuggets of things that have happened to me in my books, but I usually amp them up a bit.  With Cannes especially I tended to always go with the rule of asking, ‘what’s the worst thing that could happen here…?’ and then making it happen!  But being a romantic comedy it’s never usually literally the worst thing!

  1. Now a thousand dollar question – what is your favourite scene in the book? Only ONE, pretty please 🙂

I like the entire scene at the Hotel Du Cap, where Jess and Bryony are trying to make it from the pier at the back of the hotel and out the front door, and they run into obstacles at every turn.  In my mind it plays out like they’re a golden-era Hollywood slapstick comedy duo, which is how I like to think of the whole book, in a way.

  1. What’s next for Lisa Dickenson?

WELL, Book 5 is nearly there and just gagging for a title to be added to it.  I also have some new storylines up my sleeve, some ideas for crime fiction, and also a secret project which will be taking off REALLY SOON, I hope!

  1. And a bonus question: Nutella with a spoon out of the jar or on toast?

Ooooooooooo, I love Nutella on toast, but there’s something about scoffing it straight from the jar with a spoon.  So my winner is SPOON.

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And now it’s time for my second book. It has totally blown me away, guys. It was unpredictable, surprising, full of twists and turns and it was totally addictive – when I say I couldn’t put it down, I mean it literally. Doesn’t happen often but it was the case with “The One” by John Marrshere is my review of this incredibly fresh and unique book, and here is Q&A with the Author!

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  1. John, I’m so sorry but I have to ask – how did you come up with the idea for “The One”? This book is so unique and full of surprises and I just need to know what inspired you to write this story.

My partner (also called John) and I were planning our New York wedding. While on an escalator on the London Underground, I wondered how much easier it’d be if there was something chemical inside us that matched you with your soul-mate. If you saw them, you’d just know they were made for you, like I felt about John. Four months later, draft one was complete.

 

  1. The novel is told from multiple points of view – how did you keep them all on track?

I kept all five of them on little dog leads in my head, and then when it came time to write them, I’d let them off to run around and see where they ended up. I don’t write methodically. So I skipped from character to character depending on my mood. The hardest part was when it was all complete and deciding on which order to place the characters. I decided to ease people in gently with Mandy in chapter one, then punch them in the stomach with Christopher the serial killer in chapter two.

 

  1. How carefully did you plan the novel in advance? It is so complex, with so many twists and turns – which I loved, BTW – and I wonder, did you have to stick to your plan or did the plot take you by surprise as well?

Once I had the characters in mind, I thought about trying to link them but then decided it would be too convoluted. So I kept them under the umbrella of the DNA test and let them go in their own directions. I ran all my ideas through my partner as he’s a great sounding board for that kind of thing despite the fact he rarely reads a book! Then I just started writing. Sometimes I even surprised myself with plot changes – spoiler alert – for example, with Mandy, it was never the intention for her Match Richard to still be alive. It was only as I wrote about his death that I changed my mind and thought it’d be more interesting to have him still breathing.

 

  1. A writer’s life is certainly not an easy one—from rejections to tough reviews, and so on. How did you get through the bad days?

I don’t have any, I really don’t. I’ve always had a full-time job throughout this process so fortunately, I’ve not had to reply on writing novels to pay the bills. I work as a journalist and as a result, I have a thick skin and can take criticism. My first book, The Wronged Sons, was rejected by 80 different publishers and agents which is why I decided to self-publish and it became a hit, enabling me to continue writing books in my spare time. Of course it’s not great to get bad reviews but it’s part and parcel of the job. People have the right not to like my books just as I have the right not to like every book I read. And I’ll never respond to a bad review, no matter how tempting it can be!

 

  1. What did you want your readers to take away from your story? Was there a hidden message within?

I guess the point of The One was to encourage readers to ask themselves if such a test existed, would they take it? If so, why? What about those who are in a relationship already? In a world that appears to be speeding up rather than slowing down, sometimes we all need to take time out to appreciate what we have, not what we could have.

 

  1. What was your most favourite and least favourite aspect of writing “The One”?

The first draft is always interesting, and the second draft is fun, tinkering with ideas and expanding upon them. The version I hate the most is the final proof. By then, I am so sick of reading the same 104,000 words over and over again. This book was the first time I worked with an editor, Emily Yau at Ebury, who also discovered The One when it was a self-published book called A Thousand Small Explosions. Her suggestions were so, so good and she made the process a pleasure.

 

  1. I think you must have been asked thousand of times already but please bare with me – would YOU take the test? Why yes/why not?

Ha! Yes, I have been asked it once or twice and the answer is always the same – no! As I addressed in the book, so many people think the grass is greener on the other side and they are always striving for something new, something more exciting than they already have. Invariably, they never get it. I married nine months ago and have found my One. I don’t need to take a test to reassure myself. 

 

  1. What’s next for John Marrs?

The Wronged Sons now has a publisher of its own and is re-released on July 13 with a fresh new edit and title, now called When You Disappeared. My next brand new novel, tentatively called The Good Samaritan – a psychological thriller – is scheduled for release in November this year. And I’m about to start writing book five.

The One by John Marrs

The One by John Marrs

 

31422849Publisher: Del Ray

Publishing Date: 4th May  2017

Source:  Received from the publisher in return for an honest review!

Number of pages: 416

Genre: General Fiction (Adults), Suspense

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

Synopsis:

How far would you go to find THE ONE?
One simple mouth swab is all it takes. A quick DNA test to find your perfect partner – the one you’re genetically made for.
A decade after scientists discover everyone has a gene they share with just one other person, millions have taken the test, desperate to find true love. Now, five more people meet their Match. But even soul mates have secrets. And some are more shocking – and deadlier – than others…
A psychological thriller with a difference, this is a truly unique novel which is guaranteed to keep you on the edge of your seat.

(Note: Previously published as A Thousand Small Explosions)

Rating: five-stars

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Oh holy moly, guys. This book. THIS BOOK. I’ve no idea what took me so long to eventually read it, as I got my copy already in January before it was published as an ebook, and I’ve heard tons amazing things about it, so really, there is no excuse for me and the fact that I’ve read it only now. The paperback publishing date was, however, a very good reason put it to the top of my TBR pile and when I started to reading it, I couldn’t put it down. Literally. This book. THIS BOOK. It was freakingly brilliant. So refreshing, so original, so unpredictable – one of the best novels this year, believe me.

The idea of the book is absolutely brilliant and intriguing. Forget months, or even years, of dating with unsuitable people, oh no, it is so past already. The only thing you need to do is to take a DNA test, as a gene that genetically link you to the right person has been discovered. The result is a happy ever after, a world without divorces, betrayals and such. Sure, people in relationships who haven’t been matched yet may be tempted to take the test and when it shows that they are not The Ones they may of course change their mind about the person they were supposed to love for ever and move to their match, but hey, no risk no fun, right?

I was immediately hooked and drawn into the characters’ worlds. There is a small group of them in “The One”, and because of this fact, but also because they are so incredibly well written, I almost immediately felt like a part of their lives, as if I knew them personally, inside out. They all find themselves in totally different situations but there is one thing that tie them together – they all made the test and are in relationships with their Ones. What is the catch here then? Well, you can be matched with anyone, regardless of their age, race, sex – but that’s the risk if you want to find real and true love. Mandy has got her match – the first thing she does is to go on Facebook and search for his profile but then she learns some sad truths about Richard. Jade has also got her match – she chats with Kevin on daily basis, the problem is that he lives on the other side of the world, in Australia. But after talking with her best friends she decides to bite the bullet and travel – what kind of surprise is waiting there for her? Nick is engaged, to be married, but his partner is obsessed with taking the test to confirm that they are really perfect together. But is this really so good, this idea? Isn’t it better to live and love each other, even if they don’t know if they’re really destined to be together? Christopher, who – for a number of reasons – would rather avoid the company of police officer, is matched with one… And Ellie, who’s discovered the DNA gene, is also looking for love! She’s just been matched and this relationship seems to be working so well, she wants to be loved for who she really is and not for her wealth – is she going to get this unconditional love?
Those are five very different stories and what is so great is that the author has given all of the characters the equal space and time. To tell five such stories, with so many subplots and intricacies, in one book, and do it in such a compelling way must be a real gift, and hats off to the author for pulling it off in such a brilliant way – I think John Marrs deserves standing ovations.
At the beginning I thought, oh great, so many characters, all of them unrelated, how is it going to work out? I felt like I was being bombarded with the characters, there was all the time someone new, and I was afraid that I’ll have problems with knowing who is who and what’s their story. But, guys. It was so short lived! Quickly, very quickly, I found myself engrossed in their lives, and I never felt confused. They were so very well written, so clear, with distinctive voices and it was so easy to slip from one of them to the another, immediately remembering what’s their story and where we are with them.

The author succeeded in smuggling this little lesson of being careful in the present world in the story as well. Normally we are all oh so cautious but when it comes to internet people mostly choose to share almost each teeny tiny detail about themselves and their lives, giving away phone numbers to anyone who asks for it. John Marrs showed consequences of acting like this, consequences that we really couldn’t have imagine.

This novel was unputdownable. It was exciting and addictive, and as the chapters were so short, I more than often found myself telling only one chapter and coming out for an air few hours later. It is so, so cleverly plotted, full of shocking twists and turns. “The One” was one of the most unpredictable reads you can ever wish for. Those short chapters always ends with the author teasing the reader, with a kind of a small cliffhanger, so you are really desperate to read further. I didn’t want to skip a single word in this story, it was so surprising and so exciting, and in a good way surprising and exciting, as sometimes authors tend to exaggerate, but here my eyes just grew bigger and bigger at all the ups and downs, slowly leading us to the brilliant Grande Finale. This is one thrilling, exhilarating journey that the author takes us on, that often left me feel disbelief at what has just happened and that I would never see it coming – incredibly clever and incredibly complex, this story was. It was sharp and addictive, probably one of the best psychological thrillers out there. It is also not as heavy as you could expect psychological thriller to be, but it is full of questions and “what ifs” and I absolutely adored the complex and complicated way to match all the elements of the puzzle. “The One” was incredibly fast paced unique and fresh story and if I were to describe it in one word, I’d probably say unpredictable, jaw dropping. Highly recommended, guys!