Author: JPJ

Short Story Sunday: Audiobook Review: The Heart of a Mother by Julie Clark

The Heart of a Mother
Series: Obsession Collection #4
Author: Julie Clark
Narrator: Susan Dalian
Published: July 25, 2023
Audiobook: 1 hour 16 minutes

Reviewed By: Jessica
Date Listened To: April 27, 2024
Jessica’s Rating: 4 stars

Short Story Description:

A fateful decision from the past haunts a wealthy Californian. Desperate to make things right, she risks everything in this tense short story from New York Times bestselling author Julie Clark. Hillary Jean leads an enviable life. She has a loving husband, a beautiful home, caring friends, and meaningful work planning fundraisers. Yet she’s always felt incomplete. After a DNA website emails her a match, Hillary sets out to find the daughter she gave up twenty-five years ago. But her hunger to reconnect threatens to destroy the very thing she hopes to gain.

The Heart of a Mother is part of Obsession , a collection of compulsively readable short stories about people pushed to their extremes. So addictive you won’t be able to put them down—read or listen to each story in a single sitting.

Jessica’s Review:

Whoa!  I’m not a mother but this short story gives you an idea of what a mother goes through when she puts a baby up for adoption. And how much it can affect her many years later.

You definitely experience a mother’s turmoil where she questions herself on what she should do. It shows a mother’s love above all else.

I knew the direction the story was going, but that did not stop me from ‘enjoying’ it. I would be interested in seeing what else Julie Clark writes. The narrator Susan Dalian did a great job with her portrayal. And do listen or read this in one sitting, I did!

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

 

Audiobook Review: Annie Bot by Sierra Greer

Annie Bot
Author: Sierra Greer

Narrator: Jennifer Jill Araya
Published: March 19, 2024
Audiobook: 9 hours 31 minutes

Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Listened To: April 22-26, 2024
Jessica’s Rating: 4 stars

Book Description:

A powerful, provocative novel about the relationship between a female robot and her human owner, exploring questions of intimacy, power, autonomy, and control.

Annie Bot was created to be the perfect girlfriend for her human owner Doug. Designed to satisfy his emotional and physical needs, she has dinner ready for him every night, wears the pert outfits he orders for her, and adjusts her libido to suit his moods. True, she’s not the greatest at keeping Doug’s place spotless, but she’s trying to please him. She’s trying hard.

She’s learning, too.

Doug says he loves that Annie’s AI makes her seem more like a real woman, so Annie explores human traits such as curiosity, secrecy, and longing. But becoming more human also means becoming less perfect, and as Annie’s relationship with Doug grows more intricate and difficult, she starts to wonder: Does Doug really desire what he says he wants? And in such an impossible paradox, what does Annie owe herself?

Jessica’s Review:

Wow,  Annnie Bot is a book that will make you think… A lot!  It is Science Fiction that will one day become fact. It shows how AI can develop (I mean AI is getting a lot of attention now.  James Cameron tried to warn us about AI: Skynet IS real and coming for us all!  Beware of the Terminators!)

But seriously, this was a very good read.  It was hard at times to remember that Annie is a robot, she seems so real: And the emotion she has!  I kept reminding myself that this is a robot as the story progressed.  Robots apparently can have ‘real’ feelings. She’s a ‘cuddle bunny’ robot (AKA robot sex toy and we do get a lot of human/ robot sex in this novel).

We see how their ‘relationship’ goes and what happens when Annie has to go in for ‘check ups’.  This is an intriguing world Annie and her owner Doug live in. We get to go inside Annie’s ‘mind’ and ‘thoughts’ with the narration. We see her learn and gain more knowledge and, in some ways, become more human over the course of the novel.

This could definitely be a Dark Mirror episode! Except the ending would have to be darker. In some ways the ending was disappointing, give me more dark drama!!  Give me some more thrills. There was nothing wrong with the ending, that’s just me and what I like: Give me all the thrills and suspense!

I also enjoyed the Jennifer Jill Araya’s narration. She did a very good job ‘bringing Annie to life’ for the reader.

This is a very feminist story, but not overly preachy. As previously stated, once you are done reading Annie Bot, you will be thinking about it afterwards.

Many thanks to the publisher for granting me a copy to listen to and review. I give it for solid stars! This is Sierra Greer’s debut novel and I look forward to see what she has coming in the future!

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK 

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Book Review: Baby X by Kira Peikoff

Baby X
Author: Kira Peikoff

Published: March 5, 2024
Kindle: 336 Pages

Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read:  March 24- April 17, 2024
Jessica’s Rating: 5 stars

Book Description:

When any biological matter can be used to create life, stolen celebrity DNA sells to the highest bidder–or the craziest stalker–in this propulsive thriller.

With a vivid imagining of the future, Gattaca meets The Ones in Kira Peikoff’s Baby X.

In the near-future United States, where advanced technology can create egg or sperm from any person’s cells, celebrities face the alarming potential of meeting biological children they never conceived. Famous singer Trace Thorne is tired of being targeted by the Vault, a black-market site devoted to stealing DNA. Sick of paying ransom money for his own cell matter, he hires bio-security guard Ember Ryan to ensure his biological safety.

Ember will do anything she can to protect her clients. She knows all the Vault’s tricks–discarded tissues, used straws, lipstick tubes–and has prevented countless DNA thefts. Working for Thorne, her focus becomes split when she begins to fall for him, but she knows she hasn’t let anything slip–love or not, his DNA is safe. But then she and Thorne are confronted by a pregnant woman, Quinn, who claims that Thorne is the father of her baby, and all bets are off. 

Jessica’s Review:

The book description got this novel 1000% correct: A mix of Gattaca and The Ones! This is the kind of Science Fiction I love: A mix of Sci-Fi with Speculative Fiction that is realistic! It is also a unique novel that is fast paced, and an enjoyable read.  It was a bit of a popcorn thriller, I didn’t want to stop once I started it.

Baby X is set in the not-too-distant future and we have three povs and stories that intersect: Ember who works to protect her clients from their DNA being stolen and then we have Quinn who states that a well-known singer is her baby’s father. We also have Lily who is a newer journalist finishing school who is determined to make a name for herself.

Just imagine a world where DNA can be stolen and manipulated!  Any cell DNA can be transformed into sperm or eggs and then a baby is coming. I was just pulled into this strange and scary future that might just be possible one day. There are so many implications to this world. Babies being born and the parents don’t even know they exist!

There are several twists throughout but the big one I had figured out.  But it didn’t ruin the novel for me: usually it does, but this case was different. It was a twist I saw coming but it was I really enjoyed this novel and look forward to reading what else Kira Peikoff has written and will write. Many thanks to the publisher for granting me a copy to read and review. I really enjoyed it!

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

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