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review 2017-07-17 20:05
Turing's Imitation Game
Turing's Imitation Game: Conversations with the Unknown - Kevin Warwick,Huma Shah

[I received a copy of this book through NetGalley.]

That was an informative, albeit also controversial, read about Turing’s ‘Imitation Game’, focused on the game itself rather than on the man (who I like reading about in general, but here I was definitely more interested in his famous ‘test’, since I keep hearing about it, but never in much detail). It sheds light on Turing’s aim when devising the test, as well as on what he predicted, and that may or may not happen sooner than expected.

Several sections in the book are devoted to examples of studies and events during which the test took place, pitching human judges against both machines and other human beings, without the former knowing what or who the latter was. Actual, textual examples allow the reader to try and make their own judgment—and determining where the machines are is not so easy as it seems. I was accurate in my guesses except but once, I think, however I can see where judges were ‘fooled’, and why. At other times, I was surprised at the outcome, for instance quite a few human participants made ‘boring’ answers to conversations, which in turn prompted judges to believe they were talking to a machine—and conversely, some AIs were clearly programmed with a variety of lively potential responses. Eugene Goostman, especially, with its persona of a 13-year old Ukrainian boy whose English is only second language, has good potential (in that you can tell some of its/his answers are stilted, but not more than if it/he was an actual learner of ESOL).

The test as a whole posits several interesting questions and conundrums. Namely, the fact that it’s based on language, and that one may wonder whether being able to converse means one is gifted with ‘thought’. Another one is whether the test as it exists can really be used as a marker: aren’t the various chatbots/AIs out there simply well-programmed, but in no way indicative of whether they’ll be able to go further than that?

Also, I’m not sure I can agree with the 2014 ‘the Turing test has been passed’ result, as it seems to me the percentage is too low to warrant such a qualifier (if 90% of judges were fooled in believing they were conversing with a human, now that’d be something else... or am I aiming too high?), and it’s too early anyway for the current AIs to have been developed far enough (as fascinating as some of their conversations were, they still looked much more like complex chatbots than anything else—at least, to me).

Conclusion: 3.5 stars. I did learn quite a few things no matter what.

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review 2017-07-12 04:54
The Secrets She Keeps
The Secrets She Keeps - Michael Robotham

By: Michael Robotham 

ISBN: 9781501170317

Publisher: Scribner

Publication Date:  7/11/2017 

Format:  Hardcover 

My Rating: 5 Stars +++

 

An avid Michael Robotham fan since his first book to his latest— and each one in between! The talented Australian crime fiction author returns following Close Your Eyes, landing on my Top Books of 2016, as well as Life or Death on my Top 10 Books of 2015 with his twelveth novel—yet another supercharged smashing hit THE SECRETS SHE KEEPS! 

5 stars +++ Let me say, there are some juicy evil secrets here . . . KILLER! Top Books of 2017. 

Set aside the time (unputdownable). Would make a fabulous movie! A story that will change the way you view other people’s lives. Fitting for today's world of social media. 

Two women. Two lives. Two worlds. Two pregnancies. Two sets of very different secrets. The dangers of envy and lies. 

Character-driven, skillfully-plotted —Robotham pulls you into the dark secret world of two different women in this riveting domestic suspense thriller.

Two pregnant women. Two women from different walks of life. How will their worlds connect?

The search for happiness. Survival. Managing expectations. Wishing for something someone else has.

Agatha watches Meghan from the window of the suburban London grocery store where she works part-time stocking shelves. She is pregnant. Her baby’s father is away. She leads a sad life. What an imagination! 

She desires a perfect life. She wants to be a perfect mother and wife. She will have this world. 

“We need the darkness to appreciate the light, and the bumps along the road to stop us falling asleep at the wheel.”

Meghan is chic, elegant, dazzling. Meghan has it all. Perfect children (Lucy and Lachlan), a handsome husband (sports reporter), Jack; stylish, nice friends, beautiful, plus she writes a mommy blog. She is pregnant. Meghan Shaughnessy is a former journalist but now a super-mom with tons of followers.

One follower is obsessed and carries it further.

Agatha is delighted to discover their two pregnancy dates are within the same month. She must figure out a way to get to know this woman. To get close to her.

What is Agatha's agenda? She is the more mysterious one.

Agatha is not so pretty. People do not notice shelf-stockers.She imagines herself friends with Meg. She soon learns Meg’s habits by the things she buys and shops for in the store. She wants to have a life like Meg. She waits for her man, Hayden to return from the Navy. He does not know she is pregnant. 

Despite her dead-end job and the desperate ordinary life, Agatha has her imagination and her dreams.

However, is Meg’s life as glamorous as Agatha thinks? 

Meg’s marriage is not so perfect. The happy go lucky easy-going Jack has turned into a brittle man whose emotions seem to be wrapped tightly in barbed wire that she cannot hope to unloop them. 

Agatha watches Meg, Jack and the children for hours. She stalks. She has been inside their home. The house next to the train track. She may see more than she wanted to. (loved this part with Jack/Realtor/Agatha).

Megan had an affair with Simon. Secrets to take to the grave. 

 




What is Agatha hiding? What does her Jehovah Witness childhood have to do with the present? The horrors and monsters. She is attracted to people. When it comes to her past, people get some of the truth, some of the time. 

Told in alternating voices, Agatha has a haunting past she hides. Meghan’s perfect life begins to unravel. What unfolds is heart-pounding chilling suspense! They may have more in common than they know. 

A top-notch thriller and a compulsive read. Dark, twisted, and emotionally charged! 

Am always amazed at how a man writes such strong women characters. He gets inside their heads—flawed characters, full of emotion, sprinkled with wit, humor, book titles, movies and lots of heart and intensity. 

The author mentions in the acknowledgments: . . . “The Secrets She Keeps, a novel whose structure, substance, and twin voices are the most ambitious I’ve ever tackled.” 

Congrats! Just when I think the next book cannot possibly be better than the previous, the author manages to create another intelligent award-winning psychological masterpiece!

Not only is Robotham one of the most talented writers, he could be a standup comedian. Hilarious one-liners. 

I love the Joe O’Loughlin series; however, the author’s stand-alone's are to be savored as well. One of the top crime thriller international authors today. As always, glued to the pages. (Your US fans adore you!) 

Looks like we will get to see more of Joe O’Loughlin, with The Other Wife, coming July 2018 (can’t wait). A pre-order for sure! 

Also purchased the audiobook (currently listening). Love narrator, Lucy Price-Lewis delivering a riveting performance. 

For fans of Karin Slaughter, Paula Hawkins, Paul Cleave, and Liane Moriarty. Highly Recommend. 

A special thank you to Scribner and NetGalley for an early reading copy. 

JDCMustReadBooks

 

 

Source: www.judithdcollinsconsulting.com/single-post/2017/04/03/The-Secrets-She-Keeps
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review 2017-07-08 18:03
Void Star
Void Star - Zachary Mason

[I received a copy of this book through NetGalley.]

This story takes us on the paths followed by three characters very different from each other: Irina, carrying a brain implant that gives her perfect memory and access to AIs; Kern, a young refugee from the San Francisco favelas, who taught himself through books and martial arts thanks to a laptop found in a dump; and Thales, son of a murdered Brazilian politician, whose life hangs by a thread only because his body may reject the implant that saved his life at any moment.

The world depicted in the novel is not exactly cyberpunk, not exactly transhumanistic, not exactly dystopian, but a blend of all three? Life-prolonging and youth treatments exist... only for those who can afford them. The implant in both Irina and Thales’s brains is exceptional... but. Large corporations dominate everyday life, but the protagonists are different from their more usual cyberpunk counterparts. Earth is going through climate changes and places like Singapore are gradually going underwater, and many people don’t have access to basic necessities... but at the same time, a sense of wonder still permeates the story, if only because of the way the characters are confronted to various threats and obstacles, yet also to hopes and openings towards new paths. Kern’s laptop, for instance, because of what it represents, or could represent, for a young boy living in the streets. Or the inhuman and fascinating beauty of the AIs introduced here, the destructive Cloudbreaker and the elusive Mathematician.

This is both close to us, making it possible to grasp it, with its technologies that we can understand (tablets and phones, albeit somewhat obsolete for the wealthier characters), and at the same time deeply alien and full of mysteries (what would it be like to live with a perfect, artificial memory you can access just whenever, yet that may send you into seizure and kill you?).

‘Void Star’ reads well, although for some reason I felt like taking my sweet time with it, perhaps because unconsciously I didn’t want to finish it too fast? It may sometimes be a wee difficult to follow, since it doesn’t rely on detailed explanations, instead taking its readers through its characters’ travels; I quite liked that, though—I like that in general in SF/F, even though I know I can’t read such stories when I’m too tired, for fear of losing my pace and missing important hints. While some events appeared, as a result, a little confusing, in the end I could still piece everything together. The three main narratives are well interwoven—chapter Y actually holds the missing answers to what happened in chapter X, and so on—and even when I didn’t have all the information to understand their world in the beginning, it wasn’t much of a problem.

Conclusion: Not the easiest read around, due to its (beautiful but sometimes complex) descriptive language and concepts; however, if one is ready to tackle that, this book can be positively fascinating.

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review 2017-07-01 04:54
The Lucky Ones
The Lucky Ones - Mark Edwards

By: Mark Edwards 

ISBN: 978-1477848272

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer 

Publication Date:  6/15/2017 

Format: Other

My Rating: 5 Stars

 

Bestselling author, Mark Edwards returns following (2016)The Devil’s Work with his latest THE LUCKY ONES a twisty psycho-thriller featuring a serial killer who wants his victims to die happy. 

Perfectly happy and ready to die. A killer who tries to make his victims’ lives perfect before he kills them. 

Set in Shropshire, we meet a detective, an average man who desires a better life, and a killer. Told from different POV with two parts. 

Who will be “The Lucky Ones?” Does he "make" them happy? How does the murderer know what needs fixing in their lives? 

Detective Imogen Evans knew bodies were not discovered in picturesque places like this. Her first serial killer, the man the tabloids called the Shropshire Viper had struck –a snake, fangs glistening with venom for the third time.

A killer who likes a little cocktail of morphine to keep his victims smiling.

 




Ben Holland is newly separated (cheating wife), raising an eleven-year-old son, Ollie on his own. Things are not going well and his finances are strained. His mom has terminal cancer. He is down on his luck. However, soon his luck may change. 

The killer is one evil guy (of course Edwards is no stranger to unique twists). The Viper wants his victims to die in bliss. He wants them to die happy. He manipulates their lives and circumstances and turns their life around, to end their life on a good note. 

There does not seem to be a link between the victims and DI Inspector Imogen Evans is driven to solve this crime before he strikes next. The Secret of Happy Place. Why does their body turn up in their “happy place?”

Intense! If you are a fan of talented "thriller King", Mark Edwards— you have come to expect gripping, entertaining and a well-crafted twisty plot with characters who come alive on the page. 

From suspenseful plotting and solid character development, this complex fast-paced page-turner will keep fans reading into the wee hours of the morning— nothing predictable here! 

Top-of-the-line thriller writing with remarkable skill. For fans of Stephen King, Linwood Barclay, Paul Cleave, and Jennifer Hillier. For new readers who enjoy a mix of crime, humor, and psychological— suspense, mystery, horror, and thriller.

If you have not read Follow You Home (2015), highly recommend —one of my favorites! Top Books of 2015. 

A special thank you to Thomas & Mercer for an early reading copy. 

Also purchased the audiobook narrated by Simon Mattacks for an edge-of-your-seat chilling performance.

JDCMustReadBooks

 

 

Source: www.judithdcollinsconsulting.com/single-post/2017/03/01/The-Lucky-Ones
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review 2017-06-30 00:38
ARC Review: Love And Other Hot Beverages by Laurie Loft
Love and Other Hot Beverages - Laurie Loft

2.5 stars

I wanted to like this, really, I did. I read the blurb and thought this was going to be a drama-filled romance, but it's not.

Oh, there's plenty of drama, alright, but not really the romance I expected. 

Todd Addison is working for a construction company after his last relationship ended with a bad and painful break-up. Having put many miles between himself and his former boyfriend, he's taken the construction job until he finds something better to do or until ex-boyfriend changes his mind. Oh, he's also now in the closet, because construction workers are generally homophobic, according to Todd. 

Sebastian (Sebby) Nye is out and proud and the office manager for the construction company. He is an outrageous flirt, and tries his charms on a very standoffish Todd, plying him with coffee and more. Eventually, Sebby gets what he wants. It's supposed to be healing Todd from heartbreak, and Sebby isn't planning to fall for the guy but he does anyway.

I really didn't like Todd. He exasperated me with his back and forth, and he hurt Sebby more than once. Their relationship is messy because Sebby isn't totally honest, and Todd is still pining for the cheating ex. 

I had a difficult time liking both characters, actually, and their actions and reactions were possibly a little to realistic for me. I don't mind realism in the books I read; I welcome it usually, but here it just got too much for me - I just didn't believe that these two men are going to make it, despite the HEA we get in the end. 

The writing is a bit stilted on occasion, and the dialogue felt off, especially when they were bantering. There are sexy times, but I wasn't super impressed with those either. 

Overall, it was just meh. 

 

 

** I received a free copy of this book from its publisher via Netgalley. A positive review was not promised in return. **

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