Cover Image: Blackquest 40

Blackquest 40

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Member Reviews

Balckquest 40 by Jeff Bond is a absolutely thrilling great read with twists and turns.

Description:  Big Tech meets Die Hard in this techno-thriller Kirkus Reviews calls "a clever, spirited tale with a brainy, nimble heroine at the helm." Deb Bollinger has no time for corporate training. Her company's top engineer at just twenty-seven, Deb has blocked off her day for the one project she truly cares about: the launch of Carebnb, an app that finds spare beds for the homeless. When she's told all employees must drop everything for some busywork exercise called Blackquest 40, it's an easy no. Trouble is, her bosses aren't really asking. Blackquest 40 is the mother of all corporate trainings. A near-impossible project to be completed in forty straight hours. No phones. No internet. Sleeping on cots. Nobody in, nobody out.
Deb finds the whole setup creepy and authoritarian. When a Carebnb issue necessitates her leaving the office, she heads for the door. What's the worst that could happen? Armed commandos, HVAC-duct chases, a catastrophic master plan that gets darker by the hour — Blackquest 40 is a fresh take on the Die Hard formula, layering smart-drones and a modern heroine onto the classic action tale.

"I am in the middle of solving homelessness when my boss raps his knuckles on my cubicle border." You know from the first sentence in the book it is definitely going to life up to it's description. I was definitely not disappointed. Deb is told by Paul that there is a meeting regarding Blackquest 40, a training exercise and it is mandatory for every employee in the company. Unable to excuse herself she goes as instructed and joins the team. Her pet project Carebnb designed to help homeless people is put on hold.

In the training, employees are instructed they must complete an impossible task within 40  hours. They are instructed to turn-in their phones, they are locked away in a building with no access to the outside world until their task is completed.

Does Deb finish the task? Does she escape? Will her pet project get off the ground? 
Well you have to read the book to find out, but let me tell you it is worth your time to purchase this book. Excellent read!!

I was provided this book free of charge in exchange for my honest opinion. I definitely give this a 5 Star
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I enjoyed this fast-paced thriller.

I took a little while to get into this one and had a hard time suspending my disbelief about many things, but once I let go, I found myself engrossed in the nightmarish scene Deb has found herself.  

I thought the pacing was excellent, the tech talk unpretentious and interesting, and the story, while a bit far-fetched at time, engrossing.

Throughout this novel, there were many twists and turns and Bond managed to keep the turns tight.  I never felt bogged down in details or the slow middle that can often happen in thrillers.  Each chapter offered a new danger.

There was a bit of tech talk. I am not a tech-y person in general, but I found the jargon interesting.  And, of course, I liked Deb's side projects and found the things she could make fascinating.

The storyline felt fresh.  Sure there may be a little 80s Cold War vibe happening, but for the most part, I didn't feel like I had read this story before.  

It appears this is Mr. Bond's second novel; I will be seeking out his earlier work, as well as watching for new titles.


Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for my free ebook ARC.
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* I have volunteered to share my review and all the opinions are 100% my own *

This is the story of Deb Bollinger, a twenty-seven year old engineer, obsessed with a project she cares about she has no time for corporate training. But unfortunately this training is mandatory, and to drop everything to work on an exercise called Blackquest 40.
Deb’s passion has been working on the Carebnb and when she is told she has to attend this Blackquest 40 training she is not interested and needs to check on her project, but her bosses are insistent, but when an issue arises with her Carebnb she decides to walk out and that is when all the drama starts. 
This is a brilliant take on Die Hard and with so much action and suspense, this is such a fast-paced storyline, with lots of twists and turns.
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Blackquest 40 is a clever, entertaining and suspenseful, tech lovers dream. I enjoyed it immensely and had trouble putting it down.

The plot is action-filled, and the pace had me flipping the pages. This is my first read by Jeff Bond, and it won’t be my last. I really love his writing style. It’s readable and immersive.

The only downside of this book is the reference to coding and other technology. It’s a bit difficult to understand in the beginning, but I got it eventually. It just took some powering through and after I understood everything, the book was really fun.

The characters are well developed. Deb was a fantastic main character and added to the imersiveness of Blackquest 40!

I highly recommend Blackquest 40! 

*I voluntarily read and reviewed this novel through a blog tour with Partners in Crime Book Tours. All opinions are my own.*
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A thriller, full of suspense, which even the lack of logic here and there, and the author‘s love of - sometimes too many - details or side stories cannot kill. I caught myself reading on, in spite of the loose threads or occasional lack of coherence. After all, it‘s fiction. The choice of the Russians as „bad guys“ seems a bit old-fashioned, however. The colds wars of our times, after all, are different ones. Yet this might be my European perspective. Powerful female characters - good and bad women - is a nice option. All in all I enjoyed the read. Thanks to Net Galley, who made this book available for a review.
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Just when you think the end is in sight and you stop feeling anxious......you realise you're not even halfway through!

It's a cracking read, ideal for adults who are looking for fiction and mental stimulation. I've got my fingers-crossed for this to be turned into a film (a good one without too many changes!)

I really like Deb, she's been through a lot but hasn't let it hold her back. She's an intelligent, tech savvy woman who is kickass!

I'm loving a main female character that doesn't take any crap and can tell when things aren't right. Plus she has some pretty cool gadgets which she made herself. 

There's plenty of action, a few surprises and lots to guess at.
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Fast-paced and engagingly suspenseful, Jeff forced me to feel Deb's deeply human and complicated emotions. He provided a gripping glimpse of how the Deb and her colleagues survived in this well-developed tech-obsessed world.
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I discovered this modern technothriller set in San Francisco through an email from Hidden Gems, and was intrigued by the premise, but dislike the unrealistically short time frame they give you for submission of your review, so was happy to see it was also available from NetGalley, who don’t pester you with follow up emails. It’s billed as Die Hard for IT nerds and there is certainly a lot of computer-talk that went completely over my head, as I am far from techno-savvy (so forgive me if I use the wrong terms in this review) but this didn’t stop me enjoying it as an exciting thriller featuring a feisty heroine reminiscent of a less violent Lisbeth Salander.

Deb Bollinger is the lead IT engineer at Codewise, a buzzy tech firm who poached her from Google due to her brilliant coding skills. She’s overcome a difficult childhood on the streets with her schizophrenic mother and enjoys her work but her main passions are her new app, Carebnb, which is designed to offer homeless (or “unhoused”) people unused beds in the city, and her gadgets, like Raven, an intelligent solar-powered drone who is part assistant, part pet. 

On the day of Carebnb’s launch, the bosses at Codewise announce a mandatory corporate training exercise for all staff, called BlackQuest 40, which includes a comms blackout and enforced on-site presence for forty hours. A natural rebel, Deb tries to escape but is brutally returned to the sinister “Facilitators”, who are running the exercise with threats ranging from loss of staff stock options to forced injections of speed. Suspicious that this must be more than an exercise, Deb will use all her skills and toys to subvert their plan and free her colleagues, but with the clock ticking on more than just their jobs, will this pint-sized John McLane beat the baddies?

While I did find this a bit long, and don’t like first person present narration, I didn’t have a problem with the geek-speak (my husband is an IT professional and even after 17 years I still don’t understand much of it) as the story was well written with fluent dialogue and well described action sequences, so I could just let the computer stuff wash over me as it didn’t interfere with the plot. Knowing this was an homage to Die Hard (and it is even referenced, with plenty of fun Easter eggs) helped me understand where this was going, and forgive the implausible scenario to just enjoy the ride.

My thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the arc which allowed me to give an honest review. BlackQuest 40 is available now.
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This is a book for tech savvy lovers of suspense. Readers are immediately immersed in the world of coding and elite programming. This senior citizen was lost in a menagerie of terms and actions unfamiliar to me and I am not sure I ever caught up. There was plenty of suspense, however, and it kept me reading. The heroine, super smart coding whiz Deb, is a gutsy woman. She attempts to use all of her technological expertise and her amazing tech gizmos to thwart her foes. People are not who she thought, even those with whom she closely worked. And the corporate training exercise is only a facade for a much more serious and nefarious attack on, well, you'll just have to read the book with its twist near the end.

Bond's writing style sets a fast pace for the plot. I would have liked more background information for the tech world into which we plunge. I was lost at times in the coding language references and the dialogue about it. Younger readers might feel right at home there. I did enjoy the intense action and building suspense. 

I received a complimentary egalley of this book through Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours. My comments are an independent and honest review.
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Blackquest 40 is the second book by very talented American author Jeff Bond,who's debut, "The Winner Maker", was one of my favourite books of 2018. 
Deb Bollinger is the feisty and extremely talented young head engineer at Codewise,where she answers only to the CEO as a condition of her employment and has time to work on her pet project helping the homeless. The company announces a training exercise,the Blackquest 40 of the title, Deb opts out only to discover that there is no opt out,even for her.. and events escalate into ever more sinister territory with employees cut off from the outside world  and Blackquest 40 proves to be far more than a training exercise.
Deb is a great character,more than a touch of the Lisbeth Salander about her a she uses her computer skills , cunning and a small army of robotic weapons against the forces of evil .
As someone who still marvels at what happens when you press Control,Alt,Delete some of the techy stuff went over my head but I thoroughly enjoyed the ride,.The story is pacy ,imaginative and suitable for all ages, older teens would love it as well as older readers.
A total change from Jeff Bond's debut novel but just as good and I hope he very soon finds the success he deserves.
Big thanks to Jeff Bond, and Netgalley for the ARC in return for an honest review.
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On the very day that twenty-seven year old engineer, Deb Bollinger, is launching Carebnb, her pet project that matches homeless people with places to stay each night, the company she works for insists that all employees drop everything to participate in a corporate training exercise called  Blackquest 40.  Deb is a hard working free spirit and hired on to the company with the understanding that she only answers to CEO Susan (who is out of the country at the time) and otherwise is free of any other company restrictions. Deb opts out of Blackquest 40, but finds that opting out is not an option. 

The employees have 40 hours to complete an impossible task, a task that requires Deb's full attention to have even a chance of getting off the ground. The "facilitators" running the training exercise resemble paramilitary members rather than corporate workers, requiring the building to be locked so no one can leave, all phones to be confiscated, and any access to the outside world cut off for the duration of the exercise, with no way to contact family or friends to tell them what is happening. Rebelling against the entire situation, Deb tries to escape and finds even more links to a military operation,
possibly a foreign, unfriendly operation, than to anything that could resemble a simple company exercise.

As Deb fights against the leaders of the operation, things become more sinister and dangerous. Deb is one tough, spirited, anti-establishment rebel and she will not go down without the fight of her life. This is a fast action story with a whole lot of technical jargon thrown in that went way over my head but I was able to just trust Deb that she knew what she was doing, cheering her on in her fight against something that was clearly very wrong. Deb knows she can not trust anyone, as she uses every bit of her physical and mental resources to escape from deadly forces that are used to bring her under control. 

Deb is an expert in AI, building both the hardware and software for AI bodies into which she installs her work. Part of her arsenal to fight her captors is the various AI gadgets that she has built for other projects or for fun, all with varying abilities. Deb ends up being one beat up body as she fights something that she realizes could be the end of hundreds of thousands of lives, if the oppressors get what they want from her. 

Thank you to Jeff Bond and NetGalley for this ARC.
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BackQuest  is a brave roller coaster of a novel, crackling with life and surprises. I loved the complexity of the young woman who is the epic - center of it all..
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Second novels are tricky. A lot of times the premise holds great promise but ultimately fails to deliver. Other times a reader has high expectations and the novel doesn't quite satisfy. And then there's what occasionally happens, as it did with BLACKQUEST 40. I read the premise, liked it well enough to request a copy based on how much I liked THE WINNER MAKER, and attempted to keep my expectations low. I needn't have worried.

BLACKQUEST 40 starts out strong -- and, more importantly, finishes strong -- as Codewise undergoes a mandatory companywide training exercise that causes Deb Bollinger, the books protagonist, to rebel and attempt to escape in order to take care of her schizophrenic mother and to debug her pet project, a way to help house the homeless using a wristband app 

Deb's gut tells her that there is more to the training provided by Elite Development than meets the eye and, even as an unwilling participant, keeps trying to figure out what is going on.

BLACKQUEST 40 is full of suspense, an unexpected twist or two, and is sure to keep readers turning pages. I found it hard to put down once I started reading.

Highly recommended!

I received a copy from the author through NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.
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I found this very interesting it was hard to get into it first but not because of any difficulty I think it was just personally I was distracted I did enjoy this book it was a good but not because of any difficulty I think it was just personally I was distracted I did enjoy this book it was a good read
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Blackquest 40 is a thriller/hi-tech novel worthy of Tom Cruise or Bruce Willis except that the protagonist is a nerdy female. When all the employees of her high tech firm are locked in and shut off from the outside world for 40 hours, the subterfuge, the killings, the threats, the schemes all multiply in this new stand-alone from Jeff Bond
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This put a whole new spin on In-house training and team building.  Deb Bollinger is a bit of a free spirit and has her own agenda to complete and that doesn't include been part of  a forced training session no matter what they tell her.   Been her company's top engineer it becomes critical that she becomes involved and the people running Blackquest 40 are going the have it their way no matter what.  When Deb's boss who she admires returns from her trip in the middle of this crisis is she acting for the benefit of Deb or the people running the training program.  Lots of questions and you will have to read the whole book to get the answers.
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Think 'Die Hard' meets 'Swordfish,' with a dash of 'WarGames' thrown in for good measure. 

I absolutely loved and devoured this book. I seriously considered being late to work so I could finish it this morning, but my responsible adult side won out and I waited until this evening to finish it. I first read Jeff Bond's The Winner Maker as an ARC from NetGalley and enjoyed the mystery and quasi-Harlan Coben style of writing. 

Mr. Bond reached out to me via email and told me I may be interested in Blackquest 40, but also gave me a heads up that it was different than The Winner Maker. What an understatement, but in a good way! 

Blackquest 40 tells the tale of a 'corporate training' that goes far beyond the depths of the standard trust falls and sharing circles. The plot is full of twists and turns, breakneck action, and riveting computer coding/hacking segments. I don't want to delve too much into the plot, but it keeps you guessing up until the last pages.

The main protagonist (Deb), her supporting characters, and the villains are well-developed and multi-layered. I genuinely felt like I got to know the characters and never felt any characterization was not aligned to what was presented. 

I definitely recommend picking up a copy of this book. I received a free copy in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley, but that had no bearing on my thoughts. It has a little for everyone - whether you are into thrillers, techno books, or just looking for a quick, good action read. Looking forward to what this up and coming author comes up with next!
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