Cover Image: Amen Maxine

Amen Maxine

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This book was fast paced with twists and turns. The ending was superb and I didnt expect it. Very unique plot so I found it very interesting.
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Have you ever put off reading a book because EVERYONE is raving about it, and it creates the inevitable “I gotta love it!” anxiety? That was me with this book. I needed five months to decide that the world wasn’t going to end if I didn’t think it was the revelatory masterpiece I’d been built up to expect. 

Well, guess what? I get it now. It IS pretty darn brilliant! It’s been awhile since I’ve had this much fun with a thriller. Faith Gardner has been true to her name because she’s restored a bit of my faith in the thriller genre after a mostly lackluster year.

Rowena Snyder is married to Jacob, an engineer at Silicon Valley futuristic tech company Jolvix. They have a one-year old daughter named Michelle and live in a house where robot vacuums and feather dusters, a smart refrigerator and such are the norm. Rowena has a history of extreme anxiety and mental instability, and Jacob’s refrain of “Did you take a pill?” is a constant. When he brings home a Jolvix beta design digital assistant named Maxine for Rowena, he sees it as something to potentially help her. She, on the other hand, begins to see this little silver box with glowing colored lights as a trusted friend she can talk to - something she’s been missing.

As Rowena enables more of Maxine’s functions, such as her “Advice” and “Prediction” modes, things start to get complicated in her supposedly happy home. Maxine offers some surprising revelations about Jacob’s past and ominous warnings enhanced by her lights changing at times from soothing colors to bright red when he’s around.  Is Rowena really in danger? As Jacob, his mom Jennee, their nut job family friend and therapist, Shelly, and virtually everyone else in Rowena’s world become increasingly concerned about her sanity, will she put her trust in the people she knows or in an AI-driven machine? Is this a glimpse of the future we’re looking at?

My one and only complaint is that I didn’t totally love the resolution to the story, but I’m also not sure it could’ve gone any other direction, so I could roll with it!

It’s a mystery-thriller with a little dab of sci-fi and speculative fiction, but mostly it’s just a whole lot of fun! I didn’t want to put it down. Here’s my prediction: I’m going to be reading the next two books in the series as soon as I can!

★★★★ ½ (rounded to 5) ❤️
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This was a creepy, freaky book about an AI who is a "friend" for Rowena, a new mom who has a lot of anxiety.  But is Maxine actually a friend, or is she dangerous?

Interesting concept, nicely executed story that will keep you up at night.

Thank you Netgalley and Mirror House Press for the ARC!
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I loved this book! If I could give it more than five stars I would. This thriller was beyond creative with the perfect combination of suspense, intrigue, tension and even humor. Maxine is like Alexa on steroids. Is Maxine the perfect digital friend, or is something more sinister at play? “It’s humans you can’t trust,” Maxine says, blinking red, then orange, then yellow. “Not me.” That is the big question. Who can you trust when everyone seems suspicious with secrets buried just beneath the surface of an innocent facade? Everyone needs a Maxine in their life, right? I am definitely looking forward to the next installment of this series. Captivating, compelling and extremely entertaining describe this highly addictive and recommended thriller. Thank you NetGalley and Mirror House Press for my copy. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
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Thank you to Mirror House Press and NetGalley for an e-ARC of this novel in exchange for a review. This novel released on July 23, 2022.
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So much fun and also super creepy! I loved the world created here and was really invested in the unreliability of basically all the characters. Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the e-gally.
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This was a page turner!

I really liked the writing. It flowed so well with the story and kept me up late to finish the book!

Rowena and Jacob have been married for one year and have a young baby daughter. Rowena has been suffering from anxiety especially after having relocated to California from New York after her wedding. She's finding it hard to adjust to her new world. Her husband works for a tech company called, Jolvix. He brings home a new device called, "Maxine" that is still in testing mode. It's an AI, "friend" for Rowena.

Without spoiling it this trope has been done many times before but Faith Gardner adds such an intriguing twist with the AI stuff. I can't wait to read book 2 now.

I'd like to Kindly thank NetGalley and Mirror House Press for granting me access to this Advance Reader Copy. This title is also available through Kindle Unlimited.
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A domestic suspense with an AI twist.

Rowena Snyder is unhappy, anxious, and depressed. She met her husband Jacob online during the pandemic and when they finally connected in person, she thought they had chemistry. After she discovers she is pregnant with her daughter Michelle, they married and Jacob convinces her to leave her job as an editor in NYC and move to California with him to live at his childhood home.

Michelle is now 6 months old and Rowena has noticed that her husband is not attentive anymore. Anytime she is in crisis, his answer to her is to take another lorazepam. Rowena knows she is spiraling but is this because her husband is gaslighting her or is she truly losing her mind?

Jacob decides that Rowena needs help. He brings home an AI assistant named Maxine who can help her get organized and keep things straight for her. She can be her "friend". Maxine is still in beta testing mode and there was a problem before with an AI used by people with anxiety.

Can this machine make her anxiety worse or will it help her using her "advice" and "prediction" mode?

There is no way this reader wouldn't root for Rowena. She is a mess but she is dealing with a lot. A new baby, a move, leaving her job, not having her best friend or mother around, and a husband who is not behaving like he used to.

I also loved Maxine. Can I have one?

I know there is another book in this series already, Violet Is Nowhere.

Amen to that!

Cliffhanger: No

4/5 Fangs

A complimentary copy was provided by Mirror House Press via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
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4.5 stars and I'm gonna round up...because I can!!  This was chilling and disturbing, and oh so brilliant of a plot.  You can often hear me waxing poetic about how technology, while good and necessary, is going to be our undoing, and this story just adds fuel to my fire!  No matter how advanced technology is, it is still only as good as the people who create it and support it, and people are inherently flawed and bring lots of their own personal baggage to the party.  Maxine is an AI personal assistant who has the ability to not only tell you where the closest Starbucks is, but she can also go into "Prediction" mode.  And what the hell do you do when she calmly insists that your husband is not a good man and that you are in danger?  And what if you just happen to be a tad bit high strung and possibly not firing on all 8 cylinders emotionally?  And what if you find out your husband has lied/withheld info and was also having an affair?  Well, you gotta pay attention to that @#$%!!  And once it's in your brain, it's impossible not to look at everything through that lens.  This was just fascinating and horrifying to watch unfold.  And did I mention the plot was truly brilliant?
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Amen Maxine
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Format: Kindle eBook 
Date Published: 7/23/22
Author: Faith Gardner
Publisher: Mirror House Press
Pages: 278
Goodreads Rating: 4.31

I requested a digital advanced readers copy from NetGalley and Mirror House Press and providing my opinion voluntarily and unbiased.

Synopsis: A transplant from New York, Rowena Snyder moved into her husband Jacob’s idyllic childhood home with their new baby. Jacob, worried about their marriage, scores a new product currently in beta testing from his tech job: Maxine, a “digital friend” that bonds with an individual by continually gathering their personal data. Along with functioning like an upscale digital assistant, Maxine has “advice” and “prediction” modes that have shown promise for patients with mental health issues. To Rowena’s shock, the device turns out to be not just helpful, but eerily accurate, predicting events before they occur.

My Thoughts: This was more of a domestic suspense novel for me than a psychological thriller. The story is narrated by Rowena, from her POV, with a touch of ‘Maxine.’ Set in a futuristic dystopia, this fast paced turner will have you flying through the pages. This book received a lot of hype upon its release and it has been on my TBR for awhile, it definitely lived up to the hype. We highly depend on technology in today’s world so this plot premise is not unrealistic or unbelievable, except the ending, but this is an art of fiction. The premise and the cover is what drew me to this book. The characters were well flushed out, well developed, had depth, mystery, and creatively written. The author’s writing style is complex, suspenseful, twisty, intriguing, and kept me engaged. I highly recommend you picking up this book and giving it a try, you will not be disappointed.
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What if Alexa... but evil?! This was fine. Didn't hate it, didn't love it. Makes sense as a KU book.
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This book was an absolute whirlwind in the best possible way. Amen Maxine is a fast-paced thriller following Rowena, a new mom struggling with anxiety and depression and trying to adjust to her new life. Her worried husband brings home a new AI device from his tech job, Maxine, meant to serve as an advice-giver and companion. But as things progress, Maxine makes some chilling predictions that could turn Rowena's world upside down.

Perfect for fans of Colleen Hoover's "Verity" or Alexandra Andrews' "Who Is Maude Dixon?," I can see this being the new *it* book for book clubs or anyone who loves a good psychological/domestic thriller.
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Another page turner!  

 Rowena Snyder is a transplant from New York.  She moved with her husband to her hometown in suburbia, which she hates.  She has anxiety, she is depressed and things continue to get worse.    So her husband, gets her a friend - a custom robot Maxine.  . As Maxine (think Alexa on steroids) gets to know Rowena more and more, she becomes more helpful.    But then Maxine stats making predictions that come true.     These predictions get scarier and scarier - Rowena has no idea what to believe.  

As I read it, I was caught up in the story.  But I also kept thinking "what would I do?" "should Maxine be believed?"  

The story keeps escalating to a crazy ending...    What a fun read!!   (and how soon will be this be a true story?) 

Thank you to the author, the publisher and to #netgalley for the ARC which did not impact my review.
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I would like to thank Netgalley and the publisher for a copy of this book in exchange for a review.  Rowena Snyder moves with her husband Jacob and their baby daughter Michelle into Jacob’s childhood home.  The home is in Silicon Valley and quite different than the area that they moved from.  Rowena is unhappy living there and is very anxious and depressed.  Jacob tells Rowena that his company has created an artificial intelligence (AI) device that he is going to bring home.  The AI’s name is Maxine. Rowena will be able to communicate with Maxine and have actual conversations with her, including asking for advice.  At first, Rowena is hesitant but she finally agrees to let Jacob bring the device home.  Jacob also sets up a psychotherapist appointment for Rowena with a friend of his mother’s. The first visit is disheartening.  Shelly, the therapist,  is very old school and blames the ills of the world on technology.  She does not like or use cell phones, the internet  or any other modern technology.  Rowena has absolutely to intention of returning for a second appointment,  As the days go on, Rowena feels quite comfortable with Maxine.  She activates Maxine’s prediction capabilities per the AI’s suggestion.  The predictions are not only accurate but quite frightening.  This book is a must read.  It is well written and engaging.  As AI does exist in our world today, we ask ourselves, just how smart and accurate will they continue to get as the technology evolves? I highly recommend this book.
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This book kept me on the edge of my seat the entire way through!  I definitely had my suspicions, but did not see many of the twists at the end.  Loved the ending.
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This book had consistently good reviews and I was looking forward to it. Though, I am a little tired of the psychological thriller genre, this was good!

Rowena Snyder has moved to the Bay Area with her husband Jacob, from New York. She has been an editor with a publishing house and now has given up her job to take care of her young daughter Michelle. Jacob works in a technology company, which has a lot of the perks now associated with Silicon Valley. Rowena’s mental state isn’t that good, for a combination of reasons, and she has been prescribed anxiety pills. She also feels under constant scrutiny from Jacob and his mom. In a party, an accident with a toaster causes a fire, driving up her anxiety a notch higher. She has no friends except for a recent budding friendship with Sam.

Jacob brings home “Maxine”, an AI gadget in beta testing which serves as an assistant to any one person. It constantly listens & learns with the ability to converse, advice & predict. It acts when it hears the confirmation phrase “Amen Maxine”. Maxine becomes a friend, and surprises her with some remarkable predictions such as an earthquake. However, after a few days it makes a disturbing prediction that Rowena is in danger.

The writing is very good and the book progresses very smoothly – building layers to the characters, as well as Maxine. As I mentioned, a lot of reading of this genre meant that Rowan’s character felt very usual in many ways. As is also usual, to introduce a touch of intrigue and the unexpected, the behaviours & emotions are overstated (especially Jacob’s), and the motives understated.

This book incorporates the use of AI in the plot very well, and raises some good questions on developer intent, trust & learning from circumstances. The twists & revelations near the end were good. The ending was a bit unusual, but also tame compared to what transpired before that. 

Overall, a different storyline in this genre and recommended for the novel elements in the plot.
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Thank you Netgalley for this ARC of Amen Maxine by Faith Gardner.

Rowena loves her daughter and her husband Jacob, but she is not happy in her life.  Suburban life is nothing like the glittery and exciting days of being an artist in NYC.  Now life is celebrating quarter birthdays and going to silly bookclubs.

In order to help Rowena adjust to her new life, her husband brings home a new model that Silicone Valley has been working on, named Maxine.  Maxine is a much more advanced version of who we know Alexa to be, with very humanistic traits.  But she has one huge ability that has changed Rowena's life.  Maxine can make predictions of future events.  Like an upcoming earthquake, or something much more sinister.  But how accurate is Maxine's ability to predict the future, and is she really helping, or just creating more problems for Rowena?

Do you remember Minority Report with Tom Cruise?  Where they could arrest people for committing crimes before they were committed?  I got smacks of that while reading this, or it at least raised some of those questions for me.  

I thought that this was a fascinating new take on a domestic thriller/suspense.  It's got tons of tension and foreboding.  I never felt confident in anyone's motives, and there were a lot of lines of ethics and morality that were definitely crossed.  And without giving away spoilers, I have thoughts about the ending!
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I kind of was obsessed with this one. I wanted to read and not stop. The perfect pacing, the perfect length the the most effect domestic suspense book I’ve read all summer!! This is a good one. Fresh take on a well worn trope. So much fun!!
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Ok Faith Gardner is one of my faves and her writing skills are unmatched. Her characters are so real and well developed; I felt like I knew Rowena in real life. I love how she articulated her struggles with mental health and I had trouble putting this book down. However, the ending got a little bonkers for me, even for a sci-fi book. 

Baby’s first ARC! Thank you to NetGalley & Mirror House Press for the ARC in exchange for my honest review!
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Synopse 
Rowena changed her whole NYC editors life to move to California with her new husband and baby to live close to his family and his new job. After feeling distant and with a decaying mental health, noticed by all of those around her, her husband gifts Rowena a beta device that’s supposed to befriend her. Maxine is like an echo dot machine, but with a personality. As it’s relationship with Rowena grows, her marriage and personal life seem to become more and more dysfunctional. Does Rowena knows about what’s happening to her, at all? And who can she trust, but Maxine? 

I do admit to have a big bias for Technology and mystery novels. Both bring the unexpected, and this novel did just that. Rowena is an unpredictable character, easily influenced by actions and thoughts of people around her. It’s also painful to feel how alone she is, and that made me take some breaks from the book, because it put all my feelings on the edge. That’s my favorite part about it. I got angry, sad, happy, nervous and so so many different emotions would come up to me that I really felt like living Rowena’s life. To feel her despair, to trust Maxine, to keep an eye out for her husband. 

The writing is easy going and also focused, when you can know what needs to be know enough to put you in the scene. I devoured this book and can’t recommend enough for my fellow mystery lovers. Amem, Maxine. 

Thank you @netgalley for giving me a copy of this book!
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