Velocity by Dean Koontz
My first Dean Koontz novel I've read in a while and it did not disappoint. Billy Wiles is an easy-going bartender with an ordinary job. That is until one day a note is left on his car. The note threatens to kill a different person based on what action Billy takes or doesn't take. Billy calls his friend, a cop, who thinks it's a crank and nothing is done about it. But when a young schoolteacher is killed less than 24 hour later, he knows better. As more ominous notes appear and more innocent people are killed, evidence is planted to incriminate Billy.

The hunt is on to find the psychopath before the madness comes to an end and Billy is killed. There is plenty of suspense, mystery, and a surprise ending. Definitely worth the read.
The Humans by Matt Haig
Best book I have read in a while. An alien is sent to earth to prevent damage to the future by an important breakthrough, one that will take mankind a giant technological leap forward. He takes the form of Professor Andrew Martin, a prominent mathematician at Cambridge University, who made the discovery. The visitor moves into Martin's home with his wife and teenage son. Tasked with eliminating Martin's family and anyone with knowledge of the discovery, he searches for people Martin may have told. The alien is at first repulsed by humans and knows nothing of their ways. But as he immerses himself deeply into Martin's life, his views slowly change. He develops a bond that never existed with the son and grows to love Martin's wife. He grows into the father and husband Martin was not. But he has a mission to accomplish and he is being watched.

Haig weaves a story that dives deeply into the nuances and core of what it means to be human. It has both humorous and emotional moments that will tug at your heartstrings. I would highly recommend The Humans to anyone.
Recursion by Blake Crouch
My second read from Crouch and I was not disappointed. Another spin on alternate realities, and this one interestingly deals with our perception of reality. An epidemic is spreading that drives people mad. For those affected, the world around them has drastically changed and they recall vivid memories of an alternate reality. The phenomenon is explained as a disease called FMS, or False Memory Syndrome. New York City Detective Barry Sutton sees it firsthand when he responds to a woman suffering from delusions who is contemplating jumping off a high-rise building. He learns more about the disease and begins investigating the phenomenon. That leads him to a secret hideout, where he is thrown into a chair, drugged, and wakes up in a new reality, one where is daughter is still alive.

Meanwhile, back in 2007, Helena Smith is working on research to help her mother retain her memories before dementia takes them away. A rich investor, named Marcus Slade, offers to fund Helena's project and she agrees. But Slade has a hidden agenda and uses the discoveries to alter events. Things soon get out of hand and multiple realities are created with disastrous results. Barry and Helena meet, become romantically involved and experience several recurring lifetimes, some together, some apart. Multiple attempts are made to undo the damage and I will not spoil the ending. Recursion is an interesting look at both the good and bad experiences in a lifetime and how they can change everyone involved.
Hearts In Atlantis by Stephen King
Hearts In Atlantis is actually five interconnected stories, each rooted in the 1960s. The first story, "Low Men in Yellow Coats," deals with a young boy growing up in the 60s, a dominating mother and missing father. He has a crush on a neighborhood girl and together they encounter bullying which deeply effects their lives. A man moves in upstairs who befriends the boy. Tensions rise when the man is later chased by supernatural characters in true King fashion. In the title story a group of college boys get hooked on a card game amidst a war protest occurring across the country. Another story deals with a Vietnam vet's struggles with dealing with a post Vietnam era country.
The era is depicted expertly, the characters loosely connected and brought together roughly in the end. But I expected more. It felt a bit confusing and the stories could have been tied in better. Nevertheless, these are absorbing stories with the visuals and emotions that we have come to expect from King.
1984 by George Orwell
First published in 1949, this was an amazing read which I could not put down! Most of us are familiar with "Big Brother" and the general theme of the story but the level of detail Orwell put into his futuristic, dystopian world is astonishing. Mind control is taken to a whole new level.

Oceania is one of three super states and is at perpetual war with the others, but nothing is as it seems. Facts are twisted, history is rewritten. Slogans like "WAR IS PEACE", "FREEDOM IS SLAVERY", "IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH" point out the contradictions. Doublethink is a process where one is expected to accept two contradictory beliefs as correct. Four ministries, named for the opposite of what they do, control all aspects of life. The Ministry of Peace supports Oceania's perpetual war; The Ministry of Plenty rations food, and all essential items; The Ministry of Truth spews out lies and controls information; The Ministry of Love arrests and tortures dissidents.

Winston Smith is the main character who goes through life under the watchful eye of The Party, an all powerful totalitarian government. His job at the Ministry of Truth is to alter historical records to support their propaganda. With emotional contact not permitted, Winston begins a secret relationship with Julia and the two begin to question the world around them. They join a resistance called The Brotherhood and embrace a book written by the leader, Emanual Goldstein who was a former Party member. Winston and Julia are eventually captured and tortured into conforming. The mind twisting process is graphic and described in great detail.

I found 1984 to be a deep and thought provoking story, every bit as relevant today.
Midnight Library by Matt Haig
I have wanted to read this one for a while and it did not disappoint. Nora Seed finds herself at a crossroads. Her life unfulfilled and without friends, she has lost the will to live. Ultimately deciding to end it all she finds herself in a library occupied by a single librarian. It is a magical place where time stands still. There are an infinite number of books, each representing a unique life. Each book opened allows Nora to experience an alternate life, formed by different choices she could have made. As she experiences different lives, her outlook begins to change. But there is a catch, if she does not select a suitable life before the clock begins ticking, she will be forced out of the Midnight Library to the final stage of her existence.

I especially liked how the author described the possibility of an infinite number of parallel dimensions or lives, each created by the decisions we make. The library was a great metaphor for life and there was even a Book of Regrets. Midnight Library was a short and thoroughly enjoyable read.
Upgrade by Blake Crouch
Our bodies deteriorate and break down. Over time we lose physical and mental function. Who wouldn't want an upgrade? Not a reboot or reset to original factory settings, but an upgrade to a whole new model. That's exactly what happens in Blake Crouch's latest novel.

Logan Ramsay lives in a world where genetic modification is commonplace, his job is to shut it down. While investigating a case, he is infected with an unknown virus and begins to change. He experiences heightened intelligence, awareness, strength and other amazing abilities. Because of this, Logan is captured by the organization he works for and put in isolation. His family is told he died. He later escapes with the help of his sister, Kara. The two of them are morphing into a new species, the next generation in the evolution of Homo sapiens. But as Kara attempts to spread the virus around the world, he has a decision to make. Will altering the human race be beneficial or a detriment?

Logan has changed, he can never go back to who he was. The future of humanity is bleak. But will genetic engineering be their last hope for survival? Upgrade is a non-stop thrill ride, asking thought-provoking questions on our future.

More Great Books...

Fahrenheit 452 by Ray Bradbury
Lord of the Flies by William Golding
Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
Recursion by Blake Crouch
The Midnight Library by Matt Haig
Firestarter by Stephen King
Where The Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
The Alice Network by Kate Quinn