Immoral Code by Lillian Clark #bookreview #YA #thriller

For Nari, aka Narioka Diane, aka hacker digital alter ego “d0l0s,” it’s college and then a career at “one of the big ones,” like Google or Apple. Keagan, her sweet, sensitive boyfriend, is happy to follow her wherever she may lead. Reese is an ace/aro visual artist with plans to travel the world. Santiago is off to Stanford on a diving scholarship, with very real Olympic hopes. And Bellamy? Physics genius Bellamy is admitted to MIT—but the student loan she’d been counting on is denied when it turns out her estranged father—one Robert Foster—is loaded.

Nari isn’t about to let her friend’s dreams be squashed by a deadbeat billionaire, so she hatches a plan to steal just enough from Foster to allow Bellamy to achieve her goals. 

Although I’m far from a computer genius (it’s a miracle I’ve managed my blog for so long), hacking stories fascinate me.  Nothing is private anymore, and a good hacker can get nearly any information they desire.  And that’s downright scary.

These five friends are fiercely loyal and supportive of each other, and it’s understandable that they want to help Bellamy.  Suspension of disbelief isn’t anything new to me – plenty of stories require it.  But in this case, a phone call to MIT’s admissions office seems like a logical first step before planning a heist of this magnitude – especially considering the numerous laws broken by these teens and the potential consequences of their actions.  Yes, Bellamy’s dad is a total deadbeat for not having any contact with her, but it would have been more believable if all other possibilities had been exhausted.

Some of the interactions and dialogue between this group are amusing, and I especially enjoyed Bellamy’s rational and literal explanations of things.  Even though the dialogue is entertaining at times, there’s a tremendous amount of it among this group that does nothing to advance the plot, and other than Bellamy, I had trouble distinguishing the voices of each character.  Writing from five POVs is admirable and allows the reader more insight into the characters, but I referred back to the chapter header numerous times to see who was speaking.

Looking at other reviews, I’m in the minority on this one.  If you enjoy a good heist story (and who doesn’t?), strong friendship bonds, witty banter, and are able to suspend disbelief, this may be the book for you.  In my case, I was hoping the plot would be heavier on the heist action.  Immoral Code is scheduled for publication February 19th, 2019.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC.

 

The Deceivers (Vale Hall #1) by Kristen Simmons #bookreview #YA #TuesdayBookBlog

Pretty Little Liars meets Ocean’s 11 in this intrigue-filled contemporary drama from acclaimed author Kristen Simmons.

Welcome to Vale Hall, the school for aspiring con artists.

When Brynn Hilder is recruited to Vale, it seems like the elite academy is her chance to start over, away from her mom’s loser boyfriend and her rundown neighborhood. But she soon learns that Vale chooses students not so much for their scholastic talent as for their extracurricular activities, such as her time spent conning rich North Shore kids out of their extravagant allowances.

At first, Brynn jumps at the chance to help the school in its mission to rid the city of corrupt officials–because what could be better than giving entitled jerks what they deserve? But that’s before she meets her mark–a senator’s son–and before she discovers the school’s headmaster has secrets he’ll stop at nothing to protect. As the lines between right and wrong blur, Brynn begins to realize she’s in way over head.

A school for aspiring con artists?  That’s all I needed to know before requesting this title from NetGalley.

Right away, Brynn tugged at my heart strings.  With a rough home life and a less than promising future, she’s committed to her education, works a part time job, and is determined to claw her way out of Devon Park.  Running cons on unsuspecting victims supplements her meager income.  All the supporting characters are exceptionally well-developed, with their own complicated backgrounds and various reasons for being at Vale Hall, but as the comic relief, I think Henry is probably my favorite.

Nothing in this novel is black and white, and I loved that.  Nearly every person, action, and circumstance is colored in differing shades of gray, and I found myself, along with Brynn, being surprised how actions and behaviors can sound logical and necessary after weighing the positives versus the negatives.  For me, books like that are few and far between.

These characters are put into some tense situations where there’s little to no wiggle room for escape, and I plowed through the pages, excited to see what they’d do next.  The final con is a carefully orchestrated, and intricately layered work of art, and will delight fans of Ocean’s Eleven.

Although The Deceivers doesn’t end with a cliffhanger, it’s the start of a series, and I’m anxious to see where it goes next.  If you’re a fan of heists, cons, morally ambiguous, determined characters, and hold-your-breath life-threatening situations, this is your book.  I loved every minute of it.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC.

 

What You Hide by Natalie D. Richards #TuesdayBookBlog #bookreview #YA #thriller

Spencer volunteers at the library. Sure, it’s community service, but he likes his work. Especially if it means getting to see Mallory.

Mallory spends a lot of time keeping her head down. When you’re sixteen and homeless, nothing matters more than being anonymous. But Spencer’s charm makes her want to be noticed.

Then sinister things start happening at the library. Mysterious symbols and terrifying warnings begin to appear, and management grows suspicious. Spencer and Mallory know a homeless teenager makes an easy target, and if they can’t find the real culprit soon, they could lose more than just their safe haven…

As a total book nerd, a library setting is what drew me to this novel initially.  Not only are there strange happenings afoot in the library, this book portrays teens dealing with devastating real-life issues such as emotional abuse, homelessness, and unsafe home environments.

In the first couple of pages, I met Spencer and immediately loved his voice.  He possesses a wicked sense of humor, is a bit mischievous, and, as a senior in high school, is trying to figure out his future and where he fits in the world.  Mallory’s situation is heartbreaking.  With a controlling and emotionally abusive stepfather who’s made Mallory’s mother practically a prisoner in her own home, Mallory chooses homelessness over staying in an unsafe environment.  It’s obvious the author performed extensive research into available resources for people in these dangerous situations, and includes a hotline number in the author’s note.

Something I particularly admire is the way the parent-child relationships are portrayed.  In Mallory’s case, the roles are nearly reversed.  As a level-headed teen with a talent for problem-solving, she senses the danger at home, researches options, and tries to convince her mother to leave.  With Spencer, he’s dealing with his own issues in addition to helping Mallory, but eventually realizes he needs his parents’ help, and is even encouraged by a friend to talk to them.  When Spencer’s future plans don’t line up with his parents’ expectations, they keep an open mind and listen to his ideas.

What You Hide is billed as a YA romantic thriller, but I’d describe it as more of a YA thriller/contemporary/coming of age story.  Maybe there’s a bit of insta-love, but the romance is adorable, and not the primary focus of the story.  Add this to your TBR today.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the digital ARC.

 

 

The House Always Wins by Tom Minder #bookreview #thriller #TuesdayBookBlog

Someone is shooting up Dirty Sam’s.

Will the Long Harbor police get their man, or woman, before a casino heist, a slots player who disappears in a puff of smoke, a crossbow-toting florist, and an undercover agent who makes a mean goulash, complicate the investigation.

Oh, for the simpler days of illegal gambling.

The quirky character descriptions alone intrigued me before I even knew what this book was about.  A cross-bow toting florist?  I needed to know more about this person.

Long Harbor is filled with some unsavory characters, and it’s difficult to figure out who’s trustworthy – but that’s part of the charm of this book.  There’s no shortage of suspicious characters, and they’ll keep the reader guessing where their loyalties lie, and who did what.

Character development is a strength for this author, and I could easily envision each character, along with their good traits, flaws, and weaknesses.  I also snickered several times over things they did or said, and imagined an Ocean’s Eleven-type soundtrack playing in the background.

Although the author wrote another book set in Long Harbor with several of the same characters, both are considered standalones.  I struggled with the extensive character list – remembering who was who, but that could be because I didn’t read the first book.  I wouldn’t say reading it is a necessity, but it may help with the confusion.

If you enjoy quirky, well-written characters, a briskly paced plot, and a good heist story, I highly recommend The House Always Wins.  

I received an ARC from the author.

The Fox, the Dog, and the King (Cassie Tam Files #2) by Matt Doyle #bookreview #LBGT #thriller

New Hopeland City may have been built to be the centerpiece of the technological age, but some remnants of the old world still linger. The tools of the trade have changed, but the corruption remains the same, even in the criminal underworld …

When PI Cassie Tam and her girlfriend Lori try to make up for their recent busy schedules with a night out at the theatre to watch the Tech Shift performer Kitsune, the last thing they expected was for Cassie to get a job offer. But some people are never off the clock, and by the end of the evening, Cassie has been drawn into a mundane but highly paid missing pet case. Unfortunately, in New Hopeland City, even something as simple as little lost dog can lead you down some dark paths.

Until now, Cassie wasn’t aware that there even was a rabbit hole, let alone how far down it goes. 

I read the first book in this series earlier this year, and immediately became a fan of Cassie Tam.  She’s a confident, successful woman in her PI business, but when it comes to romantic relationships – that’s where she’s challenged.

In this book, Cassie is struggling to find her footing with new girlfriend, Lori, and  balance their relationship with her workload.  She’s still charmingly awkward, and while she may not say exactly the right things, she honestly means well.  With encouragement from Lori, she’s also learning to be friends with her ex-girlfriend.

Upon realizing Cassie’s new case involves dog fighting, as an animal lover, I was a bit leery of how much detail would be given and wondered if I might have to skip some pages.  No worries – the fighting happens ‘off-screen’, and my heart was spared.

While the first book in this series focuses more on the fascinating tech and world-building, I felt like I got to know Cassie better in this new novel, and her snark is still one of my favorite qualities.  Action, mystery, twists, and a touch of romance make The Fox the Dog, and the King another intriguing addition to this light sci-fi series.  I wouldn’t saying reading the books in order is a necessity, but it would help with understanding more about the world-building and Cassie’s backstory.

I received a digital copy of this book from the author.

#BadMoonRising: The Rigel Affair by L.M. Hedrick #thriller

Werewolves?  No, thanks.  Intruder in the house?  This author takes a more practical approach.  Welcome L.M. Hedrick!

Vampires, ghosts, werewolves, or zombies – which would you least want to meet in a dark alley?

Werewolves – I don’t mind being scared, but being eaten and turned into a rabid creature is not my idea of a good dinner.

Have you ever played with a Ouija board?

Yes, and like to believe they work J

You’re home alone, but you hear footsteps in your house–what do you do? 

Grab my Walther PPK and confront.

How do you develop your plots and characters? 

Put myself in the scene and into the minds of the character… become the character and see the world through their eyes.

What tools do you feel are must-haves for writers? 

A Top quality desk and chair, great computer, pleasant surroundings – so that you can transport yourself into the story without local interference.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing? 

I am an expressionist Artist – so painting and being with my wonderful husband Bud.

What are you working on now? 

The sequel to The Rigel Affair.

Abandoned by his part-Cherokee Ma, Charlie Kincaid escapes servitude with his uncle. He jumps a boxcar, accompanied by his schoolmate Roxy, who is escaping troubles of her own. Charlie becomes a US Navy Diver.

Mattie Blanc is from a genteel New Zealand family. But when her brother’s friend persuades her to take a ride, it all goes horribly wrong. Desperate, she flees her family’s stifling expectations for a new life in Auckland.

After the 1941 Pearl Harbor attack, Charlie sets sail for Auckland aboard the USS Rigel. And there she is, the girl of his dreams. Mattie is everything that Roxy isn’t—sophisticated, tender, and patient. But the war intervenes… Rigel embarks for the Pacific war zones.

Charlie’s letters are sporadic. Mattie is tormented by doubts; did he truly love her, or was it only a dream?

The Rigel Affair produces a rip-roaring wartime romance and chilling danger unknown to most.

Pre-order Link

The Rigel Affair is available for Pre-Order at a 15% Discount prior to Dec 27,2018, using Promo Code PREORDER2018 only at:  http://www.blackrosewriting.com/historical-fiction/therigelaffair

It is also available for Pre-Order at Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and GoodReads, but no coupons apply.

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-rigel-affair-l-m-hedrick/1129687245

https://www.amazon.com/Rigel-Affair-L-M-Hedrick/dp/1684331625/ref=sr_1_1

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/42079571-the-rigel-affair

Author Bio

Lynette grew up listening to her mother Mattie’s stories about her WW2 love for US Navy Diver Charlie. She used Mattie’s 30 letters from Charlie, and together with her insightful editor/advisor husband, Bud, they completed extensive research to give reality to The Rigel Affair. Lynette has published multiple short stories for NZ magazines. Both Lynette and Bud have completed numerous Creative Writing courses at Auckland University. Lynette is an accomplished expressionist Artist, with works sold internationally.

Social Media

Website:  https://lmhedrick.com/
YouTube Video:  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCD6z_DVDYSgKUWptAfjp2DQ
Twitter page:  https://twitter.com/lmhedrick
Author Blog:  https://lmhedrick.com/category/blog/
Facebook Page:  https://www.facebook.com/lmhedrick/
Instagram Page:  https://www.instagram.com/lmhedrick/
Pinterest Page:  https://www.pinterest.nz/lynette5567/pins/
LinkedIn Page:  https://www.linkedin.com/in/l-m-hedrick-88b822124/
Google Plus Page:  https://plus.google.com/u/0/101171457191732133324

#BadMoonRising: End It By The Gun by Kenechukwu Obi #thriller

Today’s author has a unique weapon of choice when faced with the zombie apocalypse.  Welcome Kenechukwu Obi!

Creepiest thing that’s ever happened while you were alone?

The feeling that the dead were about to descend on my head.

You’re home alone, but you hear footsteps in your house–what do you do?

I will take a walk around to try to figure out where they could be coming from.

In a zombie apocalypse, what is your weapon of choice?

I will put on zombie costumes, hit the streets, blend with the zombies, act like blood-tasty zombies too.

Who or what has influenced your writing, and in what way?

There are many of them. I would say Harlan Coben, Sandra Brown, J. K. Rowling, Chinua Achebe and Wole Soyinka and William Shakespeare to mention just a few. These authors and many more like them have inspired me to push the boundaries, do away with conventions in unapologetic manner, and to be very ambitious and not to be ever afraid of inventing my own writing styles that may not be popular.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Sometimes I relax by hanging out, playing some music, seeing a movie or a play, reading fun magazines and books by other writers.

What are you working on now?

I am currently working on having my next novel published. I have also completed the first draft of another novel.

Strong ambition drives Beck Blades, an aspiring writer from rural Nebraska, to become obsessed with having big Hollywood studios make movies based on his fiction stories. Taking a heavy toll on his marriage, Beck’s writing ambition soon proves hard to achieve. However, he is not a man to give up, even as rejections trail his efforts. He continues to write one fiction story after another with no breakthrough, until he writes his eleventh one, the unusual one, which grabs headlines through an unexpected route. Success begins for Beck, but little does he know his female literary agent has an extra plan way beyond representation.

Buy Link

Amazon

Author Bio

Kenechukwu Obi (Ken Obi) is a Canadian writer. On the literary side of things, in which there is more in him to come, he loves to put ideas and imagination to work, creating novels, short stories, articles, plays, poetry, and song lyrics. He is a business administration student of the University of Regina in Canada.

Social Media

https://www.facebook.com/enditbythegun/
https://www.facebook.com/kenechukwu.obi.7
https://twitter.com/raskenko