A Simple Favor: A Novel
A Simple Favor is what Emily asks of her friend Stephanie. Their sons are playmates, so it’s not really a big deal for Emily to ask Stephanie to pick up her son from school. But when Emily is gone for a couple of days, Stephanie starts to worry and gets the police involved. What Stephanie finds out is that everyone has secrets, even some we keep from ourselves.
There was not one likable character in this whole book. Each one was just as bad as the next and did just terrible things. I thought it was going to be more of a mystery, but it was just a look into how much people lie to each other. I did not enjoy it, and the ending was not satisfactory at all. I would definitely not read this again.
Wake Me Up
Four students from Chris Bullet’s Middleton, Montana, high school viciously beat him up because they earmark Chris to be gay. It is 2004, an election year. As “the Presidential cycle warps into full-blooded hatred of anyone gay, anyone different, and fills political campaign war chests,” Chris lies comatose at a children’s hospital. In an out-of-body experience, Chris views various people and their situations, such as the goings on in his school and also the fictional story loosely based on Chris’ demise written by Deepika, his father’s lover. While the affair is disconcerting to Chris, this is only the beginning of the drama that unfolds within his dysfunctional family, especially when his dad attempts suicide.
Justin Bog punctuates the sexual stigmatization that results from a bigoted societal mindset in Wake Me Up. Divided into four sections, Bog uses the Greek Chorus in parts one and four to present the collective voice of the many characters of whom Chris observes during his astral travel. Narrated by Chris, Bog’s first-person plot constantly alternates between Chris’ observances, character scenes, Chris’ childhood and school recollections, and the moments leading up to Chris’ attack. Key to many of Bog’s character scenes, which function like substories, is how he highlights sexual bondage. Good examples include the student who runs out of Chris’ mom’s English Literature class with no explanation after being harassed by other students, Deepika’s personal and familial lives, specific characters in her story based on Chris, and Chris’ dad’s past.
Bog’s attractive writing style, set to present tense, combines storytelling via the narrator and engaging dialogue. Although homosexuality is a top theme, Bog focuses much of his attention on relationship building: Chris’ dad’s issues with depression and suicide, his mom’s MS diagnosis, and Deepika’s decisions to move on with her life. As the story builds, so does Chris’ case, because all four boys are identified as his attackers. Wake Me Up is well written, thought-provoking, and a definite must-read by all!
Death by Romance
Gordon Taylor is murdered right before Christmas, and right before his company makes its initial public offering. His wife, Jessica, is devastated, but alarmed that her partnership with Romance, Ltd., makes her a suspect in her husbands murder, along with many other supporting characters.
Years before the murder, Jessica’s friend, Mavis, concocts a business plan for a lucrative, investor-driven matchmaking service. She calls it Romance, Ltd. Mavis uses Jessica as her investment, using her resources to school her in philanthropy and high culture, with the aim of putting Jessica in Gordon Taylors path. The company’s goal is that the investment marries for money, and the investors get a cut of the spoils when the marriage eventually sours. But what if the investors are impatient, and the marriage isnt souring fast enough? It just might be a motive for murder.
Jessicas clear-eyed earnestness is admirable, if only a bit naïve. Jessica knows that Mavis makes money through their partnership after Gordon Taylors estate is settled, but doesn’t see this as a reason to suspect her. Jessica blames herself for her husbands murder, and continues to forgive Mavis over and over again for being a single-minded, greedy hag the whole time.
A shady lawyer and some investors with mob ties kept me guessing, and threw Ryan, the cop on the case, off the trail. Like many crime novels, the evidence points to multiple characters as being the murderer, but it was almost the one you least expected.
Death by Romance is short, simple and straightforward. The characters are deep and interesting. Jessica’s grief is the readers grief. Maviss anxiety is the readers anxiety. Ryan, the cop with whom readers will spend the most time, loves his cat and loves to cook, has a dismal relationship with his son, and can’t seem to let go of his late wife, Mary. Ryan’s vibrant personality will make readers feel like theyre solving the mystery right alongside him. While there wasn’t a ton of action, some excellent sleuthing made the ride entertaining.
Veil of Deception
You save an influential politician seeking a run for the presidency from Russian assassins and ultimately find out he is your father and then the love of your life disappears. You would think that is enough excitement and drama to last a lifetime. That is not the case for Jason Conrad. In Veil of Deception, bad luck, lies, and corruption seem to follow him wherever he goes. When a routine practice flight goes horribly wrong and he and a trainer pilot have to eject as their plane crashes, he figures his career is all but done. Especially since television reporter Dane Robinson is quick to jump on the story, set on killing Conrads career. However, instead of a reprimand and dismissal from duty, he is called to Edwards Air Force Base to help test a simulator that will ultimately help with the creation of a new age fighter jet referred to as the F2000 that is being created by a private Chinese run company, TRENCOR, and the Department of Defense (DOD). Uprooted from Oklahoma and set to be moved to California in less than two weeks he receives an unexpected visit before he leaves from old flame, Kathy Delgato, who mysteriously walked out of his life all those years ago. Her arrival is strange and sends off signals but he takes her back. As he settles into his new surroundings he is met with more questions than answers about the people he meets, why he is there and what exactly is going on with this top secret project. A chance run in with investigative reporter, Sherri Davis, who has her own information and theories convinces Conrad that all is not what it seems. As all the pieces begin to come together and information comes to light about money, people, companies and agendas involved in this F2000 project Conrad and Davis end up joining forces to stop a possible disaster. However, at the end of the day, with so many dirty hands in the pot, who survives the fallout?
Michael Byars Lewis created a fast paced military thriller with twists and turns that will hook a variety of readers. His use of military acronyms, brings a sense of real life to this fictional joy ride that flies full throttle until the very end. The characters are well developed and while there are a lot to keep track of, their importance is made apparent and adds to the storys overall impact. A fly by the seat of your pants page turner and not to be missed.
The Last Chapter
If ever there was a book that made you want to go back and read or re-read all of Charles Dickens classics, The Last Chapter by Lyn Squire is it. The story opens with the famed author struggling to get his final words to his latest piece of work The Mystery of Edwin Drood. Or at least that is what readers are led to believe. In truth, the author has realized he has been poisoned and is trying in vain to pen his final message to the world. His ever faithful housemaid Georgina works to cover up his assumed murder and employees the help of the well-meaning but often daft nephew of Charles Dickens, Dunston Burnett. She confides her theory of how she believes his uncle was murdered to only him. Georgina implores Dunston to utilize the hidden final three chapters of the book and the initial three to discover who murdered Charles Dickens. Eager to be of service, Dunston takes on the job and scours the pages as well as the people closest to his uncle to solve this mystery. The deeper Dunston digs, the more questions he comes across. When the characters and readers think the mystery has finally been solved, a whole new mystery develops before their eyes. Vagrants, lovers, hidden letters and more keep the readers hooked until the very last page when the true conclusion to all that was hidden is finally revealed.
Squires approach to this book is absolutely brilliant. As you begin the book readers are lead to believe it is a mystery where there is a slew of obvious charactersone of whom one will be revealed as the villain. However, Squire takes the story one step farther and adds an additional mystery closely linked to the initial mystery. His ability to not only link the two story lineswhich could have been two separate books easilyand blend the characters and clues to lead readers through a maze of not only who did the crime, but question their motives and identities. His reference to many of Dickens works throughout the novel and secrets they may hold made me, and I am sure will make others, want to read them again and look for clues, true or fictional, that were missed. This book is definitely a delightful and intriguing surprise and must not be missed!
The Nash Criterion
Obama’s term has come to an end, and Elaine York has stepped up to the plate as the newly inaugurated 45th President of the United States. She soon finds herself compromised, however, as a coup, seemingly initiated by a faction of the military, divides the nation, and America descends into civil war.
Events set in motion by a genius hacker named Fawkes, after he has unleashed a super-virus, have triggered the chaos. Once again, a team of FBI and CIA agents find themselves pitted against the forces of evil, including many within their own government. This story, book four of the Intel 1 series, follows on from The Anonymous Signal, in which an FBI cyber crimes unit went off-reservation with their crime-fighting methodology, and the chief and members of his team were forced to defend themselves and their actions in a military-style trial. However, this novel does function as a standalone, and can be successfully read as such.
Feds John Savas and Rebecca Cohen have to prove themselves worthy of their earlier exoneration, as they attempt to aid the ailing president. Meanwhile, a crack team, including super cybersecurity girl Angel Lightfoote, work on deciphering a secret code which obscures the unpublished work of brilliant mathematician John Nash. Once cracked, it promises to defeat a hidden enemy and restore peace and harmony to the nation. As if this weren’t enough, both groups must battle a divisive contingent of the military, pledging allegiance to this opposing set of puppet-masters, with sophisticated modern weaponry and advanced computational power at their disposal.
The author continues to develop his original creations, an interesting and quirky cast of non-stereotypical misfits, but, in places, paints quite a broad sweep when it comes to character perspective. Though successful in initial chapters when were inside Sava’s and York’s heads, the storytelling becomes less focalized as we switch between the two interwoven plotlines to spend time with the secondary group. It feels like if the reader were to be privy to the interior monologues of all of the characters and their motivations, a much stronger connection could be made, along with a sense of the cast having been more fully-developed. In this instance, I believe this series could be propelled into a league alongside tech thrillers written by masters such as Barry Eisler.
The author’s jargon and technical know-how is believable, as is the convincing fight choreography. All of this, along with the complex and intelligent plotting, makes for an extremely satisfying and page-turning read, and the incorporation of several hot politic topics and fascinating conspiracy theories about elite shadowy governments make it all the more compelling. Erec Stebbins is definitely one to watch, a good writer who just gets better and better.