A fast-paced and intelligently conceived techno-thriller.

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GONE VIRAL

An ambitious computer programmer is unknowingly drawn into a dangerous game of espionage. 

Lenny Driver’s dream is to work for Blahst, a global social media company that’s the creative gold standard for computer programmers. At the interview, he’s asked to write a program and produces one that would allow for the speedy personalization of posts on the website, but he shows off his arrogance as much as his talent, and the job goes to Mari Velasquez, a classmate from college. Despondent, Lenny takes a lesser job working for professor Ramsey, an academic who is an expert on the mechanisms that make ideas go viral. Lenny writes a new algorithm that essentially encodes those ideas and is able to channel new fundraising dollars to Ramsey’s company, which is devoted to preventing AIDS in the developing world. Later, Lenny returns to Blahst as a guest of Mari, and he inadvertently learns that his interviewer, and Mari’s supervisor, Clayton Malloy, stole his algorithm and took credit for it. Incensed, Lenny discovers another purpose for the program he wrote for professor Ramsey: He can use it to anonymously disseminate targeted rumors about Blahst. The algorithm is even more successful than he anticipates, however. Not only does it prove embarrassing to Blahst, it also torpedoes its stock prices, and Blahst devotes a team of their own to tracking down the source of the rumors. Further, Lenny also unwittingly disrupted a secret government mission to claim mining rights in Africa, and as a result, a shadowy agent doggedly pursues him as well. Debut author Knight is a technology consultant, a professional perch that allows her to paint a realistic (and technologically inventive) picture of the social media cosmos. Also, her story is fascinatingly topical and examines the messy matrix between youthful talent, big business, and government interest that makes up the social media industry. Knight’s writing is crisply lucid if less than literary, though it does sometimes devolve into unconvincing clichés. For example, when trying to ascertain Lenny’s truthfulness, Mari draws his lips into hers, and then declares: “A kiss never lies.”  

A fast-paced and intelligently conceived techno-thriller.

Pub Date: March 14, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-9987759-0-6

Page Count: 318

Publisher: Carbon Life Press

Review Posted Online: May 23, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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A love letter to the power of books and friendship.

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THE GIVER OF STARS

Women become horseback librarians in 1930s Kentucky and face challenges from the landscape, the weather, and the men around them.

Alice thought marrying attractive American Bennett Van Cleve would be her ticket out of her stifling life in England. But when she and Bennett settle in Baileyville, Kentucky, she realizes that her life consists of nothing more than staying in their giant house all day and getting yelled at by his unpleasant father, who owns a coal mine. She’s just about to resign herself to a life of boredom when an opportunity presents itself in the form of a traveling horseback library—an initiative from Eleanor Roosevelt meant to counteract the devastating effects of the Depression by focusing on literacy and learning. Much to the dismay of her husband and father-in-law, Alice signs up and soon learns the ropes from the library’s leader, Margery. Margery doesn’t care what anyone thinks of her, rejects marriage, and would rather be on horseback than in a kitchen. And even though all this makes Margery a town pariah, Alice quickly grows to like her. Along with several other women (including one black woman, Sophia, whose employment causes controversy in a town that doesn’t believe black and white people should be allowed to use the same library), Margery and Alice supply magazines, Bible stories, and copies of books like Little Women to the largely poor residents who live in remote areas. Alice spends long days in terrible weather on horseback, but she finally feels happy in her new life in Kentucky, even as her marriage to Bennett is failing. But her powerful father-in-law doesn’t care for Alice’s job or Margery’s lifestyle, and he’ll stop at nothing to shut their library down. Basing her novel on the true story of the Pack Horse Library Project established by the Works Progress Administration in the 1930s, Moyes (Still Me, 2018, etc.) brings an often forgotten slice of history to life. She writes about Kentucky with lush descriptions of the landscape and tender respect for the townspeople, most of whom are poor, uneducated, and grateful for the chance to learn. Although Alice and Margery both have their own romances, the true power of the story is in the bonds between the women of the library. They may have different backgrounds, but their commitment to helping the people of Baileyville brings them together.

A love letter to the power of books and friendship.

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-399-56248-8

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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