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God of the Internet

A deadly and exhilarating game of cat and mouse that has all the makings of an engaging series about fighting terrorists.

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Homeland Security agents rush to prevent large-scale cyberwarfare in this thriller.

Think of it as a version of 24. There may be no literal time bombs to defuse, but the countdown is on anyway to stop an online worm labeled Chrysalide from growing wings. Given that it has already forced the shutdown of Los Angeles’ water system and that the Islamic Crusade, a potent terrorist group with connections to Saudi royalty, has given the U.S. two days to pull troops out of Muslim countries or else, time is of the essence. Enter Mahaz Al-Dossari, an exceptionally skilled computer network security specialist and a full professor at UCLA. Could he be the story’s Jack Bauer and save the day? Or will that honor go to another tech expert, Ken Oakey, who is working closely with the feds? Ken recognizes the high stakes (“Criminals, Ken likes to say, only have to get it right once in a while. White hats like Ken have to get it right one hundred percent of the time. That’s twenty-four hours a day, holidays included”). Mahaz has problems brewing on the homefront as well: due to his own roving eye, his marriage of 18 years to the lovely and long-suffering Juliana is in trouble. Juliana, for her part, spends most of her time ferrying their 17-year-old son, Omar, in and out of the hospital due to hydrocephalus, a damaging brain condition. Their teen daughter, Leila, is caught up in her own world, and Juliana worries that her husband will use their two children as pawns if she files for divorce. Lipinski’s (Bloodlines, 2015) crisp writing style expertly sets up suspense along multiple parallel fronts: there’s the cyberattack, of course, and readers also become invested in the fates of all the characters, including the members of the Al-Dossari family. The tale’s strengths include the realistic portrayals of the players, particularly the teens. The identity of the cybervillain, simply referred to as G0d_of_Internet, becomes apparent early on, while the novel’s intense pace comes at a cost: the culprit’s path to terrorism remains underexplored. Nevertheless, Lipinski has an impressive command of her plotlines, and the story barrels along at a fast clip to its somewhat preordained but enjoyable conclusion.

A deadly and exhilarating game of cat and mouse that has all the makings of an engaging series about fighting terrorists.

Pub Date: Aug. 16, 2016

ISBN: 9780996467629

Page Count: 245

Publisher: Majestic Content Los Angeles

Review Posted Online: June 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

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DEVOLUTION

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

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Are we not men? We are—well, ask Bigfoot, as Brooks does in this delightful yarn, following on his bestseller World War Z (2006).

A zombie apocalypse is one thing. A volcanic eruption is quite another, for, as the journalist who does a framing voice-over narration for Brooks’ latest puts it, when Mount Rainier popped its cork, “it was the psychological aspect, the hyperbole-fueled hysteria that had ended up killing the most people.” Maybe, but the sasquatches whom the volcano displaced contributed to the statistics, too, if only out of self-defense. Brooks places the epicenter of the Bigfoot war in a high-tech hideaway populated by the kind of people you might find in a Jurassic Park franchise: the schmo who doesn’t know how to do much of anything but tries anyway, the well-intentioned bleeding heart, the know-it-all intellectual who turns out to know the wrong things, the immigrant with a tough backstory and an instinct for survival. Indeed, the novel does double duty as a survival manual, packed full of good advice—for instance, try not to get wounded, for “injury turns you from a giver to a taker. Taking up our resources, our time to care for you.” Brooks presents a case for making room for Bigfoot in the world while peppering his narrative with timely social criticism about bad behavior on the human side of the conflict: The explosion of Rainier might have been better forecast had the president not slashed the budget of the U.S. Geological Survey, leading to “immediate suspension of the National Volcano Early Warning System,” and there’s always someone around looking to monetize the natural disaster and the sasquatch-y onslaught that follows. Brooks is a pro at building suspense even if it plays out in some rather spectacularly yucky episodes, one involving a short spear that takes its name from “the sucking sound of pulling it out of the dead man’s heart and lungs.” Grossness aside, it puts you right there on the scene.

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-2678-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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IT ENDS WITH US

Packed with riveting drama and painful truths, this book powerfully illustrates the devastation of abuse—and the strength of...

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Hoover’s (November 9, 2015, etc.) latest tackles the difficult subject of domestic violence with romantic tenderness and emotional heft.

At first glance, the couple is edgy but cute: Lily Bloom runs a flower shop for people who hate flowers; Ryle Kincaid is a surgeon who says he never wants to get married or have kids. They meet on a rooftop in Boston on the night Ryle loses a patient and Lily attends her abusive father’s funeral. The provocative opening takes a dark turn when Lily receives a warning about Ryle’s intentions from his sister, who becomes Lily’s employee and close friend. Lily swears she’ll never end up in another abusive home, but when Ryle starts to show all the same warning signs that her mother ignored, Lily learns just how hard it is to say goodbye. When Ryle is not in the throes of a jealous rage, his redeeming qualities return, and Lily can justify his behavior: “I think we needed what happened on the stairwell to happen so that I would know his past and we’d be able to work on it together,” she tells herself. Lily marries Ryle hoping the good will outweigh the bad, and the mother-daughter dynamics evolve beautifully as Lily reflects on her childhood with fresh eyes. Diary entries fancifully addressed to TV host Ellen DeGeneres serve as flashbacks to Lily’s teenage years, when she met her first love, Atlas Corrigan, a homeless boy she found squatting in a neighbor’s house. When Atlas turns up in Boston, now a successful chef, he begs Lily to leave Ryle. Despite the better option right in front of her, an unexpected complication forces Lily to cut ties with Atlas, confront Ryle, and try to end the cycle of abuse before it’s too late. The relationships are portrayed with compassion and honesty, and the author’s note at the end that explains Hoover’s personal connection to the subject matter is a must-read.

Packed with riveting drama and painful truths, this book powerfully illustrates the devastation of abuse—and the strength of the survivors.

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5011-1036-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 30, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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