A tightly plotted tale with characters that could energize a planned series.

ALL SYSTEMS DOWN

In Boush’s debut thriller, a North Korean cyberattack cripples America’s infrastructure, sparking chaos and leaving the country vulnerable to a military invasion.

Brendan Chogan first senses trouble afoot during his job interview for a security-guard position at a Portland, Oregon, robotics company. A computer virus is apparently affecting the building, which then loses internet access. A report comes in by phone that the internet is down across the country. It’s merely the beginning of a North Korean strike against U.S. systems, and soon citizens nationwide lose their cellular service and electricity. Panic ensues, and Brendan realizes that he, his wife, Vailea, and their 8-year-old twin daughters may not be safe. Meanwhile, hacker Xandra Strandlien’s boss at U.S. Cyber Command sends her to Oregon. Intelligence on Chinese-Russian joint military exercises has led to a fear of a post-cyberattack armed invasion, and the Oregon area, which has no military bases nearby, is a potential target. As Brendan and Vailea struggle to secure their home and stockpile food and water, they encounter allies, including Xandra and a couple of U.S. Navy fighter pilots who lost contact with their supercarrier. When an invasion indeed materializes, this small group works together on a mission to upload malware to the enemies’ servers. Despite the fact that the attack is nationwide, Boush concentrates on the characters in Oregon, who later include vacationing campers from Los Angeles. It’s a wise choice, as the story mixes smaller battles (such as characters fending off would-be intruders at the Chogan house) with large-scale ones; Xandra’s plan, for example, entails jumping from a low-flying plane into a river. The author also richly details the cyberattack’s chaotic aftermath; for instance, Vailea gets a workout in a grocery store that’s besieged by a horde of frenzied shoppers: “She gasped for breath, muscles straining like treading water.” Interestingly, the most striking character is a relatively minor one: Sierra Eigelb, a random survivor who first appears about halfway through the novel. Her newfound affinity for killing turns her into a terrifying villain. The story’s swift pace leads to a surprisingly thorough wrap-up.

A tightly plotted tale with characters that could energize a planned series.

Pub Date: Feb. 8, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-9944512-7-9

Page Count: 284

Publisher: Lakewater Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 22, 2018

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There are unforgettable beauties in this very sexy story.

TELL ME LIES

Passion, friendship, heartbreak, and forgiveness ring true in Lovering's debut, the tale of a young woman's obsession with a man who's "good at being charming."

Long Island native Lucy Albright, starts her freshman year at Baird College in Southern California, intending to study English and journalism and become a travel writer. Stephen DeMarco, an upperclassman, is a political science major who plans to become a lawyer. Soon after they meet, Lucy tells Stephen an intensely personal story about the Unforgivable Thing, a betrayal that turned Lucy against her mother. Stephen pretends to listen to Lucy's painful disclosure, but all his thoughts are about her exposed black bra strap and her nipples pressing against her thin cotton T-shirt. It doesn't take Lucy long to realize Stephen's a "manipulative jerk" and she is "beyond pathetic" in her desire for him, but their lives are now intertwined. Their story takes seven years to unfold, but it's a fast-paced ride through hookups, breakups, and infidelities fueled by alcohol and cocaine and with oodles of sizzling sexual tension. "Lucy was an itch, a song stuck in your head or a movie you need to rewatch or a food you suddenly crave," Stephen says in one of his point-of-view chapters, which alternate with Lucy's. The ending is perfect, as Lucy figures out the dark secret Stephen has kept hidden and learns the difference between lustful addiction and mature love.

There are unforgettable beauties in this very sexy story.

Pub Date: June 12, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-6964-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: March 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2018

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The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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A LITTLE LIFE

Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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