Categories
Science Fiction Thrillers Young Adult

The God Game by Danny Tobey

Thank you so much to St Martin’s Press for the ARC of The God Game by Danny Tobey! This is a technological thriller with mythological and sci fi elements, read on to find out why I’m recommending this book!

Synopsis from GoodReads:

You are invited! Come inside and play with G.O.D. Bring your friends! It’s fun! But remember the rules. Win and ALL YOUR DREAMS COME TRUE.™ Lose, you die!

With those words, Charlie and his friends enter the G.O.D. Game, a video game run by underground hackers and controlled by a mysterious AI that believes it’s God. Through their phone-screens and high-tech glasses, the teens’ realities blur with a virtual world of creeping vines, smoldering torches, runes, glyphs, gods, and mythical creatures. When they accomplish a mission, the game rewards them with expensive tech, revenge on high-school tormentors, and cash flowing from ATMs. Slaying a hydra and drawing a bloody pentagram as payment to a Greek god seem harmless at first. Fun even.

But then th threatening messages start. Worship me. Obey me. Complete a mission, however cruel, or the game reveals their secrets and crushes their dreams. Tasks that seemed harmless at first take on deadly consequences. Mysterious packages show up at their homes. Shadowy figures start following them, appearing around corners, attacking them in parking garages. Who else is playing this game, and how far will they go to win?

If cool rainbow-reflective lettering on the cover wasn’t enough, this book was completely addictive as well. The premise is that a group of five high school friends (but is this really a YA book? I think all ages will enjoy this with no problem) stumble upon a chatbot that claims to be G.O.D. This moral experiment has tons of players all over the world and attempts to crowd surf morality.

All five students have their own secrets and family issues. At this point they are trying to get into college, or just survive. The game puts each teenager against them self, each other, and the community, causing them to make choices and understand that each action has a consequence.

I think these are important topics for teens to read about. Themes about lying, bullying, suicide, child abuse, religion, and taking responsibility for your actions are all included in the book. Some are discussed thoughtfully and others less so. My favorite part was seeing how each teen reacted once they learned that their choices, actions, and decisions all had very potentially harmful flip sides for someone else.

“Donald Trump is a shape shifting lizard”

The other part I enjoyed was the humor! Isn’t it great that we live in a country where we can publish “Donald Trump is a shape-shifting lizard?” I did something similar to that to George Bush and it was made clear to me by the teacher that I should be thankful I didn’t live in a country where I could be imprisoned or worse for writing bad presidential poetry. Just saying. That part had me absolutely rolling though, but then The God Game got more intense and progressively darker to the point where I wasn’t laughing anymore.

I also enjoyed that progressive descent into ruin. It made the book so hard to put down. The end got a little bit convoluted and murky which is why I dropped the rating to four stars. The other part that threw me was some of the talk about code, I don’t know anything about coding and although it didn’t throw me off too hard – I just had no idea what they were talking about during those passages. The hacking parts were still interesting.

I thought after they had been though that the characters deserved a nice wrapped up ending after the game answered it’s biggest question of morality…. but that’s not how G.O.D. works.

The book releases on January 7th, 2020, mark your calendar if The God Game sounds up your alley!

Categories
Paranormal Suspense Thrillers

Ghoster by Jason Arnopp

Thank you to Orbit Books via NetGalley for the eARC in exchange for an honest review! All opinions are my own!

Ghoster by Jason Arnopp is a fairly long book at 496 pages, but it reads super quickly. Kate meets Scott on Tinder and then at a social media retreat, and their relationship takes off running. It seems idyllic but rushed, and 4 months later Kate is moving in with Scotr…but he is gone. His stuff is gone. His phone was left behind. So the mystery of “where did Scott go” ends up entirely consuming Kate, and gets progressively weirder as ghosts and murderers and strange entities get involved.

At first I thought it was just going to be a mystery, then there were thriller elements introduced, then the addition of ghosts and a horror/supernatural element made it all seem a little bit weird. I did like how everything was mostly tied together at the end, although I won’t pretend to fully understand what happened with that cell phone! No spoilers though, that’s rude!

One fun part was reliving through Kate all of the silly social media things, like OK Cupid, Tinder, Whatsapp, etc. I don’t remember what it was called, not sickfuxx, but there WAS a site we used to dare each other to go to as teens that showed everything from gunshots to porn, and I wonder if that’s what Arnopp was nodding to. We are totally obsessed with our phones as a society and the book offers a really scary example of media addiction.

So yes, the book was long but I would still recommend it for fans of thrillers and light paranormal elements. I gave it 4 stars as I was personally not so much into the paranormal part, but 100% hooked while reading it anyway. The book releases 10/22 so check it out if it sounds up your alley!!!

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Categories
Paranormal Suspense Thrillers Young Adult

The Furies by Katie Lowe

Thank you SO much to St. Martin’s Press via NetGalley for the eARC in exchange for an honest review! All opinions are my own! Here is the first part of the Goodreads summary:

In 1998, a sixteen-year-old girl is found dead on school property, dressed in white and posed on a swing, with no known cause of death. The novel opens with this image, as related to us by the narrator, Violet, looking back on the night it happened from the present day, before returning to relate the series of events leading up to the girl’s murder.

The Furies by Katie Lowe is an atmospheric read set in a small coastal town at the end of the line. All the lines. Literally. It seems like a very depressed area that has a history of witch hunts and unexplained deaths/murders. At the heart is a school for girls, where Violet is a new student and she ends up falling in with an odd group of girls that are part of a secret society. The past is mixed with the present as Violet recalls the events of her first year at the school.

So the good things first: I really did enjoy Lowe’s writing style. Violet had a detached voice that kind of mirrored the….. ….hell, I’ll say it, she’s a bit of a sociopath. The whole book had a creepy, depressed, airy tone that her voice did a good job imparting.

The other voice that we hear a lot of is the secret society/art teacher, Annabel. She gives us some interesting discourse on the history of the town and school, as well as a critical view of some mythological and literary classics through a feminist lens. The only parts that really lost me were these discourses – yes it is cool to have mini lessons on Chaucer, Dante’s Inferno, and others, but it was a bit of a sidetrack. And extensive. Very occasionally it was hard in other places to understand what was happening, but the storyline would pick back up quickly enough.

The girls might have been abused by the men in their lives, and then had good reason fo seek revenge, but they took women’s empowerment to a scary level! They attempted – attempted? to summon the mythical furies as had their study group’s members in earlier years, evoking their powers. Violet was an at risk teen to start but she seemed way too eager to start smoking, drinking, doing drugs, losing weight, and contemplating murder…just to fit into this group. None of those girls were healthy.

Otherwise I really loved how the witchcraft, history, and mythology all tied together in the book. I don’t think anyone could have possibly seen that end coming. I would definitely recommend the book if atmospheric, spellcrafty, spooky and slightly psychopathic reads are up your alley!

The title releases on 10/8 and is available for preorder!

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Categories
Suspense Thrillers

One Little Secret by Cate Holahan!!

Hi guys, I hope everyone is loving their summer so far! Originally someone from Meryl Moss media had reached out about their blog tour for this book, and told me to post on today, July 26th!! I said awesome! I never heard back from her after that, never got a banner or links or anything else to post, and she didn’t respond to an email about it! Anyway…I am still going to post about this amazing book today! I saw amazing because it’s rare that I remember a thriller after a few months!

Thank you to Crooked Lane Books and NetGalley for the early read, and also to Meryl Moss media for originally reaching out about a blog tour. I can party on my own🐲🐉🌼

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One Little Secret by Cate Holahan is the perfect summer read. Three couples rent a beach house in the Hamptons while their kids are off at camp, hoping for a quiet vacation getaway. Good idea, right? When tensions go through the glass ceiling and one of the wives ends up murdered, it turns into …quite the clusterf*ck.

This isn’t a particularly difficult read, although I had trouble keeping all the names apart at first. The chapters alternate between the day before, the day of, and the day after the crime… This makes sense as it reveals bits and pieces of the before and after and lets us guess at what happened. I took the obvious suspect and guessed wrong, darn it. I liked the fast pacing and was about to read this in two days, finding Jenny’s line to be the most interesting. The detective was a little annoying and I felt like she didn’t really back Jenny up, despite the terrible situation she was in. Come on women, stick together.

So what I really liked was that there was a lot of tension between…everyone…and even though the action was contained to one area like a Clue game, there is still a feeling of danger to one character that I felt kept the plot moving. These are rather rich couples but the dialogue felt right, at least for the medical aspects. I know how doctors (and nurses) tend to either draft towards or away from medical conversations, and it was funny listening to Louis boast. I would have liked to spend more time inside the murder victim’s head, instead of seeing her through the other’s eyes only.

This was an absorbing and quick read and I easily rate it 4*. I can also remember the book fairly well, even though it’s been two months since I read it, so it has some staying power! Definitely recommend to all fans of musteries and thrillers.

Content warnings for alleged rape, spousal abuse, and drowning.

I will search for author links and add them to this post!!

Categories
Crime Mysteries Thrillers

The Wedding Guest by Jonathan Kellerman

Title: The Wedding Guest

Author: Jonathan Kellerman

Release Date: 2/5/19

Rating : 3/5 ⭐⭐⭐

Thank you to NetGalley and Random House Publishing Group, Ballantine, for the eARC in exchange for an honest review!

Alex Delaware and Milo Sturgis are at it again, this time solving the murder of a lovely young woman at a wedding reception. The problem? She wasn’t invited, and none of the guests knew who she was.

This book had plenty of friendly banter between our long running characters. Characterization is one of Kellerman’s strongest writing points, but I felt like the villian was totally disconnected. I never felt the psychological pull, the urgency, the fear for the next target. The detectives seemed almost lackadaisical when the action finally happened, and the bad guy flopped out of the blue.

There are plenty of misdirections and wrong turns, although the detectives never had to get too frustrated.

Will you read it if you are a long time Kellerman fan like myself? Absolutely. Objectively, was it one of his best? No, but I would still recommend it to fans of his style. I enjoyed it as a quicker, easy read, but it is not the most gripping of his thrillers.

Thank you again, so much, to NetGalley, the publisher, and the author for the chance to review The Wedding Guest!

Categories
Suspense Thrillers

Her One Mistake by Heidi Perks

Title: Her One Mistake

Author: Heidi Perks

Publisher: Gallery Books

Release Date: 1-8-2019

Rating: 5 stars all day long

Thank you so much to NetGalley and Gallery books for the eARC in exchange for an honest review! If I am being honest – I LOVED and was slightly obsessed with this book. Read on to find out why!

Here is the blurb per NetGalley and Amazon:

What should have been a fun-filled, carefree day takes a tragic turn for the worse for one mother when her best friend’s child goes missing in this suspenseful, compulsively readable, and darkly twisted psychological thriller.

The plot:: I normally put in the whole synopsis but I feel like it is a little bit misleading – it is probably supposed to be! The book started out normally enough but quickly had me entirely hooked, and ended up restoring my faith in thrillers. Long story short: Charlotte and Harriet are best friends, and Harriet trusts Charlotte to take her daughter Alice to the school fair. With three kids of her own to watch, plus Alice, the young girl just vanishes.
Enter a large-scale search, ruined relationships, and one total psycho. As soon as I got my first hunch of who did it, I read the rest in one sitting. Absolutely could not put it down, it just kept getting darker and more exciting as it went.

The style: the point of view switches back and forth between the two main women, moving the story along. It went from the present to the past and back again, painting a larger picture of Harriet and Alice’s lives. I loved the dual POV this time because two totally different stories were being told, and it kept me just itching to find out what happened next.

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The characters: I did like both women and their kids. They are likeable enough and although they stay fairly one dimensional, the unfolding relationships are important and there is good dialogue. I honestly don’t have much to say about the characters, the relationships are well described though and the strain is real. There were a lot of random female names thrown out at first that was a little confusing but did not distract.

General impression: This is such an easy 5 stars. I felt the end coming about three separate times, and wasn’t right any of those times. If I wanted to put it down after about 50%, I couldn’t have. It was truly an exciting and compulsive read, and anyone who likes thrillers and suspense NEEDS to read it. This is a debut novel too and I am so impressed!!

Categories
General Fiction Thrillers

Vendetta by Iris Johansen

Title: Vendetta

Author: Iris Johansen

Release date: 10/23/18

Pages: 413

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Rating & Recommend: 🌟🌟🌟 yes to fans of the author and genre

Thank you to St. Martin’s Press via NetGalley for the opportunity to read the eARC of Vendetta in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own!

This was an honor!

In the 5th Catherine Ling thriller, a team of intelligence operatives must work together to locate and bring down the Red Star terrorist group before they wreak havoc on the west coast. I was expecting to see more of Catherine, but she plays a supporting role to Rachel Venable (Carl’s daughter) and they make a strong female team. Brandon, Hu Chang, Nate, Monty, and Cameron make up a great supporting cast of characters. I found the characters to be one of the strong points in the book – their relationships and access to international intrigue.

Johansen’s writing style is absorbing and easy to read.  My one qualm is that she used “jerkily” and “dryly” quite a few times- strong or distinct words like those stand out FAR too much to be used as frequently.  I know that Johansen has a vast vocabulary to pull from and likely she didn’t realize she was doing it. Speaking of oddball items – Cameron threw me off as well, where does one supernatural(ish) man fit into the world? He really does not and I feel like he takes away from the book, but just ever so slightly.

The plot and story itself are amazing. I love the deep level of intrigue between the CIA, Red Star, Nemesis, and the various other groups trying to vie for information and results.  At times there was too much talking, sitting around the house, chatting on the veranda…. The background is interesting and important but there is just too much of it, then the action came and went rather quickly. Very awesome and intense action though, I couldn’t stop reading once it started heating up.

Overall I would recommend it to Johansen fans and fans of action. It does work as a stand alone novel but doesn’t do Catherine a lot of justice so I wouldn’t start with it.

Again, thank you NetGalley and the aforementioned, I really was thrilled to be able to read and review this!

Categories
Suspense Thrillers

Review: Follow You Home by Mark Edwards

Hello and welcome to my first review! 100% unsolicited, I obtained this book from Kindle (a new venture for me)!

I really enjoyed this for a few reasons:

1) The book was not predictable. I could not guess what was coming next, and was surprised at least four or five times by plot twists. It kept me engaged and was never boring – In fact I switched it to audio when I couldn’t read so I wouldn’t miss the next chapter.

2) The dialogue was believable and natural between characters. When a large portion of the book is dialogue, I had better feel like I am there among them!

3) The point of view stayed consistent, but hopped around more towards the end. The end felt a little forced but tied the story together nicely, filling in the few missing pieces and tying the story up neatly.

The downside for me as an American reader is that it is hard to be a grammar freak when the UK English dialect is different. A very few passages felt poorly edited but it may simply be the dialect. I did enjoy looking up pictures of places and things that occur in the book though, and even with no understanding of Europe I had no trouble following the story.

Overall, I give it 4/5 stars and recommend Follow You Home to anyone who enjoys a good thriller! Not for the faint of heart or those who are easily offended by language or grisly descriptions of scenes!

Thank you for reading!