Tag Archives: Thriller

Book Review: ‘Moral Panic’ by K.M. Ecke

Title: Moral Panic

Published: 30th March 2018

Publisher: Dream Flow Media

Author: K.M. Ecke

 

Blurb:

How could technology be used to assault liberty? Where are the bounds of morality drawn for those with unlimited access to our data? And how are good intentions manipulated into the perpetration of injustice?

These questions unfold within Moral Panic, a hacker thriller exploring the collision of the most extreme elements of vigilantism, surveillance data, and technological media manipulation. It wanders through the maze of near-future technology with a skeptical eye on the data-driven world we live in, hoping an awareness of the possibility of such a story prevents it from coming true in the real world.

As C.T.O. of the largest corporation in the world, Tanner Moore is about to release the greatest convenience innovation in the history of business: drone delivery services to every inch of the globe.

But when an interview with journalist Amy Noral is secretly recorded and published by the clickbait media, Tanner’s fall from grace is swift and brutal.

He is fired, publicly condemned as a terrorist for comments he never made, and kidnapped by a mysterious vigilante group using surveillance data to track and kill their enemies. Tanner must navigate this underground world of violent zealots and hedonist hackers to find his way to freedom, or see his drone innovation controlled by the seekers of absolute power.

Above ground, Amy, the only person who doubts Tanner’s guilt, delves into the string of mysterious circumstances surrounding Tanner’s disappearance. Risking her own well-being to find the truth, she meets a mysterious conspiracy theorist on the internet offering to help her uncover the vigilante group’s malicious purpose.

 

Review:

Stories you read online don’t always show the whole truth, or any at all, with how easily things can be manipulated to make you see things differently. There is a fine line between good and bad but in this case no one here can be seen as one or the other. Bad seen in all but it’s the degrees of it that define them. Sure there are some bat shit crazy people who think what they are doing is for greater good when in reality it’s just their twisted minds trying to give reason to what they do. Which side would you fall on?

So Tanner has been framed for something he didn’t do as a way to get him out of the picture and the only people who can help him are the Social Justice team. They say that it’s either he works for them or the FBI will get him for his online threats. He sees it as the lesser of two evils but has no idea what he is really getting into. It all started after an article about his job, company and boss Peter went viral, with some off the record bits thrown in. Not clear who leaked them but those that hunt for the truth could get caught up in hot water so you really need to be careful with what stones you turn over.

Peter and the main investor Diana want to get to the bottom of the leak to make the problem go away so nothing can stop the launch of their new drone system. They need help with what goes on online so need to dig deeper. But how much of what they find is real and what is being made up?

The drone system needs a lot more data from its customers to work. Just what is that data going to be used for and why? Seems this is where the Social Justice team comes in with collecting data from all sources and using it for other means. Hunter is the leader of the unit and to say he seems a bit bat shit crazy would be putting it mildly. Tanner needs to keep a low profile but have a clear head to be able to see the bigger picture. Many players seem to have double motives to their actions. Can Tanner see them all before it is too late?

Interesting read that tried to have a few quirky twists within to keep you guessing but they were more like ‘oh yeah that makes sense’ kind of realizations rather than ‘wow didn’t see that coming’ ones. Seems everyone and everything is linked and you just have to figure out what side of grey you want to live on as its not just black and white with good and bad in this world. Dragged a little in places but overall an ok read.

3 out of 5 stars

I received a copy of this book from the author for my honest review.

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Book Blitz: ‘Layla’s Song’ by Paul McCracken

 

Title: Layla’s Song

Author: Paul McCracken

Genre: Thriller / Crime Fiction

 

About the Book:

Michael’s worst fears are realized when his criminal past catches up to him. His daughter is kidnapped by his old gang, who are intent on getting back what Michael owes to them. With the help of his estranged brother, Carl. They must find a way of coming up with the ransom within five days. Michael’s journey will take him the whole way from Belfast to Dublin.

 

Add to Goodreads

 

Purchase Links:

Amazon – UK / US

 

Excerpt from author’s blog about the process for the book

Concept

The concept of Layla’s Song came when I was going through the process of feeling out a new story to write. Something that had substance and where there was a story to tell instead of just a dull sequence of events that some stories often tend to be. Kidnap stories had always stuck out to me as they always had raised stakes from the beginning and more and more as the years have gone by, the traditional “good guy always wins” concept is not always the case. There are genuine reasons to believe that things may not be OK, the hero might not save the victim which really interested me as a storyteller. Going into writing any book, if my readers can figure out the ending or give a good guess before the midway point, I would consider it a bit of a failure on my part. My aim is to keep them guessing, to have genuine fear for the characters and for what’s to come. Unpredictability has, and continues to be one of the key traits I aim for when writing.

 

Naming

Part of the reason Layla’s Song is called Layla’s Song is because when I came up with the story, I was listening to one song in-particular, ironically, “Layla” by Derek and the dominoes. I then decided to name the title character of the daughter to be kidnapped Layla.

The premise of the kidnapper providing proof of life dawned on me. I was heavily influenced by a scene from the film Man On Fire starring Denzel Washington (brilliant film and I would highly recommend it. Directed by the late Tony Scott who also directed Black Hawk Down and was brother to the famous Ridley Scott).

The scene in-particular was towards the end of the film where we find out that the young girl, thought to have been killed early in the film following her kidnap, was actually alive. So Denzel’s character asked for proof or more specially “proof of life”. He then asked the kidnapper to ask the girl the name of her teddy bear which then proved she was still alive.

In Layla’s Song I used the same idea, only in my story, the protagonist asks for the name of her favourite song. Which is never specifically mentioned, not in name or lyrics, but if anyone ever asks me, it is Layla by Derek and the dominoes as I feel it was the catalyst to writing this story.

 

What drew me to the story

I’ve always been a fan of these types of story and had always wanted to pen one that didn’t feel like a copy of anything else but also kept people gripped and interested to the characters and plot. I am also a big fan of realism.

The idea of a large scale gunfight where the hero dodges twenty bullets to fire back and hit a hundred percent of his own shots is ridiculous and something I always avoid. If there ever is that kind of situation, I provide a take on it that seems plausible and not out of the question.

For myself, I love stories that draw me into their world and keep me guessing.

When the stakes feel real, every decision and every moment count towards the final outcome that is always up for questioning. It also helps if the goal isn’t entirely straight forward, not just a matter of A-B, maybe there is a C to consider in-between those two points of the story.

 

Location

As with all of my novels to date, this is a Belfast based novel. Despite the obvious views and opinions of Belfast and its history, I’m proud to be from Belfast and it has also provided me with so much material to work with story wise. I believe it can compete on the world stage as a backdrop for large scale story-telling that does not focus on its troubled past. I see a lot of writers cash in on the troubles in their stories both fiction and non-fiction. For me, I want to showcase not just Belfast, but the whole of Northern Ireland as a gritty, modern and realistic setting for my stories and hopefully when people read my books they will feel a sense of pride in discovering local landmarks, places and settings.

For this novel, places of interest included; Belfast, Holywood, Newcastle, Drogheda and Dublin.

 

Struggles

One of the things I struggled with during this book was the ending. I was not sure what way to properly end it. Was it going to be happy, sad or bittersweet? Ever since I began writing, I have always wanted to avoid the clichés, the Hollywood endings that we always see a mile off, kind of like what I’ve already mentioned above.

I then, in a way, had two endings. Without spoiling the book to those who have not read it, one key plot issue becomes resolved but in it’s midst, another arrives to meet our protagonist. It felt realistic for the plot to me and it also answered any unanswered questions if I were to wrap the story up too quickly.

 

Layout

I received some great advice following my first novel from a more experienced writer who saw within my writing that I seemed to skip massive amounts of time between chapters. There were a lot of time gaps and instead of the story spanning over the course of maybe a few days or weeks, it appeared to be months. Having took this on board and given it a lot of serious thought, it was the main catalyst behind how I laid out the chapters and time frame of this story. I wanted to follow the characters along every beat, every key hour of their days during the course of the story. In the end, I think it gave it a more grounded feel and it also helped to raise the stakes as we are fully aware of the deadline approaching on a particular day.

 

About the Author:

Northern Irish novelist, Paul McCracken was born 16th January 1991 in the Ulster hospital, Dundonald, just outside of Belfast. He grew up in the Castlereagh area of east Belfast where he also went to school.

Ever since he could hold a pencil, he wanted to be an artist and no-one, not even the school career advisor could tell him otherwise. He left education with only three GCSE’s and an Art diploma. He tried to make it as a fine artist whilst also trying to find any work to support himself financially. However, the more he learned about the commercial art world, the more he wanted no part in it.

In spring 2011, he enrolled in a five day film making course through the Prince’s Trust charity. He always had a passion for storytelling. During the course, he impressed the owner of the studio at which the course was being held, through the raw creativity he displayed. The studio owner was the first to encourage Paul to write his own material, that material being screenplays. After leaving the course with new found confidence and ambition, Paul started to learn the craft of screenwriting and got to work writing his very first feature film.

After securing full time work later that year, he found a renewed inspiration to write again and wrote a full length film script in the space of a week. Paul kept on writing other projects as well as continually editing the first script, but he kept the fact he was writing close to himself as he didn’t want to face any negativity if he were to tell anyone. The script would go on to score highly in an international screenplay competition, based out of Los Angeles. It would then place in the quarter-finals of the same competition for the next two years in a row, accompanied by another screenplay that Paul wrote next.

Years later, after entering competitions, pitching, submitting and doing some occasional freelance scriptwriting, Paul wanted to find a way to get his work into the public eye. Writing a novel was a challenge that seemed daunting but also exciting. Having first thought of converting his best script into a novel, he decided to come up with a completely original story. The novel would secure Paul an agent as well as a publishing contract.

Paul is now 27, he is still a factory worker who moonlights as a writer. Hoping that his writing will be his lottery ticket out of the factory. He has a daughter who is coming two. She is the inspiration behind his new novel “Layla’s Song” a kidnap thriller set in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

Social Media Links:

Website: www.paulmccrackenbooks.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/PaulMcCrackenAuthor

Twitter: @paulmccracken_

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Book Review: ‘Girl Watching You’ by J.A. Schneider

Title: Girl Watching You

Published: 27th June 2019

Author: J.A. Schneider

Facebook: www.facebook.com/JASchneiderAuthor

Twitter: @JoyceSchneider1

 

Blurb:

Out of work actress Ava Beck, reduced to working in a West Village flower shop, starts to watch handsome, womanizing hedge funder Peter Greer, who lives near. He likes to romance his girlfriends with flowers.

Ava notices bruises on his troubled-looking date named Chloe. Concerned, she follows them after work to Chloe’s studio, second floor in the rear of a brownstone. She hears them arguing, climbs up the fire escape just as Greer angrily sees her…. and plunges into a world of stunning twists, murder and madness worse than any she could have imagined…

 

Review:

Goes down as another off my 2019 Bookworm Bingo Challenge – A mystery or thriller. What a thriller ride you are taken on.

Joyce sure knows how to write a great thriller book. A few red herrings thrown in for good measure – some too obvious to be true and others subtle – but you will still be thinking ‘what the hell!’ when the big reveal takes place.

Ava is an out of work actress working in a florist until she can get back into the business. Her career has got a roadblock preventing people from hiring her. The roadblock in question is the man she thinks killed her sister – no accident as far as she is concerned. Confronting him in a rage wasn’t the best move after he was found innocent and now all she can do is hope for a win in her civil case suit against him. She just needs to find some more evidence or someone who has been prevented from speaking perhaps? With all this going on you can imagine that sleep has been hard to come by. Her way of coping is a little strange, the whole climbing fire escapes and looking out for people kind of strange. Once was enough to make her feel something other than numbness when she helped someone she knew but this next time she wished she had done something more than just look in and run away. Given that the person who’s flat it was ended up murdered that very night.

The only reason she went to look through the window was fear that the woman was in some kind of danger. She spotted her earlier at the flower shop with her partner, along with bruises on her wrists. She viewed the man as a predator and wanted to make sure she was ok after seeing them leave. A quick look later that night was all she wanted to do to satisfy her curiosity. After spotting a row in the making, and also getting spotted by the man himself, she got out of there fast. It’s not until the next day where she finds out the women was murdered. Thinking she witnessed the murder, or the lead up to it, she makes it her mission to get to the truth. She couldn’t save her sister but she wants to give justice to someone. After meeting the man, Peter, though and finding out more about him she starts to question everything she first thought. Could she be wrong by missing a link between this and another murder? If so then the real killer is out there watching. If it’s not him then she needs to keep looking before she ends up being a new target.

Red herrings time right from the start. One minute you think it could be one person then get a vibe from someone else until the final reveal. Can you guess the correct killer? They may have done this more than once and be linked closer than you first thought.

5 out of 5 stars

I received a copy of this book from the author for my honest review.

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Book Blitz: ‘Spilling Blood’ by L Penn

 

Title: Spilling Blood

Friends. Secrets. Revenge.

Author: L Penn

Genre: Thriller

 

About the Book:

When teenager Toni Simms is horrifically betrayed by her boyfriend David Hilton, she enters a world of bloody revenge.

As her best friend Rebecca Hayes comes under attack, they decide to take the law in to their own hands with events leaving a trail of untold plight.

Left physically and mentally broken, each girl discovers emotions and thoughts they would not have believed possible, rearing unbridled acts of attrition as secrets are revealed surrounding family and school life.

Toni and Rebecca cross boundaries no teenagers should cross, and walk a path only they understand, even accepting their lives, will never be the same again.

WARNING: Not for the light hearted.

 

Add to Goodreads

 

Purchase Links:

Amazon – UK / US

 

Excerpt

“I’m sorry,” said Toni to Rebecca as she entered the bedroom.

Watching her pal from a rough day sat on the bed still in her school clothes, the fourteen-year-old courtly smiled, “I thought my Mum would know better,” said more to herself.

Reflecting, Toni bestirred, “Well… Hey…I thought I knew better.”

Slightly alarmed, Rebecca sat alongside. “Wait a minute Toe, it’s not the same thing.”

“Yes, it is,” begging to differ, the fifteen-year-old turned to lie on her back, “When you’re smitten by someone you think you know it all. You think you know what’s best for you and you’ll let no one tell you otherwise.”

Feeling unschooled, Rebecca queried, “Was it like that with you?”

“Yeah,” Toni recalled with a wry smile, “Isn’t it like that with everybody?”

“Damn!” Rebecca stood up and started to undress, “I’m not gonna be so gullible,” she said.

“Good,” the older girl prodded her sore tummy, “You can teach me not to be as well.”

Again, self-reproaching, the younger regretted her choice of words. “Toni, I didn’t mean it like that… I’m not saying you were gullible because you were-”

“I know, Bec,” nicely interrupted, “I know you weren’t saying that.”

Rebecca stopped undressing and granted a moment to crucially measure her pal. Reflecting upon the horror story that had been relayed, an understanding of events gripped the younger girl who carefully observed her older’s fragility as Toni cautiously sat up, winced, then waited, and feather-like crossed her legs.

“Hey, Toe,” sad eyes coasting, “are you gonna be alright?”

Carefully pulling herself beside a chunky pillow, Toni fluffed it up and made a smile. “Yeah,” she said, lining up a lovable wink, “I’m gonna be alright.”

In tune, Rebecca advanced and sat on the bed. She took in Toni for some time trying to read her, trying to connect, trying to fully appreciate, and with one leg resting on the floor, she reached over to embrace, her torn down friend.

 

About the Author:

Hello, fellow followers of the fab Reading Nook. I’m author, L Penn, finally learning to be me as I say a bit about myself and my unflinching novel, Spilling Blood.

Born in Leicestershire, UK, as with any other writer, I dream of having a best-seller whilst bashing away the keyboards creating stories people will want to read, however that bulb starts flickering then you write what you know and what you want to read. I’m the type who searches for books that “grab you by the throat and sling you up against the wall”, as one reviewer put it about my second novel, Missing Him: A real love story.

Never one to tread lightly, I pen my books with burning passion as you can gather from my heavily influenced, thought-provoking tales: who didn’t enjoy jotting down their night time ponderings in that secret diary tucked under the pillow, or wallow in daytime musings while sat at the office desk? I certainly did, and wrote my first feature aged 15. I continued writing till I turned 24, falling away with life at my heels only to resurge decades later; hence a refreshed, Spilling Blood.

I won’t preach about writing or how to execute it, art but if you’ve got a story to tell then tell it well is all I can advise; and only you will know if you’ve achieved that.

From since I can recall I’ve penned stories which feature smart, unconventional females. During the 80’s, my mum’s best friend Shirley (who sadly passed of cancer), showed grit and determination during the toxic prejudices of the times yet she was one strong woman who placed herself unselfishly above the parapet and I admired everything she did. The system challenged her and she challenged it back, so I watched, and I listened.

We all need a friendly shoulder to cry upon, and if there isn’t one, then create characters on whose shoulders you can.

I hope I did that with Spilling Blood. It’s a book for readers prepared to step out of their comfort zone and cross over to a story that doesn’t pull any punches. So, for a dangerously brave ride, let protagonists -Toni and Rebecca- become your memorable characters and experience the shocking journey they decide to take you on; through their eyes.

Thanks for sharing, and happy reads everyone!

Social Media Links:

Website: https://anovel.wixsite.com/strongwords

Twitter: @leahpenn7

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Book Blitz: ‘Death by Design’ by John Graves

 

Title: Death by Design

Author: John Graves

Genre: Thriller / Suspense

 

About the Book:

‘I am the storm!’

Navy Seal. Mossad.

CEO of world’s most exclusive executive protection agency. She is now on her most dangerous mission – exterminate mankind!

 

Tracker is retained by a cabal of five extreme environmentalists to solve the climate change equation. $20 billion for 20 years for a final solution. Only Tracker can solve the impossible equation. Only Tracker has the funds, the resources and the will.

Pitted against her are:

Jake and Colonel Soliz – the best of the best within the CDC.

Dr. Blake and her daughter Sally – brilliant CASPR research scientists.

Mantis: Tracker’s equal – and her nemesis.

 

Which team will succeed? Who can eliminate the most successful killer of all time? Will humanity survive?

Who will win?

 

Read the page turned, Death by Design, for the thrilling answers!

 

Add to Goodreads

 

Purchase Links:

Amazon – UK / US

 

Excerpt

Dr. Blake

Dr Sharon Blake, epidemiologist, geneticist and pediatric oncologist stood in the ante room. She had been recruited, after several refusals, to at least listen to an offer that could open her career to significant advancement. She didn’t yet know that it would also allow her to research her deadliest nightmare.

Her daughter Sally had a rare form of leukemia. Diseases of the blood were infamously difficult to track, treat or heal. Most sufferers simply died. Most suffered horribly. Fewer than 40% survived. Those that did waited in the dark for the return of their deadly companion.

She was being offered much more than a new position. She was to become the Managing Director of an entirely new firm with an annual nine figure budget. It would have direct ties to the FDA fast track authority – without a single purposeful solution on hand.

She only had to run the operation. She however only wished to seek and destroy her nemesis, leukemia.

T-cell-prolymphocytic leukemia (T-PLL) is the most deadly form of the disease. It almost always affects adults. Almost. Sally began showing signs of it at six. She was nearly seven now and had a prognosis of less than a year to live. T-PLL was the evil horror of Dr. Blake’s life. She had no interest in anything that distracted her from her mission. Her mission was simple. Keep her child alive until she could find a solution.

The door opened. The executive secretary had only to look at Dr. Blake, who stood tall and stepped across the dark wooden threshold.

‘Welcome. Please have a seat wherever you’d like.’ Several comfortable chairs surrounded the deep view of the Bay through tinted windows.

‘I prefer to stand. I doubt I shall be here long.’ Her answer was direct without being rude. She quickly established control of the meeting. ‘What you propose is intriguing, certainly. I cannot accept. Thank you.’

Her gaze swept across the water long enough to show a telltale of curiosity. A new building partially obscured the view to the south.

‘Perhaps you are correct. I have been wrong before. If so, I offer my apologies for taking valuable time from your research.’ He paused.

‘Perhaps, however, you would like to consider my deeper proposal…’

‘Which is?’

‘T-PLL research.’

‘Are you being rude by tempting me or simply ignorant?’ She maintained control despite her rising blood pressure. She suspected he could sense the slight flush to her face.

‘Please forgive me, but I am neither rude nor ignorant.’

‘My turn to apologize.’ Her words were clipped, without emotion.

He had to match her to his strength, that he knew. She had too powerful an intellect and personality. She was not to be outwitted or indulged. He had already lost the opening gambit and was down a pawn after four moves.

‘I – we – propose the Directorship as an autonomous position. You will research what you chose. You will determine who works with you, what assays they move down, how they progress. You alone will dictate every aspect of the firm’s executive decisions. All other decisions will be delegated by you to whom you choose. Your contacts in the FDA already await your discretion.

‘My role is to provide you with an infinite supply of something to which you have, at best, limited access. Capital.’

‘Which always comes with a thicket of legal constraints. I doubt you can or should cut through such a morass.’ Her comment was the first sign that he had advanced a piece across the board. She had asked him a question – in her own manner.

‘I – we – have established a charity in Switzerland, a stiftung. It’s sole purpose it to discover a cure for leukemia, with a particular emphasis upon T-PLL. It currently has more than $1B Swiss francs on deposit. The Swiss franc currently trades near par with the US dollar.

‘You are to be nominated as ‘participating director’. You will have all voting rights, excepting funding discovery. The other five members, while discreet, have asked my firm to suggest you as the best candidate for the position.

‘Do you have any reason why I should not make such a suggestion?’ He paused and gazed at the bridges crossing the Bay.

Her pause was conjunctive. ‘My passport has less than six months to expiration.’

‘I have a new Swiss passport for you here. Here is a packet already prepared for your US renewal, along with a GOES approval of course.

‘Also, you will find the keys to your research building – look, it’s just there.’ He pointed to the south. ‘Obscurans’ was titled across its leading arch.

‘You will also find a directory of names you may find worthy of consideration for your lead teams. Of course, you have full discretion in building such a team, within the confines of the labor regulatory world.

‘You will also discover a wide variety of communications and transportation devices at your immediate disposal. If I may suggest, my personal executive manager whom you just met outside has offered to interview with you as head of HR.

‘If you decide to accept, your first trip to Geneva can occur at your best convenient time.’

‘By the way, Sally can be involved, should be involved, as quickly as she is psychologically prepared to do so. Her proximity is of both family and research value.’

‘What do you mean by ‘funding discovery’?

‘Discretion of the other members as to their wealth and its sources.’

‘No other funding discoveries? No constraints upon funding discernments, dispersals or deposits?’

‘None.’

‘Keep your list. I know exactly who to invite.’

‘Of course.’

‘Mary Blakslee, isn’t it? Your executive manager?’

‘Yes. She has been involved with our recruitment of you. She has a significant interest in your field. She prefers medical research to… human engineering.’

He slipped it past her. She missed the cue. She was in, he knew.

‘How much time do I have to decide?’

‘None. If you are to move forward, you have no time. You are already late. T-PLL is far ahead of you and you are losing ground. Unless you have something better…’

‘Count me in.’

‘I did before you walked in the door.’

Checkmate.

About the Author:

John has traveled extensively, with more than 80 countries’ stamps in his passport. His avocation is adventure. He has sailed to Hawaii several times as well as across the Atlantic and throughout the Mediterranean and Caribbean. He has trekked the Andes, the Sahara, the Taklamakan, the Serengeti, and the Namib.
In his previous career, John was a chef.

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