Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Book Review: MALICE by Pintip Dunn

MaliceMalice by Pintip Dunn

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Pintip Dunn delivers a fun, twisty, time-travel adventure in her latest novel, MALICE!

Dunn wastes no time jumping right into the story. So buckle in before you pick this one up because you'll be turning pages to find out what's going to happen next. Of course, if you're afraid of the current real-life virus spanning the globe, you may want to wash your hands and wear a mask (not really, just joking!) because this story is a mix of TIME TRAVELER'S WIFE by Audrey Niffenegger and PANDEMIC by Yvonne Ventresca.

I loved the majority of the story. The only part that rubbed me wrong was the gun handling. As a person from Idaho, where we love our guns, go target shooting, and teach safe gun handling, I felt like the characters were uneducated in the safe handling of and respect for dangerous firearms. It felt too casual, as if no training is necessary and as if taking a life is no big deal. Other than that ;) I enjoyed the book.

Dunn writes, "Because of the virus ... It was manufactured to be highly contagious ..." YIKES! And the main character says, "I refuse to think about the Voice. Because it either means I'm slowly but surely losing my grip on reality...or someone really did hack into my brain and can now force me to do anything she wants." YIKES!

So . . . as you stock up in preparation for the current real-life pandemic, be sure to add MALICE to your stack of books to read while quarantined.

[I received a free copy of MALICE from the publisher via Net Galley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way influenced my opinion.]

View all my reviews

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

IWSG: Family Traditions in Stories

Oh, the Insecure Writer's Support Group has proposed an interesting question this month . . .

March Question: Other than the obvious holiday traditions, have you ever included any personal or family traditions/customs in your stories?

My Answer: I had to think really hard on this one! It's a great character development idea, too. In my first novel, Who R U Really?, the main character's mother gives her a "quote of the day" calendar every year for Christmas. That's their tradition, and one year, the mom changes the calendar. No good. Goes back to the tradition.

Here are a few quotes from that fictional calendar tradition:

To learn more about the Insecure Writer's Support Group, visit the website: https://www.insecurewriterssupportgroup.com/p/iwsg-sign-up.html

How about you? 

Have you ever included any personal or family traditions/customs in your stories?

Monday, March 2, 2020

BOOK REVIEW: Pop Flies, Robo-Pets, and Other Disasters by Suzanne Kamata

When I was invited to read and review Suzanne Kamata's latest middle-grade book, I was so excited! She's a terrific author, and this book exceeded my expectations. Scroll down for my complete review.

Pop Flies, Robo-Pets, and Other Disasters
by Suzanne Kamata
Publication Date: March 3, 2020
ISBN: 978-1947159365
Publisher: One Elm Books

Description from the Publisher:
Thirteen-year-old Satoshi Matsumoto spent the last three years living in Atlanta where he was the star of his middle-school baseball team―a slugger with pro potential, according to his coach. Now that his father's work in the US has come to an end, he's moved back to his hometown in rural Japan. Living abroad has changed him, and now his old friends in Japan are suspicious of his new foreign ways. Even worse, his childhood foe Shintaro, whose dad has ties to gangsters, is in his homeroom. After he joins his new school's baseball team, Satoshi has a chance to be a hero until he makes a major-league error.

"A heart-warming story about a baseball player who learns that teamwork is much more important than being the star of the team. I loved the family dynamics and depiction of life, and especially baseball, in Japan."―Shauna Holyoak, author of Kazu Jones and the Denver Dognappers (Hyperion, 2019)

"A story set in Japan rich in details only Kamata, an insider, could share. With ease and respect, she weaves the pressures, agonies, and loyalties of Satoshi's life at home, at school and on a junior high baseball team with the practices and traditions of the game played in Japan. I am a big fan of this middle-grade homerun!"―Annie Donwerth Chikamatsu, award-winning author of Somewhere Among (Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books, 2017)

About the Author & Illustrator:
Award-winning author Suzanne Kamata was born and raised in the United States, but has lived in Japan for over half of her life. Suzanne raised two kids and now lives with her husband in Aizumi, Japan. Tracy Nishimura Bishop is an illustrator working in San Jose, CA. She grew up in Japan and got hooked on drawing when she won an art contest in Kindergarten.

My Review:

Suzanne Kamata knocked it out of the park with her middle-grade novel, Pop Flies, Robo-Pets, and Other Disasters!

Whether you live in the United States, Japan, or elsewhere in the world, Pop Flies by Kamata allows insight into two cultures by comparing and contrasting many moments throughout the story via the lens of a middle-grade boy. Even the act of changing from outdoor shoes to indoor shoes and to bathroom slippers gives awareness to variances between the USA and Japan, often making me, and other readers, pause to ask the question, "Why don't we do that?" But then also the question, "Why do they do that?" Such as when Kamata writes, "I remember how my classmates in Atlanta made fun of me when I peeled my grapes before eating them ... I never knew what I was doing to make people laugh." The story also gives examples of similarities between the two countries, not just baseball but also malls, Rock, Paper, Scissors, bullying, and teamwork.

Reading Pop Flies together as a class would allow middle-grade students to discuss not only cultural differences but also household and friendship differences, which would expand their understanding and compassion for classmates.

This story was a breath of fresh air. In addition to the cultural comparisons and explorations, I thoroughly enjoyed the various dynamics of the characters' families, including the well-described use of sign language. And whether intended by the author or not, I was struck by the parallels between sign language gestures, cultural gestures, and friendship gestures. All have great meaning. "A piece of fruit is hardly enough to thank them ... Still, gestures count."

The artwork is engaging and captures pivotal moments of the story. For that reason, I would highly recommend purchasing this book in the print form to best appreciate the artwork.

Great writing. For example:

"I churn my legs like mad, trying to make up for lost time, but I'm still a hundred feet away from the front door when I hear the chime for first period."

"The guys from Ikeda are wiping at their eyes and noses. I'd almost forgotten about the crying. In America, if you cry after losing a game, you're a total wuss. In Japan, crying after a loss is almost required."

"Now that the rain has lifted, the heat and humidity of summer have moved in. Even this early in the morning it feels as if a dragon is breathing down my back."

Bottom line?

Pop Flies, Robo-Pets, and Other Disasters by Suzanne Kamata is a must read and must purchase for anyone who enjoys baseball, middle-grade novels, Japan, cultural exploration, and reading in general.

[I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via Net Galley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way influenced my opinion.]

Monday, February 17, 2020

Book Review: THE SEVENTH SUN by Lani Forbes

Months ago, I was asked to read an early copy and write a blurb for the debut novel of Lani Forbes, THE SEVENTH SUN. I was honored, and it's so fun to see part of my review published on the back of the audio book edition:

Additionally, Tuesday, 2/18/20, at 7pm in Boise, Idaho, I will have the pleasure of interviewing Lani at the launch party for her book. If you're in town, join us:

Scroll on down for my complete review of Lani's novel, but here is additional information about her book:

Author: Lani Forbes
Publication Date: February 18, 2020
ISBN: 978-1982546090
Publisher: Blackstone Publishing

Description from the Publisher:
Thrust into leadership upon the death of his emperor father, young Prince Ahkin feels completely unready for his new position. Though his royal blood controls the power of the sun, he's now responsible for the lives of all the Chicome people. And despite all Ahkin's efforts, the sun is fading--and the end of the world may be at hand.

For Mayana, the only daughter of the Chicome family whose blood controls the power of water, the old emperor's death may mean that she is next. Prince Ahkin must be married before he can ascend the throne, and Mayana is one of six noble daughters presented to him as a possible wife. Those who are not chosen will be sacrificed to the gods.

Only one girl can become Ahkin's bride. Mayana and Ahkin feel an immediate connection, but the gods themselves may be against them. Both recognize that the ancient rites of blood that keep the gods appeased may be harming the Chicome more than they help. As a bloodred comet and the fading sun bring a growing sense of dread, only two young people may hope to change their world.

Rich in imagination and romance, and based on the legends and history of the Aztec and Maya people, The Seventh Sun brings to vivid life a world on the edge of apocalyptic disaster.

About the Author:
Lani Forbes is the daughter of a librarian and an ex-drug smuggling surfer, which explains her passionate love of the ocean and books. A California native whose parents live in Mexico, she now resides in the Pacific Northwest where she stubbornly wears flip flops no matter how cold it gets. She teaches middle school math and science and proudly calls herself a nerd and Gryffindor. She is also an award-winning member of Romance Writers of America and the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.

My Review:

With THE SEVENTH SUN, Lani Forbes joins Leigh Bardugo and Alwyn Hamilton in the ranks of the most talented fantasy authors of today.

Ancient civilizations, mythologies, head dresses, jade pendants, noble families, obsidian daggers – whoa boy – Lani Forbes’s debut novel, THE SEVENTH SUN, kept me glued to the page as I became fully immersed in the rich cultural experience of the Chicome people. With two main characters: Ahkin, a devout young prince who is expected to become emperor and lead his people, and Mayana, a heretic who could win Ahkin’s heart and become the next empress, THE SEVENTH SUN is full of conflict, emotion, and drama that will keep readers turning pages late into the night to find out what will happen next.

Forbes’s amazing writing enveloped me in the world of the story. Here are some of my favorite passages:

“Her heart drummed a rhythm so deep it pounded inside her ears, making her wonder how many beats it had left. Would they cut it from her chest and burn it on an altar? She shuddered, pressing her hand against it as thought she could shield it from such a fate.”

“Love does not hold grudges or demand payment.”

“Why had her father taught her every important ritual and rule under the sun but not how to hold the hand of a prince?”

“Human finger bones rattled from their shields and their quivers were filled not with arrows, but with sharpened bones from enemy arms and legs.”

I am a fan of series, but my favorites are ones where each book has a completed plot and the next book continues with the same awesome characters conquering a new plot. So be warned, THE SEVENTH SUN is the first book in a trilogy with a cliff hanger at the end. But hey, let’s be real, if that is my only criticism, that’s actually a huge compliment!

THE SEVENTH SUN, by far, is the best book I’ve read in ages, and I am so excited to continue reading the series. 

Lani Forbes delivers lush storytelling, vivid characters, and heart-pounding drama in her compelling debut novel, THE SEVENTH SUN.

[I received an early copy of this novel for free in exchange for an honest review. This in no way influenced my opinion of the book.]

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

IWSG: Inspiration from Art


This Month's Question: Has a single photo or work of art ever inspired a story? What was it and did you finish it?


My Answer: While researching my novel, UNLOCKED, I came across this piece of art (above) from Spain's Psychiatric Gallery. It moved me. It did not inspire the novel, but it inspired elements of the main character and her struggle with what was happening in and to her mind. Mental health is a fascinating topic, and the art derived during therapy can be mesmerizing. I loved this piece of art so much, I described it in the novel.

What about you? Has piece of art ever inspired a story for you?

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Book Review: THIRD TO DIE by Allison Brennan

Oh, I love a good murder mystery, so I was excited to read this new book by Allison Brennan, who is an author I've never encountered before. Scroll on down for my complete review.

The Third to Die
Author: Allison Brennan
Publication Date: February 4, 2020
ISBN: 9780778309444
Publisher: MIRA

Description from the Publisher:
New York Times bestselling author and gifted storyteller Allison Brennan's new standalone thriller features a troubled female police detective and an ambitious FBI special agent who wind up at the center of a ticking-clock investigation into a diabolical serial killer.

Brennan's novel will launch a book-a-year series featuring a fabulous cast of recurring characters. It’s the story of a troubled female police detective and an ambitious FBI special agent who wind up at the center of a ticking-clock investigation into a diabolical serial killer; and the bond they forge in this crucible sets the stage for the future books in the series.

Detective Kara Quinn is visiting her hometown of Liberty Lake, Washington, after being placed on administrative leave by the LAPD, when she comes upon the mutilated body of a young nurse during an early morning jog. The manner of death is clearly ritualistic; she calls it in. Meanwhile back in DC, special agent in charge Mattias Costa is meticulously staffing his newly-minted Mobile Response Team. One of his first recruits is the brilliant FBI forensic psychologist Catherine Jones. When word reaches Matt that the Washington state murder appears to be the work of the Triple Killer--it will be the first case for the MRT. Jones has done the only profile on this serial killer, but she is reluctant to join the unit, still shaken by the death of her sister a year ago under circumstances for which she holds herself responsible. But only she holds the key to understanding the killer's obsessive pattern--three murder victims, three deep slashes a piece, each three days apart, each series beginning on a March 3rd--3/3, then a three-year hiatus before he strikes again.

This time they have a chance to stop him before he claims another victim strikes, but only if they can figure out who he is and where is is hiding.

About the Author:
Allison Brennan is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling and award-winning author of three dozen thrillers and numerous short stories. She was nominated for Best Paperback Original Thriller by International Thriller Writers, has had multiple nominations and two Daphne du Maurier Awards, and is a five-time RITA finalist for Best Romantic Suspense. Allison believes life is too short to be bored, so she had five kids. Allison and her family live in Arizona. Visit her at allisonbrennan.com

Social Links:
Author website: https://www.allisonbrennan.com/
Facebook: @AllisonBrennan
Twitter: @Allison_Brennan
Instagram: @abwrites
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/52527.Allison_Brennan

My Review:

Third to Die by Allison Brennan is a page-turner!

With a balanced cast of characters, a fascinating plot, and interesting locale, Third to Die provides all the best elements of a terrific FBI mystery.

If you're a fan of police-procedural novels and/or a fan of the TV show Criminal Minds, you'll love Brennan's latest novel. This is the first book I've read by her, and now I'm a forever-fan!

The story is based on a "Mobile Response Team, a new squad of the FBI" which will aid small towns and underfunded communities in the solving of major crimes. 

While there is a lot of head-hopping with multiple points-of-view (there are a LOT of characters), Brennan does a fine job of clarifying whose perspective we're reading the story from. The only time it got weird was when the POV switched to a five-year-old boy. And yet, while it was weird, I must admit, the conclusion of his POV choked me up - almost to tears! The main characters were set up with personal wounds they each had to overcome in order to help solve the crime, and these emotional hurdles made them so much more lovable. For example, Brennan writes about Kara: "She left this place for good at the age of eighteen with a GED in her pocket and the hope of being a cop in her heart." And regarding Catherine: "You're the single best profiler the FBI has. You're the one who has these skills, this awesome and terrifying ability to get into the heads of killers ... if you leave the FBI now, because of your sister's murder, it will haunt you forever." Additionally, while I assumed from the beginning that some of these characters would have to die, when the time came, I was still surprised in the moment and impressed with how Brennan handled it.

There were several places throughout the narrative where I felt like Brennan's writing was repetitive, but overall I loved the writing. For example, passages like: "Catherine disliked the word normal because there was no true normal. To her, normal simply meant a person who flew under the radar, who didn't register as good or bad, kind or cruel, attractive or unattractive." If you have an aversion to the f-word, be warned, Brennan uses the word a lot, but not so much that it made me stop reading. 

As the story reached its climax and the hunt for the killer was at full-throttle, I was fully engaged and reading faster and faster in order to see how the story would be resolved.

I'm always concerned when I see that a novel is the first in a series, because I dislike cliff hangers at the end of a novel. My favorite way to read a series is to have each book have its own plot neatly tied up at the end, with the characters continuing from novel to novel. I am thrilled to say this new series by Brennan does just that! I look forward to reading the next in the series and continuing on with this great cast within the Mobile Response Team.

[I received an early copy from the publisher via Net Galley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way influenced my opinion.]

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Book Review: DON'T READ THE COMMENTS by Eric Smith

I've admired Eric Smith's work as a literary agent for years, and when I was offered the opportunity to read his new novel, I jumped at the chance! He's a great agent, but can he write, too? Scroll on down for my full review.

Don't Read the Comments 
Author: Eric Smith
Publication Date: January 28, 2020
Publisher: Inkyard Press
ISBN: 9781335016027

Description from the Publisher:
Two teen gamers find their virtual worlds—and blossoming romance—invaded by the real-world issues of trolling and doxxing in the gaming community.

Divya Sharma is a queen. Or she is when she’s playing Reclaim the Sun, the year’s hottest online game. Divya—better known as popular streaming gamer D1V—regularly leads her #AngstArmada on quests through the game’s vast and gorgeous virtual universe. But for Divya, this is more than just a game. Out in the real world, she’s trading her rising-star status for sponsorships to help her struggling single mom pay the rent.

Gaming is basically Aaron Jericho’s entire life. Much to his mother’s frustration, Aaron has zero interest in becoming a doctor like her, and spends his free time writing games for a local developer. At least he can escape into Reclaim the Sun—and with a trillion worlds to explore, disappearing should be easy. But to his surprise, he somehow ends up on the same remote planet as celebrity gamer D1V.

At home, Divya and Aaron grapple with their problems alone, but in the game, they have each other to face infinite new worlds…and the growing legion of trolls populating them. Soon the virtual harassment seeps into reality when a group called the Vox Populi begin launching real-world doxxing campaigns, threatening Aaron’s dreams and Divya’s actual life. The online trolls think they can drive her out of the game, but everything and everyone Divya cares about is on the line…

And she isn’t going down without a fight.

Author Bio:
Eric Smith is an author, prolific book blogger, and literary agent from New Jersey, currently living in Philadelphia. Smith cohosts Book Riot’s newest podcast, HEY YA, with non-fiction YA author Kelly Jensen. He can regularly be found writing for Book Riot’s blog, as well as Barnes & Noble’s Teen Reads blog, Paste Magazine, and Publishing Crawl. Smith also has a growing Twitter platform of over 40,000 followers.

Social Links: 
Author website: https://www.ericsmithrocks.com/
Twitter: @ericsmithrocks
Instagram: @ericsmithrocks
Facebook: @ericsmithwrites

My Review:

Don't Read the Comments by Eric Smith is a fun quick read!

At first, I was concerned that this story would only appeal to gamers, with terms like doxxing, trolling, and streaming. (Doxxing--or doxing--means, according to Google: "searching for and publishing private or identifying information about a particular individual on the Internet, typically with malicious intent.") But even with gaming description and terminology, this story will appeal to all fans of young adult literature.

With diverse characters, a captivating plot, and unique settings, Don't Read the Comments kept my attention from the first to the last page!

I enjoyed almost all the characters, except for Divya's mom. She relied on Divya too much and had huge blinders on when it came to Divya's needs. And, actually, Aaron's mom, too, was not my favorite. I wanted at least one mom who encouraged and facilitated their child's dreams. But the story wasn't necessarily about the moms. It was about the teens who wanted to enjoy and pursue their online gaming experiences without being harassed by stupid Internet trolls. Seriously, don't those people have better things to do with their time?! They need a worthwhile hobby or a team sport to better utilize their energy! I do wish the characters had been developed a bit more with richer, fuller arcs. Specifically, I wanted Rebekah's inner demons resolved. Aaron, by far, was my favorite character!

The sections that feature gaming details read like a science-fiction novel. It was fun to have a sci-fi element embedded within a contemporary novel. For example: "With a hum, the landing pads extend, emitting a soft rumbling under my feet."

However, some of the gaming references and details felt like commercials for products. "...plugins courtesy of Samsung."

If language matters to you, there are a few f-words spattered throughout, but overall there are minimal cuss words.

There were sections that made me gasp. Such as the moment Divya realizes just how close the trolls have gotten to her in the real world: "I click it. It opens. And I see a photograph of my apartment building. My breath catches in my throat. How? How could this have happened?" 

Overall, I highly enjoyed Don't Read the Comments by Eric Smith. The writing is terrific and the story is fun.

[I received an early copy from the publisher via Net Galley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way influenced my opinion.]

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

IWSG: What Started Your Writing Journey?

Every month, the Insecure Writer's Support Group announces a question that members can answer in a blog post. These questions may prompt advice, insight, a personal experience, or story. Join the journey by visiting the IWSG website!


January's Question: What started you on your writing journey? Was it a particular book, movie, story, or series? Was it a teacher/coach/spouse/friend/parent? Did you just "know" suddenly you wanted to write?

My Answer: I read a lot as a kid, everything from Judy Blume’s sweet books for kids to Raymond Chandler’s murder mysteries for adults. Chandler’s gritty stories were what spurred my creative energy. As a kid, I pulled out the dusty typewriter and plunked out my first novel (unfinished around twenty pages) . . . a suspenseful murder mystery, of course. Plus, I feel like I’m the most curious person in the world, always wanting to ask: Why? How? When? Where? Who? I crave to know more about everything. Reading provides avenues to learn more through someone else’s experience and retelling. Writing provides a different method to learn more, because I am the one researching topics, exploring and learning, and then retelling it for others to then experience through their reading of the story.

What about you? What started you on your writing journey?

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

IWSG: Future Self

December's Question: Let's play a game. Imagine. Role-play. How would you describe your future writer self, your life and what it looks and feels like if you were living the dream? Or if you are already there, what does it look and feel like? Tell the rest of us. What would you change or improve?

My Answer: Wow. What a question! Honestly, my knee-jerk reaction to this question is I hope to have contentment, but then I immediately know that when I feel content, I don't strive as hard for improvement. So . . . to describe my future writer self . . . I hope to constantly be striving to improve my skills as a writer and as a story teller while enjoying the fruits of my labors. "Fruits" being conversations with readers, visits to schools, talking with book clubs, books under contract, waking up each morning excited to write a new scene . . .

The future is bright!

What about you? What does your future look like while you're "living the dream"?

Monday, November 18, 2019

Book Review: DAY ZERO by Kelly deVos

Oh, I love thrillers, and I love novels written for the young adult audience! So when I was offered a copy of DAY ZERO to read, I jumped at the opportunity! Scroll down for my complete review.

Author: Kelly deVos
ISBN:  978-1335008480
Publication Date: 11/12/19
Publisher: Inkyard Press

Description from the Publisher
Don’t miss the exhilarating new novel from the author of Fat Girl on a Plane, featuring a fierce, bold heroine who will fight for her family and do whatever it takes to survive. Fans of Susan Beth Pfeffer’s Life As We Knew It series and Rick Yancey’s The 5th Wave series will
cheer for this fast-paced, near-future thrill ride. If you’re going through hell…keep going. Seventeen-year-old coder Jinx Marshall grew up spending weekends drilling with her paranoid dad for a doomsday she’s sure will never come. She’s an expert on self-heating meal rations, Krav Maga, and extracting water from a barrel cactus. Now that her parents are divorced, she’s ready to relax. Her big plans include making it to level 99 in her favorite MMORPG and spending the weekend with her new hunky stepbrother, Toby. But all that disaster training comes in handy when an explosion traps her in a burning building. Stuck leading her headstrong stepsister, MacKenna, and her precocious little brother, Charles, to safety, Jinx gets them out alive only to discover the explosion is part of a pattern of violence erupting all over the country. Even worse, Jinx’s dad stands accused of triggering the chaos. In a desperate attempt to evade paramilitary forces and vigilantes, Jinx and her siblings find Toby and make a break for Mexico. With seemingly the whole world working against them, they’ve got to get along and search for the truth about the attacks—and about each other. But if they can survive, will there be anything left worth surviving for?

About the Author
KELLY DEVOS is from Gilbert, Arizona, where she lives with her high school sweetheart husband, amazing teen daughter and superhero dog, Cocoa. She holds a B.A. in Creative Writing from Arizona State University. When not reading or writing, Kelly can typically be found with a mocha in hand, bingeing the latest TV shows and adding to her ever-growing sticker collection. Her debut novel, Fat Girl on a Plane, named one of the "50 Best Summer Reads of All Time" by Reader's Digest magazine, is available now from HarperCollins. Kelly's work has been featured in the New York Times as well as on Salon, Vulture and Bustle.

Twitter: @kdevosauthor
Facebook: @kellydevosbooks
Instagram: @kellydevos

My Review

In DAY ZERO, Kelly deVos brings us a political doomsday thriller jam packed with explosive action, plot twists, and unique settings.

At first, I was concerned that the story was going to sink too heavily into a political commentary, but once the action started, deVos deftly balanced out the politics with the additional plot elements. And honestly, such is the nature of a political thriller: a story involving political corruption, terrorism, and warfare while two opposing forces fight for control of the system. The tricky part here was the story is targeted at the young adult audience. So while the main character was a teenage girl, many of the decisions and resolutions in the plot line were made by adults. 

The beginning of the story contained quite a bit of set-up, but around the twenty-percent mark, the story started moving at a nice clip and constant adventure and action filled the pages.

I love a story that surprises me, and DAY ZERO offered plenty of plot twists—clear up to the final pages—keeping me engaged and wondering what would happen next.

Strong writing stood out in the action scenes while shorter sentences spattered the slower scenes, such as: “I force down mouthfuls of cheese pizza. The slice is cold and clammy. The cheese tastes like plastic.”

There were many passages of writing that I absolutely loved. Some of my favorites included:

“Next to the register, a stack of plastic dancing turkey figurines shake in unison from side to side. This is going to be the last thing I see. My last moments on earth will be spent thinking Gobble till you wobble.”

“A tall, grimly thin, gray-haired man emerges from a small room at the back. His hair shoots out in every direction, and he’s dressed in overalls so dirty that I was probably a small child the last time anyone washed them.”

“Everyone has a mother.”

“There’s no upside to being the daughter of the devil.”

“She thinks if she doesn’t pick any battles, there’s no way she can lose.”

“A zero-day exploit is a piece of malware that’s been hanging around for a while. Day Zero is the moment when the user becomes aware that they’re screwed. It’s usually the start of something. Something terrible.”

Final verdict: If you enjoy action, adventure, doomsday plots, and/or political thrillers, DAY ZERO by Kelly deVos is a book for you!

[I received this book for free from the publisher via Net Galley. This did not influence my opinion.]