Book Review – Social Engineer by Ian Sutherland

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Social Engineer by Ian Sutherland is a novella and an introduction to the white hat hacking world of Brody Taylor. Taylor is a social engineer who hacks into companies’ systems in order to find flaws that can be manipulated by black hat hackers. He then teaches these companies how to plug up the holes in their security systems. This is how Taylor normally operates; however, he meets Mel via an internet dating site and his focus changes. Mel is an animal rights activist and the next company that Taylor will hack uses animals in their testings. What is Taylor’s true motivation and how does it affect his job and the relationship with Mel?

Sutherland has created a unique story here which is told in a disjointed timeline from the recent past to the present, switching back and forth. Along the way, the reader learns how Taylor hacks HTL, a pharmaceutical company, his relationship with Mel and her friends, and his motivations. Although this is an introduction novella, Sutherland creates believable, well-crafted characters, a plot that keeps you guessing until the last sentence, and an interesting concept that makes you want to read more about this character, Brody Taylor.

I’ve read some critics who’ve said that the back and forth timeline of this story confused them. I didn’t have the same difficulty. I actually enjoyed this aspect of the novella as it gave me a chance to really get to know Brody Taylor more. There was also criticism that the ending was unsatisfactory, but that didn’t bother me either, especially since I know there are other books in this series. I found this an enjoyable, thrilling read and highly recommend it for anyone interested in thrillers and hacking.

Note: I was given a free copy of this novella by the author for an honest and fair review.

Rating: 5 Star

Genre(s): Mystery/Thriller/Suspense/Technothriller

To Purchase: Amazon 

Book Review – Miramar Bay by Davis Bunn

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Miramar Bay by Davis Bunn is a contemporary romance novel set in the coastal town of Miramar Bay in California. Bunn introduces us to Connor Larkin, a character actor who runs away to Miramar Bay to get away from a life he no longer wants – the fast lifestyle of Hollywood and a fiancee he doesn’t wish to marry. Once he gets to Miramar Bay, Connor hides his true identity and takes a waiter’s job at a local restaurant called Castaway’s owned by Sylvia Cassick, who also came to Miramar Bay years earlier with her father and decided to stay and make a life for herself there. Miramar Bay is a place of second chances and throughout this novel, Bunn reveals a cast of characters who’ve all been given second chances there – Rick, Marcela, and Estelle, Sylvia’s long estranged mother. From their first meeting, Connor and Sylvia embark on a relationship that blossoms, wilts and blossoms anew. Sylvia learns of Connor’s deception and then is accused of funneling drugs through her restaurant. And as Sylvia’s life begins to spiral out of control, Connor’s comes into focus. Can he, Estelle and the other people in Sylvia’s life save Sylvia and redeem themselves in Sylvia’s eyes in the process?

I don’t normally read romances, but there were two things about this book that peaked my interest – one, the title, Miramar Bay. Many years ago, I read a book titled Beachcombing at Miramar by Richard Bode and I have been fascinated by this place ever since. I don’t even know if Bode’s Miramar is the same as Bunn’s Miramar, but it didn’t matter. It was the Miramar of my dreams. Second, one of the critics had likened Bunn’s work to that of Nicholas Sparks and I am a fan of his work. I figured if Bunn’s book was half as good as a Sparks’ books, then I would definitely enjoy it. I have not been disappointed at all. I don’t like overly mushy romance stories and thankfully, this one is not that kind of romance at all. It is a whispering of romance, a remembrance of how beautiful falling in love can be, a craving for another’s soul, the tragedy of broken hearts and the joy of renewed love.

Bunn’s writing is casual, sensual, and effortless as he weaves a powerful story of loss, regret, friendships and love. The characters are rich, inviting and so well-developed. You cannot help but fall in love with them. The settings are beautifully written. You can place yourself there, sitting and watching the sunrises or strolling about the lovely town of Miramar Bay and eating at Castaway’s. The plot is well thought out. From the moment you begin reading this novel, you know something spectacular will happen. Second chances, renewed interests in old dreams, and community support are all highlighted in this gorgeous story. For anyone, like me, who enjoys romantic stories without all of the mush and sex, then this novel is definitely for you.

Note: I won an Advanced Reader’s Edition of this book on Goodreads Giveaways for an honest review. 

Rating: 5 Stars

Genre: Contemporary Romance/Genre Fiction

To Purchase: Amazon (pre-order, release date March 28, 2017 – Kindle and Hardcover)