All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Review: No Stone Unturned by Julie Moffett

No Stone Unturned (Lexi Carmichael Mystery #11)
Julie Moffett
Carina Press
2019, 374p
Copy courtesy of the publisher via NetGalley

Blurb {from the publisher/Goodreads.com}:

Geek girl Lexi Carmichael thought getting engaged would mean calmer days ahead. But when Slash’s past brings up more questions than answers, she’s not going to let anything–or anyone–drive them apart.

Getting engaged is supposed to be a fun, exciting time in a girl’s life. But things are never that easy for Slash and me. Instead, someone is threatening to expose Slash’s past–a past so secret, even I know very little about it.

Before I can get used the weight of Nonna’s antique ring on my finger, he’s on his way to Rome…and we’re farther apart than we’ve ever been. Still, I have no intention of sitting at home and letting him take on the Vatican by himself.

With a little expert-level hacking, I learn Slash is keeping secrets from me. Big ones. Dangerous ones. In fact, the more I dig into Slash’s past, the more I discover things about him I never knew–things that eventually pit us against each other.

From Rome to the Amalfi coast to the highest levels of the Vatican, we both race to discover the truth. No matter what I find, we’re officially a team now, so I won’t let him face this alone. Even if I don’t know if our relationship can survive it.

For the most part, I really enjoy this series. I discovered it a lot of years ago now and I think we get around 2 instalments per year and there are a lot of things that I really appreciate about it. Firstly, how good Lexi is at her job. She’s super awkward and dumb stuff happens to her all the time but she has a really analytical mind and she’s always ready to drop whatever it is she’s doing and help someone. I love her ability with computers and the way she thinks. Also I like her and Slash and how steady they’ve been for the last 7 or so books. It can be rare in a series to have that romantic consistency and not have the main character torn between characters or in a perpetual state of relationship flux.

In this book however, Lexi and Slash face probably their greatest test when someone from Slash’s past starts sending him messages about things he’s done and threatens to spill some secrets, things that Slash doesn’t particularly want Lexi to know. He has a very highly classified past and has definitely done some things that he’d prefer Lexi never have to find out about. There’s also a lot about his background and his unusual upbringing as well that Slash himself doesn’t even know about but he’s about to get some of the answers in the course of investigating just who it is that is threatening to expose him and why.

The book starts with Slash and Lexi’s engagement party, something that Lexi has been coerced into doing. She’s still not at ease in social situations, even when she knows everyone that is going to be there and the situation is only made worse when her mother starts immediately harassing her about wedding details and producing grandbabies. Lexi and Slash just got engaged and even thinking about the wedding right now is too much of a distraction for her – I think it’s almost a relief when Slash is targeted with a message, because it gives her something else to focus on and that is providing support for Slash in any way that she can, letting him know that he’s not alone anymore and she’ll be there for him. For Slash, who comes across as supremely confident, it seems that Lexi is his Achilles heel – he’s constantly worried that she’ll find out about him and that’ll cause her to leave him, when she learns what he’s done in his past.

A large portion of the book is in Italy and revolves around the Catholic Church and the Vatican which is not particularly my sort of thing because I have a lot of issues with the Catholic Church and the blind eye they’ve turned to instances of extreme abuse. There’s just a lot about most organised religion that I really don’t enjoy and I’m not a big fan of reading about it either. But it’s an integral part of the storyline here and Slash was raised in Italy, a country that is heavily devoted to Catholicism and he also worked for the Vatican. There’s some nice stuff that ties into Slash and Lexi’s meeting with the Pope in the third book, No Place Like Rome as well and it’s always good when a series keeps consistent to those prior stories. I like a series that builds, rather than each instalment feeling stand alone.

There’s so much more that the reader knows about Slash now after this book. Before this he had been a mystery for so long – each book had built on that mystery until, to be honest, he was almost barely human. But this book strips it back a bit and lets us get a glimpse of him as a real person with insecurities and fears and a burning desire to know more about his past. His love for Lexi has always been a very strong part of him and his acceptance of her for who she is, weirdness and awkwardness and all but in this book we get a look at the opposite – Lexi’s steadfast support of Slash and her willingness to accept him for all he is, shady past and all. I think this will make them feel more “even” in the future – there’s no longer that feeling that Lexi doesn’t know much about Slash’s past or that he has these secrets and she’s realised that he could be just as vulnerable as she could. Progression!

8/10

Book #4 of 2019

Leave a comment »

Review: No Regrets by Julie Moffett

No Regrets (Lexi Carmichael Mystery #10)
Julie Moffett
Carina Press
2018, 243p
Copy courtesy of the publisher via NetGalley

Blurb {from the publisher/Goodreads.com}:

Geek girl Lexi Carmichael has tackled her share of formidable tasks, but nothing quite as daunting as serving as maid of honor at her best friend’s wedding.

When I agreed to stand by my best friend, Basia, on her big day, I had no idea what I was in for. Bouquets and unflattering evening wear I can handle. But between disgruntled dates, a beach venue and suspicious packages, what else can go wrong? Oh, right—my parents don’t know I’ve moved in with Slash. Oops?

Thankfully, I’ve got everything semi under control, at least as far as Basia and Xavier know. They can leave for their honeymoon happy, knowing Elvis, Slash and I will keep things safe at home.

Meanwhile, Elvis and Xavier’s boss at ComQuest has asked X-Corp—well, me—to take a quick trip to retrieve a sensitive company package from the British Virgin Islands. No hacking involved. Just show up, accept the package and bring it home safely. A cushy assignment, and a safe one. Right? 

Wrong. Things start to unravel the minute I set foot on the boat to the island. Before I know it, I’m up to my neck in thugs, sand and trouble. I’m going to have to work fast to stop the bad guys before the sun sets for good on this unexpected beach vacation…

I enjoy this series but I have to admit, I enjoy parts of it more than others.

In this installment, Lexi is serving as bridesmaid for her best friend Basia, who is finally marrying one of Lexi’s other few close friends, Xavier Zimmerman. The role has brought about many duties and things that are outside of Lexi’s comfort zone but she’s appreciative of Basia and she wants everything to be perfect so she’s getting on with it. She can’t shake the feeling that something will go wrong though – lately Lexi has been compiling the data of what happens to her in a ‘Little Black Cloud’ spreadsheet so that she can analyse it. Lexi is the kind of person that ‘things just happen to’ and she’s determined that nothing ruin this special day.

I think these books are better when they focus on the ‘mystery’ and less on the ‘comic relief’ but that’s just personal opinion because I find that crazy incidents with animals bother the heck out of me and there are two of them in this book. The first one is kind of not so bad but the second one…..ugh, I honestly can’t believe it was even left in the book.

I really did enjoy the mystery – as I said, it’s where I feel the strengths in this series are and I always like to watch Lexi doing her thing, gathering information and sorting out things in her head and coming up with a plan. She’s very smart, she’s confident in her abilities and she definitely shines in this book. I loved her process of investigating and could ignore the distractions and silliness that kind of cut in along the way because they were just small moments and the solving of what was going on took up a far bigger portion of the book. I liked that Lexi didn’t need rescuing in this book but I also appreciated that there were people who came to make sure of it.

Lexi’s developing relationship with Slash has been a big thing for me since the third book – I wasn’t too crazy about him as an option in the first book and maybe the second but since the third I’ve been fully on board. I love that it does actually develop – a lot! They’re not just stuck in a holding pattern, she’s not torn between two guys (thankfully that part was cleared up very early on in the series) and they’ve grown as a couple, shared things about each other and moved forward. And they continue to move forward in this one, which I appreciate although once again, the manner in which it happens was kind of another one of those ‘Lexi’ moments. And I really liked the way this one ended. There’s a bit of a cliffhanger and it revolves around Slash and it looks as though the next book is going to be really interesting and quite personal. I do think that the author has done a great job really developing Lexi and Slash’s story and continuing to have it grow over numerous volumes and there’s still plenty left for them.

But this isn’t my favourite one of the series. I’m probably in the minority but I find a lot of the ‘comic’ moments contrived, like they’ve been really thought out and written purely to invoke amusement rather than unfolding naturally. None of them really felt natural and that pulls me out of the story which lessens my enjoyment of it. Lexi is really funny enough on her own. She doesn’t need ‘crazy’ things happening to her to get a laugh. And I really just appreciate her geeky, funny, intelligent side without disasters. However the way in which this book ended has made me so keen for the next book. I really need to find out what’s going to happen there.

6/10

Book #1 of 2018

2 Comments »

Review: No Living Soul by Julie Moffett

no-living-soulNo Living Soul (Lexi Carmichael #9)
Julie Moffett
Carina Press
2016, eBook
Copy courtesy of the publisher via NetGalley

Blurb {from the publisher/Goodreads.com}:

Although I never expected it, my work as a computer geek has me traveling around the world, solving mysteries and fighting bad guys. Sometimes with my friends, but always with trouble by my side. So you’d think by now, I would’ve expected to be plagued by danger when I headed to Egypt with my best friend, Elvis Zimmerman, and boyfriend, Slash, to help track down Elvis’s missing and estranged father. Nope.

Genius runs in the family, and we quickly discovered Elvis’s father is hot on the trail of an ancient and elusive artifact. One that people are willing to kill to find. Tombs, tablets, scarabs, and code come together as we follow a set of clues that has been waiting millennia to be discovered. Cracking code is my speciality, but I never expected to tackle one from fifteen hundred years before the advent of written language.

But the sands of time are running out. We are facing death as it was before the pyramids even existed. If the artifact falls into the wrong hands, we won’t be able to rewrite history. So it’s up to us to find and safeguard the secret to ensure no living soul ever encounters it…again.

This series is still going strong, book 9 now and it continues to be a model of consistency in terms of how much I enjoy each one. I know I sing Lexi’s praises in each book but she is quite refreshing. Yep she’s socially clueless (and sometimes some of these moments are a bit OTT) but she’s so competent at her job that I really enjoy that whole aspect of it. She has great intuition and she rarely needs help. She’s no damsel in distress.

The books alternate action close to home with ones that are set overseas and this is one of the latter with much of the action taking place in Egypt. Apart from a bit of skepticism about Slash getting the okay from his FBI minders to even do this trip (Egypt is not exactly described as the safest of foreign locations for tourists, let alone ones that the American government like to keep their eye on) I was able to sink into this story pretty easily. I found the introduction of the Zimmerman twins’ father really interesting as there’s still quite a lot we don’t know about them, despite both of them being so close to Lexi. Particularly Elvis, who plays rather a large role in this story.

Her relationship with Slash continues to evolve (the two are about to begin living together) and although Lexi has a couple of moments of insecurity in Egypt she kind of still just gets on with things instead of allowing it to dictate her every thought and action. The thing with these two is there’s still a lot of delayed communication which can be a bit frustrating and Lexi has a tendency to kind of jump the gun and think the worse, probably because this is her first real proper relationship. There are times when she is bluntly honest with Slash and yet other times she sits on things when getting them out into the open would’ve been much better.

I find these books just really easy…..something that I can pick up and know that I’ll enjoy it, find the story something that holds my interest. I can also go back and reread most of them, which I’ve done several times to relive the evolution of her relationship with Slash which has been a really fun ride. He’s the one that I’ve liked the best from the 2nd or 3rd book.

Bring on book 10.

8/10

Book #188 of 2016

Leave a comment »

Review: No Strings Attached by Julie Moffett

No Strings AttachedNo Strings Attached (Lexi Carmichael #8)
Julie Moffett
Carina Press
2016, eBook
Copy courtesy of the publisher via NetGalley

Blurb {from the publisher/Goodreads.com}:

Oops, I did it again…

Leave it to me, Lexi Carmichael, to become a target for an elite organization of cyber criminals simply by being in the wrong place at the right time. As if I weren’t already freaking out about planning my best friend’s bachelorette party, I now have to keep my eyes peeled for people trying to kill me.

After accidentally intercepting a dangerous hack into the NSA and discovering the involvement of a foreign country in said hack, things begin to get seriously complicated. Diplomats, danger and spies, oh, my!

With Slash and my loyal friends by my side, I’m in a race against time to stop a team of sophisticated hackers on a deadly mission. My team of geeks is brilliant…but derailing an international plot for revenge will take everything we’ve got.

There’s something to be said for a comforting series. The sort where each new installment is exciting and you know what you’re mostly going to get but that’s the drawcard. This is such a series for me. To be honest, the previous book was probably for me, the weakest installment but this one? This is definitely one of the best so it was awesome to see such a strong return to form.

Lexi is so much fun and I love that in this book, she really shines. She’s smart, that’s always reinforced in each book but I think this one is the best example of the fact that Lexi can and will step up and lead when she has to. She doesn’t need to play second fiddle to Slash and his amazing coding/hacking abilities, she’s right up there with him and when Slash is incapacitated for part of this book, Lexi effortlessly finishes what the two of them started.

This book also has some great growth for Slash and Lexi’s relationship. Slash’s suggestion of how to deal with the cyber threat doesn’t sit well with Lexi and I think that highlights the differences in their personalities. Lexi is a sunny personality, the light side and she retains that despite all that has happened to her in the previous books. Slash is more a darker personality – which is I think, why he’s drawn to Lexi in the first place. She has that sort of innocence and positive outlook on the world that he needs and the two of them balance each other out very well in this book. They have some really good discussions about their work and the sort of action they might need to take. I have also really enjoyed Lexi’s growing confidence in Slash’s feelings for her and her understanding of how relationships work. She doesn’t seem to require so much assistance from Basia these days to analyse every single thing (thankfully!) and she appears more comfortable with the intimacies of sharing your life with someone. She still queries things and there’s an internal thought process but Slash has gone from someone she was kind of in awe of to her boyfriend. The guy she loves, not an untouchable figure that she can’t quite believe wants to be with her. I really appreciate that their relationship is steady and that there aren’t constant flirtations with other characters or weird break ups and getting back together.

The plot in this one was super fun and involved Lexi doing a lot of things that didn’t feel like as much of a stretch as some other novels (rescuing people in Africa, traipsing through an Indonesian jungle, etc). I found it just as action packed, despite the fact that it all takes place close to home and it just felt like a more accurate reflection of their jobs and Slash’s vague role at the NSA. This book lifted the curtain a little on that and definitely gave a strong idea of what his career might be like moving forward, as well as how their relationship will advance too. I’m not sure how long the series is going to keep pretending that Lexi works with/for Finn, she is hardly ever there! She always manages to get herself involved in something crazy. Finn as a character has really dropped off too but to be honest I don’t think that really matters for the series at all. The core group for me is Lexi, Slash and the Zimmerman twins. I don’t even find Basia a necessary part but given she’s Lexi’s best friend and that she’s marrying a Zimmerman, I’m sure she’ll always continue to be around.

The next installment is due out in January next year (another thing I like, you’re never waiting super long for the next one) and I’m pretty excited about some of the directions that the series has gone in. This one is definitely my favourite and I think, the best written of the series.

9/10

Book #130 of 2016

Leave a comment »

Review: No Room For Error by Julie Moffett

No Room For ErrorNo Room For Error (Lexi Carmichael #7)
Julie Moffett
Carina Press
2015, 276p
Copy courtesy of the publisher via NetGalley

Blurb {from the publisher/Goodreads.com}:

Trouble follows me, Lexi Carmichael, like a little black cloud. At least according to my boyfriend, Slash: brilliant hacker, national treasure and vault of secrets. Even I have to admit he could be right. 

After a series of high-profile cases at my cyberintelligence firm, I was looking forward to a simple job. All I had to do was personally deliver a revolutionary microchip to a manufacturing plant in Indonesia. Easy, right?

Wrong.

Someone else wants the design and is willing to kill to get it. A failed
hijacking attempt lands me, my best friend Basia and our boss, Finn, in the middle of the jungle. Our mission is clear: protect the microchip design from the hijackers on our tail…and survive. But how can a geek girl like me survive without access to my beloved technology? I’m about to find out. And this time, there’s no room for error. 

This is the 7th book in the Lexi Carmichael series and I’ve been reading from the very beginning. I do enjoy them but I have to say, I feel as though this one and the previous one have really kind of stepped the ‘danger’ element up a gear with Lexi travelling to Africa to rescue one of the Zimmerman twins in the previous book and being in a plane crash in a remote jungle in this book. I enjoyed the African element but I’m not sure I really found a connection with the level of danger that Lexi, Basia and Finn found themselves in during this adventure. In many ways, it felt a bit of a stretch of the imagination to settle in, more of a stretch than I was really capable of. I enjoyed parts of it but other parts….it just didn’t work for me.

The gist is Lexi’s friends the Zimmerman twins have invented some whackadoodle piece of technology I don’t really understand for someone somewhere and it has to be flown personally to some factory somewhere where it can be manufactured. Neither Xavier nor Elvis are well enough to travel with it due to the injuries they sustained in the previous adventure so they ask Lexi to accompany the technology for them on a private plane. Finn goes as well despite the fact that he really hasn’t had an active role in these books for a while now and of course, Basia goes along because of course, she speaks every language they ever seem to need when doing some sort of job. Her character has never resonated with me but never more so than in this book. I feel like so much of the time she’s dropped into the plot to save the day in some way but mostly she just seems incredibly unnecessary.

I really like Lexi and the way she approaches problems. She knows she’s smart and can solve work related things and she also knows that she’s socially awkward and that she needs to ‘conduct research’ generally to find out what is the accepted behaviour or whatever, in certain situations. This can have a charm about it but sometimes it does verge into awkward territory and it does in this book and I think I have to blame Basia for that too actually. I love Slash, he’s really grown on me throughout the books and I love the way that the author has developed his relationship with Lexi. He’s clearly light years ahead of her in many things but he’s also utterly charmed with her too and it’s really obvious to the reader, even when Lexi isn’t picking up on the clues. The two of them have been moving toward more serious territory and mostly it’s a lot of fun to read as Lexi settles into a proper relationship and learns to navigate and express her feelings. However the character of Slash is getting a little close to jumping the shark with all these different things that keep getting revealed about him. Slash’s most interesting feature for me isn’t his mysterious job or his unusual upbringing or his surprising random skills but the way in which he relates to Lexi and the way in which he simply accepts her. Even when she does crazy things out of (seemingly) no where. I was in two minds about the lengths he went to in order to attempt to keep her safe in this story – was it caring and probably well thought out or was it a bit creepy? I suspect on anyone else, it might’ve been a bit creepy. But Lexi is Lexi and people keep attempting to kill her so really it was probably just clever thinking and attempting to take all possible precautions!

This one isn’t my favourite of the series, but I still liked it. I look forward to each new installment and I’m really enjoying Lexi’s character progression. Thankfully she is evolving and changing because there’s nothing worse than reading books in a series where nothing ever changes. Lexi is always learning and moving forward and trying to navigate new situations both personally and professionally and I do really appreciate that.

6/10

Book #143 of 2015

 

 

 

Leave a comment »

Review: No Woman Left Behind by Julie Moffett

No Woman Left BehindNo Woman Left Behind (Lexi Carmichael #6)
Julie Moffett
Carina Press
2015, eBook
Copy courtesy of the publisher via NetGalley

For Lexi Carmichael, hacker and geek extraordinaire, this is an event worthy of a heart attack. She’s faced down multiple dangers, her life has been in threat more times than she can count and she can hack her way in and out of any system but nothing presents a challenge like taking her new boyfriend to dinner with her parents.

Lexi’s mother is a former beauty queen now society wife who wants nothing more than to see Lexi settled and married. And although she now has a boyfriend (perhaps her very first one), she’s not entirely sure that Slash fits the image her mother has for her future husband. For a start, his job title is entirely too vague – and that was before dinner was interrupted by gunfire and smashing glass. And then Slash disappears.

The man behind the attack is Johannes Broodryk, a South African terrorist that Lexi has gone up against before. Not satisfied with the outcome of that last meeting, Broodryk has gotten Lexi’s attention and he lets her know that he has something she holds very dear. And the only way he’s going to give it back is if Lexi comes to get it. He’s somewhere in Africa and if Lexi can find him and get there, she just might save her best friend’s life.

But Slash is not on board with Lexi’s plan to get involved on such a level. She has no training for this sort of mission and he doesn’t want to see her put herself in danger. But Lexi has to do this – she’d prefer to do it with Slash’s approval and support but if he won’t give it then she’s going to have to go it alone.

No Woman Left Behind is the sixth book in this series about Lexi Carmichael and it definitely steps things up a lot, both professionally and personally. Lexi and Slash have been ‘dating’ for a little while now but most of that has happened in between books. In the beginning of this book, Lexi is taking Slash, he of many secrets and connections, to have dinner with her wealthy parents. Lexi’s mother is a bit of a pushy society type, always attempting to introduce Lexi to eligible men, seemingly utterly oblivious to the fact that her daughter is incredibly uncomfortable in company, socially inept and not really very life experienced. Although Slash is significantly more adept than Lexi at many things, he understands the life of a socially awkward person, a computer geek. Lexi isn’t convinced her parents will approve of him (the name might be the first thing that raises eyebrows) and she’s basically hyperventilating at the prospect of this dinner.

Although this was amusing (and it’s good to see Lexi and Slash simply being) my interest in this began to wane a little as the dinner went on. The gangbusting scene has the potential to be really cheesy (and probably just skated this line) but when all of the various organisations who investigate begin to put the pieces together and Lexi realises who is behind this, why and what they want, things pick up a lot and I couldn’t put the story down after that.

Although Lexi is frightfully intelligent and very, very good at what she does with computers, she’s also the sort of person where it’s easy to imagine yourself as her. She’s an everyday kinda girl, she’s mid-twenties but still mostly lives like a uni student. She has a core group of very good friends, but that’s it. She doesn’t really do acquaintances but the friends she does have, she’ll do anything for. And that’s why Lexi agrees to undertake this mission to go to Africa, to figure out the cryptic codes herself. She’s quite frankly, shit scared but she’s going to do it anyway. Thankfully she doesn’t go alone and she has an elite SEAL team to back her and I found that the way in which Lexi endears herself to them is so much like her. They know she has no physical skills, they know she’s scared but she is smart and she’s gutsy and they come to really respect that.

Lexi and Slash face their first real issue as a couple over the mission. Although Slash is a computer geek he has some sort of elite military training – this is always sort of vague. He knows that Lexi has none and that the odds of this being a suicide mission for her are pretty high. Obviously he’s not cool with that and there’s a moment where he can’t be part of it and leaves, which means Lexi is kind of on her own to prepare and feels that she’ll be leaving with things with Slash very much in a bad place. For me this conflict between them unfolded very naturally. Lexi is determined and rather stubborn and as I mentioned earlier, intensely loyal. She wasn’t going to risk someone she cares about very much being killed because she refused to do all she could in order to save them. Slash feels relatively helpless I think, because he can’t go with her and help keep her safe. What I did like was that although they had their differences and it escalates into what is almost but not really a fight or a break up, it’s something that obviously eats at both of them and neither of them are too stubborn not to want to sort it out prior to Lexi leaving. I feel as though this places them very much on an equal footing within the relationship and that Slash, although he might be a bigger badass, is probably more willing to be the one that shows his hand first. Slash is confident in his own feelings whereas Lexi is still figuring hers out and there’s quite a sweet scene between them where she finally realises not only her feelings but his as well.

There was a lot of action in this one and I enjoyed the plot probably the most of all of these books so far. But I think it was Lexi’s character that made this one really shine as my favourite so far. I can’t wait for the next one.

8/10

Book #69 of 2015

2 Comments »

Review: No Test For The Wicked by Julie Moffett

No Test For The WickedNo Test For The Wicked (Lexi Carmichael #5)
Julie Moffett
Carina Press
2014, eBook
Bought for my Kindle

Lexi Carmichael has a new assignment – to find out who has been hacking into the system of a prestigious private school and causing mischief. Although she’s 25, Lexi remembers being a teenager very well.  She knows how teenage geeks think and act and this, coupled with her fresh-faced looks lead her to believe that the best way to go about finding out who the culprit is, is to go undercover and enroll in the school as a student.

High school was terrifying enough for Lexi the first time and even though she’s graduated University, worked for the NSA and now works for a highly respectable private cyber security company, she still feels no more confident than she did all those years ago. She finds herself a target for the school bully almost immediately after she comes to the defense of someone who is being tormented.

But that’s the least of Lexi’s problems. Whilst she’s attempting to find out which of the students are hacking into the system, she stumbles upon something else much more sinister. It looks like an international ring of hackers are inside the network and are possibly connected to someone at the school. As a very dangerous situation unfolds, Lexi has to figure out how to protect everyone in the school and get them all out of it alive.

I can’t believe I missed this one being released. I’ve been reading this series since the first one was published but somehow I missed this one coming out at the beginning of December and only came across it when I was grabbing a few free ‘first in a series’ books that are being offered on Amazon and iBooks. I immediately snatched it up – with each installment Lexi gets the job done in terms of the cyber security problem but often finds herself in awkward social situations involving one of the men in her life. She’s very inexperienced and has never actually had a proper boyfriend but in this one Lexi and Slash, hacker extraordinaire are officially dating.

To be honest, I’d have liked to see a little more about this in the book. Lexi and Slash have become closer over the past 4 books. In the beginning he was more a legend to her than a person but she’s gotten to know him and he hasn’t been shy about declaring how he feels about her. In the previous book she referred to him as her boyfriend for the first time but a lot of their interactions and “firsts” have obviously happened between books with the reader not really being privy to much. We only get a couple of dates here and Lexi panicking about what to buy him for Christmas for about two minutes. I’m not sure if it’s just because the author prefers the reader use their imagination for most of the relationship or if it’s a classic ‘push-pull’ factor where once Lexi and Slash hook up, he immediately takes a backseat.

Because in reality, this was Elvis Zimmerman’s book. One half of the legendary Zimmerman twins, Elvis is shyer and less confident than his brother Xavier, who has been dating Lexi’s friend Basia on and off. Elvis and Lexi are best friends and she can rely on him for pretty much anything – she’s also pretty oblivious to the fact that he’s crazy about her. She often turns to him for advice and as a sounding board or goes to their place simply to hang out, eat pizza and play games. He shows up at the school at a crucial point, when Lexi needs help from someone the most. There’s a reason she cannot contact the outside world so she and Elvis have to rely on other methods in order to put across what’s happening and attempt to get help. They definitely work together extremely well and judging by a few reviews of this book that I’ve skimmed on Goodreads, Elvis definitely has his fans. However, I do have to say that in terms of chemistry in their interactions (including when they’re stuffed in a cupboard thing wearing barely anything), I wasn’t feeling it. To me, they’re friends. Best friends. And they’re an incredible team. But they didn’t come across as two people who could really be lovers.

I really do continue to enjoy this series and even though I’m a computer dunce and understand basically nothing about Lexi’s job, it sounds really amazing I like following her as she goes on her various adventures. She’s very confident in what she does, she has great ideas and doesn’t let her tendency to get herself into awkward situations hold her back. That’s kind of why I wanted to see her navigating relationship intimacy rather than have it vaguely summarised for me in one conversation on the phone with Basia. As much as I enjoy Lexi’s professional exploits, I’m also interested in her personal development as well. Because Lexi has room for a lot of personal development!

7/10

Book #5 of 2015

 

 

2 Comments »

Review: No Biz Like Showbiz – Julie Moffett

No Biz Like ShowbizNo Biz Like Showbiz (Lexi Carmichael #4)
Julie Moffett
Carina Press
2014, eBook
Copy courtesy of the publisher via NetGalley

Lexi Carmichael has barely recovered from her trip to Rome but she’s had enough of sitting at home and is back at work and ready to go. And her first assignment is being sent to Hollywood to help a TV studio work out who is behind vicious hacking into their system and altering the results of a reality TV show, Geeks Get Some. Although Lexi doesn’t watch reality TV show and she’s not very impressed with the topic of this one in particular, she’s very good at finding out who a hacker is.

What she doesn’t expect is that when she discovers it looks like an inside job and that the hacker is targeting her in the most humiliating of ways, the producers want her to continue her investigation from right in the middle of things. They want her to replace the female geek on the show and actually appear in front of the cameras, going out on dates and interacting with the other geeks. Although Lexi is horrified about this, some well placed blackmail has her agreeing. It’s personal now and Lexi is going to get to the bottom of this and find out who is fixing the results.

I find with each new book, this series grows on me more and more. It’s impossible not to like Lexi, who is really quite clueless in pretty much anything other than computer security. She used to work for NSA but now works for a private company and she continually finds herself in dangerous situations due to her investigative skills regarding computers. Lexi’s life is very much complicated by the very few people who are in it. Lexi’s mother is a society type who seems to despair of her tomboyish daughter and she’d like nothing more than to see Lexi successfully matched up to an eligible young man. Lexi isn’t interested in eligible young men and she finds most social interactions excruciating anyway. But despite this, she’s not particularly without male attention. In fact, she’s almost drowning in it, between the hot Irish Finn and the uber mysterious hacker Slash who declared his love for Lexi in the previous book when they were escaping a deadly situation.

Like the books, Slash grew on me as well. I didn’t love him much in the first book but by the end of the third I was firmly in his corner and I love the direction this book takes their fledgling romance/relationship and I love the way that Lexi throws herself into situations, even when she knows she’s out of her depth, comfort wise. She isn’t afraid to ask embarrassing questions and lay it on the line and she doesn’t dance around issues or try and bluff her way through it. She does a little bit of dithering between some choices but I’m pleased to see that it looks like it isn’t going to drag out for books and books, which as a reader, ends up getting really annoying.

I have to admit, the plot of this book wasn’t one of my favourites, possibly because I’m not really a fan of “reality” TV, especially shows like this one. And I know that the story was holding a mirror up to that and how all is not as it seems and how much of it is faked or made up for the sake of ratings. But even though I didn’t mind the change of location in No Place Like Rome, I’m not sure it worked as well here, especially when everyone else started showing up. It was interesting to see Slash on the backfoot here occasionally and a bit out of his depth. He’s portrayed as so confident and so skilled at so many different things that it was good to see a few moments where he made mistakes and was clearly struggling a little bit which helps round out his character. However the arrival of Basia did have me rolling my eyes a bit. I know Lexi relies on her for help through social situations but the fact that she keeps turning up under the flimsiest of excuses is wearing a little thin. I don’t really find her a likable character. I also missed the Zimmerman twins in this one, they’re on the other end of the phone but I always love it when Lexi goes to hang out with them to chat about things. Removing Lexi from her comfort zone does have its positives though as she does power through and get the job done, despite the fact that she gets publicly humiliated in more ways than one. I’ve never really heard the term “cracking” before, which is apparently a hacker with malicious intent. I think Lexi’s solution was very much in line with her character and her soft heart.

All in all I enjoyed this book, perhaps not as much as No Place Like Rome, which remains my favourite but this one does great things in advancement of certain plots and I’m really looking forward to the next title in this series.

7/10

Book #110 of 2014

Leave a comment »

No Place Like Rome – Julie Moffett

No Place Like RomeNo Place Like Rome (Lexi Carmichael #3)
Julie Moffett
Carina Press
2013, eBook
Copy courtesy of the publisher via NetGalley

Lexi Carmichael has just begun working for a private security firm and their latest client, although known to her, is a surprise. Slash, the hacker who far exceeds Lexi’s own capabilities has requested the help of the company she works for her and also her personally. And he wants her to come to Italy with him.

Slash’s uncle is being questioned over money disappearing out of the bank he presides over, which handles funds for the Vatican. Slash knows that his uncle didn’t do it but he’s too close to the situation to be able to investigate himself so he asks Lexi to help him and throws in the trip to Italy as a bonus perk. Lexi finds herself on a private jet, staying in luxury hotels and meeting various friends, associates and members of Slash’s family as she attempts to unravel just exactly what is going on.

It takes her a long time to crack the hack and when she does she realises that it’s been put there as a smokescreen and what is really happening lies elsewhere. That leads to the discovery of a dead body and a file so encrypted that Lexi can’t get near it. It’s time to bring in the big guns – the Zimmerman twins and also Lexi’s friend Basia who speaks fluent Italian. The more their combined hacking powers discover, the more confusing and complicated it becomes until they find they might be on the verge of discovering a powerful and important secret that has been kept hidden for centuries.

This series has been one of my happiest finds since I started blogging. I think this, the third one is the best so far and really took the series to another level. Lexi is so fun and she really has the best job! In this installment Slash turns up to ask for her help, which means going to Italy, she jumps at the chance. It means spending lots of time with Slash which is both good, because he’s clever and interesting but also not so good because he confuses her and Lexi is not exactly what you would call socially gifted or experienced with men, especially ones like Slash.

In the first book, Slash kind of annoyed me but he grew on me in the second book and thanks to this book I am now officially Team Slash. Lexi has several man kind of vying for her affection (there’s also Finn and Elvis Zimmerman is sweet on her too) but she remains mostly oblivious or isn’t quite sure how to discern how they feel. Alone with Slash in Italy she kind of comes to understand that he’s really attracted to her but she doesn’t know how serious he is, what he wants and how long for and she’s not sure if she just can jump into bed with him. Moffett keeps their interactions mostly light with the occasional turning up of the heat. Slash’s declaration towards the end of the book when he was injured goes mostly unnoticed but there’s still plenty of action here. A long running gag throughout this book is Slash meeting different people from his past, all of whom call him by a different first name which leads Lexi to believe that she has finally discovered what his name is, only to be shot down. She attempts throughout the whole book to find out what his name is, calling him by different names until she finally manages to convince him to tell her his real name in an interaction that’s sort of cute. Okay, very cute. The more I read of this book, the more I love the idea of Slash and Lexi.

Slash’s uncle is the Director General (second in command) of the Vatican Bank and so has access to everything. When 18 million euros vanishes, he is the likely suspect although he insists his computer system has been compromised. Slash’s position with the American government and the fact that this is his uncle brings up a conflict of interest/uncomfortable situation so he prefers to leave the actual investigating to Lexi whilst he just observes. Everything points to an inside job but none of them are expecting what they find out. I really enjoyed the mystery of this one – Lexi is always at her best when she’s working because she’s secure in herself and her abilities in a way that she isn’t around other people except Basia and the Zimmerman twins. Their arrival also added something to the story too – their combined skills are awesome and so fun to read about. And eventually the mystery got deeper and took me somewhere I really didn’t expect, which was a nice surprise. I think with each book the mystery that it revolves around gets a little bigger and a little better which is always a really good thing in a series.

It’s going to be such a long wait until the next book!

8/10

Book #275 of 2013

Leave a comment »

No One To Trust – Julie Moffett

Lexi Carmichael is back. Previously introduced in No One Lives Twice, the young hacker has left the National Security Agency and now works for a private company that’s owned by attractive Irishman Finn Shaunnessy and another owner.

Lexi’s first job for her new company involves her personally. Darren Greening, a young genius who is the forerunner on theories of nanotechnology, is missing. Given this comes just months after the death of his partner in a car accident, the company that Darren works for, Flow Technologies, are desperate to get him back. Darren is a vital component of the company as he is the only one who has  all the ideas, the theories and the smarts to make it happen. He has vanished leaving behind only a cryptic clue in code – when Lexi decodes it, she finds that in contains her name.

She’s puzzled – she’s definitely never heard of Darren Greening and even though the code also contains a reference to what is thought to be Georgetown University, the alma mater of both of them, she doesn’t remember ever taking any classes with him or even crossing paths. Flow Technologies don’t exactly believe that Lexi isn’t involved however and they’re determined that she will lead them to the whereabouts of Darren. As Lexi looks deeper into things, using the Zimmerman twins for help, she realises that things are looking very sinister for Darren. His partner Michael’s accident doesn’t seem to have been an accident at all and Flow Technologies have misled companies into believing they are very close to a prototype for Darren’s ideas. Given that nanotechnology, if it is successful, could obliterate America’s need for oil, it doesn’t take long to figure out that some very powerful people and companies could be interested in both gaining access to the knowledge of this technology, or stopping it entirely, depending on which side of the fence they might sit on regarding oil.

Lexi isn’t the only one looking for Darren – to her surprise uber-hacker Slash drops in for a visit and makes it known that he’s aware of the case that she’s working on and that he might be interested in information that she has on Darren. After all, the private sector isn’t the only one interested in Darren’s work. Lexi knows the time frame she has to find Darren safe and unharmed is getting narrower by the second and she really has to step things up. It isn’t until a chance encounter with Michael’s father reveals a connection to Lexi that she herself was unaware of and that gives her exactly what she needs to move things along.

I really enjoyed the first novel in this series, which I read last year. Lexi is as a main character, a bit of a breath of fresh air. She’s in her mid-twenties, very smart, has a photographic memory and some pretty enviable computer skills. She has very few friends – just her former college room mate Basia and the Zimmerman twins, hackers extraordinaire who are so skilled they are paid big bucks to protect some of the nations most sensitive computer networks. In the first novel, Lexi also met Finn, a rather charming Irishman who wasn’t quite what he seemed and Slash, who worked for the NSA but in an entirely different department. All of those characters return in this book in and we get some good development in relationships and potential romantic hook ups! Although Lexi is a socially clueless geek who’s extremely sexually inexperienced and really actually has no idea about life, her lack of awareness is actually kind of cute and she doesn’t seem to have any trouble attracting men, even if she actually has no idea she’s even doing it.

The thing about Lexi though is that because she has no idea that she’s got a couple of very interesting men after her, she doesn’t see them as being there to help her. She gets things done herself, or she knows people who can assist her (like the Zimmerman twins) who are willing to help her but she’s no helpless female. Even when danger presents itself, she doesn’t back down. She doesn’t even know Darren but she knows that he included her on his SOS note for a reason so she’s determined to find him before anyone else does and see the job through. Finn and Slash drift in and out at various stages, accompanying her somewhere, or giving/exchanging information with her but ultimately, she does a lot of this herself, which I really like about her.

I tried to decide in the first novel which of her little potential love interests I liked best and I really couldn’t pick one. I don’t know which direction the author plans to take Lexi in romantically (if any) because there are certainly plenty of options open to her, if only she would notice. But for the moment it definitely suits the character of Lexi to be stumbling around almost oblivious to everything going on around her that isn’t appearing on a computer screen. I think Lexi needs to grow just a little socially before she’s ready to take on some of these guys!

The actual mystery in this novel pretty much went right over my head. I had no idea what nanotechnology even was and very little idea even after finishing the book. Most of the details of it just didn’t compute with me but given I’m reading a book about computer geeks and hackers and extremely intelligent people, I expect that. The actual details of the mystery are just filler for me, what I enjoy are Lexi doing her thing and character interactions. There’s plenty of humour in this book, some of it spot on and some of it just a fraction overdone for my tastes. It felt a bit slapsticky in places but these moments were few and far between.

Definitely another enjoyable book in the Lexi Carmichael series and I will be keen for the next one to find out what is next for Lexi – both personally and professionally!

7/10

Book #96 of 2011

**Note I received a copy of this novel through NetGalley in exchange for a review, so thanks to Carina Press.

 

1 Comment »