Today I have another cover reveal! Today’s book, Immoral Origins, is the first installment of a new series by Lee Matthew Golberg called The Desire Card.
Lee Matthew Goldberg’s The Desire Card series of international thrillers mixes Elmore Leonard with a Tarantino edge. It explores the characters and situations around a card (and sinister organization) that promises “any wish fulfilled for the right price,” and what we will do to survive when money isn’t enough to get everything we want.
Without further ado, here is the cover! Want to know more about this book and its author? Scroll down for more info!
New York City, 1978. Disco and mobsters, gritty streets, needle parks and graffiti on the subways. Jake Barnum lives in Hell’s Kitchen, a petty thief selling hot coats with his buddy Maggs to make ends to meet and help his sick kid brother Emile. At a Halloween party downtown, he meets a woman with a Marilyn Monroe mask that works for an organization called The Desire Card, an underground operation promising its exclusive clients “Any Wish Fulfilled for the Right Price.” Its members all wear lifelike masks of old movie stars to remain incognito, and Jake is instantly taken with its leader, Clark Gable, who becomes a pseudo father but is a sociopath at heart. Jake has always thought of himself as Robin Hood, stealing from the rich to give to the poor (i.e. himself), so he becomes Errol Flynn. As he falls in with the Card and in love with Marilyn, the money rolls in but the wishes become more and more suspect, even leading to murder.
The first book in the Desire Card series, Immoral Origins is a pulse-pounding thriller that asks how far we will shed our morals to help the ones we love and an origin story that will pick up in the present time with its sequel Prey No More, once Gable has taken his deceptive organization to an elite, international status. The books all following those indebted to this sinister organization, where the actual price is the cost of one’s soul.
An atmospheric riveting thriller you won’t be able to put down or easily forget. The late-Seventies setting was an inspired choice and while difficult to pull off, Goldberg does it convincingly. One of Goldberg’s best
Terrence McCauley – Award-winning author of THE WANDERING MAN and THE MOSCOW PROTOCOL
[Immoral Origins] is a book that crackles with energy from the opening sentence. It has more than enough twists to satisfy the most demanding of thriller-addicts, while having an emotional depth that will keep any discerning reader turning the pages. Definitely a must-read!
Andrew Komarnyckyj, acclaimed author of Ezra Slef, The Next Nobel Laureate in Literature
About the Author
Lee Matthew Goldberg is the author of nine novels including THE ANCESTOR and THE MENTOR and the YA series RUNAWAY TRAIN. His books are in various stages of development for film and TV off of his original scripts. He has been published in multiple languages and nominated for the Prix du Polar. VANISH ME will be out in Feb ’22. After graduating with an MFA from the New School, his writing has also appeared as a contributor in Pipeline Artists, LitHub, The Los Angeles Review of Books, The Millions, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, LitReactor, Mystery Tribune, The Big Idea, Monkeybicycle, Fiction Writers Review, Cagibi, Necessary Fiction, Hypertext, If My Book, Past Ten, the anthology Dirty Boulevard, The Montreal Review, The Adirondack Review, The New Plains Review, Maudlin House, Underwood Press and others. His pilots and screenplays have been finalists in Script Pipeline, Book Pipeline, Stage 32, We Screenplay, the New York Screenplay, Screencraft, and the Hollywood Screenplay contests. He is the co-curator of The Guerrilla Lit Reading Series and lives in New York City. Follow him at LeeMatthewGoldberg.com.
THERE’S A GUN TO THE BACK OF MY HEAD.
The hammer makes a clicking sound, whoever it is ain’t fucking around. I should’ve seen this coming. It’s either the one I fear, or he’s sent someone in his place because he’s too gutless to do it himself. Fucking bastard. Had me strip away every shred of morals and left me a hollow cave. Over the years, the blood on my palms has seeped into my love lines, my life lines, my fate lines. I’ve visited the graves of those I’d put in the earth. I expect nothing less than a direct elevator to hell when this tormentor finally pulls the trigger. Maybe I’ve been waiting for it. Doing exactly the wrong thing in the hopes that I’ll see the end. Because there’s no escaping. That’s what the Desire Card promises along with every wish it fulfills.
But it wasn’t always supposed to be this way. Troublemaking kid from Hell’s Kitchen— sure—but mostly petty crimes. Figuring out ways to steal from the rich and give to the poor (i.e. me). Yeah, I’d spent time behind bars, but baby bars, not maximum security. Shoplifting something stupid. Drunk tank. Purse snatch. Drunk tank. Breaking and entering (they never proved that one). Maggs and I did it mostly because we were bored. I’d dropped out of high school and so did he. We flipped burgers at a smelly diner on Eighth Avenue but that paid shit. Then I was fired and Maggs quit out of loyalty because we’d done everything together since the sandbox. And my girl Cheryl wanted a diamond tennis bracelet because she heard some celebrity on TV yapping about her husband getting her one for their anniversary. I was already planning on dumping Cheryl because I’d heard she got with Crazy Eddie who fucked anything with limbs and might’ve given her the clap. But at the time, I’d seen this tennis bracelet in the window at Tiffany’s and my god did it twinkle. I figured even if Cheryl didn’t deserve it, my next girl would. So I tried to swipe it and SLAMMO—jail time number five. Maggs bailed me out with money he lifted from his mom and I moved back home with my folks and ailing little brother Emile who’d spent half of his life in hospitals. Ma yelled at me to take my GED and get a job. Pop tanned me with his belt. Emile cried. I went to sleep with the left side of my body all bruised and swore I’d figure out some way to wrench my life out of the pits I’d been in for too long.
And voila, on Halloween Night 1978, I was dressed like Robin Hood because he fit my motto and met Marilyn Monroe. A masked wonder who led me on the path of greatness before death came lurking. To this gun poking the back of my head. To my brains Jackson Pollocked on the wall.
A book that brings to light several important social issues that plague society today.
Thank you so much to TBR and Beyond Tours and Samira Ahmed for allowing me to be part of this experience and also providing me with a complimentary eARC and media kit!
A powerful, gripping YA novel about the insidious nature of racism, the terrible costs of unearthing hidden truths, and the undeniable power of hope, by New York Times bestselling author Samira Ahmed. Perfect for fans of Sadie and Dear Martin.
Safiya Mirza dreams of becoming a journalist. And one thing she’s learned as editor of her school newspaper is that a journalist’s job is to find the facts and not let personal biases affect the story. But all that changes the day she finds the body of a murdered boy.
Jawad Ali was fourteen years old when he built a cosplay jetpack that a teacher mistook for a bomb. A jetpack that got him arrested, labeled a terrorist—and eventually killed. But he’s more than a dead body, and more than “Bomb Boy.” He was a person with a life worth remembering.
Driven by Jawad’s haunting voice guiding her throughout her investigation, Safiya seeks to tell the whole truth about the murdered boy and those who killed him because of their hate-based beliefs.
This gripping and powerful book uses an innovative format and lyrical prose to expose the evil that exists in front of us, and the silent complicity of the privileged who create alternative facts to bend the truth to their liking.
She was born in Bombay, India, and grew up in Batavia, Illinois, in a house that smelled like fried onions, spices, and potpourri. A graduate of the University of Chicago, Samira has taught high school English in both the suburbs of Chicago and New York City, worked in education non-profits, and spent time on the road for political campaigns.
Samira currently lives in the Midwest. When she’s not reading or writing, she can be found on her lifelong quest for the perfect pastry.
If you’d like to follow along with the rest of the tour, you can find the tour schedule here.
It’s Friday the 13th! I don’t know why I started my review off with that, but I felt like I needed to address it.
Hollow Fires is a YA mystery/thriller perfect for fans of Holly Jackson, Diana Urban, and Karen McManus. And unlike the previous authors I’ve mentioned, it also has a great deal of important social commentary, particularly about racism and Islamophobia. The story follows a senior in high school named Safiya who seems to feel like she is being haunted by the ghost of a missing 14 year old boy named Jawad. Jawad’s disappearance (and subsequent murder) is largely ignored or misunderstood by both the public and the police, leading Safiya to take things into her own hands. As hate crimes continue to plague both Jawad’s family and Safiya’s school, Safiya learns that she may be closer to solving the case that she would prefer.
I thought that this was a great book for the young adult audience that it was intended for as long as the readers haven’t many thrillers as the villain is very predictable. So predictable in fact that I kept hoping I was wrong and that the author had pulled one over on me, but alas. The style of writing was enjoyable and kept my attention throughout. The story is not told in a linear fashion, however, so make sure to pay attention to the dates at the top of each chapter. I made the mistake of not reading them at first (because I’m lazy) and had to go back early on to get my events straight.
I will say that I found this book very triggering, particularly as a woman of color. Basically every. single. page. has an instance of someone (youth and adults alike) being absolutely disgusting. It is chock-full of graphic racism, islamophobia, and white nationalism. These are important topics to be discussed, particularly with the impressionable youth who can easily be manipulated and groomed into white nationalism online, but can definitely be overwhelming for someone who has repeatedly seen this in their everyday lives. I would highly advise that anyone who wants to read this check out the trigger warnings listed above.
Hollow Fires was released this week, so don’t forget to grab your copy at the links above!
This was a cute and fun romance novel! Definitely recommend if you’re not opposed to the premise of teacher/grad student relationships.
Book CWs: For a list of content/trigger warnings, tropes, and representation found in this book, check out its page on BookTriggerWarnings.com!
Premise (from Goodreads)
As a third-year Ph.D. candidate, Olive Smith doesn’t believe in lasting romantic relationships–but her best friend does, and that’s what got her into this situation. Convincing Anh that Olive is dating and well on her way to a happily ever after was always going to take more than hand-wavy Jedi mind tricks: Scientists require proof. So, like any self-respecting biologist, Olive panics and kisses the first man she sees.
That man is none other than Adam Carlsen, a young hotshot professor–and well-known ass. Which is why Olive is positively floored when Stanford’s reigning lab tyrant agrees to keep her charade a secret and be her fake boyfriend. But when a big science conference goes haywire, putting Olive’s career on the Bunsen burner, Adam surprises her again with his unyielding support and even more unyielding… six-pack abs.
Suddenly their little experiment feels dangerously close to combustion. And Olive discovers that the only thing more complicated than a hypothesis on love is putting her own heart under the microscope.
Okay, I 100% feel the need to preface this review by saying I had no idea this was supposed to be a Reylo Fanfic; send help. Once I learned this, I simply proceeded pretending that I hadn’t. I honestly can’t stand the Reylo pairing (or that entire film disaster that was The Rise of Skywalker), so really that was the only way I had a hope of enjoying this book as it’s own product.
The Love Hypothesis is a fake dating workplace (academic) romance with a dash of hate-to-love. I know that the nature of the romance (grad student and tenured professor) will be off putting to some people, but I think the book handled that dynamic fairly well. It was only when there was a second pairing of this type featured in the book that I got a bit weirded out and skeptical about whether or not the author just secretly has a professor kink thing going on. If that kind of thing make you uncomfortable, you might want to give this one a pass for now.
That being said, I really enjoyed the characters in this book and the dynamic between them. As someone who has a Masters in a STEM field and is currently a PhD student (not in STEM), I was a bit worried about how things would be portrayed, but the author herself was a PhD STEM student, so I have no doubt that her experiences helped make the characters and plot realistic.
I will give a bit of a warning that this book does deal with sexism/misogyny and sexual harassment, but I thought Ali Hazelwood did a good job of not pushing that story arc too long or too far. It occurs fairly late and is resolved fairly quickly. I would definitely say the part I most enjoyed about this was the grumpy x sunshine dynamic and the strong friendships portrayed throughout. I admit that I’m still not sure how I feel about Adam’s character, being that he is a bit of a condescending jerkface and I’m not quite sure that he ever really learned this about himself, even by the end of the novel. I’ll just have to be satisfied with my headcanon that he got better.
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A wild and entertaining, yet extremely unrealistic, ride.
Thank you so much to TBR and Beyond Tours and Wendy Heard for allowing me to be part of this experience and also providing me with a complimentary eARC and media kit!
In one week, Maude will be dead. At least, that’s what she wants everyone to think. After years of research, Maude has decided to fake her own death. She’s figured out the how, the when, the where, and who will help her unsuspectingly.
The why is complex: revenge, partly. Her terrible parents deserve this. But there’s also l’appel du vide, the call of the void, that beckons her toward a new life where she will be tied to no one, free and adrift. Then Frankie, a step-cousin she barely knows, figures out what she’s plotting, and the plan seems like it’s ruined. Except Frankie doesn’t want to rat her out. Frankie wants in. The girls vault into the unknown, risking everything for a new and limitless life. But there are some things you can never run away from. What if the poison is not in the soil, but in the roots?
This pulse-pounding thriller offers a nuanced exploration of identity, freedom, and falling in love while your world falls apart.
Wendy Heard is the author of two adult thrillers: The Kill Club and Hunting Annabelle, which Kirkus Reviews praised as “a diabolically plotted creep show from a writer to watch.” She’s Too Pretty To Burn, which Kirkus called “a wild and satisfying romp” in a starred review, marks her YA debut. She is a member of Sisters in Crime, International Thriller Writers, and Mystery Writers of America, is a contributor at Crimereads.com, and co-hosts the Unlikeable Female Characters podcast. Wendy lives in Los Angeles, California.
If you’d like to follow along with the rest of the tour, you can find the tour schedule here.
This book was one of the most unrealistic young adult thrillers that I’ve read, but it was also an incredibly wild and thrilling ride.
Dead End Girls follows two teenagers who decide to fake their deaths and run away. As you could imagine, there are several hitches in their plan, leading them to eventually end up on the run from the police when their scheme is discovered. There were a few things that I was skeptical about from the very beginning of the novel regarding the believability of the plot (even something as simple as the details about TSA not being right), but I do feel as though YA thrillers aren’t supposed to be the most realistic of stories. That being said, the realism only gets worse as the book progresses, so this is definitely a suspend your disbelief and enjoy the ride kind of book.
Wendy Heard does an amazing job at keeping the reader hooked. Watching Maude and Frankie’s plans slowly unravel and fall apart was like watching a car crash—you can’t look away. The fact that the characters themselves are not actually that likable contributes to this crash-and-burn effect. You kind of hope they succeed, but you also kind of hope they fail. In fact, I was reading this book late at night (around 3am) and wanted to go to sleep but just couldn’t get myself to put it down. The end 15% or so of the book in particular is sure to hold your attention hostage.
Dead End Girls was released yesterday, so don’t forget to grab your copy at the links above!
A tale about family and friendship that readers of all ages will enjoy.
Thank you so much to TBR and Beyond Tours and Elise Broach for allowing me to be part of this experience and also providing me with a complimentary eARC and media kit!
A musically gifted bird, a piano-playing boy, and a real-life mystery involving three artistic geniuses
Welcome to the world of Mirabelle, a young goldfinch who loves to sing and dreams of becoming a musical star. She lives with her family in the backyard of a piano teacher, and she is quickly intrigued by Mr. Starek’s newest pupil. Michael Jin is an eleven-year-old keyboard sensation, but lesson after lesson, he refuses to play. With the prestigious Chopin Festival looming at summer’s end, how will he be ready in time? Mirabelle is responsible for Michael’s breakthrough—to her own astonishment, she sings the Chopin piece he is beginning to play at the piano. It is their first duet.
Thus begins a secret adventure that will take Mirabelle and Michael further than they ever imagined—in music, in friendship, and in solving the mystery of a lost piano that could be worth millions. A house full of treasures holds the clues. There, Mirabelle, Michael, and their friend Emily will make an important discovery that links the great composer Frederic Chopin, the trailblazing author George Sand, and the French Romantic painter Eugene Delacroix.
A fast-paced, history-rich mystery will have young readers hooked as they root for boy and bird in this beautifully told novel, full of emotion and suspense.
Elise Broach is the author of more than twenty books for young readers, including board books, picture books, early readers, middle-grade mysteries, and young adult novels. Her picture book, My Pet Wants a Pet, was named Parents Magazine’s Best Picture Book of 2018. Another picture book, When Dinosaurs Came with Everything, won the E. B. White Read-Aloud Award and was Time Magazine’s #1 Children’s Book of the Year. Her middle-grade novel, Masterpiece, was a New York Times bestseller and also won the E. B. White Read-Aloud Award. Elise’s books have appeared on more than a dozen state reading lists. She lives in Connecticut and teaches creative writing at Yale University
If you’d like to follow along with the rest of the tour, you can find the tour schedule here.
I will admit that I forgot I had to post today and rushed to read this book in less than 24 hours. That being said, I enjoyed it immensely!
Duet is told through first-person narration from the point of view of a female goldfinch named Mirabelle. That’s right, a bird. I thought it was going to be weird reading from this perspective, but it actually worked really well. The plot follows Mirabelle as she befriends a young boy who is taking piano lessons in order to prepare for a Chopin music competition. As the relationship between them grows, the reader is introduced to several fun facts about birds (of all kinds) and music (including musical history). As an adult, I thought these incorporated facts were absolutely lovely. I can imagine that this is one of those books that is enjoyable and educational for parent and child alike. Also present in the narration are also several lessons about the joy, pain, and sacrifice that comes with loving and being loved.
The book was marketed to me as a middle grade mystery, but I’m going to go ahead and say it’s a middle grade contemporary. There were a few mini-mysteries thrown in, but not enough for me to say that it entered the mystery genre itself. Regardless, this is definitely a book I would recommend to anyone interested. The only reason I took away a half star was because there is a point in the story where the characters decide to disobey the law, and it’s portrayed as a good thing. I’m not sure that’s the right message to be sending to a young and impressionable audience and I think it could have been problematized a bit more.
Feel free to check out the tour schedule above to see what others on this tour have to say. Duet comes out tomorrow, so don’t forget to grab your copy!