2016 Book 87: JANE STEELE by Lyndsay Faye

Jane Steele by Lindsay Faye 
ISBN: 9780399169496 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9780698155954 (ebook)
ASIN: B0125VU6LE (Kindle edition)
Publication date: March 22, 2016  
Publisher: G. P. Putnam’s Sons

Reader, I murdered him. 

A Gothic retelling of Jane Eyre.

Like the heroine of the novel she adores, Jane Steele suffers cruelly at the hands of her aunt and schoolmaster. And like Jane Eyre, they call her wicked – but in her case, she fears the accusation is true. When she flees, she leaves behind the corpses of her tormentors.

A fugitive navigating London’s underbelly, Jane rights wrongs on behalf of the have-nots whilst avoiding the noose. Until an advertisement catches her eye. Her aunt has died and the new master at Highgate House, Mr. Thornfield, seeks a governess. Anxious to know if she is Highgate’s true heir, Jane takes the position and is soon caught up in the household’s strange spell. When she falls in love with the mysterious Charles Thornfield, she faces a terrible dilemma: can she possess him – body, soul and secrets – and what if he discovers her murderous past?

When we first meet Jane Steele, she is a young girl living in isolation. She still has her mother, an artistic woman with a fragile personality, in her life. All that changes when her mother commits suicide, followed by the accidental death of Jane’s cousin Edwin Barbary. At this point in her life, Jane’s life begins to closely align with Jane Eyre’s in Lindsay Faye’s Jane Steele.

After the death of Jane’s mother and cousin, Jane is sent to the Lowan Bridge School. She strives to survive in a brutal and twisted environment governed by Vesalius Munt, the director of the school. While at Lowan, Jane meets and befriends a young student, Rebecca Clarke. Years go by without Jane committing any major transgressions, and then she is forced to act on behalf of her friend Clarke, who is starving to death. Her action results in her second murder. Jane and Clarke leave Lowan and fend for themselves in London for a few years when tragic circumstances force Jane to act once again. By the age of 24, Jane has found out that her aunt has died and that her family estate has been taken over by Charles Thornfield. Fortunately for Jane, Mr. Thornfield is seeking a governess for his young ward. Needless to say, Jane is hired for the job and seeks to investigate her inheritance while at the family estate.

As many of you know, Jane Eyre is one of my all-time favorite books and one that I reread every year or so. When I found out that Jane Steele was a gothic retelling of this story I was beyond excited. Jane Steele is much more than a dark and twisted retelling of Jane Eyre; it is a story filled with dark humor, romance, murder, mayhem, and mystery. I was hooked with the line “Reader, I murdered him.” Ms. Faye has crafted a host of colorful and memorable characters, including Vesalius Munt (headmaster at Lowan), Amy Lilyvale (teacher at Lowan), Mr. Grizzlehurst (publisher and erstwhile landlord to Jane and Clarke for a few years), Sam Quillfeather (constable and doctor of medicine), Sardar Singh (Thornfield’s butler), Charles Thornfield, Sahjara Kaur (Thornfield’s ward), and more. One of the many things I enjoyed while reading this book was that each chapter was prefaced by quotes from Jane Eyre and that Jane is constantly looking to that book for guidance in her life. I could go on and on about all of the things I liked about this book, but will sum it up with I enjoyed this book and can’t wait to reread it (yes, I enjoy rereading standout books). If you like gothic stories or are a fan of Jane Eyre, then you’ll definitely want to add Jane Steele to your TBR list. If you’ve never tried to read anything gothic then Jane Steele might be the perfect place to start. I look forward to reading more from Ms. Faye in the future.

Disclaimer: I received a digital copy of this book for review purposes from the publisher via NetGalley. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Book Promo and Giveaway: EXIT ROW by Judi Culbertson

Exit Row by Judi Culbertson
ISBN: 9780062365163 (ebook)
ASIN: B00OG9067S (Kindle version)
Publication Date: March 22, 2016
Publisher: Witness Impulse (a HarperCollins imprint)

Judi Culbertson returns with a page-turning mystery that answers every frequent flyer’s fear: What happens if I never make it home?

Journalist Fiona Reina had every intention of picking up her boyfriend, Lee, from the airport and heading out for a nice dinner together. But when Lee isn’t on the plane, Fiona begins to get nervous. It seems Lee isn’t the only passenger who never arrived. Three other people are also missing. Worse, it seems they were never on the flight.

With no help from the airline, it’s up to Fiona and the friends and family of the missing passengers to discover what happened—and, more importantly, to find Lee. But when Fiona receives a mysterious note—It happened in between Denver and Taos—the patchwork team is thrust into a dangerous race against time…a race that could cost them more than who they’ve already lost.

Meet the author:

Judi Culbertson draws on her experience as a used-and-rare book dealer, social worker, and world traveler to create her bibliophile mysteries. She has co-authored five illustrated guides with her husband, Tom Randall, of such cities as Paris, London, and New York. She is also the author of the acclaimed nonfiction titles Scaling Down and The Clutter Cure

To learn more about Ms. Culbertson, please click here for the author’s biography.

Connect with the author:  Website

Enter to win a digital copy of Exit Row by Judi Culbertson. This giveaway is brought to you courtesy of the publisher, Witness Impulse (a HarperCollins imprint). Thank you HarperCollins for your generosity. This giveaway is open to residents of the US only. 

Giveaway ends 11:59 PM ET on Saturday, April 2, 2016, and the winner will be announced on Sunday, April 3, 2016. All entries must use the Rafflecopter form found below.

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2016 Book 82: THE PASSENGER by Lisa Lutz

The Passenger by Lisa Lutz 
ISBN: 9781451686630 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9781451686654 (ebook)
ISBN: 9781442396494 (audio)
ASIN: B014DXC07U (Kindle edition)
Publication date: March 1, 2016  
Publisher: Simon & Schuster

From the author of the New York Times bestselling Spellman Files series, Lisa Lutz’s latest blistering thriller is about a woman who creates and sheds new identities as she crisscrosses the country to escape her past: you’ll want to buckle up for the ride!

In case you were wondering, I didn’t do it. I didn’t have anything to do with Frank’s death. I don’t have an alibi, so you’ll have to take my word for it…

Forty-eight hours after leaving her husband’s body at the base of the stairs, Tanya Dubois cashes in her credit cards, dyes her hair brown, demands a new name from a shadowy voice over the phone, and flees town. It’s not the first time.

She meets Blue, a female bartender who recognizes the hunted look in a fugitive’s eyes and offers her a place to stay. With dwindling choices, Tanya-now-Amelia accepts. An uneasy―and dangerous―alliance is born.

It’s almost impossible to live off the grid today, but Amelia-now-Debra and Blue have the courage, the ingenuity, and the desperation, to try. Hopscotching from city to city, Debra especially is chased by a very dark secret…can she outrun her past?

With heart-stopping escapes and devious deceptions, The Passenger is an amazing psychological thriller about defining yourself while you pursue your path to survival. One thing is certain: the ride will leave you breathless.

You have a secret past life that you are trying to hide and forget. Your current husband suffers a tragic accident in your home and dies. What do you do? Well, if you’re Tanya Dubois, you run and obtain a new identity (or more). And that’s just what happens in the latest thriller from Lisa Lutz, The Passenger.

Sadly, it isn’t possible to run away from your problems. Tanya-turned-Amelia-turned-Debra finds that out the hard way. She’s currently a “person of interest” in her late husband’s death in one state. She runs south, assuming another identity, and encounters a mysterious female bartender, Blue, and gets involved in the deaths of several others. These actions result in her leaving the south with yet another identity and heading to the Northern Midwest. Along the way she encounters a kindly local sheriff in an almost-one-night-stand before arriving at her destination, a small rural town private school. Has her luck changed? Unfortunately not as she runs into someone from her current identity’s past. Just when she thinks it can’t get any worse, she receives information that her original secret past life is being investigated. Can she keep running from her secrets? Will she survive long enough to find out if all of her secrets will be revealed and the truth finally discovered?

I actually read The Passenger almost a week ago, but had a difficult time writing my thoughts about this book without revealing too much, so my apologies in advance for this somewhat cursory review. I found The Passenger to be a fast-paced and engrossing read that provided thrills and chills with every twist and turn in the story. Although I couldn’t exactly sympathize with Tanya, I did find her and Blue to be complex and highly interesting characters. Tanya’s backstory is gradually revealed throughout the contemporary story and it is just as much of a multilayered mystery as her current dilemma. This story is filled with complicated scenarios, bad guys, really bad guys, and not-so-bad guys. If you enjoy reading stories with a strong protagonist and tons of drama, thrills, and more then you’ll definitely want to add The Passenger to your TBR list. Did I enjoy reading The Passenger? Yes! I look forward to reading more from Ms. Lutz in the future.

Disclaimer: I received a digital copy of this book for review purposes from the publisher via NetGalley. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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2016 Book 76: SISTERS OF HEART AND SNOW by Margaret Dilloway

Sisters of Heart and Snow by Margaret Dilloway 
ISBN: 9780399170805 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9780425279212 (trade paperback)
ISBN: 9780698160712 (ebook)
ASIN: B00L9B8650 (Kindle edition)
Publication date: March 15, 2016  
Publisher: G. P. Putnam’s Sons

Rachel and Drew Snow may be sisters, but their lives have followed completely different paths.

Married to a wonderful man and a mother to two strong-minded teens, Rachel hasn’t returned to her childhood home since being kicked out by her strict father after an act of careless teenage rebellion. Drew, her younger sister, followed her passion for music but takes side jobs to make ends meet and longs for the stability that has always eluded her. Both sisters recall how close they were, but the distance between them seems more than they can bridge. When their deferential Japanese mother, Hikari, is diagnosed with dementia and gives Rachel power of attorney, Rachel’s domineering father, Killian becomes enraged.

In a rare moment of lucidity, Hikari asks Rachel for a book in her sewing room, and Rachel enlists her sister’s help in the search. The book—which tells the tale of real-life female samurai Tomoe Gozen, an epic saga of love, loss, and conflict during twelfth-century Japan—reveals truths about Drew and Rachel’s relationship that resonate across the centuries, connecting them in ways that turn their differences into assets.

On the surface, Rachel and Drew Snow had a fabulous family: a charming and doting father as well as a loving mother that was always there for them. Appearances are often deceiving, as their father was often verbally and emotionally abusive and their mother never stood up for her children. Twenty years have passed and now Rachel and Drew are brought together in their quest to help their mother deal with dementia and uncover secrets of her past in Sisters of Heart and Snow by Margaret Dilloway.

As a teenager, it was presumed that Rachel Snow might one day make it to the Olympics as a swimmer. Her father was proud of her accomplishments and praised her abilities until an injury permanently sidelined her from competition. She then began to act out and was eventually thrown out of her parent’s home at the tender age of seventeen. Drew was considered the quiet child and once her idolized older sister was gone, she made no effort to rock the boat. Drew immersed herself in music, but always knew she could count on financial support from her father as long as she behaved appropriately. Neither Rachel nor Drew know anything about their mother’s life in Japan, how she wound up becoming a mail-order bride, or why she stayed with such an abusive partner for all those years. All that changes when Rachel launches a legal battle against her father to continue his financial support for his wife, her mother, as she suffers from dementia. One of the things Rachel and Drew uncover is a handwritten book detailing the life of Tomoe Gozen, an onnamusha (a female warrior) and concubine in 12th-century Japan, as well as that of Yamabuki Gozen (her sister wife). Rachel and Drew have this book translated and try to find out the meaning it has for their mother. Can they uncover the true meaning of this book entitled “Sister of Heart” before it is too late?

As most of you know by now, I enjoy reading stories that blend historical elements with a contemporary timeline. Sisters of Heart and Snow provides a fascinating fictionalized glimpse into the lives of two amazing women from 12th-century feudal Japan, one that is perceived as pampered and cultured and the other seen as a fierce warrior. The more that is revealed, the more the reader realizes that both women are warriors in their own right and that Rachel and Drew exhibit qualities from both of these warrior women. I found Sisters of Heart and Snow to be a fast-paced and engrossing read that provides dysfunctional family drama, a bit of romance, sibling rivalry, and a search for purpose. This is one of those books that provides such great information on historical figures that I now want to learn more about the history of the warrior geisha (fortunately, Ms. Dilloway provides a bibliography for additional reading). If you enjoy reading historical fiction or contemporary family dramas, then you’ll want to add Sisters of Heart and Snow to your TBR list. I enjoyed reading Sisters of Heart and Snow so much I’ll be recommending it to my local book groups as a future group read.

Disclaimer: I received a print copy of this book for review purposes from the publisher. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Meet the author:

(c) Saflower Photography

Margaret Dilloway is the author of How to Be an American Housewife, The Care and Handling of Roses with Thorns, and a middle-grade fantasy series which Disney-Hyperion is publishing on April 5, 2016 beginning with Momotaro: Xander and the Lost Island of Monsters. She lives in Southern California with her husband and their three children.

Enter to win 1 of 3 print copies of Sisters of Heart and Snow by Margaret Dilloway courtesy of the publisher using the Rafflecopter form below. This giveaway runs from 12:01 AM ET 3/13/2016 through 11:59 PM ET on 3/20/2016 and is open to US residents only. The winners will be announced on or after 3/21/2016.

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Book Showcase: UNCOMMON STOCK: VERSION 1.0 by Eliot Peper

Uncommon Stock: Version 1.0

by Eliot Peper

on Tour February 15 – March 31, 2016

Uncommon Stock: Version 1.0 by Eliot PeperBook 1 of The Uncommon Series – Continued in Book 2, Uncommon Stock: Power Play.

Mara Winkel is rock climbing, mountain biking, and ‘studying’ her way through school at the University of Colorado, Boulder.

But when her best friend James asks her to partner with him to start a disruptive new software company she discovers that the world of technology startups is fraught with intrigue, adrenaline, soaring successes, and scorching failures. It turns out this is especially true when your technology threatens entrenched drug cartels.

Mara has to juggle mysterious investors, opaque partners, critical customers, and a team that is as brilliant as it is dysfunctional until only one question remains: win or die.

Book Details:

Genre:  Technothriller
Published by:      Previously FG Press; now Self-Published 
Publication Date:   March 2014
Number of Pages:  231
ISBN:   9781517513214
Series: Uncommon, #1
Purchase Links: Amazon  Barnes & Noble  Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

Chapter 1

Mara Winkel turned onto the muddy single track and lifted her body off the seat as her mountain bike plunged down the slope through the aspens. It jolted up and down beneath her, the suspension struggling to keep up with gravel and rocks. She yanked the handlebars to the right to avoid a nasty root. Mara quickly corrected her course to keep her front wheel on the two-foot-wide path.

She accelerated as the track cut down the slope at a sharp angle, sucking in a deep breath of Rocky Mountain air as the bright yellow leaves and white trunks flashed by. She lived for this, adrenaline pumping through her body, complete mental focus, and high-speed natural beauty. What more could a girl want?

Craig let out a “Whhoooooppp,” as he launched down the path behind her. He was fast but she had enough of a head start to keep her lead to the bottom.

The course dropped off into a steep switchback and Mara threw her body to the left and torqued the front wheel around hard to the right to make it through the turn. She raised her body farther off the bike and hit the next section of rolling bumps, catching some air in between each one. The suspension thumped rhythmically and she jerked the bike up onto the mossy side of the path to avoid a large mud puddle.

As Mara turned around the next switchback, a small clearing dropped away from the bottom side of the path and she had a clear view of the surrounding mountains awash in textured patches of green and yellow, battling for deciduous September supremacy. The white trunks of the aspens flashed up again as the track dropped into another thick grove.

It took half an hour to get to the bottom of the mountain. By the time Mara sped through the last section of the trail her quadriceps burned and her knuckles had a death grip on the handlebars. She came around a turn and jumped the bike up over an angled rock in the path. Her front wheel landed on a bare aspen root and skittered to the right along the slick wood. Shit.

She desperately tried to wrench the wheel to the left but the bike nosed into the ground and her momentum carried her up and over the handlebars. Goddamnit. She was in the air and her stomach instantly turned into a roiling pit of butterflies, instinctively clenching her jaw so she wouldn’t shatter her teeth on impact. The green-brown blur ended abruptly as she hit the ground so hard it knocked the wind out of her. As she cleared the cobwebs from her head, she realized she was lying in another muddy puddle that tasted like dirt. Oh well, what’s fun without a little danger? Ever since the situation with her and James’ family she’d always liked adrenaline.

She rolled over and spat, heard a metal screech, and then “Fuuuck.” She lost all of her air again as Craig’s shoulder slammed into her stomach and he landed in the same puddle. Shit, she had forgotten he was so close behind her. Stars glimmered and her vision narrowed as she gasped for breath again.

After a few seconds her sight returned to normal and she turned her head to look at Craig. He was spitting out mud and looked up at her looking at him and then they were both laughing and laughing as the cold rush of adrenaline surged through their systems. He leaned over and kissed her hard on the mouth and she could taste sweat, mud, and Clif Bar. She kissed him back and then punched him playfully in the stomach. “I thought you were supposed to be good at this whole mountain biking thing.”

“I wasn’t expecting you to be one of the obstacles.” He raised an eyebrow.

“Dynamic course design — the track changes while you’re on it. But you make a good point, I’m an obstacle you have no chance of overcoming.”

“We’ll see about that,” he laughed, dimples creasing the scar on his right cheekbone.

They walked the bikes the rest of the way to the base of the mountain. Luckily the worst of the damage seemed to be a few bent spokes and several bruises that would no doubt surface the next day. Mara was still feeling shaky when they reached the car. Her muscles were disobedient noodles.

She glanced at Craig as they loaded the bikes onto the rack. She still wasn’t quite sure what to make of him. They met in a Greek history course they were both taking to fulfill general education requirements and had been dating for the past two months. He wasn’t really her type, a little too jockish for her taste. On the other hand, he was smart, ambitious, liked the outdoors, and had fantastic shoulders.

They got in the car and Craig pulled out on the highway. Mara’s phone beeped from her purse on the floor and she reached down to grab it. Craig glanced over, annoyed. “Let me guess, little Mr. Precious as always?”

“Shut the hell up! Just because I actually have friends of the opposite gender and don’t resort to fucking them doesn’t mean you have the right to judge me.”

“Come on… whatever.” He looked back to road, pouting.

“Get a life.” It was going to be a long ride back to Boulder.

Mara pulled up the text message on her phone. It was from James after all. All it said was, “3 p.m. tomorrow, The Laughing Goat.”

Chapter 2

“Double cap extra dry?” James’ hair was long, straight, and black. It came down almost to his shoulders, but outside of that he looked more or less like he had since high school. He had on a long-sleeve T-shirt with “e=mc2” emblazoned on the front, jeans, and brown leather flip-flops. Mara was always amazed at his tenacity for wearing sandals through Colorado winters. He pushed the cup and saucer across the table to her. Like all Laughing Goat espressos, the foam was drizzled on in abstract swirls reminiscent of Japanese stone gardens.

“You know me too well. Thanks for the drink.” She took a sip, savoring the airy richness of the steamed milk and the sharp earthy bite of the espresso.

“Oolong for me.” James’ mother had fled from western Taiwan in the 80s and he had inherited her love for tea. He had an entire cupboard filled with exotic varieties and drank it like water. “How’s the quarter going?”

“Meh, lots of work ahead. I’m in Swarson’s governance class, which would need its own library to house the reading list. The rest of my courses are fine but the real pain in the ass is doing LSAT prep at the same time. It’s incredible how illogical logic can be.” She wasn’t a fan of the how the LSAT classes were starting to eat into her free evenings. “How’s life on the other side of campus? Is your massive brain tearing apart whatever syllabi the computer science professors have tried to throw at it?”

James smiled thinly. “Hardly.” He glanced down at his coffee and pursed his lips. Mara could see he was thinking hard about something. He looked up again. “Do you really want to be a lawyer?”

“Yeah, I mean, obviously my parents are lawyers. There are a number of family friends who are partners at law firms who would give me an internship. I’ve done well in all the recommended prerequisites. Plus, it seems pretty cool to argue with people for a living.”

“But do you want to be a lawyer, like, day-to-day?”

“Yes, well, yeah I think so. It just seems natural, you know?”

“Oh yeah, I’m sure you’d excel at law school and everything. It just seems like it’s so, well, detail-oriented. You’re so outgoing and active. Mike is a lawyer now, and don’t get me wrong, he loves it.” His older brother was halfway through Hastings Law School in San Francisco. “But I just have sort of a hard time picturing you enjoying pulling all-nighters reading through thousands of pages of contracts and stuff.”

“Well, you’re nerdy and introverted so programming seems perfect for you.” Mara was put off by his attitude. He was acting sort of strange. “Sorry, I guess I haven’t really devoted that much thought to it. James, what’s up? Why the mystery text? You know Craig got all pissy again because you’re my best friend.”

James grimaced with obvious distaste. “I really don’t like that guy. He thinks that just because you two are dating, you can’t hang out with any other guys. He’s such a frat boy, seriously, what do you see in him?”

“Dude, get off my back already! I don’t need two men jealous of each other over nothing. You don’t get to decide who I get to date any more than he gets to decide who I’m friends with. I’ll have you know he’s extremely well endowed.”

He held up his hands in mock surrender. “Alright, alright, T.M.I.! I just don’t like the guy…”

“James, I know you like beating around the bush, but why are you interrogating me about my legal ambitions and romantic prerogatives? What’s the deal, man? Are we just here to sip coffee or do you actually have something that you want to talk about?”

James took a sip of tea, put the cup down and looked directly into Mara’s eyes.

“I’m dropping out,” he said.

Chapter 3

This made no sense at all. Mara had known James since he had fallen out of a canoe and she had pulled him back out of the water at a camp near the Russian River in Northern California. He had proceeded to explain that he was trying to figure how the water skeeters did their skeeting and was so focused that he didn’t even notice the branch that knocked him out of the boat. They talked for the rest of the way down the river and it was the first time in Mara’s eleven years that she had met someone she thought might actually be smarter than her. Ever since then they had been inseparable. She remembered the shocking brightness of blood on tablecloth. But that was another story.

James went on to blitz every mathematics competition he could find and his parents sent him to nerd camps at MIT and UC Berkeley during high school summers. He loved chess but his real passion was go, the ancient Chinese strategy board game. Mara had never understood. She didn’t like either game. Why play with toys when the real world was so much more interesting?

Though James still had to master the social side of life, he was a genius, or at least the closest to a genius that Mara had ever met. There was simply no way he was flunking out of college.

Mara drained the last of her cappuccino and tried to regain her composure. “What are you talking about, James? I thought you were blowing all of your C.S. coursework out of the water. Last February one of your professors invited you to be a research assistant in his lab. You can’t be dropping out of school.”

James took a deep breath. “What do you know about pattern recognition?”

After an hour of discussion, the espresso had worked its way through Mara’s system and she had to take a bathroom break. Thoughts were spinning through her head. She took a deep breath and tried to clear her mind as she entered the restroom.

James had been working on a new project for over a year now. Apparently it had started when he was hired as a course reader for one of the upper division math courses. The professor asked him to grade the final assignments for all seventy students in the class. The projects had been submitted online. James started to read them but soon discovered that each one took at least an hour to thoroughly review. Mara couldn’t see James spending two weeks going through assignments and apparently James hadn’t been able to see himself doing it either. Instead, he combined a series of algorithms into a computer program that could automatically flag problems in the student assignments, resulting in much less to review.

The approach ended up working so well that he started adding new functionality. He called the program “Mosaic” after the first popular web browser developed by Marc Andreessen in the early 90s. By the end of the grading process, Mosaic could not only identify incorrect final answers, but also where the logic in students’ proofs had gone awry. At this point, James’ description started going over Mara’s head.

He had shared the program with a few other course readers to test it out and the results were strong. Mosaic was able to ferret out mistakes extremely accurately. Then James had added some “machine learning” layers to Mosaic. Apparently that meant that the program could adapt and evolve on its own based on the problems it faced. Mara had thought that that was the realm of Hollywood robots, but James assured her it was standard practice in computer programming. Mosaic then started to identify not only incorrect answers in the student assignments but also to flag other irregularities. James thought there was a bug in the code and it had stymied him for two weeks before he double checked a few assignments and realized they were plagiarized. Mara grinned. How like James to train a computer to catch cheaters.

As Mara was washing her hands her phone chirped. It was a text from Craig asking if she wanted to go trail running. It was enticing. She hadn’t worked out today and her mind was racing. But she needed to find out what was really going on with James so she texted back that tomorrow might be better. As she slid her phone into her pocket her elbow throbbed, a painful reminder of yesterday’s bike crash.

She walked back out into the flurry of sounds and smells of the coffee shop and sat back down at the table. “Okay, so what gives? Your program can catch math geeks copying each other’s homework?”

James smiled. “I call it ‘quantitative pattern recognition.’ Mosaic can take a dataset and deduce how logic sort of flows through it. It can tell when there’s something that doesn’t fit. I set it up to play chess against the freeware game on my computer and after it had played about ten games it started to win every time. Then I set it up to play go against me. I won ninety-five times in a row but then it started to beat me.” James flushed.

“Okay… who cares? I mean, can’t you play any game against a computer?” Mara was more impressed that he had won almost a hundred times in a row.

“No, no, you don’t understand. Go is infamous because, unlike chess, computers can’t beat even moderately good human players. There are just too many different strategic approaches to the game. The analytical artificial intelligence of the computer can’t match the flexibility and pattern recognition of the human brain. It’s crazy that Mosaic is beating me, I haven’t lost to a computer in years.”

“Fine, so Mosaic can beat you in go. But where is this conversation going? Why are you dropping out of school?” she asked.

James squared his jaw. “I’m going to start a company. And I need your help to do it.”

Author Bio:

Eliot PeperEliot is a writer and strategist based in Oakland, CA. He is the author of The Uncommon Series and when he’s not hacking away at his next novel, he works with entrepreneurs and investors to build new technology businesses as a drop-in operator and adviser. He was an entrepreneur-in-residence at a venture capital firm where he accelerated portfolio companies, sourced/vetted deals and advised foreign governments on innovation policy and capital formation. He has been a founder and early employee at multiple startups.

Catch Up With Eliot:

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This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours for Eliot Peper. There will be 3 winners of 1 $10 Amazon.com US Gift card. The giveaway begins on February 15th and runs through March 31st, 2016.

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