Tag Archives: suspense

Audiobook Review & Giveaway: Deceptive Cadence by Kathryn Guare

17 Jul

Author: Kathryn Guare

Narrator: Wayne Farrell

Length: 11h 19m

Publisher: Kathryn Guare

Series: The Virtuosic Spy, Book One

Genre: Suspense

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Meet Conor McBride. He’s even more interesting than the trouble he gets into. A talented Irish musician reluctantly reinvents himself, disappearing into an undercover identity to search for the man who ruined his career: his own brother. On a journey from the west of Ireland to the tumultuous city of Mumbai, Conor McBride’s only goal is to redeem the brother who betrayed him. But he’s becoming a virtuoso of a different kind in a dangerous game where the rules keep changing–and where the allies he trusted to help him may be the people he should fear the most.

 

 

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I chose to listen to this book after receiving a free audio copy. All opinions in this review are my own and completely unbiased.

Conor McBride is what you could call a reluctant spy. The British government wants him to go undercover and find his brother Thomas in India who has gotten himself involved in an illegal operation and they want the boss. 

Most of the book is located in India and the descriptions are vivid, both of the country and the people. 

The characters are complex and realistic for the most part. Conor goes from violin virtuoso to deadly spy in just a few short weeks when he goes to a camp to learn the skills he needs.

Deceptive Cadence is full of action and has some suspense. I like Kathryn Guare’s writing although it does get a little too descriptive at times (my personal taste). The narrator, Wayne Ferrell, did a great job at narrating. He used different accents for the different characters which worked out well. 

I definitely recommend Deceptive Cadence for anyone who likes spy thrillers. If I had to choose again, though, I would read the book rather than listen to the audiobook so I could skip over some of the descriptions.

 

Kathryn Guare lives in the Vermont town where she grew up, part of the third generation of her family to call the tiny capital city of Montpelier home. She spent ten years as an executive with a global health membership and advocacy organization, worked as a tour coordinator in a travel agency, and has traveled extensively in Europe and India. She has a passion for Classical music, all things Celtic, and loves exploring ethnic foods and diverse cultures. Her first novel, Deceptive Cadence was awarded the Audiobook Gold Medal in the Readers Favorite Awards.

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Internationally acclaimed voice actor Wayne Farrell began his professional career at The National Theatre of Ireland, where he met the legendary Irish seanachai Eamon Kelly and became fascinated with the art of storytelling. Using skills learned during this time, Farrell has worked extensively in both documentary and audiobook narration and is widely admired for the rich clarity and versatility of his voice. His credits include award-winning authors such as Donal Ryan, whose debut novel The Spinning Heart won The Guardian’s First Book Award as well as Irish Book of the Year; and New York Times and USA Today bestsellers such as Morgan Rice, author of the fantasy epic The Sorcerer’s Ring.

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Book Review & Giveaway: Forbidden: Better Wear Your Flak Jacket by F. Stone

6 Jul

Forbidden: Better Wear Your Flak Jacket by F. Stone Tour Banner

Forbidden: Better Wear Your Flak Jacket

by F. Stone

on Tour June 19 – July 7, 2017

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Forbidden: Better Wear Your Flak Jacket by F. Stone

Genre: Suspense, Romance, International Thriller
Published by: Indie
Publication Date: December 2016
Number of Pages: 363
ISBN: 0995150907 (ISBN13: 9780995150904)
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Gunfire echoes within the walls of a Middle East police compound. Screams of terror are brutally silenced. Police captain Hashim Sharif captures one survivor. Soon Eliza MacKay will wish she had died with her companions.

The vile act of terrorism is covered-up. Sharif becomes the reluctant keeper of his city’s bloody secret – and the witness, MacKay. His corrupt superiors have a gun rammed against his skull. Disloyalty to the mayor will be rewarded with being buried alive.

Whatever the cost, his government’s honor must be restored. Secretly, Sharif hunts forensic evidence. Who is responsible for the murder of fifteen American volunteers? And, why did MacKay lie about her identity? He can’t trust her. Her mental illness is going to get both of them killed.

When he receives orders to dispose of MacKay, his Muslim faith is tested. Murder an innocent in cold blood? He will suffer Allah’s eternal wrath.

CIA Agent Hutchinson has the lying Sharif in his cross hairs. Sharif dodges the agent’s traps almost as easily as the hit man on his tail. When Sharif discovers the shocking truth, he loses all hope of survival.

What is worth dying for? Perhaps it’s not bringing a madman to justice. Could it be saving the life of a woman who kick-started his numb heart? On the knife-edge of risk, Sharif plots an act most forbidden and fatal.

 

My Review

I chose to read this book after receiving a free copy. All opinions in this review are my own and completely unbiased.

Forbidden starts out with a bang, literally, and takes the reader on a wild ride throughout. Eliza McKay is the last minute replacement as a paramedic for a group of American volunteers. All of the other volunteers are massacred within a police compound in the Middle East, and that’s just the beginning of the story.

Hashim Sharif is ordered to keep Eliza with him until they figure out what to do with her. If it wasn’t for Sharif, she would have been executed immediately so that there was no witness to the massacre. Sharif is a devout Muslim and can’t kill an innocent woman but at the same time, his faith is being tested in other ways. Even though they have trouble trusting each other in the beginning, Eliza and Sharif start to care for each other.

The characters are complex and interesting. Eliza has PTSD because of an accident that killed her family and she shouldn’t have survived. Sharif is a devout Muslim who wants to do what is right, something that can be difficult in his position as police chief in a Middle East country. 

Forbidden is full of twists and has one of those plots that is almost impossible to figure out…you just have to read it. If you like an international thriller, this is a must read with a good ending.

 

Excerpt

An armored truck with a mounted machine gun roared up behind the two police motorcyclists. Something is terribly wrong. She ducked deeper behind the luggage and stared into the darkness. She desperately searched for a rational explanation. A cold knife pierced her core.

After speeding through intersections and red traffic lights, the vehicles came to a sudden halt. Gate hinges squealed in protest. The impulse to leap from the back of the truck fought with her intense need to remain hidden. If it were not for the armed vehicle at the rear, she would have jumped and disappeared into the night. In another moment, the opportunity vanished.

The vehicles lurched forward. Through the flap’s opening, she saw a massive iron gate. High walls extended on either side. The vehicles stopped.

The motorcyclists drove to either side of the truck. The armored vehicle surged forward, nearly crashing into the back of the supply truck (where Eliza is hiding). Eliza scrambled to put more of the luggage between her and the mounted gun. It bore down on her as if it had spied her. She gasped.

Eliza strained to hear a pleasant greeting, an apology for the change of plans, anything that would tell her heart to stop its thundering in her chest.

Someone shouted, “Ikhrog men al Araba,” then in English, “Get out of the bus!”

“Stay together,” Charlie called out. At first the volunteers sounded merely annoyed, but their mood rapidly deteriorated.

“Charlie, there’s a mounted automatic weapon on that truck. Something’s not right here.” The man’s alarm ricocheted through his companions. Quick footsteps reminded Eliza of nervous horses in a corral – wild-eyed, snorting and circling as they searched for an escape.

Charlie attempted to calm his group. “I’m sure this will all make sense. I’ll see why there’s been a change. Who’s in charge here?” he called.

Scattered thoughts fed her fear. The unmistakable sound of large guns being maneuvered sucked the air from Eliza’s lungs. Near the supply truck, she heard the ping, ping of a cell phone, then the trembling voice of a woman crying, “Ralph, pick up the phone. Please. Oh God ….” The woman screamed. With a blast of gunfire, her cries stopped. Bullets pierced the canvas and shattered a suitcase in front of Eliza.

Her body trembled violently. In minutes she would be killed. The luggage offered no protection. Terrified to make any sound, yet frantic to hide, she pressed her backpack to her chest. She gasped as if starved for oxygen. Tears ran down her cheeks as she heard the terrified people and Charlie beg for their lives.
This is only one of my nightmares. I’ll wake up and everything will be fine.

The truck with the mounted machine gun swerved around the supply truck. Deafening sounds of machine gun blasts and screams tore through her chest. She plunged down among the luggage.

A man came into her view as he lunged toward the gate. A police officer ran after him and fired several shots into the man’s back. The American dropped, bloody and lifeless.

Suddenly, an armed man dashed to the rear of the supply truck and saw her. She gasped. Oh my God, he’s going to kill me. I’ve got once chance. Get his gun. Her martial arts training kicked in. She lunged forward. As they grappled, both fell.

Falling on top of him Eliza punched his groin. He cried out in agony. She crab crawled on all fours toward his weapon several feet away. Too late she saw a boot aimed at her head.

She ducked for cover under the supply truck. Too late. The cop stomped on her head, ramming her forehead into the pavement hard. Her momentum pushed her under the truck’s back end.

Dazed, she checked to see if he followed her. He was struggling to free his boot, snared in her scarf. A gun’s muzzle appeared, aimed in her direction. Bullets ripped through her coat’s shoulder. Puffs of down feathers stuck to the sweat and blood on her face.

I’m hit. Get out. Run. Eliza kicked and crawled out from under the truck on the far side of the killers. The deafening gunfire and screams surrounded her. Her mind froze. She pressed her body into the truck’s solid frame.

More bullets smacked the ground near her. More vehicles arrived. Bright headlights blinded her. She turned away to shield her eyes. Desperate, she ran an erratic, aimless course. Silhouettes of shapes, helmets, guns and bloody bodies flashed in front of her. Keep running. Dodge. Find cover. She ran like a wild animal, blind to the teeth that would tear her apart.

When the thunder from the machine gun stopped she glanced back. The man at the machine gun tumbled head first off the truck. His companions continued to fire their weapons, but now toward the gate. More shots came from behind the blinding lights. The men ran toward the front of the supply truck. Riddled with bullets, their bodies twisted and fell.

Silence.

Eliza gazed in bewilderment at the tall form appearing in the light. He raced forward past the open gate, his weapon raised in her direction. More men followed behind him. She ran, searching for cover.

He shouted, “Tawakaf and am, la tatharak Kiff.” Then in English, “Stop where you are. Don’t move! Stop.”

A short burst of gunfire. Bullets struck the ground a few yards in front of her. She skidded to a stop. Breathless, she turned toward the gunman. She could not make out his face below the dark helmet. He wore a police uniform like the killers had – black from head to toe. If not for his vehicle’s headlights, he would have been invisible. He raced toward her, his weapon held steadfast in her direction.

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Excerpt from Forbidden: Better Wear Your Flak Jacket by F. Stone. Copyright © 2017 by F. Stone. Reproduced with permission from F. Stone. All rights reserved.

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Author Bio

F. Stone

On our cattle ranch in Alberta, when an animal was in distress or injured, I was put in charge of nursing it back to health. Never mind that I was just a kid and hated the sight of blood, but I had to muster up the courage to apply home remedies. My survival rate was pretty good. It seemed like a foregone conclusion that I would progress to nursing – humans. After one year into nurses training, I bolted. Bed pans and chronic diseases pushed me in different direction; a career of dealing with drug addicts, murder, suicide, fatalities, and biker gangs. In 1983 I graduated with honors as a paramedic and worked in the City of Edmonton’s Emergency Services.

For the next twenty years, I came face to face with scenes most people would rather not think about. I loved it. Having experienced life in the most deadly and gut wrenching events, and work alongside the police service, I gained the fodder for creating intense novels.

My creative DNA shocked me when I was driven to write a dystopian / paranormal / romance novel, The Guardian’s Wildchild. After taking several writing courses, I presented the manuscript to Omnific Publishing who published it in 2011. Just when I thought I could get my life back, another story took me prisoner – Forbidden. I couldn’t believe there was this kind of story within me and desperate to be told. I resisted. It was futile.

Retired and focused on home life, I’m back to being a mom to four pets and one husband. We travel and taste the excitement of other cultures. In between adventures, I’ve dabbled in water color painting, photography, needle work, gardening – the list goes on. In my next life, I plan to explore the cosmos.

I’ve learned a few things in my seventy years. Thoughts are powerful. Intention is everything. Passion is the key to success.

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Audiobook Review & Giveaway: Deadly Shore by Andrew Cunningham

26 Jun

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Author: Andrew Cunningham

Narrator: Greg Hernandez

Length: 6h 46m

Publisher: Andrew Cunningham

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

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It’s July 5th, and the Cape Cod roadways are clogged with tourists heading home from the holiday weekend and trying to outrun an approaching potentially catastrophic hurricane. But in the blink of an eye, their lives are thrown into chaos when terrorists bring down the bridges to the Cape. Instantly, a half million terrified people have no way to escape. And when the terrorists threaten to release anthrax on the captive population if their demands aren’t met, fear turns to all-out panic.

With time running out, Marcus Baldwin, a private investigator and former CIA operative, and Sara Cross, a disgraced ex-homicide detective, are brought together by a sole clue to the identity of the terrorists. They quickly realize that they may be the only ones with even a chance at stopping the plot before it’s too late.

With Hurricane Chad barreling up the coast on a path for a direct hit on Cape Cod, it becomes frighteningly clear to everyone trapped on what has now become an island – one way or another they are probably all going to die.

 

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I was born in England, but have spent most of my life living in the U.S.—including 25 years on Cape Cod before moving to Florida. A former interpreter for the deaf and long-time independent bookseller, I’ve been a full-time freelance writer and copy editor for many years. A 4th-degree Master Blackbelt in Tang Soo Do, I finally retired from active training when my body said, “Enough already! Why are you doing this to yourself?” I’m married, with two grown children and two awesome grandsons. My wife and I spend as much time traveling as we can, and are especially fond of cruising the Caribbean.

I have been gratified by the response to my books. When I published Eden Rising back in the spring of 2013, I had no idea what to expect. When I sold my first few copies, I was excited beyond belief that someone was willing to take a chance on it. Numerous books and thousands of copies later, I am still humbled by the emails I get from readers telling me that my books kept them up late into the night.

In October of 2014, Wisdom Spring made me an official Amazon Bestselling author, a thrill I never thought would happen. But it still comes down to being able to bring a few hours of escape to a reader. That’s what it’s all about for me.

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For more than 20 years I worked as a radio news reporter and news writer. I spent half of my broadcasting career at ABC News Radio in the Washington, D.C., bureau. I covered all the federal agencies as well as Congress and the White House. I reported on a wide range of stories during my career, including financial and entertainment industry news.

I have worked as a federal government spokesman at three separate agencies for more than 20 years. At the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA, U.S. Commerce Department), I introduced podcasting in 2005 just a few weeks before Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast of the United States. The 19 podcasts I narrated and produced from August 2005 to June 2007 were downloaded more than 600,000 times during that period. They’re still online at the following link.

http://www.noaa.gov/podcasts/podcast-archive.html

I enjoy narrating audio books because it gives me great satisfaction bringing to life books of all genres, especially mysteries and thrillers.

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I chose to listen to this audiobook after receiving a free copy. All opinions in this review are my own and completely unbiased.

There’s so much going on in Deadly Shore that I had trouble stopping listening because I wanted to know what was going to happen next. The bridges out of Cape Cod are blown up and there’s a hurricane headed their way. No one can leave! And now what are the terrorists going to do with all of those stranded people? A few years ago I would have said the terrorist part of the story was unbelievable but nowadays, anything is possible. 

I liked the relationship between Marcus and Sara and how they worked together. 

Greg Hernandez, the narrator, has a great voice although he read the story rather than gave it life. All of the voices were the same which I can live with, but when something exciting happened, he didn’t change his narration at all.

I recommend Deadly Shore who likes suspense.

 

 

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Buried Under Books

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Book Review: Without a Doubt by L. J. Greatrex

29 May

Following the tragic disappearance of his parents and unborn sibling, Jimmy Giddion is torn from his life in the States to a solitary existence in Africa. During these formative years, he discovers a rare talent for computer hacking and decides to use his skills to find his family, but is soon thrown into a world of corruption embroiled in modern-day diamond mine claim jumping. With the reward for his deception intact and his newly-found ally Paul Max, he embarks on an expedition that fires his imagination as a more sinister element to his family’s last encounter is unearthed.

 

My Review

I chose to review this book after receiving a free e-copy. All opinions in this review are my own and completely unbiased.

Jimmy Giddion is a world class hacker and has been hired to infiltrate a diamond company and set it up so that the Mafia can take over the company. Because Jimmy actually has to be an employee of the company, it’s suspenseful since he could be discovered at any time. 

Even though Jimmy breaks the law for a living, it’s hard not to like him especially since the money he earns is going to be used to help him find out what happened to his family. Everyone is sure that they were killed but he wants to find out how and why. He has met a new hacker friend who is impressed with Jimmy and vows to help him find answers.

Without a Doubt is full of mystery, adventure, and lots of suspense. Descriptions of Africa were very good. It’s always a plus to me when an author can describe mountains, landscapes, etc., without too much detail but with enough detail that I can picture it.

I definitely recommend Without a Doubt for anyone who likes suspense and adventure.

 

About the Author

J. Greatrex was born one of three siblings in a small village in the Midlands, having only moved around the same village three times with just a small break when living in West Kirby on the Wirral. L. J.’s career began with General Electric and progressed through to the financial sector of the steel Industry, spending the most recent years with a classic car parts company and today as their Financial Health Consultant.

Over many years traveling the globe with family and friends for pleasure, the ideas developed and used in the Hackers series (which includes Conscious Revenge, Payback and Just Deserts), have been in part attributed to these experiences; that and a vivid imagination has helped create the characters and situations in these three novels.

 

Excerpt

 ‘Got ya, you bastards’, I thought, as at last the whole plan seemed crystal clear. I was ecstatic, overwhelmed, sad, angry, but mostly relieved that after all of this time I finally had a clearer picture, one which I now knew not only involved my parents, but in a weird twist of fate myself. I had unwittingly become the perpetrator of their scam, helping these mongrels to continue to claim jump long after their involvement in my parents’ disappearance. I now saw how difficult this task would have been for my uncle, as without the technology and expertise of a hacker he would have had no chance of success. I suddenly became grateful to have been given the gift, one that at last had unravelled the whole sorry mess. It only left two things now to do, decide what to do about it and discover their resting place!

 

 

“Without A Doubt” by L. J. Greatrex is available in paperback and e-book from Amazon UK and from Amazon US.

 

Press/Media Contact Details:

 Contact:  Darin Jewell (L. J. Greatrex’s literary agent)
Managing Director
The Inspira Group Literary Agency
London, UK
darin@theinspiragroup.com
tel. UK +208 292 5163

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Audiobook Review: The Good Spy Dies Twice by Mark Hosack

7 May

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Author: Mark Hosack

Narrator: Mark Hosack

Length: 10h 19m

Publisher:Wide Awake Audio⎮2017

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Release date: Jan. 19, 2017

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Jake Boxer, investigative journalist and host of the conspiratorial news show Bullseye, is in serious trouble. Not only is his soundman murdered by Russian intelligence agents while reporting on a secretive New World Order, but his network cancels his show, leaving Jake humiliated and spiraling into a deep dark depression.

Years later, a condemned murderer, who claims he was abandoned by the CIA, and who starred in an early episode of Bullseye, is finally executed for killing two supposed Soviet spies back in the 1970’s.

Jake Boxer, still trying to piece his life back together, is on his honeymoon in a posh ski resort in the Alaskan mountains when he gets word of the inmate’s execution . . . and the old killer’s final words: “The good spy dies twice.”

Those five words, seemingly meant for Jake, draw the ex-reporter from his forced retirement and into a complex and deadly global conspiracy involving his newlywed wife, the secretive New World Order, and the hotel’s hundred or so “guests.”

Everyone is a suspect.

Described as James Bond in a Stephen King novel, THE GOOD SPY DIES TWICE is the explosive first book in the Bullseye Series. Part spy thriller, part whodunit, this fast-paced novel introduces an exciting new hero, the intrepid, conspiratorial journalist, Jake Boxer.

 

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Mark Hosack is the author of THE GOOD SPY DIES TWICE (Book 1: The Bullseye Series, nominated for the 2016 RT Source Award), and IDENTITY (Simon & Schuster). He also wrote on the web series SEQUESTERED for Sony Crackle, the screenplay for GIVE ‘EM HELL, MALONE (Thomas Jane, Ving Rhames), and he both wrote and directed the award winning independent film PALE BLUE MOON. Mark lives in Los Angeles with his wife and a brood of gremlins who insist on calling him Dad.


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I chose to listen to this audiobook after receiving a free copy. All opinions in this review are my own and completely unbiased.

The Good Spy Dies Twice starts with a bang and I was immediately hooked.  It begins with a mysterious hum and the murder of an audio expert when he tries to record it. Jake, the victim’s boss and friend, knows when he identifies the body that the Russians murdered him even though they claim it was an accident.

Unfortunately, things slow down after the beginning of the book. Jake and Claire are on their honeymoon after he has recovered from a severe depression. Jake is paranoid, though, and his ramblings are a little too much. The funny thing is, he’s right to be paranoid. 

Things eventually pick back up toward the end of the book. There were several twists and I was kept wondering who the murderer was right until the end. I do like it when I’m surprised.

It was difficult to connect with Jake, not only because of his paranoia but also his anxiety and constant fear of losing Claire. I also found it strange that Claire kept disappearing. Yes, it was a working honeymoon but she had to know she was making things worse for Jake and his issues.

I’m a little wary when an author narrates their own book. Of course, they know the timing they want but do they have a good voice for speaking? In Mark Hosack’s case, the answer is yes. He did a very good job at narrating The Good Spy Dies Twice.

This is the first book in a series and I will probably try the next one to see if Jake’s character gets a little less whiny before I give up on him. Continue reading

Book Review: Bully Boy Blue by John Nicholl

23 Apr

Every aspect of Kathy’s life is dominated by her violent bully boy husband. Now she’s pregnant and in fear for her life. Can she ever escape him?

A dark psychological suspense novella by Amazon # 1 bestselling author, John Nicholl.

Available on Amazon.

 

My Review

I chose to read this book after receiving a free e-copy. All opinions in this review are my own and completely unbiased.

Bully Boy Blue is well written but what a horrible subject. Abuse is something that does happen, probably more than we know, and John Nicholl does a good job at making you feel the horror and desperation that Kathy feels. Now that she’s pregnant, she not only fears for her own life but for her baby.

You’ll probably figure out Kathy’s plan before she tries to implement it. But will it work?

Even though this is a novella, it is powerful. It contains physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. I definitely recommend it for adults but because of the subject, I wouldn’t recommend it for children.

 

About the Author

John Nicholl, an ex police officer, child protection social worker and lecturer, has written three dark psychological suspense thrillers, each of which are Amazon international bestsellers, reaching # 1 in multiple categories in the United Kingdom, France, Spain, Australia, Canada and the USA. John is always happy to hear from readers, bloggers or anyone interested in proposing a joint creative project. He can be contacted via his author website at: http://www.johnnicholl.com.

 

 

 

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Book Review: Roam by Erik Therme

28 Feb

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Three strangers, each searching for something out of reach.

Sarah Cate, celebrating her twenty-first birthday, is pushed over the edge after car trouble strands her in the middle of nowhere with an angry, unstable boyfriend.

Kevin Reed, a troubled adolescent abused by a loveless father, roams the night in his black Camaro, looking to pay forward one of the few acts of kindness he’s ever received.

Scotty Mason, plagued by profound guilt and completely detached from his world, is haunted by the unshakable fear that something inside him is dangerously broken and cannot be fixed.

When their lives intersect in an unsavory hotel with a bloody history, all three will struggle to exorcise their personal demons, unaware that a bigger threat is looming . . . and waiting for the right moment to strike.

Like Joshua Gaylord and Daniel Kraus before him, author Erik Therme explores the angst of disconnected youth in his enthralling and powerful Roam. Therme’s darkly tinged novel is an unforgettable tale of three errant souls brutalized by life’s cruel circumstances, and a remarkable night of discovery and violence that will change them forever.

 

Available on Amazon

 

My Review

I received a free e-copy of this book from the author and I chose to review it. All opinions in this review are my own and completely unbiased. I had read and enjoyed Resthaven and Mortom by Erik Therme so I was happy to read this book and it is my favorite of his so far.

Roam is about just one night and that’s how long it took me to read it because I couldn’t put it down. In that one night, Sarah and Kevin meet, face obstacles and danger, and realize that they like each other. They also share their stories and get to know one another better than some people get to know each other over a long period of time.

The characters in Roam are complex and none of them have an easy life. There is no gray area with most of these people, though. I either liked them or not. Sarah and Kevin are far from perfect but I couldn’t help liking both of them and hoping that they would not only get through the night, but would end up together. Scotty is the only one that I didn’t really like or dislike. I just felt sorry for the poor guy.

I definitely recommend Roam for young adults and adults alike, especially if you like a book full of suspense.

 

 

About the Author

2017-02-28_15-00-41Erik Therme has thrashed in garage bands, inadvertently harbored runaways, and met Darth Vader.

When he’s not at his computer, he can be found cheering for his oldest daughter’s volleyball team, or chilling on the PlayStation 4 with his thirteen-year-old. He currently resides in Iowa City, Iowa—one of only seven places in the world UNESCO has certified as a City of Literature.

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Book Review: The Fourth Monkey by J.D. Barker

22 Feb

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Release date: 6/27/2017

Se7en meets The Silence of the Lambs in this dark and twisting novel from the author Jeffery Deaver called, “A talented writer with a delightfully devious mind.”

For over five years, the Four Monkey Killer has terrorized the residents of Chicago. When his body is found, the police quickly realize he was on his way to deliver one final message, one which proves he has taken another victim who may still be alive.

As the lead investigator on the 4MK task force, Detective Sam Porter knows even in death, the killer is far from finished. When he discovers a personal diary in the jacket pocket of the body, Porter finds himself caught up in the mind of a psychopath, unraveling a twisted history in hopes of finding one last girl, all while struggling with personal demons of his own.

With only a handful of clues, the elusive killer’s identity remains a mystery. Time is running out and the Four Monkey Killer taunts from beyond the grave in this masterfully written fast-paced thriller.

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My Review 

I received an ARC of this novel. All opinions in this review are entirely my own and completely unbiased.

Detective Porter is called back to work after being off for 2 weeks. He’s been working for 5 years on solving the case of a serial killer dubbed 4MK and apparently, 4MK has just been hit by a bus. Porter’s colleagues welcome him back and ask how he’s doing but the reason for his time off isn’t revealed until about halfway through the book. Just one more little side mystery. I had my suspicions, of course, but it was well written and kept me wondering if I was right until the answer was confirmed.

4MK’s story is told through a diary that is found on the body. As Porter and his team work toward finding the last girl before she dies of dehydration or worse, the story of 4MK’s childhood unfolds.

This isn’t just your typical psychological thriller. It is complex with several twists that you won’t see coming. It kept me on the edge of my seat and I didn’t want to put it down. There was too much going on and I had to find out what was going to happen! Whether in the present or in the past (via the diary), I had to know!

I often don’t like when books go back and forth from the present to the past. It can be confusing but it was done so well, and both stories were so engrossing, that in this case, it was perfect.

I don’t want to reveal the plot of this book but it is amazing. It is dark and twisted and a must read.

 

About the Author

shapeimage_2Barker was born January 7, 1971 in Lombard, Illinois and spent the first fourteen years of his life in Crystal Lake, Illinois. A staunch introvert, he was rarely seen without a book in hand, devouring both the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew series by the age of six before moving on to classics such as the works of Dickens and Twain. The discovery of Shelley, Stoker and Poe fueled a fire and it wasn’t long before he was writing tales of his own which he shared with friends and family. These early stories centered around witches and ghosts thought to inhabit the woods surrounding their home.

At fourteen, Barker’s family relocated to Englewood, Florida, a climate better suited to his father’s profession as a contractor. He attended Lemon Bay High School and graduated in 1989. Knowing he wanted to pursue a career in the arts but unsure of a direction, he enrolled at the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale where he later obtained a degree in business. While in college, one of his writing assignment found its way into the hands of Paul Gallotta of Circus Magazine. Gallotta reached out to Barker and asked him to join the staff of 25th Parallel Magazine where he worked alongside the man who would later become Marilyn Manson. Assignments dropped him into the center of pop culture and by 1991 Barker branched out, interviewing celebrities for the likes of Seventeen, TeenBeat, and other national and local publications. In 1992, Barker syndicated a small newspaper column called Revealed which centered around the investigation of haunted places and supernatural occurrences. While he often cites these early endeavors as a crash course in tightening prose, his heart remained with fiction. He began work as a book doctor and ghostwriter shortly thereafter, helping others fine tune their writing for publication. Barker has said this experience proved invaluable, teaching him what works and what doesn’t in today’s popular fiction. He would continue in this profession until 2012 when he wrote a novel of his own, titled Forsaken.

Stephen King read portions of Forsaken prior to publication and granted Barker permission to utilize the character of Leland Gaunt of King’s Needful Things in the novel. Indie-published in late 2014, the book went on to hit several major milestones – #2 on Audible (Harper Lee with Go Set a Watchman held #1), #44 on Amazon U.S., #2 on Amazon Canada, and #22 on Amazon UK. Forsaken was also nominated for a Bram Stoker Award (Best Debut Novel) and won a handful of others including a New Apple Medalist Award. After reading Forsaken, Bram Stoker’s family reached out to Barker and asked him to co-author a prequel to Dracula utilizing Bram’s original notes and journals, much of which has never been made public.

Barker’s indie success drew the attention of traditional agents and publishers and in early 2016 his debut thriller, The Fourth Monkey, sold in a series of pre-empts and auctions worldwide with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt set to publish in the U.S. and HarperCollins in the UK. The book has also sold for both film and television.

Barker splits his time between Englewood, FL, and Pittsburgh, PA, with his wife, Dayna.

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Audiobook Review & Giveaway: Relentless by Nancy J. Alexander

12 Dec

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“The little girl lay under the hay stack scarcely breathing. Sweat poured down her face and dripped into her eyes; her heart pounded through her thin chest. Tiny flecks of hay clung to her wet skin, making her itch. She squeezed her nose tightly afraid she’d sneeze. Eyes clamped shut, she lay there. Flies buzzed around her, crawling on her. She didn’t move. She didn’t know how long she’d been there in the loft. She didn’t care how long she stayed. She couldn’t move. Not yet.”

Nearly a lifetime after a childhood filled with misery and abuse, Gina, now a successful doctor, finds herself thrown back into a terrifying world where her nightmares become far more than just a dream. With the help of an unconventional therapist with secrets of her own, the hunt is on and Gina fights for her life in this harrowing tale of cat and mouse.
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Buy the Book:   Amazon  ~  Audible

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My Review

I chose to listen to this audiobook after receiving a free copy. All opinions in this review are my own and completely unbiased.

Relentless is a good title for this book. Gina, aka Reggie Lee, was tormented by her cousin Jake when she was young. She left home at the age of 14 after he almost killed her. With help from a network of people, she changed her name and made a life for herself but she always feared that Jake would find her, even after she became a successful doctor miles away in Chicago. She had good reason to fear him because even after close to 20 years, Jake is still obsessed with her.

The characters are complex and believable. Even Jake and his crew, who are way “out there,” are believable. Jake is a serial killer focused on finding and killing Reggie Lee after she got away from him so many years ago. His friends are followers and stay with him even when they want to get away because they’re so afraid of him. It’s obvious that Nancy Alexander knows what she’s writing about by the way she portrays the characters.

Relentless is full of suspense. Gina is always on alert. I can’t imagine living in fear for so many years. 

If I read this book again, I would choose to read a print copy or the e-book. There were several times that all of the girls who were raped and/or killed were listed and to listen to those lists was a bit much to sit through. They were important to the story so they had to be there, it just would have been easier if I read the lists rather than listened to them. I also had to speed the book up because the author made noises (licking her lips?) in between sentences and those noises couldn’t be heard at 1.4x speed. She did do very well at distinguishing the different voices and it was also nice having the author read the book because she knew exactly where she wanted to verbally stress certain points or occurrences.

I would definitely recommend Relentless in the print or e-book form. 

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About the Author

nancy-j-alexanderLove of the mystery/thriller genre combines with psychotherapy training and experience to produce an emotionally supercharged dramatic novel. Nancy Alexander has devoted much of her professional life to helping survivors of childhood trauma; their distress has been ingrained and works to create characters who give voice to their plight. To analyze the evil minds that prey on others and the intricacies of law enforcers who pursue them seemed a natural interlacing of professional, literary and creative interests.

Connect with the author:  Website  ~  Twitter  ~  Facebook

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Giveaway

Prizes 

Win a signed copy of RELENTLESS by Nancy J Alexander / 2 winners will also get a $15 Amazon gift card (open to USA & CAN) 5 winners total

Ends Jan 7

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

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Book Review & Giveaway: Killer in the Band by Lauren Carr

1 Nov

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Book Description

Summer of Love & Murder

Joshua’s eldest son, Joshua “J.J.” Thornton Jr., has graduated at the top of his class from law school and returns home to spend the summer studying for the bar exam. However, to Joshua’s and Cameron’s shock and dismay, J.J. moves into the main house at Russell Ridge Farm, the largest dairy farm in the Ohio Valley, to rekindle a romance with Suellen Russell, a onetime leader of a rock group who’s twice his age. Quickly, they learn that she has been keeping a deep dark secret.

The move brings long-buried tensions between the father and son to the surface. But when a brutal killer strikes, the Lovers in Crime must set all differences aside to solve the crime before J.J. ends up in the cross hairs of a murderer.

Praise for Lauren Carr’s Mysteries:

“Lauren Carr could give Agatha Christie a run for her money!”

– Charlene Mabie-Gamble, Literary R&R

 

“As always, Lauren Carr brings an action-packed story that is almost impossible to put down. Her mystery plots have so many twists and turns that I didn’t know if I was coming or going. And the action just didn’t stop from the very beginning till the very end.” – Melina Mason, Melina’s Book Reviews

 

Buy the Book:

Amazon  ~  Barnes & Noble

 

My Review

I received a free copy of this book from the author.

I have read several of Lauren Carr’s books but this is the first one I’ve read about Cameron Gates and Joshua Thornton. Even though this is the third book in the series, it definitely stands on its own.

Killer in the Band is about Detective Cameron Gates solving some cold cases that affect members of the Thornton family. There are several stories occurring at the same time about the different members of the Thortons: murder mysteries, family discord, new friendships, and a May-December romance.

The characters are complex and, as usual in Lauren Carr’s books, there are many of them. She always makes it easy to keep them separate, though, and there’s even a Cast of Characters at the beginning of the book just in case the reader does need assistance.

I like that the characters are all flawed in some way just like “real” people and that they try to overcome those flaws as the story progresses. My favorite characters, however, are the animals. From Gulliver the horse who opens stalls to Charley the rooster who attacks almost everyone, they bring humor to an otherwise suspenseful story.

I definitely recommend Killer in the Band and look forward to reading more of Lauren Carr’s books.

 

Author’s Bio

lauren-carr-2-1Lauren Carr is the international best-selling author of the Mac Faraday, Lovers in Crime, and Thorny Rose Mysteries—over twenty titles across three fast-paced mystery series filled with twists and turns!

Book reviewers and readers alike rave about how Lauren Carr’s seamlessly crosses genres to include mystery, suspense, romance, and humor.

Lauren is a popular speaker who has made appearances at schools, youth groups, and on author panels at conventions. She lives with her husband, son, and four dogs (including the real Gnarly) on a mountain in Harpers Ferry, WV.

Connect with Lauren: Website  ~  Twitter  ~  Facebook

 

Giveaway

Prizes:

Win a Fire Tablet, 7″ Display, Wi-Fi, 16 GB

(Open internationally)

Winner will be person to use #LoversInCrime most often)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

 

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