Showing posts with label Suspense. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Suspense. Show all posts

Monday, June 30, 2014

Eyes On You by Kate White

Posted first on Blog Critics as Book Review: 'Eyes On You' by Kate White.

When someone is manufacturing gossip and lies about you behind your back in an effort to discredit you, how do you fight back? What if you don’t know who is garnering the damage, and yet your life is changing because of it?

In Eyes on You by Kate White, we follow the life of Robin Trainer, a television host, who has fought her way to the top. She has a best-selling book and her show is one of the hottest in the biz. When things begin to go wrong she initially is unsure of what is going on. She quickly catches on though when the more harmless innuendo and gossip turn into more dangerous and possibly deadly games. When the clues point to someone that has to know her well, she no longer knows who to trust.

As she tries to put together the pieces before everything she holds dear is lost, she finds that even her life is at stake. Can she find the answers before it is too late?

Robin is both beautiful and smart. She is not afraid to walk the talk, but that is exactly what gets her in trouble. White has developed that dreadful darkness that leaves you feeling hollow when you have no idea who to fight against. The challenges and damages that continue to occur put Robin off her stride, and you begin to feel that lost feeling right along with her. How do you stop the constant trickle of trouble that begins to eat away at not just your confidence, but the confidence of those around you?

If you enjoy mystery and romance you will find this to be a satisfying read. The darkness is just enough to keep you enthralled and the mystery keeps you guessing to the end.

This would be a great book for a reading group, a veritable plethora of information on gossip and its damages. This is a must have summer read and an enjoyable who-dun-it. 

Rating 3/5

This book was received through the authors publishing company. All opinions are my own based off my reading and understanding of the material. 

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Closed Doors by Lisa O'Donnell

Posted first to Blog Critics as Book Review:'Closed Doors' by Lisa O'Donnell.

Never underestimate the hearing or imagination of a child. The understanding of what they do hear and perceive is often based off television, movies and gossip among other children. When the information they overhear is outside their experience, they often will just fill in the blanks as they see fit, sometimes underestimating the situation, but just as often making it even more scary and bizarre.
In Closed Doors by Lisa O’Donnell, we meet eleven-year-old Michael Murray. There are many things going on in his life, both at school and at home.  Hi nemesis at school is Dirty Alice as he likes to refer to her. She is always bothering him. He also has to prepare himself for the upcoming talent show. Yet it is his home life that has taken an appalling turn.  He often listens at doors for information because his parents feel he is too young to know about grownup things.
When his mother comes home upset and crying with bruises on her face, he suddenly hears a secret he is not ready for. He doesn’t really understand the words, but he knows that the very worst has happened.  What exactly does that mean though?
When the whispers begin both at home and elsewhere, he wonders if there is more going on than he has already heard.  The problem is who does he ask what the words mean?  His life is no longer what he remembers.  People seem to think that his father is a bad guy, and suddenly Alice, his one true enemy has changed.  How does he get his life back?
O’Donnell has taken the unimaginable and brought it to the forefront of everyday life.  To take the terrible things that happen to people and create such an atmosphere of disarray in the life of a family, who is only struggling to cope, brings starkness to the challenges of crimes against women. To confront the situation is often overwhelming for the victim, but through the eyes of a child you see a whole different view.  Without an understanding of the nature of the occurrence, the fear and concern can careen out of control. Yet life on the outside does not slow down and abate, it just mixes in with the fear, making the lives of those involved spiral out of control.
The characters are so real and the town so much like were we all live, the author has given us a story very close to home.
If you enjoy the interaction of small towns, mysteries, romance and secrets you will enjoy this work. It would be a great book for a reading group with so many directions to create dialogue. The phrase “little pitchers have big ears,” is only the tip of the iceberg in this heartfelt story.  
Rating 4/5
This book was received free through the authors publishing company. All opinions are my own based off my reading and understanding of the material.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Zero Alternative by Luca Pesaro

Posted first on Blog Critics as Book Review:'Zero Alternative' by Luca Pesaro.

Power comes in many forms and seems to always follow the money. With the Banking system now so intricate and many vying for ways to find just a few more dollars through the market, there is bound to be shenanigans of the very worst kind.

In Zero Alternative by Luca Pesaro, we are taken deep into the money markets, and many of the secrets they keep. Scott walker is one of those who play the market and understand the rules. He has friends in many places, and a few enemies as well. One of his friends has been building a program that can help them to know things ahead of time. There is only on problem with that. Someone else is aware of the work and is willing to do whatever it takes to be the owner.  Whoever holds the information would be able to keep their thumb on the pulse of the world.

As people around him begin to die in brutal fashion, Scott begins calling in favors. Without the access to the same types of assets, he still knows enough people that can help him. Yet suddenly it seems that he is the focus, and those he is closest to are no longer safe. Even those who feel they can take care of themselves.  With the death of his friend who built the program, can he find the bits and pieces that have been lost before it is too late?

As he races ahead of his enemies, he has no idea who to trust.  A Morass is opening that he may well disappear into unless he can find the answers.

Pesaro has done an amazing job of taking you deep into the money trenches of the markets. He is very knowledgeable, and while deep, the information is amazing. He has taken his own knowledge of how things work and twisted it all into a sinister cycle.  His characters are very interesting and pretty realistic. The crux of the story rings true and you wonder just how much is real.

If you enjoy suspense and thrillers you will enjoy this work. There is also a bit of romance and travel that seals the deal. The infrastructure he builds his story around is both exciting and pervasive.  

This would be a great book for a reading group with theories and events that will generate some very interesting dialogue.  Pesaro is an author to watch for.
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Zero Alternative Summary

“Sometimes you must destroy first.”

To stay alive, Scott Walker must bring down a corrupt international bank. And possibly shatter the world’s economy. Because finance is a black hole ready to chew up countries and people before spitting them out rich, or broken. Or both.

Framed. Hunted. In love with a woman he can’t trust. As he hides from hitmen across Europe, Walker has only one card to play – DeepShare. A silicon oracle that could predict a slice of the future, and that everyone wants. Governments and insane billionaires, criminals and anarchist hackers stand in his way, some even promising help – though with dangerous strings attached.

As Walker struggles to survive and digs deeper into the dark heart of the global economy, one question torments him: how much will the world have to pay?

Zero Alternative is an action-packed conspiracy thriller that plucks at the heart of human nature. When our grip on love, hope and morality starts to slide, the only future worth living is the one we choose for ourselves.

Luca Pesaro's Bio:

Luca Pesaro was born in Italy in the early seventies, but has spent most of his adult life in the US or UK. After long years gaining a degree and masters in the pseudo-science that is Economics he got bored, jumped the gun and became a derivatives trader in financial markets with several investment banks. Now reformed, he is writing full-time.

Zero Alternative is his first novel, and he is hard at work on his second thriller.

He lives in London, is married to an awesome Italian lady and has two children who always manage to annoy, surprise and delight beyond any reasonable expectation.

Formats: ebook, paperback
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
Pages: 269
Release: April 25, 2014
Publisher: Three Hares Publishing

Three Hares Publishing buy link:

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Stealing the Moon and Stars by Sally J. Smith and Jean Steffens

Posted first to Blog Critics as Book Review: 'Stealing the Moon and Stars by Sally J. Smith and Jean Steffens.

While charities abound around the world in an effort to ease suffering, they are often the target of those whose scruples make them feel that anything is up for grabs. Embezzlement is often the crime of chance and circumstance, where those most in need become the final victims once again.
In Stealing the Moon and Stars by Sally J. Smith and Jean Steffens, we are introduced to a pair of Private eyes based in Scottsdale Arizona. Jordan Welsh and Eddie Marino have teamed up and are beginning to make a name for themselves.  As business improves, the cases are becoming for dangerous but the importance of the business also becomes more evident. When they are hired to find out what has happened to the money for the Moon and Stars Children’s foundation they feel as though they have finally hit mainstream.
Everyone is a suspect including those working the charity, and as Jordan begins to dig in deeper, she finds she is suddenly in the sights of a crime lord, and bodies around her begin to pile up. Her partner is somehow in the middle with a secret of his own.  As the danger of her situation comes clear she no longer knows who to trust. Can she ferret out the secrets before it is too late?
Jordan and Eddie are great characters with an interplay that is just short of scandalous.  The heat of passion that evolves as they chase the danger seems palpable.  Jordan is a strong woman with a wickedly funny sense of humor, and Eddie is a fun and deeply secretive and good looking man. With such chemistry, Jordan finds herself constantly reminding herself of the danger of becoming involved.
That attraction which seems to flare up can also create more danger and as their investigation heats up, danger is more prevalent then they know.
If you enjoy a fast paced romance, this will fill the bill. Add suspense and spice and you have a romantic suspense with a bit of a twist.  If you are in the market for a great beach or escape reading experience then this is the work for you.  It seems that we may have a new dynamic duo in private investigations. This first book in a new series is interesting and holds enough challenge to keep you entertained.  

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Stealing the Moon & Stars
Book Summary:
Jordan Welsh and Eddie Marino, Scottsdale private eyes, are hired to find out who’s stealing from the Moon & Stars Children’s Foundation. Foundation employees are suspected, but just as the pieces start falling into place, Jordan discovers a hidden agenda that puts her in the crosshairs of a crime lord. Who can she trust?

Everyone has a dangerous secret, and the bodies are piling up. Even her partner, Eddie Marino, has a dark and mysterious past. Does she dare act on their attraction? Will it destroy their partnership?

The two have landed in a hornets’ nest. Nothing to do now but stir it up.

Book One in a new series featuring Jordan Welsh and Eddie Marino.

Sally J. Smith & Jean Steffens' Bios:
Arizona native Sally J. Smith lives in Scottsdale with her husband. The rarest of breeds, an adult who was born in Arizona, she has been a writer since she could spell. These days she stays busy at her chosen professions of writing (novels, short stories, and articles) and freelance editing. When a free moment appears on the horizon, she’s out the door to a attend a play, a movie, a concert, or just take a long walk in the desert—if the temperature’s under a hundred. Other works include The Ghost Wore Polyester.

Jean Steffens also lives in Scottsdale with her family. She’s a mother, reader, movie fan, and the Steffens’ family chauffeur. She’s also active in church activities. Like Jordan Welsh, PI, Jean grew up in Chicago near Lake Forest. Jean’s mother, however, was nurturing—baking cookies, carpooling kids to school, kissing boo-boos—unlike Jordan’s mother, who’s allergic to the kitchen and thinks a carpool is a hot tub in a limo. Jean’s published work includes “The Night Before Christmas” in the Desert Sleuths Sisters in Crime Anthology, How Not to Survive the Holidays.

Work sessions between these two ladies generally result in a lot of laughter, noshing, and Internet surfing. Both authors are members of Romance Writers of America and Sisters in Crime.

Price: $13.95
Format: paperback
Pages: 242
Release: May 15, 2014
Publisher: Camel Press
ISBN: 9781603819831

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Sunday, May 4, 2014

Counterstrike by John Groh

Posted first to Blog Critics as Book Review:'Counterstrike' by John Groh.

Family has such a strong impact in our lives. Yet there are times that rivalry among the members creates distrust and discord. Add money to the mix and occasionally that discord becomes a solid burning feeling of anger. Situations that can usually be worked through suddenly become the fuel to build an inferno.
In Counter Strike by John Groh, we meet two brothers working to build a solid life in Phoenix, neither of them in harm’s way,  yet not as close as they once were prior to their father’s death.  Boyce suffers a tragedy when his wife dies in a horrible accident, and he immediately suspects his brother, Spencer’s, involvement.  Suddenly the tables turn and both personal and professional rivalry turns into a deep and deadly game of betrayal and treachery.  They each turn to a close family friend named Boots, who for his own reason plays both sides, further feathering the flames of hurt and discord.
As dangerous  and deadly accidents began to occur, each feels the other is the reason for disaster. Neither of them realizes the true danger of what is happening beneath the shifting terror as suddenly allegiances shift, work prospects dim, and money becomes the winning factor in place of family and home.  Boots seems to have an uncanny hold and a tenuous existence, with a finger on the pulse of both lives. What does he gain when the lives of his friends are undone? Murder no long seems farfetched, but who will outwit the other?
Groh has giving us an uncomfortable mystery and sparked it with deadly intensity.  Hi brothers are much like most families and yet there is a deep distrust that seems impossible to dislodge. Spencer seems to be the calmer of the two brothers, but even he seems to lose touch as Boyce seems unable to let go of his feeling that Spencer is not only responsible for his wife’s death, but in taking her affections as well. Yet he finds such strange and tragic connections, almost as though they are fed to him, coming at times when his mind is at its darkest moments. 
Boots is a Vietnam Vet with his own agenda as he plays the two brothers against each other. He too has a darkness that covers his soul, and an interest in where the family money should reside. His reasons are his own and yet as the twists and turns bring a horrifying ending his motives began to come through.
If you enjoy mystery and thrillers you may enjoy this work. It is quick and deep, with twists and turns that make you cringe. The possibility of the brothers finding a solution to their deepening suspicion of the other holds you enthralled. Can they truly figure out the treachery beneath the strange attempts? The shocking and often dangerous scenes keep you riveted with dawning horror. 
This would be a good find for a reading group, the distrust created would give the dialogue plenty of fodder, and most people have known one of two family members that act in such fashion, although in a more passive way.  It is always so disturbing to see families dissolve after the death of a loved one, and such a shocking rendering of grief will create robust dialogue.  
Rating 3/5
This book was received from the author. All opinions are my own based off my reading and understanding of the material.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Twelve to Murder by Lauren Carr

Posted first to Blog Critics as Book Review: 'Twelve to Murder' by Lauren Carr.

In bizarre circumstances, tragedy can be much stranger than fiction. When you bring in a ‘has been’ child star, and a whole lot of drama, fireworks flare in spiraling patterns, leaving you to wonder how to find the true beginning of events beneath that very same performance.
In Twelve to Murder by Lauren Carr, Mac Faraday is drawn into a situation of strangely surreal circumstances. The former child-star and idol, Lenny Frost, becomes the prime suspect in the murder of his prior agent and her husband.  Lenny has taken hostages in a local pub and demands that Mac find the killer. He has twelve hours to find the responsible party before Lenny begins killing hostages.  Mac finds he too must play a part as he tries to ease the tension, and get hostages released. With all the food and drinks they can handle, he is having difficulty getting his job done.
Questioning Lenny, he feels he has some possibilities. How could Lenny be responsible and yet maintain his innocence by taking lives to prove his point. Mac has a very limited time to find the answers to the murder, and keep his client from killing innocent hostages. As the drama and strange events continue to weave throughout the story, Mac is at odds with himself.  Can he find the murderer in time to stop the freight train that will not stop until it derails the life of Lenny Frost?
Carr has brought us an entertaining mystery and comedic intrigue, making you guess till the very end in this tale of murder. Her characters are just what you would expect to encounter in some of the same circumstances and you find then either quite likable, quirky or just possibly deadly. Yet who is who, the directions are coy and confusing sending you into differing thoughts of possibilities.
Mac Faraday is an excellent character with just the right amount of emotion and humor. He is also very responsible and cares deeply about those he encounters.  A few flaws and a huge heart help him to win your thoughts and you hope he finds the answers.
If you enjoy mystery and comedy you will find this fills the bill. With odd duck characters and potential possibilities everywhere you will want to keep reading from start to finish. While not the usual book club type of read, the humor and sensitivities would create a great reaction and discussion.  Carr is an author to watch for and Faraday is investigator of worth. I hope they both show up often.
Rating 3/5
This book was received free from the author. All opinions are my own based off my reading and understanding of the material.


Monday, February 24, 2014

The Enchanted by Rene Denfeld

Posted first on Blog Critics as Book Review:'The Enchanted' by Rene Denfeld.

The mind is a very clever tool. It has a way of cloaking the things we find most horrific. It can also take you into a different world to escape the most desperate of situations, leaving some of the terror behind. 

In The Enchanted by Rene Denfeld, a world behind the walls of the most notorious of settings comes to light in an unlikely way. Set in the murkiest of places, and narrated by one of the inmates we are given a visual of what may occur. Yet the narration is perceived through the veil of beauty, from the smallest drip of water to the darkest corner as seen through the surreal vision of one of those who have found such a release of fear.

We are introduced to a monster and the angel sent to save him from death, in that same gossamer style where reality is only as you perceive it. Yet the story is strong and the narration only adds a bit of sequence that paints a covering over the pall of actuality. Can the angel save them all, or will her last visit with cruelty stave her ability to look beyond the crime to see the person inside.

Denfeld has done a wondrous job of taking us into the gruesomeness of death row and giving us the visual tour through the eyes of one who has been able to find the beauty inside. In a somewhat macabre and eerie way we follow the action as mercy and clemency are argued against punishment.

Each of the characters has flaws and reality often intrudes within the dream world of the narrator. The 'Lady' as she is labeled, is known throughout the system, yet no one really knows her, only the agenda as it has been set forward. The prisoner set to die is ready to move forward but must plead his own case, convincing the ‘Lady’ of his need for punishment.

Will she make a case for life, or will she allow for the truth of his disquiet.

If you enjoy mystery and suspense as well as a bit of magic and horror you will find it all here. The story is enthralling and keeps you reading far into the night. This would be a great book for a discussion group and create a great deal of argument and buzz, rounding out the feeling and thoughts of all those involved.

Rating 4/5

This book was received from the authors publicist. All opinions are my own based off my reading and understanding of the material.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Russian Hill by Ty Hutchinson

Posted first to Blog Critics as Book Review:'Russian Hill' by Ty Hutchinson.

The internet offers opportunities to many, both good and bad.  Hidden within encrypted and locked rooms there is also a dark side, a place where stalkers dwell, hidden cavities of entertainment not meant for many. This opening of darkness draws a myriad of viewers as well as participants.
In Russian Hill by Ty Hutchinson, Abby Kane is on the case of some seemingly random murders. Gruesome and stylized, there seems to be random acts of posing of the victims as well.  No stranger to the dark side of humanity, FBI Agent and full time mom, Abby has decided that a dead hiker may have more to add to the strange killing spree.  The further Abby searches the more her theory seems absurd, yet she knows she is on to something. But what?
The more she digs the stranger the evidence, but can she find the answers to keep the killing spree from moving forward and out of their line of sight.  Only the perpetrators know where the next kill will happen, but will Abby lose her quarry as well as her case? Can she convince her team of the rightness of her theories before the killers escape and change venues?
Hutchinson has brought us back a tougher character in Abby, one who thinks more and delves further before putting herself forward.  Taking more care in her job, coming to terms with motherhood and having a family that cares has given her more depth, but has not lessoned her bravado. He has given her an imaginative mind that goes in directions other don’t appear to see, and she is back in our graces with a vengeance.
His version of the murders being played out is very deep and creepy. His murderers are both fascinating and yet appalling in their random sociopathic tendencies.
If you enjoy mystery and suspense, and enjoy a witty and gutsy protagonist you will find this book on the Abby Kane series fun and exciting. Yet there is that element of danger and evil that twists throughout creating at times, a tenseness that keeps you on the edge of your seat.  Each work  can be read either alone or with the series. You will find yourself intrigued by the unique thought processes and background of such a humorous and gritty FBI agent.  
Rating 4/5
This book was received free from the author. All opinions are my own based off my reading and understanding of the material.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Alexis Tappendorf and the Search for Beale's Treasure by Becca C. Smith

Posted first to Blog Critics as Book Review:'Alexis Tappendorf and the Secret to Beale's Treasure' by Becca C. Smith

Treasure hunting can be fun, yet there is an aspect of avarice that often creates a dangerous situation. When the treasure involved belongs to the first one who finds it, and the amount is quite generous, the fun suddenly dissolves as baser instincts take over.
In Alexis Tappendorf, and the search for Beale’s Treasure by Becca C. Smith, Alexis is unhappy and afraid for her parents. They are on a secret job that could well be dangerous. Money is tight and jobs are scarce, so they take their daughter Alexis to stay with Great Aunt Mae. Alexis wants none of it, but she has no choice.  Her parents are the greatest, and she is worried. They assure her all is well and that she will enjoy her visit with Aunt Mae.  When they arrive, true to their word she loves Aunt Mae. But even better Aunt Mae has friends that have a daughter her own age. After their very first meeting, Alexis knows they will be the best of friends. They both love adventure, and Aunt Mae is the same.
Reluctant to stay, she is nonetheless intrigued about a treasure known as Beale’s treasure, actively being sought by many of the locals. She loves cyphers, so knows that she and her new friend Olivia will be the ones to break the code and find the treasure. It is more important to them than anyone else. Olivia’s father needs heart surgery, which they cannot afford, and Alexis is left in fear whenever her parents have to leave for such dangerous work. If they can just find the treasure, their parents will never have to work again, and Olivia’s father can have his surgery.
But there is a dark secret in town. Someone is willing to kill for the treasure. Can Alexis and Olivia find the treasure without alerting those who are trying to stop the searches? Does the treasure truly exist?
Smith has given us characters that are warm and fuzzy. The wonderful contrast between the good and the bad is not just about evil but about heart.  Mae is an exceptional character, as are Olivia’s parents. You find yourself drawn to them and their warmth. Alexis and Olivia are like many young girls, both mischievous and caring. The story behind the treasure will keep you captivated and you will enjoy the adventures and dangerous situations that Alexis and Olivia find themselves in.
This is a great story for the YA reader and for those who enjoy treasure and adventure. The mystery of the treasure and the danger behind Alexis’s parent’s job keep you searching the pages for clues.  There is a great deal to discuss in this story making it a great find for a reading group. The interactions are well written, and the adventure is strong.
Book Synopsis
Alexis Tappendorf is about to be abandoned in Virginia for the summer by her parents, George and Jenny. They’re leaving for a mysterious job they can’t tell anyone about, which annoys Alexis to no end! And what’s worse is the fact that they’re dropping her off with Great Aunt Mae, a woman in her seventies that Alexis has never met!

Upon arriving in Virginia, Alexis discovers that for the last hundred years the townspeople of Summervale and Bedford County have been searching for a lost treasure buried somewhere in the area by a man named Thomas J. Beale. More importantly, the only clues to finding the fortune are in the form of cryptograms, codes that, when properly translated, tell the exact location of the bounty.

In a heart-pounding race to Beale’s Treasure, Alexis and her new friend, Olivia Boyd, join forces to solve the Beale ciphers before the dangerous family, the Woodmores, beat them to it – a seemingly impossible task since they always appear to be one step ahead of the girls at every turn.

Unless Alexis and Olivia can decipher Beale’s cryptograms in time, the treasure will be lost forever or worse—it will end up in the hands of the evil Woodmores…

Friday, December 13, 2013

The English Girl by Daniel Silva

Posted first on Blog Critics as Book Review: 'The English Girl' by Daniel Silva.

Differing scenarios often play out behind the hidden agendas of various governments of the world. Even the most careful and mapped out plans can go awry. Human decisions and reactions can change the direction of a carefully laid out plan in the blink of an eye.
In The English Girl by Daniel Silva, we are privy to such a decision. When a young and promising star in Britain’s governing party is kidnapped, various factions are brought together to find the reasoning. When they receive notice that their captive will die in seven days if the kidnappers do not receive their demands, a sudden pall descends.  There is a secret known to the Prime Minister, Jonathan Lancaster. Somehow the kidnappers have found out. Madeline Hart, the young kidnapping victim is also Jonathan’s lover.
News of this infidelity leaking could cause disastrous consequences. Lessor sins have been known to topple governments. There is one man who can help to save both Madeline and the Prime Minister.
Enter, Gabriel Allon. A master assassin, art restorer and spy he is no stranger to danger and subterfuge. Political intrigue and dangerous assignments are the missions he is often recruited for. There is more to the kidnapping than is understood; the entire situation seems to be staged to him. But can he find the motives while he risks his life and that of a young woman, as he races against time to put an end to the power the kidnappers now hold over the British government.
This is a devious and action packed suspense that will keep you hanging on the edge of your seat. The danger and the lengths that Gabriel will go through to save Madeline, are both intriguing and inspiring. For his background Silva has somehow been able to give him heart, and still make him believable in his role. The caring is there even as the edginess of a caged animal keeps him one step ahead of those who hold the clues.
The characters are an eclectic mix, and the political intrigue is fascinating. The action is fast paced and believable, pulling you into the story.
If you enjoy suspense, action, intrigue and danger you will find everything you are looking for in this book. The possibilities draw you in, and the action is satisfying. The danger holds you steady, as Silva’s protagonist pulls out his arsenal of tricks in an all-out effort to save both Madeline and the Prime Minister.
This would be a great book for a reading group or a book club. The Intel and information as well as the twists and unexpected turns will garner great discussion.
Rating 4/5
This book was received free through the authors publicist. All opinions are my own based off my reading and understanding of the material.

Friday, September 20, 2013

The Foiled Knight by John C. Stipa

Posted first on Blog Critics as Book Review:'The Foiled Knight' by John C. Stipa.

For a child heading to school the first time, fear of the unknown makes everything seem frightening. When they meet that special friend for the first time, the one who seems to be a mirror image, the true meaning of friendship begins to unfold. Many of those budding friendships last a lifetime, building memories and backgrounds that hold far longer than many friendships cemented later in life.
In The Foiled Knight by John C. Stipa, we are introduced to Stan Palmer, a regular kind of guy, the kind who will do anything for his friends, reliable to a fault and extremely well liked yet he has those who do not care for him as well. As a child he was often bullied.  That is how he first met Tanya Davis. On the first day of school when Stan was knocked to the ground and made fun of, a fierce young girl made her way to the front of the room demanding the perpetrator to knock it off. When Ernie McFadden, the youngster responsible began taunting her, Stan immediately moved to his feet and punched Ernie in the nose. As a fight ensued, Tanya leapt back into the fray and before long the teachers arrived and the fight ended. But it was enough to cement a lifelong friendship between Stan and Tanya, and make an enemy of Ernie McFadden.
As they grew older and moved through school their friendship continued often of the verge of just a bit more. Yet something always happened.  They dated others sporadically and were always the sounding board for one another as a broken heart mended. Their parents often thought they would get together, and yet what continued was a rock solid no holds barred friendship.
When Stan is almost killed in an accident and ends up on life support, Tanya is the first person his parents call. There is something very strange about the accident and the 911 call made at the scene. A young girl also goes missing the same night, and the police have somehow tied the two together. Tanya knows something is wrong, and she is determined to find the answer. Part of the story is missing and she will find it.
As she begins digging, she is led on a trail of deceit and treachery. Her own life is at stake as she finally puts the pieces of the puzzle together.  Can she get herself out of trouble before further damage happens to Stan, and his parents make a terrible mistake?
Stipa has hit a homerun on this heart wrenching story about friendship and loss. You fall in love with Stan from the beginning he is such an amazing person, humorous, upstanding and kind. As he fades away on life support you are there breathing with him, holding him to the present realm. He cannot move on, he is the hero. Tanya gains your admiration and gratification as she fights to keep Stan alive, while at the same time fighting for his reputation. The tension is tightly wound, causing tendrils of fission that move between the families.
If you enjoy humor, romance and good plain fun you will enjoy this story. There is danger and distrust that thrusts into the heart of the prose, taking you into a sinister mind set, introducing both mystery and suspense as you weave through the lives of these two friends. This is one of my favorite books of the year.
Rating 5/5
This book was received free from the author. All opinions are my own based off my reading and understanding of the material.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Tenderloin: Abby Kane Adventure #2 by Ty Hutchinson

Posted first on Blog Critics as Book Review: Tenderloin: Abby Kane Thriller #2 by Ty Hutchinson

If you are looking for a gutsy female, a woman who is tough and gritty yet has the mothering instinct second to none, Abby Kane will reel you in.  In Tenderloin by Ty Hutchinson, an Abby Kane Thriller, his protagonist is back, but in a situation that pulls her totally out of her element.
When a DEA agent ends up dead in Bogota Columbia, FBI Agent Abby Kane is sent there to dig into the strange circumstances. Leaving her young family, she is torn.  Balancing the work, life balance is difficult enough, yet when you are in a job where every day is a life or death battle, she has to make considerations beyond that of many. She is not always the master of her decisions and when the order comes through, she does what she has to.
In Bogota she searches for answers to the terrifying deaths that are taking place. She is working with a tough group of men she doesn’t know, and yet has to trust with her life. When she uncovers a lab in the jungle where it appears some strange experiments have taken place, she begins to believe that one of the local drug cartels is involved. Crossing paths with one of the scientists, she must do everything in her power to keep him alive until they get to the bottom of the killings.

The locals don’t understand the nature of the killings, but they know there is only one man who can be behind them. He is known as The Monster.
Can Abby track down the killer before a more sinister use of this new drug changes the shape of the drug industry in ways unimagined.  How does she keep her family safe, when she does not understand the rules or the people she has been working with.
Abby is a strong and feisty woman, yet her family is her strength. They are everything she has, and she must maintain the balance necessary for them to keep their familial relationship. This is very difficult with her chosen profession, yet with the help of her mother-in-law, she preservers. Yet even that causes friction which often intrudes in her work activities. 
Abby is also sometimes a little too gullible for an agent, and yet she overcomes that trait when the going gets tough. If you enjoy action and suspense, buried in mysterious circumstances you will enjoy this work.  Hutchinson has given us a character that is likable and tough, yet has the flaws and insecurities of many working mothers. This is a fun and intriguing work, one that would be a great find for your reading enjoyment.
Rating 3/5
This book was received free from the Author, all opinions are my own based off my reading and understanding of the material.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Book Review and Givaway: Ghostly Summons by John A Karr

Posted First by Blog Critics as Book Review: Ghostly Summons by John A. Karr

Sometimes in life we choose our own profession. There are numerous reasons for that choice, not always because it is what we love, but because it is what is available. Other times our profession chooses us. These are the professions that those who have them find most interesting.
In Ghostly Summons by John A. Karr, we follow the life and exploits of Lars Kelson. Once a crime reporter, he has put that life behind him.  That was his past, a time in his life when all was crazy. Initially life was good; he had helped the police in their efforts to get the bad guys. All was pretty good with the world.  Then his word had spun out of control after the murder of his son.  Unable to have been there for his own son, he began seeing the ghosts of murder victims. He did not believe in psychic ability so knew that his mind was on a trip to where it might not recover. Choosing to change his career, he took a job that didn’t deal with people. Computers were easy, and the event of ghosts settled into his past.
Or did it? When a beautiful woman shows up in his home, he knows immediately that she is the victim of foul play. Having put his past behind him, it appears that he does not control his destiny, and this ghostly presence will not go away until he helps to reveal the true nature of her death.
Karr has given us and interesting crime reporter sleuth, a person that seems to exude confidence to those around him. The flaw lies in the mind of his protagonist, he is sure he must be on the verge of losing it. This makes mush of the interplay more unique and interesting.  His ghostly partner has her own set of foibles, yet without speech she is hard pressed to really help in any way. Her presence has to be enough to prod him into the search.

As he delves further into the mysterious uncovering of a woman’s body at a bomb site, he finds himself in the cross hairs of a sniper bullet. Knowing from the visitor that shows up when he least expects her, and now with evidence that puts him as risk, he must help to prove that murder really occurred. Can he put her to rest before the rest of his mind takes a hiatus?
If you enjoy paranormal mysteries, you will enjoy this work. The protagonist is interesting and has a interesting take on life. He is tough, and has gone through some very perilous and devastating travails in his own life, which give him a strong character.
This would be a good book for a reading group, and a nice addition to your library.

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Ghostly Summons Book Summary:

Lars Kelsen doesn’t believe in psychic phenomenon. To him, visions of murder victims are a form of mental illness. Once they begin, options are limited; he can try to ignore them or deal with them by exposing a killer. Only the latter provides any semblance of peace. Temporarily, anyway. Five years into his new life as a programmer, Kelsen—ex-crime beat reporter with a penance he can never fully satisfy—sees a victim.

In person. Upright. Staring.

Typical of such past "Visits" as he calls them, he doesn’t welcome this one. The nude form of a beautiful millionairess in his cubicle means murder has come to the vacation haven known as North Carolina’s Outer Banks. It means he’ll have to go places he'd rather avoid. See things he'll wish he hadn’t. Do things that don't come naturally, like in-your-face confrontation and bending the law. Actually, breaking the law ... but with good intent. It also means dealing with one very attractive county coroner, who pushes his buttons in a not entirely unwelcome way.

So begins Kelsen's return to investigative reporting—complete with attempts on his life, fights, deception, and all the technological tricks, such as GPS and computer hacking, at his disposal. And maybe even finding a new love interest.
John A. Karr's Bio:
John A. Karr believes fiction writing each day helps keep the demons at bay. Ghostly Summons is his first full-length novel for Dark Continents Publishing. DCP has also published his Weird West novella, Ujahwek. He is the author of a handful of other novels: Death Clause, Hippocrates Shattered (scheduled for reprint by World Castle Publications as Shattered), Rhone, and Van Gogh, Encore. His short stories have appeared on webzines Allegory, The Absent Willow Review, and Danse Macabre. More works are in progress and in the marketing queue.

Karr is an ardent believer in the quote by Carl Van Doren (1885-1950), U.S. man of letters: Yes, it's hard to write, but it's harder not to.

Format: ebook and paperback
eBook Price: $3.99
Pages: 312
Publisher: Dark Continents Publishing
Release: March 14, 2013

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Thursday, July 11, 2013

The Abomination by Jonathan Holt

Posted first to blog critics as Book Review: 'The abomination' by Jonathan Holt.

Religion often sparks debate as well as deep emotions and has been this way for thousands of years.  Miracles are often attributed to religious icons, yet atrocities also exist. There are very strong opinions in every facet.
In The Abomination by Jonathan Holt, a body is found in Venice, the victim of two gunshots wounds to the back of the head. During the feast day of La Befana, masked figures cloak the city, much like they do during Mardi gras, living on the edge, along with energetic passion and gossip. Initially the murder is thought to be one of the revelers caught in an argument of the moment.
Newly promoted Captain Kat Tapo of the Carabinieri, begins working her first murder case. When it is discovered that the murdered woman is dressed as a priest, dawning begins to grow. When another body is found, a known acquaintance of the first victim, Kat is drawn into a deep and ugly conspiracy of murder.  The tentacles spread in varying direction, entangling a host of people. One of them is himself in the depths of trouble over his Internet company known as What is the secret held by this strangely parallel vision of Venice itself?
Every direction she turns, trails disappear, evidence turns up missing, and the case itself if closed down. She is not ready to give up. Only finding the real answer will stop a corrupt system from abuse.
Holt has given us characters full of passion. Kat is a determined woman, yet has many flaws. She will not allow her digressions to dictate her direction though. She will not allow her mistakes to hold her back.  The system seems so corrupt, and Holt has engendered a bit of belief, yet urgent disbelief as well. Can these things really happen in the real world? And yet, I am sure that some of these very happenings do occur. Corruption is ages old, and often much deeper than known in many cases.
You will revel in the atmosphere of the beauty as well as the degradation of Venice and her canals. The undisputed joys of her people shine through as well as the tightness of some of the belief systems.
If you enjoy murder mysteries, conspiracy theories, and romance, this is a novel for you. Tying the new world through the Internet to the old world of Venice is a grand scheme and weaves a deeper twist of ingenuity into an interesting and evocative story.
This would be a great find for a book club or reading group. The myriad and depth of the conspiracies will create a great deal of discussion.
Rating 3/5
This book was received free from the publishing company. All opinions are my own based on my reading and understanding of the material.

Monday, June 24, 2013

One Lost Summer by Richard Godwin

Posted First on Blog Critics as Book Review: One Last Summer by Richard Godwin.

Memory can often be elusive and when stress or shock is engaged, the past can become mired in an impermeable darkness.
In One Lost Summer by Richard Godwin, we are introduced to Rex Allen, a man who is obsessed with filming and photography. Lost in contemplation he has only vague memories of how he came to live in a new house, with only few possessions. A living shadow he is only brought to stark relief after meeting his beautiful neighbor, Evangeline Glass. Suddenly everything clicks for him again; the sound of the shutter becomes a loud tick, pulling him to an obsession of spying on her, and photographing her every move.  
When he blackmails her into becoming his own personal model, a strange evolution begins to evolve. Evangeline begins to become someone else.  A name he knows but not a face. He is searching for a past that forever haunts him. Can they both survive this strange and dangerous game of pretense?
I found myself both repelled and interested in Rex, as a person, a neighbor and yet a creep and inveterate bully.  But there is also something that lies below the surface of his personality that does not quiet repel you as would be expected in such a case. Godwin has found a way to make you appreciate this character even though he seems quite creepy.  He has spun an intricate tale of romance, horror and revenge in such a way that you are alternately confused, sickened and then understanding.
He has spun a tale around tragedy and life, one that creates waves of concern and anger as his character delves further into his own mind to find the hidden truths.
I was not sure how I felt about this novel as I found myself wrapped in the pages, it is like and yet unlike his other work, which is what I had been expecting. There is sadness and anger, romance and loss, and yet it is all spun in a package that you don’t see coming.
This would be a great book for the suspense and horror aficionado, as well as those who enjoy surprise and romance. Full of diverse and strange often brooding moments, this book will keep you guessing till the very end.
Rating 4/5
This book was received free from the author's publisher. All opinions are my own based off my reading and understanding of the material.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

The Diabolist by Layton Green

Posted First on Blog Critics as Book Review: The Diabolist by Layton Green

Dominic Grey and Viktor Radek are back in a no holds barred dark and suspenseful novel taking us back into the underworld of religion and its various offshoots. Private investigators, specializing in cults, they have drawn a dangerous murder that will test the very heart of their own conviction.
In The Diabolist by Layton Green, Grey and Radek are investigating the bizarre and almost supernatural death of a well-known Satanic Priest. Each witness is spellbound by what they observed, or thought they had. As the investigative team move forward they realize they will have to split up as another murder occurs in Paris under the same circumstances.
Grey is uncomfortable with separation but Radek is insistent. There is something going on that strikes fear into the heart of all those involved. As the strange and eerie evidence begins to pile up, Radek finds himself in a mental backlog of his past. While Grey pursues the chilling leads in Paris and on to London, Radek tracks his memories of the past and finds the very devil at his own door. 
Has mass hysteria swept the cults of the underworld, or is the figure that seems to appear and disappear at will, challenging and killing his adversaries with fire, really a new and powerful master.  Can Grey uncover the answers before his friend meets the very fate of the rest?
The Diabolist is a novel of darkness and suspense, with a charismatic pair of investigators. Having followed this team in The Summoner, the case that brought them together, I am even more interested to learn the depths and interactions have only improved. The descriptions are so vivid, I picture them in my mind, rooting them to find and unearth the things that often paralyze us with fear.  Reading the tale you feel an odd relief that they are on the job.  The fear felt by the characters permeates you reading as you move forward.  As I stop to turn up the lights, I remind myself that this is a story.  One that will move you to the edge of your seat as you shake off your fear.
If you enjoy dark suspense, and really want to find an interesting read for the summer months, The Diabolist is a great find. The characters are bold and yet carry flaws that make them so likable, you will enjoy their exploits as they delve into the differing cults in an effort to educate others to the tricks and practices. Yet there is just enough realism as well that if you are an X-Files fan, this will be another venue for the often strange happenings that cannot be explained. 
A great work for a reading group, the protagonists will draw you in, and keep you looking for more.
Rating 4/5
This book was received free from the author. All opinions are my own based on my reading and understanding of the material.


Wednesday, June 19, 2013

If You Were Here by Alafair Burke

Posted First on Blog Critics as Book Review: If you were here by Alafair Burke

As life moves on and we grow older, we also believe that our past is just that, something that happened once long ago. What happens when our past collides with our present?

In If You Were Here by Alafair Burke, we enter the world of mystery and intrigue, but not through the normal channels. When a magazine Journalist, McKenna Wright looks into a midtown subway rescue, she is transported into a past that has haunted her for years.  The shadowy picture from a cell phone that captured the rescue jolts her in a way she never saw coming.  The poorly lighted and strange angle of the photo make all certainty unavailable, but she believes the rescuer looks very like a classmate of her husband that she had developed a friendship with years before. This is––before she disappeared without a trace.

McKenna is now hot on the trail of her belief, but finding that the situation seems to be spinning out of control. When circumstances begin building up and information as well as witnesses begin to disappear, she finds herself in a dangerous game, way over her head.  No one believes her, including her husband.  Suddenly she finds herself at odds, and begins to suspect those closest to her of a cover-up.  How can she even begin to trust again, even her husband is not above reproach. Is there anyone she can turn to before anyone else dies?  When the tables are turned and she becomes the one being hunted, can the past secrets begin to reveal themselves?

Burke has penned a tale of revenge and danger. Trust becomes the game changer as the past comes back in unexpected terror. The characters are exceptional and you find yourself cheering them on, or hoping for their failure. The race against time to find the answers brings those close to her in the firing line. Her future and her reputation are at stake, yet it is the lives of those she holds most dear that has her in the most pain. The action takes you there, and you are so immersed you feel the suspense and exhaustion.

This is an excellent tale of romance and suspense, a work that will grace the libraries of the mystery book aficionados. If you enjoy the chase, and enjoy unexpected surprise you will enjoy this work. Alafair Burke breaks into the scene with a novel of suspense that will keep you on the edge of your seat. 
Rating 5/5
This book was received free from the authors publicist. All opinions are my own based off my reading and understanding of the material.

Monday, June 17, 2013

The Gordonston Ladies Dog Walking Club by Duncan Whitehead

Posted First as Book Review: The Ladies Dog Walking Club by Duncan Whitehead on Blogcritics.

Small towns attract a variety of people for a varied number of reasons. The slow pace and quiet nature of Suburbia is not always the enchanted life of fairytales. Often beneath the demure and polite exterior of hometown events, feelings and petty jealousies rage unabated.

A sense of belonging is often why groups are drawn together. In The Gordonston Ladies Dog Walking Club by Duncan Whitehead, we follow an eccentric group of women drawn together by their frequent dog walking activities. Having been friends now for some time, Cindy, Carla and Heidi are true connoisseurs of the culture of the town of Gordonston.  Part of their belonging to the group, of which they are charter members, wine is a prerequisite.  Following the activities as it spirals around them, they revel in the companionship and gossip as any true small town aficionado would.  As they discuss the illness of a dear friend, they alternate between sympathy and moving forward. Each has an agenda that is secret to the other, a vital reason for being.

Several young couples find their lives impacted by their own activities, ones they do not realize have an impact that sends ripples through the ether of time. As the friend of the women in the dog walking club dies and her own husband tries to come to terms with her passing, callousness and greed come close to the surface. Will Gordonston remain the charming place it has always been, or will the murky darkness of past exploits and memories tear the veil of innocence.

Whitehead has brought us a strangely suspenseful tale that takes you on a journey of history. Delving into the memories of his eclectic cast of characters we are taken to a deep and surprising journey. Red herrings and twisted theories keep you guessing, as you try to remove the masks surrounding the events and people.  As you begin to find yourself drawn to the characters, be prepared to find that not all is what it seems on the surface.

If you enjoy romance and suspense you will find this a delightful read. A love of dogs surrounds the character of the story, and a deepening dread will find its way into your mind as you slowly unwind the personalities of the people.  If you enjoy reading about real life and petty jealousies as well as enjoying a good solid mystery, this is the work for you.

A great read for a reading group, the events will contain discussion material for some time to come.  This is a fun find for your library.

Rating 4/5

This book was received from the author. All opinions are my own based off my reading and understanding of the material.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The Barbed Crown: An Ethan Gage Adventure by William Dietrich

Posted First on Blog Critics as Book Review: The Barbed Crown: An Ethan Gage Adventure by William Dietrich.

Admittedly, the time of Napoleonic France was a dangerous and troubled time, yet often filled with adventure and danger as well as glory for many.
In The Barbed Crown by William Dietrich, we follow his erstwhile protagonist and adventurer Ethan Gage as he tries to find peace after the death of his beloved wife, and escape the clutches of the notorious Napoleon Bonaparte. Hi anger and despair drive him to try and become the catalyst in the destruction of the new regime. Having fought beside the man himself, in Egypt, and being a part of his agency in Italy, America and Greece, Gage now finds his is ready to turn on him, blaming him for the death of his wife as well as the kidnapping of his son.
Backed by the British, Gage is smuggled into France with Astiza where they plan to make of mockery of Napoleon during his coronation by substituted his crown with that of the Crown of Thorns, the religious relic rumored to be worn by Christ during his crucifixion.  When the plan does not play out as planned, Astiza is captured and Gage is left to flee to England where is again a part of the plot to stop Napoleon before it is too late.
The history and pageantry is interesting, and beautiful as well as fiery and dangerous. The characters are interesting, and the mix of fiction and fact is smooth, making you wonder of much of the interplay actually may have happened. Gage is an intriguing protagonist, one that could do a lot of damage to Napoleon’s crusade.
If you are a history buff you will enjoy and appreciate the intricacies of the dialogue and scenes, mixed with fact which seems to accompany the action. While I really enjoyed the character of Gage, I felt as though the action was sometimes a bit slow, bogging down my enjoyment of the story.  The sabotage and danger keep you going, and the glory casts a hook that keeps reeling you in.  
The mystery and suspense is a great web, creating a line of deceit, and surprises that keep the entertainment of the times just a bit of kilter.
Dietrich has given us another look into European history with the exploits of his character Gage with his thirst for knowledge and his determination to make things right.
Rating 3/5
This book was received through the publishing company. All opinions are my own based off my reading and understanding of the material.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Black Throne Conspiracy by K.M. Johnson-Weider

Article first published as Book Review:Black Throne Conspriacy by K.M. Johnson-Weider on Blogcritics.

To move ahead in life easily, many will follow shortcuts, often using bad advice or methods. When these methods or advice cause terror and grief to others, is it too late to change? Does the guilt rest only with the party that agrees, or does the requester share some as well?
In Black Throne Conspiracy by K.M. Johnson-Weider, we follow the exploits of Sir Cobran Deritha.  An army hero, he returns home with a shattered leg only to find a series of odd events occurring that put his family in jeopardy. He is forced to travel to the capital city only to find that his brother has arranged an engagement to a woman he has never met. His sister has foreseen a young noble woman will cease to exist, and asks for his help.  Now his cousin is convinced that Cobran is the only one that can save him from ruin. As the events begin to play out, each separate from the other, Cobran begins to find faint seams tying the events together in a strange dance of danger. Behind the scenes an evil is at work that was thought to have been destroyed. Can he find the answers before the dark evil can create the events that threaten the entire galaxy?
Johnson-Weider has created a complex world and filled it with characters that we are comfortable with. Some are selfish and immature, others are strong and bold, but each hold flaws that can seriously twist their sanity. Cobran is a hero, one part damaged, two parts confused, three parts champion and four parts Sherlock Holmes. He is willing and mostly able to tackle the danger, but his injury creates difficulty.
Those involved in the conspiracy of evil are caught in some cases against their better judgment. Can Corbran extricate them from their dangerous decisions or is it already too late. Will he be able to save the young noble woman? Hi companions and friends are a fun and eclectic group and he brings them in to help him keep watch on her. His sister is another force to be reckoned with, working mysteriously in the background making things happen.
The world of Ascension Galaxy is interesting and consists of many differing places. While we hear mostly of the Concordance, there are other powers within the galaxy that also have a stake in the happening of Corbran’s world.
This is a complex work and to miss a section you may miss an event. If you enjoy science fiction and fantasy you will enjoy the worlds and the interesting mix of technology and archaic means. If you enjoy conspiracies, a bit of romance, suspense and a bit of magic, than this work will be what you need.
I enjoyed the story and the background, and once immersed found the work hard to put down. It would be a good read for a book club as well as a reading group. There is a great deal of discussion gendering actions that would keep the readers at full tilt.
Rating 4/5
This book was received free from the author. All opinions are my own based on my understanding of the material.