Cast No Shadow by Brandon Dragan Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

A dark, perilous story that explores one man’s struggle to balance the horrors of war, family and the hunt for justice in an unjust world, author Brandon Dragan’s short story Cast No Shadow is a gripping tale that packs a punch in just a short amount of time. Here’s the synopsis:

Set deep in the heart of 1980’s Texas, Cast No Shadow tells the harrowing tale of Vietnam veteran, husband, and father, Beau Moreland. By day he helps his elderly neighbors and watches his son’s baseball practice; by night he hunts drug gangs. In his quest for justice and a more peaceful life for his loved ones, Beau inadvertently sets off an unstoppable chain of events which will hurtle his family toward a startling and breath-taking conclusion.

The story was incredibly engaging. It showcased the struggle many veterans face coming home from war and seeing the horrors the nation they fought so hard to protect are enduring on their own front doors. In a unique twist that kind of blends stories like Breaking Bad with The Punisher, we see Beau take on criminals while still profiting from his vigilante work, and how the danger he comes into contact with slowly begins to infect his daily life at home.

It also does a great job of exploring the impact we have on our children as a whole, and the way profiling and judgement can lead to trouble no one would ever expect. The writing was incredibly powerful and captured the essence of the story perfectly. The setting and imagery was incredibly vivid, and by story’s end you were left wanting more of Beau and his story, hoping to delve deeper into this amazing character and his backstory more.

Overall I thought this short story was brilliant. It was an evenly paced short tale of intrigue, action, and heart-pounding thrills that very few short stories manage to capture. If you haven’t yet be sure to pick up your copies of Cast No Shadow by Brandon Dragan today!

Rating: 10/10

About Brandon

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Brandon Dragan grew up in New Jersey, just miles from the Lincoln Tunnel.

At eighteen he left home to attend Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee.

He draws on a wide range of influences—from literature, to history, to philosophy—to craft meaningful and often surprising narratives that challenge the status-quo and reach for a deeper understanding of what it means to be human.

Brandon and his wife Jami live in the Nashville area with their two daughters, Natalie and Brooklyn.

He enjoys road cycling and is an avid supporter of Arsenal Football Club.

Links:

brandondragan.com

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The Fifth To Die (4MK Thriller #2) by J.D. Barker Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

Today is a special treat my friends. I was recently sent an advanced copy of the highly anticipated sequel to one of my favorite thrillers in the last few years, The Fourth Monkey by J.D. Barker. This time around the author has published The Fifth To Die, a thrilling ride that explores the continuing hunt for the deadly 4MK. Here’s the synopsis:

In the thrilling sequel to The Fourth Monkey, a new serial killer stalks the streets of Chicago, while Detective Porter delves deeper into the dark past of the Four Monkey Killer.

Detective Porter and the team have been pulled from the hunt for Anson Bishop, the Four Monkey Killer, by the feds. When the body of a young girl is found beneath the frozen waters of Jackson Park Lagoon, she is quickly identified as Ella Reynolds, missing three weeks. But how did she get there? The lagoon froze months earlier. More baffling? She’s found wearing the clothes of another girl, missing less than two days. 

While the detectives of Chicago Metro try to make sense of the quickly developing case, Porter secretly continues his pursuit of 4MK, knowing the best way to find Bishop is to track down his mother. When the captain finds out about Porter’s activities, he’s suspended, leaving his partners Clair and Nash to continue the search for the new killer alone.

Obsessed with catching Bishop, Porter follows a single grainy photograph from Chicago to the streets of New Orleans and stumbles into a world darker than he could have possibly imagined, where he quickly realizes that the only place more frightening than the mind of a serial killer is the mind of the mother from which he came.

This book was incredible. Of course as with all my reviews this will be a spoiler-free review. However I can honestly say that author J.D. Barker has mastered how to write the perfect sequel, upping his game greatly to create an even more intense, thrilling and engaging story than The Fourth Monkey. Delving deeper into the killer’s past, Detective Porter finds himself drawn into the twisted world of 4MK in ways no one can ever imagine, unless of course you’re J.D. Barker.

The way the story takes readers into the minds of everyone involved in the case, from new investigators and the team you came to know and love in the first novel to the killer himself and the newest victims who have to face the very heart of darkness and evil alone. It’s a powerful and explosive story from the first page, showing the way everyone was affected by 4MK’s surprising actions in the first novel and how just when you thought you knew the limits of this killer, he takes things so much further. By the end of the story your heart will be racing and you’ll be on the edge of your seat, gasping for breath because you got so enraptured with the twist ending that you forgot to breath.

Overall I loved this story. It was so fun and thrilling to take part in, and the entire time I was reading it I kept asking myself when someone is going to make a movie or show about this story. The tale of 4MK and those hunting him is the modern day serial killer story we’ve been waiting for, and makes for the perfect summer thriller read. In J.D. Barker we’ve found a spiritual successor to the incredible Stephen King, taking the characters of the everyday man and transforming their lives into one of a kind adventures and thrill rides that only these one of a kind authors could come up with. If you haven’t preordered your copy yet, be sure to do so now. The Fifth To Die by J.D. Barker comes out July 10th, 2018, so grab your copies today!

Rating: 10/10

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0544973976/ref=x_gr_w_bb?ie=UTF8&tag=x_gr_w_bb-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=0544973976&SubscriptionId=1MGPYB6YW3HWK55XCGG2

ABOUT J.D.

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Barker 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. The novel, titled Dracul, sold at auction to G.P. Putnam & Sons, with film rights going to Paramount. Andy Muschietti (IT, Mama) is attached to direct.

Barker’s initial 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.

http://facebook.com/therealjdbarker

https://twitter.com/jdbarker

https://www.instagram.com/jdbarker_author/

http://jdbarker.com/

Author Interview with Lily Black

1)      Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

A: I’ve always been a writer—even though I was actually a late reader. Ever since I was a kid books and reading were my first go-to in coping with the challenges of life, so writing became a natural outgrowth of all that time spent reading.

 

2)      What inspired you to write your book?

A: I have a black belt and on occasion teach women’s self defense classes, so as my mind turned over story ideas I was struck by the concept of a warm and cozy small town juxtaposed against a seriously scary situation, and the people caught up in it. I explore this dynamic in both my first book, Storm of Attraction, and the second which is also set in charming Willowdale.

 

3)      What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

A: The story always comes first, but one takeaway I really believe in is that even the most difficult circumstances can lead to unexpected good.

 

4)      What drew you into this particular genre?

A: I guess despite being very aware of the dangers in the world, I’m a romantic at heart and believe that true love can triumph over anything. Totally cheesy, I know! I also believe that sometimes people need something to shake them out of their usual circumstances in order to discover what other resources they might have, and who they really trust. Romantic suspense is the perfect medium to explore this.

 

5)      If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them and why?

A: Just now I’d sit down with Detective Rawlings and have a long chat with her about her estranged husband! I know the two of them have split—leaving her to raise her twins mostly alone—and I know he’s a National Geographic photographer, but I don’t have all the other details and want them, because these two will be getting a novella or some newsletter time in the near future!

 

6)      What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

A: I use my Facebook page to connect with my readers, and really enjoy that. I also have my news page on my website which doubles as a blog, and more importantly send out a newsletter to subscribers in which I share short fiction bursts that I’ve written, or anything else I can to give my readers insights into my characters and Willowdale. I also love connecting with readers generally through the Book Ninjas website (www.book-ninjas.com), a content-rating catalog of romance and women’s fiction which I co-own and help to run. There I can see which books are popular and of course pick out new books just right for me based on their blush level, and what I see other readers picking up!

 

7)      What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

A: First, read, of course. Then, write. Remember that even short burst of writing time can train you in the craft, so never underestimate the importance of short snatches of time you can devote to your writing dreams.

8)      What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?

A: I’m so glad you asked! I recently turned in Willowdale book two—tentatively titled Storm of Deception—to my publisher, and it will release sometime in 2019. It’s the story of a senator’s daughter and the veteran who publicly humiliated her when he ended their engagement, plus a deadly black mailer. The hero was introduced in Storm of Attraction so readers will remember him, and there are cameo appearances from the first couple, so I think readers will get a kick out of that. But mostly it’s just a super intense love story set against the back drop of a winter festival and the black mailer’s schemes, with touches of the drama which comes from life in the political limelight. To celebrate Storm of Deception’s acceptance for publication I made ‘suspenseful snowflakes’ by printing a page from the unedited draft. So much fun to make, since they have tiny teaser peeks at a page from the novel! They’ve been lots of fun to give away and I’m happy to share them here, too, if anyone would like one. This is a novel that nearly ripped my soul in half writing, and I can’t wait to share it with my readers!

SofD three sparkly snowflakes white side

Lily Black website: http://www.lilyblackbooks.com/

LB Twitter: https://twitter.com/lilyblackbooks

Book Ninjas website: http://www.book-ninjas.com/
LB Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Lily-Black-1713161408963150/

 

Storm of Attraction low res

Wrecking Balls by Joe Giambrone Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

Friends become rivals in the cutthroat world of stand-up comedy in author Joe Giambrone’s Wrecking Balls. Here’s the synopsis:

Set in the world of stand-up comedy, Charleston and Gary are on the verge of comic greatness: broke, wasted, and floundering through life. As Charleston turns 30 he faces an existential crisis. His comedy career in the gutter, he considers leaving the life. That is until Gary pilfers one of his joke ideas. Then it’s comedy Jihad to the death, and there can be only one. 

Reviews: 

“A fun read, J. Giambrone has a talent for edgy humor, emotional baggage and quirky characters.” 

-Tome Tender Book Blog 

“I laughed, cringed, and overall found it a fast and enjoyable read… I’m so happy this book fell into my hands. I recommend this book to anyone looking for a good laugh. You won’t be disappointed.” 

-Theresa on Goodreads

Now a fair amount of warning for this book: this is not a book meant for the faint of heart. Geared towards an adult audience, expect a lot of strong language and jokes that some might consider offensive. However one thing that I think is tackled well in this story is what should and shouldn’t be considered inappropriate in our society. There are definitely areas that don’t need to be joked about or made light of, and there are some areas of comedy that come across as abusive or offensive in today’s world. However there are times where our need to find and root out social injustices go too far, and a crude yet simple joke could be twisted into a far more sinister thing than it originally was. This novel explores that a lot yet without making it obvious that it does so.

The novel itself is filled with a great insight into the minds of not only comedians or competitive people in general, but into the minds of those who are so desperate to be remembered that they are willing to do anything to get there. The surprising thing about this book is just how vicious the rivalry gets between the two friends. The author does a great job of mixing the war games between the two comedians with a helpful dose of character development, as we get brief glimpses into aspects of Charleston’s character that a lot of people will be able to identify with. Most notably we witness a man who begins to question the path he put himself on. A man who begins to wonder whether his dreams and all the work he’s put towards said dream are enough to win the day, or if it was all for nothing. We’ve all been in that headspace before, and it’s interesting to see this character wrestle with that kind of mind game while fighting for comedic glory in his professional life.

Overall this was an enjoyable read. A must read for any adult readers out there interested in the behind the scenes aspect of stand up comedy, be prepared for a sometimes funny, sometimes dramatic and often vulgar filled adventure. If you haven’t yet be sure to pick up your copy of Joe Giambrone’s Wrecking Balls today!

Rating: 8/10

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B073HQYKHP/ref=x_gr_w_glide_bb?ie=UTF8&tag=x_gr_w_glide_bb-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B073HQYKHP&SubscriptionId=1MGPYB6YW3HWK55XCGG2

Joe Giambrone

j.giambrone@live.com

 http://www.joegiambrone.us

Blog:

https://jgiambrone.wordpress.com

@joegiambrone

On the Side of the Angel: A Bartering Angel Story by J. David Core Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

A young woman on a mission of vengeance becomes the savior of the underworld in author J. David Core’s On the Side of the Angel. Part of the A Bartering Angel series, this story explores a mystery woman’s role as a fixer and the complicated tale she weaves to save various criminals. Here’s the synopsis:

Lina Forman has an assumed name, a vendetta, a résumé of varied skills, and the knowledge to make her a force to fear.
Known in the criminal underground as The Bartering Angel, a mysterious “fixer” whose help keeps the bad guys out of trouble, she assumes the name Lina when she arrives in the Pittsburgh area in 2005. When the son of a local drug runner murders a convenience store clerk during a botched thrill robbery, Lina must keep him out of jail to prove her worth to the local criminal underground. Despite her elaborate scheme to confound the evidence and mislead authorities, two local cops threaten to disrupt her plans and steer the FBI on a path to avoid her red herrings.
Can Lina preserve her reputation and make good on her promises before she has to abandon her vengeance, change her name, and start again? Or will a careless oversight expose her secrets?

What I really found interesting when jumping into this story was that it is the first in a series written by various authors. It’s all centered around Angel, or the Bartering Angel. Each author writes in their own unique voice, but focuses on this singular character and her journey. It’s a unique premise that led me into this gripping tale. Each novel can stand on it’s own, and this novel by J. David Core delivers a fantastic thriller. A mix between the films True Romance and Goodfellas (with a Bourne Identity element for good measure), this story is incredibly powerful and fueled by fantastic characters. The story is fast paced and action packed in it’s delivery, and the hints at Angel and her backstory led the reader into wanting more and more of this incredibly complex character and her story. The story delivers a satisfying ending while leaving the reader not only wanting more, but giving them a reason to go out and get the next author’s book in this series. It does a great job of creating an emotional pull to characters that are often billed as villains with no redeeming qualities. It proves that everyone is complex in their own right, and the line between good and evil are easily blurred.

Overall this is a must read tale. Every fan of thrillers and action packed stories will be able to pick this novel up with ease, and will be left wanting to jump head first into this adventurous new series. If you haven’t yet, be sure to pick up your copies of On the Side of the Angel: A Bartering Angel novel by J. David Core today!

Rating: 10/10

About the Author

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With a profound interest in religion, liberal politics and humor, J. David Core began writing in High School and has not given up on it since. His first professional writing jobs came while attending the Art Institute of Pittsburgh when he was hired to create political cartoons forThe Pitt News and to write humor pieces for Smile Magazine.

Dave has worked in the newspaper industry as a photographer, in the online publishing industry as a weekly contributor to Streetmail.com, and was a contributing writer to the Buzz On series of informational books and to the Western online anthology, Elbow Creek. Dave’s science fiction novel, Synthetic Blood and Mixed Emotions, is available from writewordsinc.com. Dave currently resides in his childhood home in Toronto, OH with his beautiful girlfriend and his teenage daughter.

He enjoys participating in local community events and visiting with his two adult children and his grandkids.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Lupaschwartzmysteries/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/gamutman

Website: ThrillsandMystery.com

Read On the Side of the Angel: https://books2read.com/u/mV7yWr

Mailing list: bit.ly/JDCsignup

Intricate Deceptions (Intricate, #1) by Jennifer Rayes Review

A young woman is forced into a dangerous world in author Jennifer Rayes book, Intricate Deceptions. The first in the Intricate book series, the book follows a woman who wakes up in a cell in a horrible situation, and ends up in a complicated world filled with Kings and Queens, Pirates and never ending treachery. Here is the synopsis:

Waking up in a desolate cell, Gaia realizes that she has been kidnapped by a human trafficking organization, doomed to be sold to the highest bidder and unable to remember anything before her capture.
An opportune rescue by Raoul, the Prince of Kayamato, saves Gaia from a gruesome future, and she is thrown into a world of luxury and privilege. As she struggles to regain her memory, Gaia learns that her rescue was no accident and finds herself in even more danger, hunted by a powerful drug lord, targeted by a thrill seeking pirate, and betrayed by those she thought closest to her.
Fighting for sanity and survival, she works to unravel the truth behind her capture, each revelation more shocking than the last. The intricate web of deceptions spun around her family will shatter her world, leaving her unsure if she will ever trust again.
Through it all, she must survive to save a friend before it’s too late…

This was a wonderfully written book. The important detail and attention showed to a very serious subject like human trafficking and the horrors people experience was expertly done. It brings a new light to the subject and helps build a dialogue and conversation that will hopefully lead to some real changes being made in real life. The book’s narrative was original and unique, and the characters became the bright spot as readers were left trying to figure out who to trust in this never ending game of cat and mouse. With Gaia stuck in the middle trying to figure out which side to be on and who is really her ally, the mystery of who she is and what her connection is to those around her will leave readers shocked. With a major twist ending that will leave readers clamoring for the next book in the series, this was a phenomenal adventure/thriller/mystery book that you will not want to put down.

Overall this was a fantastic read. The story was evenly paced, and the setting was able to paint a vivid picture in my mind. The narrative seemed to conjure up and take elements from several different genres and time periods as the author explored these new kingdoms, and it became a wonderful genre-smash read that I couldn’t get enough of. If you enjoy political intrigue, powerful and well rounded female protagonists and an engaging plot, then be sure to pick up author Jennifer Rayes book Intricate Deceptions today!

Rating: 10/10

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Intricate-Deceptions-Jennifer-Rayes-ebook/dp/B00GRILZXK/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1384994989&sr=8-1

Author Website: http://jenniferrayes.wixsite.com/intricatedeceptions

Blood of Kings, Power – Perversity – Redemption by Patrick Norton

An international race against time explodes onto the pages of an original illustrated thriller in author Patrick Norton’s book, Blood of Kings, Power – Perversity – Redemption. Here’s the official synopsis:

A thrilling story with an underlying humanistic message

In times past, the kings exercised power and dominion over their people. Thus, absolute monarchy controlled the destinies of the world for many centuries. At present, although there are still a few Royal Houses, the real power is exercised by the moguls, owners of the largest transnational companies, whose wealth exceeds any estimate. While the world is increasingly threatened by economic crises, terrorism, war, hunger, unemployment and poverty, they, unofficially, control the governments, because they are owners of almost everything, in all areas of the world economy. In Blood of Kings, Power – Perversity – Redemption, develops a tale of intrigue, suspense, action and adventure. A series of murders in different parts of the world has bewildered the authorities. No one knows what is happening, but someone is murdering magnates-billionaires. This series of crimes has led to a destabilization in the world economy, while the authorities still have no leads, and the murders continue to occur despite the high level of protection of the victims.

John Garrett, the only son of the first tycoon murdered, has in his possession “the key,” a high-tech electronic device that must be delivered in Paris, according to instructions that his father gave him before he died. The delivery is frustrated and he reaches an impasse. Motivated by the murder of his father, he decides to launch his own investigation. Who killed him? Why? What is this “key” for? ¿Why is it so important? To find the answers, he will have to go on a long and dangerous journey that will take him to many places in the world: Paris, Roussillon, Rome, New Orleans, Seattle, French Polynesia and Sweden, among others. Along this way, he will get to know Laura Koffmann, a daughter of one of the victims. The two will join forces to get the answers, even at the risk of their own lives. They will find many unexpected things and understand that nothing is what it seems; and that the future of the world will depend on their decisions, as well as the success of their actions.

This novel is profusely illustrated with 1,254 original illustrations in high quality 3D digital art that recreate the settings, characters and events narrated in the story. To show the full-screen images, the book is published in the format of a fixed-layout KF8, with vertical text and horizontal illustrations.

The novel is an incredible action thriller, filled with a unique story about secret organizations, murder and a race against the clock to change the world before it’s too late. Filled with action, romance and espionage, this was a fun read. Don’t let the page count fool you, the story was fast paced and flowed quickly, and featured an incredibly unique story telling device with the inclusion of original animated illustrations. The story was powerful and truly original to the genre, and a lot of fun to see flow off the pages.

The only small critique I have is the dialogue sometimes doesn’t flow organically at certain points, and I’d encourage the author to read through the exchanges between characters and make sure the conversations flow smoothly. Otherwise the story was well written and the international espionage world built by the author was incredibly rich and held vivid imagery that readers will not soon forget.

Overall this was a fun read that fans of the thriller genre will thoroughly enjoy. Filled with fully developed and complex characters, shocking twists and a complicated world where no one can be trusted, this was a great read that I highly recommend readers try out for themselves. If you haven’t yet be sure to pick up your copies of Blood of Kings, Power – Perversity – Redemption by Patrick Norton today!

 

COVER+ILLUSTRATIONS+PAGES

Rating: 7/10

Author’s website: http://www.patricknortonbooks.com

Amazon.com: http://goo.gl/9nRPu4