Posted in reviews

Murdered for Nothing by Gary Westphalen Review

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

A gruesome series of murders in the late 80’s finds upstate New York in a frenzy in a fictionalized version of true events in author Gary Westphalen’s “Murdered for Nothing”.

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The Synopsis

On a cold and snowy night in Upstate New York, two men walked into a little neighborhood bar. When they walked out a few minutes later, the three people inside had their heads caved in, and the place was on fire. In less than 48 hours, two more people in Rochester would be savagely tortured and murdered, and their homes also set ablaze. The five died in robberies that netted less than a hundred dollars. And that real-life crime spree is just the beginning.Set in the late 1980’s, Murdered For Nothing follows the criminals, the cops looking for them, the lawyer aching to represent them, and the media covering it all through a gruesome and twisted drama that includes egos, lies, suspense, the occasional touch of humor, and even a courtroom brawl that occurred in front of a dual trial involving two juries. Best of all, it unravels right in front of my camera. You see, I was the first television news photographer allowed to record a trial in New York State.Set in the late 1980’s, Murdered For Nothing is a fictionalized version of those real-life events that I witnessed first-hand. They have been percolating in my head for decades, and have bubbled to the surface in this page-turner that you won’t be able to put down.

The Review

This was a truly engaging and chilling crime thriller. What set this story apart from others within this genre was the fact that the crimes themselves were not some glamorous, Hollywood-style event that saw some big shootout with police during a bank heist. Instead, the story focused on the brutal reality of most crimes, which is that murder is far too often not just heartbreaking and painful for those left behind, but pointless as well. The author perfectly captures the raw emotions and vicious nature of the small-town crime that often gets overshadowed by the media, while also balancing this out with fast-paced storytelling and haunting use of imagery within the writing itself to bring these crimes and the lives of those involved to life.

What really stands out of course is the amazing character development within this novel. The author not only hones in on the mindset and personalities of the criminals, the police, and those involved in the case but even brings to life the small-town of Rochester itself, showing the townspeople and how these brutal crimes affected them. Balancing out this story of brutality with crimes such as this was the media sensation that the case became, highlighting our own nature as a society to become invested in and fascinated with the criminal mind and their acts. 

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The Verdict

A brilliant, enthralling, and haunting read, author Gary Westphalen’s “Murder for Nothing” is a fantastic and must-read crime thriller for the summer. Not only does the story itself draw the reader in, but the fact it’s a fictionalized narrative based on true events makes the story much more engaging, and will have readers clamoring to learn more about this case. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Gary has spent a lifetime as a documentary film maker and journalist. His pursuit of telling the story of the human condition has taken him to dozens of countries all over the world. He has interviewed Presidents and Kings, the homeless and destitute, and everything in-between. His work has been seen on nearly every major television and cable network. It’s almost a guarantee that you have seen the results of his story-telling. He has now turned to a life filled with narrating audiobooks for other authors, and writing his own books as well. Learn much more at garywestphalen.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/gary.westphalen

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/gary-westphalen-a37384126/

Posted in reviews

One London Day by C.C. Humphreys Review

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

A day that begins with the assassination of a respectable North London businessman ends with violence and betrayal in author C.C. Humphreys modern day noir-thriller, “One London Day”.

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The Synopsis

July 30th 2018.

It’s the hottest Summer in fifty years and Joseph Severin, a respectable North London businessman, has taken on a lucrative side job. He’s doing the books, old school, (because these days the only trail you can’t trace is a paper one) for a rogue MI5 outfit, the Shadows, headed by clever, psychopathic Sebastien. When the game is rumbled, he sends their hitman, Mr Phipps, to kill Severin and get those books back.

For a simple man, Severin has a complicated life. He’s developed a sudden and wild passion for Lottie – aka ‘chaos on two legs’. Who is in love with Patrick, the next hot young black actor. Who is obsessed by Sonya, a gorgeous Russian escort. Who has one night to make the final money she needs for her daughter’s cancer operation. With MI6 onto them, and the books missing, the Shadows panic. And a day that begins with a hit in Finchley ends in violence and betrayal on the steamy night streets of Portobello.

ONE LONDON DAY is a daisy chain tale of characters and connections, a contemporary London Noir. Like that genre’s 40’s origins, this story has its hood, its moll, its femme fatale, its fancy boy. Everyone is both protagonist and antagonist. No one gets out unharmed – and some don’t get out at all.

The Review

A masterfully crafted narrative, the author has executed a shocking and engaging thriller. Each chapter does an excellent job of drawing the reader further and further into this modern-day noir, even shocking readers with the fate of one of the characters in the first chapter. The reader never knows what outcome will befall the characters as the story progresses, and the mystery of it all is what keeps readers engaged.

The best aspect of this narrative is actually twofold: the character growth and the setting. Getting to explore a modern-day London and the cultural melting pot the city is known for made for a fun setting, while the twists and turns the narrative took to connect each character made this a really exciting thriller. The pacing set the entire book into place, starting big with the first chapter before settling into a slow and entertaining back and forth between character growth and character interaction. 

The Verdict

An exciting, mesmerizing, and enticing adult noir thriller like no other, author C.C. Humphreys’s “One London Day” is a must-read of 2021. The narrative instantly draws the reader in and the balance of character growth with an inviting setting leads to a shocking finale as the story comes to a close. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Chris (C.C.) Humphreys was born in Toronto, lived till he was seven in Los Angeles, then grew up in the UK. All four grandparents were actors, and since his father was an actor as well, it was inevitable he would follow the bloodline.

Chris (C.C.) Humphreys has played Hamlet in Calgary, a gladiator in Tunisia, waltzed in London’s West End, conned the landlord of the Rovers Return in Coronation Street, commanded a starfleet in Andromeda, voiced Salem the cat in the original Sabrina, and is a dead immortal in Highlander. He has written eleven adult novels including The French Executioner, runner-up for the CWA Steel Dagger for Thrillers; Chasing the Wind; The Jack Absolute Trilogy; Vlad – The Last Confession; A Place Called Armageddon and Shakespeare’s Rebel – which he adapted into a play and which premiered at Bard on the Beach, Vancouver, in 2015. Plague won the Arthur Ellis Award for Best Crime Novel in Canada in 2015. He has an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of British Columbia. He is now writing epic fantasy with the Immortals’ Blood Trilogy, for Gollancz. The first book, Smoke in the Glass was published in 2019 and The Coming of the Dark is, well, coming, Summer 2020. He is also publishing his other new fantasy series, The Tapestry Trilogy, beginning in August 2020 with ‘The Hunt of the Unicorn’.

Several of his novels are available as Audiobooks – read by himself! Find him here:

He is translated into thirteen languages. In 2015 he earned his Masters in Fine Arts (Creative Writing) from the University of British Columbia.

Chris now lives on Salt Spring Island, BC, Canada, with Dickon the cat (who keeps making it into his books!)

Check out his website: http://authorchrishumphreys.com

Posted in reviews

Minor Assassin by Jackiem Joyner Review

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

A young boy who witnesses a horrific event is taken in and trained for the day he can deliver retribution in author Jackiem Joyner’s “Minor Assassin”.

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The Synopsis

Jon’s carefree life in the suburbs of Las Vegas is turned upside down by a horrific crime, but he’s only eight years old — how can a kid fight back and hope to win?

Taken in by mysterious strangers, Jon starts a new life in a secluded village, but can he trust them to help him do what needs to be done? When Jon learns what really happened back home, a terrible resolve hardens inside him.

Will he ever be able to deliver his retribution? Transformation — when it comes — is irrevocable. Will he find his enemy? And can he survive long enough to reunite with what is left of his family?

Features Spy tech, intense martial arts, and weaponry

The Review

A powerful blend of action, vengeance, and family, author Jackiem Joyner does a fantastic job of showcasing powerful character development and almost cinematic level action and adventure. The novel takes the classic vengeance story to new heights, exploring what happens when a young boy must quickly grow up faster than he should, and instead become a weapon to take out his enemies. 

The unique part of protagonist Jon’s story is the fact that he experiences both painful loss and a mission to save the only family he has left, giving him a powerful motivation to not only endure the training he is introduced to but to put himself in danger to save the lives of the innocent. The author does a great job of utilizing powerful imagery to bring Jon’s story to life, creating vivid scenes of action and suspense throughout the narrative. From Jon’s emotional and bloody journey to his sister Jayna’s fight for survival and a detective’s mission to uncover the truth, the author has crafted a powerful new adventure like no other.

The Verdict

The Punisher meets Taken and Kick-Ass in author Jackiem Joyner’s bloody, action-fueled, and evenly-paced thriller “Minor Assassins”. The novel’s fast-paced character development and expert blending of imagery make this a memorable read, filled with gritty fight scenes, emotional scenes as Jon must grow up in the face of tragedy, and a heart-racing finale that will leave readers on the edge of their seat. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Jackiem Joyner has loved Science Fiction ever since he was a child, fascinated by all the stories and imaginations of futuristic worlds. But it wasn’t until later in his life, after experiencing huge success in the recording business, that he decided to put pen to paper – the result of which is his debut novel, Zarya.

Gathering from his experiences traveling the world as a recording artist, he developed a knack for good science fiction stories after reading several books a month. Having used and operated many devices from the future, he incorporated exciting equipment and imaginary scientific ideas into dramatic thrillers that are sure to keep readers on edge.

Jackiem was born in Norfolk, Virginia and spent most of his young adult life in Syracuse New York before moving to Los Angeles, California where he currently resides. In addition to writing fun stories, Jackiem Joyner has experienced huge success as a recording artist, with multiple songs peaking at number 1 on the billboard charts and 5 international records released.

https://jackiemjoyner.com/

Posted in reviews

The Girl Who Can Cook by Mike Wehner Review

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

What begins as a tale of revenge soon turns into a search for life and the hidden nature of those we care about most in author Mike Wehner’s “The Girl Who Can Cook”. 

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The Synopsis 

She killed my best friend.

Shame on me.

She lied and said it was self-defense.

Shame on me.

She wrote a book about it.

Shame on you.

It’s been three years since chef Erin shot her boyfriend, John, five times during a domestic dispute. Two years since she was found not guilty on murder charges by way of self-defense. And one year since she opened Essen, a German restaurant in San Francisco’s East Bay. You can read all about it in her memoir; there’s a copy on the front seat of the car parked in front of Essen. The man in the driver’s seat was John’s best friend, Alex, a former engineer. He’s abandoned his career to take justice into his own hands, what he doesn’t know is that soon he’ll be inside, using those hands to peel carrots for the girl who can cook. 

The Review

The novel starts out swinging and doesn’t slow down from there. The protagonist, Alex, is a man beset by anger and fury after his best friend is killed, and the woman responsible not only gets away from it in his eyes but makes money off of it through a tell-all book. The path of vengeance is explored heavily here, as far too often vengeance blinds us to the truth. That also plays into the other narrative here, which is what we do when confronted with a harsh truth about those we care about. Far too often those we trust and love harbor dark secrets about themselves and who they truly are, and it doesn’t come to light until it is too late. 

The author achieved a perfect balance of character development and action within this narrative. A commentary on our modern obsession with true crime-style storytelling, the author highlights the pain of loss and the lengths those who have lost someone will go to see justice done when the law fails them. The use of food and recipes throughout the narrative brought a creative and lightheartedness to the novel, making this a truly entertaining and memorable read.

The Verdict

Emotionally-driven, at times humorous and always action-packed, this evenly-paced novel “The Girl Who Can Cook” by Mike Wehner is a must-read. The exploration of the thin line between revenge and justice is a marvelous thing to see in this narrative, and the twists and turns the reader endures all the way to the book’s end make this a remarkable and fun read. Be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Mike is a novelist, illustrator and fine artist. When he isn’t writing he’s drawing and painting. He lives in Bloomington, Indiana with one small wife and two large dogs.

https://www.instagram.com/wehnermike/

https://www.etsy.com/shop/MikeWehnerArt

Posted in reviews

The Wine Club by Laurie Lisa Review

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

Two friends go down a dangerous path in order to provide for their daughters in author Laurie Lisa’s “The Wine Club”. 

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The Synopsis

Be ready to get hooked, with The Wine Club.

Most people can’t tell a good wine from a bottle of Two-Buck Chuck.

At least that’s what best friends Reggie and Audrey decide one night while celebrating their daughters’ election to the elite Mohave High Tigerette Pom Squad. But cheerleading in Scottsdale Arizona doesn’t come cheap, and both women are strapped for cash and going through a rough patch. Reggie’s husband has announced he’s gay and wants a separation. Audrey’s husband is entering rehab. But what if they could earn money by selling cheap wine in fancy bottles? How hard could it be?

As the housewives perfect their high-stakes con, their greed and mistrust of one another grow…as does the realization that they’ve become a small team of female criminals.

The Wine Club is a witty, wicked tale of crime in the suburbs. With its dark humor, twisted plot, creative use of satire, and female protagonists who turn to a life of crime, this women’s suspenseful crime novel filled with surprising twists and turns is a novel you won’t put down, and one your book club will love.

The Review

A truly fun yet twisted read. Author Laurie Lisa does an excellent job of setting the tone and pace for this novel early on, and blends family drama with corruption and crime thriller incredibly well. The way the author is able to showcase each character’s personal struggles adds depth and background to the cast of characters who help bring this story to life. 

Character growth and story play equal parts in this narrative, with the novel taking readers through twists and turns as this late-night money-making scheme turns into a full-blown crime drama like no other. The shocking twists to each of the women’s families and the growing actions each character finds themselves participating in showcase how greed and power can turn anyone into a completely different person.

The Verdict

Entertaining, witty yet delightfully wicked, author Laurie Lisa’s “The Wine Club” is a must-read crime drama. With a cast of relatable characters and themes such as sexuality, body image, and family becoming key factors in the actions of the two protagonists, readers won’t find themselves lacking any incredible drama to sink their teeth into. With a shocking final chapter, fans won’t want to miss another smash hit from author Laurie Lisa, so be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Laurie was born and raised in small towns in Southern Illinois. She obtained her B.S. in English Education from the University of Illinois, where she also met and then married her husband Steve. Laurie earned both a M.A. and a Ph.D. in English, 20th-century American Literature, from Arizona State University, where she also taught literature and composition. In addition to her eight novels, Laurie has published two academic books, several short stories and poems, and edited other’s works. After much time spent in Academia and raising her three children (Anthony, Michelle, and Caitlin), Laurie returned to her passion for writing fiction. She is a prolific writer and typically completes one novel each year. Laurie resides with her husband, Steve, in Paradise Valley and Flagstaff, Arizona.

https://laurielisa.com/

https://www.facebook.com/authorlaurielisa/

https://www.instagram.com/laurieolisa/

Posted in reviews

The Tech by Mark Ravine Review

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

A young FBI agent takes charge of a new team, and discovers that a series of new cases are mysteriously tied to a shadowy organization in author Mark Ravine’s novel, “The Tech”. 

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The Synopsis

Alexandra has just taken charge of her new team, a motley crew of screw-ups at the Arizona Field Office, the latest in a series of forgettable assignments. With a history of rebelling against authority and blunt speaking, she vows to change her ways and make this assignment work.

Within minutes of her taking charge, she is drawn into a bank robbery case. She leads her new team to catch the robbers but discovers that there is much more to the case than meets the eye. The very next day three girls go missing. Before they could be trafficked out of the country, she races against time to rescue them. Soon, she begins to realize that all the cases coming her way are mysteriously connected. As she unravels the threads of a massive conspiracy, she discovers that a secret organization with immense power and authority is behind these horrific crimes. Forces within the FBI thwart her every move to discover the truth. Helping her navigate this maze is the shadowy Michael Patterson. But can she trust him? Can she trust anyone? Soon, witnesses disappear, suspects are killed, with her life and the lives of her team in lethal danger. Will she come out of this alive? Will she uncover and expose this cabal? As time starts running out, Alexandra Cassidy has to evade indictment and defy death in a deadly game of cat and mouse. 

The Review

The author has excelled in his debut novel. The characters are fully developed and do an amazing job of pulling the reader into the narrative as a whole. The complexity of the plot really keeps the intrigue and suspense of this FBI thriller alive, weaving together various cases and plots involving human trafficking, bank robberies and murder. 

The author does an amazing job of crafting a narrative that focuses on a tech-based approach to investigative work and yet makes it accessible and easy for the average reader to delve into, even venturing into sci-fi territory with the sophistication of the tech used in the investigations. Yet it is the character development that really shines the brightest in this novel, crafting a unique blend of suspense and bonding between the protagonist and the team of characters she finds herself surrounded by. 

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The Verdict

A must-read action-fueled thriller, author Mark Ravine’s “The Tech” is a smash hit debut novel. The author has put together a memorable cast of characters and an amazingly interwoven plot that ticks every box in the classic FBI thriller and takes it up several notches. Be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

Posted in book news

Book Announcement: Identity by Anthony Avina

Hello there everyone. This is Author Anthony Avina, and today I am thrilled to be able to announce the upcoming release of my novel, Identity. This will be the first book published through the amazing team at Sirens Call Publications. I first and foremost want to thank the amazing team of editors at Sirens Call Publications for taking the time to work with me to get this book to the place it’s at today. 

The link will take you to the official eZine for Sirens Call Publications, where I share my book announcement and the first two chapters of the novel on pages 129-140. I talk about what inspired this story, what the story is about and what readers can expect. It was my most challenging yet rewarding writing experience to date, and after all this time I am so thrilled to be able to share this story with you all. 

The book is due to be released in early 2020, possibly within the next few months. I will be sharing more with you all as the book finalizes and we begin moving forward with the publication. This is a dream come true, and I want to thank everyone who has supported me over the years on this journey. From the authors who encouraged me and the readers who took a leap of faith on my early works, to my amazing family for always sharing their love and support for me over the years. I hope this is the first step in a long career, and no matter what I want to thank Sirens Call Publications for taking a chance on my story and to you, the readers, who take the time to purchase your own copies and read my novel. I hope you all enjoy it, and I can’t wait to share this journey with you all in the months to come. Enjoy this book announcement and the collection of wonderful stories featured in this month’s eZine!


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Posted in Book Related Blog Posts

Best Books Of 2019

Hello everyone! This is Author Anthony Avina, and today I am here to share with you all the top reads of 2019 on my website. I’ve reviewed over 160 books this year, and as we close out not only 2019 but the decade, I thought it appropriate as we head into 2020 to look back on 2019 and see what were the top books of the year. So without further adieu, here are my top picks of 2019! 


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Best YA Romance: Again, but Better by Christine Riccio 

A beautiful story from emerging author Christine Riccio about the choices we make in life, and what we would do if we could go back and change things. A story of following your dreams, living the life you want and finding love, and how hard a person is willing to fight to hold onto that dream and that love. 


Best YA Sci-Fi & Fantasy: Nexus (The Androma Sage #2) by Sasha Alsberg and Lindsay Cummings

This exciting concluding chapter to the Androma Saga duology was a whirlwind sci-fi adventure in the YA genre. Authors Lindsay Cummings and Sasha Alsberg did a wonderful job closing this story out, creating a universe under the forced rule of a pair of siblings that seek control, but as a young outlaw turned hero seeks to save her makeshift family and stop this threat, the siblings find they are more pawns than true rulers in this quest, and an even greater threat is set to emerge on the galaxy. A must read sci-fi adventure! 


Best Fantasy: The Second Life of Eddie Coyne by Louis K Lowy

A brilliant fantasy driven narrative from author Louis K Lowy, which showcases the downfall of a father and husband and the journey he takes to find the true meaning of life and a life well lived. Finding what matters most in life and holding onto it as the protagonist struggles to find their way back home again, this is a fantastic read for 2019. 


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Best Mystery/Crime: A Shattered Lens: A Detective Preach Everson Novel by Layton Green

If you are looking for a great murder/mystery series to sink your teeth into, then the Detective Preach Everson series is for you. Author Layton Green’s second novel is a masterpiece of the genre, expertly crafting a murder mystery that pushes the protagonist to their limit both professionally and personally. This book serves as both the perfect continuation of the series and a great book for newcomers to enjoy as well.


Best Comic Book/Graphic Novel: Spider-Geddon by Christos Gage

While there were many great comic books in 2019, and many that I still need to read, out of all the comics I read that were published this year, my all time favorite had to be Spider-Geddon. A great sequel to the epic Spider-Verse storyline, the return of the Inheritors and the imminent threat they pose to the Spider-heroes of the Marvel Multiverse make this a thrilling read. Spider-Man is an essential hero to the larger Marvel Universe, and the comic book industry as a whole, and so exploring not only his story but the story of several other spider heroes in the multiverse is always a thrill. Add the terrifying and powerful threat of the Inheritors to the mix, and this storyline makes for a wonderful read. 


Best Contemporary Romance/Fiction: If Only by Melanie Murphy 

One of my all time favorite reads of 2019, Melanie Murphy’s debut fiction novel was a brilliant novel. The characters were engaging, the fantasy element of seeing various lives if the protagonist had made different choices was a great addition to the plot and yet it didn’t overpower the overall theme and romance of the story whatsoever. Its a story many people our age can identify with and the author’s voice and tone in the novel is entertaining, engaging and refreshing to read, making this a must read of 2019. 


Best Dystopian Thriller: A Single Light (The Line Between #2) by Tosca Lee

A great ending to another brilliant duology, author Tosca Lee has created a wonderful dystopian thriller that showcases the continued struggle for survival in the face of a massive breakout. Months after surviving the events of book one, the protagonists must fight for survival in a crumbling society, and as secrets threaten to tear them apart, they must find that which makes life worth living in the face of great danger once more. A must read novel of 2019!


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Best Science Fiction: Hybrid by Rebecca Henry

My all time favorite sci-fi read of 2019, my good friend author Rebecca Henry has created a fantastic story that delves into the best aspects of the sci-fi genre. Secret government operations, powerful aliens who have influenced society, time and space travel and so much more. It’s a sci-fi fans dream read and I highly recommend reading my full review to get a sense of this amazing novel. 


Best YA Historical Fiction: The Girl the Sea Gave Back by Adrienne Young

If you are a fan of History’s Vikings or the legends of Norse Mythology mixed with historical settings then you will absolutely love Adrienne Young’s “The Girl The Sea Gave Back”. The novel is a sequel of sorts to “Sky in the Deep”, and expertly crafts a story of a young girl considered an outcast her entire life and burdened by knowledge of fate, and a young man striving to make a better life for his people years after the end of a decades long war. Its a great way of continuing the story of the original novel while focusing on new characters and a new period of time in this wonderful world the author has created. 


Best Mystery Crime Thriller: The Sixth Wicked Child (4MK Thriller #3) by J.D. Barker

The exciting final chapter in one of the best crime thrillers of the decade, author J.D. Barker’s “The Sixth Wicked Child” is the brilliant concluding story in the 4MK Trilogy. The shocking game of cat and mouse between the protagonist and 4MK is taken to new heights in this novel, as readers are forced to examine whether or not the series protagonist is the hero they’ve been led to believe, or will he turn out to be the villain all along? A twisted tale that pushes everyone to their limit, this was a phenomenal read and one of the top books of 2019 for me personally.


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Best Nonfiction: Shrapnel in the San Fernando Valley by Carol Es

Last but certainly not least is author Carol Es’s book “Shrapnel in the San Fernando Valley”. A heartbreaking and emotional journey, this non-fiction read was one of the best of 2019, and took readers through the author’s life as well as through the harrowing journey of being caught in the midst of a cult. It’s a gritty and realistic novel that will catch the reader off guard at times, but is well worth the read. Highly recommend! 

Posted in reviews

Payback – Tales of Love, Hate and Revenge by Steve Bassett Review

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

Two homicide detectives in the late 40’s find themselves in over their heads when three victims tied to Hitler sympathizers are found with their bodies mutilated, and tensions begin running high both personally and professionally for the detectives in author Steve Bassett’s novel, “Payback – Tales of Love, Hate and Revenge”. 


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The Synopsis

Payback – Tales of Love, Hate and Revenge, the second book of the Passaic River Trilogy, is a drama so intense that it would be improbable anywhere but 1946 Newark. Across the country millions were dealing with the loss of loved ones, and horrible memories were being buried for the greater good. But not in Newark. Two mutilated bodies were pulled from the putrid Passaic River, and the sawed-off arm of a third man was found neatly wrapped and tied at the city dump. The three victims were members of the German-American Bund, Hitler lovers who had to pay the price for supporting a murderous madman. Someone was sending a message that only revenge could clear the mind and free the soul.

It didn’t take long for Police Lieutenant Nick Cisco and his partner, Sergeant Kevin McClosky, two veteran homicide cops [first introduced to readers in “Father Divine’s Bikes” the first book of the Trilogy], to realize they were in over their heads as they grappled with ambition, greed, racial tension, international intrigue, and a powerful church on the take. The three murders could not have come at a worse time for Cisco. His wife, Connie, had left him, and his close-knit Catholic family had disowned him because of his affair with his lover, Grace.

To add to the chaos, Cisco learned that he could have another homicide on his plate. Father Terry Nolan cornered Cisco at the city morgue and demanded his help. The senior counsel for M.L. Kraus, manufacturer of the poisonous gas Zyklon B, and his German wife were severely beating a Catholic orphan they were seeking to adopt. The Archdiocese had weighed Kraus’ huge cash contributions against a helpless girl’s plight and did nothing.

Kraus, facing a host of war crime indictments in Germany, was fighting for its massive pre-war chemical holdings in New Jersey. A federal court in Newark would soon decide Kraus’ fate. The outcome of the case would have a bearing not only on the company’s future, but Europe’s as well. Watching it all from the banks of the Passaic River was the dark specter of a murderous madman seeking further revenge.

The Review

A phenomenal story of grisly murders, tensions from a long fought and gruesome war, and so much more take center stage in this truly wonderful novel. The story echoes the great days of crime fiction and noir style storytelling, highlighting an era of upheaval and change in the United States and around the world in the wake of the Second World War. 

The novel focuses heavily on story through characterization. The book is filled with rich and diverse characters, each bringing their own set of problems and history that enhance the overall story and make the ongoing investigations and actions of other characters have much more emphasis on the overall story. Combined with the theme and genre of the story, this characterization draws the reader in immediately and gets the reader hooked on the action of the novel throughout every chapter. 

The Verdict

This is a must read crime fiction read of 2019. A high octane drama with in-depth character development and edge of your seat thrills, this novel is the perfect winter read for any fan of the crime thriller genre. Those who love the classic noir style storytelling will absolutely love this novel, and despite it being the second novel in a series, the reader will find this novel stands on its own and is easily able to be absorbed. An evenly paced read overall, be sure to grab your copies of “Payback – Tales of Love, Hate and Revenge” by Stephen Bassett today!

Rating: 10/10


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About the Author

Born and raised in Newark’s crime-ridden Third Ward, although far removed during a career as a multiple award-winning journalist, Steve Bassett has always been the proud sobriquet Jersey Guy. He has been legally blind for almost a decade, but having this hasn’t slowed him down.

Bassett has written two nonfiction books, The Battered Rich and Golden Ghetto: How the Americans and French Fell In and Out of Love During the Cold War. Continuing with his newest fiction release, Father Divine’s Bikes (a Finalist in the 2018 International Book Award in the Cross-Genre Fiction category), readers share in his insights that earned him three Emmys for investigative documentaries, and the California Bar Association’s first Medallion Award for Distinguished Reporting on the Administration of Justice. He now resides in Placitas, New Mexico with his wife, Darlene.

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