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

The Unknown Man by Natalie Hanson Review

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

An FBI agent with a gift for sensing lies finds herself searching for two kidnapped twins and a suspect with little to no information in a race against time in author Natalie Hanson’s novel, “The Unknown Man”.

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The Synopsis

It took just a tiny bit more matter than antimatter for the big bang to produce the entire universe. Born with an abnormality that manifests through her body, imbalance is something Zalla Bennbett understands. Her ability to sense out lies gives her an advantage on FBI investigations, but sixteen years in, both her marriage and career are on the rocks.

Zalla is assigned to work the kidnapping of an FBI informant’s young twins. With no evidence or leads, her suspect is deemed ‘The Unknown Man’. She’ll have to fight against her instincts to find the girls before time runs out.

The Review

A chilling and gripping tale, author Natalie Hanson has delivered a masterpiece thriller like no other. The author does a fantastic job of delivering suspense and drama on every page through perfect pacing and shocking narrative developments. The complex web of deceit and the twists and turns the author showcases in the narrative help bring out the terror that helps define the horror/thriller genre. 

The novel is the perfect balance of character development and pacing, taking the time to introduce readers to this narrative’s characters and establish a bond between the reader and the characters. The revelations that are made throughout the novel and the identity of the villain who has brought a level of complexity and drama to the narrative make this story a real stand-out amongst the other new releases in this genre.

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The Verdict

A memorable, engaging, and chilling novel of twisted games and haunting memories, author Natalie Hanson’s “The Unknown Man” is the perfect first entry into a brand new series of thrillers following a complicated and unique new protagonist. The shocking revelations the narrative unveils really make this novel inviting and nail-biting, making for the perfect summer thriller. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Natalie Hanson is an author and screenplay writer born and raised in Seattle, WA.

‘The Unknown Man’ is the first of five novels chronicling the hunt for serial killers and criminals by FBI agent Zalla Bennbett. This dark series examines the worst criminals humanity has to offer through the eyes of a jaded agent, struggling to keep optimism alive and fight for the voiceless.

Book two in the series, ‘The Butcher’, is an upcoming release.

Her novel ‘Every Moment and Not a Second More’ was published on Amazon in 2018.

Currently she is collaborating on a horror genre comic series based on her screenplay “Dociles.” It tells the story of a teen runaway, kidnapped by a medical examiner who turns the dead into zombies. It’s a fight to not end up as one of the herd!

https://nataliehardy9.wixsite.com/author/books

Posted in reviews

Texas Dead by William Gensburger Review

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

A series of gruesome murders leads two detectives down the rabbit hole as clues lead them to powerful figures, and the race to stop not only more killings but a full-scale war takes center stage in author William Gensburger’s “Texas Dead”. 

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The Synopsis

A series of murders in Corpus Christi leaves residents uneasy. All the victims were shot in the back of the head. But when a prominent financial genius is also found murdered, and not in the same way, celebrity detective Mackenzie ‘Maxie’ Michaels and her partner Kobe Jameson, must race to find the person responsible before more murders occur. As they uncover clues, the mystery deepens, dragging in powerful people, and threatening to erupt in a full-on war.

The Review

A thrilling new novel just in time for summer! The author does an incredible job of immediately balancing the chilling suspense of the main narrative with the humor and charm of the main cast of characters. The pacing of the novel’s main mystery perfectly draws the reader in, slowly unraveling a tangled web of corruption and power as shocking suspects are revealed throughout the investigation.

However, it is the strong characters of this novel that really are the backbone and selling point of the whole narrative. A strong female lead detective like Maxie does a great job of taking readers through the investigation process and the shocking twists and turns that occur, while her relationship both with her partner Kobe and reporter Devin Parker make this story feel real and connected. However, it is the humor and wit of the protagonist and her back and forth with the other characters that make this feel like a serialized cop show waiting to happen. 

The Verdict

A funny, shocking, and engaging thriller and suspense novel, author William Gensburger’s “Texas Dead” is the perfect introduction to a powerful new thriller series and an equally powerful protagonist and lead detective fans can get behind. A novel that’s imagery really makes the narrative feel like a network show that is meant to be seen, the novel proves to be the perfect starting thriller of the 2021 Summer reading season. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today.

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

William Gensburger is the author of TEXAS DEAD, a murder mystery novel, DISTANT RUMORS, an anthology of 16 stories about life and death, and HOMO IDIOTUS, a collection of published newspaper editorials.

He is also the publisher of ‘Books’N Pieces Magazine (soon to be a video podcast), where he has worked with many different authors, as well as publishing The Concordian, a 24-page monthly community newspaper, until 2016.

http://www.misterwriter.com/

Posted in reviews

Local Woman Missing by Mary Kubica Review

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

A young girl who disappeared over a decade earlier along with two older women returns and brings with her a shocking twist of domestic secrets that will shake a local community to the core in author Mary Kubica’s “Local Woman Missing”.

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The Synopsis

People don’t just disappear without a trace…

Shelby Tebow is the first to go missing. Not long after, Meredith Dickey and her six-year-old daughter, Delilah, vanish just blocks away from where Shelby was last seen, striking fear into their once-peaceful community. Are these incidents connected? After an elusive search that yields more questions than answers, the case eventually goes cold.

Now, eleven years later, Delilah shockingly returns. Everyone wants to know what happened to her, but no one is prepared for what they’ll find…

In this smart and chilling thriller, master of suspense and New York Times bestselling author Mary Kubica takes domestic secrets to a whole new level, showing that some people will stop at nothing to keep the truth buried.

The Review

This was such a compelling read. The author does an incredible job of weaving together a complex narrative that keeps the reader guessing the entire story. The characters feel alive and do a marvelous job of engaging the reader on an entirely different level, eliciting emotions like sadness and rage to disbelief and heartbreak. The alternating timelines and POV’s were an inspired choice, as they really help the story connect with the mystery and intrigue the author has established here. 

What will draw the reader in is the intensity of the narrative and how the author manages to weave each POV and timeline to keep the mystery alive. The story shifts and changes so many times that readers are constantly shocked to discover new secrets and new suspects in this growing case, as the true mystery doesn’t even begin until after Delilah returns home. 

The Verdict

A brilliant, thought-provoking, and heart-pounding thriller, author Mary Kubica’s “Local Woman Missing” is the perfect suspense novel for fans of the genre this summer. Written in a way that screams for a cinematic or miniseries adaption, the twists and turns will keep readers engaged throughout the entirety of the novel, and by the book’s end readers will be shocked as the final revelations are shown. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Mary Kubica is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of six novels, including THE GOOD GIRL, PRETTY BABY, DON’T YOU CRY, EVERY LAST LIE, WHEN THE LIGHTS GO OUT, and THE OTHER MRS. A former high school history teacher, Mary holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, in History and American Literature. She lives outside of Chicago with her husband and two children. Her last novel THE OTHER MRS. was an instant New York Times bestseller; is coming soon to Netflix; was a LibraryReads pick for February 2020; praised by the New York Times; and highly recommended by Entertainment Weekly, People, The Week, Marie Claire, Bustle, HelloGiggles,Goodreads, PopSugar, BookRiot, HuffingtonPost, First for Women, Woman’s World, and more.Mary’s novels have been translated into over thirty languages and have sold over two million copies worldwide. She’s been described as “a helluva storyteller,” (Kirkus Reviews) and “a writer of vice-like control,” (Chicago Tribune), and her novels have been praised as “hypnotic” (People) and “thrilling and illuminating” (Los Angeles Times).  LOCAL WOMAN MISSING is her seventh novel. 

Social Links:

Website: https://marykubica.com/ 

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MaryKubica 

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/marykubica 

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7392948.Mary_Kubica 

Buy Links:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Local-Woman-Missing-Mary-Kubica/dp/0778389448/ 

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/local-woman-missing-mary-kubica/1137387568  

Bookshop: https://bookshop.org/books/local-woman-missing/9780778389446 

IndieBound: https://www.indiebound.org/book/9780778389446 

Libro.fm: https://libro.fm/audiobooks/9781488211690-local-woman-missing 

Books-A-Million: https://www.booksamillion.com/p/Local-Woman-Missing/Mary-Kubica/9780778389446?id=8051055467945# 

Target: https://www.target.com/p/local-woman-missing-by-mary-kubica-hardcover/-/A-81225904 

Walmart: https://www.walmart.com/ip/Local-Woman-Missing-Original-ed-Hardcover-9780778389446/700252600 

Indigo: https://www.chapters.indigo.ca/en-ca/books/local-woman-missing-a-novel/9780778389446-item.html 

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/local-woman-missing 

AppleBooks: https://books.apple.com/us/book/local-woman-missing/id1524947457 

Google Play: https://www.google.com/books/edition/Local_Woman_Missing/sKazzQEACAAJ?hl=en 

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An Excerpt From LOCAL WOMAN MISSING

MEREDITH

11 YEARS BEFORE

March

The text comes from a number I don’t know. It’s a 630 area code. Local. I’m in the bathroom with Leo as he soaks in the tub. He has his bath toys lined up on the edge of it and they’re taking turns swan diving into the now-lukewarm water. It used to be hot, too hot for Leo to get into. But he’s been in there for thirty minutes now playing with his octopus, his whale, his fish. He’s having a ball.

Meanwhile I’ve lost track of time. I have a client in the early stages of labor. We’re texting. Her husband wants to take her to the hospital. She thinks it’s too soon. Her contractions are six and a half minutes apart. She’s absolutely correct. It’s too soon. The hospital would just send her home, which is frustrating, not to mention a huge inconvenience for women in labor. And anyway, why labor at the hospital when you can labor in the comfort of your own home? First-time fathers always get skittish. It does their wives no good. By the time I get to them, more times than not, the woman in labor is the more calm of the two. I have to focus my attention on pacifying a nervous husband. It’s not what they’re paying me for. 

I tell Leo one more minute until I shampoo his hair, and then fire off a quick text, suggesting my client have a snack to keep her energy up, herself nourished. I recommend a nap, if her body will let her. The night ahead will be long for all of us. Childbirth, especially when it comes to first-time moms, is a marathon, not a sprint. 

Josh is home. He’s in the kitchen cleaning up from dinner while Delilah plays. Delilah’s due up next in the tub. By the time I leave, the bedtime ritual will be done or nearly done. I feel good about that, hating the times I leave Josh alone with so much to do. 

I draw up my text and then hit Send. The reply is immediate, that all too familiar ping that comes to me at all hours of the day or night. 

I glance down at the phone in my hand, expecting it’s my client with some conditioned reply. Thx. 

Instead: I know what you did. I hope you die. 

Beside the text is a picture of a grayish skull with large, black eye sockets and teeth. The symbol of death. 

My muscles tense. My heart quickens. I feel thrown off. The small bathroom feels suddenly, overwhelmingly, oppressive. It’s steamy, moist, hot. I drop down to the toilet and have a seat on the lid. My pulse is loud, audible in my own ears. I stare at the words before me, wondering if I’ve misread. Certainly I’ve misread. Leo is asking, “Is it a minute, Mommy?” I hear his little voice, muff led by the ringing in my ears. But I’m so thrown by the cutthroat text that I can’t speak. 

I glance at the phone again. I haven’t misread. 

The text is not from my client in labor. It’s not from any client of mine whose name and number is stored in my phone. As far as I can tell, it’s not from anyone I know.

A wrong number, then, I think. Someone sent this to me by accident. It has to be. My first thought is to delete it, to pretend this never happened. To make it disappear. Out of sight, out of mind. 

But then I think of whoever sent it just sending it again or sending something worse. I can’t imagine anything worse. 

I decide to reply. I’m careful to keep it to the point, to not sound too judgy or fault-finding because maybe the intended recipient really did do something awful—stole money from a children’s cancer charity—and the text isn’t as egregious as it looks at first glance. 

I text: You have the wrong number. 

The response is quick. 

I hope you rot in hell, Meredith. 

The phone slips from my hand. I yelp. The phone lands on the navy blue bath mat, which absorbs the sound of its fall. 

Meredith. 

Whoever is sending these texts knows my name. The texts are meant for me. 

A second later Josh knocks on the bathroom door. I spring from the toilet seat, and stretch down for the phone. The phone has fallen facedown. I turn it over. The text is still there on the screen, staring back at me. 

Josh doesn’t wait to be let in. He opens the door and steps right inside. I slide the phone into the back pocket of my jeans before Josh has a chance to see. 

“Hey,” he says, “how about you save some water for the fish.” 

Leo complains to Josh that he is cold. “Well, let’s get you out of the bath,” Josh says, stretching down to help him out of the water. 

“I need to wash him still,” I admit. Before me, Leo’s teeth chatter. There are goose bumps on his arm that I hadn’t noticed before. He is cold, and I feel suddenly guilty, though it’s mired in confusion and fear. I hadn’t been paying any attention to Leo. There is bathwater spilled all over the floor, but his hair is still bone-dry. 

“You haven’t washed him?” Josh asks, and I know what he’s thinking: that in the time it took him to clear the kitchen table, wash pots and pans and wipe down the sinks, I did nothing. He isn’t angry or accusatory about it. Josh isn’t the type to get angry. 

“I have a client in labor,” I say by means of explanation. “She keeps texting,” I say, telling Josh that I was just about to wash Leo. I drop to my knees beside the tub. I reach for the shampoo. In the back pocket of my jeans, the phone again pings. This time, I ignore it. I don’t want Josh to know what’s happening, not until I get a handle on it for myself. 

Josh asks, “Aren’t you going to get that?” I say that it can wait. I focus on Leo, on scrubbing the shampoo onto his hair, but I’m anxious. I move too fast so that the shampoo suds get in his eye. I see it happening, but all I can think to do is wipe it from his forehead with my own soapy hands. It doesn’t help. It makes it worse. 

Leo complains. Leo isn’t much of a complainer. He’s an easygoing kid. “Ow,” is all that he says, his tiny wet hands going to his eyes, though shampoo in the eye burns like hell. 

“Does that sting, baby?” I ask, feeling contrite. But I’m bursting with nervous energy. There’s only one thought racing through my mind. I hope you rot in hell, Meredith. 

Who would have sent that, and why? Whoever it is knows me. They know my name. They’re mad at me for something I’ve done. Mad enough to wish me dead. I don’t know anyone like that. I can’t think of anything I’ve done to upset someone enough that they’d want me dead.

I grab the wet washcloth draped over the edge of the tub. I try handing it to Leo, so that he can press it to his own eyes. But my hands shake as I do. I wind up dropping the washcloth into the bath. The tepid water rises up and splashes him in the eyes. This time he cries. 

“Oh, buddy,” I say, “I’m so sorry, it slipped.” 

But as I try again to grab it from the water and hand it to him, I drop the washcloth for a second time. I leave it where it is, letting Leo fish it out of the water and wipe his eyes for himself. Meanwhile Josh stands two feet behind, watching. 

My phone pings again. Josh says, “Someone is really dying to talk to you.” 

Dying. It’s all that I hear. 

My back is to Josh, thank God. He can’t see the look on my face when he says it. 

“What’s that?” I ask. 

“Your client,” Josh says. I turn to him. He motions to my phone jutting out of my back pocket. “She really needs you. You should take it, Mer,” he says softly, accommodatingly, and only then do I think about my client in labor and feel guilty. What if it is her? What if her contractions are coming more quickly now and she does need me? 

Josh says, “I can finish up with Leo while you get ready to go,” and I acquiesce, because I need to get out of here. I need to know if the texts coming to my phone are from my client or if they’re coming from someone else. 

I rise up from the floor. I scoot past Josh in the door, brushing against him. His hand closes around my upper arm as I do, and he draws me in for a hug. “Everything okay?” he asks, and I say yes, fine, sounding too chipper even to my own ears. Everything is not okay. 

“I’m just thinking about my client,” I say. “She’s had a stillbirth before, at thirty-two weeks. She never thought she’d get this far. Can you imagine that? Losing a baby at thirty-two weeks?”

Josh says no. His eyes move to Leo and he looks saddened by it. I feel guilty for the lie. It’s not this client but another who lost a baby at thirty-two weeks. When she told me about it, I was completely torn up. It took everything in me not to cry as she described for me the moment the doctor told her her baby didn’t have a heartbeat. Labor was later induced, and she had to push her dead baby out with only her mother by her side. Her husband was deployed at the time. After, she was snowed under by guilt. Was it her fault the baby died? A thousand times I held her hand and told her no. I’m not sure she ever believed me. 

My lie has the desired effect. Josh stands down, and asks if I need help with anything before I leave. I say no, that I’m just going to change my clothes and go. 

I step out of the bathroom. In the bedroom, I close the door. I grab my scrub bottoms and a long-sleeved T-shirt from my drawer. I lay them on the bed, but before I get dressed, I pull my phone out of my pocket. I take a deep breath and hold it in, summoning the courage to look. I wonder what waits there. More nasty threats? My heart hammers inside me. My knees shake. 

I take a look. There are two messages waiting for me. 

The first: Water broke. Contractions 5 min apart. 

And then: Heading to hospital.—M. 

I release my pent-up breath. The texts are from my client’s husband, sent from her phone. My legs nearly give in relief, and I drop down to the edge of the bed, forcing myself to breathe. I inhale long and deep. I hold it in until my lungs become uncomfortable. When I breathe out, I try and force away the tension. 

But I can’t sit long because my client is advancing quickly. I need to go.

Excerpted from Local Woman Missing @ 2021 by Mary Kyrychenko, used with permission by Park Row Books.

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

The Girl Who Died: A Novel by Ragnar Jónasson 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 looking to find work as a teacher in 1980’s Iceland finds herself in an isolated fishing village and surrounded by darkness, nightmares of young girls in white dresses and a shocking secret that keeps her isolated from the few locals inhabiting the area in author Ragnar Jónasson’s “The Girl Who Died”.  

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The Synopsis

Teacher Wanted At the Edge of the World

Una wants nothing more than to teach, but she has been unable to secure steady employment in Reykjavík. Her savings are depleted, her love life is nonexistent, and she cannot face another winter staring at the four walls of her shabby apartment. Celebrating Christmas and ringing in 1986 in the remote fishing hamlet of Skálar seems like a small price to pay for a chance to earn some teaching credentials and get her life back on track.

But Skálar isn’t just one of Iceland’s most isolated villages, it is home to less than a dozen people. Una’s only students are two girls aged seven and nine. Teaching them only occupies so many hours in a day and the few adults she interacts with are civil but distant. She only seems to connect with Thór, a man she shares an attraction with but who is determined to keep her at arm’s length.

As darkness descends throughout the bleak winter, Una finds herself more often than not in her rented attic space – the site of a local legendary haunting – drinking her loneliness away. She is plagued by nightmares of a little girl in a white dress singing a lullaby. And when a sudden tragedy echoes an event long buried in Skálar’s past, the villagers become even more guarded, leaving a suspicious Una seeking to uncover a shocking truth that’s been kept secret for generations.

The Review

A truly incredible blend of rich culture and history within Iceland with the chilling suspense that readers have come to expect from the author with a brilliant supernatural twist, THE GIRL WHO DIED is a fantastic nail-bitter of a thriller. The author does a fantastic job of making the setting of the novel such an integral part of the narrative that it feels like the small community feels like a character all its own, hiding its own secrets and becoming just as mysterious as the people living within it.

What stands out to this reader especially is just how incredibly written the narrative is. The mystery of this local legend and the level of secrecy the townspeople have are powerful motivators for the protagonist’s search for the truth. Yet it is the cast of characters that really make this thriller a standout, as the setting is such a small community with only a handful of citizens adds importance to the narrative and the pacing of the story, making their involvement in the overall plot super important.

The Verdict

A mesmerizing, haunting, and gripping thriller, author Ragnar Jónasson’s “The Girl Who Died” is a must-read novel. The twists and turns of the story will keep readers glued to the edge of their seats, while the final pages will be remembered forever by the readers who delve into this novel. Be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Ragnar Jonasson is author of the award winning and international bestselling Dark Iceland series.

His debut Snowblind, first in the Dark Iceland series, went to number one in the Amazon Kindle charts shortly after publication. The book was also a no. 1 Amazon Kindle bestseller in Australia. Snowblind has been a paperback bestseller in France.

Nightblind won the Dead Good Reader Award 2016 for Most Captivating Crime in Translation.

Snowblind was called a “classically crafted whodunit” by THE NEW YORK TIMES, and it was selected by The Independent as one of the best crime novels of 2015 in the UK.

Rights to the Dark Iceland series have been sold to UK, USA, France, Germany, Italy, Canada, Australia, Poland, Turkey, South Korea, Japan, Morocco, Portugal, Croatia, Armenia and Iceland.

Ragnar was born in Reykjavik, Iceland, where he works as a writer and a lawyer. He also teaches copyright law at Reykjavik University and has previously worked on radio and television, including as a TV-news reporter for the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service.

He is also the co-founder of the Reykjavik international crime writing festival Iceland Noir.

From the age of 17, Ragnar translated 14 Agatha Christie novels into Icelandic.

Ragnar has also had short stories published internationally, including in the distinguished Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine in the US, the first stories by an Icelandic author in that magazine.

He has appeared on festival panels worldwide, and lives in Reykjavik.

http://www.ragnarjonasson.com/

Posted in reviews

The Devil’s Shadow by BJ Edwards Review

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

After a powerful and deadly creature is unleashed, the group of government agents must team up together to stop the monster as lawlessness and beastial behavior runs rampant in the world in the action-packed and visceral novel “The Devil’s Shadow” by BJ Edwards.

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The Synopsis

In a vault beneath the Mediterranean Sea, a creature from myth and folklore sleeps. Government agents David Coswell and Hannah Martin join forces to find and study the creature with the hopes of harnessing its power for their country’s good. Accidentally, they release the creature and London is plunged into chaos. Lawlessness and hedonism spread as Lord of the Flies regains his strength and uses violence and fear to build his new kingdom.

David Coswell, along with his ‘handler’ Sentinel Nutbeam, retired soldier Nigel Carter, and Spanish matriarch Maria Perez help the Prime Minister confront the beast and take back control of a fractured country.

The Devil’s Shadow is a fast-paced supernatural thriller. Sometimes scary, sometimes sexy and always exciting, it is an absorbing tale of friendship, loyalty, faith and belief.

The Review

A shocking and engaging story, author BJ Edwards does an amazing job of drawing the reader in with a unique blend of secret spy work and sexual buildup with terrifying horror themes and haunting writing that conjures up powerful imagery in its delivery. The author does an excellent job of throwing twists and turns in the narrative that changes the direction of many of the story’s protagonists throughout the narrative. Readers will be shocked at the major character growths that occur, in particular for Hannah, as she and others find themselves forced to become something they never thought possible in the face of great evil.

This is definitely a very adult novel, with powerful imagery that explores chilling moments between the creature and his new acolytes, as well as action-packed scenes that keep the adrenaline pumping and readers on the edge of their seats as the final remnants of humanity’s heroes come together to face an unstoppable threat. Aside from a few spelling and grammatical errors here and there, the story flowed really well and did a great job of pacing the major plot points also. 

The Verdict

A memorable, twisted and haunting and well-written novel, “The Devil’s Shadow” by BJ Edwards is a must-read horror thriller like no other. An emotional rollercoaster for many of the characters of this narrative, the lengths humanity are willing to go to in order to do what’s right, as well as the depths humanity will plunge itself out of either fear of power, makes this a brilliantly devilish read that fans of the genre won’t soon forget. Be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 8/10

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About the Author

BJ Edwards was born in Wolverhampton in the winter of 1975, and grew up in Middlesex and Worcester. BJ has always been fascinated by anthropology, theology, archaeology and prehistory. His degree is in English literature and he taught English before taking up writing full time.

As well as writing historical novels, BJ also writes short stories, plays and poems. Allied to this, he writes articles and regularly “tweets.”

BJ is passionate about sport and exercise – he holds belts in Kung-Fu and Judo, he rows at his local rowing club, trains regularly and enjoys the outdoors, films, music and books.

http://bjedwards.co.uk/

Posted in reviews

Wrong Alibi (Murder in Alaska #1) by Christina Dodd 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 framed for a gruesome murder must evade the law and search for the relentless killer who framed her as they continue their merciless attacks in author Christina Dodd’s “Wrong Alibi”, the first in the MURDER IN ALASKA series. 

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The Synopsis

Perfect for fans of Lisa Jewell, New York Times bestselling author Christina Dodd delivers an all-new thriller, featuring a bold and brash female protagonist.

WRONG JOB
Eighteen-year-old Evelyn Jones lands a job in small-town Alaska, working for a man in his isolated mountain home. But her bright hopes for the future are shattered when Donald White disappears, leaving her to face charges of theft, embezzlement—and a brutal double murder. Her protestations of innocence count for nothing. Convicted, she faces life in prison…until fate sends her on the run.

WRONG NAME
Evie’s escape leaves her scarred and in hiding, isolated from her family, working under an alias at a wilderness camp. Bent on justice, intent on recovering her life, she searches for the killer who slaughters without remorse.

WRONG ALIBI
At last, the day comes. Donald White has returned. Evie emerges from hiding; the fugitive becomes the hunter. But in her mind, she hears the whisper of other forces at work. Now Evelyn must untangle the threads of evidence before she’s once again found with blood on her hands: the blood of her own fam

The Review

What an incredible thriller! The author has found the perfect balance of heart-pounding pacing in the narrative with in-depth, emotional character development. Evie’s story reveals itself smoothly, creating a tragic backstory that showcases the struggles the character has undergone to become the heroine she is by the book’s main events.

The mystery behind the murders she is framed for is handled perfectly by the author, slowly unraveling the crime and the identity of the actual killer makes for a chilling revelation, especially as it ties into the final moments of the book’s narrative. The action is great and the suspense evokes feelings of chills and anticipation as the narrative goes on.

The Verdict

A thrilling, entertaining, and attention-grabbing thriller, author Christina Dodd’s “Wrong Alibi” is the perfect first story in a new murder mystery/thriller series. A strong protagonist helps to draw out a creative and chilling story, and readers will have a difficult time putting this story down as the author draws them further and further in. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

New York Times bestselling author Christina Dodd writes “edge-of-the-seat suspense” (Iris Johansen) with “brilliantly etched characters, polished writing, and unexpected flashes of sharp humor that are pure Dodd” (ALA Booklist). Her fifty-eight books have been called “scary, sexy, and smartly written” by Booklist and, much to her mother’s delight, Dodd was once a clue in the Los Angeles Times crossword puzzle. Enter Christina’s worlds and join her mailing list at www.christinadodd.com.

SOCIAL:

TWITTER: @ChristinaDodd

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

Insta: @ChristinaDoddBooks

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/12695.Christina_Dodd

BUY LINKS:

Harlequin 

Indiebound

Amazon

Barnes & Noble 

Books-A-Million

Walmart

Google

iBooks

Kobo

Posted in reviews

Her Dark Lies by J.T. Ellison 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 set to marry a handsome man from a prestigious family finds her destination wedding the sight of true terror as family secrets, haunting lies and a chilling killer all threaten to derail her dream wedding in author J.T. Ellison’s “Her Dark Lies”.

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The Synopsis

Fast-paced and brilliantly unpredictable, J.T. Ellison’s breathtaking new novel invites you to a wedding none will forget—and some won’t survive.

Jutting from sparkling turquoise waters off the Italian coast, Isle Isola is an idyllic setting for a wedding. In the majestic cliff-top villa owned by the wealthy Compton family, up-and-coming artist Claire Hunter will marry handsome, charming Jack Compton, surrounded by close family, intimate friends…and a host of dark secrets.

From the moment Claire sets foot on the island, something seems amiss. Skeletal remains have just been found. There are other, newer disturbances, too. Menacing texts. A ruined wedding dress. And one troubling shadow hanging over Claire’s otherwise blissful relationship—the strange mystery surrounding Jack’s first wife.

Then a raging storm descends, the power goes out—and the real terror begins…

The Review

What a fantastic thriller! From the book’s opening chapter the author establishes a haunting tale of murder, revenge, and family like no other. The vibrant setting and upbeat festivities of the protagonist’s wedding make for a fantastically stark contrast to the dark themes of family secrets, greed, and power all taking over as the rich family the protagonist is marrying into holds sway and inadvertently causes a catastrophe no one could have seen coming.

It is the author’s ability to really draw out and delve deeply into the character growth of the narrative that makes this novel shine brightly. From protagonist Claire and her haunted past and present to the Compton family and their ruthless behavior that would make anyone kill to keep a secret, the identity of the killer and their need for revenge makes for a masterful story that draws the reader in time and time again.

The Verdict

A beautifully mesmerizing, haunting, and heart-pounding mystery and thriller, author J.T. Ellison’s “Her Dark Lies” is a must-read narrative. The twists and turns the author creates make for a gripping tale, and by the book’s end no one in the story will be safe, and no one will be totally innocent either. It’s a marvelous read you won’t want to miss, so be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author:

J.T. Ellison is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of more than 25 novels, and the EMMY® award winning co-host of the literary TV show A WORD ON WORDS. With millions of books in print, her work has won critical acclaim, prestigious awards, and has been published in 28 countries. Ellison lives in Nashville with her husband and twin kittens.

Social Links:

Website: https://www.jtellison.com/ 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JTEllison14/

Twitter:  https://www.twitter.com/thrillerchick

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thrillerchick 

Bookshop: https://bookshop.org/shop/jtellison 

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/jtellison 

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/j-t-ellison 

Mailing List: https://www.jtellison.com/subscribe 

Buy Links:

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2YArr8J 

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/her-dark-lies-j-t-ellison/1135512743?ean=9780778388302 

Bookshop: https://bookshop.org/a/1809/9780778331988 

IndieBound: https://www.indiebound.org/book/

9780778388302 

Libro.fm: https://libro.fm/audiobooks/9781488210600 

Books-A-Million: https://www.booksamillion.com/p/Her-Dark-Lies/J-T-Ellison/9780778331988?id=7392897228554 

Target: https://www.target.com/p/her-dark-lies-by-j-t-ellison-hardcover/-/A-80220721 

Walmart: https://www.walmart.com/ip/Her-Dark-Lies-Original-ed-Paperback-9780778388302/972093784 

Indigo: https://www.chapters.indigo.ca/en-ca/books/her-dark-lies/9780778331988-item.html 

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/her-dark-lies 

AppleBooks: https://books.apple.com/us/book/her-dark-lies/id1491338069?mt=11&app=itunes&at=1000lqRB 

Google Play: https://pla

y.google.com/store/books/details/J_T_Ellison_Her_Dark_Lies?id=tEbHDwAAQBAJ&PAffiliateID=1100lIBy 

Audible: https://amzn.to/35Eizmv  

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An Excerpt From “Her Dark Lies”

1

Beginnings and Endings

She is going to die tonight.

The white dress, long and filmy, hampers her effort to run. The hem catches on a branch; a large rend in the fabric slashes open, exposing her leg. A deep cut blooms red along her thigh, and the blood runs down her calf. Her hair has come loose from its braid, flies unbound behind her like gossamer wings.

In her panic, she barely notices the pain.

The path ahead is marked by towering cypress and laurel, verdant and lush. A gray stone waist-high wall is all that stands between her and the cliffside. It is cool inside this miniature forest; the sky is blotted out by the purple-throated wisteria that drapes across and between the trees. Someone, years ago, built an archway along the arbor. The arch’s skeleton has long since rotted away and the flowers droop into the path, clinging trails and vines that brush against her head and shoulders. It should be beautiful; instead it feels oppressive, as if the vines might animate, twist and curl around her neck and strangle her to death.

She tries not to look down to the frothing water roiling against the rocks at the cliff’s base. She thinks the ruins are to her right. From what she remembers, they are between the church and the artists’ colony, the four cottages cowering on the hillside, empty and waiting.

A horn shrieks, and she realizes the ferry is pulling away. A crack of lightning, and she sees the silhouette of the captain in the pilothouse, looking out to the turbulent seas ahead. A gamble that he makes it before the storm is upon them.

Don’t panic. Don’t panic.

Where is the church?

There it is, a flash of white through the trees. The stuccoed walls loom, the bell tower hidden behind the overgrown foliage. Now the path is moving upward, the grade increasing. She feels it in her calves and hopes again she is going the right way. The Villa is on the hill, on the northwest promontory of the island. If she can reach its doors, she will be safe.

It is too quiet. There are no birds, no creatures, no buzzing or cries, just her ragged, heavy breath and the scree shuffling underfoot as she climbs. The furious roar of the water smashing its frustration against the rocks rises from her left, echoing against the cliffside.

The dogs begin to howl.

Climb. Climb. Keep going.

She must get to the Villa. There she can call for help. Lock herself inside. Maybe find a weapon.

A branch snaps and she halts, breathless.

Someone is coming.

She startles like a deer, now heedless of the noise she’s making. Fighting back a whimper of fear, she breaks free of the cloistered path to see an old decrepit staircase cut into the stone. Careful, she must be cautious, there are gaps where some steps are missing, and the rest are mossy with disuse, but hurry, hurry. Get away.

She winds up the steps, clinging to the rock face, until she bursts free into a sea of scrubby pines. Two sculptures, Janus twins, flank a slate-dark path into a labyrinth of rhododendron and azalea.

This isn’t right. Where is she?

A hard breeze disrupts the trees around her, and a rumble of thunder like a thousand drums rolls across her body. Lightning flashes and she sees the Villa in the distance. So far away. On the other side of the labyrinth. The other side of the hill.

She’s gone the wrong way.

A droplet of water hits her arm, then her forehead. Dread bubbles through her.

She is too late. The storm is upon her.

The howls of the dogs draw closer. The wind whistles hard and sharp, buffeting her against the stone wall. She can’t move, deep fear cementing her feet. Rain makes the gauzy dress cling to the curves of her body, and the blood on her thigh washes to the ground. None of it matters. She cannot escape.

When he comes, at last, sauntering through the storm, the barking beasts leaping and growling beside him, she is crying, clinging to the wall, the lightning illuminating the ruins; the ancient stones and stark, headless statues the only witness to her death.

She goes over the wall with a thunder-drowned scream, the jagged rocks below her final companions.