Tag Archives: mystery

Suspension (Time Binder) by Andrea Faye Christians Review

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

A young woman finds herself stuck between two worlds as a time travel adventure introduces historical figures, a shocking murder, and a startling discovery about her destiny in author Andrea Faye Christians’s “Suspension”, a Time Binder series novel.

Advertisements

The Synopsis

An unexpected time travel tale. When Carla Thompson falls asleep and doesn’t wake up, she is shocked to discover what destiny has in store for her. Suspended between two worlds, she meets Isambard Brunel, the legendary eighteenth-century civil engineer, who built the Clifton Suspension Bridge in Bristol, England, and who now serves as guardian of its secrets. Historical events intertwine with Carla’s current reality and along the way she discovers a murder, encounters a host of characters including Jamaican psychic, Matilda, and engages in verbal banter with literary legend, Ernest Hemingway. Her adventures lead her to a startling revelation about why she was chosen for her strange new role. In death Carla realises she has never felt more alive.

The Review

This is such a unique and imaginative read. The author does an incredible job of capturing the curiosity, the surreal, and almost magical concept of how life after death works and how the concept of destiny doesn’t always end or even start in life. The imagery and atmosphere the author creates are so mesmerizing, and the layered mythos that the author creates is so engaging for the reader to delve into.

Yet it was the richness of the characters and their backstories that really drew me into the narrative. The shock of the protagonist’s new reality and the explorative nature of her journey as she learns and discovers herself in this world within our own world was amazing to read. It put an all-new spin on the time-travel elements of the story, as well as the more philosophical and spiritual themes the author explored in this read.

The Verdict

Engaging, thought-provoking, and highly creative, author Andrea Faye Christians’ “Suspension (Time Binder)” is a must-read novel for Summer 2022! The surreal reality that Carla finds herself in and the amazing cast of characters she meets along the way showcase the connectivity of our world and those within it, and made for such an intriguing story. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

Advertisements

About the Author

Andrea Faye Christians was born and raised in Swansea, South Wales. Following a successful career in British radio including the BBC, she moved to the southern Mediterranean island of Malta to pursue her dream of becoming a freelance writer. A decade later she bought a farm in the Madonie Mountains of Sicily where a menagerie of rescue animals found their way to her. With a son in Malta and a daughter in Sicily, Andrea has a home and her heart in both places, and she now divides her time between the neighbouring islands. Suspension is her debut novel. She is working on the second book in the Time Binder Series as well as a novel entitled Chemo Club.

https://andreafayechristians.com/

Dead Without Remorse by Diane Bator Review 

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

An explosion forces an investigator to discover a killer’s identity before the suspects of the case somehow disappear in author Diane Bator’s “Dead Without Remorse”, the fifth book in the Gilda Wright Mystery series!

Advertisements

The Synopsis

An explosion leaves a gaping hole in the streetscape where the Nine Lives Consignment Shop and the former martial arts school once stood.

When police find remains of a bomb inside, Gilda Wright needs to track a killer before her suspects scatter like debris.

The Review

This is a nice little whodunnit with an explosive twist. The author does a great job of layering the tension and humor of this mystery early on, starting the story with the protagonist and her friend enjoying an at-home vacation and quickly turning the happy friend’s day into a nightmare when a local building explodes. The fast pace of both the plot and the investigation will keep readers on the edge of their seats, and the twists and turns the mystery takes will have readers guessing about the killer’s identity.

The balance of suspense and rich character development was great to read here. The clues uncovered as each chapter plays out and the haunting reality of the character’s backstories were what kept readers hooked, and the beautiful way in which these characters came to life on the page was great to read. The tension between the protagonist, her current romantic interest, and the lone man who keeps becoming a constant in her life, was what kept me invested as the story progressed, adding a very real human element to the story. 

The Verdict

A harrowing, entertaining, and brilliant novel, author Diane Bater’s “Dead Without Remorse” is a must-read mystery novel and a great addition to the Gilda Wright Mystery series. While a knowledge of the series will help readers, the author did a great job of crafting a story and mystery that will allow readers to jump head first into the narrative, and readers will be eager to know what’s next for Gilda and the people in her life. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

Advertisements

About the Author

Diane Bator is a prolific writer published by BWL Publishing. She is a A member of WCYR, Sisters in Crime and a board member for the Crime Writers of Canada. She is the author of several mystery series and a budding playwright.

https://dianebator.ca/

New Life in Autumn by Michael G. Williams Review

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

A newly dead detective tries to find a group of missing children and solve the mysteries of the floating city of Autumn’s long-lost history in author Michael G. Williams’s “New Life in Autumn”. 

Advertisements

The Synopsis

RETURN TO THE MEAN STREETS OF AUTUMN

Valerius Bakhoum is dead and buried.

Too bad he’s still flat broke and behind on the rent.

Unsure what to do with himself—and of who he is—Valerius resumes his career as a detective by taking up the oldest case in his files: where do the children go?

Throughout his own youth on the streets of Autumn, last of the Great Flying Cities, Valerius knew his fellow runaways disappeared from back alleys and other hiding places more than anyone realized. Street kids even had a myth to explain it: the Gotchas, who steal urchins away in the night.

With nothing but time on his hands, Valerius dives in head-first to settle the question once and for all and runs smack into a more pressing mystery: who killed one of Valerius’ former lovers?

And do they know Valerius is still alive?

Stalk the shadows of Autumn’s hidden places by Valerius Bakhoum’s side as he shines a light on secrets both sacred and profane, ones with shockingly personal connections to who he was—and who he might become.

New Life in Autumn is the sequel to the Manly Wade Wellman Award-winning A Fall in Autumn.

The Review

What immediately struck me about this novel was just how much the setting of this floating city called Autumn felt so alive on the page. A beautiful blend of dystopian sci-fi meets fantasy and hard-boiled detective mysteries, the author found a way to make the city itself feel like a character all its own. The intrigue and drama that the author’s narrative brought forth kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time.

The character growth of this narrative was such an engaging aspect of the story. The protagonist was so versatile and complex, both emoting the tough-as-nails attitude one expects of a seasoned detective and showing the raw emotions and shock of experiencing death and rebirth all at once. The LGBTQ-forward romance and inspired character development made this story shine brightly as well, making for a rich and diverse dystopian read.

The Verdict

Gripping, captivating, and entertaining, author Michael G. Williams’s “New Life in Autumn” is a must-read novel! The action and mystery surrounding this story feel both classic and yet futuristic all at once, and the rich character development, both the protagonist and the city, in particular, make for an emotionally engaging and mind-blowing hook that keeps us readers invested in this series. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

Advertisements
A New Life in Autumn - Michael G. Williams

Michael G. Williams has a new gay sci-fi mystery out, Books of Autumn book 2: A New Life in Autumn. And there’s a giveaway!

THE HARDEST PART OF DYING IS DECIDING HOW TO PASS THE TIME

Valerius Bakhoum died and kept no living. Now he can walk the streets of his city with a new face and a new name and finally feel a little bit respected. Too bad he’s still flat broke and behind on the rent. Unsure what to do with himself—and perhaps even of who he is—Valerius resumes his career as a detective by taking up the oldest case in his files: where do the children go?

Throughout his own youth on the streets of Autumn, last of the Great Flying Cities, Valerius knew his fellow runaways disappear from back alleys and other hiding places more than people realize. Street kids even have a myth to explain it: the Gotchas, who steal them away in the night. With nothing but time on his hands, Valerius dives in head-first to settle the question once and for all and runs smack into a more pressing mystery:

Who killed one of Valerius’ former lovers?

And do they know he’s still alive?

Return to the mean streets of Autumn by Valerius Bakhoum’s side as he shines a light into shadowy corners and finds secrets both sacred and profane with shockingly personal connections to who he was—and who he might become.

Warnings: This book does involve mild violence, capture and impending torture by antagonists, and discussion of the murder of children.

About the Series:

What would you do if you found yourself free at last–and all alone–in the sin-drenched paradise you were told you’d never reach?

Books of Autumn is a series telling the story of Valerius Bakhoum, a down and out private eye in Autumn, last of the great flying Cities, at various points in his life.

In A Fall in Autumn (2020 Manly Wade Wellman Award), we meet Valerius as he winds down his career and his too-short life.

In New Life in Autumn, Valerius navigates a surprising second chance and questions of who he is–and who he might become.

Walk the mean streets of Autumn by Valerius’ side in this award-winning study of the kindness and compassion found in the places where humanity’s lowest ambitions lurk!

Universal Buy Link


Giveaway

Michael is giving away a $20 Amazon gift card with this tour:

a Rafflecopter giveawayhttps://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js

Direct Link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/b60e8d47243/?


Excerpt

New Life in Autumn meme

Across three quarters of the City of Autumn, street kids are an unthinkable paradox. For the most part, the Pluses and the PlusPlus and all the other manifold forms of intentional humankinds only ever run into the sorts of kids someone wanted badly enough to design. There are already a billion people in the world between the Empire, the Eastern Expanse, and the less-organized places nobody’s fought over quite yet. Having kids willy-nilly wouldn’t add up, not with so many people already in line for the breakfast bar. That’s one of the many objections the Spiralists put forward to continued cultivation of Artisanal Humans like me—well, like I was.

That’s going to take some getting used to.

Anyway, widespread cultural insistence on bespoke offspring leaves a lot of kids out in the cold, literally. The ones I described before, orphaned by chance or abandoned for turning out imperfect or who got tired of their old life and decided to chase a new one are, in the remaining fourth-to-fifth of the City, as common as cobblestones and just as underfoot. There are plenty of them, and the supply continually refreshes, and I went to distinctly other streets than theirs. It isn’t that I wanted to avoid them, but talking would have taken money or some sort of barter and I was too short by half on either. I suspected it would have generated too much information rather than too little. A street kid asked to tell a story for a steam bun or a little reliably spendable scrip will gin up all the story you want and then some. I didn’t need urban legends. I needed facts, and that meant a much more gruesome start than some urchin milking my wallet with tall tales of what goes bump in the night.

I mentioned to Clodia one time that I had a friend who worked the Cisterns. The City of Autumn is like any town: its people have to piss like anybody else and its gutters often swell with rain. Autumn routinely flies into weather systems to gather up fresh water, and there’s a vast infrastructure to purify it for use by humankinds. I could spend ten pages telling you about the ponds in Down Preserves where rainwater burbles and bubbles under pressure, mixing in fresh air. The whole City sleeps atop a bed stuffed with pumps and gravity lines, charcoal and scrub algae, grates and artificial reefs and purpose-built shrimp—but I won’t.

Instead, I’ll simply say this: by the time water gets to us, the only thing left is the scent of the air where it first fell as rain. I don’t understand how the process works. I don’t care, either. The important thing, the thing none of us think about too much in case it, too, is another pretty lie in the quilt of them we make over our lives, is it happens. Sip from Lotta’s to remember the dead, cup your hands in the fountains of Domino, turn on a tap in the average Autumn kitchen, and you’ll enjoy the aroma of a field somewhere in Afrique, or a mutant blossom somewhere on a nameless plain in the vast Recovery Zone between Big River and the Salt Flat.

But on the other end of the system? Once all that delicious water has run its course through bodies and beer kegs and ice machines and steam plants?

That’s called Cistern Intake. I knew a gal who worked that part of the system. You could smell it on her from ten meters away. I always felt sorry for her, because it was so baked into her skin, ground down into her pores, she didn’t even smell it anymore herself.

On the plus side, she always had plenty of room in a bar. Nobody crowded her for long.

Frankie was a Mannie. Generally speaking, no variety of Plus—nice, “normal” people with designer genes—would even be considered for her job. Even applying for it might result in getting a replication error assessment. Odds are good you’ve already heard the story from a few years ago about the PlusPlus whose big ideas on “lived egalitarianism” got her carted off for genotoxicity screening. What most folks don’t know, however, is it was a stunt on both sides. Sure, she only wanted to make a point by suing the City for the right to join a scrubber team, not actually take the job if they offered it. But the City went out of its way to make the counterpoint in response, escorting her kicking and screaming away from the workhouse where they keep the little gliders they use to clean the Fore Barrier’s external face.

I assume she hoped to drum up publicity for her so-called perverse beliefs. I think she expected the City would do something to make an example of her, sure, but something more symbolic. You know, a big fine she could never pay, or maybe a few nights in the Palace of Imperial Justice. Something Imperial media could print without making anybody lose their lunch.

Instead, they dragged her —did I mention the kicking and screaming?—straight to the Hive. No trial. No judge. No pretenses. The Hive is right there at the front of the City, and the tiny portion of it sticking out above street level is visible if you climb high enough in Down Preserves and look to the Fore. The joke goes, they put the City’s worst criminals out there so we’ll hear them screaming if we crash into anything. This lady’s worst crime, though, was trying to prove we’re not all equal, not in the lives we’re allowed to lead or the risks we’re expected to take in the course of them. It sounds like heroism to you or me, but to the powers that be, the Sinceres, the Spiralists, and all the other people who don’t care if the Empire is a heap of shit as long as they’re near enough the top to catch a breeze, she’d committed the worst kind of social treason: she’d violated the spoken and unspoken rules propping up the class system on which they relied.


Author Bio

New Life in Autumn - Michael G. Williams

Michael G. Williams writes queer-themed science fiction, urban fantasy, and horror celebrating monsters, macabre humor, and subverted expectations. He’s the author of three series for Falstaff Books: the award-winning vampire/urban fantasy series The Withrow Chronicles; the thrilling urban fantasy series SERVANT/SOVEREIGN featuring real estate, time travel, and San Francisco’s greatest historical figures; the science fiction noir A Fall in Autumn, winner of the 2020 Manly Wade Wellman Award; and a bunch of short stories. He strives to present the humor and humanity at the heart of horror and mystery with stories of outcasts and loners finding their people.

Michael will be the Guest of Honor at Ret-Con in 2023, co-hosts Arcane Carolinas, studies Appalachian history and folklore at Appalachian State University, and is a brother in St. Anthony Hall. He lives in Durham, NC, with his husband, a variety of animals, and more and better friends than he probably deserves.

Author Website: https://michaelgwilliamsbooks.com

Author Facebook (Personal): https://www.facebook.com/mcmanlypants

Author Facebook (Author Page): https://www.facebook.com/MichaelGWilliamsAuthor

Author Twitter: https://twitter.com/mcmanlypants

Author Instagram: https://instagram.com/mcmanlypants

Author Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6429992.Michael_G_Williams

Author Liminal Fiction (LimFic.com): https://www.limfic.com/mbm-book-author/michael-g-williams/

Author Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Michael-G-Williams/e/B001KIYBBU/

Other Worlds Ink logo

On a Quiet Street by Seraphina Nova Glass Review

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

A woman fearing her husband may be cheating, she turns to a friend who lost her son the year before, and together they hope to catch the husband in the act. However, this plan turns down a dark and deadly road as more secrets are unearthed that neither of them could have imagined in author Seraphina Nova Glass’s “On a Quiet Street”.

Advertisements

The Synopsis

A simple arrangement. A web of deceit with shocking consequences.

Welcome to Brighton Hills: an exclusive, gated community set against the stunning backdrop of the Oregon coast. Home to doctors, lawyers, judges–all the most upstanding members of society. Nothing ever goes wrong here. Right?

Cora’s husband, Finn, is a cheater. She knows it; she just needs to prove it. She’s tired of being the nagging, suspicious wife who analyzes her husband’s every move. She needs to catch him in the act. And what better way to do that than to set him up for a fall?

Paige has nothing to lose. After she lost her only child in a hit-and-run last year, her life fell apart: her marriage has imploded, she finds herself screaming at baristas and mail carriers, and she’s so convinced Caleb’s death wasn’t an accident that she’s secretly spying on all everyone in Brighton Hills so she can find the murderer. So it’s easy for her to entrap Finn and prove what kind of man he really is.

But Paige and Cora are about to discover far more than a cheating husband. What starts as a little agreement between friends sets into motion a series of events neither of them could have ever predicted, and that exposes the deep fault lines in Brighton Hills. Especially concerning their mysterious new neighbor, Georgia, a beautiful recluse who has deep, dark secrets of her own…

The Review

The author continues to do a phenomenal job of pushing the domestic thriller genre to its limits and beyond in the best way possible! The world-building and character growth early on in the book did a great job of layering the mystery of both the fidelity of Cora’s marriage to her husband and the circumstances of Paige’s son and his untimely demise. The shocking twists and turns that this small community takes on, as well as the secrets that these households harbor, really add both an engaging plotline and yet an eerily realistic touch to the narrative, as the shocking developments are not necessarily out of the realm of possibility in this day and age, making this even more of a haunting read. 

For, as a longtime fan of mystery reads, the suspense aspect of this mystery thriller and the theme that it explores were the biggest draws for me. The exploration of this multi-layered mystery and how each character’s struggles early on in the novel inadvertently stack up against one another’s until all three protagonists and narrators of this novel find themselves coming together. The theme of toxic masculinity and how it impacts marriages and relationships was a major theme throughout the novel. Often seen in our world, men will go to extreme lengths to be dismissive of women, mansplain to women things they already have an understanding of, and manipulate the women in their lives to fulfill their own personal needs. This toxic behavior is explored in several of the characters’ lives, and the shocking twists that toxicity takes add to the depth of character development and the mystery that unravels as a result of those developments.

The Verdict

Haunting, shocking, and entertaining, author Seraphina Nova Glass’s “On A Quiet Street” is a must-read novel of 2022 and one of the top domestic thrillers of the year. The chilling twists this narrative takes and the emotional pull of these characters’ struggles will have readers on the edge of their seats as the climactic second half of this novel takes off! This is one of the best authors to come through in this genre in years and I cannot wait to read more of her work. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

Advertisements

About the Author

Seraphina Nova Glass is a professor and playwright-in-residence at the University of Texas, Arlington, where she teaches film studies and playwriting. She holds an MFA in playwriting from Smith College, and she’s also a screenwriter and award-winning playwright. Seraphina has traveled the world using theatre and film as a teaching tool, living in South Africa, Guam and Kenya as a volunteer teacher, AIDS relief worker, and documentary filmmaker.

Buy Links: 

BookShop.org

Harlequin 

Barnes & Noble

Amazon

Books-A-Million

Powell’s 

Social Links:

Author Website

Twitter: @SeraphinaNova

Facebook: Seraphina Nova Glass: Author

Goodreads

Advertisements

Here is an excerpt from “On a Quiet Street”

ONE

Paige

Paige stands, watering her marigolds in the front yard and marvels at how ugly they are. The sweet-potato-orange flowers remind her of a couch from the 1970s, and she suddenly hates them. She crouches down, ready to rip them from their roots, wondering why she ever planted such an ugly thing next to her pristine Russian sage, and then the memory steals her breath. The church Mother’s Day picnic when Caleb was in the sixth grade. Some moron had let the potato salad sit too long in the sun, and Caleb got food poisoning. All the kids got to pick a flower plant to give to their moms, and even though Caleb was puking mayonnaise, he insisted on going over to pick his flower to give her. He was so proud to hand it to her in its little plastic pot, and she said they’d plant it in the yard and they’d always have his special marigolds to look at. How could she have forgotten?

She feels tears rise in her throat but swallows them down. Her dachshund, Christopher, waddles over and noses her arm: he always senses when she’s going to cry, which is almost all the time since Caleb died. She kisses his head and looks at her now-beautiful marigolds. She’s interrupted by the kid who de-livers the newspaper as he rides his bike into the cul-de-sac and tosses a rolled-up paper, hitting little Christopher on his back.

“Are you a fucking psychopath?” Paige screams, jumping to her feet and hurling the paper back at the kid, which hits him in the head and knocks him off his bike.

“What the hell is wrong with you, lady?” he yells back, scrambling to gather himself and pick up his bike.

“What’s wrong with me? You tried to kill my dog. Why don’t you watch what the fuck you’re doing?”

His face contorts, and he tries to pedal away, but Paige grabs the garden hose and sprays him down until he’s out of reach. “Little monster!” she yells after him.

Thirty minutes later, the police ring her doorbell, but Paige doesn’t answer. She sits in the back garden, drinking coffee out of a lopsided clay mug with the word Mom carved into it by little fingers. She strokes Christopher’s head and examines the ivy climbing up the brick of the garage and wonders if it’s bad for the foundation. When she hears the ring again, she hollers at them.

“I’m not getting up for you people. If you need to talk to me, I’m back here.” She enjoys making them squeeze around the side of the house and hopes they rub up against the poi-son oak on their way.

“Morning, Mrs. Moretti,” one of the officers says. It’s the girl cop, Hernandez. Then the white guy chimes in. She hates him. Miller. Of course they sent Miller with his creepy mustache. He looks more like a child molester than a cop, she thinks. How does anyone take him seriously?

“We received a complaint,” he says.

“Oh, ya did, did ya? You guys actually looking into cases these days? Actually following up on shit?” Paige says, still petting the dog and not looking at them.

“You assaulted a fifteen-year-old? Come on.”

“Oh, I did no such thing,” she snaps.

Hernandez sits across from Paige. “You wanna tell us what d id happen, then?”

“Are you planning on arresting me if I don’t?” she asks, and the two officers give each other a silent look she can’t read.

“His parents don’t want to press charges so…”

Paige doesn’t say anything. They don’t have to tell her it’s because they pity her.

“But, Paige,” Miller says, “we can’t keep coming out here for this sort of thing.”

“Good,” Paige says firmly. “Maybe it will free you up to do your real job and find out who killed my son.” Hernandez stands.

“Again, you know we aren’t the detectives on the—” But before Hernandez can finish, Paige interrupts, not wanting to hear the excuses.

“And maybe go charge the idiot kid for trying to kill my dog. How about that?”

Paige stands and goes inside, not waiting for a response. She hears them mumble something to one another and make their way out. She can’t restrain herself or force herself to be kind. She used to be kind, but now, it’s as though her brain has been rewired. Defensiveness inhabits the place where empathy used to live. The uniforms of the cops trigger her, too; it reminds her of that night, the red, flashing lights a nightmarish strobe from a movie scene. A horror movie, not real life. It can’t be her real life. She still can’t accept that.

The uniforms spoke, saying condescending things, pulling her away, calling her ma’am, and asking stupid questions. Now, when she sees them, it brings up regrets. She doesn’t know why this happens, but the uniforms bring her back to that night, and it makes her long for the chance to do all the things she never did with Caleb and mourn over the times they did have. It forces fragments of memories to materialize, like when he was six, he wanted a My Little Pony named Star Prancer. It was pink with purple flowers in its mane, and she didn’t let him have it because she thought she was protecting him from being made fun of at school. Now, the memory fills her with self-reproach.

She tries not to think about the time she fell asleep on the couch watching Rugrats with him when he was just a toddler and woke up to his screaming because he’d fallen off the couch and hit his head on the coffee table. He was okay, but it could have been worse. He could have put his finger in an outlet, pushed on the window screen and fallen to his death from the second floor, drunk the bleach under the sink! When this memory comes, she has to quickly stand up and busy herself, push out a heavy breath, and shake off the shame it brings. He could have died from her negligence that afternoon. She never told Grant. She told Cora once, who said every parent has a moment like that, it’s life. People fall asleep. But Paige has never forgiven herself. She loved Caleb more than life, and now the doubt and little moments of regret push into her thoughts and render her miserable and anxious all the time.

She didn’t stay home like Cora, she practically lived at the restaurant. She ran it for years. Caleb grew up doing his homework in the kitchen break room and helping wipe down tables and hand out menus. He seemed to love it. He didn’t watch TV all afternoon after school, he talked to new people, learned skills. But did she only tell herself that to alleviate the guilt? Would he have thrived more if he had had a more nor mal day-to-day? When he clung to her leg that first day of preschool, should she have forced him to go? Should he have let him change his college major so many times? Had he been happy? Had she done right by him?

And why was there a gun at the scene? Was he in trouble, and she didn’t know? Did he have friends she didn’t know about? He’d told her everything, she thought. They were close. Weren’t they?

As she approaches the kitchen window to put her mug down, she sees Grant pulling up outside. She can see him shaking his head at the sight of the cops before he even gets out of the car.

He doesn’t mention the police when he comes in. He silently pours himself a cup of coffee and finds Paige back out in the garden, where she has scurried to upon seeing him. He hands her a copy of the Times after removing the crossword puzzle for himself and then peers at it over his glasses.

He doesn’t speak until Christopher comes to greet him, and then he says, “Who wants a pocket cookie?” and takes a small dog biscuit from his shirt pocket and smiles down at little Christopher, who devours it.

This is how it’s been for the many months since Grant and Paige suffered insurmountable loss. It might be possible to get through it to the other side, but maybe not together, Paige said to Grant one night after one of many arguments about how they should cope. Grant wanted to sit in his old, leather recliner in the downstairs family room and stare into the wood-burning fireplace, Christopher at his feet, drinking a scotch and absorbing the quiet and stillness.

Paige, on the other hand, wanted to scream at everyone she met. She wanted to abuse the police for not finding who was responsible for the hit-and-run. She wanted to spend her days posting flyers offering a reward to anyone with information, even though she knew only eight percent of hit-and-runs are ever solved. When the world didn’t respond the way she needed, she stopped helping run the small restaurant they owned so she could just hole up at home and shout at Jeopardy! and paper boys. She needed to take up space and be loud. They each couldn’t stand how the other was mourning, so finally, Grant moved into the small apartment above their little Italian place, Moretti’s, and gave Paige the space she needed to take up.

Now—almost a year since the tragic day—Grant still comes over every Sunday to make sure the take-out boxes are picked up and the trash is taken out, that she’s taking care of herself and the house isn’t falling apart. And to kiss her on the cheek before he leaves and tell her he loves her. He doesn’t make observations or suggestions, just benign comments about the recent news headlines or the new baked mostaccioli special at the restaurant.

She sees him spot the pair of binoculars on the small table next to her Adirondack chair. She doesn’t need to lie and say she’s bird-watching or some nonsense. He knows she thinks one of the neighbors killed her son. She’s sure of it. It’s a gated community, and very few people come in and out who don’t live here. Especially that late at night. The entrance camera was conveniently disabled that night, so that makes her think it wasn’t an accident but planned. There was a gun next to Caleb’s body, but it wasn’t fired, and there was no gunshot wound. Something was very wrong with this scenario, and if the po-lice won’t prove homicide, she’s going to uncover which of her bastard neighbors had a motive.

She has repeated all of this to Grant a thousand times, and he used to implore her to try to focus on work or take a vacation—anything but obsess—and to warn her that she was destroying her health and their relationship, but he stopped responding to this sort of conspiracy-theory talk months ago.

“What’s the latest?” is all he asks, looking away from the binoculars and back to his crossword. She gives a dismissive wave of her hand, a sort of I know you don’t really want to hear about it gesture. Then, after a few moments, she says, “Danny Howell at 6758. He hasn’t driven his Mercedes in months.” She gives Grant a triumphant look, but he doesn’t appear to be following.

“Okay,” he says, filling in the word ostrich.

“So I broke into his garage to see what the deal was, and there’s a dent in his bumper.”

“You broke in?” he asks, concerned. She knows the How-ells have five vehicles, and the dent could be from a myriad of causes over the last year, but she won’t let it go.

“Yes, and it’s a good thing I did. I’m gonna go back and take photos. See if the police can tell if it looks like he might have hit a person.” She knows there is a sad desperation in her voice as she works herself up. “You think they can tell that? Like if the dent were a pole from a drive-through, they could see paint or the scratches or something, right? I bet they can tell.”

“It’s worth a shot,” he says, and she knows what he wants to say, also knows he won’t waste words telling her not to break into the garage a second time for photos. He changes the subject.

“I’m looking for someone to help out at the restaurant a few days a week—mostly just a piano player for the dinner crowd—but I could use a little bookkeeping and scheduling, too,” he says, and Paige knows it’s a soft attempt to distract her, but she doesn’t bite.

“Oh, well, good luck. I hope you find someone,” she says, and they stare off into the backyard trees.

“The ivy is looking robust,” he comments after a few minutes of silence.

“You think it’s hurting the foundation?” she asks.

“Nah,” he says, and he reaches over and places his hand over hers on the arm of her chair for a few moments before getting up to go. On his way out, he kisses her on the cheek, tells her he loves her. Then he loads the dishwasher and takes out the trash before heading to his car. She watches him reluctantly leaving, knowing that he wishes he could stay, that things were different.

When Paige hears the sound of Grant’s motor fade as he turns out of the front gate, she imagines herself calling him on his cell and telling him to come back and pick her up, that she’ll come to Moretti’s with him and do all the scheduling and books, that she’ll learn to play the piano just so she can make him happy. And, after all the patrons leave for the night, they’ll share bottles of Chianti on checkered tablecloths in a dimly lit back booth. They’ll eat linguini and clams and have a Lady and the Tramp moment, and they will be happy again.

Paige does not do this. She goes into the living room and closes the drapes Grant opened, blocking out the sunlight, then she crawls under a bunched-up duvet on the couch that smells like sour milk, and she begs for sleep.

Excerpted from On A Quiet Street by Seraphina Nova Glass, Copyright © 2022 by Seraphina Nova Glass. Published by arrangement with Harlequin Books S.A.

One Of Us Is Dead by Jeneva Rose Review

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

The owner of a local beauty salon and spa must put her knowledge and relationships with a group of women to the test to help the police capture the culprit behind a gruesome murder in author Jeneva Rose’s “One Of Us Is Dead”. 

Advertisements

The Synopsis 

The highly anticipated new thriller from the bestselling author of The Perfect Marriage.

Opulence. Sex. Betrayal … Sometimes friendship can be deadly.

Meet the women of Buckhead—a place of expensive cars, huge houses, and competitive friendships.

Shannon was once the queen bee of Buckhead. But she’s been unceremoniously dumped by Bryce, her politician husband. When Bryce replaces her with a much younger woman, Shannon sets out to take revenge …

Crystal has stepped into Shannon’s old shoes. A young, innocent Texan girl, she simply has no idea what she’s up against …

Olivia has waited years to take Shannon’s crown as the unofficial queen of Buckhead. Finally, her moment has come. But to take her rightful place, she will need to use every backstabbing, manipulative, underhand trick in the book …

Jenny owns Glow, the most exclusive salon in town. Jenny knows all her clients’ secrets and darkest desires. But will she ever tell?

Who amongst these women will be clever enough to survive Buckhead—and who will wind up dead? They say that friendships can be complex, but no one said it could ever be this deadly. 

The Review

This is one of the best thrillers I’ve read so far this year. The dialogue and multiple POVs of this read have driven forward a mystery that feels both authentic and surprising all at once. The ways in which these women interact with one another, and the choice to focus solely on the women’s POV and leave the male characters as wildcards was an inspired and satisfying choice for the story. Getting the chance to see the shocking twists and turns not only in the story, but in the shocking bonds these characters form with one another was such a great hook for readers to get invested in the narrative. 

Honestly, this is one of the first books in years in which I was totally surprised by the book’s ending. I love stories like this that make me guess the killer’s identity early on, only to change my opinion several times over the course of the narrative. I had thought I’d figured out the twist until the final few pages when everything flipped on top of its head. What helped this mystery was the identity of the victim, which was kept hidden until the final few chapters of the book. Not knowing this kept the motivations and agendas presented from each of these characters’ POVs so captivating that the real identity of both victim and killer will leave readers reeling. 

The Verdict

Haunting, entertaining, and yet charming in its writing and delivery, author Jeneva Rose’s “One of Us Is Dead” is a must-read novel of 2022, and one of my top picks for the best thriller of 2022. The descriptive nature of the author’s writing style really painted an image of these characters and this small-town setting to life perfectly, and the twists and turns will keep readers hanging off of the author’s every word. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today and be on the lookout for more amazing books from this up-and-coming author!

Rating: 10/10

Advertisements

About the Author

Jeneva Rose is the Amazon Charts, Apple Books, and Publisher’s Weekly bestselling author of The Perfect Marriage and One of Us is Dead. Her works has been translated into more than a dozen languages and optioned for film/tv. Originally from Wisconsin, she currently lives in Chicago with her husband, Drew, and her English bulldog, Winston.

https://www.jenevarose.com/

Wings of Prey (The Gift Legacy Book 6) by J.P. McLean Review

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

A woman must put everything on the line when the mystery of her father’s disappearance finally takes center stage in author J.P. McLean’s “Wings of Prey”, the sixth book in The Gift Legacy series.

Advertisements

The Synopsis

A dead man’s warning. A lost plane wreck. A buried truth.

A dire warning from beyond the grave leaves Emelynn Taylor questioning her loyalties. Did someone she loves commit an unforgivable act of treachery? In her quest for answers, Emelynn opens a painful cold case knowing its resolution could destroy two families.

What she finds tests Emelynn’s integrity as the leadership changes hands within the Tribunal Novem, the powerful body that rules her kind. When confronted with betrayal and lies, Emelynn must follow her moral compass, even if it means losing the man she loves and alienating her Flier friends.

And when the terrible truth is unearthed, Emelynn is set on a collision course with two titans and a battle she can’t possibly win.

The sixth book in The Gift Legacy series, Wings of Prey is a thriller that skirts the edges of reality in a world within our own. Hold on tight and escape the ordinary: take flight with Emelynn Taylor.

The Review

Having followed this series for a few months now, I have been so curious to see how the author would finally address the main character’s backstory with her father’s mysterious plane crash. After several books dealing with the politics of the secret society of Fliers, and the human organization that discovered their identity, it was so refreshing to see the author bring a more personal narrative to balance out the politics and conspiracy that the main character has been facing for so long. It felt like a very “full-circle” moment in the series, and the shocking twists and turns the narrative takes will put everyone Emelynn has come into contact within the hot seat. 

The intense personal journey that Emelynn goes on really stands out to me as a reader. The passion and emotions that she goes through s friendships, relationships, and love interests all come into play in this investigation, and learning the truth behind her father’s disappearance will blow open this entire series. The tension and atmosphere are so well executed as a result of this, and the action feels much more intense and important as each revelation is made.

The Verdict

Harrowing, gripping, and heart-pounding thriller meet fantasy, author J.P. McLean’s “Wings of Prey” is a must-read novel! While the author has crafted a truly brilliant world that fans would love to see visited time and time again, the narrative told here was so perfectly told that if need be this would serve as a great series ending. The twists and turns in this truly personal tale of seeking the truth and the delicate balance between revenge and justice made this one story no one will be able to put down. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

Advertisements

About the Author

JP (Jo-Anne) McLean writes contemporary fantasy thrillers with a provocative edge. She is best known for The Gift Legacy series. The first book of the series received Honorable Mention at the WhistlerIndependent Book Awards. Reviewers call the series addictive, smart and fun.

Her books include endorsements from Ethel Wilson fiction prize winner, Jennifer Manuel, and Globe and Mail bestselling author,Elinor Florence, among others. The series has been described as fantasy light and is a good introduction to the genre for the uninitiated.

Jo-Anne neglects the gardens and housework to write full time from her home on Denman Island, off of Canada’s west coast. She writes best when she’s within sight and sound of water, even if it’s just a fountain, and hopes never to stop reading, writing or imagining the impossible.

Lure: Jesse & Hawk by W.L. Hawkin Review

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

A wounded doctor and a vegan nature photographer find their paths crossing as the dangers of a missing persons’ case suddenly become a murder investigation years later, and must learn not only to survive together against two nefarious figures but learn if they can hold onto the growing feelings they have for one another in author W.L. Hawkin’s “Lure: Jesse & Hawk”.

Advertisements

The Synopsis

Hawk is a wounded doctor bent on losing himself on the Chippewa reservation.

Jesse’s a vegan nature photographer trying to find herself on that same wild land.

When Hawk shoots the deer Jesse’s photographing, passions flare. Then Jesse hears that Hawk’s friend is dying and sets off alone on horseback to warn him. He deserves the chance to say goodbye she never had.

BUT DANGER LURKS EVERYWHERE NEAR THE SMALL MIDWESTERN TOWN OF LURE RIVER.

Jesse’s just discovered the twenty-year-old bones of a missing Indigenous girl in her shed and drawn the unwanted attention of two local men.

CAN JESSE FIND HAWK BEFORE THEY FIND HER?

Ruby Little Bear’s tragic tale weaves through the narrative, reminding us that ONE MOMENT CAN CHANGE EVERYTHING.

The Review

This was the absolute best combination of romance and suspense. The wildness of the two protagonists’ tense and heated romance mirrored the equally wild landscape they found themselves in. The complex backstories that have brought each of them to the emotional place they meet each other in will captivate readers and bring the wellspring of tears that these emotional romances often have. 

The rich mystery and suspense surrounding the thriller aspect of this narrative were so engaging to read. The striking backstory of this small town and the tragedy that has been kept in the shadows for two decades highlights the small-town atmosphere that keeps these mysteries lasting as long as they often do, both in fiction and reality itself. The back and forth look into who is responsible for the missing young woman and the complex relationship between the town and the indigenous people who have been so badly affected by this senseless death will have readers glued to the pages as each chapter unravels the intricacies of this mystery.

The Verdict

Haunting, thoughtful, and passionate, author W.L. Hawkin’s “Lure: Jesse & Hawk” is a must-read romantic thriller of 2022! A truly entertaining and captivating story of love lost, love found, and the lengths we are willing to go to in order to keep the past hidden, the author did an incredible job of finding a harmonious chord between the narrative and dynamic character development that cannot be matched. Be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

Advertisements

About the Author

W. L. Hawkin writes myth, magic, and mayhem designed to inspire and entertain. Described as “intoxicating, lush, magically-edgy, page-turners,” her Hollystone Mysteries series features a coven of witches who solve murders using their wits and ritual magic with a little help from the gods. Wendy is also a published blogger, book reviewer, Indie publisher, and poet, with a background in Indigenous Studies and English literature. She loves myth and magic, so when she’s not writing, she’s studying Druidry, shamanism, and mediumship. Although she is an introvert, in each book, her characters go on a journey where she has traveled herself.

She defies genre by writing character-driven fast-paced mysteries and thrillers that involve fantastical characters. See her four book series: To Charm a Killer, To Sleep with Stones, To Render a Raven, and To Kill a King.

@authoranthonyavina

Check out my #bookreview of author W.L. Hawkins’s #Lure a brand new adult #mysteryromance novel! #booktok #bookworm

♬ Mysterious – Andreas Scherren

Ten Days Gone (An A.L. McKittridge Novel) by Beverly Long Review

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

Two detectives must race against the clock as a serial killer closes in on their next victim in author Beverly Long’s “Ten Days Gone”, the first book in the A.L. McKittridge Series. 

Advertisements

The Synopsis

They know exactly when he’ll strike… They just have to find him first.

In all their years working for the Baywood police department, detectives A.L. McKittridge and Rena Morgan have never seen anything like it. Four women dead in forty days, each killed ten days apart. With nothing connecting the victims and very little evidence, the clock is already counting down to when the next body drops. A.L. and Rena will have to act fast if they’re going to find the killer’s next victim before he does.

But identifying the killer’s next likely target is only half the battle. With pressure pushing in from all sides, a promising breakthrough leads the detectives to Tess Lyons, a woman whose past trauma has left her too damaged to appreciate the danger she’s in. Unwilling to let another woman die, A.L. and Rena will put everything on the line to keep Tess safe and end the killer’s deadly spree once and for all—before time runs out again.

The Review

I was hooked from the very first page of this addictive thriller. The shock and intrigue the author created in the book’s atmosphere early on was spot on, and the mystery surrounding this serial killer’s actions was phenomenal to see get fleshed out as the story progressed. What made this such a unique story was how the author utilized multiple perspectives, and yet kept the killer hidden in the shadows until the final pages of this book, never giving them a voice and keeping the focus instead on the investigative process instead. 

The character development was superb. The relatability of the detectives and their camaraderie was fantastic to see unfold and to see a realistic perspective that shows both detectives working together without any sexual tension between them, instead of focusing on mutual respect was a nice change of pace from other novels. Getting to see each detective’s home life mixed into the narrative put the mystery and their detective work into perspective greatly, and putting the story in a small town setting raised the fear factor of the people they came into contact with. 

The Verdict

Captivating, thoughtful, and entertaining, author Beverly Long’s “Ten Days Gone” is the perfect first novel in a brand new mystery and thriller series. The suspense and action feel natural to the narrative being told, and the edge of your seat adrenaline readers will feel as the killer’s identity is revealed and the race to save the latest victim becomes perilous will have readers hooked on this author’s incredible star power. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

Advertisements

About the Author

Beverly Long had written over twenty suspense and romantic suspense novels. Readers will not want to miss TEN DAYS GONE and NO ONE SAW, the first two books in a new suspense series featuring Detective A.L. McKittridge. Please visit her website at http://www.beverlylong.com and sign up for her quarterly newsletter for the latest news and opportunities to win free books. Like her on Facebook @BeverlyLongAuthor.

http://beverlylong.com/

Root That Mountain Down By Evan Balkan Review

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

A man on a mission to bring his murdered father’s body back home to the United States comes face to face with the cruelty and violence, (as well as the hope and beauty hidden within), of the blood diamond business in author Evan Balkan’s “Root That Mountain Down”. 

Advertisements

The Synopsis

Felix Laszlo is on a somber mission: Retrieving the body of his murdered father, a doctor who had volunteered to treat the civilian casualties in war-torn Sierra Leone, and bringing him home to be buried in the United States.

Along the way Felix will discover how little he knew about his father, Africa and himself. Once in Africa, Felix will see first-hand the greed and corruption that is commonplace in the “blood diamond” trade. But he will also find beauty, heartbreak, joy as well as the path to his future.

The Review

This was both an emotional and culturally significant read. The narrative did such an amazing job of really delving into the horrors and struggles of the wars and ruthless blood diamond trade in Africa. The novel captures so many themes that readers are going to be able to relate to, from the concept of families and how they work to the culture of violence that exists within war-torn countries and the misconceptions and prejudices that exist against the people of Africa as a whole. The striking clash of the violent attacks on both the people of Africa and those doctors and volunteers who come to help with the prejudice that people have against all African citizens as a result of the violence highlights the never-ending cycle of hatred and pain that continues to this day.

The character growth in this narrative was the perfect vehicle for the themes of this story. The complexity of the protagonist’s mission as Felix grapples with his father’s brutal loss while also seeking firsthand the violence and struggles the people of Africa are facing themselves makes this such a brilliant story, and the balance of mystery and action with the pops of romance and emotional family drama made this such an enrapturing story to behold. 

The Verdict

Haunting, engaging, and thought-provoking, author Evan Balkan’s “Root That Mountain Down” is a must-read novel. The clashes of grief and anger mixed with both the horrors of war and the hope that survives in the face of that war made this both a complex yet a much-needed story that I just couldn’t put down. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

Advertisements

About the Author

Evan L. Balkan is the author of three novels, including the PEN/Faulkner nominated Independence, and seven books of nonfiction, including The Wrath of God: Lope de Aguirre, Revolutionary of the Americas, as well as many essays and short stories in an array of publications. His screenplays, including Spitfire, adapted from his novel of the same name, have won multiple fellowships and awards. He is a co-writer for the television series, Wayward Girls. He coordinates the English Department at the Community College of Baltimore County, where he runs the creative writing program, and is an adjunct faculty member in the Johns Hopkins University’s graduate Teaching Writing program. He holds degrees in the humanities from Towson, George Mason, and Johns Hopkins universities and has served as a guest lecturer at Yale, Johns Hopkins, Bryn Mawr, and many other institutions. 

https://evanlbalkan.wixsite.com/evanbalkan